Friday Fiction

Happy Friday, Folks. I have a mixed bag of reads for you this fair Friday.

First up, do you like dragons? Of course you do!

Check out this first of an awesome new series by J.A. Cullican, HEIR OF DRAGONS, just 99 cents on Kindle for a limited time or FREE on KIndle Unlimited.

Her bloodline says they should be mortal enemies. Her heart swears otherwise. Will her torn loyalties leave her vulnerable to a rising evil?

Minx’s hunting and fighting skills are legendary. But when adversaries trespass on the royal Fae lands, she’s nervous about her mission to restore the defense wards by slaying a dragon and returning with its powerful hide. And the ferocious warrior grows desperate when neighboring clans demand that she defeat not one, but two of the fearsome beasts in fights to the death.

Angered by the coercive demand, Minx tracks down her first red-scaled monster—only to be stunned when it shifts into a stunning young man. And when her handsome foe claims they share a common adversary, her attraction tempts her toward an unheard-of alliance against a dark new threat.

Will Minx’s quest to save her species drag them into a bloody war?

How to Kill a Dragon is the breathtaking first book in the Heir of Dragons epic fantasy series. If you like fierce heroines, forbidden romance, and magic gone awry, then you’ll love J. A. Culican’s fiery tale.

Buy How to Kill a Dragon to battle the demons of destiny today!

Next up, a treat for those with KU who love to binge on fantasy box sets!

Chaos. Magic. Adventure. – Three things this princess isn’t ready for.

Book 1

When dark magic brings destruction and chaos down on her kingdom, fae princess Dana’s life takes an unexpected turn. To save her, the king begs her to leave him to his fate, and she must now step away from every comfort she’s ever known.

Dana is left to unravel the mysteries of her powers while dealing with an annoying wolf shifter whose secrets set her blood on fire. He’s either the ally she desperately needs or the most dangerous man she’s ever met.

Moonstones, a witch, dark elves, and a wolf shifter all stand in her way as she tries to absolve her father of the atrocities the fae folk accuse him of.

Read this and continue to books 2-4 in one chunky box set free to subscribers of KU

But wait, there’s more! I’ve got together with a bunch of awesome fantasy authors ALL free on Kindle Unlimited. Check them out by clicking the banners below and find your next fantasy binge.

Kid’s Corner

And now something for the little ones …

Jake is off to daycare, but he’s worried about what’s in store.
Going somewhere new can be scary–trying something different, even more.
How will he get ready, and what will help him through?
What will bring him comfort and help prepare him for something new?

Available in paperback, hardback or Kindle or FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

Meet Esmeralda Grunch, a very fetching flower fairy, and her best friend, Tulip. Story by me and enchanting watercolor pictures from Tina Wijesiri.

Available in paperback and just $1.99 on Kindle for a limited time.

And that’s it for today. Have a happy weekend, folks!

Friday Fiction – Seven Crowns

Today on Paws 4 Thought I’m hosting SEVEN CROWNS by E.V. Everest. Isn’t that a beautiful cover? So of course it has a beautiful story to go with it!

A crown is dangerous. A crown split seven ways is deadly.

One year after the death of her mom, sixteen-year-old Anabella Halt is living on her own and breaking all the rules. Life is tough but ordinary.

Until Ana learns her mom’s dangerous secret—she was the heir to a fallen dynasty on a world ruled by seven families. Her family was murdered one by one. Now, assassins are closing in, and Ana could be next.

With the help of a handsome hobo, Ana escapes to the place where it all began—a starflung world where magic and technology coexist. A place where Ana must navigate a tangled web of friends and foes to unmask her would-be assassin before it’s too late.

Travel to a glittering, dangerous world with political alliances and ballgowns, perfect for fans of Cinder and The Selection.

Pick up your copy today!

Meet Julie Gilbert

Today on Paws 4 Thought I’m happy to welcome fantasy author, Julie Gilbert.

1. Tell us a little bit about yourself, Julie.

I’m a high school chemistry teacher, a writer, and a Christian, not necessarily in that order. I also enjoy doing puzzles. Usually 1-2K pieces is a good amount. In my spare time, I review clean audiobooks in several genres. Pre-pandemic, I used to see a lot of movies in theaters. Perhaps I’ll return to that someday.

2. When did you first start writing?

The fascination with stories started when I was a kid, listening to my mom read to me. Eventually, that changed to me reading a lot on my own. Finally, around the time I was headed off to college, I decided to try to write something for fun. First story was pretty terrible, but the process taught me a lot. Taking that knowledge, I dove into a new project.

