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Good morning, booklovers!

On a change of pace, I'm welcoming author Dennis Larsen today to talk about his thriller, The Living Hunger, and to tell authors about a wonderful site for free promo.

How do you take your coffee, Dennis?

DENNIS:  I’m not one for hot drinks but on a cold Canadian afternoon hot chocolate with mini marshmallows is wonderful.

Ally: It's afternoon somewhere, and it's certainly cold enough! Hot chocolate coming right up. Why don't you show readers your bio?

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BIO:  

Dennis F. Larsen grew up in Brigham City, Utah, a small town set into the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.  He attended Utah State University before graduating from Pacific University in Forest Grove, Oregon with a Doctorate of Optometry degree in May of 1987.  He has worked as an Optometrist in an Edmonton, Alberta group practice since that time.  
Dennis was married to his hometown sweetheart, Holly, in 1981 and they have four children, as well as a golden retriever, Hannah.  In recent years their lives have been blessed with the addition of five grandchildren, and one on the way.
The author lives for time with his family but is enjoying the exploration of his new found love, writing.  Hours that were previously devoted to work, community responsibilities and rearing children, are now spent honing his creative edge. 


Links:

www.eReaderRecon.com
www.Facebook.com/eReaderRecon
www.TheLivingHunger.blogspot.ca
Twitter: @LarsenNovels

Ally: Can you add something unique or personal that you wouldn't ordinarily include in a bio?

DENNIS:  
I dreamed of being a major league baseball player and lived for the sport, until I got married and started university.

Ally: It's interesting how our lives suddenly change directions. And now, you've taken another career turn into writing.Which leads to an obvious question. What genre or genres do you write? I've heard you have Zombies. Are there any in the book you brought today?

DENNIS:  I enjoy writing thriller and suspense styled novels with an end of the world theme.  The Living Hunger is a post-apocalypitic story that avoids zombies but puts survivors into life and death scenarios that are very real.With my medical background, I’ve tried to write plots which are entirely plausible and force the characters to struggle with moral decisions, thus coming to terms with their own mortality while trying to overcome hardships and trials.


Ally:  Since some of your work is defined as dystopian, would you explain the term to readers who might not have tried that genre?

DENNIS:  Dystopian refers to a society that in some way is less than desirable, generally brought about by some upheaval in the community: war, disease, oppression etc.  In my depiction there is a return to basic survival needs and reliance upon friends, family and others with similar values and goals.  Loss of life’s luxuries and the need to create some sense of order from the devastation of dramatic change are a central core to my idea of dystopian.


Ally:  So, talk about the zombie-like books. What makes them stand out from others?

DENNIS:  I am currently working on a serial entitled The Raven Falconer Chronicles.  Episodes 1&2 are available (Operation Z-Day and Rise of the Huskers).  They are unique in that they are very plausible.  There’s no reanimation of dead tissue, no stumbling dead, but very real human beings altered by environmental factors that turn them animalistic.  A common thread in all reviews point to this fact - the story is perhaps the most realistic look at zombie-like humans currently available.  I also write the story, not only from the survivors point of view, but also from those who are infected — the Huskers.

Ally:  
I find readers and other writers are always interested in an author's writing routine. Do you have a particular place and time?

DENNIS:  I prefer to write late at night when it’s quiet and there are no distractions.  Once I get started I have a difficult time going to bed until I’ve finished a particular thought or chapter.  Occasionally, I will write at work, either between patients or at lunch depending upon how obsessed I am with completing a work.  Once I’ve finished a manuscript, I travel to Southern Utah for a week to have my wife (chief editor) read the manuscript out loud to me so I can make adjustments to the flow and content.  Thus begins the editing process on the way to the final product.

Ally:  
One of the great things about you is you're not only an author but you promote other authors. Can you tell us about eReader Recon, and how you got started.

