Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Harry Potter Moment of the Week [15]

This is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts.The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/ films/ J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! She is picking a topic within HP for us to focus on each week and then if anyone wants to take part feel free! All she asks is to link back to her blog :). There is now a full list of the topics to come here.

Favorite Villain

Bellatrix Lestrange picture created by Jaclyn Canada

Old Voldy makes a spectacular villain, but the one that is my favorite in the series is Bellatrix Lestrange. She's certifiably insane. She does a lot of evil in the books as Voldemort's most loyal supporter, and by that I mean that sometimes as the reader you hate her even more. She certainly causes more anger and passion for revenge from Harry than I saw Voldemort get out of him. Helena Bonham Carter does a remarkable job bringing her to life in the movies. She's spot on in my opinion. Who is your favorite villain in the series?

Happy Halloween everyone!! We have lots of rain going on at the moment so I'm hoping it slacks off enough to go trick-or-treating.

Zane and I last year for Halloween. Medieval Princess and Where's Waldo.
This year he's going as Ash from Pokemon. What are you/your little ones going dressed as?

Guest Post: Applying the Bechdel Test to One’s Own Books by Skyla Dawn Cameron

The Bechdel Test, for those unfamiliar, comes from a comic by Alison Bechdel in which a character states the requirements she has for watching a film are:

1. It has to have at least two women in it,
2. who talk to each other,
3. about something besides a man.

Note that this does not speak to the quality of the work, nor is it a method of measuring how feminist something is. Plenty of unfeminist (and even anti-feminist) works can pass the Bechdel Test. It also doesn’t mean a work is bad if it fails this test. The point is to merely look at gender bias.

Given that I apply The Bechdel Test to the media I consume (and even bring it up when I do occasional reviews for Melissa’s My World blog), it only seemed fair to apply it to my books as well.

Bloodlines (Demons of Oblivion #1)

This is an older book of mine, originally written in 2004. Even when I rewrote it for re-release in 2011, I stuck to the existing structure and added very little, therefore I know going in that it’ll be the weaker of the books in this regard (as well as with diversity in general) as I was much less aware then.

1. There are multiple female characters: Zara (narrator), Mishka, Heaven...and that’s kinda it. There are a few mentioned but they aren’t characters with speaking roles.
2. They do speak to each other.
3. About...well, let’s see. Zara and Mishka speak about killing a man. Zara and Heaven...yes, I’m willing to give them this one, as they speak about Mishka, another woman.

Bloodlines, IMO, passes the test, though just barely.

Hunter (Demons of Oblivion #2)

Hunter opens with a young woman graduating as a Demon Hunter with Venatores Daemonum, an exiled branch of the church. She’s like any other person in a school setting: she has many peers, so this book has a large cast of secondary and tertiary characters.

1. There are multiple female characters: Ryann (narrator), Rebecca, Grace, Zara, Nicolette, Parker, Abigail.
2. They do all speak to each other.
3. About...Ryann and Rebecca discuss graduating and being Demon Hunters; Ryann and Zara discuss Zara’s possible innocence when she’s accused of a murder; Ryann and Nicolette discuss Nic’s lack of vampire-ness.

Hunter, IMO, passes the test, and better than Bloodlines.

Lineage (Demons of Oblivion #3)

Lineage, once again, has a different main characters and opens in a new world. Peri, the narrator, works as a mercenary and it’s a very male-dominated organization.

1. There are multiple female characters: Peri (narrator), Zara, Ryann, Nicolette, Delarosa, Liliah.
2. They do all speak to each other.
3. This gets a little dicey as a huge part of Peri’s focus in life is the death of her family, which included her husband, son, and daughter. She and Nic spend a lot of time together and speak about a variety of subjects. Peri and Ryann, too, have a great scene together that involves discussing portals opening and demonic-possessed school girls.

Of the short stories and novellas set in the ‘verse, it’s pretty hit or miss. The longer the work, the more likely it seems it is to pass the Bechdel Test. I will have to ponder that.

But at least my books don’t do too badly.

Why does this matter? Well, take the above rule and reverse the genders: in all sorts of movies and books there are frequently male characters who speak to each other about things other than women. That covers most films and books, actually. But finding that with female characters is...challenging. It’s a sign that, typically, men are the ones with agency and the ones who drive the story forward.

It matters because it shapes how we view things. 

This bias is so inherent that someone once told me I had a “male” problem in that there weren’t enough men in the Demons of Oblivion series. I haven’t made an actual chart but I’m relatively certain it’s fairly balanced. The core characters lean toward women because there is a same-sex female couple and, by definition, that means neither of them is a man (also? I tend to write primarily from female first person POV—the more POVs, the more women). Counting secondary and tertiary characters, the male-to-female overall ratio is likely even or might even skew male, now that I think about it. But we are so used to viewing media with an 80:20 (or, worse, just one token female and WHY is there still only one female Smurf?) balance of men to women that a close-to-equal representation seems out of proportion.

It may seem like a minor quibble to some but considering women make up half the population, gender bias is something I’ll continue to analyze, and strive to reflect a balance in my work.

Thank you so much, Skyla!! Here is a list of works by Skyla Dawn Cameron. Find Bloodlines Free at Amazon and the others for $2.99!

Demons of Oblivion Series
By Skyla Dawn Cameron

A diverse cast of characters come together in classic urban fantasy about monsters, the people who hunt them, and the occasional apocalypse. Snarky humor, magic with bite, nonstop action, a dose of romance, and at its core: broken people finding family in one another.

Also, there’s a saber-tooth cat named Sir Rodney Ballsgalore. Because reasons.

Main Series:

1 – Bloodlines
2 – Hunter
3 – Lineage
4 – Exhumed
5 – Oblivion (Coming Soon)

Side Stories & Novellas:

A Vampire Walked Into a Bar (Tales from Alchemy Red)
Whiskey Sour 
Home: A Zara Lain Story (Free at My words & pages)
Damaged: A Zara Lain Novella
9 Crimes: A Nate O’Connor Novella
Hungry Like the Wendigo (Tales from Alchemy Red)
Kami of Christmas Past: A Peri Takata Novella (Coming Soon)
Howl: A Juliette Aubrey Novella (Coming Soon)

Bloodlines (Demons of Oblivion #1)

If you're in her way, it sucks to be you.

After three hundred years of unlife, narcissistic vampire Zara Lain has seemingly done it all, and she's now making a living as a successful thief-turned-assassin. Her newest assignment seems simple enough: kill the aging leader of the O'Connor coven and his only heir, and she'll have another ten million in the bank.
But in the dangerous world of the supernatural, few things are ever “simple.”

When a massive assault decimates the continent's population of powerful witches and warlocks, and its orchestrator has vampires being hunted down and captured, Zara realizes the tables have turned and now she'll be playing the hero. Forced to join with a smart-mouthed fellow vampire, a demonologist who's also a fan of hers, a recently widowed—and frequently brooding—warlock, and her best friend's mom, Zara's grudgingly willing to do what she can to save the day.

