A Little Of This, A Little Of That

Happy Sunday! Just a few odds and ends to keep you up to date 🙂

*I am working on getting Over the River back up for sale as well as The Red Barn. I’m hoping by the end of the month/beginning of December to have both up.

I plan on putting The Red Barn up for free since it is a short story 🙂

*I just finished the first round of revisions on Sera’s first book, and will be starting another round today. I really like writing from her POV and am excited to start her second book. I will announce a title soon.

The plan at this point is to self-publish the Isles and West series as well Sera’s books. I will publish the first three books first, then release a box set of them. After that, I will publish Sera’s book so you are not waiting too long for the next book 🙂 I’m hoping to have Sera’s book out by the end of January/beginning of February of 2019.

I am also working on Delilah and Milly’s next book, which will release after Sera’s arc is finished.

*I am taking part in an anthology (will announce when I can) that will release next October. I am excited to share the story with you! I just started writing it and I can already see at least two novels in that world.

*Also in the works is another, lighter series in the I&W world~ I call them my Dark Cozy Mysteries 🙂 The first book is finished and I’m working on the second.

*I have started work on an upper YA/NA urban fantasy book. It’s moving a little slowly, but that’s okay. I really like the main character and the world. I think that series will start as a novella and then have at least two full-length books that follow.

In other news:

Some of you who have been following me for a while will know that I am a tea lover. I just ordered myself a brand new teapot and a bunch of tea (because I am really low at the moment on loose leaf tea). I’ll share a picture when it gets here because I think it’s beautiful ❤

Yesterday I made gingerbread granola for the first time and it came out wicked good! I’ve never made granola that way (only the chewy granola bars) so I’m excited that it came out so well. It’s also baking season for me so I’ve been baking cookies and bread (apple fritter bread!) and pie. I made a pumpkin pie for the second time- and on my own without help- and that came out so well. I was pretty pleased with myself, as it was a custard and I’ve never made custard before.

Snow has arrived in Vermont and, though I am not a fan of driving in snowstorms (as many are not), it is definitely pretty ❤

I’m going to leave you with a book recommendation. Back in October, The Dream Gatherer by Kristen Britain released, and I am so excited that I finally got my copy! I love the Green Rider series (though, certain things in book 6 did not make me happy), and this new release is in that world. I highly recommend this series for fantasy fans. It is one of the few series that I will buy in hardcover and they are worth the read (in my opinion, of course 🙂 ).

click on cover to go to Penguin’s book page for buy links

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Fantasy Friday: Urban Fantasy

One of my favorite genres 😀 Since this post will go on forever if I just listed all of my favorite books, I’m going to focus on the very first urban fantasy books I read that got me hooked, and a little bit about my feelings on the genre now.

I have always been an avid reader, and when I was in high school I read several vampire and werewolf/monster books that would probably be considered UF nowadays. The first UF books I ever read were by Mercedes Lackey. Her Diana Tregarde series 🙂

Shortly after finishing Jinx High, my mother surprised me with an omnibus from the Science Fiction Book Club. It was Club Vampyre, the first three books in the Anita Blake series by Laurell K Hamilton. Once the second omnibus was released, The Midnight Cafe, she bought me that as well, which had the next three books in the series.

Another early UF book I read was Neverwhere by Neil Gaiman.

 

And after that I started reading so many UF books I’ve lost count. I’ve slowed down on UF, but I’m always on the lookout for new authors/series. I stopped reading several series, I’ll admit to that, and I find it hard to find quality UF because the market just became so over-saturated. But I still love the genre- to read it and write in it 🙂

What Urban Fantasy books did you first read?

Series Saturday: Patricia Briggs

Welcome to another Series Saturday!

Patricia Briggs is one of my favorite authors, and two of my favorite books are Masques and Wolfsbane~ part of her Sianim Series.  Patty is a wonderful storyteller, and I was immediately drawn into the story by the voice and vivid images her writing brought forth.

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click on covers to go to Amazon

Blurb:

After an upbringing of proper behavior and oppressive expectations, Aralorn fled her noble birthright for a life of adventure as a mercenary spy. But her latest mission involves more peril than she ever imagined.