DENNIS:  After I published my first novel, a crime thriller (With Cruel Intent), I was surprised at the lack of support for new authors, without someone looking to make a buck, so I created www.eReaderRecon.com.  It is a website devoted to promoting new authors and new release novels.  The service is free and has grown rapidly since its inception.  Well over a hundred authors have taken advantage of the service, and I’ve made some remarkable new friends and read some incredible novels.  There is a sister Facebook page and I also use my personal blog and twitter to assist in promoting Indie Authors.  I have to say thank you to the many authors who have returned the favour and assisted in the expansion of my readership, as well.

Ally:  It's a terrific service, Dennis. Thank you for doing it. I hope all our readers and authors will take a look at your site. Now, I'd like to finish off our chat with a few quick answer questions. 

  • (1) favorite TV show(s):  Murdoch Mysteries (Canadian) / Sherlock (British) / Justified (American)
  • (2) cool trucks or cool cars? As a teenager, my first car was a 1971 Camaro, which I later sold for a 1970 Chevelle Malibu.  I dream of having one of those again.
  • (3) When will you know it's spring? When the snow melts from my deck, and I can get to the BBQ.
  • (4) favorite dessert:  Chocolate cake with vanilla ice cream.
  • (5) last movie you saw in a theatre: The Book Thief - Incredibly moving story!

Ally: Thank you so much for being on the Coffee Chat! I hope you'll come back again, but before you go, I'd love to see the book you brought...

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Back of the Book: Blurb:

A hardened war veteran collides with a venomous leader and rogue assassin, turning the Western United States into the next great battleground.

Sergeant Farrell Jenson survives a world lost to nuclear and biological warfare only to find his home destroyed and family missing. He joins forces with Gary Merrill, a local business leader, and Major Melanie Ghostkeeper, a Marine Medic, to begin the process of rebuilding. A small group of survivors unite under a banner of freedom and hunker down in Bear River High School. Friendships and love are forged in the hot fires of adversity as they fight for their very lives, amidst a world turned upside down, where death is the new way of life.

A festering evil is combing the land, led by one man, Don Bullock. The rotund, venomous leader spearheads a community with a taboo, underlying secret that will pit good against evil in a dramatic show of force and violence between the two groups. Solomon, a rogue African assassin, launches a one-man assault on the Bear Riverites, seeking blood and retribution to satiate his bloodlust and quench his need for flesh.

Each side gambles all to control a new found drug with the potential to save mankind. This new 'currency' trumps all, where money is worthless and food and women are king. As the struggle escalates and new battle-lines are drawn a host of unwitting participants are pulled into the fray, fighting for all they hold dear.

Book One of The Living Hunger Series begs the question: 'Which side will render your support and where will your allegiances lie?'


Buy links:

Amazon:  www.amazon.com/dp/B00DQ2B9LI
Banres and Noble:  http://bit.ly/1oETXgt
Smashwords:  http://www.smashwords.com/books/view/362550

 
 
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It's Wednesday!  Books and coffee ~ and chatting about books and coffee. What's not to like?

I want to welcome cozy mystery writer Judy Alter. Can I pour you a cup of coffee?

JUDY:  Yes, please. I take it black.

Ally: While we're settling settled, let's let readers take a look at your bio, including something personal that you wouldn't normally include. We like to know dark secrets around here. :)

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BIO:

I’m a lifelong writer—started at the age of ten—and have been published one way or another since 1978. I’ve written young-adult fiction and non-fiction, many books about women in the American West (some of which are available again in e-book form), and a some random books that don’t categorize easily but the last six years or so I turned my attention to cozy mysteries.  I’ve written the Kelly O’Connell Mystery series with four books in print, and the Blue Plate series. I plan to branch out soon.

I was also in publishing for almost thirty years, twenty of them as director of a small academic press. Learned a lot that has help me but also hindered me from adjusting to the changing times.

The most important part of my life, however, is not writing but the four children I raised as a single mother. They are wonderful people today and have given me seven terrific grandchildren.

