Archive for the ‘Science Fiction’ Category

Slivers (The Prospero Chronicles #3)
by Fiona J.R. Titchenell & Matt Carter
Genre: YA Horror/Scifi
Release date: June 20th 2017

Synopsis

Ben

Growing up is hard, and growing up in Prospero is even harder, but I think we manage. I mean, yeah, my friends and I spend more of our time fighting a race of shapeshifting aliens than we do hanging out, but we have our fun. We go to parties, help each other with our classes, maybe even fall in love…

I’ve no illusions that we live ordinary lives, but they’re our lives, and I’m going to make sure we make the most of them whether the Splinters want us to or not.

Mina

The truce is temporary. We will not humor the Splinters forever. It’s only until the Slivers can be stopped, until the army of Shards being planted among our classmates can be disassembled, until we get our hands on the thing I’d almost given up believing in.

The humanity test.

For the chance to know, once and for all, who can be trusted, some dealings with monsters must be excusable. Inevitable. Just like this feeling between Ben and me.

And that has to be temporary too.

 

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Previous Books in the Series (click on image for Goodreads link):

 

Buy links:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble (Nook)
iBooks
Kobo
Smashwords
Indigo

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Excerpt

1. Sabotage
Ben
At the time, my instincts told me that jumping onto the hood of a moving SUV was a brilliant idea.
After half a second of trying to find something to hold onto, I told myself I’d reconsider my instincts when I got out of this.
If I got out of this.
A voice in my ear—I hadn’t lost my Bluetooth after all. Haley’s voice, by the angry sound of it.
“Ben, what the hell are you doing?”
“I have no idea!” I yelled back, finally grabbing the roof rack with both hands and holding on for dear life, doing my best to block the windshield. The driver accelerated down the empty suburban street, jerking the wheel back and forth, trying to shake me off. I knew behind the tinted glass of this anonymous, plateless SUV were the gray faces of Slivers. Today they were supposed to be kidnapping one of Prospero High School’s nicest teachers from her home, and we were going to stop them. It wasn’t exactly a piece of cake, but we’d done it before and should’ve been able to do it again.
I looked to the sidewalks, trying to spot any other members of the Network.
There was a heavy blow against the windshield near my chest. The tinted glass spiderwebbed beneath me. The Slivers were trying to break through.
Not for the first time, I cursed The Owl.
“Everybody close on the house! They’re still on the move!” Courtney called over the party line.
“Where’s that spike strip?” Haley asked.
“About twenty feet behind Ben before he decided to go Shatner on us,” Greg answered.
The spiderweb of glass expanded as the Sliver continued to force its way through.
The next voice was impossibly calm. “If we can stop this vehicle, there’s every chance we can capture multiple Slivers at once in addition to preventing Ms. Craven’s abduction. Ben, do you think you can slow them down?”
Mina Todd.
She always asked for the impossible so reasonably.
The windshield broke open in front of me, safety glass exploding outward as a long, muscular arm with a seven-fingered, clawed hand burst through. It raked back and forth, opening up a large gash in the glass that allowed me to see the three Slivers inside. They were of slight frame with gray, hairless heads and bulging black eyes, and they had begun sprouting extra limbs and tentacles to better mangle me.
“I’ll try,” I said, diving into the jagged hole where the windshield used to be.
Their brief, startled pause before attacking was all I needed.
I reached into my pocket and pulled out one of the cheap stun guns Mina loved to make out of disposable cameras and jammed it into the driver’s chest. The creature shuddered violently, jerking the wheel to the side and stomping on the gas reflexively.
I forced the gearshift into neutral and pulled on the parking brake. The SUV lurched to a violent stop in the middle of the street.
So far so good.
Less good was the sound of snapping wood that came from the passenger seat as its occupant’s body began to shift. Its rib cage broke open into a giant, vertical mouth full of jagged teeth and swirling tentacles. The tentacles lashed out at me, wrapping around my arms and neck, and squeezed. The Sliver in the backseat joined in, grabbing the leg I tried to anchor myself with against the dashboard and forcing me closer to that terrible maw.
The passenger door flew open. The Sliver let out a howl of pain as Julie buried a large meat hook in its back and began pulling it from the car. Courtney wrapped her hands around Julie’s on the hook, throwing her track team muscles into the effort and hardly wincing when the gelatinous Splinter blood began to soil her neatly pressed blouse. The tentacles released me, and soon enough the two girls wrestled the Sliver from the vehicle and tased it.
One down.
The driver’s mutated arm reached across my chest and pulled the door shut. It looked deep into my eyes with those empty, black orbs. Its narrow mouth curled into the faintest of smiles as it held me pinned to the seat with that monstrous arm. Though its face was formless, its flesh waxy, I couldn’t help but feel something familiar in that smile and those soulless eyes.
“Soon,” it whispered to me in its chittering, popping voice.
A new arm burst from its shoulder, splitting into two insectoid hands that allowed it to shift gears and disengage the parking break simultaneously. I watched helplessly as Greg and Kevin finally caught up to us with the jury-rigged spike strip we’d built for just this occasion, tossing it uselessly to the ground just as the driver swerved out of the way.
I didn’t know if the Slivers were still going to try for Ms. Craven or if they would content themselves with taking me instead. Would they try to drag me to their Warehouse (assuming the Slivers had a Warehouse) and replace me, or would they kill me as soon as they found a nice, quiet place to pull over?
They weren’t slowing down. If anything, they seemed to be speeding up. They swerved down the street, aiming for the side of an old duplex. Ms. Craven’s duplex.
I took advantage of the driver’s focus to pull one arm free, fasten a seatbelt around me, and brace myself.