Agents of Sianim have asked her to gather intelligence on the increasingly popular and powerful sorcerer Geoffrey ae’Magi. Soon Aralorn comes to see past the man’s striking charisma—and into a soul as corrupt and black as endless night. And few have the will to resist the sinister might of Geoffrey and his minions.

So Aralorn, aided by her enigmatic companion, Wolf, join the growing rebellion against the ae’Magi. But in a war against an enemy armed with the powers of illusion, how do you know who the true enemy is—or where he will strike next?

Blurb:

For the last ten years, shapeshifting mercenary Aralorn has led a dangerous existence—a far cry from her noble upbringing. Now she must return home under the most unfortunate circumstances. Her father, the Lyon of Lambshold, has passed away. But when Aralorn and her companion Wolf arrive, the combination of their magic uncovers something wonderful yet alarming—he’s not actually dead, but only appears so. Yet a dark mist is also very much alive within him…

The Lyon of Lambshold has been ensorcelled by the ae’Magi, who’s using him as a conduit to finally destroy Aralorn and Wolf. With her father as the pawn, can Aralorn overcome this mysterious mist with her magic? Or will she finally fall to the blackest of magic, losing not only her one true companion, but also her life…

***

I cannot recommend this series enough for those who love fantasy. You can read sample chapters of both books, plus the other books in the series (that feature different characters), on her website: http://www.patriciabriggs.com/books/

Special Guest: Linda Robertson

I’m very pleased to host Linda Robertson on the blog today 🙂 I loved her Persephone Alcmedi series, and can’t wait to read Jovienne.

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Excerpt:
EASTER SUNDAY  APRIL 4, 2021
SAN FRANCISCO, CALIFORNIA
 
The destroyed stained glass window looked like an open mouth showing pointy, irregular teeth. Inside, the church’s cavernous shape trapped the sound of the downpour like TV static that couldn’t be muted. Not even inside the confessional.
Having finally learned about the drama that occurred during the sunrise mass this morning, Andrei came to see for himself. He hadn’t expected that Father Everly would be taking confessions with the evening services only an hour away, but then he hadn’t intended to make one. He shifted, uncomfortable in the darkened box. “Forgive me father for I have sinned. It’s been ten years since my last confession.”
“Tell me my son, what brings you after all this time?”
Hearing the exhaustion in the old priest’s voice, Andrei’s cheeks flamed. He shouldn’t be taking the man’s time on this holy day when his church was in turmoil.
But he had to. Because of Jovienne. Maybe the urgency stemmed from not going to mass since she came into his life. Maybe it was the rain. One of the strongest memories he had of her occurred on an equally wet day almost a decade ago.
It had been autumn, and she’d finally grown strong enough to be out of her bed more than she was in it. She had asked every day for two weeks to go to the cemetery. He’d used the rain as an excuse to put off the trip, but she was insistent and he finally gave in.
 
“Wait here for me?” she asked as they approached the gates.
“I’ll help you find the headstones.” She’d still been in a coma when her family were buried.
“I can find them. Wait here.”
He’d decided when they first met to respect her determination. ‘I can’ defined her. She’d endured so much and her willpower had everything to with her surviving to this point.
It would be key to her survival long-term.
Her steps, unhurried but certain as she entered the dreary graveyard, led her from the paved road to cut across the grounds toward a certain set of stones like she had a homing beacon. He watched her kick away the fallen yellow leaves, clearing the ground before a small headstone. Then she did the same for the outermost of the graves in front of the adjacent tombstone-for-two. The green grass was a stark contrast to the bright deposits of foliage.
The center grave she left covered. Andrei was curious if it was her mother or her father that she did not reveal, and if she’d had a brother or a sister, older or younger. It didn’t matter; he didn’t need to know about her past to train her.
When she returned, her cheeks were wet but her eyes showed no sign of having wept. The drops on her face were only rain. He marveled, wondering if strength or the misunderstanding of youth locked away this child’s tears.
She seemed to understand his scrutiny. “The sky cried for me,” she said, “and the trees are weeping pretty blankets.” She glanced over her shoulder at her work, the grassy area easy to pick out. “But some graves ought to be cold.”
 
