Posts Tagged ‘Supernatural’

Title: THE SISTERS: A MYSTERY OF GOOD AND EVIL, HORROR AND SUSPENSE
Author: Don Sloan
Publisher: Independent
Pages: 239
Genre: Supernatural/Mystery/Horror/Thriller

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Synopsis

In this book, written in the style of Stephen King, two young people on vacation in a small New England seacoast town battle unspeakable horror and solve a hundred-year-old mystery. Fourteen Victorian mansions whisper dark secrets among themselves, and a dangerous shadow roams up and down the wide, wintry boulevard in search of new prey.

The Sisters: A Mystery of Good and Evil, Horror and Suspense is available on AMAZON.

 

Book Excerpt:

Snow pellets blow white across the boulevard and up onto the wide, night-shadowed porch of the house just in the center of the block. Inside, past leaded glass doors and heavy oak furnishings, something moves.

Up the polished mahogany staircase, and up yet another flight to the third story something moves that has no breath, no warmth, no life.

There is a narrow passageway to the attic, locked behind a heavy door with steel bands. The shadow pauses at the door only long enough to pass cold fingers over the padlock. It falls heavily to the floor and the door opens. The shadow passes through, as quietly as a midnight breeze in an icy cold forest. Here, no light at all warms the creaking steps. It is darker than the inside of death.

In the attic, the bitter, knifing cold whirls and eddies around shapeless mounds of old memorabilia and the shadow moves silently to a dormer window. Cobwebs—spun by industrious spiders long dead—are brushed aside and a single candle is placed on the sill. And in the darkness a flame is struck.

Outside, the wind falls off to nothing, and snow drifts listlessly to the ground. The candle flickers briefly and catches, burning a pinprick hole in the vastness of the night.

Far out to sea, a single cry begins and then falls silent.

And in the dormer window, where the shadow has settled down to wait, the candle flares brightly and then goes out.

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Author Don Sloan

Don Sloan is a former journalist for a large metropolitan daily newspaper and also an avid book reviewer, with more than 200 reviews posted on Amazon. His goal with the Dark Forces Series is to present readers with a new and exciting horror and suspense thriller experience. He currently lives in the mountains of Western North Carolina with his wife of 39 years, and, when not writing, enjoys a cold glass of Chardonnay in the evenings, sitting on his back deck.

Website & Social Links:

Website / Twitter / Facebook

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  • This giveaway ends midnight April 24.
  • Winner will be contacted via email on December 1.
  • Winner has 48 hours to reply.

Good luck everyone!

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Today E.M. Fitch and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for OF THE TREES which releases February 28, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a eGalley!!

 

A quick note from the author:

Of The Trees is a story about friendship, but the idea came to me in a graveyard — a favorite little haunt of mine, actually. What that says about me? I’m sure you have your own ideas. I can tell you that I’m a girl who loves a good scare, adores Halloween, finds entertainment in all things spooky, and has developed a pretty wicked sense of questionable humor. My stories reflect this. My own hometown ghost legend is weaved into this novel; it’s a tale that intrigued me as a teen, and continues to call to me now. I wrote large portions of this book parked alongside the inspiring little cemetery, in fact.

Although friendships and haunted places are the forces that brought this story into being, what grew from there was a tale of creatures in the night; men whose features slip and twist; best friends who get ripped apart; and a heavy helping of some of my favorite Irish legends, the old tales of the Fae. A particular influence for Of The Trees is the poem, The Stolen Child by W.B. Yeats. For just that reason, a verse from this poem is the first thing you’ll see when you flip open the cover.

Of The Trees is for anyone who loves best friends who argue (but love each other anyway), dark tales, creatures who go bump in the night, and stories to make you question those little whispers of wind you hear from the forest. I so hope you’ll join me in exploring just who—or what—is watching from the woods.

On to the reveal!

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Title: OF THE TREES
Author: E.M. Fitch
Pub. Date: February 28, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 345
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Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD
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Only she can hear the deadly whisper of the trees.

 

High school seniors, Cassie and Laney, spend their days on ghost hunts, Laney trying to pull Cassie into belief. Cassie tolerates it for her best friend, but she doesn’t really believe … until the carnival comes to town.

The men who work there watch the girls, disturbing Cassie with the intensity of their collective gaze. Laney becomes fascinated with the older men, a curiosity Cassie knows is dangerous.

It’s not just their age or the unnerving way they stare. There is something else, something in the shifting of their skin, the way their features seem to change fluid in the shadows, that screams danger.

Cassie tries to ignore the uneasy feeling that something bad is about to happen, convinced that once the carnival leaves, life will return to normal.

But it doesn’t.

People start dying and bloody warnings appear around town.

Soon, Cassie enters into a nightmare where the trees whisper “join us” and strange, seemingly familiar, shape-shifting men haunt the backwoods of her small, isolated town.

The police don’t believe Cassie and no one else admits to hearing the whispers of the forest. No one, except Laney.

When Laney goes missing, Cassie knows it’s the men of the forest who have taken her. She knows that she’s the only one who can help bring her friend back. But the creatures that taunt and hiss through the trees aren’t ready to give Laney up just yet.

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Excerpt

Chapter OneThe deeper into the woods Cassie went, the more her best friend resembled a fairy-tale creature. Laney walked in front of her, the backpack she wore bulged out in the limited moonlight, and she looked, for the moment, like the grotesque silhouette of a skinny hunchback, her long hair swinging dark and loose past her shoulders. The friends shifted together through the trees, knowing the destination by heart.

The woods came alive at night. The lack of light drew things out, or perhaps it was only that the blackness accentuated the sounds. Claws scraped the dirt. Dry leaves flipped over. The mating calls of crickets and tree frogs echoed and pinged through the trees. Wings rustled through the air, followed by the inevitable swoop of a low flying creature. All barely noticeable in the day time, they screamed at night.

