THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Eden at the Edge of Midnight (The Vara Volumes), John Kerry {$0.99}

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Description of Eden at the Edge of Midnight (The Vara Volumes):

The Vara of Yima, the original Garden of Eden, sealed from the rest of the world and populated with the fittest of men and women. A secret paradise that 150 years ago became ravaged by smog that choked out the skies.

Now the Vara exists in a permanent state of darkness and its people need a champion, a chosen one to save them from the smog that threatens to fill the realm and poison its inhabitants.

That’s what they needed. They got Sammy Ellis instead. She isn’t important enough for her dad to stick around for, never mind saving a realm or junk like that. Her only responsibility was to help the chosen one open the gateway into the Vara, but not only has she entered the realm in their place, she’s also locked them out in the process.

Stuck in a twilight land of giant mushrooms, pursued by dark forces and still in her pyjamas, being unimportant back in the real world is starting to seem way more attractive.

 

Accolades:

“Eden at the Edge of Midnight is by and large the best book I’ve received from the First Reads Program thus far. It features an incredibly complex and vibrant universe reminiscent of Howls Moving Castle, Game of Thrones, Labyrinth and The Neverending Story, which the blurb on the back doesn’t begin to do justice. The writing is slick and polished, as if this were a bestseller I plucked off the shelf at a major bookstore franchise.” – Janelle – Goodreads.com

“Kerry has created a lush, rich and amazing universe that rivals all the likes; Oz, Wonderland, Labyrinth, etc. It was both beautiful and scary and had that touch of humor to the world, that silliness that provides the perfect blend to attract both adults and a younger audience” – Valen – Amazon.com

“OMG I love this book!!! One of the best books I’ve read in a long time…was a long read, but I couldn’t put it down” – k&r.w – Amazon.com

Reviews:

Eden at the Edge of Midnight (The Vara Volumes) currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.4 stars from 18 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from Eden at the Edge of Midnight (The Vara Volumes):

