Friday, December 15, 2017

Vigilante by Summer Lane - Book Blitz + Giveaway

Vigilante
Summer Lane
(A Collapse Story)
Publication date: December 15th 2017
Genres: New Adult, Post-Apocalyptic, Romance, Thriller
I swore to protect her before I even knew her.

Now, it’s the creed I live by.

Uriah True is a dangerous man. His past is cloaked in secrecy, and he writes his future in the blood of the people he kills. After the Great Global War, he leaves the militias behind to prey on the scum that remain loyal to the cruel and tyrannical regime of the defeated enemy Omega in this dangerous and new post-apocalyptic world.
Some call him The Hunter. Some call him Death.
He calls it vengeance for what the war took from him.
Hunt, kill, repeat.
When he uncovers a plot that could bring death to the only person he’s ever loved, he’ll do anything to stop it.
Anything.
The only problem? He may already be too late.
A thrilling novel from #1 bestselling author Summer Lane, creator of the smash-hit Collapse Series, Zero Trilogy, Bravo Saga, Unbreakable Seal, and the historical romantic thriller, Running with Wolves. Vigilante is a novel


EXCERPT:
The moon shone brightly above my head. I glared at it.
It reminded me of fighting, of using moonlight to snipe. Shooting targets in the dark with Cassidy, popping rounds downrange and smelling the fresh scent of hot brass and cold dirt. Good practice and good times.
“Got any gum?” Cassidy asked.
“Yeah. But it’ll cost you,” I replied.
“Seriously? You can’t let go of capitalism for even one second?”
There was amusement in her voice. I held the piece of gum between my fingers for a moment. She made a move for it, and I backed away.
“Predictable,” I said.
“Then show me how to bring a man down,” she replied.
“You already know how to do that. You’ve got a rifle.”
“I want to know how to do it without a rifle. With my bare hands.”
“That’s optimistic of you.”
She was strong—agility and speed packed into a slender body, all lean, tough muscle. She would have been a good cop, I guess. Of course, they said the same thing about me, and look what happened.
“I’ll teach you,” I agreed. “But first, the price for gum.”
Gum. It was stupid. Even gum was a precious commodity now. I was down to my last pack.
“All right. Name it,” she huffed, rolling her eyes.
A kiss. That was what I wanted. To pull her to me and hold her body against mine and feel, even for a moment, that I deserved to be loved by someone like her.
I hesitated for too long. She blinked, slowly, and I knew she could read my mind.
She always could.
“You can keep it,” she said, brushing off my solemn stare. “Whatever.”
I tossed the gum to her. She caught it, neatly. No hesitation. Pure reflex.
“Thanks, partner.”
She was relieved: I could see it in her face. She had been afraid I would try to kiss her. That wasn’t allowed. She knew it and I knew it, but the desire was there, and I wasn’t the only one who felt it. Not by a longshot. That was what scared her the most…and nobody knew her better than I did.
“Got your six,” I murmured.
Memories. They’re fatal. You can’t get away from them.

Author Bio:
Summer Lane is the #1 bestselling author of 19 hit books, including the Collapse Series and hotly anticipated Resurrection Series. She owns Writing Belle Publishing and Writing Belle Magazine. She is also an experienced journalist and creative writing instructor. Summer lives in California with her husband, Scott, and their German Shepherd, Kona.


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Rock King by Tara Leigh - Cover Reveal



Title: Rock King (Nothing But Trouble, Book 1) 
Author: Tara Leigh 
Genre: Contemporary Romance / Rockstar Romance 
Release Date: February 20, 2018 
Cover Designer: Forever Romance 


Fans of Kristen Callihan and Kylie Scott will scream for this sizzling bad boy rock star romance!
I'm not who you think I am.
Shane Hawthorne has it all. At least, that's what the headlines say about me. I have millions of fans, awards, more money - and women - than I know what to do with. But what you don't see is the wreckage I've caused. The memories and pain I can't escape, even when I pour them into music and spin them into gold.
I tried to forget. To lose myself in booze and groupies. It didn't work. It hurt me and - worse - it hurt my band. That's the last thing I want to do, so I'm cleaning up my act... starting with Delaney Fraser.
Gorgeous, smart, drama-free, and even nice - Delaney is the perfect "girlfriend." When I'm with her I don't have to pretend. It's like she sees the real me. And I can see a future with her. But that's dangerous. Because the truth is, Shane Hawthorne doesn't actually exist. He's a shield to hide who I really am. Fraud. Runaway. Addict. Murderer.
And it's impossible to love a lie, right?
The Nothing but Trouble series:
Rock King 
Rock Legend 
Rock Rebel


