Thursday, October 25, 2012

Blog Tour (Excerpt+Giveaway): Avenge (Patronus #2) by Sarah M. Ross

Six months ago, Lucy Donovan thought that being killed by a drunk driver was the worst thing that could happen to her.
She was wrong. 

Now, the person she loves most has been ripped away from her, soul held hostage, and Lucy has vowed to stop at nothing to get it back. 

Part of a new team with enhanced powers, Lucy and her friends begin a quest to avenge the souls that have been stolen. Enemies of the Patronus have united however, and a spy from within the Patronus realm is feeding the enemy their every move. 

When a mission goes horribly wrong, Lucy’s soul becomes compromised. It will take a strength she didn’t know was within her to escape the darkness, return to the light and avenge the soul she loves.

Excerpt #1: ~
Tossing the covers aside, I crept down the hall and into the living room. The small TV was on, muted, and Max was asleep on the couch. The poor thing must have carried me back after I fell asleep, and now he was all tuckered out. I tiptoed back into the hall closet to fetch him a blanket. As much as I wanted him next to me as I slept tonight, I didn’t have the heart to wake him. I bent down to grab a blanket when something suddenly grabbed me. 
I whirled around and didn’t hesitate to attack, throwing my elbow into the nose of my assailant, followed by a hard step down on his foot. 
“Son of a—ow, Luce!” 
I flipped on the light switch, taking a closer look at my assailant. I was horrified. It wasn’t a vampire or stranger attacking me. It was Max. And I had broken my boyfriend’s nose. 
“Oh, babe, I’m so sorry! I didn’t know who was grabbing me. I acted on instinct.” 
Max pinched the bridge of his nose to stop the flow of blood while I ran to get some ice from the freezer. “We’re in our apartment alone, who else would it be?”
“I know, I’m so sorry. What can I do to make it better?” I led him to the couch and sat on the arm next to him, gently placing the baggie of ice on his already healing nose. Blood dripped in a single steak off his chin and fell onto the sleeve of his soft, cashmere Henley shirt. I reached behind me to grab some tissues to wipe it away before more damage was done.
“It’ll heal in a moment. Don’t worry about it.” Max’s nasally voice made me stifle a giggle. Soon the bleeding stopped and in no time the swelling began to go down. 
I ran my hand down his cheek, my fingers delighting in the scratchy surface from his five o’clock shadow. I cupped his face in my hands and laid a gentle kiss on his soft lips. 
“There, all better,” I stated. 
(1) Print copy of AWAKEN, AVENGE, ECHO OF ANGELS, plus swag 

$20 Gift Card
Follow the rest of the tour:

Blog Tour (Dream Casting+Giveaway): Determinant (Guardians of Vesturon #3) by A.M. Hargrove

Determinant #3
The Blurb

January St. Davis, on her own since the age of sixteen and struggling to stay in college, thinks she’s scored in a major way when she lands a paid summer internship at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention in Atlanta. One evening, after working an especially long shift, a chance encounter with a group of mysterious men alters the course of her life.

Rykerian Yarrister, a Guardian of Vesturon with unearthly powers and impossibly gorgeous looks, finds himself at odds over the human female he recently saved from certain death. When it seems he is on the verge of winning her over, she is ripped from his hands by a strange and powerful being, threatening to destroy her if his demands are not met.

Do Rykerian and the Guardians have the ability to meet this fierce barbarian’s ultimatums, or will January suffer a horrid demise?

When I write, I like to picture the main male character, in precise detail, from someone that exists in the real world.  So for Determinant, I based Rykerian on Jessie Pavelka. Blonde hair, blue eyed and muscles that are perfectly sculpted, Jessie was my ideal Rykerian from head to toe.  If a movie were ever made of Determinant, I’m not sure if Jessie can act, but I sure would like to see him try, because he would certainly fit the bill in the looks department.
Jessie Pavelka

As far as January goes, I think I would like to see someone like Jennifer Lawrence fill that role.  I love Jennifer’s personality and how she was able to pull off being so unsure of herself as Katniss in The Hunger Games.  January has no confidence in herself and that would have to be portrayed to the nth degree.  Of course, Jennifer would have to bleach her hair and become a platinum blonde, or perhaps wear a wig, but I think that would be doable.

Jennifer Lawrence
I wouldn’t want to commit to naming a character for Jurek because I’m about to finish up Dark Waltz, Book 1 of the Praestani Series, and that is Jurek’s series. So his dream cast character shall remain nameless for the present time ;-)

Since Therron has such a dramatic role in this book, I think his part should be played by Chris Hemsworth.  Their coloring matches, as well as their perfect physiques. Besides, what’s not to love about Chris, right? The only unfortunate thing is that (*SPOILER ALERT*) Therron meets an unfortunate demise so we would have to see Chris disappear as well.  
Chris Hemsworth

I guess I would be remiss if I didn’t mention Maddie and Rayn.  After all, they started the whole series, so they are entitled to their dream characters, too, right?

For Maddie, I would choose Blake Lively, particularly when she is a red head.  I think she is perfect with her long wavy locks and beautiful smile.  Her eyes are certainly not amber, but there are always contacts for that!  And finally for Rayn, I would choose Henry Cavill.  I always had him in mind when I first wrote Survival.  I first fell in love with Henry when he played Charles Brandon, in the series The Tudors. He, too, would need contacts since he doesn’t have those intense green eyes that Rayn has, isn’t that what contacts are really for?
Blake Lively
Henry Cavill
 Thanks so much for sharing Ms. A.M. Hargrove..these actors/actresses are fabolous!

