Friday, December 19, 2014

Fairytales + Happily Never After: Guest Post from Jack Heckel


Today I have the pleasure of welcoming author Jack Heckel to the blog to talk to us a little bit about the changing nature of fairytale heroines and Prince Charming in his newest release, Happily Never After. As I'm a HUGE fan of anything relating to fairytales, I immediately added this book to my list. I hope you enjoy Jack's thoughts as much as I did!

Hi, this is Jack Heckel, author of Once Upon a Rhyme and Happily Never After. Before we get too far along, I’m incredibly excited to have this opportunity to do a guest blog for Supernatural Snark. In my series, The Charming Tales, I’ve taken fairytales and asked the question, “What if Prince Charming didn’t save the day?” That simple question has led to some interesting answers, especially involving the female characters in my books.
 

Although the books are called The Charming Tales, one of the main protagonists is Liz Pickett. She’s the older sister of Will Pickett, who becomes known as the Dragonslayer, when the Dragon in question accidentally impales itself on Will’s pitchfork. Although she’s very practical, she has a romantic heart and hopes that maybe she can find her own fairytale. In most fairytale stories, she would be set up to be the damsel in distress in need of rescue.
 

However, I believe that the role of the helpless princess or maiden doesn’t work in our culture. One of the things that I enjoyed the most in the movie, Frozen, was that neither Ana or Elsa needed someone to save them. They had their own strengths, from when Elsa decided to accept her abilities to when Ana was ready to make the ultimate sacrifice to save her sister. The global success of the movie speaks to the sort of heroines we expect in our stories.
 

For Liz’s part, she has a point where she is imprisoned and feels helpless, but it’s Elle, our version of Rapunzel, who helps talk her into not accepting her fate and doing something to stop the schemes of our lead villain. Once Liz gets her mind set, she starts on a path where she isn’t waiting for her fairytale ending, but where she’s determined to find it on her own. When she does find love, she has to take action to keep it. No spoilers, but the end of her story might not be how she would have written, but it’s one that she gets to choose.
 

As far as villains go, the primary antagonist of the books is the Princess Gwendolyn. She was the helpless prisoner trapped in the Dragon’s Tower, waiting for her Prince Charming to come save her. Unfortunately, he never came. Will Pickett, the accidental hero, saves her, and she later learns that he didn’t even kill the Dragon. She decides to seek her own justice by plotting to remove King Rupert and Prince Charming for never bothering to try and save her. While she does go a bit mad in the process, her desire to have a wedding and become the princess of legends may not seem too unreasonable considering what she went through. After all, isn’t that how fairytales are supposed to end?
 

Characters in fairytales tend to be flat and two-dimensional. They react in ways that we expect as they head off to their own ‘happily ever afters.’ It’s been a fun and fascinating journey to take those characters and add depth to them, placing them in positions that they wouldn’t encounter in the original tales and seeing what happens. One of the great things about these stories is that they are retold and changed by each generation. We live in an age where fairytales and myths are changing to reflect our world, from Maleficent even to the new Star Wars movies. I hope that everyone enjoys the journey and shares their own thoughts.

Thank you for stopping by Jack!

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HAPPILY NEVER AFTER
The Charming Tales #2


Once upon, once again …

The dragon has been slain, but the problems have just begun for Prince Charming.

Disowned by his father, the King, and abandoned by his only friend, William Pickett, Charming must find a new path in life—but he's going to need a lot of help. His love, Liz, barely survived an assassination attempt; his former fling, Rapunzel, is in danger; and William is under an evil spell cast by Princess Gwendolyn.

The fate of Castle White hangs in the balance as Charming tries to find himself, while finding new allies along the way—including an odd number of dwarfs (or is it dwarves?) and a reformed beast. But he's running out of time to stop royally ruinous wedding bells from ringing …

AmazonB&N

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ONCE UPON A RHYME
The Charming Tales #1

  
The dragon is dead. The princess has been saved. There is but one problem: Prince Charming had nothing to do with it.

