Tuesday, August 22, 2017

Rotten Magic by Jeffrey Bardwell - Book Review



Synopsis
Devin will do anything to win. Even resort to magic!

Devin competes to become the best artificer in the mage phobic Iron Empire. Who needs magic when you can master the art of machinery? The other apprentices envy his genius and skills . . . especially Benson. Every apprentice hones their craft building and fighting in crude prototypes of powered armor. Some add frills, others barbs or horns. When Devin transforms himself into a mechanical dragon to slaughter the competition, Benson steps into the role of dragon slayer.

But Devin harbors a secret as he claws his way to the top of the Artificer's Guild: he's a mage. These new abilities are thrilling and frightening, and the voices more so. How long can Devin be content wearing a steel dragon mask when the seductive promise of true arcane power whispers in his ear?

Experience the novella prequel to the Artifice Mage Saga: a fantasy steampunk brawl of metal vs. magic where sorcery is bloody, science is greasy, and nobody's hands are clean.



Buy Links
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My Review
Rotten Magic is a sort of prequel to the main series of books, known as the Artiface Mage Saga, by Jeffrey Bardwell.

Rotten Magic tells the story of Devin, who is a young apprentice with the Artifacer's Guild. The only problem is, Devin has a secret he can't share with anyone. Only his little sister, Misera, knows he can do "something special" with his hands, and it's not creating machines to help the Guards or anyone else.

Devin is also part of a game played by fellow Guild members, but he happens to be the villain rather than one of the heroes. However, he seems perfectly happy with that. He's always felt different, and being the villain lets him embrace that.

Later in the book, something Devin does (I won't spoil it) sets off the chain of events for the very end of the story that I assume segues into the beginning of the first book in the series.

Overall, the book isn't a bad read. It's a new take on steampunk fantasy, with machines, magic, and mayhem. Dragons seem to be Devin's obsession, hence his desire to create a machine that shoots flames.

The plot is a bit slow to start, but I found myself rushing through the book once I got about 1/4 of the way in. It picks up, and you find yourself curious to see where the story is going to go, and how it's going to end.

The characters aren't super well-developed, but they're not completely one-dimensional. I did think their dialogue, at times, was a bit off. Like with Devin's mom. Some of the things she said didn't really seem like realistic "mom" dialogue, if you will. There are characters you will like, and some you won't, but they don't get a ton of development in the story.

There were also some editing errors I noticed, but I tried not to let them detract from the story.

Overall, not a bad read, and I'm curious to see where the series will lead readers. I give Rotten Magic 4 stars.



Author Bio
Jeffrey Bardwell is an ecologist with a Ph.D. who loves fantasy, amphibians, and reptiles. The author devours fantasy and science fiction novels, is most comfortable basking near a warm wood stove, and has eaten a bug or two. The author populates his own novels with realistic, fire breathing lizards. These dragons are affected by the self-inflicted charred remains of their environment, must contend with the paradox of allometric scaling, and can actually get eaten themselves.

The author lives on a farm, is perhaps overfond of puns and alliterations, and is a gigantic ham. When not in use, he keeps his degrees skinned and mounted on the back wall of his office. Email at: jhbardwell@gmail.com 

Love is Death by L.P. Masters - Book Tour + Giveaway


Love Is Death
The Afterdeath Book 1
by L.P. Masters
Genre: YA Paranormal  

Gina’s plan for her afterlife is simple: survive as long as possible. The
afterlife is a ghost-kill-ghost kind of place. When she meets
newly-dead Alec, she can’t help her desire to protect him. Before
she knows it, she finds herself falling for him, despite the little
voice in her head telling her it’s a bad idea. Alec’s goals don’t
mesh well with Gina’s plans. Determined to save his living sister
from a murderer, he’s willing to disobey the laws of a
well-established cult in the afterlife. If the cult finds out,
they’ll kill him. Again. He’s hesitant to accept Gina’s help
and threaten her afterlife, but he’s guaranteed to fail without
her. Together they embark on a perilous mission, but the most
dangerous aspect of all is the threat of falling in love. Because in
the afterlife... love is death.


