Posts Tagged ‘creatures’

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Welcome to my Saturday Screams.

Today’s reviews are for all of you lovers of creepy critters and aliens. Both of these are books I turn to and reread whenever I can’t decide on something to read. Figured it was time to share them with you.

 Darkfall

by Dean Koontz

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Genre: Horror

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My Review

Ssshhh! Did you hear that? The stealthy movement under the bed? What about in the walls, or in the basement? Or in the sewer?

This was creepy on so many levels. People are found mutilated, riddled with wounds. What puzzles investigators is how the killer or killers got in. There’s no signs of break in or other entries.

Right from the get go I had the shivers. Creepy critters are slithering around in the dark. Hissing, snarling, and whispering in blood chilling voices.

All to soon its running, screaming, and more running as these creatures find their targets, killing them off one by one. And then, time runs out.

This was a super fast, really creepy tale. Not being able to see what’s stalking you, knowing it’s not human, and then actually seeing the nightmares that want to kill you. I can’t imagine anything more terrifying.

I loved it from the beginning, to each horrifying attack, to the relentless chase and finale.

 5 Stars

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Synopsis

They found four corpses in four days. Each more hideously disfigured than the last, the bodies punctured with dozens of tiny wounds. At first they thought it was a savage psychopath. Then they thought it was a vicious gangland war. Then they thought packs of demonic rats were escaping through the ventilation system.

Then they saw the nightmare itself, in all its mottled, slimy horror, coming after them from every direction, and they realized that the Gates of Hell had been left open…

Amazon

Here’s the cover for edition I own from 1984.

Not too “pretty in pink” is it? LOL

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Contest

by Matthew Reilly

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Genre: Thriller / Science Fiction

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My Review

What a terrific story.

I loved the setting for this book. The New York Public Library. I’ve always wanted to go there and get list in the thousands and thousands of book stacks.

In the middle of a phone call, Dr. Stephen Swain and his young daughter, Holly, are teleported into the library. A strange little man, all in white, informs Stephen he is a part of the Presidia, a contest that has been going on for millenia. There are 7 contestants from different planets. The only way out is to be the last one alive. You win or you die.

I’ve read all of this authors books. Contest is his first book and still my favorite. I loved the setting, the plot, the characters, and the incredible and terrifying alien contestants.

It’s non stop action that will keep you glued to the story until you read the end.

If I knew who to ask, I’d beg for this to be made into a movie.

    5 Stars

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Synopsis

The New York Public Library. A silent sanctuary of knowledge; a 100-year-old labyrinth of towering bookcases, narrow aisles and long marble hallways. For Doctor Stephen Swain and his daughter, Holly, it is the site of a nightmare. Because for one night this historic building is to be the venue for a contest. A contest in which Swain is to compete – whether he likes it or not.

The rules are simple: Seven contestants will enter, only one will leave.

With his daughter in his arms, Stephen Swain is plunged into a terrifying fight for survival. The stakes are high, the odds brutal. He can choose to run, to hide or to fight – but if he wants to live, he has to win. For in this contest, unless you leave as the victor, you do not leave at all.

Readers all over the world have been cheering about Matthew Reilly’s lightning fast adventure thrillers. Contest, the action-packed extravaganza that launched this international bestselling career, is vintage Reilly at his explosive best.

Amazon

I also have the paperback. Here’s its cover.

Which do you like more?

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Bigfoot Blues banner 2

Have I got the book to share with you today.

Bigfoot Blues, An Elvis Sightings Mystery, is too fun for words. Well, obviously it has words. It’s a book. But it is so different from other cozies I’ve read.

I can’t wait to tell you about it, so here ya go!

Title: Bigfoot Blues
Author: Ricardo Sanchez
Publisher: Carina Press
Pages: 251
Genre: Cozy Mystery
Format: Kindle

BigFoot Blues 2

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My Review

If you’re like me, that catchy title, Bigfoot Blues, and the awesome cover art caught your attention.

In the beginning….

Floyd, the P.I., kisses his girlfriend goodbye, her beard tickling his face. What?!

Now he’s off to make a quick buck. It should be an easy case. Mr. Funk wants him to find his missing daughter. She went to River City, Oregon and wasn’t seen again. Her parents finally received a letter from her stating that she was eloping with Bigfoot and not to worry about her. Yep, you read it right. Eloping with Bigfoot.

Floyd arrives in River City and visits the local police to let them know he’s there for a case. A common courtesy. The flack begins immediately. They think he’s there for the Elvis Impersonator’s contest. Just because he wears sparkly outfits like Elvis, that doesn’t make him an impersonator. He’s an Elvis Lifestyle Artist. Totally different. Riiiight.

I could just see the reactions Floyd got everywhere he went. No wonder he got so much flack. More power to him for sticking to his guns and letting his freak flag fly.

