Monday, March 27, 2017

Realm Explorers Part XCIV: Visit Kyure with Sarah White

Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don't forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

Halayda Front Cover

Author’s name: Sarah Delena White

Title of book and/or series: Halayda (Star-Fae Trilogy book 1)

Brief summary of the story:

A mortal alchemist. A faerie king. A bond that transcends death.
Betrayed by a trusted mentor, Sylvie Imanthiya hides on the fringes of society, caring for half-fae orphans and trading her alchemical creations on the black market. She lives for the one night each season when she can see her dearest friend—a man whose destiny is far above hers.

King Taylan Ashkalabek knows better than to exchange halayda vows with a mortal. Even their friendship is a risk; love is an impossible dream. Then a brutal alchemical attack poisons his realm, unearthing a dark power within him—and leaving Sylvie with the ancient mark of Faerie’s savior.

Manifesting unpredictable abilities and aided by allies with their own secrets, Sylvie and Taylan journey into the wilds of Faerie to heal the damage and confront Casimir, an invincible star-fae determined to claim the realm as his own. But only their enemy knows Sylvie’s true capabilities—and Taylan’s weaknesses—and how to use them in his vicious schemes.

Sparkly forest
Sparkly Forest
Her fate is life. His fate is death. With Faerie in the balance, Sylvie and Taylan must stand together before reality as they know it is destroyed.
Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:

Halayda is set in Kyure, a world with several dimensions. The story begins in Sabellyn, a prosperous human city-state with Steampunk technology. It’s a city of industry and trade, located along a major river. Just outside of the city is a gateway into Faerie, a wild land of magic, strange peoples, and semi-sentient forests and mountains.

If we were to visit Kyure as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?

Make sure you go to Sabellyn on a solstice or equinox day! At each change of season, the fae visit the city and hold lavish celebrations to honor the peace treaty between Faerie and the mortal world. Sabellyn is usually pretty drab, but on these days it comes alive with color and magic.

What dangers should we avoid in Kyure?

If you venture into Faerie, make sure you have a trustworthy guide. There are plenty of stories about mortals going there for adventure or a fling with a fae lover and never returning. When you’re in Sabellyn, stay away from the high-ranking alchemists—unless you want to risk becoming a science experiment.

Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Kyure?

Depends where you go! Each fae people has a favorite food: spiced river weeds for naiads, rich chocolates for Maithe, raw venison for the Wild Hunt (I recommend skipping that last one). The food on Sabellyn is a lot more practical and less interesting (just ask Taylan for his opinion on oatmeal).

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Kyure?

The fae have developed an intricate, elegant sword-fighting style, and they also incorporate magic into their weapons and fighting techniques. On their own, humans are no match for the fae in battle. They’ve spent centuries developing weapons that can effectively counter the fae, though, resulting in excellent firearms and an arsenal of lethal alchemical potions.
Fairy hounds
Faerie Hounds

What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Kyure?

Most people in Sabellyn travel on foot or by horse-drawn carriages, or by train or river barge if they’re venturing beyond the city. If you’re traveling in Faerie, you’re walking, unless you can get a ride from a pooka (horse shifter) or a lift from a faerie who’s willing to transport you through the elements. Be careful, though—they’re likely to ask for a favor in return, and that rarely ends well!

What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Kyure that we don’t see on Earth?

Faerie itself is semi-sentient, and the land and trees tend to have strong opinions about trespassers. There are many kinds of fae, but they fall into two main groups: elementals, who have a connection to a certain part of the natural world; and shifters, who can switch between human-like and animal forms. Most of the fae peoples are loosely based on creatures from Celtic mythology, such as banshees, faerie hounds, and the tuatha de dannan.

What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Kyure?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.

Faerie runs on magic (in Kyure, magic is a natural part of the fae realm rather than a supernatural force). The magic, known as glamour, fills all of Faerie and can be used by each fae race in different ways. Some use it to manipulate the elements, such as the banshees, who can travel and communicate through wind. Others, like pookas and the members of the Wild Hunt, use it to shapeshift. Illusions, mind tricks, and emotional manipulation are other common uses of glamour.

Is there any advanced or unusual technology in Kyure?  If you haven’t described it already, please give some examples.

The people of Sabellyn have fairly high technology, including firearms, indoor plumbing, and railroads. Their crowning achievement is alchemy, an elite science that fuses chemistry with soul energy. Alchemy was primarily created as a weapon that could counter fae magic, but it has many other uses, including medicine, protection, and even weather manipulation.

Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Kyure.

A dice game called Ruj is popular in Faerie, especially among the lower classes.
Steampunk 1

Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Kyure as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?

Days and months have different names, but seasons are the same, and years are the same length. The biggest holidays are solstice and equinox days, when the fae and mortal realms come together. The people of Sabellyn also celebrate a few holidays honoring scientific progress and the founding of the city-state, but their celebrations tend to be low-key for the sake of practicality. The fae, on the other hand, will use any occasion as an excuse for a lavish party.

Is there a particular religion practiced in Kyure? Please describe what it involves.

There are no organized religions , but people fervently adhere to certain philosophies. The fae seek pleasure above all things. The “religion” of Sabellyn is progress, and the people of the city-state see scientific advancement and cultural refinement as their highest ends.
Taylan Ashkalabek, King of Faerie
What is the political or government structure in Kyure? Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?

Faerie is always ruled by a monarch, who is the highest magical as well as political power. The current king is Taylan Ashkalabek, who has been in power for 1200 years. He is a capable leader who does his best to govern his unruly realm, but his people see him as a killjoy as best and a traitor at worst. Sabellyn is officially governed by an elected Ruling Council, but its true rulers control the city-state from the shadows.

Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?

A lot of the world-building were influenced by my real-world experiences and interests. I’ve been interested in Celtic folklore and balladry for years, so it was a natural choice to base my faeries on the traditional Irish, Scottish, and Welsh sorts (although I took a lot of liberties!). Subtle traces of Arab and Turkish languages and cultures sneaked in too, thanks to the time I spent in the Middle East. The locations were mostly just wish fulfillment, though!

What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?

None explicitly. My first goal is always to tell a good story. Some subtle commentary on culture worked its way into the world-building, though. There are two contrasting societies in Kyure: the amoral, pleasure-seeking fae and the straight-laced, progress-driven humans. Both of these cultures go extremes and reap the consequences.

DSC_0755bAuthor Biography:

Sarah Delena White was raised by wolves in an alternate dimension. She writes eclectic speculative fiction that reworks mythology with a fine balance of poetry and snark. She’s an experienced world traveler who loves to weave world folklore and ancient concepts into vibrant, original story worlds. She is also the Benevolent Firebird (acquisitions editor) for Uncommon Universes Press. When she’s not writing or editing, she can be found making jewelry, singing Irish ballads, drinking tea, and working a variety of odd jobs. She can be bribed with dark chocolate.

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your books?

You can find Halayda in eBook and paperback form here.
The eBook is also available from Barnes & Noble, Kobo, 24 Symbols, and Apple iBooks

Where can readers connect with you online? Facebook Twitter Pinterest

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Kyure.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to another world in next week's edition of Realm Explorers!
-Annie Douglass Lima

Saturday, March 25, 2017

The Wedding March: a Romance Novel with a Giveaway!

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Book Tour Grand Finale for
The Wedding March
By Tara Randel

We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops, go back and check them out...

Launch - Note from the Author

I hope you enjoy Cassie and Luke’s journey in The Wedding March. And if you’ve read my previous books set in Cypress Pointe, you’ll catch up with familiar characters who pop up in this book. Thanks for stopping by!

— Tara

Falling Leaves - Excerpt

“I’d love to talk to you about your song-writing days. You’ve been—”

He held his hand up “Let me stop you right here.”

She blinked. His sudden displeasure indicated she’d gone too far.

“I’m not going to talk about music careers, song writing or whatever you have your mind set on.”

“I didn’t mean to upset you.”

“You didn’t. I just need you to know I’m not available for whatever it is you want.”

"The Wedding March needs to be on your TBR list. Clean romance, fun characters, and a sweet story. It’s a look at how to deal with the tough-to-love people in our lives, as well as encouragement to hold out hope to the people struggling to find their place. This book will put a smile on your face and in your heart!"

What had she been thinking? How had she expected to pull off a full-blown concert in two weeks’ time? Therein lies the problem. She hadn’t been. Her only thoughts were to impress Luke.

How’s that going?

Cassie paced the stage, clasping her sweaty palms together as the tech team buzzed with activity around her. A late afternoon coastal breeze picked up, swirling the ankle-length sheer skirt around her high-heeled boots, carrying with it the scent of salt water sweetened by the newly blooming orange blossoms. Her entire outfit, a black mesh with gold embellishments around the waist and hem, fit over a black tank minidress. She’d even dyed the pink streak in her hair black to match.

