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Friday, December 3, 2021

Top Ten Christmas Drinks

 



Top Ten Christmas Drinks

Along with all the sparkling lights and festive decorations, one of the things I most look forward to each holiday season is the many delicious drinks that are served.
Let’s check out some alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages, and find out which one is my favorite!

10. Apple Cider
I love the mix of sweet, tangy, and spicy flavors of a hot, apple cider. On a cold evening with sparkling Christmas lights, a toasty drink like this warms the body and soul.


9. Mulled Wine
This isn’t a drink I see commonly in the USA but one I enjoyed in Austria. They may drink it elsewhere, as well. The base is red wine, then spices like anise star or cinnamon are added, and topped off with orange slices.


It’s a hot beverage, and because of the spices and wine, it leaves you feeling warm and cozy. Mulled wine is often served at parties or outside at the lovely Christmas markets.


8. Hot Chocolate
What’s a list without this classic? Hot cocoa is a wonderful hit for all ages! At my house, we often drink Mexican hot chocolate with all the yummy spices, but the pure chocolate version topped with whipped cream is also delightful.


7. Hot Buttered Rum
This is the ultimate comfort food drink! Prepared with rum, spices, and of course butter, this drink reminds me of a paranormal romance alpha male.
Sexy, spicy, and served warm, it’s sure to knock your socks off with its smooth flavor.


6. Holiday Martini
There are so many versions of a holiday martini. What caught my eye were the lovely colors these beverages display. Red cranberry, creamy, snickerdoodle, pecan, the list goes on and on!


5. Eggnog
Smooth, creamy, and sweet, what’s a holiday without eggnog?  With a mix of nutmeg and light texture, it’s a perfect dessert beverage. And if you like it spiked, don’t forget the brandy or cognac.


4. Raspberry Bubbly
So what if you need to make a toast? Check out this lovely drink made with grape juice, and frozen raspberries. And, if you want it alcoholic, that’s an easy twist to arrange. So simple, yet so pretty.


3. Booze Grinch Punch
Omg. You’ve got to look this one up to see the color alone! Whoever thought of mixing lime Kool-Aid, limeade, and juice, created an amazing holiday drink that looks good enough to make virgin or alcoholic. It just sounds so tasty, and it’s fun-looking! (See below.)


2. Mexican Christmas Punch
Another wonderful drink some people might not have access to, but worthy of mentioning. I know it from my Mexican family, though some other countries might drink it as well. It’s made with hibiscus flowers, tamarind, a variety of fruits, and spices plus sugar cane. Many people make it virgin, and some like to add alcohol. If you ever get a chance to try this tangy, sweet, and warming drink, I highly recommend it!


1. Salted Caramel Mocha or Peppermint Mocha.
You might be rolling your eyes right now, like how is this lady making coffee her number one choice? LOL! I have a great reason so let me explain. Every other drink in this post I might enjoy once, maybe twice, or maybe not at all during the year. But coffee on the other hand is a daily necessity and joy for me, and I ADORE holiday coffee drinks! My favorite holiday coffee drink is Salted Caramel Mocha, but I added Peppermint Mocha for other coffee fans.

Thanks for reading my holiday drinks post. If you liked any of them, search by name on Google, and they will pop right up. Delish had A LOT of party drink ideas! Happy Holidays and here’s the Grinch Punch Recipe.

 


Grinch Punch Recipe

Ingredients:
• 2 packets Kool-Aid Lemon Lime mix
• 1 Can Frozen Limeade Concentrate
• 4 cups pineapple juice
• 1-liter ginger ale
• 2 Cups Sugar
• 8 Cups Water
• And if adding alcohol, 2 cups vodka
• Ice according to your taste
• Red sanding sugar, for rimming your glasses

Preparation

1. Combine the Kool-Aid, limeade, water, sugar, and pineapple juice.Stir to combine completely. Refrigerate until ready to serve.
2. When ready to serve, combine ginger ale with the juices.
3. Serve in red sugar-rimmed glasses.



Stolen in the Dark
Fae Bureau of Investigation
Scarlett West

Genre: Urban Fantasy Romance
Publisher: Passion Press
Date of Publication:  July 20, 2021
ASIN:  B0915V6MY2
Number of pages:  269
Word Count: 70,069
Cover Artist: Lori Grundy

Tagline:He forced me into their world. Now dark enemies want me dead.

Book Description:

When an attempted kidnapping leads me to be rescued by a dark and sexy Fae, I assume life can’t be any stranger… Until I discover I’m his fated mate, and that he needs my help to stop a ruthless enemy from kidnapping his kind. 

If someone doesn’t stop the brutal attacks, it could lead to earth’s ultimate destruction, so if I want to survive, I have to join the Fae Bureau of Investigation, with Damien as my superior. 

But while Damien may be both hot as hell and my one-time hero, my unearthly ability to sense things through my hair is telling me to run: Damien can’t be trusted, and I would hate him as my boss. 

With the enemy closing in, though, time is running out for me to make my choice: join the Bureau…or return home to my death. 

Readers who enjoy Karen Marie Moning, Laurell K. Hamilton, Amelia Hutchins, and Lindsay Hall, will love this dangerous and sexy urban fantasy. Scroll Up and One Click to start reading this hot paranormal romance today!