"Why are you doing this?" Alec asked abruptly.
My breath hitched. I didn't know how to answer. The same question had plagued me since we'd left the Chinaman's warehouse. Why was I doing this? I knew the answer in my gut, but I didn't want to say it.
I did anyway.
"Because I don't want to see you get hurt ag…"
I barely stopped myself before I said again, then wondered if he'd noticed. I frowned when it became obvious that he had, but thankfully I was turned away from him looking out the windshield.
"What was that?"
"I said I don't want to see you get hurt."
He was quiet for a moment. "Did you say again?"
The wiper blades must have swished water off the windshield at least ten times before I said anything. I tried to come up with an excuse, but I finally decided the truth would be the best option.
"Yes. Again." I looked out the window. I couldn't bear to see him. "I was there when you got shot."
"Yes!"
His response surprised me, so I turned around in my seat to look at him.
"I knew I wasn't crazy."
I shrugged. "I'm not so sure about that. But how does my being there mean you're sane?"
"I told Gary that I saw you before I died, and he told me it was impossible. I swore when I first met you that I'd…" His eyes glazed over as if remembering what he'd done. "I asked you for help."
I forced a smile even though I desperately wanted to cry. "Begged was more like it."
"But you left."
I faced forward again. This was precisely the reason I hadn't wanted to tell him I was there. He didn't even realize what I'd done for him, the danger I'd put myself in to try to save him. I could have told him but I was filled with rage that I'd even tried, and filled with guilt that I had failed.
"I'm sorry." Alec sat forward and placed a hand on my shoulder. Like every time he touched me, I felt that incredible heat rushing down my arm and into my core. He shook his head. "I'm not mad at you. In fact, knowing what I know now, I'm glad you left."
I held my breath to keep myself from saying anything. I wanted to tell him I hadn't left, but at the same time, I was determined not to.



Born and raised in the rainy streets of the Seattle Area, L.P. Masters
spent her fair share of time staring out rain-streaked windows and
writing books. Masters has always had extremely vivid dreams, which
often spark inspiration for her novels. In 1999, after one such
dream, Masters began her first writing project. She has participated
in National Novel Writer's Month every November since 2010. Writing
isn't the only thing she can do with a pen in her hand, she also
enjoys sketching and drawing—with varying degrees of success.
Masters now lives in the slightly-less-dreary city of Spokane
Washington with her husband and two wonderful daughters.




Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts, guest posts and a giveaway!





Deadly Confections by S.E.Babin - Cover Reveal + Giveaway





Title: Deadly Confections (Bloom & Gloom Mysteries #1) 

Author: S.E. Babin 

Genre: Cozy Mystery 

Release Date: August 29, 2017 

Cover Designer: Viola Estrella

Hosted by: Buoni Amici Press, LLC. 












Life wasn’t all that great when you were dead.

Piper was the head baker of Secret Confections in the scorching hot small Texas town of Babylon. Or...at least she was until she died. Struck by one of her own out of control cupcake trucks, Piper’s soul left her body and managed to somehow find its way into Purgatory. Turned out, the waiting room for Heaven and Hell was a small, invisible town in Texas.

Just her luck. She’d always wanted to leave Texas and ended up being stuck there for the rest of her afterlife.

But things weren’t all bad. She has a new bakery and new semi-kind of life. Until a guy rushes into her shop and dies right on top of her brand new ceramic floor.



Which might not have been that bad until he uttered the one word that was instant death to the livelihood of a baker with a brand new business.




USA Today Bestselling author S.E. Babin has a passion for writing books with a paranormal twist. Whether it's romance or mystery, she loves taking the norm and turning it into the extraordinary. Her love of reading turned into a curious exploration to see whether or not she could write her own novel. Beginning with discarded pages of angsty novels and a slightly popular reimagining of Beowulf's Grendel in her high school English class, Sheryl spent way too much time in the library, killing any chance of her becoming a cheerleader or anything even remotely cool.












