Thursday, December 18, 2014

Friday Reveal @Month9Books & Giveaway @Suzanne_Writer #M9BFridayReveals - I Heart Robot by Suzanne van Rooyen

M9B-Friday-Reveal

Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!
This week, we are revealing the first chapter for

I Heart Robot
by Suzanne van Rooyen

presented by Month9Books!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!


I Heart Robot

Sixteen-year-old Tyri wants to be a musician and wants to be with someone who won’t belittle her musical aspirations.

Q-I-99 aka ‘Quinn’ lives in a scrap metal sanctuary with other rogue droids. While some use violence to make their voices heard, demanding equal rights for AI enhanced robots, Quinn just wants a moment on stage with his violin to show the humans that androids like him have more to offer than their processing power.

Tyri and Quinn’s worlds collide when they’re accepted by the Baldur Junior Philharmonic Orchestra. As the rift between robots and humans deepens, Tyri and Quinn’s love of music brings them closer together, making Tyri question where her loyalties lie and Quinn question his place in the world. With the city on the brink of civil war, Tyri and Quinn make a shocking discovery that turns their world inside out. Will their passion for music be enough to hold them together while everything else crumbles down around them, or will the truth of who they are tear them apart?
add to goodreads

I Heart Robot
by Suzanne van Rooyen

Publication date:  March 31, 2015
Publisher:  Month9Books, LLC.
Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Excerpt