Maybe tonight I would meet my next girlfriend. Someone contractually obligated to be by my side at every show and party, every press junket and photo op. Someone with me day and night, pretty enough I wouldn’t mind the view. Someone with a fun-loving personality, who knew better than to actually fall in love with me.
I’ve done a lot of stupid things in my life, but that was a line I had yet to cross. A line so far in the distance it wasn’t even a smudge on the horizon. And I wasn’t heading it its direction anytime soon. Preferably never.
Love was the one luxury I couldn’t afford.
Assuming I felt a spark of connection with one of the women at Travis’s house tonight, he would lock her into a nondisclosure so tight the press would never find out that she was just an employee, a prop. That our relationship was fake.
What she wouldn’t know, what no one except Travis knew, was that we would have something in common.
Because everything about me is fake.
Shane Hawthorne, resident King of Rock n’ Roll and the cause of dripping panties everywhere, from shrieking tweens to bored housewives, is a sham. More myth than man.
Shane Hawthorne doesn’t exist. He’s the stage name I used for the first time at sixteen, expecting to be hauled off by a pair of cops if I so much as breathed my real name.
Sometimes I’ve wondered what my fans would think if they knew the truth. Would I still be hailed as People magazine’s Sexiest Man Alive if anyone knew who I really was?
Who am I? I don’t even know anymore. 
Fraud. 
Runaway. 
Addict. 
Murderer. 
Not so sexy now, am I?


Tara Leigh attended Washington University in St. Louis and Columbia Business School in New York, and worked on Wall Street and Main Street before “retiring” to become a wife and mother. When the people in her head became just as real as the people in her life, she decided to put their stories on paper. Tara currently lives in Fairfield County, Connecticut with her husband, children and fur-baby, Pixie.



Erotic Romance Books by Various Authors - Book Blitz + Giveaway

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Snowdrift by Debra Erfert - Book Blitz + Giveaway







"Debra ""DJ"" Erfert, a winner of a 2017 Kindle Scout campaign, has authored five published novels, three novellas, and one Kindle World’s novella, and several short stories. She writes what her alter-ego dictates. Maybe it’s her super-ego. In her Window of Time series, Lucy is fearless and strong and has a secret power—all qualities Debra envies. In real life, spiders terrify her, which is why they appear on a regular basis in her books. “Confront your fears, and have your characters squish them!” 


Debra uses the pen name DJ Erfert for her paranormal suspense/thriller books, and Debra Erfert for her romantic suspense/mystery books. She is an award-winning fine artist who lives in a southwest desert city in Arizona with her husband, Mike, a retired police lieutenant, where the average summer temperatures are well above 100 degrees—truly hot enough to fry an egg on the sidewalk. After raising two Eagle Scouts, she now spends her time writing and shooing her polydactyl cats away from her keyboard."


Connect with the Author here: 
Blog ~ Website ~ Amazon ~





Artist Abigail Carson crashes off the deserted
highway during a Wyoming blizzard while driving to reach her dying mother.
Carbon County Sheriff Jackson Reynolds rescues her, leaving her Jeep in the
snowdrift as the storm becomes a whiteout. They’re trapped at his ranch for the
week leading up to Christmas, along with his two young daughters, a protective
mother-in-law, and a bitter memory of his dead wife. 

Tensions rise as Abby’s attraction grows for the tough
sheriff. She must crack through his emotional wall before the storm breaks or
lose her only chance for real love. But if the storm doesn't stop soon enough,
Abby may lose her opportunity to ask her mother's forgiveness for running away
almost ten years before.



Snowdrift is a story about love, faith, and
forgiveness."



~ Amazon ~ iTunesKobo ~ B&N ~






Snippet: 

“Where
is the road, Daddy?”



Abby
pulled the blanket up higher around Kathy’s shoulders. She had her sitting on
her lap and they sat next to Jack in the front seat of the sleigh.



“I
watch for landmarks, sweetheart.” Jack pointed with his left hand, still with
the reins intertwined in his fingers. “See those trees lined up in a row?”



“Uh-huh.”
Kathy nodded her knit cap-covered head.



“Do
you remember those are apple trees and they grow just off the side of the
road?”



“Yes,”
Beth said from the seat behind them. “I remember, Daddy! We stop there, and you
pick apples without Mrs. Nesbit knowing about it.”