The SUV slammed through the duplex’s wall with a crushing impact that knocked the wind out of me and whipped my neck forward. The unsecured driver flew through the jagged remnants of the windshield and landed in what used to be Ms. Craven’s living room. The passenger from the backseat climbed over me with spindly spider’s legs, following the driver out the windshield.
A woman screamed inside.
Slowly, painfully, I undid my seatbelt and crawled through the windshield, landing on the floor in a dazed heap.
Somehow I stumbled to my feet and pulled the mini flamethrower from my back. It wasn’t much—just a kitchen lighter duct-taped to one of those recalled aerosol fire extinguishers that Mina had stocked up on, but it did the job. Flicking the lighter on, I lifted it high.
The driver had Ms. Craven wrapped in a set of tentacles and interlocking claws, lifting her off the ground. Ms. Craven looked at me fearfully, trying to cry out through the tentacle lashed across her mouth. The flamethrower wouldn’t do much good at this range, standing as much a chance of burning Ms. Craven. I was going to have to wait for backup.
“Let her go,” I said shakily. All of my experiences with Slivers so far had proved that they loved to talk. I only had to stall them long enough for Mina and the rest to get here.
The driver looked to the passenger, exchanging a low series of pops and clicks. The passenger nodded, calmly raising one of its three arms and pointing the hand at me, flat. Just like the driver, a small, frightening smile crossed its face.
I lost all feeling beneath my waist, my legs giving out beneath me. Then I could feel again—too well. It felt like every nerve in my body had burst into flames. Violent waves of nausea hit me, and my muscles no longer seemed to be my own.
Two realizations hit me at once.
First: they had a Shard we hadn’t documented yet.
Second: this Shard had remote control of human bodies.
There was shouting, and then Kevin and Greg slid through the massive hole in the wall, brandishing their flamethrowers and Tasers. Less than a second later, a sliding glass door opened in the next room, and Mina and Haley ran in to join us.
Only Aldo, Julie, and Courtney had yet to catch up.
The two Slivers looked at each other, then at us. They could have taken me easily, maybe even two of us. But five of us, well-armed as we were—that gave them a moment of pause. The driver dropped Ms. Craven roughly to the floor. Both of the Slivers raised their arms, and the driver looked at me, curling its lips into that faint, unpleasant smile.
“Soon,” it said again.
Long spikes of bone erupted from each of their chests and backs. They both began to laugh—a raspy, choking sound—as the base of each spike began to pulsate.
“DUCK!” Mina blurted, falling to the floor.
Everyone dropped, dozens of bony spikes narrowly missing us as they erupted from the Slivers’ bodies, lodging in the walls and shattering windows.
By the time we regained our feet, the Slivers were gone.
“Is everybody all right?” Mina asked.
There were murmurs of assent. Ms. Craven was on the floor, sobbing.
Finding out about Splinters is never easy for people to deal with under the best of circumstances, much less while being kidnapped by the extreme anti-human cult of Splinters that we’d taken to calling “Slivers” last fall.
Not that getting kidnapped by regular, garden-variety Splinters was all that much better.
I was confident that Ms. Craven would come out of her shock soon—she’d always struck me as pretty tough. Once this wore off, we’d be able to tell her the truth. Maybe even make her a part of the team.
Assuming, of course, she was really human.
Haley examined my scratches and scrapes. Content that I must have been okay, she smiled and threw her arms around my neck, hugging me close. I don’t know what was more uncomfortable, Haley’s weight against my aching ribs or the look of annoyance on Mina’s face.
“I’m fine,” I assured Haley, pulling away, “though that Shard they have sure did a number on me.”
“One of the ones The Owl showed you?” Haley asked.
“No, this one’s new,” I said.
“Dammit, I hate Shards,” Greg said, shuddering. I didn’t blame him; the last time we’d gone up
against a Shard, it had made him feel a swarm of spiders crawling beneath his skin.
“Tell me about it,” I said.
“Hey, guys?” Aldo said over the group line.
“Did you secure the other Sliver?” Mina asked.
“Yeah, we got her. No problems there. What about yours?” Aldo asked.
“They’ve retreated. They haven’t doubled back your way?” Mina asked.
“No, we’re clear,” Aldo said. There was something held back in his voice I didn’t like.
“What’s wrong, Aldo?” I asked.
“Uh, I think you need to see this one for yourselves.”
“We’re on our way,” Mina said. “Haley, Greg, keep an eye on Ms. Craven.”
“I got some stuff that might calm her down,” Greg said, patting a pocket on his old army jacket.
“Don’t,” I said.
Greg shrugged. “More for me then.”
I followed Kevin and Mina out the front door. By force of habit, I looked up and down the street, hoping by some miracle that we hadn’t been spotted—or heard, for that matter. It was early Sunday morning, so the streets were mostly deserted. Typical abduction timing. The cops would be here eventually—a vehicle crashed through the side of a house has a way of summoning them sooner or later—but given the Prospero Police Department’s closeness with the main Splinter Council, this would all no doubt be hushed up pretty quickly.
“You’re gonna have to spend some quality time with Mina’s first-aid kit, brother,” Kevin observed.
“I’ve looked worse,” I said.
“You’ve looked better, too,” Mina interjected coldly.
“What’d I do?” I complained.
“You nearly ruined the operation. This didn’t go half as smoothly as our other interceptions,” Mina shot back.
I didn’t have a good defense for that. Ever since she’d started receiving those messages from the Owl, giving us the Slivers’ plans for abductions, we’d had a pretty good (though not perfect) track record of intercepting and stopping the Slivers before they could take their intended targets. Over the previous month and a half, we had managed to save the mayor’s son, Sheriff Diaz’s wife, and the head of the PTA from being taken without their ever knowing anything was going on. Things could have gone better this time, I knew that, but they also could have gone a lot worse.
“I didn’t have a choice. They know what we’ve been doing, and they’re being more careful. I did what I had to do,” I said.
“You could’ve been killed.”
“But I wasn’t!”
Kevin squeezed his way between us and put an arm around each of our shoulders.
