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Blog Tour: Moon Chosen Excerpt!


Moon Chosen: Tales of a New World by PC Cast

CREDIT: From Moon Chosen by PC Cast. Copyright © 2016 by the authors and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.

Mari braced herself, and as she had so many times before, felt her mother stiffen while energy surged through Leda and into Mari, sizzling through her palm, down her arm to swirl around and around inside her, growing in power with each second that passed. Mari’s heartbeat began to hammer and her breathing suddenly increased until she was panting as hard as was the pup. In her arms, Rigel whined uncertainly.

“Focus.” Her mother’s voice was only a whisper, but Mari could feel it through her whole body. “You can do this. The power is not yours to keep – your body is merely its channel. Borrow serenity from the image of the Earth Mother. Though you may be surrounded by chaos or sickness or injuries, find the true you within. Release that which belongs to the world –fears, worry, sadness, so that the silver stream may wash unimpeded through you. It is a waterfall at night. Rigel is the basin that must hold it.”

Mari stared at the beautiful image of the Earth Mother that Leda pruned and cared for so lovingly. But, as always, the figure was only foliage and art to Mari. She couldn’t feel the divine presence her mother revered. She could not find her true self – her center. “Mama, I c-can’t. It’s s-so c-cold. It- it hurts.” Mari stuttered through chattering teeth.

“Only because the healing power is not meant for you. Release the fears of your body, Mari. Focus! Find your grounding and become a channel for the moon’s energy. Tonight you must succeed. If you do not, your Rigel will surely die.”

Her mother’s words exploded through Mari’s body. “No! He can’t die. I won’t let him.” She gritted her teeth against the cold and tried to focus past the pain – to release the cacophony of emotions that swirled through her body unimpeded – and to be the channel for the moonfall of water. Yet, still the power was a whirlpool within her. It terrified Mari and threatened to suck her down to drown in its freezing depths.

This was when she usually failed. This was when she dropped her mother’s hand and allowed sickness to claim her so that she vomited, dry heaving misery and moonlight while Leda stroked her back, consoling her with calm, loving words that reminded Mari there would be a next time – she would do better the next time.

But there was no next time for Rigel, and Mari refused to lose him. Think! Focus!

“Mari, slow your breathing. Calm your heart. This is no longer practice. You either heal Rigel, or fail and he dies from shock and blood loss. This is your reality.”

“That’s it, Mama! I need to make this my reality!” Mari squeezed her eyes closed. Could that be the answer? Could it really be that simple? Mari imagined that she was in their burrow, alone, sitting at her desk preparing to create a sketch. Her gulping breath slowed. Her hammering heart quieted. Mari found her grounding as she envisioned a blank sheet of paper. On that paper her imagination began to quickly, easily, sketch an image of herself, sitting crossed-legged with Rigel spread across her lap. From above her silver light cascaded into her lifted palm, washing through her body in a glistening wave to spout from her other palm, which was pressed against the pup’s bloody chest. Eyes still tightly shut Mari worked on the scene, creating a picture of Rigel’s body that was washed clean of blood by the liquid light, leaving behind wounds that were neatly closed and already healing.

Suddenly the cold tide within Mari was controllable. Instead of drowning her, it used her as a conduit, passing through her harmlessly as she let go of the energy. I’m doing it! I’m doing it! And just that quickly her concentration shattered. The picture she’d been creating disappeared along with the tide of power within her.

“No! No! Get it back! I was doing it – it was working,” Mari gasped, gripping her mother’s hand like a lifeline.
“It’s too late. The sun is fully risen. Even with your help I cannot call the moon back to me,” Leda knelt beside Mari, gently disentangling her daughter’s hand from hers. “But it was enough. You did it, sweet girl. I knew you could. Praise the Earth Mother and the blessed Moon! You have saved him.”

Feeling dizzy and disconnected, Mari looked down at Rigel. The pup wagged his tail animatedly and sat up, licking her face. Even though she felt light-headed, she laughed weakly and put her arms around him. He nested there, curled against her body and, sending her waves of contentment, Rigel fell sound to sleep in her arms. With a trembling hand, Mari brushed aside the blood-matted fur on his chest. What had only moments before been deep, seeping, whip-like lacerations were now pink lines of newly joined flesh that had ceased bleeding.

“I knew it was true. You do have my powers and more.”


Bury the Living by Jodi McIsaac

“Can I help you?”

“Do you work here?”

“I’m one of the volunteers, yes. My name’s Suzanne. How can I help you?”

