Tuesday, 13 November 2018

The Hidden Children by Reshma K.Barshikar

~ Release Day Blitz ~
The Hidden Children (The Lost Grimoire #1)
by Reshma K.Barshikar
13th November 2018


About the Book:
‘What price would you pay to be extraordinary? What would you do to speak to a butterfly? 

Shayamukthy cruises through life: shooting hoops, daydreaming and listening to her favourite books. Even moving from the US to India, to a new school, a new culture, hasn't really rattled her. But something isn't right anymore and it begins when 'New Girl' joins the school.

She pulls Shui into a world of magic and wonderment, a world she has been hidden from all her life. What starts as a quest to look for a lost book, hurtles Shui into a world where people live in trees, talk to the dead and speak to butterflies.

But like all power, magic comes at a steep price, and under all things wondrous lie demons waiting to crawl out. The more Shui learns, the more she doubts everything and everyone around her. 

Will she be able to master her powers, or will they devour her and everyone she loves?



Order Your Copy from AMAZON now!

Read an Excerpt:

‘That was pretty dramatic,’ said Anya, as I put the cards away. ‘Is it always like this...?’ she asked, floating around my room, touching everything but not. Her fingers grazed over the junk on my bedside table, the white alarm clock that never woke me up on time, my Winnie the Pooh bear from when I was four. Then she walked back to my window and smelt the candles. I saw my bra peeking out of from under a towel and leapfrogged across the bed to hide it from her. By the time I’d turned around, she’d lit them all. The votives glowed like fireflies, and the flames flickered yellow gold and the edges of the window lit up and it was suddenly so pretty that I gasped. They would go out any minute, I thought to myself. It was stupid to have flames by the window, but I loved the way they looked against the night sky, my very own queen’s necklace. After walking around the entire room, she smoothened her skirt underneath her and sat, very delicately, on the edge of my bed, her one leg neatly tucked in behind the other.

‘So then,’ she said, ‘tell me all about school.’

And I did. I told her about the crazy house names and the basketball; how I haven’t been able to shoot very well in a while. I told her about the move from Denver, the first few terrible days and months. I told her about the teachers, their eccentricities, how Mr Nelson never finished his apple at lunch. I bitched about Malvika, avoided Aadyant completely, and we laughed about the basketball hitting her stomach. We wondered how Malvika would feel if she woke up in the morning and found her porcelain cheeks covered with pustules.

I asked about her pendant, a doughnut-shaped stone that nestled between her collarbones, and about her goth-like ring. She said they were both the Ouroboros, a snake eating its tail, and that they had belonged to her mother. She told me about her mother, how she’d died and I felt terrible. I told her about my knot, the one that was buried deep in the cotton that clogged my brain up. We talked about the whys and the hows of Kate Bush, whom I had no idea about, and Ranbir Kapoor’s abs; she giggled when I showed her his picture on my desktop. It was 10 p.m. when Ma walked in and asked Anya for her dad’s phone number so that we could get permission for a sleep over. By 4 a.m. we had talked ourselves out; our mouths were dry and our fingers were tingly. And the candles never went out. 

About the Author:
Travel writer and novelist Reshma K Barshikar is an erstwhile Investment Banker who, as she tells it, ‘fell down a rabbit hole and discovered a world outside a fluorescent cubicle.’ As a travel and features writer, she contributes to National Geographic Traveller, Harper’s Bazaar, Grazia, The Sunday Guardian, SilverKris, The Mint Lounge and The Hindu. Fade Into Red, published by Random House India was her debut novel and featured in Amazon Top 10 Bestsellers. She also holds well renowned workshops for young adults at both BDL Museum and Kala Ghoda and is keen to build a strong Young Adult reading and writing community to fill the desperate lack of young adult fiction in the Indian Market. Her new Young Adult novel, The Hidden Children, will be launching at the Vizag Junior Literary Festival. Reshma is from the ISB Class of 2003. She calls both Mumbai and the Nilgiris home. 