I currently write two series: Blue Plate Cafe Mysteries and Kelly O'Connell Mysteries.

No dark secrets, but I’m a devotee of chocolate and white wine (preferably together). My youngest daughter once said our house could run on cottage cheese, Paul Newman’s Own Vinaigrette, and white wine.


Webite:  http://www.judyalter.com
Blogs: http://www.judys-stew.blogspot.com
             http://potluckwithjudy.blogspot.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Judy-Alter-Author/366948676705857
Twitter: https://twitter.com/JudyAlter (although I’m not good about checking it)

Ally:  I know you've written in more than one genre, but it seems like cozy mystery is your favorite. For readers who are not familiar with the genre, how would you define a cozy as contrasted with a traditional mystery?

JUDY:  I get all mixed up between cozies and traditional mysteries, because I sometimes think the two terms are synonymous. What they are not is suspense, thriller, paranormal, etc. My definition of a cozy is that it usually has an amateur sleuth who has a job beyond her sleuthing; she is often single and in the midst of a romantic entanglement. Violence and sex are hinted at but generally off-screen, and there is a satisfactory ending. The reader unravels the mystery along with the protagonist, whereas in a suspense or thriller, the reader knows who the killer is. The protagonist and killer are on parallel paths that will eventually intercept—can the protagonist solve the mystery before coming face to face with the killer? 

Ally:  Why do you write, and I presume read, mysteries? What is the lure?

JUDY:  I write cozies because I’ve read them all my life and like them better than any other genre. It’s less plot than character that draws me to them—I like to get lost in the world of the book. I don’t think I have the stomach for violence or the imagination for the paranormal.

Ally:  Describe your typical writing day - where, when, daily goals.

JUDY:  When I’m actively in the midst of a novel, my goal is a thousand words a day. But that gets interrupted a lot. I like to write in the morning or late evening—but mornings are sometimes taken up with grocery trips, doctors’ appointments, and the like, plus I frequently have lunch with friends. Afternoons are devoted to one of my grandsons—I pick him up at school and we do homework together. Long answer short: I write when I can.

Ally:  Your latest book, Murder at the Tremont House, has a paranormal aspect. Can you tell us about grandma?

JUDY:  Gram raised her twin granddaughters from early childhood, ran a café all their lives. When she dies suddenly, Kate takes over the café, and she often hears Gram advising her from the beyond. Since Kate is the only one Gram talks to, it’s frustrating. She can’t say to her troublesome twin, “Well, Gram said….” Gram’s advice is often cryptic, and she fades away before Kate can start a discussion with her. It’s the closest I’ll ever come to writing paranormal.

Ally:  Let's try some quick Answer Questions:
  •      sneakers or sandals:  sneakers
  •      favorite nail polish color:  don’t wear nail polish; if I did it would be subdued colors
  •      favorite writing tool:  writing in Word and getting that first sentence down, which unleashes thoughts I didn’t know I had
  •      what comes first, characters or plot:  characters definitely come first—in writing and in reading
  •      last vacation destination:  Santa Fe, New Mexico; love it, might live there if I could afford it.
Ally: It has been a pleasure visiting with you, Judy. I know you brought a book for us to preview, so it's all yours...

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Murder at the Tremont House launches February 27, 2014. 

It’s the second in my Blue Plate Café Mystery series. It all begins when free-lance journalist Sara Jo Cavanaugh comes to Wheeler to do an in-depth study of Kate’s town for a feature on small-town America, Kate senses she will be trouble. Sara Jo stays at the B&B, Tremont House, run by Kate’s sister, Donna. Unwittingly, Sara Jo drives a further wedge into Donna’s marriage to Wheeler’s mayor Tom Bryson. And soon she’s spending way too much time interviewing high school students, one young athlete in particular. Police chief Rick Samuels ignores Kate’s instinct, but lawyer David Clinkscales, her former boss from Dallas, takes it more seriously.

