Slither by Melody Steiner – Feature With Excerpt and Giveaway

Tags

, , , , ,

About Slither

Elanor of Onyx, enslaved by the dragons who scorched her kin and country, is determined to escape her island prison.

When the changeling dragon, Adom, demands that Elanor come with him to the mainland on a secret mission, she sees this the opportunity she’s been waiting for — a chance to exact her revenge. But when his actions take a surprising twist, Elanor begins to suspect that maybe things are not as they seem.

With a plot brewing against the mainland king, alliances are tested and Elanor discovers a secret that will forever change the way she views the slithering dragons—and herself.

Genre: Fantasy
Publisher: Dragon Moon Press
Date of Publication: April 24, 2017
Number of pages: 310
Cover Artist: Gwen Gades

Excerpt from Slither

“Forgive me,” he says. “But when I say the word, you really should scream.”

That’s all the warning I need. If Adom wants me to scream, he wants the others to think he’s hurting me. He wants to send fear shuddering down their monstrous, twisted spines, to dry their mouths and shrivel the pits of their cavernous stomachs. He wants to show them that he is the king, the master of this mountain, the master of me.

Adom averts his gaze. “Scream.”

In the seconds it takes him to morph from human to dragon, his chest expanding, scales popping out of his skin like boils, I’m already at the door. I scream, just as he asks me to.

The full blast of flame doesn’t hit me, but it’s enough heat to sting my lower back.

Good thing I tied my hair this morning—he misses singeing it off by a few inches. The monstrous roar he releases bursts a decanter on the table. The mirror cracks. But the fire inside me has nothing to do with Adom’s monster, and everything to do with my own. Only mine burns for revenge.

********************

Links

Add Slither to your Goodreads shelf:

Purchase Slither:

Amazon          iTunes          BN          Books2Read

********************

About the Author

Melody Steiner is a novelist, librarian, warrior woman, and a mother. She grew up in a home where science fiction and fantasy were staples of the imagination. Her earliest novels were written in elementary school and involved rocket ships to the moon, alien life, and gumdrop kingdoms at war with other invading candy nations. Over the years, she found herself drawn to fantasy stories that empower female characters and particularly women of color. Currently, she’s based near Columbus, Ohio, along with her husband and the wild things they call “children.”

Her recent work, Slither, is a traditional fantasy about a young woman who is enslaved by a herd of dragons.

You can find her at:

http://twitter.com/melody_steiner

https://www.facebook.com/MelodySteinerAuthor/

http://www.melodysteiner.com/

********************

Tour Giveaway

Click below to enter to win one of 2 copies of Slither or 1 of 5 dragon charms.  Open to US Shipping.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Veronica Scott, Author of Danger in the Stars – Guest Post

Tags

, , , , , , ,

It is always a pleasure to have Veronica Scott visiting at Whiskey With My Book.  You may be aware, she has a new book out, Danger in the Stars, and she is here to tell you a little bit about how it came to be.

******************

Thank you for having me as your guest! I’m thrilled to talk about my new science fiction romance Danger in the Stars, and share my beautiful cover from Fiona Jayde, the blurb and an excerpt with your readers!

The Empath

This story actually began with a short story I wrote for the Pets in Space anthology, about a beautiful alien woman who happens to be an empath and a prisoner of a ruthless crime mob. Once that tale was done, I remained fascinated with exploring the idea of an empathic heroine and what ways her power might manifest, both to protect herself and to accomplish tasks for the Amarotu Combine, my interstellar mob. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, I was always fascinated by the Star Trek episode “The Empath,’ and although my story goes off in its own direction completely, that was the original moment when I started thinking about a heroine who had this set of abilities. The Urban Dictionary defines empath as “a person who is capable of feeling the emotions of others despite the fact that they themselves are not going through the same situation.” Of course Miriell, my heroine in this book, can do so much more, including forcing unsuspecting people to act on feelings they may not even realize they harbor. But there’s a cost to her…

I also enjoy the way Nalini Singh write and uses Empaths in her Psy-Changeling series – my favorite book in the series is Shield of Winter, where Ivy Jane and the other empaths play a large role in saving their civilization. (No spoilers.)

Plenty of room in the creative universe for each of us to write our own version of empathy as a gift/curse/power/temptation!

Figuring out who the hero could be, when Miriell is immersed in the world of interstellar crime and held closely captive, was a challenge. Conor ‘introduced’ himself to me right away when I was pondering the plot, but then I had to figure out what his secrets were and how he could be a true hero and the right man for Miriell. I made great efforts to ensure I didn’t stray into Stockholm Syndrome territory – where a victim may start to feel affection or emotion toward the captors as a psychological survival strategy. I tried to ensure that both Miriell and Conor stayed clear headed and genuine at all times about what the situation was and that their emotion was trustworthy true love, not an outgrowth of her captivity. Miriell was a high ranking priestess on her own planet and remains pragmatic at all times about those who hold her prisoner, including Conor. But her powers tell her he’s keeping secrets and she can’t help but wonder if her god Thuun has sent him to help her.

