Blog Tour Stop: Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis

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I am excited for the opportunity to be one of the stop for this blog tour. This is one of my anticipated reads for this year.  I am going to put all of the info about the book and author first, but keep going. I will be giving a first impressions review and  there will be a link for a giveaway at the end!

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Synopsis 
Ethan Makkai thought that seeing ghosts was the worst of his problems. Between his ethereal gift and life with a single mother hell-bent on watching his every move, he feels imprisoned. When Ethan sees a chance to escape, to leave the house by himself for the first time in his life, he seizes it, unaware that this first taste of freedom will cost him everything.

Ethan is thrown into a strange and eerie world, like nothing he’s ever seen. He’s assaulted by dive-bombing birds and rescued by a stranger who claims to be his bodyguard. His apartment is trashed, and his mother is kidnapped to a place Ethan never knew existed—a hidden continent called Tara.
Travelling to Tara in search of his mother, Ethan discovers that everything he knows about his life is a lie. His mother is royalty. His father is not dead. His destiny is likely to get him killed.
Confronted by a vicious sorcerer determined to destroy the Makkai family, Ethan must garner strength from his gift and embrace his destiny if he’s going to save his mother and all the people of Tara, including the beautiful girl he’s fallen for.

 

Praise for GAME OF SHADOWS

“A fantastical journey that I didn’t want to end!” ―Sherrilyn Kenyon, #1 New York Times bestselling author

“It’s impossible to put this riveting page-turner down!” ―Stan Lee, author, editor, actor, and former president and chairman of Marvel Comics

“This book’s got heart . . . a wonderful adventure.” ―R. A. Salvatore, New York Times bestselling author of The Hunters Blades novels

“One of those thrilling tales you can’t put down . . . the perfect blend of imaginative world-building and nonstop action wrapped up in a compelling mystery.” ―D.J. MacHale, New York Times bestselling author of Pendragon and The SYLO Chronicles

“We were hooked. This is an adventure story for the ages.” — John Barrowman & Carole Barrowman, authors of the Hollow Earth trilogy & Conjuror

“Riveting from the start.” ―Steven Gould, author of Jumper

“Lewis has created a whole new world that is at once exciting and affecting. . . . She weaves a web of mythology that is both reminiscent of the Celtic world and redolent of the unique creation of a rich and fertile imagination.”―Dara Hellman, Lecturer, Celtic Studies Program, University of California, Berkeley

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 

Erika Lewis graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in Math. And what do you do with a degree in Math? You become a writer of course… eventually…

She moved to the west coast following her dream to work in television. And after fifteen glorious years developing and producing for truly awesome places, like Sony Pictures Entertainment, Fireworks Television, 20th Television, that’s a division of Fox if you didn’t know that, and then at G4, where she could finally be free to be the nerd she had always been. She had more collectible toys in her office than even the famed executive producers of ATTACK OF THE SHOW and XPLAY. At least that’s the way she remembers it.

So how did this circle back to the beginning of this bio? A Math major becoming a writer? Because she’d actually always been a writer, she just never told anyone. She would write and write, edit and edit, then realize that it wasn’t good enough and go back in for yet another pass. And when she finally had several projects she really loved, that’s when she knew it was time to unleash them to the world.

Her first project, a graphic novel, THE 49TH KEY, is currently being featured in Heavy Metal Magazine, and will be released in trade in summer, 2017. Along with her amazing partner, Jessica Chobot, she’s currently working with LINE Webtoon and Legendary Comics on FIREBRAND, an ongoing comic series. Her first novel, GAME OF SHADOWS hits the bookstore shelves February 28th, 2017 from TOR/Forge Books, an imprint of Macmillan Publishers.

There are several other really exciting projects that you will be hearing much more about soon, but if she leaked them now, she’d get in big, big, big trouble. She resides in the sunshine state of California. When she’s not chained to her laptop, she’s usually playing with her big fluffy Golden Retriever, or running, or at one of the bookstores or comic shops by her house. And always drinking coffee.

My First Impressions:
Normally, with a blog tour I would post a full review to go along with all of the promotional items. Unfortunately, I had to choose between making sure that my post would go up on time or post a full review. So, in short, I have never done a first impressions review. I’m not certain that it would be fair to my readers since I have not read the entire book. At this point I have about a hundred pages left, and I am certain that the ending will not be disappointing. So here we go:
I was immediately drawn into the story from the first few page. Lewis starts the story off with hints that something much bigger is going on. But it is impossible to tell how big the secrets are until the action starts.  Ethan Makkai is a surprising character. He teeters between being completely lost and afraid in the new world that he is thrown into and being a very capable brave leader. I would have to say that the journey to save his mother helps him grow into the person his country has been waiting for.
Lewis has worked really hard in creating characters with distinct voices and personalities and talents that propel the story forward without losing momentum. Also the work that went into the world-building of Tara is evident. Even things that are out and out unbelievable are molded into something familiar and real.
The whole “character doesn’t know who he is until a catastrophic event reveals the truth, leaving him with no one and nothing to trust” trope is a bit old and annoying in most works. But not here, Lewis makes it work. She keeps the pace steady between learning  what is really going on and the action that is engaging and captivating.
I find it really hard to put this book down. I am sure if life, I.E.  my two year old, did not interrupt, I would have finished this book.  From everything that I’ve read so far, I can easily say that this is one of my favorite reads. Regardless of what happens in the last one hundred pages, I am certain that this book is one that I will continuously recommend to friends and fellow readers!
Want a chance to read this amazing book for yourself? Check out the rafflecopter link below for a chance to win your own copy!
Giveaway is open to International. | Must be 13+ to Enter
 

 – 10 Winners will receive a Copy of Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis

https://widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js” target=”_blank”>Rafflecopter Giveaway  for Game of Shadows by Erika Lewis
Check back soon for my full review!
Always Shine!
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Blog Tour and Guest Post: The Hound at the Gate by Darby Karchut

Yes folks! She is back! This time Darby comes to us with The Hound at the Gate, the third book in The Adventures of Finn MacCullen series. Have you not started this series? Shame on you, Go. Read. Now. Wondering what the first two books were like? Check out  my previous reviews here.