While in town, he crosses paths with the sheriff, in the hospital after a large animal took a chunk out of his butt. Could have been a cougar. Or maybe a chupacabra. Either way, he hires Floyd to catch the thing before it bites someone else.

Now he has two cases.

And he gets another job offer while on the trail of Bigfoot. It seems that Harlan’s swamp dog has been stolen. He specializes in cryptotaxidermy, stuffed creatures made up of different animal parts. You know. The jackalope? Harlan offers Floyd a sweet deal he can’t refuse.

Looks like his case load has gotten bigger.

River City, Oregon is the Mythical Creature Capital of the World. Lots of eccentric and down right loony people visit the city.

Floyd has to weed out the crazies with Goliath in tow. Goliath is a dwarf with a mean streak and the muscle to back it up. Floyd’s nightmare. And my hero. He’s so full of snark, I just had to love him.

So now you have an idea of what is in these pages.

I loved the characters. Not your ordinary John Q. Public. All of them have quirks, are just outside the norm. What a great cast!

And the cases. Come on. An eighteen year old girl elopes with Bigfoot. The Sheriff is gnawed on by a chupacabra. And a swamp dog thingie has gone missing. How do these all combine?

In the funniest ways imaginable. I had to keep making myself slow down to enjoy each page. I was so anxious to see how it all came together.

One of the zaniest cozy mysteries I’ve read yet. Loved it. Hope there’s more to come.

5 Stars

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Synopsis

She eloped with Bigfoot. Or maybe Bigfoot kidnapped her. Either way, I’ve been hired to uncover the truth behind Cindy Funk’s disappearance. Me? I’m Floyd, and I’m a PI living my life as Elvis would have wanted. Not just in sequined jumpsuits. With character.

Cindy’s trail leads me to River City, Oregon—aka the Mythical Creature Capital of the World—where I catch Case #2. This one from an eccentric billionaire who’s lost a priceless piece of “art.” Enter one dead body and I end up deputized to solve Case #3, tracking down a man-eating mountain lion. Or maybe it’s a chupacabra. Or just an ordinary murderer. Hard to say.

I’ve handled my fair share of crazy, but River City’s secrets have me spooked. With an influx of tourists arriving for the town’s annual Elvis tribute contest—what are the chances?—I’ve got to save the girl, solve the rich guy’s problem and leash that chupacabra before a second body is discovered. It might just be mine.

Read more about Floyd’s adventures in Elvis Sightings, available now!

For More Information

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Excerpt

It was ten past two on a Wednesday and I was sitting behind my desk in the office I share with Franklin, a chiropractor. His wife had sent me looking for him almost four years ago, but she was such a harridan that once I’d found him, I couldn’t bring myself to turn over his location. He’d let me use his place as an office, rent-free, ever since.

I checked my watch again.

Wanda was flying back to Kresge today. I resented being dragged away from her, even for just an hour, but the man on the phone had insisted. It had been more than a month since my last case, so while Wanda packed, I came into the office to meet Peter Funk. And he was late.

The clock hit 2:15. I was about to leave when a very lost-looking man in his fifties opened the door.

“You must be Floyd,” he said, taking off his well-worn Caterpillar cap. His bald head had the baked look of someone who spent a lot of time under the hot Idaho sun. “Your Elvis outfit kinda gives it away,” he added.

“You’re Mr. Funk?”

He smiled weakly and bobbed his head up and down in the affirmative.

I pointed him to a seat and sat back down at my desk.

“So what can I do for you?” I asked.

Funk looked down at the cap in his hands and worried at a loose thread with his callused fingers.

“I need you to find my daughter,” he said and looked up at me. “You’ve got to help me. I don’t know who else to turn to.”

“I’d be happy to help, Mr. Funk, but with missing children you’re much better off going to the police.”

Funk stood up and slapped his hat against his thigh. A small cloud of dirt erupted from the dull blue denim of his pants.

“Oh, the cops won’t help me. Cindy’s eighteen. They said they can’t go looking for her if she’s just run off,” he said. “Besides…”

“Besides what, Mr. Funk?”

He took his seat again before finally blurting out, “She ran off to elope with Bigfoot.”

I would have laughed if Funk hadn’t looked so worried.

“Bigfoot?” I said. “That’s a nickname?”

“No, sir.”

Funk pulled a postcard out of his jeans pocket and handed it to me.

On one side was a teenage boy holding up a plaster casting of a giant footprint nearly three feet long. Across the bottom it read “River City—The Home of Bigfoot.” I turned it over. The postmark was three weeks ago in River City, Oregon. The note on the card read:

 

Dear Daddy,

I’ve fallen in love with Bigfoot and we’ve decided to elope. I won’t be coming back to Pocatello. I’ll write again soon.

Cindy

 

She’d put a little heart in place of the dot above the is in both Bigfoot and Cindy.

River City… The name was familiar, but I couldn’t quite place it.

“My girl, she’s a willful one she is, but Cindy’s never lied to me. Not once,” Funk said. “If Cindy says she’s eloped with Bigfoot, that’s exactly what she’s done.”