“Are you always so antsy before a performance?”

She shyly glanced at him. “It’s not every day I play with Luke Hastings.”

“It’s no big deal.”

“To me it is.”

He didn’t want to be flattered, but he couldn’t deny the pleasure her words brought. After his ex had pretty much flattened his ego, Cassie was a breath of fresh air. She didn’t try to railroad him. Didn’t go on and on about her place in the music business. She liked his friends. Had come up with this idea to raise money for the Klub using her own resources.

"I really loved the fact that there is a kids at risk program in this book. There need to be more “real world” centers like this. I really loved the teens in this book. They make great secondary characters and their stories are so real. Cassie and Luke are great too, and I love how they get together through songwriting.

Clean romance lovers will really enjoy The Wedding March."

Luke grinned as he viewed the scene before him. Denny and Kyle high-fived, laughing, while a group of kids clapped over their success. Erin stood on the periphery, biting a fingernail. Cassie stood beside him, dripping wet, but smiling. Despite the fact that Luke had just learned someone had stolen money from the Klub, his heart expanded. He’d figure out what was going on and fix this mess, just as Cassie suggested. Maybe even with her at his side.

Bookworm Lisa - Review

"This is a cute and sweet story. The characters have both had a lot of heartache and suffer trust issues. The story is one of forgiveness and learning get to love again."

"I loved the sweetness of the story and even though I am not a fan of mushy lovey stuff, it wasn't heavy in this story. I really appreciated that this romance was clean as well as sweet and fun. All in all, this was a great read and I look forward to not only reading the first three in this series but the rest that will follow. This was definitely a fell good story with all the feels."

Heidi Reads... - Excerpt

“We aren’t talking about me.”

“Maybe we should.”

Her steady gaze held his. His heart pounded. This close, he could see the distinctive shade of green mocking his words. She knew, maybe even better than he did.

“Talent like yours doesn’t go away,” she echoed.

“Maybe it should.”

"I love a romance with some meat to it and this isn't a fluffy insta-love story. The struggles are real and the love is gradual. I love how the romance is mixed with music and the relationships with this group of troubled teens, which combined, puts some cracks in the emotional walls. There is a minuscule thread of mystery, which adds to the tension and makes for an overall well-balanced diet of words."

Mel's Shelves - Review

"I loved this story from the beginning and had a hard time putting it down! Cassie and Luke were both easy characters to like and the romance was natural. There were other great characters and side stories to keep things interesting. It's a fantastic, clean contemporary romance!"

"This is a wonderful tale presented by two different people’s concepts. It is a story of a few individuals raised in a dysfunctional and/or abusive life style. It offers a great concept for “at risk” children. Adventure, mystery and romance atre also a part of this book, written for Adults, but YA will love it, too!" - Lu Ann

"This a fun story. I like the theme of the story. It was quick to capture my attention and then interesting enough to hold it throughout the story. . . .
I would highly recommend this book to other readers. It was a great read." - Vickie

Wishful Endings - Review

"THE WEDDING MARCH is a steady-paced story that involves family drama, a teen outreach program, musical fame, and sweet romance. It embodied this Harlequin line of books with a story that is sure to touch readers' hearts. If you enjoy sweet romance with plenty of depth from complex relationships and situations, then definitely give this one a try!"

"I enjoyed the natural progression of Cassie and Luke's relationship. They were both so wary in the beginning but slowly became friends and confidants. It didn't feel rushed or over the top. It was just a gentle and sweet story. I really enjoyed it!'"

“Maybe it’s time.”

“To start again?”

He nodded.

“How about with me?” she asked, her voice small.

He froze. He’d thought about working with her. But the memory of their kisses stopped him. He’d been romantically involved with his last partner. He wasn’t sure he wanted to travel that same path with Cassie. He wanted something different with her.

"Seeing the story progress, watching Cassie and Luke interact with one another as well Cassie's involvement with the kids, was very enjoyable.

I feel this story can easily be read as a stand-alone, but I do want to read the first story now because of the scenes with Nealy and Dane. I think anyone who enjoys Harlequin's Heartwarming line will have a good time reading The Wedding March. I definitely recommend it."

