Guest Post & Giveaway: When Planets Fall by Abby J. Reed

WHEN PLANETS FALLWHEN PLANETS FALL (2)Website | Facebook | Twitter |Pinterest | Instagram | Tumblr | Goodreads

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On a planet where the only difference between three tribes is their blood color, war is on the horizon. Breaker, an amputee, wants peace for his family and home. Malani, a kidnapped POW, wants to return home. Luka wants justice for his home. All three teens come together when Breaker is given seven days to fix a wrecked enemy starship or their home, and peace, is forfeit.

“In this richly imagined start to a new sci-fi series, Reed brings optimism to the goal of solving entrenched violence in a galaxy far, far away . . . A propulsive, sharply crafted tale about a planetary war.” –Kirkus Reviews

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Welcome to Scarlatti! Welcome to the planet of blood. Here’s a quick tour of who’s who. Remember, If you run into anyone in the neutral zone, make sure to ask bloodcon, needlick to take the blood test. Don’t want to risk killing someone from your own tribe:

The Eliks:

The Eliks have blue blood and live in the east. Their fortress is made from a rock found in their mines that gives it a glass-like look. They are the most different from the rest of the tribes as they actually have a couple other slight differences. Their skin is thicker, so a direct hit is needed to penetrate, and they have a shorter pregnancy terms that ends in an egg-like embryo. But they look the same as everyone else on the planet.

Their art is more ornate, seeing beauty in geometric designs and tiny details. Their religion plays a heavier role in their society than the others, too. Their language is heavier, which makes Malani speak with more of an accent. They have joint rulers, a king and queen, that we see from a distance. They fight the least with everyone as they don’t like to come down from their mountain often.

The Herons:
The Herons have green blood and live on the western side of the valley, in the mountains. They are considered to be the cruelest of the three tribes and have the reputation for their love of science. Their language is beautiful, almost song-like. They love smooth, sleek lines, finding beauty in simplicity. That’s why their fortress is cylinder shape, with spokes running deeper into the mountain. It’s simple, and therefore beautiful.

Their religion is similar to the Eliks, in that they share the same creation myths. But religion doesn’t play nearly as much of a role in their society. They currently have a king, King Oma, who sees Humans as a nuisance. The Herons also fight more with the Humans than the Eliks, and there’s more tension between these two tribes than anyone else.

The Humans:

Humans are, well, us, but way in the future. They have red blood and live between the other two tribes in the valley. Chief Malvyn currently leads them. They live in the compound where they’ve developed more of a monoethnic “compound look”. Brown curly hair, darker skin, brown eyes. But since many in the other tribes share these characteristics, they aren’t much help in identification.

Humans see themselves in a very different light than the other two tribes. To give more info would be spoilery 😉

authorabbyWebsite | Facebook | Twitter |Pinterest | Instagram | Tumblr | Goodreads

Abby J. Reed writes young adult science fiction and fantasy novels that ask what if. She has a degree in English Writing and is drawn to characters with physical limitations due to her own neurological disorder called Chronic Migraine. Her debut novel, WHEN PLANETS FALL, will be published in April 2017 by Soul Mate Publishing.

Abby lives in Colorado with her husband and two fluffy pups. If her hands aren’t on the keyboard, they are stained purple and blue with paint.

giveaway1 winner will receive a signed paperback of WHEN PLANETS FALL, & Swag, US Only.

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Awesome reading, 

Jordan

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Review: Love and First Sight by Josh Sundquist

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synLove is more than meets the eye.

On his first day at a new school, blind sixteen-year-old Will Porter accidentally groped a girl on the stairs, sat on another student in the cafeteria, and somehow drove a classmate to tears. High school can only go up from here, right?

As Will starts to find his footing, he develops a crush on a sweet but shy girl named Cecily. And despite his fear that having a girlfriend will make him inherently dependent on someone sighted, the two of them grow closer and closer. Then an unprecedented opportunity arises: an experimental surgery that could give Will eyesight for the first time in his life. But learning to see is more difficult than Will ever imagined, and he soon discovers that the sighted world has been keeping secrets. It turns out Cecily doesn’t meet traditional definitions of beauty—in fact, everything he’d heard about her appearance was a lie engineered by their so-called friends to get the two of them together. Does it matter what Cecily looks like? No, not really. But then why does Will feel so betrayed?

review

3.5/5 Stars

Love and First Sight is an adorable and profound look at perception, the way we see the world, and what happens when someone who has never been able to see does for the first time. 

