Thursday, April 30, 2015

Month9Books/Tantrum Books TWO FOR THURSDAY BLITZ: Dead Jed series by Scott Craven + GIVEAWAY!

T4T-Banner

Hello and welcome to this week’s Two for Thursday Book Blitz #T4T
presented by Month9books/Tantrum Books!

Today, we will be showcasing two titles that may tickle your fancy,
and we’ll share what readers have to say about these titles!

You just might find your next read!

This week, #T4T presents to you the Dead Jed series by Scott Craven:

Dead Jed: Adventures of A Middle School Zombie
and
Dead Jed 2: Dawn of the Jed!

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

Dead-Jed-Cover
Dead Jed is Shaun of the Dead meets Diary of a Wimpy Kid. Jed's not your typical junior high geek. He is, to use the politically-correct term, cardiovascularly-challenged. And while his parents have attempted to shield him from the implications of being 'different' for as long as they could (Jed was 8 and at a friend's sister's birthday party when he blew his lips off onto the cake in front of everyone, finally prompting the “Big Talk” from his parents and an emergency SuperGlue repair by his dad), 7th grade at Pine Hollow Middle School as a target of Robbie the supreme school bully and his pack of moronic toadies is rapidly becoming unbearable.
From being stuffed in a filled trash can as “dead meat” and into a trophy case as the bully's “prize,” to literally having his hand pulled off in the boys' room (Jed's always losing body parts. Luckily, a good stapler and some duct tape and he's back in the action) and a cigarette put in it and try to frame him for the recent reports of smoking in the school, Jed's had enough and is ready to plan his revenge. Besides, it's awesome what you can do when you're already dead!
add to goodreads

Available for Purchase:
amazon B&N
WHAT READER’S ARE SAYING:
DEAD JED is amazing. It takes true talent to write a book that's witty and has such clever humor. That's exactly what DEAD JED has.” – Courtney, Author

I’m entirely convinced this series is going to be as big and popular as the Diary of a Wimpy Kid series, if not more. It might be aimed at middle grade readers, but I will highly and happily recommend it to readers aged 9 to 99!”Angie, Books4Tomorrow

“Middle Grade humor at its finest.” – S.A. Larsen, Author

Dead-Jed-2-Cover
The first part of seventh grade was rough on Jed, but things are looking up now that Christmas is almost here. As with past Christmases, Jed asks for the one thing he’s always wanted–a dog–and again, his parents tell him they’re not ready. But fate has a different plan when Jed sees a dog get run over by a car. Then, it happens. Jed suddenly has a pet, Tread, a zombie dog bearing his namesake–a tire tread down his back. Jed may have gained a dog, but he loses his best friend Luke, who fears the way Jed created his undead pet.
When Jed returns to school, he finds a mysterious group called the No Zombies Now Network spreading rumors of the dangers the undead pose to normal people. Forced to disprove Hollywood stereotypes, Jed has his work cut out for him as stories of a zombie dog begin to circulate. Jed could be expelled if he can’t expose the NZN Network as a fraud. Jed needs help from his kind of girlfriend Anna, especially after he discovers Luke has joined the shadowy group.
Once again navigating the treacherous waters of middle school, Jed does his best to stay in one piece. Only this time he’ll need even more duct tape and staples than usual.
add to goodreads

Available for Purchase:
amazon B&N

WHAT READER’S ARE SAYING:
“Like its predecessor Dead Jed, Dead Jed 2: Dawn of the Jed is an incredibly cute and fun read!”Angie, Books4Tomorrow



“This is a fun story, which was written very well for the age group. I can imagine the series being a huge hit, especially with zombies being so popular at the moment.”Bri, Natural Bri - Pursuits of Life

“…just read it, you will love it and it sooooo funny” – Michelle, Because Reading



about-the-author


Scott Craven
Proud graduate of Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo, have one son who will turn 18 in March 2013, now a features writer for The Arizona Republic.

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter

Giveaway
Complete the Rafflecopter for a chance to win!





Chapter-by-Chapter-blog-tour-button

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

BLOG TOUR: Nobody's Goddess (The Never Veil #1) by Amy McNulty - Ashley's Review + GIVEAWAY!


Good morning! Today, we're super excited to be a part of the blog tour for Amy McNulty's thrilling new book, Nobody's Goddess, out now from Month9Books! Ashley really loved every twist and turn of this book, and we have her review for you today. There's also a giveaway where you can win your very own copy of the book, so be sure to fill out the Rafflecopter form at the end of this post.

Also don't forget to stop by all of the other fabulous tour stops. There are plenty of interesting guest posts, interviews, and even more reviews, all of which you can find by clicking the banner above!

About the Book

Title: Nobody's Goddess (The Never Veil #1)
Author: Amy McNulty
Publication Date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC

Synopsis: In a village of masked men, each loves only one woman and must follow the commands of his “goddess” without question. A woman may reject the only man who will love her if she pleases, but she will be alone forever. And a man must stay masked until his goddess returns his love—and if she can’t or won’t, he remains masked forever.

Where the rest of her village celebrates this mystery that binds men and women together, seventeen year old Noll is just done with it. She’s lost all her childhood friends as they’ve paired off, but the worst blow was when her closest companion, Jurij, finds his goddess in Noll’s own sister. 

Desperate to find a way to break this ancient spell, Noll instead discovers why no man has ever loved her: she is in fact the goddess of the mysterious lord of the village, a Byronic man who refuses to let Noll have her right as a woman to spurn him and who has the power to fight the curse. Thus begins a dangerous game between the two: the choice of woman versus the magic of man. And the stakes are no less than freedom and happiness, life and death—and neither Noll nor the veiled man is willing to lose.


add to goodreads

Purchase Links: Chapters Indigo | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | TBD


About the Author


Amy McNultyAmy McNulty is a freelance writer and editor from Wisconsin with an honors degree in English. She was first published in a national scholarly journal (The Concord Review) while in high school and currently spends her days alternatively writing on business and marketing topics and primarily crafting stories with dastardly villains and antiheroes set in fantastical medieval settings.

Connect with the Author:
Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads







Ashley's Review

I've really been on a fantasy kick lately, which tends to happen at least a few times a year, so I was really excited to start Nobody's Goddess. At first, I wasn't entirely convinced that this was going to be a book for me. The synopsis just didn't grab me the way I hoped it would, and I almost passed on this book. But then I started reading it. And it was so much more than I could have hoped for, and I am SO glad that I gave it a chance! 

The rules of this world are a little confusing and strange, but as the book progresses, and Noll discovers more about her self and her village, things become more clear. I had so many questions - why does just looking at a man's face kill him? Why can he be looked upon once he finds his goddess? What kind of crazy goddess started these crazy rules in the first place? Why is just this one village affected? Plus a thousand more! Since this is a series, I didn't expect to have most of them answered, but Amy did give enough answers that I'm even MORE curious about this world and its people! 