If only people would stop ruining all her outfits...

Details: Exclusive to Kindle until January 2014 Bloodlines (Demons of Oblivion) FREE at Amazon right now!

ISBN: 978-0-9921281-4-2

Includes bonus short story “Thrall”, narrated by warlock Nate O’Connor.

Warning: contains heavy doses of snark, a sexually confident heroine who likes killing people and has no secret heart of gold, lots of explosions, and very naughty language.

Also, some terrible stuff happens to expensive formal wear. I’m sorry. I’m really, really sorry.

Hunter (Demons of Oblivion #2)

Predators beware.

Sometimes natural predators need to be kept in check, and for that, there's Ryann David. Orphaned as an infant and raised by an exiled branch of the church to become a warrior for God, she and her fellow members of Venatores Daemonum have trained all their lives with only one purpose: destroy all demons in the mortal realm.

But when Ryann and her team are sent to hunt down a vampire who has killed one of their own, a new world of danger, betrayal, and conspiracy greets her. Allied with an irreverent psychic detective and the very monsters she was raised to kill, Ryann will risk everything—her life, her faith, and her heart—in pursuit of the truth as the black and white existence she knew turns a murky shade of gray.

Details: Now on Kindle, AllRomanceeBooks, and Smashwords. Other sites coming soon. Hunter (Demons of Oblivion) $2.99 at Amazon right now

ISBN: 978-0-9921281-5-9

Includes bonus short story “Malice”, narrated by Zara Lain.

Warning: This book contains a demon-hunting nun. No, really. And she doesn't swear. At all. This might be quite traumatizing to you after reading Bloodlines. Reader discretion is advised.

Lineage (Demons of Oblivion #3)

Family reunions suck.

What’s a woman to do when her dad’s the antichrist, her grandma’s the devil, the end of the world is at her doorstep, and she’s out to avenge the murders of her husband and kids?

Kill everything in her way.

Quarter-demon Peri Takata exists with but one goal in mind: annihilate everyone responsible for the death of her family. Then—her need for vengeance quelled—she plans to take her own life.

Her mission brings her to vampire Zara Lain, the only known survivor of the event that destroyed Peri’s family five years ago. Hunting down a secret society of those who don’t want to be found has its challenges, however, especially when forces are working to keep the antichrist’s daughter very much alive. The apocalypse is closing in and Peri may be playing a role in it whether she wants to or not.

And when a heart long-thought dead begins to beat again with love for another, she’s not so sure about anything anymore.

Details: Now on Kindle, AllRomanceeBooks, and Smashwords. Other sites coming soon. Lineage (Demons of Oblivion) -$2.99 at Amazon right now

ISBN: 978-0-9921281-6-6

Includes bonus short story “Sunrise”, narrated by warlock Nate O’Connor.

Warning: You’re still here? After the narcissistic assassin in Bloodlines and the demon-hunting nun in Hunter? Well, now you get a sociopathic, quarter-demon mercenary. There’s lots more violence and naughty language in this one. You're welcome.

Exhumed (Demons of Oblivion #4)

Some people just won't stay buried...

Zara Lain, narcissistic vampire and assassin, cleaned up after a crazy warlock tried to build a vampire army, made some cash when the North American covens were left in shambles, got away when framed for the murder of a Demon Hunter, and dealt with some idiots who tried to jumpstart Armageddon. None of that could prepare her, however, for the moment when her lover of the undead persuasion awakens...

And promptly tries to kill her.

She’s raised a handful of orphaned baby vampires during the past six years and she knows the score: if they don’t get sane again, they have to be staked. And even if she can fix her would-be boyfriend, he’s not the only formerly deceased one in town who wants to kill her. Old enemies are back to put a cramp in her love life, ruin a good pair of heels, and just maybe end the world.

An apocalypse is nigh...and it gets a lot worse than having nothing to wear to the occasion.

Details: Now on Kindle, AllRomanceeBooks, and Smashwords. Other sites coming soon. Exhumed (Demons of Oblivion) $2.99 at Amazon right now

ISBN: 978-0-9921281-7-3

Warning: This book may cause you emotional turmoil and feelings of great pain. I'd apologize but it would be a lie; I feed on your tears. Keep 'em coming.

About the Author

Award-winning author Skyla Dawn Cameron has been writing approximately forever. 

Her early storytelling days were spent acting out strange horror/fairy tales with the help of her many dolls, and little has changed except that she now keeps those stories on paper. She signed her first book contract at age twenty-one for River, a unique werewolf tale, which was released to critical and reader praise alike and won her the 2007 EPPIE Award for Best Fantasy. She now has multiple series on the go to keep her busy, which is great for her attention deficit disorder.

Skyla is a fifth generation crazy cat lady who lives in southern Ontario, where she dabbles in art, is an avid gamer, and watches Buffy reruns. If she ever becomes a grownup, she wants to run her own pub, as well as become world dictator. 

You can visit her on the web at When she’s not writing or being glared at by cats, she’s probably on Twitter. You should ping @skyladawn and tell her to get back to work.

Find the Author: WebsiteFacebook | Blog | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Excerpt: The Wind Whisperer by Krista Holle

The Wind Whisperer
by Krista Holle
Release Date: October 15, 2013 Sweet River Romance

Genre: Paranormal Romance

Tag Line: This love triangle just got dangerous…

Blurb: At fifteen, Anaii is the most important member of her tribe—and the most mysterious.  Ever since Anaii can remember, the spirits of the wind have whispered of fertile hunting grounds and imminent enemy attacks.  But when her people are ambushed by a brother clan without any apparent cause, the spirits remain eerily silent.

As the village prepares to retaliate, Anaii is pressured by her best friend, Elan, to marry him.  It’s an old plea—Elan has spent a lifetime loving her, but Anaii only sees a childhood playmate out of an imposing warrior.  Stifled by Elan’s insistence, Anaii escapes into the forest where she meets Jayttin, the beautiful son of the enemy chief.

Enamored by Jayttin’s carefree spirit and hope for peace, she repeatedly sneaks away to be with him, but when her deception is discovered, Elan is devastated.  Pledging his lifelong affection, Elan gives her a passionate kiss, and Anaii begins to see her friend in a new light.
While Anaii is tormented over which man she must choose, the wind whispers of a new threat that could destroy both tribes.  Only a union will afford a chance at survival, but the reality of that union is based on one thing—which man Anaii chooses to die.


I looked around cautiously before freezing at the sketchy outline of a muscular man partially hidden in the grass.  A man!  He was sprawled on his back and golden pink from too many hours in the sun.  My heart pounded to see the unfamiliar pattern of a deer on his breechcloth.  I had marched myself directly into the reach of a Zennite warrior! 