Tyri

If today were a song, it'd be a dirge in b-flat minor. The androids cluster around the coffin, their false eyes brimming with mimetic tears. They were made to protect and serve their human masters, to entertain and care for us. Now, just one generation later, we toss them in the trash like nothing more than broken toasters.
The androids huddle in a semicircle, four adults and a child droid with synthetic curls. They all look so human; their grief real even if their tears aren't. The two male-droids are even good looking in that chiseled, adboard model kind of way. They're a little too perfect. With their machine strength, they lower the cardboard box into the dirt and the child droid begins to sing. His exquisite voice shatters like crystal in my ears, heartbreaking.
Asrid and I shouldn't be here—the only two humans amongst the machines—but I loved Nana. I loved her before I knew better than to feel anything for a robot. It doesn't matter how attached you get. A robot can never love you back, regardless of how human their advanced AI might make them seem.
“Why're they burying it anyway?” Asrid mutters beside me. My friend doesn't wear black to the funeral, refusing to acknowledge the passing of my nanamaton, an android that always seemed more like a mom and less like an automated child-minder.
“Should be sending it to the scrap heap. Isn't this against regulation?” Asrid's face scrunches up in a frown, marring her impeccable makeup. She’s a peacock amongst ravens, and I’m a scruffy crow.
“Nana was like a mother to me. I'll miss her.” Tears prick the corners of my eyes as the coffin disappears into the earth, and the droid keens a eulogy.
“I know you will, T.” Asrid gives me a one-armed hug.
Svartkyrka Cemetery is losing the battle to weeds. Human tombstones from back when there was real estate for corpses lie in crumbling ruin covered in pigeon poop. No one gets buried anymore—there's no space and, anyway, it's unsanitary.
“Can we go now?” Asrid hops between feet to fight off the chill. Autumn has shuffled closer to winter, the copper and russet leaves crunching beneath our shoes. The leaves look like scabs, a carpet of dried blood spilling into the open earth. Fitting for my nanamaton's funeral, but robots can’t bleed.
“Sure, we can go.”
Asrid wends her way toward the parking lot as I approach the grave. Nana loved yellow anemones, said they were like sunshine on a stick.
“Hope there’s sunshine where you are now, Nana.” I drop a single flower into the ground and wipe away the tear snailing down my cheek. Why Nana chose to permanently shut down and scramble her acuitron brain, I can only guess. Perhaps living in a world controlled by groups like the People Against Robot Autonomy, PARA for short, became too much for her.
“Sorry for your loss,” the child droid says in a tinkling voice.
“Thank you for letting me know,” I say.
“She would've wanted you to be here.” The other nanamaton, gray haired and huddled in a trench coat, doesn't meet my gaze.
I stuff my mitten-covered hands into the pockets of my jacket and hunch my shoulders against the chill. You'd think the universe might have had the courtesy to rain given the sullen occasion, but the sun perches in an acid blue sky.
“Tyri, you coming?” Asrid shouts from the gate, remembering too late that we're supposed to be stealthy. Government regulation stipulates cremation for humans and scrap heaps for robots. If the authorities discover us committing metal and electronics to the earth instead of recycling, Asrid and I will be fined. The robots will be decommissioned on the spot.
“I’m so sorry,” I whisper to the androids before turning away. Their artificial gaze follows me, boring into my back sharp as a laser.
“Botspit, I'm hungry. I could gnaw on a droid. Where're we going to lunch?” Asrid ignores the dead and grieving as if none of it exists.
“I think I'll just go home.”
“Come on, T. I know she was your Nana but she was just a robot, you know.”
Just a robot! Nana changed my diapers. My first day of kindergarten, Nana held my hand. When I came home from school, Nana made me cocoa and sat helping me with homework. Nana cooked my favourite dumpling dinner every Wednesday and made me double-chocolate birthday cake. Nana taught me how to tie my shoelaces and braid my hair. The day I turned sixteen, Mom decided we didn't need Nana anymore. She should've been decommissioned then, but Nana disappeared the day before Mom's M-Tech buddies came to kill her core and reprocess her parts.
“She was more than that to me,” I say.
“Ah, you're adorable.” Asrid casts nervous glances across the lot. Satisfied no policemen lurk behind the bushes, she slips her arm through mine and drags me through the gate. The wrought iron is warped and daubed with rust. Marble angels stand sentinel, broken and stained by time. One misses a nose, and the other has lost a wing.
“You didn't say anything about my new bug.” Asrid pouts when we reach her vehicle. The hoverbug is neon pink, matching her shoes, handbag, and the ribbons holding up her blond hair. The 'E' badge that stands for Engel Motors looks more like a spastic frog than the angel it's supposed to represent.
“Is it meant to smell like cherries?” Even the plush interior is unicorn puke pink. I put on my sunglasses in case all that color stains my eyes.
“Yes, in fact.” Asrid flicks a switch and the engine purrs. “Slipstream Waffles.” She assumes that monotone voice she always uses when addressing machines.
The last thing I want is to sit on sticky vinyl in a noisy waffle house, indulging in sugar and calories served by permanently smiling droids on roller-skates.
“Take me home to Vinterberg.”
“Tyri, don't annoy me.”
“Sassa, Don't patronize me.” I give her the glare she knows better than to argue with.
“Vinterberg,” I say again and Asrid heaves a melodramatic sigh.
“Be boring. Going home to make love to your violin?”
“Why ask when you know the answer?” Nana's coffin lowering into the ground replays in my mind to a soundtrack in b-flat minor.
“How does Rurik put up with being the other love of your life?”
It's my turn to sigh. Rurik doesn't really put up with it or even understand why I love music so much. But then, I don't understand why he gets so hung up on politics, and I definitely don't understand why he didn't show up for Nana's funeral when he knows how much she meant to me.
“We manage.” I stare out the tinted windows at the darkened scenery whipping past.
The hoverbug takes the quickest route, zipping along the street ways that skirt the chaotic center of Baldur. The jungle of concrete and steel thins out into a tree-shrouded suburb studded with modest brick homes. Rurik calls my redbrick bungalow quaint, and it is, complete with flower boxes and a patch of green lawn out back. It’s nothing at all like his dad's slick penthouse, all glass and chrome with a panoramic view of the city. The funny thing is, Rurik used to live right next-door till his mom had the affair and his dad became a workaholic, transforming the family business into an automotive empire.
The hoverbug slows and lands in my driveway.
“I'll call you later,” I say before disembarking.
“You heard anything yet?”
“No, but tomorrow is the last day so I'll hear soon.” I'm trying not to think about why it's taking so long to hear back after my audition for the Baldur Junior Philharmonic Orchestra.
“You'll get in T. I'm sure of it. You're brilliant.”
Asrid's words make me smile despite the morbidity of the day. She waves and the hoverbug zooms off, leaving me in the rustling-leave calm of Vinterberg.
I press my thumb to the access pad and the front door hisses open. Mom's at work like always. Taking off my coat and shoes, I whistle for Glitch. She pads into the hallway, her face lopsided from sleep. She stretches and sits down with a decisive humph as if to say, 'Well, human, I'm here. Now, worship me.' And I do.
“Hey my Glitchy girl.” I fold my cyborg Shiba Inu into my arms and sweep her off the floor. Her mechatronic back leg sticks out straight and stiff, the rest of her soft and warm. She licks my ear, one paw on my forehead.
“Good afternoon, Tyri. Would you like some refreshments?” Miles whirs out of the kitchen into the hallway. He's nothing like Nana, just a bipedal mass of electronics and metal with assorted appendages capable of mundane tasks. He doesn't even have eyes, only a flashing array of lights. Despite Mom designing a new generation of androids for M-Tech, we can't afford the new model housebot. Maybe it's better this way. I don't feel much for our bot, but I dubbed him Miles. It seemed to fit.
“Would you like some refreshments?” he repeats.
“Tea and a sandwich.” I carry Glitch into my bedroom at the back of the house. Glitch leaps from my arms, landing on the bed where she curls up in a knot of black, white, and tan fur amongst my pillows.
Still in my black lace skirt and corset, I stretch and flex my fingers. Twisting the cricks from my neck and rolling my shoulders, I ease out the graveyard tension. My violin lies in a bed of blue velvet, waiting for my touch. With the strings in tune and the bow sufficiently taut, the instrument nestles against my jaw as if I was born with a gap there just for the violin. It completes me.
I warm-up my fingers, letting them trip over the strings as my bow arcs and glides. Then I'm ready to play: Beethoven's Kreutzer violin sonata in A major, Nana's favorite. Glitch's ears twitch back and forth. She raises her head to howl but thinks better of it, yawning and curling back into sleep.
The frenzied opening of the sonata segues into a melancholy tune and in the brief moment of calm, my moby warbles at me. I have mail. I try to ignore the distraction and play through the screeching reminder of an unread message, but it might be the one I've been anticipating.
Vibrating in my hand, the moby blinks at me: One unread email. Subject: BPO audition.
“This is it, Glitchy.”
She raises her head as I sit beside her. One hand buried in her fur, I open the email. The words blur together, pixelate and run like wet ink across the screen. Disbelief makes my vision swim. I have to read the message several times over to make sure I haven't misunderstood.
“Codes! I got in.” Blood warms my cheeks as I whisk Glitch into my arms, spinning her around before squeezing her to my chest. She does not approve and scratches at me until I drop her back on the bed. Miles enters with a tray of tea and neat triangular sandwiches.
“Miles, I got in! I'm going to play for the junior BPO. This is amazing.” I'm jumping up and down.
Miles flashes orange. “Could not compute. Please restate.”
“I'm going to play for the best junior orchestra in the country. This could be my chance to break into the scene, to meet all the right people, and make an impression!” My one chance to escape the life already planned for me by Mom. The last thing I want to be is a robot technician.
Miles keeps flashing orange. “Apologies, Tyri. Could not compute, but registering joy.” His visual array flashes green. “Happy birthday!” He says in his clipped metallic voice before leaving the room.
I clutch the moby and read the email another ten times before calling Mom. I reach her voicemail, and my joy tones down a notch. I don't want to talk to another machine, so I hang up and call Rurik instead.
“Hey, Tyri. Now's not a good time. Can I call you back later?”
“I got in,” I say.
“To the orchestra?”
“Yes!”
“That's great.” He doesn't sound half as happy as I am.
“Thanks, I'm so excited, but kind of scared too—”
“T, I'm just in the middle of something. I'll call you back in a bit, okay?” He hangs up, leaving me babbling into silence.
Deflated, I slump onto the floor and rest my head on the bed. Glitch shuffles over to give me another ear wash, delicately nibbling around my earrings. I should've known Rurik would be busy getting ready to go to Osholm University. Getting a scholarship to the most prestigious school in all of Skandia is way more impressive than scoring a desk in the Baldur Junior Orchestra. Still, I received better acknowledgment from the housebot than my boyfriend. I call Asrid.
“Hey T, what's up?” Asrid answers with Sara's high-pitched giggle in the background.
“I got in!”
“That's awesome, except I guess that means more practicing and less time with your friends, huh?” Asrid sounds genuinely put out, as if she’d even notice my absence when Sara's around. Codes, isn't there someone who could just be happy for me? Maybe Mom’s right, and I am being selfish wanting the “Bohemian non-existence” when I could have a “sensible and society-assisting” career in robotics.
“Sorry, I . . . thought you'd like to know.”
“I'm happy for you, Tyri. I know it's a big deal to you. Congrats. Seriously, you deserve this considering how hard you practice,” Asrid says, and Sara shouts congratulations in the background.
“Thanks, Sassa.”
“Hey, our food arrived. Chat later?”
“Sure.” I hang up and reach for my violin. Nana would've understood. She would've danced around the living room with me. She probably would've baked me a cake and thrown a party. Determined not to cry, I skip the second movement of Beethoven's sonata and barrel straight into the jaunty third. The notes warp under my fingers, and the tune slides into b-flat minor.
Two days until the first rehearsal. Maybe I’ll be able to do something different with my life; something that makes me happy instead of just useful.