In the beginning, Noll was not my favorite. She's kind of annoying, although I'd be upset if all of my friends started leaving me too. Then her best friend finds his goddess in her sister and she's even worse. I understand that losing your friend, who you're in love with, to your sister probably feels like the worst thing ever, but you don't have to be a jerk to your sister. It's not her fault. All she did was exist. And then there's no reason to try and convinced him that he really loves you, when we just went through this whole thing of him finding his goddess in your sister. I mean, I kind of get it, but good grief girl. Leave the poor boy alone, at least he's still your friend. 

Amy has this incredible way with words that make the world and its characters jump right off the page. I felt for all of them, even the minor characters, and I was sad when things didn't work out like I had hoped. The world building is just right - nothing is forced down your throat, and the world begins to unfold in a natural way as the book progresses. There's a little bit of exposition in the beginning, but a lot of it is the reader learning things as Noll discovers more of her world's secrets. I really enjoyed how magic is woven into the story as well. It's not overwhelming, and there are no wizards or witches or any of that; just an inherent magic of the land that calls to certain people and establishes its own rules.

Overall, I would definitely recommend Nobody's Goddess to anybody looking for a great fantasy book with a plot that's unlike anything I've read before. The characters and the world are all done incredibly well, and Amy's talent with making words jump right off the page to tell the story is just fantastic. Although I think this book could have acted as a standalone, I'm so glad there is at least one more book in this series. I want to know what happens next with Noll and her man, and with all of the rules that may or may not still be in effect. I'd give it a 4/5, and cannot wait to read the next book! 



The Giveaway!



Thanks for stopping by! 


--Ashley & Paul


RELEASE DAY BLITZ: Stolen Art by Ruth Silver - Excerpt + GIVEAWAY!

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Title: Stolen Art
Author: Ruth Silver
Publisher: Lazy Day Publishing
Release Date: April 28, 2015
Genre: Young Adult, Sci-Fi Romance


Stolen Art

Sixteen-year-old Madeline has been living on the streets, biding her time until she's eighteen. With little to no money, she takes on a heist in hopes of making ends meet. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything.

Getting caught is just the beginning of Madeline's adventure as she meets Weston and discovers the secret of where she came from.


Fans of Orphan Black, The X-Files, and Fringe will fall head over heels for STOLEN ART.

Recommended: 15+

Excerpt

I rush back up the dark stairwell, shoving the key into the doorknob. It takes a minute for the lock to click and I push myself inside the apartment, securing every lock and deadbolt. I can’t stay here in Hutchinson, Kansas any longer. Pulling my phone from my purse, I text Weston.

Tatiana is here. It’s not safe for me.

I grab the few belongings that have any value to me, sentimental or otherwise, and shove it into my shoulder bag, including the stolen silver necklace. It has value and if I’m forced on the run, I’ll need money to survive.

I know.

What did Weston mean he knew Tatiana is at the bar? Had he seen her? Is he there?

What do you mean, you know? I type into the phone. If he saw her, why didn’t he warn me? I can’t go down out the front door and it’s only a matter of time until she finds me just a few feet away. I grow restless waiting for an answer.

The phone buzzes and displays an incoming call from Weston. "Wes, tell me you’re here." The only thing to do is hop in his car and drive into the night, far from Kansas.

A female’s voice bubbles with laughter. "Oh he’s coming darling, but you should know he won’t get here in time. Amazing how easy it is to clone a phone number and steal his service. The advancements Stem Tech has made is encouraging."

teaser stolen art2

 

About the Author

Ruth Silver

Ruth Silver is the best-selling author of the Aberrant trilogy. With a passion for writing and a love of story-telling, Ruth is actively writing multiple series under her name as well as the pen name Ravyn Rayne. Her interests include traveling, reading, and photography. Her favorite vacation destination is Australia. Ruth currently resides in Plainfield, Illinois.

Follow Ruth here

Blog- http://writeawaybliss.com

Facebook- http://facebook.com/writeawaybliss

Twitter- http://twitter.com/writeawaybliss

Looking for a steamier read? Check her out here

Blog- http://ravynrayne.com

Facebook- http://facebook.com/ravynraynereads

Twitter- http://twitter.com/blushingravyn

book series


Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Star Wars: Lords of the Sith - Paul's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*


Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Lords of the Sith

Author: Paul S. Kemp

Release Date: April 28, 2015

Synopsis: On Ryloth, a planet crucial to the growing Empire as a source of slave labor and the narcotic known as “spice,” an aggressive resistance movement has arisen, led by Cham Syndulla, an idealistic freedom fighter, and Isval, a vengeful former slave. But Emperor Palpatine means to control the embattled world and its precious resources—by political power or firepower—and he will be neither intimidated nor denied. Accompanied by his merciless disciple, Darth Vader, he sets out on a rare personal mission to ensure his will is done.

For Syndulla and Isval, it’s the opportunity to strike at the very heart of the ruthless dictatorship sweeping the galaxy. And for the Emperor and Darth Vader, Ryloth becomes more than just a matter of putting down an insurrection: When an ambush sends them crashing to the planet’s surface, where inhospitable terrain and an army of resistance fighters await them, they will find their relationship tested as never before. With only their lightsabers, the dark side of the Force, and each other to depend on, the two Sith must decide if the brutal bond they share will make them victorious allies or lethal adversaries. 



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Review:I have really enjoyed these new canon Star Wars books. All of them have made effort to connect the two trilogies and the tv series, Lords of the Sith especially. There was a reference to a former padawan that made me squeal. 


When it comes to Darth Vader, he needs to be an ominous force. There has to be that mystery remaining, even though we know so much about his past. This book did an excellent job at not getting too much inside of Vader's head. There were many parts of the book when I was hearing Anakin's voice in my head instead of Vader's deep voice. Although the focus of this book may be on Vader and the Emperor, they don't get as much "screen time" as other characters. 

Cham Syndulla is the real core of this story. Not only that, but he is the connection to the Star Wars tv shows. He was featured on The Clone Wars and has a direct connection to a character on Rebels

This book can be seen as a sequel to Revenge of the Sith and The Clone Wars, but also a prequel to Rebels and A New Hope. All of the connections are there. 

Pretty much every character in this book has a grayness to them. The "freedom fighters" are very close to terrorists, but they're attacking the "bad guys" so it's okay, right? The uber bad guys are on the run, but they have all the power and will to destroy anyone in their way. The government and military leaders either do a horrible job at their job or are attempting to play the system to get more power. 