Abby
grinned over at Jack and waited for him to deny his thievery


.
“Mrs.
Albenia Nesbit will be eighty-five-years old this coming New Year’s Day.” Jack
glanced at Abby. “Beanie’s been widowed for six years now. For the first two of
those years she let her apples rot in the orchard.”



“But
why?” Abby quickly asked.



Jack
continued. “I found out later, when I did a welfare check on her, that she
didn’t have the money to hire any hands to pick her fruit, and she wasn’t
physically able to do any of the picking herself.”



“Why
didn’t she ask her neighbors for help?” Grace asked.



“Good
question,” Abby said, holding Kathy closer.



“I
asked her that, since I was her closest neighbor. I watched her face blossom
pink, but she said that she couldn’t ask. She didn’t think she deserved any
help, since she never helped anyone else.”



“Oh,”
Abby said softly. “And this justifies you stealing her apples?”



Jack
grinned. “Let me finish, please.” He snapped the reins once. “Get up there!” He
captured Abby’s glare. “Southern Wyoming isn’t conducive to growing apples in
the first place, but her orchard took hold and she gets a fairly good yield. To
this day, Beanie doesn’t know who harvests her small orchard every year,
leaving over a hundred bushels of the most beautiful apples in her front yard,
and also for the tax deduction she gets for the additional hundred bushels she
donates to the Rawlins homeless mission.”



Abby
couldn’t keep the tears from blurring her vision. Listening to Jack’s story was
more romantic than watching a chick-flick. “You?”



“Not
just me, but three other ranchers in the area meet together for a week while
our wives keep her busy and away from her windows.” Jack laughed. “She still
has no idea who her fairy god-harvesters are.”



“You’re
a good man, Jack Reynolds,” Abby said quietly.



“And
probably quite selfish.”



“Huh?”


“Beanie
had all those apples at once, so she began to cook. If you’ve notice in our
pantry, we have shelves of home canned apple butter.”



“Yes.”


“Beanie
supplies the whole area with her homemade apple butter, but she also makes the
most delicious pies, which she calls upon me to help her deliver to her
neighbors.” Jack nodded. “In these past four years she’s done more community
service than in all the years before her husband passed away, including getting
involved with the mission serving dinners at holidays.”



Abby
breathed heavily, watching her breath escape in a burst of mist from between
her lips. Laying her cheek gently against Kathy’s head, she gazed at the
landscape passing by, thinking about the love it took to do secret good works
for a neighbor without expecting anything in return. The canned apple butter
was incidental. Abby had a feeling he’d do it without the promise of anything
in return. After all that was how it had started.





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Intergalactic Dating Agency Series by Susan Hayes - Book Blitz + Giveaway

BLURB

Joran
What do you do when your planet runs out of women? Send for takeout, of
course.
Joran, Crown Prince of Pyros, needs to claim his mate in order to ascend to the
throne one day. The problem? His destined mate isn’t on Pyros.
When a galaxy-wide search uncovers a backwater world full of potential mates
for Joran and the other unmated males on his planet, plans are set in motion and
Star-Crossed Dating is created. Now, the first wave of men are on their way to
claim their unsuspecting brides. Joran’s mission: Go to Earth, claim his mate
and bring her back to Pyros. How hard could it be?
This book contains a redheaded barista who doesn’t believe in aliens, and a
prince who is used to getting anything he wants without having to work for it...
until now.



Vadir
What do you do when your planet runs out of women? Send for takeout, of
course.
Vadir has a business empire to run and no time to spare on frivolous endeavors.
So how did he wind up on the far side of the galaxy to claim a mate he never
signed up for? A matchmaking queen and a royal decree, that’s how.
His plan is simple: meet the female, negotiate terms, and leave the primitive
planet of Earth as fast as he can. What could possibly go wrong?
This book contains a bohemian blonde with a hell of a right hook, and an
interstellar tycoon who is about to learn that the best things in life can’t be bought
or sold, they have to be won.



Kash
What do you do when your planet runs out of women? Send for takeout, of
course.
Kash knows he’ll never be allowed to claim a mate. A lifetime of military service
has left him too battle-scarred and broken to be considered for the off-world
mating project his rulers have created to save their people.
His job is to make sure the more fortunate males get to Earth to retrieve their
mates. All he has to do is pilot the ship, stay undetected, and keep an eye on
things from orbit. It should be the easiest mission of his career...until he lays
eyes on the one thing he never expected to find. His mate.
This book contains a hopeful romantic who is giving up hope, and a soldier who
is about to discover that love doesn’t obey orders, and it can’t be bound by rules.