There’s a lot going on in this book but something I LOVED was the idea of beauty and how it starts beneath the surface. The main character, Will, is blind. He has never seen anything from birth, not even darkness. He has no perceptions, no stereotypes, nothing to work with because he has never seen it. Sure, he can know what something is, like a triangle or an apple, but he can’t envision it. What’s so compelling about this story is the many thought-provoking and inspired conversations on what it means to be beautiful and whether or not it matters if your physical appears fits the general construct and stereotypes of what beauty should be. Will has no basis. This is fascinating. His version of beauty is soul-deep and has to do with a number of components, the sound of someone’s voice, the feel of their skin, the way they treat others. He says that physical beauty, whether it’s there or not doesn’t matter. If only the world thought this way.

There are two sides of blindness, well three if you want to get philosophical. Blindness in terms of the everyday stereotypes and treatment towards blind people-they way people assume they need help, want it, or are helpless in general. Even the small things like they all wear sunglasses or like to be pulled along. Things that the average person probably would not think about. The small part of me that enjoys science was intrigued and downright astounded by the research poured into this book. It discusses how the brain develops, which parts are used for each sense, and how disuse of one can affect the others.  Will has the opportunity to received life-changing surgery that could give him sight. Learning, adjusting to vision is startling. Everything that goes with it, from depth perception to colors to shapes. How do you focus when there are so many elements and when you have never learned how? Each step is connected with blindness and learning through that earlier condition to finally see. We take sight for granted. It never occurs to us that it’s amazing that we can look at so many things at once and recognize them as distinct from each other. For a blind person learning to see, this seems impossible and the brain needs to be trained to cope with the explosion of sensory overload. After I read this, I really thought about placement, perspective, and the incredible power of the human eye to define. 

I’m hesitant to call this a romance because it felt underdeveloped and rushed. What I felt more than anything was a genuine and powerful friendship. There wasn’t really room for anything else on top of all the other stuff going on. The was a point in the story where feelings are confessed and I was stunned. Not that they were there at all but that it was sudden and without enough time to build on the romantic elements. The whole time nothing but friendship, respect, and adoration, with hints of romance. 

Secondary characters were, for the most part, barely there. Even when they were there, it was small snippets that suggested overall personality, but even when there was space in the story to expand and cement these characters in the story, it was a whole bunch of telling. They go on a road trip. I cannot think of a more perfect time to get to know secondary characters than on car ride, cross-country, that days a number of days. And yet, this whole section was in the span of a handful of pages.  

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Thoughtful reading, 

Jordan

Review: Our Chemical Hearts by Krystal Sutherland

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John Green meets Rainbow Rowell in this irresistible story of first love, broken hearts, and the golden seams that put them back together again.

Henry Page has never been in love. He fancies himself a hopeless romantic, but the slo-mo, heart palpitating, can’t-eat-can’t-sleep kind of love that he’s been hoping for just hasn’t been in the cards for him—at least not yet. Instead, he’s been happy to focus on his grades, on getting into a semi-decent college and finally becoming editor of his school newspaper. Then Grace Town walks into his first period class on the third Tuesday of senior year and he knows everything’s about to change.
 
Grace isn’t who Henry pictured as his dream girl—she walks with a cane, wears oversized boys’ clothes, and rarely seems to shower. But when Grace and Henry are both chosen to edit the school paper, he quickly finds himself falling for her. It’s obvious there’s something broken about Grace, but it seems to make her even more beautiful to Henry, and he wants nothing more than to help her put the pieces back together again. And yet, this isn’t your average story of boy meets girl. Krystal Sutherland’s brilliant debut is equal parts wit and heartbreak, a potent reminder of the bittersweet bliss that is first love.

review

3.5/5 Stars 

Our Chemical Hearts is about the kind of love many people don’t experience until their much older, falling in love in the face of a great loss. Our Chemicals Hearts is quirky, romantic, and full of profound meaning. 