Moff Delian Mors is introduced in this book and she has received a lot of hype, being the first LGBT character in the new Star Wars canon. I am very excited to see the positive outpour over an LGBT character and hope to see more in everything Star Wars, but Mors's sexual orientation is just a small aspect of her character. Overall, she is a lazy Imperial officer. She had some redeeming qualities, but she is only a side character. I'd love to see her in more things Star Wars, but even more I'd love to see more characters to represent other aspects of the LGBT community. 

Like all of the new canon Star Wars books, reading little details gets me even more excited knowing they are legit. When one of the royal guards took off his helmet, my mouth dropped. Vader's meditation chamber has been featured a lot in these books recently. It makes me wonder if there is something more to it than we know. 

I really enjoyed this book. The whole first half is pretty much just set-up, but it's enjoyable getting to know these new characters and Ryloth as a planet. I actually found the set-up more interesting than the running, chasing, and hunting of the second half. I give this book a 4/5. I believe that makes this my second favorite of the new Star Wars canon books so far, just behind Heir to the Jedi. Although once Dark Disciple and Aftermath come out, I'm almost positive that will change. 


--PAUL

Friday, April 24, 2015

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley - Paul's Review

*I received this book as an eARC from Harper Collins via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review*

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Magonia

Author: Maria Dahvana Headley

Paul's Pre Reading

Upcoming Release Date: April 28, 2015


Synopsis: Aza Ray is drowning in thin air. 

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. 

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia. 

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie? 



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Review: I haven't read much YA Fantasy that takes place in a contemporary setting. I often find them unbelievable with a whole magical world existing right under the surface of our real world. This book, though, made me believe. The world building in this book is excellent. There is enough that is left unanswered and only hinted at that a world above us between the clouds is somehow believable. Even STORMSHARKS!


Not only is this a great Fantasy book with an awesome world, but the writing is beautiful. The relationship between Aza and Jason is written so realistic. And intelligent. 

Less than a quarter into this book, I was completely hooked. This book sucked me in from the very beginning. The first chapter was excellent. I also loved the casual mention of a same-sex couple.  

Since this book does have a contemporary setting, I enjoyed the actual acknowledgement and use of modern technology like Google. The other nerdy bits also really got me going. Pi and cephalopods both are featured. 

The way this book is written, everything comes together wonderfully. I enjoyed the references throughout the book, like the squid video. 

This book is a strong 5/5 for me. The first quarter is perfect. There are some lower points, for me, later in the book but overall it came together. I highly recommend this to all fans of YA. If you don't usually read fantasy, I think you'll still enjoy this. If you don't usually read contemporary, you'll enjoy this too. Go read this book!


--PAUL

Wednesday, April 22, 2015

BLOG TOUR: The Yellow Hoods by Adam Dreece - Top Five + GIVEAWAY!




We're both huge fans of books that take classic fairy tales and reinvent them, so we're really excited to be a part of the blog tour for Adam Dreece's Yellow Hoods series! Adam stopped by to give us his Top Five Things he Fussed Over, and we hope you enjoy his list as much as we did. It's really insightful, and has a few things we never would have thought of!

Be sure to stop by the rest of the wonderful tour stops (you can find the schedule by clicking the banner above), and don't forget to enter the giveaway for your chance to win one of 4 boxed sets of  The Yellow Hoods series! You can enter via the Rafflecopter form at the end of this post.

The Yellow Hoods Series

As the Yellow Hoods series starts, we see a pastoral world on the brink of a great change. Steam-based and other technologies are emerging, hence the genre “Emergent Steam Punk”. But this is written in the tradition of hard science fiction– you will find no gratuitous gears here. In the series, Adam Dreece masterfully weaves together familiar elements from fairy tales with realistic characters, bringing them to life. Here we meet the Nikolas Klaus: a kind of fusion of Santa Claus and Nikola Tesla and his granddaughter, young Tee who evokes Little Red Riding Hood but with the force of personality of a Katniss (Hunger Games) or Buffy (aka the Vampire Slayer). You may laugh and you may cry, but I guarantee you will enjoy the ride.


Title: Along Came a Wolf (Bk 1)
Series: The Yellow Hoods
Author: Adam Dreece
Publication Date: April 14, 2014

Synopsis: Someone is on the hunt for the steam engine plans, and believes that master inventor, Nikolas Klaus, has them. Thought dead by most, and forgotten by many, the quiet grandfather has been living for years in the sleepy mountain town of Minette, keeping his inventions mostly to himself and watching his granddaughter grow up.

Twelve-year-old Tee, and her two best friends, Elly and Richy, come together as the heroic Yellow Hoods in the face of life threatening danger. Whose side are the Cochon brothers on, and will they tip the balance? Will Nikolas’ ties to one of the secret societies cost him Tee’s life?




Title: Breadcrumb Trail (Bk 2)
Series: The Yellow Hoods
Author: Adam Dreece
Publication Date: August 18, 2014

Synopsis: In an act of desperation, inventor Maxwell Watt sends his teenage son to Nikolas Klaus with the secret plans for his steam engine. The Fare, a nefarious secret society, learns of the game-changing invention and accelerate their timeline to neutralize Klaus and reclaim control over the kingdoms.

While wars spark to the south, children in Mineau have started to go missing–again.

Captain Archambault suspects the return of the Ginger Lady. With the help of the Yellow Hoods and their friends, the search is on to find the missing children before it is too late.

What is the secret that ties the Yellow Hoods to the Ginger Lady? Who are the Red Hoods really?



Title: All the King’s Men (Bk 3)
Series: The Yellow Hoods
Author: Adam Dreece
Publication Date: April 15, 2015

Synopsis: More than a hundred years ago, a king declared that all geniuses, scientists and inventors were abominations, save for those willing to become his Conventioneers. His edict spread like wildfire through the kingdoms, and drove the hunted into the arms of the secret societies, the Tub and the Fare.

Decades later, having taken control of the remains of the crushed Fare, a young Marcus Pieman follows up on rumors of a homeless, teenage Abominator in his city. When the scared Nikolas Klaus looked up at Marcus for the first time, a tremendous bond was forged.

A betrayal leads Tee to a showdown with her greatest foe. Who breaks and who lays bleeding in the middle of nowhere?

And Mounira learns the truth about the once great inventor, Christophe Creangle.



YOU CAN FIND & PURCHASE ALL BOOKS IN THE SERIES HERE:


(For Each Individual Book)
Book 1 - Along Came A Wolf: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon.ca | B&N
Book 2 - Breadcrumb Trail: Goodreads | Amazon | Amazon.ca | B&N
Book 3 - All The King's Men: Goodreads | Amazon




About the Author


Adam Dreece burst onto the young adult fiction scene in 2014. His debut novel, Along Came a Wolf, hit the shelves in April, launching what is now the bestselling series The Yellow Hoods. Book Two, Breadcrumb Trail, quickly followed in September, locking in Dreece's status as a force to be reckoned with. Now Book Three, All the King’s-Men, is about to be released and is expected to take its place on the Amazon and Calgary Herald Best Seller Lists, alongside its predecessors.