Nervous flutters took residence in Cassie’s gut. It was probably the darkness—the shadows—that hid the sources of the sounds. It made the animals braver, less apt to be seen, less prone to being caught. Bolder. The noises surrounded her, and it was possible that the feeling of being enclosed was what set her nerves on edge. She had walked through these woods at night before though. Tonight something else was bothering her, something undefinable.

The moon hung above the tree line, only half full. The luminescence struggled to push its way through the leaves that still clung to the trees, stamping wavering patches of silver on the forest floor. The moonlight was just enough, dim as it was, to allow Cassie to see the rocks and bramble, avoid the prickers, and step over the low hanging branches.

The girls’ intrusion into this place—the world of owls and bats and night creatures—was commonplace by now. The path they traveled had been stomped through so many times that the ferns stopped trying to grow back. A bare line through the trees, recognizable only to them, stretched from Cassie’s backyard to their destination.

Still, Cassie hated coming at night.

But, it was Laney’s birthday, September the fifth. She turned seventeen, and she had insisted.

“She only comes at night! I’m sure of it,” Laney had whined, begging her friend to come with her.

“Because a ghost cares if it’s day or night?” Cassie had shot back.

“You know why!” Laney said with a little stomp of her foot that got Cassie to sigh in resignation.

She did know why. Not that she believed any of it, of course. But she knew Laney’s version, the one she had researched and convinced herself was real.

It was over two hundred years ago that Lizzy Palmer went looking for her husband in a snowstorm. Legend said that Harold had been in town getting supplies when his wife was overcome with an awful, persistent feeling that he may never return. Crazed, she went out into the storm to look for him. Lizzy never found Harold; instead, she got caught in the blizzard, sucked into one of the boggy marshes that surrounded her home and the nearby cemetery. She had been pulled under the freezing, murky water, her screams muffled by the storm.

Some versions of the story had Harold finding her in time. People said he just stood there, watching his wife sink below the swampy muck, watching as her mouth was filled with mud and cold water. Some say that’s why she came back—to haunt him into insanity. Others say they have seen his ghostly lantern light, still out searching for the body of his lost wife.

Not that Cassie thought they would see anything. She and Laney hadn’t last week, nor the week before that. The girls had spent most of their summer sitting in the cemetery. Even after school started, Laney still hadn’t let it go. She was obsessed with the place—Gray Lady Cemetery. It had a real name, something registered in the town. Laney knew what it was, but everyone in school called it Gray Lady Cemetery because Lizzy Palmer, the Gray Lady, haunted it. She floated through, past her grave, in a blur of deathly gray. Supposedly.

Though on a night like tonight, the air hung with moisture, maybe Cassie and Laney did have a good shot at seeing something. Whatever misty occurrence happened to convince people that a ghost was hanging around, maybe the conditions were right for it tonight.

Their path ended abruptly at a small stone wall. The woods were riddled with them, old property markers back before the entire area became protected. Most were crumbling and low to the ground, but this one was higher and in better condition. It formed a rough square, enclosing the graveyard. Three sides of it cut through the woods, but just to Cassie’s left, the stone wall butt up to a dirt road. The dirt of the road gleamed a cool silver, a ribbon winding its way through the night. She could see nothing else from that direction except a concentration of darkness—a hole of blackness punched through restless leaves. Cassie watched as Laney climbed over the wall, one foothold at a time, her backpack swaying.

The light was better in the small, square cemetery. A patch of sky, dark velvet with no stars, hung like a blank canvas above the swaying of the black trees that reached into it. The dry leaves rustled together on long limb branches. They fell in bursts as the wind rushed through, covering the top of the rock wall.

The grass in the cemetery was long and loose. It tickled the backs of Cassie’s knees. The town maintained the graveyard—at least occasionally. It wasn’t mowed; there were no neat rows of headstones or miniature flags poking from flower vases. There was only one intact headstone in the plot, the rest were crumbling limestone stubs, poking up through the dirt. Cassie stepped carefully, edging around the corners of pale stone that came tilting up through the earth. She knew from experience how easily those bits could catch her toes.

Cassie followed as Laney wove through the stones, knowing her route by heart. The grass that rose was beaten back by their sneakers. Laney dropped her bag and bent over it, pulling a dark blanket out. Silently handing two corners to Cassie, they stepped back from each other, spreading the blanket ten yards behind the Gray Lady’s headstone.

“It’s the perfect night for this,” Laney said, her voice low as she sat down on one corner of the blanket. Excitement tinged her words, and Cassie thought she would have squeaked if she had allowed herself enough volume. But she wouldn’t; she might scare the ghosts away. “The boys better get here soon.”

It was the first time the boys had been allowed to join them in the cemetery. Ryan Buckner and Jon Sutkowski had teased the girls about their secret for so long, always bugging Cassie and Laney to let them join. Laney had been hesitant, this secret obsession of hers too sacred to share with others. She had invited them when the girls had gone to check out the remnants of an old, abandoned jailhouse that someone had told them about. They all had to trudge through the woods to get to that one, too. The boys always came with them at Halloween when they’d hit every haunted house and corn maze they could find. The four of them had been friends for years, but not nearly as long as Cassie and Laney had been.

Laney Blake was the first friend Cassie ever had. They were neighbors, playmates from the time their mothers had brought them to story hours together, back when they couldn’t even spell their own names. They had countless rides on the bus, classes, sleepovers, and vacations together. Cassie and Laney were inseparable, and that was why Cassie was always asked to come along, begged to indulge the ghost chases and midnight hikes through the woods; Cassie couldn’t say no.

There had been a time when Cassie was just as obsessed as Laney was; when the goblins and elves and ghosts were all real for her, too. But it had been a long time since she really believed any of it.

Part of her felt that these cemetery trips were a last ditch effort, one last strong pull by Laney to tug Cassie back into belief. Laney had researched and read and pestered the local librarians about the story surrounding Gray Lady Cemetery. She was firm in her conviction that this legend—finally, this—was the real thing. Laney was convinced that all she had to do was pick the right date and the right time, and so Cassie had been dragged out to the cemetery, time and time again, told forcefully to keep her voice down and all lights off, and made to wait.