Show some love to the author by commenting and possibly win a copy of any of the Guardians of Vesturon books. 
Plus for the tourwide giveaway.
1st prize:$15 GC Amazon plus Determinant and Resurrection
2nd prize:Determinant and Resurrection
3rd prize: Determinant
Follow the rest of the tour:

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Book Blast:The Emerald Talisman Audio Book by Brenda Pandos;Read by Mary Morgan

The Emerald Talisman Audio Book by Brenda Pandos  
Read by Mary Morgan

You can run from your destiny, but you can't hide.

If for no other reason than to help endure the hormonal rush of high school, sixteen-year-old Julia Parker would trade her ability to feel her fellow students' emotions in a heartbeat, especially half the boys in class.

When the beguiling Nicholas uses his superhuman strength to rescue Julia from the edge of a cliff before she's devoured by a bloodthirsty stalker, Julia is suddenly thrust into an underground world where people and animals are often one and the same. Fellow high school students disappear and only Julia and Nicholas know the truth. While Nicholas, a vampire hunter, is out stopping the ever-growing coven, an old friend entices Julia to join him on the dark side and a psychic tells Julia she alone is the key to stopping the madness, problem is it'll require Nicholas' life. 

Author Brenda Pandos:  

Brenda Pandos lives in California with her husband and two boys. She attempts to balance her busy life filled with writing, being a mother and wife, and spending time with friends and family. Working formerly as an I.T. Administrator, she never believed her imagination would be put to good use. After her son was diagnosed with an autism spectrum disorder her life completely changed. Writing paranormal romance became something she could do at home while tending to the new needs of her family, household, and herself.

Three years later, Brenda now has five books published, The Talisman Trilogy: The Emerald Talisman, The Sapphire Talisman, and The Onyx Talisman, and Mer Tales: Everblue and Evergreen. She is currently working on the third book of Mer Tales, Everlost, coming February 2013.

Website * Blog * Goodreads * Twitter * Facebook 

Audio Book Tour 

Readers are invited to participate in The Emerald Talisman blog tour from 10/26-11/23 hosted by Confessions of a Bookaholic. There will be giveaways, interviews and a scavenger hunt! 

Book Blast Giveaway Details:
$100 Amazon Gift Card or $100 PayPal Cash from Author Brenda Pandos
Ends 10/30/12
*You need not enter your twitter name for each entry.  Simply enter it when you follow Brenda and leave the others blank.
Open to anyone who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent's permission. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Audiobook Review: The Skin Map by Stephen Lawhead

The Skin Map by Stephen R. Lawhead
  • Audio CD: 13 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas Nelson; Unabridged edition (August 31, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400316731
  • ASIN: B007PT0GJ4
It is the ultimate quest for the ultimate treasure. Chasing a map tattooed on human skin. Across an omniverse of intereing realities. To unravel the future of the future.

Kit Livingston's great-grandfather appears to him in a deserted alley during a tumultuous storm. He reveals an unbelievable story: that the ley lines throughout Britain are not merely the stuff of legend or the weekend hobby of deluded cranks, but pathways to other worlds. To those who know how to use them, they grant the ability to travel the multi-layered universe of which we ordinarily inhabit only a tiny part.

One explorer knew more than most. Braving every danger, he toured both time and space on voyages of heroic discovery. Ever on his guard, and fearful of becoming lost in the cosmos, he developed an intricate code--a roadmap of symbols--that he tattooed onto his own body. This Skin Map has since been lost in time. Now the race is on to recover all the pieces and discover its secrets.

But the Skin Map itself is not the ultimate goal. It is merely the beginning of a vast and marvelous quest for a prize beyond imagining.

The Bright Empires series-from acclaimed author Stephen Lawhead-is a unique blending of epic treasure hunt, ancient history, alternate realities, cutting-edge physics, philosophy, and mystery. The result is a page-turning, fantastical adventure like no other.

I'm very excited upon receipt of this audiobook, the summary and the cover is superb, what more the contents, right?

FYI, THE SKIN MAP is my very first audiobook, and probably my last. Don't get me wrong, Simon Bubb, the voice behind it was great, his voice is strong, rich and clear; he could easily change the tone/rhythm according to feelings and the characters, it's easy to lose one's self listening to his voice, transported in the world, Stephen Lawhead created. BUT, audio is still very different from an actual book, and in my case, where I don't have an audio player, besides the laptop, I sometimes got tired, and the story dragged long enough for my excitement to ebb.

The SKIN MAP has a very intriguing storyline. I love how Kit found the “portal”. He was late for a date with his girlfriend and he figured he'll take a shortcut only to find himself transported in a different place/period. There he meets his great-grandfather, Cosimo. Cosimo asked him for help to find the Skin Map which was tattooed on a man's chest that is an intricate code of roadmap symbols, which bad guys out there are also looking for. But Kit refuses, and goes back to London to explain to her girlfriend, Wilhelmina (Mina). In order to support his reason, he brought her to the portal, but they were separated through making the transportation (“leap), he meets his grandfather again while Mina found herself in Prague (1600)

Now Kit has no choice but to help Cosimo, and find where Mina landed. Add to that, they should waste no time for the Burley Men are following them to use it for their evil plans. Will they find it and Mina before it's too late? And what secrets do the Skin Map has?