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author
Suzanne van Rooyen
Suzanne is a tattooed storyteller from South Africa. She currently lives in Finland and finds the cold, dark forests nothing if not inspiring. Although she has a Master’s degree in music, Suzanne prefers conjuring strange worlds and creating quirky characters. When not writing, she teaches dance and music to middle schoolers and entertains her shiba inu, Lego. Suzanne is represented by Jordy Albert of the Booker Albert Agency.
Connect with the Author:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!

The book will be sent upon the titles release.


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Sunday, December 14, 2014

Audiobook Review - Carter Finally Gets It by Brent Crawford @brentcraw (Carter Finally Gets It #1)




Carter Finally Gets It
Carter Finally Gets It #1
by Brent Crawford

Goodreads blurb:  Meet Will Carter, but feel free to call him Carter. (Yes, he knows it's a lazy nickname, but he didn't have much say in the matter.)

Here are five things you should know about him:

1. He has a stuttering problem, particularly around boobs and belly buttons.

2. He battles Attention Deficit Disorder every minute of every day unless he gets distracted.

3. He's a virgin, mostly because he's no good at talking to girls (see number 1).

4. He's about to start high school.

5. He's totally not ready.

Join Carter for his freshman year, where he'll search for sex, love, and acceptance anywhere he can find it. In the process, he'll almost kill a trombone player, face off with his greatest nemesis, suffer a lot of blood loss, narrowly escape death, run from the cops (not once, but twice), get caught up in a messy love triangle, meet his match in the form of a curvy drill teamer, and surprise the hell out of everyone, including himself.


About the Author:  Brent Crawford is the author of Carter Finally Gets It, Carter’s Big Break and Carter’s Unfocused One-Track Mind (Hyperion-Disney).

He was born in Kansas but moved to LA and then New York City to pursue an acting career. He has worked in theatre, film, TV, and commercials (check him out on IMDB.com). He’s written numerous plays and scripts, as well as waited tables, bartended, sold hardware and clothing, worked construction, and even dumped airplane toilets (where do you think it goes?). 

Connect with Brent:

My Thoughts - 5 out of 5 Unicorns - I loved it!!!

Wish I could give it more!!  Totally rocked!!!

I got this audiobook through the SYNC summer program which I think it fantastic!!  I hope they continue this every year :)

The cover definitely makes you think high school :)  I like this cover much better than the original cover :)

This book was narrated by Nick Podehl.  And let me tell you hands down the best audiobook ever!!!  The narrator made this story come alive, and I was laughing so much throughout this adventure :)  Yes the narrator made this audiobook rock, but it was only possible because Brent wrote an awesomely fabulous book.

I listened to this audiobook with my son in the car everyday to and from school for the past 3 weeks.  I should mention that my son is in 8th grade, and I’m a high school teacher.  Initially, I was thinking what the heck am I letting my son listen to with talk of boobs, kids getting drunk, and sex (including virginity losing discussions).  Once I got over the initial shock, I started thinking that this book, it very true to high school.  Keep in mind that some things might be a little different with regard to the parties, but more is happening than most parents want to admit.  Not to mention this cover Attention Deficit Disorder, and I think it is pretty right on because I’m think the author is adding his own personal experiences regarding this complication.  This book actually helped to open doors about things that my son and I could talk about regarding what was happening with alcohol, drinking, driving, girls, and so much more.  My son and I laughed so hard together about what was happening in the story so often that I lost count.

My favorite line:  "You're killing me, Carter!!"
lol I've been know to say this in class of course with a different student's name. ;)

I even had the chance to bond with a student of mine who found out what I was listening to, and he said this series is his favorite.  He said he hates reading (yeah I choked on that one too!!), but he loved reading this whole series.