3. Who are your favorite authors?

That’s always a tough question. Brandon Sanderson and Dee Henderson come to mind as default favorites. They write very different kinds of books. Brandon Sanderson’s all about the epic fantasy, big worlds, cool magic systems, and so forth. Dee Henderson’s early works like the O’Malley series were absolutely amazing suspense books with a dash of romance.

4. I know you listen to a lot of audio books. What for you makes an excellent narrator?

While reviewing, I often change the speed, so reading cadence is a tad less important, but I still make snap judgment calls about whether I love their voice or not. In terms of skill, I look for whether the person can do a wide variety of credible voices for the characters.

I’m a tad pickier when it comes to choosing people for my own process. There’s the easy things like sound quality of the auditions and whether or not I like the narrator’s voice. Then, there are the more technical things like how many mistakes are made in the reading, what are their reading instincts (how they interpret the manuscript), and can they do a wide variety of character voices.

I’ve had the pleasure of working with nearly 20 awesome voice actors. Each has their strengths, and I’ve gotten a lot better at picking people over time. All have beautiful voices and immense talent. Of those I’ve worked with recently, Liz Brand (Reshner’s Royal Ranger, Shadow Council Series) and Reuben Corbett (Spirit’s Bane) stand out as people I would listen to read just about anything. I’m pretty sure they could make a calculus textbook sound good.

5. What inspires you to write?  

I love almost every aspect of writing. Once upon a time, I think it was about trying to prove writing could be just fun, not something that needed to have every little color of pants mean something. Over time, it’s grown into exploring the characters and the themes, and just telling an entertaining tale. There’s a fun challenge to the task of crafting a tale, then commissioning an audiobook and hearing it come to life.

6. Tell us a little bit about your process when creating audio books.

Having an audiobook created is an expensive, addictive hobby. It starts with obtaining a narrator. That begins with claiming the book and extends to the grunt work of putting in the details. The most important step of that process is selecting an audition script that will show off the main character, some normal reading sections, and a few different characters.

After choosing somebody there’s a bit of back and forth boringness about contracts and dates and such before one simply steps back and lets the narrator do their magic. I prefer having the raw files uploaded so I can listen for odd noises and places the audio differs from the manuscript. Sometimes, these variances are fine, and other times they change the intended meaning.

What happens next depends on the narrator’s process. Some outsource the editing, and others do it themselves. If there’s an outside editor involved, it typically takes longer because you have to wait for this other person to go through the files.

7. What are you currently working on?

In audiobooks, I’m nearing the end of the audition phase of Princess Melia’s Plight. I’ve chosen three people out of 112-ish. Just need to get that down to one.

As for writing, I’ve sort of put it on hold for a few months. I’m working on a super-secret nonfiction project that’s mostly being done for the cathartic benefit. Meanwhile, I’m throwing my efforts into learning to run amazon ads. I’d like to see if it can be done profitably with my current works.

When I return to writing fiction, I’ll finish Devya’s Children book 5, then re-evaluate my goals. If I’m truly in it for the money, I may see which genres are hot early 2021. If my attitude remains as it was, I’ll let my heart (not my wallet) decide which project gets aired next.

8. What do you like to do to relax?

Most of my review listening happens while taking long walks. That’s one benefit of the pandemic and this virtual teaching thing. I am in my room so much that I have to force myself to get out and move. Luckily, I like walking. Once all of the Mandalorian Season 2 is out, I’ll probably watch that in a week. Other than that, I occasionally do jigsaw puzzles. (Best ones have mostly been Ravensburger.)

9. If you could have any superpower what would choose?

I’m gonna be lame and say healing. While flying could be cool, I’d probably just get motion sick, which would be not so great for those below. Sort of afraid of healing as a gift though. I write about enough characters with the healing gift, that I’ve probably done more thinking about the costs and consequences of such a thing. Still, it would be awesome to be able to right some wrongs diseases have wrought upon the world.

11. How can readers connect with you?

The easiest way to catch my attention is to email devyaschildren @ gmail.com. However, the best way to stay on top of news, new releases, random musings, cool giveways, and such is to subscribe to the newsletter, which can be found on my website.

Thanks for taking the time to chat with me.

Very happy to have you, DMK

Do you like audio books? Check out two awesome promos this December, one for children’s titles and one for short stories for everyone. Click on the banners below for more details.

YASH is Here!

