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A Christmas to Die For
Jessica Frances
Genres: Fantasy, LGBTQ+, Romance, Science Fiction
Independent
Publication date: December 4th 2020

Drink way too much tequila at the office Christmas party? Check.
Get fired after doing something stupid at said Christmas party? Check.
Hallucinate flying reindeers in the sky? Check.
Watch those flying reindeer turn into naked people …? Check?
Discover magical elves are trying to kill you? Um … Wait! I don’t want to check that one!

Either I’m having the most epic blackout or my hangover has thrown me into the craziest world that has ever existed. I just found out that Santa is not only real, but he and his people can shapeshift into reindeer. I also just discovered that elves are real, which would be cool, except they’re evil and want to kill me! If that wasn’t bad enough, the elves and reindeer are at war with each other. So, not exactly like the cheery, heartwarming stories we’ve been told.

If a war between elves and reindeer isn’t shocking enough, it hardly holds a candle to finding out that I’m supposed to be the one person who can save an entire planet. Yeah, talk about being totally unqualified for the job. At least that overshadows the fact that I might now have a Santa kink when the young, hot, white-haired warrior is sent to protect me. But can I really help save Santa and his people? Can I stop the elves? Or is everyone doomed to suffer the deadliest Christmas ever?

To find out if this will be a Christmas to die for, buckle up in your sleigh, pour yourself an eggnog, and sing a Christmas tune, because this tale is about to get jolly and insane.

Excerpts: A Christmas to Die For

#1

For some reason—probably because I’m drunk—I feel more alone tonight than I have in a long time. I worry that maybe I won’t bounce back as easily as I have before.

When am I going to feel secure? Safe?

“Ru …” I whine, moving back to the front of my imaginary friend and staring at his bright red nose. This has to be the most ridiculous thing in the world, but I still grab some of his fur in the front and tug. “Come down here.”

My six-foot two stature isn’t tall enough for my new fake, furry friend, but I need a hug. Hell, I can’t even remember the last time I felt like I needed this, or the last time I had a hug. How sad is that?

Given this isn’t real, Rudolph is surprisingly stubborn. In fact, I have to use every bit of strength I have to get his large face to come near me, and I get the distinct impression he’s not happy. But I don’t care. He’s from my imagination, and I need a damn hug.

I wrap my arms around his too-wide neck and attempt to pull myself together, finding a comfort there that would likely get me put in a mental institution for life.

Whooshing noises sound around us, but I barely hear it over my deep breathing.

Why do I feel like crying? Men don’t cry. Well, not unless they have just thrown their guts up over their naked body from stage fright after attempting a career as a cam boy. I gave myself a pass that day.

But, even though I’m in complete denial about crying, tears wet my face as I give in to the feeling of despair and loneliness. Why do I have to be such a fuckup? Why does everything and everyone I touch turn to shit?

Heat overwhelms me, soaking away the cold that crept into my body after lying on the icy ground, and though the breeze is chilly and promising a future snowstorm, I suddenly have the urge to take off my jacket.

“You’re like a furnace,” I grumble at Rudolph, not removing my grip.

For some unlikely reason, this hug with my fake reindeer is the best thing to happen to me since the two weeks I was able to get a signal on my TV at home and could stream unlimited shows for that entire fortnight. I’m not ready to give it up yet, even if I’m probably just hugging a tree while picturing my fake reindeer.

I keep my eyes closed, my breathing finally calming down, when I notice something moving against me—perhaps Rudolph trying to shake me off. Either way, at the feel of something hard against the entire length of my body, I open one eye to find I’m no longer hugging a supersized reindeer.

Huh?

I’m hugging a man!

“Shit!” I gasp, dropping my hands from around the neck of a strange man who must be over eight feet tall, given he still has to bend over for me to hug him. Then I promptly fall on my ass, not feeling the impact since I’m still in shock.

I wipe my eyes, first to get the wetness out of them, and then because what I’m seeing can’t be real.

At first, all I notice is that every bit of hair on this giant’s head is white, and he has a lot of hair—a mane on his head and a crazy huge beard any biker would be proud of. It’s so odd to see such prominent white hair on a man who looks my age, because this giant is not old, even given the wizened color of his hair. No, I would put money that he isn’t older than thirty. In fact, every person here has the same stark white hair as my Rudolph, though they all look similar in age to him.

That’s odd, right?

Okay, scratch that, the weird part is clearly the changing from animal to human. Not the hair situation. Still …

#2

Unfortunately, just a few feet from reaching what I hope will be freedom, several arrows—which look to be on fire!—shoot down from the sky. They miss me, but most become embedded against the walls and roof of my house.

I have one moment to wonder what the hell they are before the building explodes.

An invisible, heated shockwave hits me, taking me off my feet and pushing me backward. I slam into a tree trunk and crack my head, giving me an instant headache.