I highly recommend this book in any form.  I really want to get the next two books in audiobook, but not sure when I can afford it, so I’m going to check at the local library to see if they have it for us to listen to.  My son is already bugging me that I must get them.

Interested in reading???

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Audiobook Review - The Accidental Werewolf by Dakota Cassidy @DakotaCassidy (Accidentals #1)




The Accidental Werewolf
Accidentals #1
by Dakota Cassidy

Goodreads blurb:  When Marty Andrews gets bitten by a mangy mutt while walking her teacup poodle, her blond hair darkens, the hair on her legs starts growing at an alarming rate, and her mood swings put her dream job as a sales rep for Bobbie-Sue Cosmetics in serious jeopardy.

Then a drool-worthy man shows up at her door claiming that he accidentally bit Marty. And since he's a werewolf, she is now, too. Thinking Keegan Flaherty is clearly insane, Marty refuses to believe a word until a kidnapping makes her realize there's more at stake than just her highlights. And she must put her out-of-control life in the hands of the man who makes her blood run wild in more ways than one...


About the Author:  Dakota Cassidy lives for a good laugh in life and in her writing. In fact, she almost loves a good giggle as much as she loves hair products and that’s saying something.

Her goals in life are simple, (like really simple): banish the color yellow forever, create world peace via hot rollers and Aqua Net; and finally, nab every tiara in the land by competing in the Miss USA, Miss Universe, and Miss World pageants, then sweeping them in a stunning trifecta of much duct tape and Vaseline usage, all in just under one week. Oh, and write really fun books!

She loves people, loves to chat and would love it if you'd come say hello to her on the Yahoo! group she shares with two other terrific authors at—The Truth About Big Hair, Books and Babes. Join Dakota and friends in the chaos and send an email to TTABBB-subscribe@yahoogroups.com or visit her website.

Dakota lives in Texas with her two sons, her mother, more cats and dogs than the local animal shelter and has a boyfriend who puts the heroes in her books to shame.

Connect with Dakota:

My Thoughts - 4 out of 5 Unicorns - I really liked it!!!


The cover is cute and fun :)  I listened to the audiobook, but I’m pretty sure I own the paperback too though it is lost in my library somewhere.  One day I will put it in some type of order and catalog them :)

The narrator for this book is Meredith Mitchell, and she definitely made it fun to listen to :)

I enjoyed listening while doing some work at home.  This is my first book by Dakota, and I definitely liked it and will continue with this series in the future.  I easily connected with the characters and story and was definitely chuckling throughout the story.  I love when an author can be me chuckle out loud.

Marty is a strong, independent and hard working which I love :)  Keegan is very Alpha, and I love his sense of responsibility and also that he has morals.

I recommend this book for anyone who loves a good werewolf book with some humor mixed in :)

Interested in reading???

Friday, December 12, 2014

Friday Reveal @Month9Books & Giveaway @theryanbradford #M9BFridayReveals - Horror Business by Ryan Craig Bradford

M9B-Friday-Reveal

Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!
This week, we are revealing the first chapter for

Horror Business
by Ryan Craig Bradford

presented by Month9Books!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

horrorbusiness2

Armed with a passion for classic B-grade horror movies, a script co-written by his twin brother, and a wicked crush on his death-obsessed neighbor; hardcore horror fan Jason Nightshade must finish his student film.
But his plans are derailed when the children of suburban Silver Creek start disappearing – his twin brother among them. Battling a possessed video camera, a crazy zombie dog, a monstrous bully, and a frighteningly broken down family life, Jason embarks on a mission to find his lost brother so the two can write an ending for his story.
As any horror fan knows, saving the day won’t be easy, as Jason finds himself forced to face the real world where death isn’t just a splash of fake blood on a camera lens.
add to goodreads

Horror Business
by Ryan Craig Bradford

Publication date:  February 2015
Publisher:  Month9Books, LLC.

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Excerpt

Chapter 1


Warm colors sharpen as the focus reveals an image of a boy. The boy sits patiently and stares at you. He giggles and sticks his tongue out as the image softens before settling on an appropriate focus. You recognize this boy because he looks a lot like me. A voice from offscreen tells the boy that everything’s ready, that he can begin whenever he feels like it.
Boy: What do you want me to say?
Offscreen: What’s your favorite scary movie?
Boy: Like in Scream?
Offscreen: Just answer the question.
Boy: What’s this for anyway?
Offscreen: Nothing really. Maybe a school project.
Boy: Fine. But a favorite scary movie? That’s like picking your favorite child.
Offscreen: Well, what are some of the ones you like?
Boy: I like ghost movies.
Offscreen: How come?
Boy: I think the only thing more frightening than opening a closet door and finding a knife-wielding maniac is opening up that closet door and finding nothing. If you take away all the monsters and serial killers, all we have to fear is ourselves. We create ghosts when there isn’t anything else left to scare us.
Offscreen: That’s deep.
Boy: Are we done yet?
Offscreen: Just state your name. You know, for legitimacy.
Boy: My name is Brian Nightshade and you’ve just tuned in to What I Think About Horror Movies.
Offscreen: Thanks.
The image goes black.

