Phase One: Identify by Rose Wynters – YA Romance Book Tour, Giveaway and Review

 

 

New-cover-phase-one-203x300

Virtual Book Tour Dates: 12/30/14 – 1/13/15

Genres: Young Adult Romance, Horror, Zombies, Science Fiction

Series: Territory of the Dead

Tour Promo: All books in this series are $.99!

Available free with Kindle Unlimited.

add-to-goodreads-button

 

 

My Review:

Meet “Tabs”, a teenager working at a cashier at a local grocery store when the zombie apocalypse happens – with zombies trying to get into the grocery story in a rather grotesque way. She manages to leave and get to her house where she watches the TV with her mom and dad, seeing events unfold on various channels. Eventually all channels go blank as the reporters are killed by the zombies.

This novella is quick paced, and soon Tabs and her family, along with a cute neighbor boy, are running for their lives. Luckily, they meet up with a man named Kellan who promises to keep them safe. He is a prepper that has a hideout, which he claims will protect them from the hungry masses.

The story ends with an epilogue that promises future installments. The next book in the series is “Phase Two: Evaluate” for those who wish to continue the story.

I recommend this book to young adults who want to read a good adventure that has just the right balance of zombie gore and a little romance.

I gave this book 5 out of 5 stars for a believable zombie story and clean language for young adults.

 

Blurb:

Eighteen-year-old Tabitha Alexander had just graduated from high school when the dead invaded her small town of Pleasant, Louisiana. Working as a checkout girl in the only grocery store in town, she barely made it out with her life.

But the night was only beginning.

What started out as a group of three grows, as they are joined by the few that are still alive. New bonds are formed as old ones die, and Tabitha suddenly finds that the guy she’s always wanted might just want her back.

The timing couldn’t be worse, though. The zombies in Pleasant are smart, with an awareness that’s horrifying. And when the zombies discover the house full of survivors, those inside realize that the walls aren’t strong enough to keep them out.

All hope is lost. Or is it? Salvation comes in the form of a mysterious man, with a pair of steely-gray eyes and an arsenal to match. He rescues them, but at what cost? Kellan can’t seem to keep his otherworldly eyes off of her.

She’s no match for him. She knows this. Yet, he intrigues her… and Tabitha knows it’s the most dangerous reaction of all.

 

Excerpt:

I exhaled deeply as I finished scanning the last coupon. The woman gave me a sharp look of annoyance, as if I had no room for complaint. Really, what did she expect? Was I supposed to grovel and thank her for allowing me the honor of scanning her precious coupons ten minutes before closing time?

Apparently so. “You know, young lady, it wouldn’t hurt you to smile at your customers and thank them when they offer you their coupons. I don’t think I’ve ever had such poor customer service. I don’t have to shop here, especially with this kind of attitude.” She was working herself up into a rage, her expression full of self-righteous indignation.

I didn’t reply, but instead pushed the total button. Some of the customers in line groaned, while others shifted in impatience. They really didn’t want to be further delayed by her rant. She slammed a hundred dollar bill down on the counter. “Where is your manager? I want to speak with him now.”

I pointed towards Jim, as he straightened his shoulders and attempted to look professional. I could only imagine the holier-than-thou attitude he would have as he sympathetically agreed with her. Around here, I could never do anything right, or so it seemed.

I didn’t see anyone else standing around, though, willing to put up with his crap. If I didn’t need the money so badly, I’d walk out the door faster than he could blink. I was tired of the humiliation and tired of being blamed for the lines, just because he was too tight to hire on adequate staff.

I was silent as I quickly made her change. What could any person say? She was mad due to reasons of her own, something that really didn’t concern me. With one last glare, she huffed and moved on in his direction. She never made it, though.

It would have been worth the complaint and subsequent chewing out I would have received, if the events of the night just wouldn’t have happened. I would later look back on it and pray that things had ended differently. You can’t change events that are completely out of your control, though.

Even so, anything would have been preferable to that one moment when you find your reality has just been blown to pieces and would never be the same again. That’s assuming you live to survive it.

She was halfway to Jim, her teased hairdo bouncing, when it happened. A loud, panicked scream tore through the night, originating somewhere from the parking lot in front of the store. Even through the thick glass, we could hear it loudly. It sounded like someone was being murdered. I immediately stopped scanning, turning in an attempt to see what was happening.