I gingerly took a step backwards, but to my horror, the man’s black eyes fluttered open.  I turned and hurled myself back across the meadow, just as the man shot up and flew after me like a predatory bird.  My muscles burned and strained to lengthen the space between us, but getting away was hopeless.  I was not a challenge to even the young boys in the foot races.

After a few powerful strides, the warrior tackled me to the ground, painfully grazing the skin on my cheek.  I wheezed a few times before my lungs filled with air. 

“A Chippoke?” he asked between breaths. 

I feverishly punched and kicked to free myself.  “Get—off—me!”

“Stop! I’m not going to hurt you,” the warrior chuckled as he struggled to pin my arms and legs.  His voice was calm and pleasant, but lying was no different than breathing to a Zennite.

“I cannot promise the same,” I wheezed as I fought. 

“You’re a bobcat,” he said with a laugh.  “A bobcat with no teeth or claws.”

“Let me go!”

“I will when you’re calm.”

Strong hands held my wrists while his full weight pinned my torso against the earth.  Fighting him was as useless as running.  “You are not a boy,” I spat angrily, fully taking in my attacker.  It was little comfort that he didn’t look like a bloodthirsty killer.  He was admittedly handsome with an angular face and sleek black hair that hung well past his shoulders.  He was not as tall as Elan, but his muscles were narrow and built for speed.  There was something different about his eyes too.  They were as black as soot—very unlike the brown woodsy colors from our tribe.

The warrior smirked down at me.  “My mother will be very surprised to hear that.  All this time she’s assumed…”

My face heated, but I fiercely met his gaze.  The Zenni were like wild dogs and pumas—they could smell emotions. “What I meant was, you are a man, not a boy.”

“Oh, I see, but you must understand, I’m not a man yet.” 

“You must understand I’m a squirrel!  Get off!  You’re hurting me!” I ordered with a useless heave.  

“No,” he said with a smirk.

It was then I realized I might die—right after I was lulled into a false sense of security.  My chest pounded as I searched for the killer’s weapon.  “Are you going to kill me?”    

“I do not feel like killing you just yet,” he said as his long hair swirled in my face.  Were we to play a game before he killed me? 

“I am glad the mood doesn’t strike you,” I snarled.  The warrior studied me with a drawn brow. 
 Was he guessing that I was the forest witch?  I didn’t think I looked like a witch, but I wasn’t certain what one should look like—evil at least.

“I don’t understand something,” the warrior said.  “Your eyes are blue—the blue of an angry sky.  Are you the daughter of a god?”

“Yes,” I said, heaving against his weight again.  “Now get off me, or my father Achak will strike you dead with lightening.” 

Other Books by Krista Holle:
The Lure of Shapinsay 
(Winner of the Reader’s Choice Award for 
Paranormal Romance 2012)
Published December 2011
The Lure of Shapinsay at Amazon
The Lure of Shapinsay at Barnes and Noble

Author Krista Holle

Krista Holle is an award winning author who stepped up her writing after reading Stephanie Meyer’s Twilight series.  It occurred to Krista that there is an insatiable audience of women and girls who want to read books filled with stories about true love—not just vampires.  When Krista is not writing, she loves to collect seashells, watch movies, and eat obscene amounts of pizza.  Krista currently resides in Montpelier, Virginia with her husband, four daughters and an eccentric cat with a weird attachment to the family’s socks.

Find the Author: Facebook | Blog | Twitter | Author Amazon

Sunday, October 27, 2013

Sunday Cover Scramble [40]

Let's have some fun! I am going to post covers on here every Sunday that are scrambled up graphically, making it hard to tell what cover it is. I would like your guesses on what cover you think I've posted. I won't answer you until the next day to let you know if you are right, allowing other to guess as well. Some will be hard, and others may be easy. If you need hints, I will only post covers of series talked about on my blog previously. Also, let me know in the comments if you'd like some more hints and I'll offer some more throughout the day if no one guesses it correctly. Here we go:

Friday, October 25, 2013

Sidekick Showcase [47] - Witch of the Night

Sidekick Showcase, previously known as Sidekick Saturday, is a weekly bookish meme, hosted here by Jaclyn at JC's Book Haven. There are many secondary characters that are as great as the primaries. In some cases, the sidekicks actually steal the show and you like them better than the heroine or hero. Maybe they didn't have enough page time for how great they were. Anyone can play along! I will post my Sidekicks on Saturday, then whichever day during the week that you would like to post yours, you can put your link in on my page. Just do the following:

• Choose a sidekick *or someone other than the hero or heroine* that you would like to put in the spotlight that fits in the week's topic
• Share a picture (if you can) and information about the character
• Give the title and author of a book the character can be found in
• Please don't include too many spoilers when describing why the character is such a great sidekick
• The day of your post, put your link in below and grab the code for your post so you can see the others that post their's throughout the week as well

We are doing creatures of the night Sidekick Showcase themes for this month to celebrate Halloween. So for the whole month the choices should be witches, wizards, vampires, ghosts, ghouls, zombies, monsters, and the like!

For the whole Month of October, we're doing Creatures of the Night.

My choice is the White Witch
The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis

Jadis - The White Witch picture created by Jaclyn Canada
Jadis, better known as The White Witch in The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe and sometimes called The Queen of Narnia, was one of my first favorite baddies growing up. She's a character that I appreciated where I realized that it's ok to like the bad guy just for being really good at it. She's so good at being cold and heartless. She wants power and she's not afraid of doing whatever it takes to get it.

When little Lucy Pevensie finds herself in Narnia met by a Faun, she is terrified to find out that the faun is in service to an evil witch that has proclaimed that all humans be handed over to her. Mr. Tumnus wasn't able to bring himself to do this which sparks the rest of the action in the book. Lucy finds out that The White Witch has turned Narnia into an endless winter and that Santa is no longer allowed to visit. But what makes her really scary is her ability to turn you into stone. I cringed when she brought Edmund over to the dark side with some Turkish Delight and convinced him to betray his siblings. I admit that The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe is the book out of the series that I remember the most, but I did read and enjoy the whole thing.


"You know, Aslan, I'm a little disappointed in you. Did you honestly think by all this that you could save the human traitor? You are giving me your life and saving no one. So much for love. Tonight, the Deep Magic will be appeased, but tomorrow, we will take Narnia forever! In that knowledge, despair... and die!"

"If its a war Aslan wants then its a war he shall get!"

"I have no interest in prisoners. Kill them all."

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Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Harry Potter Moment of the Week [14]

This is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts.The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/ films/ J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! She is picking a topic within HP for us to focus on each week and then if anyone wants to take part feel free! All she asks is to link back to her blog :). There is now a full list of the topics to come here.