“What time did you tell them?” Laney asked, a bit of anxiety leaching into her voice.

“Before midnight,” Cassie answered. She pushed strands of her auburn hair from her face. Her fingers felt for the smooth case of her phone in her hoodie pocket. She hit the home button, lighting the screen, and was just able to glimpse the 11:42 on the screen before Laney slapped at her.

“No lights!”

Cassie rolled her eyes, though in the darkness, Laney couldn’t see. She shifted on the blanket, stretching her legs out in front of her and brushing away the stray grass strand that stuck to her calf.

“So, what’d it say?” Laney asked, her voice quiet again. Cassie laughed.

“I thought you didn’t want any lights.”

“Well, it was already on,” Laney argued, grinning as she knocked shoulders with Cassie. “So, what was it? It’s midnight already, isn’t it? They’re gonna mess this up.”

“No, they have fifteen minutes,” Cassie said. “I thought you were sure it would be at one thirty, though?”

“Oh,” Laney said, shrugging, “well, midnight or one thirty. There were conflicting articles. Someone thought midnight because that’s when Lizzy first left her house, another guy thought later because that’s when she would have been caught in the storm. I figured, why not both?”

Cassie hummed in response. She stifled a yawn and laid back on the blanket she shared with Laney, watching the dark sky. The ground was lumpy and uneven. Her body tilted toward her friend. Laney leaned back, her elbows bent to hold her torso up, her gaze fixed on the empty patch of grass surrounding the tombstone.

The air was heavy, saturated with the scents of wet grass and the pulp of crushed ferns. Crickets echoed across the space, trills of noise bouncing off the trees. Cassie twisted on the blanket and looked behind her, scanning the pale line of the dirt road as it vanished into the tunnel of darkness.

Ryan and Jon would be driving. Jon had snuck out with his dad’s car. The dirt road that stretched behind the graveyard was terrible, filled with potholes and rivets that had been formed by bad weather and low maintenance; the girls should be able to hear the car before they even saw the headlights. Cassie lay back again, shifting a bit to get off a rock that lodged itself under her spine.

It was strange, Cassie would note later, that the first change she registered was the stiffening of her friend’s spine, the jolting of Laney’s muscles as her shoulders locked, and the tightening of her neck. That is what first caught her attention, but it was the bobbing light in the tree line that drew her eye to the forest. Then her own muscles tightened as her lungs froze midbreath.

Laney jumped to her feet as Cassie skittered back, dragging the blanket beneath her until her fingers were digging into damp grass and dirt.

“What are you doing?” Cassie hissed as Laney took off toward the light. It was moving deeper into the woods.

“Get up! I’m not missing this!”

Cassie got to her feet. Laney was already halfway across the cemetery as Cassie rushed to reach her. The light was clearly moving, darting through the trees and bouncing up and down, as though someone was holding it. It wasn’t a flashlight, not a cell phone either. It was a soft, orange glow. Even from here, Cassie could see that it was encased; the source of the light protected by metal and glass.

“It’s not a ghost, Laney,” Cassie whispered, completely sure, “It’s not him, not Harold.”

“A lantern, Cass?” Laney whispered back, hiking an insistent line after the light. They were closing in now, less than a football field away. “Out here? At midnight? We have to check it out.”

“It could be a psycho, a mass murderer!” Cassie insisted, reaching out and tugging on Laney’s arm. “It probably is. We should wait for the boys, at least.”

Laney snorted, jerking her arm out of Cassie’s grasp. She darted ahead, Cassie at her heels. They clambered over the stone wall together. A row of ferns spread from the moss covered rocks into the tree line. Laney jogged through, leaving a trampled path in her wake. The fronds were heavy with moisture, caressing Cassie’s bare legs and leaving her shivering even in the unseasonable warmth.

“Laney, wait,” Cassie begged in a whisper, but her friend darted ahead, the trees swallowing her. She lunged a bit, hissing when a low branch caught and scratched up her shin. She swiped her hand over the scratch, and her fingers came away warm and wet, the tips shiny black in the diffuse moonlight, coated lightly with her blood.

She cursed softly, jogging through the trees and trying to follow the sound of her friend ahead. Laney wasn’t exactly stealthy, so it wasn’t difficult, but it was hard to see her. That, combined with the night sounds of the woods—the crickets and owls, the bats that flew low through the branches, the rustling in the dead leaves all around her—made her feel more alone than she cared to be at the edge of a cemetery, at night, following a likely madman further into the woods.

The lantern was close now, the glow soft and yet reaching, illuminating the trunks of the trees and the darkened hand that held it aloft. It should be enough, seeing the outline of the fingers that grasped the handle. Laney should know from that that it wasn’t a ghost. But she wasn’t running back to the cemetery.

“Please, Laney,” Cassie hissed, searching now past the trunks to see how far ahead her friend had gotten. She could still see the cemetery behind her, and she wasn’t eager to lose sight of it for once. The cemetery was a point of reference, a way to get back home. She knew her path, and she knew the road; navigating the rest of the woods at night was not something in which she could claim confidence. She paused, listening now for Laney’s crashing footsteps to indicate which direction she had gone, but it wasn’t her footsteps she heard.

It was moaning. And, it wasn’t Laney’s voice.

The sound was low pitched and horrible. The crickets swelled around it. It didn’t say anything, not at first, just squealed a deep note that reverberated through the trees before ending on a single word.

“Lizzy.”

No. Cassie froze in shock and horror. No, it couldn’t be.

The forest to her right seemed to tremble all at once, the ground stirring and the trees parting as a dark shadow flew toward her. Cassie screamed and stumbled back, her hands shooting up in front of her face. Dark arms clutched at her and dragged her into a solid chest as a voice whispered in her ear.

“Gotcha.”

She froze, not in fear this time.

“You ass!” she hissed, struggling away from the laughing boy in front of her. He let her go easily enough, though she shoved him anyway. He stumbled back into a tree but didn’t fall completely. A ripple of vindictive anger swirled through her at that.