A body slammed against the glass, his face and palms pressed to the surface. It was a horrid sight. His pupils were red and crazed, his face extremely pale and dirty. Dark red blood was smeared across his cheeks and chin. The man stood still for a moment, just watching us with his crazy eyes. Something reanimated him. He slid his palms down the clear, clean glass, leaving a trail of bloody streaks.

 

Buy Link:

Amazon

 

About the Author:

Rose Wynters resides in the southern portion of the USA. When not writing, she enjoys traveling, camping, and meeting new people.

 

Connect With The Author:

Website

Facebook

Twitter

 

Giveaway:

Win a $10 Amazon gift card! This giveaway will run 12/30/14 – 1/13/15. Open worldwide!Click here to enter the Rafflecopter.

 


 

Book Tour Information:

 

Phase-One-Identify-Tour-Banner

The Killing of Mummy’s Boy by Joan Ellis – Psychological Thriller Book Tour, Giveaway and Review

 

front-cover-killing-mummys-boy-188x300

 

Virtual Book Tour Dates: 12/10/14 – 1/7/15

Genres: Psychological Thriller

Tour Promo: This book will be $.99 during the tour!

 

add-to-goodreads-button

My Review:

The Killing of Mummy’s Boy is a mystery thriller with plenty of twists to keep the reader occupied.  There were a few red herrings along the way to send you searching in the wrong direction.  The ending was unexpected, and disturbing.

I didn’t feel any sympathy for any of the main characters, primarily because they didn’t seem to have any redeeming qualities once the story began.  Sandra (aka Rosie) is a mother who was too lenient with her son, despite a few more than disturbing instances when he was growing up.  She gives up a posh life after her son testifies against a killer and ends up in a witness protection program; she then retreats to a run-down cottage far away from the big city to hide out.  She works at what seems to be a dead-end clerical job at a hospital.  Since she is so mentally fragile due to worrying about her son, she begins binge drinking, which seemed to take over her character completely.

Sandra’s new lover, an ex-con named Ben, seems to want to take care of her, but she is afraid of him because he was in jail for murder.  His character is a bit of a Jekyll and Hyde, switching from caring boyfriend to terrorizing her with a knife.  He drinks quite heavily, and enjoys getting Sandra drunk.

Sandra’s son, Carl (aka Sam), turns out to be a complete jerk to his mother, and blames her for everything wrong in his life.  He doesn’t disappoint either when he uses his new wife as a shield during a fight.

I did enjoy a few of the sub characters including Rob the gay co-worker (his dialogue was fun to read), and Debs (Carl/Sam’s pregnant wife), as she was an innocent and very pregnant woman unaware of the snake pit she was about to walk into.

I would recommend this book to individuals who enjoy British crime dramas, and individuals who wouldn’t mind some foul language (the dialogue is believable, but harsh).

I gave this book 4 out of 5 stars.

 

Blurb:

‘I slit someone’s throat,’ the man told the woman on the 4.20 from Waterloo to Portsmouth.’

Two strangers. One shared interest. Murder. Ben slit a man’s throat. Sandra’s son, Carl witnessed a murder.

With Carl on a Witness Protection Programme, Sandra fled London to live anonymously in a remote village on the Isle of Wight where she becomes increasingly isolated and vulnerable. Terrorised by an unknown stalker, the police are unable to help and she turns to Ben. What makes a respectable, middle-aged woman want to sleep with a killer? More importantly, can the relationship give her the love she craves and help Ben find redemption?

Hate, fear and lies boil over in a page-turner with love at its black heart.

 

Excerpt:

Locking the door and flicking on the radio, she relaxed as the DJ’s silky smooth voice seemed to single her out from his millions of listeners and speak to her alone. It was an old broadcasting trick but she didn’t care. The mindless chatter was soothing and suited her just fine.

‘Do you ever get that?’ asked the DJ. ‘You’re walking along the street and someone says ‘Hi ya, mate. How’s it going?’ And you’re thinking ‘Do I know you? Or are you just some weirdo?’ Ha, ha. If that’s happened to you, tell us. Text the word, ‘stranger’ to …’

She quickly turned it off, her mind jolting back to the man on the train. What if he came back? What if he was here, hiding inside the cottage?