Harlie's Books - Review

"By the end of the book, I was sad. I didn’t want it to end but alas, it had too. I will miss the colored streak in Cassie’s hair, Luke’s kisses (Oh my), Denny and Erin and the goings on in Cypress Pointe. Great character growth and depth from Cassie and Luke. And yes, Ms. Randal gets it too. She writes a beautiful love story that everyone can read and have a happy heart in the end."

Becky on Books - Review

"A gentle and sweet romance–like book 3 ( The Bridal Bouquet) there’s a bit of a mystery involved, and a whole lot of (mostly family and ex-related) drama. This time, though, throw in the complications that the music industry and fame bring with them, plus a healthy dose of writer’s block and…yikes. Yeah, Cassie and Luke have obstacles galore on their way to an HEA."

Don't forget to enter the awesome giveaway below, if you haven't already...

The Wedding March
(The Business of Weddings #4)
Tara Randel
Adult Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 pages
March 1st 2017 by Harlequin Heartwarming

The help only he can offer…

Cypress Pointe, Florida, is a long way from LA, where pop singer Cassie Branford needs a hit to prove she's not a two album wonder. But her case of writer's block could be over when the struggling songwriter meets Luke Hastings at a family wedding.

The legendary musician walked away from success at the height of his career. Yet Luke is already inspiring Cassie with his dedication to building a permanent community outreach center for troubled teens. Volunteering to help bring music into these kids' lives is also bringing her and Luke closer. Maybe they're not as different as he thinks…

GoodreadsAmazonBarnes & NobleHarlequin

Other Books in the Series


About the Author

USA Today Bestselling Author Tara Randel has enjoyed a lifelong love of books, especially romance and mystery genres, so it didn't come as a surprise when she began writing with the dream of becoming published. Family values, mystery and, of course, love and romance are her favorite themes, because she believes love is the greatest gift of all. Tara lives on the West Coast of Florida, where gorgeous sunsets inspire the creation of heartwarming stories, filled with love, laughter and the occasional mystery.

Tour Giveaway

- US PRIZE PACK: Signed copies of the first three books in The Business of Weddings series by Tara Randel, a $25 gift card for Dunkin’ Donuts, a coffee mug with an inspirational message: "Something beautiful is on the horizon," and a Harlequin Heartwarming tote bag. (US only)
- $25 Amazon eCard (open internationally)
- Ends March 28th

Thursday, March 23, 2017

Dating the It Guy: a Young Adult Contemporary Romance by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Dating the It Guy by Krysten Lindsay Hager
YA contemporary romance
Published by Clean Reads

Emme is a sophomore in high school who starts dating, Brendon Agretti, the popular senior who happens to be a senator's son and well-known for his good looks. Emme feels out of her comfort zone in Brendon's world and it doesn't help that his picture perfect ex, Lauren seems determined to get back into his life along with every other girl who wants to be the future Mrs. Agretti. Emme is already conflicted due to the fact her last boyfriend cheated on her and her whole world is off kilter with her family issues. Life suddenly seems easier keeping Brendon away and relying on her crystals and horoscopes to guide her. Emme soon starts to realize she needs to focus less on the stars and more on her senses. Can Emme get over her insecurities and make her relationship work? Life sure is complicated when you're dating the it guy.

Short Excerpt:
“By the way, did you hear Lauren got into Senator Agretti’s old school?”

“Seriously? I wonder if she applied there because Brendon did,” I said.

Margaux snorted. “Duh, of course. Seriously, she might as well just pee on him to mark her territory.”

“Margaux, shut up,” Kylie said.

“Whatever. Anyway, the important thing is if Brendon knew she was applying there,” Margaux said. “Em, do you think he knew?”

I hoped Lauren was just trying to follow Brendon, but what if they had planned this whole thing while they were dating? What if he convinced her to apply there so they could go to college together, wear matching American flag sweaters with big scarves while drinking hot chocolate, and jump into leaf piles just like a preppy clothing catalog. At least now I didn’t have to worry about them reciting poetry to one another in South Bend, but still, what if they had made plans to go to school together?

“Don’t worry about it,” Kylie said. “She was probably trying to follow him—like she always does. She’s so pathetic.”

Kylie was trying to make me feel better, but Lauren was far from pathetic. After all, she was pretty much the “Most Likely to Succeed” poster girl. While she was out overachieving and saving the world without messing up her perfect, bouncy hair, I was trying to get through each day. I tried to push away the image of Lauren and Brendon holding hands and drinking hot chocolate under a stadium blanket. 