October
If we shoot a movie in black and white we use chocolate syrup. If it’s in color we use corn syrup with red food coloring.
So much sugar goes into blood.
Chocolate syrup was used for Alfred Hitchcock’s Psycho. Corn syrup was used for The Evil Dead. It was my brother who told me that.
Death needs to be sweetened.
I pedal past a row of shuttered buildings on my way to the grocery store. The faux-cabin exteriors only deceive the tourists that flood our town during the summer and winter months. Most shops simply shut down during the fall. Silver Creek has been dead since Labor Day and will remain that way until Christmas.
I check over my shoulder, hold my breath, and swerve into the road. A gust of wind blows a swarm of dead leaves into my spokes, some of which get shredded. The others get caught between the wheel and the fork. I enjoy the gory death of the red and gold foliage. A minivan pulls up alongside me. I make eye contact with the driver, a middle-aged woman with a sour face. She shakes her head and speeds away. I flip her off.
I cut to the left and let the momentum take me up the slight incline of the parking lot. I set my bike against the rack and leave it unlocked.
There’s a cork bulletin board at the entrance to the grocery store—a place where people can advertise yard sales, community events, or lost pets. It’s covered with brightly-colored flyers. The flyers declare their purpose with bold, 20-point font.
MISSING CHILD
The parents who make the flyers use the most attractive pictures, as if that will get their children found faster. I feel bad for the parents with ugly kids. The faces look at you, smiles frozen with gapped and crooked teeth because they haven’t had the benefit of a good orthodontist yet.
Some of the kids have taken to collecting them like baseball cards. Sometimes you’ll see a grief-stricken parent replacing a flyer of their missing kid. It’s awkward.
Hot pink, neon green, electric orange. I look down to avoid them. The neon looks awful and inappropriately bright. Like they’re trying to sell something.
I think again of sweetened death.
The corn syrup is expensive. I check for a knock-off brand on a lower shelf, but it turns out I’m holding the knock-off. The higher-priced bottle’s label shows an abstract illustration of a farm and boasts 100% organic. Mountain prices for a mountain town. Silver Creek loves to spend money on products that make it feel rustic.
There’s barely enough money in my wallet to cover the corn syrup, and I briefly contemplate changing the movie to black and white. I’m sure we’ve got a shitload of chocolate syrup back at the house. It’s been so long since my family’s eaten ice cream.
But no, it has to be in color. I’m not fucking around with this one. It’s going to be my masterpiece.
I wait behind Marilyn Mackie while the cashier rings her up. Mrs. Mackie fills the aisle; her ass grazing the gum and breath mints on the display behind her. She stares ahead until the cashier—a similarly large girl with braces—tallies the total of her groceries. The sum is humongous, and I can’t wait to tell Steve about how much the Mac Attack spent on food the next time I see him. Mrs. Mackie snaps out of her daze and notices me. The recognition makes her gasp and she puts a hand to her chest. It’s like she saw a ghost.
“Hi, Mrs. Mackie.”
“Oh, I’m sorry, Jason. You startled me.”
I nod and look down at my shoes. I pass the bottle of corn syrup between my hands. Mrs. Mackie pays.
“How are your folks?” she asks.
“Oh, you know.”
“That’s good,” she says. “I mean, not good, but. …” She trails off. She exhales and her entire being deflates; her chin sinks into the comfort of her neck. “I’m sorry. It’s been hard for all of us.”
“It’s okay.”
The printer uncurls a receipt, and the checkout girl folds it three times before handing it to Mrs. Mackie. Mrs. Mackie pushes her cart of groceries forward while she reads the scroll of her purchases. I put the bottle on the conveyer belt and watch as it’s pulled toward the cashier. I wonder if she and Mrs. Mackie regard each other as past and future selves.
“You remind me of someone I’ve seen before?”
The checkout girl smiles at me and waits for my reaction. It’s not a question, really, but the upward pitch in her last word forces a glaring question mark. The white bands on her braces have turned yellow from neglect and she holds my corn syrup hostage while I think of a response. Mrs. Mackie looks up from her receipt. The terror returns to her face.
“Maybe it’s my brother. We’re twins.”
“Maybe. Or maybe someone famous?” She twists the bottle around in her hands. It’s disturbing the way she caresses it while she thinks. Her tongue sweeps her broad-set, braced teeth. I want to tell her again that it’s probably my brother who she’s thinking about, but I know that’s not true.
“Excuse me,” says Mrs. Mackie. “Are you new here or something? Don’t you know who he is?”
The checkout girl frowns and gives up. “I don’t know.” She sighs and chucks my syrup into a plastic bag. “They just tell us to be nice to the customers.”
She hands me the bag with a limp wrist. I take it without saying thanks. Mrs. Mackie, embarrassed from her outburst, waddles to the exit, and the automatic door swings open. I maneuver around her before she fills the doorframe and the electric eye senses my urgency. I jump out into the parking lot to feel the cooling-but-still-warm autumn air. I realize I’ve been sweating.
“Don’t listen to her. What does she know, anyway?” Mrs. Mackie calls out to me from the entrance of the store. She reaches into the pocket of her sweatpants and pulls a yellow flyer out, folded into fourths. “Things will work out, you’ll see.” She slaps the flyer onto the corkboard and tacks it in.
The automatic door closes slowly on Mrs. Mackie like a fade out.
***
My brother, Brian Nightshade, was the first to go missing.
Since then, Donny Yates was second, and then a week later it was Collin Stephenson. Bobby Islo, Andy Stoner, Clint Something and the girlish-looking Sean Fornier disappeared within a three-month span. Wendy Dee was the first and only girl to go missing so far. After her disappearance, the town’s cruel irritability toward these “runaways” was replaced by a surging fear of kidnappers and child-molesters. Every recluse and old person became a target for suspicion.
It’s funny how a girl can change things.
Greg Mackie was the latest one. He went missing last week.
Nine children so far.
***
I’m positive that The Lost Boys is the greatest vampire movie ever made, only because it’s the dumbest. Most vampire movies become bogged down by romance and other boring stuff. Or what Greg Mackie called it: moral ambiguities and penetration motifs. He was into that kind of theory stuff.
I lean my bike against the window of King Kong Video, Silver Creek’s only rental store. The clerk, a balding twenty-something, stares through the glass and frowns. He wears glasses and has a beard shaved to create a fake jaw line on his soft face.
A large portion of King Kong’s selection consists of VHS tapes. They don’t stock new releases, which is fine by me—I just download whatever I can’t find. New movies aren’t really scary anyway. I’m pretty sure the store stays in business because of their adult section, but it’s possible to find gems that only exist in analog: B-grade films with lots of gore and nudity. Some of them are actually okay.
“Please don’t lean your bike against the window,” the clerk says. “It could break it.” He’s got some pretentious foreign movie playing on the TV. Waves of an incomprehensible language float through the air. There’s a MISSING CHILD poster taped on the wall behind the counter. It’s Collin Stephenson, the third kid to go missing.
“You got The Lost Boys in?” I ask.
“Vampires?”
“Yep.”
The clerk tsks, but types the request into King Kong’s ancient computer system. He hits a key, and the machine lurches to life. It sounds like actual gears are carrying out the function. Collin smiles at me from over the clerk’s shoulder. It's been a long time since Collin's parents have printed any new flyers, making this poster somewhat of a collector’s item. I wander into the inventory while the computer thinks.