Sandra froze, her heart pounding against her ribs.

‘Dove Cottage, Shorwell, PO30 5AB,’ she could hear herself saying on the train. ‘‘B’ for bravo. ‘B’ for bravo.’

‘‘More like ‘S’ for ‘stupid’,’ she thought bitterly.

Cautiously, she crept upstairs and flung open her bedroom door causing the handle to bang against the wall. From the doorway, she could see the whole of the room, even under the bed. Nothing. Her wardrobe was on the landing. She pulled the door and it swung open. Her scant collection of clothes hung like husks on the rail.

As she approached the bathroom a wild face greeted her. She leapt back terrified before realising she was looking at her own reflection. Breathing heavily, she headed back downstairs and into the kitchen.

She sat at the table and told herself to calm down, there was nothing to worry about, the man had played his sick little joke, game over. Gradually, her heartbeat slowed.

She decided a cup of tea would soothe her nerves and she reached into the fridge for the milk. Spotting half a loaf of bread, she put two slices into the toaster before opening the cupboard where she kept her special plate.

Carl had spotted it in a junk shop in Brighton on one of their many excursions and had asked to have his pocket money early so he could buy it. It was one of the few gifts he had given her over the years and she treasured it.

It was not in its usual place but it was always in the cupboard above the sink, behind the casserole dish. She glanced across at the shelves and work surfaces. No sign of it. Frantically, she tried to recall when she had last used it. It had been just before she had left for London. Her cheese sandwich had tasted all the better for being eaten off such precious crockery. She remembered using the last of the washing-up liquid to wash it up. She checked the bin. Sure enough, there was the empty bottle.

As she turned back she saw it in the sink. She went over and picked it up. It was covered in crumbs and smeared with a dark, sticky substance. She sniffed it suspiciously. Marmite. She had bought a new jar recently but not used it. She opened the cupboard, found the pot and unscrewed the lid. Sure enough, the seal had been broken.

She clung to the edge of sink. He had been back to her house and this time he had been inside. He must have wanted her to know; just like before he made no attempt to cover his tracks.

How the hell had he got in? She was always so careful to lock up. She felt the vomit rise in her throat. She bolted upstairs and into the bathroom where she flung herself over the toilet. Looking down into the porcelain bowl, she was repulsed and shocked to see it was full of dark, foamy urine.

She knew it couldn’t possibly be hers. She had not used the lavatory that morning; she had peed in the shower.

 

Buy Links:

Amazon UK

Amazon

JOAN-ELLIS-1PB-297x300

 

 

About the Author:

Advertising copywriter, comedy writer, performer, lecturer – Joan Ellis has been them all. With a full-time job in a top London advertising agency and a new baby, she did what any right-minded woman would’ve done and set up a comedy club. She even appeared on the same bill as Jo Brand. Once.

A career highlight was casting a black and white moggie as Humphrey Bogart for her award-winning cat food commercial. Other great performers who brought her words to life include Penelope Keith and Harry Enfield.

As a lecturer, Joan taught comedian Noel Fielding all he knows about advertising before encouraging him to showcase his creative talents on a wider stage.

Working for The Press Association, she tutored Wordsworth’s great-grandson in the art of copywriting: Buy a host of golden daffodils and get a blue one, free!

Suffering from swine flu and sweating like a pig, she moved from London to the Isle of Wight where she lives on cream teas with her beloved husband, daughter and two cats.

She recently launched her books at The Ventnor Fringe and the Isle of Wight Literary Festival.

 

Connect With The Author:

Website

Twitter

 

Giveaway:

Win an ebook copy of The Killing of Mummy’s Boy (ten winners, open worldwide) or a print & autographed copy of the book (one winner, UK residents only). This giveaway will run 12/10/14 – 1/7/15. Enter through Rafflecopter.

 


 

Tour Information:

The-Killing-of-Mummys-Boy-Tour-Banner

 

 

Sonar the Crashing by B. Truly – Sci-Fi Romance Book Tour and Giveaway

Sonar Book Cover

 

Virtual Book Tour Dates: 12/8/14-1/5/14

Genres: Sci-fi/Fantasy/Paranormal Romance

add-to-goodreads-button

 

Learn more about the author in her special guest post here:  Beyond & into the Sonar Galaxy

Blurb:

Is it more than déjà vu? With the Romeland family it may be destined to be true.