Love comes in all shapes and forms. Most of the time in YA, we’re faced with instalove, lust, friends to lovers, and shy guy/girl gets the popular. What makes Our Chemical Hearts so compelling is that it’s a romance built on loss. The main love interest suffered a terrible tragedy that robbed her of what she dreamed of as her happily ever after. Their love was a great love, the kind that you never get over. Our Chemical Hearts examines the fight to love someone who is in love with a ghost. We think of love as an all or nothing, not something measured in minutes or even seconds; Our Chemical Hearts challenges that idea. 

I lost count of how many times I highlighted and shared quotes from this book. The perspectives on life, love, and dealing with grief are beautifully written and hit hard with their bold simplicity. 

The cover is amazing. It’s unlike any other YA I’ve read. A little whimsical, a little mysterious, a lot gorgeous. 

Henry Page is unique in that he seems like an awkward nerd, but he’s funny, loud, and says the most outrageous things. His sarcasm game is on point. He’s 100%, completely himself and that is incredibly rare. Henry has no problem celebrating his weird collections, making Fight Club and Doctor Who references, and the pop culture references are insane. Henry is conflicted, confused, and drunk on the idea of love. His emotions are hazy, but powerful. The falling is slow and hits suddenly. It’s not pretty, it’s nowhere near easy, and yet, Henry knows what he wants and that dreamy feeling he gets with Grace, despite all the bad is enough to make him fight for her through her sadness.

Secondary characters are memorable and hilarious. From Henry’s parents, to his enigma of a sister, to his best friends-a pervy Australian named Murray and a feisty lesbian with mad design skills named Lola. They all have their own stories and bring a lightness to the plot. I loved each and every one of them. 

Grace Town is a contradiction. She’s nothing like she looks. She’s flighty, strange, and hides herself in her loss. At times she’s stunning, mesmerizing, and full of life, others she’s listless. Her grief consumes her and changes her-breaks her. It’s heartbreaking how this loss has changed her into something so lost, so beaten. And yet, she is, like the story references, a manic pixie dream girl. 

The chemistry is there. Grace and Henry just fit. Their interactions are a mix of bizarre, fun, and so awkward, but their conversations whip back and forth with an easy that mirrors a friendship build over years. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Thought provoking reading,

Jordan

Lost Review & New Review: Illuminae and Gemina by Amie Kaufman & Jay Kristoff

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synThis morning, Kady thought breaking up with Ezra was the hardest thing she’d have to do.

This afternoon, her planet was invaded.

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.

review4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Knopf Books for Young Readers.

Illuminae is a reading experience. The documents, interviews, emails, and recordings get the reader involved in every clue, panic attack, and bit of romance in this epic space thriller.

The pacing is inconsistent. At first, it’s an action-packed thrill ride that will keep you guessing and on the edge of your seat. The setting is insane. The danger, the terror of the invasion-it’s beyond intense. The middle part, despite the varied documents lags behind that initial hysteria only to pick up at the end with an unexpected and terrifying twist. 

Some scenes are gory and full of sickening detail. It’s awesome. The attacks are straight out of your favorite horror film and darkest nightmares. 

The world building is fierce and complex and full of politics that put profit over humanity. It’s cruel, despicable, and packed with drama. 

Kady is stellar as a protagonist. She’s conflicted in love, nostalgic, occasionally scared and so relatable, despite being a mad hacker on a space ship. Kady has skills. She uses her brain to dip into the computer systems and uncover secrets, take control, and steer everyone aboard away from utter destruction. The adrenaline is high. Her task has slim odds for survival and yet, Kady NEVER gives up. No matter how much is thrown at her, she fights and fights and keeps fighting for her people. 

The AI, wow. Unexpected and so cool. He’s got personality and such a presence. He’s dangerous, deadly, and struggles to understand emotion, but he’s sort of lovable in a weird way and the only thing saving our heroes from total devastation.

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Moving to a space station at the edge of the galaxy was always going to be the death of Hanna’s social life. Nobody said it might actually get her killed.

The sci-fi saga that began with the breakout bestseller Illuminae continues on board the Jump Station Heimdall, where two new characters will confront the next wave of the BeiTech assault.

Hanna is the station captain’s pampered daughter; Nik the reluctant member of a notorious crime family. But while the pair are struggling with the realities of life aboard the galaxy’s most boring space station, little do they know that Kady Grant and the Hypatia are headed right toward Heimdall, carrying news of the Kerenza invasion.