Excerpt

I narrowed my eyes at Damien. “Does that mean we would have to work together?”

Damien smirked. “Yes.”

I groaned. As it was, Damien set my nerves on edge in so many different ways. I wasn’t sure I could stand to be close to him. Every f*cking day. And the way he touched me? His hands on my hair? My senses swam when I recalled that embrace.

 “Though I don’t like the way I was thrust into this situation, I believe you now. Except for the bracelets. I don't know if you put them on my arms or if they’re even still there. But what can I do to help?”

He raised his eyebrows, and a flash of heat blazed in his eyes. “Thrust, huh? I like your choice of word.”

My cheeks burned, and Iwas sure I was turning all shades of red.

Then, as usual, his expression snapped back to ice. “But this is no game.”

I opened my arms wide. “I'm aware of that. Explain it to me. What would I have to do?”

Still holding the folder, he crossed his arms and jutted out his chin. “Give up your life and join the FBI.”

I frowned at him. “The Federal Bureau of Investigation? You work with them?”

“Correction. The Fae Bureau of Investigation.”



About the Author:


Scarlett West writes steamy, paranormal romance featuring sexy Fae. Deep characters and hot romance are her thing. An avid reader and writer who will never stop dreaming, Scarlett has traveled to many countries and been on tons of adventures. She draws her stories from these places, life experiences, and her grand imagination. Besides writing, she's a hobby herbalist and a dancer. If she's not by the computer typing these things up, she can be found in a forest, on a mountain, or by the ocean. She would like to thank her three F's: Fans, Family and Friends. Thank you forever for your support.

You can keep in touch with me by signing up for my newsletter. You'll be the first to hear about the latest releases, deals, and exclusive giveaways. Sign up here: https://bit.ly/3c4YbgH

Hit me up on social media! Here's a list of places you can find me:

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/scarlettwestwrites/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/iamscarlettwest

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/scarlettwestwrites

Bookbub: https://www.bookbub.com/profile/scarlett-west

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Scarlett-West/e/B07H7XLCXX

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18396718.Scarlett_West





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Thursday, December 2, 2021

Making Tea Blends

 


How to Blend Teas for the Holidays

I drink a lot of tea. I learned the habit from my mom. Recently, one of the things I discovered that I love to do is to blend teas to represent the characters in my books and stories. I've given those tea blends away as holiday presents, so I'll walk you through the process so you can create your own gift teas.

The main character in my As Above, So Below books is Lorelei. She’s a young succubus, who is only several hundred years old when she falls in love with the angel Azaziel. In order to make a tea to represent her, I thought about what teas I like that I could adapt. You could start with the person for whom you're making a present: think about their personality in flavors.

If Lorelei drank tea, it would bea spicy chai. I started my blend with a hearty Masala Chai as a base. In my novels, Lorelei’s signature cocktail is vodka and cranberry juice, so I added dried cranberries to the tea, along with dried apple pieces to symbolize temptation. Then I boosted the ginger in the chai to make it hotter on the tongue. Lorelei’s tea has a wonderful spicy aroma, full of cinnamon and clove. It tastes slightly fruity, with a buzz of ginger at the finish.

Adagio Teas (adagio.com) makes it really easy to blend your own teas. First off, you'll need to make an account, which is free.

Once that's done, click on Blends in the menu bar. One of your options is Create a Blend.

 

Click on that and it opens a page headed Create Your Own Blend. This allows you to name the tea, then pick up to three of Adagio's flavored teas from drop-down menus. You can adjust how much or how little of each flavor you'd like to include using the slider bar. Adagio has a lot of teas to mix and match.

 

You're also allowed to choose up to three "Accents." These range from dried fruit to flower petals to sprinkles or candy pieces. Just remember that the more Accents you mix in, the less tea you'll get in each cup.

 

I use the website Canva.com to create labels for each of my blends. Adagio requests that the label images be 700 x 437-pixel jpegs. They want you to own the copyright for the images you upload, but Canva has a lot of copyright-free templates that you can choose from. I find Canva easier (and cheaper!) to use than Photoshop.

 

Once you've uploaded your label artwork,you are allowed to make your teas private or available for sale. If you sell them, Adagio gives you points that you can spend on tea samples or free shipping or small gifts in a future order.

 

You can make a whole series of related blends, say, one for every member of your family? If you put two blends into a "ship," then anyone who orders both teas will get a discount.

 

I put Lorelei's tea into a 'ship with Azaziel's tea, which is flecked with petals of pink peony, blue lavender, yellow marigold, and red rose, to symbolize the Fields of Heaven. All those flower petals make a really pretty tea. It has a base of Adagio’s Assam Melody tea, to which I added Adagio’s vanilla-flavored Cream Tea to indicate Heaven and purity. Azaziel's tea has a wonderful flavor, friendly and welcoming, and makes a nice contrast to Lorelei’s spicy, fruity tea.

 

Adagio allows you to order a sample tin of each tea or to buy them in 3-ounce pouches or 5-ounce tins. My preference is the handsome reusable 5-ounce tin, the perfect size for holiday presents.