Few sixteen-year-olds could claim to have a stalker. Typically they were reserved for celebrities, rock stars, maybe even reality TV rejects, and conventionally, ‘popularity’ was a prerequisite. A commodity not in abundance in Sammy Ellis’s existence. Not that she really cared. She was cool with it. But if she had to have a stalker, did it really have to be a crusty old woman? As opposed to, say, a buff Sheffield University student?
In the margin of her maths book she absent-mindedly doodled an odd-looking terminator blasting an old woman in the face with a twelve gauge auto-loader. Boom! Headshot!!! she scrawled over the top, underlining it several times.
Rat-a-tat-tat. A fist rapped on the corner of her desk. It was Miss Armatage.
“The square root of X does not equal death by machine gun,” she said with a straight face. It was a bored, depressed face that had seen a thousand students come and go. An assembly line of kids that she regurgitated the same information to before pushing them back out the door. She was a desiccated husk of a woman, probably in her fifties, but she could’ve easily been a few centuries old.
“It’s not a machine gun, Miss. It’s…”
“I don’t care, Miss Ellis. You’re a tick in my register, a GCSE mathematics grade. A grade B is what I expect from you. And I’ll be disappointed if I don’t get it.”
Sammy wondered whether it was possible for Miss Armatage to look more disappointed with life than she already did. A bloodhound that had been neutered on his birthday would look happier.
Miss Armatage drifted out of focus, replaced by the clock above the whiteboard. 3.15pm. Sammy raised her hand.
“I’m right here, Samantha.”
“Right. Can I be excused, Miss?”
“There’s only half an hour before the bell. Can’t you hold on?”
“Not really. I was dehydrated after PE, so I drank loads of water. Maybe I drank too much, but I was so thirsty I kept drinking…”
Miss Armatage held up her hand to stop her. “Look at my face.”
“Do I have to?”
Miss Armatage stared back, devoid of emotion. “Just go.” She turned and walked back towards the whiteboard, then as Sammy reached the door, added, “Hurry back, my little statistic.”
Sammy ran for the gates, zigzagging across the uneven tarmac outside the science block, dodging puddles while clutching her backpack to the top of her head to stop the icy rain stinging her face. She’d gone straight to the staff room after leaving class, as she had done every night so far this week. Thankfully, this time the room had been empty, so she’d phoned the police and sacked off the last fifteen minutes of school. Tonight she wouldn’t be creeping across the football pitch and over the fence.
She slowed as she approached the school gates. A glimpse of powder blue shimmered through the grey sheets of rain. The old woman stood in front of the houses across the street, the same spot she stood every night, wearing the same pale blue headscarf and dressed in bedraggled brown clothes that resembled a heap of threadbare carpets. Her clothes were heavy, waterlogged and probably freezing. But there she waited, soaking up the rainwater. She must have picked Sammy out as a loner because no one ever came to pick her up. So, then, why hadn’t she made her move yet? This had been going on for weeks and the old woman always stood outside, in plain view.
The dark eyes fixed on Sammy’s. The woman smiled. Then her head snapped to the side and she tensed. Sammy smiled this time. She couldn’t see past the school wall, but she knew what was coming.
The old woman raised her palms as two men in black trench coats came into view. The school gates framed a picture-perfect movie scene of two cops picking up a criminal. One carried an umbrella above both their heads, the other held out a badge. End of the line, old bag.
Voices clamoured behind Sammy. The lower school cloakrooms were emptying. A river of slate-grey bodies accented by flapping red ties came sweeping towards her. She sidestepped, but not quickly enough, and an errant satchel caught her in the face, knocking her down. She landed on all fours and pain spiked in her knees. She sucked in air through her teeth and closed her eyes while the other kids trampled past, kicking her satchel as they jostled to get to their parents’ cars.
Sammy remained where she was, facing the floor, the water streaming from her blonde hair. No one stopped to help. Typical. No one had noticed her since she’d started at this new school, and no one noticed her now, even though they had to run round her to get out of the gate. She was invisible. Only the satchel that tugged at her arm as it got booted around served as a reminder that she still existed in their world.
She waited until the traffic became lighter and flicked her sopping hair back from her face. The two policemen and the old woman had gone.
She had sore knees, sleeves saturated with puddle water, and she’d missed the action. That was probably the most – maybe even the only – exciting thing that was going to happen this term, possibly all year. And it was over.
Miss Armatage stood at the corner of the science block monitoring the stragglers. She peered at Sammy with an expression of exaggerated indifference and motioned for her to get up. She should get up. Her tights were soaking up rainwater and the longer she stayed down, the heavier and colder they’d get. But then, if she got up, she’d have to start walking and she’d have damp, heavy fabric chafing back and forth across her skin and sucking in cold air at the edges.
As she considered her options a hand grabbed her under the arm and jerked her to her feet. She came face to face with a boy sporting a black eye and his tie knotted round his forehead like a Rambo headband. Wayne Grubby. They had maths and science together. He was less unpleasant than most of the other boys in her year, but that wasn’t saying much.
“You all right?” he asked.
Sammy stared down at the wet patches around her knees. “Yeah,” she said.
“You should be careful,” he said. “The playground is proper lumpy, you know. You new?”
“I joined at the start of the year. So… no, not really.”
“Yeah. Well, I haven’t seen you before, but whatever. Bye.” And he ran off.
They had maths and science together! She sat between him and the whiteboard. How could he not know her? Maybe he should spend more time paying attention and less time setting his mates’ books on fire with Bunsen burners. She didn’t care anyway. He was a moron.
She watched him go. Cars crawled along the street outside the gates, their windows fogged with warm breath, smiling faces drawn in the condensation. Perhaps she’d stand where she was one more minute. If she kept perfectly still with her legs spread and her arms out then she could minimise the amount of wet cloth in contact with her body. Miss Armatage had gone, so there was no one left to shoo her away, and if she waited long enough the rain would stop and her body temperature would dry her clothes enough to stop them chafing.
On the street the last car pulled away. The rain wasn’t going to let up and her clothes weren’t going to get any drier. She should start on the long walk home. She took a step towards the gates and stopped.
The old woman was there, barring the way.