“Cassie!” Laney’s voice shouted from far away. “What’s wrong? Are you okay?” There was some panic in her tone, which should have soothed Cassie a bit but it only angered her further.

“Fine!” Cassie gritted out, her voice carrying in the dark. “It was—”

Laney’s scream cut her off. It was quickly followed by a bout of cursing and a loud thump.

“Serves you right, Jon!” Cassie yelled, having no doubt that it was Ryan’s friend that was stalking about with the stupid lantern in the woods. Especially because it was Ryan still leaning into the tree and pinning her with a look that said he was only barely keeping himself from hysterical laughter at her expense, and only abstaining because he knew he’d get pushed again if he tried.

“You better not,” she said, pointing at him menacingly. He raised his hands in mock compliance, a snigger escaping anyway. Cassie stepped forward and thumped his chest, annoyed when he didn’t even flinch.

“Wow, poor sports!” Jon said, jogging up to them and ducking at the last minute under a branch. He was grinning like an idiot. “Just wanted to spice up the birthday girl’s night a bit and wham! She hits me with a tree branch!”

“You don’t look injured,” Cassie muttered.

“Yeah, well, tried to hit me, I should have said.”

“Stand still this time, and I won’t have a problem,” Laney griped, stomping up beside them. Jon laughed and dodged away, heading in a direct path toward the cemetery. “What time is it?”

Cassie pulled out her phone and lit the screen. Midnight. “Well, if she was going to come at midnight, we’ve scared her off.” Laney huffed and followed the path of crushed saplings and the distant laughter of Jon.

As soon as he broke into the square cemetery, Jon shifted his attention to his surroundings. He paused in front of the Gray Lady’s headstone and softened Laney by asking her questions about her favorite ghost. Laney gave in pretty easily, rolling her eyes, but joining him as he ran his fingers over the engraving. As she launched into the history, Ryan made himself comfortable on the blanket Laney brought, stretching out his lanky form and then shifting to the side when Cassie went to sit. He sat up straight when Cassie stretched her legs out.

“What’s this?” he asked, bending close to Cassie’s shin.

“Oh,” Cassie murmured, remembering. “I got scratched chasing Laney into the woods. It’s not bad.”

“I’ve got a first-aid kit in the car,” Ryan said, getting to his feet.

“It’s not a big deal,” Cassie called out, but Ryan was already jogging across the graveyard.

“Of course he does,” Jon muttered, flopping down on the blanket as Ryan leaped the stone wall.

“Well, yeah,” Laney agreed through a smirk, her tone low. She kicked Jon, and he moved over, making room for her on the blanket next to Cassie. “His girl Cassie might need it someday, so of course he’d have it.”

“Bring back the drinks!” Jon called out, laying back and lacing his hands behind his head. Cassie stiffened, looking toward Ryan to see if he heard their friend’s comments, but he only nodded before turning to be swallowed in the shadows of the empty street.

“You’re not funny,” Cassie muttered to her friends. Her neck felt hot, and she was grateful that in the moonlight no one would be able to tell. Jon sniggered but didn’t try to catch her eye. It was an old joke between the four of them. A joke Cassie hated. “It’s probably the one from his hiking pack. And lots of people keep first-aid kits in their cars. It’s basic safety stuff.”

“Sure,” Jon agreed, shrugging. “First aid, tire iron, flares, romantic picnic for two.”

“Spare engagement ring,” Laney added. Jon cracked up laughing, and Laney shushed him, elbowing his side.

“What’s so funny?” Ryan asked, jogging back up to the group. He handed a six pack of spiked lemonade to Jon. The hiss of a metal cap being twisted off cut through the still air of the cemetery.

“Nothing,” Cassie answered. “Ignore them.”

He shrugged and knelt down in front of her, opening a small white box. Cassie felt very warm. She wondered if Jon and Laney teased Ryan like they teased her. She hoped they didn’t. He’d take it as encouragement and Cassie didn’t want him to think she put their friends up to it.

“Here, scooch up a bit,” Ryan said, his warm fingers circling her ankle and tugging. She moved to the edge of the blanket, and he lay her leg flat on the soft, long grass. He let her go to break the seal on a small bottle. “It’ll probably sting a bit.”

Cassie hummed her acknowledgment, watching the dark shadow of his movements. He poured a capful of hydrogen peroxide on her shin, and she hissed as her cut fizzed white.

“Baby,” Laney whispered, nudging her.

“Shut up,” Cassie returned weakly. Ryan’s fingers were back on her skin, patting the area dry with a piece of gauze before pressing a Band-Aid over the scrape.

“All better,” he said through a grin, settling back at her side and lying flat on the blanket. Cassie thanked him, but stayed upright, leaning into Laney. She pulled her legs to her chest and sipped at the spiked lemonade Jon handed over, letting the lukewarm drink sizzle down her throat. It didn’t help the fluttering that had started in her stomach, but she knew from experience that not much would help that.

“How long were you guys out there?” Laney asked, her manner easing further with each sip of the lemonade.

“An hour, I guess,” Jon answered, the bottle swinging from his fingertips, his arms resting on his knees. “But see? We saved the alcohol for you guys.”

Cassie could feel the silent laughter shaking through Ryan. She turned to him, intending to glare, but hesitating at the sight of him. Ringed in moonlight, his color washed out and his features edged in silver, he seemed older, the lines of his face distinct and chiseled. He looked straight ahead, lines from laughter held back crinkling the corners of this eyes, his lip bit. The hair that fell just over his brow was shaking, outward evidence that he was ready to burst into laughter. Cassie felt a grin split her own lips, and she nudged him with her elbow. He caught her eye and lost it, laughing aloud.

“Oh, you are both so funny!” Laney said, turning to push Jon and reaching around Cassie to land a punch at Ryan. Cassie toppled, falling onto Ryan’s chest. He was shaking with laughter, and she raised her arm, intending to punch his shoulder but he reacted quickly, putting his bottle to the side and pulling her firmly into his chest. She squirmed, and then howled with laughter when he flipped her on the blanket, digging his fingers into her belly in a merciless tickle.