 

If you're curious to see what I've done with my teas, here are the links:

 

Lorelei’s chai: https://www.adagio.com/signature_blend/blend.html?blend=162653

 

Azaziel’s heavenly tea: https://www.adagio.com/signature_blend/blend.html?blend=162654

 

Check out all of my tea blends:  https://www.adagio.com/signature_blend/list.html?userId=566763LR



As Above, So Below Box Set
Loren Rhoads

Genre:  paranormal romance
Publisher: Automatism Press
Date of Publication: November 30, 2021
ASIN:  B09KW5HWCC
Number of pages:  477
Word Count: 190646
Cover Artist: Carmen Masloski

Tagline:  If Romeo had wings and Juliet a barbed tail, could they find love in the City of Angels?

Book Description: 

If Romeo had wings and Juliet a barbed tail, could they find happiness together in the City of Angels?

Combining the books Lost Angels and its sequel Angelus Rose, As Above, So Below tells the whole story, from the moment Lorelei met Azaziel in her master's dance club to the conflagration in the cemetery following the discovery of Azaziel's hoard of unsaved souls.

"Any angel can be tempted, any devil as well." -- Succubus.net



Excerpt

Lorelei licked the last traces of soul from her lips, then smoothed the knee-length hobble dress over her thighs. The black Lycra snuggled around her like a living creature. The barbed tip of her tail twitched as she scanned the dance club, seeking more prey.

Her violet eyes locked on the creature seated at the end of the zinc bar, dressed in a rumpled khaki trench coat. Through the smoke and flashing lights of the dance club, she saw him for what he was: an angel of melancholy. Hers. His wings weren’t manifest, but the unmistakable glow of his halo enforced a margin of emptiness around him. Shoulders hunched over his glass, he was doing his best to ignore what was going on around the club. Clearly not having fun, which was a damned shame, considering that fun was what Lost Angels was all about. Lorelei wondered what it would take to put a smile on his face.

She patted hair over the nubs of her horns and adjusted the dress’s zipper to be demure as could be, only the pale white column of her throat revealed. Once she’d made certain that the seams on her stockings were straight and her mortal glamour was flawless, she stepped out of the shadows. Let’s see if this one could be won without a fight.

The angel ignored her when she leaned across the bar at his elbow, straining the lycra dress just so. Lorelei waved the bartender over. “My usual,” she shouted above the music, “and whatever he’s drinking. On my tab.”

When another Crown Royal appeared in front of him, the angel made no move toward it. Lorelei breathed into his ear, “Say thank you.”

Vaguely in the bartender’s direction, the angel repeated, “Thank you.”

Lorelei touched her glass against the angel’s, then downed a good mouthful of her drink. More Absolut than cranberry, just the way she liked it. However, the angel continued to ignore her, tense and miserable, wanting his whiskey but apparently afraid to touch it.

“Thank you, Lorelei,” she prompted. She leaned against the angel, nestling his shoulder between her breasts. She reached around his waist to hold him close. He could escape her, certainly, if he wanted to cause a scene. She licked her lips, so close to his ear that he quivered at the sound. “What’s your name, Angel?”

He sipped his drink before answering, “Aza.”

There should be an ‘el’ on there somewhere. Amused by the dropped honorific, she echoed, “Just Aza?”

“Aza will do.”

The nickname made him sound accessible. Not fallen yet, but unimaginably lonely. Lorelei asked, “Looking for company, Aza?”

The angel put his glass down very precisely on the bar. She was unprepared when his stormy green eyes turned to her. “Maybe I came looking for you, Lorelei.”

The timbre of his voice shivered through her like lightning.

When she was sure of her composure, she purred, “Here I am, Angel.”




About the Author:

Loren Rhoads is the co-author of Lost Angels and Angelus Rose -- the As Above, So Below duology -- with Brian Thomas. Loren's stories about the succubus Lorelei have appeared in the books Sins of the Sirens, Demon Lovers, and Unsafe Words, and most recently online at The Fabulist. 

Check out more of her work at: 














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She Died on a Monday by Kevin McLeod

 


She Died on a Monday
Kevin McLeod

Genre: Love Story, paranormal
Date of Publication: 20/09/2021
ISBN: 979-8469680987
ASIN: B09DYZ1D4W
Number of pages: 50
Word Count: 8886
Cover Artist: Theresa Bills

Tagline: What do we do when everything changes in an instant?

Book Description: 

Picture the kind of enduring love that most of us would wish for; the kind of elderly, married couple we might see on the street, or in a cafĂ©, so in tune with each other that it’s hard to imagine one without the other.

John and Elizabeth have a love like that, but John’s world is suddenly shattered when Elizabeth is brutally taken from him. For some people it can feel as though it’s just too difficult to go on when one half of you is missing. How will John cope with his broken heart? Who, or what, can help him?

Kevin McLeod is a best-selling children’s author, but this is his first adult short story, inspired by the love his grandparents shared. Kevin writes beautifully, in heart-rending detail, about the numbness, shock, and crushing grief that John faces. He explores challenges that we will all face when someone we love dies, made all the more poignant by his tender evocation of a long and happy marriage.

‘She Died On A Monday’ is a story of love and loss that you’ll want to read time and again, to enjoy each perfect detail and the clever twists and turns. But, be warned, you might just cry every time that you do.


