Title: Stealing Breath Author: Joanne Brothwell Pub. Date: March 9, 2012 Find "Stealing Breath":
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An ancient evil has resurfaced,
the soul of the Indigo Child is at stake.
Beware those with the Stealing Breath...
Deep in the backwoods of North Dakota, Sarah Ross is searching for a missing child when she is attacked by a glowing-eyed, transparent creature known to the Navajo as a Skinwalker. Using mysterious abilities, Sarah escapes, only to run directly into Evan Valente, a handsome, charismatic stranger who helps her back to safety. But why is Evan out in the forest so early in the morning?
Sarah learns her eyes bear the mark of the Indigo Child, an evolved human with the ability to feel the emotions of others; unfortunately, her indigo aura is highly desirable to those who wish to steal her powerful essence.
Soon, Sarah falls deeply in love with Evan and wants nothing more than to follow her heart, but she can't ignore the lingering feeling that Evan is hiding a terrible secret. The deeper she digs, the more danger she faces, forcing her to face the darkest, innermost parts of her soul.
Stealing Breath is a darkly romantic tale of a young woman’s journey for love within the fearsome realm of the paranormal. It is a spellbinding read that mines the inner workings of the human character. Love, loss and the quest for redemption, these characters will echo in your mind long after you’ve put the book down.
“You saw that Evan guy again?” Amber asked. She sucked the last of her frothy pink drink through a straw. The mischievous look on her face was mirrored in the giddy emotions she gave off, emotions that were always especially loud when she was drinking. They resonated within me like a bouncy ball flying around in my stomach.
I downed another shot of “Sex on the Beach”, hoping it would finally be enough to filter out the emotions of everyone here. Smooth at first, then tart, the booze finally burned its way down the back of my throat. The buzz-on was almost immediate, and the effect was wonderful, the way it almost obliterated all of the sex-obsessed feelings that seemed to roll off of nearly ever patron at the bar like a hot blanket being wound around me. Sick.
We sat at a booth right next to the bar. Amber held her glass up, signaling to the bartender who nodded and began to pour. He bobbed his head to the blaring country music from the loudspeaker.
Tables ringed the bar, booths along the wall and stools on the other side. Every few feet a brightly lit neon beer sign provided a dash of garish décor. Right in the middle was the dance floor, a little postage-stamp sized circle of parquet flooring that reminded me of an interlocking puzzle. Alongside it was a raised section with a few pool tables.
“Yeah, I saw him.” I proceeded to explain his land development business to Amber and Kate, who listened with rapt expressions.
“That’s amazing. Nobody ever comes to Slave Lake. People only leave,” Amber said. Our waitress, dressed in skin-tight jeans and a too-tight tank-top, brought us another
round. Behind her, the giant flat screen on the wall lit up with random explosions of fuchsia, neon yellow and acid green, perfectly paced with the lyrics of the canned music.
Kate sat across from me on the bench seating, her copper hair shimmering pink from the neon “Budweiser” sign and the black light hanging on the wall behind her. Her teeth were glowing an unnatural white in the light, and every piece of lint on her black shirt stood out like a 3D movie.
“How interesting that you both were out in the bush that morning,” Kate said.
I nodded. “I know. Quite a coincidence.”
Amber sat beside Kate in the bench seat, facing the bar. She leaned forward in one fluid motion, her black hair sweeping the table. “Sarah. Look who just walked in.” I turned in my seat. “And he’s coming right over—”
“Mind if I join you?” asked a familiar voice, before I’d even had a chance to look.
I turned and smiled at Evan. “Sure.”
He pulled a stool up to our table, his arms rippling with the movement. His very presence seemed to heat the air around me, his cologne eclipsing the bar smell of dirty jeans, stale beer and desperation.
I glanced at Kate and Amber, who both stared at him, bright-eyed. His dark fitted jeans hugged his legs, the denim slung low across narrow hips. A black t-shirt made of a material I couldn’t identify hinted of the peaks and valleys of muscle beneath and a single silver chain with a dog-tag hung at his neck, a crest emblem engraved on it with the name Valente. This guy would look good in a burlap sack. Or nothing.
“You remember Kate and Amber from the campground?” I asked. They nodded in acknowledgement and exchanged niceties. Then Amber and Kate excused themselves and hit the dance floor. They’d been dancing together since we’d become bar age, both of them with the attitude that they weren’t about to wait around for a guy to ask.
Evan and I watched as they twirled each other around, the only people dancing in the whole bar. Then they attempted to two-step, each of them fighting to lead. Goofballs.
I turned back to Evan. “How are you?”
He flashed that thousand-watt smile. “I’m great. You?” He inched closer and the atmosphere around my head seemed charged, like a swelling electrical storm. A shiver traveled through my body.
“Fine, thanks.” I smiled.
“You look great.” He gestured to my outfit.
I looked down at my jeans and a loose white shirt and glanced back up at him, cocking my eyebrow. “Thanks?”
“What? Not used to compliments?”
“Not when I’m dressed like a slob, no, not really.”
He rolled his eyes. “You look awesome. Seriously. Want to dance?”
I stared at him, half-expecting he was kidding. But his face showed no trace of a joke. I glanced at the dance floor where Kate and Amber had begun to dance hip hop to the country beat.
I turned back to him. He held out his hand, across the table. Reluctantly, I took it and he led me to the dance floor where Amber and Kate made room for us, their expressions barely-muted surprise. People rarely danced in Slave Lake. Except for Amber and Kate, of course.
Evan placed his palm in my right hand and set his other hand on my waist. I glanced up at a set of smoldering eyes and immediately looked away, his gaze too intense. Unfortunately, by looking away, I realized that every single person in the bar was staring at us. Some people, who should have had their backs to us, had actually turned around on their stool to gawk. I felt like a fish in a fishbowl.
