A MelanieM Review: Dead Blind: Jack of Spades #2 (PF 2015: Altered States) by Lee Brazil


Rating: 4.75 stars out of 5

Dead Blind coverIn the two months since Dr. Sabine Brusilov and his ghostly lover Bart discovered the curious brass circlet while investigating a haunting in an apartment building, Sabine focused on recovering from his accident. Now, his health restored, his mind returns to the mystery of the circlet. Even a commission to appear on a television show can’t distract him from its allure.

After nearly two centuries of resistance, it takes an exorcism for Bart to come to terms with being a ghost…and learning that everything in the other realm isn’t quite the way he had figured. As he grows more comfortable in the spirit plane, his abilities on the earthly plane evolve. Even though he feels the circlet’s evil, he can’t help but connect his growing strength with it.

Life and death are two sides of the same coin, but the circlet blurs lines for both man and ghost.

In Dead Blind (Jack of Spades #2), Lee Brazil takes his plot and gives it a dark, maze-like quality that adds another level of trepidation and suspense to a tale already overflowing with it.  For me, this story is where I start to connect with Sabine whose personality and cavalier treatment of Bart sort of pushed me away in the first installment.

With an evil circlet in his possession, Sabine’s control over his emotions, thoughts and actions become compromised.  And it’s his struggle to remain himself that really draws the reader onto his side and let’s us empathize with this complicated man.  Bart too is growing in substance…literally.  While the reasons he is becoming stronger are still somewhat nebulous, the fact that Bart abilities have grown now allow him to have avenues for his thoughts and emotions not possible before.  He can travel and move things, for good or bad.  But it’s his growing concern for Sabine that pulls us into their relationship and gives us a better feel for their couple dynamics which is undergoing  drastic changes even as they are.

But back to that evil circlet.  Lee Brazil does a fabulous job of bringing that object’s menace to life on the page. Through the vivid imagery of Brazil’s descriptions, t he circlet emanates such malevolence, that the  dreams and actions it’s pulling out of Sabine will bring chills as you read.  Yes, this story is getting marvelously darker, more convoluted and scary.  And I couldn’t be happier.

If you love your romance stories with a touch of horror, if you listen for those things that go bump in the night, than this installment has just the right amount of shivers to make you downright  gleeful.  But be warned, none of these are stand alone stories.  They must be read in the order they were written and often contain cliffhangers just as serialized stories should.

But don’t take my word for it.  Pick them all up and get started today.  Each is a truly delicious morsel of romance and fear, addicting and downright delectable.  Happy Reading.

Cover art by Laura Harner.  I like the overall design but am still missing a supernatural element.  It just seems too light and fluffy for the content.

Sales Links:   All Romance (ARe)       Amazon         Buy It Here

Book Details:

Kindle Edition, 54 pages
Published April 14th 2015 by Lime Time Press
edition languageEnglish\

About Pulp Friction 2015
Lee Brazil ~ Havan Fellows ~ Parker Williams ~ Laura Harner

The Pulp Friction 2015 Altered States Collection.
Four authors.
Four Series.
Twenty books.
One supernatural finale.

Spend a year with the creatures that go bump in the night…fighting for their rights to exist and protecting the innocents of The Big Easy. A diverse group of friends trying to find their place in a world they never had to “fit” into before.
Although each series can stand alone, we believe reading the books in the order they are released will increase your enjoyment.
Round One:
Drawing Dead (Jack of Spades: 1) by Lee Brazil
Blind Stud (King of Hearts: 1) by Havan Fellows
The Devil’s Bedpost (Four of Clubs: 1) by Parker Williams
Diamonds and Dust (Ace of Diamonds: 1) by Laura Harner

Round Two:

Dead Blind (Jack of Spades: 2) by Lee Brazil


Barb, A Zany Old Lady Review — Foolish Encounters: A Rainbow Gold Anthology by Angel Martinez, Tinnean, Tali Spencer, Amy Lane, J.C. Wallace, Elin Gregory, and Freddy MacKay


Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Foolish Encounters coverThis is a collection of stories in which one or both of the MCs have something happen which disrupts their routine before they have that first chance encounter. As the blurb states, “An accident, a chance encounter, a thought blurted out, a boat blown off course, a change in direction that suddenly runs into the line of fire – the smallest misstep can change everything. These foolish encounters are the moments around which lives pivot and sometimes spin out of control.”

