Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What Is Your Favorite Book Of All Time?

Happy New Year!

I am looking forward to the upcoming new year, and all of the amazing books coming out in 2015, but there is something about the closing of a year that makes me reflect on past reads.  I love hearing about what books other readers loved from 2014, but there's something else I'm also curious about.

What is your favorite book of all time?

Okay, I admit.  That's a difficult question to answer.  Perhaps a better question would be, "What book or series do you reread the most often?"  I know I have old faithfuls that I've read over...and over...and over...  Well, you get the idea.  There are some books that I just can't get enough of.

What is your favorite book of all time?


For me, these books are like old friends.  I never tire of them, no matter how many times we meet within the pages.

Do you have a book or series that you've read more than once? 

I started going through my most well-thumbed books and was surprised to realize that the books I still read the most often are from my childhood and early teen years.  I also noticed that although I currently read mostly urban fantasy, the books I've read the most often run the gamut from Shakespeare to Gibson to Poe and Conan Doyle.  I also realized that I have over fifteen copies of Hamlet, most of them falling apart from overuse.  

You can never have too many copies of your favorite books, right?

Monday, December 29, 2014

Paranormal Road Trip: Destination San Diego with Jennifer Harlow

Paranormal Road Trip: Destination San Diego with Jennifer Harlow Author of F.R.E.A.K.S urban fantasy

Come on boys and ghouls!  It's time to hop on Route 666 for a spooktacular Paranormal Road Trip.  This week's stop is San Diego, California and our special guide is Jennifer Harlow, author of the F.R.E.A.K.S Squad Investigation urban fantasy series.

Death Takes a Holiday is set in San Diego so it seems fitting that our guide for this week's Paranormal Road Trip be author Jennifer Harlow.  Let's see what terrifying places Jennifer has planned for our tour.

San Diego's Top 5 Spooky Places

Though the F.R.E.A.K.S. Squad travels the country investigating and capturing preternatural perps, only one town holds telekinetic Special Agent Beatrice Alexander’s heart: her home town of San Diego.  Let's see what terrifying places Jennifer has planned for our tour.

San Diego. Known for it’s year-round sunshine, sandy beaches with clear blue water, and being the home of Geek Mecca aka Comic Con. But like every town under the glossy veneer lies a past with more than a few skeletons in its closet, ones who just won’t stay dead. Here are the five such closets:

Whaley House: Both Life magazine and The Travel Channel’s America’s Most Haunted have called this house “the most haunted house in America.” Built over a cemetery near a gallows site, several people have died (and seemingly come back) inside its wall, including the owners Thomas, Anna and the suicide of sister Violet. Cold spots, objects, including a cleaver, moving on their own, and sightings of hanged gambler Yankee Jim Robinson and a child’s apparitions moving around the house.

Horton’s Grand Hotel: In 1986, a psychic detected the ghost of Roger Whitaker, a gambler who was gunned down and left to die in an armoire in Room 309 after claims of lights turning on and off, the sounds of a paranormal poker game, cold spots and even playing cards suddenly appearing. You can rent the room. If you dare.

Star of India Sailing Ship: This floating museum was built in 1863 and eventually made its way to the San Diego Harbor where it became a museum in the 1970s. After sailing around the world as a cargo vessel it picked up some permanent inhabitants—an officer who committed suicide, a young boy who fell from the mast, and a Chinese fisherman crushed by the anchor chain.

Hotel Del Coronado: Ask for Room 3502. In 1892, a young woman checked into the Hotel Del Coronado to meet her estranged husband for Thanksgiving. He never arrived, and a few days later, she was found dead on the hotel steps near the ocean. Since then, guests and staff of the Hotel Del Coronado have noticed strange breezes, ghostly noises and the pale figure of a young lady walking in a black lace dress. Within room 3502, more than 37 abnormal readings were taken by parapsychologists in a single day. Say hi to Kate Morgan for me.

Pioneer Park: In 1870, this ten acre plot of land became the final resting place for 1,650 souls. Then in 1968, since it was in such disrepair, the tombstones that were illegible were recycled while others were placed in a corner as a memorial. Trees were planted, playground equipment installed and an elementary school was built next door. The graves themselves were never moved. Ghostly lights are reported here. Didn’t we learn anything from the movie Poltergeist?

Thank you Jennifer for giving us such a haunting tour of San Diego!  

To learn more about Jennifer Harlow and her books, please visit her website, and don't miss our Q+A with Jennifer Harlow here at From the Shadows.  You can add the F.R.E.A.K.S Squad Investigation series here on Goodreads.

Paranormal Road Trip: Destination San Diego with Jennifer Harlow Author of Death Takes a Holiday a F.R.E.A.K.S Squad Investigation urban fantasy


Have you visited San Diego?  Ever experience anything of the supernatural kind in and around San Diego?

What did you think of Jennifer's picks for spooky places?

Last week on Paranormal Road Trip we visited Eden, Kentucky with Sharon Buchbinder.  Next week we'll be traveling to Sydney, Australia with Yolanda Sfetsos, author of the Sierra Fox series.

Join us for another spine-tingling Paranormal Road Trip...
if you dare!

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Eternal Neverland Ebook Giveaway Winner

Congratulations Linda R. the winner of our Eternal Neverland Ebook Giveaway here at From the Shadows!  Linda will receive one ebook copy of Eternal Neverland: Steps Before The Fall by Natasha Rogue.

Eternal Neverland Vampire Paranormal Ebook Giveaway Winner


Thank you to all who entered!

*Giveaway winner randomly selected using Random.org*

Tuesday, December 23, 2014

The Bite Before Christmas Book Review

Book Review The Bite Before Christmas by Lyndsay Sands and Jeaniene Frost paranormal romance urban fantasy short story anthology novella

The Bite Before Christmas by Lynsay Sands and Jeaniene Frost.

In Lynsay Sands' "The Gift," Katricia Argeneau knows grey-eyed cop Teddy Brunswick is her life mate. She just needs to convince him they belong together, and being snowbound in a secluded cabin will make this a Christmas neither will forget.