Evan leaned down, his breath caressing my cheek. I caught a silky coil of his scent, a rich, musky fragrance of expensive cologne, soap and his own unique smell. It was addictive. The hand on my waist snaked around to my back, pulling me closer. Heat radiated over my entire body as we began to move in slow, gentle circles. When the song came to an end, my arm fell from his shoulder. His hands didn’t move.
“One more?” he asked as the music transitioned to a faster song, modern country with a dance beat. Kate and Amber were already dancing to it in a way that looked more fitting for a city club, Amber’s arms reaching up and over her head, hips swinging. Kate had her own little groove going alongside her.
“Sure,” I said.
He smiled and set his hand back on my waist, and suddenly we were in the fastest two-step I’d ever danced in my life. We moved around the dance floor at a dizzying pace, spinning circles around Kate and Amber who were laughing out loud watching us.
He twirled me several times, only to end up back in that break-neck, two-stepping pace once again. Now I was giggling to the point of breathlessness, my head spinning from the four shots I’d just downed and my racing pulse. He spun me three more times, and when the song ended, he lowered me into a long dip.
With his arm around my back, I was gently pulled up, our bodies touching from torso all the way down, so that even the tips of our shoes connected. I looked into his face, expecting to see a grin, but was met with a burning look that made my heart stutter and my breath catch. The whiskey on his breath was all I could think of, the heat of his mouth, so close to mine.
Then a sensation folded over me. A soft lethargy, like I was levitating, weightless. My eyes closed, and explosions of purple and blue light flashed behind my eyelids. I relaxed into the feeling.
“Are you okay?” Evan asked. I opened my eyes. He peered down at me, forehead wrinkled with concern. His skin was flushed bright pink.
My lungs began to re-inflate as my entire body tingled like I’d just had the best orgasm of my life.
Had he even kissed me? I licked my lips, but there was no taste of whiskey, no evidence of his mouth on mine. Obviously I’d had one too many shots. And yet, I felt perfectly lucid, his gorgeous face crystal clear before me.
“Uh…I’m fine,” I said, my voice breathy. There had to be an explanation. Like maybe I was losing my mind. Or maybe my fainting spells were starting to happen again, ever since the stressful Skinwalker incident. Whatever it was, right now I had to make sure this perfect specimen of a man in front of me did not think I was a raving lunatic. I forced myself to speak, my mind scrambling for small-talk. “I…I had no idea you could dance like that.”
The concerned look faded, and he flashed his perfect teeth. “Thanks. You’re not too bad, yourself.”
I dropped my hand from around his shoulder and backed up. He let go of me slowly, as if with reluctance.
“Come on. I need a drink,” I said, motioning back to the bar where Amber and Kate had just sat down. We veered toward them.
Evan made eye contact with the bartender who nodded at both of us. “Scotch, on the rocks, please. What are you drinking?”
“I’ll have a Long Island Iced T—”
“Who’s he?” A guy’s voice said, close enough that I cringed from the volume. I whipped around.
Jeff Hansen. Town drunk that never seemed to do much of anything, other than sit in the bar, hit on locals and look pissed off. And boy, did he look pissed off. Emotions rolled off him like jagged pieces of glass, hurt and anger all twisted up into one gigantic ball of irritation.
“He’s cool, Jeff. He’s with me,” I said. My heart started to pound as I remembered the last time Jeff had picked a fight. He’d bitten a guy’s ear and torn part of it right off.
Jeff stared at Evan, his teeth exposed like he was snarling.
“Is he treating you right, Sarah?”
“It’s all good, Jeff,” I said.
“You think you’re pretty tough?” Jeff said through gritted teeth. He stepped forward and poked Evan in the chest. Evan was pushed slightly off-balance, and he took a step backward.
My stomach clenched. “Jeff, I said it’s cool.”
Evan straightened up. He had at least four inches on Jeff and well over thirty pounds. Jeff stepped back, and the sickly-sweet smell of weed came wafting off of his ratty jean jacket.
Evan looked down his nose at Jeff. “Back off, man.” His jaw muscles popped in and out, and his hands balled up at his sides. The only thing Jeff had going for him was a bad attitude and liquid courage.
“Shut up, asshole!” Jeff slurred, a fine mist of spittle burst from his mouth and rained all over us. Jeff turned his head and flashed a snide grin, probably to impress his buddies who watched the spectacle along the sidelines of the bar.
“Jeff, stop it!” I said. Jeff ignored me completely, staring at Evan. I reached for Evan’s hand, wound my fingers through his and tugged. “Come on. Let’s get out of here.”
Evan nodded, and we strode toward the exterior door. I glanced back to see Jeff running. He ran straight into Evan, knocking him forward.
Evan hit the crash bar of the metal door, his body weight forcing it wide open so that it squeaked when the hinges were pushed to their limit. My heart jumped into my throat as he stumbled and fell onto the cement outside. Immediately, he righted himself and jumped back to his feet.
Jeff smiled, eyes flashing. “I bet that hurt, didn’t it, tough guy?”
I ran toward Jeff. “Stop it! Just leave him alone!”
Jeff smiled at me. “Aww, you’re getting your little bi-otch to fight for you.” Then he turned back to Evan. “Tell you’re ho to shut her pie-hole, or I’ll shut it for her.”
“You’re going to wish you’d never said that,” Evan said, his voice a low, warning growl.
Jeff snorted. “You’re in my town. You’re gonna regret having a mouth.” His arms rose above his head in some kind of attempt to look intimidating, but to me he looked like a bird about to take flight.
“Stop it, Jeff.”
