Spotlight: Out of the Blue, by Jason June

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Out of the Blue
by Jason June
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Publishing date: May 31st, 2022
Rep: Gay, Queer, Nonbinary, Fat

Crest is not excited to be on their Journey: the monthlong sojourn on land all teen merfolk must undergo. The rules are simple: Help a human within one moon cycle and return to Pacifica to become an Elder–or fail and remain stuck on land forever. Crest is eager to get their Journey over and done with: after all, humans are disgusting. They’ve pollluted the planet so much that there’s a floating island of trash that’s literally the size of a country.

In Los Angeles with a human body and a new name, Crest meets Sean, a human lifeguard whose boyfriend has recently dumped him. Crest agrees to help Sean make his ex jealous and win him back. But as the two spend more time together and Crest’s pespective on humans begins to change, they’ll soon be torn between two worlds. And fake dating just might lead to real feelings…

This sophomore novel from Jason June dives into the many definitions of the world home and shows how love can help us find the truest versions of ourselves.

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About the Author:

Jason JuneYou’ve come here wondering, “What is the meaning of life?” Er, I mean, Jason June’s life. Jason June (it’s a two-name first name, like Mary-Kate without the hyphen or the Olsen twin) is a genderqueer writer mermaid who loves to create picture books that mix the flamboyantly whacky with the slightly dark, and young adult contemporary rom-coms full of love and lust and hijinks.

When not writing, JJ zips about Austin, Texas. He loves dinosaurs, unicorns, Pomeranians, and anything magical that takes you to a different world or time. JJ is a tried and true Laura Dern stan, and he is actively looking for an Andalite friend.

​His picture books include WHOBERT WHOVER, OWL DETECTIVE, illustrated by Jess Pauwels, and PORCUPINE CUPID, a queer-inclusive Valentine’s Day story, illustrated by Lori Richmond, both from Margaret K. McElderry Books/Simon & Schuster. For under-the-sea whimsical adventures, check out the MERMICORN ISLAND chapter book series from Scholastic! And get ready for JAY’S GAY AGENDA, Jason June’s debut YA, queer rom-com, coming June 1, 2021 from HarperTeen!

Website | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

Spotlight & Excerpt: Blue Haven, by Lisa King

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Blue Haven is a science-fiction thriller that explores what innovation can achieve—and destroy—despite the best intentions. King’s imaginative world-building and use of moral ambiguity make this page-turning novel a thought provoking thrill that’s impossible to put down

By Lisa King

Blue Haven

by Lisa King

Release Date: May 31, 2022

Publisher:  The Story Plant

Soft Cover: ISBN: 978-1611883206; 336 pages; $26.95; E-Book, $7.49

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Welcome to Blue Haven, the world’s most lucrative condo corporation—so exclusive that only five lucky residents live in this lush, tropical paradise, housed in a top-secret location.

Among them is twenty-five-year-old Aloe Malone, an introvert and former waitress who traded bussing tables for lengthy sleep-ins, ocean dips, Michelin-star restaurants, spectacular sunsets, and unlikely new friends—all thanks to a spurious lottery win.

Life’s good.

Damn good.

That is, until Aloe discovers a journal.

Seemingly left by a past resident named Eloise whose entries are both sad and evoking, Aloe quickly suspects there’s more to Blue Haven than meets the eye.

Her suspicions are confirmed when visions arise, gruesome hallucinations she can’t understand, followed by a strange yet familiar man lurking in places he shouldn’t. Something’s wrong. Or maybe it’s all in her head. Regardless, she vows to uncover the truth.

Except someone wants to keep her quiet, and it’s the last person she ever suspected.

Blue Haven is a science-fiction thriller that explores what innovation can achieve—and destroy—despite the best intentions. King’s imaginative world building and use of moral ambiguity make this page-turning novel a thought-provoking thrill that’s impossible to put down.


Day One

Less than twenty-four hours earlier, Aloe Malone was sitting on a tattered couch, a distinct eagerness coursing through her veins. She shivered; her radiator was on the fritz again, sputtering from one side, cackling, rendering her tiny bachelor apartment bone-cold uncomfortable. She curled into a sweater, still freezing, slowly succumbing to the chronic, aggravating chill.

And then she laughed, her breath puffy with condensation. She’d worked her last shift at the diner, and said her meager and limited goodbyes—except the one owed to her crummy apartment.

“Sayonara, shithole,” she whispered under her breath.

Now, she squinted into the radiant sun: hot but not fierce, a tempered warmth that was perfect and satisfying. She pressed her feet into the fairy dust sand and gave her toes a wiggle. She’d never felt sand like this before: white, delicate, possibly otherworldly, like it’d been manufactured in a laboratory or harvested from another universe. Like someone had broken one million hourglasses to populate this beach.

She turned to her personal concierge, Amir.
“Is this … real sand?”

Surely, it couldn’t be.

He nodded. “Real indeed. One of the many reasons we chose this location.”