A Message from the Home Office by Angel Martinez
Sissal, a cobra shifter, is sent an assistant to his outpost on planet Earth. The young guy named Rcrred, and nicknamed Richard, is cute, blond, very high strung, and uses his eidetic memory to spout regulations at Sissal every chance he gets. Richard is a dik-dik shifter and is the last thing Sissal wanted in his life. But Sissal adapts to the situation until he discovers that Richard has hacked into his computer and is apparently trying to find something on him to report back to headquarters. Actually, he’s reporting back to a specific officer who has had it in for Sissal for years. This is a very nice story with great world-building, interesting characters, and a plausible, complex storyline. Great for those who like sci-fi/futuristic adventures. 4 stars

Shredding the Heart by JC Wallace
Nicholas is a skateboarder who is hoping to win a national title, and in the meantime is working, going to college part time, and practicing on his skateboard every chance he gets. He’s not only obsessed with skateboarding, though. He’s obsessed with the guy he sees out running every morning, and in an attempt to get closer one morning, he accidently overcompensates on his board, sending it slamming into the man’s head. Quinn is a workaholic, driven to achieve in his high pressure finance job, and hadn’t noticed the gorgeous skateboarder until they both ended up in the hospital together. Eventually, Quinn gives in to Nicholas’s attempts to befriend him, and the two find they have a lot in common. But Quinn’s been burned before and doesn’t give his trust lightly. When he perceives that Nicholas has used him to get sponsorship to attend his next skateboarding event, he cruelly breaks Nicholas’s heart and storms off in a huff.

This is the longest of the stories and was very well done. The author took the time to build a relationship with the men and gave them plenty of time to work out their own issues and for Quinn to realize his own stupidity. Shredding is defined as performing an athletic sport well, and it’s not until Quinn learns how to master his heart that the two can finally find their HEA. Great for those who love a little angst and self-flagellation mixed with their romance. 5 stars

The Lunar Imperative by Elin Gregory
Futuristic sci-fi about Haken, a Vargan sergeant who leads a covert mission to another planet to exterminate the man who escaped their planet with their treasury. One of his soldiers, Raimi, is attracted to Haken but is not of the same rank so Haken hesitates to pursue anything. The Vargans are huge, and shift-shape to beasts during the full moon, often losing their humanity during that time and feasting on each other. However, at this full moon, both Raimi and Haken have been captured. The heart of the story revolves around whether or not they will kill each other, exterminate their captor, or be killed. This is an interesting tale with a lot of world-building for such a short story. If you like non-human species and sci-fi space adventures, you will likely enjoy this one. 3 stars

Blue and Green Persuasion by Tinnean
Stranded aboard The Midnight Ride, a starship which has been floating without power through the galaxies for centuries, Hart accepts that his fate may be to die aboard the ship that was to have transported them to a new world before it lost power. But as they enter a new galaxy, his father, the captain, asks him to power up his pod—a small spaceship that he uses for scouting. As Chief Scout, he will not only drop into a possibly hostile atmosphere, but he may never return to the ship since there’s not enough power to get back. But the reports look good. The planet seems to have both water and land mass, and when he lands he finds an oxygen-rich atmosphere, small animals to use as food, and beautiful, bird-like sentient beings. Kes is such a being and right from the start, they are attracted to each other. But Hart has to direct his father and the other survivors onboard The Midnight Ride as they use shuttle tenders to land in this new world so the men are separated until Hart completes his mission. This was a great story with amazing world-building within so few words. The primary romance, and another between Hart’s brother and one of the soldiers were sweetly done, and we see enough of the promise of a future together to make it a satisfying romance story. 5 stars

Well Hello, Eight Eyes by Tali Spencer
Tanner is out on Lake Michigan when a horrible storm blows up, and he can’t make it back to shore. Shooting for an island, his boat capsizes, and he ends up on Spider Island where the residents don’t seem very happy about saving his life. He’s assigned to Cory as his housemate and “sitter”, and told to stay in the cabin no matter what happens while Cory is gone during the day. He steps onto the porch and is greeted with a scary sight—huge, furry, eight-legged creatures resembling spiders seem to be playing with each other in a nearby field. Needless to say, he gets indoors and doesn’t plan to go out at all the next day. That night, he and Cory get closer and more romantically involved, and he’s starting to wonder if he even wants to leave the island the next day when the supply boat is due to arrive. But before he has to make the choice, he gets a greater shock when he spots a spider indoors with him. What happens next changes the course of his future, and he finds a chance to be happy with Cory in a warm and fuzzy way (pun intended!). 3.5 stars