It's "Home for the Holidays" in Jeaniene Frost's Night Huntress series. Cat and Bones may long to wrap presents and set up a tree, but this Christmas, an evil vampire and long-buried family secrets will threaten to take a bite out of their holiday cheer.

Add to Goodreads.
Genre: Paranormal Romance, Urban Fantasy

Review

The Bite Before Christmas contains two short stories/novellas, one from Jeaniene Frost and one from Lynsay Sands.  Both stories were excellent.

The Gift (Argeneau #15.5) is a paranormal romance with the high heat level you expect from Lynsay Sands.  I was worried that this might have an ick factor due to the lead male's age, but I got past that quickly.  A fun romp in a holiday snowstorm that's a perfect quick read for the holidays.*

*Note: I almost took off half a star for the constant referral to Theodore's "little Teddy" since this is a pet peeve of mine.  To me "little Teddy" makes me think of children and teddy bears...neither of which should be in Theodore's pants.  Not.  Sexy.  Not sexy at all.

Home for the Holidays (Night Huntress #6.5) had the paranormal romance spark we love between Cat and Bones, but was primarily a kick-ass edge-of-your-seat urban fantasy with nearly all of our favorite Night Huntress characters.  This story is also set during the holidays which makes it a fun holiday read.

I don't know about you, but the holidays are chaotic here and so I find myself on a short story/anthology/novella kick this time of year.  The Bite Before Christmas contained two excellent stories that were the perfect length for my holiday-stress-induced short attention span.

Shadow Rating:  5-stars

How do the holidays impact your reading habits?

If you're like me and looking for something short and not so sweet this time of year, you'll love the following paranormal romance and urban fantasy short stories, novellas, and anthologies; Dark and Stormy Nights, Mean Streets, Naked City: Tales of Urban Fantasy, Must Love Hellhounds, Hex Appeal, Deep Kiss of Winter, Blood and Mistletoe, Reckoning, On the Prowl, Tales of the Otherworld, Kitty's Greatest Hits, Cat Tales, Have Stakes Will Travel, Black Water, An Apple for the Creature, My Big Fat Supernatural Wedding, Magic Graves, Carniepunk, Vampires: The Recent Undead, First Blood, Kiss of Venom, Dates from Hell, Kisses from Hell, Vacations from Hell, Kicking It, Strange Brew, Unbound, Hexed, Winter Moon, Wolfsbane and Mistletoe, and Holidays are Hell.

Do you have a favorite paranormal romance or urban fantasy short story, anthology, or novella?  If so, share with us in the comments!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Paranormal Road Trip: Destination Eden, Kentucky with Sharon Buchbinder

Paranormal Road Trip: Spooky Places in Eden, Kentucky with Sharon Buchbinder

Come on boys and ghouls!  It's time to hop on Route 666 for a spooktacular Paranormal Road Trip.  This week's stop is the fictional town of Eden, Kentucky and our special guide is Sharon Buchbinder, author of Kiss of the Silver Wolf.

Eden, Kentucky. Sounds idyllic, doesn’t it? On first blush, it seems like a trip to a golden age of America. A small town with friendly people who produce some of the finest apples in the United States. Take a moment. Look at that delicious red apple you’re about to bite into. Where did it come from? Perhaps it came from one of the eeriest orchards in the country.

Eden, Kentucky's Top 5 Spooky Places

The Orchards: Apple orchards abound in Eden, providing income to the close-knit community. They also serve as playgrounds for the pack at night on full moons, where pups and elders can doff their human bodies and revel in their werewolf forms. If   hunters would leave them alone, it would be perfect.

The Mine: Homeland Security Special Agent Eliana Solomon is hot on the trail of a jinni portal, and the energy signature is coming from an abandoned mine. She sends a scout down the shaft to get more data—and hauls up a corpse with a warning carved into his forehead.

The General Store: A wrap around porch invites you to sit a spell and sip some coffee or cider while you pass the time chatting with neighbors about the apple crop. Inside, a variety of goods await you that would seem fine—if you were living in the 1800’s and drove a horse-drawn buggy. This is no backdrop in an amusement park for ambiance. This store serves the entire town of Eden and surrounding rural areas. There is no ordering online. There is no “online” in Eden. There are no cell phones, no televisions, no modern electronic devices, at all. Due to interference from the jinn, nothing modern works in this particular corner of the world. 

The Hollow: When Charlene Johnson takes a bus driver job to supplement her apple orchard income, she works for the beguiling, silver-haired Zack Abingdon. After extensive training, he warns her repeatedly to get the kids home before sundown. She worries about communication, since her cell phone doesn’t work in Eden. Zack tells her to use the radio, but sometimes in the hollows and near the mining camp, it won’t work. One day, while driving the children home from school, a thick green fog mist blankets the road in the hollow and a pack of black dogs runs in front of the bus. Charlene swerves to avoid hitting them and the bus crashes. When she comes to, it is sundown, and the reason why the kids are supposed to home before dark is revealed.

The Woods by the Mine: The only place worse than the mine is the forested area around it. The evil jinni is intent on wreaking revenge against the Carter pack for killing a member of his clan. He wants Charlene and lures her to the woods with his whispers. Can Zack arrive in time to save her?

Thank you Sharon for giving us such a haunting tour of Eden!  

To learn more about Sharon Buchbinder and her books, please visit her website, and don't miss our Q+A with Sharon Buckbinder here at From the Shadows.  You can add Kiss of the Silver Wolf here on Goodreads.

Paranormal Road Trip: Destination Eden, Kentucky with Sharon Buchbinder author of Kiss of the Silver Wolf

What did you think of Sharon Buchbinder's picks for spooky places?

Last week on Paranormal Road Trip we visited New York City.  Next week we'll be traveling to San Diego with Jennifer Harlow, author of the F.R.E.A.K.S Squad Investigation series.

Join us for another spine-tingling Paranormal Road Trip...
if you dare!