Darby was nice enough to stop by here for a guest post, which follows the book information. Than come back later today for my review. I have to tell you that Finn has made his way into my heart just as Griffin did. ( And if you don’t know who Griffin is, then that means you need to go ahead and get your hands on Darby’s other series, which starts with Griffin Rising. Again, Go. Read. Now.)

The Hound at the Gate (The Adventures of Finn MacCullen, #3)

The Hound At the Gate by Darby Karchut

The Adventures of Finn MacCullen #3

January 13, 2015 – Spencer Hill Press

272 Pages -Young Adult, Middle Grade, Fantasy, Fiction

http://www.darbykarchut.com

Goodreads: Autumn: the season of endings. And beginnings.
Especially for one young apprentice.
At the annual Festival of the Hunt, thirteen-year-old apprentice goblin hunter Finn MacCullen and his master, Gideon Lir, join other Tuatha De Danaan to honor their people’s heritage. But Finn soon realizes that there are some who denounce his right to attend due to his half-human bloodline.
As he struggles to keep his place by his master’s side, he finds himself embroiled in a decades-old grudge between Gideon and another Knight, bewildered (and beguiled) by a female apprentice with a temper as explosive as his own, and battling a pack of goblins determined to wipe out the entire camp in a surprise attack.
It’s going to take some fancy knife work, the help of a female Knight with a lethal bow, and one old pick up truck to defeat the goblins and prove to his people that Finn’s blood runs true-blue Tuatha De Danaan.

You can’t tell me that this book doesn’t sound interesting. I know you’re resisting the urge to stop reading so you can go grab your copy. But wait, there’s a bit more. Interested in what inspired The Hound at the Gate?  Read on.

The Story behind THE HOUND AT THE GATE by Darby Karchut

For writers, inspiration often springs from a weird blend of images, obscure facts from history or current events, a random remark, and even from a verse in a song. The Hound at the Gate has such a mix.

For those of you who have read The Hound at the Gate, these references will jump right out at you. For you who haven’t yet cracked Hound’s spine, watch for these as you read:

Mountain Man Rendezvous

During the mid-1800’s, fur trappers and traders and other rugged individuals who lived in the Rocky Mountains would gather together to celebrate their way of life. Over several days or weeks, there would be all sorts of competitions, singing, feasting and drinking and trading. I took this event and shaped it into a Celtic version of a Rendezvous and renamed it The Festival of the Hunt.

Hurling

The official sport of Ireland. The perfect sport to play at the Tuatha De Danaan’s Festival. Plus, it gave me a reason for Gideon to take off his shirt. You’re welcome.

The Legend of Cúchulain

Cúchulain, often called the Celtic Achilles, was a young, but formidable warrior of Bronze Age Irish mythology. While his birth name was Sétanta, he earned the name Cúchulain from a curious incident. He accidentally killed the guard dog of a local chieftain named Cullen. In payment, he offered to stand guard at the gates of Cullen’s fortress. Others then began calling him “Cullen’s Hound.” In Gaelic, it is Cú Chulain—the hound that guards the gate.

Curiously, young Cúchulain was also taken away, in his late teens, to be trained by warrior-goddess, one of them being the Scáthach.

Roles of Chieftains and Kings

Bronze Age Ireland was more of a tribal society, as opposed to have a central authority figure. While clans had their own leaders, and several clans might be under the rule of a chieftain, it was rare to have a king over all the clans. The High King, Brian Boru (who was a real person) was one such king, although he does not figure in Hound. (It was from the history of Brian Boru that the idea for a parallel series to the Finn MacCullen books was born. Thus: The Stag Lord and Unholy Blue. Bonus point for me to pimping my other series).

Boudica

The scene with the pick up truck was inspired by Boudica, a chariot-riding warrior-queen who led her tribe of British Celts against the invading Romans. She would have loved Kel O’Shea.

The song “The Minstrel Boy”

The version performed by the band, Enter the Haggis, is the official theme song for the Finnegan series. There is a line in the song, “warrior bard” which resonates with me, and confirms how I view my Tuatha De Danaan: fierce warriors with the souls of bards.

* * *

So, why the Irish in the first place? I wish I could point to one thing or event, but I can’t. Like many Americans, I have Irish ancestry on my father’s side. In fact, “Darby” is an old family name, and yes, it really is my given name.

And, as a teen, I fell in love with the art in The Book of Kells. That led me to explore Celtic art. Which led me to explore Celtic mythology. Which led me to the Tuatha De Danaan, whom I first learned about when I read How the Irish Saved Civilization by Thomas Cahill. That was back in 2009.

By 2010, I had written the first drafts of both Finn Finnegan and Gideon’s Spear, but put them aside to focus on my Griffin series, a YA series about a teen guardian angel and his beloved master. (Again, pimping). Once those books were published, I went back to Finn’s story.

Now, here I am, sending Finn and Gideon off on another adventure. What’s next for my heroes? Well, the fourth and final book in The Adventures of Finn MacCullen, entitled The Burnt Bones, is currently in the editing stages. I’ll miss my wild Irish boys; I enjoyed every minute getting to know them.

I hope you do, too. Cheers!

Thank you Darby, for stopping by and sharing the inspiration behind the story. I am looking forward to The Burnt Bones, but I will also be preparing my farewells. Now, come back in a couple of hours so I can tell you how amazingly awesome the third book is!

Always Shine!