There are many perspective on the book (he loss me sometimes), but I guess I was more interested in Mina's story, how she and her partner are the first ones to build a coffeehouse in Prague and probably in the world. I enjoyed the adventure and the quest for the Skin Map. Lawhead gives us the right twists and turns in the story, I was there when the characters discover more of the missing map. The different languages and the culture adds flavor to the story. Some of the characters are flat, some are well-humored and good witted.

What's the down part of this book is that, Lawhead failed to give us the main plot at the right time; it took a while for the main storyline to progress. I mean subplots are not at all bad, but one could only focus a few minutes. The narration seems to go on forever (if not for the changing tone, I may have slept). There are lots of things to cover and explain, but it wasn't done. I hope the ley lines are more explained. I'm hoping for a climax, but having it wasn't really bad. The ending, although left in such a way that makes one say, “Is it over? But we're just starting” (I know you understand the feeling lol)…has somewhat laid a good start-up for the sequel.

I do believe that they are correct in saying that The Bright Empire Series is one to look out for. The plot/storyline will really be great. And I can already see this book, going to the big screen, where there will be more actions, effects and adventures to see. I may read the second book in the series and see if it got better- read the book and not the audio. Maybe it's just the audio, so I will read more from this author in print.>: D

Overall, Skin Map, if you have patience to go enough a few chapters, will leave you wanting for more. It's a great alternate reality that will make you wish it's the reality you are in. An infusion of secrets, conspiracies, time-travel, treasure hunt and ancient history, Skin Map is a book any of the said things-fanatic will enjoy.

Also, I think this book isn't at all Christian-based, no mention on anything spiritual.

Disclosure: I received this book free from the publisher through the BookSneeze®.com. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255 "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

View all my reviews

Friday, October 19, 2012

Blog tour (6 Words Post+Giveaway): Unveil by Amber Garza

Prowl Trilogy

To visit the official website of  YA Christian thrillers – the Prowl Trilogy - click this link.

Unveil: Prowl Trilogy #3 – Final Book 

           Mackenzie is looking forward to her eighteenth birthday and upcoming high school graduation. Until an unwelcome visitor from her past appears, threatening her future plans.
           Will she ever be free?

           Armed with a new weapon and the boy she loves by her side, Mackenzie prepares to fight. She doesn’t realize that she is about to step into the ultimate battle between good and evil, where the stakes are higher than ever before.



The trilogy can be scary at times and is meant to be suspenseful. However, there is the love triangle between Kenzie, Tanner and Isaac which adds in some fun, romantic scenes. I think the fear of Wesley and the action scenes make it gripping and the ending of the trilogy will leave the reader with a sense of hope.

Show some love to the author by commenting and possibly win a copy of any of the Prowl Trilogy books. 
Plus visit this link for the tourwide giveaway.

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Book Review +Chapter 1: Fated by Alyson Noel

Fated by Alyson Noel

  • Reading level: Ages 12 and up
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin (May 22, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0312664850
  • ISBN-13: 978-0312664855
Until now, he's existed only in her dreams -
but fate is about to bring them together.

I shove through the crowd, knocking into girls and bouncing off boys, until one in particular catches me, steadies me.
I feel so secure, so at home in his arms.
I melt against his chest-lift my gaze to meet his. Gasping when I stare into a pair of icy blue eyes banded by brilliant flecks of gold that shine like kaleidoscopes, reflecting my image thousands of times.
The boy from my dream.
The one who died in my arms.

 The cover is so gorgeous. The hair, the earrings, the color (I got the pink version) it all mixed so well.Pretty!!!

I’ve read Alyson Noel’s Immortal Series, although I haven’t read the last book yet. For me that series, has high and lows, it got a good beginning, but the middle books started to go slow for me (like, you fell in love with a television show, then the director thought of extending it because he thought we’ll like it, but no, it just actually ruined the story, better to go with the original storyline I guess), a friend o fmine said, the last book EVERLASTING is as good as the first book, so I think I’ll give it a try.>:D. With FATED, her new series, I have doubts, but with the nicest cover among her books up-to-date, and a promising new theme, I couldn’t resist the lure, and so here I am, just finished reading it and fully-satisfied.>:D

Daire and her mother, Jennika have always moved to different places and get to interact with famous people, that’s one great privilege of your mother being a Hollywood make-up artist. One queer thing she has never told anyone even her mother, since they won’t believe her, is that there are times, when all stand still except her, like time has stopped except for her. It’s fun and she got used to it but on her sixteenth birthday, lots of things begin to happen and they’re not good. She’s been haunted by dreams and reality alike, worse, her mother and doctor believes she’s delusional. When she and her mother don’t know what to do, Paloma, Daire’s grandmother suggested to take care of Daire. So Daire goes with her grandma to Enchantment, Mexico (the name already gives the vibe), learns her bloodline, her ability, her family’s past, her destiny and the boy she must save.

I don’t know why, but I fully understand the prologue, and the story just got better the more I read. I always love Noel’s writing style, I just hope that she won’t get sidetracked with the middle books and continue her planned storyline. Noel doesn’t just write stories, she brings her readers into her story and made them experience themselves. I love the animal guides, the sayings, the crow prints in the pages made this book superb. The characters, flawed as ordinary humans, are all unique and relatable. The idea of a good/bad twin (Dace and Cade) is good, though how I wish it isn’t so clear who Daire wants. It ends where the pieces started to clicked and yet leaves enough space for new questions that hopefully will be answered in the next book. The Native American Mythology is a new theme for me that will entertain me for awhile. :D

FATED is not just another paranormal story, it has substance, family relationships, friendship, a romance that’s not over-the-top, learning and lore. It’s a promising first book that not only engage and keep you on edge but would surely make you a fan of the Soul Seekers Series (glad to be part of it). A page turner from start to finish. Very highly recommended!