Nora thrust the picture of Thomas into her hands. It was time for complete honesty, come what may. “Right, Suzanne, I know this is going to sound crazy. I’m not off my head, I swear it. But I’ve had several dreams about this man. He told me to come to Kildare so I could talk to a woman called Brigid. And then I found this photo of him. See, it says here he died in 1923. And I keep seeing visions of the past, knowing things I shouldn’t know. So I’ve come here, just like he asked.” She stopped, unable to believe she’d confessed all of that out loud to a complete stranger.

The woman glanced at the photo for a moment, then handed it back. “Are you looking for prayer?”

“No! I’m trying to find out how a man who’s been dead for almost a century is getting into my head.”

It was clear from Suzanne’s expression that she thought Nora was mentally unstable. “Have you checked at the heritage center? They might be able to—”

“Yes, and they sent me here. I’m not making this up! Someone must know—”

“Is there a problem?” Another woman emerged from a door at the side of the church. She was short and on the plump side, with closely cropped coarse brown hair and an uneven fringe. She wore a long green shawl with a gold brooch.

“May I?” Suzanne said, taking the photo from Nora. She passed it to her colleague. “She’s trying to find out about this man. He’s called Thomas Heaney. Do you recognize him, Mary?”

Mary’s mouth opened, then closed, then opened again. “Yes, I do,” she said slowly, her eyes drinking in the photograph. Finally, she stared up at Nora. “You’re the one looking for him?” Her voice held a hint of incredulity.

“Aye,” Nora said warily. Was this woman having her on? Or was she really about to find some answers?

Mary pressed her hand over her heart. “It’s a fine day. Why don’t we take a walk outside? Thank you, Suzanne, I’ll help this young lady from here.”

Nora followed Mary past another stone coffin and a display of Kildare in the fifth century, back into the churchyard.

“Well,” Mary began once they were well away from the front door. “I’m not exactly sure how to proceed, but I’ll do my best. You see, we’ve been waiting for you.”

“You’ve been waiting for me?” Nora repeated, dumbfounded. “Why?”

“Are you a religious person, Nora?”

“Yes, o’course.” They were behind the cathedral now, wandering among the tombstones. The round tower loomed overhead.

“That’s good to hear. So many young people have left the church these days. If they only knew how it sustained us in days gone by. But I digress. I belong to an order called the Brigidine Sisters.”

“A Catholic order? But isn’t the cathedral Church of Ireland?”
“It is now, but that hasn’t always been the case. The church you see now was built in the thirteenth century, but it rests on the site of the church Saint Brigid herself had built in the fifth century. Before that, it was a site of worship to the pagan goddess Brigid. So I count it a privilege to volunteer at the cathedral as part of my devotion to the saint.”

“Makes sense.” They had walked to the base of the round tower, which was surrounded by gravestones.

“But it may surprise you that a few months ago, several of us experienced the same vision while praying at Saint Brigid’s Well. Have you been there?” Nora shook her head. “It’s down on Tully Road. It was here that Brigid herself appeared to us. She told us a young woman would come looking for a man with gray hair called Thomas Heaney. And that she wished to bestow upon this young woman a very special gift.” Mary’s face shone with excitement as she leaned toward Nora.

Nora stopped walking. “Are you saying Saint Brigid appeared to you and told you I would be coming? I didn’t even know I would be coming until this morning.”

“That’s exactly what I’m saying. And it wasn’t just me. My Sisters all had the same vision. Many of us work or volunteer in some capacity at the cathedral. She must have wanted to ensure one of us was there to greet you when you finally came looking. I’m just so glad I overheard your conversation with Suzanne. She’s not a Brigidine Sister, you see.”

Nora chewed the inside of her lip. She was Catholic, sure, but the idea of saints actually appearing to people wasn’t something she’d considered before. It had certainly never happened to anyone she knew. The logical side of her rebelled. “And you all had the same vision?”

“I know how it sounds,” Mary said. “But you yourself said you’ve seen visions of the past, have you not? And dreamed of a man who is long dead?”

“Yes, but . . .”

“It’s hard to fathom, I won’t deny it. If Brigid hadn’t told me herself, if I hadn’t seen her with my own eyes, I’d not believe it.”

“Right, so, you said she wanted to give me a gift. What is it? And who’s this Thomas Heaney? You’ll forgive me for not understanding what this is all about.”

“Think with your heart, not with your head,” Mary said. “When you had this dream of Thomas, how did you feel?”

Longing. But she couldn’t say that out loud. She hardly wanted to admit it to herself. “Like I wanted to help him. More than anything. He begged me.”

“And these visions? Do you believe they were real?”

What if she did? Would it mean she was going mad? “I don’t know. They felt real.”

“Then they were. It doesn’t matter if it was just inside your head, or if you were seeing something that was really there. What matters is that Brigid was trying to speak with you.”

