Monsters and Magic

Young Adult books aren’t really my thing. New Adult either.

But, I am a total fangirl of all things Estep.Meaning, The first young adult series I read was her Mythos Academy stories, and I only started it because she hooked me with her Elemental Assassin series. Needless to say, she hooked me in, and I devoured each one of them in between awaiting more Gin Blanco.
Now the author has a new young adult series. (and I’m thrilled Gin is still going strong,) and I was lucky enough to get an advance copy!!! (Begging really does work)

So…here’s my thoughts on the new Black Blade series.

This world, fits right alongside that of Mythos and Ashland. Magic and monsters abound, but with the same unique twist/feel as Estep’s other books. I, as a writer, find it fantastic the way she can write each series with it’s own unique feel to the world, yet they all blend so well that you know it’s really all the same world, just each characters view of it. Just like we all live in the same world, but see things so differently due to where, and who, we are. This is just one thing that proves Estep is a talent unlike any other.

In the world of Cloudburst Falls, the most magical place on earth, Lila, our young thief/heroine isn’t as Kick-ass as Gin, but she’s young yet. She’s smart, agile (physically and mentally) and cold hearted when she needs to be. She’s also wicked good with a sword.

She’s a bit of a smart-ass too, which is awesome.

But my mom taught me all about the old traditions. I knew which monsters lived where in town, in the forests, and on the mountain, and what small tributes you paid them for safe passage through their territories. In fact, I’d always thought of the monsters as my own sort of standoffish pets. If, you know, you thought pets that could eat you were cool. Which I totally did.

All of the characters, Lila, Mo, Devon, Claudia even the pixie Oscar and butler Reginald are so well drawn you can picture them in your mind. Estep introduces them all, but keeps the story moving a decent pace, and the action never lags. There’s thievery, assassination attempts, sword fights, pixies with pet turtles, people-eating monsters, and a little romance thrown in to even things out. Oh, and bacon. Lots of bacon.

What more could you possibly want?

I’m not going to say anything else, because I don’t want to get into spoiler territory, but trust me on this, if you like action, adventure, anti-heros with issues, young love, monsters and magic, or any combination of them, then this is for you.  I can’t wait to go deeper into Cloudburst Falls and the scary good times I know are waiting there.

 
cover61742-mediumCold Burn Of Magic by Jennifer Estep

There Be Monsters Here. . .

It’s not as great as you’d think, living in a tourist town that’s known as “the most magical place in America.” Same boring high school, just twice as many monsters under the bridges and rival Families killing each other for power.

I try to keep out of it. I’ve got my mom’s bloodiron sword and my slightly illegal home in the basement of the municipal library. And a couple of Talents I try to keep quiet, including very light fingers and a way with a lock pick.

But then some nasty characters bring their Family feud into my friend’s pawn shop, and I have to make a call–get involved, or watch a cute guy die because I didn’t. I guess I made the wrong choice, because now I’m stuck putting everything on the line for Devon Sinclair. My mom was murdered because of the Families, and it looks like I’m going to end up just like her. . .

READ AN EXCERPT HERE

Cinderella is here!

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Amazon | iBooks | Kobo | Nook

Billionaire Online Dating Service. Let us find your perfect match!

Desperate to find a date to his own charity ball, billionaire Gage Tate agrees to give his friend’s online dating system a try. Tired of gold-diggers and society debutantes, he wants a woman who isn’t after his money, and won’t become a bridezilla-wanna-be when exposed to his high-society world and the trappings of wealth.

She never expected a computer program to be her fairy godmother…

Fiona McKenzie returns home from college to discover the family ranch threatened by foreclosure. Desperate to find a way to earn enough money to pay off medical and mortgage bills, she’ll do practically anything to save the home she loves. Unbeknownst to Fiona, her stepsisters enter her name in an online dating system, which she flat-out tells them she doesn’t have time or the inclination. Her focus is on saving the ranch.