P.S. Even if you’re not into The Immortal Series or Riley Bloom Series, give this one a try, it won’t disappoint you if you’re looking for a fresh read.

Thanks to Alexandra Mencel at St. Martin’s Griffin for this finished copy and a promised of ECHO in exchange for my honest review. Looking forward to reading it..:D

View all my reviews

There are moments in life when everything pauses.
The earth hesitates, the atmosphere stills, and time shrinks and folds onto itself until it collapses into a big tired heap.
As I push through the small wooden door of the riad where Jennika and I have camped out the past several weeks, trading the hush of the rose-and-honeysuckle-scented courtyard for the chaos of the serpentine maze of medina--it happens again.
But instead of mimicking the stillness like I usually do, I decide to go with it and try something fun. Easing my way along connecting salmon-colored walls, I pass a small, thin man caught in midstride, press my fingers against the soft white cotton of his gandora, and gently spin him around until he's facing the opposite way. Then after ducking beneath a mangy black cat that, caught in midleap, appears to be flying, I stop at the corner where I take a moment to rearrange a display of shiny brass lanterns an old man is selling, before moving on to the very next stall where I slip a pair of bright blue babouches onto my feet, decide that I like them, and leave my old leather sandals along with a fistful of crumpled-up dirhams as payment.
My eyes burning with the effort of keeping them open, knowing the instant I blink, the gandora-clad man will be one step farther from his destination, the cat will land on its mark, and two vendors will gaze at their wares in total confusion--the scene will return to one of perpetual chaos.
Though when I spot the glowing people hovering on the periphery, studying me in the careful way that they do, I'm quick to squinch my eyes shut and block them from view. Hoping that this time, just like all the others, they'll fade away too. Return to wherever it is that they go when they're not watching me.
I used to think everyone experienced moments like that, until I confided in Jennika who shot me a skeptical look and blamed it on jet lag.
Jennika blames everything on jet lag. Insists time stops for no one--that it's our job to keep up with its frantic forward march. But even back then I knew better--I've spent my entire life crossing time zones, and what I'd experienced had nothing to do with a whacked-out body clock.
Still, I was careful not to mention it again. I just waited quietly, patiently, hoping the moment would soon return.
And it did.
Over the past few years they've been slowly increasing, until lately, ever since we arrived in Morocco, I've been averaging three a week.
A guy my age passes, his shoulder purposely slamming into mine, his dark eyes leering in a way that reminds me to arrange my blue silk scarf so that it covers my hair. I round a corner, eager to arrive well before Vane, so I can catch the Djemâa el Fna at dusk. Banging into the square, where I'm confronted by a long line of open-air grills bearing goats and pigeons and other unidentifiable meats, their skinned and glazed carcasses rotating on spits, shooting savory clouds of spice-laden smoke into the air...the hypnotic lull of the snake charmer's tune emanating from cross-legged old men perched on thick woven mats, playing their pungis as glassy-eyed cobras rise up before them...all of it unfolding to the spellbinding pulse of gnaoua drums that continuously thrum in the background--the sound-track for the nightly resurrection of a bewitching square returning to life.
I take a deep breath, savoring the heady blend of exotic oils and jasmine, as I cast a final glance around, knowing this is one of the last times I'll see it this way. The film will wrap soon, and Jennika and I will be off to what ever movie, on what ever location requires her services as an award-winning makeup artist. Who knows if we'll ever return?
Picking my way toward the first food cart, the one beside the snake charmer where Vane waits, I steal a handful of much-needed seconds to crush that annoying ping of weakness that grabs at my gut every time that I see him--every time I take in his tousled sandy blond hair, deep blue eyes, and softly curving lips.
Sucker! I think, shaking my head, adding: Fool!
It's not like I don't know any better. It's not like I don't know the rules.
The key is to not get involved--to never allow myself to care. To just focus on having some fun, and never look back when it's time to move on.
Vane's pretty face, just like all the other pretty faces before him, belongs to his legions of fans. Not one of those faces has ever belonged to me--and they never, ever will.
Having grown up on movie sets since I was old enough for Jennika to sling me into a backpack, I've played my role as the kid of a crew member countless times: Stay quiet, stay out of the way, lend a hand when asked, and never confuse movie set relationships for the real thing.
The fact that I've been dealing with celebrities my entire life leaves me not so easily impressed, which is probably the number one reason they're always so quick to like me. I mean, while I'm okay to look at--tall-ish, skinny-ish, with long dark hair, fair-ish skin, and bright green eyes that people like to comment on, I'm pretty much your standard issue girl. Though I never fall to pieces when I meet someone famous. I never get all red-cheeked and gushy and insecure. And the thing is, they're so unused to that, they usually end up pursuing me.
My first kiss was on a beach in Rio de Janeiro with a boy who'd just won an MTV award for "Best Kiss" (clearly none of those voters had actually kissed him). My second was on the Pont Neuf in Paris with a boy who'd just made the cover of Vanity Fair. And other than their being richer, more famous, and more stalked by paparazzi--our lives really aren't all that different.