Contact the Author:
Website I Facebook I Twitter I Goodreads




Monday, 12 November 2018

Jaws of the Wolf by Charlotte Jardine


Jaws of the Wolf
Charlotte Jardine
(The Visigoth Chronicles, #1)
Publication date: October 30th 2018
Genres: Historical, Romance, Young Adult
He’s her father’s slave. She’s promised to another. But war changes everything.
Tervingi Territory, 376 AD. Gelvira dreams of becoming a powerful jeweler. But the arrogant son of a tribal elder wants her for a wife instead. After a Hun raid sends her people into exile, her chance to master the ancient secrets of her craft are stripped away…
Adafuns yearns to become a great warrior and win Gelvira’s affection. But as a slave in her father’s service, he has little chance of either. Captured and carried off by the Huns, Adafuns’ dream of being a warrior could come true… at the cost of losing Gelvira forever.
With her people starving, marrying the tribal elder’s spoiled son may be Gelvira’s only hope to save her family. Will Adafuns reunite with the exiles in time to free Gelvira from her loathsome vows?
Jaws of the Wolf is the exciting first novel in the epic Visigoth Chronicles series of YA adventures. If you like strong heroines, thrilling action, and rich historical detail, you’ll love Charlotte Jardine’s page-turning saga.
EXCERPT:
After the meeting broke up, Gelvira sat by the fire, mulling over everything she’d heard. The wood creaked as someone sat beside her. Their reiks’ son, Widin. She scowled. She wasn’t in the mood to talk to him. Not after the way he’d treated Pa.
“It must be a lot to take in,” Widin said. “Most of the men will be riding to war. Sorry, not to war. To rebuild old Roman fortifications.” His face darkened and he compressed his lips.
“Did you come to Erdeu to round up warriors in Lord Angmar’s name?” Gelvira asked.
He smiled. “Also to see you.”
She glanced around. Praise the Great Mother, Ma hadn’t heard. She’d be planning their wedding feast.
Widin motioned toward her amulet. “This is new. Did you make it?”
She nodded. “After the raid. I worked on it in the evenings, to take my mind off the Huns.” There was no way she’d tell him its purpose.
He traced the outline of the wolf. “I would have thought flowers or birds more appropriate for a maiden?”
A shiver ran through her. A wrongness. Then heat flared from the metal.
Widin snatched his hand back. “It … burnt me. Was it made using the Becoming One?”
“Yes,” she replied, head spinning with excitement. Had her amulet really done that?
He scowled. “Our people are under attack. You shouldn’t be wasting your time making baubles.”
“It’s a practice piece,” she replied, biting down on her anger. “Master Raginmar used it to teach me the rudiments of the Becoming One.”
“Ah, I see.” Widin’s black look faded. “You must make me something useful, once you’ve mastered the art. I’ll need the gods’ aid far more than you, safe behind your palisade.” He wound his fingers through hers and pulled them against his chest.
Ma noticed the gesture, and beamed.
“If it wasn’t for the Huns, I’d marry you before summer’s end,” he said, leaning close so his breath brushed her skin. “My father would prefer I took a wife who brings more political advantage. He doesn’t see it, but you’ve much in your favour: you’re well born, brave, and quite lovely to look at. And your jewellery will bring me renown, now you’re learning the Becoming One.”
“You honour me,” Gelvira replied, lowering her eyes so he couldn’t see her dismay. Marry him after the way he’d behaved? She couldn’t bear the thought. “As you said, you’re a warrior. You must deal with the raiders first. At times like these, marriage must wait.”
For one terrible moment, she felt almost grateful to the Huns.


Author Bio:
Charlotte Jardine writes Historical Fiction, Contemporary Romance and Romantic Adventure. Her books feature courageous heroines, big-hearted heroes, adventure and love.
Her love of history came from reading the adventures of Asterix and Tintin at a young age and continued into adult life, when she studied Classics and Roman History to postgraduate level at university.
While working as a desk slave by day, she spends her evenings escaping into other worlds via her writing.

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Thursday, 8 November 2018

Freefall (The Amalie Noether Chronicles #1) by Jana Williams

About the Book:
The deep-space transport ship, the Vera Rubin, is light years from Earth when botanist Elle Silver begins to question the use of their space-travel drug, HCH.  Elle notices a growing number of her friends and  fellow colonists awaken from their 90-day sleep cycles exhibiting a variety of negative side-effects and she begins to believe the drug is the culprit.  Some of the effects are minor, dry eyes and lack of appetite. Other symptoms are a bigger concern on a tiny ship packed with colonists.  With each sleep cycle completed, more and more colonists awaken both confused and barely concealing a simmering rage - rage that could be a catastrophe on a ship as crowded as the Vera Rubin.  Elle needs proof, but she also needs a plan. If the drug that allows them to travel deep-space is at fault, what then?  Elle and her friends Ashok, Achebe and Jin-Hai are pressed to their limits to find a solution to their problem before the ship erupts into chaos... with light years left to travel.



Find FREEFALL on Amazon.Com & Amazon.In


Read an Excerpt:


ONE

“Aaakkkkaaah,” Elle gasped as light like a thousand million suns seemed to explode behind her eyes, catapulting her into consciousness. Sleep apnea forced her to consciously attend to what was supposed to be an unconscious act. Elle was certain she knew intimately how it felt to die—she did it over and over again in her sleep. She lay still for a long moment, shaking off the dregs of her harsh awakening. Suddenly she opened her eyes. I had a dream. Which is weird; I hardly ever dream.

With her eyes now open, Elle was grateful for the deep shadows in the Skein. Scattered before her were only dim pools of light created by the pale glow of a monitoring station or data readout screens. The checkerboard of dim light and utter darkness was designed for sleep. Not just any kind of sleep, though—the Skein was made for folded, deep-space travel sleep, for human hibernation.

Peering around, Elle could vaguely identify the sleeping shapes of colonists floating weightless above and below her in the zero gravity of the ship’s inner core. They were tethered to the Skein via long filaments linking one sleeper to another like a daisy chain via a supple towing line. Each human hibernated for a three month cycle, gently tugged along by the Skein rather like balloons.

Over the course of their ninety-day sleep cycles, colonists passed through medical stations that performed muscle-tone tests and various neurological scans, body mass index tests, and more, until the Skein released them at the end of the ninety day cycle. They were netted and pulled into a brighter area where the onset of light coaxed them into wakefulness again. Elle was the sole exception. She hibernated like the other colonists, but her sleep was more erratic—uniformly unpredictable, in fact.

Now fully awake, Elle released the magnet that anchored her to the Skein and began pulling herself down towards a glowing iris of light at the bottom of a deep well of darkness. As she passed other colonists still deep in slumber, she took time to look into their faces. They were people she had trained with for the past fifteen years, as a cadet. Some faces were familiar, and so peaceful in sleep that she felt tempted to smooth the hair back off their faces as a mother would. Except that none of them had any hair. Each colonist was lasered head to toe before entering the Skein so the electronic scanners could accurately read the barcodes on the backs of their heads or the soles of their feet and attribute each medical test to the appropriate colonist’s file.