“Yes, but why?”

“I don’t know why she chose you. Or how exactly you’re supposed to help this young man. Or why she even wants you to help him. But she has made it possible.”

“How? He’s been dead for eighty years.”

“For this, we must go back to the church.”

Nora bit her tongue and followed Mary into the cathedral. Suzanne popped her head around the corner as they entered. “Everything all right?” she asked.

“Grand, thank you,” Mary answered. “We’re just going to have a peek at the records downstairs.” She led Nora down a narrow stone staircase into the basement of the church. They passed walls lined with bookshelves and stacks of boxes labeled in minute handwriting. Then they entered another small room, which was empty save for a dark fireplace set into the wall. Mary turned so quickly Nora almost ran into her. “You must swear to never reveal this to anyone.”

“Reveal what?” Nora was beginning to think this was some elaborate hoax . . . or a cult. She eyed the door nervously.

“What I’m about to show you is one of the greatest kept secrets of the church. Brigid, in her wisdom, has chosen to share it with you. You’ll be the first outside our society to have this knowledge.”

Nora narrowed her eyes. “What kind of society is this?”

Mary gave an apologetic shrug. “The complicated kind. To the outside world, we are the Brigidine Sisters, an order committed to service and harmony in the spirit of Saint Brigid. We were nearly destroyed during the Dissolution of the Monasteries. We survived, underground, until we revealed ourselves in the eighteen hundreds. All of that is true, but we’ve also kept this sacred knowledge secret and protected for centuries. And if you do not do the same . . .” She let her threat hang in the empty air, but Nora was not so easily cowed.

“Right, I’m beginning to think this is all a joke. Someone’s acting the maggot with me, so they are. Forget it.” She turned to leave.

“Wait!” Mary called. “I’m sorry. It’s just . . . It’s precious to us. We’ve guarded it for so many years.”

“What it is, then?”

Mary counted the stones around the fireplace. Then she pressed hard against one with the heel of her hand. On the other side, a stone popped out about an inch. Mary pulled at it until it loosened, then reached inside the hole. When she withdrew her hand, it held a small red box with gilt edging. Nora stepped closer. “What is it?” she asked.

“’Tis the only true relic of our precious Saint Brigid,” Mary said, holding the box as though it might trickle through her fingers if she looked away for a moment. “A church in Portugal claims to have the blessed saint’s skull, and they’ve sent fragments to Killester and Kilcurry, but we Sisters know that this is the only true relic.”

“Why don’t you display it? Why keep it secret?”

“Because it has power,” Mary said, still speaking in a hushed, reverent tone. She gently opened the decorated lid and handed it to Nora. “Do not touch it. Not yet.”

Nora looked into the box. It was, as she had expected, a bone. Only an inch long, it was polished white and smooth, nestled on a ruby-red cushion.

“It was from her finger,” Mary explained.

“Is this the gift? What am I supposed to do with it?” Nora asked, closing the lid.

“No, my child, that is not the gift. But the power of Brigid’s relic will bestow on you the gift she wishes you to have: the ability to travel through time.”


Excerpted from BURY THE LIVING © Copyright 2016 by Jodi McIsaac. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

About the book:
“McIsaac puts plenty of history and a little fantasy and romance into this entertaining time travel tale. McIsaac has an undeniable talent for immersing the reader in the plight of the Irish in the 1920s, at the height of the Irish Civil War. Comparisons to Diana Gabaldon’s Outlander series are inevitable.” —Publishers Weekly

Rebellion has always been in the O’Reilly family’s blood. So when faced with the tragic death of her brother during Northern Ireland’s infamous Troubles, a teenage Nora joined the IRA to fight for her country’s freedom. Now, more than a decade later, Nora is haunted by both her past and vivid dreams of a man she has never met.

When she is given a relic belonging to Brigid of Kildare, patron saint of Ireland, the mystical artifact transports her back eighty years—to the height of Ireland’s brutal civil war. There she meets the alluring stranger from her dreams, who has his own secrets—and agenda. Taken out of her own time, Nora has the chance to alter the fortunes of Ireland and maybe even save the ones she loves. In this captivating and adventurous novel from Jodi McIsaac, history belongs to those with the courage to change it.

About the Author:
Jodi McIsaac is the author of several novels, including A Cure for Madness and the Thin Veil Series. She grew up in New Brunswick, on Canada’s east coast. After abandoning her Olympic speed skating dream, she wrote speeches for a politician, volunteered in a refugee camp, waited tables in Belfast, earned a couple of university degrees, and started a boutique copywriting agency. She loves running, geek culture, and whiskey.