The Fenestra Penetration by Amy Lane
A fenestra is an opening or a window. Steve is a UPS driver who enjoys imagining what goes on behind the windows he views as he makes his deliveries every day. Usually he can see something inside each window that fires his imagination, but one house on his route has all the shades pulled, and when he sees where the package he’s about to deliver is from, he’s hoping that the guy who lives there is as hot as his imagination makes him out to be. That particular company only produces certain items—the kind of items Steve himself prefers, and when he gets a look at the cute guy who receives the box, he wants more. Eventually, he not only gets it he gets much more than his imagination could have possibly hoped for. A really cute, sweet, hot, well done story packed with humor and romance. 5 stars

The Nut Job by Freddy Mackay
This one is somewhat of an offshoot of “A Message from the Home Office” by Angel Martinez. Spencer is the pilot who dropped off Rcrred and got out of there quickly before Sissal could make him return for the irritating little rik-rik. Spence is a squirrel, or a squirrel-like being, who is on a mission to gather nuts, not only for the people on his planet, but there’s also a little side trip to set himself up with his own private stash. When his assistants, some of whom are large and furry, are spotted and shot at by a human, Spence has to abort his mission, drop his nuts, and try to get his friends to safety. It’s during this escape that he meets Raijin, a human male who is stoned on pot and ’shrooms and doesn’t really believe his own eyes. Over time, and a great deal of bickering, he and Spence start to form an attraction, and when Raijin is injured by that same gun-toting human, Spence does whatever he can to keep him safe, including making Raijin his pet. This is a nutty story (pun intended) in which the author shows a definite sense of humor with the nut jokes. A great way to end the anthology, and though not strictly a romance, there’s hope for one as the story closes. 4 stars

Overall, this is a nice anthology, definitely just perfect for those who enjoy sci-fi since many of the stories were space adventures. I enjoyed some stories more than others, and I’m sure other readers will have their own choices, but overall I enjoyed this very much.

Cover art by Wilde City Press.  Cute cover that works for the anthology.

Sales Links:     Wilde City Press        All Romance (ARe)      Amazon       Buy It Here

Book Details:

ebook, First, 353 pages
Published April 1st 2015 by Wilde City Press, LLC (first published March 31st 2015)
original titleFoolish Encounters: A Rainbow Gold Anthology
ISBN 1925313069 (ISBN13: 9781925313062)
edition languageEnglish

A Stella Review: Family of Lies: Sebastian by Sam Argent


Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

Family of Lies coverSebastian Orwell did the only thing a smart wizard could do when he stumbled upon the wounded Crown Prince: he healed him and dumped him in a tavern where he could continue not being Sebastian’s problem. Unfortunately, the prince isn’t content with just being alive, and he hunts Sebastian down to thank him personally. Not only is Sebastian stuck with the prince’s unwanted affections, he’s also confronted by growing evidence linking the assassination attempt to someone from his father’s past.

Lord Orwell is a lot of things: thief, liar, drunk, and all around horrible father, but Sebastian knows he’s no murderer. In order to prove it, Sebastian has to keep the prince alive long enough to discover the truth—a task made considerably harder because the idiot prince prefers wooing Sebastian over securing his own survival. On top of everything, Sebastian needs to save the day without revealing his magical powers and the real reason he hides his appearance.

 Sebastian had no intention of playing the hero, but whoever is stirring up shit in his country will pay for destroying his quiet life.

Family of Lies: Sebastian by Sam Argent was really great! A well done debut book. I couldn’t find a lot about this “new to me” author. I suppose Family of Lies: Sebastian is his/her first published work. To me it was love at first sight with the cover but the plot is good too, with a great development of the story and a lot of funny moments. I can’t believe how I found myself caught in the story untill the end.