Elle encountered a colonist she didn’t immediately recognize and stopped to examine his face. Frowning, she gently grasped him by the shoulder and turned him so that one of his feet faced a nearby barcode scanner. A name immediately popped up on the screen, and Elle recited the name to herself while looking into the cadet’s face to memorize it. Grinning, she released him back to his journey in the Skein and floated on.

She was slowly approaching a distant junction that would pull her through the first airlock and into the waking chamber. Instead of waiting to be towed, Elle pushed off abruptly from her handhold on the Skein and cartwheeled towards the junction. Elle was fairly confident that she could stop herself in time to avoid smacking up against the other wall of the rotating core. She hadn’t missed once in over a year, but it was still chancy enough that the potential to pinwheel towards oblivion gave her a thrill.

At the final moment she did reach out and grab a strand of the Skein, which instantly stopped her forward motion. Reattaching her magnetic clip, Elle let it tow her into the light.

A low voice whispered across the room as Elle entered, “Good morning, El-lee. I see you’re awake early again.”

“Is it morning, Bea?” Elle said, her tone grudging, but she smiled at Bea’s long drawl of her name. Bea had absorbed the bastardization of Elle’s name and mimicked the other colonists’ teasing tone exactly. Bea was very observant.

“Well, theoretically it’s always morning somewhere in space, Elle.” Bea had brightened her voice just a little, testing the waters to see if Elle was really ready for her day.

Elle made shooing motions with her hand. “Still remembering how to breathe.”

“Ah, sleep apnea again?” Bea paused. “Want some water, then?”

“Yes, please.”

“All right. Five minutes while I find water for you. Then into the shower.”

As Bea trundled off to the kitchen, Elle muttered, “Space Mom.”

“I heard that.”

Elle grinned, which turned into a yawn and a stretch to help her body back into wakefulness. The webbing that held her carefully suspended between ceiling and floor in the half-gravity of the room stretched with her. She began ripping apart the Velcro strip that tethered the top of her lightweight disposable pajamas to the Skein.

With her other hand she groped for eye drops to lubricate her eyes. She had noted recently that her eyes often felt crackly if she was awakened too suddenly. It wasn’t a particularly pleas- ant sensation after nearly three months of sleep. Elle’s dry eyes were one of the very few side effects she experienced from hibernation. Or “stasis,” she corrected herself in a mildly snide mental voice.

Control really didn’t like the colonists’ use of the word “hibernation.” Their preferred term was completely detached from any association with the synthetic Hibernation Control Hormone that had been concocted from research done on hibernating bears on Earth—the very same hormone research that had nearly ended the dream of extended deep-space travel.

HCH had been tested extensively on bears in captivity, and then upon the last few found in the wild, before it ever went to human trials. An animal rights group known as Earth-First kept the bear hormone research in the news feeds daily with their guerrilla-like sorties against the actual scientists, the research facilities, and ultimately the human test agents, too. Finally Control had moved all training facilities for its deep-space cadets away from Earth completely. All cadets were now trained only on Moonbase and Marsbase to avoid any confrontations with Earth-First.

To Elle the most galling thing about the word “stasis” to describe the colonists’ hormone-assisted travel mode was that the phrase was completely detached from the colonists’ experiential reality. In theory, “stasis” sounded so serene: sleep for three months, wake up, eat, shower, visit for a few days with whatever teammates happen to be in rotation with you, then back to sleep again for another three or four light-years of travel.

Of the team of 150 travelers on board the Vera Rubin, most had reported varying degrees of lethargy and confusion upon awakening from hibernation. Many also reported dry mouth, dry eyes, inability to resume urination, little desire to eat anything, and a complete lack of interest in sex. This last problem was Control’s biggest worry. Yes, we are colonists, Elle acknowledged to herself. But she disagreed adamantly with Control’s assertion that as long as the colonists could have babies, their quality of life aboard ship could be damned.

It seemed Control felt so sure that everything else would balance out with time that they gave the green light to launch the Vera Rubin a full day ahead of schedule. Control theorized that all the negative HCH symptoms would disappear once the Vera Rubin entered the Three Sisters solar system and went into high orbit for a year around Amalie Noether, their targeted planet. Control was willing to bet the crew’s lives that normal functions would return once the colonists were off HCH completely.

“How are the eyes?”

Elle blinked away the excess lubricant and wiped it on her forearm. Her entire upper torso was bare now that she had tossed her top aside for recycling. Their sleep coverings needed to be as simple as possible so that in an emergency Bea would be able to remove a colonist from the Skein and disrobe them with one quick rip of Velcro. It wouldn’t require cutting, tearing or removal of complex garments to attach intravenous lines or heart monitors and begin incisions if the situation were dire.

Elle turned towards Bea as she blinked her eyes, hoping they would start to tear up on their own. She smiled at Bea’s well-worn apron with the faded daisies and multiple pockets. It had been a launch gift from one of the guys. Bea came into focus and Elle recognized what was supposed to be a look of concern on her face.

Bea’s facial programming wasn’t even close to the magnitude of expressions that her voice and language proto- cols had built into them. Bea would learn and adapt her language skills as she spent time with the three different teams of colonists. She could learn their body language and their slang. But Bea could only work with what she had been given as far as facial expressions were concerned.

Sadly, early on some smart ass had clipped an internal circuit that had left Bea with a perpetually droopy eyebrow. Weirdly enough, Bea had used it to advantage, making that droop express disapproval, disbelief, and even, with a tilt of her head, wry amusement. All this was augmented, of course, with her amazing linguistic skills. Bea was a gem of a rare sort.

“I think the eyes are good, Bea. I’m ready to try standing too, I think.”