For twenty-five years Adam had written stories and set them aside, including a memoir covering his battle with terrible scar pain and then being hit with severe asthma. He’d always given the priority and focus to his technical career. In January 2015, he became a full time author.

Adam’s a devoted husband and father of three great kids. Though driven, he ensures there is always time for his family, fans, and fellow authors.

With his tween daughter as his muse and the first to hear the rough drafts, it’s no surprise that he’s a huge proponent of strong female characters, something very clear in The Yellow Hoods.

 Author Links:


5 Steve Jobs-Type Things Adam Fussed Over With His Books

With the words done and the cover art complete, there was plenty that I insisted on tweaking until I felt they were just right. Here’s the top 5:

1. Font size
I opted to have an 11pt font instead of the standard 9pt font. As a dyslexic and as someone with supposedly large eye apertures, and knowing that there will be younger and older readers reading the book, I decided to opt for higher print costs but make the books easier to read. The slightly larger font allows for less information to be pulled in for people like me allowing for better focus, is less intimidating for the younger person and makes those needing glasses more comfortable. I couldn’t very well create a book that I wouldn’t be able to read comfortably, now could I?

2. Word frequency in paragraphs
My dyslexic brain finds patterns very easily. Some books will have a good 8 to 10 paragraphs in a row (and I’m not exaggerating, he says looking at a specific book on his bookshelf) that all start with a character’s name. My brain will focus on that, and now it’s fighting for my attention to investigate other patterns. I also lose my place easily because of the repeated structure. Thus I decided to make sure, unless it was impossible, that my books don’t have a repeating start.

3. Look from ten feet away as well as in hand
People need to be pulled in by the book, which requires it to be clearly visible from a distance and up close. I have put the book covers and looked at them from a distance, approach them, played with them, until it looked and felt right.

4. Weight of the book
I wanted the book to feel the right weight, to have credibility in how it felt in the hand and for the make being charged. It sounds funny, but I’ve watched countless people do that. They look at the cover, they read the back of the book, and then I watch their hand bob up and down slightly as they weigh its value and their decision. I’ve been told many, many times that “my books are great value” even before someone has read them.

5. White space around the text
One thing that drives me absolutely batsheep crazy is when an author has such narrow margins that it looks like they thought you were allowed to write on every possible space on the page. To read what’s in the bound margin, you have to break the spin, then the words go all the way from about a quarter inch or less at the top (he looks at another book on his shelf) all the way down to the very last row of the page. For my brain, its unreadable. There’s no place for my fingers, there’s no framing of the text. 
This is done to reduce printing costs, and again, I’d rather make a bit less money but provide a much better reader experience than save myself 4 pages and ticked off a reader.

This tour was organized by Good Tales Book Tours.

Tuesday, April 21, 2015

BLOG TOUR: Travels with Penny by David Alan Morrison - Top Ten + GIVEAWAY!



Today, we're really excited to be participating in the blog tour for Travels with Penny by David Alan Morrison! This book sounds hilarious, and we can't wait to read it. In the mean time, though, we've got a Top Ten list from Dave, and we hope that you love it as much as we did!

Also make sure to visit the rest of the fantastic stops on the blog tour. You can find the full tour schedule by clicking the banner above!

Last, but certainly not least, don't forget to enter the tour giveaway via the Rafflecopter form at the end of this post!

About the Book

Travels Cover
Title: Travels with Penny
Author: David Alan Morrison
Publication Date: April 2015
Publisher: Booktrope

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N

Synopsis: Two things flashed through my mind when I opened the door to the sex shop to find my mother standing in front of the display case talking to a tall salesman wearing a leather harness, jock strap and a dog collar. The first was, "Oh, crap." The second was, "I hate when Dad's right."

Following the sudden death of his father, a single, middle-aged gay guy struggles with his own mortality be reminiscing about the travels with his gregarious mother. It is a look at the transformation of the baffling, complex relationship between children and their parents.



About the Author


DAMheadshot.jpeg

 Dave Morrison (CI & CT, NIC-A, SC:L, NAD-5). Dave received his A.A. in ASL/ENG Interpreting from L.A. Pierce College in 1989. In 2000, he obtained his M.A. in Theatre Arts from the University of Kentucky. He has interpreted in a variety of venues, from the courtroom to funerals to underwater conservation forums. As an actor, he has been seen on stage, TV and film. He is currently an adjunct instructor of Drama at Skagit Valley College and works with local theatres as a director, actor and instructor.
Author Links:



Dave's Top Ten Favorite Scuba Diving Phrases

10. I want to go deeper
9. Spit into it
8. Make the strap more tight
7. Hold onto my octopus
6. I'm far too buoyant
5.  I blew an "O" ring
4.  Don't screw it to hard - nice and slow will do it
3.  Grab your buddy
2. Rise and fall easily...relax
1. Hold onto it....it's slippery

The Giveaway!



This tour was organized by Good Tales Book Tours.

Magonia by Maria Dahvana Headley - Paul's Pre Reading

*I received this book as an eARC from Harper Collins via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review*

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Magonia

Author: Maria Dahvana Headley


Upcoming Release Date: April 28, 2015


Synopsis: Aza Ray is drowning in thin air. 

Since she was a baby, Aza has suffered from a mysterious lung disease that makes it ever harder for her to breathe, to speak—to live. 

So when Aza catches a glimpse of a ship in the sky, her family chalks it up to a cruel side effect of her medication. But Aza doesn’t think this is a hallucination. She can hear someone on the ship calling her name.

Only her best friend, Jason, listens. Jason, who’s always been there. Jason, for whom she might have more-than-friendly feelings. But before Aza can consider that thrilling idea, something goes terribly wrong. Aza is lost to our world—and found, by another. Magonia. 

Above the clouds, in a land of trading ships, Aza is not the weak and dying thing she was. In Magonia, she can breathe for the first time. Better, she has immense power—and as she navigates her new life, she discovers that war is coming. Magonia and Earth are on the cusp of a reckoning. And in Aza’s hands lies the fate of the whole of humanity—including the boy who loves her. Where do her loyalties lie? 



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Why?: I haven't read a lot of contemporary YA fantasy, but this book sounds so good. A teenager with a life-threatening illness discovers a world filled with flying ships in the clouds? Sounds excellent. 


Expectations:  I'm expecting the story to address death in an interesting way, considering the protagonist seems to have been dealing with the idea of it from a young age. I'm also expecting some awesome world building. 