Sunday, December 21, 2014

Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop: Win Burning Bright by E.J. Stevens

Midwinter's Eve Giveaway: Win Burning Bright urban fantasy novel by E.J. Stevens

Welcome to our stop on the Midwinter's Eve Giveaway Hop!  We are giving away some fab bookish prizes for urban fantasy fans, so keep reading to learn how you can win.

Midwinter's Eve Giveaway

We are giving away a trade paperback copy of BURNING BRIGHT, an action-packed Ivy Granger urban fantasy novel by E.J. Stevens.  In addition to the novel, which will ship directly from Amazon or The Book Depository, the winner will receive a signed postcard from the author.

Win Burning Bright bestselling paranormal urban fantasy novel by E.J. Stevens

Burning Bright (Ivy Granger #3) by E.J. Stevens

Burning down the house...

Things are not going well at the offices of Private Eye. Jinx is having demon problems, the city is overrun with pyromaniacal imps, and Ivy's wisp powers are burning out of control, attracting the attention of both the Seelie and Unseelie courts.

Along came a faerie queen... It's the worst possible time for the Green Lady to call in a favor, but Ivy's bound by her deal with the glaistig. Too bad there's no wiggle room in faerie bargains.

Ivy must rid the city of imps, keep Jinx from murdering her one solid link to Hell, and fulfill her bargain with the Green Lady—with sidhe assassins hot on her tail.

Just another day's work for Ivy Granger, psychic detective.

Enter to Win!

Enter to win a postcard and trade paperback copy of Burning Bright by E.J. Stevens.

To enter, please use the Rafflecopter form below.  This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL.  Giveaway ends December 31, 2014.

Good luck, and thank you for hopping by!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Please leave a comment to let me know you've "hopped" by!

The Bite Before Christmas Giveaway Winner

Congratulations to Christy M. the winner of our annual The Bite Before Christmas Giveaway here at From the Shadows!  Christy will receive a BLOOD AND MISTLETOE signed postcard and ebook (in choice of Kindle, PDF, or ePub format).

The Bite Before Christmas Giveaway Winner of Blood and Mistletoe holiday urban fantasy novella

Thank you to all who entered!

*Giveaway winner randomly selected using Random.org*

Saturday, December 20, 2014

Death Becomes Her: Victorian Mourning Fashion at the Met

I was in New York City earlier this week, and the Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire exhibit at the Metropolitan Museum of Art was one of the highlights of my trip.

Death Becomes Her
Death Becomes Her: Victorian Mourning Fashion at the Met nyc


This exhibit was absolutely gorgeous.  The dresses were stunning, and the history of mourning fashion fascinating.

I absolutely adored the Death Becomes Her exhibit at The Met.

Death Becomes Her: Victorian Mourning Fashion at the Met

If you have an interest in fashion, 19th century social mores (with an emphasis on the strict fashion guidelines for Victorian women), and/or the Goth aesthetic, you will love Death Becomes Her.

Now if only I had each of these dresses in my wardrobe...

Death Becomes Her: Victorian Mourning Fashion at the Met

This is truly an amazing exhibit, and I highly recommend a visit.  These dresses are even more beautiful in real life.

Death Becomes Her: Victorian Mourning Fashion at the Met
 There are so many exquisite details in these dresses. 

Death Becomes Her: Victorian Mourning Fashion at the Met
I need this dress.  NEED.

What do you think of the Death Becomes Her exhibit?

From the Metropolitan Museum of Art website:
Death Becomes Her: A Century of Mourning Attire, The Costume Institute’s first fall exhibition in seven years, is on view in The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Anna Wintour Costume Center from October 21, 2014, through February 1, 2015. The exhibition explores the aesthetic development and cultural implications of mourning fashions of the 19th and early 20th centuries. Approximately 30 ensembles, many of which are being exhibited for the first time, reveal the impact of high-fashion standards on the sartorial dictates of bereavement rituals as they evolved over a century.

Death Becomes Her is a temporary exhibit, so you'll need to schedule your visit to the museum by February 1, 2015. 

Which dress is your favorite?

Friday, December 19, 2014

Q+A with Kate Corcino + Spark Rising Book Giveaway

Please welcome today's guest author Kate Corcino!  Kate is the author of SPARK RISING.

Keep reading for a chance to win a HUGE Spark Rising prize pack including a signed paperback, a gift card, a tote, and more!

Q+A with Kate Corcino

EJ:  Tell us about Spark Rising.

Kate:
  Spark Rising is a post-apocalyptic adventure set in the southwestern United States of the future. It’s the story of Magdalena Gracey, a young woman with the power to create and manipulate the only form of electricity left in the world, and Agent Alejandro Reyes, a man trained from childhood to be an elite soldier for the ruling government. He’s sent to investigate a report of an illegal Spark living in the desert. But Alex has his own agenda. And if the two of them can learn to work together instead of killing each other, they might have a chance at sparking a revolution…and love.

EJ:  What inspired Spark Rising?

Kate:
  In the days before the story came, I’d seen two sets of photos online. The first was an abandoned town in the desert that was being buried by sand. The second was a series of various city skylines from around the world showing what the night sky would look like if there were no lights, no electricity. I was blown away. Because yes, they’re both gorgeous. But the devastation of that loss of civilization…wow. Even in devastation, there would be beauty so long as we are the kind of people who have the capacity to see it. That’s the big "what if?” What kind of people are able to see the beauty?

EJ:  What made you decide to end Spark Rising the way you did?

Kate: 
*laugh* It originally had a very different ending. By the time I'd made other changes that really were very necessary, the ending I wrote originally didn’t work. The ending it has now is actually the third ending written, I think. Those last two chapters changed A LOT.

EJ:  What inspired the character of Lena?

Kate: 
Lena came to me fully formed, just a damaged, tough, ballsy, tiny little redhead. I think she’s rooted in my desire to explore life’s complications from that New Adult period of transition and upheaval. Who we love. Why we love. How we choose to express and live with that, even through the dark times. How do we carve out something that is entirely our own, or even believe we’re worthy of it, through all of the demands of society and family? And what is family, anyway?