“Let us not forget, my friends, that we did stop them from replacing Ms. Craven. It may have been sloppy, and she may have been needlessly introduced to our world, but we saved her. We did a good thing; the forces of evil are in check for another day. We should be celebrating!” Kevin said, smiling that easy smile he always used to defuse tense situations.
Mina sighed. “Please try to avoid unnecessary risks in the future.”
“Will do,” I said.
“There, isn’t that better than fighting like a couple o’ freshmen?” Kevin said.
“So says the senior commencement speaker,” I replied, punching him in the ribs softly.
“Hey, I’m as surprised as you guys are that I actually got the gig,” Kevin said, grinning.
“Right… so how long have you had that speech written?” I asked.
“Seventh grade, give or take a month.” Kevin laughed. “Come on, it’ll be my last chance to try to change a few minds here before I move on to the real world.”
“Freshmen don’t fight any appreciably more or less than any other students,” Mina said as if she’d missed half the conversation, looking a bit lost in thought.
“Really? Maybe we should ask Aldo,” Kevin joked.
Tall tales about Aldo’s secret second life, or third life in our case, had become something of a running joke among the Network, given his habit of accumulating even more scrapes and bruises than the rest of us in spite of spending most of his time behind the scenes, digging for information or tinkering with the equipment.
Underground cage fighting and undercover spy operations were common speculations.
This conversation did lead to one topic that had been eating at me lately: the passage of time. Of the eight members of the Network, Kevin and Courtney were both seniors and were going to be moving on from Prospero within the next six months. I didn’t know how we were going to keep the fight going without them. We would find a way to manage, Mina always had in the past, but it would be rough without Courtney’s organizational skills and Kevin’s ability to put things in perspective.
Julie, Courtney, and Aldo had dragged their captive Sliver to the privacy of Courtney’s backyard, a good five blocks from Ms. Craven’s, and by the time we caught up with them, they already had it tied up in copper wire and were threatening to touch the wire to a car battery. As usual, Julie (her jet black hair streaked with hot pink and red for Valentine’s Day coming up) smiled at us perkily beneath her thick goth makeup.
“Ya all right, Ben?” she asked, eying the scratches on my face.
“I’m fine.”
Aldo’s concerned expression was unsettling. Ever since our fight with Robbie, Aldo had assumed a bravura I’d never known he had in him. He was the first to cheer any victory lately. If he wasn’t smiling…
“What is it?” Mina asked, looking down at the Sliver, which looked more human now despite the few extra limbs it still possessed.
Courtney held the end of the copper wire above the car battery with a plastic pair of tongs. “Show them again.”
The Sliver hissed something in its chittering language that must not have been kind. Courtney and Mina
exchanged a glance. Mina nodded. Courtney dropped the wire onto the battery’s contact.
The Sliver screamed too humanly as it shuddered and arched what could best be approximated as its back, and the wire sparked violently. When Courtney took the wire away, it reluctantly took the face of its true, human form with a look of pure spite.
It was the face of Ms. Claudette Velasquez, my calculus teacher. That she was a Splinter was not news; we had known this for a few months.
That she was working with the Slivers was a surprise. The last time we had seen her, she had a seat on the Splinter Council.
“What are you waiting for? Kill me. That’s what you want, isn’t it?” she challenged.
“We’re not that stupid,” I said.
Ms. Velasquez looked at the battery with a mix of anger and fear. “Then what is your plan for me?”
“You’re going to tell us everything you know about the Slivers’ plans,” Mina said simply, taking the tongs from Courtney and holding them a little closer to the battery. “And when we’re convinced you’re not holding out, we’ll hand you over to the Splinter Council.”
Ms. Velasquez’s eyes went wide with genuine fear. “And if you’re never convinced?”
“We turn you over to them anyway, only we don’t tell them how remorseful and cooperative you were.”
Ms. Velasquez’s eyes scanned us, probably trying to gauge whether or not Mina was telling the truth. She must have believed her, because her body visibly slumped.
“Fine. I will cooperate. Just don’t—”
She let out an ear-splitting scream, her eyes bulging—then fell still with mouth agape. We stared, trying to figure out if it was a trick, when the flesh began to melt from her bones in thick gray rivers.
“What the… no, no…” Aldo muttered, trying to scoop bits of dissolving Splinter into one of his specially rigged containment boxes, watching with confusion as the liquid continued to evaporate after the box was sealed.
The entire Splinter corpse down to the bones was deteriorating into nothingness as the raw Splinter matter became incompatible with our world.
“What the hell just happened?” Courtney asked. “She was going to talk!”
“Was she?” Mina asked doubtfully.
“Well she sure as hell wasn’t going to die!” said Aldo, staring at the last vanishing remnants of the body. “Splinters just don’t do that spontaneously.”
“They might if they got one of those in ’em, brother,” Kevin said as he pointed to what was left of Ms. Velasquez’s deteriorating bones.
What looked like a foot-long, white caterpillar made of tumors and small air sacs disentwined itself from around her spine. Slowly, it walked away from the dissolving remains of my math teacher, shaking off bits of gray slime.
Then it started to glow a faint, pulsing white, lifting off the ground and beginning to float away like a plastic bag in the breeze. Mina grabbed it with her tongs.
“That a Splinter?” Kevin asked.
“No, I don’t think so,” Mina said.
“Then what is it?” Aldo asked.
The answer hit me before Mina could say it out loud.
“A game changer,” I said. “If they’ve got themselves some sort of alien suicide pill hiding inside them to keep them compliant, we might have to reconsider our capture strategy.”
Capturing a Sliver for information had been one of our dreams ever since we started receiving information from The Owl.
Just when we thought we had the Slivers figured out, they had to come up with something like this.
I would’ve laughed if it weren’t so damn depressing.

