Friday, August 28, 2015

Blog Tour: Gaia by Karen Ann Hopkins

B&T: Welcome Karen to Books and Things! I'm attracted to a great cover. I love yours and I know Jenny (Supernatural Snark/ Seedlings Design) collaborate on the cover. How do you collaborate with her? What was essential for this book? 

Karen: I’m the same way! It’s the book’s cover that catches my eye, making me pluck it from a bookstore shelf or in the e-book format, clicking on the picture. The color theme is probably the most important element to me, followed by the scene itself. I’m drawn to covers that don’t show a person’s face, but have a vivid landscape and other details that give an instant impression about the book’s content. I love clouds—fluffy, happy ones and brooding, dark, ominous ones. There’s so much do with the sky.

Jenny Zemanek of Seedlings Design Studio has designed all my Indie covers and I can’t praise her creativity and professionalism enough. She amazes me with every single cover she creates.

When I first contact Jenny for a new cover, I have a pretty good idea about what I’m looking for. She’s a master of taking my visual wish list and turning it into reality. Embers was a difficult cover. I knew I wanted wings of some kind, but was afraid they’d look out of place or cheesy. Jenny came up with the idea of flaming wings to define Ember’s fire element in the first book. She designed the wings from scratch and I love the way the orange pops out from the creepy, dark forest scene. When it came time to design Gaia’s cover, we decided to focus on Ember’s growing earth power. It’s important to have a theme to the covers, so the reader identifies it immediately as part of a series. Jenny is brilliant at doing this, while at the same time giving each cover its own personality.

You can see the creepy, countryside elements in all of my Amish mystery books. The shading and stormy sky in Lamb to the Slaughter makes the corn look dangerous and imposing. The stark, lonely barn on the cover of Whispers from the Dead, combined with the bright blue of the winter sky and snowy landscape, convince you that something very terrible has happened there. And the old, leaning tombstones in Secrets in the Grave are eerie and pretty at the same time. The bold font Jenny used for this series immediately signals to the reader that it’s a mystery and the horse and buggy logo at the top informs you that there’s an Amish element within the story.

When I went to Jenny with a fourth book in the Temptation series, I asked her to blend the new book in with the previous three to keep continuity in the series. She did a marvelous job capturing the feel of a Temptation novel, while still making Rachel’s Deception special. The clash of the vibrant blue sky with the warm, golden grass is eye-catching, as is the troubled-looking girl. The font matched the previous books perfectly.

Developing the covers is my favorite part of publishing. I’m especially excited to begin work on TEMPEST (coming in 2016), the third book in the Wings of War series and HIDDEN IN PLAIN SIGHT (2016), the fourth book in Serenity’s Plain Secrets. I haven’t told Jenny yet, but I’m hoping to get a horse onto one of these covers.

Thank you for being a part of Gaia’s blog tour! I love to connect with readers on my Facebook page, Twitter, Instagram or at Please be on the lookout for the release of SECRETS IN THE GRAVE, the third installment in my mystery series, Serenity’s Plain Secrets, in early September! Thanks for reading!

Karen Ann Hopkins

B&T: Sweet! I cannot wait to see those upcoming covers. Jenny, get busy! LOL 

About Karen Ann Hopkins:

Karen Ann Hopkins resides in northern Kentucky with her family on a farm that boasts a menagerie of horses, goats, peacocks, chickens, ducks, rabbits, dogs and cats. Karen's main job is home schooling the kids, but she finds time to give riding lessons, coach a youth equestrian drill team, and of course, write. She was inspired to create her first book, Temptation, by the Amish community she lived in. The experiential knowledge she gained through her interactions with her neighbors drove her to create the story of the star-crossed lovers, Rose and Noah.

Karen grew up about a mile from Lake Ontario in Upstate New York. She was bitten by the horse bug at the age of five, and after diligently taking riding lessons for several years, was rewarded with her first horse when she turned eleven. The feisty horse's name was Lady, a Quarter Horse-Thoroughbred cross, who became Karen's steadfast companion. Through the years, the constant force in her life was horses. Eventually, she found her place as a riding instructor herself. Before accepting her fate in the barnyard, she worked a short stint as a paralegal, traveled abroad, and guided tourists on horseback riding tours in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee.