I also really love exploring issues of perspective—what is the right choice for one person isn’t the same for another, and that’s okay—in womanhood, in relationships, in faith. I like the big, complicated, meaty issues that often cause darkness and angst. They’re the root of so many misunderstandings, but I like mistakes. I believe in second chances. Lena’s damaged heart provides a wonderful way of exploring those themes.
      
EJ:  Do you have any thoughts on Alex's behavior throughout Spark Rising?

Kate: 
Ohh, Alex. *laugh* He’s a badass, broken man. He’s just as damaged as Lena, but he’s dedicated himself to one idea, to one cause, and is willing to do absolutely anything to further it. His love for Lena takes him by surprise. It’ll be really interesting to see how the battle between his sense of responsibility to the revolution that he founded and his feelings for Lena will play out. I think the battle will be as fascinating as his motives.
                      
EJ:  Did you always want to write books when you were a child?

Kate:
  Yes. I've always been telling stories. Family legend has it that I was kicked out of a denominational preschool because of a story that was particularly upsetting. So, not only was I telling stories, but they were always controversial! I've been writing the stories down since I was able to write.
      
EJ:  What inspires you to write genre fiction?

Kate: 
The people who read it! Science fiction, Fantasy, Paranormal, Romance—there may be differences among their readers, but the one thing they have in common is a willingness to lose themselves in a story, a joy in the fact that they have a story to lose themselves in, that I just don’t see in other areas. We’re wholly, unselfconsciously committed to our genres, and I find that beautiful.

When I was in my master’s program for Creative Writing, I had a conversation with another student that really sealed the deal for me. He was sneering at my desire to write genre fiction and telling me that I was limiting myself. “You know you’ll never write the Great American Novel writing that stuff.” And perhaps he's right. But the thing is, I’m not interested in literary elitism. If I can write a book that takes a reader—one reader—out of all of the everyday stress and noise of life and give them another world to lose themselves in, a world rich enough that they want to get lost in it? Well, as far as I'm concerned, I have written a pretty damn great novel, even if critics hate it.

EJ:  What were the challenges in bringing Spark Rising to life?

Kate:
  There was definitely a research challenge—I love science and I’ve always read science fiction. But I knew nothing about the inner workings of electricity and electrical components, and I certainly had no working knowledge of new theories in nanite technology. Even though I was creating something fantastic, I needed to have a bed of knowledge from which to stretch.

The other huge challenge is the scope of themes, especially with women’s roles and faith. Lena, and other characters, make assumptions about other groups of people, as we all do, that are wrong. Those assumptions are slowly sifted through and revealed through the greater series arc. I’m afraid people will—ha ha!—make assumptions about what I mean in the meantime, that I’m criticizing deeply held beliefs. It’s not so, and that’s rough for me to think about.

EJ:  What do you think is the draw of the “strong female character”?

Kate:
  Well, I think we all like to root for someone who can handle herself, who isn’t afraid to face the bad guys, and who reminds us of the internal strength we have or we’d like to have. Personally, I really prefer the flawed female character. *laugh* Don’t get me wrong—Lena can kick some ass. She has to be able to, in her world. But I love that she is flawed. She leaps before looking, she’s mouthy, she makes shitty decisions and then has to live with the consequences. She obsesses…oh, how she obsesses! She’s not always likeable. She’s a twenty-four year old young woman figuring out where she belongs, who she loves, and what she wants, special powers or not. It’s important to me that she isn’t a caricature of strength on that journey.

EJ:  What genre do you consider your book(s)?

Kate:
  They are clearly post-apocalyptic/dystopian. I prefer to call them futuristic fantasy. Yes, they’re rooted in scifi, but there is an element of the fantastic that works into them. As far as categories, Ignition Point, the collection of related short stories, straddles the line between YA and NA. I consider Spark Rising to be NA. The series itself will sit on the border of NA and Adult fiction. Lena has a lot to work her way through, but the series will see her grow through her struggles with her identity, fear of failure, and first love.
      
EJ:  What is your favorite theme/genre to write about?

Kate:
  Anything with a fantastic element. Scifi, futuristic fantasy, urban fantasy, paranormal, classic—I love it all!

Thank you Kate for joining us here at From the Shadows!

To learn more about Kate Corcino and her books, please visit her website.

Q+A with Kate Corcino + Spark Rising post apocalyptic Book Giveaway

Spark Rising by Kate Corcino.

All that’s required to ignite a revolution is a single spark rising.

Two hundred years after the cataclysm that annihilated fossil fuels, Sparks keep electricity flowing through their control of energy-giving Dust. The Council of Nine rebuilt civilization on the backs of Sparks, offering citizens a comfortable life in a relo-city in exchange for power, particularly over the children able to fuel the future. The strongest of the boys are taken as Wards and raised to become elite agents, the Council’s enforcers and spies. Strong girls—those who could advance the rapidly-evolving matrilineal power—don’t exist. Not according to the Council.

Lena Gracey died as a child, mourned publicly by parents desperate to keep her from the Council. She was raised in hiding until she fled the relo-city for solitary freedom in the desert. Lena lives off the grid, selling her power on the black market.

Agent Alex Reyes was honed into a calculating weapon at the Ward School to do the Council’s dirty work. But Alex lives a double life. He’s leading the next generation of agents in a secret revolution to destroy those in power from within.

The life Lena built to escape her past ends the day Alex arrives looking for a renegade Spark.


Release Date: December 15, 2014
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic, Science Fiction
Add to Goodreads.

Spark Rising Book + Swag Giveaway

The author is giving away a HUGE Spark Rising prize pack including a signed paperback, a gift card, a tote, and smaller swag.

To enter, please use the Rafflecopter form below. This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL.  This is a tour giveaway, and winners will be randomly selected by author or publisher.  Giveaway ends January 4, 2015.

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Want more chances to win Spark Rising?  Goodreads is giving away 5 signed copies here in the Goodreads Spark Rising Giveaway.

Good luck!

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Heart of Stone Book Giveaway

We have a special book giveaway for you today from Tor books.  We are giving away a trade paperback copy of HEART OF STONE by Debra Mullins.