Buy here 
All links are in Book Order Joran, Vadir, Kash

Amazon



B&N

iTunes

Kobo

Google Play


 

EXCERPTS

Joran
“I read your profile. You’re rich. And you have a job that ensures everyone around you has to do as you say. Your life is very different from mine.”
He stopped walking, perplexed by her response. Most females he’d met liked him because of who he was, and what he could provide them with.  “I’m rich, yes. Why do you say that like it’s a bad thing?”
Shadows darkened her eyes, the effect enhanced by the fact the sun vanished behind a fast moving band of dark clouds at the same moment.
“We’re going to get caught in that rain squall if we don’t move it.” She said.
“Not until you answer my question.”
She glowered at him and yanked her hand out of grasp. “My parents had money. Then my dad died, and that all went away. Being rich didn’t protect us. People like you all share that same belief that somehow your money and influence will protect you. You live in your glass towers and look down on the rest of us, but the truth is you’re as vulnerable to rocks as everyone else.”
“Are rocks a common problem on this planet? Is there a threat from asteroids?” He didn’t mean to say any of that out loud, but her declaration had him confused and irritated.
“It’s an expression. You know, people who live in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. And what do you mean, on this planet? What other planets are there?”

Vadir
The dark alley Lisa had been standing in was gone. Hell, she wasn’t even outside anymore. Wherever they were, it was warm, dry, and brightly lit. Stark white walls curved in a semi-circle behind them, forming a small alcove. Beyond she could see a console full of instruments and two seats. It looked a bit like an airplane cockpit.
Overwhelmed by the number of things she couldn’t explain, she focused on the one thing she could deal with: Vadir.
She jammed her feet against one curved wall of the alcove and shoved as hard as she could. It was enough to loosen his hold, and she pressed her advantage. She pushed, kicked and twisted until he finally released her, though he was careful enough that she landed on her feet instead of falling into a heap on the floor.
“What was that? What did you do to me? And where the hell are we?” She demanded, waving her hands around her in wild gestures. She knew she was losing it, and she really didn’t care.
“That was a short-range teleportation. I brought you to my ship where we can talk without interruption.”
“As much as I wish it were otherwise, teleportation is not a real thing.” She poked her index finger into the rock-hard planes of his chest. “Try again. And this time don’t use any words you learned from watching Star Trek or Harry Potter.”
He captured her hand in his, pinning it to his chest. “This is real. We’re on my ship, the Redshift 7. We got here by teleporting. You’re my true mate, and I’m here to negotiate an agreement with you and then take you back to Pyros with me.”

Kash
“What did you treat it—“ he stopped talking as his hand cradled hers and a cobalt-blue spark arced from his hand to hers.
“Did you see that spark? It didn’t hurt, but it was so bright!”
“I saw it. Very strange.” That might be the biggest understatement of his life. He had just experienced the Spark; a sign from the Gods that this female was his true mate. It wasn’t merely strange, it was incomprehensible. He didn’t have permission to claim a human female. Flames, he wasn’t even supposed to be on this damned planet.
“What were you asking me a moment ago? Did you want to know what I treated the burn with?” Gwen asked.
He looked at the small blisters and reddened skin of her fingers. It had to be uncomfortable. He didn’t like the idea of his mate being in pain. “I did. These still look painful.”
“It’s not that bad.” She dismissed his concern with another shake of her head. “I soaked my hand in cold water and dressed it with aloe vera gel. From the plant over there. I’ll be fine.”
His mate had treated her injury with plant sap? Unacceptable. He ignored the outraged voice. She wasn’t his mate. She couldn’t be. It was forbidden.

 

AUTHOR BIO

Susan lives out on the Canadian west coast surrounded by open water, dear
family, and good friends. She’s jumped out of perfectly good airplanes on
purpose and accidently swum with sharks on the Great Barrier Reef.
If the world ends, she plans to survive as the spunky, comedic sidekick to the
heroes of the new world, because she’s too damned short and out of shape to
make it on her own for long.


Author website and social media links



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All Systems Down by Sam Boush - Cover Reveal


Thriller
Date Published: 8 February 2018

 photo add-to-goodreads-button_zpsc7b3c634.png

24 hours.
That’s all it takes. 
A new kind of war has begun. 