“No fair!” she shrieked, batting his hands away.

“I was taught to never hit a girl,” he retorted, still wiggling his fingers under her ribs. “This seemed like the fairest defense.”

“Oh fine, you win!” Cassie exclaimed, breathless.

“Say we’re hilarious!” Ryan taunted. Jon snorted as Laney muttered, “Get a room.”

“You are.” She breathed, giggling.

“Are what?”

“Freaking hilarious!” she huffed, squirming away from him. He let up with a smirk, sitting back and reaching for his bottle of lemonade. After Cassie had caught her breath and sat up, she found her own bottle had fallen, spilling the last of the beverage into the grass. She swiped Ryan’s away from him, daring him with a look to argue with her. He gave in with a grin, leaning back and staring through the canopy of trees to the dark sky.

“So how long do we wait this out?” Jon asked finishing his drink and putting the empty bottle back in the cardboard holder.

“If nothing shows by one thirty, we’re out of here,” Laney answered, staring past the gravestone.

“Have you ever seen anything out here?” Jon asked, twisting the cap off another bottle. Laney shook her head.

“I can’t find conclusive data for when exactly she died. There are lots of conflicting stories, so I’ve been trying out different dates and times.”

“And that will make the difference?” Ryan asked, gesturing for Jon to pass him another drink. “The exact time?”

Laney shrugged. She didn’t know. At this point, Cassie wished the stupid ghost would just show up already. She didn’t mind the occasional ghost hunt, haunted houses, or hayrides, but part of her wanted to go back to the way things used to be. She wanted to go to the movies and sleepover at Laney’s without having to make sure she brought her hiking boots and a flashlight. Laney had become so obsessed over this one legend that Cassie couldn’t be sure this wouldn’t continue into the winter. And as much as she loved her friend, trudging through the ice and snow just to freeze in a cemetery overnight might just be where Cassie would have to draw the line.

Ryan’s lemonade was warm as it slid down her throat. Her friends were pressed tight together on the blanket. Cassie was glad Laney invited the boys tonight. The summer had brought Cassie and Ryan indescribably closer. They had all been spending more and more time together, but Cassie and Ryan had been breaking off more often to spend time alone. That was something they had never done before. Over the years, the buffer of other people had always been there. It was nice, spending time alone. He had been planning for ages to hike the Appalachian Trail. It cut through part of their town before continuing both north and south in a trail that covered over two thousand miles. This summer he had started tackling it in pieces, every part of it they could drive to, and Cassie had joined him. Without the distractions of the others, Cassie could see just how much she and Ryan had in common, how well they got along. They fit together so nicely, had a similar sense of humor, and loved horror films.

Laney had been teasing her over how close they had gotten. Even Jon coughed up the occasional suggestive remark, but Ryan either seemed not to notice or was not affected by it. Cassie didn’t know what to make of that. He wasn’t asking her out. That she did know.

The night wore on nicely, though. Cassie was warm, pressed to Ryan’s side. He had finished his second drink and then laid back, stretching his arm out, and smiling at her in invitation. She lay back on his outstretched arm, using the crook of his shoulder as a pillow. He squeezed her slightly and then let his hand fall innocently to her side. They listened quietly as Jon and Laney played seven degrees of separation with their classmates.

“Jim Stevens is cousin to May what’s-her-name—”

“Cheater! You need their full names or it doesn’t count.”

“Struthers,” Ryan interjected, and Jon smirked.

“May Struthers! Who went out with Bill Wainsworth—”

“Isn’t that her cousin, too?” Cassie asked, and she could feel Ryan shake with laughter underneath her cheek.

“Eugh, I hope not,” Laney said. “I saw them making out in the stairwell that one time.”

They all groaned and laughed, Jon finally stuttering his way to connecting Jim Stevens with Laney herself. It continued until Laney connected Cassie with Ryan, which included mention of a brief and awkward romance with Jon in seventh grade.

“Seventh grade is the year that never counted!” Cassie said, her face heating whenever Laney brought up that brief part of her history.

“Oh, nice,” Jon said. “So going out with me equals erasing an entire year from existence?”

The relationship in question had lasted exactly one week and included two pecks on the cheek and five separate handholding episodes. “No, really,” he continued, pressing now. “How much time do we erase for Jeff?”

Cassie felt her blush flood her face, and she gritted her teeth, sitting up. “At least a year for him, too,” she said with a shrug. Her first real boyfriend had only met her friends a handful of times, the whole thing collapsing after a month.

“Well, at least you rate as high as Jeff,” Laney said with a conciliatory pat on Jon’s knee.

“I feel better then,” he said with a grin. “Makes me wonder about your recent dry spell though, Cass. Afraid of losing any more time, huh?”

“You two worry about your own love lives!” Cassie exclaimed, lying back down on the blanket. Ryan had been quiet through the teasing, but she was glad to find his arm waiting for her. She pressed close to him; it helped with the embarrassment to have somewhere safe to hide.

“I’m not worried,” Jon answered breezily. “Samantha Collins is in love with me.”

Laney snorted. “Right, because she’s ever even spoken to you?”

“It’s all changing this year. We have art together. I predict we’ll be together by the end of homecoming.”

“You have lofty goals, my friend,” Ryan said, laughing.

“I don’t need a love life,” Laney said, sitting up straight. “I’m gonna find a ghost by the end of this year, so help me.”

“How romantic,” Cassie quipped.

“Look who’s talking! What are your plans for this weekend? Babysitting? You wait until you’re chopped up and murdered because you spent all your free nights babysitting,” Laney exclaimed, firing back at Cassie.

“You know that just because I babysit doesn’t mean that some psycho will try to murder me. That’s really just in the movies. You know that, don’t you?”