This location: a mysterious venue somewhere on planet Earth. She’d love to know the actual coordinates and considered asking (for the third time) but confidentiality was part of the deal. If you wanted to live in the world’s most lucrative beachfront community, secrecy was paramount.

Still, she dug her toes deeper into the cushy grains. What part of the world produces sand like this? Aruba? Somewhere in South Asia? The Philippines?

She stared skeptically at Amir. His natural tan and dark features were clearly exotic. And his name, Amir. Was that Arabic?

“Aloe?” He touched her arm. “Are you feeling okay? You look a bit dazed.”

Her mind floated back. “Yeah, sorry. Still a little groggy.”

“That’s a very common side effect,” he replied. “Rest assured, you’ll be back to normal in a few hours at most.”

She nodded, somewhat attuned to the aftermath of drugs slugging through her arteries. The whole “going under” aspect had been daunting: a white mask, followed by slow, deep inhalations; counting down from ten, as requested; waking somewhere new and unknown— though it made good, logical sense. How else were people supposed to fly to a top-secret paradise without discovering its whereabouts?

Besides, look at this fucking view.
The oceanfront, steps away, was a prism of blue light. Turquoise lapped at the shoreline, fading to a sumptuous cerulean. The sky was a lovely robin’s egg, swept with long, lazy clouds. Her eyes found the horizon. There was nothing in the distance, no islands, shorelines, or glimpses. Just pure, unadulterated space.

Aloe turned to the billowing palm trees swaying in her periphery.
Not an imposing number, just enough to provide a calculated amount of shade.
Unlike other beaches she’d visited, Blue Haven’s was devoid of human life; and that, was its true appeal. No sandcastles or shoddily impaled umbrellas or squawking birds begging for scraps of potato chips. Blue Haven was a stock-grade computer background that didn’t exist in real life—except it did, to her absolute astonishment.

“Paradise,” she looked at Amir and smiled. “Y’all weren’t lying.”

“We aim to please,” he replied. “Go ahead, test the water. Dip your toe in. We’ve installed top-of-the-line thermoregulators to ensure the perfect temperature. Always.”

“You’re heating … the ocean?”

“Only as required.”

“Wow,” she replied, stepping forward.

A wave drifted over her toes, warm as bathwater, and she instantly unwound. A salty gust of air filled her lungs, causing her chest to lift.

And just like that, the unshakeable sense of irresolution that’d been following her for years was suddenly gone. All that mattered was here and now—this moment.

“How’s the temperature?” Amir asked.

She returned to his side with a lightness in her step. “Perfect.”

“Excellent.” He tucked a fuchsia hibiscus behind her ear, and for
some reason this motion summoned a pang of guilt. Her stomach lurched, and the weight of her body returned.

Did she really deserve this new life?

The answer was clear and undisputed. Of course not. No cognizant, twenty-five-year-old could honestly admit otherwise. She’d simply gotten lucky.

Then again, who was she to contest the force of luck?

“Are you ready to continue with the tour?” Amir asked.

She took one last glance at the ocean, nodding. The view was dreamy, glorious, enchanting—beyond any adjective she’d ever learned. Maybe she didn’t deserve this life, but it had found her. The only choice now was acceptance.

Even if Blue Haven seemed too good to be true.




Lisa King
 is a Canadian fiction author and researcher whose work on veteran mental health has been published in numerous academic journals. She holds degrees in psychology and neuroscience, both from Western University. Aside from writing, she enjoys family outings, ample coffee, and unapologetic napping. She lives in London, Ontario with her husband, daughter, and wonky-eyed cat.

Her latest book is the adult science fiction/psychological thriller, Blue Haven.

You can vist her website at or connect with her on Twitter and Instagram.





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Spotlight & Excerpt: Crown Court Killer + Giveaway

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Crown Court Killer

London Podcast Mystery Series Book 3

by Dahlia Donovan

Genre: Cozy Mystery, M/M Romance


Months after saving their flamboyant theatre friend from disaster, Dannel Ortea and Osian Garey are back with a thrilling murder investigation in the third London Podcast Mystery series novel.

Dannel and Osian’s breakfast double date rapidly devolves into a murder mystery when a dead body is found in their solicitor friend’s car. Wayne is taken for questioning by police. He was last seen arguing with the deceased.

When Wayne’s tie is identified as the murder weapon, it’s hard to refute the growing evidence stacked against him.

Convinced of their friend’s innocence, Dannel and Osian throw themselves into the investigation. When Wayne’s boyfriend, Roland, finds himself suspended from the police, they realise powerful people are involved in the murder.

With a philandering crown court judge, two disgruntled wives, and an angry client as suspects, the clock is ticking for them to find the killer before Wayne winds up arrested—or dead.