When an elite BeiTech strike team invades the station, Hanna and Nik are thrown together to defend their home. But alien predators are picking off the station residents one by one, and a malfunction in the station’s wormhole means the space-time continuum might be ripped in two before dinner. Soon Hanna and Nik aren’t just fighting for their own survival; the fate of everyone on the Hypatia—and possibly the known universe—is in their hands.

But relax. They’ve totally got this. They hope.

Once again told through a compelling dossier of emails, IMs, classified files, transcripts, and schematics, Gemina raises the stakes of the Illuminae Files, hurling readers into an enthralling new story that will leave them breathless.

review

4/5 Stars 

My core issue with Gemina was the lack of rehash early on. There’s no explanation of previous events in Illuminae so I spent most of the book wondering what was going on and when it would link up with the previous story. I was super confused for much of the book. 

Hanna has a big personality, maybe even more epic than Kady’s in book 1. She’s a total, unabashed B.A. character. She’s fierce, intelligent, sexy, and full of sass. She flirts and plays and is one heck of a vixen, but underneath her perky, blonde exterior is a deadly force. Her fighting skills, her Sun Tzu references, her tactical skills, she’s wicked awesome and completely refreshing. She owns her body, her life, and will mess up anyone that threatens her. I’m impressed with how she transforms from a party girl to a warrior. The transition is smooth, floating to the surface because it was always a part of her. 

The added dynamic of Russian gang life was a marvelous addition to this story. The danger, the intrigue, the stories that went along with the Knives, the drama, it totally swept me away. 

Cat and mouse game to the extreme. Man the hunt is deadly, bloody, full of gross description, and the code names alone-each and every character is different, has a strong personality, and has their own reason for trying to capture Hanna. 

There’s a twist. It’s made of science and theory, and is a little confusing but the illustration helps. Oh the illustrations. They’re beautiful and hilarious, part comic book style and part precise diagrams. 

Elena. Oh my gosh, I love her. She’s a sarcasm queen, witty, and full of life. She doesn’t take put downs from anyone and is a genius on the computer. She’s a heroine that may even trump Hanna. Her interactions with Nik are adorable and lively. They fight like siblings, but the love floats off the pages.

Nik is complex. He’s a pervert, a flirt, and his comebacks are hilarious. He’s got the House of Knives gang cred and the tattoos to prove it. He’s so much more than meets the eye. He’s a big softy underneath that tough exterior and loves so hard it will make you swoon. His story is made of drama and lies and twists that will keep you guessing about who he truly is. 

I loved the set up at the end. The parallel between Hanna and Nik, the use of color, the poetic way it works together as one narrative despite the circumstances *no spoilers*. You have to see it. Trust me, it’s genius. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Intense reading,

Jordan

Trailer Reveal & Giveaway: The Six-Mark Alpert

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Release Date: July 7, 2015

cooltext1889161239 copyAvatar meets The Terminator in this thrilling cyber-tech adventure…

Adam’s muscular dystrophy has taken his motility, his friends, and in a few short years, it will take his life. He takes solace in playing video games he’s programmed to reflect the life that he used to have. Virtual reality is the one realm where he can be the hero, and it’s where he chooses to spend his time, until an entity called Sigma tries to kill him.

A dangerously advanced artificial intelligence program created by Adam’s computer-genius father, Sigma has escaped its cyber prison and is threatening global destruction and domination. But Adam’s father has a plan. He will stop Sigma by using the technology he developed to digitally preserve the mind of his dying son.

Adam’s consciousness is uploaded into the body of a weaponized robot, along with a group of five other gifted teens who are terminally ill. Together, they must learn how to manipulate their new mechanical forms and prepare for combat before Sigma destroys humanity. Adam can finally play the hero for real, but will his new body be worth the sacrifice of his human existence?

This innovative and thought-provoking young adult debut, from the critically acclaimed author of adult thrillers Final Theory and The Omega Theory, questions what it means to be human and whether we are destined to be defined by our physical bodies or our intellect.

cooltext1921345213 copyShannon rears back in her seat as if she’s been slapped. “And where are you going to store the copies of our brains?” Her voice is furious. “In a supercomputer? A big electronic prison?”

Dad doesn’t take offense. He answers her calmly. “The scanning process converts human intelligence to a digital form, allowing it to run on any neuromorphic computer that has enough memory and processing power. But in the initial stage right after the transfer, we believe it’s important to connect the intelligence to a machine that can move around and sense the outside world. A human intelligence is accustomed to controlling a body, so if we want to preserve its sanity, we’d better give it something to control. Here, let me show you.”