“I know that all urban legends have to start somewhere,” Laney retorted. “Do you really think that out of all the mental hospitals in all the country, there’s never been an escapee?”

“Are you trying to tell us the movie Halloween is based off a true story?” Ryan teased.

“No, but Texas Chainsaw was,” Laney retorted.

“Loosely,” Ryan said, catching Cassie’s eye and shaking his head. It was hard to see much of anything, but Cassie’s eyes had adjusted well by now, and she could make out the quirk in Ryan’s smile. She grinned back before hiding her smile against his chest.

“Did you know that they’ve dug up coffins with scratches on the inside? People were buried alive and then woke up down there. That’s why it’s called a wake when someone kicks it. It’s to see if the person actually wakes up.”

“You are seriously creepy,” Cassie said.

“Which is, of course, why we love you,” Jon added with a yawn. “You almost ready to give up on the Gray Lady?”

“Oh, I guess,” Laney answered through a sigh. She pulled out her own phone and checked the time. “Stupid ghost.”

“Doesn’t she know it’s your birthday?” Jon asked. Ryan hopped to his feet and offered a hand to Cassie. She took it, and he hauled her up to stand.

“Thanks for those,” Cassie motioned to the empty bottles. Ryan shrugged.

“You guys are driving us home, right?” Laney asked, stuffing her blanket into her backpack and hauling it over her shoulder. They agreed, of course, and as a group, they climbed over the low stone wall that separated the graveyard from the road.

“Hey, wait,” Cassie called out, the last to stumble over the rocks. She had almost tripped, the toe of her shoe catching between two stones, and when she looked down, out of the corner of her eye, she saw it.

Light.

“You forgot your lantern.”

It was strange, though. It hung, not on the ground but as though Jon had hooked it on a low branch. Cassie stared into the woods, squinting into the darkness. The soft orange glow seemed to suck the rest of the light out of the air, as though from the very moon itself. The trees were black voids in the dusky night. The lantern bobbed softly, though the wind had died—or at least the wind felt still where Cassie was standing. Somewhere the wind must have been pushing through the trees because a noise, low like
a whisper, hissed from the forest. The sound was indecipherable. If Cassie didn’t know better, she would have sworn it spoke to her.

Go now. Go.

“I have it here,” Jon answered, and Cassie whipped her head around to look at him. There was a click, and he swung the glass-encased light up. She winced away from the glare.

When she looked back, the orange glow was gone.

“We should go now,” Laney said, her voice soft.

***

What was strange was that it wasn’t the glow she’d remember. Not the light or the way it seemed to bob in the non-existent wind, not even the distant breeze that mimicked a whisper. It was the feeling that would plague her. Something indescribable. The way the wind seemed to die down around them and yet whipped through the trees, the way the leaves flipped over on themselves, something in the quality of the darkness that shifted and thickened. It floated around them, around her, like a cloak, heavy and oppressive. If the others noticed, they never said.

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About E.M Fitch

E.M. Fitch is an author who loves scary stories, chocolate, and tall trees. When not dreaming up new ways to torture characters, she is usually corralling her four children or thinking of ways to tire them out so she can get an hour of peace at night. She lives in Connecticut, surrounded by chaos, which she manages (somewhat successfully) with her husband, Marc.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram | Goodreads

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3 winners will receive an eGalley of OF
THE TREES, International.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Teaser Tuesday | BooksAndABeat.com

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB at Books And A Beat.

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!

 

My Teaser for this week is from

Something Deadly

by Rachel Lee

Genre: Supernatural, suspense, horror

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My Teaser

The hair on Markie’s neck stood on end as Kato howled. For a horrifying moment, an icy breeze seemed to blow over her. They were not alone.

And a scene from Kato’s point of view

The world was full of a plethora of smells: flowers, grass, trees, people, insects, animals…oh, the joy of filling his nostrils with the teeming life of the world.

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My Review

I’ll admit, the cover made me pick up this book. The shades of blue, the tropical palms and sea, and the wolf peering out at me. I had to check it out further.

Then the blurb sealed the deal and I brought it home.

An island paradise, greed, ambition, and an ancient curse. It all leads you on a terrifying journey into the supernatural.

Veterinarian Markie Cross moved to the island to save animals. Her closest companion is her wolf hybrid, Kato. They have this magical connection, can almost tell what each other is thinking. This connection plays an important role when islanders start dying in ways that can’t be explained.

Dr. Quinn calls in the CDC when he suspects a contagion may be loose on the island. He brushes elbows with Markie when he’s called to the scene of a mysterious death. Soon, they are forced to accept that something not human is behind the deaths. Along with Kato, they must face the evil or no one will survive it’s wrath.

I loved this book. So much was happening and the author sucked me right in.

Markie is such a wonderful character. She’s smart, successful, and adores Kato.

Kato is my hero. A wolf hybrid with mystical intelligence. His compassion for the animals brought into Markie’s veterinarian clinic is so heart warming. The author’s choice to have Kato share his thoughts, to see what he sees, is such a great idea.

I really liked Declan too. He’s the islands doctor and medical examiner. It doesn’t take him long to connect with Kato. That made me happy, as the way to Markie’s heart is through her wolf.

Lots of mystery, along with some character’s you don’t mind dying, a couple you do, and a supernatural element, make this one you’ll want to read straight through.

I’ve read this book several times and it still gives me thrills and chills

5 Stars

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Synopsis

An island of beauty becomes A GATEWAY TO TERROR…

Few could argue that the exclusive island of San Martin is anything less than paradise. In this wealthy enclave, veterinarian Markie Cross has a thriving practice, but her almost psychic connection to animals has made human relationships — especially with men — harder to navigate. Until mystery, murder and something unfathomable shatter her world…

People are dying strange, unexplained deaths. Island medical examiner Declan Quinn is stunned at the unearthly condition of the bodies, and he and Markie share a dark suspicion that something terrifying and impossible is at work here. Something that may not be human.

As a sinister message becomes clearer, Markie and Dec race to understand the tragic history of this island paradise and unlock the true nature of the evil now descending. Because if they can’t, Markie may become the next victim….