Pak Han-Yong’s day is here. An elite hacker with Unit 101 of the North Korean military, he’s labored for years to launch Project Sonnimne: a series of deadly viruses set to cripple Imperialist infrastructure.


And with one tap of his keyboard, the rewards are immediate. 


Brendan Chogan isn’t a hero. He’s an out-of-work parking enforcement officer and one-time collegiate boxer trying to support his wife and children. But now there’s a foreign enemy on the shore a blackout that extends across America, and an unseen menace targeting him.


Brendan must do whatever it takes to keep his family safe. 


In the wake of the cyber attacks, electrical grids fail, satellites crash to earth, and the destinies of nine strangers collide.
Strangers whose survival depends upon each other’s skills and courage.


For fans of REVOLUTION, Tom Clancy, and Thom Stark’s MAY DAY, ALL SYSTEMS DOWN is a riveting cyber war thriller which presents a threat so credible you’ll be questioning reality. 



Excerpt



The sun rising over the Yalu River was the best part of Pak Han-yong’s day.

It began with darkness. In the distance, on the far side of the river, his homeland lay swaddled in unbreaking night. The fields and the factories, the port and the mills all slept. Then the horizon would lighten, from black to blue to gold, and the three faraway smokestacks appeared from the port city of SinĒ”iju; first as silhouettes, then as gray fists, casting long shadows.

Next, the sun. Crimson light burned at the edges of red pine forests and reflected off the rice paddies. River, land, and air awoke to the glory of the Supreme Leader and the world’s chosen people. Tears sprung, as they always did, as light brought his beloved North Korea to life.

He observed it all from his desk on the tenth floor of the Shanghai Hotel in Dandong, China, across the border from the land of his ancestors.

China. After two years, Han-yong still had trouble internalizing the wealth of this nation. The Chinese lived in skyscrapers, profligate buildings of steel and glass. So different from his home city of Chongjin, where families lived modestly in single-story “harmonica homes,” so named because of their resemblance to the tiny boxes that make up the chambers of a harmonica.

On Fuchun Street, ten stories below, cars bustled. Unnecessary, extravagant. In Chongjin, nearly everyone was content to ride a bicycle or take public transit. And when they did drive, his people didn’t smoke like the Chinese. If you smoked, you wouldn’t catch the constant engine problems of your soviet-made Volga or ZIL.

Even from thirty meters above, it was apparent how the well-fed Chinese had been made soft by water that flowed reliably and electricity that ran all day. Food here wasn’t rationed by the gram. No one in China grew strong and clever from struggle and strain. There were no hardships here. And for that, he despised the Chinese, military allies or not.

“Long live the Shining Sun of North Korea,” he said. These people aren’t better than us. We have nothing to envy in the world. He lowered himself into the seat of his desk, rearranged his mouse so it squared perfectly with his keyboard, took a final sip of tea, and continued to monitor the attack that had started hours earlier.

Today, Han-yong fell into his routine, despite the enormity of the day’s events. Routine was the scaffolding that held his life together. He had woken in the earliest hours, barely speaking to his five roommates in the converted hotel room, had slipped into his pressed uniform, and spit-polished the single silver star on his shoulder. Then, after quickly wiping dust from the portrait of the Supreme Leader that hung alone on the wall, he’d moved to the common area to drink his tea and work until sunrise.

Two years of waiting, and today it has finally begun. He rubbed his hands together. Every day Han-yong worked here, visited the canteen, and bunked in his room. He rarely slept more than five hours. And never, in those two years, had he left the tenth floor of the Shanghai Hotel.

For all the differences between China and North Korea, there was only one that mattered, and it was why Han-yong was here at all. The Internet. On the North Korean side of the river, the global Internet, for all practical purposes, did not exist. There was a limited internal network that pointed to a handful of websites. But North Korea had fewer Internet protocol addresses in the whole country than could be found on a block in some Imperialist cities.

Here in China, though, the Internet reached nearly every corner of the globe. And because of that, Han-yong and the other elite hackers of Unit 101 could touch a banking system in London, a hospital network in New York City, or a data center in Tokyo.

“Junior Lieutenant Pak!” The gruff voice of the senior lieutenant shattered Han-yong’s reverie and brought him spinning from the window, springing to his feet, fingertips raised to eyebrow in salute. “You are to come with me.”

The senior lieutenant was very different from Han-yong. He was loud and assertive, tall by North Korean standards, and good-looking enough that he probably did well with women when he took leave—an amenity provided only to senior officers. But, most grating, he was a traditional military officer, untrained in online warfare, and knew just enough to stick his fingers where they didn’t belong.