Life on Earth is not the only place where devastation occurs and hard choices must be made. The Royal 4 of Kadan live in the Sonar galaxy three million light years from Earth. They travel to Earth to obtain the resources they need to give their world a fighting chance.

Their mission is compromised and they’re faced with life changing events. They have amnesia and no memory of their past. Strange dreams start to occur. They wonder if it’s more than a dream, or is it déjà vu?

The mind is a complex mystery. Amnesia is a secret unknown. The role it manifests in these characters’ lives is a catastrophic cyclone.

Shiray is frantic when she is the first to find out about their true destiny and that the love of her life no longer remembers who she is. She must find a way to restore her family before all is lost. They must prevail because the fate of their planet lies in their hand.

What would you do if you had amnesia and fell in love, only to learn upon regaining your memory, that you are already married? Find out in this Electric thriller!

 

Excerpt:
dance-with-amnesiagiveawayimage
It had been several weeks since I had retrieved my memory and still had not found out any information. Would I ever see my husband again? Would I ever see my planet again? I wondered if King Julius had gotten our distress call from the ship before it went down. If he had gotten the call, why hadn’t he sent a rescue team? A Polar must have sabotaged our ship to make it crash and given us amnesia so our mission would fail. It’s the only thing that made sense. Syira and the others must have lost their memories also, because no one had tried to contact me in all this time. I hoped Kadan hadn’t lost the war already and we weren’t too late.

I got on the computer in the living room. I was going to try again to hack into the CIA or the FBI system to find some information on our crashed ship. I was skipping school today, but my foster mother was at work, so I had plenty of time.

I couldn’t get into either system, so I went to the garage to get some wires and bolts. I was going to use my Kadanan knowledge, which I finally remembered, to rig the computer’s hardware so I could get into their systems. I sat back down and set up the wiring and bolts to the computer. Then I went back to the CIA’s website. There had to be something on the crash. I started putting in codes. It took me about five minutes, and I was in. Bingo! That was easy. I should have thought about rigging the computer sooner. I started searching through random files and then typed in unidentified object and a code mission came up. I typed in some more codes, and a file opened. It was a recording. I pushed play, and a man spoke:

Two males and one female were found two miles east of Convey Valley on May fifteenth, two thousand eleven. They had no knowledge of who they were. Is there a relationship between them and the spacecraft? There was also another female found two point five miles west of where the other three were found. She also had no knowledge of who she was. None of them had serious injuries. They were sent to Denver Methodist for a day of observation and the three found east of Convey were sent to Dempstead Foster Home. The separate female was sent to Elite Foster Care. The two males and female that were found east of Convey Valley were taken into private foster care and reside in Denver, Colorado. The female who was found alone was also taken into private foster care, and resides in Parker, Colorado. Detailed personal records of these four are being kept in a separate file for Major Compton. At this time no hostile actions have been shown by the surveillances. Special agents on Major Compton’s team have been assigned to keep watch over these surveillances to see what transpires and if there is any form of extraterritorial activity between them.

The recording ended. I should have known we were being watched. Who was this Major Compton? I continued to hack through the files. Pictures came up on the screen of our ship. They had it! The first few photos of the ship were of the original wreckage. Our ship had a large hole in the side. In the next photos of the ship it had been fixed. I couldn’t believe they were able to fix it.

We must have all been thrown out of the ship at impact, or at least I had been. I had woken up on the ground and didn’t see our ship, Bryan, or the others. The recording said I had been found in the opposite direction of the others. I was amazed we all survived. I assumed the force field surrounding the ship saved our lives and kept the ship mostly intact, except for the large hole that had been on the side. I wondered what material they used to fix it, as the metals used to create it on Kadan were not available on Earth. I hoped it would hold together in space, if it could even fly.