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Team Purple

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are FOUR contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the PURPLE TEAM–but there is also a red team, a gold team, and a blue team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
 
Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the PURPLE team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
 
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday April 5, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
SCAVENGER HUNT POST
Today, I am hosting Breeanna Shields on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt!
Breeana Shields is an author of fantasy novels for teens including The Bone Charmer duology (Page Street), the Poison’s Kiss duology (Random House BFYR), and The Splendor (coming in fall 2021 from Page Street).
When she’s not writing, Breeana loves reading, traveling, and playing board games with her extremely competitive family. She lives near Washington D.C. with her husband, her three children, and two adorable, but spoiled dogs.
Find out more information by checking out the author website or find more about the author’s book here!
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT
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A deft exploration of the weight of grief and cost of revenge, Breeana Shields’s Bone Charmer duology reaches its spine-tingling conclusion in this high-octane fantasy-thriller.

Breeana is sharing a special writing playlist:

Deep Focus Playlist for Writing

I’ve never been able to write to music with lyrics. I find it too distracting. However, music is still an important part of my process in several ways. First, it’s incredibly helpful before I begin a new book—when I’m still daydreaming about the story and trying to find the heart of it. Or—once I’ve begun—when I’m hopelessly stuck and need to take some time to figure out what comes next. Before starting a new project, I make a playlist and listen during non-working times–while I’m driving, cooking, or doing anything else that leaves my mind free to wander. It helps channel my thoughts toward the book, and I’ve untangled many thorny plot issues with the aid of Spotify and a little downtime.

But while I’m actually drafting, I either write in silence, or listen to something inspiring without lyrics—the kind of music that can both set the mood and fade into the background so it doesn’t interfere with my concentration.

So today, instead of sharing a playlist for the book, I want to share my ultimate deep focus playlist—music I find helpful while I’m actually writing. All of these songs provided relaxing and/or inspiring background noise that helped me focus while I wrote THE BONE CHARMER duology. I hope you enjoy!

 Deep Focus Playlist for Writing

Song for Rome by Brain Crain

Time by Hans Zimmer

Pastorale, Songs from a Secret Garden, by Rolf Lovland

Moonlit Shore by Brain Crain

Flight by Hans Zimmer

Adagio by Rolf Lovland

Dream of Flying by Brain Crain

The Approaching Night by Phillip Wesley

Embrasse-Moi by Ernesto Cortazar

The Windmills of Your Mind by George Skaroulis

Isles of Shoals by Tim Janis

Ballet of the Little Café by Brian Crain

Where Butterflies Dance by Ann Sweeten

We Should Waltz by Kevin Kern

 Breeana Shields

Author of YA fantasy

The Bone Charmer duology available now from Page Street

Poison’s Kiss duology available now from Random House

The Splendor hits shelves Fall 2021

Website: http://www.breeanashields.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/BreeanaShields

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

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

And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Debbie Manber Kupfer, and more!

To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is  42
Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the purple team and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!
CONTINUE THE HUNT
 
To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author!

Bonus! I’m running a Rafflecopter with oodles of ways to win. The grand prize winner wins a box set of books 1 through 3 of the P.A.W.S. Saga in audio or ebook. Plus everyone who signs up for my newsletter picks up a free copy of Tales from P.A.W.S.

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And one more thing before you go. If you like shifters of all shapes and kinds check out my P.A.W.S. Saga  available in Amazon in ebook, paperback and audiobook and free to subscribers of Kindle Unlimited.
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YASH is coming!

Hey folks! It’s that time again. The YA Scavenger Hunt will start on September 29th on this blog, or to make sure you don’t miss out, you can head over to the YA Scavenger Hunt page, scroll down, and sign up for notifications with your email on the right.

Sadly this is the last YASH as the awesome hunt is being retired, so be sure you visit all the participating blogs for a chance to win oodles of prizes. I’m going to be on the purple team. Look at all those awesome books!

New to the YA Scavenger Hunt?

That’s totally fine. We have a YouTube video that explains the process and we will be checking in on the YASH website during the hunt to answer any and all questions you might have.

Need something fun to read in the meantime? Check out these awesome promos over at Story Origin:

The Legend of Jhara

In a village far away there lived a man called Aviano. Aviano was a merchant. He sold birds in silver cages. The birds came to him through magic. He beguiled them with promises and then trapped them in the cages. He imbued the bars of the cages with magic, so that the birds could only be set free by one who passed him silver. The magic was flawed though and sometimes he caught creatures in his cages that were not truly birds.