Karen is currently working on her Amish mystery series, Serenity's Plain Secrets, along with the YA paranormal/fantasy series, The Wings of War. Karen is also excited to announce the Temptation series has been optioned for TV by Pilgrim Studios and is available on Audible. More books in the Temptation series are in the works.

by Karen Ann Hopkins
Series: Wings of War #2
Published: 7/26/15
As the Demons grow bolder and the walls between the planes of existence weaken, Ember is forced to develop her powers as quickly as possible, and she seeks out a powerful earth Watcher to continue her supernatural lessons. Her glimpse of the future demands she fight the dark forces spreading across the earth.

But her new mentor has his own agenda, making her question everyone and everything she ever trusted.
When Ember is thrust into the world of the Watchers, she learns of their plans—ones that defy the scripture and make them enemies of the Celestial Host. Ridding the world of evil gets complicated when it becomes impossible to take sides.

As Ember struggles with morality, she soon discovers that there’s something more frightening than anything she’s faced before.

Book 1:
One lucky winner will receive a $50 gift card (Amazon, B&N, iTunes), as well as a complete set of Karen’s YA books, including Embers, Gaia, Temptation, Belonging, Forever, and Rachel’s Deception! Please enter via the Rafflecopter form. Giveaway is open internationally. Giveaway is sponsored by Kismet.

Tour Stops: (for full tour dates please goto: Gaia Tour Page)

Monday, August 24th
a Bookish Escape (Review)

Tuesday, August 25th
Behind The Pages (Guest Post)

Wednesday, August 26th

Thursday, August 27th

Friday, August 28th
Avid Reader Musings (Review/Guest Post)
Books and Things (Guest Post)

Monday, August 31st
Bewitched Bookworms (Guest Post)
Pause Time Reviews (Review/Guest Post)

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Shadows Strike by Dianne Duvall

Series: Immortal Guardians #6
320 p.
Publisher: Zebra
Published: 8/25/15
Source: From author for review
The Immortal Guardians protect the innocent in secret. Sometimes the secret gets out... 
U.S. law enforcement agent Heather Lane can read minds. But not the future. The dream of battle and blood that recurs every night must be a fluke, some obscure terror from her own mind. What its significance might be, she can’t guess: an attack from seven psychotic vampires at once, only separated from nightmare by an eighth very different immortal. A handsome, brave man fighting at her side, a man she misses when she wakes. 
Then the dream comes true. Heather is flung into a war between predators and protectors of humanity, the man from her dreams beside her again. Except now that she’s awake, she isn’t sure she can trust Ethan, or the shadow organization he represents. The U.S. military doesn’t trust either of them. But against an onslaught of evil like the one that’s coming, it will take everything they have just to survive...
My thoughts:

Ah Ethan's story! This is one of my favorite urban fantasy, paranormal romance series and I was happy to read Ethan and Heather's story. It is one that is a sort of an insta-love in a way, but the reasons were fully explained and it made sense. So, in this case it didn't bother me at all. In fact, the characters themselves explored this insta-attraction / love openly.

Ethan makes a great swoony character. He loves and appreciates strong women and Heather is a great heroine who takes to this new world with aplomb. They make a great couple and a fun one to read. Yes, there is plenty of humor with the romance in the banter between the two characters. And while you could read these books out of order, it makes more sense to get them in order. You get a better sense of the characters and the overall arc within the series. We do move further along the arc and even get new characters. Oh I do hope this series doesn't end. We have so many other immortals to explore. ;)

I don't want to say too much about this book for fear that I'll reveal more of the book than the blurb above. I will say that I give this book 5 stars and highly recommend the series to those that love PNR with a UF kick.

Don't forget to go to the author blog post HERE for some great quotes and a chance at a great prize!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Blog Tour with Giveaway: Shadows Strike by Dianne Duvall

This is a series I love and I'm so happy to be part of a great tour for the book. Tomorrow I'll have the review of this book! Now to the blogpost by Dianne Duvall! Welcome Dianne!!

Top 5 Reasons Immortal Guardians make the Best Book Boyfriends

Thank you so much for joining me today! I’m very excited to be here at Books and Things, celebrating the release of SHADOWS STRIKE, the sixth book in my Immortal Guardians series. (If you’re new to the series, don’t worry. The books can be read as stand alones. You’ll just be more familiar with the secondary characters if you read them in order.) Today I thought I would give you a little insight into my powerful Immortal Guardians by naming five reasons they make the best book boyfriends.