Favorite Potion

*** Felix Felicis ***

I would definitely try and brew me up some Liquid Luck. Won by Harry in potions class, he uses it to extract a much-needed memory from Professor Slughorn, but my favorite result of the use has to be Dean and Ginny splitting up. I also really enjoyed the fake-dosing that Harry gave to Ron so he could play Quidditch. Later it was used by Ginny, Hermione, and Ron against Death Eaters that invade Hogwarts, but unfortunately that's not shown in the movies.

Felix has to be used sparingly because it can create excessive cockiness and giddiness. It also can't be used for sporting events or elections. I love the thought of everything I try to do being successful for a short period of time though.

What's your favorite potion? Or would you want a day with Felix as well?


Monday, October 21, 2013

Book Blast: From Gods by Mary Ting

from godsFrom Gods by Mary Ting Did you just see a flash of lightning across the sky on a clear sunny day? It’s not from Mother Nature. It is most likely from Mason Grand, swoon-worthy demigod, one of Zeus’s descendants. Skylar Rome is supposed to be having the best summer ever before she heads off to college. Little did she know, her whole life was about to change while visiting her cousin. Nearly drowning at the beach due to unknown forces, one of the Grand brothers she’d just met, Mason, saves her life. Cool, collected, mysterious, and dangerously good-looking, Skylar is drawn to him from the start. Though she knows he is the type of guy good girls stayed away from, it seems he is always saving her life, and the attraction was inevitable. Upon meeting the brothers, strange things begin to happen. When she accidentally kills one of the brothers, it throws her life into turmoil, as they search to find the answers. Implausibly, she gets caught up in a world of the decedents of ancient gods, all who have super powers. Not only is her discovery difficult to accept, evil beings are after her. Running out of time and running for her life, she must unravel a mystery. What do they want from her? Forced into a battle set into motion long before she was born, will she find the answers, or will she die trying?  

Smashwords amazon blog Barnes and Noble

  Teaser 1: “You’re wet. You should take off your clothes.” What a way to avoid a question! Skylar blinked her eyes in disbelief. Did she hear him correctly? “Excuse me?” Not wanting to assume he was really asking her to strip off her clothes, she didn’t move a muscle, but the way his piercing eyes laid on her, she might as well have already been naked. Then she inwardly gasped when he started to unbutton his shirt. Her eyes shot to the floor, then back to him, and then to the floor, wondering what she was supposed to do in this awkward moment. “Here. Go change in the restroom. You don’t want to catch a cold.” He placed his shirt in front of her. She looked up to see him shirtless for the very first time. With all the right curves and tightness, he looked like a statue of a god. He was beautiful and perfectly toned, with satin-like skin, which looked like it would be smooth to the touch. And there was a small tattoo shaped like a lightning bolt on his upper right arm, toward his shoulder. Way too sexy! As warmth flushed her face, she tried not to stare, but there was no way around it. “Umm…you won’t have a shirt,” Skylar said, thinking that was the most idiotic thing she had said so far, but she couldn’t think when he was half-naked in front of her. “I’m not cold, but you will be.” Mason was right. Skylar didn’t realize she was shivering until she placed her hand out to take his shirt. The adrenaline from the initial shock had kept her warm, and now it was wearing away. The blasting air conditioner didn’t help either. “Thanks.” Just as she pivoted right toward the restroom, even though she was deathly scared to go back, Mason gripped her arm. “Wait. Don’t go in there without me.” His sudden protectiveness surprised Skylar, but then again, he had saved her.  

Teaser 2: “Mason, Mason, Mason,” Skylar panicked. “I know. Skylar, hold on tight. I’m going to brake.” “But…but there are cars behind us.” “We have no choice. Don’t worry. I got this.” Pushing down on the brake pedal forcefully, the car hydroplaned to the right. “Hold on,” Mason yelled. Skylar gripped the first thing she could place her hand on tightly. The water from the road jetted up into the air like a water show, but the car kept gliding sideways, until finally it spun a full circle and stopped. With no time to waste, Mason turned the car toward the right and accelerated, hoping to dodge what was coming toward them. Out of nowhere, a long piece of ice, taking the form of a spear-like shape, darted through the trucks’ tires and punctured some of them. More ice spears came soaring out of the rain, but this time, ten or more sphere like ice balls followed, denting the sides of the trucks, and one went through a windshield. With flat tires, the trucks now glided as if on ice, maneuvering from side to side. “Did you do that?” Skylar asked excitedly. “No…must be Poseidon’s kids. Where the hell are they?” Mason spread his right arm in front of Skylar, as if to protect her. “Bend down, Sky.” One of the trucks hit another and swirled, hitting the other adjacent to it. The crash caused the trucks to flip and tumble, heading straight for Mason’s car. With a look of shock, Skylar held her breath. With no time to move, think, or get out of the car, she closed her eyes and prepared for the crash. Just seconds before the impact, Mason’s car flew up into the air, over the trucks. Somehow, magically, the water created a liquid bridge, guiding the car safely over, and then it thumped hard on the ground on the other side. Without looking back, Mason sped away as the sound of screeching brakes and metal impacting on metal blasted behind them.


Praise for From Gods “A fast paced adventure full of mystery, action, magic and romance! Readers won’t be able to put this book down!” ~InD’tale Magazine   “From Gods takes mythology to a whole new level of imagination with its incredible plot and amazing characters. It’s full of hotness that you never want to end!” ~Michele, Insane About Books   “From Gods by the AMAZING AUTHOR Mary Ting is OMGods good!! If you even LIKE Greek Mythology, set aside some time because you will DEVOUR Mary Ting's Demi Gods and Vultures!!!” ~Mindy, Books Complete Me   “This book is “electric” as it blends paranormal romance, mythology (which I love), action and suspense together for an amazing read. Mary Ting, you’ve done it again! This book exceeded my expectations and I was literally blown away as if I were struck by lightning!” ~Vanessa, Fairiechick’s Fantasy Book Reader

  from gods  
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mary tingAuthor Mary Ting Bestselling/award-winning author Mary Ting resides in Southern California with her husband and two children. She enjoys oil painting and making jewelry. Writing her first novel, Crossroads Saga, happened by chance. It was a way to grieve the death of her beloved grandmother, and inspired by a dream she once had as a young girl. When she started reading new adult novels, she fell in love with the genre. It was the reason she had to write one-Something Great. Why the pen name, M Clarke? She tours with Magic Johnson Foundation to promote literacy and her children's chapter book-No Bullies Allowed.  