.

~~~~~

About the authors

Fiona J.R. TITCHENELL is an author of young adult, sci-fi, and horror fiction, including Confessions of the Very First Zombie Slayer (That I Know of). She graduated from Cal State University Los Angeles with a B. A. in English in 2009 at the age of twenty. She currently lives in San Gabriel, California, with her husband, coauthor, and amazing partner in all things, Matt Carter, and their pet king snake, Mica.

 Connect with Fiona J.R. Titchenell on:

Her blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads | Pinterest

 

 MATT CARTER is an author of horror, sci-fi, and yes, even a little bit of young adult fiction. He earned his degree in history from Cal State University Los Angeles, and lives in the usually sunny town of San Gabriel, California, with his wife, best friend, and awesome co-writer, F.J.R. Titchenell. Check out his first solo novel, Almost Infamous, or connect with him on:

His blog | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Welcome to Freakin Fridays, where I share my reviews of books that scare you, thrill you, and get those endorphins pumping.

I’ve got a few good ones to share today.

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After The Ending

The Ending #1

by Lindsey Fairleigh and Lindsey Pogue

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Genre: Post Apocalyptic

My Review

I enjoyed the dual points of view from best friend’s Dani and Zoe. They are far apart when the flu virus starts, killing off most of humanity. They struggle to stay in touch, traveling in two different groups, hoping to meet up later.

It was fun to follow Dani and Zoe as they try to survive and reconnect. And the groups they travel with add much to the turmoil and danger. They all need each other to survive but that doesn’t mean they don’t have their own agendas. This is my favorite part of this genre. The group dynamics. Who shines. Who falls short. And who goes homicidal. I like to pick one person I loathe and wait to see what happens to them. Sure adds to the suspense.

And while I expected to be left hanging in the end, with this being an ongoing series, I felt like it just stopped. Like it went to commercial and didn’t come back, right in the middle of the action. A good beginning and I’ll probably continue with the series as it’ll haunt me until I know what happens to who.

 3  Stars

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Synopsis

THE FIRST BOOK IN THE EMOTIONALLY CHARGED POST-APOCALYPTIC ROMANCE SERIES, The Ending.

The Virus spread. Billions died. The Ending began. We may have survived the apocalypse, but the Virus changed us.

When people started getting sick, “they” thought it was just the flu. My roommate, my boyfriend, my family…they’re all gone now. I got sick too. I should have died with them—with the rest of the world—but I didn’t. I thought witnessing the human population almost disappear off the face of the earth was the craziest thing I’d ever experience. I was so wrong. My name is Dani O’Connor, and I survived The Ending.

The Virus changed everything. The world I knew is gone, and life is backwards. We’ve all had to start over. I’ve been stripped of my home, my dreams…all that is me. I’m someone else now—broken and changed. Other survivors’ memories and emotions haunt me. They invade my mind until I can no longer separate them from my own. I won’t let them consume me. I can’t. My name is Zoe Cartwright, and I survived The Ending.

We’ve been inseparable for most of our lives, and now our friendship is all we have left. The aftermath of the Virus has stranded us on opposite sides of the United States. Trusting strangers, making sacrifices, killing—we’ll do anything to reach one another. Fear and pain may be unavoidable, but we’re strong…we’re survivors. But to continue surviving in this unfamiliar world plagued by Crazies and strange new abilities, we have to adapt. We have to evolve.

And more than anything, we have to find each other.

THIS BOOK CONTAINS ADULT CONTENT AND LANGUAGE.

Amazon

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Paranormal Painless

by Shannon Reiger

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Genre: YA Paranormal Thriller

My Review

You know those stories that creep up on you? Where the author takes their time, slipping in subtle clues that you don’t always catch right away, and the atmosphere becomes darker and darker? I do, and I very much enjoy the slow build up as the author introduces the characters, fleshes them out so you connect with them, and then starts adding in some odd occurrences that keep you on edge. Like in a movie where the music builds and you know any second now something horrific is going to happen, you brace yourself for that moment. But it doesn’t come. Then it builds again, gets a little creepier, but doesn’t happen. You start to think it never will, and then you’re caught off guard and jump when the author yells boo. This is one of those stories. It’s edgy, suspenseful and so very creepy.

Christian Moore is a mild mannered English teacher and a self proclaimed loner. He’s got his routine and he’s content.  As such, he’s ill equipped when a strange package is left in his driveway. He opens it to find an enormous black cat with huge paws.  He brings it in out of the rain and the cat is so traumatized it won’t leave his side.  It’s odd behavior rubs off on him and he starts jumping at little noises and things moving in the corner of his vision. Soon he wonders what the cat dragged home as he becomes haunted in his own home.

So much to like in this one. Especially how Christian uses the students in his writing class. The students really like Christian and find it fun when he gives them a new assignment about ghosts and hauntings, hoping they don’t catch on that it’s really happening to him.

The cat, Pacman, is such an important part of the story. He’s one of my favorites. When reading this book, see if you pick up on something special about him.

As Christian is pushed into solving a serial killer cold case, his life changes quickly. The hauntings become the least of his worries when an act of kindness puts him in the local newspaper. Now he’s a target and those around him will suffer for it.

Such a great story. At times I smiled and laughed. Other times I felt so sad. And when things took the dark turn, I cringed, worried about these characters, and for good reason.

A slow burner but never boring, Paranormal Painless will haunt you.

5  Stars

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Synopsis

Bewildered by an unexpected, peculiar package and disturbed by its accompanying antagonistic spirits, English teacher Christian Moore is shaken from his carefully crafted, cocooned existence and catapulted into the shocking reality of an unpredictable, haunted and sometimes evil world. With his own safety and sanity at stake, he must learn to embrace the paranormal when he is confronted by the serial killer of innocent children. To survive, Christian forms unlikely alliances with once feared intruders from the supernatural realm, as well as, a mysterious man with unique insight and abilities.

Just when he thinks he has solved the mystery of his chilling visions, he is propelled into a tomb of water where he is forced to unravel the heartbreaking history buried for years within the confines of those same walls.

While helping the unfortunate, trapped souls, he is compelled to examine his own traumatic past and to risk everything he knows for a life truly worth living.

Amazon

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Ash

Wheels and Zombies #1

by M. Van

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Genre: Horror

My Review

This could be a refreshing twist for zombie fans. Our main heroine is a thirteen-year-old girl in a wheelchair. Ash is in the hospital fighting a losing battle with cancer when the world goes mad. A virus is killing people, but they rise again, rabid for human flesh. As the virus spreads through the hospital, Ash doesn’t have to worry about cancer killing her anymore. The zombies are the big worry now.