Why did I get all the weirdos? Was it the suit? Or the Lifestyle Elvis thing? Or maybe this was some sort of elaborate practical joke. I let out a low sigh.

A case is a case, I told myself. And this one was just too absurd to be someone shining me on.

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About the Author

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Ricardo Sanchez is a writer, toy buff, and lifelong comic book fan.

Elvis Sightings, the first novel in his Elvis Sightings Mysteries series, was released in September , 2014. Bigfoot Blues, the follow up, was released in May, 2015.

Ricardo has written several books for DC Comics, including Batman: Legends of the Dark Knight, Teen Titans Go! and Resident Evil among many others. His original project, A Hero’s Death, was a successful Kickstarter released in May, 2015.

In addition to writing, Ricardo is an Emmy award winning video and animation producer. When he’s not writing, Ricardo maintains a vintage toy blog, drives 70’s muscle cars, and shops year round for Halloween decorations for his home in California.

For More Information

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Did you see that? Wasn’t that????

Until the next time…..

Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

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I remember the day I spotted Steve Alten’s book Meg at my favorite book store. A prehistoric megalodon shark leaps off the cover. I was in love before I even read a word. From there I read his Dominion series and then The Loch.

I couldn’t wait to read the sequel, Vostok. To reconnect with some old characters and meet new ones.

I can’t wait to share with you!

Enjoy my review.

Have fun with Steve’s short interview.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

New York Times best-selling author and screenwriter Steve Alten’s latest novel VOSTOK, the sequel to his popular novel THE LOCH, finds two major Steve Alten characters meeting up—Dr. Jonas Taylor from MEG and Dr. Zachary Wallace from THE LOCH.
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Vostok by Steve Alten

Book Details:

Book Title: Vostok by Steve Alten
Category: Adult Fiction, 416 pages
Genre: Science fiction thriller
Publisher: Rebel Press
Published: February 17, 2015
Available in: Print or PDF
Will send print books to: USA and Canada
Will send ebooks: International
Tour dates:  March 16 to April 10, 2015
Content Rating: PG

Enjoy this quick interview with Steve Alten!

How did you do research for your book?

You begin with a concept and hit the Internet.

 

Your book is set in East Antarctica. Have you ever been there?

Hell, no.

 

What genre do you write and why?

Fictional thrillers… and a comedy.

 

Do you write every day?

Yes.

 

If you were stuck on a deserted island, which 3 books would you want with you?

Playboy, a book on survival, and the Encyclopedia Brittanica to use as toilet paper.

LOL Thanks for sharing, Steve!

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My Review

I loved Steve’s Meg series. Who wouldn’t love a prehistoric shark loose in today’s oceans. I’ve read the complete series and then moved on to The Loch. Another winner with a prehistoric creature lurking in Loch Ness.

Steve has brought two amazing characters together from these books. Marine biologist Zachary Wallace and Dr. Jonas Taylor. Both of these men have drowned and come back from meetings with giant terrors of the deep seas. Neither ever thought they would enter primal waters again, but here they go.

From the village of Drumnadrochit, Scotland,  to America, and back to Scotland to battle and defeat the beast of Loch Ness,  Zachary is now about to jump down the rabbit hole into the coldest place on earth. Antarctica. But not on the surface. H he’s going two and a half miles below the ice cap to an undersea lake called Vostok.

No man has ever gone there before and Vostok has been undisturbed for over 15 million years. Here be monsters. Behemoths of unimaginable size and voracious appetite.

Imagine it if you can. Lasers burn the way, forming a narrow tube for the sub to pass through the ice cap. You break through and fall, plunging into a vast undersea lake over a thousand feet deep. A beast rises, mouth gaping wide, teeth taller than you, so huge you can’t grasp it.

When things go wrong, which they do, who do you call for help? How long will it take for them to get there, if they even can?

And what if there is another reason for sending you down there? Something ancient, powerful, non terrestrial that you have to retrieve. Big brother has their sticky fingers in this expedition. They want what’s down there. No one knows what they are up to. You get it or die trying. Sounds like a conspiracy doesn’t it?

The cast of characters is diverse and many. Some were old favorites and some were new to me. I crossed my fingers the good guys would survive, but you never know with Steve. He’s not above killing some off. And the bad guys. Some were just annoying, and some I’d drop through the tunnel myself.

By the time I reached the third part of the book, I was feeling the terror, the frustration, the courage of these characters. And then the author took the story in yet another direction. I stumbled  a bit. Partly because it was hard for me to grasp how it worked at first. And partly because I didn’t want it to go in that direction. I was dragged kicking and screaming away from my beasts. I went with it though, and soon was engrossed and into it.

Vostok is the crossover book that brings The Loch and The Meg series together for the upcoming release of Meg 5: Nightstalkers. The title alone has me imaging all types of monsters.