In order to save his royal reputation, Prince Charming must begrudgingly enlist the help of accidental hero William Pickett. The two set out on an adventure that has them fighting trolls, outwitting a scoundrel, and drinking the foulest ale ever, collecting bruises to both body and pride along the way. Meanwhile, the rescued princess, Gwendolyn, turns out to be one dangerously distressed damsel, and an evil presence takes over Castle White in Charming's absence …

Enter this rollicking world and discover just what happens when a fairytale leaves the well-trodden path of "once upon a time."

Thursday, December 18, 2014

This Shattered World Blog Tour: Interview + Giveaway

http://www.themidnightgarden.net/2014/12/thisshatteredworld.html

I'm thrilled today to be a part of the promotional tour for This Shattered World, the second book in the Starbound Trilogy by Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner. I fell madly in love with These Broken Stars last year and could barely summon up the patience to wait until This Shattered World released, but somehow I pulled from patience reserves I never knew I had and endured until I was lucky enough to get my hands on a copy. So good.

Now I have the pleasure of welcoming Amie and Meagan back to the blog to answer a few questions, so I hope you all enjoy the interview! Be sure and check out the bottom of the post for all the details on a giveaway as well as the full list of participating blogs.

Given Lee and Flynn are on opposite sides of Avon's rebellion, there's a forbidden aspect to their romance. What are your top three fictional forbidden or starcrossed romances?

Oh, soooooo many to choose from! Given the influence their story had on this book (it’s set on planet Avon, after all), we have to choose Romeo and Juliet. We love a story about secret allies from two warring factions, and the agony of conflicting loyalties that comes with it. (We’re basically awful people. We just like agony.)

We also love the movie 10 Things I Hate About You—also, interestingly enough, a Shakespearean play in film form. There’s just something about their banter that stuck with us, and it’s that back and forth that we always try to give to each of our couples in each book. Especially with Flynn and Jubilee, who get along like matches and gasoline. (Explosively. Also: hot.)

And finally, what better starcrossed romance is there than Elizabeth Bennett and Fitzwilliam Darcy? No one would’ve ever picked those two for a couple, and yet they just end up working. Unlikely couples are our favorites.

If you were to find yourself under Lee's military command, what are a few of the words she might use to describe your physical abilities in her initial evaluation of your combat readiness?

Oh man, you had to ask. Let’s just say we’re both significantly better at writing about great feats of physical prowess than we are at performing them. A few phrases on our personal reports would include ‘noodly-armed’, ‘a danger to themselves and others’, ‘constantly daydreaming’ and ‘too busy talking to take orders’. We would also suck at getting up in time for the morning parade.

If you lived in the world of the Starbound Trilogy–where interstellar travel is commonplace and numerous planets are inhabitable–and found yourself on a previously unknown planet with your dream environment, what would that environment consist of and what would you name your new world?

Oooh, good question! The two things we love to do most together are write stories and go out on road trips, so those would shape our dream planet. We’d find ourselves surrounded by breathtaking scenery—some of our favourite places to explore were the Grand Canyon and Yosemite National Park—though we have to be honest, our dream environment would also involve a comfy house to kick back after our days of exploring.

When we need to work on a story, we love to head somewhere beautiful to walk and brainstorm, whether that’s the luxurious hot springs just outside Melbourne, or the amazing Biltmore Estate outside Asheville. So, sounds like our dream planet would be magnificent in its natural beauty, with just a touch of luxury. And hopefully some very easily harvested food. We’re not survivors like our characters!

What would we call our planet? Home.

Let's say that tomorrow you board a ship for an entirely new planet, with little to no knowledge of what awaits you in terms of food, living conditions, amenities, etc. What one aspect of this world or the comforts of your current life would you miss most?

As outlined above, we really do like our creature comforts! The truth is, though, that we’re both okay roughing it when we need to. As long as we could take our families (and our pets) with us, then the one thing we’d miss most would be our bookshelves! With comfy beds a close second ;)

If Lee and Flynn were told their lives were the subject matter for a piece of fiction, what would their first immediate reactions be? Would they want to read their story?

Flynn would absolutely love it! He comes from a long tradition of Irish storytelling, and one of the things we get to see in This Shattered World is his cousin Sean re-telling an old Irish legend about a couple called Niamh and Oisín, complete with modern touches like space shuttles. Flynn would probably prefer to hear the story told with all the embellishments you could manage, but he’d definitely want to read it too.