Sara Jo arouses so much animosity in Wheeler with the personal, intrusive questions she asks, that when she is found murdered, the list of suspects is long. But Kate heads the list, and she must clear her name, with the help of David and Rick. A second murder confirms that someone is desperate, and now Rick is convinced Kate is in danger.

There’s a love triangle, a cooking school, a kidnapping, a broken marriage, and a lot of adventure before the ingredients of this mystery stew are discovered, and Wheeler can go back to being a peaceful small town. If it ever does. 

Recipes included.

UPDATE: Amazon buy link: http://www.amazon.com/Murder-Tremont-House-Plate-Mystery-ebook/dp/B00IOC6YAQ/

 
 
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It's time for our Wednesday Coffee Chat!

Since Friday is Valentine's Day, romance author Milly Taiden and I are discussing how romantic relationships are handled in today's novels.

Welcome, Milly! I'll have your decaf, sweet with light cream, ready in a minute. Before we start talking about sex :) - why don't you remind my readers who you are?

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BIO:
  
Hi! I'm Milly (AKA April Angel) I love to write sexy stories. They're usually either paranormal or contemporary with a large dose of heat. My paranormal stories can be anything from wolf-shifters (my favorites) to witches, demons and anything in between. My contemporaries are usually anything from soldiers to corporate romances.

I was born in the prettiest part of the Caribbean known as the Dominican Republic. Currently, I live in New York City with my hubby, the bossy kiddo and our little dog "Needy Speedy". Don't ask.

When I'm not working some really long hours at the day job, or hanging out in the awful life-sucking invention known as Facebook, messaging my bestie in the UK or shopping with my sis Julie, then I can be found watching scary movies. Buuut when I'm not doing that, I'm usually writing because the voices won't shut up.

I am addicted to shoe shopping, chocolate (but who isn't, right?) and Dunkin' Donuts coffee.

Come on over and visit me! I love to meet new readers!
Like my books? Want to stay on top of all things Milly? Sign up for my newsletter http://mad.ly/signups/87477/join
There’s a monthly $50 GC Giveaway to all the emails signed up to get the latest news on my releases.

Find out more about Milly Taiden here:
Email: millytaidenauthor@gmail.com
Website:  http://www.millytaiden.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/millytaidenpage
Facebook Friend Page: http://www.facebook.com/milly.taiden
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/millytaiden

Ally: Last time you were here, I asked you to reveal something personal about yourself that wasn't in your bio, and you talked about wiggling your ears. What do you have for us today?

MILLY:  I am afraid of the ocean. Like major big time sissy. But I'm going on my second cruise February 21st. I can't watch movies about the ocean because I start to hyperventilate. LOL

Ally: OMG. Good luck with the cruise!
Ally: Now that people know a little about you, let's move on to today's topic. If our characters are going to be real, they're going to think about and have sex. How that element is handled defines the heat level of the book, often labeled as 1--5 or sweet to erotica. As a frame of reference for today's discussion, the following is a fairly common rating system:

1 - no consummated love scenes, or cutaways with no details
2 - some love scenes; more sensual then graphic and mild language.
3 - sensual, but more  explicit love scenes, and the language may be more graphic and direct.
4 - frequent love scenes, explicit and described using graphic and direct or raw language.
5 - many love scenes, explicit, described using graphic and direct language,  and/or contain controversial or potentially objectionable subject matter.

My books would be level 1-2, but I would call Milly's a 4+, erotic but not quite erotica. 

Ally:  We talked a little about the difference between erotic and erotica in a prior chat, but I think it's appropriate to take another look at the subject. Where do you consider your books fall on this spectrum and why?

MILLY:  I think because I am always looking into the romance side and the happily ever after of my couples, that I could always consider them erotic. Though I've written erotica, I find erotic ROMANCE is much more fulfilling for the romantic in me. I need that emotional connection. I need to know these two people aren't going through all this to then say "see ya!" at the end. It would break my reader heart.

Ally:  How did you get started writing erotic romance? 