Start the New Year with the new book in the Truth Seers paranormal romance series by Debra Mullins!


Heart of Stone (Truth Seers #2) by Debra Mullins.

Darius Montana is a Seer. With his gift of empathy, he can see into the hearts of others, both human and Atlantean. When his family comes into possession of one of the legendary power stones of Atlantis, Darius is sent to find the Stone Singer.

Faith Karaluros is the last Stone Singer. Manipulated all her life for her rare ability, she is widowed after her husband tried to steal her power for the Mendukati, an extremist group that hunts Seers. Faith wants nothing more than to stay out of this war when Darius comes to find her—just in time to rescue her from being kidnapped.

Faith goes with Darius, determined to do the job and be on her way with the money that can set her up where no one can find her again. She didn't count on the Mendukati sending a hit man after her. Darius swears he can protect her, but when she discovers he is one of the rare Atlanteans whose powers work on their own kind, can she trust him to keep his word, or is she being used again?

Release Date:  October 21, 2014
Genre:  Paranormal Romance
Add to Goodreads.

Heart of Stone Giveaway

We are giving away a trade paperback copy of Heart of Stone by Debra Mullins to one lucky winner!

To enter, please leave a comment on this post and include your email address so we may contact you if you win.  This giveaway is open to US and Canada.  Giveaway ends December 31, 2014 midnight EST.

Good luck!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Paranormal Road Trip: Destination New York City

Paranormal Road Trip List of New York City's Top 5 Spooky Places

Come on boys and ghouls!  It's time to hop on Route 666 for a spooktacular Paranormal Road Trip.  This week's stop is New York City.

For this week's Paranormal Road Trip, we're doing something a bit different.  This week I'll be visiting NYC for a few days, so I thought it would be fun to check out some spooky places listed online, and to revisit a previous Paranormal Road Trip post.

My List of New York City's Top 5 Spooky Places

North Brother Island:  An abandoned island that once housed Riverside Hospital, a hospital specializing in treating diseases that required quarantine—a subject all the more poignant in today's Ebola frenzied social climate.  Riverside Hospital became a prison for Mary Mallon, the famous Typhoid Mary, who was quarantined here for three decades.  Mary died here after years of living in isolation.  Some say she never left.

Chumley's:  This pub is rumored to be haunted by the ghost of Henrietta Chumley, who owned the establishment in its days a speakeasy.  Henrietta is said to have rattled glasses and knocked bottles from the shelves.  Unfortunately, the pub is currently closed due to the collapse of its chimney, a problem probably due more to the passage of time than Henrietta Chumley's mischievous ghost.

Landmark Tavern:  Another haunted drinking establishment, Landmark Tavern makes this list for it's two resident ghosts.  The tavern is said to be haunted by a confederate soldier, who was shot here in a bar brawl, and a young girl who died here from typhoid fever.  The girl is said to haunt the third floor, and the soldier haunts the second floor which still houses the bathtub where the man bled out.

Washington Square Park:  The site of a former potter's field, Washington Square Park sits on the unmarked graves of over twenty-thousand corpses.  Many of the people buried here were victims of the 19th century yellow fever epidemic, and their bones have surfaced during construction and when the park was used as military parade grounds.  Have these disturbances of their final resting place caused disturbances of a very different kind?  You decide.

Hangman's Elm:  Hangman's Elm, or The Hanging Tree, is located just off Washington Square Park.  This tree, the oldest in Manhattan, has a ghoulish reputation for being the haunt of ghosts rumored to have been hung here.  City records provide no documented proof of the tree being used in public hangings, though a hanging is recorded to have occurred nearby.  Perhaps the sightings are of the park's other ghostly residents...

I was planning on doing a bit of sight seeing while in NYC, but, on second thought, perhaps I'll just hide in my hotel room.  Searching the internet for spooky sights may have been a bad idea.  Are you scared yet?

Also, don't miss Melissa de la Cruz' picks for the top 5 spookiest places in Manhattan.


Manhattan's Top Five Spooky Places

Manhattan is a city full of history and haunted places. A few of my favorite places to ghost-bust, below.

Hotel Chelsea
222 West 23rd St. 

The famous hotel in Chelsea was the site of many deaths. Poet Dylan Thomas, who wrote of the “dying of the light” and died there is said to haunt near room 206. Doomed punk couple Sid Vicious and Nancy Spungen are said to haunt the lower floors. Sid killed Nancy in a drunken, drugged out fight, and he died of a heroin overdose before he could stand trial.

White Horse Tavern
567 Hudson St.
One of my favorite bars downtown, and related to the Chelsea Hotel. Dylan Thomas reportedly drank 18 whiskey shots here before collapsing and being brought back to his room at the Chelsea. It’s said he haunts his usual table at the tavern from time to time.

One If by Land, Two If by Sea

17 Barrow St.


One of the most romantic restaurants in Manhattan, it is also the former home of Alexander Hamilton and his daughter Theodosia, who have supposedly never left. Diners are said to have experienced being shoved by them, lights flicker, and women’s earrings disappear. Staffers insist the ghosts are friendly, but maybe a little cheeky?

Edgar Allen Poe’s Abode
85 West 3rd Street

“Nevermore” author Edgar Allen Poe lived here for eight months in 1845 and 1846, and wrote “The Raven” here. The house has been demolished for NYU dorms but students say they’ve seen the haunted and haunting writer climbing the banister, the only remaining part of the original house.

Mark Twain House
14 W 10th St between Fifth and Sixth Aves

The practical and down to earth writer born Samuel Clemens lived in Greenwich Village from 1900-1901 and reportedly haunts this domain. He was skeptical of ghosts, so it’s hard to believe he became one upon his death.

You can read Melissa's entire Paranormal Road Trip: Destination Manhattan guest post here.


What did you think of our picks for spooky places?

Last week on Paranormal Road Trip we visited Twelve Acres, Colorado with Teri Harman.  Next week we'll be back to our regularly scheduled Paranormal Road Trip, and we'll be traveling to Eden, Kentucky with Sharon Buchbinder.