“Good. Hold off on that.” Bea’s eyes lost their focus momentarily as she internalized the command to lower the Skein in which Elle was still entangled.

Once her bare feet hit the deck, Elle held onto the nearest threads and tested her weight. My balance feels good. Elle lifted one leg and then the other. She circled her ankles first right, then left. Finally nodding her approval, Elle ripped the Velcro away, releasing herself from the Skein completely, along with the pajama bottoms. Buck-naked, Elle looked up and caught Bea measuring her visually through squinted eyes.

“You don’t appear to have lost any weight at all. That’s really good, Elle. And your muscle tone appears good too. How do you feel?” If Bea could purse her lips, Elle imagined she would be doing so right now.

“Not hungry yet, but not nauseous, either.” Elle paused, doing a quick internal self-assessment.

“I’d say pretty good. How long was I down?”

“Eighty-six days without a hitch. There was some unusual cerebral activity just before you woke.” Bea continued more thoughtfully. “It almost looked like REM sleep. You woke up so suddenly, once I noticed I didn’t get a reading on it.”

Elle laughed. “Maybe Angie did. I think it was my apnea kicking in that woke me.”

The Vera Rubin had two crew support computers on board, prosaically named A and B by Control. The crew immediately gave them human names, of course, and afterwards referred to them in all dispatches as Angie and Beatrice. Or Bea.

Overall, the ship ran itself with its own massive array of computers. The Vera Rubin was essentially a deep-space ferry transporting a cargo of 150 colonists who slept and lived aboard. Elle’s team was just the first wave of what would be five shuttles over a span of fifteen years.

The HCH allowed the crew to hibernate throughout most of the nearly three year journey, thus avoiding personal conflict while minimizing the amount of food, air, and water needed, and also the mechanical impact on the ship itself. The Vera Rubin had been built to largely be self-cleaning and self-guiding because at any point in time there were only about ten or fifteen human colonists awake. Even after waking, many were groggy and lethargic from the aftereffects of HCH sleep. A few colonists came out of the hibernation cycle decidedly volatile, but so far all symptoms seemed to disappear with time.

“Well, let’s get some tests out of the way and then toss you into the shower.” Bea started to turn away, then circled back. “Do you need some help getting to the lab?”

Elle held out one hand towards Bea and plastered a pleading look on her face. “Hold my hand, Bea. You know how I hate doctors and tests.”

Bea snorted, an explosive sound of either wry amusement or disgust—Elle felt it could be either. To her credit Bea did pause a moment, apparently giving Elle’s request due consideration. Finally Bea trundled forward and took Elle’s hand in her own metallic grip. “The things I do.”


About the Author:
Jana Williams is certain that fiction can change people’s lives - especially women and girls.  Her own life is testimony to that fact.  One of five daughters, she was raised by a single-mom who placed a high value on reading and storytelling.

The ability to read, coupled with a child’s innate curiosity about the world, and access to books to satisfy that curiosity can offer significant opportunity to a child. Like most writers Jana has bounced from job to job, absorbing stories, cultures and customs as she worked.  She has been a high-speed motion picture photographer, a VFX coordinator, worked in the film industry, and the publishing trade as a book seller - a publisher’s rep and now an author.

But her first love is reading…. and with each book of the Freefall trilogy sold Jana will donate funds to Literacy agencies around the world whose work is to bring the joy of reading to others.

Enjoy a good adventure story and help others learn to read at the same time !

Find/Like Jana on Facebook  
Find Jana’s Writing advice - Twitter






Wednesday, 7 November 2018

The Fever King by Victoria Lee

The Fever King
Victoria Lee
Published by: Skyscape
Publication date: March 1st 2019
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

In the former United States, sixteen-year-old Noam Álvaro wakes up in a hospital bed, the sole survivor of the viral magic that killed his family and made him a technopath. His ability to control technology attracts the attention of the minister of defense and thrusts him into the magical elite of the nation of Carolinia.

The son of undocumented immigrants, Noam has spent his life fighting for the rights of refugees fleeing magical outbreaks—refugees Carolinia routinely deports with vicious efficiency. Sensing a way to make change, Noam accepts the minister’s offer to teach him the science behind his magic, secretly planning to use it against the government. But then he meets the minister’s son—cruel, dangerous, and achingly beautiful—and the way forward becomes less clear.

Caught between his purpose and his heart, Noam must decide who he can trust and how far he’s willing to go in pursuit of the greater good.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble

READ CHAPTER 1:

Outbreaks of magic started all kinds of ways. Maybe a tank coming in from the quarantined zone didn’t get hosed down properly. Maybe, like some people said, the refugees brought it up with them from Atlantia, the virus hiding out in someone’s blood or in a juicy peach pie.

But when magic infected the slums of west Durham, in the proud sovereign nation of Carolinia, it didn’t matter how it got there.

Everybody still died.

Noam was ringing up Mrs. Ellis’s snuff tins when he nearly toppled into the cash register.

He all but had to fight her off as she tried to force him down into a folding chair—swore he’d just got a touch dizzy, but he’d be fine, really. Go on home. She left eventually, and he went to stand in front of the window fan for a while, holding his shirt off his sweat-sticky back and trying not to pass out.

He spent the rest of his shift reading Bulgakov under the counter. He felt just fine.

That evening he locked the doors, pulled chicken wire over the windows, and took a new route to the Migrant Center. In this neighborhood, you had to if you didn’t want to get robbed. Once upon a time, or so Noam had heard, there’d been a textile mill here. The street would’ve been full of workers heading home, empty lunch pails in hand. Then the mill had gone down and apartments went up, and by the 1960s, Ninth Street had been repopulated by rich university students with their leather satchels and clove cigarettes. All that was before the city got bombed halfway to hell in the catastrophe, of course.