MILLY:  That's interesting. To be honest I don't know. I mean the very first romance I wrote had sex in it. I've been reading Erom for so long that it came naturally for me to make mine that way. 

Ally:  What's most important to you - and to your readers - the romantic chase or the sex scenes? 

MILLY: I think there's got to be a good balance. I mean while we can have a few hot scenes of sex, we need them to enhance the romance, not take over. So romance is most important to me. I need readers to finish the book feeling good about the couple and how they got together. Feel that their connection was there, and it wasn't all about sex.

Ally:  Your books contain what some have described as "raw" language. First, do you agree with that assessment, and if so, what led to that choice? Is language character based, event based or genre based? 

MILLY:  Yes, I agree and have a warning on my sales pages. There are words that some people wince when they see either spoken or written. I think the language is more of a character thing. They come with their own personalities and attitudes and what they will and won't say. But I don't tamp them down or cut things out. 

Ally:  What would you like your readers to take away from reading one of your books? 

MILLY:  Probably that no matter how many differences a couple could have between them, they can still be just right for each other.

Ally: Let's try some quick answer questions.
    a. Do you believe in happily ever after? Absolutely!
    b. How about love at first sight? Yes!
    c. What is your favorite kind of chocolate? Milk
    d. Number of shoes in your closet::  hehehe A LOT
    e. Sexiest male actor or other public figure:  Vin Diesel

Ally:  Do you have romantic plans for Valentine's Day? 

MILLY:  Yes. Hubs and I go on a date every year. Hoping to have another one this year too.

Ally:  As always, it has been great having you, Milly. Before you go, we'll show our readers a couple of your covers that are "family friendly" with a reminder that the contents are only for those 18+. Thanks so much for visiting. Have a great Valentine's Day date! And make sure you come back safely to us from that cruise! :)

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A woman with a secret… The Federal Paranormal Unit is an elite squad of supernaturals dedicated to solving missing persons cases. Erica’s gift allows her a special connection with the crime, but it comes at a deep personal cost… She’s kept her gift a secret, even from the rest of the team. But this case will throw her together with Agent Trent Buchanan. He’s the object of her secret desires, but a womanizer. She’d rather swim in shark-infested waters with a paper cut than admit she has feelings for him. 18+

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Mission: Don't fall in love 

After an explosive night of passion during a scenting ceremony, Karla Alves is sure she was just a one night stand for the man she'd been crushing on for years. Her fear of becoming clingy kept her from risking her heart.





Amazon reviewer:  "the book is sexy as hell and incredibly sweet." 18+

 
 
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                    Q & A on the Guardian Witch Series

I'm frequently asked about background issues in the series. Since many of these will never actually make it into the books or you might have missed the quick reference, I'm going to tackle some of those questions today.

Q:  What happened to Ari's ex-boyfriend?
 A:  If you're talking about her long-term relationship with Simon, the wizard, he cheated on her, and Ari dumped him. He was a teenage crush, and they eventually outgrew one another. She hasn't seen him in two years when the series starts, and I don't expect him to make an appearance in the books.

Q:  When and why did Andreas come to America? 
A:  He left Italy and came to America in 1845 when his failure to age could no longer be concealed. He was 29 when transformed to vampirism in 1815. By 1845, he should have looked 59. It's hard to convince people good genes could knock off that many years! :)

Q:  What happened to Ari's parents? 
A:  They were killed in a boat incident when she was six. The details have not been addressed in the series, but I'm still considering a short story or novella to reveal that event.

Q:  Will Ryan ever find a steady girl? 
A:  Wait and see. I intend to answer this question before the series is over.

Q:  Are Hernando and Bella just cats or familiars? 
A:  Maybe, maybe not.

Q:  Where are Ari's siblings? 
A:  She has a brother referred to as Robbie, and a sister, we only know as Sis. They are both married and raising families out of state. Neither is a practicing witch/warlock.