1. They love strong women.

“Beautiful, brave and possessed of violent tendencies.  I like her.” 
Marcus, Darkness Dawns

“Are you sure I can't talk you into leaving this old sod and running away with me? I do so love strong women. ”
Étienne, Night Reigns 

“You’re a strong, beautiful woman who knows her way around a blade.  I find that” — he drew in a deep breath as his eyes traveled over her with a heat that scorched her — “incredibly appealing.”
Étienne, Darkness Rises

“You’re beautiful, you’re smart, you think quickly in a crisis, and you kick ass.  Do you have any idea what a desirous combination that is?”
—Ethan, Shadows Strike

2. They like to laugh and tease.

Adira toddled toward Seth, touching each man’s knee on the way.

Seth bent and scooped her into his arms, kissing her cheek, then blowing raspberries in her chubby neck rolls. Giggles filled the air as she squirmed against him, leaning back and clutching him tighter all at the same time.

How he loved this baby girl.

“I don’t know about you,” Chaahk said, “but I’m feeling a little rebuffed.”

“Why,” Seth asked with a laugh, “because I didn’t blow raspberries in your neck?”

Aidan and Imhotep laughed.

Shaking his head, Chaahk motioned to Adira. “Why doesn’t she smile at us like that?”

Seth shrugged. “I’m prettier.”
Shadows Strike

3. They’re fiercely protective of those they love.

“No one will harm you, Heather,” he vowed.  “They would have to go through me first.”
She smiled.
She gave him a titillating once-over.  “You’re hot when you’re all tough and protective.”
He grinned.  “Stop tempting me.  Chris is on his way, so I need to keep my head.”
—Ethan and Heather, Shadows Strike

4. They kick ass.

Lisette gasped as Zach tore through the vampires like a tornado.

Holy sh**, he’s fast! Richart thought and took a step forward, his fascinated gaze glued to the tempest below.

It didn’t take long.

Zach stilled in the center of the pack, knees bent, blades dripping, face marbled with blood.  Seven vampires sank lifelessly to the ground, their bodies spread around him like the petals of a flower, as the virus went to work and they began to shrivel up like mummies.
Night Unbound

5. You just never know what they’re going to say.

"All right.  All right.  Settle down.  We're all glad Sarah stabbed Bastien in the ass."
Seth, Phantom Shadows

“What did you think I would do? Ask her if I could braid her hair after we gave each other facials and painted our toenails?”
Marcus, Night Reigns

“For some reason, admitting that makes me feel like a naughty school boy caught peeking up his teacher’s skirt.”
Bastien, Phantom Shadows

“I thought I felt a disturbance in the force.”
—Aidan, Shadows Strike

“I did not need to see that.  I mean I really did not need to see that.  Jenna, honey, grab one of my daggers and poke out both my eyes.”

—Richart, Night Unbound

Ah can you see why I love this series so much? Love those quotes. :D
Now for the giveaway deets and the info for the newest book:

Giveaway Details:
One winner – $50 Amazon Gift Card*
One winner – $20 Amazon Gift Card*
One winner – Signed book (winner’s choice) from author’s back list.
Just fill out the rafflecopter form below:

About the Book:
Shadows Strike
(Immortal Guardians #6)
by Dianne Duvall
Paperback/eBook, 320 pages
Expected publication: August 25th 2015 by Zebra
ISBN 1420129821

The Immortal Guardians protect the innocent in secret. Sometimes the secret gets out...

U.S. law enforcement agent Heather Lane can read minds. But not the future. The dream of battle and blood that recurs every night must be a fluke, some obscure terror from her own mind. What its significance might be, she can’t guess: an attack from seven psychotic vampires at once, only separated from nightmare by an eighth very different immortal. A handsome, brave man fighting at her side, a man she misses when she wakes.

Then the dream comes true. Heather is flung into a war between predators and protectors of humanity, the man from her dreams beside her again. Except now that she’s awake, she isn’t sure she can trust Ethan, or the shadow organization he represents. The U.S. military doesn’t trust either of them. But against an onslaught of evil like the one that’s coming, it will take everything they have just to survive...