Still, there was nothing to do but obey.

They waded the corridors in silence, past the desks where scores of other hackers from his unit sat immersed in a war that had begun with an attack on an Imperialist supercarrier only hours earlier. As Han-yong sauntered through the ranks of Unit 101, his pulse quickened with pride. They were the elite, plucked from grade school from across the country and enrolled in Command Automation University in Pyongyang. They had trained with the singular focus of learning to hack into secure enemy networks. They had become warriors. Instead of tanks or drones, their weapons were in code. They had mastered digital viruses, worms, the dedicated denial of service attack, trapdoors, and botnets. They had simulated cyber war amongst themselves and infiltrated foreign targets. At every stage, they had been tested and evaluated, and only the most gifted had come to wear the uniform.

The senior lieutenant stopped the door that led to the stairwell. “The colonel has ordered a meeting with you,” he said, one hand placed haughtily on his hip, not bothering to meet Han-yong’s eyes. He’d assumed the pose of a Manchurian guerrilla fighter from the war movies. “You will speak when spoken to and answer all inquiries in full.”

Han-yong couldn’t help himself. “Sir, what inquiries?”

“About the interconnect logic bombs,” the senior lieutenant snapped, unlocking the door. The stairwell beyond was devoid of decoration, except for a creamy swirl on the vinyl tile, like the pattern on the lid of a paint can. “Hurry now.” And he started up the stairs, feet tapping a marching rhythm.

The Imperialists of North America had many weaknesses, but Han-yong had been ordered to focus on the power grid. The system was a relic of the 1960s, set up with no thoughts for security, but instead as a way to balance the supply and demand for electrical power across vast swaths of territory. In their arrogance, the Americans had organized just five power-grid interconnections across the entire country, electrically tied together and operating at the same frequency.

While it may have so far proven a sufficient way to balance loads—power companies with little demand could transfer electricity to areas with greater demand—the reality was that a single significant disturbance could collapse all of the systems tied to the interconnection. And Han-yong did not have the means to cause just a single disturbance.

He had the means to cause thousands.

The project was code-named Sonnimne, after the smallpox gods of Korean mythology that long ago crossed the Yalu River. It was both a nod to the new pestilence they would unleash and a reference to how the plague had already spread in secret, machine to machine, substation to substation.

Han-yong had planted logic bombs—malware that could be triggered in response to an event—in substations across the United States. It had taken months of steadfast work. The difficulty was writing the combustible code within a Trojan application in a way that was at once difficult to detect, easy to spread, and powerful once deployed. While the wait and the work had been excruciating, the payoff would be enormous. And imminent.

They reached the top of the stairs, and the senior lieutenant produced a key to open the gray-painted industrial steel door. The eleventh floor was reserved for high-ranking officers, their quarters, and computer servers that required additional security.

Sweat beaded on Han-yong’s brow. The colonel ranked just three steps below a general, and was likely the most senior military official Han-yong would ever speak to in his career. A slipup here might find him dishonored and discharged, or eating rats in a reeducation camp.

They rounded the first corner through the carpeted corridor, where Han-yong noticed, with more than a little satisfaction, that the smell of mildew pervaded every bit as strongly as in the floor where the junior officers worked. The senior lieutenant pulled up short in front of a door with a brass room number in the Western style. Before they could knock, a man inside bellowed, “Junior Lieutenant Pak Han-yong. Come in. Come in.”

The voice was not what he’d expected. Friendly. Jovial, even. Han-yong poked his chin through the doorway.

Nothing about the scene that greeted them was as he had imagined. The hotel suite was gaudy by North Korean standards. The walls, which should have been bare except for the requisite photograph of the Supreme Leader, were decorated with paintings of mountains and birds in a style that Han-yong vaguely recognized as Japanese.

The room was not sleeping quarters, but an office far larger than the room Han-yong shared with the other soldiers. At the center of the space, a heavy-grain oak desk displayed unrecognizable artifacts: three swords on a wooden rack, an unfolded fan with red tassels and a painted orange sun, a clay jar in the shape of a boar, and a half-dozen other oddities that Han-yong had never seen. They were beautiful, and he felt guilty for admiring the work of foreigners.

The colonel himself was also a surprise. A crisp military uniform did nothing to hide his bulk. No one Han-yong had ever met carried more than a few pounds of extra weight. How could they, when even prison guards and soldiers, who received the best rations in the country, still lived off just enough to fill their bellies?