He puts the vial of nanoprobes back in his pocket and pulls out something else, a small remote–control device. He points it at the doorway beside the stage, and a moment later I hear a loud clanking. The noise startles the soldiers standing by the doorway. They step backward, flattening themselves against the wall. Then a seven–foot–tall robot emerges from the doorway and brushes past them.

The robot strides across the stage. It has two arms and two legs, but otherwise it isn’t very humanlike. It has no head or neck. Its torso is shaped like a giant bullet, with the rounded end on top. Its legs angle downward from the base of its torso and rest on oval steel–plate footpads that clang against the floor.

The machine marches briskly past the podium and stops in front of my dad, who presses a button on his remote control. This command extends the robot’s arms, which telescope to a full length of six feet. They look like multi–jointed tentacles. The machine’s hands, though, resemble human hands, with dexterous mechanical fingers and thumbs.

Dad presses another button, and the robot’s rounded top starts to turn like a turret. “The cameras and acoustic sensors are up here,” Dad says, pointing at the top end. “But the neuromorphic electronics are deep inside the torso, encased in armor plating. These robots were originally designed for the war in Afghanistan, so they’re pretty sturdy.” He raps his knuckles against the torso. “All in all, it’s an excellent platform for a newly transferred intelligence, but really it’s just the beginning. The whole point of the Pioneer Project is to bridge the gap between man and machine, and that means the human intelligences must explore their new environment. The Pioneers will have to learn how to use their new capabilities, and that includes transferring their intelligences from one machine to another.”

His voice grows louder again, full of enthusiasm. “Once the Pioneers have mastered these tasks, our hope is that they’ll be able to establish a connection with Sigma. If all goes well, they’ll start communicating with the AI before it launches any of the Russian missiles. And then the toughest challenge will begin. At the same time that the humans are learning how to be machines, they’ll have to teach Sigma how to be human.”

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cooltext1892192940 copyRafflecopter Giveaway Link for Sourcebooks Fire Sci-Fi Book Pack including a copy of The Six by Mark Alpert (Runs June 11-June 23rd) US and Canada only

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cooltext1889178114 copyMark Alpert is a former editor at Scientific American, and the author of several adult thrillers. He’s been praised by Douglas Preston as the “heir to Michael Crichton.” Visit Mark online at markalpert.com.

Website/Twitter/Facebook

Keep reading,

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Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Spinner-Michael J. Bowler

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 To Be Published:  August 5th, 2015

Genre:  YA Paranormal Horror

Content Warning:  Mild profanity and language of a sexual nature

Recommended Age:  14+

cooltext1889161239 copyFifteen-year-old Alex is a “spinner.” His friends are “dummies.” Two clandestine groups of humans want his power. And an ancient evil is stalking him. If people weren’t being murdered, Alex might laugh at how his life turned into a horror movie overnight.

In a wheelchair since birth, his freakish ability has gotten him kicked out of ten foster homes since the age of four. Now saddled with a sadistic housemother who uses his spinning to heal the kids she physically abuses, Alex and his misfit group of learning disabled classmates are the only ones who can solve the mystery of his birth before more people meet a gruesome end.

They need to find out who murdered their beloved teacher, and why the hot young substitute acts like she’s flirting with them. Then there’s the mysterious medallion that seems to have unleashed something malevolent, and an ancient prophecy suggesting Alex has the power to destroy humanity.

The boys break into homes, dig up graves, elude kidnappers, fight for their lives against feral cats, and ultimately confront an evil as old as humankind. Friendships are tested, secrets uncovered, love spoken, and destiny revealed.

The kid who’s always been a loner will finally learn the value of friends, family, and loyalty.

If he survives…

cooltext1921345213 copyThey were in.

Now to find the grave. 

They had a map, of sorts. With the graveyard paperwork Alex’s mother had sent was a map that had numbers on it. Roy knew from his own mother’s funeral that those numbers meant the different graves. One area was circled on the map, and Roy had told them that must be where Alex’s folks were buried. All they had to do was follow the map.