The Forger by Michele Hauf - Book Tour + Giveaway


THE FORGER
Elite Crimes Unit #2
by Michele Hauf


Genre: Romantic Suspense

Pub Date: 8/8/2017


Olivia Lawson’s bosses at Scotland Yard don’t take her work very
seriously. Art and antiquities? Bor-ing! But her latest
investigation, at London’s world-renowned Tate, is turning out to
be far more explosive than anyone expected. In fact, the vandalized,
booby-trapped painting hanging on the gallery wall would have blown
her off her feet if it wasn’t for the tall, dark-haired stranger
who tackled her at the last second—a stranger as finely sculpted as
any masterpiece in the museum.
Ethan Maxwell is working this case for the Elite Crimes Unit because it was
a choice between that and lockup. A (barely) reformed art forger,
he’s got the expertise to lead Olivia through a dangerous manhunt.
But the crime may have a more personal connection to him—and the
all-too-real feelings he’s developing toward Olivia could pull her
into the line of fire too . . .




THE THIEF
Elite Crimes Unit #1

The Elite Crimes Unit works behind the scenes of Interpol—and employs
some of the world’s most talented criminal minds. Because as
everyone knows, it takes a thief to catch a thief—or to seduce one
. . .
The old farmhouse in the French countryside is a refuge for former jewel
thief Josephine Deveraux. Admittedly, there aren’t many men in the
vicinity, but she has her cat to cuddle up with. It’s a far cry
from her former life, constantly running from the law, and she’s
enjoying her peace . . . until the intruder in the three-piece suit
tackles her. He wants her back in the game, helping with a heist—and
he’s not above making threats to get his way.
Little does Josephine know that notorious—and notoriously charming—thief,
Xavier Lambert, is after the very same 180-carat prize she’s being
blackmailed to steal. To his chagrin, he’s doing it not as a free
agent, but as a member of the Elite Crimes Unit—the team he was
forced to join when his brilliant career came to a sudden end. And
little does Xavier know that his comeback is about to include a
stranger’s kiss, a stinging slap, and a hunt for missing
treasure—along with the infuriatingly sexy woman who’s outfoxing
him . . .


Josephine Devereaux strode through the open front screen door into the kitchen. Creamy golden evening light spread quiet warmth across the aged hardwood floors. The old farmhouse had stood on this plot in the southern French countryside for centuries. She’d had the pleasure of owning it for two years.
Setting a clutch of fresh carrots pulled from the rain-damp garden into the sink, she spun at a tiny meow. Behind her, the two-and-a-half-year-old Devon Rex cat with soft, downy fur the color of faded charcoal batted at the hem of her long pink skirt.
“Do you want fish or chicken tonight, Chloe?”
She opened the refrigerator to find the only option was diced chicken, left over from last night’s supper. Her neighbor, Jean-Hugues, had butchered a rooster yesterday morning and brought her half.
The cat went at the feast she’d placed on a saucer with big elf ears wiggling appreciatively. Chloe had come with the farmhouse. The couple moving out hadn’t wanted to bring along a kitten on their overseas move to the United States. It had been love at first purr for Josephine.
She smiled at the quiet patter of rain. And then she frowned. “Mud,” she muttered. And she hated housecleaning. She had never developed a domestic bone in her body and didn’t expect to grow one.
She’d spend the evening inside, maybe finish up the thriller she’d found on Jean-Hugues’s bookshelf. He always encouraged her to take what she wanted—she was a voracious reader of all topics—and she gave him vegetables from her garden in return.
Not that she was a master gardener. Jean-Hugues tended the garden, along with the few rows of vines that produced enough grapes for one big