I remembered how sore I’d been on the day they found me, but at the time I didn’t even know why I was hurt. I had a few cuts and bruises, but nothing was broken. I didn’t remember a lot from that day; it was all a blur. I remember waking up and wandering around lost. Then the police officers found me, at least that is who they told me they were. But now that I was recalling the memory, the four men had on black suits. I don’t think they were the police. They must have been CIA agents. It would make sense with all the information I was putting together.

It pissed me off we were being watched like guinea pigs. They must be in the shadows, waiting and watching for us to show signs we weren’t human.

I tried to search for an address to where Bryan was sent, but I couldn’t find one. It must have been in the other file for Mr. Compton the recording mentioned, but I wasn’t able to access it. I was so frustrated. All I had to go on was that he, Nile, and Syira had been sent to Denver.

I got out of the CIA system and did an Internet search for Denver high schools. Several came up. I would just have to start and go down the list. Cashmere High was the first one, so I would start there. I would go there during school hours and see if I could find them.

 

I caught the city bus the next morning to the school. When the bus got to my stop I walked up to the school. I took a deep breath and didn’t know what I would do, if I actually found Bryan. I might pass out.

As I approached the school the bell rung, and students scattered. I looked around, nervously, then walked toward the courtyard. Suddenly I heard a familiar voice. It was Syira! She was talking to some hunk. I moved a little closer; feeling relieved to see her, but would talk with her later. I wanted to find Bryan and wouldn’t be satisfied until I did.

I walked inside the school, searching different hallways. The bell rang again and there were not a lot of people in the halls. Suddenly I couldn’t move. I felt a presence behind me, and knew it was Bryan. I was almost too scared to turn around, and then heard a woman’s voice behind me. I forced myself to turn, and there he was, more gorgeous than I remembered him. He was talking with a girl and he gazed at her lovingly. This crushed my heart. Who was she? We looked so much alike. Her eyes were light green, and she was my height and petite frame. Her hair was long and wavy like mine too, except it was blond.

This pissed me off immensely. They started laughing, and I felt so jealous. Then they embraced in a tight hug. At that instance tears started streaming down my face. I turned and double-timed it down the hallway. He remembered nothing. What was I going to do? Whatever it was, I had to do it fast.

 

Buy Links:

Amazon

Smashwords

Barnes and Noble

Net Galley (Free)

 

15340401170_6e04bc69c2_n

 

About the Author:

I have wanted to be an author since I was fifteen years old and grateful to have accomplished this dream. I have three wonderful children and a husband who defines the person I am today. I work full-time as an Ultrasound technologist in Sugarland, Texas.

I have very vivid dreams and a wild imagination. I like to read, watch tons of TV shows, and movies. I’m addicted to romance and get a thrill out of action and suspense. I write New Adult Fantasy, Sci-fi, and Paranormal-Romance.

In the Sonar series it was fun to explore different elements of Sci-fi romance and create various realms of powers for my characters. I want to show my readers that Sci-fi can be fun, but also traumatic. I hope you guys enjoy the Sonar Series.

 

Connect With The Author:

Website

Facebook

Goodreads Author Page

Character Profiles

 

Giveaway:

dance-with-amnesiagiveawayimage

Enter to win an e-book copy of Sonar The Crashing (Five Winners) or a $25 Amazon gift card! Open WW, this giveaway will run 12/8/14-1/5/14. Enter through Rafflecopter.

 


 

Book Tour Information:

Sonar The Crashing Tour Banner 2

 

Krengel and the Krampusz by M.C. Norris – Book Tour, Review, and Giveaway

kreng

 

Virtual Book Tour Dates: 11/3/14 – 12/1/14

Genres: Fantasy, Dark Fantasy, Epic Fantasy, Supernatural Fantasy, Horror

add-to-goodreads-button

 

My Review:

Forget everything you think you know about the story about Santa Claus and get ready for a tale that will scare your socks off.

The story begins with a spoiled rotten Klaas Krengel who joins a choir of orphans who are cared for by Friar Otto – after all, touring the countryside singing is way better than living in a castle and being ignored. He soon learns that the choir isn’t what he thought it would be, and he couldn’t carry a tune in a bag if he had to – and the other children resent him for it. It seems that no sooner does he join this choir group than bad things begin to happen, mainly in the form of the Inquisition. I won’t reveal all, but suffice it to say, the kids are threatened with “The Pear of Anguish”, and their caregiver, the friar, is killed in front of them. The children, relieved of their caregiver, are then sold into slavery and certain abuse at the hands of their new masters.