Excerpt:

She died on a Monday. No long lingering illness. No last words, just there, then gone. One minute they were sharing breakfast, the next his world collapsed. She was falling too fast and he was moving too slow. Later, the doctor would tell him that it didn't matter how fast he had moved. He couldn't have saved her. Like that makes it ok. As if that would make him feel better. It mattered to him. He should have caught her and helped her; instead he had moved in slow motion as the love of his life, his very reason for living, disappeared in front of his eyes.

There was no warning. She had been healthy and happy. Ten minutes before she died, they had been discussing what to do after breakfast. He remembered scoffing at her suggestion that they should visit his sister. He tried to remember the last words he had said to her. Finally, they came back to him. Is there any toast? Such a normal question, but now it seemed so stupid, so banal. If he had known they were going to be his last words to her he would have said something meaningful, something profound.

Later, the doctor would tell him that it had been an aneurysm in her brain and that she had felt no pain. Should this comfort him? If it was supposed to, it didn't. Somehow the suddenness made it worse. Neither of them had been prepared for this. The numbness he felt began cocooning him in his own sorrow.

At some point, he didn't remember when, his daughter arrived. She was talking to the medical crew. She turned and began to talk to him. He couldn't make out the words. The lines of her face were blurred by his tears and her words were unable to penetrate an overwhelming numbness.

They took his wife's body away, carted it off on a trolley like she was nothing. He wanted to yell at them, to make them do this terrible thing in some different way. Instead, he sat and watched while his daughter hugged him. He was vaguely aware he wasn't hugging her back, his arms unwilling to move.

He found himself on the couch, unaware of how he had come to be there. His daughter was on the phone and his son had arrived. His son was looking in drawers and speaking, but he couldn't make sense of it. He heard the word funeral and slowly his brain began to understand. His son was looking for the funeral plan papers. He managed to tell him where to find them. His voice was quiet, broken, as he mumbled through the words. His son put a hand on his shoulder and gave it a gentle squeeze. A simple act of love from a son to his father. He put his hand over his son’s. No words were said.

He couldn't accept it, wouldn't accept it. His wife couldn't be dead. They had so many plans. So much to do. How could she be gone? They were due to go on holiday next month. It was all paid for and arranged. She had been looking forward to it. They both had. Now, they would never get to see those views, or take that boat trip. The same one they had taken on their first holiday together.

After a few hours of helping and being there for him, his son and daughter left. His daughter had asked to stay with him tonight, or for him to come with her, but he wanted to be alone. He managed to thank them for helping, while ushering them towards the door. He shut the door, instantly becoming aware of the silence. It crashed into him like a wave. There were no sounds coming from the kitchen, or from the radio in the living room. She always liked to listen to the same channel, keeping it on for some background noise. He walked to the living room and switched on the radio, as if this would bring her back. Feeling foolish, he turned it off again.

He lay down on the couch and cried himself to sleep.

'John, wake up, it's time to get up.'

He heard her voice so clearly that he woke with a start and sat up straight. Confusion took over as he tried to work out whether it had been a dream or if he had actually heard her voice. He looked to the large window, the one with her favourite view over the city from their fourth-floor apartment. It was one of the reasons they had bought this place, she loved that view. It must be late, as darkness had replaced light while he was sleeping. He turned on a lamp and went to shut the curtains. He froze, as just for a second, he swore that he saw her behind him. He turned to the living room but found only emptiness.

He drew the curtains and went to the kitchen. The clock on the wall told him it was a quarter past ten at night. He hadn't eaten all day and knew that he should. He went to the fridge and found a sandwich that his daughter must have made for him. He sat at the table, the same table where she had died, and stared at her empty space. Slowly, he ate the sandwich, tasting nothing.

He walked through the hall to their bedroom. Sitting on the edge of the bed, he stared at her side. Suddenly he felt it, her touch. He couldn't explain it, but he felt her. She was here, she was with him. But, as quickly as the sensation came, it left. His mind was playing tricks on him. It surely was understandable; he was processing the enormity of what had happened. He didn't bother to undress. Lying down on the bed, on top of the covers, he curled into the foetal position and began to cry.

She died on a Monday.


About the Author:

Kevin McLeod is the international best selling author of The Viking’s Apprentice series. He has written 4 books in this series and now takes a step into a different genre with ‘She Died on a Monday’ 

Kevin is 46, lives in Hamilton in Scotland with his two daughters and his dog, Tiger. Kevin is a keen cook and loves the outdoors. He loves spending time with his friends and family. 

Kevin began writing professionally in 2013 with the release of his first book, The Viking’s Apprentice. After his huge success in middle grade fiction he has moved into a more adult genre and looks forward to writing many more stories in the years to come. 








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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Morgan Le Fay: Small Things and Great The Fata Morgana Series Book One by Jo-Anne Blanco

 



Morgan Le Fay: Small Things and Great
The Fata Morgana Series
Book One
Jo-Anne Blanco

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Argante Press
Date of Publication: September 2021
ISBN:978-1838489304
ASIN:B09FQDLSSG
Number of pages:295
Word Count: 104,560
Cover Artist: Miriam Soriano

Book Description:

THE CHILD FATED TO SHAPE DESTINIES …

Morgan is a little girl who lives in Tintagel Castle by the sea, loved and sheltered by her noble parents, the Duke and Duchess of Belerion. An extraordinarily clever child, extremely sharp-eyed, exceptionally curious. A little girl unlike other children.