Ash is a resilient young girl, brave in the face of death, and refusing to be looked at as a weak victim. She has plenty of ideas on how to get out, to survive. And shes’ adept at reading people, which comes in handy when she discovers why the military want all of the patients on the cancer ward.

There’s lots of action, relentless zombies, and some intrigue for conspiracy fans. Not everyone is brave or good. And I was caught by surprise by a few of the characters. A clever way for the author to offer up more fodder for the zombies

I knew going in this was a novella for a continuing series, but I wasn’t too thrilled when I looked at my kindle and noticed I was 99% through the book and there was no end in sight. It ended on a zinger of a cliffhanger, but, since I enjoyed the characters, I’m encouraged to keep going.

  4 Stars

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Synopsis

Facing the zombie apocalypse in a wheelchair might prove a challenge to others. For thirteen-year-old Ash it’s just another fight for her life.

When feeling deserted and alone with the knowledge that your days are pretty much numbered, you might decide not to be pushed around anymore. But stuck in a wheelchair with the risen dead on your tail—this might prove a challenge.

Ash’s stay at a hospital that for all intents might be her last, turns into a different nightmare when a killer virus overcomes the staff and her fellow patients.

With the walking dead roaming the hospital halls, Ash has to depend on the help of an old man, and a soldier who could turn out to be the enemy to survive. She not only has to use her head, avoiding zombies, but also to stay out of the hands of a shady government agency that wants to dissect her.

Amazon

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Praise Quotes

“I enjoyed my time in Firesmith’s world. I did not want to leave. I really got a kick out of it, and would happily come back for more. Recommended.”

MJ Kobernus, author of The Guardian: Blood in the Sand

“This book rocks.”

Barton Paul Levenson, author of Dark Gods of Alter Telluria

“a quick, enjoyable read. Full of action and fraught with danger”

Dave Robertson, author of Strange Hunting, Strange Hunting II, and The Brave and The Dead

“The book is an easy and quick read and an action-filled one that you’ll imagine as a TV series or a movie with no difficulty.”

Olga Núñez Miret, author of Escaping Psychiatry

Hell Holes

What Lurks Below #1

by Donald Firesmith

Genre: Science Fiction / Apocalyptic

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My Review

I love unexplained acts of nature. Makes for such a chilling plot. When holes start appearing in the Arctic Circle , a team of experts is sent to investigate. Once they arrive, things get worse as more holes appear. And then something straight out of Hell crawls out. A horde of otherworldly creatures that have only one thing in mind. Killing mankind. With nowhere to run, the team seeks shelter in an old station. But the horde won’t be denied, and like an octopus with a sealed bottle full of yummy bait, they will find a way in.

I was almost rubbing my hands together in twisted anticipation before I started this one. Mysterious holes appearing. Something beyond imagining crawls out. The fate of mankind hangs in the balance. Oh yeah. I knew I had to read this book.

There’s a mixed bag of character’s. Ones you come to like and respect and some not so much. The author doesn’t seem to mind killing off either one. Keeps you on edge when things get down and dirty. Which doesn’t take long at all.

The story is strong and there’s a sub plot that makes things even more interesting. Also, the blend of science fiction and horror leaves the story wide open for the author to go in many different directions.

The ending. Well, it’s an end, but also a cliff hanger. That’s because this is really the beginning of something much bigger. I’ll be grabbing the next one immediately. Got a good feeling about this series.

   4  Stars

 

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Synopsis

It’s August in Alaska, and geology professor Jack Oswald prepares for the new school year. But when hundreds of huge holes mysteriously appear overnight in the frozen tundra north of the Arctic Circle, Jack receives an unexpected phone call. An oil company exec hires Jack to investigate, and he pocks his climatologist wife and two of their graduate students as his team.

Uncharacteristically, Jack lets Aileen O’Shannon, a bewitchingly beautiful young photojournalist, talk him into coming along as their photographer. When they arrive in the remote oil town of Deadhorse, the exec and a biologist to protect them from wild animals join the team. Their task: to assess the risk of more holes opening under the Trans-Alaska Pipeline and the wells and pipelines that feed it. But they discover a far worse danger lurks below. When it emerges, it threatens to shatter Jack’s unshakable faith in science. And destroy us all….

 

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Enjoy the Excerpt

After seconds that seemed to stretch into eternity, the cigarette butt tumbled past Mark and eventually reached the depth where the concentration of methane and hydrogen sulfide reached explosive levels.

There was a deafening whoosh, and a huge fireball the size of the hole erupted from the pit. Luckily, the blast from the explosion blew us backwards, away from the hole. That was the only thing that saved us from the intense heat radiating from the colossal swirling ball of fire and smoke that had roared from the crater. It felt like I was standing next to a hundred heat lamps, and I heard the sizzling sound of my hair and beard beginning to burn on the side of my head that faced the flames. Turning my back to the hole, I immediately used my hands to extinguish my burning hair before it could seriously burn me. Disgusted by the stench of a mixture of burnt hair and rotten eggs, I picked myself up and looked back towards the hole. Above us, a huge pillar of smoke rose like the ash cloud of an erupting volcano. Looking back down, we saw the burning nylon rope continue to rise until its end slipped over the edge of the hole. Only a little of Mark’s smoldering body harness was still attached to its end.

“No!” We heard Jill’s horror-filled scream coming loudly over our walkie-talkies, followed less than a second later when her anguished cry reached us from across the pit. I could just make out Jill’s wavering form through the turbulent superheated air rising up between us as she raced back around the hole.

I looked over to where Kowalski was standing, staring in disbelief at the fiery pit his thoughtlessness had created. I was beyond furious. The next thing I knew, I had him by the jacket and was screaming in his face, “You Goddamned careless son of a bitch! Weren’t you listening? Didn’t you hear me say there was hydrogen sulfide in the pit?”

“Buh, buh, but…” he stammered as he tried to back away from me.

Without realizing it, I was slowly backing him up to the hole. I might have backed him over the edge had Bill not forced himself between us. “That’s enough!” he commanded.

Suddenly, I realized what I was doing and let go. It was clear from his expression that he’d had no idea that the gasses in the bottom of the hole were flammable, let alone sufficiently concentrated to be explosive.

My fiery rage died as I turned my anger inward. Kowalski hadn’t killed Mark. I had. I was in charge and responsible for the lives of my team. I should have spotted the danger sooner. Mark was my student, so I should have sent him up first. Worst of all, I had seen Kowalski smoking next to the hole and done nothing. I turned my back on the hole and wearily walked away across the empty tundra.