When Gage’s date is reluctant to go out with him, he’s challenged to win her over. After a little digging, he discovers she’s in a tight financially. He sees this as an angle to pay for a date, help her out, with no strings attached when the charity ball is over. Only he didn’t count on falling for the pretty cowgirl, turned Cinderella. With her family ranch on the line, Fiona has no other choice than to accept Gage’s offer and she’s swept into a world of high-society, most girls would consider a dream come true. Fiona isn’t impressed, but finds her prince charming a little to attractive to forget when the spell wears off.

Note: Make a stop at Myla Jackson’s Ugly Stick Saloon in this story and say Hi to old friends.

EXCERPT

If he’d thought his morning couldn’t get worse, he was most certainly wrong.

“Don’t leave love up to luck. Like I told you the first time we met, with the help of my firm and heavily tested computer algorithms, you have a ninety-nine point nine percent chance of finding your perfect match. So, who’s next?”

Leslie Lamb, the woman dressed in a soft gray suit, her blond, shoulder-length hair swinging, turned from the video screen to face the group of men seated around the conference table. On the screen was a picture of the first couple to find success through the Billionaire Online Dating System, or BODS as it was shortened to. Frank Cooper Johnson and his BODS match, Emma Jacobs.

Gage tapped his fingertips against the conference table surrounded by members of the Billionaires Anonymous Club, frankly amazed at how the first test of BODS had turned out. Who knew a computer program could pick the perfect match for one of their own? It had to be a lucky coincidence. Computers couldn’t account for all the human traits and personality quirks.

But Cooper sat back with the biggest grin on his face, happier than a pig in mud.

So happy, Gage shifted in his seat, an itch crawling across his skin. No man could be that in love. Could he? Didn’t he know what would eventually happen? No union lasted these days.

The men had formed the club back when they were five broke college students struggling to get an education at Texas A&M. On their last dime, and facing the distinct possibility of expulsion for various reasons—the most pressing reason having to do with money—they’d made a pact that they’d all become millionaires by the time they turned thirty. They’d formed a plan, stuck with it, finished college, each becoming, not millionaires, but billionaires by age thirty and achieving all their goals.

All except one. The one about getting married and raising a family. They’d all struggled with that one.

A year ago, Gage thought he’d be the first out the chute for the marriage goal. He’d been dating Alicia Welch, a beautiful blond who claimed to be crazy about him. She’d told him she loved him and he’d believed her. In the back of his mind he had images of the family-life some of his friends had grown up with—kids running around the yard, mothers kissing their babies goodnight. For a brief moment in his ambitious drive to the top, he’d paused, thinking this was his chance. Until he’d proposed to Alicia, asking her to marry him and start a family together.

Boy, had he been wrong.

She’d been horrified he’d wanted her to actually bear children. Alicia wanted the marriage without the family, afraid having children would destroy her figure and keep her from traveling the world. If he could promise her no children and an unlimited expense account, she’d marry him.

His ideal shattered, Gage ultimately figured he’d dodged a bullet. He retracted his proposal and went back to work, marriage no longer part of his equation for success.

“Ah, come on, guys. It’s not that bad.” Cooper pulled Emma into his lap. “You heard the lady, I found my perfect match using BODS.”

Gage shifted in his seat, ready for this meeting to be over. He had real issues to work through, like finding a date for the charity ball. “Leslie, you have to change the acronym. BODS might send the wrong signals.”

“Sorry, I have too much invested in letterhead, business cards and promo items to change it now.” She winked at him.

“Just because it worked for Coop, doesn’t mean it’ll work for the rest of us.” Gage drummed his fingers on the smooth surface of the mahogany conference table. “Sounds to me more like a crap shoot.” He leaned back against his seat, ready to tune out of the rest of the conversation.

“You won’t know until you give it a try.” Taggert Bronson stepped up beside Leslie. “Gage, you have a charity ball coming up in a couple weeks, don’t you?”

Gage snapped forward, the ball already making his stomach twist into a knot. He didn’t need to bring it to the attention of the rest of his friends. “Yeah, so?”