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BookBlast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 11/8/13 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, October 19, 2013

Sunday Cover Scramble [39]

Let's have some fun! I am going to post covers on here every Sunday that are scrambled up graphically, making it hard to tell what cover it is. I would like your guesses on what cover you think I've posted. I won't answer you until the next day to let you know if you are right, allowing other to guess as well. Some will be hard, and others may be easy. If you need hints, I will only post covers of series talked about on my blog previously. Also, let me know in the comments if you'd like some more hints and I'll offer some more throughout the day if no one guesses it correctly. Here we go:

Friday, October 18, 2013

Sidekick Showcase [46] - Demon of the Night

Sidekick Showcase, previously known as Sidekick Saturday, is a weekly bookish meme, hosted here by Jaclyn at JC's Book Haven. There are many secondary characters that are as great as the primaries. In some cases, the sidekicks actually steal the show and you like them better than the heroine or hero. Maybe they didn't have enough page time for how great they were. Anyone can play along! I will post my Sidekicks on Saturday, then whichever day during the week that you would like to post yours, you can put your link in on my page. Just do the following:

• Choose a sidekick *or someone other than the hero or heroine* that you would like to put in the spotlight that fits in the week's topic
• Share a picture (if you can) and information about the character
• Give the title and author of a book the character can be found in
• Please don't include too many spoilers when describing why the character is such a great sidekick
• The day of your post, put your link in below and grab the code for your post so you can see the others that post their's throughout the week as well

We are doing creatures of the night Sidekick Showcase themes for this month to celebrate Halloween. So for the whole month the choices should be witches, wizards, vampires, ghosts, ghouls, zombies, monsters, and the like!

For the whole Month of October, we're doing Creatures of the Night.

My choice is Algaliarept better known as 'Big Al'
The Hollows by Kim Harrison
Algaliarept picture created by Jaclyn Canada

When I first met Algaliarept, later dubbed 'Big Al' by Rachel, I admit  that I was terrified. He scared the beejezus out of me. He is a huge example of how Kim is able to evolve characters into completely different people later on in the series. I don't want to spoil too much of the story for anyone that hasn't read it so just know that he's now a huge character that's multi-faceted and I just adore reading about. Not that he doesn't still scare me, because he does!

Al is all about grabbing familiars for demons, that is when he is not being summoned to kill people. In the first book, Rachel winds up with a demon mark from him so she owes him a favor which basically means the reader is welcomed with many more occurrences of him popping up out of no where to collect. He likes to show up as an Englishman wearing a green smoking jacket and glasses to hide his red demon eyes. After drawing him, I apparently really picture him as a Johnny Depp-esque looking demon because that's completely what emerged. 

I'm enjoying him a lot more in the later books, so I hope you've read the stories so you know what I mean :D My favorite nick-name for Rachel is Itchy-Witch and that's the one that Al gave to her.

Undead Pool, book 12, the next one up in The Hollows is coming out in February. I'm keeping my fingers crossed for an ARC because I absolutely love this series and feel like this wait is taking forever. Currently Chapter 1 is up on Kim's site - and she's doing a read-along right now with book discussions. She's on The Good, The Bad, and The Undead right now. Discussion threads can be found on her blog and on Goodreads. If you get the ebook version of The Good, The Bad, and The Undead, it has Chapter 2 for Undead Pool as a bonus. It's on sell for $1.99 right now!
The Good, the Bad, and the Undead (The Hollows, Book 2) at Amazon


“But a slow, deeply satisfied smile came over him, and his breath quickened. 'So softly it starts,' he whispered. 'Foolishly clever and with an unsurvivable trust. It just saved your miserable life, that questionable show of thought, my itchy-witch.' Al’s smile shifted, becoming lighter. 'And now you will live to possibly regret it.”

“No, you just keep crashing my life. Look—" I said, and Al grunted.
"Here it comes," the demon muttered. "Listen. Listen to this, runt. She's going to have a list.”

“What are you doing now?” Al questioned, listing heavily as he tucked another one of those bottles under his arm and staggered for the cot half hidden behind a curtain. “Seeing if your circumcision is gone? It is.”

My expression went blank, and Trent hesitated.

He looked at me, and I put a hand to my mouth, face flaming. "Oh. My. God. Trent. I'm sorry."

"Um," Trent said, clearly at a loss.

"Call me tomorrow," Al said seriously, "I've got a curse that will take care of that. Unless you like the snake in a turtleneck look.”

“Rachel, Rachel, Rachel,” he said, very still and unmoving. “Always jumping to the wrong conclusion. You’re like a frog, you know.”

“In a few hours, I’m going to be banished to the surface, my belongings raffled off as novelty items and my living space given to someone else—my reputation destroyed. I’d rather have your head than your soul at this point in my illustrious career.”

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Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Harry Potter Moment of the Week [13]

This is a meme hosted by Uncorked Thoughts.The aim of this meme is to share with fellow bloggers a character, spell, chapter, object or quote from the books/ films/ J. K. Rowling herself or anything Potter related! She is picking a topic within HP for us to focus on each week and then if anyone wants to take part feel free! All she asks is to link back to her blog :). There is now a full list of the topics to come here.

What Job Would You Choose After Hogwarts?

This is pretty funny because I was just chatting about this with Angela when she chose The Department of Mysteries last week for her favorite place in the series. I would love to be an Unspeakable. How much fun would that be? I went on a little rant about it in her comment section when she busted out The Department of Mysteries for her favorite place. I would never get bored messing with all the wild items found in there. My brain would be perfectly satisfied trying to work out all the puzzles since these rooms has been studied for centuries and never figured out.

The Department of Mysteries is on the ninth level of the Ministry. You pretty much have to work your way through a maze just to get to the different chambers that it holds. There is a Brain Room, a Love Chamber, a Space Chamber, a Time Room (filled with time-turners), a Hall of Prophecies, and a large auditorium (Death Room?) not sure on that one. The Department apparently works to uncover the secrets of all of these things and more.

Unspeakables are so called because they are forbidden to discuss anything about the work that they do, or the mysteries that they unravel. It's all very Hush, Hush!

What would you choose??


Cover Reveal Sworn to Conflict by Terah Edun + #Giveaway (International)

On Sale on Amazon, iTunes & Barnes & Noble December 6, 2013

Sworn To Conflict by Terah Edun (Book 3)
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Coming Of Age

Ciardis Weathervane fought for the living dead and won. But worse than taking on a mass murderer, was her discovery that she had been deceived by her friends. Now she needs to not only fight a war in the North and survive, but also decide where she stands in the midst of competing sides. A threat to all she holds dear lies in the North and her heart is not the only thing she might lose. A massive army awaits in the mountain pass, surging closer to the gates of the southern lands. Nothing the Algardis army has done so far has dissuaded their march forward and Ciardis finds out that her powers to enhance are needed now more than ever. As she faces her greatest fears on the battlefields and her heart is torn between her love of Sebastian and loyalty to her family, Ciardis must choose her fate carefully. For in her path, lies the destiny of the empire. This third novel continues the story of Ciardis Weathervane from Sworn To Transfer.
Other Books in the Series
Connect With Terah: Author Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads
Series Order Links:

Sworn To Transfer (Book Two)
Sworn To Transfer: Courtlight #2 at Amazon
Sworn to Transfer: Courtlight #2 at Barnes and Noble

International Giveaway!