One stormy night a ship is wrecked off the coast, bringing with it new friends – Fleur the princess from a far-off land, Safir the stowaway with a secret, and the mysterious twins Merlin and Ganieda. Morgan’s visions of another world awaken her to the realisation that she can see things others cannot. That she has powers other people do not possess.

Not long afterwards, Morgan encounters Diana, the Moon Huntress, who charges her with a dangerous mission that only she can accomplish. With Merlin by her side and unsure if he is friend or foe, Morgan must venture far from home to enter the realms of the Piskies and the Muryans, warring tribes of faeries who vie for the souls of lost children. There she must summon her magic to fight the most ancient powers in the world, to rescue a young soul destined to be reborn …


Excerpt from Chapter I: The Deluge

Feeling very alone, Morgan hesitated. If she disobeyed Sebile again, she knew she would be in trouble. She looked up again, but there was still no sign of the Horned Man. Whatever was moving towards her in the sea was coming closer. She had to know what it was. Instinctively, she ran towards the shore and felt her way across the rocks that cut through the beach and the water. There she stood upon a rock as the movement came into focus. Her heart began to race once more and time returned to its normal pace as she looked, astounded, upon a sight she had already seen in her mind.

A little dark-haired boy of about her own age was swimming determinedly towards the rocks. On his back, clinging to him was a little girl, who looked almost exactly like him except for her slightly longer dark hair. The little girl’s eyes were pure white with no colour to their centre, wide-open and watery. She was blind.

Morgan watched the two children with fascinated horror, unable to believe what she was seeing. Were they real, this boy and girl from her dream? How could she have dreamed about them without ever knowing them or seeing them before? The boy’s wet hair was plastered to his head and his face was strained with the effort of swimming to shore while carrying the girl. Morgan remembered how he had refused to take her hand in her dream and how, after his refusal, the sky in her nightmare had rained down blood. She recoiled from the memory and for the first time in her life she hesitated whether to help or not. But then the girl raised her head and her sightless eyes seemed to look directly at Morgan. Still clinging to the boy, she pointed at her. The boy, still swimming, followed the girl’s silent signal and saw Morgan. At once he almost imperceptibly changed direction, swimming straight towards her.

As they came closer, the pain and exhaustion on their faces was too much for Morgan to bear.With the strange sense of having entered her dream and done this before, she stepped to the edge of the rock, went down on her knees and held out her hand. This time, however, the boy did not stop. He swam all the way towards the rock until he reached her.

“Help me with my sister,” was all he managed to gasp. Morgan leaned over, grabbed the little blind girl’s arms and pulled. The boy pushed the girl from the water until between the two of them they got her out. The girl lay on the rock, her sightless eyes staring up into the sky. Morgan then held out her hand to the boy. He didn’t hesitate, but took hold of her hand with one hand and the rock with the other. With Morgan pulling his arm the boy hauled himself up onto the rock and collapsed next to her.

“Are you alright?” Morgan asked them both.

The boy, out of breath, did not answer for a few seconds. “I think so,” he eventually replied.

“What about you?” Morgan asked the girl, who was lying immobile but breathing on the rock.

“She can’t answer you,” the boy said, not looking at his sister. “She doesn’t speak.”

Morgan felt a surge of sadness for the little girl. “I’m sorry.”

The boy looked at Morgan. Morgan felt a cold stab when she saw his dark eyes were exactly as she remembered in the dream. Before she could say anything, the boy said, “I know you.”

“What?” Morgan gasped.

The boy didn’t smile, just stated calmly, “I’ve seen you before.”

“Where? How?” Morgan demanded. The boy said nothing, but merely looked at her.

“Morgan!” came Sebile’s outraged voice.

Morgan started up and cried, “Sebile! I’ve found them! I’ve found the lady’s children!”
“You saw our mother?” the boy asked, frowning. He tried to stand up, but his legs gave way.

Morgan grabbed his arm to stop him from falling. The boy reacted with unexpected violence to her touch, almost as if she had wounded him. He pulled his arm away roughly and took a step back from her, almost cringing. Morgan was startled and hurt.

“She’s alive. They’ve taken her to the castle,” Morgan told him warily. The boy stood looking at Morgan, but this time, oddly, did not look into her eyes. “She asked me to find you,” Morgan went on.

“How did you know it was us?” the boy asked.

“I knew as soon as I saw you,” Morgan said. She couldn’t explain how; she had just known. The boy then looked back at her again, appraisingly and interestedly. This time it was Morgan who looked away.

As Sebile came running up from the beach, Morgan negotiated her way back across the rocks. “It’s them, Sebile!” she said breathlessly. “It’s her children!”

The fury on Sebile’s face subsided when she saw Morgan’s earnest, pleading expression. She looked at the boy standing shakily on the rock and Morgan heard her sharp intake of breath. Sebile then saw the girl lying without moving, made her way across the rocks and picked her up. “Follow me,” Sebile commanded Morgan and the boy, and they obeyed her. Together, Morgan and the boy walked the remaining length of the beach, which was now empty save for a few scattered remains of wreckage and clothing. The survivors and the dead alike were being carried up the cliff path towards Tintagel as the light grew brighter and the wind started to blow itself out.