******************

The story:

Miriell, a powerful empathic priestess, has been kidnapped from her own primitive planet along with a number of her people, and sold to the evil Amarotu Combine, largest organized crime syndicate in the Sectors. When she and her handler are sent to use her power to commit an assassination, she must leave behind her own sister as hostage to ensure her compliance. Miriell cannot ask for aid without endangering herself and others.

Despite his best efforts, Combine enforcer Conor Stewart is entranced by Miriell, and helps her evade the worst of brutal treatment from the rest of the mob. But Conor must keep his distance, before the lovely empath learns that he has secrets of his own–secrets that could get them both killed.

The situation becomes dire when Conor and Miriell come to the attention of both the Combine overlords and the deadly Mawreg, aliens who threaten the Sectors. Can she save herself and the Mawreg’s next victims? And will Conor help her, or remain loyal to his evil bosses?

The excerpt – Miriell and her Combine ‘handler’ Jareck have just arrived on the planet and are driving to the hotel with the local crime boss Opherra and Conor, an enforcer.

Over the past four years of horror and captivity, Miriell had perfected the art of studying her captors carefully, seeking to understand and anticipate where the most danger would come from. Head bowed, hands folded meekly in her lap, she reached for the planet’s living energies—the plants, the animals, the fish, the birds—and although the feedback was curiously minimal, she let a tiny portion of her renewed power loose. The effort was unusually challenging. Taking a deep breath, she curbed her impatience and hoped her face remained expressionless. Cryo sleep affects me more each time I travel. At least, she hoped it was the effect of the technology the Combine forced her to submit to, and not her god leaching away power from one who was now so unworthy to hold it.

Jareck shifted beside her, but she was well acquainted with the slimy green and gray representing his soul in her amplified vision. She needed to know what this Opherra, the woman in charge, was like. Outwardly, the boss was a sleek beauty, generously endowed with all the attractions the human men seemed to prefer—long shiny black hair, pale skin accented by perfectly painted ruby red lips. Her clothing was well made, intricately detailed. Golden rings and earrings completed her presentation. A woman of riches and power. Her soul was as Miriell expected—dull sullen reds threaded with black, and layers of the same slimy green and gray that defined Jareck. Hints of tarnished gold. Corruptive power. Miriell withdrew, afraid that one possessing so many aspects of the Shadow, even if human, would sense her scrutiny. Already hostile, Opherra mustn’t also become suspicious. No one rose to high rank inside the Amarotu Combine without being ruthless and possessing a highly developed situational awareness.

She almost didn’t bother with the bodyguard, Conor. She’d met many like him, men and women, at the facility where she was imprisoned. Some smarter and more ambitious than others, but all dedicated to the crime syndicate they’d sworn their lives to uphold. Thugs at best, killers at worst. No help to be had there, only danger.

She decided she might as well know how deep his cruelty and corruption ran, if only to armor herself against the near-hypnotic effect his voice had on her.

Her senses read him as obsidian, opaque black shields, to the core. One who hid all his dark secrets well. Hardly surprising. There was a wisp of sex between Opherra and him, reinforced by the proprietary hand the crime boss rested on the muscles of his upper thigh. Miriell realized she’d shaken her head. It’s no business of mine if these two sleep together. Surprised by her own reaction, she straightened her spine, schooling her face to remain impassive. As she closed down her silent search, she stopped, caught by a flicker, a hint of pure cobalt blue fire, buried deep beneath the outer layers Conor presented to one such as her. Startled, she focused more sharply with her senses but the flame, if it had been there at all, flickered and vanished.

Only warriors of Thuun carry the blue fire.

But this man was no warrior of her god. Thuun held no sway here in this civilization. Her unanswered prayers and desperate pleas over the past four years since she and her people had been taken testified to the god’s absence. She raised her eyes to find him staring at her, oddly silver eyes narrowed, brow furrowed, as if he knew she was studying him. A tiny shiver of adrenaline coursed through her veins, and Miriell curled herself up a bit more tightly, averting her gaze to stare fixedly out the window at the sprawling city.

******************

Links

Add Danger in the Stars to your Goodreads shelf:

Purchase Danger in the Stars

Amazon          iBooks         Kobo          Barnes & Noble

******************

Author Bio

Best Selling Science Fiction, Fantasy & Paranormal Romance author and “SciFi Encounters” columnist for the USA Today Happy Ever After blog, Veronica Scott grew up in a house with a library as its heart. Dad loved science fiction, Mom loved ancient history and Veronica thought there needed to be more romance in everything. When she ran out of books to read, she started writing her own stories.

Seven time winner of the SFR Galaxy Award, as well as a National Excellence in Romance Fiction Award, Veronica is also the proud recipient of a NASA Exceptional Service Medal relating to her former day job, not her romances! She recently was honored to read the part of Star Trek Crew Member in the audiobook production of Harlan Ellison’s “The City On the Edge of Forever.”
Blog: https://veronicascott.wordpress.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/vscotttheauthor
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Veronica-Scott/177217415659637?ref=hl

Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones by Sorchia DuBois – Review

Tags

, , , , , , , ,

Review by Riley


About Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones

Granny’s dying, but Zoraida can save her with a magic crystal of smoky quartz. Too bad the crystal is in Scotland—in a haunted castle—guarded by mind-reading, psychopathic sorcerers.

