Spotlight & Excerpt: Dauntless + Giveaway

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by Elisa A. Bonnin
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: August 2nd 2022
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

A teen girl must bring together two broken worlds in order to save her nation in this lush, Filipino-inspired young adult fantasy novel from debut author Elisa A. Bonnin.

“Be dauntless, for the hopes of the People rest in you.”

Seri’s world is defined by very clear rules: The beasts prowl the forest paths and hunt the People. The valiant explore the unknown world, kill the beasts, and gain strength from the armor they make from them. As an assistant to Eshai Unbroken, a young valor commander with a near-mythical reputation, Seri has seen first-hand the struggle to keep the beasts at bay and ensure the safety of the spreading trees where the People make their homes. That was how it always had been, and how it always would be. Until the day Seri encounters Tsana.

Tsana is, impossibly, a stranger from the unknown world who can communicate with the beasts – a fact that makes Seri begin to doubt everything she’s ever been taught. As Seri and Tsana grow closer, their worlds begin to collide, with deadly consequences. Somehow, with the world on the brink of war, Seri will have to find a way to make peace.

Dauntless captures the best parts of every action-packed fantasy—breathtaking scenes of power and victory that push the limits of human tenacity. This is a triumphant tale of courage and self discovery that will make you believe in your own strength.” —Kyllie Lee Baker, author of The Keeper of Night

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The settlement— Seri’s new home— was in rough shape. The spaces where the settlers were supposed to make their homes were nothing more than naked platforms suspended among branches in the spreading tree, the bridges rickety, makeshift things that swayed alarmingly when Seri walked on them. Eshai didn’t even notice, leading her across the bridges as if they walked on solid earth, but Seri held on to the rope railings with a death grip. The town hall, a large structure in the central square, had four walls and a roof but was otherwise bare on the inside except for a serviceable kitchen. For all the comforts they had, they might as well be camping out in the rainforest.

But the air was cleaner and cooler up here. And if the civilian architecture was roughshod, anything belonging to the valor was solid. The barracks hadn’t been built yet, but a platform had been designated for the purpose, and there were tarps spread over it to keep off the rain. Although there weren’t many buildings, there were ballistae, great huge bows that fired arrows as large as spears, mounted so that at least two of them could be trained on any enemy that approached the village at any time.

It was necessary, Eshai explained when Seri stopped to stare. They were in the borderlands, and while the innermost parts of the known world had mostly been cleared of any beast too dangerous, the same couldn’t be said for this place. A lone beast wouldn’t be too much of a challenge, but they tended to hunt in packs. In that case, winning a battle became a question of speed.

“You may think you understand beasts, but the beasts of the known world are tame compared to what’s out here,” Eshai said, her expression growing distant as she looked out at the endless expanse of green. “There are beasts here straight out of children’s stories, beasts with power no one in the known world has ever seen. If you want to survive out here, you need to remember that.”

Author Bio:

Elisa A. Bonnin was born and raised in the Philippines, after which she moved to the United States to study chemistry and later oceanography. After completing her doctorate, she moved to Germany to work as a postdoctoral scientist. A lifelong learner, Elisa is always convinced that she should “maybe take a class in something” and as a result, has amassed an eclectic collection of hobbies. But writing will always be her true love. Publishing a book has been her dream since she was eight years old, and she is thrilled to finally be able to share her stories. Dauntless is her first novel.

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Book Blitz & Excerpt: Wish Marked, by Lissa Bolts

Welcome to Magic Pen Book Tours‘ organized release blitz for Wish Marked by Lissa Bolts taking place August 1-5, 2022! The first book in the urban fantasy series of Stones & Curses filled with adventure, treachery, magical beasts, tons of action and a dash of romance.
COVER Wish Marked - Stones and Curses Book One - Lissa Bolts
Title: Wish Marked
Series: Stones & Curses #1
Author: Lissa Bolts
Genre/Tropes: Urban Fantasy / Enemies-to-Lovers Romance, Slow-Burn Romance
Release Date: August 1, 2022

Hi. I’m Nora, and I bring people’s worst nightmares to life.

Everyone needs a hobby, right?

Gah. Don’t look at me like that. It’s not like I do it on purpose. I’m cursed. Like bonafide needle-pricking, frog-kissing, poison-apple cursed. Except worse because in addition to slowly chipping away at my soul, this thing will eventually kill me too.

Let me start over…

It all goes back to wishes. The damned things come true around me but in the worst possible way. And I don’t mean that lightly because, well… sometimes people wind up dead.

The kicker? Once I grant my quota of ill-fated desires, that’s it for me. Finito. I know because there were others before me. Just our sick family heritage. We screw people over, and then we die. Hell of a way to live, right?