Stepping forward, Jeff hurtled his fist toward Evan’s face but Evan snatched his clenched fist mid-air. I lunged toward them, placing one hand on Evan and the other hand on Jeff’s jacket.
Instantly, the atmosphere around my head changed, filling with static.
The lights above the entryway flickered, humming like dying bees before building into a sizzling pulse. With a bang, the lights exploded in a rainfall of glass shards. I ducked to shield my face.
I opened my eyes and gasped. Jeff lay crumpled on the ground, his torso folded inward, his limbs pulled into a fetal position, moaning as he clutched his stomach. Then his face went slack, and his eyes rolled back into his head. Why was he on the ground? And why did he look like he’d been knocked out cold?
I glanced around, but all I could hear was the retreating sound of footsteps running outside, the parking lot no longer lit up by the overhead light.
“Evan?” I called out.
~About the Author~
Joanne Brothwell lives in the country on the Canadian prairie with her family where her stories are inspired by the dead things that appear at her doorstep on a daily basis.
Title: Her Loving Husband's Curse (Book 2 of the Loving Husband Trilogy) Author: Meredith Allard Pub. Date: April 20, 2012 Find "Her Loving Husband's Curse":
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How far will you go to protect the one you love?
Finally, after many long and lonely years, James Wentworth’s life is falling into place. Together with his wife, Sarah, the only woman he has ever loved, he has found the meaning behind her nightmares about the Salem Witch Trials, and now they are rebuilding the life they began together so long ago.
But the past is never far behind for the Wentworths. While Sarah is haunted by new visions, now about the baby she carried over three hundred years before, James is confronted with painful memories from his time with the Cherokee on the Trail of Tears. Through it all, the persistent reporter Kenneth Hempel reappears, still determined to prove that the undead walk the earth. If Hempel succeeds in his quest, James and Sarah will suffer. Will the curse of the vampire prevent James and Sarah from living their happily ever after?
I am among the masses as they limp and drag toward some foreign place they are afraid to imagine. Even in the dimness of the nearly moonless night the exhaustion, the sickness, the fear is everywhere in their swollen faces. The weaker among them, the very old and the very sick, the very young and the very frail, are driven in wagons steered by ill-tempered soldiers. The riders are not better off than the walkers, their sore, screaming bodies bumped and jostled by the wobbly wheels over the unsteady forest terrain. No one notices as a few drop like discarded rags from the wagon to the ground.
“Here!” I cry. “Let me help you. I will find water for you to drink.”
But they pass me without looking. They see nothing, hear nothing. They walk. That is all they are. Walk. That is their name. Walk. Or “Move!” That is what the soldiers scream in their faces. They struggle under the weight of the few bags they carry and stumble under the musket butts slapped into their backs. And still they do not see me.
I wave my hands in the air and yell to make myself heard over the thumping of thousands of feet.
“Here!” I cry. “Who needs something to eat?”
I push myself into the center of the mass. Men in turbans and tunics, women with their long black hair pulled from their faces as they clutch their toddlers—all focus their eyes on a horizon too far away. One old man, unsteady under the weight of the pack he carries, stumbles over some rocks and he falls. The soldiers beat him with their muskets—their futile attempt to make him stand. The man tries to push himself up but cannot, so the soldiers try the whip instead. The old man prostrates himself on the ground, arms out, face away. He has accepted that this is how he will die.
“Step around him!” the soldiers bark. And they do step around him, their eyes straight ahead. They do not see the old man any more than they see me. To acknowledge the fallen elder would force them to admit that his fate is their fate and they will all die here among unknown land and foreign trees. The old man does not stir. He does not lift his head or seem to breathe. And the people pass him by. When they stop to make their encampment for the night, the old man does not arrive.
I throw my hands into the air again, my frustration boiling the blood in my brain. “Let me help you! Why will you not listen to me?”
“Because they cannot see you.”
I have seen the man before—his blue tunic, his white turban, his solemn bearing—and he has seen me. He is an elder, his hair silver, his face a ridged map of everything he has seen, every thought he has had, every prayer he has said. There is wisdom behind his wary glance and oh so tired eyes.
“That’s ridiculous,” I say. “I am standing here among them.”
The old man shakes his head. “You are the Kalona Ayeliski. They cannot see you.”
“The Kalona Ayeliski. They cannot see the Raven Mocker.”
I watch the walkers, hundreds of them, their heads bowed under the weight of losing their possessions, their land, their ancestors, everything they had in this world and beyond, and I realize the man is right. They do not see me. They have never seen me.
“What is a Raven Mocker?” I ask.
“An evil spirit. All the Raven Mocker cares for is prolonging its own life force, and it feeds from others to do it. It tortures the dying and hastens their deaths so it can consume their hearts. The Raven Mocker receives one year of life for every year its victim would have lived.”
“I am no Raven Mocker. I mean harm to no one.”
I turn away, watching the families reuniting after the long day’s walk, children crying for their mothers, husbands searching for their wives. They are setting up their campsites, eating the meager gruel and drinking the few drops of water given them. I cannot meet the man’s eyes.
“Not for a long time,” I say. When the man’s stare bores through me, pricking me somewhere I cannot name, I shrug. “I do not hasten death in anyone,” I say. “Not anymore.”
“We shall see,” he says.