Arms wrap around me, gripping tight enough to cut off my breathing, and my view of my exploding home instantly changes to the tree line surrounding my property as I’m shuffled away from the wreckage.

I look up to find Rudolph holding me. So … not a tree, then.

Then I realize he’s still naked!

This can’t be happening.

He shields me from the debris flying through the air; all my worldly possessions becoming nothing more than burning embers and rubble.

“No!” I groan while the pounding in my head worsens.

I need to wake up. I need to get away.

A growl has me looking back up at Rudolph, the vibration of it rumbling through my own body while I’m still tightly held against him. He turns us back to the crater that used to have my house sitting there.

Rudolph’s gaze is fierce, and I notice the men and women from before are turning back into reindeer. As in, their bodies are changing shape until they are no longer human!

What the fuck?

“Ru?” I gasp, my entire world now shaken to its core.

I barely have time to process that everything I owned, everything I have collected over the years, is now gone before someone lands over the rubble. In fact, many beings land. Dozens of them.

Somewhat belatedly, under the light of the moonlit clouds and glowing embers that used to be my house, I register that these beings barely look human. Their ears are pointed, their teeth sharp as they hiss at us, and their eyes are black. The clothes they wear are a dull green, and they each have dozens of arrows and spears at their backs in a pouch. Actually, some of them already have arrows and spears in hand, moving their arms back in the same way a javelin thrower might.

Are these the elves Rudolph mentioned earlier?

Okay, reindeer and elves? This has to be some sort of cosmic joke on me. Then again, the destruction of my house is no joke. And the deadly intent on the elves’ faces, as they look to be preparing an attack, is definitely no joke.

In fact, I’m pretty sure I’m screwed. And crazy.

Can’t forget the crazy part.

#3

“So, you like the milk, but what about the cookie?” He slides a plate that has sat off to the side of us the entire meal. On it is a large, round object with dark spots. My human called it a chocolate chip cookie when he asked for it. It’s large enough to take up the entire plate.

“You expect me to eat that?” I can’t even muster up any sort of enthusiasm for it. It looks like hard dirt with specks of dark mud in it.

“Yep, but only after you get a refill. The best way to eat a cookie is to dunk it in milk.”

I eye the cookie again, wondering why I’m even considering putting myself through all of this for my human.

“Are you sure this is important? We could be back in the hotel room …” I remind him, hoping the nudge will push him in the right direction, which would be any direction away from this cookie at this point.

Unfortunately, a waitress refills my glass, and then my human rips off a small chunk from the cookie.

“Please?”

I’m the Santa of Christmas, the highest rank in our military, the wartime leader of my people, and one of the most feared foes of the elves, yet here I am, succumbing to my human, who is force-feeding me rubbish.

What have I become?

Scrounging together whatever bravery and fearlessness I hold during battles, I take the offered poison and dunk it in the milk. Then I close my eyes as I shove the entire thing in my mouth.

I consider just swallowing it whole, figuring my body can save me from the taste, but already my body heat helps to melt whatever ingredients are in this cookie so it crumbles into my mouth.

And … I have to say, it’s not that bad.

AUTHOR BIO:

Jessica lives in Adelaide, South Australia. When she is not writing, you can find her reading, napping or watching excessive amounts of TV. Connect with her on Facebook and Goodreads.


Author links:
http://jessicafrancesauthor.blogspot.com/
https://www.facebook.com/JessicaFrancesAuthor/
https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7236316.Jessica_Frances

https://www.instagram.com/jessica_frances_author/

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Adding it all up

The Sum
#5 The Trusted
Michelle Medhat.
Political thrillers, metaphysical and visonary
Mindblowing Books Ltd (2 May 2020)

The world is in harmony, and humanity’s light shines bright. But is there more at play than what can be seen. And what will be the Protector's role now Earth shows it doesn’t need her.

The sadistic global terrorist collective, Al Nadir is gone. World leaders have joined together in Freedom Earth. Religious heads have put aside their differences. The Balance is in equilibrium. Cheap energy is available for everyone.

This is a time of peace.

But Ellie isn’t so sure.

She feels something dangerous bubbling beneath the smooth surface. Struggling to shake her instincts, she remains suspicious of British Prime Minister Ashton. His sly smirk and wandering eyes undermine his perfect, family-man façade. But how can she denounce the most popular man in the world?

As pressures grow and lies build, one thing is for certain, when, in the end, the truth is revealed, it's going to be cataclysmic!

The Sum is the finale in the dark, edgy and dangerous The Trusted Thriller Series. If you like mind-blowing suspense, ancient alien powers, and espionage intrigue, then you’ll love this exhilarating adventure.