Noam’s ex used to call it “the Ninth Circle.” She meant it in Dante’s sense.

The catastrophe was last century, though. Now the university campus blocked the area in from the east, elegant stone walls keeping out the riffraff while Ninth and Broad crumbled under the weight of five-person refugee families crammed into one-room apartments, black markets buried in basements, laundry lines strung between windows like market lights. Sure, maybe you shouldn’t wander around the neighborhood at night draped in diamonds, but Noam liked it anyway.

“Someone’s famous,” Linda said when he reached the back offices of the Migrant Center, a sly smile curving her lips as she passed him the morning’s Herald.

Noam grinned back and looked.

Massive Cyberattack Disables Central News Bureau

Authorities link hack to Atlantian cyberterrorist affiliates.

“Haven’t the faintest idea what you’re talking about. Say, have you got any scissors?”

“What for?”

“I’m gonna frame this.”

Linda snorted and swatted him on the arm. “Get on, you. Brennan has some task he wants finished this week, and I don’t think you, him, and your ego can all fit in that office.”

Which, fair: the office was pretty small. Tucked into the back corner of the building, with Brennan’s name and Director printed on the door in copperplate, it was pretty much an unofficial storage closet for all the files and paperwork Linda couldn’t cram anywhere else. Brennan’s desk was dwarfed by boxes stacked precariously around it, the man himself leaning close to his holoreader monitor with reading glasses perched on the end of a long nose and a pen behind one ear.

“Noam,” he said, glancing up when the door opened. “You made it.”

“Sorry I missed yesterday. I had to cover someone’s shift at the computer store after I got off the clock at Larry’s.”

Brennan waved a dismissive hand. “Don’t apologize. If you have to work, you have to work.”

“Still.”

It wasn’t guilt, per se, that coiled up in Noam’s stomach. Or maybe it was. That was his father’s photograph on the wall, after all, though his face was hidden by a bandanna tied over his nose and mouth. His father’s hands holding up that sign—Refugee rights are human rights. That was in June 2118, during the revolt over the new, more stringent citizenship tests. It had been the largest protest in Carolinian history.

“Linda said you had something for me to work on?” Noam said, tilting his head toward the holoreader.

“It’s just database management, I’m afraid, nothing very interesting.”

“I love databases.” Noam smiled, and Brennan smiled back. The expression lifted the exhaustion from Brennan’s face like a curtain rising from a window, sunlight streaming through.

Brennan oriented him to the task, then gave up his desk chair for Noam to get to work. He squeezed Noam’s shoulder before he left to help Linda with dinner, and a warm beat of familiarity took root in the pit of Noam’s stomach. Brennan might try to put up boundaries, clear delineations between professional life and how close Brennan had been to Noam’s family, but the cracks were always visible.

That was pretty much the only reason Noam didn’t tell him up front: database management was mind-numbingly boring. After you figured out how to script your way past the problem, it was just a matter of waiting around. He’d have once maybe emailed Carly or someone while the program executed. But they were all dead now, and between the Migrant Center and two jobs, Noam didn’t have time to meet new people. So he sat and watched text stream down the command console, letters blurring into numbers until the screen was wavering light.

A dull ache bored into Noam’s skull.

Maybe he was more tired than he thought, because he didn’t remember what happened between hitting “Execute” and Brennan shaking him awake. Noam lurched upright.

“You all right?” Brennan asked.

“What? Oh—fine, sorry. I must have . . . dozed off.” Noam seized the holoreader, tapping at the screen until it lit up again. The script was finished, anyway, and no run-time errors. Thankfully. “It’s all done.”

The thin line between Brennan’s brows deepened. “Are you feeling okay? You look . . .”

“Fine. I’m fine. Just tired.” Noam attempted a wan smile. He really hoped he wasn’t coming down with whatever it was Elliott from the computer store had. Only, he and Elliott had kissed in the back room on their lunch break yesterday, so yeah, he probably had exactly what Elliott had.

“Maybe you should go on home,” Brennan said, using that grip on Noam’s shoulder to ease him back from the computer. “I can help Linda finish up dinner.”

“I can—”

“It wasn’t a request.”

Noam made a face, and Brennan sighed.

“For me, Noam. Please. I’ll drop by later on if I have time.”

There was no arguing with Brennan when he got all protective. So Noam just exhaled and said, “Yeah, all right. Fine.”

Brennan’s hand lingered a beat longer than usual on Noam’s shoulder, squeezing slightly, then let go. When Noam looked over, Brennan’s expression gave nothing away as he said, “Tell your dad hi for me.”

Noam had arrived at the Migrant Center in the early evening. Now it was night, the deep-blue world illuminated by pale streetlight pooling on the sidewalk. It was unusually silent. When Noam turned onto Broad, he found out why: a checkpoint was stationed up at the intersection by the railroad tracks—floodlights and vans, police, even a few government witchings in military uniform.

Right. No one without a Carolinian passport would be on the street tonight, not with Immigration on the prowl.

Noam’s papers were tucked into his back pocket, but yeah, he didn’t need to deal with Chancellor Sacha’s anti-Atlantian bullshit right now. Not with this headache. He cut through the alley between the liquor store and the barbecue joint to skirt the police perimeter. It was a longer walk home from there, but Noam didn’t mind.

He liked the way tonight smelled, like smoked ribs and gasoline. Like oncoming snow.