Jubilee’s a little more no-nonsense than Flynn (A little? A lot…) and would probably just say that she’s already lived it, she knows how it ends, and she’d rather focus on the future than spend time rehashing the past. That said, she’d probably end up reading it to humor Flynn, and we bet she’d enjoy it, even if she did critique everyone’s tactics.

A huge thank you to Amie and Meagan for taking the time to answer my questions!

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THIS SHATTERED WORLD


Jubilee Chase and Flynn Cormac should never have met.

Lee is captain of the forces sent to Avon to crush the terraformed planet's rebellious colonists, but she has her own reasons for hating the insurgents.

Rebellion is in Flynn's blood. Terraforming corporations make their fortune by recruiting colonists to make the inhospitable planets livable, with the promise of a better life for their children. But they never fulfilled their promise on Avon, and decades later, Flynn is leading the rebellion.

Desperate for any advantage in a bloody and unrelentingly war, Flynn does the only thing that makes sense when he and Lee cross paths: he returns to base with her as prisoner. But as his fellow rebels prepare to execute this tough-talking girl with nerves of steel, Flynn makes another choice that will change him forever. He and Lee escape the rebel base together, caught between two sides of a senseless war.



 
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AMIE KAUFMAN + MEAGAN SPOONER


Amie Kaufman and Meagan Spooner are longtime friends and sometime flatmates who have traveled the world (but not yet the galaxy), covering every continent between them. They are sure outer space is only a matter of time. Meagan, who is also the author of the Skylark trilogy, currently lives in Asheville, NC, while Amie lives in Melbourne, Australia. Although they currently live apart, they are united by their love of space opera, road trips, and second breakfasts.

Visit the These Broken Stars website for the latest news on the series and follow the authors on Twitter at @AmieKaufman and @MeaganSpooner. This Shattered World is available for pre-order (with fun swag!) and will be released in North America on December 23, 2014.

Find Amie:

Find Meagan:

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GIVEAWAY

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, Dec.8 - The Midnight Garden - Secrets of Starbound: Characters           
Tuesday, Dec.
- The Book Smugglers - Making an Audiobook
Wednesday, Dec. 10
- Ivy Book Bindings - Secrets of Starbound: Science and Settings
Thursday, Dec. 11
- Cuddlebuggery - How Amie & Meagan Met
Friday, Dec. 12
- Little Book Owl - Video Interview
 

Monday, Dec. 15 - Mundie Moms - Shooting the Cover
Tuesday, Dec. 16
- Xpresso Reads - Starbound Inspirations
Wednesday, Dec. 17
- A Book Utopia - Video: Your New Book Boyfriend
Thursday, Dec. 18
- Supernatural Snark - Q & A
Friday, Dec. 19
- Love is Not a Triangle - Gender in Science Fiction



Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Waiting on Wednesday: Asa

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Breaking The Spine and is a fun way to see what books other bloggers just can't wait to get their hands on!


Image Map

Jay Crownover
Contemporary New Adult
Releases from William Morrow/ HarperCollins on April 21st, 2015

Starting over in Denver with a whole new circle of friends and family, Asa Cross struggles with being the man he knows everyone wants him to be and the man he knows he really is. A leopard doesn’t it change its spots and Asa has always been a predator. He doesn’t want to hurt those who love and rely on him, especially one stunning arresting cop who suddenly seems to be interested in him for far more than his penchant for breaking the law. But letting go of old habits is hard, and it’s easy to hit bottom when it’s the place you know best.

Royal Hastings is quickly learning what the bottom looks like after a tragic situation at work threatens not only her career but her partner’s life. As a woman who has only ever had a few real friends she’s trying to muddle through her confusion and devastation all alone. Except she can’t stop thinking about the sexy southern bartender she locked up. Crushing on Asa is the last thing she needs but his allure is too strong to resist. His long criminal record can only hurt her already shaky career and chasing after a guy who has no respect for the law or himself can only end in heartbreak.

A longtime criminal and a cop together just seems so wrong . . . but for Asa and Royal, being wrong together is the only right choice to make.