I peruse the horror section, admiring the artwork on movie boxes, noting which ones have the scariest screenshots on the back. Re-Animator 2 is a good one; Chopping Mall is all right but it has the best name of any movie. Frankenhooker is one of my favorites. I watched that twice in one night before.
When we were little, my brother and I were so scared of these boxes that we’d dare each other to look at them. Our mom made us stop when Brian started seeing monsters in the closet.
I pick up another box. The movie’s called Basket Case. On the cover, a claw pokes out from the rim of a wicker basket and a frightening set of eyes peer out from deeper within.
The movie is about two brothers: Duane and Belial. Conjoined twins. Doctors separate them at birth because of Belial’s monstrous appearance—like a tumorous mound growing out the side of Duane. Just a pile of skin molded into teeth and arms, really.
As adults, Duane carries Belial around in a wicker basket to exact revenge on the doctors that separated them. Because that’s what brothers do.
Last year me and Brian wanted to be Duane and Belial for Halloween, but we couldn’t agree on who got to be the deformed twin.
“Hey kid!”
I drop the box and catch it in mid-air before setting it back on the shelf.
“It’s out,” says the clerk. “The Lost Boys. Computer says so. Says it was rented two weeks ago.”
“Can I put a hold on it?”
“What’s the name?”
It’s annoying. I’ve been in this guy’s store nearly every weekend for the last two years and he still doesn’t know my name. Fuck his window. I hope my bike does break it. “Nightshade.”
The guy clacks away at the keyboard. His brow furrows. “Interesting. Says here that you were the last one to rent it.”
“What?” The clerk turns the ancient monitor toward me. The name NIGHSHADE reads out in green text. “I don’t have it.”
“Are you sure? You weren’t the one who rented it?” He slides his glasses up the bridge of his nose. “I’m pretty sure it was you.”
“I rent a lot of movies here, but not that one. I don’t have it.”
“Pretty sure it was you. I have a good memory, Nightwing.”
“Nightshade.”
“Mmhm.” A victorious breath. “I don’t know. Not my problem. It’s on your family’s account, so either find it or pay the fine.”
The cassette playing the foreign movie cuts out. Dialog becomes muddled. Lines of static roll down the screen and the picture jumps from left to right. The image freezes and a loud clicking comes from inside the VCR. Interior whirring speeds up until the machine’s mouth spews out the tape in long strands.
“Shit,” says the clerk with more resignation than annoyance. I leave without renting anything.
***
The main streets of Silver Creek eventually feed into the suburban neighborhoods where houses are modern and earth-toned. You used to be able to walk outside at night and watch your neighbor’s big-screen TV from the street. You could even hear the pummeling action through their surround-sound. Most everyone keeps their blinds closed now. I stand at the entrance of my own house, hand on the door. Vibrations from my parents’ expensive sound-system massage my palm in spurts. This evening’s attempt at twilight is filtered through haze; shadows look smeared. It’s as if a far-off volcano has spewed its evil, and dominant winds have brought the ashes of creatures to settle in the atmosphere over our town, a dusty swarm of spirits that dims the sunlight.
I turn the knob and push. The house is vaguely humid. Mom’s watching a show about historical hauntings. On the screen, some guys are using night vision cameras and EVP recorders to prove the existence of ghosts. They never find anything, but my mom’s completely addicted. She doesn’t even know what EVP stands for.
They’re playing back the audio recording, enhanced for home viewers. The result is a high-pitched squeal that drops out in rapid successions. The ghost hunters try to convince us that this pattern is a ghost saying, Get out of my house.
“Mom,” I say. “Hi!”
Mom looks up from the TV. The screech continues. She waves. “Jason. I didn’t see you.”
I fall onto the cushion next to her. She has no scent anymore. In fact, a faint antiseptic odor has overtaken everything, muting out any sense of home. It’s the smell of keeping yourself busy, keeping your mind off things.
Mom points to the screen. “This house. They say it’s the most haunted house in America.”
“Don’t they say that about all the houses?”
“Huh?”
On the screen, a stationary camera catches a door closing by itself. The creak is deafening.
I shout my question again. Mom laughs. The crew runs toward the camera. The night vision filter makes their eyes look simultaneously alive and soulless, like wild animals. The host’s fear—captured by the green filter—is by far the scariest thing about these shows, not the closing doors or muffled audio. Darkness makes everyone look feral.
The show cuts to commercials that are nearly twice as loud as the ghost show. I stand to leave. Mom grabs my hand, squeezes, and lets it go. A loving acknowledgement. A wordless I know, or I’m sorry, or another deep-meaning pleasantry. I leave her alone to watch her show.
I push through the kitchen door and into an overbearing cloud of smoke, like walking through a sweaty cobweb. The smoke detector buzzes; its alarm sounds weak from overuse.
A pot sits on the stove; flames reach up the side with demonic glee. I shut the monster down. There’s no water left, just burnt spaghetti stuck to the bottom. I turn the sink faucet on and put everything under the cooling rinse. The pot, relieved of its torture, gives off a heavy sigh and unleashes one last puff of steam into the air. I silence the smoke alarm by taking it off the wall and removing the battery.
My dad walks in, waves smoke away like he’s used to it. He opens the fridge and pulls out a diet root beer. He empties half of it in one gulp. A belch blossoms out of his throat, and I smell a day’s worth of closed-mouth.
“What’s with all the commotion in here?” He nods toward the disassembled smoke alarm in my hand. “That’ll kill us, you know.” He winks and finishes his soda.
“It was going crazy. Somebody left the food on the stove.” I pick the pot up out of the sink and show him the caked-together mass of spaghetti, brown and drowning in the tepid water.
“Wasn’t me,” he says and lets the room suffocate on scalding air while he opens another can.
***
We eat sandwiches that night. Peanut butter and honey. The ghost show is still running (some sort of marathon, I guess). We eat at the table, but all our heads are turned to the TV. I peel the crusts off my bread and dangle them above my mouth before dropping them in.
The screech of an EVP recording makes us all wince. I look over to my mom, and her eyes are hidden behind glasses reflecting the images of men running from invisible pursuers.
At the commercial, my mom turns the sound down.
“How was school?” she asks.
“It’s Saturday,” I say.
“That’s my boy,” my dad says. He crams a last bite of sandwich into his mouth.
“Can I spend the night at Steve’s?”
“Sure,” Mom says. “Whatever you want.”
“Oh!” Dad says. “Honey, did you know you left the pot on the burner today?”
Mom looks down at her sandwich as if it’s a piece of evidence. “Oh.”
“Yeah.”
“Sorry,” she says. “Must’ve forgot.”
Dad nudges me. “Must’ve forgot.” He chuckles. “Get it?” He says this like an inside joke. “Get it?”
“I knew I forgot something,” she says.
“Damn near burned the house down. Ask Jason.” He looks at me for approval. I stare at the crumbs on my plate.
“She must’ve forgot,” he says again with some mysterious emphasis. He mouths it to me while Mom watches the ghost hunters. I clear my place without asking to be excused. Mom turns the soundtrack up to ear-splitting levels. Dad grabs my wrist; he’s laughing so hard that the crumbs on his belly are shaking off onto the carpet. Tears stand in his eyes. I still don't know what he finds so funny.
“Get it?” he keeps asking.