Terah is giving away 1 signed copy of Sworn To Transfer, 1 eARC of Sworn To Conflict, and 1 ebook of Sworn To Raise or Sworn To Transfer. There are 3 total winners! CLICK HERE to enter! Good Luck!
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Monday, October 14, 2013

Guest Post and Excerpt: The World Below by Mike Phillips

The World Below
by Mike Phillips
Release Date: March 2013 by Damnation Books

Genre: Urban Fantasy/Horror
Print ISBN: 978-1-61572-886-2
Digital ISBN: 978-1-61572-885-5

Long ago, magical creatures inhabited the earth. They lived on mountaintops, in the branches of trees, at the bottom of lakes and rivers. But that was long ago, before the human race declared war on the creatures they feared and hated. Now the magic people are all but gone. Those few that remain fear being stretched out on an examination table in some secret, governmental facility. The only place they can hide from the ever increasing number of satellites and smart phones is in the World Below.

Mitch is going through a hard time in his life. In his early twenties, he was working his way through college when he suffered an accident that left him flat broke and physically deformed. With some good advice from a friend, Mitch decides to make a fresh start in a new town. Things start looking up. Mitch finds a place to live, a decent job, good friends. He even meets a nice girl.

Unknown to Mitch, his new girlfriend is one of the elder race, the faerie folk. Lady Elizabeth is looking for a father she never knew. The key to finding him is somehow tied up with the mysterious Blade of Caro. Desperate, she steals the Blade from its protector, the despotic ruler of the World Below, the Dragon of Worms, Baron Finkbeiner.

Rumor of the theft spreads like wildfire. With the Blade of Caro comes the black fire, a power strong enough to destroy Baron Finkbeiner. The magical peoples begin to believe there is hope for freedom. They wait only for the Lady Elizabeth to show herself, to start the revolution that will rid them of the Baron and give them a chance to live free.

Politically weakened by the loss of the Blade of Caro and concerned for his safety, Baron Finkbeiner finds his kingdom slipping away. Word has gotten out that he is vulnerable. His people are in revolt and his enemies are gathering strength. Failing to capture the Lady Elizabeth, the Baron enlists the aid of a powerful magician. Jason Hume is a sorcerer of great strength, a human, naïve of much of what goes on in the World Below. Together, he and the Baron plot to destroy Lady Elizabeth and recapture the Blade of Caro.

Strange things, inexplicable things, start happening to Mitch. He suspects the after effects of the drugs he took while recovering from his injuries. But that’s not it at all. The bizarre creatures he sees and the weird things that happen are very real. Soon he is drawn into a world of magic and intrigue. Those creatures that go bump in the night really do exist, and they are after him. Narrowly escaping a trap, he finds himself allied with a crew of goblins. They tell him his girlfriend has been captured by the Baron and is being held in the depths of a magical world that exists beyond the world of men. Though terrible monsters in their own right, the goblins have no love for the Baron. Together, Mitch and the goblins rescue the Lady Elizabeth and lead the revolt that frees the people of the World Below.

*There was an error with the synopsis that was updated*

Available from:
The World Below - Amazon

Guest Post - 
All About Goblins

Hello everyone, and thank you for reading my guest post. My name is Mike Phillips and my new book is The World Below. I have been asked to talk about some of the more interesting characters in the book. 

Writing about goblins was a riot! Goblins live on the fringes of human society. They make their homes in junk yards, abandoned buildings, sewer systems, and anywhere else people try to avoid. Once they find a likely spot, the get to work. Goblins are clever with tools and machinery. They will use and repurpose anything they can get their hands on, so many of their dwellings look like they were designed by frat-boys. Not always the best of neighbors, goblins have to take security seriously. They construct elaborate pitfalls to keep themselves safe from enemies like collapsing tunnels, pongee pits, and mechanical traps. 

Goblins, like their human counterparts, each have a unique personality. They live in what they call crews, a sort of family, a lot like college dorm-mates. Each goblin has a special skill. One might be a bully (a most desirable skill in the goblin world). Another might be crafty at making traps. Some use sorcery or poison. Others are good at machinery. Some just eat a lot (another desirable skill). Goblins, in general, have a loose sense of morality. If it doesn’t hurt another member of the crew, with the obvious exception of fighting, then it’s usually okay. Fighting is always acceptable behavior, though if an enemy is around, a goblin is expected to stop fighting the other crew member and start fighting the enemy. Common sense rules like that are the cornerstone of goblin society. 

That brings us to the topic of goblin social structure. Goblin society is feudal. They organize in crews, bound by familial ties or friendship. These associations are loosely formed, and if a goblin wants to go it alone, no one holds a grudge. A crew may have two or three leaders at a time. It is not unusual for goblins to disagree, so sometimes they have no real leader at all. Though they fight with each other like crazy, but they are deeply loyal in times of trouble and would do anything for the other members of their crew. No female goblins appear in The World Below, but this mystery will be investigated in the Chronicles of the Goblin King: Book Three.  

Thank you so much for joining me. I hope you enjoy The World Below. Please visit me at


Chapter One

Baron Finkbeiner sat upon his throne, eagerly awaiting the arrival of his guest. Unable to contain his irritation, he fidgeted ceaselessly, first drumming his fingers and then wringing his hands. Patience was not one of his virtues. He sent his guards to fetch Jason Hume hours ago and he was tired of the delay.

Perhaps you got the better of them, he mused, unconcerned about the fate of his guards. Jason Hume was no ordinary man. It was said he had abilities strange and terrible. That was why the Baron needed him so badly. No, I would have heard something by now.

At last the Baron lifted his great bulk from the throne and climbed down to the dirt floor. Perched on a dais made of fifty-five gallon drums, the throne was an odd looking contraption.

It was an old lawn chair, covered in scraps of aluminum foil, streamers, gold stars, and pinwheels. Ornamented plastic soda bottles hung from the armrests and spun in circles even though there was no wind. Party lights were strung along its frame, blinking like many-colored stars. All of this contrived to make it look less like the garbage it was in the dim light.

The rest of the chamber was not nearly so charming. The place was dank and poorly lit. The walls were paneled in roughly cut wood, boards four foot long nailed into squares--the type of pallet used in commercial shipping. Water seeped in through the walls and mud was everywhere.

When he reached the floor, a puddle was underfoot and Finkbeiner had to be careful not to slip. Despite the hazards, his impatience drove him to pace back and forth, stretching his muscles and fiddling with a length of cord about his waist. The act did little for his state of mind. As time continued ticking by, he became more and more agitated.

Hearing something, he stopped short. There were voices, indistinct, distant. Booted feet approached, stomping and shuffling upon the floor. As they drew nearer, the Baron could recognize the feral grunting of his guards.
They were short of breath, but whether through exertion or fear, Finkbeiner could not tell. He then realized it was a struggle for control. It was all a game. Their prisoner was resisting, not so much as to earn punishment, but enough to make their work difficult.