Whew. Asa is looking GOOD! I think this is my favorite cover yet:) I absolutely adore this series, Jay Crownover writes such great characters and her romances have just the right amount of tension and drama to keep me on the edge of my seat without making me want to tear my hair out in frustration. I've been waiting for Asa's story for a long time, so April can't come fast enough!

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JAY CROWNOVER


Jay Crownover is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men series. She also introduced the dark and sexy world of The Point that started with BETTER WHEN HE's BAD and is currently working on her newest series The Saint of Denver. Like her characters, she is a big fan of tattoos. She loves music and wishes she could be a rock star, but since she has no aptitude for singing or instrument playing, she'll settle for writing stories with interesting characters that make the reader feel something. She lives in Colorado with her three dogs.


Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Falling Kingdoms Interview & Giveaway


I'm super excited today to be a part of a fun promotion for Gathering Darkness, the third installment of the Falling Kingdoms series by Morgan Rhodes. Since fantasy has recently become one of my favorite genres, this series is definitely on my list to read and I can't wait to dive in and binge read all three over the holidays. I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to ask Morgan a few questions about this series as a whole, so I hope this interview gives those of you new to the series (and of course those of you who are avid fans) a little something to get excited about!

For those who have yet to dive into these books, how, using a single word, might each of the four main characters describe what unfolds for them throughout the series?

Oh, you’re going to make me really work, huh? ;) Okay… here it goes:

CLEO: Evolution
JONAS: Vengeance
LUCIA: Power
MAGNUS: Divergent

If you were sitting on the throne of one of the kingdoms in this world, what would be your single greatest fear?

Same as it would be in any other world: Spiders! (shudders)

*Jenny shudders too*

Let’s say that tomorrow our world suddenly becomes infused with magic and things we never thought possible before now are. Would you want to know everything there is to know, or would you leave the magic alone and stay far, far away?

I’m only a Muggle because I have to be. If I had a choice: Magic all the wayyy! Woo hoo!!!

I’m not sure what this says about me, but I love truly despicable villains, cruel characters like Gaius who make my hands curl into fists in anger while reading. Who is your all-time favorite love-to-hate-him (or her) bad guy?

I enjoy villains, too, and King Gaius is surprisingly fun to write consider that he’s such a sadistic beast. (I’m not sure what that says about me!) My all-time favorite love-to-hate villain (right now, anyway!!) is Crowley from Supernatural. I do enjoy a sarcastic demon. My all-time just-hate-her character is Dolores Umbridge from Harry Potter. How could a cat-lover be so evil??

If you could fall through the pages and step foot into this world you’ve created, what aspect of it would you be most curious to see outside your own imagination?

I would love to take a tour through the City of Gold, the walled city that contains the Auranian palace. I describe it as such a golden, glittering jewel that it would be absolutely breathtaking to see in person.

Thanks for taking the time to answer my questions Morgan!

And just to pique everyone's curiosity further, how about a teaser quote from Gathering Darkness?


I feel like Magnus is talking directly to me here. Except for the princess part, obviously. He calls me Goddess instead. Wait. No. *attempts to return to reality* In all seriousness though, I'm a reader who ALWAYS falls for the broken, tortured, bordering-on-irredeemable anti-hero, naively hoping with each chapter that he'll do something to prove that my faith in him is not misplaced. I feel like Magnus and I might really have something special ;-)

If you want to meet Magnus as much as I do, I hope you'll pick up the Falling Kingdoms series! Be sure and check out the bottom of the post for your chance to win all sorts of Falling Kingdoms goodies:)

• • • • • • • • • •

GATHERING DARKNESS


The seeds of revolution have been sown…but in Mytica the lust for power reigns supreme.

THE REBELS forge ahead. Princess Cleo slays with sweetness—and a secret that might control Lucia’s magic—as she and vengeful Jonas lead the hunt for the all-powerful Kindred.

THE KRAESHIANS join the fray. Ashur and Amara, the royal siblings from the vast kingdom across the Silver Sea, prove to be just as ruthless as they are charming as they manipulate their way to victory.

THE WATCHERS follow Melenia out of the Sanctuary. They ally, in the flesh, with King Gaius, who vows to use Lucia’s powers to unveil the Kindred.