Judging a book by its cover: This cover is breathtaking. The gold and blue feather turning into birds is beautiful. The starry night and setting sun set a cool mood. Just from this cover alone, I would definitely pick this book up off the shelves. 



--PAUL

SPRING FLING BLOG HOP: Vicious by V.E. Schwab + GIVEAWAY


Happy Tuesday! We're super excited to be participating in Good Tales Book Tours' April Blog Hop! All of the fabulous blogs participating today are highlighting books that they'd give up anything to read, and we're really looking forward to adding all kinds of new books to our TBR lists. Ashley's been wanting to re-read Vicious by V.E. Schwab for a while now and is about ready to just drop everything now and read it again, so that's what we're featuring here!

You can find Ashley's review from the first time she read Vicious here,

We've also got a giveaway from a $25 Amazon gift card and some other great books, so be sure to enter via the Rafflecopter form below!


About the Book



Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Vicious
Author: V.E. Schwab
Publication Date: September 24, 2013

Synopsis: A masterful, twisted tale of ambition, jealousy, betrayal, and superpowers, set in a near-future world.

Victor and Eli started out as college roommates—brilliant, arrogant, lonely boys who recognized the same sharpness and ambition in each other. In their senior year, a shared research interest in adrenaline, near-death experiences, and seemingly supernatural events reveals an intriguing possibility: that under the right conditions, someone could develop extraordinary abilities. But when their thesis moves from the academic to the experimental, things go horribly wrong.

Ten years later, Victor breaks out of prison, determined to catch up to his old friend (now foe), aided by a young girl whose reserved nature obscures a stunning ability. Meanwhile, Eli is on a mission to eradicate every other super-powered person that he can find—aside from his sidekick, an enigmatic woman with an unbreakable will. Armed with terrible power on both sides, driven by the memory of betrayal and loss, the archnemeses have set a course for revenge—but who will be left alive at the end?

In Vicious, V. E. Schwab brings to life a gritty comic-book-style world in vivid prose: a world where gaining superpowers doesn’t automatically lead to heroism, and a time when allegiances are called into question.

The Giveaway



The Blogs!



What book would YOU give up everything to read? Let us know in the comments! 


--Ashley & Paul




Organized by Good Tales Book Tours

BOOK BLAST: Aberrant Trilogy Boxed Set by Ruth Silver


Friday, April 17, 2015

Star Wars: Lords of the Sith - Paul's Pre Reading

*I received this book as an eARC from Random House Publishing Group - Del Rey Spectra via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review*


Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Goodreads

Title: Lords of the Sith

Author: Paul S. Kemp

Upcoming Release Date: April 28, 2015

Synopsis: On Ryloth, a planet crucial to the growing Empire as a source of slave labor and the narcotic known as “spice,” an aggressive resistance movement has arisen, led by Cham Syndulla, an idealistic freedom fighter, and Isval, a vengeful former slave. But Emperor Palpatine means to control the embattled world and its precious resources—by political power or firepower—and he will be neither intimidated nor denied. Accompanied by his merciless disciple, Darth Vader, he sets out on a rare personal mission to ensure his will is done.

For Syndulla and Isval, it’s the opportunity to strike at the very heart of the ruthless dictatorship sweeping the galaxy. And for the Emperor and Darth Vader, Ryloth becomes more than just a matter of putting down an insurrection: When an ambush sends them crashing to the planet’s surface, where inhospitable terrain and an army of resistance fighters await them, they will find their relationship tested as never before. With only their lightsabers, the dark side of the Force, and each other to depend on, the two Sith must decide if the brutal bond they share will make them victorious allies or lethal adversaries. 



------------------------------------------------------------

Why?: I've enjoyed every book in the new canon so far. I like how each little detail adds to the new canon universe, showing what of the old canon has been kept and what has been left aside. It is also nice how it is manageable. I have watched or read everything within the new canon. 


This book focuses on two of the greatest villains of Star Wars: Darth Vader and Emperor Palpatine. I'm interested to see their viewpoint and I hope they both still seem mysterious. Cham Syndulla is also featured. He was in The Clone Wars as well as being Hera, from Rebels, 's father.   

This is also the first appearance of an LGBT character in the new Star Wars canon. I'm interested to see how this new moff character plays out. 

Expectations:  I'm excited to see how this book blends the feel of the original trilogy, The Clone Wars, and Rebels. I'm expected a glimpse into out favorite Sith lords, while also bridging the gap between Episode III and IV. It'll be interested to see how much Darth Vader knows about his own past, and those around him as well. 


Judging a book by its cover: This cover is pretty hardcore. How much more badass can you get than Darth Vader's red lightsaber and force lightening? 



--PAUL

M9B FRIDAY REVEAL: Vessel by Lisa T. Cresswell - Chapter One + GIVEAWAY!

M9B-Friday-Reveal


Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!

This week, we are revealing chapter one of

Vessel by Lisa T. Cresswell

presented by Month9Books!

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

LCresswell_Vessel_M9B_eCover_1800x2700



The sun exploded on On April 18, 2112 in a Class X solar storm the likes of which humankind had never seen.

They had exactly nineteen minutes to decide what to do next.

They had nineteen minutes until a geomagnetic wave washed over the Earth, frying every electrical device created by humans, blacking out entire continents, and every satellite in their sky.

Nineteen minutes to say goodbye to the world they knew, forever, and to prepare for a new Earth, a new Sun.

Generations after solar storms destroyed nearly all human technology on Earth, humans reverted to a middle ages-like existence, books are burned as heresy, and all knowledge of the remaining technology is kept hidden by a privileged few called the Reticents.

Alana, a disfigured slave girl, and Recks, a traveling minstrel and sometimes-thief, join forces to bring knowledge and books back to the human race. But when Alana is chosen against her will to be the Vessel, the living repository for all human knowledge, she must find the strength to be what the world needs even if it’s the last thing she wants.


add to goodreads

Title: Vessel
Publication date: May 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Lisa T. Cresswell

Available for Pre-order:
amazon


excerpt



Prologue
A Class-X solar storm, the likes of which humankind had never seen, erupted from the Sun on April 18, 2112.
They had nineteen minutes.
Nineteen minutes until the geomagnetic wave washed over the Earth, frying every man-made electrical device, blacking out entire continents and every satellite in their sky.
Nineteen minutes to say goodbye to the world they knew forever and prepare for a new Earth, a new way of life.
All digital data was lost, all the knowledge of the centuries past gone in an instant. Unable to feed themselves without technology, humans began to die of starvation and disease. At first thousands, then millions, and, finally, billions died. The survivors fought amongst themselves for the scraps until there were almost none left.