 I follow Steve’s newsletter and have been waiting years for his Meg book to be made into a movie. It will be coming soon and I’m sure it will be a huge hit. From there, maybe we’ll be meeting these beasties on the big screen.

Thanks so much to Steve Alten and Rebel Press for gifting me a Limited Edition Hardcover copy for my honest review.

What a strange, terrifying, spectacular ride it’s been from the first Meg book to Vostok and beyond!

5 Stars

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Book Description:

East Antarctica: The coldest, most desolate location on Earth. Two-and-a-half miles below the ice cap is Vostok, a six thousand square mile liquid lake, over a thousand feet deep, left untouched for more than 15 million years. Now, marine biologist Zachary Wallace and two other scientists aboard a submersible tethered to a laser will journey 13,000 feet beneath the ice into this unexplored realm to discover Mesozoic life forms long believed extinct – and an object of immense power responsible for the evolution of modern man.

In this sequel to The Loch and prequel to the upcoming MEG 5: Nightstalkers, New York Times best-selling author Steve Alten offers readers a crossover novel that combines characters from two of his most popular series.

Watch this intense trailer!

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Author Steve Alten

Steve Alten

Steve Alten is the New York Times and International bestselling author of fourteen novels, including the MEG series about Carcharodon Megalodon, the 70-foot, 100,000 pound prehistoric cousin of the Great White shark and Domain trilogy, a series about the Mayan Calendar’s 2012 doomsday prophecy. His work has been published in over 30 countries and is being used in thousands of middle and high school curriculum as part of Adopt-An-Author, a free teen reading program, which he founded with teachers back in 1999.

Connect with Steve:  Website  ~  Facebook  ~  Twitter

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew and Good Luck!

To see all of my giveaways click on the lucky horseshoe below!

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Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page.
•Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

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My tease for today is from Extinct by Ike Hamill

Extinct

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A black shape up the street caught his eye. The falling snow made it hard to see past the end of the driveway, but that black mass hadn’t been there before, he was sure of that. Robby kept shoveling, but kept his eyes trained on the shape.When he flicked the shovel to throw the snow, his hood pulled to the right, blocking his vision. When his hood came back to center, the shape moved closer.

Robby backed towards the garage door. He had closed the big door so more snow wouldn’t drift into the garage. The path to the back porch sat under a foot of powder. The black shape shifted, right before his eyes. It moved to the end of the driveway. It stood tall in front and trailed off towards the back, like a…..

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Okay, cutting you off here!

This was a “gotcha” from the author!

Can’t wait to tell you more! So damn creepy!

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How about you? Got a tease? Tell me!

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Have I got a treat for you!

The Harvesting  by Melanie Karsak is on tour and today I’ll be doing my review and giving you a peek inside the book!

There’s also an awesome giveaway, so don’t forget to enter!

Read on to see what I thought of this exciting apocalyptic, urban fantasy!

But beware, there be zombies, and something else!

Harvesting Printed Front vistaprint

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The Harvesting 

The Harvesting Series, Book 1
Melanie Karsak

Genre: Horror/Urban Fantasy

Publisher: Steampunk Press

ISBN-10: 1479327247

ISBN-13: 978-1479327249

ASIN: B009GI3YBY

Number of pages: 394

Word Count: 71000

Cover Artist: Michael Hall Photography

TV interview with book info:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xGHrhTv5YAA

Amazon    Smashwords

Book Description:

When mankind finally consumes itself, can any spark of humanity survive? Layla fights to keep those she loves alive when the zombie apocalypse unfolds, but she soon learns that zombies are not the only problem. With mankind silenced, those beings living on the fringe seek to reclaim power. Layla must learn who to trust, fast, if she hopes to save what is left of our kind.

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My Review

I enjoyed the beginning. I got to know a little about what made Layla tick and the descriptions about her sword play and discipline were important later on.

The story takes place at the beginning of the apocalypse, which I really liked.

You get to be a part of the confusion, panic, and disbelief. I know it would take a lot to convince me the zombie apocalypse had begun. Maybe one appearing on my front lawn would do it!

Layla gets an urgent phone call from her grandmother telling her she must come home.

When she arrives, the farmhouse has been turned into a gated compound, her grandmother is acting odd, and every available space is packed with supplies.

Her grandmothers cryptic explanations about why she’s doing this leave her confused, but Layla indulges her and helps to get the things on her list.

Before her grandmother can go into detail, people start getting sick.  You know the story, don’t panic, this will pass.

Well, it doesn’t and people start dropping like flies. But, then they rise and begin feeding on anyone unlucky enough to be in their path.

All hell breaks loose and even though Layla may be safe in the compound her grandmother built for them, she’ll have to venture out of the gate.

What Layla doesn’t know is, there are other things out there, things that are taking advantage of this world in chaos. They no longer feel they have to hide, and now there is not just zombies stalking the remaining survivors.

The Harvesting is fantastic!