Q:  Where is Riverdale? 
A:  My fictional city was inspired by the resort town of Galena, Illinois. It is quite hilly, with old buildings, a Victorian mansion or two, horse drawn carriages, and antique stores in the tourist area. I made the town bigger and moved it onto the cliffs, over the vampire caverns!

Q:  Where can I explore the vampire caverns? 
A:  Only in my books! They are a compilation of dozens of caves I've visited, including Mark Twain Cave in Missouri and Carlsbad Caverns in New Mexico.

So there you have it. The insider information. Hope you enjoyed this series extra!

Thanks for stopping! I hope to see you again soon!

 
 
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Happy Wednesday!

Thanks for joining us for coffee and book talk.

We've been privileged to follow Kirstin Pulioff's Madeline from the beginning of her adventures as a young woman approaching her adult years in The Escape of Princess Madeline. Today, her creator Kirstin Pulioff is here to talk about what happens now that Madeline has made that transition and achieved her happily ever after in the final book of the trilogy.

Welcome, Kirstin! I'll pour us both large cups of black coffee while you remind readers of your bio, and add a little something about yourself that we haven't heard before.

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Bio: Kirstin Pulioff is a storyteller at heart. Born and raised in Southern California, she moved to the Pacific Northwest to follow her dreams and graduated from Oregon State University with a degree in Forest Management. Happily married and a mother of two, she lives in Oregon, and enjoys being a stay at home mom. When she's not writing, she is busy with her kids and church.

And that extra something: 
I recently had a fun experience hiking up in the Portland woods. My kids and I were hiking at the Portland Arboretum, and as we were heading back to our car, we saw filming trailers. Intrigued, we investigated, and found them shooting an episode of Grimm. What a fun experience. The kids had fun building a fairy house around the trees while a friend and I watched part of the episode be filmed, and met the cast. It was probably the most random run-in while hiking... and I was glad we didn't see the bad guy on the trail! 

Author contacts:

Website: www.kirstinpulioff.com 
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/KirstinPulioffAuthor 
Twitter: http://twitter.com/KirstinPulioff 
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/user/show/11281401-kirstin-pulioff

Amazon Author page:  http://www.amazon.com/Kirstin-Pulioff/e/B00A2498Z2/

Ally:  Now that we're settled with coffee in hand, shall we get started? This book is the last in a three book series. How does it feel to say goodbye to these characters? Were you ready? 

KIRSTIN:  Surprisingly I was ready. I have loved being inside Princess Madeline's head these last few years, struggling with her challenges, and enjoying each adventure, but it felt time to let the additional adventures go unwritten. I was able to tell the story, tie the trilogy together, and create the happily ever after that I envisioned for her. It's hard to describe that feeling, like when you put the last piece of a puzzle together, or hear the door latch behind you. It felt complete, and the right time to say "The End."


Ally:  What's next on your writing agenda? A new series? A new genre? 

KIRSTIN:  I actually have a few ideas in mind. The first new story is going to be a YA Fantasy adventure, geared for the older teens, tentatively titled Dreamscape: Saving Alex. I also have ideas rolling around about a middle grade fantasy adventure series for boys. It's always exciting to see where the muse will take me. 

Ally:  What are your best marketing tips for fellow writers? 

KIRSTIN:  I struggle with this as well. I think the best advice is to be consistent. Be consistent with the amount and type of media you do. Different venues feel more comfortable for everyone, and I would suggest that you find that one that works for you, engage with other people, and have fun. 

Ally:  Put on your reading hat for a moment, and tell me what book or books are at the top of your TBR pile. 

KIRSTIN:  Oh... I just finished this great urban fantasy, wink wink. No, I have a couple new books that I plan on reading. A YA fantasy by Alyssa Auch, Inito, and the Hunger Games. Yes, I am hanging my head in shame. I put it on my list months ago, but I plan to start reading it very soon! 