Barnes and Noble:
 Follow Krysten

Bio: Besides mining her teen years and humiliating moments for her novels, Krysten is a also a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and writes young adult, middle grade, new adult, and adult fiction as well as humor essays. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in Portugal, South Dakota, and currently resides in southwestern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows (she's addicted to American Dad to the point where she quotes episodes on a daily basis and also loves Girl Meets World). She's also a third generation Detroit Lions fan.

Krysten writes about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, frenemies, crushes, fame, first loves, and values. She is the author of True Colors, Best Friends...Forever?, Next Door to a Star,  Landry in Like, and Competing with the Star (The Star Series: Book 2). Her debut novel, True Colors, won the Readers Favorite award for best preteen book. Krysten's work has been featured in USA Today, The Flint Journal, the Grand Haven Tribune, the Beavercreek Current, the Bellbrook Times and on Living Dayton.

Praise for Dating the It Guy:
“A sweet, endearing story—you’ll fall in love with Emme just like I did!” --Kimber Leigh Wheaton, YA/NA author

"Hager's authentic characters will resonate with readers of all ages as they are immersed in the story  - complete with teen drama and angst, but also the relationships which make it all worthwhile." --  Leslie L. McKee, book reviewer, Edits and Reviews by Leslie

What people are saying about Krysten’s work:
From Teenage Book Recommendations in the UK: "This is a fantastically relatable and real book which I feel captures all of the insecurities and troubles which haunt the modern teenage girl. It is about a young model who has to go through tough times when she is torn between a life as a model and managing her friendships. You learn which friends she can most trust and which will create the drama typical of teenage life. Follow the life of Landry and try to see if you can find out which are her true friends before their true colours are revealed. This book is all about relationships, hopes and truth. I loved this book!"
From Books & Authors Spot: “This book is such an inspiration for those who just care about their looks and are tensed about them. This thing is looks aren't everything. This book is related to every teen's problem. Hager has written a very inspiring novel.”

“Krysten captures the teenage girl today. The struggles are real, the issues are something children have been dealing with since before I was a teen, and oddly-Krysten captures the readers! I was prepared for another "Mean Girls" story. This is NOT that. This is the real story of teenage girls! You watch Landry flower into a young woman who finds out trust is an invaluable item to find, and friendships are hard to seek genuine realism in. You will learn about relationships with not just friends, but peers, boys, and others. The details put into the book will draw you, and make the story so much more realistic. Krysten expresses emotions beautifully through her writing, and the story flows flawlessly…” By Candice J. Conway Simpson

 “Krysten Lindsay Hager understands what it means to be a teen today, and she writes with an authentic voice. Landry, the main character, is funny, lively, and very real. Readers will relate to her struggles with friends and family, self-esteem and self-discovery, boys and school and life in general. It's fun to read about Landry's blossoming modeling career and the changes it brings.” Review by Author Diana Jenkins

Monday, March 20, 2017

Realm Explorers Part XCVIII: Visit Russett with Aldred Chase

Welcome to Realm Explorers!  In this weekly series, we visit a variety of unique worlds created by talented science fiction and fantasy authors.  Enjoy your travels!  And don't forget to read to the bottom of the post to find out more about each author and see how to purchase the featured book. 

Author’s name:
Aldred Chase

Title of book and/or series:
Apprentice Fool, book one of the Nobody’s Fool Quartet

Brief summary of the story:
The village of Mottle offers thirteen-year-old Keth few opportunities to rebel against cruel Prince Dorian, who usurped the throne ten years ago. But Keth has a dangerous secret, he keeps faith with the old rituals and dances that the prince has banned.

When the prince’s grain collector leaves Mottle with so little grain that they face starvation over the coming winter, only Keth is prepared to do something about it. His attempt to steal back the grain goes wrong, and he only escapes capture by joining a band of traveling players, as their apprentice fool.

Can Keth keep his audience laughing and his secrets hidden, while working to overthrow the prince?

Brief description of the world or location you created for this story:
The city of Russett took root in a range of easily defended hills, close to where the River Brack flows into the Sea of Wrack. In a similar way to a medieval city-state, it controls the surrounding fertile land, which is dotted with farms, villages, and market towns. The level of agricultural technology is broadly equivalent to that of the late middle ages.

Russett has no moon, but on nights when the sky is clear you can see the splinter, a narrow golden rip that runs the length of the sky.