This was disappointing. I had read the previous books in the series but found this one just too difficult to read. It didn’t work for me from the starting chapter onwards. And in my opinion doesn’t work as a standalone novel as it relies too much on the previous books and the reader having knowledge from them.

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A World of slavery and …

House of Earth and Fire Book Cover House of Earth and Fire
Crescent City
Sarah J. Maas
fantasy, romance. sci-fi
Bloomsbury Publishing (3 Mar. 2020)
Pub Date 3 Mar 2020

Perfect for fans of Jessica Jones and True Blood, this is a blockbuster modern fantasy set in a divided world where one woman must uncover the truth to seek her revenge.

Half-Fae, half-human Bryce Quinlan loves her life. Every night is a party and Bryce is going to savour all the pleasures Lunathion - also known as Crescent City - has to offer. But then a brutal murder shakes the very foundations of the city, and brings Bryce's world crashing down.
Two years later, Bryce still haunts the city's most notorious nightclubs - but seeking only oblivion now. Then the murderer attacks again. And when an infamous Fallen angel, Hunt Athalar, is assigned to watch her every footstep, Bryce knows she can't forget any longer.
As Bryce and Hunt fight to unravel the mystery, and their own dark pasts, the threads they tug ripple through the underbelly of the city, across warring continents, and down to the deepest levels of Hel, where things that have been sleeping for millennia are beginning to stir ...
With unforgettable characters and page-turning suspense, this richly inventive new fantasy series by #1 New York Times bestselling author Sarah J. Maas delves into the heartache of loss, the price of freedom - and the power of love.

 

I was given an extract of this book through NetGalley – now I don’t usually bother with extracts, but this one looked intriguing. And it was.
I’ve never read Sarah Maas before, and this is apparently her first venture into writing for an adult rather than YA audience. And for me it worked. I have read some comments where people who have read her YA books thought that this one had faults – yes of course we had Alpha aholes and a kick ass heroine. After all, this is the trope in which this book was written. Nice to see also that the angels weren’t all bright and light and good – plenty of grey and nasties.
I thought it was good universe building – yes we had the MidGard planet and a continent called the Pangera (see Pangea – the real land mass on Earth) and other references to these universes/worlds built in other books in this genre – but still the mix of technology and magic in this one was different.
And I so far haven’t come across a universe where there are angel slaves. Which I thought was a nice touch and permitted new storylines to emerge.
For me, this was a good read – it could have stopped at many points and been a much shorter book and left stuff for the next – but instead Mass carried on with a new twist and more highs and lows. The twists and hidden secrets kept coming right until the end – hints of these secrets only realisable after the action – which is good writing and means good plotting took place.
I liked the extract enough to buy the full book which means I wanted to find out more in the story… so a good read for me. I hope to read the next one in the series and that it is as long and complex in plotting as this one.

I was given an extract of this book through NetGalley – now I don’t usually
bother with extracts, but this one looked intriguing. And it was.

I’ve never read Sarah Maas before, and this is apparently her first venture
into writing for an adult rather than YA audience. And for me it worked. I have
read some comments where people who have read her YA books thought that this
one had faults – yes of course we had Alpha aholes and a kick ass heroine.
After all, this is the trope in which this book was written. Nice to see also that the angels weren’t all bright and light and good – plenty of grey and nasties.

I thought it was good universe building – yes we had the MidGard planet and a continent called the Pangera (see Pangea – the real land mass on Earth) and other references to these universes/worlds built in other books in this genre – but still the mix of technology and magic in this one was different.

And I so far haven’t come across a universe where there are angel slaves.
Which I thought was a nice touch and permitted new storylines to emerge.

For me, this was a good read – it could have stopped at many points and been a much shorter book and left stuff for the next – but instead Maas carried on with a new twist and more highs and lows. The twists and hidden secrets kept coming right until the end – hints of these secrets only realisable after the action – which is good writing and means good plotting took place.

I liked the extract enough to buy the full book which means I wanted to find
out more in the story… so a good read for me. I hope to read the next one in
the series and that it is as long and complex in plotting as this one.

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What breed?

Betania Breed Book Cover Betania Breed
Collection: Books 1-4:
Jenny Foster
SciFi, Alien, Romance
CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
(13 Aug. 2018)

The original story "The Captive" led to a novel, and three additional volumes followed. With this collection you are finally holding all four Betania Breed single SciFi romance novels, complete and unabridged, in your hands – and mysterious background material is included. In over 800 pages, you will be up close and personal on an adventurous and dramatic voyage through the universe.

Oh Dear!

I read up to Part 3: The Awakening in hope, but really, this whole muscles and pheromones and falling in ‘love ‘ aka lust at first sight? Just too predictable.

I thought the writing style rather prosaic and not in any way different from 100s of other such alien abduction style books.