And which side will Prince Magnus choose, now that he’s been betrayed by everyone he’s ever loved?


*If you're a fan of this series already but haven't yet had a chance to get your hands on Gathering Darkness, then be sure and download this lengthy excerpt!*

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MORGAN RHODES

Photo: Shanon Fujioka

Morgan Rhodes is the New York Times bestselling author of the FALLING KINGDOMS series. As a child, she always wanted to be a princess—the kind that knows how to wield a sharp sword to help save both kingdoms and princes from fire-breathing dragons and dark wizards. Instead, she became a writer, which is just as good and much less dangerous. Along with writing, Morgan enjoys photography, travel, and reality TV, and is an extremely picky yet voracious reader of all kinds of books.


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GIVEAWAY


Thanks to the fabulous people at Penguin Young Readers, I have an epic prize pack to give away on the blog today! Up for grabs to one lucky winner:
  • A Falling Kingdoms T-Shirt
  • A Falling Kingdoms Postcard Set
  • Copies of Falling Kingdoms, Rebel Spring, and Gathering Darkness
Giveaway is open to US addresses only, please enter via the Rafflecopter form.

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Monday, December 15, 2014

Interview + Giveaway: Alexandra Monir and Suspicion


I'm hugely pleased today to welcome author Alexandra Monir to the blog to answer a few questions about her newest paranormal young adult release, Suspicion. The minute I saw the gorgeous cover on this one I knew I had to have it in my hands, and once there, I found it to be thoroughly enjoyable. It was a one-sit kind of read for me – I don't think you can ever have enough of those! I hope you all enjoy the interview, and don't forget to check the bottom of the post for all the giveaway details :-)

Imogen, when on the grounds of Rockford Manor, has the ability to manipulate the elements, particularly plant life. If you had the same ability, what unusual colors might you make the various plants and flowers in the landscaping around your home?

Ooh, that’s a fun question! I’m a big candy and chocolate fanatic, so I’d probably make all the plants and flowers edible treats- like something out of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory!

What’s one room a sprawling estate like Rockford Manor has that you wish could be found in your own house?

Without a doubt, the library! I’ve envied those kind of palatial libraries since I saw Beauty and the Beast as a six year old.

If allowed, I could spend hours (or likely days) exploring the stunning manor homes and castles that can be found all over England. If you were given free rein to wander through one particular real or fictional castle/manor/estate, which would you choose and what would you most hope to find there?

I’ve actually been dying to tour Buckingham Palace, but both times I went to London recently, they were closed for tours since the Queen was in residence. Sigh! I did visit Windsor Castle though, which was amazing, and the incredible Blenheim Palace, which I actually based Rockford Manor on.

Let’s say you wake up tomorrow in the middle of the Shadow Maze on Rockford Manor’s grounds. What fictional character would you try hardest to wish into being beside you in order to help you find your way out?

Definitely Sebastian! ;)

If, like Imogen, you suddenly found yourself living a life in the public eye, having to make numerous social appearances and play host to the wealthy and privileged, what would you miss most about the life you have now?

Hmm, I think probably the hardest part would be not having much time for yourself, and sitting through endless dinners with aristocrats could potentially get old!

Thanks so much for stopping by Alexandra!

• • • • • • • • • • • 

SUSPICION


Haunted by her parents' deaths, Imogen moves to New York City with her new guardians. But when a letter arrives with the news of her cousin's untimely death, revealing that Imogen is now the only heir left to run the estate, she returns to England and warily accepts her role as duchess.

All is not as it seems at Rockford, and Imogen quickly learns that dark secrets lurk behind the mansion's aristocratic exterior, hinting that the spate of deaths in her family were no accident. And at the center of the mystery is Imogen herself--and Sebastian, the childhood friend she has secretly loved for years. Just what has Imogen walked into?

Combining a fresh twist on the classic REBECCA with a spine-tingling mystery and powerful romance, SUSPICION is an action-packed thrill ride.