“My son?” Father Everly prompted.
Andrei poked at the buttonhole on his leather duster and questioned what he was about to do. Everything he thought he understood about Jovienne had been proven wrong. But Father Everly deserved to know who destroyed his church. And why.
“I know the demon who broke your window this morning, Father. I raised her.”
****
Jovienne CD:
To hear samples of the music or find the CD buy link:
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BUY LINKS:
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~What People Are Saying~
“Linda Robertson’s JOVIENNE is a unique and twisted journey of action, horror, and urban fantasy, packed with cool ideas.  In a genre where so much feels the same, it’s a pleasure to encounter a writer who has found a different muse.”  Christopher Golden, NYT Bestselling Author
 
“Linda Robertson has created an intriguing world, a compelling narrative, and a strong, canny heroine you’ll be cheering on from the first page to the last. JOVIENNE rocks. Enjoy the ride.” — David B. Coe, author of The Case Files of Justis Fearsson
 
“Linda Robertson has written a masterful example on using religious lore and legend as inspiration for damn fine storytelling! JOVIENNE is both soul-soaring and heart-wrenching, a fresh take on high-octane Urban Fantasy.”  James R. Tuck – author of the Deacon Chalk series.
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Bio:
Linda Robertson is an internationally published author. She won first place in the OSU/Mansfield Florence B. Allen writing competition (2006). Since then, she’s earned a cum laude Associate of the Art’s Degree in English and published several novels and short stories.
 
In addition to the Immanence series, she is the author of the Persephone Alcmedi series. A lifelong musician, she also wrote, performed, and produced a musical score/CD for Jovienne. When not writing or composing, she finds time to dabble in costuming/sewing, crafting, and furniture renovation. 
 
She attends various writing conventions and book festivals, blogs, and gives workshops about the craft of writing. A mother of four boys, Linda is married and lives in Northeast Ohio.
 Jovienne-eCover2500

Guest Post: Marcus Damanda

I’m pleased to welcome Marcus Damanda to the blog with his latest release, Absolution Island.

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Blurb:

The chase is over. For Rebecca, Daniel, and the rest of the Forgottens of Second Salvations, there is only one choice: get with the program or die. But there’s a spy lurking somewhere within the cabins of Angel Island, someone with contacts in the outside world. Ruth Black is determined to find out who it is before the world learns the truth about her—and about the special punishment ministry of her husband, the Reverend Matthew.

Rebecca and Daniel are not destined to remain forgotten very long.

Welcome to New America: one nation, under God. An island prison, just for kids, built to convert the very worst of them. Kids like Rebecca and Daniel, with one impossible task:

Escape.

Excerpt:

In this excerpt, which appears near to the climax of Absolution Island, we join Daniel, aka “Faust,” as he takes a most important step toward fitting in with his fellow Forgottens. The Reverend Matthew Black tests his “faith.”

The passage was from the Book of Matthew, Chapter 3. The words echoed from the raised chamber of the font at the back of the narthex:

“In those days came John the Baptist, preaching in the wilderness of Judea.”

The Reverend wore his perfect set of teeth, stretching his lips. He felt the tension in them as he spoke, his voice amplified by the natural acoustics of the room, nothing electronic:

“The voice of one crying in the wilderness, ‘Prepare ye for the way of the Lord. Make His paths straight.’”

He made no mention of John’s raiment of camel hair, nor of his diet of locusts and wild honey. These were little details, readily available to anyone who chose to read the whole passage. What the Reverend wore was a cotton short sleeved shirt under a purple and white silk robe, along with loose pants he would quickly change out of after this introductory part of the service and before his regular sermon.

The roughly nine hundred parishioners who were watching him would only be able to see the Reverend from the waist up. Sometimes, that was a good thing, as he often had a tendency to get excited during these performances. But not tonight.

He shared a look with his wife, then addressed the audience:

“Then went out to him Jerusalem, and all Judea, and all the region round about Jordan, and were baptized of him in Jordan, confessing their sins.”

A few called back to him:

“Glory to God.”

“Glory to the Son!”

“Hallelujah …”

The Reverend enjoyed quoting the Book of Matthew, his namesake. He liked to think that he was quoting himself, in a way. That Saint Matthew was only a witness to the baptism of Jesus and not its executor was something he generally put from his mind. The Reverend Matthew tried not to remember that it was actually John he was quoting, most of the time. He wanted ownership of the words. They were perfect.

“O generation of vipers,” he seethed at the congregation, “who hath warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Bring forth therefore fruits meet for repentance!”

