Friday, January 16, 2015

5 Heart Review and Blog Post: Making Magic by Donna June Cooper

Making Magic
Books of the Kindling Series
Book 3
Donna June Cooper

Genre: Contemporary Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Samhain
Publication Date: January 20, 2015
Cover - Kanaxa aka Nathalie Gray 

About the Book:
Sticks and stones may threaten bones, but her words can conquer both body and soul.
Books of the Kindling, Book 3
During his law enforcement career, Sheriff Jake Moser has been called to Woodruff Mountain a few times to deal with some rather weird situations. Now, recovering from a bullet wound that should have killed him and fending off his mother’s ravings about the evil that lurks on the mountain, he’s making alternate career plans.
Just as those plans begin to take shape, someone starts kidnapping newborn babies, then returning them unharmed. To make things even more interesting, an irritating adversary from his past has returned to bedevil him in a whole new, delightful way.
After her erratic psychic gift forced her to abandon her home and a promising musical career, Thea Woodruff has spent years trying, unsuccessfully, to atone for the death of Becca Moser, Jake’s sister. Once she has mourned those she’s lost and apologized to those she’s failed, she intends to flee her mountain once again.
Jake would rather she stay to compose a new tune—with him. But their complicated harmony reveals a guilty secret that threatens not only their future, but their lives…
Warning: A temperamental flute-player returns to torment an old flame, but he has other ideas, and the music they make together is combustible—and magical.

Our Review:
Having read the first two in this series (loved them!!), I looked forward to Making Magic with great anticipation – and was not disappointed. On the contrary.
Thea Woodruff has been out of the family circle and away from the mountain for years. Those she left behind considered her lost to them forever. Jake Moser, the local sheriff, sees it the same way, but for very different reasons. Guilt, heartache, and remorse drove them from one another, but somehow, the mountain’s music calls them all back together – for the last time?
Making Magic is a beautiful and powerful story full of all kinds of deep and meaningful emotions. As usual, Ms. Cooper opens our eyes to the wonders of the Appalachian Mountains and her people, while gently schooling us on the woes we are bringing on ourselves and the earth by insensitive practices. In this novel, she also schools us, through her obvious love for these mountains, on the variety of music and musical instruments that are, perhaps, commonplace in the Appalachians. Some of the names seemed familiar, but when I Googled them, just to be sure, I received quite an education, and loved every minute of it.
As usual, Ms. Cooper’s story is beautiful, moving, and a very good read.
Again ~ Very well done. 

MRP would like to extend a very warm welcome to Donna June Cooper, author of Making Magic. Readers, enjoy!

Jake Moser, the hero of Making Magic, is not only a gifted musician, he is also a talented musical instrument maker. Some of the musical instruments that Jake crafts by hand are not widely known. In fact, I had to spend some time figuring out how to describe them to readers might not be familiar with instruments like these or might not have had the chance to hear true Appalachian folk music.

Jake's favorite instrument is the hammered dulcimer. As he describes it: "The hammered dulcimer is like a guitar with no neck, a much bigger soundboard, a lot more strings and two sound holes. And what makes it more fun? You play by whacking on it with tiny hammers." It is truly a gorgeous instrument, both in looks and in sound. And Jake, unlike many dulcimer makers, still hand carves his rosettes – those pretty pieces in the sound holes. It is an ancient instrument found under various names in many countries. In fact, the piano is a direct descendant of the hammered dulcimer.

Jake also makes another little known instrument with a long history – the bowed psaltery. Again, this one has ancient origins, beginning with the zither. But the psaltery was actually reinvented as a bowed instrument in the 1940s.  If you are familiar with an autoharp, the bowed psaltery is similar except without the "automatic" dampers. And instead of being strummed, the bowed psaltery is played with a bow, or with two bows in some cases. Like the mountain dulcimer, it can be held and played in many different ways.