At the foot of the cliff path, Morgan turned to look back once more at the sea. Like the wind, its anger and force were dissipating. The waves were still high, but not as ferocious as before and not as strong. Morgan thought with a shiver that it was as if the monster that was the sea had eaten until it was full and was now happy with the wreck and its passengers that it had taken that night.

“So you’re Morgan,” the boy said. He had stopped with her and was looking out at the sea as well.

“Yes. My father’s the Duke of Belerion,” Morgan told him.

“I know.”

Morgan could not work out if the words were said with hostility or not. Before she could think of a suitable retort, the boy indicated his sister, who was being carried ahead of them by Sebile.

“That’s Ganieda. She’s my twin.”

“And who are you?” Morgan asked coldly.

The boy looked directly at her and this time she held his gaze. At this, the boy smiled for the first time. “I’m Merlin.”




Morgan Le Fay: Children of this World
The Fata Morgana Series
Book Two
Jo-Anne Blanco

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Argante Press
Date of Publication: September 2021
ISBN:978-1838489328
ASIN:B09FR1Y8BK
Number of pages:543
Word Count: 193,406
Cover Artist: Miriam Soriano

Book Description:

A STORM IS BREWING …

Brothers Ambrosius and Uther Pendragon have landed in Belerion with an army raised to fight High King Vortigern. Supporters of the High King gather at Tintagel, seat of Morgan’s father the Duke of Belerion, as they prepare for battle. Ominous clouds of war hang over the castle, treachery lurks in the shadows, and rumours abound that Ambrosius is being aided by a powerful dark force from the past …

Since Morgan’s encounter with the Piskies and the Muryans, the faerie tribes have united against her, vowing revenge. Meanwhile, her powers are growing faster and stronger, her dreams and visions more potent. On Samhain night, when the veil between the worlds becomes thin, Morgan resolves to summon Diana the Moon Huntress to her once again, with terrifying and tragic consequences …


Excerpt from Chapter V: Lights in the Dark

The Jack o’Lantern suddenly went out, plunging them into total darkness. Morgan turned in alarm. A smoke smell trailed into the air. Taliesin had snuffed out the candle.

“What did you do that for?” Morgan hissed.

“Look!”

Down on the beach bobbed another light. It was coming in their direction. Towards Merlin, Morgan thought with a little shiver running down her back.

Adjusting their eyesight to the dark, they gradually saw that behind the light on the beach walked the shadow of a man.

“Myrddin,” Morgan heard Taliesin whisper.

“How did you know he’d be here?” Morgan whispered back.

“I told you. I followed him.”

“But he wasn’t on the path. We couldn’t see him.”

“It’s something Cadwellon’s been teaching me. It’s called sen-sor-y in-vo-ca-tion.” Taliesin enunciated the words carefully, still in a whisper, sounding proud of being able to say such big words. “You focus on someone or something with your mind and you can find it or follow it.

Track it down. That’s how I knew Myrddin had come along the path to this place. I could feel him all along the way.”

Morgan was fascinated and slightly envious, wishing again that she could study with the Druids too. But she didn’t have time to think about that right now.

Taliesin was staring down at the dark cove. “I know this place,” he said. “My father told me about it. He brought me here once. All the fishermen know about it. It’s dangerous.”

“Dangerous? Why?”

The boy pointed out to the black mass of sea. “There are lots of hidden rocks out there. It looks calm because you can’t see them – they’re just under the water. My father says boats get wrecked here in storms, or they’re caught by the currents and run aground. They smash into rocks they don’t know are there. Lots of people have drowned.”

The memory of the big storm and the wreck of the Sea Queen came rushing back into Morgan’s mind. The screaming, drowning people. The bodies strewn on the beach. The groaning, dying ship.

It was hard to imagine anything like that could happen in this quiet-looking bay, its waves softly swooshing under the cover of darkness. She shivered.

“We have to get closer,” she said, trying to brush off her unease.

Taliesin didn’t answer, but nodded in agreement. The two of them grasped each other’s hands and slowly began climbing down the slope, trying hard not to make any noise. It was by no means easy in the dark, with no lantern and almost no moonlight, but they persevered.

Keeping an eye on her footing as they went down, Morgan watched what was happening on the beach. In the dim, distant light of Myrddin’s lantern, Merlin and his Druid Master approached each other. They talked together briefly. Then Merlin lit a second lantern handed to him by Myrddin.

Now there were two lights on the shore. Merlin and Myrddin parted ways and began walking to opposite ends of the beach, each with their own lantern; Merlin walking back towards the slope he had come from.

Towards the very slope Morgan and Taliesin were climbing down.

“He’s coming back this way!” Morgan hissed urgently. “Quick! Lie down!”

She pulled Taliesin to the ground. The two of them lay there still holding hands, flat on their backs against the slope, trying not to breathe. Morgan felt her heart pounding fast. Don’t see us, she thought fiercely again, watching Merlin walking towards them with the lantern.

He didn’t see them. He seemed to be concentrating on the number of steps he took. Finally, he stopped at a certain point on the beach and turned away towards the ocean.

“Ssssssssss.” Something sounding like a whisper wafted through the air. Morgan heard it, but couldn’t understand it. She turned to Taliesin. “What did you say?”

She gasped.

Taliesin had disappeared. There was nothing and no one beside her. Only the stones and shingle on the slope.