“Why don’t you give the system a shot and take the match it finds you. What’s it gonna hurt? At the very least, you’ll have a date for the ball.”

Gage bristled, hating being the one on the spot for the hair-brained scheme. “Who said I didn’t already have a date?”

Tag pinned him with a stare. “Do you?”

Gage thought through all the women he knew for a quick answer, trying to find someone he wouldn’t mind asking to the ball and solve the problem his lying to Priscilla had caused. Unfortunately, most of his go-to girls ran in her circle. They might let slip that his invitation had been at the last minute, and if one of them did, his goose would be cooked with Daddy. “Damn it, no.”

Sean O’Leary leaned over and nudged his arm. “I’m sure Priscilla Langley or Marilynn Tisdale would love to be your date. You could ask one of them. Maybe both.”

“Hell, no.” Gage sat up straight, staring across the boardroom table to Leslie. “Do the women you have signing up for this system know they’re signing up to be matched with a wealthy man?”

Leslie shook her head. “Not at all. Some of them have money of their own and don’t feel a need to marry well. Others may not have the kind of money you gentlemen have, but they are good people with sound ethics and values.” She tipped her chin up. “I hand-select all the applicants for my system to ensure honesty and strong moral fiber.”

Maxwell Smithson snorted. “Well, that rules us out.”

Sean, Tag and Cooper laughed.

Gage didn’t, his mind spinning with the possibility of finding a woman he could feel comfortable with to take to that confounded charity ball. “Can I get a woman who’s down to earth? I’m sick to death of society debutantes and women who are only interested in the size of a man’s bank account.”

Leslie held her hand up like she was swearing in at court. “No fortune hunters or debutantes are allowed. Give my system a chance. I promise not all women are after money. Most just want to be treated nicely and maybe find love.”

“I’m not looking for love or happily ever after. But I could use a date for the ball.” He rubbed his chin. A woman unknown to the social elite of Dallas would be good. At least Priscilla wouldn’t have any way of knowing he hadn’t asked her to the ball until after he’d told Priscilla he had a date. And going through with BODS would get the other guys off his back.

“I’m still not believing you’re throwing a ball in the first place,” Sean commented. “I thought you hated that kind of event.”

Gage grimaced. “Trust me. I’d rather slit my throat. Blame it on my image consultant. She insisted I throw one to demonstrate to the public I have a goddamn heart.”

Sean laughed. “You mean it’s not obvious to the media that our buddy, Gage Tate, has a heart of gold? What was it the news called you? Heartless, calculating and…what was the other adjective?”

Cooper, Maxwell and Tag answered as one, “Cutthroat.”

“Yeah, yeah.” Gage glared around the table. “Go ahead and laugh. You’re not the one having to show up and smile for the cameras. Most of you are still anonymous.” He focused on Leslie again, the notion of finding a date for the ball through BODS no longer completely appalling. “My name has been in the media too much lately. Is it possible to use a different name in your system to find a match?”

Leslie’s brows dipped. “That would be dishonest.”

“He’s right.” Tag tapped his chin. “Gage Tate would be an immediate giveaway.”

Sean leaned toward the table. “Why not use your first name?”

“Austin?” Gage considered.

“Sure.” Tag grinned. “No one associates Austin Tate with Gage Tate, Texas’s most eligible bachelor. And it wouldn’t be dishonest since it is your name.”

Gage lifted the monogrammed pen in front of him and flipped it between his fingers, thinking. Haddie had been pushing him to ask one of the daughters of the charity matrons as a sign of good will. If he had a date already lined up for the event, he’d be off the hook. He wouldn’t be pressured into escorting a society princess to an event he already dreaded as much as going to the dentist. “Okay.” He inhaled and let it out slowly. “I’ll do it. But I want to test her out first.”

Max chuckled. “You’re not taking a car for a test drive.”