Twitter: @jodimcisaac

Received in September

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received in September for review and/or giveaways:

Blu Ray/DVD:
Beauty and the Beast 25th Anniversary Edition Blu-Ray
Approaching the Unknown DVD

Mystery Box:
The Bam Box – August
The Bam Box – September

Weregirl by C. D. Bell

Del Rey:
A Night Without Stars by Peter F. Hamilton
Crosstalk by Connie Willis
StarCraft: Evolution by Timothy Zahn
Morning Star by Pierce Brown

Disney Hyperion / Kingswell:
Quinny & Hopper Partners in Slime by Adriana Brad Schanen
Art of Coloring: Moana: 100 Images to Inspire Creativity by Disney Book Group
Moana and the Ocean by Disney Book Group
Moana Read-Along Storybook & CD by Disney Storybook Art Team
The Story of Moana The Story of Moana: A Tale of Courage and Adventure by Disney Book Group
Elena of Avalor A Palace Fit for a Princess by Disney Book Group
Elena of Avalor Elena and the Secret of Avalor by Craig Gerber
Elena of Avalor Feliz Navidad: A Royal Christmas by Disney Book Group
Bionic by Suzanne Weyn
A Taste for Monsters by Matthew J. Kirby
The Secrets of Hexbridge Castle by Gabrielle Kent
Black Widow Red Vengeance by Margaret Stohl
This is Our Story by Ashley Elston
Frozen: A Pop-Up Adventure by Matthew Reinhart
High Heat by Richard Castle
Bad Blood by Jennifer Lynn Barnes

Galaxy Press:
Battlefield Earth Special Edition by L. Ron Hubbard

Macmillan Children’s / Imprint / Feiwel and Friends:
Freya by Matthew Laurence
Perfect by Cecelia Ahern

Penguin Young Readers / Puffin / Putnam / Philomel:
The Glass Sentence by S. E. Grove
Double Eclipse by Melissa De la Cruz
The Turncoat’s Gambit by Andrea Cremer

Pocket Books:
Star Trek: Prey: Book One: Hell’s Heart by John Jackson Miller
Star Trek: Legacies: Book #3: Purgatory’s Key by Dayton Ward

Judgment at Verdant Court by M. C. Planck

Random House Teens:
A Shadow Bright and Burning by Jessica Cluess

Last Descendants: An Assassin’s Creed Novel by Matthew Kirby

Simon & Schuster / Gallery / Atria / Keywords Press:
HALO: Fractures: Extraordinary Tales from the Halo Canon by Various
Children of Eden by Joey Graceffa

St Martin’s Griffin:
Moon Chosen: Tales of a New World by P. C. Cast

Sterling Publishing / Lark:
Edgar Allan Poe: An Adult Coloring Book by Odessa Begay

Subterranean Press:
Penric and the Shaman by Lois McMaster Bujold
Voyages: The Chronicles of Lucifer Jones Vol V. by Mike Resnick

The Dreaming Hunt by Cindy Dees

Book Giveaway: Gemina

Courtesy of Alfred A Knopf Books for Young Readers, I have a copy of Gemina by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends October 21. I’ll draw a name on October 22, and notify winner via email.


Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Gemina

Book Giveaway: Frost

Courtesy of Scholastic, I have a copy of Frost by M. P. Kozlowsky for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends October 14. I’ll draw a name on October 15, and notify winner via email.


Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Frost

Author Guest Post: Alex Bledsoe on World Building!


by Alex Bledsoe

World-building is a cornerstone (heh; building pun) of fantasy. Starting with the assumption that something unreal exists—vampires, dragons, elves, whatever—we then expand into the ways it influences the world in which the story happens. I’ve done it in three different ways.

The most obvious way, in my Eddie LaCrosse novels and stories, is to create an entirely new world from scratch, one that has no connection with our own, either in history, culture or religion. It’s called a “secondary world” in fantasy-speak, a term coined by Tolkein to differentiate a setting from the real, or primary, world. I’ve always disliked that term, because it implies a diminution, as if the fantasy world was somehow less than the real world. Granted many times it is, but when it works, it’s as real, as primary, as the one I’m sitting in as I type this.

When I created the world of Eddie LaCrosse, I made a couple of decisions up front. People would have regular names (i.e., Eddie), they would not speak in either faux Shakespeare or cod-Bilbical (“Behold, he is the Chosen One, who will fulfill yon Prophecy!”), and that the characters would all have identifiable jobs. I chose all this because I wanted to write the series in a voice similar to the great noir writers (Chandler, Parker, Vachss). It’s hard to do that seriously with Tolkein-ish names (“Eowyn walked into my office with a stride like a prize Rohan filly”—see?).