I loved Layla and the author really helped me to connect with her. I liked her toughness, and no-nonsense attitude. You don’t have time to be flighty when the world is ending.

The zombies are zombies. Causing all kinds of mayhem and showing up at the most inopportune times, keeping the action and scares going throughout the book.

Then there are the others. The other things coming out of the woodwork.

I must say, the author really got me. I didn’t expect this story to take the turn it did, but this isn’t your typical zombie story. There’s a psychic element to it and the supernatural bleeds into the story as you read further.

You move from one thing to the next easily, and the author makes it believable, as long as you remember this is fiction.

About the ending. It leaves you hanging, yes. But in a good way, with just enough of a lead to make you have to read the next book.

I can’t wait!

28 Days Later meets 30 Days of Night, with a pinch of True Blood!

I recommend this book to all of you brave fans of horror and the apocalypse and the creatures that come with it.

5 Stars

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Enjoy this peek inside The Harvesting!

Chapter One

“If you ever need to slice someone’s head off, this is the blade you want,” I said as I lifted a curved sword off the table in front of me. “We’ve been practicing épée and foil so far, but tonight I want to introduce you to the sabre.” The practice sabre’s curved blade reflected the orange streetlight shining in through the window. A grant from the Smithsonian where I worked allowed me to teach my two passions: ancient weapons and their arts. “The sabre is a slashing weapon,” I continued and then lunged, showing the wide-eyed and excited students a few moves. “And in general, it’s my favorite,” I admitted with a grin.

The students laughed.

“Is that why you have it tattooed on your arm?” Tyler, one of my best fencers, asked.

My hand went unconsciously toward the tattoo. The ink was a sword interlaced with other once-meaningful symbols. “That’s not just any sabre,” I said, mildly embarrassed. “Here, let me show you. I brought something special tonight.” Setting the training sabre down, I lifted a rolled bundle. I laid it down on the table and unrolled it to reveal weapons in various elaborate scabbards.

“Some are épée, foils—you can tell by the hilt—a broadsword, a claymore, a katana, a scimitar, throwing daggers,” I said, pointing, “but this, this is a Russian shashka.” I pulled the shashka from the bundle. “It’s like a traditional sabre, but has no guard. She’s light, single-edged, wielded with one hand, and good for stabbing or slashing. Not awkward in close quarters like a Scottish claymore, but it will kill you just as dead,” I said with a smile. I unsheathed the weapon and gave it an under- and over-hand spin around my head, shoulders, and back.

The students grinned from ear to ear.

I put it back in its scabbard and handed the shashka to them. “Pass it around, but keep in mind it is sharp enough to cut a blade of hair in half.” I then turned my attention to Tyler. “Now, since you’re so interested, let’s see how you do with the sabre.” I tossed one of the training swords to him.

Tyler, already in his gear, jumped up and lowered his fencing mask. “But you’re not in gear,” he said.

I shrugged. “Hit me–if you can.’”

We stood at the ready, made the ceremonial bow, and began. Tyler was not overly aggressive, which is partially why he was so successful. He waited for me, moving slowly. He was smart, quick, and often tried to over-tire his opponent.

I waited, dropped my sword a bit, and let him make the lunge. He took the bait.

The swords clanged together, and we clashed back and forth across the strip. He lunged and slashed while I dodged and blocked. He was fast. I was faster. When he lunged again, I ducked. With an upward movement, I went in.

“A hit,” Kasey called.

They clapped.

“Man, that’s what you get for taking on a former state champ—and the teacher,” Trey told Tyler with a laugh.

Tyler pulled off the mask and smiled at me.

Just then, my cell rang. I would usually ignore it, but something told me to answer.

“Everyone pair up and start working with the training sabres,” I said and pointed to the sword rack. I went to my bag and grabbed my cell.

Before I could say hello, she spoke.

“Layla, Grandma needs you to come home,” my grandmother’s voice, thick with Russian accent, came across through static. I was silent for a moment. My grandmother lived 500 miles away, and she never used her telephone. With the exception of her T.V., she hated technology. She’d cried and begged me to take away the microwave I’d purchased for her one Mother’s Day.

“Grandma? What’s wrong?”

“Come home now. Be here tomorrow,” she said. She hung up.

I lowered my cell and stared at it. Confused and worried, I dialed her back. The phone rang, but she did not answer. I had obligations: practice, bills to pay, groceries to buy, tons of work to do, and a date for god-sakes. But my grandmother was the only one I had left in the world.

“Sorry, guys. Emergency,” I called to my students.

Disappointed, they groaned.

“Sorry. Let’s pack it up for the night.” My hands shaking, I slid the shashka back into the bundle and rolled up the weapons. What had happened? Maybe Grandma was sick. Maybe she had some problem. Or maybe she had seen something.