~About the Author~
Meredith Allard is the Executive Editor of The Copperfield Review, an award-winning literary journal for readers and writers of historical fiction. She received her B.A. and M.A. degrees in English from California State University, Northridge. She has taught writing to students aged 10 to 60, and she has taught creative writing and writing historical fiction workshops at Learning Tree University, UNLV, and the Las Vegas Writers Conference. Her writing has appeared in journals such as The Paumanok Review, Moondance, Wild Mind,Muse Apprentice Guild, The Maxwell Digest, CarbLite, Writer’s Weekly, and ViewsHound. She lives in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Title: Keystone (The Cornerstone Series #2) Author: Misty Provencher Pub. Date: July 31, 2012 Acquired: From author, for honest review. Find "Keystone":
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There’s a man-made storm coming, like a rip in the world, and it’s called the Cusp.
Struggling to fit into the destiny she’s accepted, Nalena Maxwell has been left with one objective: she must find her murdered grandfather’s Memory. Stolen and hidden away by her own father over seventeen years ago, the Memory could be the key to ending the Cusp and destroying the Ianua’s rival community, The Fury.
Driven by each individual’s selfish desires, The Fury has always lacked the loyalty and organization it needs to be an actual force of power.
Someone masterminded the Fury’s massive attack on the Ianua, slaughtering twelve of their thirteen community leaders, the Addos. Now there are rumors that the 13th Cura, to which Nali belongs, has gone to the Fury, manipulating the last Addo in order to control the other 12 Curas.
As the Cusp brings the Fury and their own communities against them, Nalena’s Cura must preserve the Ianua, but finding the key to the Cusp isn’t as simple as it seems.
Title: Anew (Archers of Avalon #1) Author: Chelsea Fine Pub. Date: Dec. 7, 2011 Acquired: From author, for honest review. Find "Anew":
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Two years ago, Scarlet awoke in a forest alone, afraid, and with no memory. Lost and confused, her past was a complete mystery...until she met Gabriel Archer. Intrigued by his voice and its familiarity, Scarlet immerses herself in his life only to stumble on a secret. Gabriel has a brother. Once Scarlet meets Tristan Archer, her life becomes even more muddled. She’s instinctively drawn to both of them and confused out of her mind. She can’t figure out why Gabriel feels so familiar or why she’s so attracted to Tristan. But the Archer brothers have more than just one secret and they know a lot about Scarlet that she doesn’t—including the fact that she’s cursed. They all are.
Title: Nerve Author: Jeanne Ryan Pub. Date: Sept. 13, 2012 Find "Nerve":
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A high-stakes online game of dares turns deadly
When Vee is picked to be a player in NERVE, an anonymous game of dares broadcast live online, she discovers that the game knows her. They tempt her with prizes taken from her ThisIsMe page and team her up with the perfect boy, sizzling-hot Ian. At first it's exhilarating--Vee and Ian's fans cheer them on to riskier dares with higher stakes. But the game takes a twisted turn when they're directed to a secret location with five other players for the Grand Prize round. Suddenly they're playing all or nothing, with their lives on the line. Just how far will Vee go before she loses NERVE?
Debut author Jeanne Ryan delivers an un-putdownable suspense thriller.
(From chapter three, Vee meets Ian.)
I park the car at 9:36 and, on the way into the coffee shop, check my phone to find a picture of my dare partner, Ian. Dark hair to his chin, intense eyes as dark as the hair, sharp cheekbones. In a word, hot.
So I have to let cutie buy me some coffee and sing while I wait? The first part I can handle, but singing in public? Going home starts to feel like a better option. No shoes to die for, but no dying of embarrassment either. I remind myself that I actually completed a dare last night. And I’ve got admirers. Okay, probably drunken geeks with nothing better to do than scroll through a thousand videos to check out cleavage shots in slow-mo, but still.
Inside the shop, no sign of Ian, so I shuffle my feet while Tommy finds a spot to sit center stage. A couple of guys wearing sandals with socks rush inside and seem to scan the room until they see me. Then they find tables nearby, staring my way all the while. To the casual observer, they look like typical Seattle guys, armed with smartphones but no fashion sense. When their phones point my way, I realize they must be Watchers sent by NERVE to capture my dare. Oh, crap. But it makes sense that the gamers would want to see how players respond under the pressure of a live audience. My stomach lurches. That’s my response.
I wring my hands and bounce on my toes, staring downward. Every few seconds I risk a glance toward the door. Where is Ian? The dare said 9:40. Does NERVE know about my curfew, the way they knew about the shoes? I’m sure I posted complaints about my prison sentence on ThisIsMe, so if they’ve seen my page, they know about that plus a whole lot more. Well, whatever, it’s not like it’s secret.
I stand and wait for what seems like an hour but is actually two minutes, and then Ian walks in. I can tell he recognizes me right away, but he doesn’t say anything. Behind him a willowy girl pointing a phone hurries to take up a spot a few yards away. Guess he travels with a bodyguard too.
When he stops in front of me, I cross my arms. The phone pic didn’t capture the smooth olive planes of his cheeks, or the lanky gait in those well-worn jeans. But would it kill him to crack a smile?
I say, “Hey, you get to buy me a latte. Hazelnut is my favorite.” Is that diva enough?
He purses his lips. “So?”
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~About the Author~
I’m a writer, wife, mom, hooper, bubbleshake connoisseur (my fave: taro with extra tapioca), reader, explorer, sister, daughter, admirer of shipping-cranes, and a whole bunch of other things.
Before writing young adult fiction, I worked in a variety of settings, including wargame simulation and delinquency research. But nothing is as fun as making stuff up and inviting others to join in your new world.
Title: I've Been Deader Author: Adam Sifre Pub. Date: July 2, 2012 Find "I've Been Deader":
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Being a zombie is no picnic and it's one hell of a handicap in the romance department when you fall in love with a 'breather':
Aleta is a breather with short blonde hair and brown eyes - two of them! - and the whitest smile Fred has ever seen. Every day at a certain time she sits at her window, and every day he stands in the rubble across the street among a crowd of zombies waiting to break through the fence and eat her.