When he got to his building, he managed to get the door open—the front latch was ancient enough it probably counted as precatastrophe. Fucking thing always got stuck, always, and Noam had written to the super fifty times, for what little difference that’d made. It was November, but the back of Noam’s neck was sweat-damp by the time he finally shouldered his way into the building and trudged into his apartment.

Once upon a time, this building was a bookstore. It’d long since been converted to tenements, all plywood walls and hung-up sheets for doors. The books were still there, though, yellowing and mildewed. They made him sneeze, but he read a new one every day all the same, curled up in a corner and out of the way of the other tenants. It was old and worn out, but it was home.

Noam touched the mezuzah on the doorframe as he went in, a habit he hadn’t picked up till after his mother died but felt right somehow. Not that being extra Jewish would bring her back to life.

Noam’s father had been moved from the TV to the window.

“What’s up, Dad?”

No answer. That was nothing new. Noam was pretty sure his father hadn’t said three words in a row since 2120. Still, Noam draped his arms over his father’s lax shoulders and kissed his cheek.

“I hope you want pasta for dinner,” Noam said, “’cause that’s what we’ve got.”

He left his father staring out at the empty street and busied himself with the saucepans. He set up the induction plate and hunched over it, steam wafting toward his face as the water simmered. God, it was unbearably hot, but he didn’t trust himself to let go of the counter edge, not with this dizziness rippling through his mind.

Should’ve had more than an apple for lunch. Should’ve gone to bed early last night, not stayed up reading Paradise Lost for the fiftieth time.

If his mother were here, she’d have dragged him off to bed and stuck him with a mug of aguapanela. It was some sugary tea remedy she’d learned from her Colombian mother-in-law that was supposed to cure everything. Noam had never learned how to make it.

Another regret to add to the list.

He dumped dried noodles into the pot. “There’s a checkpoint at the corner of Broad and Main,” he said, not expecting an answer.

None came. Jaime Álvaro didn’t care about anything anymore, not even Atlantia.

Noam turned down the heat on the stove. “Couldn’t tell if they made any arrests. Nobody’s out, so they might start knocking on doors later.”

He turned around. His father’s expression was the same slack-jawed one he’d been wearing when Noam first came in.

“Brennan asked about you,” Noam said. Surely that deserved a blink, at least.

Nothing.

“I killed him.”

Nothing then either.

Noam spun toward the saucepan again, grabbing a fork and stabbing at the noodles, which slipped through the prongs like so many slimy worms. His gut surged up into his throat, and Noam closed his eyes, free hand gripping the edge of the nearest bookshelf.

“You could at least pretend to give a shit,” he said to the blackness on the other side of his eyelids. The pounding in his head was back. “I’m sad about Mom, too, you know.”

His next breath shuddered all the way down into his chest—painful, like inhaling frost.

His father used to sing show tunes while he did the dinner dishes. Used to check the classifieds every morning for job offers even though having no papers meant he’d never get the good ones—he still never gave up. Never ever.

And Noam . . . Noam had to remember who his father really was, even if that version of him belonged to another life, ephemeral as footprints in the snow. Even if it felt like he’d lost both parents the day his mother died.

Noam switched off the heat, spooning the noodles into two bowls. No sauce, so he drizzled canola oil on top and carried one of the bowls over to his father. Noam edged his way between the chair and the window, crouching down in that narrow space. He spun noodles around the fork. “Open up.”

Usually, the prospect of food managed to garner a reaction. Not this time.

Nausea crawled up and down Noam’s breastbone. Or maybe it was regret. “I’m sorry,” he said after a beat and tried for a self-deprecating grin. “I was . . . it’s been a long day. I was a dick. I’m sorry, Dad.”

His father didn’t speak and didn’t open his mouth.

Noam set the pasta bowl on the floor and wrapped his other hand around his father’s bony wrist. “Please,” Noam said. “Just a few bites. I know it’s not Mom’s cooking, but . . . for me. Okay?”

Noam’s mother had made the most amazing food. Noam tried to live up to her standard, but he never could. He’d given up on cooking anything edible, on keeping a kosher kitchen, on speaking Spanish. On making his father smile.

Noam rubbed his thumb against his father’s forearm.

The skin there was paper thin and far, far too hot.

“Dad?”

His father’s eyes stared past Noam, unseeing and glassy, reflecting the lamplight outside. That wasn’t what made Noam lurch back and collide with window, its latch jabbing his spine.

A drop of blood welled in the corner of his father’s eye and—after a single quivering moment—cut down his cheek like a tear.

“Mrs. Brown!”

Noam shoved the chair back from the window, half stumbling across the narrow room to the curtain separating their space from their neighbor’s. He banged a fist against the nearest bookshelf.

“Mrs. Brown, are you in there? I—I’m coming in.”

He ripped the curtain to one side. Mrs. Brown was there but not in her usual spot. She was curled on the bed instead, shoulders jutting against the ratty blanket like bony wings.

Noam hesitated. Was she . . . no. Was she dead?

She moved, then, a pale hand creeping out to wave vaguely in the air.

“Mrs. Brown, I need help,” Noam said. “It’s my dad—he’s sick. He’s . . . he’s really sick, and I think . . .”

The hand dropped back onto the blanket and went still.

No. No, no—this wasn’t right. This wasn’t happening. He should go downstairs and get another neighbor. He should—no, he should check on his dad. He couldn’t. He . . .

He had to focus.

The blanket covering Mrs. Brown began to ripple like the surface of the sea. Outside, the hazard sirens wailed.

Magic.

Dragging his eyes away from Mrs. Brown, Noam twisted round to face his own apartment and vomited all over the floor.