Ally:  Let's finish up with some quick answer questions: 
  • a. I am my own worst critic. True or False? True
  • b. I love winter. Bring on the cold and snow! True or False? False
  • c.  Will you be watching the Olympics' coverage on TV? No
  • d. I have a secret addiction to ___________ .   Coffee (ok, not so secret... so how about peppermint bark)
  • e. favorite actress: Jennifer Lawrence

Ally: It was delightful to have you, Kirstin. Do come back and tell us about the next book - whatever it turns out to be. :)

KIRSTIN: Thanks, Ally! Always a blast.

Ally: Now let's take a quick look at the conclusion of Madeline's story, Princess Madeline and the Dragon.


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Book Blurb:

After a season of battle and rebuilding, the Kingdom of Soron is exhausted. With the return of the exiled wizards, the Spring Faire, and her upcoming wedding, Princess Madeline is looking forward to a peaceful season of celebration. 

When the mysterious green dragon reappears, threatening the kingdom and the king, Princess Madeline and Prince Braden won’t rest for long. Faced with this incredible new danger, Princess Madeline and Prince Braden must find a way to lead their kingdom and secure their future. 

Can they find the answers hidden within their mother’s cryptic messages from the past, or will the dragon destroy everything they hold dear? Follow Princess Madeline as she embarks on a dangerous new adventure to save her kingdom and her family.

Buy Links:

Amazon
Smashwords
B&N


My Review:

Princess Madeline and the Dragon is an exciting and thoroughly satisfying final chapter in this fantasy/adventure series. As she did with books one and two, the author has created a fantasy world in a rich medieval setting that we can believe in--and want to visit, over and over.
Confronted by a terrible foe and a puzzle to unravel, the determined heroine and her brother race to save the kingdom with a little help from her very own charming prince Daniel.
I won't give you more of the plot for fear of revealing spoilers, but along with adventure, a sweet romance, and a theme that centers on the power of love, you may find a surprise or two!
Don't let your young readers miss this one! The entire trilogy would be a fantastic gift!

Excerpt:

A new voice called out, causing Madeline’s heart to skip. Madeline recognized Elias’s face hidden beneath the scowl, and saw his white knuckles tightened around a scroll.

“Elias, what is it?” she asked, running through the crowd.

His eyes darted around as he spoke. “It’s the king. We need to stop him. Where is your father?”

“Elias, what are you talking about?” Daniel asked, trying to grab his arms and calm him down.

“There’s no time to lose, it’s right here,” Elias shot them a warning look and unrolled his papers, pointing to a specific line.

Madeline and Daniel leaned over to see what he was pointing to. Her stomach dropped as she read the words.

“The red dragon dies?” Madeline questioned, looking up to Elias for answers. “I thought you said we already captured the red dragon.”

“We did, a long time ago. There is only one red dragon left,” he said forcefully, pointing directly to the banners waving in the wind above.

“The red dragon of Soron,” Daniel whispered, looking up at the red dragons displayed on the golden banners.

“It’s the king; we need to find him now. Where is he?” Elias asked, pulling at her wrists with urgency. “Your Highness, we need to protect him.”

“I don’t know,” Madeline said looking around frantically, trying to find his crimson robe in the crowd. Her heart leapt in her chest and tears welled in her eyes as they ran between the booths, leaving a trail of fallen bread, flowers, and scarves in their wake. People hardly had time to move to avoid the princess in her race to find the king.

“Father!” she yelled, seeing his robe in the distance. Engrossed in conversation, King Theodore admired the woven blankets Prince Elliott and his vendors displayed. The sight of him eased the worry on her heart, and she slowed to a walk, composing herself as a princess.

“Father” she said, walking towards him. Her feet stopped in shock as her neck pulsed with heat. A new feeling of dread filled her, as she watched the green dragon rise above the edges of the stadium, digging its talons into the newly rebuilt wooden thatching and stone columns.

Without warning, the dragon lurched forward and shot a burst of flame directly towards the king. Madeline screamed, watching her father disappear beneath the fiery orange flames.