The door to his right, leading back to the vestibule, was painted white. It opened. Drab, still wearing his standard Thresher’s tunic and sandals, led Faust through it, garbed in his white baptism smock. A faint blush rose high in his cheeks, hardly to be detected.

That was normal. Children tended toward nervousness in the matter of getting baptized. They were often self-conscious, too. There was an implicit admission of one’s own imperfections in the very need for baptism, and it was on display for everyone.

But apart from that faintest of color, Faust seemed otherwise as calm as can be. He started, one cautious foot at a time, into the water where the Reverend awaited him. Three steps to the bottom, three feet of water—all representative of the Holy Trinity looking down on them from the heavens above.

The hem of the boy’s smock floated in the water. Faust held it down with his arms by his sides, even though he’d be wearing shorts underneath. Drab remained in the background, watching, long moments after he should have departed.

The Reverend dismissed the Thresher with a curt twitch of his head, then smiled indulgently at Faust. He put his hands on the boy’s shoulders.

“I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance: but He that cometh after me, He shall baptize you with the Holy Ghost, and with fire.”

His right hand slid to the back of Faust’s neck, gripped him there tight. His left down the boy’s back.

“Whose fan is in His hand, and he will thoroughly purge His floor, and gather His wheat into the garner …”

He made as though to move, to lead the boy to his immersion. He saw Faust catch his breath. The music of the pipe organ started. The children began to sing.

And the Reverend paused.

****

It had been Ruth’s idea, what he was about to do. He wasn’t sure how much he liked it. He did want his wife to be happy—to the extent happiness was practical in their marriage—but he was more than slightly confused by her continuing vendetta against the girl she had named Rags, along with how the equally-promising Faust factored into it.

“I want two struggling devils, not one,” she had said. “I want us both to know she’s worth the time and effort of developing. Recent events have brought her potential, even her Solomon results, into doubt.”

Again, he looked at her, seated at one of the pews for church officials by the altar, hands folded primly in her lap. Her expression was calculated, eyes closed as she took in the organ music that fairly vibrated the wooden walls of the narthex, basking in the sounds of eight hundred plus kids singing There is a Fountain Filled with Blood.

“She needs to demonstrate restraint,” Ruth had said.

Rags was not singing.

But Rags was still one of the new ones. She’d been given little opportunity to learn. He’d reminded his wife of this point—although her idea did have some appeal to him. He would enjoy watching the reactions of the campers, not just Rags, as the show played to its conclusion. Still, he was unsure of himself. He was torn.

“She likes the boy, Matthew,” Ruth had said. “Do you understand me? She lusts after him.”

Faust, his face considerably redder than it had been, let his breath back out. He looked confused. Perfectly understandable.

Quickly, before he could properly catch his breath again, the Reverend brought him underwater. And quoted his namesake again, his voice booming over the singing children:

“But he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire!”

****

The devil slept at first, just as he always did, and the boy did not struggle.

The Reverend counted in his mind, even as he surveyed the crowd. He didn’t look down. The boy’s reactions were unimportant.

One-one thousand, two-one thousand, three-one thousand …

He was good at making each count take exactly one second in real time. He’d been at this for years. He had practice. He could do this, and he quote scripture at the same time:

“Then cometh Jesus from Galilee to Jordan unto John to be baptized of him …”

The standard time underwater for a boy of this age was one minute. He counted, letting the minute pass. Toward the end, the boy in the water had started to twitch, little kicks. His hands found the Reverend’s.

Fifty-one-one thousand, fifty-two-one thousand …

The Reverend was stronger than him.

He finished the minute, then brought the boy to his feet, back out of the water.

Faust drew in a massive, involuntary gasp of air. His eyes were wide, disbelieving, terrified—

But he had the presence of mind to catch his breath before going down a second time.

“But John forbad him , saying, ‘I have need to be baptized of Thee, and comest Thou to me?”

One-one thousand, two-one thousand …

Ruth gave no outward sign of emotion, but the Reverend knew her, through and through. If there was one thing that Ruth was good at, it was the “restraint” she had mentioned—good at it when she controlled a given situation, at any rate. How satisfied she looked with everything, just now.