Part I Alana

Chapter 1
Year 2165
Master Dine's kick sent me sprawling into the wall. Pain bloomed in my shoulder. That was nothing new, but my billa slipped dangerously close to falling off. I grasped at the awkward headgear, a giant tent designed to hide my ugliness.
No one must see, I thought.
"It's too hot, you stupid chit," Master Dine yelled.
At seventeen, I was officially a woman and had been for a while, but no one gave a slave girl that recognition.
"Now look what you've done," he said. The clay teapot I’d been using to pour water over Master's feet lay shattered on the floor. "Clean it up, chit."
I silently seethed as I collected the pieces. I wasn't a chit. I was Alana, a name I'd given myself and no one else used. I cursed him under my billa, something he’d never hear through the dark, black drapes shrouding me from everyone. I prayed Mother Sun would do terrible things to him, something that didn't make me feel any better.
"When you're done with that, go help Master Tow. He's expecting you."
"But your bath?"
"I'll do it myself," Master Dine spat at me, as if he didn't trust me, as if I hadn't been washing his feet every morning since I was old enough to hold soap.
Master Dine was one of the oldest men in our village at almost forty, too mean to die of flu fever like most old men. He’d caught it once or twice, but it only seemed to make him more determined to live.
"Yes, Master," I whispered and ducked out of the room with the remains of the teapot. I threw them in the garbage pit behind the house as I left for Master Tow's. I’d have to make a new one later. I wondered when I would find the time to gather the clay from the riverbank, which was a fair walk from here. Where was here? Master Dine's village was called Roma.
Master Dine reminded me constantly I wasn’t from this place—my eyes too almond-shaped, my hair too black, and my skin too yellow to be from Roma. My looks didn't stop him from slinking into my room in the darkness to have his way with me. I was his, bought from my own parents in a faraway place, he always said. Even in the dark, he made me cover my face. I closed my eyes anyway. Maybe if I couldn't see Master Dine with his lazy eye and crooked teeth, he’d cease to exist. Please, Mother Sun, make it so.
***
I walked down the dirty footpath toward Roma's center market square, past the mud and stone houses scraped together with whatever the inhabitants could find. It was early yet; fog still clung to the base of the mountains and dripped off the trees’ new leaves. Winter was breaking at last. Mother Sun had saved us again, but we always knew she could destroy us if she wanted to.
I didn't mind wearing the billa so much when the weather was cool or misty like this morning. It trapped my own warm breath around me like a cocoon. It made doing chores outside awkward, though. Master Dine kept me primarily for house chores, although I was allowed to shop on market day, and he occasionally lent me to Master Tow. Tow had no wives and probably needed his house cleaned.
Master Tow was a young man in his twenties, still undecided on a wife. Suitable women were rare in Roma, so he was faced with the prospect of waiting until certain girls came of age or traveling to the next province for a wife. The expense of a wife was more than Tow really wanted, so he borrowed me from time to time. It was an arrangement he had with Dine, made possible by Dine's first wife, Mistress Shel. Shel hated my position in her house as a sort of third wife, a standing I could never truly attain even if I wanted to. It was Shel who had disfigured the right side of my face years ago. It hadn't stopped Dine's visits to me, just made him more discrete.
Master Tow was chopping wood in the small yard next to his house. His clothes, littered with fine shavings of fir, made him smell better than usual. He was stripped to the waist, his pale chest glistening with sweat even in the morning cold. I stopped and waited. I could never address anyone without first being addressed myself. I learned that very young.
Master Tow continued his work, perhaps enjoying the fact that I was his audience. He often flirted with me, even though he had no reason to tease a slave. I think he was quite proud of his own blond hair that fell to his shoulders. Taunting all the unsuitable women in town seemed to please him tremendously. And so I stood perfectly still, watching the breeze blow the fabric in front of my face until he finally spoke.
"Hello, chit," he said, taking a break from his chopping.
"Master Dine said you were expecting me."
"So I am." Tow breathed heavily, his ribs showing under his creamy skin with each exhale. He dropped his hatchet in the dirt at his feet and held up two fingers beckoning me to follow him behind his house. I hesitated. Wasn't I doing housework? What did Tow have in store for me?
"C'mon, chit! Haven't got until sundown," he called, his tone good-natured as always.
I couldn't shake the feeling he was playing a trick on me, but I followed him down the hill behind his house through a thicket of small aspen just beginning to bud. I soon saw it was a shortcut he used to reach the square rather than taking the main path that switch-backed down the mountain. Although it was easy for him, the trees snagged the fabric of my billa.
"Come on!" his voice urged. I wasn't sure, but I thought I heard him muttering under his breath about my ridiculous garb. None of the other slaves wore what I wore. I stood out wherever I went—a black ghost in a crowd of humans. Everyone knew it was my punishment for tempting Dine. That's what Shel told them and most believed it.
I did my best to keep up with Tow. Once out of the shrubs, it was easier to match his pace. He headed for the crumbling castle perched on a precipice over the wide green valley on the edge of Roma. Eons ago, before the Great Death that wiped out billions, some strange unknown race had built castles all across this region. Most were rubble now.
No one lived there, but the people of Roma sometimes stored things in some of the rooms or held meetings there. Windows long gone, the arches still stood in places, the stone thick with moss and lichens silently feasting on the remains of the beast. It was a forgotten place, somewhere I rarely went because I wasn’t invited to public affairs. As Tow and I got close, I heard the sound of someone singing a sad melody in a cool, clear voice. Even the birds in the trees were drawn to it, flitting away only when we came near.
As I followed Tow down a stone stairway littered with last winter's dead leaves into the ruins and closer to the voice, my fears melted away and curiosity overcame me. Tow couldn't walk fast enough now. Who was it? And why were they here? The singing suddenly stopped.
Deep inside the castle, where little sunshine could penetrate, Tow stopped at an old door with a small slit for a tiny window. A boy's face, not much older than mine, with dark hair and eyes like mine, peered out of the opening.
"You can't keep us in here," the boy said, his voice angry.
"Don't worry. It won't be long before the authorities come for you. A week at the most," said Tow. He turned to me. "These two were caught last night stealing. You need to feed them at least once a day, no more. Just enough to keep them alive for their trial."
"Trial?" I asked.
"The Reticents have been summoned. They'll send someone to pick them up."
"But what do I feed them, Master Tow?"
Everyone's winter stores were running low and few spring crops had been harvested yet. Master Dine wouldn’t allow me to use his food for such a purpose.
"Hog feed will do."
"Hog feed?" shouted the prisoner. "We're not animals!" I flinched and backed away from him.