• • • • • • • • • • • 

ALEXANDRA MONIR

 Photo courtesy of Neal Preston

Author and recording artist Alexandra Monir broke onto the scene in her early twenties with the release of her popular debut YA novel, the paranormal romance Timeless (Delacorte Press/Random House). The book caught on quickly, landing on the Barnes & Noble Bestsellers chart and being named one of Amazon's "Best Books of the Month." The sequel, Timekeeper, was published in 2013. Both books in the series have been featured in a variety of media, from USA Today to teen magazines and websites such as J-14, JustJaredJr, Teen.com and Justine Magazine. Suspicion (Random House; December 9, 2014) marks Alexandra's first novel outside of the Timeless series, as well as her first foray into the mystery genre. Her fourth YA novel for Random House will be published in April 2016.

Alexandra is also a singer/songwriter, known for integrating music into her books' pages. She wrote and recorded three original songs to accompany Timeless and Timekeeper, which were released as the album The Timeless EP and distributed by Jimmy Buffett's record label, Mailboat Records. She additionally recorded a new song to be released along with Suspicion, and is composing a stage musical geared toward Broadway. Alexandra is the granddaughter of the late Monir Vakili, the foremost Persian opera singer.

Alexandra currently resides in Los Angeles, California. She has been invited to speak at middle schools and high schools across the country, and at major events including Comic-Con, Bouchercon, the Iranian-American Women's Leadership Conference, and New York Public Library's annual Teen Author Festival, among others.


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GIVEAWAY

Thanks to the amazingly generous people at Penguin Random House, I have one finished copy of Suspicion to give away on the blog today! To enter, please fill out the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is open to US addresses only. 

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Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday Flourish: Whispers from the Dead

Happy Friday Everyone!

It's a multi-flourish kind of week this week and I have another sequel to share with all of you. I'm on a roll! I've been lucky enough to work on several covers for author Karen Ann Hopkins, starting with Lamb to the Slaughter, the first in an adult murder mystery series, and moving on to Embers, the first in a new paranormal young adult series. Karen is now getting ready to release the second book in the aforementioned murder mystery series, and I couldn't be more excited with how the cover turned out.

There was an official cover reveal last week so some of you may have seen it already, but for those who haven't, I hope it piques your interest!

WHISPERS FROM THE DEAD
Serenity's Plain Secrets #2
Releases January 20th, 2015


Some Amish communities aren't so cozy.
Whispers From The Dead is the powerful and thrilling sequel to Lamb to the Slaughter, in the Amish mystery series, Serenity’s Plain Secrets.

Sheriff Serenity Adams and Daniel Bachman are once again partnered up in a criminal investigation, when they travel to a northern Amish settlement that has been riddled by arsons for the past two decades. Serenity quickly discovers that there is much more going on than just barns being set on fire in the touristy community, and that the new group of Amish has their own secrets to hide. She begins to unravel an extensive criminal underworld that threatens to destroy everything that the simple people of Poplar Springs hold dear and once again puts her own life in jeopardy.

And even though Serenity tries desperately to avoid it, things begin heating up between her and Daniel, making her wonder if true love and happiness are really within her grasp.


*If you're in the mood for a great murder mystery, be sure and sign up for the review tour in January!


LAMB TO THE SLAUGHTER
Serenity's Plain Secrets #1


Lamb to the Slaughter is a story about the intertwining lives of three unlikely people in an Indiana Amish Community and the devastating results when a rebellious teenage girl is found shot to death in a corn field during the harvest.

Serenity Adams is the newly elected young sheriff in the country town of Blood Rock and besides dealing with the threatening behavior of her predecessor, she now has a dead Amish girl on her plate.  At first glance, the case seems obvious.  The poor girl was probably accidently shot during hunting season, but when the elders of the Amish community and even the girl’s parents react with uncaring subdued behavior, Serenity becomes suspicious.  As she delves deeper into the secretive community that she grew up beside, she discovers a gruesome crime from the past that may very well be related to the Amish girl’s shooting.

Serenity enlists the help of the handsome bad-boy building contractor, Daniel Bachman, who left the Amish when he was nineteen and has his own dark reasons to help the spunky sheriff solve the crime that the family and friends who shunned him are trying desperately to cover up.  Serenity’s persistence leads her to a stunning discovery that not only threatens to destroy her blossoming romance with Daniel, but may even take her life in the end.


Find Karen:


You can find more of my cover design work at Seedlings Design Studio!