Sebastian is the younger (and smarter) son of Lord Orwell, a not so good father of a big and messy family. He wears a strong magical cloak, an enchanted item that hides him totally. Sebastian is arrogant, mysterious, with no tact at all, stubborn and smartass. He annoys everyone, but everyone loves him. He is the lead character, everything and everyone revolves around him and his mysterious ability.

Turren, Prince of Larnlyon, has been in love with Sebastian since forever, even before he burned the first edition of a book very precious to Sebastian, becoming hated by him. He’s determined to woo Sebastian in every way he can, following him around and forcing him to save the Prince more than once.

The book is set in a magical world, of which (sadly) we know very less about. This is the only negative note I can talk of. It’s high fantasy but when I was expecting some explanation on how it works or on the various breeds we meet, I got almost nothing. It was hard at the beginning but I tried to just follow Sebastian in his (dis)adventures and I can assure you the story flowed amazingly good.

There is a HUGE cast, a lot of people considering Sebastian’s family and all the royal members plus the various guards and wizards. Of course they weren’t well defined and in this case I appreciated. It was confusing at the start but as soon as I started to get familiar with them, then it was okay. I’m pretty sure it would have been almost impossible for me to know a little more about each of them and the lack of characters’ description helped me to focus more on Turren and Sebastian. Especially because there is a plot to follow, intrigues and mysteries to solve, wizards to defeat and two young men waiting for their HEA.

Most of all this story is a funny reading, almost real in the banter between all the Orwell family. They brawled at each other in the same way we do with our parents or brothers/sisters everyday. Dysfunctional and crazy and mouthy as mine.

You can’t miss this book if you are a fan of the fantasy genre, you won’t be disappointed. But I’m going to recommend to everyone who wants to read a well written and funny story. I am very happy to have discovered this new author. I can’t wait to read more about Sam Argent, maybe more of these amazing characters I met in Family of Lies: Sebastian. So… next book on Kevin and Luke? Please?

Cover art by Anne Cain. I’m in love with this cover. It is so magical and mysterious and it sparkle!! I couldn’t resist it.

Sales Links:   Dreamspinner Press     All Romance (ARe)     Amazon      Buy It Here

Book Details:

Published March 18th 2015 by Dreamspinner Press
ebook, 324 pages
ISBN13 9781632166814
Edition language English


In the Spotlight: E E Montgomery’s Just The Way You Are (Just Life #4) (excerpt and giveaway)


 Just The Way You Are

 Just The Way You Are (Just Life #4) by E E Montgomery

Release Date: April 17, 2015

STRW In The Spotlight Header

E.E. Montgomery is here with their latest book, Just The Way You Are.  Check it out below and don’t forget to enter the contest at the end.

Goodreads Link
Publisher: Dreamspinner Press
Cover Artist: Catt Ford

STRW Author BookSynopsis

After ten years in an abusive relationship and a near-fatal knife wound, Jonathan Watson is finally free. Unused to being able to make even the smallest decision and smothered by family and well-meaning neighbors, he’s floundering in the real world. Jonathan is afraid of falling into another relationship too quickly and realizes he needs time to rediscover who he is before he attaches himself to another man.

He never counted on meeting Ben Urquhart, though. Ben tempts Jonathan to forget everything and take a leap.  For Ben, it’s love at first sight, and he doesn’t want to take it slow. He wants to build a life with Jonathan, free from harm and full of laughter. But before they can take the next step, they must protect Jonathan from his possessive, threatening ex. Jonathan must find the courage to confront him and break the chains of his past before he can be truly free to build a future with Ben.
Pages or Words: 70,000 words

Categories: Contemporary, Fiction, Gay Fiction, M/M Romance, Romance


STRW Spotlight Book Excerpt

Chapter ONE
JONATHAN SHIVERED in the early morning air but not from the chill. He wrapped his arms around himself and groaned as his wound tugged against the movement. He relaxed slowly as the pain eased. From where he stood, he could see between the two apartment blocks to where the sun glinted off the Brisbane River. Five years ago he used to watch the ferries puddle their way up and down the river, dropping passengers here at Hamilton and across the way at Bulimba. He’d missed that view for a long time. He wondered if he’d miss the house now that he was leaving it.