While I was familiar with the Austrian folklore aspect of the story, the author wove in lots of historical events, including the Black Death. There are demons, pedophiles, a myriad of horrid individuals, and of course the Krampusz. If that isn’t enough, imagine swarms of fleas torturing two little girls amid a room full of eels that have been dumped on the floor- enough to make anyone squirm. And that is just the beginning.

As other reviewers have mentioned, this is a tale about one of the darkest times in human history, and unspeakable misery runs rampant. The author has a gift for describing situations very clearly so that the reader almost experiences the story first hand with all five senses (many of which are cringe-worthy, guaranteed!). Self-centered Klaas may be the one individual who can eventually usher in the era of enlightenment, though it seems improbable given his circumstances. He’ll have to survive the giant sack of the Krampusz and the eerie world of Sundaloon first.

I would recommend this book to people who enjoy very dark stories and can stand having their favorite holiday icon turned into something a little less than a benevolent old man – at least at the onset. Definitely not a story for the squeamish or individuals who despise descriptive writing.

I gave this book 5 stars out of 5.

 

Blurb:

The epic origin of a beloved holiday icon unfolds, as nine-year-old Klaas Krengel flees plague-ravaged Germania on a swashbuckling adventure across Medieval Europe to the remote ends of the earth, where he finds himself pitted against a gruesome host of adversaries, all resurrected from old Austrian lore. A bit of a spoiled brat, Krengel’s only friend is an insidious counterpart called the Krampusz, a blue-furred monster who suffers from a pronounced hoarding disorder.

Vexed by his half-brother’s lifelong privilege and pampering, the Krampusz enjoys nothing more than imperiling the boy through calculated misdirection, ultimately trapping him in the bottomless depths of the enchanted “Sack of Shadows.” Therein, a fantastic realm of weird and warring races demands a showdown between Krengel and its tyrannical ruler, a horrendous witch who alone holds a key to the connection between Krengel and the Krampusz.

 

Excerpt:

Every bell in Bari had a unique tone and timing. Each was synchronized to the timing of a specific, daily event. The toll of a bell would prompt a skyward glance from anyone within earshot, to make a quick check of the sun’s position. The bells were so intimately linked to the passage of time that on the rare occasions when every bell in the city tolled at once, the experience rattled a Baresi to his very soul, stilled him in his tracks, for time itself unraveled and was strewn to confetti. The joyous crash of sound reverberated through the seaport’s writhing arteries to flush pigeons in dappled flocks that flashed in the sky like schools of minnows.

At midday on May ninth, the first day of the annual Festival of the Translation of the Holy Relics, Bari came alive with clanging bells. Starlings gushed from the clerestory windows around the pealing bell tower at Basilica di San Nicola, the final resting place of Bari’s patron saint. It was an imposing fortification, a somber hulk of ancient masonry that loomed darkly over the peninsula with its back to the Adriatic Sea. With its cruciform mass shouldered between Romanesque towers, it better resembled an English castle than an ordinary place of worship. And at times, it had served as such.

Across the bustling piazza from the seaward dormitories, a hooded figure emerged from the basilica’s Lion’s Portal. The brown fabric of his Dominican robes flapped in the briny wind, throwing back his hood as he skulked beneath the engraved names of those famous sailors who rescued Saint Nicholas from Myra, five hundred years ago. He jerked the hood back over his naked head and turned to face the wall. Head bowed as though in prayer, he reached into the sleeve of his tunic, and withdrew a steely dagger.

Cast upon the spike of shimmering steel, was a leering distortion of his broad face and blazing eyes. He lowered and tilted his chin, trailing his fingertips over his newly shaved scalp. It was another of the Krampusz’s bright ideas. Krengel smiled. He looked funny bald, a bit like Friar Otto.

In five months, he’d grown in height and width. Though they might’ve starved a passive child with their severe Dominican diet of broth and rye, what were Krengel’s lifelong failings, but symptoms of his indomitable will to have while others around him had not. Greed ran strong in both sides of his family. And it was no small irony that Krengel, now a custodian of the relics of a saint canonized for profound acts of generosity, had honed his naturally greedy edge to a perfect tool for survival. Since Christmas Eve in Rome, he’d grown meaner, stronger, and more formidable. Daily acts of theft and trickery against the hardened peasants of a foreign land had honed Krengel, right beneath the noses of his Dominican handlers, into perhaps the most dogged urchin in all of Bari.