The heroine could have been acceptable but she was rather 2 dimensional and finding out after several ‘chapters’ that we were somewhere in Ad 3900 was just too late.

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Why Awake?

Awakening: Rise as the Fall Unfolds Book Cover Awakening: Rise as the Fall Unfolds
An 8th Dimension Novel Book 3
Carissa Andrews
Genres: Science Fiction, Thriller, Urban Fantasy
Independently published
Publication date: November 12th 2019

The final five angels have been located and averting the apocalypse means somehow recreating the birth of Christ.  Morgan never expected total annihilation would come down to the actions of five misfit angels. But as each one’s hidden angelic power unfolds, so does the sinister truth… the entire Jesus storyline has been wiped from the collective consciousness, leaving a tear in the fabric of reality. The final five need to figure out how their gifts are meant to fit together in order to set things right. However, coming to terms with the responsibility resting on their shoulders doesn’t come easy. To make matters worse, the demons have found them and unless they get on the same page quickly, the darkness will consume them all. But how can they make things right when the thing that’s missing happened more than 2000 years ago? One thing’s for sure. If they fail, existence ceases. If you love books like Neil Gaiman and Terry Pratchett’s American Gods or Good Omens, Joe Hill’s Nos4A2, or Stephen King’s (Richard Bachman) Blaze, then you’ll love Awakening!

“Can you tell your readers something about why you chose this particular genre to write about? What appealed to you about it? Why do you think it is different and your approach is unique?”

When I originally went to college, I had big plans to become an archaeologist or anthropologist. I have always been fascinated by the idea of mythology, spirituality, and religion. But more than that, I have always loved the paranormal and supernatural side as well. I grew up in a very eclectic, open minded family who embraced dichotomous thinking—which basically means holding two seemingly opposing viewpoints as true at the same time. For example, being Christian, but believing other religions or spiritual traditions hold similar truths. Magical mindsets and energy work have always played a role in my life. In fact, in 2002, I started my journey to become a reiki master. I have also dived deep into comparative religion because the concept is deeply fascinating to me.

Then, on the other side (remember the dichotomous thinking), I love science. Physics, astronomy, biology, chemistry—you name it. So, being this strange person with seemingly opposing beliefs, I find I can look at subjects more… subjectively.

Awakening originally came to me as a way to make sense of the world after the 2016 election. I’m not gonna lie—it seriously felt light we were fighting a war of light and dark and the dark was winning. So, my question to myself was… what if there were angels buried in the subconsciousness of humans walking the Earth? What would that look like? How would that play out?

However, I couldn’t quite wrap my head around their mission. What would they fight for? How would they fix things? Then, at our local writers group’s Christmas party last year, we got an interesting writing prompt. There were actually something like seven of them, but the one I chose was: write something about the Jesus story from a totally different perspective.

Now, I have to place a caveat here – I am actually very eclectic spiritually because of my background. I don’t identify as one religion or another anymore. I just don’t feel it’s necessary. So, as a sciencey, fantasy jumbled up mess I am, I took an idea I’d had in the back of my mind for a long time about the Jesus story. It relied on the question of—what if Jesus didn’t exist? What if in the future, darkness had taken over and his light never shone on the world? (Okay, historically, there are actual questions about true existence, but there is no denying his story exists—and has had a huge impact on the world.)

But more than that, what if someone from the future could go back and make things happen? How could you tell this story where it seems both believable—and completely crazy at the same time? I mean, that’s what science fiction and fantasy are meant to do, right? Play with the bigger questions of who we are, why we’re here, and the stories we tell ourselves… right?

To my knowledge, no one has written a story quite like Awakening. It’s part urban fantasy – part alternative history – part science fiction. But what I am most pleased about with this book is that it must have placed its timing perfectly (I may have written it, but I swear the stories have their own timing). Both Christians and non-Christians alike love the story and the way the story was able to tread the wire between motivation and blasphemy.

About the Author:

Carissa Andrews is a freelance writer, award-winning graphic designer, indie author coach, and internationally bestselling author from Crosslake Minnesota. She is the President of the Lakes Area Writers Alliance, a 501c3 nonprofit for writers in central Minnesota, as well as the owner of Author Revolution, LLC – an organization geared toward helping new authors navigate the waters of indie publishing. For 2020, Carissa has her sights set on becoming a NYT or USA Today Bestselling Author with her upcoming series, The Windhaven Witches. You can learn more about Carissa, her services, and her upcoming novels by visiting her websites: www.carissaandrews.comwww.authorrevolution.org, or authorrevolution.teachable.com

Author links:

https://www.carissaandrews.com/

https://www.instagram.com/Carissa_Andrews_MN/

https://www.pinterest.ca/carissaandrews/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/5755860.Carissa_Andrews

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorCarissaAndrews

https://twitter.com/CarissaAndrews

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