Once, for example, the raven he had beguiled turned out to be magician who took on a raven’s form. He was rescued by a young girl who was punished for her deed. The punishment was immortality. The curse to live through the centuries and never be at peace. That curse, from what I hear, was recently broken, and another who is more suited for the task has taken the girl’s place.

But I digress. One day Aviano bit off a little more than he could chew. He captured a fairy called Argentia. He thought that the fairy would make a fine prize and that he would sell it for a thousand silver pieces, especially as she herself was the color of silver. This fairy however, was far more than she seemed. As she sat in the cage, she didn’t stress but rather she plotted. Plotted to destroy the bird man. For that though she would need silver, lots of silver.

She watched while Aviano sold his flock that day. He did a roaring trade and she counted seventeen birds leaving in their gilded cages with their new owners. The Bird Man’s pouch where he kept the silver became heavier and heavier.

That night while he slept, he rested the pouch at the foot of his bed, but he was careless and didn’t complete the ward spells he normally put in place before he slept. Maybe it was the goblet of oogleberry wine that somehow had found its place on his bedside table. Who knows? But in any case he entered the world of sleep without proper protection.

That night Argentia was released by a girl with chestnut hair. She thanked the girl, but did not leave immediately. Instead she fluttered into Aviano’s cabin and used a spell to exchange his silver coins with rocks. And so she was able to filch every last one before she took her liberty.

She chuckled at the thought of Aviano carrying around the pouch of rocks the next day. He did this for hours until hunger sent him into the village in search of a meal at the inn. He ordered a fine feast and opened his pouch to pay.

“What is this?” demanded the innkeeper. “I’m sorry but I do not take this currency. Come back when you have silver.”

Aviano looked down at the rocks. How had this happened? He marched over to the witch, Grisela’s cottage. She must have something to do with this. But she just shrugged when she saw the rocks. “Why are showing these to me?” she asked.

“I thought maybe … as you sell stones you might want these. They are worth a lot of silver.”

“No, they are not. They are merely common rocks you could find on the ground anywhere in the village. Take them away.”

That night Aviano wept. His fortune—he had lost his fortune. But that was not all Argentia had planned for him, though perhaps that is where she should have stopped. But the silver fairy never did anything by half measures, and the spell was only half complete. The stolen silver had a purpose. With it Argentia fashioned Jhara, an artifact so powerful that it could devastate not only its target but all its surroundings.

That of course had not been the plan. Argentia wanted a precision weapon. She wanted to take out Aviano so that he could no longer trap the birds. It did not work. The fairy and the Bird Man wrestled and in the struggle a portal of silver opened into our world and the storm was flung through it.

The other side of that fateful portal was in the bay of New Orleans and the storm that was released would be remembered not by the name of Jhara but by another name—Katrina.

Argentia watched the devastation, the destruction of thousands of innocent lives and wept. She found the weather mage, Latisha Watts, to help, but her help came too late. Together though they formulated a plan to trap Jhara into an artifact and send it away. Argentia initially wanted to destroy the storm, but Latisha understood that that was not possible. That with its destruction it would take much of America with it.

So instead they coaxed it into the artifact with a promise that one day it would have a worthy target. The artifact was taken by hand to St. Louis, or rather by flipper, as Latisha transformed into her dolphin form for the journey and swam up the Mississippi with the artifact embedded in her flipper. Jessamyn met her and took Jhara from her and concealed it in illusion in her chamber where it sits to this day.

So Jhara was safe or at least they thought she was.

But Jessamyn would very rarely check her hoard, and she trusted her students. That would prove the fatal mistake.

——————————————————————————————————

Want to read more? Pick up a copy of JHARA today on Amazon on paperback or Kindle or FREE on Kindle Unlimited.

YASH is (Almost) Here!

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Yay! It’s almost time. I’m excited to announce that once more this spring I’ll be participating in YASH in purple team (my favorite color). Look at all these awesome books you could win. This year because of the coronavirus authors will be donating audio or ebooks of their titles.

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I’ll also be running an extra rafflecopter giveaway on this blog with a chance to win a box set of P.A.W.S. ebooks or audio books.

Hunt starts on March 31st. Want to find out more about the hunt? Hop over to YASH organizer, Colleen’s blog for all the deets.

Need something to read in the meantime? Check out this awesome group of speculative short stories, all free over at Story Origin. (Reviews much appreciated.)

