Monday, June 30, 2014

On Tour ~ Messenger, the first prequel to the bestselling Guardian Trilogy by Laury Falter Includes Trilogy Giveaway


Messenger is the first prequel to the bestselling Guardian Trilogy - the breathtaking romantic saga about a love that has lasted centuries between a messenger and her guardian.

Maggie does not know she is a messenger. She has never met her eternal lover. She has never survived a Fallen One. All this changes when a messenger awakens in the Hall of Records only to die moments later, never to return. 

As Maggie sets out to determine why the messengers are suddenly beginning to die, she crosses paths with the infuriatingly appealing Eran and their story begins. 

In this riveting account of Maggie's first life on earth with Eran, the star-crossed lover's romance transpires amidst treacherous enemies, their friends' resistance, and their own opposing wills. With the odds against her, can Maggie survive long enough to admit the feelings she has so carefully denied?

Book Details:

The Guardian Trilogy Prequel
Book One
Laury Falter

Blog Tour Page:


Without thinking about it, I rolled my shoulders backwards into his palms. The heat from him was soaking into my tight muscles and it was an unavoidable relief. 

"Was that a moan?" he asked. 

"Did I make a sound?" 

"I think you did." 

I released a half-laugh, too tired to offer anything more. 

"It was a good sound," Eran whispered and I felt his fingers stiffen at his candid acknowledgement. It was the first time he moved them since he laid them on me, but I got the distinct feeling he didn't want to stop there and yearned to curl his fingers around my shoulders and feel me more fully. 

A constrained sigh escaped him, followed by a deep, forced inhale. 

His thumbs moved, sliding down the dip between my shoulder and neck. They were tender, barely a whisper against my skin. And I knew he was exploring me, just that small and subtle part but taking his time not to miss an inch. When his hands reached the base of my neck, they paused and I thought he was done, would now pull back and step away. But his thumbs moved up over the top of my palms, embracing my hands. 

I was acutely aware of his scent, the quickened pulse in his thumbs, his restrained breathing. 

He opened his mouth to speak but the tent flap opened, bringing him to a sudden halt.

Purchase Links:


About the Author:

Laury Falter is a bestselling author of young adult romantic suspense and urban fantasy. She has three series out: the Guardian Trilogy, the Residue Series, and the Apocalypse Chronicles.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal ~ Olympus Confidential (A Plato Jones Novel) by Robert B. Warren (Dragonfairy Press)

Dragonfairy Press is pleased to present the cover for Olympus Confidential, book two in the Plato Jones series.

When a band of super-powered humans stirs up trouble in New Olympia, Zeus knows just who to call.

Wisecracking private investigator Plato Jones is used to cleaning up the gods' messes. But this might be his most dangerous case yet, placing him deep behind enemy lines, in Tartarus Maximum Security Penitentiary. After infiltrating the enemy's organization, Plato inches closer to the truth. But he learns a hard lesson along the way: to defeat a villain, he might have to become one himself.

Be sure to add this series to your TBR list!

Book Details:

Title: Olympus Confidential
Author: Robert B. Warren
Series: Plato Jones #2
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Dragonfairy Press
Expected Publication Date: November 6, 2014

About the Author:

A fan of thrillers, fantasy, and science fiction, Robert B. Warren has been writing stories ever since he could hold a pencil. In 2009, he received a Bachelor of Arts degree in English and creative writing from the University of Alabama—Roll Tide! He currently lives in the south.

Find Robert Online:

Entangled Teen New Releases & $.99 Introductory Prices

June may be almost over but that doesn’t mean the fun is over at Entangled Teen! 

We are excited to be announcing the release of two of our new titles, Mirror X by Karri Thompson and Going Down in Flames by Chris Cannon, which readers are already raving about! 

Plus you can pick up both Mirror X and Going Down in Flames on sale for just $.99 right now.

About Mirror X:

I was born more than a thousand years ago.

Put into a cryogenic tube at age seventeen, forgotten during a holocaust that decimated the world, I've finally been awakened to a more serene and peaceful future.

But things at the hospital are new and strange. And it’s starting to scare me.

Everyone is young. Everyone is banded and tracked. And everyone is keeping secrets. 

The cute geneticist Michael Bennett might be the only good thing in this crazy new world where “life is precious” but no one seems free to live it. The problem is, I don’t think he’s being totally honest with me, either.

When I’m told only I can save the human race from extinction, it's clear my freeze didn’t avoid a dreadful fate. It only delayed the horror…

Purchase Links:

About the Author:

Growing up in San Diego, California, Karri Thompson spent much of her years at the beach, reading novels, tanning, and listening to music. At SDSU, she earned a BA in English, MA in education, and her teaching credential. As a wife, mother, and high-school English teacher, she began writing novels, giving all of the compelling plots and unique characters in her head a home. Victorian literature rocks her socks, and when she’s not writing, jogging, going to concerts, or watching her son play football, she’s reading Dickens.