Another instrument which Jake makes is the mountain dulcimer or fretted dulcimer. It is also called the lap dulcimer, because it is traditionally laid in the musician's lap and strummed, but it can be played many different ways. The history of this instrument is interesting and was only recently completely understood. It is also called the Appalachian dulcimer because that is where it originated – in the mountains, apparently as a result of the violin being more time-consuming and difficult to create. It is one of the easiest stringed instruments to learn how to play.

Back when he was a teenager, Jake carved wooden flutes for two important people in his life. The wooden creature on top of the flute is called a "fetish" (That word resulted in some interesting discussions with my editor). The fetish is usually an animal of some significance in the particular tribal tradition, such as an eagle, bear, cougar ("painter"), or coyote.

And finally, Jake carves wooden pendants for necklaces much like the ones above. One of those necklaces plays a rather important role in the book.
So now, when you read Making Magic, you will be able to visualize the musical instruments that play a role in the story!  

Thank you so much for joining us today, Donna June! We really enjoyed the visit. Good luck and great sales with Making Magic, and all of the books in the Magic series.

About the Author: A transplanted mountain girl. As the granddaughter of a coal miner and the great-great-granddaughter of one of the Muscogee people, Donna was raised in the shadows of the Appalachian Mountains - in the beautiful hills of East Tennessee. After getting a couple of college degrees, she was lured away from her mountains by a gorgeous Italian guy, who married her and carried her off to Texas. (Texas, by comparison to her mountains, is very hot and very flat—a fact she points out often to whoever will listen.) Her vocations have included a little bit of everything, including a stint as an IRS tax auditor, a few years managing a bookstore, and a career in the corporate world writing technical courseware and documentation, but her avocation was always writing. She enjoys being walked by her Jack Russell Terrier (if you know Jack's, you understand), belly dancing (excellent exercise and lots of shiny costumes), reading (three books at once, at times), and travel (with family in Italy and England, who wouldn't?) But, like any child of the Appalachians, she doesn’t stay away from her mountains for long, and visits as often as she can.

Author Links:

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Cover Reveal: Surrender by Angela Ford

Angela Ford

About the Book:
Widowed after an explosion in her husband’s warehouse, Lauren Reynolds discovers it wasn’t an accident and there is a hit assigned for her life. Narcotics Agent Brett Donovan is assigned to protect the suburban widow.
He lives for danger. She lives for new shoes at Saks. One night in a motel room with no air conditioning and a sexy naked agent captures her desire.

Will the tangled mess they get weaved into and their secrets lead them back into tangled sheets? Is desire enough when they are from two different worlds? Or are they?

Monday, January 12, 2015

Spotlight and 5 Heart Review: Of Alliance and Rebellion by Micah Persell

  • Of Alliance and Rebellion 
  • Operation: Middle of the Garden Series
  • Book 4
  • Micah Persell

  • Release Date: January 12, 2015
  • Publisher: Crimson Romance
  • Print Length: 213 pages

About the Book: 
A loyal soldier of the Garden of Eden, Anahita is faced with a daunting mission: to slay the three imprisoned immortals who ate from the Tree of Eternal Life. But her Temptation is among these immortals, and once she lays eyes on him, her spirit wars with the Compulsion to both kill and protect him.

After close to nine years of imprisonment and torture, Max Wright is scarred both inside and out. His only driving force is to protect himself and his fellow prisoners from further harm. When a beautiful angel appears in his cell, he’s inexplicably drawn to her, and desire burns between them. Yet, he fears that succumbing to his passion will only lead to ruin.

But rebellion is brewing among the angels, and shocking betrayals have dire consequences. Can Max and Ana protect their hearts and their eternal love?

Our Review:
Well written and compelling, this story of angels and warriors and angel-warriors will have you in its grip from the first page. Stark, gritty, and sometimes tragic, Ms. Persell also weaves hope, love, and a whole lotta sexy into her tale.
Anahita, an angel with goals and aspirations, meets a warrior, Max, a human prisoner of war, who is damaged, but not broken, never broken. Together, they struggle against their very natures and the laws and rules that govern their lives. The outcome? Perfection.
I have had the great privilege of reading all of the books in this series, and they never disappoint. Ms. Persell makes each story different, fresh, and always leaves us cheering. And, as with the others, she leaves a grain, a hint, as to what may be next in line, or who, and we are excited to read the next.
Very well done.