If we were to visit Russett as tourists, what would you recommend that we see or do there?
The city of Russett is famous for its skins and dyes, as well as for the stench from the local tanneries. Tourists have described the latter as the smell of rotting animals, stewed in their own poo, and mixed with putrid vegetables, while locals say that fresh air is bland and has no taste to it.

The most magnificent building in the city is the Golden Palace, currently the residence of Prince Dorian. It sits on the summit of the tallest hill and enjoys fresh breezes from the nearby Sea of Wrack. The enterprising tourist can easily secure entrance to the palace, but leaving it may prove more difficult.

The tourist who wanders so far from the beaten track that they arrive in Mottle will learn that the village is famous for its rain and many different colored mosses.

What dangers should we avoid in Russett?
Dancing is dangerous. Prince Dorian has banned all of the traditional dances, and you should inform the appropriate authorities if you see anyone dancing. The jovial tourist who insists on joining in will find their hilarity is short-lived, rather like the participants.

Is there a distinct or unusual type of food or meal that we might be served in Russett?
Unless you are wealthy, food is in short supply.

What types of weaponry or fighting styles are common in Russett?
Prince Dorian’s guards have swords and bows. Most other people will improvise with whatever comes to hand, such as stones and tools. While not strictly a fighting style, running away is often seen as the best option.

What types of vehicles, animals, technology, etc. are used to travel in or to Russett?
Most people will travel on foot, but well-off people will ride on horses. Ships sail the Sea of Wrack.

What types of plants, animals, or sentient races might we encounter in Russett that we don’t see on Earth?
All the plants and animals are similar to ones that we would encounter on Earth. The old legends talk of dragons, but they’re just stories, aren’t they?

What role, if any, does magic or the supernatural play in the lives of people in Russett?  If there is magic, please give some examples of what it involves or how it’s used.
Some folk whisper that the dances banned by Prince Dorian had magical properties, especially at times like sowing the seed and reaping the harvest. A few people have the gift of seeing the wraiths that haunt the wounded land, but it’s not something they boast about.

Tell us about any sports, games, or activities that are available for entertainment in Russett.
Games and sports like skittles and wrestling are popular. A favorite game for children is tossing pebbles at a wall to see whose lands closest. Dancing has been banned but singing is still popular. Songs that everyone can join in with include: ‘Bang my Anvil Heartily’ and ‘The Tinker and the Jolly Farmer’s Wife.’ For those of a sentimental nature, a favorite ballad involves a heroic dog pining for his master by the wall of the dead garden.

Are the days of the week and months of the year the same in Russett as on Earth? What holidays or special events are celebrated regularly there?
The people of Russett do not divide the year into weeks and months, but they are keenly aware of the passing of the seasons. The sowing of the seed in spring and the reaping of the harvest in autumn used to be celebrated by special dances that the whole community joined in. These dances have now been banned by Prince Dorian.

Is there a particular religion practiced in Russett?  Please describe what it involves.
While no formal religion is worshipped in Russett, the people have a number of shared beliefs and rituals.

Traditional dances were performed throughout the year and the whole community joined in. These dances helped people to affirm their connection to the land, but they are now banned.

The dead are cremated and every settlement has a beautiful walled garden, called the dead garden, where the ashes are scattered, while mourners sing laments.

People believe that the land was created by weavers who wove it from threads pulled from a star. Having finished the land, many weavers left to create new lands, but two groups chose to remain. One group became the original inhabitants of this land. The second group live in a world beyond the splinter, a narrow golden rip in the sky, visible on clear nights. If ever the land is damaged, they will crawl through the splinter and sew it back together again.

What is the political or government structure in Russett?  Who is in charge there at the moment, and what kind of leader is he/she?
Russett is traditionally ruled by a prince. Ten years ago, Prince Dorian came from out of nowhere and invaded with a small force. He defeated the much larger force of the previous ruler, Prince Gawain, at the Battle of Crouchers Hollow. Since then, he has banned all of the traditional dances and he has ordered his grain collector, assisted by a flock of spiteful ravens, to collect ever-increasing amounts of grain from the people. This grain is sold abroad to fund Dorian’s lavish lifestyle.

Keth wants to rebel but the majority of the half-starved people are too demoralized to try and overthrow the cruel prince.