The monuments on the Mall faded into the distance behind me as I made my way to my Georgetown apartment. It was Friday night. Wisconsin   Avenue was packed. The upscale shops and restaurants teemed with people. In the crowd you could see the mix of international tourists, Georgetown students, and designer-dressed hotties headed to clubs. I sighed. For the last month I had turned myself inside out trying to get the attention of Lars Burmeister, the German specialist the Smithsonian had brought in to consult on our new medieval poleaxe exhibit. He had finally asked me to dinner; we were going to meet at Levantes, a Turkish restaurant near Dupont Circle, at nine that night. I had dreamed of authentic dolma and a chance to sit across from Lars somewhere other than a museum. I had even bought a new dress: black, strapless, come-hither.

I circled my block three times before I finally found a parking space. Regardless, I loved Georgetown. It was early fall. The mature trees had turned shades of deep red and orange and were losing their leaves. The air was filled with an interesting mixture of smells: the natural decay of autumn, dusty heat from the old cobblestone streets, and the mildly rancid odor of too many people. In my 4th floor attic apartment of an old Brownstone, I could occasionally catch the sweet scent of the Potomac River. It reminded me just enough of home.

The apartment was ghastly hot. The small, one-bedroom had been closed up all day. I lifted the window and let the noise of the city fill the room. The street lamps cast twinkling light across my apartment. The weapons I had mounted on the wall, swords, shields, axes and the like, glimmered. I peeled off my sweaty practice clothes. Pulling a bag from the closet, I threw in several changes of clothes and a few other supplies. On my coffee table, my laptop light blinked glaringly. An overflowing email inbox, an article on bucklers that needed editing for a peer-reviewed journal, and a PowerPoint on Medieval Russian swords for a presentation for next week’s symposium all called me. My coffee table was stacked with paper. I was flooded with work; half my department was out on sick leave. There was a bad flu was going around. Thankfully, I had not yet gotten sick.

I pulled my cell out of my bag. I stared at the phone for a moment; Grandma’s recent call was still displayed on the screen. I dialed Lars’ number. My stomach shook when he answered.

“Guten abend, Lars. It’s Layla.”

“Ahh, Layla, good evening,” he replied.

I loved his German accent. He’d learned English from a British teacher; he said arse with a German lilt. It made me smile. I could tell by his tone he was trying to hide his excitement. I didn’t let him get far. I told him I had been called away for an emergency. I could sense his disappointment.

“I’ll be back by Monday. Let me make it up to you. Dinner at my place Monday night?”

He agreed.

“Gute nacht,” I said as sweetly as possible, hoping I had not pissed him off, and stuffed my phone into my bag. I stared out the window taking in the view. I did not want to go back, not even for a weekend. I loved my life. Hamletville was an old, ghost-filled place: too many memories, too much heartache. Yet I knew my grandmother. If she said I needed to come home, then I needed to come home.

I closed the windows, slid on a pair of jeans, a black t-shirt, boots, and a light vest. I looked again at the display on the wall. At the center I had crossed two Russian poyasni or boot-daggers. One dagger had the head of a wolf on the hilt. The other had the head of a doe. I grabbed them and tossed them in my bag. I then headed back downstairs and into the night. It was the last time I would lay eyes on D.C. for many years.

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About the Author:

 harvesting KristyCN

Melanie Karsak, steampunk connoisseur, white elephant collector, and caffeine junkie, resides in Florida with her husband and two children. Visit the author at her blog, melaniekarsak.blogspot.com, to learn more about upcoming projects.

http://melaniekarsak.blogspot.com/

https://twitter.com/MelanieKarsak

https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMelanieKarsak

http://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6539577.Melanie_Karsak

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Giveaway

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10 ecopies of the novel (open internationally)
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This just in from Troy Aaron Ratliff!

Looking for some quick beach reads to fill up your Kindles and Kindle Fires this summer?  Some short fiction with a thrill?  Well, if you’re looking to increase your summer reading list, have I got news for you! This weekend you can snag all of my work for free for my Hello Summer Giveaway from this Saturday thru Monday!

Over the weekend, I’ll be using the hashtag #HelloSummerGiveaway on Twitter, G+, and now, apparently Facebook (haha!), to see what’s on everyone else’s summer reading list this year to build mine and everyone else’s reading lists. I’ve added a few to my Goodreads page in the past few weeks, but I’m always looking for more. I’m currently reading Joe Hill’s N0S4A2 which is a creepy thrill ride of horror. I’m only about a third of the way through, but I can say with confidence this is easily his best work yet.

What are you reading, Trojans?

And in the meantime, don’t forget to snag some free short stories!  And if you have already read my work, please let your friends know of this great deal!  Here is a pre-written tweet/post to use, if you’re so inclined.

#Free beach reads? @TARatliff has a #HelloSummerGiveaway for all his work! What’s on your summer reading list?

http://www.amazon.com/Troy-Aaron-Ratl…

Thank you so much, friends.

Love and Light,

Troy Aaron Ratliff
www.troyaaronratliff.com

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Thanks so much Troy!