"Never you mind that, chit. Do as you're told. Put the food in here." Master Tow pointed to a small slot near the floor with the toe of his boot. "Don't open the door, no matter what."
"Yes, Master Tow."
"Any questions?"
"Have they been fed today?"
"No. Better get to work."
Master Tow turned and bounded up the stairs. I stood motionless, watching the black-eyed boy watching me. I’d never seen anyone like me before. He looked hard at the billa like he could see underneath.
"Do you have any water?" he asked in an accent I didn't recognize. "He's very weak."
The prisoner backed away from the door so I could creep up and peer inside. The oldest man I'd ever seen, maybe fifty years or more, lay on the floor. He groaned as the boy knelt down and touched his arm.
"I'm here," he said to the old man. Before I knew it, I’d loosened the water bag I kept tied at my hip and pushed it through the hole in the wall toward them.
"Take this. I'll be back," I whispered before hurrying to find food.
***
Normally I fed the hogs caysha roots I dug up in the forest. A person could eat them and survive, but they weren't kind to the stomach. They were a last resort, eaten only when all else was gone. I’d eaten them myself when the winters were hard and Master Dine saved all his food for his family. Slaves weren’t supposed to forage for their own food. It was a sign a family wasn't wealthy enough to support them, but Dine looked the other way quite often. He allowed me to find other means of sustenance when times called for it, which was more often than not. The less of his food I ate, the more wealthy he fancied himself.
I walked as quickly as I could without attracting attention to a meadow below the castle where the caysha had started to bloom, blue lilies on tall stems. I dug a few roots to satisfy Master Tow, but I had no intention of feeding them to the prisoners. I dropped them in my basket and slung it over my shoulder, heading for the river. Checking my traps, I found a snared rabbit and smiled for the first time that day. Not that anyone knew or cared. I spent my days alone in a tent made for one, seldom speaking to anyone. But something in that boy's eyes reached out to me behind the curtain. I wasn't going to serve him hog feed. My decision risked a beating, but it wouldn't mean my death. Though I didn’t fear death anyway.
***
An hour had passed by the time I returned to the ruined castle dungeon with food, water, and fuel. Midday was approaching yet the prisoners made no sound. I hoped to hear his song again the way I longed for the lark song after winter. Like a mouse cleaning up crumbs, I silently cleared away the leaves in a dark corner near the stairs and built a cooking fire. The smell of roasting meat brought the boy's face to the hole in the door once more.
"You're torturing me," he complained, although his lips smiled.
"It won't be much longer," I said, crossing the room to the door between us. "I brought more water. Give me the water bag, and I'll refill it." He scrambled to retrieve the bag and return it.
"How is he?" I asked, looking at the impossibly old man.
"Better. Some real food will do him good."
I handed the boy some jake nuts through the slot in the wall. "Chew these. They'll help keep the food down."
He shoved the handful into his mouth.
"Save one for him," I said, pointing to the old man. The boy chewed hard but managed to spit out one nut for his friend. He knelt by the man again and shook his arm.
"Kinder? Wake up. It's dinner time." The old man sat up with the boy's help, leaning against the stone wall. "Eat this," he said, giving him the nut.
I refilled the water and retrieved the rabbit from the spit on the fire. It had started to burn, the grease glistening on the meat. Too big to fit through the slot, the rabbit had to be torn into pieces and slipped into the cell. The boy snatched it from my fingers and rushed to the old man, who suddenly came alive, devouring it. The boy returned and snagged a second piece for himself, ignoring me as he inhaled his food. I waited by the slot with the rest of the meat, holding it until they were ready for it. The sounds of eating, chewing, and licking made me hungry, but I didn't eat any. The rabbit would’ve been my lunch, but I’d eat wild carrots instead.
I gave them the remains of the rabbit and returned to the corner to put out my fire. Master Tow mustn’t know I’d cooked, so I hid my hearth as best I could with damp leaves and rubble. The moss on the stone walls would hide any sign of smoke. I turned to go.
"Wait," called the boy. "What's your name?"
The words I'd never heard directed at me, the words I dreamt of every night, came from his lips. Was he speaking to me? Of course he was. There was no one else here.
"Is it Chit?"
"No. I’m Alana." I’d never told anyone the name I chose for myself. It felt good to say it out loud.
"Thank you, Alana. I'm Recks, and this is Kinder. We're grateful for your kindness. May Mother Sun shine on you."
I stopped breathing for a second. No one had ever blessed me before. It just wasn't done. I waited as if the sky might fall down. There was nothing but the sound of Kinder sucking the marrow from his rabbit bones.
"Is something wrong?" asked Recks.
"No," I said. "I should go." I suddenly remembered the bones. "Hide the bones when you're done."
"Kinder will eat them all." Recks smiled at me and snickered at the thought.
"I'll bring more tonight," I told him.
"But Tow said once a day … "
"What Tow doesn’t know won’t trouble him." I hurried up the steps.
"Be careful," warned Recks, as if he might actually be concerned for my safety. Hidden tears leaked from my eyes.
As I walked back to Master Dine's house, I had an overwhelming urge to throw the billa off and feel the sun on my shoulders. Mother Sun could bless me too, even if she never had before. But if I did, I knew I would never see Recks again. Instead, I clasped my hands together under my billowy tent in happiness, knowing the feeling could escape me like mist in the sunlight.
***
I left the house again at sunset, making Shel smile. Dine would assume I went foraging, which I did, but not so much for myself this time. Recks and Kinder needed me. I was thankful for the billa, which allowed me to stow extra supplies—flint, a blanket, and some socks—without being noticed. The goods were mine, the cast-offs of others, and wouldn’t be missed.
I openly carried my caysha basket still filled with the roots I had collected that morning. Carefully wrapped underneath those were three sunflower seed cakes made with the last of our honey the summer before. Shel had thrown them in the refuse because they were too hard for her taste, dried out from a long winter in storage. Recks and Kinder were in dire need of fattening up. I worried Kinder might not last the week, even with a bit of honey. I stopped by one of my snares on my way through the forest, lucky to have caught a partridge. I plucked its soft feathers inside the billa as I walked to the ruins, my fingers working without me looking down. I couldn't be gone long or someone would notice.
At first, the prisoners were so quiet I thought perhaps they had escaped. I used the flint to light a small torch so I wouldn't fall down the steps.
"Alana? Is that you?" came Recks’s voice from the darkness.
"Yes." Alana? He said my name. My heart raced in my chest faster than when I was sneaking around, faster than from my fear of Dine or Tow. I held the torch up to see inside the door.
"You shouldn't have come, but I'm glad you did," said Recks. "I have something for you."
"For me?" Was he mad? He had nothing but an old man. I set about building a fire to roast the partridge.
"I may not look like much, but I’m a gifted performer."
"A performer?"
"A teller of tales, singer of songs—"
"Stealer of goods!" yelled Kinder. He obviously felt better. He had at least found his voice again.