About the Author:
Micah Persell,winner of the 2013 Virginia HOLT Award of Merit for her first novel Of Eternal Life, holds a bachelor's degree in English and a double master's degree in literature and English pedagogy. She is an avid reader of all types of literature, but has a soft spot for romance. She currently teaches high school English classes. Her paranormal romance series, Operation: Middle of the Garden, and her "wild and wanton" editions of Austen's Emma and Persuasion are available through Crimson Romance

Author Links:

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Excerpt and Giveaway: The Thornless Rose by Morgan O'Neill

The Thornless Rose
An Elizabethan Time Travel Novel
Morgan O’Neill

Publisher: Entangled Publishing, LLC
Publication Date: December 29, 2014
Genre: Historical Fiction

About the Book:
No one ever knew what really happened to Dr. Jonathan Brandon back in 1945. He simply disappeared from a London pub, leaving behind an unsolved mystery and his fiancĂ©e—Anne Howard's grandmother. Seventy years later, Anne herself is haunted by the strange tale, along with inexplicable hallucinations straight out of Elizabethan England. Including a scarred, handsome man whose deep blue eyes seem to touch her very soul....

Anne wonders if there isn't something more to the story. Is it even possible that Jonathan disappeared into England's dark past? And why does Anne keep hearing him whisper her name? Because now she too feels the inexorable pull of the past, not to mention an undeniable attraction for a man she doesn't even know.

It's just a matter of time before Anne will step back into history, and face a destiny―and a love―beyond imagining...

Amazon  | iTunes  | Kobo  | BN  

In this scene, time travelers Anne Howard and Dr. Jonathan Brandon are thrown together for the first time.