Yeah, he thought, as they stood in a darkened graveyard looking at a paper map with a tiny flashlight beam, trying to figure out just where in the hell on that map they were, sounded easy at the time. Since he was the only one who drove, the others let him plot their way. But shit, he hadn’t been here since last year on his mom’s anniversary to put flowers and, well, that had been during the day!

Israel stood quietly keening with fear, his eyes darting everywhere at once, while Java and Alex waited patiently for Roy to figure things out. Their best landmark was a lake near to where Alex’s parents were buried. They’d have to wander around till they found it.

“They’re near some lake, and there’s a fountain, I think, so we should, like hear water splashing, right?”

Java shrugged, but Alex nodded excitedly. “Yeah, we will. Let’s look around till we hear it.”

They moved out into the tree scattered, grave-filled cemetery with nervous anticipation. Java carried the shovels because he didn’t trust Israel not to drop them if a gopher ran past in the dark.

The grass slowed Alex’s wheels so he let Roy push the chair from behind to conserve his arm strength.

Most of the graves were the small ones like his mom had, just a flat metal plate with names and dates on them. The wind gusted and blew leaves from the fading trees onto the grass, swirling them around their feet as they walked. No one spoke. The silence crushed them. Dark, ominous clouds only added to the horror-film atmosphere, and Roy wished he hadn’t watched so many of those movies at Izzy’s house.

The grass rose up into hills and mounds, all scattered with graves that they passed nervously between. Roy felt weird, walking on top of dead people like this, and he could hear Israel panting with fear. He was about to approach and calm the boy when Java stepped up and flanked Izzy, offering his own muscular body as protection. The gesture surprised Roy, just like the one atop his truck, given Java’s daily frustration with Izzy’s ADHD. But the move clearly helped Izzy, who looked at Java and smiled with gratitude.

The flat graves gave way to the kind with tall headstones by the time the splashing of water came from ahead in the darkness. Roy increased his speed. The tall headstones looked really old, and for some reason they creeped him out more than the newer ones, like somehow older dead bodies would be more likely to haunt them or something.

The splashing grew louder, and the wind stronger. It also got colder, and Roy shivered. Must be the lake water making him cold, he told himself, hoping that was the only reason. The image of that huge, evil cat crept ceaselessly into his mind as he pushed Alex toward his parents’ graves. To find out what? That Alex was a bigger freak than he thought? That he might destroy the world some day? Roy knew these things could never happen, not from Alex. But Alex feared himself even more than he feared the cat. And that broke Roy’s heart every time he thought about it.

The lake loomed ahead, not too big, but bigger than Roy could calculate using his body-height method. A jet of water shot into the air at its center and fell back, hitting the surface with the kind of splashing sounds he used to make in the bathtub as a child.

Java and Israel stopped by the shore of the lake and turned to face him. Roy let go of Alex’s chair and slipped out the map. He squatted down so Alex could see and turned on the tiny penlight. Together, they squinted at the circled spot and tried to figure out which direction it was from the fountain of water.

After a few moments of bobbing his head up and down from the map to their surroundings, Roy thought he’d figured it out. He pointed to their right, to an older part of the graveyard that was a mix of flat plates and stone markers. “Over there.”

The others nodded and they set off. They passed nervously through the rows of graves. Even though Alex hadn’t said anything, Roy felt eyes on them.

Lots of eyes.

But every time he looked around there was nothing but the wind and rustling leaves and their own cushioned footfalls against the grass.

I’m crazy, he thought, imagining dead people watching.

Or maybe it was those creepy-ass stone angels bending toward a grave, hands clasped before them in prayer. Maybe they were watching. Whatever it was, Roy’s skin crawled.

This was the section. He stopped pushing Alex, and the others stopped, too. Now was the part they all hated – reading. They had to look at each grave and try to figure out which one belonged to Alex’s parents. Alex looked at him and Roy whispered, “The last name starts with “O,” right?”

Alex nodded. Roy squinted at the paper and found the name. He could tell because there were two names in front of it and that meant the “O” word was the last name. He pointed to it for Java and Israel. “That’s the name we gotta find.”

“Are dead people, like, you know, laid out by ABCs?” Israel asked.

Java looked at him in annoyance. “Fool, do you even know your ABCs?”

Israel shrugged. “Some of ’em. I always get stuck around, like, ‘G’ or ‘P’ or something like that. I never could–”

Before Israel could start rambling, Roy whispered, “Just look for a last name starting with ‘O.’ Then we’ll check it with the paper.”