Join us for another spine-tingling Paranormal Road Trip...
if you dare!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

The Token Book Excerpt + Eternal Neverland Book Giveaway

Today we have a special book excerpt and giveaway for our readers.  To begin, we'll be checking out an excerpt for The Token, the first novel in the A Breed Apart young adult paranormal series by Natasha Rogue.

The author will also be offering readers a chance to win one of her paranormal novels.  Keep reading for a chance to win Eternal Neverland by Natasha Rogue.

Book Excerpt: The Token by Natasha Rogue

Before I made it two steps, James was out of the car. He slid across the hood and swept me off my feet. The sliding didn't stop there. Solid on his feet as he usually was, James underestimated the slickness of the snow. He fell on his back with a loud grunt. I landed softly on my side, with his stomach to cushion my fall. My elbow in his gut drew another grunt from him.

Dropping his head back into the snow, James held up his hands. "Okay, I give. No more corny lines."

"You'll save them for the other girls?" Hands pressed to his chest, I held myself up so I could look down at him.

"What other girls?" He arched up and pressed his lips to mine, just a soft pressure, a gentle massage on my bottom lip, and a little brush of his tongue on the crease, giving me just a hint of his sweet taste. Not the consuming, addictive taste of Nick's kisses. This was something welcome, still burning with the risk of being overwhelming, but a risk I was willing to take. A risk I wasn't taking alone.

Still, the kiss had crossed a line that we'd skimmed along before. I liked it, but it would take some getting used to. There was also the fact that James was trying so hard to be smooth. I decided to point it out. "That was a line."

The snow melted though the material of my jogging pants as I slid back on my knees and tried to stand. James sat up and held my hand until I was firmly on my feet. Not letting go of my hand, he stood beside me, swiped the sleeve of his jacket over the hood of his car, picked me up, and set me down on the edge. Hands braced on the car at either side of my hips he leaned his forehead against mine. "That was not a line. Not that it matters. You're not going to believe a thing I say, are you?"

"Things are real easy to say." I reached up and toyed with the zipper of his jacket, sure it was about to get awkward between us.

James caught my hand. "We don't have to say anything then.

*****

Yum.  Sounds like things are about to get complicated between Callie and James, in a good way.  What did you think of the book excerpt?  Did James make anyone else swoon, or was that just me?

Book Excerpt: The Token A Breed Apart Young Adult Paranormal Novel by Natasha Rogue

The Token (A Breed Apart #1) by Natasha Rogue.

Callie Michaels isn't pretty or popular, but her singing more than makes up for all she lacks. And as long as she focuses on what's really important, she can survive high school. But how can she focus with all the drama? Between her best friend's odd issues and a daily dose of weirdness from the social elite, she's starting to wonder if she's the only normal one around.

Release Date: December 2, 2014
Genre: Young Adult, Paranormal
Add to Goodreads.

Think The Token sounds good?  We have another Natasha Rogue novel you might be interested in, and we're giving a copy away to one lucky reader!

Eternal Neverland Book Giveaway

We are giving away one ebook copy of Eternal Neverland: Steps Before The Fall by Natasha Rogue.

Win Eternal Neverland Steps Before The Fall vampire paranormal ebook by Natasha Rogue


To enter, please leave a comment on this post and include your email address so that we may contact you if you win.  This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL.  Giveaway ends December 26, 2014 midnight EST.

Good luck!

Friday, December 12, 2014

E.J.'s Vegan Gingerbread Recipe

Okay, as you all know, this is a book blog, not a food blog.  But I'm a total vegan foodie, and this particular recipe was requested after bragging about how AMAZING baking this treat makes my house smell.  And, you know, it's vegan.  And organic.  So that makes it healthy, right?  *wink*

E.J.'s Vegan Gingerbread Recipe

Ingredients:

3 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons baking soda
1 teaspoon baking powder
1 pinch salt
1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon allspice
3/4 teaspoon cloves
2 teaspoons ground ginger

1 can pumpkin puree
1 cup vegetable oil
2/3 cups coconut milk
3/4 cup molasses
1 cup dark brown sugar*

How to:
  • Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  • Whisk dry ingredients together in a large bowl.  
  • In separate bowl, whisk together wet ingredients.
  • Combine, mix well.
  • Grease two loaf pans with oil.  (I use glass Pyrex loaf pans.)
  • Pour batter into loaf pans and bake for 1 hour and 5 minutes.
  • Test with toothpick, remove from oven, and let cool.
  • Slide knife along edges, turn pans over, and remove breads.
  • Wrap with cling wrap and refrigerate for best texture.
  • Optional: Serve with coconut milk whipped cream or vanilla soy/rice cream.
Makes 2 loaves.

Voila!  Vegan Gingerbread...

E.J.'s easy vegan gingerbread recipe vegan holiday baking

This recipe is perfect for the holidays, and makes a great gift.  You can slap a bow on top of that shiny cling wrap, and DONE.  Enjoy a slice of gingerbread and a cup of tea, dear readers.  You have conquered Christmas.

**Note: Cane sugar is refined in a process using "bone char" or "natural charcoal" which is the sugar company's nice way of saying cow bones.  Yes folks, COW BONES.  Ewww...  Maybe I should stick to discussing books, you know, so I don't ruin ALL THE FOODS for my readers.
SO if you wish your baked goods to be extra happy, totally vegan, and COW BONE FREE, you need to find brown sugar that is not made with bleached cane sugar...or make your own.  If you have organic raw sugar and molasses, it's not too difficult.  And just think of all the happy cows out there that get to keep their bones.  Think of the cows, people!  Is it creepy that I'm now picturing cows roaming the prairie without their bones?  I mean, it's more like cow puddles oozing along the prairie.  Not pretty.

Do you have a favorite vegan holiday treat you like to cook or bake?

Share your ideas in the comments!

Monday, December 8, 2014

Paranormal Road Trip: Destination Twelve Acres, Colorado with Teri Harman

Paranormal Road Trip: Spooky Places in Twelve Acres, Colorado with Teri Harman

Come on boys and ghouls!  It's time to hop on Route 666 for a spooktacular Paranormal Road Trip.  This week's stop is Twelve Acres, Colorado and our special guide is Teri Harman author of The Moonlight Trilogy.