'You are beautiful, like an angel', he thinks, but all he can moan is, “Braaaiiinss."
Still, as zombies go, Fred's quite a catch. Underneath all the gangrene and rot, Fred is different. This girl will probably turn out to be yet another dead end, an infatuation, someone whose image he cannot get out of his mind and whose taste he cannot get out of his mouth, but the heart wants what the heart wants.
For breathers, it is always only a matter of time, however beautiful they are and whatever the government is assuring people.
Which makes Fred sad because he has a beautiful 11 year old son called Timmy, and Timmy may still be alive.
Excerpt Chapter I
Fred's ruined face stared back at him from a fractured, mold spotted mirror. The remains of breakfast pooled around his feet and a pair of lace panties clung to his shoe, glued there by God knew what.
Bits of flesh were stuck between his yellow teeth, along with the sodden remains of a hand-wash-only label. There was no denying that he'd seen better days.
Being a zombie is no picnic.
Compelled to pause and take stock of himself, he wiped his gore stained hands on a filthy shirt, unsure if he was cleaning the hands or the shirt. His right eye looked like a crushed egg yolk and his left leg was broken in two places. A large splinter of bone poked through the nskin above his thigh, fine dark lines etched across the surface like a bad piece of scrimshaw. The open wound on his neck had started leaking again, but at least the fluid was mostly clear now.
No use dwelling on negatives. Time to get to work. He turned away from his reflection, and limped out of the men's room of the Vince Lombardi rest area.
An overly bright morning sun assaulted him as he stepped outside.
Fred gave a mental wince, wishing yet again that he could blink.
Sunlight had no adverse effect on the undead, but he had never been a morning person. Rain or shine, today he had to shamble over to Terminal C of Newark Airport, where eight breathers were making their last stand. Zombies were lone hunters and rarely worked together.
Every so often, however, a kind of collective broadcast signal went out over the undead grapevine, announcing the newest brain buffet - in a shopping mall, a church, or an airport - with predictable and satisfying results.
Dozens were already making their way down the New Jersey turnpike. By their mindless, movie-slow pace, he knew they hadn't fed.
Zombies weren't Jesse Owens on the best of days, but they tended to move a lot faster with a little brain in the old furnace.
If Fred could breathe, he would have sighed. There'd be hundreds of zombies, all ready to fight over eight brains and assorted bits. The breathers would probably take out ten to twenty percent of the attacking hoard before being overwhelmed. That left about ten zombies per breather. With luck, by the time he got there he would still be the brainiac of the pack.
Having his wits about him gave a zombie an edge in the hunt. The effects of the virus or whatever it was that put the mojo in their mortified flesh varied from corpse to corpse. Most became textbook droolie ghoulies, but some could reason and even remember who they were as breathers. So far Fred hadn't come across any other thinkers, but he doubted he was the only one.
By mid-afternoon he found himself enjoying his walk down the turnpike. Most of the fires had burned themselves out and although the air still reeked of burning gasoline, the skies were more or less smoke-free. He might be a walking corpse, but he appreciated a warm spring day like this one. He pulled his lips up in what should have been a grin.
Death, ruin and destruction improved the New Jersey Turnpike.
Not that there wasn't a black lining to be found around Fred's own little rainbow of a life. Most of the zombies were a few hundred yardsdown the road, but two lesser undead doggedly tagged alongside of him, putting a bit of a damper on things. The virus left them as nothing more than … well, nothing more than zombies. They were about as interesting as slugs and moaned so much that, were Fred alive, he'd be sporting a hell of a migraine.
All in all, however, the day was turning out quite well. He almost convinced himself being undead wasn't so bad. Sure, it was bad luck that he was forty-five years old with a rather large potbelly when he had been bitten by that damned clerk. Being cursed to wander the earth in search of brains was bad enough, but why couldn't it have happened when he was twenty years younger and thirty pounds lighter?
He was imagining wandering the earth in search of fresh brains as a slimmer, sleeker and younger Fred, when the head of the zombie on his left exploded.
Title: Dancing Naked in Dixie Author: Lauren Clark Pub. Date: May 21, 2012 Find "Dancing Naked in Dixie":
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Travel writer Julia Sullivan lives life in fast-forward. She jet sets to Europe and the Caribbean with barely a moment to blink or sleep. But too many mishaps and missed deadlines have Julia on the verge of being fired.
With a stern warning, and unemployment looming, she's offered one last chance to rescue her career. Julia embarks on an unlikely journey to the ‘Heart of Dixie’—Eufaula, Alabama—home to magnificent mansions, sweet tea, and the annual Pilgrimage.
Julia arrives, soon charmed by the lovely city and her handsome host, but her stay is marred by a shocking discovery. Can Julia's story save her career, Eufaula, and the annual Pilgrimage?
Ready or not.
I ease open the door and jump down what seems like five feet to the ground.
On instinct, I duck behind the door. What the—! Was that the windshield? I inch up to get a better look.
A chunk of gravel hits the side window. Another rock zings by my head. Sheesh! So much for Southern hospitality. If this is how the locals roll out the red carpet, I’ll find somewhere else—
The glass now bears a spidery star-design. The rental people will be thrilled. Did I remember to get the extra insurance?
I brace for another onslaught.
Then, I hear a high-pitched squeal.
“Noooo,” a child’s voice wails. “I don’t want to go into the house! I want to stay here! You can’t make me!”
Ever so slowly, I creep out from behind the door and inch my way to the back bumper of the Expedition.
Of course. So, she’s not a random girl. Lovely. I’ll bet we’ll be seeing her every day.
But Mary Katherine shakes her head coyly, points a finger to her cell phone, and steps onto the opposite sidewalk. By the time I decide to wave back, she disappears around the corner.