Horror Business
We didn’t fuck around when it came down to business: just like how the original Evil Dead was a better movie than Evil Dead II. Just like how the original Halloween was better than Friday the 13th, but still not as good as Nightmare On Elm Streets I and III. Just like how The Ring was good, but every other remake of a Japanese horror movie sucked. Just like how the Re-Animator might be the best comedy-horror ever made, and how there really hasn’t been a good vampire movie since The Lost Boys.
Like how we knew that the original Dawn of the Dead was filmed at the Monroeville Mall in Monroeville, Pennsylvania. Like how it’s lame that you now have to say “the original” when talking about a lot of horror movies.
Like how we thought Pinhead was a good villain but Hellraiser was confusing.
How 28 Days Later is not a zombie movie, technically.
And how movies aren’t really as scary as they used to be.
Horror business was our business, and we didn’t fuck around.

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author
ryanauthorpic3-300x200
Ryan grew up in Park City, Utah. His fiction has appeared in Quarterly West, Paper Darts, Vice, Monkeybicycle and [PANK]. He currently lives in San Diego where he acts as Creative Director for the nonprofit literary arts organization So Say We All. He’s the co-editor of the anthology Last Night on Earth and founder of the literary horror journal, Black Candies.
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Website | Twitter

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway
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99 cent SALE - Bared by Stacey Kennedy @Stacey_Kennedy (Club Sin #2)

Prepare to be BARED…



Bared
Club Sin #2
by Stacey Kennedy

Publisher: Loveswept
(Random House Publishing Group)
ISBN: 9780804178884
Release date: February 10, 2014

Bared is a seductively haunting tale of control and surrender that will tantalize existing fans of the series, while enticing new readers into the passionate world of Club Sin.” ~Eliza Gayle, New York Times bestselling author of SUBMISSIVE BEAUTY

“A hot blend of raw sensuality, this is an author to watch!”
~Eden Bradley, author of THE DARK GARDEN and DANGEROUSLY BOUND

In a novel that’s perfect for fans of Fifty Shades of Grey, Stacey Kennedy returns to Club Sin with another wicked and wild tale of submission, seduction, and love.

At Las Vegas’s exclusive Club Sin, Aidan Knight is the Master, unleashing the erotic yearnings of his submissive lovers. But his dominant fa├žade conceals a devastating loss—something he instantly recognizes in his personally trained submissive Cora Adams. Sworn to unearth her secrets, Aidan uses his seductive skills to ignite her wildest desires until Cora yields to the pleasure she can find only with him.

Cora came to the BDSM club to act out her sub-and-dom fantasies without ever revealing the heartbreak that haunts her. But Aidan’s masterful touch is bringing her closer to the edge . . . and deeper into a world of control and surrender. He refuses to allow her to submit to any other man—nor does she want to. It’s a dangerous game they’re playing. For as they give in to passion, they must lay bare their souls for a love that could heal—and free—them both.

Bared is an erotic romance intended for mature audiences.
  

Buy links:

About the Author:

USA Today Bestselling Author, Stacey Kennedy is an urban fantasy lover at heart, but she also enjoys losing herself in dark and sensual worlds. She lives in southwestern Ontario with her husband, who gave her a happily-ever-after. Together, they have two small children who can always make her smile, and who will never be allowed to read Mommy’s books. If she’s not plugging away at a new story, you’ll find her camping, curling up with the latest flick, or obsessing over Supernatural, True Blood, Lost Girl, and Sons of Anarchy.