barrel of wine. Jean-Hughes was sixty, but he flirted with her in a non- confrontational, just-for-fun manner, which she appreciated probably more than a twenty-six-year-old woman should.
Living so far from Paris made it difficult to find dateable men, let alone a hook-up for a night of just-give-it-to-me-now-and-leave-before-the-sun- rises sex. But that’s what grocery trips to the nearest village were for. If the mood struck, she’d leave in the evening for eggs, bread, and a booty call, and find her way out of bed and back home by morning.
Sighing, Josephine forgot about the dirty carrots in the sink and padded barefoot to the lumpy jacquard sofa that stretched before the massive paned window at the front of the cottage. The window overlooked a cobblestone patio, which stretched before the house and also served as a driveway, though no cars used it. She didn’t own a car. And she never had visitors, save Jean-Hugues, and on occasion the neighbors who lived on the other side of him. They were newlyweds, Jean-Louis and Hollie, and they spent most of their time by themselves. And that was exactly how Josephine preferred it.
She picked up the book, and the creased spine flopped open to the last page she’d read.
An hour later, she had to squint to read because the sun had set. Splaying the book across her chest, she closed her eyes and breathed in the fragrance of rain on fieldstones. Chloe nestled near her foot, keeping her ankle warm. The screen door, still open, squeaked lightly with the breeze. Everything was….
Peaceful? Was that a word she was supposed to embrace? To somehow understand?
“I am embracing it. Life is good.”
Or rather, more different than she could have ever imagined it would be. She set the book down, but the sound she heard was not of a paperback book hitting the wood floor. Josephine closed her eyes to listen intently. The floor creaked carefully above her, where the bathroom was located.
It did not indicate the aches and pains of an aging house. This house had settled long ago.
Curling her hand beneath the sofa, she gripped the cool bone handle of the bowie knife she’d tucked up into the torn fabric amongst the springs and pulled it out. Pointing the blade down, she took a deep breath and stood up. Moving sinuously, she crept around the end of the sofa. Her free hand skimmed over Chloe’s body, comforting and promising she’d return. The cat purred but thankfully didn’t follow.
 Upstairs, it was silent. Josephine wasn’t easily spooked by natural noises, but that had not been a natural noise. And she wasn’t unnerved now. Just…. annoyed.
This was her sanctuary. No one knew where she had disappeared two years ago. Very few had known her location before that. But since then, she’d completely erased herself from the grid. Therefore, whoever was stupid enough to break in was looking to rob a random person. And they had to know she was home, which meant the intruder did not fear an altercation.
Tough luck for that idiot.
On the other hand, she had only herself to blame for leaving the ladder up against the north wall after knocking down a wasp nest this morning. Approaching the stairway, which was worn in the center of the stone risers from decades of use, Josephine tugged up her maxi skirt and tucked in one side at the waist to keep from tangling her legs in the long, floaty fabric. The stairs were fashioned from limestone; no creaks would give away her position. Barefoot, she padded up six steps to a landing. Ahead,
around a sharp right turn, rose another five steps to the second floor.
Hearing the creak of a leather sole, she realized the intruder had stepped onto the stairs. But where was he? Waiting for her to spin around the corner? He probably thought she was still downstairs relaxing on the couch.
Which gave her the advantage.
With her right arm thrust out, knife blade cutting the air, she rushed forward. As she turned the corner on the stairway, the intruder grabbed her wrist, forcing it upward to deflect the blade from stabbing his face.
Josephine yanked her arm back, causing the intruder to lose his balance. His weight crushed her against the plaster wall, and they struggled on the landing. Although it was dark in the stairway, she could see that he wasn’t an average intruder—most tended to not wear three-piece suits. He was about her height and lean. She did not doubt she could take him out.
He managed a weak knee to her gut, but she didn’t even wince. She rammed her head against his shoulder. He twisted his waist, knocking her off-balance. They spilled backward. Her hip landed his thigh as they slid down the stone stairs.
They landed on the kitchen floor, Josephine on her stomach, with the intruder on top of her. The knife flew out of her hand and skittered across the floor, landing before Chloe’s toes. The cat bent to sniff the weapon.
“Chloe, no!” she shouted. The cat scampered under the sofa.
The intruder grabbed Josephine by the hair at her neck and lifted her head. Just when he would have smashed her face against the floor, she kicked him right between the legs. His fingers instantly released the pinching hold on her neck. He swore and dropped beside her.
Scrambling across the floor, she grabbed the knife and stood, flicking on the light switch on the wall, and moving to stand over the attacker.
“What the hell?” she gasped. “You?”
Michele Hauf has been writing romance, action-adventure and fantasy stories
for over twenty years. Her first published novel was Dark Rapture
(Zebra). France, musketeers, vampires and faeries populate her
stories. And if she followed the adage “write what you know,” all
her stories would have snow in them. Fortunately, she steps beyond
her comfort zone and writes about countries she has never visited and
of creatures she has never seen.






Follow the tour HERE for exclusive excerpts and a giveaway!