Has anything in your actual life inspired the locations, cultures, etc. in your book?
The landscape is inspired by the beautiful countryside where I grew up in the north of England. When I was little, we still had a working tannery in our town and the smell was unique and terrible; you would take a deep breath then scurry past with a hand across your nose and mouth.

What, if any, “hot-button” or controversial topics do you touch on in your book?
I don’t think any of the topics are “hot button” but I do think that the theme of whether one person standing up against injustice can make a difference is timeless.

Author Autobiography:
My first experience of fantasy fiction was reading ‘The Hobbit’ at school, and I’ve been hooked on the genre ever since. My favorite places for writing are cafes and park benches, but I do most of my work at my desk. My best ideas come to me when I’m travelling by train or walking by the sea. I’m lucky enough to live in Australia where we have many beautiful beaches.

Where, and in what formats, can we purchase your books?

The other three books in the Nobody’s Fool Quartet, Royal Fool, Prince of Fools and Dragon’s Fool are all available in Kindle format from Amazon.

Where can readers connect with you online? 
You can find me on my website and on facebook.

I hope you all enjoyed the trip to Russett.  Questions about the world or the book?  Ask them in the comments and the author will get back to you!  

Click here to read other posts in the Realm Explorers series.

Please join us again next Monday for a trip to another world in next week's edition of Realm Explorers!
-Annie Douglass Lima

Friday, March 17, 2017

Sanctuary Cove: a Romance Novel with a Giveaway!

On Tour with Prism Book Tours.

Book Tour Grand Finale for
Sanctuary Cove
By Kate James

We hope you enjoyed the tour! If you missed any of the stops, go back and check them out...

Launch - Note from the Author

In Sanctuary Cove, when New York-based communications executive Emma Meadows finds her personal and professional life in shambles, she retreats to her lakefront cabin in the Adirondack Mountains. Aiding an injured animal at the side of a rain-drenched road, she meets local veterinarian Joshua Whitmore. . .

"The mystery adds just the right touch to the story--it keeps things interesting and causes some friction for the characters to grow from, but it's not overpowering. The romance is sweet and tender, if a bit on the quick side. Overall, it's a highly entertaining and enjoyable read."

Hearts & Scribbles - Character Descriptions

Josh comes from a family of healthcare professionals, but he decided to choose a different path. He’s a veterinarian, passionate about his job and the animals that come under his care. . .

"As often in her books, Kate James catches the reader's attention with the first page then gradually builds on the intrigue, with added mystery and momentum, leading to a strong climax. "

"I loved the characters and the setting. I could feel the characters' emotions and got a good sense of their excitement and disappointments. . . . I would definitely recommend this story to other readers. "

“My name’s Emma Meadows. There’s been an accident. A dog—or possibly a wolf. He’s been hit. He’s bleeding and his leg’s broken. But he’s alive and he’s in a lot of pain.” She knew she was babbling, but she couldn’t help it. Animals were her soft spot. She walked back toward the dog as she spoke, and with a sinking heart noted that the feeble growl had been replaced by whimpers and shallow breathing.

Becky on Books - Interview

What are you working on right now? What can readers look for from you in the next year?

In addition to Sanctuary Cove, I will have two more releases this year. Home to Stay, the fourth book in my award-winning San Diego K-9 Unit series releases on July 1st, and A Priceless Find, a sequel to A Child’s Christmas, will be released on October 1st. Home to Stay is in production now and A Priceless Find is in the editing stage.

"Sanctuary Cove is a great unique book with a wonderful heartwarming ending. . . . If you like small town romance combined with amazing dogs and a gripping plot Sanctuary Cove would be a very good choice."

Emma was excited. Why hadn’t she thought of training service-and-therapy dogs before? She could do it! She had the time, at least for now. And Josh was willing to stand by her again in this, as he had been with just about anything she’d done since she’d arrived in Sanctuary Cove.

She looked up at him and was about to thank him…

But in Josh’s eyes, Emma saw what was in his heart.

"While I had no doubt that I would enjoy this book, it actually exceeded my expectations and I was pleasantly surprised by the wide range of emotion this story evoked."

deal sharing aunt - Interview

How long does it take you to write a book?

On average, it takes me three months to write a book. There’s usually another three to four months for the three stages of the editing process, but during that time I’m already working on my next manuscript.

"I loved the moments when they were close and helping each other. Josh is an excellent supporter of Emma- strong and capable. I just really liked them both. I'm also coming to realize that with Kate James, there is probably going to be a dog or two involved in the story as well!"