The house was gray—morning gray, Anthony had called it, but it had always looked like unwashed, neglected underwear to him. The lines of the house were precise and symmetrical, unlike the yard. The front lawn bore scars, just like his chest. They were from his Cruiser skidding to a stop the night Anthony had sent him to kill Mark. His eyes burned as he thought how close he’d come to doing what his boyfriend told him to.
At the time, he didn’t think he had any other choice. It was kill or be killed. Literally. By the end of that night, Mark had been the only one left uninjured. Liam’s leg had thankfully healed quickly where Anthony had stabbed him. Anthony was still in hospital with a self-inflicted knife wound to the stomach, and Jonathan… Jonathan was done with that life. Anthony’s knife in his chest—so close to his heart it was clearly intended to be fatal—had cured him of whatever delusions he’d held onto that let him believe he was in love with the man. Even Anthony’s assertions that Jonathan was responsible for him being in a wheelchair since the car accident two years before wouldn’t get him to stay.

He was out of it now, or at least he would be as soon as the removalists came and took his stuff away. Then he could begin to heal. The first step had been to learn to breathe again after his lung collapsed when Anthony stabbed him. The next step… he didn’t know what the next step after this was. He wasn’t going to admit it to anyone, but he was just as terrified now, starting a life of his own—on his own—as he was when he thought he was going to die.

The trembling began again. Dizzy. Couldn’t catch his breath. He leaned beside the front door and forced himself to bring his mind back to the here and now and looked around again. There was a new section of fence now, and the Cruiser had been repaired and sat at the curb, waiting for him. His cousin must have had the damage repaired while Jonathan was in the hospital—learning how to make his lung work again after his boyfriend had tried to kill him. He shook the thoughts from his head. He had to stop thinking like this or he’d go mad.

Sleep last night had been impossible. The house had been cleaned, but nothing was going to completely remove the blood splattered on the white carpet. His blood.

A low rumble burbled through the air, and a truck turned onto the street. Jonathan’s heart raced. “You can do this,” he whispered, although he wasn’t quite sure which part of “this” he was talking about. It could be dealing with strangers on his own, or it could be leaving Anthony—finally. He pressed the heel of his hand over the dressing on his chest. Staying with Anthony was no longer an option.

The truck stopped and turned to reverse into the driveway. The high-pitched beeping made Jonathan jump and, to calm himself, he focused on the two men sitting in the cab. The driver looked young and blond, the passenger older and shriveled, his hair sticking out in unkempt tangles.

“Two people. Not Anthony. You’re outside, everything’s marked. You don’t need to go inside with them at all if you don’t want to. You can do this.” He counted his breaths in and out. The beeping stopped, the engine cut out, and the driver’s door opened.
Long, well-formed legs slipped from the cab, by-passing the step completely as a muscled body slid to the ground. Khaki cargo shorts bunched enticingly around a spectacular package before settling loosely around slim hips as the man’s boot-clad feet landed on the ground and he stood away from the truck. Jonathan moved his gaze up the body. The worn T-shirt did nothing to hide the trim stomach and prominent pecs and the sleeves framed the rounded deltoids perfectly. Jonathan sighed as he lifted his focus higher to see the man’s wide smile.

Sales Links:  Dreamspinner Press eBook and Paperback

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

E E Montgomery wants the world to be a better place, with equality and acceptance for all. Her philosophy is: We can’t change the world but we can change our small part of it and, in that way, influence the whole. Writing stories that show people finding their own ‘better place’ is part of E E Montgomery’s own small contribution.

Thankfully, there’s never a shortage of inspiration for stories that show people growing in their acceptance and love of themselves and others. A dedicated people-watcher, E E finds stories everywhere. In a cafe, a cemetery, a book on space exploration or on the news, there’ll be a story of personal growth, love, and unconditional acceptance there somewhere.

Where to find the author:
You can contact E E Montgomery at eemontgomery11@gmail.com; on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/ewynelaine.montgomery; on Twitter: @EEMontgomery1; or at her web site: http://www.eemontgomery.com/ and blog: http://www.eemontgomery.com/blog.

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Contest:  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter. Link and prizes provided by the author and Pride Promotions.