~~~~~

Author Donald Firesmith

Hellholes author

A computer geek by day, at night and on weekends Donald Firesmith writes modern paranormal fantasy, apocalyptic science fiction, action and adventure novels and relaxes by handcrafting magic wands from magical woods and mystical gemstones.

A computer geek by day, Donald Firesmith works as a system and software engineer helping the US Government acquire large, complex software-intensive systems. In this guise, he has authored seven technical books, written numerous software- and system-related articles and papers, and spoken at more conferences than he can possibly remember. He is also proud to have been named a Distinguished Engineer by the Association of Computing Machinery, although his pride is tempered somewhat worrying whether the term “distinguished” makes him sound more like a graybeard academic rather than an active engineer whose beard is still more red than gray.

By night and on weekends, his alter ego writes modern paranormal fantasy, apocalyptic science fiction, action and adventure novels and relaxes by handcrafting magic wands from various magical woods and mystical gemstones. His first foray into fiction is the book Magical Wands: A Cornucopia of Wand Lore written under the pen name Wolfrick Ignatius Feuerschmied. He lives in Crafton, Pennsylvania with his wife Becky, his son Dane, and varying numbers of dogs, cats, and birds.

Links: Website / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads

Buy Links: The book is free

Click on the links below to get your copy!

Amazon / iTunes / B&N / Createspace / instafreebie / Smashwords

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Pneuma
Pneuma Series Book 1
by Serena Kearney
Genre: SciFi, Supernatural Romance
 
Estelle Caldwell caused a war with her birth.
Estelle Caldwell has friends, family…everything a girl could ask for. But
as she looks back on her life andher birthday approaches, weird
things start to happen.


Questions are left unanswered. Her feelings are starting to become clear for
the one she’s been in love with her whole life.
People she knows start to become strangers to her.
She has to leave to protect them… to
protect… 
him

 

pneu·ma
ˈn(y)o͞omə/
noun
the
vital spirit, soul, or creative force of a person.

 

Do you know what it feels like to hold fate in your hand?
Was it fate that my whole life got turned upside down?
He was the reason I had to leave.
Making the sacrifice caused my heart to rip in two.
I wanted normalcy. I wanted my life to be my own.
But it’s nothing without the people I love, and it’s for
the people I love that I have to leave.
Fate.
Please be kind.
Will he still remember me?
Will our first and last kiss be one and the
same?
Please remember.
Please be with me.
Family is tested.
Memories are everywhere.
Love is one of the biggest
reliefs and hurts you can have at the same time.
**FREE on Amazon!**
 
 
Surge
Pneuma Series Book 2 
 
***The continuation from Book One- Pneuma***

Follow Estelle and Reed’s journey in Book Two- Surge.

 

surge
/surj/
noun
1. a strong, wavelike, forward movement, rush, or sweep.
2. a strong, swelling, wavelike volume or body of
something.

 

Confusion.
Jealousy.
Possession.

 

When I find out our link isn’t complete, we have a whole other journey
to discover.
Through pain, sweat, and a full out war between the planets, it is laid, not
only on my shoulders, but Reeds as well.
And when I find out who Vega has captured and what he has in store for
us, I am going to need everyone’s help in the process.
Can I do what I am fated to do?
Will our love survive?
Or will it be a tornado destroying everything in it’s path?
 