“In a way, I am.” Gage didn’t do anything without doing his homework first. He wouldn’t be where he was today if he left things to chance. Not since Alicia, anyway. He refused to be humiliated like that, ever again. “I want to know that she’s genuine and down to earth, but not so much of a redneck that she can’t perform in public.”

Emma’s eyes narrowed. “I get it. You want a kind of Cinderella test.”

Gage stared at Emma. “What?”

“You know.” Emma leaned forward. “You want someone who is comfortable dusting furniture or mowing her own lawn, but who can also pull off wearing a dress and smiling in public. You don’t want someone who will embarrass you.”

“Yeah, I guess,” Gage frowned, figuring Emma must think he was a complete jerk. “Hey, we’re talking about a ball, not the rest of my damn life. Whomever I take can’t be intimidated by the high-rollers who’ll be there. I wouldn’t want her feeling uncomfortable.”

Emma nodded. “Of course. Still you don’t want a woman who lets the pretty dress and fancy car go to her head.”

“Yeah. I’ve had my fill of the Priscilla Langleys and Marilyn Tisdales.” He mentally added Alicia Welch to that list.

Sean tilted his head. “Either one of those women knows what to wear and say in front of the big shots of Dallas.”

Coop snorted. “They ought to, they’ve been groomed since birth to marry rich.”

Gage shuddered at the thought of taking Priscilla or Marilyn to anything. “I can’t stand those women. Plastic all the way through. Do they still make women who aren’t only interested in money?”

Emma snorted. “We’re not all money-hungry.”

Gage turned to Leslie. “Seriously, do you have one of those?”

Every Which Way

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What’s this? Oh, this is my June release. Yeah, an anthology with four of my favorite hot and naughty authors. And we’re not recycling older, already published stories, simply to bundle them together. Nope, it’s an all-new story from each of us, and they will be exclusively in this anthology for three months. (anthology will be available in print and download for three months only.)

Every Which Wy will be available for Download, and in Print on June 15th.

Just because Carnal won’t be released until the fall, doesn’t mean you have to wait until then for a new Overwatch story.

My short novella for the EVERY WHICH WAY anthology is going to be about a club member who isn’t main character in any of the books. I’m starting it today, but haven;t come up with a title yet… I’ll share when I do.

Movie Time

The weekend is here and one thing I love to do is watch movies. So I thought I’d share a few recommendations with you, in case you missed these goodies.

The Other Woman (5 Stars)
Oh my God, so fun! Seriously, watch it! It’s a story of unusual friendships, unexpected romance, and fantastic fun revenge. Perfect for what it is meant to be- a fun movie.

Seventh Son (3.5 Stars)
Loved the preview. Which means maybe my expectations were too high? Or maybe it was just my mood. I’ll watch it again when it comes out in DVD but right now my opinion is that this is “Good”. It wasn’t great, but I could see how it could be, if that makes sense? I loved the characters, the monsters, adn the set-up…I think that’s why it’s only good for me. I want it to be the first of many, as I felt like this whole movie was set up for a series or franchise. I left the theater thinking, I want to more of his adventures, with other battles and creatures.

3 Days to Kill (4.5 Stars)
Kevin Costner is an actor I hate to Love. I have no idea why, but he kinda bugs me, yet, I almost always love his movies. This one had some fighting, some intrigue, some laughs and a little romance. Well worth seeing.

R.E.L.I.E.F

I’m going to share an email I just sent to a couple of close friends. I figures since I posted about why I’m behind, which was from the Bad News pile, I should share this, from the Good News pile.

“I just came from my normal doctor- who got all of the test results from all of the different specialists I’ve been seeing and read them and explained everything to me and educated me and I feel so fucking good it’s incredible. You know why? because he said I am not at risk for a stroke. He said all the 14 test tubes of blood and all the test they tested everything protein levels freaking anti-viper venom or something and they all came back negative. So, according to him I am one of “those rare birds” who just had a Vienous occlusion. He said it wasn’t even an arterial one so there’s no need for me to be panicky about a stroke!!