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crowncourtkiller - excerpt

Chapter One

“A massive thanks to our special guest—solicitor extraordinaire Wayne Dankworth, whose insights into criminal litigation have been fascinating. As always, I’m Osian Garey. My partner in crime is Dannel Ortea.” Osian winked at his husband-to-be, who simply rolled his eyes. “Hope you’ve enjoyed this week’s episode of our London Crime Podcast. Don’t forget to tune in next time. This has been Oz and D. Signing out.”
Dannel waited until Osian hit pause to let out a loud groan. “And you’d done so brilliantly right until the end.”
When Osian looked at Dannel, he was always reminded of Richard Ayoade, if the actor were taller, buffer, and a retired firefighter. Whereas Osian felt like a washed-up version of the actor who’d played Constantine on the telly, less buff, shorter, and scruffier.
“Nothing wrong with Oz and D,” Osian insisted. They had this debate at least once every podcast. He got up to stretch, having sat for several hours getting their recording together. “I’m knackered.”
“Are you still not sleeping well?” Wayne paused in sifting through the papers he’d brought to glance at Osian in concern.
“Nightmares aren’t conducive to a good night’s rest.” Osian believed healing started with being open with his friends and family. “My therapist thinks being trapped in the well aggravated my post-traumatic stress.”
A former paramedic, Osian had resigned after losing a patient through no fault of his own. He’d spent over a year trying to unpack the trauma left behind. His recovery had taken a hit three months ago.
While trying to solve a murder, Osian had come face-to-face with the killer. He’d been forced into an old well along with their elderly neighbour, Ian Barrett. Rescue had eventually arrived.
His nightmares had begun not long after. Dannel often sat up with him, and they’d play video games or listen to a cast album of whatever musical had grabbed their attention until he was too exhausted to remain awake.
Thanks to the lack of sleep, Osian felt a hundred years old and not thirty. His therapist did help. It would simply take time.
He fully intended to avoid old wells in the future.
And killers.
And fake ghosts haunting theatres masquerading as killers.
“Are you joining us for coffee and footie in the morning?” Wayne went back to packing up the files. “Chelsea versus Tottenham. Clash of the titans.”
Wayne was shacked up with Dannel’s younger brother, Roland. The latter had moved into the former’s swanky flat. They had a larger telly, so Dannel and Osian occasionally went over to watch their rival Premier League football teams do battle on the pitch.
“Of course.” Osian nodded. Dannel readily agreed as well.
“Bugger.” Wayne checked his phone when it beeped, muttering a few additional curses under his breath. “I’ve got to go.”
“Problem?” Osian followed him to the door, watching him drag on his overcoat.
“Barnaby being Barnaby.” Wayne rushed out the door, shouting a “goodbye” halfway down the stairs.
“Who’s Barnaby?” Osian wondered. He closed the door when it became clear Wayne had already made it out of their building in record time.
“A barrister.” Dannel had begun packing up their microphones. “Rolly mentioned Wayne had quite a dust-up in Crown Court with the man.”
“Did they throw their wigs?” Osian always found the court accoutrements to be entertaining. “Swirl their robes around dramatically?”
“Words were exchanged.” Dannel snorted in amusement at Osian as he waved his hands around. “They were chastised by one of the judges. Not sure Wayne wears a wig. Isn’t that just for barristers?”
“We’ll ask Wayne tomorrow to give us the juicy details.”
“Or we could mind our own business?”
“In the face of potentially interesting court gossip?”

Ghost Light Killer

London Podcast Mystery Series Book 2


Several months after their first brush with death, Dannel Ortea and Osian Garey are back with a thrilling murder investigation in the second London Podcast Mystery Series novel.

While helping their flamboyant neighbour with his play, Dannel and Osian discover more than a ghost haunting the stage at the Evelyn Lavelle theatre. It’s all fun and games until a friend is found kneeling over a dead body.

Is he the murderer or an unfortunate witness?

When one body turns to two, then to three, will the killer ever be found?

As Dannel and Osian work together to solve the mystery, the murderer focuses on them. Their drive to clear their friend’s name puts them centre stage. But not everything under the glow of the bright lights glimmers.

Will anyone be left when the curtain falls?

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Cosplay Killer

London Podcast Mystery Series Book 1


What happens when an autistic firefighter and his paramedic boyfriend share a thirst for true crime?

Osian Garey and Dannel Ortea live together in a colourful flat in Covent Garden. They run a podcast and throw themselves wholeheartedly into Cosplay, video games, and musical theatre. This year, they’re all fired up to attend their annual convention with a group of first responders.

When Osian finds a paramedic friend murdered in the middle of the crowded venue, the police immediately turn their attention to him.

They have one question on their mind.

Is he the first witness on the scene or the killer?

As the mystery unfolds, Osian has to face the trauma of his last job as a paramedic. Somewhere in those memories, a killer waits to exact revenge. They’ll have to prove Osian’s innocence and fight for their own survival when the killer puts them both in their sights.

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Dahlia Donovan wrote her first romance series after a crazy dream about shifters and damsels in distress. She prefers irreverent humour and unconventional characters. An autistic and occasional hermit, her life wouldn’t be complete without her husband and her massive collection of books and video games.

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