Amazon

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How about you? Got a tease? Tell me!

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Check out my list of reviews HERE.

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

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It’s been a very quiet week for me and I couldn’t think of what to post today. So, I pulled together a short review and am asking for your help on which book to review next.

I’ve read a bunch of books and really need to get some reviews written before I forget the stories. You can choose from the ones I’ll be showing below or I’m open to suggestion!

The Army Of The Night

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Review

The great thing about short stories is they aren’t that expensive and you get a sample of the author’s writing to see if they are a good fit for you.

And now and then you find that little gem that just wows you.

This is tagged as a historical horror and that’s what you get. But when Napoleon needs to find a safe passage to retreat through the mountains, the author gives you a supernatural solution. You can bet the solution comes with strings. Some horrific ones.

The writing pulls you right in and the historical setting comes through as the anticipation builds. Once the secret hidden in the mountains is revealed, the action really gets going and the horror comes out.

So glad I tried this story and would love it if the author chose to write more about the characters and beings that haunt these pages.

4 Stars

Synopsis

It’s 1813. Napoleon’s army needs to retreat from Spain and return to France, but the main pass across the jagged peaks of the Pyrenees is within easy reach of the British forces.
In his search for an alternative escape route, Alaine Bellanger discovers more than just an ancient mountain trail. High up, in a cleft between two peaks, he finds something very strange indeed — and someone even stranger.
But who can he tell?
And who would believe him?
(A long short story: 17,000 words.)

If you want to read this one, it’s free right now on Amazon. Just click on the cover to grab a copy!

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And now for some I’ve read and need to review. Let me know which you want to read next or suggest something else!

Pale Rider: Zombies Versus Dinosaurs #1

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This is also free on Amazon. Just click on the cover to grab your copy!

Synopsis

“I am often left to wonder why a zombie, walking around in the sun, smells better than a pooping dinosaur.”

Two worlds collide in this action novelette. Zombies have destroyed civilization. Gasoline fuel is no longer an option, but humanity must find a way to survive. In response to trying to restore our way of life, we engineer franken-monsters. Because of their small brains and massive sizes, these beasts make quick work of farming and clearing land. These large creatures are immune to the zombie virus and perform excellently in loud conditions. They are easy to train. They behave like war horses, prone to help charge in and defend our livelihood.

In honor of the past, and to help build our future, we named these creatures dinosaurs.

***

Turning Grace

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Synopsis

**Medal Winner of the 2014 New Apple Book Awards in the E-Book Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror Category**

Life or death?
It all seems to be the same for Grace…

Some of us have been there before — falling for the hot, popular jock who just so happens to be dating the hot, popular girl in school.

Your snarky-but-always-right bestie insists you make a move, but you’re not so much into putting yourself out there.

Then it happens, and suddenly you find yourself eating a cat on your neighbor’s porch.

No? Never happened to you?

Well, Grace Watkins can’t say the same. Her hunger is growing with each day that passes and her urges are getting harder to control.
No one can explain why her body is changing, except one man.

***

Hell’s Gate: A Victorian Monster Novel

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Synopsis

Uncle Howard went looking for Hell. No-one imagined he might find it.

The locals say he sacrifices girls to demons at his estate on the remote coast of Victorian Ireland. But no-one has seen him for weeks before Hope and her family arrive to visit.

Did he leave on another quixotic quest, or does he have something more dangerous than fairies living at the bottom of his garden?

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

For a list of my reviews go HERE.

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Are you going to watch Preacher? I sure am.

Fear The Walking Dead will wrap up its season and I’ll be good to go.

Wanted to share some trailers in case you missed them.

Enjoy!

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So what do you think? I think this is going to be a great series. Sure hope there’s lots of thrills and chills to keep me watching!

Got any shows you want to recommend for me? I’m always looking for new ones.

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Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

For a list of my reviews go HERE

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

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

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Welcome to my Saturday Screams where I share reviews of all things scary.

For today I have another Ellie Jordan: Ghost Trapper book to share with you. I adore this series. So fun and so scary.

But before I get to that, I have something exciting to share with you! The first book in this series is free right now on Amazon. Click on the cover below to grab your copy and get started on this series now!

And now, without further adieu….

Terminal

Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #4

by J.L. Bryan

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My Review

All aboard! This series takes a trip to the past. To the wild west, train robberies, and murder. What begins as a banshee threatening a family quickly becomes a show down between Ellie and her team and gun slinging ghosts.

It’s bad enough to trap ghosts in one location. Imagine a whole ghost town, and a haunted train.

I’m still loving this series and it’s characters.

The hauntings get stranger and scarier.

The romance is there. Not too much in this book as there are too many things going on for any of them to be indulging much in affairs of the heart.

And a big change might be coming soon. Ellie’s boss, the owner of the ghost trapping agency, has been acting morose, withdrawn. He’s mentioned maybe selling the agency and retiring. What will Ellie do then? She can’t see herself working for some phony ghost busting show, or bilking customers for large amounts of money. Can she keep doing this without him? Is she ready?

This installment in the series is more complex, tighter. There’s a lot of history leeching into it.  There’s always some of that as the things being investigated are dead. You have to go back to the beginning of their stories to solve the current hauntings. But this was double fun. I love the old west and couldn’t be happier with how this investigation went down.

Another excellent book in the series. Still loving it.

5 Stars

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Synopsis

Ellie Jordan and her apprentice Stacey investigate a house in an elaborate planned community that was only half-built before it went bankrupt, leaving an instant ghost town with only a few residents. The entity haunting this house is a banshee that feeds on sadness and misery.

Unfortunately for Ellie, this is no simple haunting, but just one symptom of the cursed land on which the suburban community was built. The old railroad line running through the nearby woods might just be a conduit for lost souls, including dark spirits with ill intentions toward the living. Ellie soon finds herself facing one of the most complex and difficult hauntings she’s seen in her career.