Java nodded, but Israel’s mouth fell open. “You mean we gotta split up?”

“Just around here, fool,” Java snapped, keeping his deep voice low and controlled.

“But there’s dead people here!” Israel hissed, his eyes wide with fear.

“That’s why it be called a graveyard,” Java spat, his temper obviously rising.

“Look guys,” Alex said, “you two stick together and me and Roy’ll stick together. ’Kay?”

Java grunted, but Israel nodded rapidly. “Yeah, that’s better.”

The two groups wandered off in opposite directions, each with a penlight

Roy aimed his light while Alex slowly pushed himself between the graves. The beam struck each headstone or metal plaque long enough for both of them to squint at the last name, and then Roy moved it along to the next. He still felt that sensation of being watched, and it sent chills up and down his spine. The cold, biting wind didn’t help, and he kept his hood up and over his head to keep his hair from blowing into his eyes.

He spotted the other flashlight beam a short distance away, but there seemed to be no one else anywhere around. So who was watching them? Finally, he stepped closer to Alex and leaned down to his face. “Someone’s watching us.”

Alex peered out from his hood, brushed hair from in front of his eyes, and looked at him soberly. “Not someone. Some thing.”

Roy froze. “What thing?”

Alex shrugged. 

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Michael J. Bowler is an award-winning author of eight novels––A Boy and His Dragon, A Matter of Time (Silver Medalist from Reader’s Favorite), and The Knight Cycle, comprised of five books: Children of the Knight (Gold Award Winner in the Wishing Shelf Book Awards), Running Through A Dark Place, There Is No Fear, And The Children Shall Lead, Once Upon A Time In America, and Spinner.

His horror screenplay, “Healer,” was a Semi-Finalist, and his urban fantasy script, “Like A Hero,” was a Finalist in the Shriekfest Film Festival and Screenplay Competition.


He grew up in San Rafael, California, and majored in English and Theatre at Santa Clara University. He went on to earn a master’s in film production from Loyola Marymount University, a teaching credential in English from LMU, and another master’s in Special Education from Cal State University Dominguez Hills.


He partnered with two friends as producer, writer, and/or director on several ultra-low-budget horror films, including “Fatal Images,” “Club Dead,” and “Things II,” the reviews of which are much more fun than the actual movies.


He taught high school in Hawthorne, California for twenty-five years, both in general education and to students with learning disabilities, in subjects ranging from English and Strength Training to Algebra, Biology, and Yearbook.


He has also been a volunteer Big Brother to eight different boys with the Catholic Big Brothers Big Sisters program and a thirty-year volunteer within the juvenile justice system in Los Angeles.


He has been honored as Probation Volunteer of the Year, YMCA Volunteer of the Year, California Big Brother of the Year, and 2000 National Big Brother of the Year. The “National” honor allowed him and three of his Little Brothers to visit the White House and meet the president in the Oval Office.


He is currently working on a sequel to Spinner.


His goal as a YA author is for teens to experience empowerment and hope; to see themselves in his diverse characters; to read about kids who face real-life challenges; and to see how kids like them can remain decent people in an indecent world.
 cooltext1892192940 copy There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following: ARC PDF copy of Spinner (INT); A mug with the book cover image on front (US only)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Pleasant reading, 
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Cover Re-Reveal: A Special Connection-Theresa Troutman

A SPECIAL CONNECTION by Theresa Troutman
Genre(s): New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Published: February 5th 2014
Life has been a constant challenge for Jake Lewis. Left paralyzed emotionally and physically by a car accident, which killed his parents when he was just twelve years old, Jake struggles to be happy. His best friends, Rick Welsh and Samantha Andrews, are a couple who fight as passionately as they make up.
This puts Jake in an awkward position.
 
Three friends who are as close as can be.
 
Rick Welsh, the hotshot basketball player, who hopes to leave college and go pro. Samantha Andrews, the brainiac, blessed with common sense and beauty.
 
Jake Lewis, the crippled virgin, who believes no girl could love a damaged guy with a disability.
 
In despair, these friends share a moment that will forever change their lives.
 
Life is messy.
 
Love is complicated.
 
True love doesn’t always come wrapped in a pretty package with a bow on top.
 