My Tufa novels take place ostensibly in the “primary” world, but deal with a unique fictional culture that exists within it. To make that work requires a balancing act between things the reader knows (cars, farms, families, et al.) and things they likely don’t (fairies, dream time, etc.). There’s no guide for this sort of thing; it either feels right, or it doesn’t. Sometimes it feels right at first, then goes wrong as you develop it further.

This is very close to the concept of “magical realism,” a term often used by literary writers who don’t want to be classified within a genre (i.e., “speculative fiction” instead of “science fiction” [I’m looking at you, Cormac McCarthy]). It was first used to describe the work of Latin American authors such as Isabel Allende, and has an appropriately nebulous definition. But I read a great description once (don’t ask me where) that said, in paraphrase, “It takes the world as everyone knows it, except for one aspect that’s slightly askew.” Think the magical cooking in Like Water for Chocolate, or the clairvoyance of The House of the Spirits.

This approach has the beauty of maintaining the sense of wonder that sometimes get lost when “paranormal” elements are accepted as part of the world, as in much of urban fantasy. The lack of overt explanation for either the reader or the characters means that they share the surprise at any “magical” occurrences.

I wrote two vampire novels set in 1975 Memphis, and that presented a challenge not unlike building a fantasy world. Although I lived through that period as a child, I wasn’t attuned to the subtleties of it; my memories are mostly of pop culture references. I had to research events, attitudes, even Seventies clothing (AGHHH!) in order to create—or in this case, recreate—the world. And as Michael Cimino said about Heaven’s Gate, “One uses history in a very free way,” so there is one glaring (to me, at least) anachronism that so far no reader has mentioned.

I’ve written about other “worlds” in various short stories, including westerns, horror, and of course, fantasy. Through all this, I’ve learned one thing: you can’t take the world for granted. Even in an entirely contemporary, entirely mundane story, you may be creating a world that a potential reader has never seen. It’s your job to figure out the details that will conjure that world in the reader’s mind so that they can inhabit it as fully as your characters. If you achieve that, then you have built a world.

Received in August

The following are the books, movies, television shows, etc. I received in August for review and/or giveaways:

Mystery Box:
The Bam Box

Into the Guns by William C. Dietz

Lantern City Vol. 2 by Matthew Daley

Arc Manor / Phoenix Pick:
Soulmates by Mike Resnick and Lezli Robyn

Disney Hyperion:
Star Wars: Ahsoka by E. K. Johnston
Saving Hamlet by Molly Booth
A List of Cages by Robin Roe
Lockwood & Co., Book Four: The Creeping Shadow by Jonathan Stroud
Eden’s Escape by M. Tara Crowl
The Shadow Guard by J. D. Vaughn
Cupcake Cousins, Book 3: Winter Wonders by Kate Hannigan

Little, Brown:
Stalking Jack the Ripper by Kerri Maniscalco

Penguin / Blue Rider Press:
The Watchers by Jon Steele
Angel City by Jon Steele
The Way of Sorrows by Jon Steele

Penguin Young Readers / Putnam / Razorbill:
Between Worlds by Skip Brittenham
The Last Star by Rick Yancey
Iceling by Sasha Stephenson
The Midnight Star by Marie Lu

Random House Kids / Crown:
100 Dresses: If the Magic Fits by Susan Maupin Schmid
Thrones and Bones: Skyborn by Lou Anders

Masked City by Genevieve Cogman

Bionic by Suzanne Weyn
Key Hunters #3: The Haunted Howl by Eric Luper
Disenchanted: The Trials of Cinderella by Megan Morrison

Shadow Mountain:
Mysteries of Cove: Gears of Revolution by J. Scott Savage

Simon and Schuster / Saga:
The Cold Eye by Laura Anne Gilman

Simon and Schuster Children’s / Aladdin / Simon Pulse:
The Littlest Bigfoot by Jennifer Weiner
Swarm by Scott Westerfeld

Subterranean Press:
Miniatures: The Very Short Fiction of John Scalzi by John Scalzi
Coco Butternut by Joe R Lansdale

Navigators of Dune by Brian Herbert

Tor Teen / Starscape:
Alcatraz vs. the Evil Librarians: The Dark Talent by Brandon Sanderson

Book Giveaway: Black Rain


Courtesy of 47North, I have a copy of Black Rain by Matthew B.J. Delaney for one (1) lucky winner!

Contest is open to US residents only. No PO Boxes please. To enter, just fill out the form below. Contest ends September 23. I’ll draw a name on September 24, and notify winner via email.


Good luck!

Continue reading Book Giveaway: Black Rain