But she could still feel his hand in hers.

“Taliesin!” she exclaimed softly. “Where are you?”

“What do you mean?” she heard Taliesin whisper back. “I’m here… what?”

“What do you mean, here? Where?”

“Morgan, where are you?” she heard Taliesin’s panicked voice over hers in a low tone. “I’ve got your hand … but I can’t see you!”

“I can’t see you, either!”

“What? No! What’s going on?”

Morgan wasn’t sure. She let go of Taliesin's hand. As soon as she did so, the boy reappeared next to her, out of the air, as if by magic. Just as he had said she had done back on the path.

“I can see you now!” Morgan exclaimed.

“Well, I can’t see you!” Taliesin sounded really scared. “Morgan, what are you doing?”

“I don’t know.” But she had an idea. Let Taliesin see me, she thought hard.

Taliesin gave a small cry and quickly covered his mouth. Morgan glanced hastily down at the beach. Merlin still had his back to them. He hadn’t heard.

“Can you see me now?” Morgan asked.

Taliesin nodded. Even through the darkness, Morgan could see the normally pallid fair-haired boy was even whiter than usual.

“You were invisible again. You just appeared out of the air.” Abruptly his voice took on an unfriendly note that didn’t sound like him. “How are you doing that?”

“I don’t know.” Morgan said again. She tried to put what she thought was happening into words.

“It’s like … if I think I don’t want someone to see me, they don’t. I can make myself invisible.” She wondered how long she had been invisible before she had met Taliesin on the path. “But I don’t know how. I don’t try to make it happen. It just does.”

Taliesin let out his breath. “It sounds like what Cadwellon says,” he said soberly. “The way he taught me sensory invocation. He says you can’t force it. He’s always telling me you have to focus on the result, not the act itself.” The friendliness crept back into his voice again. “That sounds like what you’re doing.”

“Ssssssshhhhhhhsssssss.”

It was the whisper again. Louder this time, but she still couldn’t understand it.

“Is that you?” Morgan said.

“Is what me?”

“That whisper. Didn’t you hear it?”

“No.” Taliesin sounded puzzled. And wary again. “I didn’t hear anything … Wait, look!”

Down on the beach something was happening. Merlin and Myrddin both held up their lanterns facing out to the ocean. Myrddin was further away from them, standing on a particular point on the other side of the beach.

Morgan watched Merlin with interest. He had taken off his cloak. He held up the lantern in one hand and with the other he used the cloak to cover and uncover the lantern several times.

“What’s he doing?” Taliesin whispered in bewilderment.

It was darker than ever. They could still just see the white-flecked waves rising and falling on the sand, roaring softly as they washed ashore. The sleepy-eye Moon was completely hidden. Only a few pinprick stars pierced the misty black veil of clouds across the sky.

Suddenly Morgan started. She clutched Taliesin’s arm, making him jump.

“Look! Look out there! Can you see it?”

A light appeared out on the night-darkened sea. It bobbed up and down, then disappeared. Then after a few moments it reappeared again. Then it blinked, going out, then flashed again, went out, then reappeared again.

“It’s getting nearer!” Morgan whispered.

“It’s a boat!” Taliesin whispered back. “It has to be. It’s coming in to land! I told you it was dangerous around here with the hidden rocks. They’re using the lanterns to guide it in!”



Morgan Le Fay: Giants in the Earth
The Fata Morgana Series
Book Three 
Jo-Anne Blanco

Genre: YA Fantasy
Publisher: Argante Press
Date of Publication: September 2021
ISBN:978-1838489342
ASIN:B09FT67S4Q
Number of pages:717
Word Count: 258,584
Cover Artist: Miriam Soriano

Book Description:

WHEN MONSTERS COME TO LIFE …

In the aftermath of Ambrosius’ attack on Tintagel Castle, young Morgan is sent away to the fortress of Dimilioc with her family, friends and tutor. But when bandits ambush their party, Morgan gets lost in the forest with nothing but her wits and her magic powers to rely on.

In her battle for survival, Morgan faces a cruel, hostile world that is suspicious, afraid and jealous of her magic. Silver-tongued faeries who are not what they seem. Vengeful Piskies and Muryans holding her friend Ganieda captive, Angry Giants and Spriggans who have awakened in the earth. And the ever-present threat of Ambrosius and his army, waiting to strike again …

To rescue her friends and outwit her enemies, Morgan must draw upon all her gifts, magic and mortal, in a perilous journey that will test her strength, faith and loyalty to the utmost …





Excerpt from Chapter XI: The Treasure of Trecobben

The Giant’s foot was moving again. Morgan hoisted herself more tightly into his bootlaces so she could ride on his boot without straining her limbs. Trecobben went back into the courtyard and swung the boulder shut behind him with a crash. He tramped back across the castle entrance and down the ramp, striding across his massive columned hall. Janniper and the other woman were scurrying back and forth like mice on the floor, up and down the ladders, throwing the fleeces into the clay pot. They were soaked and stinking with urine, their faces utterly miserable and desperate.

Trecobben ignored them, left the hall, and strode into an immense granite passageway lit with more bone-fire torches. Riding on Trecobben’s boot near the floor, Morgan saw they were going past a series of huge chambers from which she caught glimpses of more carved rock furniture and enormous, coloured tapestries hanging high.