As for the Rags child, her little friend, the one with the deep brown curling wisps of hair that must have been quite beautiful, when it had been grown out—what was her name?—was holding her hand, trying to sing. Trying to encourage Rags to sing.

Rags’ teeth were clenched. She was holding in a scream so close to the surface that the Reverend fancied he could practically see it—its very sound—trapped at the top of her lungs.

He finished the count, brought Faust up a second time.

A similar response to the first drawing. Made sense. On the one hand, the second time should have been even more difficult than the first, but on the other, the Reverend had allowed him to suck in his wind this time.

“Almost done,” he whispered to the boy, low enough to keep his words just between the two of them, even in here. “One more to go.”

Faust shook his head, pleading without speaking. And that was impressive. He remembered the rules. Drab hadn’t missed a trick, and this boy—this unbelievable boy—still, amazingly, had his head screwed on straight.

He brought him down again.

Still—nothing. No struggling devil. And Rags, who had just seen him take breath, had seen him alive, eyes wide, still hadn’t left her seat or screamed. Now, that was probably something of a struggle … and her little friend was simply dying of fright.

The Reverend addressed the congregation again:

“And Jesus, answering, said unto him, ‘Suffer it to be so now …’”

This time, at thirty, the kicking started. The thrashing and splashing. The boy’s hands on his, the devil trying to wrench himself free. But the Reverend was so much stronger than them, both the boy and the devil who occupied him. The Reverend always been strong. As a lad, he’d been both taller and stronger than almost all of his classmates all the way through high school, just as his father had always been.

“‘… for thus it becometh us to fulfill all righteousness!’” he bellowed.

Ruth wanted him to count to ninety. She had said it was important that he do this. It would make her happy, she’d said.

At sixty-five, the boy took water into his lungs. The Reverend could feel it inhaled through his fingers.

The Rags girl wrenched herself free of her friend and leaped to her feet.

****

Mom? Daniel asked, still underwater.

She was leaning over him, her hands on the sides of his head, her long hair caressing his face even as the Reverend still held him by the back of the neck. She looked down on him. She kissed him.

Don’t give up, Daniel, she said, as clearly as if they shared a picnic blanket out under the bright early August sun.

I miss you, he said.

I miss you, too, she answered him. Every day. But you are no longer mine to claim. You have your own life. You have things to do. Work to do.

Links:

http://www.evernightteen.com/absolution-island-by-marcus-damanda

 

Bio:

Marcus Damanda lives in Woodbridge, Virginia with his cat, Shazam. At various times throughout his life, he played bass guitar for the garage heavy metal band Mother’s Day, wrote for The Dale City Messenger, and published editorials in The Potomac News and The Freelance Star. To date, ten of his short horror stories have been produced by the Parsec Award winning NoSleep Podcast—featuring the brilliant and talented Jessica McEvoy, who has narrated four of his audiobooks as well. Currently, while not plotting his next foray into fictitious suburban mayhem, he spoils his nieces and nephews and teaches middle school English.

Books by Marcus Damanda:

Vampires that DON’T sparkle:

The Forever Show

Teeth: The Forever Show Book 2

Teen horror and drama (subgenre, “H’rama”):

Devils in the Dark: The Devil in Miss Drake’s Class Book 1

A Devil in Daylight: The Devil in Miss Drake’s Class Book 2

The Devil at Play: The Devil in Miss Drake’s Class Book 3

Dystopian future (There goes the neighborhood …):

The Salvation State

Absolution Island: The Salvation State, Book 2

Keep up with Marcus Damanda by visiting:

https://www.facebook.com/MarcusDamandaAuthor/

Check out his audiobooks, narrated by Jessica McEvoy, at:

Audible.com

And keep an eye out for his next scary story at …

https://www.thenosleeppodcast.com/

 

Series Saturday: Kristen Britain

Hello all 🙂 This isn’t going to be a normal Series Saturday, as I’ve already done a Fantasy Friday on Kristen Britain. However, her publisher just did a cover reveal for book six, Firebrand, and I’m so excited- can’t wait to read this one!

click on cover to go to Amazon to pre-order

firebrand-front-cover

BLURB:

Zachary Davriel Hillander, High King of Sacoridia, rues how much he has had to give up to lead his realm, including the freedom to live and love as he chooses. When an embassy from Eletia arrives to propose a joint venture between their realms to seek out an old ally in the north, he is dismayed to learn that the one Sacoridian they have in mind to accompany their guide is the woman he truly loves but cannot have: Green Rider Karigan G’ladheon.
Karigan has only just returned from a dark future where Sacoridia has been conquered and is ruled by a despotic emperor, and she has not recovered in heart or mind. As if that is not enough, the castle ghosts won’t leave her alone. Though Zachary is loath to part from her so soon after her return, he knows she is the best choice to undertake the mission to the north.