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Giveaway:

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Cover Reveal @CrimsonTreePub @JulieKWetzel - On The Accidental Wings of Dragons by Julie Wetzel

COVER REVEAL FOR: 


BY: JULIE WETZEL 
(Author of the Kindling Flames Series.)



Publisher: Crimson Tree Publishing
Genre: Fantasy / Romance
Release Date: June 9, 2015

When Michael Duncan is sent to investigate the disappearance of several dragon subjects, he finds himself in a bind. Locked in a dungeon, his only hope lies wrapped in a bundle of cloth tossed at his feet. One kiss and his life is changed forever. Hunted by his own people for crimes he didn’t commit, Michael has to learn a whole new life at the hands of a beautiful woman. Can she help him clear his name, or will just being in her presence get him sentenced to death?

Carissa Markel doesn’t know who this man chained to the wall is, but he’s her only chance for escape. She has power, but, born without a voice, she lacks the means to wield it. One choice, made in desperation, sends them running for his life. Does she have the strength to help him clear his name? And what will her brother, the King of Dragons, do if he finds out what she’s done? That’s immaterial, the real question is… can she keep her hands off him long enough to find out?

DON'T FORGET TO ADD THIS AWESOME BOOK TO YOUR TBR LIST! 

On the Accidental Wings of Dragons (The Dragons of Eternity, #1)

ABOUT AUTHOR JULIE WETZEL


Originally from Ohio, Julie always dreamed of a job in science. Either shooting for the stars or delving into the mysteries of volcanoes. But, life never leads where you expect. In 2007, she moved to Mississippi to be with her significant other. 

Now a mother of a hyperactive red headed boy, what time she’s not chasing down dirty socks and unsticking toys from the ceiling is spent crafting worlds readers can get lost it. Julie is a self-proclaimed bibliophile and lover of big words. She likes hiking, frogs, interesting earrings, and a plethora of other fun things. 

Julie Wetzel is the author of Kindling Flames, Book 1 in The Ancient Fire Series. Kindling Flames is scheduled to release through Crimson Tree Publishing in the Fall of 2014.



JULIE WETZEL'S BOOKS:


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My Thoughts - Another fabulous cover by Marya :)  This definitely looks like a book that I need to read...going on my TBR :) What do you think???

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Audiobook Review @rayadverb @RidleyPearson - Peter and the Starcatchers by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson




Peter and the Starcatchers
Peter and the Starcatchers #1
by Dave Barry & Ridley Pearson

Goodreads blurb:  Don't even think of starting this book unless you're sitting in a comfortable chair and have lots of time. A fast-paced, impossible-to-put-down adventure awaits as the young orphan Peter and his mates are dispatched to an island ruled by the evil King Zarboff. They set sail aboard the NeverLand, a ship carrying a precious and mysterious trunk in its cargo hold, and the journey quickly becomes fraught with excitement and danger. 

Discover richly developed characters in the sweet but sophisticated Molly, the scary but familiar Black Stache, and the fearless Peter. Treacherous battles with pirates, foreboding thunderstorms at sea, and evocative writing immerses the reader in a story that slowly and finally reveals the secrets and mysteries of the beloved Peter Pan.


About the Authors: 
Dave Barry is a humor columnist. For 25 years he was a syndicated columnist whose work appeared in more than 500 newspapers in the United States and abroad. In 1988 he won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary. Many people are still trying to figure out how this happened.

Dave has also written a total of 30 books, although virtually none of them contain useful information. Two of his books were used as the basis for the CBS TV sitcom "Dave's World," in which Harry Anderson played a much taller version of Dave.
Dave plays lead guitar in a literary rock band called the Rock Bottom Remainders, whose other members include Stephen KingAmy TanRidley Pearson and Mitch Albom. They are not musically skilled, but they are extremely loud. Dave has also made many TV appearances, including one on the David Letterman show where he proved that it is possible to set fire to a pair of men's underpants with a Barbie doll.

In his spare time, Dave is a candidate for president of the United States. If elected, his highest priority will be to seek the death penalty for whoever is responsible for making Americans install low-flow toilets.

Dave lives in Miami, Florida, with his wife, Michelle, a sportswriter. He has a son, Rob, and a daughter, Sophie, neither of whom thinks he's funny.

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Ridley Pearson is the author of more than twenty novels, including the New York Times bestseller KILLER WEEKEND; the Lou Boldt crime series; and many books for young readers, including the award-winning children's novels PETER AND THE STARCATCHERS, PETER AND THE SHADOW THIEVES, and PETER AND THE SECRET OF RUNDOON, which he cowrote with Dave Barry. Pearson lives with his wife and two daughters, dividing their time between Missouri and Idaho.


Also writes Chris Klick mysteries as Wendell McCall.

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My Thoughts - 4 out of 5 Unicorns - I really liked it!!!


I got this audio book the SYNC summer program.

The cover is definitely very Peter Pan, and I think it will attract any Peter Pan fans to read it.

I listened to this book in the car with my son to and from school.  My son really enjoyed this book and wants to listen to the rest of the series if I can afford to get them in the future :)

Peter and Molly are awesome lead characters.  I loved all the adventures that they had.  All the details and Peter Pan references was awesome.  This really was a long book too!!  I was amazed how long it was and how many chapters were in this story.  This book had a mission, flying, pirates, mermaids, a wrecked ship, giant storm, fighting, talking porpoises, and so much more.

If you have seen Peter Pan and liked it, you need to read this book because you will definitely like it.  This is a fabulous book to read with your son, and it is for all ages, but probably more for middle grade readers.

Interested in reading???