With a sly smile on his face, he slipped his feet from his low cut shoes and dug them into the mud. The great Earth was his home and gave up its secrets like a jilted lover. He wiggled his toes, his keen senses reading the small vibrations in the ground.

The smile swept across his features, impossibly wide. His guest had finally arrived.

Only then did Baron Finkbeiner remember the most important part of the meeting. Giggling as he went, he hurried over to a corner of the chamber where he found an old chest. It was a sturdy thing of wood and iron with a modern lock fitted into the hasp.

After a brief search of his pockets, he produced a small key and inserted it into the lock. It failed to turn. Uttering a few curses, the Baron tried to force the key to work. No matter how profane his commands became, the lock would not open.

Giving up, the Baron returned to his pockets. He wore a robe made of various scraps of fabric. It looked more like a patchwork quilt than the attire of nobility. Once the garment had been brightly colored, but now it was faded and tattered.

Pockets of all kinds were sewn within the patches of fabric --even the Baron did not know them all. As the footsteps in the corridor grew louder, his search became desperate, even frantic. He found coins, charms, parchments, safety pins, buttons, even a whole watermelon--he had no idea how that gotgot there--but no key.

“Oh!” he exclaimed, snapping his fingers. He remembered a cord hanging around his thick neck.

At the end of the cord was a brass key. It fit into the lock, and, with a turn and a click, opened the chest. Inside was a crystal ball the size of a fist. The ball was alive with energy, softly glowing white. With a satisfied grin, Baron Finkbeiner took the crystal ball out of the chest and thrust it into a pocket of his robe just as his guest entered the room.

Standing in the doorway, one of the guards announced, “You are in the presence of his Excellency, Baron Finkbeiner, Dragon of Worms, Lord and Protector of the World Below.”

“No need to be so formal on this occasion,” said the Baron. His thick hands fidgeted, touching the crystal ball time and time again. “Mister Hume, welcome, welcome. Do please come in.”

Where Baron Finkbeiner was short and rather stout, Hume was his opposite. Lean and muscular, he towered over the guards. Even though he had a burlap sack over his head, he would not suffer anyone to guide him as he marched into the room.

“You may remove his blindfold,” Finkbeiner ordered the guards.

The guards weren’t human. They stood on two legs and had two arms, but there all similarities ended. They had piggy faces and squint eyes. Their ears were large and floppy.

With a hand that looked more a cloven hoof, one of the guards did as he was told. When the bag came off, Hume scowled, his quick eyes darted from one side of the room to the other, taking everything in.

“What?” snapped Hume.

“No need to be so rude,” the Baron replied, pleased with himself. He was unable to keep his hand from entering the pocket of his robe and fingering the crystal ball once more.

With a wave of his hand, he released the guards. They backed away.

“Following the ancient accords, I have invited you here in good faith to make a bargain.”

“What is it?”

Pacing thoughtfully back and forth, the Baron said, “Something valuable has been stolen from me.”

“You drag me all the way here because you can’t look after your toys?”

“Now, now, let me finish. This is no trifle I am speaking of. The Blade of Caro has been taken.”

Hume burst into laughter. “What goes around comes around.”

“It is rightfully mine,” said Baron Finkbeiner indignantly. Perpetuating the lie he was so accustomed to telling, he went on, “I won it in a duel. The spoils of combat give me right to claim it as my own.”

“So, Frick and Frock here let the only weapon that can kill their boss get stolen? I’d hate to see their bonuses at the end of the year.” Hume crossed his arms. “What makes you think I’ll get it for you?”

“Because of this!” said the Baron, holding out the crystal ball with a flourish.

“So what? I can get one of those off the internet for twenty bucks.”

“Look inside.”

The Baron held out his hand. The crystal ball began to shine with the purest light--warm and sensuous as a spring morning. The light grew brighter andmore intense, filling the room. It was alive with power, enchanting in its simple beauty, and drawing every living thing toward it.

Lightning struck the ceiling and floor, then the walls on all sides. The pallets were blown to splinters. Thick mud oozed through the gaps like blood. A half-second later, the thunder clap was deafening.

The guards fell to the floor, holding their ears. Shards of wood protruded from their scaly skin, shedding dripping blood as black as tar.

When the smoke cleared, the Baron stood frozen with his hand clutching the crystal ball. He hadn’t been touched. Neither had Hume.

“What kind of a stunt was that?” said Hume dangerously. Electricity sparked at his fingertips.

“Sorry, sorry, my fault,” the Baron sputtered. “I should have explained. All I meant was to have you take a look inside.”

“You can’t trap me in that,” Hume said slowly, as if to a halfwit. “Try it and the Blade of Caro will be the least of your problems.”

“No, no, you are quite right. No tricks--you have my word.”

“That’s worth a pile of dung.”

Extending his hand, the Baron asked, “Please? Have a look?” He smiled his wicked smile, showing a mouthful of pointed teeth.

Glaring, uneasy, Hume did as he was asked.

Light from the crystal ball shone once more. This time Hume gave himself up to its magic, allowing the warm light to surround and envelope him. His skin tingled. He looked up and found the Baron travelling into the light with him.

“Here we are. Not much longer now,” the Baron reassured him.

They floated in a blue sky. The air was fresh and smelled of flowers. Clouds as thick as cotton dotted the air around them. Below was a little homestead. The walls were made of logs and the roof of shake shingles. There was a wide garden with a cherry orchard and strawberry patch. A pasture held a jersey cow and a pair of goats. Chickens pecked in the yard.

“Nice place,” Hume said noncommittally.

“I try to make my guests as comfortable as possible.”

“Prisoners, you mean.”

“Yes, quite so, but let’s not quibble over semantics.”

“Your prisoners wouldn’t call it that.”

They landed on the garden path and walked up to the front door. A knock on the door was met with silence. No one was home.

“This way, I think,” said the Baron. “My prisoner, as you say, will not be able to see us or touch us. We are only observers, not really here at all if you take my meaning.”

“Shared illusion. I know the drill.”

“Good, then it goes without saying we cannot harm each other either.”

Hume gave the Baron a sidelong glance. “I’m losing patience.”

“Temper, temper,” the Baron said wickedly, leading them down the garden path. “I rule here.”

At the far side of the orchard, they found a trail to a little stream. The grass was thick and insects buzzed around their ears. A garter snake a foot long and thin as a pencil raced across the path.

When they came to a stream, they found a girl sitting on the rocks. Her back was turned to them and she held a pole in her hand. She had long, dark hair and a simple sundress with a floral print.

“Bastard,” Hume said. “I’ll kill you, Blade of Caro or no.”

“Now, now,” Finkbeiner said wickedly. “Nothing has changed. We remain in my throne room and I still hold the crystal in my hand.”