Most of them are transients--passing through their own lives, just like I'm passing through mine. Moving from place to place, friendship to friendship, relationship to relationship--it's the only life that I know.
It's hard to form a lasting connection when your permanent address is an eight-inch mailbox in the UPS store.
Still, as I inch my way closer, I can't help the way my breath hitches, the way my insides thrum and swirl. And when he turns, flashing me that slow, languorous smile that's about to make him world famous, his eyes meeting mine when he says, "Hey, Daire--Happy Sweet Sixteen," I can't help but think of the millions of girls who would do just about anything to stand in my pointy blue babouches.
I return the smile, flick a little wave of my hand, then bury it in the side pocket of the olive-green army jacket I always wear. Pretending not to notice the way his gaze roams over me, straying from my waist-length brown hair peeking out from my scarf, to the tie-dyed tank top that clings under my jacket, to the skinny dark denim jeans, all the way down to the brand-new slippers I wear on my feet.
"Nice." He places his foot beside mine, providing me with a view of the his-and-hers version of the very same shoe. Laughing when he adds, "Maybe we can start a trend when we head back to the States. What do you think?"
There is no we.
I know it. He knows it. And it bugs me that he tries to pretend otherwise.
The cameras stopped rolling hours ago, and yet here he is, still playing a role. Acting as though our brief, on-location hookup means something more.
Acting like we won't really end long before our passports are stamped RETURN.
And that's all it takes for those annoyingly soft girly feelings to vanish as quickly as a flame in the rain. Allowing the Daire I know, the Daire I've honed myself to be, to stand in her place.
"Doubtful." I smirk, kicking his shoe with mine. A little harder than necessary, but then again, he deserves it for thinking I'm lame enough to fall for his act. "So, what do you say--food? I'm dying for one of those beef brochettes, maybe even a sausage one too. Oh--and some fries would be good!"
I make for the food stalls, but Vane has another idea. His hand reaches for mine, fingers entwining until they're laced nice and tight. "In a minute," he says, pulling me so close my hip bumps against his. "I thought we might do something special--in honor of your birthday and all. What do you think about matching tattoos?"
I gape. Surely he's joking.
"Yeah, you know, mehndi. Nothing permanent. Still, I thought it could be kinda cool." He arcs his left brow in his trademark Vane Wick way, and I have to fight not to frown in return.
Nothing permanent. That's my theme song--my mission statement, if you will. Still, mehndi's not quite the same as a press-on. It has its own life span. One that will linger long after Vane's studio-financed, private jet lifts him high into the sky and right out of my life.
Though I don't mention any of that, instead I just say, "You know the director will kill you if you show up on set tomorrow covered in henna."
Vane shrugs. Shrugs in a way I've seen too many times, on too many young actors before him. He's in full-on star-power mode. Thinks he's indispensable. That he's the only seventeen-year-old guy with a hint of talent, golden skin, wavy blond hair, and piercing blue eyes that can light up a screen and make the girls (and most of their moms) swoon. It's a dangerous way to see yourself--especially when you make your living in Hollywood. It's the kind of thinking that leads straight to multiple rehab stints, trashy reality TV shows, desperate ghostwritten memoirs, and low-budget movies that go straight to DVD.
Still, when he tugs on my arm, it's not like I protest. I follow him to the old, black-clad woman parked on a woven beige mat with a pile of henna bags stacked in her lap.
Vane negotiates the price as I settle before her and offer my hands. Watching as she snips the corner from one of the bags and squeezes a series of squiggly lines over my flesh, not even thinking to consult me on what type of design I might want. But then, it's not like I had one in mind. I just lean against Vane who's kneeling beside me and let her do her thing.
"You must let the color to set for as long as it is possible. The darker the stain, the more that he loves you," she says, her English halting, broken, but the message is clear. Emphasized by the meaningful look she shoots Vane and me.
"Oh, we're not--" I start to say, We're not in love! But Vane's quick to stop me.
Slipping an arm around my shoulder, he presses his lips to my cheek, bestowing the old woman with the kind of smile that encourages her to smile back in a startling display of grayed and missing teeth. His actions stunning me stupid, leaving me to sit slack faced and dumb--with heated cheeks, muddied hands, and a rising young breakout star draped over my back.
Having never been in love, I admit that I'm definitely no expert on the subject. I have no idea what it feels like.
Though I'm pretty sure it doesn't feel like this.
I'm pretty dang positive Vane's just cast himself in yet another starring role--playing the part of my dashing young love interest, if only to appease this strange, Moroccan woman we'll never see again.
Still, Vane is an actor, and an audience is an audience--no matter how small.
Once my hands are covered in elaborate vines and scrolls, the old woman reminds me to allow the stain to take hold while she gets to work on Vane's feet. But the moment her attention turns, I use the edge of my nail to scrape away little bits. Unable to keep from smiling when I see the paste fall in a loose powdery spray that blends with the dirt.