“Junior Lieutenant,” the colonel began, leaning back in his chair, “your commanding officer tells me we are ready to move forward with project Sonnimne. And I understand that you have implanted code throughout the US system of interconnects?”

“Not exactly, sir.” Han-yong hesitated, unsure of how much technical detail to provide. “I created a zero-day exploit. A new kind of virus, sir. It uses entirely original code.” The colonel raised an eyebrow. “That means it can’t be detected by malware filters,” Han-yong continued. “The virus triggered a patch update in the operating systems of the high-voltage distribution facilities and spread throughout.”

The colonel inclined forward, his chair squealing under the weight. “What do you mean by ‘spread throughout?’ How many facilities have the virus?”

Han-yong paused, careful to give the correct information. “All of them, sir. All of the distribution facilities in the United States now have the virus.”

The senior lieutenant let out a dry cough. Otherwise, for several seconds no one moved or spoke. Han-yong shifted his weight between feet.

“But … that must be thousands,” the colonel said.

A trickle of sweat trickled down Han-yong’s brow toward his eye, but he ignored it. “Yes, sir. There are over nine thousand electric-generating facilities and over three-hundred thousand kilometers of high-voltage lines spread between them. These substations alone carry seventy percent of the most-hated nation’s electricity. They all have the virus.” The sweat droplet fell into his eye. He blinked it away.

“Do you mean to say that we have a virus that can wipe out seventy percent of the American electrical grid?”

“No, sir. When the majority of the US power grid goes down, the lower-voltage lines won’t be able to sustain the added load volume. They will topple under the stress. This virus will wipe out one-hundred percent of the American electrical grid.”

The colonel’s mouth hung open as if he were about to speak, but couldn’t, while the senior lieutenant wore a self-satisfied smirk that reminded Han-yong of a least weasel with a bellyful of stolen eggs.

The colonel’s jaw tightened below a layer of fat. “If the virus is dispersed so completely, then why has nothing happened? The lights are still on in the West.”

Now it was the senior lieutenant’s turn to explain. “The virus has two stages. The first is the spreading stage, which is only recently complete. The second stage is activation, when the logic bombs that have been hidden in the code will deploy. We are ready to deploy that on your order, sir. Today, if desired. Along with the hundreds of other attacks Unit 101 has prepared.”

Han-yong nodded, proud that his efforts fit so well with the whole. Each team member had his own projects designed to attack global enemies; separate and equally deadly projects to take out Imperialist infrastructure. Some cyber soldiers had built malware to disable railways. Some had built code to choke airline traffic. Still others had built viruses to cripple the Imperialist military communications.

“At your command, we can activate the logic bombs with a keystroke,” the senior lieutenant continued. “The virus will cause the power grid to overheat and self-immolate. I have no way of knowing how long it would take to repair, but every time the Americans try to rebuild the lines, we can bring them down again.”

At that, the colonel laughed heartily, the fat of his jowls jiggling with mirth. “You both are too young to appreciate the irony in what we are about to do. You see, when the Soviet Union collapsed decades ago, our system also faltered. The subsidies that had sustained us fell away, and our power plants rusted into disuse. Our streets went dark. And many of our cities are still without power, as you know. The fatherland is still in the dark.”

Han-yong nodded. All too well, he knew of the humiliations his countrymen had suffered under the sanctions of their enemies.

“But our time has come,” the colonel continued. “Like the thousand-li horse, we are too swift to be mounted, too elegant to be cowed. At last, it has all come together. The fight has only begun, and already the enemy falters. So now we will strike at the heart. Today we will lash out with this and everything we have. This is our chance to repay, blindness for blindness, a world that sent us into blackness.”



About the Author


Sam has worked as a wildland firefighter, journalist, and owner of a mid-sized marketing agency. Though he’s lived in France and Spain, his heart belongs to Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his wife, Tehra, two wonderful children, and a messy cat that keeps them from owning anything nice.