Order Links: (it's out today!!)
Barnes & Noble -

Previous Books in the Series:
Book 1, Darkness Dawns -
Book 2, Night Reigns -
Book 3, Phantom Shadows -
Book 3.5, In Still Darkness -
Book 4, Darkness Rises -
Book 5, Night Unbound -

About the Author:

Dianne Duvall is the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author of the Immortal Guardians paranormal romance series and The Gifted Ones series. Her books have twice been nominated for the RT Reviewers' Choice Award for Best Vampire Romance and are routinely deemed Top Picks by RT Book Reviews, The Romance Reviews, and/or Night Owl Reviews. Reviewers have called Dianne's books "utterly addictive" (RT Book Reviews), "fast-paced and humorous" (Publishers Weekly), "extraordinary" (Long and Short Reviews), and "wonderfully imaginative" (The Romance Reviews).

Dianne loves all things creative. When she isn't writing, Dianne is active in the independent film industry and has even appeared on-screen, crawling out of a moonlit grave and wielding a machete like some of the vampires she has created in her books. 

For the latest news on upcoming releases, contests, and more, please visit You can also find Dianne online . . .

Giveaway and content Sponsored by:
For complete tour dates and more information and chances to win the prize go to the tour page HERE 

Friday, August 21, 2015

Audiobook Review: Eighth Grave After Dark by Darynda Jones with Crafts!

Series: Charlie Davidson #8
Narrator: Lorelei King
9 hrs.
Publisher: Audible Audio
Published: 5/19/15
Source: Library
With twelve hellhounds after her, pregnant Charley Davidson takes refuge at the only place she thinks they can’t get to her: the grounds of an abandoned convent. But after months of being cooped up there, Charley is ready to pop. Both metaphorically and literally since she is now roughly the size of a beached whale. Fortunately, a new case has captured her attention, one that involves a murder on the very grounds the team has taken shelter upon. A decades-old murder of the newly-vowed nun she keeps seeing in the shadows is almost enough to pull her out of her doldrums.

Charley's been forbidden to step foot off the sacred grounds. While the angry hellhounds can’t traverse the consecrated soil, they can lurk just beyond its borders. They have the entire team on edge, especially Reyes. And if Charley didn’t know better, she would swear Reyes is getting sick. He grows hotter with every moment that passes, his heat scorching across her skin every time he’s near, but naturally he swears he’s fine. 
While the team searches for clues on the Twelve, Charley just wants answers and is powerless to get them. But the mass of friends they’ve accrued helps. They convince her even more that everyone in her recent life has somehow been drawn to her, as though they were a part of a bigger picture all along. But the good feelings don’t last for long because Charley is about to get the surprise of her crazy, mixed-up, supernatural life….
My thoughts:
I couldn't wait to get into this book. I have the physical book, but wanted to continue it on audio since I've done all of them on audio. Luckily my library got it (with my prodding...) and so I picked up this series where I left off last. I couldn't wait to meet "Beep". :)

While this one doesn't have quite the same punch as the other, I still enjoyed my time with Charley and the gang. Oh and Reyes... need I say more? LOL This book is as humorous as the others and I frequently had a smile on my face. I had heard about this horrible twist in the end so I was nervous about the ending. However, when the twists came, I was not upset. I didn't love the twist, but I could also live with it. I think my imagination worked overtime so when the twists came, I was thinking... "is that it? Oh no problem!" :)

I give this audio 4 stars and as before I highly recommend this series on audio. If you weren't already a Lorelei King fan, this series on audio will make you one quickly.

As promised here is the other teardrop sling for the little girl on my holiday list. This one is by RLR Creations and comes in multiple sizes. This one is the small. I'm going to try a medium size next. 
Click to enlarge pic

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

On My Wishlist: The Drafter by Kim Harrison

The Drafter 
by Kim Harrison
Series: The Peri Reed Chronicles #1
432 p.
Publisher: Gallery Books
Published: 9/1/15
Detroit 2030. Double-crossed by the person she loved and betrayed by the covert government organization that trained her to use her body as a weapon, Peri Reed is a renegade on the run. 
Don’t forgive and never forget has always been Peri’s creed. But her day job makes it difficult: she is a drafter, possessed of a rare, invaluable skill for altering time, yet destined to forget both the history she changed and the history she rewrote. 
When Peri discovers her name on a list of corrupt operatives, she realizes that her own life has been manipulated by the agency. She joins forces with a mysterious rogue soldier in a deadly race to piece together the truth about her final task, unable to trust even herself.
I still need to read her other series but I so want to try this one!!
What is on your wishlist this week?