Anne felt a tingling, a creeping of skin on the back of her neck and arms. She closed her eyes, suddenly feeling faint, when the air stilled beyond anything she had ever experienced.
What the––? From darkening shadows, she gazed out. Oddly, the chapel was brilliantly lit by dozens of candles. Black-clad monks knelt on wooden misericords, praying.
Their soft, collective droning was a counterpoint to her heart’s fierce drumming.
“Wh—what just happened?” Anne stammered, trying to keep the shrill edge out of her voice. “Where’d you come from?”
The monks turned. To a man, their gazes cut through her, sharp and deeply suspicious.
She swallowed in fear. “Where am I? There were tourists. What happened to them?”
Eyes widening, a young monk held up his crucifix. “Woman,” he said, straining to see Anne, “why dost thou speak gibberish? Hast thou no wits?”
“But this is Westminster Abbey, isn’t it?”
“Aye. But if thou seeketh absolution, thou must find the bishop, for we are at prayer.”
Anne took a deep breath and crossed into the light. Gasps exploded from the monks as they gaped at her shorts and bare legs.
“Strumpet! For shame!” a monk shouted.
“Princess of Sodom!” cried another. “Get thee gone!”
Anne backed up, anxious to escape, and quickly turned to avoid the royal tomb directly behind her. She stopped and stared. The place looked nothing like before. Instead of a marble sarcophagus, there was a pile of broken stones heaped on the floor.
She spun toward the monks, still frozen against their misericords. “Where’s the tomb? Queen Elizabeth’s tomb?” she croaked.
Elizabeth?” The young monk rose to his feet. “Would that the foul heretic were dead! There,” he pointed to the heap of stones, “rests our true Catholic queen, Mary Tudor. God rest her soul.”
“Brother Daniel, silence!” shouted another monk. “If the queen’s men hear thy words of sedition...”
But the young monk, Daniel, shook his head, eyes blazing. “Witch, I’ll send thee back to hell!” He lunged at Anne.
Instinctively, she put up her arms, covering her face in a defensive posture. Then, in disbelief, she realized she felt nothing, no contact with her attacker. She turned just as Brother Daniel tumbled behind her onto Mary Tudor’s grave.
Anne looked down at herself, realizing for the first time she was fading away. Her body looked transparent! “Oh, help!” she shouted, panicked. “Help me!”
She started, blinked, and stared. The monks had vanished, the crowd of tourists surrounding the queens’ tomb the same as before. She held out a trembling hand. Her skin looked as it’d always been—she was whole again.
It took her a moment to get her bearings, to steady herself, but then a voice brought her fully around.
“You look like you’ve seen a ghost,” a woman said. “Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” Anne muttered, even though she knew she wasn’t. Shocked, she looked at her shaky hands, again solid, part of the here and now. She shoved them into her pockets and walked on. What just happened?
She picked up her pace, intent on leaving. She shouldn’t have had that shandy on an empty stomach.
The lights suddenly dimmed, the atmosphere hushed, expectant. Just like before!
She halted in her tracks. Flickering candlelight and deep shadows, no tourists. The Abbey was even darker than it had been when she’d seen the monks.
What the hell is going on?
“Anne! Anne!”
Stunned, she turned. A man in costume ran toward her.
“Go back,” he shouted, “back where it’s safe!”
She stood transfixed. As he came closer, she recognized him—his eyes, the scar.
He halted and pulled her tight against him. “I love you, Anne,” he whispered into her hair, “but you have to go with him. Save yourself.”
He stilled her confusion with a tender brush of his lips, and she responded instinctively, their kiss deepening as her body arched against his, her blood ablaze with sudden desire, until the rest of the world seemed very far away.
When he finally drew back, he stared into her eyes, and Anne’s heart seized when she saw his pain, the sheer desperation in his gaze.
The feeling was apparently mutual, because he pulled her close and swore under his breath, “Bloody hell, the bastard will pay for this.”
I don’t understand.
He opened his eyes and stared at something in the distance. “Anne, go now,” his voice cracked, “because I can face anything if I know you’re safe.”
His fingers gently cupped her chin, his touch unleashing more heat. He lifted her face for another kiss, and then—nothing. He was gone. She fought for control, her breathing erratic, her legs threatening to crumble. She touched her lips, still feeling his caress, his soft breath on her skin, but he was gone.
The lights flashed on, the tourists once again milling about, unaware.
“Mummy, they were kissing!”
A small boy pointed at her, but his mother paid no attention.
He saw us! Anne plastered a fake smile on her face until the boy disappeared into the crowd. He saw us, and that means I wasn’t hallucinating. But how? How could Dr. Brandon be here? She touched her lips once more. The way he’d held her, spoken to her, whispered her name, made her believe he was real—and he...
He knew me. But how? A chill enveloped her as the memory of the monk’s stare supplanted Brandon’s.
Trembling, she left the Abbey.

Author Bio:
A chance meeting at a writers' conference brought Cary Morgan Frates and Deborah O'Neill Cordes together, two award-winning authors who connected because of a mutual love of time travel fiction. Collaboration ensued, the search for a pen name the first step in their working relationship. Their maiden names provided the solution - and "Morgan O'Neill" was born. 

Cary and Deborah's backgrounds are uniquely suited to writing stories steeped in atmosphere and history: Deborah has a Master's Degree in history and is a dedicated genealogist; Cary is a talented linguist in French and is currently a student of Latin. They've traveled to Europe's ancient and medieval sites many times, with Cary living on the Continent for five years. 

The Morgan O'Neill time travel novels have received a number of literary awards, including two finalist wins in the Booksellers' Best Awards, two semifinalist wins in the William Faulkner-William Wisdom Creative Writing Competition, first, second, and third place wins for the Mainstream Novel with Strong Romantic Elements category of the Golden Rose Contest, a top ten finalist award in the Pacific Northwest Writers' Conference Zola Awards Literary Contest, and a top ten finalist win in the Orange Rose Contest.

Author Links:
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