Is it possible that the friend you never had sexual feelings for is the person who will touch your soul like no other?!
AMAZON | US | UK | CA | AU
There was a light rap on the door. “Jake, are you in there?” a feminine voice asked from the other side.
 
I stood, with the help of my crutch, and walked over to the closed door. I opened it to find Jenna on the other side. “Sorry, I just needed some quiet time.”
 
Jenna smiled. “I don’t think there is such a thing as quite time in the Welsh household.”
 
“Come on in,” I offered, moving aside to make room for her to enter.
 
Jenna stepped into the bathroom, her heels clicking on the tile floor. She shut the door behind her, leaned against it and closed her eyes. She was dressed in a red velvet  sleeveless dress and black stockings, her long blonde hair gently falling over her  shoulders. Jenna was pretty and always had an available posse of boys who followed her around. She frequently dated, but was never serious with any one guy. That     probably had something to do with the fact that she had three big brothers who would beat the crap out of anyone who tried to take advantage of her.
 
“You’re right. It is quiet. That’s a nice change of pace,” she sighed, opening her eyes to meet my gaze. Jenna took a few more steps towards me. Soon we were inches apart. Her gaze never left mine. Her hazel eyes held promise. Then she wet her lips with her tongue and leaned in to kiss me.
 
I was taken aback by the action—my lips unmoving, my eyes wide open, watching her kiss me. It was unbelievable to comprehend any girl would want to kiss ‘Jake the cripple,’ but Jenna was kissing me. I felt the tip of her tongue dart into my mouth and I moaned. I dropped my crutch, the aluminum clanging as it hit the floor, and wrapped my arms around her waist. Closing my eyes, I let go and kissed her back. Her mouth was sweet and supple, warm and wet.
 
When we finally pulled apart, we were gasping for air, Jenna’s hands on my     shoulders, her forehead resting on my chin. “I always wondered what it be like to kiss you, Jake. Damn, that was amazing.” She looked up at me through her thick black eyelashes and smiled. “Where did you learn to kiss like that?”
 
I shrugged, feeling my cheeks grow red. “I don’t know. You’re the first girl I ever kissed.”
 
“I think we should try that again,” she said, leaning in for another kiss.
 
We kissed with more feeling. Jenna’s hands caressed my neck, then her fingers tangled in my hair. I tried to pull back, afraid she would feel my growing arousal. This was all brand new to me. I’d never imagined any girl would be interested in me and   assumed I’d live my life alone, without physical connection. Yet, here was pretty Jenna—gorgeous Jenna—making the moves on me!
 
When we came up for air, I gently brushed a stray strand of her hair behind her ear, touched her swollen lips with the pad of my thumb. “Why me?”
 
“Why not? You’ve been a permanent fixture in the household for six years. I’ve had a crush on you forever, Jake.”
 
“I had no idea,” I stuttered. I had no clue why Jenna was attracted to me, but I seized the moment and asked, “Will you go out with me, on a real date?”
 
“Compared to a fake date?” she asked with confusion.
 
“No, I mean, you won’t be embarrassed be to seen with me in public?”
 
“Why would I be embarrassed?”
 
I motioned to my bum leg, but didn’t say a thing.
 
“Jake, I don’t care about your leg. I care about you. I would be honored to go on a real date with you.”
 
I smiled, so happy in the moment that I forgot one major detail. “Oh, shit. Your  brothers are going to kill me when they find out.”
 
Jenna simply laughed. “Seriously, you’re a part of this family. They love you like a brother.”
 
“That makes you my sister and that just sounds perverted.”
 
“John and Jason will be heading back to college and Rick doesn’t need to know.”
 
I thought about it for a second. That was all I needed to make up my mind. “Pick you up at seven tomorrow?”
 
“Perfect,” she replied, leaning in for one last kiss. “I’ll go out first. Meet you downstairs.” Jenna opened the door and peeked outside into the hall to make sure the coast was clear. She looked over her shoulder and said, “Merry Christmas, Jake.”
 
It turned out to be a merry Christmas indeed.
Theresa Troutman lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and their crazy dog, Niko. She loves reading, theatre and traveling.
Her books include: My Secret Summer, A Special Connection and the Love’s Great Adventure Series: Life’s What You Make ItLove This Life and London Loves. She is currently working on a contemporary romance called, By My Side, which will be released in early 2015.
Feel free to contact her on Facebook and like her page.
Happy reading,
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