The sky went dark. Storm clouds grew thick above them. The chattering birds went silent. From the forest arose the voices of monsters. They growled and snorted. An odd collection of noises collected in what must have been a sentence. Whatever was said brought a roar of laughter and rush of activity. The unseen menace trudged through the undergrowth. Dead wood cracked under their feet. Boulders were kicked out of their away. A deer broke from the forest and ran across the stream. The monsters were close now, almost to the forest’s edge.

The girl turned. Her face was ugly with fear.“By my whim your sister remains safe or is tortured beyond all human imagining. She lives or dies. It’s up to you.”

“This is your bargain?”

The sky cleared. The sounds of the monsters faded into the distance. They were in the Baron’s chamber once again.

“Find the Blade for me.”

“I could refuse.”

Baron Finkbeiner considered the statement. “Come on Hume, I know what you are. Thief, murderer, you’re no better than me. You can do this to save your sister and earn a little coin along the way. Come now, I’ll owe you a big favor if you do this for me. You can’t tell me you haven’t thought about that.”

“How about I take her from you right now and save myself the trouble?”

The Baron smiled a devilish smile, revealing in some part what lay hidden beneath his human façade. “Because I could break it to powder in my hand before you had half the chance.”

Considering for a moment, Hume turned what he thought was an honorific to an insult and replied, “I’ll do it, you rotten worm.”

Unaffected by the intended slight, the Baron said, “Let’s not make it personal. This is business; nothing more. I know that little wench took it, the Lady Elizabeth. She has some noble idea about subverting my authority, no doubt. Find her and get the Blade. Then you can have your sister back without a scratch on her pretty little head.”


“Not so fast. First you must swear by the blood oath not to use to Blade against me or to attack me in any way until our business is done.”

“The blood oath? With you? Forget it.”

The Baron’s hand became a claw at the end of a long tentacle, wrapped tightly around the crystal ball. The implication was all too obvious.

“All right, have it your way, but any dirty tricks and I’ll bring it to you with tongs. That hide of yours may be thick but there are powers beyond the Blade of Caro. Remember what Zeus did to the titans.”

“Yes, just so, I expect. Now come with me. All is prepared.”

For a moment, Hume stood still. Violence loomed as he looked upon the crystal ball. He was fuming but able to keep his emotions under control. Giving Finkbeiner a final, appraising look, he came to a decision and relaxed.

The choice did not go unnoticed. The Baron met his gaze and returned an appreciative nod. His hand was once again in human form. There was no transformation, no morphing of one shape to the next. It just happened.

Returning the crystal ball to the safety of his robe, the Baron put a hand on Hume’s shoulder. The gesture was accepted and they began walking. They didn’t speak as they made their way from the throne room but the tension between them had eased.

The corridors were as broad as they were tall, making gentle curves rather than straight lines. Even the intersection of hallways weren’t square. It was like the entire place was carved from stone by some great serpent, rather than nailed together from scrap wood by the Baron’s slaves.

A short walk brought them to the Laboratory. The room bustled with activity. Live specimens were everywhere. Some of the creatures were bizarre beyond imaging, sprouting thick fur or feathers in spectacular shapes and colors. Others were the product of unlikely coupling. There was a cat with a snake’s head and tail. A small dog had the claws of a lobster.

In most cases, their cages were barely large enough to hold them, let alone allow movement. More of the pig-men tended the various animals, but they cowered in fear upon the Baron’s arrival.

“Please excuse the hubbub,” said the Baron, tittering like a schoolgirl. “It’s the lesser harvest today.”

“Nice,” said Hume, pondering the implication.

“Oh, I do so much enjoy the smell of it. Don’t you?”

Disgusted by the odor, Hume said, “It stinks.”

“That’s fear.” The Baron’s eyes were alight, like he was strung out on some powerful narcotic. “They know what’s coming. The poor brutes aren’t as dumb as they look. Fear and blood, there’s nothing like it.”

A cauldron sat in the center of the room. It was as large as a dumpster, made of hammered copper turned green with corrosion. The lip was covered with the blood and gore of untold heinous rituals. Fire burned underneath, flaming high as they approached. The copper glowed with the heat, shining with a reddish orange light like the sun.

Unaffected by the heat, the Baron walked toward the cauldron. Hume followed a few steps behind. Even though the slaves backed away, neither the Baron nor Hume broke a sweat. This was the Baron’s work. He kept Hume safe until the deal was finished.

Inside the cauldron, a rancid mixture resembling feces was bubbling. The smell was terrible. Hume tried to hold his breath but soon gave it up and covered his mouth with his sleeve.

Withdrawing a knife from his robe, Finkbeiner offered it to Hume. It was a kitchen knife with a wood handle. The blade was serrated, bent with use, and pitted with rust.

Frowning, Hume said, “I’ll use my own.”

“Suit yourself.”

Cutting their hands, they let their blood run into the boiling contents of the cauldron. Smoke fumed and billowed in clouds. The smell was rancid as Lucifer’s breath. It stung the eyes and burned the lungs. Hume could hardly breathe but would not allow himself to cough. They spoke their oaths to each other, the magic binding their minds and bodies to their words.

“Done!” Finkbeiner announced. “Good luck to you. I’ll provide aid however I may. Just ask and it will be done.”

“Thanks,” said Hume, narrowing his eyes. “No need to show me out.”

After Hume left, the Baron returned to the throne room, finding his guards still nursing their wounds. Taking a broken pair of pliers from a pocket, he pulled the worst of the splinters from their bodies. That done, he grumbled an incantation, healing them.

“Mutt, Tigg, I want you to keep an eye on our new friend. Make sure he keeps his part of the bargain.”

“Yes, Master,” grunted Mutt, the bigger of the two, in a rough voice. “You want we should stick a knife in him if he looks to be playin’ round?”

“No, not right away.” He took a small bottle from the shelf, amongst other potions of dubious efficacy. “One drop of this into a pool of water and we can talk. We’ll give our wizard friend enough rope to hang himself, but who knows? He might just do the job I require of him.”

Mutt grinned.

“Now, to make you both a little more presentable. Clothes make the man and so does the skin.”

Returning to the shelf, the Baron sorted through a number of bottles and flasks until he found what he looked for. It was a small, earthenware jug, stopped with cork and dusty with years of neglect.

“This will do the trick, but take care. The effects wear off quickly. I don’t have much, so use small sips whenever you go out in public and only when you absolutely have to. Otherwise stay to the shadows.”

Taking the jug, Mutt nodded acknowledgement.

“Now go; follow him. Find out where he lives and what he does in the world above. You must not fail.”

If you are interested in The World Below by Mike Phillips, you can go to Damnation Books and use Damnation Books Coupon Code: 50worldbelow to get 50% off the book. 

I'd like to thank Mike Phillips for taking the time for visiting JC's Book Haven today!!