 
Camatic
Pneuma Series Book 3
 
camatic
/ka-ma-tik/
noun
A pair of beings who have formed an unbreakable, metaphysical link.
They often experience heightened levels of ESP, including telepathy,
telekinesis, and remote viewing.
EARTH
The first place I called home.
The place I lived.
The place I fell in love.
The place my family 
raised me.
The place I formed 
everlasting bonds.
Can I ignore the ache in my chest when all I see through their eyes
is 
hate and built up hostility?
When I think I am done with one war, I have another to deal with.
Can I do this?
Will I be brave enough?
Reed gives me strength.
Earth is my home.
I will save it.
 
 
I am a Leo. Born August 10, living on the east coast. I self-published
my first novel, PNEUMA, November 2014, and it’s hasn’t stopped
since.
One of my biggest problems was having too much to read. Now my newfound
problem; having too much to write and not enough hands to type it
out. Not enough brains to put the stories together fast enough. Not
enough tea or coffee to keep me awake 24/7.
So, like every normal person, I have to take it one day at a time.
My cravings for sweets keep me going, any sort of cakes (especially red
velvet), pies, cookies, and ice cream.
I have a cat named Bongo-Bongo, who loves to get in my way when I’m
trying to work, but is too cute for me to fight him off.
And then I have my family, specifically my husband, who puts up with my
endless nights, my tapping of the keyboard, my ridiculous
imagination, and yet, he always encourages me to believe in myself
and follow my dreams.
 
 
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Shag Lake
Susan McEachern
Publication date: July 11th 2017
Genres: Action, Adventure, New Adult, Romance, Science Fiction

Geri McKenna hasn’t seen her brother’s best friend, Sean Eastman, since he graduated high school. Sean left their little town of Pembroke just hours after she nailed him with a kiss behind the shed, never to be seen or heard from again. No calls, no texts, no social media to stalk online.

Eight years after the awkward incident behind the shed, Geri and Sean meet again. She’s now an ambitious journalist working in a dead end job, and he’s a successful structural engineer working on a classified government project. For different reasons, they’re both interested in a woman who has gone missing midst allegations of a Sasquatch encounter in the vincinity of Shag Lake. Geri is determined to get the scoop on the hottest story to hit the Internet, while Sean is determined to stop her.

Dodging other-worldly creatures and a corrupt shadow government, Geri and Sean struggle to find neutral ground in this debut new adult adventure by author Susan McEachern (who also writes young adult as award-winning author S.M. McEachern).

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

Check out the FREE short story, Shag Lake Prequel: The Kiss here!!

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Enjoy this Excerpt from Chapter One

Geri McKenna

My sister Emma’s eyes widen to full capacity, and she steals a sideways glance at me. “Are you kidding? You didn’t hear me when I said who was in town?”

“Um…” I search my brain for a name I might’ve vaguely heard.

She rolls her eyes and huffs. “Your lover boy from the summer of ’08.”

I hesitate for a few seconds, afraid to confirm it’s who I think it is: my brother’s best friend from high school, who I had a huge crush on. “You mean, Sean Eastman?” An uncomfortable knot begins to tie itself in my stomach.

“Who else would I be talking about? Or did you have a couple of guys on the go in tenth grade?”

It’s my turn to roll my eyes. “Oh. My. God. Will you let it go already? It was a stupid kiss behind the shed eight freakin’ years ago. I was what—fifteen?”

“Let it go?” she asks incredulously. “You searched the Internet for weeks to see if there was an earthquake at the exact moment you kissed him. There’s no way I’m letting that go, sista. Ever.”

I slap a hand over my eyes as if that will blot out the most cringe worthy moment of my life. But it’s still there, right behind my lids, playing out in living color. Sean and I were behind the shed by the woodpile, and I was stacking firewood onto his outstretched arms when I got a huge splinter in my finger. I screamed, grabbed my injured hand with my good one, and stared at it with the kind of horror usually reserved for a severed limb. Sean dropped the wood he was holding, snatched my hand, and yanked the splinter out. Seriously. No tweezers required because it was practically the size of a piece of kindling wedged under the first two layers of my skin. I could’ve pulled it out myself, but I wanted my hero to save me because I was fifteen and a total drama queen. And if that wasn’t embarrassing enough, I had to go and sway against him in what I can only describe as a bad impression of a swooning southern belle, and kiss him.

That was the last night I saw him—thank the Lord—because that particular end-of-school party was the last soiree for the high school grads. The next day they all went their separate ways, and we never heard from Sean again. Ever. He just disappeared. Mark tried to track him down over the years, more recently renewing his search to send him a wedding invitation. And I’ll privately admit to conducting my own online search for his profile too. But nada. It’s the like the guy dropped off the face of the earth.

Until now.

The thought of seeing him again is creating a knot in my stomach that cinches so tight, my abs are clenching.

Breathe, Geri. He’s probably forgotten all about it, I reassure myself.

Yeah, but my sister is going to make sure to remind him.

My eyes shoot left, assessing that little smirk on her face. This is our brother’s wedding weekend, and with all the parties and family gatherings planned, she’s probably already composing the perfect delivery for this story to maximize the humor value. Okay. Game on. She needs to know that I am not without a counterattack.

“Two words,” I say. “Tommy. Weenerrammer.”

She screws her face up in disgust at the same time she guides the car off the highway and onto the exit ramp. “First, it’s pronounced ‘whiner-rammer’ not ‘weener-rammer.’ Second, Tommy’s last name is Weisman. Third”—she pauses for dramatic effect—“everybody makes mistakes, Geri.”

“Exactly what I’m saying. You keep quiet about my faux pas, and I’ll keep quiet about yours.”