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Thursday, December 14, 2017

Beauty and Beastly by Melanie Karsak - Book Blitz + Giveaway

Beauty and Beastly: Steampunk Beauty and the Beast
Melanie Karsak
(Steampunk Fairy Tales)
Publication date: December 6th 2017
Genres: Adult, Fairy Tales, Steampunk
In this tale as old as time, Isabelle Hawking must tinker a solution to a heartbreaking mystery.
When Isabelle Hawking and her papa set out from London on a sea voyage, Isabelle is thrilled. Visiting foreign courts, learning from master tinkers, and studying mechanicals is her dream. And it doesn’t hurt that the trip also offers Isabelle an escape from her overbearing and unwanted suitor, Gerard LeBoeuf.
But Isabelle never arrives. Swept up in a tempest, her ship is lost.
Isabelle survives the storm only to be shipwrecked on a seemingly-deserted island. The magical place, dotted with standing stones, faerie mounds, and a crumbling castle, hints of an ancient past. Isabelle may be an unwilling guest, but her arrival marks a new beginning for the beastly residents of this forgotten land.
See how NY Times bestselling author Melanie Karsak puts a steampunk spin on the classic Beauty and the Beast fairy tale.


EXCERPT:
“Hello? Is anyone there?”
The sky overhead darkened, and in the distance, I heard the rumble of thunder.
Oh no. No, no, no.
I looked up at the sky. My head swam.
I needed to find shelter.
I turned to go back to the path, but when I did so, I didn’t see the path, nor the ring of mushrooms, nor anything else vaguely familiar.
Once more, the sky rumbled.
I felt the first of the raindrops on my head, but luckily, the thick leaves overhead sheltered me somewhat. As the storm rolled in, the forest grew dark.
I cast a glance around.
It didn’t matter which direction I went. Eventually I would find the shore once more.
Turning to head out, however, I spotted a bluish colored light in the distance. A house? A fire? A lantern? A…something.
“Hello?”
No reply.
Turning, I followed the bluish glow. I headed deeper into the forest, chasing after the light, but soon found its source. It was a mushroom. The glowing mushroom had been sitting on a rise. It had played a trick on my mind. Then I spotted another glowing fungus, then another, and another, all of which held an incandescent blue light. They grew in a straight line. Without a better recourse, and feeling half suspicious of the supernatural, I followed the glow of the blue mushrooms as the rain pattered overhead, the sky rumbling. I followed the blue lights deep into the ancient woods, aware that I was passing other sacred rings. I walked past a mound of earth, a barrow, the final resting place of some ancient person—and some said a passageway to the Otherworld—as I hurried deeper into the woods. Surely I would find the shoreline soon.
Lightning cracked overhead.
Then, on the horizon, I saw golden light. A fire? I squinted my eyes, trying to make out the shape through the trees, but my head ached miserably. Leaning heavily against my staff, I moved toward the golden colored light.
The forest thinned. The glowing mushrooms led me onward toward the glow of the yellow light in the distance. Praying to find someone—anyone—I followed along, well aware that my quick exertion had my stomach rolling. Black spots wriggled before my eyes. The line of mushrooms ended. To my shock, I’d blundered to the center of the island and found myself standing outside the gates of a castle.
I gazed up at the enormous structure. It towered over me, a black silhouette on the horizon. Light glowed through one of the windows in the upper floors. It was raining in earnest now. Not waiting a moment longer, I pushed the gate. It swung open with a creak.
It was pouring.
I leaned my walking staff against a metal bench in the perfectly manicured garden, then grabbing my skirts, I ran for the castle door. As I rushed, lightning flashed. It created an odd illusion on the bushes and flowers around me. For a moment, they all seemed to glimmer like metal under the bright light.
My temples pounded. My stomach rolled. I raced through the heavy rain to the castle door.
Hoping whoever was at home would forgive me for letting myself in, I pushed open the castle door and crept inside.
The place was eerily silent.
“Hello?” I called. “Is anyone here?”
Breathing deeply and quickly, I realized the moment I stopped that I was not well.
I cast a glance toward a roaring fireplace nearby. A chair was seated before the hearth, a glass of something dark sitting beside the seat. I heard a strange clicking sound.
“Hello?” I called again, but this time, my head began to spin. I put my hands on my hips, trying to catch my breath. I closed my eyes. Everything was twirling.
Footsteps approached.
“I-I’m sorry I let myself in but…” I began then opened my eyes.
Standing before me was a massive automaton, its silver eyes staring coldly at me.
A nauseous feeling swept over me, and my head swam. Black spots danced before my eyes.
“Pardon me. I think I’m about to—”
Faint.
But the word was lost.
And so was I.


Author Bio:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Melanie Karsak is the author of The Airship Racing Chronicles, The Harvesting Series, The Burnt Earth Series, The Celtic Blood Series and Steampunk Fairy Tales. A steampunk connoisseur, zombie whisperer, and heir to the iron throne, the author currently lives in Florida with her husband and two children. She is an Instructor of English at Eastern Florida State College.

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