He stood there for a second, staring woozily at the mess while sirens shrieked in his ears. He was sick. Magic festered in his veins, ready to consume him whole.

An outbreak.

His father, when Noam managed to weave his way back to his side, had fallen unconscious. His head lolled forward, and there was a bloody patch on his lap, yellow electricity flickering over the stain. The world undulated around them both in watery waves.

“It’s okay,” Noam said, knowing his dad couldn’t hear him. He sucked in a sharp breath and hitched his father’s body out of the chair. He shouldn’t—he couldn’t just leave him there like that. Noam had carried him around for three years, but today his father weighed twice as much as before. Noam’s arms quivered. His thoughts were white noise.

It’s okay, it’s okay, it’s okay, a voice kept repeating in Noam’s head.

He dumped his father’s body on the bed, skinny limbs sprawling. Noam tried to nudge him into a more comfortable position, but even that took effort. But this . . . it was more than he’d done for his mother. He’d left her corpse swinging on that rope for hours before Brennan had shown up to take her down.

His father still breathed, for now.

How long did it take to die? God, Noam couldn’t remember.

On shaky legs, Noam made his way back to the chair by the window. He couldn’t manage much more. The television kept turning itself on and off again, images blazing across a field of static snow and vanishing just as quickly. Noam saw it out of the corners of his eyes even when he tried not to look, the same way he saw his father’s unconscious body. That would be Noam soon.

Magic crawled like ivy up the sides of the fire escape next door.

Noam imagined his mother waiting for him with a smile and open arms, the past three years just a blink against eternity.

His hands sparked with something silver-blue and bright. Bolts shot between his fingers and flickered up his arms. The effect would have been beautiful were it not so deadly. And yet . . .

A shiver ricocheted up his spine.

Noam held a storm in his hands, and he couldn’t feel a thing.


Author Bio:

Victoria Lee grew up in Durham, North Carolina, where she spent twelve ascetic years as a vegetarian before discovering that spicy chicken wings are, in fact, a delicacy. She's been a state finalist competitive pianist, a hitchhiker, a pizza connoisseur, an EMT, an expat in China and Sweden, and a science doctoral student. She's also a bit of a snob about fancy whiskey. Lee writes early in the morning and then spends the rest of the day trying to impress her border collie puppy and make her experiments work. She currently lives in Pennsylvania with her partner.

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Tuesday, 6 November 2018

Killer Among


Killer Among
S.E. Green
(Killer Instinct, #3)
Publication date: October 19th 2018
Genres: Thriller, Young Adult
Lane swore never to be like her late mother. But now she too is a killer. One difference remains—Lane only stalks and punishes the guilty.
But while trailing a new killer of teenage girls dubbed “The Strangler”, Lane makes a terrible miscalculation and kills the wrong man.
Now the family of the man she accidentally murdered is hunting the killer, and Lane is forced to cover her tracks by befriending them. Because everyone knows you keep your enemies close.
But are they really enemies? Lane isn’t so sure.
As the plot surrounding “The Strangler” tightens around her like a noose, for the first time Lane is tempted to trust someone with her darkest secrets. But will breaking down her boundaries bring salvation, or doom?


Author Bio:
S. E. Green is an award willing, bestselling author who writes dark and twisty novels like Killer Instinct, dubbed "Dexter for teens"; Ultimate Sacrifice, a satanic cult novel of suspense; and Vanquished, a gritty survival thriller. She also writes under Shannon Greenland and there you'll find young adult novels of action, romance, and suspense.
Shannon lives in a small Florida beach town, has one very grouchy dog, and loves to travel. She's also up for any adventure you might throw her way.

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Monday, 5 November 2018

Two Witches


Two Witches and a Whiskey
Annette Marie
(The Guild Codex: Spellbound, #3)
Publication date: February 8th 2019
Genres: New Adult, Urban Fantasy
Three months ago, I landed a job as a bartender. But not at a bar—at a guild. Yeah, the magic kind.
I’m not a badass mage like my three smokin’ hot best friends. I’m not a sorcerer or an alchemist, or even a wussy witch. I’m just a human, slinging drinks like a pro and keeping my non-magical nose out of mythic business. Seriously, I know my limits.
So why am I currently standing in a black-magic ritual circle across from a fae lord?
Somewhere behind me, my three mage friends are battling for their lives. Somewhere near my feet is the rogue witch I just knocked out with a stolen spell. And I have about three seconds to convince this very angry sea god not to shmoosh me like a bug.
I’m pretty sure this wasn’t part of the job description.


Author Bio:
Annette Marie is the author of Amazon best-selling YA urban fantasy series Steel & Stone, its prequel trilogy Spell Weaver, and romantic fantasy trilogy Red Winter. Her first love is fantasy, but fast-paced adventures and tantalizing forbidden romances are her guilty pleasures. She lives in the frozen winter wasteland of Alberta, Canada (okay, it's not quite that bad) with her husband and their furry minion of darkness—sorry, cat—Caesar. When not writing, she can be found elbow-deep in one art project or another while blissfully ignoring all adult responsibilities.