The Moonlight Trilogy is set in Twelve Acres, Colorado so it seems fitting that our guide for this week's Paranormal Road Trip be the amazing Teri Harman.  Let's see what terrifying places Teri has planned for our tour.

Twelve Acres' Top Spooky Places

The Twelve Acres Museum
The museum is housed in the same building that Ruby Plate and her covens of witches met in the early days of Twelve Acres. Here they performed all their rituals and spells. Today, with the highest concentration of ghosts, it's a must-see sight.

Canyon Cave
A few miles up the canyon, outside of town, you'll find a cave in a clearing, surrounded by majestic aspen trees. Many terrible things have happened in this place. Dark covens performed heinous curses, a woman left for dead lived like a ghost for years, other were held captive. And others died.

Plate's Place
The original home of Ruby and Charles Plate, town founders, the house now stands in disrepair. In the moonlight you may even catch a glimpse of the gossamer figure of Ruby's ghost lingering under the branches of the giant weeping willow in the backyard.

The Twelve Acres Cemetery
Here you will find the graves of Ruby and Charles Plate, and many more of the original members of the town's covens. Also, if you look carefully you'll see the unsettling marks of Dark magic left by Archard on the night of a July full moon when snow fell in response to his terrible spell.

Thank you Teri for giving us such a haunting tour of Twelve Acres!  

To learn more about Teri Harman and her books, please visit her website, and don't miss our Q+A with Teri Harman here at From the Shadows.  You can add The Moonlight Trilogy here on Goodreads.


Paranormal Road Trip: Destination Twelve Acres, Colorado with Teri Harman author of The Moonlight Trilogy

What did you think of Teri Harman's picks for spooky places?

Last week on Paranormal Road Trip we visited South Toms River, New Jersey with Shawntelle Madison.  Next week we'll be traveling to New York City.

Join us for another spine-tingling Paranormal Road Trip...
if you dare!

Saturday, December 6, 2014

What's This? Jack Skellington's Walt Disney World Trip Selfies

What's this?

Jack Skellington's Walt Disney World Trip Selfies Magic Kingdom


After my recent book release, I decompressed with a trip to Walt Disney World.  This wasn't my first trip.  In fact, as much as I love globetrotting and exploring my favorite European cities, there are times when I just need to unwind, give my brain a vacation, and be a kid again.

Ever since my writing schedule has demanded 2-3 books per year, I've managed to make at least one annual escape to Disney.  At first I took TONS of pictures.  For this trip, I decided to shake things up a bit and try to make my photos more fun.  But how to make vacation photos interesting when it's a repeat destination?  That's where Jack comes in.

Say hello to my friend, Jack Skellington.

Jack Skellington's Walt Disney World Trip Selfies Memento Mori


A friend gave me a Day of the Dead Jack Skellington for Halloween, and I couldn't resist bringing this little guy to the parks with me.  Best idea EVER.  If you haven't tried something like this before, I highly recommend it.

What are you looking at?

Jack Skellington's Walt Disney World Trip Selfies Epcot Mexico Sombrero


I should warn you that I did receive some strange looks.  I thought it was hilarious, but then again, I'm easily amused.  Jack made his way around each of the Disney theme parks.  He managed to take selfies in all of the countries around the World Showcase at Epcot, with Mexico being his favorite.  Hint: They had mini sombreros!  

Jack Skellington gets around...

Jack Skellington's Walt Disney World Trip Selfies Beasts Castle New Fantasyland

There were so many photos by the end of my trip, too many to share here in one blog post.  So I've uploaded a best of album to Photobucket.  Check out Jack Skellington's Disney Vacation Slideshow and let me know what your favorite photo is.  Have a request?  I might bring Jack along next year...

New Disney Attractions

Jack Skellington's Walt Disney World Trip Selfies Maleficent steampunk dragon Festival of Fantasy Parade

I also caught some great shots of new Disney attractions.  Even if Jack selfies aren't your thing (he's not for everybody), you'll want to check out the slideshow for pictures of the Festival of Fantasy Parade, the new flag performers in Epcot's World Showcase Italy pavilion, the Frozen Ice Castle Lighting, the Jingle Cruise, and the new Haunted Mansion themed gift shop Memento Mori.

Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Bite Before Christmas Giveaway: Win Blood and Mistletoe

The Bite Before Christmas Giveaway at From the Shadows: Win Blood and Mistletoe holiday Urban Fantasy by E.J. Stevens

In the mood for a paranormal holiday read?  We've got you covered.

The Bite Before Christmas Giveaway

We are giving away a BLOOD AND MISTLETOE signed postcard and ebook to one lucky winner!

To enter, leave a comment on this post telling us one thing you either like or hate about the holidays.  This giveaway is INTERNATIONAL.  Ebook available in Kindle, PDF, and ePub formats.  Giveaway ends December 20, 2014 midnight EST.

The Bite Before Christmas Giveaway: Win Blood and Mistletoe holiday Urban Fantasy by E.J. Stevens

Blood and Mistletoe (Ivy Granger #1.5) by E.J. Stevens

Holidays are worse than a full moon for making people crazy. In Harborsmouth, where many of the residents are bloodsucking vampires or monstrous fae, the combination may prove deadly.

Ivy Granger, psychic private investigator, returns to the streets of Harborsmouth in this addition to the bestselling urban fantasy series.

Holidays are Hell, a point driven home when a certain demon attorney returns with information regarding a series of bloody murders. Five Harborsmouth residents have been killed and every victim has one thing in common--they are fae. Whoever is killing faeries must be stopped, but they only leave one clue behind--a piece of mistletoe floating in a pool of the victim's blood.

The holidays just got interesting. Too bad this case may drive Ivy mad before the New Year. Heck, she'll be lucky to survive Christmas.

Blood and Mistletoe is an Ivy Granger series novella.

Add to Goodreads.