She slows to a stop at the intersection. “Oh c’mon. The one date I had with Tommy”—she holds up one finger to emphasize the singularity of that event—“was the desperate act of a heartbroken girl trying to make her ex-boyfriend jealous.” She flashes her wedding ring at me before she turns left. “And it worked. On the other hand, you kissing Sean Eastman behind the shed had no other motive than you wanted him for your lover.” She puckers up, aims a kissy face at me, and eases the car left at the intersection.

I hold up one finger, mimicking her, and say, “The one time I kissed Sean Eastman—”

“He rocked your world,” Emma says, cutting off my next words. She gives a couple of ha ha has then shakes her head while muttering, “An earthquake…”

“What? They happen in Ontario. And that would’ve been about the right time of year for one.”

One of her eyebrows shoots up, while the other crinkles into a furrow. “You mean like earthquake season, Eeyore?”

I stifle a laugh. “Oh, stop. You know what I mean.” Emma shakes her head, eyebrows still askew. “Like this time of year—mid-April,” I explain. “When the warmer temperatures penetrate deep enough to melt the frost layer and the basement rock begins to expand, it creates earthquake conditions.”

“Oh yeah. Sure,” she deadpans. “I’m totally onboard with that theory.”

“Good,” I say. “Because if you start sharing your version of what happened between me and Sean Eastman, I’ll be forced to share the whole seedy story about your date with Tommy Weenerrammer.”

“Go ahead,” she says. “I’m already happily married with a kid and”—she pauses and looks away from the road for a second to make eye contact with me—“another one on the way.”

My mouth drops open. “What?” And even though she has her hands full driving, I plant a kiss on her cheek. “How far along? Do Mom and Dad know?”

She smiles coyly. “I was going to wait until we got through earthquake season unscathed, but I was too excited and blabbed the news. I’m already past the first trimester.”

I make a squee noise because I’m really excited for her—and for me too, since I never intend to get married and have a gaggle of kids. I’m more than happy to placate my raging baby hormones via my nephew and… niece?

“Keep it to yourself, though,” she says. “I haven’t told many people because this is Mark and Shauna’s big wedding week. I’ll share the news after they leave for their honeymoon.”

“You haven’t changed. Always looking out for your little brother.”

She pats my knee. “And my little sister too. Which is why I’m giving you a heads up about your old flame being in town. You might want to clean up around the back of the shed in case your basement rock gets penetrated.”

~~~~~

 

Author Susan McEachern

Award winning author S.M. McEachern (also known as Susan) attended Dalhousie University in the 1990s where she earned an Honours Degree in Sustainable Development Studies, specializing in ocean resources. With a background in international development and resource management, as well as being the wife of a military officer, Susan has had first hand experience in international affairs and policies. She attributes Elizabeth Mann Borgese–daughter of Nobel prize winner, Thomas Mann–as one of the greatest influences on her view of world politics. Susan had the privilege to work and study under Mann Borgese, an author, teacher and political activist for world peace. The first book of a series, “Sunset Rising”, combines Susan’s knowledge of politics and resource management with her love for Young Adult literature and action and adventure. The second book of the series, “Worlds Collide”, was published March 2014. The third book, titled “New World Order” was released January 2015.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter

 

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Welcome to my Saturday Screams.

I couldn’t resist this book. The title. The cover. The blurb. The hippos! Oh My!

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River Of Teeth

by Sarah Gailey

 

c8df8-add2bto2bgoodreads2bblack

Genre: Alternative History / Fantasy / Science Fiction

My Review

Being a southern gal, I’m always looking for stories set in my neck of the woods.  The author did a superb job describing the bayous and the muddy Mississippi. I heard the rising shrill of the cicadas, the buzz of the annoying mosquitoes, and the grunt of alligators. Caught a glimpse of huge alligator gars as they rolled on the surface, while being lulled by the back and forth swaying on top my hippo. Yes, I said hippo.

The US Government came up with the idea of importing hippos into Louisiana for a much needed food supply. Sounded like a good idea, but didn’t happen. Except, in this book it did. And now the hippos are feral and eating everything, including humans, making the river a dangerous place. A ragtag group of hippo wranglers enter the swamp to round them up. All is not as it seems.

I read somewhere that in Africa more people die from hippo attacks than any other animal. They hide under the water, move at tremendous speeds, and their teeth are gigantic. In this book you have hippos that the wranglers bond with from birth, making them safe to ride, most of the time. Then there’s the feral ones. No one wants to encounter them. When some of these characters come across a feral, it’s bloody mayhem.

The characters you meet are varied and odd. One of my favorites is Winslow Houndstooth. He’s usually somber and withdrawn, until you shake his hornets nest. Then he’d as easily kill ya as step on an ant. He’s a charmer and I loved how he could make men preen and blush from his attentions.

The writing is haunting, powerful, and visual. Such a superb job for this author’s debut.  The good guys aren’t all good and some bad guys aren’t all bad. Action, intrigue, and betrayal keep you glued to the story. And the hippos, I just couldn’t get enough of them.

Do I recommend this book? Most definitely. Will I be reading the second book? Hell yes!

   5  Stars

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 Synopsis

Sarah Gailey’s wildfire debut River of Teeth is a rollicking alternate history adventure that Charlie Jane Anders calls “preposterously fun.”

In the early 20th Century, the United States government concocted a plan to import hippopotamuses into the marshlands of Louisiana to be bred and slaughtered as an alternative meat source. This is true.

Other true things about hippos: they are savage, they are fast, and their jaws can snap a man in two.

This was a terrible plan.

Contained within this volume is an 1890s America that might have been: a bayou overrun by feral hippos and mercenary hippo wranglers from around the globe. It is the story of Winslow Houndstooth and his crew. It is the story of their fortunes. It is the story of his revenge.

Amazon

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