Shug doesn’t seem bothered in the least. He holds open the door to the diner.
My knees weaken at the sight of steaming breakfast plates on every table. Raucous laughter, animated conversation, and the clang of pots and pans from the kitchen make it almost impossible to hear. Shug motions for me to follow him, but stops every few feet. He shakes hands, exchanges back slaps, and chuckles as we move through the crowd.
Curious stares follow us. Polite, inquisitive looks. A wrinkled forehead, pursed lips, a raised eyebrow. If I make eye contact, which I’m trying not to do, the person smiles brightly and chirps a greeting.
Great. I can imagine what they are dreaming up. Star magazine-type rumors, followed by a heinous paparazzi photo. I see it all too clearly. The headline will read: Who’s that girl? Is Shug Jordan cheating on Mary-what’s her name?
Oh well. There’s always food. At least I’ll die embarrassed and happy.
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~About the Author~
Lauren Clark writes contemporary novels set in the Deep South; stories sprinkled with sunshine, suspense, and secrets. She is the author of Stay Tuned, Dancing Naked in Dixie, and Center of Gravity (October 2012).
A former TV news anchor, Lauren adores flavored coffee, local book stores, and anywhere she can stick her toes in the sand. Her big loves are her family, paying it forward, and true-blue friends.
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Title: Katrina (Royal Blood Chronicles #1) Author: Elizabeth Loraine Pub. Date: Aug. 19, 2010 Acquired: From author, for honest review. Find "Katrina":
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As a Vampire being hunted was nothing new. Finding out that I had to save those that were hunting us was!
Katrina, a young royal blooded vampire, chronicles her life from the age of seventeen beginning in the 1800's forward in the series Royal Blood Chronicles.
Katrina is thrust into something she never could have imagined growing up in the aristocracy of Europe. Once the fashion of the day, and girlish gossip filled Katrina and her new friends days, but their lives changed the instant their race was threatened and they were chosen as the Five, and the protectors of not only the vampire race, but all the peaceful races of the world!
If you are looking for a new, exciting vampire series, with strong female characters you've found it in Royal Blood Chronicles. It starts here with Katrina, The Beginning!
After Estella Montclair is killed in a texting and driving crash, what remains of her face and body is devastating. But not all of her has died. During the first month after her death, Estella's spirit travels among her living friends and family. Her best friends Zara, Eva and Jett show her how pain and sorrow can break apart or strengthen a bond. She also sees for the first time that loss can spark revenge, catastrophe can come without warning, and we all have secrets. She wonders if her chance for love with Phoenix has passed her by, and if out of sight truly means out of mind. And maybe one day the girl who caused her death will admit her mistake. While adjusting to a new state of being, Estella struggles to face the limitations that come with death, but blossoms by recognizing she can still touch the lives of the people she once knew so well.
I didn’t sleep anymore; I simply lost the need to sleep. So, when the world around me was sleeping, sometimes I would travel through Willow Ridge and let the night air carry me until I could feel the first light of dawn.
Some nights I went to the track at school, even though there was snow on it. Like when I was alive, I would swish around and around for hours with the moon glowing down on me and reenact certain races I’d won or redo the ones I hadn’t.
Other nights, I’d take a trip through my favorite course. I’d swoop through the neighborhoods, making quick cuts through backyards and over fences, sometimes sliding down the snow piles at the side of the streets, and head towards Willow Lake Park. If I wasn’t too tired I’d run the three-mile loop on the trails at the lake, or I’d stroll out to the center of the iced-over lake and admire the blue-gray shadows dancing atop the crystalline ice on the slender branches of the weeping willow trees. From a distance the shadows of the iced branches looked like a pack of mammoths.
Then usually I’d skim over the frigid water and graze against the lake’s edge until I got to Maple Point. The numerous picnic tables and grills were blanketed in snow, like an isolated winter wonderland; it looked magical in the moonlight. Once I reached the large wooden playground, I’d start sprinting to my favorite Maple tree, the biggest one. Its figure made an upside-down rounded heart shape.
I’d start climbing up the ridges of the trunk of the Maple tree, brushing up against the bark and shaking a little snow off the branches as I zoomed up, gaining speed until I reached the top. From there, I would burst out of the tree like a cannon ball. I’d rocket higher and higher and higher until the porch lights from all the houses in Willow Ridge looked like tiny specks of glitter. In the darkness up there, there seemed to be no boundaries, just a great magnitude of sky that was endless and open. Cruising the vastness of the sky was exhilarating and a little frightening.
“I wasn’t afraid of death. If I died, it would be over. My worst fear wasn’t of dying, it was of living. Living, while everyone around me had their flesh savagely torn from their bodies to be shoved into the festering and ever-hungry mouths of zombies. It terrified me, right down to my very core, to be alive while the rest of the world was dead."
In the midst of the Second Great Depression, twenty-five year old Orissa Penwell doesn't think things can get any worse. She couldn't be more wrong. A virus breaks out across the country, leaving the infected crazed, aggressive and very hungry.
Orissa will do anything-no matter if it's right or wrong- to save the ones she loves. But when she discovers that most of the world is infected or dead, she must decide if those lives are worth saving at all.
~From the Author~
Music is very important to me. It can influence your mood, cheer you up, and set a scene. While writing the Contagium Trilogy, I created a playlist with well over a hundred songs. I would turn it on and set it to shuffle. The music would either become background noise or it would act almost as a guide as to how to set up the tone of a particular scene in the book. Out of that huge playlist, I’ve created a soundtrack for Contagious. The songs are really fitting to the book. From the title, the lyrics, or simply the melody, they all reflect some aspect of the action and drama in the novel.