Also, don't miss out on the Urban Fantasy Black Friday Kindle Deal ending soon.  Blood and Mistletoe on sale for 99 cents until December 9, 2014!

Happy Holidays!

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

E.J. Stevens Now On BookLikes


It's official!  I am now on BookLikes.  You can check out my personal BookLikes page and follow me here. I've imported my books and reviews from Goodreads (over 4,000 books, eep!), and will be maintaining both profiles with current reads and posts about my favorite (mostly) paranormal and urban fantasy books and authors.

I'm also linked to the verified E.J. Stevens official BookLikes author page, where you can find my books.

Are you on BookLikes?

Share your profile link in the comments, and I'll be sure to stop by and check out your page!

BookLikes Book Giveaway

To celebrate my new "official" status, there's also a Booklikes Blood and Mistletoe Ebook Giveaway.  Be sure to stop on by and enter.  Three lucky winners will receive a copy of Blood and Mistletoe, an Ivy Granger paranormal holiday novella, in choice of Kindle, PDF, or ePub format.  Giveaway ends December 25, 2014.  Good luck!

Monday, December 1, 2014

Paranormal Road Trip: Destination South Tom's River, NJ with Shawntelle Madison

Paranormal Road Trip: Destination South Tom's River, New Jersey with Shawntelle Madison

Come on boys and ghouls!  It's time to hop on Route 666 for a spooktacular Paranormal Road Trip.  This week's stop is South Tom's River, New Jersey and our special guide is Shawntelle Madison author of the Coveted series.

The Coveted series is set in South Tom's River so it seems fitting that our guide for this week's Paranormal Road Trip be the amazing Shawntelle Madison.  Let's see what terrifying places Shawntelle has planned for our tour.

South Tom's River's Top 5 Spooky Places

The cozy borough of South Toms River, New Jersey was incorporated in 1927.  Before that point, the place had been the home to colonists from overseas and all sorts of spooky inhabitants.

Road Trip Stop #1:  Bend of the River Flea Market

The Bend of the River Flea Market, or The Bends, as the locals call it, happens to be a hot spot of paranormal activity. Most citizens go about their business, unaware that between the Victorian furniture and antiques ghosts and other ghouls roam the hallways.

According to the Fire Witch who works at the cash registers, there is a ghostly gentleman in 1940s attire who visits the back docks every morning. She leaves a lit cigarette for him in the morning, and by the afternoon when her shift ends, the cigarette is nothing but a stub.

The locals say every once in a while, during the red hunter’s moon, they see a goblin-like man sneaking on and off the property. Also, the place makes strange noises at night. The sound is loud as if someone is stacking coins into a monstrous pile.

Road Trip Stop #2:  Archie’s Burgers and Fries

If you asked anyone in South Toms River if Archie’s was haunted, they’d laugh at you. And for good reason. Archie’s has the best burgers in the area. From over a mile away you can practically taste the fresh fries and hear the sizzle of the burgers on the grill. But locals have said during the full moon they see large four-legged creatures roaming the parking lot. For some reason, Animal Removal Services refuses to drive in the neighborhood during the full moon.

Road Trip Stop #3:  Smiling Sammy’s Bait and Tackle

Right off the town marina, Smiling Sammy’s Bait and Tackle is a haunted hot spot. Compared to most bait and tackle establishments, Sammy Burnell’s place always seems strangely tidy and smells like confectionaries. It’s almost as if someone shows up nightly and cleans up any of the cigarette butts or litter left along the curb. According to city records, in the 1950s the building used to be a candy shop and a bait & tackle establishment. As you can imagine, most folks didn’t want to buy their Charleston Chews with a bucket of stinky, squirmy worms. The earthy smell inside the store confused most folks, too.

After winning the state championship, high school students once took a box of toilet paper, double-layered with extra softness, and tee-peed the place. The next morning, the owner showed up to find a free box of toilet paper and a rusty, old can of Beer Nuts at his door step.  Some citizens whisper that the candy store owner, who passed away after choking on a box of month-old, rock-hard Milk Duds, is determined for bait shop to become a candy store again.

Road Trip Stop #4:  Family Bargain Video and DVD Super Store

This place isn’t haunted per se, but well, the store is always empty. The owner says VHS and LaserDisc tapes are gonna make a comeback, but the shelves seem to be fully stocked. An investigation from a local paranormal activity group came out with inconclusive results. There seems to be a VCR that rewinds on its own…

Road Trip Stop #5:  Mr. Greg Jacobson’s Field

There’s a field not too far from a small cottage to the south of town. The illusive woman who lives in the cottage nearby didn’t have much to say about the strange field, but an investigation did reveal there’s something weird about Mr. Greg Jacobson’s cornfield. There’s a large, peculiar rock in the center of one of the fields that Mr. Jacobson refuses to remove.

“It’s weird as hell, but the crops grow well around it,” he says. He shrugs and gives a toothy grin. “My wife says I got fairies or something loco like that, but I have a feeling the neighbors are letting their cows take a dump in that field. Pure gold cowpies, I tell ya!”

If you took the time to head over there, the rock is strange to the touch. A bit warm, even on a crisp fall day. There’s a bit of a hum to it, too. Almost as if something is vibrating inside.

Want to explore more of the Coveted universe in South Toms River, NJ? Check out the Coveted series books: Coveted (Book #1), Kept (Book #2), and Compelled (Book #3).

Thank you Shawntelle for giving us such a haunting tour of South Tom's River!  

To learn more about Shawntelle Madison and her books, please visit her website, and don't miss our Q+A with Shawntelle Madison here at From the Shadows.  You can add the Coveted series here on Goodreads.


Paranormal Road Trip: Destination South Tom's River, New Jersey with Shawntelle Madison author of Compelled a Coveted Novel

What did you think of Shawntelle Madison's picks for spooky places?

Last week on Paranormal Road Trip we visited Los Angeles with Melissa F. Olson.  Next week we'll be traveling to Twelve Acres, Colorado with Teri Harman.

Join us for another spine-tingling Paranormal Road Trip...
if you dare!