She almost jumped out of her skin. Terrible, ear-splitting roaring was coming from inside one of the chambers. It was hard to tell if it was angry roaring or roars of pain. She heard Gargamotte’s voice, soothing and kind. Did the Giants have some kind of wild animal in the castle? Or animalia? It sounded like more than one.

But Trecobben went straight past without stopping. Soon he was descending another ramp, even narrower than the one at the entrance. He was going further beneath Trencrom Hill, deeper into the earth. After a while the ramp came to a dead end, blocked by a wide stone slab. Trecobben took one of the wall torches from its sconce and with his other hand grabbed the side of the slab, pulling it outwards. As the slab opened, a rush of freezing cold air escaped. Beyond, a dark, high-ceilinged chamber glittered in the torchlight. For a second, Morgan thought it was another crystal cavern, like the Spar-Stone Grave. But this was a different kind of glitter.

Trecobben lit several torches along the walls and the chamber came to life in an astonishing blaze of light.

Everything shone. Tall-as-trees steel swords with gilded hilts, glistening hill-sized silver cauldrons,radiant golden chalices, shimmering embellished scabbards, lustrous silk cloaks laden with sparkling jewels, gleaming bronze shields emblazoned with glittering gemstones – every single object in the chamber dazzled with opulence and light. Piles and piles of small round pieces of metal – gold, silver and bronze – glimmered invitingly, stacked as high as mountains. Resplendent ornate mirrors in all corners of the chamber multiplied the brilliance of all the treasures a hundredfold.Magnificent beams of light danced upon the high ceilinglike rays of sunshine, making the gloomy chamber as bright as day.

The glare was so blinding, the richness and beauty so overwhelming, it was hard for Morgan to take in. What was all this treasure? Where did it come from? Did it all belong to the Giants? Had they made it all themselves? Had they stolen it?

Trecobben was tramping across the chamber all the way to the other side. Morgan ensconced herself tighter into his bootlaces so she wouldn’t fall off. When the Giant stopped moving she looked upwards. Her mouth fell open.

A single, slender, Giant-sized pole was leaning against the far wall. Taller even than the Giant himself, it stood out from all the other treasures in the chamber. Unlike the others, the light that emanated from the pole wasn’t a reflection of the torches. It had its own light, radiating from within. Such a simple, ordinary object, yet breathtaking, beautiful, incandescent; forged from a lucent silver brighter than clear diamond and smoother than still water. A silver that was almost white, like moonlight captured and made solid form.
Morgan struggled to breathe.

She knew what it was. She’d seen it before. Not in life.In dreams.

It was the silver lance of her nightmare long ago. The silver lance that had pierced an ocean full of screaming angels and drowning people, wounding the very sea of life itself, turning water to blood.

It was the silver spear that had hovered in a stormy sky as lightning flashed and thunder crashed, as blood spilled out from the wounded land into the sea. The silver spear that had floated in the air before her, just out of reach. The silver spear that had driven her in her dream to leave the ground and fly after it, but hadn’t allowed her to catch it.

Artemis’ Spear. Diana’s Spear. The Sacred Spear.

The spearhead of which she carried in her satchel.

She heard Wodan’s voice, remembered what the Dark Huntsman had told her. “The spear was but a small thing when compared to what she stole from me. But now it has been stolen from me in return. I held on to the spearhead but the silver shaft was taken.”

And it was here. The silver shaft was here, in Trecobben Castle.And attached to it was a spearhead of a different, darker metal, not the original, the one that was meant to be.

She heard a strange soft humming, felt a buzzing in the satchel across her body. Looking down in alarm, she saw that she and everything on her were still invisible. Everything except the spearhead. It was shining from inside the satchel, breaking through her magic invisibility, seeming to appear from nowhere at the Giant’s foot. In response, the silver spear shaft itself grew even brighter, even more luminous, as if it were answering a call.

“Eh?” Trecobben muttered under his breath. He’d stretched out his hand to take hold of the spear shaft but pulled back as it grew brighter. In a panic, Morgan tried to hide the shining spearhead, but she couldn’t do it with her invisible hand.

“What’s this?” the Giant grunted to himself. Fortunately, he wasn’t looking down at his feet, so intent was he on the spear shaft. “Never liked this thing. Always something funny about it.”

Cautiously he reached out again and took hold of it. After a few seconds, satisfied that it was safe, he picked it up and went back across the chamber. With his other hand he took a torch and marched out of the doorway, slamming the stone slab shut with a whoosh.

In her mind’s eye, Morgan could see all the torches inside instantly blown out by the sudden draught. All of that fabulous treasure, save for the spear, lay underground in total darkness.




About the Author:

Jo-Anne Blanco was born in Brazil to an English mother and Spanish father. She graduated from the University of Edinburgh with an MA in languages and from the University of Glasgow with an MPhil in media and culture. As a teacher, she has spent much of her life travelling around the world. Her travels, together with her lifelong passions for reading, writing and storytelling, inspired her to embark upon her epic Fata Morgana series, about the life and adventures of Morgan le Fay. Mythology, fairy tales, and Arthurian legends are all major influences on her work, and her ongoing journeys to countries of great landscapes and folklore are never-ending sources of inspiration.












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