The Contagium Trilogy: Contagious-Soundtrack
1. All Around Me-Flyleaf
2. Get Out Alive- Three Days Grace
3. Living Dead Girl- Rob Zombie
4. Wish- Nine Inch Nails
5. Broken- Amy Lee and Seether
6. Hey Man Nice Shot- Filter
7. The Fight Song- Marilyn Manson
8. Forsaken- Disturbed
9. Burning in the Skies- Linkin Park
10. The Nobodies- Marilyn Manson
11. Flyleaf- So Sick
12. We Found Love- Rihanna
Add those twelve songs to your playlist and listen to them while reading Contagious. Hopefully they will set the mood for you the same as it did for me! Thank you, Christy , for allowing me to be a guest on your blog!
((Thank YOU, Emily for stopping by today!!!))
I grabbed a rifle, sticking my head through the strap. I slung the quiver of arrows and the bow over my shoulder, stuffed an extra clip in my pocket, and stood.
“What the hell are you doing?” Padraic asked, over Argos’ muffled growls.
“I’m going to bring the truck around. Get in the back as soon as you can.”
“No!” Raeya objected. “Rissy, you’ll die! You-you can’t go down there with them!”
“They’re still far enough away I can get to the car.”
“No, they’re not. Stay here and they will pass us,” she pleaded.
“They will find us. Our best chance is getting out of here. Then we can double back for the SUV.”
“Orissa, that is crazy!” Jason shouted. “What if you don’t make it?”
“I have to try.” I moved to the ladder.
“You could die,” Raeya cried, scrambling to her feet.
“You either die trying or you just die,” I told her, feeling like this wasn’t really happening. “I’m not giving up yet. I said I’d keep you alive, and, well, this is the only way.”
My feet hit the cold cement, shock stinging my ankles. I pulled an arrow, ready to shoot. My breath clouded around me as adrenaline coursed my veins. The zombies were closer than I anticipated. They surrounded the cars, passing them without a second look. Hungry, they followed our human scent. I released the arrow. It zipped through the air and passed through a mushy zombie skull, continuing its lethal voyage into another’s eye.
I couldn’t do that again if I tried. I ran around the barn, clambering onto the roof of some sort of out building. I fired the rest of my arrows. Two fast zombies raced in front of the rest, stretching their arms out when they caught sight of my movement. Firing the gun would give me away for sure. I dropped the bow, jumped down and held the rifle like a baseball bat. I whacked one in the head and kicked the other in the chest.
Its skin slimed off, making the bottom of my boot slippery. My foot skidded out from underneath me. The zombie I kicked grabbed my foot, bringing it to his mouth. He couldn’t bite through my boot. The M9 was wedged in my waistband, hurting like hell when I landed on my back. I madly thrashed around, retrieving it. I held it to the zombie’s head and pulled the trigger.
Spoiled bits of brain and thick blood splashed across my face. Thank God I remembered to close my eyes. Wiping zombie blood from my lips, I rolled over, shooting the other in the cheek. Dammit, I thought, cursing wasting a bullet. I fired again, this time hitting him right in between the eyes. Yellow brain matter oozed from the bullet hole. I scrambled back onto the roof of what had to be a chicken coup, based on the feathers. I emptied my clip, burying each round deep into the skull of a zombie.
Though they dropped like flies, it didn’t even dent the horrifying number that lumbered toward us. I switched to the rifle, shooting anything that moved. I needed to get off of the roof before I was completely surrounded. I dropped the rifle, shoved another clip into the M9 and jumped off. I sprinted to a silo. I climbed six feet up the ladder, twisting, and shooting.
A zombie moved through the crowd with sickening speed and grace. I had one bullet left. I aimed carefully, lining the scope up with his eye. I paused, thinking he was the best looking zombie I’d ever seen. His eyes met mine right as I pulled the trigger.
A zombie next to him fell to the ground. He put his finger to his lips and walked, unnoticed, through the flesh eating monsters that clawed at the broken side of the barn. When he was at the bottom of the ladder, he motioned for me to come down. I swallowed, not knowing why in the world I would trust this person or who the hell he was walking amongst the zombies. I shoved the empty M9 in my waistband and climbed down, hands trembling almost uncontrollably.
As soon as my feet hit the ground, he pressed himself up against me, pinning me between his body and the silo. Over a black, long sleeve shirt, he was wearing a hairy, moldy leather vest. It was wrinkled and rotten in parts. I wanted to shove him off me when I realized it was made out of zombie skin. Fingers, tied to strings like freaking decorations, hung from his neck. A hand was tied to his belt. I didn’t know what part of the zombie was stitched onto the baseball cap he was wearing.
It was disgusting, having zombie parts rubbing against me. It smelled revolting. So revolting, that the zombies wouldn’t be able to distinguish his human smell from the rotting flesh of one of their own. I closed my eyes and buried my face against his chest.
As if we didn’t exist, the zombies milled by, grabbing at the weak wood that kept my friends safe. I was grateful for this very odd stranger but I wanted to help my friends. A gun fired. My body tensed, thinking somehow one of my friends had gotten a hold of a weapon and shot the guy who was saving me, thinking he was really a zombie.
He put an arm around me, obviously thinking the echoing shot scared me. My fingers closed around the material of his shirt. A zombie stopped, eyeing us hungrily. I pulled the guy closer to me, holding my breath. He inched closer, every part of him pressing into me. Too scared to breathe, I held my breath until the zombie moved on.