Krengel lifted his tunic, glanced around the crowded piazza, and then sheathed the dagger back into a tight fold in his braies. He hitched up his secret contraption. The rope was itchy about his waist, and the weight of the invention had begun to chaff his flesh. The dangling wood blocks clonked between his knees. Should’ve wrapped them in cloth to quiet their knocking. Too late for any of that, now. This was the big day. Around front of the basilica, cartwheels rumbled against the pavers as guests and dignitaries continued to arrive.

He’d not yet spotted Cardinal Moretti, rumored still unfit to attend this evening’s festivities, deathly ill as he’d been. Moretti posed him little threat in his weakened condition, but he was indeed the one person in all of Italy who could possibly spoil everything by summoning for him at the critical hour. Thus, the first phase of Krengel’s plan for May ninth was simply to avoid Moretti at all costs, to meld into the visiting crowds and simply lay low until sundown.

“What in Heaven do you think you’re doing, back here?”

Krengel spun to find the rector glowering out at him through the Lion’s Portal. He seized Krengel by an ear and marched him along the wall toward the main entrance of the basilica. “We’ve been looking everywhere for you! Your benefactor has arrived!” The rector lifted him by his ear and flipped back his hood. “You’ve shaved your head. What is this?”

“I had lice?”

“Shush it!”

The rector harried him to the main portal, where Cardinal Moretti was being lifted from his wagon in a sort of birthing position by a host of able-bodied Dominicans. The friars set him gently upon his unstable feet. He swayed weightlessly in the bullying wind, as though might at any moment be sucked off the earth and flung through the heavens. He lolled back his head and peered at the ecclesiastical assembly from beneath his fallen eyelids. The purplish growth in his lower jaw had swelled to the size of an onion, forcing his tongue to protrude like a newly hatched chick. He attempted to speak, but his lips produced only bubbles.

Krengel’s survival for five months in the favored hunting grounds of this predator was owed mostly to a bout of poor health that robbed Moretti of all but an infant’s strength, slackening the musculature of his face, not a day after Miso del Gallo. As a result, Krengel hadn’t suffered sight of the awful man since Christmas Eve, which was fortunate, but rumor held that Moretti’s health was steadily improving. So said the Dominicans anyway, who’d just this morning doted over Moretti’s latest accomplishment of peeling and devouring a boiled egg all by himself.

A breeze kicked up and snatched the mitre right off Moretti’s head, tumbling and spinning it down the street. But the friars supporting the feeble body of their guest could only look on in despair as they goaded him forward, one cautious step at a time. A silvery thread of slobber whipped from Moretti’s lip and bowed like a harp in the wind. Snowy wisps of hair all writhing on scabrous pedestals, Moretti looked for all the earth to be some deranged and ancient warlock, routed from his alpine rookery.

As the trio approached, Krengel bent his knees until he felt those wood blocks beneath his tunic touch the ground. He then stepped atop them and rose, oh so slowly, to his tiptoes, causing the special knot from which they were suspended to unwind. Through the fabric of his robe, he gathered the reigns of his makeshift stilts. Those milling around him were so transfixed by the precarious transfer of Cardinal Moretti that none seemed to notice that Klaas Krengel had suddenly sprouted a foot in height, looking quite enough like an adult friar, with his broad shoulders and shaved head, to pass before the myopic eyes of the monster.

Moretti made some unintelligible grunt as they led him past Krengel, swinging his disheveled head. Yellowed fingernails splayed as he reached for the boy, but groped naught but thin air. Those rattling claws sliced past his face without touching, only to rasp against the doorpost as they pulled Moretti inside.

Safe. Just as the Krampusz had promised.