Each step on their journey places Karigan and her companions closer to enemy territory and danger, for northward lie the forces of Second Empire, Sacoridia’s longtime foe, and Grandmother, the necromantic leader of Second Empire, has not been idle. She uses her magic to summon a wild elemental spirit to wreak havoc upon Zachary and his wife, Queen Estora. At first the Sacoridians succeed in fending off the creature, but it so covets Estora that it can’t stay away. It abducts Zachary, assuming his form and his place at Estora’s side—but when it is finally ousted, Zachary is still missing. Estora, alone and heavy with twins, must prepare her realm for the coming conflict from the confines of her bedchamber.

Meanwhile, the danger only deepens for Karigan and her companions as they journey north. When she finds herself caught in the midst of a clash between forces, Karigan must rescue and protect her king before she falls into a trap set by Grandmother—a trap that could give Second Empire the power to control the dead and all the demons of the hells.

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I’ve never been shy about my opinion of Zachary and Karigan. I do not like them as couple, and I don’t think Zachary deserves her, or honestly truly loves her. That’s part of the reason I loved Mirror Sight so much- because Karigan got the chance to love someone, and realize that she could open her heart to someone else.

I’m excited to see how she is after the events in Mirror Sight, and to see how Estora is doing being pregnant with twins but still having to rule the realm.

Waiting for this is book is killing me!

Fantasy Friday: Lori Devoti

Hello, and welcome to another Fantasy Friday 🙂

I first read Amazon Ink by Lori Devoti in 2009, when it was released through Juno Books. I absolutely loved it. Not only was the story a different take on Urban Fantasy, but the main character was a strong female who was easy to relate to. I was so happy when the sequel, Amazon Queen, was released in 2010. The book stood on its own but had the same qualities that I loved in the first.

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BLURB:

Meet Mel: Business owner. Dedicated mom. Natural-born Amazon.

It’s been ten years since Melanippe Saka left the Amazon tribe in order to create a normal life for her daughter, Harmony. True, running a tattoo parlor in Madison, Wisconsin, while living with your Amazon warrior mother and priestess grandmother is not everyone’s idea of normal, but Mel thinks she’s succeeded at blending in as human.

Turns out she’s wrong. Someone knows all about her, someone who’s targeting young Amazon girls, and no way is Mel going to let Harmony become tangled in this deadly web. With her mother love in overdrive, Ms. Melanippe Saka is quite a force…even when she’s facing a barrage of distractions — including a persistent detective whose interest in Mel goes beyond professional, a sexy tattoo artist with secrets of his own, and a seriously angry Amazon queen who views Mel as a prime suspect. To find answers, Mel will have to do the one thing she swore she’d never do: embrace her powers and admit that you can take the girl out of the tribe…but you can’t take the tribe out of the girl.

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BLURB:

Being an Amazon ruler just became a royal pain.

Amazon queen Zery Kostovska has never questioned tribe traditions. After all, these rules have kept the tribe strong for millennia and enabled them to live undetected, even in modern-day America. Zery is tough, fair, commanding—the perfect Amazon leader.

At least, she was. A new high priestess with a penchant for secrecy and technology is threatening Zery’s rule. Plus, with the discovery of the Amazon sons, males with the same skills as their female counterparts, even Zery can’t deny that the tribe must change. But how? Some want to cooperate with the sons. Others believe brutal new leadership is needed—and are willing to kill to make it happen.

Once, Zery’s word was law. Now, she has no idea who to trust, especially with one powerful Amazon son making her question all her instincts. For Zery, tribe comes first, but the battle drawing near is unlike any she’s faced before . . . and losing might cost her both the tribe and her life.

If you haven’t had the chance to check these books out, and you want a fresh take on UF, I recommend giving them a try. I don’t think you’ll be disappointed 🙂