It's silly, I know, but I can't risk there being even the slightest sliver of truth to her words. The movie will wrap soon, Vane and I will go separate ways, and falling in love is an option I just can't afford.
With our hands and feet fully tended, we make our way along the sidewalk grills, devouring five beef and sausage brochettes, a pile of fries, and two Fantas between us, before drifting among the square's nightly circus that includes snake charmers, acrobats, jugglers, fortune-tellers, healers, monkey trainers, and musicians. There's even a woman who's set up shop removing black rotted teeth from old men, which the two of us watch in horrified fascination.
Arms slung around each other's waists, hips rubbing together on every other step, Vane's breath tickles the curve of my ear when he slips a mini bottle of vodka from his pocket and offers me first swig.
I shake my head. Push it away. In any other place I might be game, but Marrakesh is different, and mysterious, and a little bit scary even. Not to mention I have no idea what the local laws are, though I'm guessing they're strict, and the last thing I need is to end up in a Moroccan jail for underage drinking.
It's the last thing he needs too, but it's not like he listens. Vane just smiles, unscrews the cap, and takes a few swallows before he tucks it back into his pocket and pulls me into a dark abandoned alleyway.
I stumble. Squint. Grasp at the wall as I fight to find my way. Steadied by the warmth of his hands at my waist, and the reassuring phrase that flits through my head--the one Jennika used to wean me from my night-light back when I was a kid:
You gotta adjust to the dark so the light can find you.
He pushes the scarf from my head, leaving it to fall around my neck, as his face veers so close all I can really make out are deep blue eyes, and the most perfectly parting lips that are quick to claim mine.
I merge into the kiss, tasting the lingering traces of vodka still coating his tongue, as my hands explore the muscled expanse of his chest, the taut curve of his shoulders, the clean edge of his jaw. My fingers twisting into his silky mane of hair, as his slip under my jacket--under my tank top--seeking, discovering--bunching the fabric higher and higher as he works his way up.
Our bodies melding, conforming into a tangle of grinding hips--a crush of lips. The kiss becoming so heated, so urgent, my breath grows ragged, too fast, as my body ignites like a freshly struck match.
So delirious with the feel of him--the warmth of him--the promise of him--I surrender to the nudge of his fingers working inside my bra--circling, pulling, as my own fingers move south. Wandering over a well-defined abdomen, then lower still, down to his waistband. Ready to venture to places I've yet to explore, when he breaks away, his voice no more than a whisper when he says, "C'mon, I know a place." The words thick, eyes bleary, as we fight to catch our breaths, fight to keep from pressing forward and claiming the kiss once again. "Seriously. I can't believe I didn't think of it before--it's gonna be epic--follow me!" He finds my hand, pulls me out of the dark and back into the bright, lively square.
At first I go willingly, prepared to follow him anywhere. Though it's not long before I'm seduced by the sound of that incessant pulsing rhythm--the trance-inducing lure of the gnaoua drum.
"Daire--c'mon, it's this way. What gives?" He frowns, brows slanted in confusion when I drop his hand and keep going, not bothering to check if he follows--no longer caring about anything other than locating the source of that beat.
I squeeze through the tightly packed crowd until I'm standing before it--my head filled with the hypnotic rhythm of that red leather drum, my eyes swimming with the flash of crimson silk, gold coins, and a carefully veiled face revealing nothing more than a pair of intense, dark, kohl-rimmed eyes.
"It's a dude--a trannie!" Vane shoves in beside me, mesmerized by the sight of the caftan-clad male with his hands thrust high, golden cymbals clinking, body wildly writhing.
But that's all that Vane sees.
He doesn't see what I see.
Doesn't see the way everything stops.
Doesn't see the way the atmosphere changes--growing shimmery, hazy, like peering through carnival glass.
Doesn't see the way the glowing ones appear--hovering along the perimeter.
Doesn't see the way they beckon to me--beg me to join them.
Only I can see that.
Even after repeatedly blinking, trying to return the scene to normal, it's no use. Not only are they still there, but now they've brought friends.
Thousands and thousands of crows that fill up the square.
Landing on the drummer, the transvestite belly dancer--soaring and swooping and settling wherever they please--turning the once-vibrant square into a field of dark beady eyes that relentlessly watch me.
The glowing people creep forward--arms outstretched, fingers grasping--stomping the crows to a mess of black, bloodied bits.
And there's nothing I can do to stop their progression--nothing I can do to convince time to march forward again.
So I do the only thing that I can--I run.
Bolting through the crowd, pushing, screaming, shoving, shouting for everyone to get out of my way. Vaguely aware of Vane calling after me--his fingers grasping, pulling me close to his chest, urging me to stop, to turn, to not be afraid.
My body sags in relief as I lift my face to meet his. Wondering how I'll ever explain my sudden bout of craziness now that everything's returned to normal again, only to gaze past his shoulder and find the crows replaced with something much worse--thousands of bloodied, severed heads hanging on spikes that fill up the square.
Their gruesome mouths yawning into a terrible chorus that calls out my name--urging me to listen--to heed their warning--before it's too late.
One voice in particular rising above all the rest, its grisly battered face bearing an eerie resemblance to one in a crumpled old photo I know all too well.