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Sunday, 4 November 2018

When Stars Come Out


When Stars Come Out
Scarlett St. Clair
Publication date: October 31st 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Young Adult
Anora Silby can see the dead and turn spirits into gold coins, two things she would prefer to keep secret as she tries to lead a normal life at her new school. After all, she didn’t change her identity for nothing.
As it turns out, hiding her weirdness is just one of many challenges. By the end of her first day, she’s claimed the soul of a dead girl on campus and lost the coin. Turns out, the coin gives others the ability to steal souls, and when a classmate ends up dead, there’s no mistaking the murder weapon.
Navigating the loss of her Poppa, her mother’s unpredictable behavior, and Roundtable, an anonymous student gossip app threatening to expose her, are hard enough. Now she must find the person who stole her coin before more lives are lost, but that means making herself a target for the Order, an organization that governs the dead on Earth–and they want Anora and her powers for themselves.
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EXCERPT:
A woman with blond hair and a pink blazer smiles at me.
“Can I help you?” Her voice sounds robotic, filtered through the round metal intercom.
“I’m new. I don’t have my schedule—”
“Oh! You must be Anora Silby!” She retrieves a folder from her desk and hands it to me via a small opening at the bottom of the glass barrier. “Inside you will find your schedule and your student handbook.”
I open the folder and stare at the materials. My schedule sits on top. I have already zoned in on my first hour: trigonometry…a.k.a. Hell.
“Be sure you are aware of curfew.”
“Oh, I don’t live on campus.”
“Curfew is countywide,” she advises. “No one’s to be outside after midnight.”
“Why?”
It takes the lady a moment to realize I’ve asked her a question. She blinks.
“It’s always been like that. Since the twenties. You know, after the murders.”
“No, actually…I don’t know,” I wave my folder around to remind her I’m the new girl.
“It’s nothing to be worried about,” the lady assures me. “There haven’t been any murders since then. The curfew’s just in place as…a precaution. It’s best if it’s obeyed.”
She says it like a warning, like she thinks I’m one to break the rules. I can understand curfew for campus, but why is it countywide?
“Would you like a guide to help you find your classes?” Her voice brightens, her smile intensifies. It looks fake, and I get the sense I’m not welcome anymore.
“Uh, sure.”
It’ll be nice to have a map of this place in case I get lost trying to avoid the dead. The lady disappears from view and I take a closer look at the pictures on the wall. I’m partly hopeful I’ll see a picture of the girl outside in one of the photos, but I don’t find her. The images are mostly of buildings on campus in their prime. Gold plates beneath the frames indicate the year they were built. My favorite is Rosewater—that sounds calming.
I run my fingers over the cold metal, tracing the name.
“You must be Anora Silby.” The voice is energetic and warm, but it startles me. I tear my hand away from the plate as if I’ve been caught stealing and yelp, twisting to find a boy standing beside me. He has striking blue eyes and sharp features. My gaze drops to his lips, which are initially pulled into a smile until I face him, then it falters.
“Sorry, I didn’t mean to startle you.”
I study him for a moment—lively eyes, faint color in his cheeks, and…warmth. He’s definitely alive. I guess I stare too long because he clears his throat and says, “Can I help you find your classes?”
“Oh…um…the lady was getting me a map.”
A smile stretches across his face again, brightening his expression. “I’m your map.” He extends his hand to me, keeping the other in his pocket. “Shy.”
I stare at his hand, confused—did he just call me shy?
“Excuse me?”
He chuckles under his breath. “It’s my name—Shy Savior.”
“Oh.” My cheeks flame and I want to hide. I fumble as I cradle my folder in my arm and reach for his hand. “Anora Silby…er…I guess you knew that.”
“Yeah,” he breathes, and then quickly adds, “But that’s okay. You have a nice name.”
He doesn’t move his gaze from mine as he shakes my hand firmly, and it is a little unnerving, especially since the pigment of his eyes is so concentrated—seriously, he has to be wearing contacts.
“Um, are you going to let go of my hand?”
“Sorry.” He drops my hand and snakes his behind his neck. “It’s just…have we met?”
I laugh. “No. I think I would remember you, Blue Eyes.”
Shy smiles and turns the faintest shade of pink. “You just feel so familiar.”
“I hope I’m familiar in a good way.”
God. I’d have to say that, wouldn’t I?
I’m breaking my second rule: Absolutely no boys.
“Yes.” He narrows those gorgeous eyes and my resolve weakens. “Yes, only in a good way.”
I inhale and hug myself, feeling self-conscious.
“Mr. Savior, I think it’s about time Miss Silby made it to class,” the lady in the pink blazer advises from the counter.
Shy turns and smiles at her. “Yes. Sorry, Mrs. Cole.” He looks at me, clearing his throat. “So, what’s your first class?”
I’m glad the distraction gives me a reason to look away from him because my cheeks are on fire. I open my folder to look at my schedule. I’d seen it a few minutes ago but now, I can’t remember anything.
“Um, Mr. Val, trig … in Walcourt?”
Shy laughs.
“What?” I lean away to get a good look at his face, but he just shakes his head, eyes focused on my schedule.
“Nothing—what’s your locker number?”
Forty-four.
Shy directs me out of the lobby, down a hallway flanked with a large trophy case and a couple bulletin boards covered with flyers for homecoming.
“The lockers, dorms, and cafeteria are all located here in Emerson,” he explains. “It’s a little inconvenient, but you just have to make sure you have everything you need for your first four classes before lunch,” he pauses and nods to my locker, then the one next to it. “That one’s mine.”
I smile at him and it feels like I’m falling into a trap. “I guess I’ll see more of you, then?”
“Yeah.” He grins, showing his teeth, and runs a hand through his blond hair. I like the way his eyes crinkle at the sides when he smiles, all things I shouldn’t notice about him, considering my rules. “Yeah, you will.”


Author Bio:
Scarlett St. Clair lives in Oklahoma with her husband. She has a Master's degree in Library Science and Information Studies and spends a lot of time researching reincarnation, unsolved murders and Greek mythology-all of which made it into her debut novel, When Stars Come Out.

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