Rafflecopter Prize: One copy of the each of the first three books in the series
Rafflecopter Code:
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Tour Dates & Stops: April 20 – May 1, 2015


Amanda C. Stone


Love Bytes

Book Reviews, Rants, and Raves

Prism Book Alliance


Vampires, Werewolves, and Fairies, Oh My

The Novel Approach


Hearts on Fire

Molly Lolly


Divine Magazine

Full Moon Dreaming


MM Good Book Reviews

Scattered Thoughts & Rogue Words


TTC Books and More

Bayou Book Junkie


Rainbow Gold Reviews

BFD Book Blog


Bike Book Reviews

Cate Ashwood


Inked Rainbow Reads

Chris McHart


Heat Things Up with Cari Z on Superheroes and Where There’s Smoke…(guest blog and giveaway)



Where There’s Smoke by Cari Z
Riptide Publishing

STRW In The Spotlight Header

Here today at Scattered Thoughts and Rogue Words is Cari Z talking about Superheroes and her release Where There’s Smoke.  Check out her guest blog and book details below. And don’t forget to leave a comment to be entered in the giveaway.

Cari Z on Superheroes….

Superheroes seem to be having a moment right now. A big one.

They’re everywhere. They’re in blockbuster movies (hello my Avengers, it’s been far too long), they’re getting their own shows on TV, they’re on t-shirts and backpacks and bags of Doritos. Yes, I can now eat Captain America-endorsed Doritos, and that actually does incline me to grab a bag. I mean…it’s Chris Evans. Yes, please. Then there are the comics, don’t even get me started on the comics and how much money I’ve spent and how many different timelines there are, I will go insane if I think about it too hard.

I love superheroes, from the staunch to the sly, but I’ve also got a major soft spot for those who are endowed with great power and choose not to accept that great responsibility along with it. Or if they do, they do it for what we’d think of as the “wrong reasons.” Money, notoriety, the sheer thrill that comes from using your power for yourself and no one else. Selfish reasons. Personal reasons. These are the sorts of motives that turn a potential hero into a villain, but that doesn’t necessarily make a person bad.

These are the people who take a shitty situation and make the best of it, or decide not to let someone else make their decisions and run their lives. You don’t have to be The Joker to make villainy interesting. Be a nihilist, be a hedonist, be the Jackie Estacado of the criminal underground. This was the sort of character I wanted to focus on in the first book of the Panopolis series, but naturally I couldn’t start right there. Instead I took a normal guy named Edward Dinges and stuck him in Panopolis, the city of Heroes and Villains. I gave him a decent job, an average history and an overall humdrum life, and then…I made him fall in love.

With a villain.

How does love change you in the face of overwhelming odds? Where There’s Smoke has the answer.

STRW Author BookSynopsis

Panopolis is a rough place to be an average Joe. I came here looking for adventure and excitement, but nobody cares about one more normal guy in a city filled with super-powered heroes. The closest I’ve come to glory is working in a bank that villains often rob.

But then I maybe accidentally-on-purpose helped a villain escape the hero who was trying to save the day. Imagine my shock when, a week later, that villain asked me out for coffee. One date turned into more, and now I’m head over heels in love with Raul.

Falling in love with the guy dubbed the Mad Bombardier isn’t without its downsides, though. I’ve had to deal with near-death encounters with other villains, awkwardly flirtatious heroes who won’t take no for an answer, and a lover I’m not sure I can trust. It’s getting to the point where I know I’ll have to make a choice: side with the heroes, or stand fast by my villain.

Either way, I think my days as a normal guy are over.

STRW Author Bio and Contacts

Cari Z was a bookworm as a child and remains one to this day. In an effort to combat her antisocial reading behavior, she did all sorts of crazy things, from competitive gymnastics to alligator wresting (who even knew that was legal!) to finally joining the Peace Corps, which promptly sent her and her husband to the wilds of West Africa, stuck them in a hut, and said, “See ya!” She also started writing in earnest then, because when you have no television, no car and nothing to read other than a French translation of Twilight, you find ways of entertaining yourself. She’s been back in Colorado for a while now, but stuck with the writing.

Cari posts a free weekly serial on her blog at carizerotica.blogspot.com. Come read, come say hi, or check out her other works at cari-z.net.

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Every comment on this blog tour enters you in a drawing for a paperback copy of Rules To Live By. Entries close at midnight, Eastern time, on May 2. Contest is NOT restricted to U.S. entries. Don’t forget to add your email so we can contact you if you win!  Must be 18 years of age or older to enter.