FATED. Copyright 2012 by Alyson Noel. Macmillan

Book Review + Chapter 1: Blades of Winter (Shadowstorm #1) by G.T. Almasi

Blades of Winter by G.T. Almasi
  • Mass Market Paperback: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Del Rey (August 28, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0440423546
  • ISBN-13: 978-0440423546
In one of the most exciting debuts in years, G. T. Almasi has fused the intricate cat-and-mouse games of a John le Carré novel with the brash style of comic book superheroes to create a kick-ass alternate history that reimagines the Cold War as a clash of spies with biological, chemical, and technological enhancements.

Nineteen-year-old Alix Nico, a self-described “million-dollar murder machine,” is a rising star in ExOps, a covert-action agency that aggressively shields the United States from its three great enemies: the Soviet Union, Greater Germany, and the Nationalist Republic of China. Rather than risk another all-out war, the four superpowers have poured their resources into creating superspies known as Levels.

Alix is one of the hottest young American Levels. That’s no surprise: Her dad was America’s top Level before he was captured and killed eight years ago. But when an impulsive decision explodes—literally—in her face, Alix uncovers a conspiracy that pushes her to her limits and could upset the global balance of power forever.
The cover is perfect. Red hair, black outfit, firing gun… a good depiction of bad-ass fiction..:D.. It was really the cover that got my attention and urge me to request this book.. and I wasn’t disappointed at all..:)

First and foremost, I’d like to say, that this is the very first action-filled novel I’ve read. I mean literally, BLADES OF WINTER is like watching those James Bond and Bourne Legacy movies into words. Cool!!!

For the first chapter, I feel dumped with new terms and information, being a non-sci-fi/action fan, I almost thought of putting the book down. But the scene in that first chapter was fast-paced and I could understand the fighting scenes even without knowledge of caliber and enhancements, so I decided to proceed. After that, I was engrossed with the story, and understand all the words with my heart. How? Because the book is designed to give past information and even explanations with the new alternate history Almasi created by alternating the current scene and the information, and also gives the readers hint to the mysteries at hand (making me think and anticipate also)—and surprisingly, I did find it easy to follow. Plus, the protagonist Alix Nico, compared to the other levels is quite new. So, I get to experience and explored the world of levels together with her. Written with the protagonist as a nineteen year-old girl, I easily connect to it, and for me, it’s quite rare to find females in lead roles of spy/action/sci-fi novels.

I devoured the book in one sitting, and love all of the characters, whether they’re there from the start or added as the story progresses on. Alix who’s stubborn, impulsive and quite annoying at the beginning totally developed in the story without losing her sassiness. She’s one heroine I would forever be a fan of. Also, in any story, there’ll be casualties, I grief for the loss of those I came to love but would welcome more characters from the sequel.

The plot was great and well-thought of. The story doesn’t just jump from chapter to chapter, but you get to connect each from the other. There are also some twist and turns that I didn’t saw coming. The actions are easy to imagine, explosive and high rated. Almasi is a terrific writer..:D

I just wish that it would be harder next time for Alix to find out and solved the mysteries- like she really have to glue the puzzles together.

With the mass market paperback I have, it would seem that the story would be a short and brief read. But the book was so much more. A new world was created not just for sci-fi/action fans, but for future ones as well. With that cliff-hanger ending, plus a glimpse to the next book, it surely makes me want to hunt for HAMMER OF ANGELS, the next book in the series..right at this moment..:D.

BLADES OF WINTER is fast-paced, action-filled, full of humor, sarcasm, adventure, sassiness, loads of weapons, and unimaginable human enhancements. A thrilling spy novel from debut author G. T. Almasi that you shouldn’t miss!!! Very highly Recommended!!

View all my reviews

Chapter 1

Thursday, May 1, 1:35 p.m. EST

Manhattan’s Upper East Side, New York City, USA

Nothing pisses me off more than being shot at while I’m eating. It’s the midday rush here in my new favorite restaurant, a cozy Hungarian joint on East 82nd Street. I’m jammed into a small table by the kitchen, with a Redskins cap pulled low over my face. The charming old dining room is packed, and the paneled walls echo the Eastern European barks of the broad, buxom waitresses as they dominate the good-humored customers. The food here is spectacular, but right now I’m kind of distracted by that bullet hurtling straight at my left eye.

Until this .22-caliber interruption, I was quietly noshing my yummy goulash. My unwitting target, an ugly little man named Hector, sits at his table across the room with some chick. It’s not a very sexy mission. I’m just following this fucking jerk around. The brief said he was a former Russian Level, so I thought the job would be a lot more exciting than this. I did notice that he chews each bite of food exactly thirty-two times. Whoop-dee-doo.

At least it’s a Level 12 Job Number. This’ll be the highest-rated mission I’ve ever pulled, although it’s not exactly mine. It was originally assigned to a coworker named Grey, but he called in sick this morning. The ExOps dispatcher is a total dingbat named Virgil, so it was a cinch to sucker—uh, I mean persuade—him to mix me up with my father and assign the mission to me. You’d think the fact that I’m a mid-five-foot, nineteen-year-old female Level 4 Interceptor named Alix would be a hint that I’m not a fortysomething Level 20 Liberator named Philip who’s been dead for eight years. But who am I to correct a senator’s son? If he’s okay with putting me on a Job Number that’s eight steps beyond my pay grade, I’m okay with it, too.

But back to that bullet flying my way. Five seconds ago, Hector stood up and put on his jacket to leave. Four seconds ago, I turned my head to look for my waitress. Three seconds ago, Hector’s date plucked a small silver pistol out of her handbag. She’s about my age and height but with dark hair and dark clothes, and she’s suddenly wearing a pair of giant Jackie Onassis sunglasses. Two seconds ago, she pointed her puny gun at my face. One second ago, as this miniature Jackie-O chick pulled the trigger, I told my neuroinjector to get me ready to do some serious head stomping. As of this instant, I’m fully jacked on Madrenaline and time has slowed to a crawl.