Find Kerri Thompson Online:


About Going Down in Flames:

If her love life is going down in flames, she might as well spark a revolution.

Finding out on your sixteenth birthday you're a shape-shifting dragon is tough to swallow. Being hauled off to an elite boarding school is enough to choke on.

Since Bryn is the only crossbreed at the Institute for Excellence, all eyes are on her, but it's a particular black dragon, Zavien, who catches her attention.

Zavien is tired of the Directorate's rules. Segregated clans, being told who to love, and close-minded leaders make freedom of choice almost impossible. The new girl with the striped hair is a breath of fresh air, and with Bryn's help, they may be able to change the rules.

At the Institute, old grudges, new crushes, and death threats are all part of a normal day for Bryn. She'll need to learn to control her dragon powers if she wants to make it through her first year at school. But even focusing on staying alive is difficult when you're falling for someone you can't have.

Purchase Links:

About the Author:

Chris Cannon lives in Southern Illinois with her husband and her three dogs, Pete the shih tzu who sleeps on her desk while she writes, Molly the ever-shedding yellow lab, and Tyson the sandwich-stealing German Shepherd Beagle. She believes coffee is the Elixir of Life. Most evenings after work, you can find her sucking down caffeine and writing fire-breathing paranormal adventures. Going Down In Flames is the first book in Chris Cannon's shape-shifting dragon series.

Find Chris Cannon Online:

Friday, June 27, 2014

Review & Giveaway ~ Wolf's Bane (Demimonde, Book 3) by Ash Krafton (Presented by Bewitching Book Tours)

Since becoming oracle to the demivampire two years ago, advice columnist Sophie has battled werewolves and survived a vampire attack (or two). However, not only was she powerless to save her lover Marek when he slipped to the brink of evolution, she also witnessed his transformation into a falcon, the symbol of Horus United.

Sophie’s quest to save Marek is further complicated when rock star Dierk Adeluf – who also happens to be the king of the Werekind – invites her backstage after a concert. Just when it seems she will find respite from heartache, Sophie is bitten by a werewolf and Dierk decides she is destined to be his queen.

Sophie is caught between the demivamps she loves and the Were who commands her to love him. Throw in his jealous wanna-be girlfriend—a true bitch if ever there was one—and an ambush by witches, and there you have the big mess that Sophie calls her life. And, hello? Her soul mate is still a bird.

She’s supposed to be the girl with all the answers, but Sophie needs more than a little advice–she needs divine intervention.

Sapphyria's Review:

My review of Book 1, Bleeding Hearts can be found here:

My review of Book 2, Blood Rush can be found here:

I had very mixed emotions about reading Book 3 in the Demimonde series.  I was very excited to see the release of Wolf's Bane and couldn't wait to get my hands on it - after all, I love me some Sophie, Rode, and Marek.  Unfortunately, with the release of this novel comes the end of the series.  I'm very happy, however, with the way Wolf's Bane was finalized and the Demimonde series was wrapped up.   I'll keep my detailed summary to myself so as not to spoil anything.

This series gave vampires a different and unique spin.  They aren't your everyday, run-of-the-mill bloodsuckers.  There are also other paranormal elements such as werewolves, oracles (called Sophia, which is what Sophie is), and witches.  There are elements of discontentment between factions and from within factions, too.  This feature gives fictional characters real life qualities - easy to relate to and identify with.

Sophie is a very strong character, even when she's distracted by a wily werewolf who claims that 1) he's the king, and 2) that she's his mate (cuz the moon said so).  She's very emotionally wrecked in Wolf's Bane, and quite close to giving up, but she pulls through and deals.  Rode and Sophie have a unique relationship that's hard to define yet easy to visualize.  They need each other as they both lost a piece of themselves with the transformation of Marek.  

The emotions that Ash Krafton invokes in her readers is phenomenal.  I found it nearly impossible not to feel like I was inside the novel.  Each expression of emotion, from elation, to despair and anguish, and anger just flourished as I became one with the book.   Wolf's Bane is so well written that you have a really hard time putting it down.  The dialogue is fluid, the plot is solid and Ash certainly keeps the reader guessing.  I found that I became more and more impatient to learn the outcome the further I read.  I so wanted to just skip ahead, read the ending, and then backtrack to where I left off -- I'll have you know that I did NOT end up doing that.  I sucked it up and read it the right way.

Thank you, Ash, for bringing us Sophie, Marek, Rode and the rest of the cast.  They will not be soon forgotten.  The will forever have a place on my reading list.

Review copy courtesy of the author, at no cost, in an exchange for an honest review.

Sapphyria's Rating:

Book Details:

Wolf’s Bane 
Demimonde, Book 3 
Ash Krafton 

Genre: urban fantasy


The man sitting across from me absolutely hated himself. 

I didn’t need to unzip my barriers to make that assessment. The way his shoulders crept up his neck, the curve of his back that left his face parallel to his thighs, the way he avoided looking at me or anyone else—body language said it all. And when he did finally raise his too-heavy head to look at me, his eyes were stony and hollow, too dead to even care what anyone saw in them. 

He wore his self-loathing the way I wished I wore Jimmy Choos—right out there for the whole world to see. Difference was, he didn’t care who looked. 

I glanced at the demivamp who hovered behind him like a first-year teacher. She toyed with the end of her braid and looked ready to throw herself onto him if need be. Maybe he was a flight risk. Maybe he was a danger to himself. 

Maybe he was a danger to me. In that case, the other DV wasn’t necessary. I didn’t worry so much about myself anymore. I’d learned a thing or two about staying alive. 

Not to mention, I had an entire courtroom full of DV that perched on the semi-circles of benches, elbow to elbow, each waiting their turn with the Sophia. I knew full well every single one of them would fling themselves between me and whatever peril might arise here. 

I was well-guarded. Perks of being a national treasure. 

I flicked my gaze up to the DV who stood behind my client, dismissing her. Once she took her place in the audience, I sank into my Sophia sight. Finding my center and called up my barriers, peeling away the outermost layer and expanding it until it encompassed us both in an invisible but completely sound-proof bubble. 

A nifty little trick I’d learned since Dorcas removed the last remaining obstacles between me and my power. She hadn’t been much of a dresser and had a weird thing for vampires, not to mention acting like the scariest damned thing I’d ever seen, but I had to hand it to her. She’d done me a solid. 

When the barrier went up around us, there was a little ear-pop of sensation. He seemed to notice me then. His eyes took up a pale light, gleaming like the teeth he hid behind the disdainful curl of his lips. His power seethed out like the odor of a hot dumpster—the feel of it decayed and ugly and absolutely desperate. 

I smiled, grim and hard. This guy might be the farthest gone DV I’d ever met. He was going to be a challenge. 


I decided to start the same way I always did, knowing this one might not end the same way. “What’s your name?” 

He stared me down for several moments. “You want my current name or the one that’s waiting for me?” 

Obviously, he was referring to the name change that happened when a DV Fell. Vampires never kept their DV names. All part of the whole born-again (dead-again?) persona of a newly-minted vamp. 

“You have one name,” I said, my voice like tungsten. “And you’re going to keep it.” 

“Like you can stop me.” 

I smiled again, glad I had chosen to wear lip gloss because my mouth was so dry, my lips would have split without it. “I can. And I will.” 

“Look, lady.” He leaned forward, elbows on his knees. The pale light in his dark eyes looked like an early hard frost on a green lawn. Untimely end of a sweet season. “I know who you are, and I know what you do. Sometimes, you just gotta let nature take its course.” 

“This isn’t nature. This is self-punishment.” 

He smiled, open-mouthed to show all his teeth. Sharp, elongated, a mouth full of knives. A vamp’s mouth. “And I earned every single minute of it.” 

Okay. Tough guy. Proud of the shitty things he’s done. That was part of the thrill of being so close to Falling. Kind of like passing over the event horizon into a black hole, when one part of you accelerates faster than the rest. His soul was a ragged plastic bag caught on a tree branch, waiting for the last big wind to come along. 

His heart had already flown loose. In his heart, he was a vampire. 

Well, his body was still here, and his soul was still here, and I was still here. He was in for a surprise. 

I surveyed his power, using Sophia-sight to visualize it. It was dark, like cooling lava, black and cracked and sullen red showing through the seams. The black crust was his resignation. He’d stopped fighting. Well, maybe he just needed the right sparring partner. 

How did you get rid of hard, black cooling lava? Why, you heat it up, of course. Nothing got a man hotter than his temper. 

Well, that wasn’t exactly true. There were other things, but that wasn’t my brand of therapy. 

I pushed through his brittle ugly shell into the lava beneath, then through the lava to his inner core. It was tiny, but it was cool, and green, and still had the essence of who he used to be. His feelings were still packed away inside and I latched onto it, expanded it, examined it. Family. He had kids. A job. He’d been a lawyer, and a good one. He was proud of what he’d done—in the beginning. 

Ah. That’s where it started to turn. I sifted along the line of those memories and found the point when he started fighting for the bad guys. 

“A dirty lawyer?” I snorted and rolled my eyes. “There’s a shock. Your parents must be so proud.” 

He growled and dug his fingers into his thighs. “Shut up.” 

“No wonder you turned into this.” I waved my fingers at him as if I were calling out a Coach bag knock-off at a street vendor. “I thought you were going to say you ate babies or something but a corrupt lawyer? That’s sick.” 

Rage filled him like a burning warehouse, the fury consuming his power. If it weren’t for my personal shields, I’d have been incinerated. The fire of his anger melted the hard shell of his former apathy and he’d become a miniature sun of murderous intent. 

He wanted to end me, wanted nothing more than to get his hands on me. 

I beat him to it. 

Like the flick of a mental finger, I opened the door in my mind where all the bad stuff went. It was like a vacuum in there and once it was open, it just sucked at his power, the ugly, the hate and the agony he’d surrounded himself with and I pulled. 

It hurt. It hurt me, it was like sandpaper on the eyes and it hurt him. He howled as I ripped away all the fury of his self-loathing and hate. 

Normally, I did this in steps, gently, kind of a leeching away. Not this guy. I had to over-power him because at this stage, he could just grow it all back. Vampires were infinite wells of hate and evil and this guy was so damned close. 

His howl became a roar and he made a lunge for me. I slid a ramrod of my shields at him and held him at a mental arm’s length. He struggled to reach me, his clawed hands inches from my eyes and if he got to me, if he reached me, he’d tear my throat out. 

No, he wouldn’t. I was stronger than that. I bit down on my lips and tasted the tang of blood and continued to strip his agony away. 

This little man wasn’t big enough to break me. I continued to pull away the damage of his soul, and sent a simultaneous stream of the Sophia into him, a cool mist against the acrid hate. His soul had been dried and withered and it soaked up the Sophia’s healing rain, swelling and anchoring itself once more. 

The fight was going out of him. He dropped his hands, fighting to breathe. Part of my brain screamed to stop, this was too much, too fast. But a part of my heart was intent on pushing the limits, almost wishing to break because maybe then—just maybe—I’d break past whatever unknown obstacle had been holding me back. Desperation drove me just as surely as it had driven him. 

So I was relentless. I continued the pull and the push and I found myself standing over his slumped body. He’d slid down in his chair, head dropped against the back of the cushion, his eyes darkening into a deep green, like spring grass. And I didn’t stop. 

I didn’t stop until he’d fallen to his knees before me, forehead pressed to my feet, crying and repeating words I couldn’t hear because the Sophia was too much in control. My ears didn’t work right when she was filling my head. I kind of got used to it. 

When it was all gone, all the damage and the negativity and the self-hate, the Sophia pulled itself back, sealing the drain. Sound returned, and I could hear his labored breathing, his murmured chanting. My insides still felt raw. That would take a day or two to settle down. 

I was aware the outer barrier was still up and I dispelled it. Another ear-pop and we were both submerged in a cacophony of applause and happy shouting. Several people rushed forward to embrace him, hugs for him, awkward hugs for me. I backed away from the jostling and let his family and friends bear him back to the seats. He beamed at me, incredulous joy and gratitude on his face. 

And it didn’t touch me at all. 

I only had two thoughts. The first was: I had just gotten inside him, battled his demons, saved his soul, but I never learned his name. Maybe it was better that way. There were so many DV. I couldn’t remember all their names and keep my sanity. 

The second was: it hadn’t been enough. He was, by far, the worst I’d encountered and it still wasn’t enough. There had been no revelation, clue, no hint how to fix the one problem I needed to fix. 

I’d come no closer to solving Marek’s problem. 

A terrible panic tried to grip me but I squashed it down. I swallowed hard and pinched myself and turned to the crowd. The entire group fell silent, hanging on my words. 

“Another,” I called. “Please. I need another.” 

And I continued to heal, and I continued to need, and I continued to fight the growing fear that in the end, I might save a million DV and still stand to lose the one I truly loved. 

Another stepped forward, and after him another, and it was pushing dawn before I realized none of it had given me what I needed to save Marek. 

I stared bleakly at the sea of hopeful faces. So many saves, so many solutions, all of it dwarfed in the shadow of my heart’s crushing failure. All my exhaustion, all my despair, all of the raw edges inside me, seething with the scalds of so much negative energy, and all I could think was that I had to do this all again for the next envoy in three days’ time. 

Einstein’s Definition of Insanity Sophie, that’s me.

Purchase Links:

The first book in the series, BLEEDING HEARTS, is now available for Kindle ~ Bleeding Hearts: Book One of the Demimonde
and Nook readers for only 1.99.

About the Author:

Ash Krafton writes from the heart…of the Pennsylvania coal region, that is. 

She is the author of the Books of the Demimonde (Pink Narcissus Press). 

BLEEDING HEARTS (Demimonde #1) is a six-time RWA finalist and was voted "Reviewer Top Pick" by Ash continues the story of Sophie and her Demivampires in her latest release BLOOD RUSH (Demimonde #2). She's hard at work (when she isn't watching Doctor Who) writing the third book, WOLF'S BANE. 

Ash Krafton's poetry and short fiction has appeared in several journals, including Niteblade, Bete Noire, Abandoned Towers, and Silver Blade. She's a member of Pennwriters, RWA, and Maryland Writers Association. She lurks near her blog and contributes to the QueryTracker blog. 

Ash lives with her family and their German Shepherd dog deep in the Pennsylvania wilds, awaiting the day the TARDIS appears in the driveway (the dog most likely keeps the Doctor away. What a beast.) 

Until then, she writes. 

Find Ash Online: 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Welcome to the Guardians of the Angels Series Book Tour ~ Veined (Book I) and Lethed (Book II) by Anyta Sunday ~ GIVEAWAY, too

 Welcome to the Guardians of the Angels Series Book Tour.

It could be worse for Sylva Lark. She could be dead. A coma was nothing to that. Or her family moving across country for the treatment, leaving her with a big blue mark on her back. 

She can handle it. 


Except the mark glows and tingles, especially whenever transition helper Atticus Plot (Attic) is close by. She suspects he’s hiding something, and when she stumbles across a torn body bearing the same spiral marking as her own, that suspicion is confirmed. 

After a few shaves with death, the truth finally comes out and the battles begin. 

But not all her fights are external; her biggest one is the decision she has to make between doing the right thing for the world and giving up her beloved family for good.

Book Details:

Guardians of the Angels, Book I 
Anyta Sunday 

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance 

ASIN: B005J1L41Y 

Number of pages: 446 pages 
Word Count: 85000 words 

Exclusive Veined Extract

“You’re coming with us.” Marcus gave a grunt that said he wouldn’t take no for an answer. “You’ve been hiding in a shell for the last three weeks, and now that you’re out of it, we’re damn well not going to let you crawl back inside.” He flashed me a large smile. “And another thing, not to be judgmental or anything,” he paused, “actually, fuck being PC, totally to be judgmental, you have got to liven up that closet of yours. You’ve been wearing that blue T-shirt three days in a row. Maddy? Did you bring the spare?”

I took a step back and rested my nose against my shoulder, trying to sniff without being too obvious. Gosh. How did I still have friends smelling like I did? I had new respect for anyone who stood or sat within a ten-foot radius of me.

Maddy handed me a lovely green top, trimmed with a floral lace. “There you go, Sylva. And wear your hair out. It’s so lovely when it falls over your shoulders.” She let out a sigh. “I wish I had long wavy red hair.”

Marcus ruffled Maddy’s hair. “You always want what you don’t have. But you suit your short dark hair.” He faced me. “Now go change.”

I undid my hair as Maddy suggested, the dark green top complementing it nicely. With a touch of eyeliner and a brush through my greasy hair, I was ready, and rather than the hefferlump I’d been the past three weeks, I felt nice. A pity Jason had to work, though it would be nice just hanging with friends.

When I came out of the girl’s lavatory Maddy hugged me. “Much better.”

“Where are we going?” I asked.

“Where you can peck to your heart’s content, little Lark.” The answer came from behind me and I jumped. I twisted and my hair followed after me, tumbling over my left shoulder. Attic’s blue eyes met mine. He grinned.

He knows about my mark. I pushed the thought away. I wouldn’t let it affect me. Not today. I needed to relish the fact I was back.

I forced myself to smile, to look at him without questions popping into my head. Casually, I checked out today’s adornment. Laura’s caramel skin and dark hair combined with her long legs made her model material. She was also one of the smartest girls in the senior class. Although she was on par with Attic in terms of looks—even more so since Attic’s hair was the same shade today—I would have deemed her too smart to involve herself with him.

“Laura, I’m not sure your friends are doing their job. If they had, they would have warned you about him.” My gaze landed heavily on Attic.

He shook his head and chuckled. “It’s good to see your tongue wasn’t damaged.” I poked my tongue at him and he laughed harder. “And to answer your earlier question, we’re going to the steakhouse.”

My tummy rumbled. Attic winked and, not wanting him to see my face redden, I turned and linked arms with Maddy. “Let’s go then.”

The idea of fries and steak made my mouth water. I had a feeling I was about to make up for my lack of appetite in a big way.

“Marcus,” I hissed under my breath as we piled into Attic’s Porsche. “Why are we even going with them?” I motioned to Attic and Laura. The idea of crashing their date didn’t settle well with me. I’d been trying hard not to think about the strange happenings of my life, but seeing him and talking to him made that impossible. Ideally, I didn’t want to be around Attic again until he gave me answers. Yet, a small part of me wanted to be around him today. What was that about?

Marcus looked at me blankly, like I’d asked him what two plus two equaled. But I really didn’t understand it. He rolled his eyes and whispered in my ear. “If the guy of your dreams asks if you want to grab a bite with friends, you go. We just got chatting today, and he suggested we all go out. He’s too hot to say no to.” He drew away and then came back. “He kept asking about you, though. As sad as it makes me, I think he may have a thing for you.”

The seatbelt whipped against me as Attic hit the brakes. When I looked up to comment on his reversing, my breath caught. He stared straight at me in the rearview mirror, a little golden angel figure swinging madly from it. As soon as our eyes met, he looked away. “It’s darn near impossible to see past your heads,” he muttered, and put the gear in drive.

Purchase Links:

Smashwords ~ Veined

All Romance Ebooks

Sylva Lark made her choice. 

Now she has to adjust to Guardian life. Training. Killing demons. Controlling her powers. 

If only giving up her family wouldn’t hurt so damn much, . . . and if there wasn’t a strange attraction to the betrothed Prince Atticus she just met . . . 

Amongst murder and mayhem, and toeing an unclear line between right and wrong, Sylva and her fellow Guardians must find a way to secure Eirene. 

But it’s not easy going up against underworld Queen Furie when those on Sylva’s side are hiding secrets . . . 

Will they succeed in protecting the home of the angels? Or will they fail, submitting the heavens to the fate of Furie? 

And will Sylva and Attic ever remember what they mean to each other? 

Or will they stay forever Lethed? 

Book Details:

Guardians of the Angels, Book II
Anyta Sunday

Genre: YA Paranormal Romance


Number of pages: 418 pages
Word Count: 75000 words

Exclusive Lethed Extract

I walked to the door and knocked. When no one answered a second time, my vein hummed. Something wasn’t right.

I breathed in slow and deep.

A shudder rolled through me. How did I not sense it before now? Was I desensitized to the smell of blood already?

The thought chilled me, and I yanked the door handle, ready to boulder my way inside and help the Guardian if he needed it. It swung in easily. A bit too easily, and I toppled gracelessly into the room, just catching myself before face-planting into the carpet.

In that stumbling moment, the whole scene flashed before me. Across the room, sprawled on the twin bed was a corpse. A Guardian corpse. His neck had been sliced and his blood pooled over the white pillow and sheets.

A demon dressed in black from his boots to his gloves bent over the body, searching the inside of the Guardian’s jacket. His head jerked up as I entered and brilliant blue eyes snapped to mine. Beautiful and cold.

“Get your hands off of him.” I emphasized my words by shooting lightning at him.

He cursed and moved before it smashed into his chest but I aimed another at him. He disappeared for a second, reappearing to my right.

I’d never seen a demon do that before. “What are you? Keres?” I whipped out a knife from my boot, swallowing a sudden lump of fear—it wouldn’t do well for him to smell that. I hoped he was just a Keres or I was so screwed.

Why hadn’t I waited for Alyse?

Because you thought you had a fleeting chance to save someone.

But dammit, he was already dead. Looked like I’d just missed helping him.

“Keres?” The guy paused a moment, his lip curled up on one side. I took my advantage and swung the blade like Alyse had taught me in trainings. I almost hit him too, but his speed once again defied anything I’d ever seen a demon do. The only damage I inflicted on him was a slice to one of his gloves.

He swore again. “Put that bloody knife down.”

“Are you delusional? You think I’d follow orders from you?” I lunged to stab his heart but he vanished.

“You would if you knew what was good for you,” the demon said from across the room. “And Keres? Seriously? How new are you?”

As if I represented the threat level of a gnat, he stood with his back to me, searching the small desk in the corner of the room. Yanking out drawers, he pilfered through them. “They couldn’t have taken it,” he muttered. “Maybe Dylan . . .”

I quietly aimed another bolt at him but he casually side-stepped, letting the desk take the impact.

The desk, paper, pens and glass exploded, and shards of wood burst in all directions. Something stung my neck—a splinter, I guessed. I hoped the explosion impaled the demon with wood but he just looked pissed. 

“Look, Chestnut, could we have this little brawl you’re so intent on having after I find what I’m looking for?”

“What is this?” I stammered, thrown off by the demon’s laid-back attitude. “Of course not. I don’t negotiate with devil spawn.”

He laughed. “I really need to keep looking. Any other time, a duel would be welcomed.”

Unhitching my throwing knives, I launched them. One sailed past his ear, the other he caught by the hilt. He threw it back at me, but it hit the wall above the door a good few feet away.

“Leave the knife throwing to me,” Alyse said as she entered the room.

At first I thought she was talking to me and preparing to kill the demon herself. But she didn’t go for her knives. Instead, she smiled. “Long time no see, friend.”

He looked from her to the knife to me. He said, “I’d have destroyed her if I wanted. I didn’t.” He tilted his head to the side as if pondering his decision. “I was close to changing my mind, though.”

Friend? Friend? Alyse’s words crashed through my head. Why would Alyse—oh crap. Was that demon a Guardian?

I must have spoken my last thought aloud—that, or I hadn’t shielded my thoughts—because Alyse groaned.

“That’s the demon,” the friend said, pointing to the man on the bed. “Not me.” . . .

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About the Author:

A born and raised New Zealander, Anyta Sunday has been exploring the literary world since she started reading Roald Dahl as a kid. Inspired, stories have been piling up in her head ever since. Fast forward to her mid-twenties and jump a few countries (Germany, America, and back again), and she started putting pen to paper. When she’s not writing or chasing her kid around, she’s reading, hiking, watching a Joss Whedon series, attempting pilates, or curling up with her two cats. Updates on her projects can be found at 





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Spotlight & First Chapter Excerpt: Beyond the Gardens by Sandra C. Lopez

At the age of 18, Esperanza Ignacio begins her college years at an upscale Los Angeles art school, where she studies to fulfill her long-term dream in Animation. But she soon learns the truth to the old folktale: “you can take the girl out of the barrio, but you can’t take the barrio out of the girl.” Even though she’s getting financial aid, Esperanza works a part-time job during her break from classes just to make ends meet. Her roommate, Anna, is what she calls a “chicana from Beverly Hills” because of the rich daddy and the new car she got for her quinceañera. 

Things get a little confusing for Esperanza when an old friend comes looking for her, hoping to start a meaningful relationship. But is Carlos the right guy for her? She never even considered him to be anything more than a friend since high school. Then comes Jake, a gorgeous mechanic, who shares her passion for books and loves her for who she is. What’s a girl to do? 

Strength and determination help pave the way for the future. And, as she approaches her graduation, she is faced with a difficult decision: should she leave Los Angeles and leave behind her family, her home, and everything she’s known? Ever since she was born in the California barrio of Hawaiian Gardens, she’s always had to look over the fence, wondering what she’s been missing. Now she’s taking a flying leap over to see what’s beyond the little barrio. What’s beyond her family, her friends, and her past? What’s beyond the little nothing town, where dreams don’t exist? What’s beyond The Gardens? Is it life, love, a future? The story of Esperanza is finally concluded in this wildly entertaining and heart-warming sequel.

Number of Pages:  417

Chapter 1 Excerpt:

As the evening sun was settling over the small hills, I steadily hiked along the concrete path that led into the center of the campus quad. I hung to the strap of my book bag with a light wind sweeping through the air, then walked past the student store and the food court. The garlic aroma of chicken chimichangas was overwhelming and floated around seamlessly. My god, did it smell good. I almost wished I had five bucks to waste. 

Instead, I ignored the aching grumble in my stomach and moved on. 

The dorms were located on the outskirts of the school next to a highway that was often busy at this time of day. When I reached Da Vinci Hall, I passed along a few students bundled in a corner with large pads sketching the scattered trees on the forefront of the breaking dawn. I had missed the elevator going up just as the doors were closing. 


Exasperated, I punched in the button for the next one. But the wait was so long I decided to just forget it and took the stairs instead. 

Crossing down the hallway, I fumbled inside the withered pocket of my jacket for the keys. I unlocked the door and then stepped into a tiny cubicle, where I hit my knee passing by the end table. At that point, I couldn’t decide whether the furniture was moving closer or the room was just shrinking. 

I limped across the room and dropped my bag on a nearby chair. Then I took off my cap and tossed it aside. Oh, what a day, I thought while my fingers stroked through the thick strands of my dark hair. I couldn’t believe I stayed up half the night to study for a quiz the teacher decided not to have after all. What a shame. I was really looking forward to it, too. 

After spotting my bed just a few feet away, I fell on top of it landing on a soft pillow that cradled my head. Humble sighs trickled through as the evening sun cast a mild afterglow through the shiny window, shadowing the room with a tinted orange. I yawned while the soothing warmth poured across my tanned face. Then I closed my eyes as a tranquil slumber soon began to take its course. 

Suddenly, the door quickly slammed open, and I instantly bolted upright. 

“Hey, good news you lucky people, I’m here!” 

“Jesus Christ!” I yelled, responding to the triumphant arrival of my roommate, Anna. 

She looked at me with cavalier naïveté. “Oh, were you sleeping?” 

“No, I wasn’t,” I answered. “I was just trying to, that’s all.” 

“Well, as long as you weren’t sleeping.” Casually humming, she sauntered back into the hall and returned with several large shopping bags. Most of them looked like they weighed more than she did. 

“Been to the mall, lately?” I asked. 

“Just for the last half hour.” 

“And that’s all you got?” 

“Well, I couldn’t really get much because I had to come back for a class.” 

“Oh, of course.” 

I watched as Anna closed the door behind her so she could peek at the mirror nailed in the back. She twirled around a few times, checking out all the angles of herself. Then she fluffed her short, reddish-brown hair, which was decorated with bright, silver streaks. Under closer inspection, she turned from side to side and caressed the light, delicate skin on her face. She checked out everything from the straight arches in her eye brows to the rich, glossy color of her lips. 

Oh, brother, I thought as I reclined back into position. 

There was just no doubt about it. Anna Zapata was the “Chicana from Beverly Hills.” She, technically, came from Orange County, but she was possessed by someone in Beverly Hills. Note: Anytime you see the word “hills” in a city name, you just know it’s a fancy, ritzy area packed with people, who just have too much money. For example, Anaheim Hills, Woodland Hills, Chino Hills, Beverly Hills. 

Need I say more? 

“Do you think I need to add another streak?” Anna asked suddenly. 

“Another streak?” 

“Yeah, right here near my bangs.” 

“Well, I don’t know,” I answered. “I think you wouldn’t look any different.” 

“Would you get up and look,” she insisted. 

“Why, I can remember what you look like.” 

“Will you just look.” 

“Okay, fine,” I said with a roll of my eyes. 

With a discouraging grunt, I hoisted myself up and leaned on the tips of my elbows. I cocked my head in her direction, straining to give her a glance. My face crinkled in confusion as I attempted to drum up an opinion. 

“Well?” she persisted. 

“Well, uh—” 

“Be honest.” 

“Honestly……you’d look the same.” 

“Oh, no I wouldn’t.” 

“Yes, you would.” 

“No, I wouldn’t.” 

“Yes, you would.” 

“Oh, what do you know?” 

I collapsed back on the bed with a loud murmur under my breath. 

“Can’t you see that one streak will add balance to my bone structure?” 

“No, I clearly don’t see that,” I said. 

“Obviously.” She looked back at the mirror. “Maybe I should just start all over with a brand new color. What do you think about that?” 

“Why don’t you just go back with the color God gave you?” I asked. 

“Well, that kinda presents a problem,” she said. “See, I sorta forgot my original hair color.” 

“Are you serious?” 

“Nope, I’ve been dyeing my hair for years, and it just sorta slipped my mind.” 

“Well, why don’t you ask your mom then?” 

“Are you kidding?” she responded. “Who do you think taught me how to dye my hair? My mother couldn’t find her own roots if she was digging for gold.” 

“Okay, point well taken,” I mentioned. At least now I knew where her obsession with hair started from. 

“Ya know, I think I will add that extra streak,” she said. 

“Whatever you say.” 

“And while I’m at the salon, I’ll get a manicure, pedicure, and a facial,” she added. “I’ll just beautify all this even more.” 

“Are you sure you’re Mexican?” I asked once again. 

“For the last time, I am Mexican,” she replied in defiance. 

“Yo sé hablar español y todo. I just don’t listen to Spanish music or eat spicy foods. Why, don’t I sound Mexican?” 


“I resent that,” she said. “I would stay and fight you on that, but I gotta go get my facial, manicure, and pedicure.” 

“So, back to the mall you go?” 

“That’s right,” she said. “Oh, and while I’m there, I might as well get that cashmere blouse I was thinking about buying but didn’t. See ya.” 

With giddy excitement, Anna glided out of the room. 

Finally! Now where was I? Oh, yeah, I was trying to relax. 

I lied there and closed my eyes, gradually reacquainting myself with the peaceful and quiet sounds around me. At some point, I actually wondered whether or not I went deaf. But I didn’t. There was absolutely no noise. Wow, this was nothing like home back in the barrio, I thought. 

Back home I had the raucous sounds of police helicopters flying overhead to lull me to sleep. But not here.  Sounds of the barrio didn’t exist. I haven’t heard screeching tires against the harsh gravel of the streets, or the sounds of drunken cholos clashing with shattered beer bottles. Up until now I figured I’d be stuck with those noises for the rest of my life. It was amazing. I mean, I’ve heard about lawns being greener on the other side of the fence; but it’s another thing to actually sink your feet into that beautiful grass and wiggle your toes in it. Could I really have done it? I wondered. Could I have gotten myself away from the other side and made it all the way here—at the Atkins Art Institute, the place I’ve been working so hard to get to ever since I saw Bugs Bunny as a kid? Could this be a dream? Yes, it was a dream—it was a dream come true! 

After conquering the world of high school as a kid and cherishing the last few moments of summer with the people who meant the most to me, I can now say that I had finally made it. I did it! I was here, standing in the middle of a whole new adventure, ready to begin the grand odyssey of college life, ready to discover the answer to the question that’s been nagging me for years: 

What’s beyond The Gardens? 

Ever since I was born in the small town of Hawaiian Gardens—a California barrio that a lot of the locals referred to as The Gardens— my life always had barbed wire around it, and I just couldn’t get through. I was caged like a raggedy, flea-infested dog, always snuggled in a dirty corner while surrounded by the foul stench of that filthy pound. I would look at the world through steel bars, wondering what it would be like to be on the other side. 

Was there some other life beyond those gates? Was there something better over that fence? I never knew; I’ve always just wondered. And I kept on wondering even when we moved to East L.A., where I was only transferred from a smaller cage to a bigger one—my curiosities still the same though. I knew I was going to die if I stayed right where I was. I knew it was never going to get any better unless I got out. 

Well, now, I was a dog that had gone free. I finally escaped my cell. I have passed the gates of limitations, running every step of the way, ready to discover what I have been missing all my life. I was now going to see this new world through fascinated eyes and finally mark my territory wherever I go. What changes await me? 
What will I find?
Who will I meet? 

How will the next chapters of my life going to end this time? 

Or were they going to end at all? 

Maybe my ending will turn out to be a brand new beginning. I couldn’t wait to find out! 

To read the full story of Beyond the Gardens by Sandra Lopez, copies are available here: 

For more information, visit the author’s website at or connect with her on Facebook at