AMAZON

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And nest week I’ll be sharing my thoughts on the fifth book in this series

House Of Whispers

Ellie Jordan, Ghost Trapper #5

By J.L. Bryan

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Synopsis

The luxurious Lathrop Grand Hotel is a Savannah institution that has entertained guests for more than a century and a half, offering some of the finest accommodations in the city. Famously haunted, the hotel draws tourists from around the world eager to encounter its numerous ghosts. The hotel is also known for being honeycombed with hidden doors and secret passages, enabling staff to appear and disappear quickly as they attend to the hotel’s guests.

Now some of the spirits in the Lathrop Grand have turned violent, even murderous. Ellie and Stacey must determine which ghost has become dangerous and remove it from the hotel before it can claim any more lives. They soon learn the hotel has secrets even darker than the notorious string of nineteenth-century murders that made it famous, and the powerful entities inhabiting it don’t intend to leave without a fight.

AMAZON

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Click on the covers for my reviews of the first three books is this exciting series.

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These count towards my Horror Reading Challenge

Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

For a list of my reviews go HERE

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

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

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a storm of secrets Banner

Good guys. Bad Guys. The Bermuda triangle.

What do they all have in common?

Check out A Storm Of Secrets to find out.

And don’t forget to enter the giveaway!

A Storm Of Secrets

The Storm Surge Trilogy #1

by Shona Perrett

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Synopsis

Special Agent Rios wakes up in an abandoned aeroplane. He finds himself on an unfamiliar island in the Bermuda Triangle, suffering from what appears to be amnesia. He must search for clues about his identity, as well as decipher the secrets of the island itself.

But will the truth be too terrifying to live with? Strangers hell-bent on murder, stranded young pilots, and signs of organized weapons trade. These things only touch the surface. What lurks in the skies above is far more sinister.

There is a strange energy high above the clouds, stewing deep within the Bermuda waters. And it grows restless. A storm is coming. A storm like no other, seeking to invade their minds. With the help of his newly acquainted team of special ops pilots, Rios must find a way to stop the storm before it destroys them…from the inside out.

Enjoy this glimpse inside A Storm Of Secrets

The heat sank in like a deprived leech, eagerly awaiting its feast of blood. If this place was one or the other, it felt a lot like hell. Was he dead? Hard to know. He felt aloof, broken. But he always imagined death as quieter, like that gentle feeling you get before drifting off into a dream. This was more like a nightmare. Not frightening enough to rouse him from slumber, but not peaceful enough to let him rest.

The ticking of a clock sounded, dully at first, then rose in volume. It reminded him of a time gone by, a distant memory of people marching in single file. The sound rose, beckoning him. Ancient, mysterious. Like war drums, summoning him to consciousness.

Was this finally death? No. It couldn’t be. This was too loud a chant for even death. It was filled with passion, violence. No, this was life. But whose? The rhythm pulsed through the chasms of his being until all he could feel was its power, raw and unrelenting.

The climax of the drums rose to a deafening volume, in perfect tempo with the beating of his flurried heart. And then in one final rise it all went quiet. A nice, peaceful sort of quiet. He felt himself breathing in deeply as he opened his eyes to a dreary sky, sunlight peeking through the clouds like pinholes. He was alive. But where was he? And who was he? He remembered his name. Rios.

He glanced down at his side, noticing an open gash through his ripped shirt, blood oozing from the flesh. He was lying on his back. Rios patted at his torso, finding a small flask of whiskey in his jacket pocket. He sat up, pulled the flask out and unscrewed the cap, pouring a little over his wound. Groaning in pain, he drank the last quarter, hoping it would offer some relief. He took off his jacket and then his T-shirt and tied it in a knot around his waist to stop the blood flow.

Rios was in the aisle of a small aeroplane. Some of the chairs were strewn about, ripped from their bolts. Their blue cushions torn apart in places, drooping over the sides of the white and silver framing. Part of the roof had been torn off. The door exit sign to his left was hanging half off its hinges, still flickering, and there was an electrical buzz from the front of the plane.

Rios tried to call out for help, but all he could manage was a mumble. He took a moment, then propped himself up against the chair next to him. Rios scanned the aisles for people, but saw only empty chairs, the middle row stained in what appeared to be thick, sticky blood. Some of the overhead luggage compartments were open, suitcases and smaller bags scattered around the floor of the plane.

Puzzled, Rios peered cautiously out the windows. No one in sight. Only a clearing, followed by palm trees for what looked like miles on either side. He put his black jacket on unbuttoned and clambered down out of the wreckage, into the boggy swamp, a little over knee height. Where was he? Where was he headed before the crash? Frustrated, he pushed against his head, hoping the answers would pop out.

“Think damn it” he muttered to himself. “Where are you?”

Rios looked down, noticing a shiny grey briefcase in the water. Something in the back of his mind recalled it as important.

The water stirred as he picked up the metal case. It reflected clearly for a second as the muddy water parted, just long enough for him to notice that a figure had emerged from the trees behind him. His instincts kicked in.

Rios spun around as quickly as he took his next breath, holding a three inch knife to the man’s throat.

“Who are you!?”

Author Shona Parrett

a storm of secrets Shona

Shona Perrett is a first time author, blogger and closet poet. Her novel A Storm of Secrets is due to release November 2015. Shona studied applied writing in her home town of Whangarei, and is now looking to branch out into creative business enterprising.

Passionate about finding beauty in the dirt, she aims to write stories of redemption. Shona believes that narratives exist to teach us how to love one another. That every day, we all communicate through the medium of story, seeking out ways to connect with the world around us.

She believes they are one of the most ancient forms of creative expression and vulnerability, and are therefore a fundamental part of what it means to be human.

You can visit her at www.shonaperrett.com or on Facebook at www.facebook.com/shona.perrett.

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a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Until the next time….

Thanks so much for visiting fuonlyknew!

For a list of my reviews go HERE

For a list of free eBooks updated daily go HERE

To see all of my giveaways click on the Christmas Flamingos below!