The bullet has just emerged from Jackie-O’s little fashion accessory, so I’ve got time to pull out my larger and much more impressive black pistol. It’s a Lion Ballistics LB-505. I inherited this gun from my father, who spent a lot of time fiddling with the onboard artificial intelligence. After a particularly successful tinkering session he nicknamed her Li’l Bertha. I communicate with Li’l Bertha through the raised neural contact pad on her grip that snaps into a matching recess built into the palm of my left hand.

Like every pistol from Lion Ballistics, my LB-505 is built around the patented radar-assisted gyroscopic aiming system that made this company the Harley-Davidson of hard-core gun nuts everywhere. The AI transparently manages all the techno crap and feeds real-time target information to my Eyes-Up display.

One of the 505’s coolest capabilities is that it can change caliber on the fly. This feature is called Multi Caliber, and it allows me to reduce my competitors to one or more meat piles, depending on what size bullets I select. As I take aim with my dad’s gun, it scans Jackie-O to see if she’s wearing any kind of armor and pops the ammunition selector into a corner of my field of vision:

Select Ammo Type:

1. Standard

2. Explosive

3. Armor-Piercing

4. Incendiary

5. Pupu Platter

The scan of Jackie-O returns “null.” There are so many goddamn people in here, the scanner can’t isolate my target. Okay, fine. I tell Li’l Bertha to use .30-caliber Incendiaries. I’ve been taught that whether they’re armored or not, nothing distracts the competition more than setting them on fire.

Jackie-O’s bullet is halfway here. This isn’t my first time being shot at, but it still makes my hands begin to tremble while my stomach knots up. My neuroinjector senses my anxiety and squirts a dose of Kalmers into my bloodstream. I change my mind about the ammo and decide to precede the Incendiary rounds with two .50-caliber Explosive slugs. I need to move this crowd out of the way so that the Incendiaries can work their subtle magic.

Christ, her bullet is so close that I can see its rotation! I’ve spent too much time putzing around with my gun. I hold my head still while my retinal cameras photograph this little chickie for posterity, then I dodge to the side. The bullet sizzles across the skin of my left cheekbone as I pump two Explosive shots into the ceiling above Jackie-O. This distracts her with falling debris and gets all the others to duck under their tables. Now she’s totally exposed, so I mash down the trigger and unload my Incendiaries on her.

My flaming bullet fog hits her so hard that she doesn’t even have a chance to be torn to bits. She simply goes up in a white cloud of smoke that fills the whole dining room. It’s like the girl was never there. Her vanishing act (and perhaps all the noise, fumes, and fire) has scared the shit out of everybody, and they all start screaming their heads off. The smoke is so thick, I can’t even see my table in front of me. I switch on my infrared vision just in time to spot Hector as he follows a group of terrified patrons out the front door. I charge after him and switch my infrared off as I storm into the bright sunshine outside.

As Hector escapes up the block, the street erupts in gunfire. Damn it! I was so smug about roasting Jackie-O with my full-auto bulletgasm that I’ve stumbled into her backup team.

A cloud of bullets and one rocket-propelled grenade streak toward me. I leap in the air as the grenade hits the sidewalk and detonates. The concussion kicks me up three stories. My cap flies off, and I crash through a window as the front of my ex-favorite New York eatery goes up in smoke. I hope their insurance covers them for an attack of the killer spies from Psychoville.

I land on all fours in a small bedroom. The floor dances under me while the maniacs outside pulverize the walls and windows and generally shoot the shit out of the apartment. The air is full of flying metal, wood splinters, and shards of glass. Plaster dust grinds in my teeth, and smoke burns my throat. I roll into the hall and then run up the fire stairs. As I burst onto the roof, the sound of a helicopter thuds through the air. This is a solo mission, so I know the air support isn’t for me. I arm and drop my electromagnetic pulse grenade, then I jump through an open window across the back alley and land in a bathtub. The EMP grenade will roast the electronics of anything in its blast radius, so I take my Mods and Enhances offline while Li’l Bertha shuts down to protect herself.

A black, nasty-looking little chopper soars over the roof across the alley as I trigger my EMP. The electrofried aircraft careens out of control and smacks into the building. The helicopter-shaped paperweight drops out of my sight, so I don’t see the result, but I sure as hell hear and feel it. The explosions and squeals of terror are both particularly satisfying.

My hands start shaking again. The Kalmers have faded out of my bloodstream. Kalmers don’t eliminate reactions to stress and fear; they simply suppress them. Once they wear off, you can be hit by what Med-Techs call emotional recoil. My mouth dries out, my lungs gulp for air, and my legs squeeze together to keep me from peeing my pants. I curl up into a ball and ride it out. After a few minutes I’m done crying and shaking. I lurch out of the tub, scram the apartment, and climb the stairs to the top of the building. My new knees let me rooftop jump all the way to 60th Street, where I slide down a fire escape and catch a taxi to the Village.

CORE (Catalogue of Records, ExOps) PER-A59-001

Crystal City Gazette, July 8, 1972

Local Girl Dazzles at the Gymnastics National Championships

NEW YORK CITY—Crystal City’s Alix Nico thrilled Madison Square Garden last night as she swept the all-around and the individual events in the 10–11-year-old division at this year’s USAIGC Gymnastics National Championships. Her stunning performance was an emphatic finale to an extremely successful year for Nico, who set a USAIGC record for victories in a single season.

Nico is already considered a favorite to win gold at the Montreal Olympics. She is training at the Roosevelt Gymnastics Center in Washington, D.C., under the supervision of her coach Tasha Dovetsky.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...


Auctions for free stuff at