"What?" I asked, blowing gently on my fire to make it grow.
"Recks has sticky fingers, which is what got us into the fix we presently find ourselves," said Kinder.
"I don't hear you complaining when you're enjoying the spoils, old man."
"What did you take?" I asked, skewering the bird and laying it over the flames.
"Only a heel of bread," Recks insisted. "We're seldom paid for the service we provide."
"Is Kinder a performer too?"
"In a manner of speaking. He is an academic, a man of studies."
"What does he study?"
"I'm right here, you know," Kinder grumbled from behind the door.
"Be more polite to the woman who saved your life, fool. Don't you know how close you are to death's embrace?"
"Better the devil you know than the one you don’t,” muttered Kinder.
“What?" I approached the door again.
“Never mind him,” said Recks. “He’s overly fond of proverbs.”
"I've brought some things that will help with the chill," I said, pulling out the blanket and the woolen socks. I’d have to find replacements for myself for next winter. Recks gasped in pleasure at the sight of the gifts.
"What is it?" Kinder demanded, unable to see. I fed the blanket through the slot to Recks, who laughed as he pulled it through. As before, he rushed it over to Kinder, spreading it out over him.
"You'll have to hide it when Tow comes," I said, stuffing the socks through the same hole.
"Of course," said Recks, pulling the socks onto his hands and admiring them. "What else have you got under there?"
I flinched under the billa as if Recks saw right through it. He could never see me. No one could.
"Nothing," I said. "Is there something else you require?"
"A key to the lock would be dandy."
"I'm sorry. I don't know where Master Tow keeps it."
"Ah well, he's not a stupid man, is he? He caught us. Not an easy thing to do."
I retreated back to tend the fire and the little roasting bird, which smelled delicious.
"So my gift to you, Alana, is a tale," said Recks. "It's not much, but it's all I have."
I sat down, making myself as comfortable as I could considering the rubble that littered the room. I’d seen street performers from time to time, but I’d never been so close or had the time to really listen. For a minute, the only sound was the popping of the dry sticks in the fire. Then Recks cleared his throat.
"You'll have to forgive me. This isn't the best place for telling stories."
"Never stopped you before," grumbled Kinder.
"Shush," Recks told him. "Your dinner’s coming. Do you have any favorites, Alana?"
The few stories I knew were ones told by Dine's first wife to her children. They were short and generally brutal, told to teach some lesson when they misbehaved. They weren’t the kind of tales I wanted to hear.
"I don't know any stories."
"That's impossible. Did your mother never tell you ‘The Fox and the Hen’? And everyone knows ‘The Ruby Quiver.’"
"No, no one’s ever told me any stories."
"Why not?"
"Recks, you nitwit. Can't you see the girl’s a slave?" barked Kinder.
"How can that be? She walks freely."
"Ask her yourself. Not all are enslaved by chains. Who would wear that willingly?"
"Is it true, Alana?"
"Yes," I said, turning the meat with my fingertips.
"But why are you here? Why don't you run?"
"And go where? It's all like here, isn't it?"
"No. The world is a wide, wondrous place. It's not all like Roma."
"Thank Mother Sun for that!" exclaimed Kinder. "Is the meat done yet?"
"Done enough, I suppose," I said, pulling the stick of roast partridge away from the flames. “It’s not much,” I said as I walked it over to the men in the cell and put it in the slot.
“A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush!” Kinder said, clearly delighted. They both devoured it eagerly, even as it burned their fingers and tongues. They groaned in pleasure and pain, but they didn't stop eating until every bite was gone. When I dug the sunflower seed cakes out of the basket, they both smiled as if I’d presented them with the key to their freedom.
"We should get arrested in Roma more often," said Kinder, crunching on the sticky cake. "I can't remember when I've eaten so well."
"Me neither," said Recks, licking the honey from his fingers. "Just for that, I'm going to tell you the best story I know."
"I can't stay much longer. I’ll be missed."
"Then I'll be quick about it," said Recks, wiping his hands on his shabby tunic and then holding them palms up toward the sky. "Mother Sun knows the hearts of all men. May they all please her."
That I’d heard many times. It was the traditional prayer before beginning any work. One never knew what might displease Mother Sun, so it was customary to let her know your intentions were good in the hope that she would take pity on you.
"In the Time of Great Darkness, there lived a young boy. He had lost everyone and everything he’d ever known: his mother, his father, and his sister dead with many thousands of others. His village overflowed with the dead. No one was left to bury them all. Mother Sun willed it so, but she let this one boy live. He was special, wise beyond his years, and Mother Sun knew he could found a new race of men. She guided him to a sacred valley, high in the mountains, far from his home. On his journey, he met others like himself—thinkers, artists, healers, poets, and storytellers. They banded together and sought to create a world better than the one before the Time of Great Darkness. They built their city on the cliffs above a valley, where they live in comfort. To this day, they grow all they need. Everyone helps, none go hungry, and there are no slaves."
"No slaves?" I asked, incredulous.
"Ask Kinder. He's actually been there," said Recks.
"You have?"
"Many moons ago. Then I got a crazy notion about wanting to study the peoples of the West. Now I wish I’d never left."
“No fool like an old fool, huh, Kinder?” teased Recks.
The call of an owl outside reminded me I was in Roma, not a magical, shining city of freedom.
"I have to go," I said, standing up. I doused the embers of the fire with my water bag, sending steam hissing into the air.
"Alana?" Recks whispered through the hole in the door. Two of his fingers poked out, reaching for me in the darkness.
"Yes?"
"Did you like the story?"
“Like” seemed too casual a word for how I felt. Overwhelmed was a better choice. It stretched my imagination, showed me how much I didn't know about the world. I trembled, knowing I’d remember this story for the rest of my pitiful life. Now in the cover of darkness, I reached out of the billa and touched his two warm, rough fingers with one of my own.
"Yes."


About-the-Author

Lisa T. Cresswell


Lisa, like most writers, began scribbling silly notes, stories, and poems at a very young age. Born in North Carolina, the South proved fertile ground to her imagination with its beautiful white sand beaches and red earth. In fifth grade, she wrote, directed and starred in a play “The Queen of the Nile” at school, despite the fact that she is decidedly un-Egyptian looking. Perhaps that’s why she went on to become a real life archaeologist?

Unexpectedly transplanted to Idaho as a teenager, Lisa learned to love the desert and the wide open skies out West. This is where her interest in cultures, both ancient and living, really took root, and she became a Great Basin archaeologist. However, the itch to write never did leave for long. Her first books became the middle grade fantasy trilogy, The Storyteller Series. Her first traditionally published work, Hush Puppy, is now available from Featherweight Press.

Lisa still lives in Idaho with her family and a menagerie of furry critters that includes way too many llamas!


Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


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