I’ve read several of Troy’s short stories and enjoyed them immensely.

So, I’ve added in my previous reviews so you can learn what I thought of them!

Don’t forget to get Just Past the Trees free here!

Just Past the Trees

I liked this one. It’s got a couple of writers in it.

I’m a young guy, still live at home. Yeah, I know, get a life. But I’m still trying to figure out what I want to do.

I know I want to be a writer, have for as long as I can remember.

I’ve always felt writing is my strongest suit. I hope you agree. Story ideas can walk into my head like strangers at Thanksgiving, and before I know it, I’m fleshing out characters, plotting some pretty evil schemes for them to fall into, and hearing lines of prose…

But until I become famous, got to earn a living. I work for a company that repairs big rigs. I’m the runner. If they need a part of a tool, it’s my job to get it. Not glamorous, but it’s a living.

One of my jobs is keeping the property mowed.

During a Florida summer breathing makes you sweat.

You’d think I was certifiable, cutting the grass with an old push mower in the blazing afternoon heat. It’s a huge piece of property and takes all week. By the time I’m done, it’s time to start all over again.

“Job security” is what my dad calls it. “Perpetual motion through redundancy” is what I call it..

Anyway, that’s how I discovered the body, or what was left of it.

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Like I said , it has two writers in the story. The other one is Doug Robbins. He’s a crypto-zoologist traveling through Florida on the trail of the Skunk-Ape. Ever heard of it? It’s the southern version of Bigfoot.

After hearing about the dead body, Doug suspects the skunk-ape may be involved. He’s here to finally get proof it exists and hopes to write a book about it.

The two young men hatch a plan to get said evidence of its existence and that’s when it gets hairy! Pardon the pun.

Troy can condense a story and make it have such an impact. I felt like I knew these guys. And a story about writers, the struggles they go through and how far they’ll go to write that story is interesting and fun. You get two different views from two writers.

Visually written. You’ll feel like you’re there, looking into the woods, and wondering what may be looking back at you.

Nothing less than Five Stars will do!

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Here is my review of Little Bernie’s Map.

Get your free copy here.

Little Bernie's Map

This was just supposed to be a nice, relaxing family trip. A way to escape the daily grind and forget, for a while, the problems and worries at home.

Daniel and Gina, along with their son Bernie, are heading home after a trip to Disney World.  Daniel just lost his job, but they decide to go on this vacation anyway. It may be the last one they can take for a long time.

Bernie and his father have a game they play. Bernie loves map, he collects them. At random points in their trip, Daniel would ask Bernie how much farther they had to go and he would look on the map to track their progress.

Bernie had one map that was special. A map given to him by an old woman when they stopped for a break at the Florida Welcome Center. She told him to be careful with it and Bernie tried to be.

But when weird and frightening things start to happen, the map is not first on any of their minds. All they can think about is what just happened.

What came down from the sky that day would be discussed for years to come. Each person would draw their own conclusions. One thing most agreed on was what they saw, what it looked like.

My Thoughts

It has been a long time since I have been this surprised by a story. I had to reread several scenes just to wrap my mind around what was happening. I wanted to try to form an image in my head. I sure wish this had been a movie. You’ll know what I mean when” The Flashpoint” happens.

Troy has a wonderful way of leading you into the story. There is much about this family that you can relate to. The characters are genuine and very likeable. I felt their anguish and their perseverance and really wanted things to be alright for them.

When the event happens I am stunned. I can’t wait for you to read it. It is so wild and kind of funny. It definitely makes you think. Think and say, yeah, I hear ya.

If you like Twilight Zone and Tales From the Darkside, you will love this. I also got a flash of that dread you feel in the scene from the movie The Mist by Stephen King. The one where they are driving into the mist and you just know something inexplicable is going to occur. The feeling lasts long after you finish reading.

Another 5 Star story from Troy

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And last, but certainly not least, The Uninvited Guest.

Get your free copy here.

The Uninvited Guest

Looks can be deceiving as is the cover for The Uninvited Guest.

It was supposed to be a celebration. Good times for all. A wedding and new beginnings.

Harlan is crashing the party, kind of.  Jose’s mother insisted he go to the wedding and when he asks Harlan to go, he figures why not. There’ll be free food and booze and maybe some babes to dance with.

It seems like it takes forever to get there. The wedding is being held in a lodge surrounded by dense woods.

Finally, they arrive. The wedding goes off without a hitch. Now it’s time to eat, drink, and be merry. Except it’s taking forever to get to the dancing.

Finally the music starts and the happy couple do the traditional bride and groom shuffle. Everyone is oohing and aahing, taking copious pictures and video.

Harlan, standing at the back of the gathering, happens to glance out one of the windows. Everyone else is watching the happy couple, but something made him look.

Something outside, maybe a shadow, slid along the windowsill.  No, not a shadow, it had bulk. It seemed to take a long time to pass.