Getting inside Castle Logan is easy. Getting out––not so much. Before she can snatch the stone, Zoraida stumbles into a family feud, uncovers a wicked ancient curse, and finds herself ensorcelled by not one but two handsome Scottish witches.

Up to their necks in family intrigue and smack-dab in the middle of a simmering clan war, Zoraida and her best friend Zhu discover Granny hasn’t told them everything.
Not by a long shot.

***************

Review of Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones

Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones (hereafter shortened to Family Stones for convenience) was first brought to my attention by author Sorchia DuBois, who thought the fact that she and her characters appreciate a nice glass of whiskey would appeal to me. Well, it is as good a reason as any to make a connection! Turns out, whiskey is not the only thing that appealed to me.

Family Stones is a contemporary fantasy that encompasses magic, mystery, wisdom, history, whiskey, tea and a cat. Most of the story takes place in an old castle in Scotland that is just filled up to the towers and and down to dungeons with atmosphere. The descriptions of Castle Logan bring the drafty medieval abode to life, complete with gates, crenelated fortifications, a keep, and, perhaps my favorite, an oubliette (a secret dungeon, with access only trough a trap door in its ceiling).

Magic runs in Zoraida’s family. Ms. DuBois paints magic as natural and logical, dark and light.  Experience and training, of which Zoraida has the least, determine how well a person can wield its power. I do love it when the heroine has a challenge. Yes, she can read other people’s thoughts, but among the Logan clan, that talent is meager.

Zoraida will face many challenges at Castle Logan. For one thing, there is something going on there. Something cousin Michael is up to his handsome magical neck in. Except for Zoraida, the rest of the family is involved also to some degree, but Michael appears to be the puppet master. But master of what? That is the mystery.

Zoraida seems to be in over her head in Scotland. The day she arrives at Castle Logan, it becomes apparent that Granny did not tell her everything. But Granny has taught Zoraida many lessons. These lessons are played back to the reader at the beginning of each chapter. Bits of Zoraida’s history are revealed to announce a theme for each chapter. While the main story is told in first person present tense, these flashbacks switch to past tense. This method proved to be a great way to relate Zoraida’s history without her having to muse on it in the present tense.

Zoraida is not the only one that has history to reveal. Each little Logan family reveal adds a delicious, dangerous twist to the plot. The family is positively steeped in history. Which leads me to my next subject.

I’ve covered magic, mystery, wisdom and history. That brings me to two of my favorite beverages. Whiskey and tea. At this time, I will switch my spelling and drop the ‘e’. We are in Scotland after all.

Tea and whisky are essentials.

So says cousin Shea. I knew there was a reason I liked him from the beginning. I thought I was particular about my tea, but Shea makes brewing tea an exact science. I like this about him. Even if he is of questionable character. As for the whisky, every time the subject came up, the author’s appreciation for whisky was evident. Every time I read about Zoraida savoring her Laphroaig, I got thirsty myself.

The first person perspective really worked in this book. Zoraida is the storyteller, but knowing only her side of the tale just adds to the anticipation. For example, Zoraida sees Michael as handsome, powerful and not to be trusted. He comes across as nice, but Zoraida is pretty sure he is just pretending. I like that in a bad guy. You just never know if you can trust him. Zoraida isn’t all that sure about Shea either, though he seems a bit more honest. But it is only Zoraida’s viewpoint. Which keeps me wondering. Frustrating? Yes.  But I love it!

The other major character you see only one side of is Zoraida’s friend Zhu. Zhu’s role is understated, but I kept remembering many of Zoraida’s early descriptions of her, not the least of which is: “behind Zhu’s delicate Oriental camouflage lurks the temperament of a wolverine with a toothache.” Zhu’s subtle nature is a source of humor and surprises. I dare you not to think she should get her own story!

Finally, I have arrived a the topic of ‘cat’. Grimalkin is Shea’s cat. Like Zhu, her role is understated, but I can tell, she is a special cat. She seems to like Zoraida just fine. The fact that Grimalkin likes Zoraida and also likes Shea, leads me to the conclusion that Shea is not evil. It is a cat-lover thing. I could be wrong. I hope not.

The reason I don’t know how right or wrong I am is because Family Stones does have a cliffhanger. And it is kind of a biggie. It annoyed me more that just a little. But the rest of the book was just so good! The story does not lack for plot development by any means, so the annoyance I felt when the book ended soon dissipated. The book is done, but the story continues.

So 4 ½ stars (½ off for cliffhanger – I have my standards), rounding up to 5 stars for the retail sites. Like I said, in Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones, you will find magic, mystery, wisdom, history, whiskey, tea and a cat – all sharing the path with twists, turns and anticipation. I have to have the next book in the series now!

The author provided a copy of her book so that I could bring you this honest review.

***************

Links

Add Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones to your Goodreads shelf:

Purchase Zoraida Grey and the Family Stones: