Giveaways, Hayden Thorne

Guest Post, Excerpt, and Giveaway: The Porcelain Carnival by Hayden Thorne

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Join us in welcoming author Hayden Thorne today, as she shares a bit about her newest book The Porcelain Carnival, the seventh and final book in the Masks series. Enjoy the excerpt Hayden’s brought along to share with you, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win One of Two e-copies of the book.

Good luck!

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AUTHOR’S NOTE: As with the sequels to the main trilogy, this installment is episodic in nature, but it does play a significant role in conveying something about Eric’s adventures. I mentioned a long time ago (over at my blog) that when I end the series, I’ll do so without a firm closure because, given the nature of the superheroes and the supervillains, the insanity continues well beyond the seven books. There’s closure, yes, but not in the sense of the genetically modified characters finding a cure or a fix – because there isn’t.

Deena’s role is also significant on a number of levels, and her story supplements Eric’s in that sense. The same can be said about the missing kids as well as the Shadow Puppet (and, consequently, other supervillains).

At any rate, there you have it. This is Eric’s swan song, and I bid my fictional therapy (he is very therapeutic to write) a fond farewell. If you’ve stuck with the entire series from Rise of Heroes all the way to Dr. Morbid’s Castle of Blood, bless you. Even if the original trilogy was your only foray into Eric’s crazy world, thank you for taking a chance. As with every other book I’ve written and published, I hope you enjoy / enjoyed / continue to enjoy Eric Plath’s adventures as a normal kid caught up in beyond normal situations.

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The Porcelain CarnivalBLURB: In the seventh and final installment of the Masks series, nothing comes easy to sixteen-year-old Eric Plath – and the Shadow Puppet. On one hand, Eric suffers through the tedium of more homework, more groundings from irate parents, and sudden and inexplicable attention from mutated killer mannequins from the Shadow Puppet’s cabal. On the other hand, those evolving mannequins appear to have rattled a supervillain’s schemes of terrorizing Vintage City, and no one — not even the superheroes and the Sentries – can figure out what’s happening.

In the middle of this spiraling supervillain craziness are the growing numbers of disappearing teenagers, including Deena Alvarez, Eric’s good friend who’s in the process of transitioning behind the backs of her disapproving parents and grandparents. And the only clue dropped into Eric’s lap makes him an even bigger target to a supervillain who desperately needs it back.

Buy Links: JMS Books || Amazon || Smashwords

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EXCERPT:
(from Chapter 12)

“ERIC, YOU’RE NOT going to die.”

I glanced up, shooting Peter a withering look. “That’s easy for you to say. You weren’t neck-deep in seething, broiling garbage. I’ve got half a mind to demand a full cavity search.”

Peter froze. He didn’t even blink; I think he couldn’t find it in himself to blink. “This isn’t a good time to be kinky.”

“I’m not being kinky. I’m serious. I want to make sure no bacteria or viruses or mutated parasites and worms found their way under my jeans and underwear and up my ass.” I snorted. “Can you believe it? Parasites would get in there even way before you would, Peter Barlow. I don’t even want to think of the damage those bastards would cause. Hell, I wouldn’t be surprised if this means no gay butt sex till the day I die.”

Fan-made poster of Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange. If I were to fan cast Eric as a superhero, I'd kill to see him as the Sorcerer Supreme. He has to be an adult, though; otherwise, he'd destroy the whole planet with his still-raging teen hormones ruling his head.

Fan-made poster of Benedict Cumberbatch as Dr. Strange. If I were to fan cast Eric as a superhero, I’d kill to see him as the Sorcerer Supreme. He has to be an adult, though; otherwise, he’d destroy the whole planet with his still-raging teen hormones ruling his head.

I took a deep, calming breath because I was beyond furious. Was this what people called “incensed”? I think so, but I’d have to double-check my thesaurus. At any rate, I was fuming. It’d been an hour since I was rescued from the dumpster (and interrogated while squirming and practically sobbing in my killer
disease-soaked clothes), and I refused to leave the bathtub. I’d been sitting in warm, sudsy water for an eternity now, alternately scrubbing every inch of my skin with a loofa and dunking my head again and again in the water. Oh, and the soap used was one of those anti-bacterial types, by the way, because I damned well demanded it. In that really incensed way I could only demand , when I was dripping with filth from head to toe, with my messenger bag just as messed up as I was.

Since the Sentries were involved in my rescue, they dragged my sorry ass away from the crowd for some kind of shot – don’t know what the hell was in that syringe, but my guess was something like the love child of the flu shot and a tetanus shot. Plus maybe something for malaria, the Black Plague, and Ebola. Whatever formula they’d used on me must’ve been totally epic and badass, considering how crazy big the needle was. I wasn’t sure if I should faint again or just plain lose all control of my bowels and shit inside my jeans.

Another fan cast moment - maybe if he were a street-level superhero, Eric can be Iron Fist. Then he can team up with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage as The Defenders and protect Vintage City that way. Then again, maybe not.

Another fan cast moment – maybe if he were a street-level superhero, Eric can be Iron Fist. Then he can team up with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and Luke Cage as The Defenders and protect Vintage City that way. Then again, maybe not.

“There you go,” Brenda had said after sticking me. She actually tried to cheer me up by gurgling and doing all kinds of baby talk the whole time. I just gaped at her, my lower lip wobbling. “You don’t have to worry about infections and stuff.”

Easy for her to say, I thought, but I didn’t get all honest and truthy then because all I wanted was to go home, scrub myself down to a molecule, and spend the rest of the day in self-pity mode.

I’d also demanded to have all of my clothes burned as well as my bag, and I didn’t care how much it’d cost Mom and Dad to help me replace those things because I knew twenty billion cycles in the washing machine wouldn’t ease my mind. I might as well start over.

Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) gives us a great superhero series for teens. I can see Eric chilling with her. Embiggen!

Kamala Khan (Ms. Marvel) gives us a great superhero series for teens. I can see Eric chilling with her. Embiggen!

Oh, and if I crossed paths with one of those dumbass mutated mannequins, I’m going to fucking murder it dead twenty times over.

That bathtub, by the way, was in my parents’ bathroom because mine only had a shower stall. Peter was in there with me – without parental permission, by the way, because everyone was still at work. I was naked and helpless, my boyfriend was there, taking care of me, and I couldn’t have sex with him even if he begged. Why? Parasites up the ass, that was why.

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THE GIVEAWAY

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*Some residency restrictions may apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified
*Void where prohibited by law

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Giveaways, Hayden Thorne

Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway: The Romeo and Julian Effect (The Cecilian Blue-Collar Chronicles) by Hayden Thorne

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Today we’re so please to welcome author Hayden Thorne back for a special release day feature of book three in The Cecilian Blue-Collar Chronicles series, The Romeo and Julian Effect. Enjoy the excerpt Hayden’s selected to share with you, and then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win an e-copy of Books One thru Three of the series: Sheridan Diggins and the Dead Horde, The Golem Upstairs, and The Romeo and Julian Effect.

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The Romeo and Julian EffectBlurb: Intimidation from the underworld is escalating, this time involving a person from Sheridan’s past who really shouldn’t be hanging around Sheridan if he knew what’s best for him. Shapeshifting demons come out to harass Sheridan in the most hilariously bizarre ways imaginable, and with the help of defensive-wish-granting knight, Clonia, and some space-age technology, Sheridan proves himself a worthy opponent.

In the meantime, Yuli Soulweaver’s beginning to display alarming symptoms of fatigue, possibly from the prince’s constant crossing over between two worlds in order to court Sheridan — unless a more ominous reason lies behind Yuli’s spiraling weakness.

Nobody messes with a Diggins, however, and the more Sheridan meets resistance from antagonistic entities from the underworld, the harder he fights back. Disgruntled immortals might very well be in for a huge surprise in their campaign of terror against a young colonist with nothing to lose and everything to gain.

Buy Links: JMS Books || Amazon || Smashwords

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Author’s Note: I wrote The Cecilian Blue-Collar Chronicles as a spoof of sci-fi conventions. I’m a big fan of science fiction, and I’ve always been tickled by not only the way aliens tended to be humanoid in form but varying greatly in skin, hair, and eye color/markings, but also by the fact that when different species come together, they can speak one language (mostly due to a translator they either carry around or are wearing). I’ve loved those conventions in addition to dietary stuff and especially the names of individual characters including aliens, alien species, and planets.

This sci-fi four-novella series is meant to be a loving comic tribute to science fiction clichés we’ve grown familiar with, and I wanted to add the element of fantasy (magic and immortality) into the mix to liven things up. Sheridan Diggins isn’t a kickass space-age hero a la Star-Lord or Han Solo or Mr. Spock. He’s just an everyman who, like us, works hard to pay the bills and look after a kid brother after they’ve been orphaned at a very young age. There are no mind-boggling adventures somewhere in a distant galaxy. There’s no epic space opera unfolding in a massive ship carrying exiles or scientists or criminals. There’s only an overworked astro-cab driver-captain who’s gotten the attention of the youngest prince of the dead.

And someone from the underworld doesn’t like that very much.

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From Chapter 10

At first Sheridan thought it was cute how Adley’s simmering-just-below-the-whiny-surface bloodlust enjoyed a sudden intravenous jolt of caffeine, when the boy started to bug Sheridan about his use – or non-use – of his Quantum Pistol Mini. Unfortunately the charm wore off pretty damned quickly.

“I never got a chance to use this,” Sheridan replied, and turned the weapon off. “That damned thing attacked me inside the ship. I almost had my throat ripped out.”

Of course, he took care not to admit his complete failure in being sharp on his feet, of charging right into the waiting arms of death and destruction without a moment’s critical thought because he desperately needed to protect his brother.

They’d just reached Old Myrna and were hanging around, waiting for Clonia to return with the necessary rundown of her epic fight with Ian-wannabe. With any luck, she’d show up carrying the severed head of the monster, and Sheridan would use that gruesome sight as a means of projecting himself into Clonia’s shoes. He decided then there were unexpected benefits to having a knight hanging around for protection.

Romeo and Juliet. There's nothing like star-crossed (gay) lovers, one being a mortal living paycheck-to-paycheck in technologically advanced Cecilia, the other an immortal prince of the dead and who's also a magic wielder. Opposite traits piled upon opposite traits make for some pretty pissed off immortal guardians and questionably fun times in the colony.

Romeo and Juliet. There’s nothing like star-crossed (gay) lovers, one being a mortal living paycheck-to-paycheck in technologically advanced Cecilia, the other an immortal prince of the dead and who’s also a magic wielder. Opposite traits piled upon opposite traits make for some pretty pissed off immortal guardians and questionably fun times in the colony.

Adley’s face scrunched up tightly in a very adolescent show of confusion. “Huh? You didn’t kill it? Why not?”

Sheridan stared at him. “Let me repeat: I almost had my throat ripped out.”

“So Clonia got it instead? Like from the get-go? You never even fired a single shot?”

“Apparently I have to stand in front of you with my body torn to pieces in order for you to horf a single word of – oh, I don’t know – sympathy or horror or concern for my well-being,” Sheridan replied in a dull monotone. “Like a hairball.”

“Oh, please. If you showed yourself to me all torn up and stuff, it’d be a little too late for me to be concerned for your wellbeing since you’d already be dead. Right?”

Adley beamed, apparently quite impressed with his deductive powers. Sheridan continued to regard his brother dully, wondering if it was already too late for him to sit the boy down and go over the basics of simple empathy. Something told him, however, the teenage brain was still too busy skittering about its bony container, drawn to the magnetic forces of all things shiny and beneficial only to its owner. It was going to be an absolute nightmarish romp through the cesspit of Hell, digging around for a non-self-absorbed kernel floating forlornly through all those narcissistic gray cells.

Surrender and resignation were inevitable.

When the intended victim of a "hit" from the underworld actually yearns for a terrifying (not to mention competent) monster to be sent to off him, life has gone just a wee bit cockeyed.

When the intended victim of a “hit” from the underworld actually yearns for a terrifying (not to mention competent) monster to be sent to off him, life has gone just a wee bit cockeyed.

“Good evening, mortals,” a voice piped up from the direction of the trees, making both brothers jump. “The creature has been dispatched and sent back to the world of the dead. Nothing more to see here.”

Clonia emerged from the shadows and stopped next to Sheridan, giving him a sharp nod in greeting. While she hadn’t changed uniforms or loosened her hair for the night, she did carry two wildly diverging weapons. One hand held what Sheridan now recognized as a crossbow – a rather large one at that. Then again, he’d never seen one in person before and had no context for comparison. He was, however, amazed and impressed at the weapon’s non-technologically advanced badassery. Clonia’s other hand held a Nova Blaster.

“I didn’t know immortals were allowed to use space-age weapons,” Sheridan said.

Clonia regarded him in her usual blank way. “You’re welcome,” she said.

“Sorry – thanks for rescuing me. I wouldn’t have bothered you if I weren’t so stupidly underprepared.” Sheridan paused when he realized he still held his Quantum Pistol Mini. He sheepishly held it up. “I, uh, suppose this wouldn’t have made a lick of difference.”

“No, it wouldn’t have. It looks like a plastic toy.”

And poor Sheridan, though armed with space-age weapons, still can't catch a break, protecting himself from threats effectively. When magic and science collide, one can't realistically be as badass as, say, Star-Lord.

And poor Sheridan, though armed with space-age weapons, still can’t catch a break, protecting himself from threats effectively. When magic and science collide, one can’t realistically be as badass as, say, Star-Lord.

“Okay. So – where’d you get your Nova Blaster?”

“It’s a long story.”

“Try me.”

“I found it on sale in the downtown area while out looking for shops for His Royal Highness. I was under the impression you’d need this and so purchased it. Unfortunately I couldn’t hang around too long up here to give you this as the transaction happened in a dark alley, and the man who sold it was pretty adamant that I lie low for twenty-four hours. Why? I don’t know. He did mention something about disappearing and new identities and filed off serial numbers. He was an odd, odd sort, and he smelled bad.”

Sheridan had to admit, he was pretty impressed. “This would have to be the longest response you’ve made.”

“It is, and I’m winded. Try to avoid subjecting me to it again, please. One thing you must know, when dealing with creatures from my world, your technological weapons can’t kill them.”

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A Rafflecopter Giveaway

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The Fine Print:

*Entrants must be 18 years or older to qualify
*No residency restrictions apply
*All comments must be relevant to the author’s prompt to be eligible (when applicable)
*The Novel Approach will not be held liable for prize delivery unless otherwise specified

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Giveaways, Hayden Thorne

Excerpt and Giveaway: Desmond and Garrick (Book Two) by Hayden Thorne

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We’re so pleased to have author Hayden Thorne back today with an excerpt and giveaway of her Young Adult Historical Fantasy Desmond and Garrick (Books One and Two). To enter for the chance to win an e-copy of BOTH books, just click on the Rafflecopter widget below after reading this little teaser.

Good luck!

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from Chapter 11

He’d walked a short distance, pausing under the shadows of a small cluster of trees, when movement from the corner of his eye caught his attention, and he turned to find Desmond scrambling up the hill – appearing desperate to get back to the picnic area. Garrick narrowed his eyes as he watched the boy. The way Desmond practically flailed his arms in order to keep his balance, the way he almost stumbled a few times in his haste to get up the hill, the way his clothes looked suspiciously crumpled and his hair windblown and wild and his face taking on a decidedly unhealthy red hue for a vampire…

Garrick sighed, shaking his head, his gaze still fixed on the frantic figure. “Good heavens, Master Desmond,” he muttered, that familiar feeling of helplessness creeping up his spine. “What have you done this time?”

He shrugged things off and carried on, awash in contentment for another pleasant moment, this time humming to himself.

More movement caught his attention and, and this time he saw Phillip Priestley making his way up the hill as well, his appearance no less wild than Desmond’s. But while Desmond appeared to be fleeing the area and half-killing himself to reach the hill’s crest in the shortest time possible, Mr. Priestley appeared to march stiffly uphill, his disheveled appearance highlighting the anger that set his face in a rigid mask. Arms swinging stiffly at his sides, eyes fixed directly ahead, mouth pressed into a tight line, the young fellow was in grave danger of swelling up with all that collected rage before exploding in a dreadfully untidy way that only vampires could appreciate. The sinking feeling gave way to another familiar sensation: a dreadful chill that could only mean one thing…

Any mortal tutor who takes on Desmond and Lavinia for his pupil will need all the luck in the world.

Any mortal tutor who takes on Desmond and Lavinia for his pupil will need all the luck in the world.

“Ah, Mr. Mortimer,” a voice hailed him.

Garrick turned and found Mr. Sherbourne approaching, his hands clasped behind him, his hat still on his head, his clothes still pristine. He inclined his head at Garrick once he was near enough.

“Mr. Sherbourne,” Garrick said after a moment’s hesitation.

The gentleman flashed an engaging smile, his manner calm and casual. “Sir, I apologize for pressing you with such a remarkable request, but I’d be honored if you would come with me tomorrow morning and be my second.”

Garrick stared at him. “I beg your pardon?”

“I’ve been challenged to a duel, you see, and I’m afraid it’s simply beyond my control to walk away from it. Honor is honor, after all.” When Garrick remained mute, he added, “Pistols at dawn. You know what that’s about.”

Garrick continued to stare at him. “I beg your pardon?”

Mr. Sherbourne sighed, though his manner stayed calm. Almost indifferent. “I’m compelled to defend Desmond Hathaway’s honor, sir. While in the course of dispensing a duty that was entrusted to me by the good Mr. and Mrs. Hathaway, I chanced upon a scene of a – well – rather sensitive nature, and I took umbrage at the gentleman’s treatment at the hands of a scoundrel. I certainly would have challenged Mr. Priestley to a duel myself, had he not leapt upon the chance first and challenged me. Can you imagine the cheek, sir? He’s the villain, and he thought to challenge me.”

Garrick stared. Still. Somehow, some time ago, his brain had ceased its functions, and he felt as though he were standing before its sad remains, watching it slowly dissolve with every word Mr. Sherbourne uttered.

Pistols at dawn - not exactly an ideal thing for mortal and vampire teenagers caught in a love triangle.

Pistols at dawn – not exactly an ideal thing for mortal and vampire teenagers caught in a love triangle.

“Would you mind explaining yourself, sir?” he said after about twenty attempts at speaking something that sounded halfway coherent.

“My dear Mr. Mortimer, I don’t see how I can make myself any clearer,” Mr. Sherbourne said, looking tired and faintly irritated. Yet he stood before Garrick, hands still clasped at his back, posture straight, appearance very striking and handsome as only vampires could be striking and handsome. “I need you to be my second, sir, for dawn tomorrow. While I’d be quite happy simply giving Mr. Priestley a damned good thrashing, I’m afraid I’m rather stuck resorting to a duel and perhaps bloody murder to set things right.”

“Mr. Sherbourne, you do realize your challenger is sixteen years old and is quite incapable of sound thought – especially if he’s been sent down from Wyndham.”

“Seventeen and four months.” Mr. Sherbourne paused, looking sincerely surprised. “I took care to ask, Mr. Mortimer. Not that it made much of a difference, anyway, since a scoundrel is a scoundrel at any age, and if Mr. Priestley forced my hand into a duel, I’m not one to back away from it. If his age worries you, perhaps you ought to raise the matter with him, not me.”

“Are you drunk, sir?”

“Indeed, no. But I’ve never been to a duel before, let alone been challenged to one. I’m afraid my ignorance shows, though I do hope I’m still capable of defending Desmond’s honor when required.”

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Desmond and Garrick Book TwoBlurb: As the vain and self-absorbed poets continue their campaign of destruction in Dryden Abbey, Garrick finds himself struggling in the classroom, with increasingly distracted pupils eroding all of his hard work and reducing him to using all things dead and decaying in order to keep Desmond and Lavinia’s minds on their lessons.

Meanwhile, with Phillip Priestley’s unexpected appearance, Desmond’s world unravels as infatuation, lust, confusion, and revulsion drive him into wilder mood swings. Mr. Sherbourne’s coldly distant yet attractive presence in Dryden Abbey further complicates things, prompting Desmond to do something he never thought he’d ever do: reach out to unlikely allies for help.

In the midst of the wild goings on around them, Garrick and Desmond will realize that the chasm separating them as distinct species will not only teach them important lessons of understanding and acceptance, but also forge a stronger bond of friendship than they expected.

Buy Links: JMS Books || Amazon || Smashwords

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THE GIVEAWAY

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4 Stars, Hayden Thorne, Holiday Romance, JMS Books LLC, Paranormal, Queerteen Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Review: Desmond and Garrick (Book One) by Hayden Thorne

Title: Desmond and Garrick (Book One)

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press/JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 226 Pages

At a Glance: Another fantastic historical YA fantasy from Hayden Thorne.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: It’s 1815. Garrick Mortimer is a scholar extraordinaire, an underemployed and starving genius, who agrees to sign on as tutor to Desmond Hathaway, the youngest son of a vampire family living in Yorkshire. Desmond, heartbroken by another boy’s callous treatment of him in school, rebels against Garrick’s attempts at educating him and does everything he could to chase Garrick away, which proves to be a greater challenge than he first thought.

When Desmond’s older brother returns from Italy for a visit and brings with him a small group of talentless and self-absorbed poets, life in Dryden Abbey turns upside-down, mainly when Desmond meets Leigh Blaise Sherbourne, a sullen vampire poet.

Throw into the mix a desperate mother’s plea for grandchildren, a family-owned torture chamber, a cottage-abbey-and-quarter-castle, and a grumpy family magician, and Garrick finds life in the Hathaway household to be a great deal more than he bargained for.

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Review: Hayden Thorne knows how to write historical YA, and historical fantasy YA, so when I had the opportunity to read Desmond and Garrick I was thrilled. First of all, it has a similarly haunting cover of some old building. Without even reading the blurb, I knew the house would play some interesting part in the story, and it did.

The first of a series (at least one other book is out, or soon to be out), Desmond and Garrick focuses on a vampire family and their young son, Desmond, who has been sent out of human schools for “provoking” human boys, like pretty much every young vampire has done. Desperate to change him and get him to settle down, his parents send for a human tutor and find Garrick, a brilliant scholar who detests teaching. But, the idea of working with vampires and learning about their species intrigues him.

What follows is a story as both teacher and pupil grow. Their growth may not necessarily be because of each other, but changes take place. Garrick is drawn more towards tutoring Desmond’s talented younger sister, who shows more promise than Desmond. And Desmond, attempting to get over the human boy he loved and lost, finds himself face to face with his older brother’s friend, Leigh Sherbourne, a vampire poet who both intrigues and repulses Desmond.

Like the author’s other YA books, there is very little romance, and what is there is incredibly slow to start, but also, like the other books, that’s okay. There’s more to this than the romance. Instead, you’ll be drawn to watching the vampire children (who act much younger than fifteen and sixteen) throwing themselves off the top of their home, locking themselves in the torture chamber’s various devices, watching vampire parents adding graveyards and collapsed walls to their cottage-abbey-and-quarter-castle home.

I look forward to the next book, because this one leaves off in spot that suggests this would work well as one long book rather than two (or more) parts of one story.

TNA_Signature_Jennifer

 

 

 

You can buy Desmond and Garrick here:

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All Romance eBooks

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Excerpt and Giveaway: Desmond and Garrick by Hayden Thorne

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We’re so pleased to welcome author Hayden Thorne today, with an excerpt and giveaway of her latest re-release Desmond and Garrick: Book One, a young adult Regency vampire coming-of-age novel, infused with more than a little humor.

Be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter for the chance to win an e-copy of Desmond and Garrick Books One and Two (upon its release).

Good luck!

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Author BioAuthor’s notes: I wrote Desmond and Garrick 1-2 because I love Romanticism and the Regency, and I wanted desperately to write a pastiche using this period. I also wanted to explore not just one subject – that of a developing romance between two young people – but also to show prejudices between a human tutor and a vampire teenager being torn down while a very unlikely friendship grows as each finds in the other a sympathetic mirror to his own misunderstood qualities. To top it all off, I wanted to write a quirky, humorous take on Regency romance tropes as well as tropes commonly used in paranormal YA romances. These two books were a real blast to write, and I hope readers find them entertaining and fun.

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from Chapter 13: a scene in which a very confused mortal tutor bears witness to a blossoming romance

When Garrick also realized Desmond didn’t answer, he turned and found, to his greater amazement, that the boy was scrubbing his eyes with his sleeve. He stopped in his tracks, reaching out and pressing a hand on Desmond’s shoulder.

“Why – are you ill, Master Desmond?” he asked. “You should have told me if you were! I wouldn’t have led you this far from Dryden Abbey, and – ”

Desmond shook his head. “No, I’m not ill,” he said, his voice breaking. Garrick was stunned. “I’m just – what you’re saying caught me off guard, I suppose.”

For the romantics out there, especially Desmond, who’s yet to figure things out at sixteen.

“What I’m saying,” Garrick echoed, frowning more deeply. “What was I saying? Heavens, did I just offend you, sir?”

“No. You made me think about Phillip, and you got me thinking about – but that’s hopeless. Yes, he wrote once if only to tell me to stop sending him letters. He’s not in love with me anymore.” Desmond’s shoulders shook as he struggled with his tears, and it seemed that it was all he could do to keep his head bowed the whole time. “No, that’s not true. He never did love me, the way I loved him.” He felt around his pockets and pulled out a handkerchief.

Garrick waited. Desmond’s words seemed to hang in the air for several moments, frozen in time. Then he felt their weight slowly press down on him. Garrick blinked and watched the boy wipe his face with his handkerchief as he slowly regained control of himself.

“What…do you mind repeating that?” Garrick asked, and Desmond looked up, pale and drawn.

True, dat. True, true, true, dat.

True, dat. True, true, true, dat.

Garrick waited, but Desmond didn’t answer. In fact, the boy seemed to have turned into marble all of a sudden, his gaze wide-eyed and horror-struck as he stared out, just above Garrick’s shoulder and fixed at something behind him.

“Oh, balls,” Desmond muttered. Whatever grief that was there but a moment ago had been replaced by speechless shock and dismay. Garrick blinked and turned around.

Leigh Blaise Sherbourne was approaching them on horseback. Covered and rendered quite interesting by his own gray cloud and fog cover, the vampire gentleman closed the distance, his horse steady in its light cantering.

“It’s only Mr. Sherbourne, Master Desmond,” Garrick presently said, touching his hat at the gentleman, “and not one of those confounded mortal artists who curse my waking hours.”

“Well, he curses my waking hours,” Desmond said, his words coming out like a low growl. For a moment, Garrick wondered if the boy had just bared his fangs, but Desmond didn’t despite his clear irritation. Baring one’s fangs, Garrick had learned, was a show of impudence. He was charged by Mr. and Mrs. Hathaway to make sure their youngest son curbed his tendencies as much as possible.

How I envision Leigh Blaise Sherbourne - only with darker hair

How I envision Leigh Blaise Sherbourne – only with darker hair

“It’s a surprise to see you both out here, enjoying the countryside and not imprisoned somewhere in Dryden Abbey,” Mr. Sherbourne said, his voice dull and dry – as it always was, Garrick thought. Garrick saw that Mr. Sherbourne regarded them both with an expression he could only describe as mask-like since it seemed the vampire looked as though he’d been carved out of cold marble.

“My pupil desired it, and I must confess, sir, so did I.”

Mr. Sherbourne didn’t appear to listen to Garrick as he spoke. In fact, he was clearly looking at Desmond, who remained behind Garrick, most likely trying everything in his power to stay put behind Garrick without turning into a bat in another angry fit. “If your school time has already finished,” Mr. Sherbourne said, “perhaps you’d oblige me with the pleasure of your company, Desmond.” Then he appeared to realize Desmond wasn’t alone, and he glanced at Garrick. “That is, if Mr. Mortimer doesn’t mind.”

Garrick looked at Mr. Sherbourne and then at Desmond before looking back at the vampire gentleman. Did Mr. Sherbourne just call his pupil by what mortals would refer to as his Christian name? He reminded himself to ask for more particulars from his employers regarding their religion, if they had any, because it appeared to be one more thing he’d yet to familiarize himself with regarding vampires.

“Whatever on earth for?” Desmond stammered, frowning.

Garrick nearly chided the boy right then, but the matter of Mr. Sherbourne’s odd familiarity kept his mind frozen and dull for a few moments.

Mr. Sherbourne merely raised a brow. “Because as your guest, there are several things in your small patch of countryside that I desire to know more about, and as Harper’s spending his time showing the others the cloistered charms of Ramsgill, I’m left alone to fend for myself.”

<bThe Romantic Period is my favorite era in history, largely because of the amazing works of art - written, musical, and visual - that came out of this era.

The Romantic Period is my favorite era in history, largely because of the amazing works of art – written, musical, and visual – that came out of this era.

“School’s not over, I’m afraid,” Desmond said quickly. “I suppose I wouldn’t be able to oblige you till tea, sir – and in the company of my parents, sisters, and guests. If you mean to explore the countryside on horseback, I assure you, it will take you a mere ten minutes to see everything because there’s really nothing to see. Good day.”

Garrick watched Mr. Sherbourne, his thoughts flying all over the place as pieces of another puzzle fell suddenly into place, leaving him with a most unsettling feeling. Mr. Sherbourne touched his hat, his face still cold and impassive, and then turned his horse around. Before long, horse and rider were sailing down the low hill, leaving Garrick alone with Desmond.

“My word,” Garrick breathed as he turned to stare at Desmond, who was grimacing after Mr. Sherbourne but didn’t seem to be keen on taking his eyes off the retreating figure. The sketches that Desmond made in his recent notes weren’t just of any vampire gentleman, Garrick now realized. They were of Leigh Blaise Sherbourne.

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Desmond and GarrickBlurb: It’s 1815. Garrick Mortimer is a scholar extraordinaire, an underemployed and starving genius, who agrees to sign on as tutor to Desmond Hathaway, the youngest son of a vampire family living in Yorkshire. Desmond, heartbroken by another boy’s callous treatment of him in school, rebels against Garrick’s attempts at educating him and does everything he could to chase Garrick away, which proves to be a greater challenge than he first thought.

When Desmond’s older brother returns from Italy for a visit and brings with him a small group of talentless and self-absorbed poets, life in Dryden Abbey turns upside-down, mainly when Desmond meets Leigh Blaise Sherbourne, a sullen vampire poet.

Throw into the mix a desperate mother’s plea for grandchildren, a family-owned torture chamber, a cottage-abbey-and-quarter-castle, and a grumpy family magician, and Garrick finds life in the Hathaway household to be a great deal more than he bargained for.

Buy Links: JMS Books | Amazon | Smashwords

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5 Stars, Hayden Thorne, Historical Romance, Queerteen Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Review: Ansel of Pryor House by Hayden Thorne

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Title: Ansel of Pryor House

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press/JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 116 Pages

At a Glance: Another excellent YA historical fantasy from the author of The Twilight Gods.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Fifteen-year-old Ansel Tunnicliffe has lived a harsh life. Abandoned by his mother and his siblings to a drunk and abusive father, Ansel knows nothing more than hunger, fear, pain, and loneliness in his short life.

One evening, a wealthy stranger appears, challenges Mr. Tunnicliffe to a game of cards, and easily wins. The prize? Ansel. The terrified boy is whisked away to a remote and mysterious house, whose stern and aristocratic mistress takes Ansel in for a purpose that remains elusive to him.

Little by little, however, Ansel discovers additional secrets in every magical room of Pryor House — secrets that are somehow linked to him and Miss Peveler’s strange interest in his welfare. One of those secrets also turns out to be a young boy who haunts Ansel’s lonely hours and who may very well hold the key to Ansel’s future and the shadowy history of Pryor House.

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Review: Fans of Hayden Thorne’s YA historical fantasy should read this book. Although it’s short, it’s another wonderful tale that focuses on a young man, his harsh life, and the magic that changes it. Though in many ways different, this short novel reminded me of The Twilight Gods in that there is an older, magical benefactress who guides a mistreated young man to meet his destiny. If you’re looking for a romance, this book has some, but not until the very end, which follows along with the author’s style.

Reading this book transported me to another time. Pryor House came to life for me on the pages, and I felt like I was there. And it’s not just any house, but this one is just as much a character as Ansel, Cedric, Miss Peveler, and the other few characters.

And that brings me to my next point. There are very few characters present throughout this book. Not even many background characters, unlike other novels by this author. The focus is on Ansel and his self-discovery with the aid of Miss Peveler and the house. And while there is dialogue, the novel isn’t laden with it. Instead, there are beautiful descriptions which I have found is the standard for Hayden Thorne.

My only issue with the book is that it was too short. I wanted more! The epilogue was excellent because it filled in the gaps I was worried about, and it provided that small touch of romance I hoped for. Seeing Ansel come into himself and move beyond his horrible past was heartwarming.

If you’re looking for a novella with a lot of action, set Ansel of Pryor House aside for a rainy day, but definitely come back to it because you don’t want to miss out. I look forward to more books in this style from the author.

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Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway: The Golem Upstairs by Hayden Thorne

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The Novel Approach welcomes author Hayden Thorne today, with an excerpt and giveaway of her newest book The Golem Upstairs, sequel to Sheridan Diggins and the Dead Horde.

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The Golem UpstairsBLURB: Book 2 of the Cecilian Blue-Collar Chronicles

Sheridan Diggins hasn’t had much luck in love. In fact, he hasn’t had much luck in anything, period. So when the prince of the underworld takes a sudden fancy to him, the future should look promising.

Or shouldn’t it?

Unfortunately, dating the youngest prince of the dead comes with a few complications. Yuli Soulweaver’s presence “upstairs” stirs up long-dormant magic, which adds to the baffling day-to-day experiences of Cecilia’s colonists. There’s also the danger of aliens and colonists discovering the existence of a magical universe, which could blow the lid wide open between two worlds that aren’t meant to come together.

The worst part, of course, is the fact that someone from Yuli’s world appears to have discovered the lovers’ dirty little secret and has taken the step of sending a mindless monster to do away with Sheridan.

Suddenly, paying the bills takes a backseat to Sheridan’s bizarre love life.

Buy Links: JMS Books | Amazon | Smashwords

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EXCERPT – FROM CHAPTER 12:

It was with some relief he picked up a pregnant woman who looked about ready to pop out a baby at any moment. She was terribly friendly and sweet, the chatty type whom one wanted desperately to adopt on the spot. Sheridan helped her inside the astro-cab and readjusted the seatbelt for her.

“Thank you so much,” she said, smiling in clear relief and joy as she relaxed in her seat. She pointed at her giant belly. “God, I’m just dying to get this over with.”

Sheridan laughed as he took his place and buckled up. He pulled out his ship’s map and asked, “So where are you headed, ma’am?”

Grandma Janet, whose spirit is bound to Sheridan's astro-cab, becomes Sheridan's confidante despite the fact the two bicker pretty often. In the absence of Sheridan's parents, who both died in his teens, his caustic and blunt grandmother becomes their stand-in. Sheridan might not appreciate it at the moment, but he'll eventually realize just how much he really needs her. I say Grandma Janet does Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty) proud.)

Grandma Janet, whose spirit is bound to Sheridan’s astro-cab, becomes Sheridan’s confidante despite the fact the two bicker pretty often. In the absence of Sheridan’s parents, who both died in his teens, his caustic and blunt grandmother becomes their stand-in. Sheridan might not appreciate it at the moment, but he’ll eventually realize just how much he really needs her. I say Grandma Janet does Sophia Petrillo (Estelle Getty) proud.

When she didn’t answer right away, Sheridan glanced back and found her staring at him with a faint smile.

“Ma’am?”

“You aren’t much,” she said. Her voice had taken on a different quality, too. It had softened and lowered in tone as though she were speaking to herself. But there was something else to it.

Sheridan blinked, his brain fighting to follow two completely diverging paths. “I’m sorry, I didn’t hear you the first time,” he said.

“I look at you now, and I wonder. What does he see in – oh!” The woman gave a start, her eyes widening. “Did I just blank out? I’m so sorry.” She blushed now, laughing in embarrassment. “It’s hormones, I think. Anyway, I owe you an address, don’t I?”

In another moment they were on their way, with Sheridan staring ahead and feeling his skull expand. What had just happened? He couldn’t even be sure about what he’d witnessed.

It had happened so quickly, and it had come from out of the blue, completely taking him by surprise. It took some doing to wrestle himself back to the present.

The pregnant woman turned out to be his last passenger before lunch. He watched her slowly pick her way along a footpath with the help of a couple of friends, all three women chatting happily as they went.

The colonists' change in skin, eye, and hair colors are a spoof of the more elaborate and kickass diversity of more traditional sci-fi stories and films. Only the "friendly alien neighbors" exhibit distinct physical characteristics, but even their names are parodies of the more cosmic versions. Okay, the entire Cecilian Chronicles series is a sci-fi spoof. There you go.

The colonists’ change in skin, eye, and hair colors are a spoof of the more elaborate and kickass diversity of more traditional sci-fi stories and films. Only the “friendly alien neighbors” exhibit distinct physical characteristics, but even their names are parodies of the more cosmic versions. Okay, the entire Cecilian Chronicles series is a sci-fi spoof. There you go.

Sheridan watched them vanish inside an apartment building. “Hey, Grandma?” he asked.

“Yes, I heard. Lovely young lady, I must add. She really shouldn’t be traveling around so much with her being that big,” Grandma Janet said without a pause for breath. Then again, she was dead, so pausing to catch a breath seemed superfluous.

“You know what I mean.”

“I do. I was just dicking with you.”

Sheridan sighed. “What did she say? I’m not sure I heard her right.”

“She said something about you not being much, but I don’t know – maybe she meant you don’t look like much? She mumbled her words half the time, but that might be nothing more than the end result of talking with two voices. The other thing she said got cut off. I didn’t really catch that one. I think I was too busy worrying about her popping like a tick on a heat lamp and really ruining your day.”

“Hold on – did you say she spoke in two voices?”

“She sure sounded like it. One was her voice – I know that for sure. The other was lower, almost masculine.” Grandma Janet paused. “Good lord, is she a ventriloquist? I’ve never met one before. I’ve always thought they were nothing more than just relics from ancient Earth history, but if there are professional ventriloquists on Cecilia, I feel so goddamned cheated now.”

Sheridan’s hair stood on end. He’d heard the second thing the woman had said, but the nature of her voice had just been made clear to him. He’d thought she sounded downright bizarre, but never had he even entertained the notion that she’d be speaking in two different voices, literally. The unease returned, and Sheridan quickly flew Old Myrna away.

The golem is a creature from Jewish folklore, and part of its characteristics are used in this installment. I also made use of its modern definition, so the golem coming after Sheridan is also a lumbering idiot.

The golem is a creature from Jewish folklore, and part of its characteristics are used in this installment. I also made use of its modern definition, so the golem coming after Sheridan is also a lumbering idiot.

“Is there something wrong, kiddo?” Grandma Janet piped up, breaking the silence. “You’re speeding.”

“Oh – uh – I just wanted to get to the fish and chip stand before the lunchtime crowd shows up.”

“Oh. Okay. For a moment I thought you were freaking out over that pregnant ventriloquist. I wonder where she performs. I’m sure she’s pretty damned good in her work. I swear, I’ve never seen anyone give off such potent vibes the way she did.”

“Don’t know what you’re talking about, Grandma.”

“Oh – you know. I think it’s called emoting in the theater world. In her case, she talked with two voices and really gave me a strong feeling of wanting to destroy you if she weren’t hobbled so much by her gigantic belly. I’m calling it now – she’s going to have triplets.”

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5 Stars, Genre Romance, Hayden Thorne, Historical Romance, New Adult, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Self-Published

Review: Primavera by Hayden Thorne

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Title: Primavera

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Self-Published

Pages/Word Count: 57 Pages

At a Glance: Haunting and beautiful, Primavera will make you believe in the infinite power of love.

Reviewed By: Lisa

Blurb: Images of a young man who died in a dreadful manner suddenly haunt the dreams of eighteen-year-old Adam Cassidy. Even more disturbing are Adam’s suspicions regarding those dreams’ significance. They started the night he came out to his parents, and, somehow, Adam once knew that boy and had something to do with his death.

The situation’s compounded when the shy and cloistered Adam turns to the church and prayers for guidance and solace. He sees the boy from his dreams, who, in turn, leads him to an old church that feels familiar to Adam. The feeling deepens once he enters the church and meets a nameless man who appears to be waiting for him in its shadows.

The longer Adam grapples with his religious parents’ shame and disappointment, the more elaborate and disturbing his dreams become until he realizes they’re relating a story that happened centuries ago. One that ended in tragedy and yet offers hope for a second chance at happiness if only Adam could unravel the tangled mystery of the church and its lonely caretaker while struggling under the pressure of denying himself to appease his parents.

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“Blessed be the day, and the month, and the year, and the season, and the time, and the hour, and the moment.” – Francesco Petrarca

Review: Gorgeous. Hayden Thorne’s Primavera is simply that: gorgeous.

In a departure from her young adult fiction, this novella takes on a new adult tone in both its themes and its sexual content, telling a story of redemption and second chances set within both the contemporary and historical backdrop of 21st century California and 18th century Venice. This contrast works to set up not only the mysticism of the story but also to juxtapose the climate of the past—when Andrea and Paolo met and became lovers—and the present—when Luke and Adam met and went on to fulfill a destiny that’d been forged centuries before.

Adam’s coming out to his conservative and devoutly Catholic parents is the catalyst for their son’s journey, as they encourage him to “pray the gay away” and confess the sin of his desires in order to get beyond what certainly must be a simple crisis of faith. The story’s concurrent and conflicting themes of disapproval and acceptance cross the boundaries of time defy the laws of possibility, and broach the subject of the ingrained and dogmatic teachings of religion. In Adam’s confronting his sexuality, and accepting it in spite of his parents’ best efforts to subvert him, he is led to church. But, it’s a church unlike any he’s ever been to before. It’s the place where Adam finally meets Luke (outside of his own dreams), yet the church is itself a waking dream. It is the place where both young men will meet a mysterious stranger, a man who is looking for his own sense of peace and the forgiveness of a son he’d lost long ago. He will find that absolution by orchestrating a miracle.

The tone of this novella is bittersweet from start to finish, a contradiction of melancholy and happiness, as in life we all eventually learn that to gain we sometimes must lose. But through Adam’s journey of self-discovery and acceptance, there is also a thread of hope and optimism that love is, and will always be, the legacy of those who embrace it in all its forms—from the love of a father for his son to the love of one young man for another.

There is joy experienced through tears in Primavera—yes, you may want to have tissues handy while reading this beautiful story of a love that defies the physics of the universe. It is sensual and romantic, fantastical yet fully grounded in the reality of the expression of its message—that forgiveness and acceptance can heal, that faith in something that can’t be explained can be a leap well worth taking.

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Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway: Ansel of Pryor House by Hayden Thorne

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The Novel Approach welcomes Hayden Thorne today with an excerpt from her new Young Adult novel Ansel of Pryor House. Hayden’s also giving one reader the chance to win an e-copy of the book, so be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below to enter.

Good luck!

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Ansel_of_Pryor_House_400x600Blurb: Fifteen-year-old Ansel Tunnicliffe has lived a harsh life. Abandoned by his mother and his siblings to a drunk and abusive father, Ansel knows nothing more than hunger, fear, pain, and loneliness in his short life.

One evening, a wealthy stranger appears, challenges Mr. Tunnicliffe to a game of cards, and easily wins. The prize? Ansel. The terrified boy is whisked away to a remote and mysterious house, whose stern and aristocratic mistress takes Ansel in for a purpose that remains elusive to him.

Little by little, however, Ansel discovers additional secrets in every magical room of Pryor House — secrets that are somehow linked to him and Miss Peveler’s strange interest in his welfare. One of those secrets also turns out to be a young boy who haunts Ansel’s lonely hours and who may very well hold the key to Ansel’s future and the shadowy history of Pryor House.

Buy Links: JMS Books | Amazon | All Romance eBooks

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Excerpt – From Chapter 4: Ansel was safely hidden in his assigned room, and he spent the next moment or so after being abandoned by Mrs. Finn crumbling under the aching mix of exhilaration and anxiety.

Mrs. Finn was nothing if not efficient as well as gruff in her displays of concern toward Ansel. After ushering him into his room, she proceeded to point out his bed, his wardrobe, his washstand, and even his windows. In his wardrobe a small collection of clean castoffs in excellent condition were neatly kept, and Ansel was nearly overcome with emotion at the thought that complete strangers had thought to spend money on him – a scruffy, half-starved, and illiterate nobody – with about a week’s worth of clothes. It was all he could do to nod, blink away the tears, and run a sleeve against his nose while avoiding Mrs. Finn’s grim, inquiring stare.

As per Mr. Farnham’s orders, he wasn’t expected to do much for the next two days beyond clean himself and appear before Miss Peveler if she demanded his presence.

One of my obsessions in writing revolves around houses. I enjoy exploring mysteries behind them through their physicality, their history, and architectural details. When a house becomes a focal point in a story, I want everything about it to matter, as though the structure itself were alive.

One of my obsessions in writing revolves around houses. I enjoy exploring mysteries behind them through their physicality, their history, and architectural details. When a house becomes a focal point in a story, I want everything about it to matter, as though the structure itself were alive.

“You’re free to explore the house, though you really shouldn’t expect to find much,” Mrs. Finn had said as she turned to march toward the door, her plump figure straight and stiff like a soldier, her steps measured and almost theatrical. She opened the door and stepped across the threshold, turning to face Ansel with her hand on the knob. “Mind that you don’t get lost, though. Most of the rooms aren’t used, but none of them are locked.”

Ansel thought he noted an air of melancholy regret in the housekeeper’s tone and expression. Perhaps in the distant past, Pryor House was a hive of activity, sound, and light. He could imagine it, anyway, as despite the great house’s somber, simple elegance, there was still that curious atmosphere of whimsy he’d felt upon entering the house earlier.

“Yes, ma’am,” he said. “I’ll keep to the main rooms downstairs.”

Mrs. Finn nodded, a shadow of a smile briefly lighting her face before her usual stern mask returned. Once he was finally alone, Ansel’s brain went blank, and he sank onto his bed, gazing helplessly around the room – his room. It was a small one, but it was very cozy and a far, far cry from what he’d long been used to, living with his father. Even the furniture for servants was well made yet functional and worked beautifully with the house’s color scheme. Ansel almost felt filthy and was convinced he reeked of the gutter when his gaze swept down to rest on his soiled and threadbare rags. His shoes were a disgrace, even for someone as poor as he.

The library of Horace Walpole's Strawberry Hill gothic house. I love exploring unique interiors of homes and make them more alive to the point of being integral characters to the plot.

The library of Horace Walpole’s Strawberry Hill gothic house. I love exploring unique interiors of homes and make them more alive to the point of being integral characters to the plot.

He noticed his sack of clothes on the floor near the foot of the bed, and so many reminders, so many memories, and so many feelings associated with them surged to the forefront of his mind, and with a shaky breath, Ansel stood up and walked to one of the windows flanking his bed. Fumbling with the latches, he managed to open the window, pushing the two narrow casements outward and inviting a blast of chill air inside. He tried to breathe it in, hoping the fresh air and the cold would purge the wild swirl of emotions that now wrapped around him like a bitter shroud. But as it turned out, confusion, shame, terror, and, yes, loneliness all coalesced into one awful, dark cloud that swallowed him. Ansel had no choice but to give in to grief he’d been suppressing for a few days now while in Mr. Farnham’s company.

For several minutes he stood by the open window, crying, using his faded shirt as a handkerchief, barely noticing the winter scenery stretching out before him. For the briefest moment, he wished he were back home, enduring his father’s abuses, because that offered him familiarity and predictability despite the terrible pain. At least he knew what to expect day in and day out, and he was surrounded by things and people – neighbors, that is – he’d always known. He almost convinced himself that curling up on the floor, begging for his father to stop hitting him with a stick or a belt, was worth it as a price for the sight and the feel of his old bed and pillow, even if both were practically rotting to pieces under him.

Nature is a force meant to have a terrifying function in the story. She metes out dark justice to both living and dead. As noted in the book, she neither forgets nor forgives.

Nature is a force meant to have a terrifying function in the story. She metes out dark justice to both living and dead. As noted in the book, she neither forgets nor forgives.

Now? He’d “changed hands” over cards – like property, livestock, or chattel – and had no idea what his future held for him. There’d been kindness and generosity, to be sure, and a great deal of pity. He needed to give himself and everyone else more time to get to know each other, but it didn’t change how he was now alone in so many ways, much more than before. He felt so helpless, so powerless.

The tears ran out in time, and after calming himself down till his hiccoughs had been reduced to shuddering gasps, Ansel pulled the casements and turned the latches. His room now felt too cold, but he didn’t care. Sniffling, he shuffled over to his bed, where he undid his shoelaces, kicked off his shoes, and crawled under the covers. He turned to his side, burrowing further under the thick, comfortable blankets, but not before muttering an apology to the nice, clean sheets and pillows for being subjected to his filth. He fell asleep before long.

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Review: Banshee by Hayden Thorne

Title: Banshee

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press/JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 228 Pages

At a Glance: Fantastic narrator and a terrifying ghost that kept me awake at night.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: Nathaniel Wakeman is the only child and son of a modest vicar, who lives in the quiet and idyllic confines of the Isle of Wight. When his maternal grandfather dies, Natty’s mother reconnects with her estranged and wealthy brother and his family in hopes of raising Natty up in the world, to urge him to go beyond the humble life he’s always known.

Though his cousins show no particular regard for him, one of them, at least, lures him away from his retired life and introduces him to the world—and to the son of a baron from Somerset, Miles Lovell. Natty gradually finds himself drawn toward the older and worldlier gentleman and returns to his father’s vicarage a changed young man. He also seems to have attracted the attention of a ghost, one that has followed him back to the island.

Haunted by a woman in white, who seems to appear when he’s at his weakest, Natty struggles with his own nature and with his family’s increasing difficulties. His mother is distant, hiding things from him as she never has, and his father is aging before his eyes. Quarrels between his parents grow more and more frequent, and Natty’s increasing terror of familiar and beloved footpaths add to the spiraling tension at home.

While Natty tries to find his place in the world, his childhood is crumbling around him, and he becomes more and more convinced that his persistent ghost is a harbinger of doom.

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Review: It’s incredibly rare for me to find a book that actually scares me. The traditional horror novels just don’t do it for me. Stephen King? Nope. Read the books that scared my coworkers, and I didn’t even bat an eye and slept just fine at night. In fact, before this book, there was only one other novel that scared me enough to make me want to sleep completely buried under covers with the lights on.

Banshee is not about the traditional Irish banshee most readers may be familiar with, but don’t let that put you off. Hayden Thorne has written a fantastic novel here, with a wonderful narrator, Nathaniel, and a plot that will leave you in suspense until the very last page.

Nathaniel, or Natty, as his family calls him, is a seventeen year old boy living in the nineteenth century. He is slowly awakening to his sexuality after meeting his cousin’s friend, Miles Lovell, a few years his senior. Given the time period, I didn’t have much hope for them to be honest, but the slow dawning of knowledge was a breath of fresh air in a genre that usually has teens falling in love quickly. It takes Natty most of the book to discover who he is and just what it is he wants. And I liked that.

The historical setting is breathtaking. I was there with Natty and his friends as he traversed the footpaths, and whenever the ghost made her appearance, I was breathless with him. My heart pounded, and I felt as if the two of us were running in fear together.

As for the ghost, the description of the spirit and its mannerisms, or lack thereof, was what terrified me so much. It just stands there, watching Natty. To me that’s more terrifying than if it actually moves. Kudos to the author for keeping me up so late at night. I honestly was afraid to look in the dark corners of my room for fear of seeing the spirit pulled from the pages. And I couldn’t sleep with any part of my body hanging off my bed, afraid that I, like Natty, would feel the icy tips of her fingers trailing across her skin.

I highly recommend this book. Even if you’re not a fan of young adult novels, you really should give this one a chance. It’s not your typical YA romance—in fact there’s very little romance to begin with—and it’s just so well written readers of all ages will love it.

Just make sure you read it during the day.

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Guest Post and Giveaway: Curse of Arachnaman by Hayden Thorne

Curse of Arachnaman

We welcome Hayden Thorne today to chat a bit about the re-release of Curse of Arachnaman, the continuing adventures of Eric, Peter, and the rest of the superheroes and villains who populate Vintage City. Enjoy the excerpt Hayden is sharing, then be sure to click on the Rafflecopter widget below for the chance to win an e-copy of Curse of Arachnaman.

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AUTHOR’S NOTE: My original intention for Mr. Eric Steven Plath was to finish his adventures at the end of Masks: Ordinary Champions, the third installment of the original trilogy. As I wrote it, though, wee little ideas kept popping up like mutant undead gophers here and there. And dark forces swayed me into turning that spider robot attack at the mall into something more than what was originally intended. I was at first hoping to show that the superheroes’ work is never done. Get rid of one supervillain, and another will rise up the ranks and annoy the living hell out of everyone. But, noooooo.

And so, Curse of Arachnaman’s basic plot slowly formed in my head. I thought at first it was going to be nothing more than an odd one-off after the trilogy, but at that point, the genie had been let out, and more books popped out. I’m currently working on the seventh and last installment of the entire series, and I hope to have it available fairly soon.

Curse of Arachnaman, Mimi Attacks!, and Dr. Morbid’s Castle of Blood are all episodic in nature. They don’t follow an arc, but they’re clearly sequels of each other, with all of them following the events in the original trilogy.

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91lG0nKT5EL._SL1500_Blurb: Curse of Arachnaman follows the events in the first three books in the Masks series. Eric is settling down into a near-normal existence. He’s learning to cope with a different kind of closet — being kept from talking freely about his relationship with Calais and the other superheroes — as well as an increasingly protective mother, his sister’s new squeaky-clean boyfriend, and a bingo-obsessed best friend.

Eric also learns that, sometimes, being an asset to the forces of good means simply being himself. In the meantime, Vintage City is under siege from a new threat, one which is proving to be much more dangerous than all of the other supervillains the heroes have faced combined. Good people find themselves at the mercy of an angry lunatic who will stop at nothing to purge the city of what he sees to be undesirable elements.

Buy Links: Queerteen Press/JMS Books | Amazon | Smashwords

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Excerpt: From Chapter 17

The girl who’d fallen apart earlier dangled nearby, but she’d calmed down by now. All I could hear from her were a little bit of sniffling and coughing as she waited her turn to be released.

“Glad to see you’re okay,” I said, offering her a smile, for what it was worth.

“I wanna go home,” she croaked. “That’s saying something, you know, ‘cause I hate my parents. This sucks.”

“Well – you kind of get used to this sort of thing after a while. Trust me.”

She blinked. “You’ve been screwed up like this before?”

“More times than you can imagine. I look at this as character-building, sort of.”

Fun Superheroes are fun to write.

Fun Superheroes are fun to write.

Calais had walked up to her by then. “Okay, don’t move,” he said as he grabbed hold of the white stuff that wrapped around her and tore it open with one powerful tug of his hands. The sound of ripping cloth followed, and with a little yelp, the girl fell straight into his arms.

The next few moments were like the longest ever in my short-yet-screwed-up life. Think of a really awful, sappy video of some really awful, sappy love song. Okay, imagine everything happening in super slow-motion, with the girl falling in Calais’ arms. Then their eyes meet. He looks sympathetic yet stays professionally distant. She stares at him, stunned, her arms wrapped around his neck, her body easily held up because he’s just oh-so-strong.

Oh, fucking hell, just think of the scene in Sense and Sensibility where Kate Winslet fell down and got swept up in Greg Wise’s arms in the rain – thank you, Liz, for making me suffer through that sappy-ass movie – are you with me yet? Yeah, that was it. That was bloody it, as the British would say.

“Easy, easy, I got you,” he said, setting her back on the ground. It took her several more very annoying seconds before she let go because she clung like a leech to him even after he set her down. “You’re safe now,” he reassured her, prying her arms from his neck. “Okay, let me go, so I can take this guy down.”

“Oh,” she breathed, staring at him, wide-eyed. “Thank you.”

Dat awkward moment...

Dat awkward moment…

God. I recognized that look.

“Wow, you’re even better-looking in person,” she added, tucking hair behind her ears. Did she just giggle and blush? Calais smiled back and gave her a reassuring pat on the arm, and, encouraged, she stood on tiptoes and gave him a grateful peck on the cheek.

I sighed. “Hello, helpless victim over here. Very uncomfortable position. Probably damaged innards and ability to produce children.”

“Thank you,” she said, her voice taking on a little-girl-like tone. It took the appearance of a police officer to pull her away from Calais, and she trotted off, glancing over her shoulder for one final adoring look before vanishing in the confusion of activity.

“Well, will you look at that?” I said dully. “I’m the last one to be saved. Yay me.”

Calais stood before me, hands on his nicely narrow hips. “I leave you alone for three minutes, and all hell breaks loose.”

“Hey, I didn’t ask to be attacked! Are you blaming me?”

“I told you to wait by the car, didn’t I?”

“Well, yeah, but…”

“Uh-huh…”

Random, gratuitous image post of my current imaginary boyfriend.

Random, gratuitous image post of my current imaginary boyfriend.

I sighed again, drooping. “I just wanted to check out the arcade,” I said. “What’s the harm in that?”

“Um…” Calais pointed at my web cocoon. “In case you haven’t noticed.”

“Look, I was born under a black sign. Can I come down now? This sucks. Oh, by the way, thanks for the Jane Austen moment back there.”

“Huh?”

“Never mind.” I frankly didn’t know what was worse – seeing Peter/Calais with a girl or with another guy. Either way made me want to puke out all my innards.

Shaking his head, Calais tore at the stuff, and I fell into his arms, which was always a good thing, though it was too bad he couldn’t take me home like this. And there were way too many people around, so no huggy-kissy stuff and all the comfort-me-please things that happened when the hero saved the day.

“Thanks,” I grumbled. Then I gave a start, stiffening. I looked behind mme and then gaped at him. “What the…did you just goose me?”

He grinned. “The best thing about hyper speed. I can get away with so much crap with you in public.”

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Hayden ThorneAbout the Author: I’ve lived most of my life in the San Francisco Bay Area though I wasn’t born there (or, indeed, the USA). I’m married with no kids and three cats, am a cycling nut (go Garmin!), and my day job involves artwork, great coworkers who specialize in all kinds of media, and the occasional strange customer requests involving papier mache fish with sparkly scales.

I’m a writer of young adult fiction, specializing in contemporary fantasy, historical fantasy, and historical genres. My books range from a superhero fantasy series to reworked folktales to Victorian ghost fiction. My themes are coming-of-age with very little focus on romance (most of the time) and more on individual growth with some adventure thrown in.

Follow Hayden on her Blog or on Twitter

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THE GIVEAWAY:

Rafflecopter Giveaway

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5 Stars, Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Young Adult

Review: The Twilight Gods by Hayden Thorne

TNA Page Turner Resized

Title: The Twilight Gods

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press/JMS Books

Pages/Word Count: 200 Pages

At a Glance: A beautiful story that absolutely must be read.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: London during the Great Exhibition of 1851 is a new world of technological advances, eye-popping inventions, and glimpses of exotic treasures from the East. For fifteen-year-old Norris Woodhead, it’s a time of spectral figures mingling with London’s daily crowds and an old rectory in a far corner of the English countryside — a great house literally caught in time, where answers to curious little mysteries await him.

Confined by his family’s financial woes, Norris suffers a lonely and unsatisfying time till the day he (and only he) notices “shadow-people” in the streets. Then a strange widow appears, rents a vacant room in the house, and takes him under her wing. She becomes his guardian, slowly revealing those shadows’ secrets, Norris’ connection with them, and the life-altering choices he has to face in the end.

The Twilight Gods is a retelling of the Native American folktale, “The Girl Who Married a Ghost.” Set in Victorian England, it’s an alternative perspective on a gay teen’s coming-out process, with Norris’ journey of self-discovery couched in magical and supernatural terms and imagery.

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Review: I love Victorian literature, and right now I’m actually studying it for a graduate course I am in, so reading this novel by Hayden Thorne featuring that period and including the Great Exhibition was timely. And, I must say this novel is incredibly well researched.

That said I’m not sure how to review this book. I absolutely loved it, and that’s the problem. The book was so good I want to gush and gush for days about it, but at the same time I want other readers to discover how wonderful it is for themselves, because there’s so much wonder and beauty in this young adult novel.

Norris is a sympathetic character. The youngest of four, his family struggles financially. Between his older brother trying to save enough to propose to the girl he loves, to his older sisters squabbling every chance they can get and trying to outdo each other on the marriage market, Norris is often forgotten. In fact, he’s so forgotten he doesn’t even go to school; instead, the family has one of their tenants tutoring Norris with old books that are falling apart. And Norris just wants an education. He wants to learn science so he can properly tinker with things and make them work.

One day he starts to see the shadow-people. I’ll admit I had an idea of what they were at first, and I thought it was brilliant. I become so engaged with the story and with Norris attempting to discover who they were that I stayed up until 4AM to finish. I’m so glad I didn’t have to work the next day. I just couldn’t put the book down.

Mrs. Cavendish is a mysterious character, and I loved her for everything she did for Norris. She takes him under her wing and helps him learn about himself. And then there’s Tom. I loved Tom. The rectory is such a wonderful place; I wish it existed because even today, in the twenty-first century, there are people who need it.

While beautiful, I thought the ending was heartbreaking. The choices Norris must make are difficult, and while perfect for the nineteenth century, sadly they are choices people still feel they must make today. It broke my heart and I sobbed through the last few pages. It was perfectly bittersweet.

I don’t want to say any more, for fear of giving away too much. But I will say this. I will be buying a paperback copy of The Twilight Gods for my classroom and for my personal shelves. I adored it and want my students to read it, too.

TNA_Signature_Jennifer






You can buy The Twilight Gods here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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4 Stars, Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press, Reviewed by Jennifer, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Review: Wollstone by Hayden Thorne

Title: Wollstone

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press (JMS Books)

Pages/Word Count: 236 Pages

At a Glance: Beautiful descriptions in what feels like a timeless setting, but a little slow paced for me.

Reviewed By: Jennifer

Blurb: The moment Emil Gogean sets foot inside Wollstone Academy’s fairy tale-like campus, he realizes his freshman year in high school is bound to be a very strange one. The school itself, a uniquely romanticized boarding school for boys, boasts remarkable elements that appear to be deliberate — as though a hidden power has chosen woodland details, a chapel ruin, and school masters who seem to hearken back to a long-gone age, with a clear purpose in mind.

When strange things begin to happen to Emil, an unnerving warning from his late grandmother returns to haunt him. A warning about Emil attracting the attention of the king of the dead.

Strange faces in wood patterns and mullioned windows. The apparition of a boy among the trees. The unfathomable feeling of sadness permeating the idyllic environment. Emil gradually learns that Wollstone is more than just a school, that the answers to a three-hundred-year-old mystery surrounding a tragic romance lie in the ruined stones of a small chapel and in Nature itself. And that Emil, whose appearance in school has set certain wheels in motion, will have to place himself at the mercy of three mysterious students if he wishes to learn the truth about Wollstone, the boy lost in the woods, and himself.

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Review: If there is an author who writes more beautiful descriptions of a setting, I would be hard-pressed to find them. I had known of Hayden Thorne for several years before finally having the opportunity to sit down and read one of the author’s novels. Wollstone is a beautifully descriptive novel of an all boys school in the middle of a woodland.

It’s clear that this author excels at setting. Everything is so vivid I felt as if I were there with Emil on campus, following him as he wandered the paths, found the chapel, and explored the woods. I often found myself sighing, wishing a place like that existed for me to explore. Especially the ruined chapel on the school grounds. How amazing would it be to have something like that to explore?

That said, I did have difficulty with some of the novel. It is slower paced, which isn’t a bad thing, but it’s not what I’m used to. I’m used to teen novels that have a faster pace to the plot. Thorne does not rush and lets the story unfold slowly. Sometimes a little too slowly, though it also invokes a timeless quality. There were several times when I forgot exactly when the story took place. It’s supposed to be the present, I think, but at the same time I felt as if I were in the fifties, or sometime else entirely. It could have been the descriptions of the uniforms and the attitude of the teachers, but that’s the effect it gave. And given the surroundings of the school, I think that was the author’s intent.

While I liked the characters, at times I struggled with the dialogue, which there isn’t much of. Emil is often alone—which is fine, I like characters who are introspective or loners—but he talks to himself a lot. There were times when he was muttering or saying things in situations where I felt that it just seemed strange for a fifteen-year-old boy to be saying or doing. That said, things also aren’t always what they appear. As the story progressed it did start to make sense to me, but it wasn’t until about halfway through the book that I caught on to things. I won’t give away more than that, because I don’t want to ruin anything, but the details are slowly revealed if you pay attention to everything, from Emil’s thoughts of his grandmother to the books he reads. However, some of the other characters also had similar dialogue that to me felt dated. As a teacher, I raised my eyebrow at some of their choice phrases, as I’ve never heard any of my boys say anything like Emil, Jamie, Victor, or the other boys. But, that could have also been the author’s choice to keep teenage vulgarities out of the writing.

That said, I did enjoy the novel. It was slow moving, but it brought me to a different time and place. I was transported onto a beautiful campus I wish I was a part of. Also, the cover? Absolutely gorgeous. Not that it influenced me or anything, but it’s exactly how I pictured the chapel to be. Whoever did the cover got it perfect.

TNA_Signature_Jennifer






You can buy Wollstone here:

All Romance eBooks

All Romance eBooks

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Giveaways, Hayden Thorne, JMS Books LLC

Exclusive Excerpt and Giveaway: Sheridan Diggins and the Dead Horde by Hayden Thorne

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The Novel Approach welcomes Hayden Thorne today with an exclusive excerpt and giveaway of her new novella Sheridan Diggins and the Dead Horde, book one in an Adult Sci-Fi Romance Series from JMS Books.

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

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A1RdOx0RUFL._SL1500_Blurb: Book 1 of the Cecilian Blue-Collar Chronicles

The year is 8016, the planet, Cecilia, where questionable science and odd random events shape the daily lives of the descendants of colonists from Earth.

Twenty-one-year-old Sheridan Diggins flies a pre-owned clunker of an astro-cab for a living, struggling to survive. When his brother reminds him of a drunken promise he’s made to take him along in his astro-cab for a writing project, Sheridan doesn’t expect a humdrum day to turn into a nightmare involving a cursed space ship and corpses rising for a bit of mischief above ground.

Moreover, those undead creatures seem to be interested in no one else but Sheridan and Adley. Hungry and broke, Sheridan works to solve the bizarre mystery with the help of a trigger-happy teenage brother and a hapless tow ship owner. And what he uncovers is something neither questionable science nor bottomless pints of Owen’s Galactic Beer can prepare him for.

Buy Links: JMS Books | Amazon US

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Five more creatures were vaporized under the relentless spray of deadly purple lasers in the shape of hard-boiled breakfast. Sheridan turned around, grabbing hold of Adley’s arm, and dragged the boy along with him.

“Run!”

The two of them raced each other across the meadow. Of course, neither also knew where they were headed. As long as they got away from their rotting pursuers, they were good. Unfortunately it proved to be a damned sight more difficult than expected.

One of my inspiration sources for this novella series. I had loads of fun reading Adams' book and decided then to try my hand at writing a sci-fi comedy.

One of my inspiration sources for this novella series. I had loads of fun reading Adams’ book and decided then to try my hand at writing a sci-fi comedy.

Bodies kept popping out of the ground directly in their path, and Sheridan and Adley were forced to swerve or change directions completely. For those buggers that popped up from the ground at the last minute, Sheridan and Adley were compelled to leap over them, shrieking in horror and disgust because once liberated from the ground, those monstrosities reeked like no other, their fumes rising in thick pillars of utter vileness. Leaping over them forced one to breathe in the noxious cloud of rot. And for the first time ever, Sheridan was tearfully grateful for going about his day deprived of lunch.

“What the hell’s going on here?” he panted, glancing back over his shoulder a couple of times. Dead-undead things, having just liberated themselves from their burial sites, staggered to their feet and followed the two of them. None could run, thank the skies, but they were practically oozing out of every scrap of uninhabited land within twenty feet of him and Adley. “What? Do we smell or something? Pheromones? What?”

Adley just gasped beside him, his breathing loud and ragged. They eventually reached one end of the meadow, which was not much more than loose, dry soil and large, scattered stones. The ground rose, though, at a gradual incline, and the loose soil gave way to solid rock that offered a lot of hand and footholds. The two practically launched themselves against the rock and proceeded to race each other up the rough, difficult surface like colorful, oversized lizards.

I loved this sci-fi comedy series as a kid. This was probably the first sci-fi show or movie I watched that made fun of its genre. I realized then that sci-fi ain't all philosophically serious Star Trek.

I loved this sci-fi comedy series as a kid. This was probably the first sci-fi show or movie I watched that made fun of its genre. I realized then that sci-fi ain’t all philosophically serious Star Trek.

About a third of the way up, Sheridan was ready to roll over and die. He’d never been an active sort, and all this running surely would’ve taken care of his fitness for the rest of his life. He was drenched in sweat, and he could swear he was coming down with asthma. And his muscles were threatening to lock up from the extreme shock of moving them so much in such a short amount of time.

Once he felt they were relatively safe – because how many freshly risen corpses could realistically scale the rocky hillside like veteran mountaineers? – he found a good, secure foothold on a small ledge. Gingerly turning around and making sure to keep a firm hold of the rock face with one hand, he pulled out his pistol from his jacket, fired it up, and looked down.

Yes, those corpses were trying to follow them up the hillside to varying degrees of success, comical and otherwise. Since none of them were fully intact the way a live human or humanoid was intact, body parts – particularly fingers – kept tearing off, leaving them quite helpless. Sheridan sighed, shutting off his weapon. Finally, some good luck.

Despite its flaws, 'Guardians of the Galaxy' was great entertainment. I saw this film a few months after reading Adams' novel, and the inspiration to write a sci-fi comedy surged to crazy heights.

Despite its flaws, ‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ was great entertainment. I saw this film a few months after reading Adams’ novel, and the inspiration to write a sci-fi comedy surged to crazy heights.

From the looks of things, those monsters were mindlessly determined to climb, which meant wearing down what was left of their extremities till dusty stumps were all they had. Even then, Sheridan suspected they’d continue to fight against overwhelming odds so they’d have nothing more than heads and torsos to go by after half an hour of this. A couple had reached the point of no return, in fact, and had no other choice but to look up and regard Sheridan with looks of dull-witted confusion. There were others that managed to get a little farther ahead but eventually had their overworked appendages shred and tumble down the slope in disgusting little avalanches. For those, there’d be a half-second of what passed for amazement before they’d either slide back down the hill or tumble down, sometimes bumping into less fortunate comrades and taking those along with them. Here and there, what appeared to be dust clouds made of dried skin, fabric, and tissue rose up as hurtling dead undead things landed at the bottom of the hill. Sheridan could even hear an occasional “whump!” from where he was, still clinging to the rock.

And for the briefest, maddest moment, Sheridan actually felt a certain melancholy connection with his pursuers. There was something rather heartbreaking at the sight of a determined yet ultimately doomed attempt at reaching a goal. Talk about the most bizarre kind of metaphor, he noted, shaking his head sadly.

This is movie I never got to see, but I'm about to fix that oversight. Thank you, Netflix.

This is movie I never got to see, but I’m about to fix that oversight. Thank you, Netflix.

“I feel for you, guys,” he muttered. “I do, really.”

Of course, these mini-tragedies meant being left with the fresher corpses, but at least those were only a small portion of a pretty diverse group of shamblers. Sheridan spotted at least two that managed to avoid getting pinged by their rotting counterparts, and those were steadily making their way up the hill. True, they were slow and rather clumsy, barely holding on to the rock because their dead brains and non-functioning senses failed to direct them accordingly, but it’d be a mistake underestimating them. At least they’d be easy to vaporize when the time came, and that was some comfort. With a tired sigh, Sheridan turned around and continued to climb, following Adley as the boy all but clawed his way frantically to the top, still whimpering in terror.

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Giveaways, Hayden Thorne, JMS Books LLC

Excerpt and Giveaway: The Twilight Gods by Hayden Thorne

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The Twilight Gods is a retelling of the Native American folktale, “The Girl Who Married a Ghost.” Set in Victorian England, it’s an alternative perspective on a gay teen’s coming-out process, with Norris’ journey of self-discovery couched in magical and supernatural terms and imagery.

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thetwilightgodsBLURB: London during the Great Exhibition of 1851 is a new world of technological advances, eye-popping inventions, and glimpses of exotic treasures from the East. For fifteen-year-old Norris Woodhead, it’s a time of spectral figures mingling with London’s daily crowds and an old rectory in a far corner of the English countryside — a great house literally caught in time, where answers to curious little mysteries await him.

Confined by his family’s financial woes, Norris suffers a lonely and unsatisfying time till the day he (and only he) notices “shadow-people” in the streets. Then a strange widow appears, rents a vacant room in the house, and takes him under her wing. She becomes his guardian, slowly revealing those shadows’ secrets, Norris’ connection with them, and the life-altering choices he has to face in the end.

Buy Links: JMS Books | Amazon US | All Romance eBooks

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Excerpt: “My dear Master Norris,” Mrs. Cavendish said, momentarily pausing in her work and regarding him with those pale, mysterious eyes, “if your mother is behaving in ways that don’t seem like her, it’s because she’s undergoing changes as well.”

“Changes!” Norris echoed, his eyes widening. “Do you mean to say that she’s also one of the shadow-people?”

Mrs. Cavendish laughed heartily, reaching out and tousling Norris’ hair with a certain motherly affection. “Oh, heavens, no!” she said once she’d regained mastery of herself. “Your mother is just like most of the world, my dear boy. Whatever changes she undergoes are in some way or another affected by your own changes and the decisions you make. Remember that she’ll always be touched by the path you take in the end. Mothers are like that, you know. They can’t bear to let go of their children, even when it’s warranted.”

“Changes,” Norris echoed again, shaking his head and frowning. “I suppose I am going through changes right now. I can’t say what they are, but I feel them – or at the very least, I’m growing more and more aware of certain things that I’ve never even considered before.”

Mrs. Cavendish’s smile remained as she listened to her young charge. Yes, Norris couldn’t help but think, he was her charge now, the way he was never Mr. Garland’s.

Penelope from 'The Odyssey' was my inspiration for Mrs. Cavendish, who's forever sewing her tapestry.

Penelope from ‘The Odyssey’ was my inspiration for Mrs. Cavendish, who’s forever sewing her tapestry. In the original fairy tale, Mrs. Cavendish’s character is Screech Owl, who guides a terrified bride through the island of the dead.

“It’s most certainly the latter point,” she said. “If you’re growing more and more aware of things, unusual ones, about yourself, don’t be afraid of them. Don’t be afraid of knowledge. Learn what you can, my dear. Take advantage of the opportunities that are opening before you. Believe me when I say that there are others out there like you who aren’t as fortunate in the way they perceive their hearts and their souls.”

“What do you mean?”

“They fear change, you see. They fear being different. They were simply not taught to open their minds to things that challenge what we’ve all long held to be true, but I really don’t think we should blame them or their families. It simply is the nature of our time. Things will get better, I assure you. They will.”

Norris stared at her. “You speak as though you’ve seen the future,” he stammered.

“Time, my dear. I see both directions of Time’s road. If I make strange references to what’s yet to come, it’s because I see the need to reassure you, if not enlighten you to a point.”

Mrs. Cavendish spoke with such calm and clarity, her manner a mixture of lightness and gravity. As she talked, the shadows cast by the parlor’s interior shifted on her face, lending her complexion an otherworldly translucence in brief periods. Her pale, pale eyes alternated shades as well, from the usual spectral blue to a deeper and stormier gray. Through all this, she kept her gaze on him, watching him watch her. Norris tried not to pull away in a reflexive effort at hiding his warring thoughts and senses. Instead, he readily opened himself up to her, as though sensing this was the next step that was expected of him in their relationship.

I couldn't find any good representations of the twilight rectory, but Tintern Abbey comes fairly close to the physical embodiment of infinity.

I couldn’t find any good representations of the twilight rectory, but Tintern Abbey comes fairly close to the physical embodiment of infinity.

Prove to me that you aren’t afraid, she challenged with her fixed gaze and shifting colors.

I’m not afraid. Not yet.

You’ll soon find your choices stretching out before you, Norris Woodhead. Will you be strong enough to take one path over the other?

I will. I know I will.

Don’t be so sure. Stronger men have decided self-denial and sacrifice, and while many of them prove their choices to be good ones, there are some who suffer so many regrets for the rest of their lives.

Either way, I’m bound to lose something, aren’t I? Choices always come with sacrifices.

Either way, you’ll have to bear the burden of some loss. It’s your fortune to be born into this age, young man. You’ll have to make do with what human laws in this century define to be the limits of your lot.

Norris felt a faint chill sweep up his spine as he listened. There was something ominous in what Mrs. Cavendish just said.

“Then I’m destined to be an outlaw, aren’t I?” he asked. “I must confess that I don’t even know what it is I’m supposed to do wrong for me to be thought of as different from almost everyone else, but I’m guessing that what I am, I can’t help.”

The Great Exhibition, where modern inventions are highlighted. I wanted to use this as a backdrop against Norris' coming-of-age as I thought it a great contrast of advancement and backward laws regarding homosexuality.

The Great Exhibition, where modern inventions are highlighted. I wanted to use this as a backdrop against Norris’ coming-of-age as I thought it a great contrast of advancement and backward laws regarding homosexuality.

The widow’s smile broadened, but it also took on a sad quality, and Mrs. Cavendish said nothing in return – merely reached out to him and stroked his cheek, a touch that was most definitely very comforting.

When she withdrew her hand, she indicated her embroidery with it. “This tapestry, Master Norris,” she said as she gently pulled at the fabric so as to spread it on her lap, and every embroidered detail could be observed. “This will never be done.”

Norris frowned as he looked at it. “It’s a strange piece,” he muttered, leaning closer. “The colors of your thread are different from what I’ve seen. Mama and my sisters use bright and colorful spools for their work.”

The piece itself seemed a fairly large one to Norris. Against a slightly discolored white cloth a pastoral landscape sprawled. He could see very faint outlines of graphite where he believed Mrs. Cavendish had sketched the details, but around half of the entire tapestry was already embroidered.

Norris took careful note of the sewn parts. He found them to be intricate in design and rich in hues though Mrs. Cavendish, it seemed, preferred to use a fairly limited palette of colors. He could make out various shades of brown, red, gold, and black mingling as stitches formed an autumn landscape of shepherds, nymphs, and gods. He wanted to see what was kept inside her sewing box, but he felt too embarrassed to ask.

“This is lovely,” he breathed, finally, reaching out a tentative hand and gently touching a few places. The thread Mrs. Cavendish used was of a strange quality, he found, with the textures varying distinctly even under a light brush of his fingers. Some were coarser than others, but none appeared to have its exact match. The same could be said of the colors, all of which varied very slightly in hue and tone. Every single thread used for the tapestry was unique in its own way, which amazed Norris
because he’d never seen or heard of such a thing before.

It's really difficult trying to imagine how gay teens from previous centuries dealt with their sexuality. There are romantic friendships formed in school, but not much else is available unless we're looking at adults.

It’s really difficult trying to imagine how gay teens from previous centuries dealt with their sexuality. There are romantic friendships formed in school, but not much else is available unless we’re looking at adults.

He glanced back up at Mrs. Cavendish and smiled. “This is a strange tapestry,” he said, “but I like it.”

“Thank you, dear. As you know, I’ve been hard at work on it since…” Mrs. Cavendish’s words faded, and she chose not to pursue the matter, allowing any thoughts that might arise from her cryptic response to be devoured by Norris’ hungry mind.

“I’d like to know, though, why won’t it be finished?”

“Infinity is its nature,” Mrs. Cavendish replied. “As long as people are born into this world, and the twilight gods emerge from their ranks, my work will remain unfinished.” Her manner was so light and dismissive that a second after she spoke, Norris wasn’t sure what it was he’d heard, but something assured him it wasn’t relevant, at least for that moment.

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presentThe Giveaway: THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, Amanda C. Stone, Amber Kell, Carole Cummings, Charlie Cochrane, Garrett Leigh, Hayden Thorne, Izzy van Swelm, Lexi Ander, Maggie Kavanagh, Rick R. Reed, Sue Brown, Yeyu

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Sneak Peek

Happy Sunday, everyone, I hope you’ve had a lovely week. 

Coming up in the week ahead, we’ve got plenty of great stuff in store for you to enjoy, more guest authors, interesting articles, interviews, reviews, and, thanks to the generosity of our guests, more giveaways just because they appreciate you, their readers.

Here’s what’s on tap:

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MondaySue Brown kicks off our week, talking about breaking rules on the Stolen Dreams blog tour

Charlie Cochrane is also with us on the Lessons for Survivors blog tour, sharing a deleted scene featuring Jonty and Orlando

TuesdayAmanda C. Stone will be here with a short Q&A on The Adventures of Cole and Perry blog tour

Garrett Leigh also joins us today on the Rare audiobook tour

WednesdayMaggie Kavanagh drops by on the Double Indemnity blog tour

Hayden Thorne will also be here to talk about the re-release of the gorgeous (not that I’m biased) YA Historical Fantasy novel The Twilight Gods

Carole Cummings is also here today with a little “Genre Talk”. Joining her is DSP Pubications author Yeyu – the topic: Historical Fantasy

ThursdayLexi Ander stops in on the Songs of the Earth blog tour to talk about world-building

Amber Kell also joins us to talk a bit about magic on the Porter’s Reaper blog tour

FridayRick R. Reed joins us on the Blink blog tour to talk a bit about writing what you know

Saturday – And finally, debut author Izzy van Swelm is here today to close out a week of outstanding guests on the Soul Mate for SIN blog tour

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And that does it for this week. Until next time, happy reading!

 

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5 Stars, Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Review: Henning Book Two: Prince of Wintergrave by Hayden Thorne

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Title: Henning Book 2: Prince of Wintergrave

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press

Pages/Word Count: 166 Pages

At a Glance: Suspense, plot twists, and even a few tears make this a great read

Blurb: Being a prince in a past life yields no benefits in the present, Henning has quickly learned. His concerned housemates have made themselves his official, overbearing chaperones, Ellery appears to despise him, and Henning’s limited movements slowly wear down his nerves. With his awakening process turning out to be more of a zombie-like stagger, the stakes rise inevitably as undead attacks not only increase in frequency, but also in danger levels.

Henning finds some relief in the company of Alan Scott — a handsome, smart young man he meets in a store, who displays an earnest interest in Henning. He gradually tears Henning’s heartbroken attention away from Ellery, offering him promises of happiness as can only be defined in a boy’s first love.

In the meantime, danger now spills over to threaten innocent civilians as they get dragged into monster attacks, making it difficult for Henning and his companions to fight back while raising troubling questions about the walls between worlds being torn down by dark magic. It also reveals the effect of a soul bond on Henning and Ellery’s awakening — that is, each boy’s awakening is affected by the other, and the mystery of how and why only get muddier.

As Henning and his companions scramble for answers, it’s a mad race against time when things happen that make them suspect Varian of crossing over to their world, searching for Henning.

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Review: One of the things that can be difficult about reading a Young Adult romance, as an adult, is keeping the world-weary cynicism we’ve accumulated over the years from casting a shadow over the memories of what it felt like to fall in love for the very first time, to get our very first kiss. One of the great things about an author who captures those things, not to mention the pangs of unrequited love, so well, is that in spite of the wisdom we’ve gained through those years, we can journey back to a time in our lives when everything seemed like it could be both amazing and the end of the world at the same time, and the only thing that mattered was being in the moment because the future was little more than a vague notion that didn’t exist much past tomorrow.

Henning Book Two: Prince of Wintergrave picks up with all the danger, action, and drama, not to mention teenage angst, that left us hanging when Book One ended. Henning Babkis, our hero prince, is every bit as engaging in the continuation of his story. An evil has crossed over from Wintergrave into this world, and has brought with him his undead minions to help capture young Henning for nefarious purposes. Hayden Thorne ups the tension in this storyline because we, the reader, know the danger Henning faces, and from whom, but we’re helpless to warn him to be careful, and it was so great getting emotionally invested and involved in the story in this way.

It’s refreshing to read a Young Adult novel that portrays positive adult role models along with its realistically portrayed teens. Henning may be orphaned but he has a family who has taken him in, and love and accept him unconditionally. He behaves like a teenager, too, which is somewhat of a pet peeve of mine—when young adult characters think, behave, and speak like adults rather than teens. Henning has concerns far greater than grades and guys, but that doesn’t mean he doesn’t worry about those everyday things alongside the fact that his “Extreme Husband” doesn’t remember him. The fact there’s a villain who feasts on a human’s very essence, not to mention wanting to do bad things to Henning, adds an extra layer of intrigue to the story and keeps the page-turning at maximum eagerness to see what will happen next, which is why the book has earned the Page Turner designation.

Henning’s relationship with Ellery Thomas, the boy to whom Henning is soul bonded, unfolds slowly and in a believable way, with no quick fixes and, thankfully, no unrealistic promises of forever after at the end. These boys don’t fight every step of the way through this book for their relationship; they fight to save each other and those they love, the end result being, then, that they realize there is a “they” that might be worth working on too. It was the ideal resolution to their storyline.

In a surprise twist, one I didn’t expect until it happened during the climax of the book, is a poignant moment that didn’t merely bring tears to my eyes, they spilled and left be a bit of a weepy mess, something that doesn’t happen to me often enough to skip mentioning. When I’m that emotionally invested in a book, the author has done his or her job, and done it well.

With its strong characterizations, fantastical premise and brisk paced action, Henning, Books One and Two, are novels aimed at a teen audience that even a big kid at heart can love too. Henning was wrong about one thing, though—his life, what we got to see of it, didn’t make for a sucky memoir, and I’m so glad he shared it.

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You can buy Henning Book Two: The Prince of Wintergrave here:

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All Romance eBooks

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Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press

Excerpt and Giveaway: Henning Book 2: The Prince of Wintergrave by Hayden Thorne

Hayden Thorne

THIS CONTEST IS CLOSED Continue reading

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5 Stars, Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press, Reviewed by Lisa, Young Adult

Review: Henning: The Hunted Prince (Book One) by Hayden Thorne

Title: Henning: The Hunted Prince

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press

Pages/Word Count: 143 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Young Henning Babkis has learned not to consider himself to be anything special. Ignored and taken for granted by his family, his education suffering as a result of their neglect, he nevertheless struggles to fit in and improve himself, though with unimpressive results. He’s also learned not to expect anything more for himself, convinced that he’s doomed to live his life in a deep closet, surrounded by people who don’t care and who’d have given him a lot of grief if they were to find out he’s gay. Continue reading

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, A.F. Henley, Annabelle Jacobs, Brita Addams, Damon Suede, Eva Lefoy, Hayden Thorne, Hayley B. James, Liam Livings, Ofelia Grand, Piper Vaughn, Rebecca Cohen, Rick R. Reed, Vicktor Alexander, Will Freshwater

Here’s A Sneak Peek at the Coming Week

TNA BadgeGreetings, everyone! Thanks so much for popping in to see what we have coming up in the week ahead. We have lots of great blog tours, author guest posts, giveaways, and reviews in store for you, so have a look-see and what’s in store.

A quick note about the informal poll results we ran last week on the topic of ratings. Of the participating voters, a full 70% of you indicated that we could do away with a numerical rating system altogether, and it wouldn’t affect our reviews in the slightest, so that’s something we’ll be considering doing away with in the coming weeks.

In the meantime, though, here’s what’s on tap.

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MondayAnnabelle Jacobs kicks off the week on the Alliance blog tour, with a giveaway

A.F. Henley also drops by on The Chase and the Catch blog tour, with a giveaway

TuesdayHayden Thorne joins us on the Henning: The Hunted Prince (Book Two) blog tour, with a giveaway

Rick R. Reed’s Third Eye makes a stop here as well, with an exclusive excerpt from the book, and a giveaway

Brita Addams is also here to offer her opinion on our book buying habits

WednesdayEva Lefoy is here on her Love Hurts series promo tour, with a giveaway

Piper Vaughn also stops in on the Hook, Line & Sinker blog tour, along with a review of the book from our very own Chris

ThursdayRebecca Cohen joins us on the Saving Crofton Hall blog tour, with a giveaway

Vicktor Alexander is also our guest today on the Groom of Convenience blog tour, with a giveaway

FridayOfelia Grand is our guest today to present Boughs of Evergreen, a two volume anthology of holiday stories to raise money for the Trevor Project. To join in the spirit of giving, The Novel Approach is purchasing 5 copies of the entire collection, both volumes, all 23 stories, to give away to five readers

Will Freshwater also joins us today on the Favorite Son blog tour, with a giveaway

SaturdayLiam Livings stops by on the And Then That Happened blog tour, with a giveaway

Hayley B. James is also with us today with a guest post on her Undercover Addiction blog tour, so be sure to stay tuned

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And that does it for this time. Until next week, happy reading!

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Hayden Thorne, JMS Books LLC

Excerpt and Giveaway: Henning: The Hunted Prince by Hayden Thorne

Being a prince in a past life and a different world guarantees nothing in 21st century Earth. One of the best things about writing YA fiction is the exploration of a teen’s relationship with the adults surrounding him. That ends up being great fun in comedy, and in my Masks series, we have Eric pretty much driving his family crazy with his attitude and his hundred and one misadventures. For my Henning series, I wanted to reverse things and explore a relationship between a boy and his guardians (one of whom is his uncle). In this case, Henning’s the normal one (or as normal as a reincarnated prince with powers can be normal), while his guardians – “chaperones” – are the ones driving him nuts. And it turned out to be just as fun writing it because in Henning’s case, none of his guardians are married or even parents. So while they’re utterly ignorant where raising a child’s concerned, they’re still as gung-ho as ever (turning to guide books for pointers), much to Henning’s horror. The fact that they’re also reincarnated officers with their own powers bodes nothing but ill for the boy’s teen years.

Continue reading

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5 Stars, Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press, Reviewed by Lisa, Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Review: Masks: Ordinary Champions by Hayden Thorne

Title: Masks: Ordinary Champions

Author: Hayden Thorne

Publisher: Queerteen Press

Pages/Word Count: 189 Pages

Rating: 5 Stars

Blurb: Book 3 of the Masks series follows Eric’s adventures as a newly-transformed supervillain sidekick. Taking advantage of Eric’s relationship with Peter, the Devil’s Trill uses him for a shield against the superheroes. In the meantime, new villains and a new, covert vigilante-like group appear, with a young hero with chameleon powers attempting to infiltrate the Trill’s hideout and help Eric. Continue reading

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Hayden Thorne, Queerteen Press

Guest Post and Giveaway: “Masks: Ordinary Champions” by Hayden Thorne

“Make it dark, make it grim, make it tough, but then, for the love of God, tell a joke.” – Joss Whedon

 

Blurb:

Book 3 of the Masks series follows Eric’s adventures as a newly-transformed supervillain sidekick. Taking advantage of Eric’s relationship with Peter, the Devil’s Trill uses him for a shield against the superheroes. In the meantime, new villains and a new, covert vigilante-like group appear, with a young hero with chameleon powers attempting to infiltrate the Trill’s hideout and help Eric.

Eric struggles with his conscience and schemes to turn the tables on the Trill, but his powers deteriorate. He grows more and more unstable and unsafe while the Trill’s henchmen appear to grow stronger and stronger, as though they were also subjected to the same manipulation that’s been used on Eric. As the Trill fights both the heroes and tries to assert his dominance over the new villains, Eric realizes that he doesn’t have much time left to set things right on his own, even if it costs him his life. Continue reading

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A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week, Ashe Barker, Ashlyn Kane, Bey Deckard, Cardeno C., Charlie Cochet, Cover Reveal, D.H. Starr, GayRomLit, Hayden Thorne, JC Wallace, K.A. Merikan, Keira Andrews, Morgan James, Rebecca Cohen, Rhys Ford, T.M. Smith, T.T. Kove

Here’s A Sneak Peek At The Coming Week

Hi, everyone, and welcome back to anyone who’s popped in today to see what we’ve got in store for the week ahead!

If you missed my announcement on RJ Scott’s blog about the Virtual Gift Basket Giveaways we’ve got coming up at the end of the month and into the first week of October, I’ll repeat the news here because, well, it bears repeating. We’ll be doing a giveaway of SIX baskets, courtesy of Team TNA’s GayRomLit featured and supporting authors. Each basket will include $25 in E-Gift Cards to various retailers, as well as E-books from the following participating authors: Jordan L. Hawk, Erica Pike, Zathyn Priest, DH Starr, Rhys Ford, Sophie Bonaste, Ethan Day, JK Hogan, Rafe Haze, LE Franks, Edmond Manning, Jacob Z. Flores, Jamie Lynn Miller, Lex Chase, RJ Scott, Sherrie Henry, Katey Hawthorne, Charlie Cochet, Deanna Wadsworth, and a late but very welcome addition to the giveaway, Z.A. Maxfield.

That’s a lot of titles and a lot of gift cards to give away, and I’m so excited to get the party started in just a few weeks’ time!

But for now, here’s what’s happening this week. Continue reading

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