The windows are spaced about 5 to 6 feet apart. In the time it took to glance to the next window, it was sliding past that one too!

Everyone is still watching the couple. Harlan feels frozen in time. A look at the doors shows they’re still standing wide open.

An overwhelming feeling of dread passes over him. Something is coming. It’s almost to the doors.

The author wrote this story from Harlan’s point of view. It worked really good. I experienced everything with Harlan, felt his confusion, dread, and disbelief. And then his terror.

Have you ever had that feeling like something really bad is going to happen? That’s how I felt, right along with Harlan.

Harlan may have been an uninvited guest, but he’s not the only one.

This gets a Five from me!

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And now from Troy

If you are looking for a story behind the story, I can’t honestly recall what sparked the idea for Little Bernie’s Map all those years ago when I originally wrote it. Although I can say that after hearing about the disheartening news about the debt crisis, along with the various problems many people in the Rust Belt were experiencing – a personal hit for me since I’m from southwestern Ohio – a terrifying thought started eating at the back of my mind: What if I was in one of those situations? What if I had a family to feed and I was out of work? It’;s scary, and my heart truly does go out to those families. Of course, this was around the time that I found Little Bernie’s Map(originally conceived as Little Ian’s Map for those who care) in my writing desk. Naturally, the cogs and gears started turning like they do when I start thinking about the serious issues in the world and how I would express my feelings toward them. In other words, when guys like me consider the money problems of the world, we consider how we would react to a giant mutant….(left blank by me so as not to avoid spoiler). Then again, maybe that’s just me and why I’m not running the show.

Image of Troy Aaron Ratliff

About Troy Aaron Ratliff

Troy Aaron Ratliff was born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio and self-educated in writing, art and voice impersonations. When he’s not reading, writing and cooking up his next monstrosity, you can generally find him defending the galaxy from the forces of evil, feeding hippopotamuses, dining with foreign dignitaries and Zen masters, waking up to his supermodel wife, altering the space-time inter-dimensional warp or, more than likely, stuck in traffic somewhere in Southern California.

Website

Goodreads

Twitter

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Welcome to Thursday Theatre

Here is where I’ll be posting video clips about books and movies and fun stuff.

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The Dark Horde

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* Indie Excellence Awards 2013 – Finalist (Horror) *

* Indie Excellence Awards 2013 – Finalist (Thriller) *

* Writer’s Digest Self-Published Book Awards 2012 – Honorable Mention (Genre Fiction) *

* Coffin Hop Flash Fiction Contest 2012 – First Place *

Synopsis

1989, rural Victoria, Australia. Something is preying upon the township of Howqua Hills. Brian Derwent, head of the local Police Station, must simultaneously grapple with the investigation, his disintegrating personal life and unseen forces that are not of this world.

Part thriller, part crime-fiction, all supernatural horror, The Dark Horde tells of the return of an ancient evil that is neither stoppable nor comprehensible…

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I’ve already reviewed The Dark Horde but am reposting it here for your convenience.

From the opening page to the horror driven end, this story had me riveted.

Howqua Hills is under siege by something. Monster, demon, alien, or creature from another dimension, who knows? They have been waiting, but no more. Out of the shadows they come, the Dark Horde.  Hungry for flesh, they thrill to feel our terror and revel in our pain. Want a taste?

“The beast had an acute sense of smell, enabling it to smell the raw terror in the sweat of its quarry. The smell of this human was strong, indulging its senses with delectable wafts. Hungry for the kill, it gripped the wooden handle of the trap door and slowly teased it open. The shrieking cry of its hinges rang out, enhancing the fear of the cornered prey…It entered, scraping its clawed feet across each wooden step with calculated intent to terrify… Two down, one to go.”

The action is intense and relentless and the creatures are absolutely terrifying. Want a bit more?

“It glared at them with red, hate-filled eyes the shape of swollen slits as its bloodied snout curled to reveal a chaotic array of sharpened teeth. It grinned.”

Able to manipulate our minds, they invade our dreams with heart-stopping nightmares. I was worried they would invade my dreams. I read this book in one sitting and finished in the wee hours. Maybe it was because I was sleep deprived, but I didn’t remember dreaming. However, there are many more nights to come.

Brewin’ is a master at making you afraid of the dark. I suggest you sleep with a flashlight!

5 Stars

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For a limited time, you can get The Dark Horde for only 99cents and free for amazon prime members!

I loved this book and this is a steal!

Get yours here.

About Brewin’

Brewin’ knew he wanted to be a writer when he was only seven and that has shaped his life. A gift from his brothers of a Role Playing Game Book was a pivotal moment in his life. Game books(along with role-playing games) made him the writer he is today. The last third of his first published novel, Evermore: An Introduction, is a choose-your-own-adventure and his second novel, The Dark Horde, has one of the characters from Evermore in it. For more about Brewin’ and his work visit:

http://www.thebrewin.com

Do you have your flashlight handy?

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