So many friars were about for the Festival of the Translation of the Holy Relics, tending to all the dignitaries being housed in the monastic dormitories that a hooded man-boy on stilts could walk freely through the piazza, disturbing only a few pigeons. The first phase of his great caper was complete. Krengel grinned at the dull impact of his clopping stilts upon the pavers. By nightfall, he’d be comfortably seated aboard a ship destined for the Habsburg Netherlands, his mother’s homeland, where not even the Holy Roman Empire could touch him. But first, he needed a hostage. And not just any would do. His hostage was to be a man more celebrated in Bari than both Christ and Pope Alexander VI combined, a man with the power to lift an orphan right out of Bari.

 

Buy Link:

Amazon

 

headshot

 

About the Author:

M.C. Norris is an Active HWA member, whose first four novels, all published by Severed Press, are slated for release in fall of 2014: Deep Devotion (09/01/14), Krengel & the Krampusz (11/01/14), The Dread Owba Coo-Coo (11/15/14), and Nod (TBA).  His nineteen short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, magazines and e-zines, including: Withersin, Wrong World DVD, Brainharvest Magazine, Pseudopod, Malicious Deviance, and Dead Bait.  M.C. Norris also won 5th in Chizine/Leisure Books 13th Annual Short Story Contest.

 

Connect With The Author:

Website

Blog

Facebook

Amazon Author Page

 

Giveaway:

Enter to win a $25 Amazon gift card! Open WW, 11/3/14 – 12/1/14. Enter through Rafflecopter.

 


 

Tour Information:

 

Krengel Tour Banner

 

Death’s Twilight by A.J. Leavens – Review

Deaths Twilight v2

Genre:  Sci-Fi

 

The first book of a bold new trilogy by up-and-coming author A. J. Leavens.

In the future, Nuclear War has ravaged the planet. Slade Meechan, an Emissary for iCorps embarks on a Delivery to find Randy Herman – a man who’s escaped from a Penal Territory.

Beset by hurdle after hurdle, Slade must reach his Target before time runs out. His journey sends him far from his home, and into a land outside the Government. Accompanied by a loyal and mischievous Diplomatic Corps officer, and an array of mechanical gadgets, Slade crosses the world to fulfill his mandate.

What happens when the hunter becomes the hunted? Slade will have to use all of his skills and all of his connections to stay ahead of the one who wants him dead. But is there more to the story?

 

My Review:

This was probably one of the creepiest, big-brother is watching you, sci-fi books that I’ve read in a very long time. It reminded me of cold-war Russia picking kids for their gymnastics programs and turning them in to Olympic athletes, only in this book it was turning them into cold-blooded killers. The story takes place in a post-nuclear apocalypse world where the government is based upon the game of Risk.

There are Alpha, Beta, and Gamma killers who deliver “The Letter” to individuals who deserve to be punished by the government. The Alphas are the elite killers, while the Betas and Gammas are in training, waiting for their moment to step into an Alpha’s shoes. One of the main ways they can work their way up the ladder is for an Alpha to fail to deliver their Letter in time. When they fail, they too are subject to receiving their own Letter, which means certain death upon reading it.

Slade is an experienced Alpha who fails to deliver his Letter on time, and another elite Alpha, Hotaru, is charged with delivering a Letter to him as punishment. She is also in the middle of uncovering some information that may expose a government plot to kill adversaries with diseases that have been eradicated for decades, yet mysteriously are the cause of death for Letter recipients.

Slade is being set up, but he doesn’t know the reason why, as he did deliver his Letter on time. Hotaru is a finely tuned killing machine, but she too finds herself on the wrong side of the law by digging too deeply into the mysterious disease issue. The government now wants them both dead. Luckily there is an insider who is fed up with the direction the government is going in and is willing to help.

I really enjoyed this novel and found it difficult to put down, though it was uncomfortable to read at times. It is uncomfortable because it seems plausible, and has a good government conspiracy-theory vibe. Throw in some interesting technology, some bionic body parts, and the ability to change yourself with downloadable upgrades, and you’ve got a great beginning to a sci-fi thriller series.

 

Buy Link

Amazon

 

About the Author

AJ Leavens Photo

A love of reading as a kid allowed me to explore worlds with dragons, spaceships, robots, and antiques cars. I’ve always had stories in my brain, and I’ve finally had the time to let them out onto the page. I’m a father of 4 who’s been married for 15 years, and is more and more in love everyday.

Follow the author here:  Goodreads