I think I might be the last one too. I’ve searched my whole life and found nothing. No answers. No cure. Not one hint of magic in this entire world besides me.

Well, that is… until today.

*This is the first book in the all-new urban fantasy series: Stones & Curses. If you like fierce heroines with hearts of gold, edge-of-your-seat adventure, a touch of swoony romance, and enough mind-blowing treachery to leave you wondering what in the world just happened, this is the series for you.

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Free in Kindle Unlimited
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Darkness settled around us, and I realized that the forest had gone completely still again. Goosebumps ran down my arms, making every little hair stand on end. I couldn’t quite put my finger on how I knew, but…

Something was watching.

“Where are we going?” I asked in a near-whisper.

Rafe put his finger to his lips, his footfalls silent. Every instinct inside of me was screaming for me to run. To hide. To get the hell out of here.

He crouched, sliding to his knees beside a massive tree. It wasn’t a palm and not a deciduous tree, but something in between that I’d never seen before. It had a dark, thick trunk the diameter of a small car that stretched toward the darkening heavens. The top held a plentiful array of branches, all draped with green leaves the size of my body.

I watched as Rafe pushed some ferny underbrush away at its base, exposing the tree’s huge, gnarled roots. The woody knots curled up and out, leaving a dark opening beneath—big enough for him to slip through. He crawled inside, waving a hand for me to follow.

Do I have to?

I glanced up one last time and instantly wished I hadn’t.

Several pairs of glowing red eyes blinked down at me from the treetops. My heart thumped like a drum, and I swallowed hard before scrambling after Rafe.

The cold, damp earth wedged beneath my fingernails as I tried to get situated in a way that didn’t put me right on top of Rafe. The pitch-black hollow was barely big enough for us to sit beside one another. Fine bits of dirt rained down, falling into my shirt while hairlike roots tickled my cheeks. It was gross, but I supposed it was better than out there.

Out there, we were dinner.

A soft glow illuminated Rafe’s face, and I turned to find the obelisk in his palm. He moved over me, reaching toward the entrance of our little hideaway. I tried to make myself as small as possible as he sealed us in, covering the way out with the broad leaves and ferns that he’d pushed aside earlier.

I watched in fascination as he used the small stone to draw a line in the dirt, and I felt the hum of magic splash against my senses. The line glowed white for just a few seconds before fading and returning to normal.

What was that?

“Protection spell,” he said, answering my unspoken question and making me wonder if he had powers of the psychic persuasion. “This is a zylas tree. Instead of spreading its roots deep, it stretches wide, often leaving hollows underneath. It also has inherent magic that, when paired with a stone like this”—he held up the obelisk—“can enhance magical properties.”

“The stone can do spells?”

“They call it a Lightbringer. It’s a protection stone with a minimal range of things it can do—like that spell. It’s not foolproof, but it should keep us safe tonight.”

I had a feeling his words were meant to reassure himself just as much as me, but it worked anyway. He had a way of making me feel safe.

A revelation that shocked me.

He settled back down beside me, pulling the small pack off his back. He rested the obelisk on a root where it continued to light our little enclosure with a faint glow. I shifted and ended up practically on top of him again.

“Well, this is awkward,” I said, only making it more so as I continued to try to get comfortable. There was a damn rock beneath my left butt cheek that seemed to follow me no matter which way I moved.

He chuckled and lifted an arm, gesturing for me to settle in the nook next to his body. I only hesitated a moment before giving in. He was the perfect balance of strength and softness, and I felt myself relaxing into it. His arm tightened around me, and he rested his cheek on the top of my head.

When did I stop hating Rafe again?

“You should get some sleep,” he said.

Right. Not happening.

With every blink, I heard the flapping of giant wings and felt the stare of red gazes. At least those thoughts kept me from reliving our blood pixie and drosera encounters. Those would come later; I was sure of it.

“What are the things in the trees?” I whispered.

“Predators. Big, big predators.”

A shiver rippled through me, and I caught sight of the tiniest hint of black smoke curling off my pinky finger. I’d begun to realize that it was a defense mechanism, triggered when I let the terror take hold. There was more to it than that—like how I sometimes seemed to run out of juice—but that was the gist. I clenched my hand into a fist.

No. I would not be afraid.

“Remind me, what keeps us from becoming their dinner again?”

I could feel him smiling against my forehead. “They can’t fit through the door.”

“Look, everybody, it’s Rafe the comedian.”

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Lissa Bolts

Lissa Bolts is an urban fantasy writer and the author of The Ruling Magic Series. She has a passion for creating new worlds, perilous situations, and villains you’ll love to hate.

A native to Utah, Lissa enjoys spending time with her family tearing up the powdery slopes in the winter and long lakeside camping trips in the summer.

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