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~About the Author~
Emily Goodwin resides in Indiana, where she lives with her husband and many four legged children, including their much loved German Shepherd named Vader. Accused of being a day dreamer, Emily began writing at an early age, making use of her active imagination. She has a degree in psychology and is currently working on her second degree in nursing. Emily likes anything paranormal, 80's rock, going on crazy adventures with her friends, making (and wearing) costumes, Renaissance Fairs, and is an animal rights activist.
Title: Dark Promise Author: Julia Crane and Talia Jager Pub. Date: July 28, 2012 Find "Dark Promise":
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Rylie has it all - great friends, dream boy, loving family. But on the eve of her sixteenth birthday, her perfect little world shatters. A stranger claiming to be her real mother appears with a secret: Rylie is a faery whose powers will be unleashed on her birthday. Captured and forced into a new life, Rylie struggles to keep everything she loves and discovers a terrifying truth: some promises cannot be broken.
My mother led her into the living room. The lady’s piercing green eyes rested on me, sending a chill down my back. My father followed her gaze. “Rylie, do you know this woman?” Dad asked.
“No.” I shook my head slowly. “I’ve never seen her before.”
“Rylie, maybe you should go to your room,” Dad suggested, his gaze demanding I do as he said.
“No. If this has something to do with me, I want to hear it.” I crossed my arms and sank against the back of the couch.
Mom and Dad exchanged a worried glance, but turned back to the lady on the couch. “Please, go on.”
Without taking her eyes from me, the lady calmly stated, “My name is Azura, and I am Rylie’s birth mother.”
My father, who was always a level-headed man, was on his feet in seconds, his face hard. “What are you talking about?”
I felt like I had fallen into some kind of parallel universe. Did this woman just say she was my birth mother? How could she be my birth mother? That would mean I was adopted, but wouldn’t my parents have told me something like that?
My mother shook her head. “Birth mother? Rylie isn’t adopted.” She reached over and took my hand. “Believe me, I’ll never forget the eleven hours of labor.”
The woman sat perfectly still in the blue armchair across from us, with her hands clasped on her lap. “I know it’s hard to accept, but it’s true. Your daughter died shortly after she was born. I switched the infants. Rylie is mine.”
The wind left me as if I had been punched in the stomach. I couldn’t breathe, and the room spun. I gripped the pillow next to me with my other hand as I clung to my mother.
Silence filled the room for a moment, and then my father exploded. “You need to leave now!” He pointed to the door. “Get out of this house and don’t come back without a court order.”
The lady smiled sincerely, her face still as calm as it had been when she walked in the door. “Please, hear me out. I realize this is a lot to take in.”
“No! This is preposterous! Nobody died. Rylie is ours.” Dad’s voice was like thunder.
I studied the lady. She seemed so honest and soft-spoken. Why would she pretend something like this? Why would she ruin our family if it weren’t true? And if was true, why was she coming clean now? Something in me believed her even though I didn’t want to. I swallowed hard and rubbed my sweaty palms on my shirt.
“Let her talk,” I said hoarsely.
“Rylie, you can’t believe her.” Dad looked stricken.
“I’m curious as to why she thinks I’m her daughter. Let’s hear her out.” I crossed my arms and scooted closer to my mother, comforted when she wrapped an arm around me.
Dad turned back to the woman called Azura, and his frown deepened. “Fine.” He sat back down in his seat and glared. “Talk.”
“Thank you. I’m going to tell you something not many humans know, and I have to trust you to keep it secret for Rylie’s sake.” She addressed the statement to my parents.
Humans? Who talks like that?
~About the Author~
Julia Crane is the author of the YA paranormal fiction novels: Keegan's Chronicles, Mesmerized, Eternal Youth, and Dark Promise. She was greatly encouraged by her mother to read and use her imagination, and has believed in magical creatures since the day her grandmother first told her an Irish tale. Julia has traveled far and wide to many of the places her grandmother told her about, gaining inspiration from her journeys to places like Nepal, Cyprus, Sri Lanka, Italy, France and many more. And who knows? Maybe the magical creatures she writes about are people she met along the way.
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When Talia Jager isn’t hiding in the closet from her six children munching on a chocolate bar, she enjoys hiking the red rocks in Utah or sitting on the beach with a Kindle in her hands and her toes in the ocean
Talia has written a number of books for young adults, including Damaged: Natalie’s Story, Teagan’s Story: Her Battle With Epilepsy, If I Die Young, Secret Bloodline, Lost and Found, and The Gifted Teens Series.
In a future United States under the power of a charismatic leader, everyone gets the Mark at age thirteen. The Mark lets citizen shop, go to school, and even get medical care-but without it, you are on your own. Few refuse to get the Mark. Those who do . . . disappear.
Logan Langly went in to get his Mark, but he backed out at the last minute. Now he’s on the run from government agents who will stop at nothing to capture him. But Logan is on a mission to find and save his sister, Lily, who disappeared five years ago on her thirteenth birthday, the day she was supposed to receive her Mark.
Logan and his friends, a group of dissenters called the Dust, discover a vast network of the Unmarked, who help them travel safely to the capital city where Lily is imprisoned. Along the way, the Dust receives some startling information from the Markless community, opening their eyes to the message of Christianity and warning that humanity is now entering the End of Days.
When the Dust finally arrives in the capital, it seems that all their careful planning is useless against a government that will do anything to bend its citizens to its will. Can the gentle words Logan has found in a tattered, banned Bible really stand against the most powerful military the world has ever known? Can Logan even sacrifice his own freedom, choosing to act through faith alone?
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~About the Author~
Evan Angler lives without the Mark, evading DOME and writing in the shadows of Beacon.
Swipe is his first book. But if anyone asks, you know nothing about it, and you didn't hear anything from him. Don't make eye contact if you see him. Don't call his name out loud. He's in enough trouble already.
And so are you, if you've read his book.
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