I swear I almost started to cry I was. So relived, I never realize until just now how scared and freaked out I truly have been due to all these Dr’s and tests. Go Denial. It’s something I’m very good at But I still need to get my weight down.”

So, I’ve still got to deal with the vision issues and headaches and eye injections and such, but the big bad scary risk of a Stroke part of it is over. Like I said in my email, I’m surprised at how much relief I actually felt. I’m so good at the denial thing that I wasn’t even really aware of how freaked out I was until this afternoon when my Dr said, “You are not at risk of a stroke, so far as we can tell.”

I’m still way behind on my goals, and I do still have to do another follow-up with the Dr’s at the Stroke Prevention Clinic though, because they still don’t know why this thing happened, and they want to know why. Me, I don’t care why, as long as it’s clear it is NOT a symptom of a possible brain stroke on it’s way.

Time to kick some writing ass…:)

Working it.

I’m way behind on my plans for 2015. I’m not even a third of the way into the next Overwatch book. Yeah, the one I hoped to release in March. Might still make it, by the end of March or in time to have some ARCs at The Novel Experience, if luck can stick with me for just a bit.

 A while ago I blogged about having an Occular Stroke. It seemed like such a small thing. An artery in my eye bursting, and creating some blurryness. Well, turns out it’s a bit more than that. I started getting the injections to help heal it right away, and silly me, I thought they’d just sort of effect me for the day or two after the injection, but it didn’t.

When I went in at the start of Feb to get the last one I told the Dr. I wanted to stop because I’d had more headaches in the past 4 weeks than I’ve had in the past 5 years. (Needless to say I didn’t get much any writing done in January.) And some days, when I don’t have a headache, my vision is just fucked up. I can’t even read anything, glasses on or off, everything is just fucked. No matter how big I made the font on the screen, I couldn’t seem to get anything in focus. I started to use dictation on emails and some things, but I’m struggling with trying to dictate the story because when I write, I don’t really think. I know that sounds bad, but I just sort of get into character and then type, and if I think too hard, I stall out. Well, the dictating makes me think too hard. LOL

The other thing that’s kept me from writing is visiting the Stroke Prevention Clinic. I went there in January to have a shitload of tests done, and they confirmed that I do not have Diabetes, or high blood pressure. My BP is in fact, a bit low, but not at a point of concern yet. My cholesterol is fine, my heart is fine…the only thing they can see that is a risk factor for me is my weight, and stress situations. (And last year was very stressfull for me with two very unexpected deaths and the side effect from those as well as launching the Overwatch series and getting back to my career) They took some blood for more tests (14 Tubes!!) and I haven’t heard anything major, so I’m assuming all turned out well there. However, I still have to go into the clinic and be monitored for my weightloss and stress levels because without a clear indicator of why I had the ocular stroke, they’re saying it was basically a warning sign of a brain stroke to come if I don’t get my shit together, fast.

Yep, nothing like that for a kick in the ass to help me get me back into a regular exercise routine. But, I’ve never been a person who thrives on ‘regular’ or ‘routine’ so it’s hard for me. I made the choice to not worry about being behind on my writing, because stressing about it really is not a healthy thing. :) I hate to disappoint readers, and myself, because I’d planned to have the next Overwatch book for the conference in April, but I have to remember what’s important here, and if I want to keep writing for years to come, I need to find a way to live a healthier lifestyle right now. So that’s taking precedence over everything else, including writing.

I’m also still getting the eye injections (Another one on Tuesday, Yay!) because despite me feeling like it’s getting worse, the Doc assures me it’s working and the swelling has gone down and the fluid is disappearing. So, I’m behind on pretty much everything, but I’m still going. And I’m being a good girl on the diet and exercise front. Mostly. (I was doing good until my stationary bike broke almost 2 weeks ago, now I need to find a gym nearby)

This does mean not getting near as much writing done as I wanted/planned. But I’m still moving forward, slowly but surely, and thats all that matters. When you want something, you don’t give up. Right?