The kiss was light. Yet Emma’s heart skipped a few beats. With her eyes still closed, she ran her tongue across her upper lip and let out a soft, involuntary “hmm.” Opening her eyes, she saw Josh’s smile.

“Shall we get ready to go?” he asked, with laughter dancing in his eyes.

"I love Emma and Josh. They’re so cute together, and being animal lovers gives them extra points. The storyline in this story is one that could totally happen today. . . . I definitely recommend Sanctuary Cove to clean romantic suspense lovers!"

Mel's Shelves - The Best Friends of Sanctuary Cove

If you’ve read any of my previous books, you’ll know that I like to give prominent roles to my furry, four-legged characters, too. The response to these characters has been so positive, I decided to have not one, not two, but three canine characters in Sanctuary Cove. If I’m completely honest, they forced their way into the story, and I couldn’t say no!

A Slice of Life - Review

"Sanctuary Cove is a gripping story involving politics, right and wrong, and the love of nature and animals. I would highly recommend this suspense-filled adventure to anyone who is looking for a well-written book that’s intriguing until the end."

Josh was appalled. If it was true, that things had escalated to this level, Emma was in danger, too. He thought he understood what she’d been trying to do. He wanted to protect her, to reassure her, but knew he had to tread carefully to prevent her from continuing to try to push him away.

"Sanctuary Cove was a fun, easy-to-read story and I think it's a great book if you're looking for a light romance, with a little bit of suspense thrown in."

Falling Leaves - Excerpt

Leaning against the wall by the steps leading down, he indulged in watching Emma for a few moments.

She lay on the sofa, her lips slightly parted and curved into a soft smile, her skin glowing with the flickering candlelight. A few strands of hair had escaped from the clip on top of her head, and were curling around her face.

Reading Is My SuperPower - Emma's Cottage

Emma’s cottage is situated on a large, secluded property, on a knoll overlooking a small, private lake. The location looks like this . . .

Harlie's Books - Review

"Overall, I just loved Emma and Josh. They took their time in their romance and realized just how much they truly meant to each other. Bravo to the people at Harlequin for this line. You have a fan for life. Did I mention that there are dogs and puppies?"

Rosanna Leo - Spotlight

Heidi Reads... - Excerpt

She pointed to the stand-alone shed a couple of hundred feet away from her cottage. “I can fence off an area inside. She’ll be safe in there. I can set up an outside enclosure for her, too.”

“Emma, you can’t save every wounded creature that comes your way,” he said softly. “Let’s get her checked over first.

Don't forget to check out the giveaway below...

Sanctuary Cove
by Kate James
Adult Contemporary Romance
Paperback & ebook, 384 pages
March 1st 2017 by Harlequin Heartwarming

Can his safe haven be enough for her?

Emma Meadows never imagined that sticking to her principles against an act of corruption by a New York senator would cost her her job as VP of communications. Heartbroken, she retreats to her cottage in the Adirondacks to lick her wounds and, in the process, rescues an injured dog that only Josh Whitmore can save.

The veterinarian works diligently to bring dog and woman back to full fighting form, until allegations against the senator become more serious. Seeing Emma's reaction to the increasing pressure, Josh realizes that inevitably she'll find a way back to the top…and he'll likely lose her for good.

About the Author

Kate spent much of her childhood abroad before attending university in Canada. She built a successful business career, but her passion has always been literature. As a result, Kate turned her energy to her love of the written word. Kate's goal is to entertain her readers with engaging stories featuring strong, likable characters. Kate has been honored with numerous awards for her writing. She and her husband, Ken, enjoy traveling and the outdoors, with their beloved Labrador Retrievers, Harley and Logan.

Kate would love to hear from you! You can connect with her by email, through her website, her Facebook pageTwitter, or mail at PO Box 446, Schomberg, ON, L0G 1T0, Canada.


Tour Giveaway

US/CAN PRIZE PACK, which consists of:
- San Diego K-9 Series T-shirt (winner’s choice of size S, M or L)
- San Diego K-9 Series tote bag
- San Diego K-9 Series mug and a small pack of gourmet coffee
- Signed copy of When Love Matters Most (second book in the San Diego K-9 Series)
- Signed copy of The Truth About Hope
When I Found You (third book in the San Diego K-9 Series) key chain
- An assortment of bookmarks and bookplates
Open to US/CAN only
Ends March 21st

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