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Lightfall on Swoon Reads

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Stuck inside because of COVID-19? Need a distraction? Check out this brand new book by M.A. Phipps and Rebecca Jaycox. So what’s it about? Let’s take a read:

Luna has always been told she’s crazy. That’s why she’s spent the last year in a psychiatric ward for teens—until a mysterious doctor takes her away to a school in Egypt for children with special abilities. There, she’s forced to question if she’s actually insane or if there’s more to her troubled past than she thought.

Caleb is a Dark Nephilim who’s been chosen to go undercover as an exchange student at the Light Nephilim school in Alexandria. Once there, his mission is simple: find a way to free his grandfather, Alexander the Great, who was entombed after trying to take over the world.

When Luna and Caleb cross paths, they’re drawn to each other, but with eons of prejudice standing between them, can they overcome the divide between the Lights and the Darks? Or will the trail of secrets and lies they discover tear them apart?

Sounds intriguing AND for a limited time you can pick up a free copy on Swoon Reads. 

Enjoy the book and be sure to rate, review, and comment on the site.
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Introducing Umbrae on Audible!

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Attention everyone! After a long long wait (I truly apologize) Umbrae (Book 3 of the P.A.W.S. Saga) is finally live on Audible.

For this book I have a new narrator, Christopher Goodrich who has been awesome to work with and all being well will continue recording all of the P.A.W.S. books.

So, take a listen (you can listen to a sample first), and pick up a copy from Audible.

OR I have a limited number of free codes available for review copies of Umbrae. Fill out this handy dandy form over at Story Origin if you would like one.

Happy Listening,

Debbie

 

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Favorite Reads of 2019

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Hi folks and Happy New Year. I hope you all had an awesome holiday season.

It’s time for my annual run down of my favorite titles I read in 2019. According to Goodreads I read a total of 32 books this year — that’s six more than my challenge number of 24.

Here in no particular order are my favorite reads of 2019. And this year I’m proud to say that every one of them was written by an indie author.

EverUpward

First up — I was excited to pick up a signed copy of part two of George Sirois’s Excelsior Journey – EVER UPWARD. This book took a while in coming, but was definitely worth the wait. If you enjoy YA sci-fi give it a whirl, but start first with book one EXCELSIOR.

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I completed several awesome fantasy series this year that I had begun the year before. One of them is Ben S. Reeder’s Demon’s Apprentice series. This upper YA urban fantasy keeps getting better and is highly recommended. (One again start from the beginning!)

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And another awesome series I completed this year. PROVIDENCE PARANORMAL COLLEGE by D.R. Perry. This is a series of interconnected stories each focusing on different pairs of students. The story arc between all the characters is rich and complex with a lot of aha moments towards the end when different parts of the puzzle that is created over all ten books come into place. Although in theory you could read each book separately I suggest you take them order. I actually read them all over a two-year period and was sad when I came to the end of the last book.

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And now for something completely different. CHASE THE RABBIT by Steven M. Thomas along with its three sequels is an action adventure series like you’ve never read before. Thomas intersperses old Hollywood with mystery in a delightful way that keeps you glued to the story. A huge heap of nostalgia here along with some excellent writing.

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*Sigh* – another final book in a series and one that made me sad as I adore Jen Ponce’s fantastic Devany Miller series. SOUL HOOK was a satisfying conclusion to the quintet which I cannot recommend more strongly.

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In FLIGHT, part three of Camille Faye’s Voodoo Butterfly series we depart from New Orleans and venture into faraway Malaysia. The book is captivating and I await anxiously for book 4 that should be released in 2020.

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As you probably know from my previous years’ best of posts I’m a huge fan of R.R.Virdi’s Grave Report. DANGEROUS WAYS is set in the same world where Vincent dwells but while Graves is like popcorn and addictive to consume, Dangerous Ways has the richness of a good meal. I enjoyed digesting the book slowly and reveling in the world. (And I really hope a second Book of Winter is coming soon.

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And finally — another favorite author that I’ve been waiting for a new book from for a long time. BAD DREAMS & BROKEN HEARTS is a collection of case studies from a detective that lives and works an a world like ours except magic is commonplace and sometimes problematic. The stories are perfect and well worth the wait. Highly recommended along with Misha’s dark urban fantasy series, The Book of Doors.

So there we go, my favorite reads from 2019. What were your favorite reads? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.

Also just a little reminder that my P.A.W.S. Saga is still on sale for 99 cents/99p a piece until Jan 1st.

Catch up on the P.A.W.S. Saga