 

Eden at the Edge of Midnight (The Vara Volumes) is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $0.99

 

Connect with John Kerry:

Website: http://eateom.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/EatEoM

Twitter: https://twitter.com/EatEoM

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Jimmy Stu Lives!, Kent McDaniel {$0.99}

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Description of Jimmy Stu Lives!:

Jimmy Stu Lives! is science-fiction. It involves an elderly leader of a mega church in present-day Nashville, who loses his faith and convinces his followers that God wants him preserved by cryogenics when he dies–for a mission to the future. He gets his wish and 140 years after dying is reanimated. One has to be careful, of course, what one wishes for: His church has become a major faith, and millions of faithful view him as a prophet. Further, the US has fragmented into spheres of influence controlled by various faiths. And, oh yes, the leaders of his church view him as a threat, had no desire to reanimate him–it was done illicitly–and wish to return him to “suspended animation”. Into the ensuing adventure story, the novel weaves reflections on faith and its corruption, along with satire on efforts to erode church/state separation.

 

Accolades:

“A quick read and a thought provoking book.” review from Amazon.

“…artfully combines both Sci-Fi and Thriller to make it impossible to put the book down once started.” The Kindle Book Review.

“…fascinating depiction of a possible future.” Review from Amazon.

“a slam-bang adventure story, very well paced, with engaging characters…” Review from Amazon.

“…a pointed, albeit tongue in cheek, look at what can happen when a country allows a church to insert itself into the governmental seat of power.” Windy City Reviews

Reviews:

Jimmy Stu Lives! currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.5 stars from 17 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from Jimmy Stu Lives!:

A voice croaked, “He’s alive. Isn’t he?”
A softer voice responded, “His signs are stabilizing. We can’t predict his mental condition.”
Alive. Through the dim consciousness, the word swam up. But – no.
Again, the fierce whisper: “He’s alive.”
Alive, then, but who? Jimmy Stu? Jimmy Stu Sloan?
He seemed to be lying down, his back pressing into a firm mattress. He could feel his body! He opened his eyes enough to peek through his eyelashes. He opened his eyes! Rows of circular lights floated just below the ceiling ten feet above him. A torso in a white lab coat stood beside him, lustrous black hair falling to its waist. Another torso, clad in a coat of orange brocaded cloth, pressed close behind the first.
A third, deeper voice, rumbled, “His eyelashes just fluttered.”
“Really?” The hoarse voice asked. A lean handsome face lowered itself to the level of Jimmy Stu’s head, and dark eyes peered at him.
Jimmy Stu closed his eyes.
“You’re right,” the voice cried beside him. “He’s waking!”
Hands shook Jimmy Stu’s shoulders. “Uncle, wake up!” It was the hoarse voice, choked with emotion, Jimmy Stu realized then. The hands shook him again. “Wake up!”
The soft voice, a woman’s certainly, cried, “Careful, Peter.” The hands fell from Jimmy Stu’s shoulders, and he could hear feet shuffling.
Jimmy Stu opened his eyes and turned his head. A tall lean man, who appeared to be in his late thirties, stood three feet away. A beautiful woman with long black hair, full lips, and dark, glittering eyes held the man’s left arm with both hands, knuckles taut. Behind her towered a golden behemoth of a man, brown hair curling down to his massive shoulders.
“You’re awake!” the lean man – Peter? – cried, his face aglow. He wore loose white trousers, brown sandals, and a Nehru shirt of orange brocade. Something in his bone structure – the high cheekbones and noble brow – reminded Jimmy Stu of someone. Jimmy Stu cleared his throat. “So … it would seem.”
He moved away the sheet covering him. He moved! Naked, he pushed himself to a seated position. Vertigo rocked him, and he swayed. Patches on his arms and chest the size and shape of fifty-cent pieces pulled at his bare skin.
The woman rushed up and steadied him. “Are you all right?” They all had a strange accent – not American, not English, nor Australian … maybe a combination, with a hint of a lilting drawl.
He took a breath. “I think so.” He glanced right and left. What seemed to be a monitor with undulating lines flowing across it, floated at the end of the gurney. A machine as wide as the gurney floated between it and the wall. The woman pulled the patches from his chest and arms, and the lines on the monitor disappeared.
He stared at her. “Are you with Thorne Cryogenics, then?”
She looked over her shoulder at the lean man who hurried over, hand to his jaw, eyes averted. “Well, uh, not exactly, uncle,” he said. “Actually, this is lab is owned by SynthaLife, Incorporated.” He tipped a hand toward the woman. “Shama is a senior researcher here.”
“SynthaLife?” Jimmy Stu stared at him.
Shama touched Jimmy Stu’s arm and looked into his eyes. “We develop and manufacture synthetic life – biological androids. I’m a biochemist and an officer of the company.”
“Androids?” Jimmy Stu blinked. “Robots?”
“Synthetic life.” Her tone was patient. “Our product is organic.”
He shook his head to clear the cobwebs. “What’s all that got to do with cryonics? Or Thorne Cryogenics Labs?”
“Actually,” Peter said, stepping closer to him, “Thorne Labs was bought by the Church of the Living Lord over eighty years ago.”
Jimmy Stu drew back like he’d been tazed. “My church? Bought Thorne Labs?”
Peter nodded.
Jimmy Stu pointed at Peter. “You’re with the Church of The Living Lord?”
Peter grimaced. “Not … exactly.”
Jimmy Stu sputtered, “Well, what-what the hell’s going on? Who the hell … who the hell are you?” He stared around the chamber almost as large as a basketball court, its walls and floors spotless, gleaming white. Opposite them, five doors stood along the far wall, a window beside each door. In the room’s middle were a couple tables with drawers underneath, and beakers, flasks, and test tubes on top. On his side of the room, another table stood at the far end, longer than the others, with a sink. In between it and him floated a metallic device the size of a large suitcase, lights oscillating across it. High on the walls, large windows revealed the black of night above.
The bronze giant lumbered up to Jimmy Stu with a set of clothes much like hospital scrubs, only royal blue. “Why don’t you try these on?” he rumbled. “Looks like they might fit. I’m Joachim,” he added. “It’s an honor to be here tonight, Your Holiness.” He held out the clothing like a communion bowl.
After a few seconds, Jimmy Stu took the garments. Not knowing whether to laugh or cry, he slipped them on, marveling at how smooth and muscular his limbs were. Dizzy again, he sat back down on the gurney and whispered, “I was dead.” He stared at the dark, lean man. “Who are you? Where am I?” He put his hands to his temples.
“I’m Peter Alvarez,” the man said gently. “Your great-great-great-great-nephew.”
Jimmy Stu stared.
Peter nodded at the dark-haired beauty in the lab coat. “This is Shama Besic.” He pointed at the giant. “And this is Joachim Davis.”
“Great-great-great-great?” Jimmy Stu’s voice came out as a croak. “It … it worked? It actually worked?”
As he’d been dying, apprehension had nagged him about Thorne Labs’ use of the ‘neuro’ preservation option. It’d seemed too fantastic. They’d assured him all they needed was his head, that they’d someday be able to scan and record his DNA, and use organic material to produce an exact replica of him – head, torso, limbs, organs, nervous system … everything. They promised technology would someday exist that could map his brain, record its state, run a simulation indistinguishable from his original mind, and imprint it on his newly generated brain. Even to him, the hope had seemed desperate and pathetic. “It worked, then?” he repeated.
“Yes.” Peter beamed. “You’re alive and, it would seem, well.” He put his hands on his hips and leaned toward Jimmy Stu. “Do you feel well enough to travel? We’d like to take you Joachim’s place outside the city.”
Jimmy Stu looked around the lab, at the night sky in the windows, then at the three people. “Why am I here? Not at Thorne Labs?”
Peter clasped Jimmy Stu’s shoulders. “Please, uncle, we need to go – now. We can use an aero-chair or auto-stretcher if you need. I’ll explain on the way.”
Jimmy Stu drew back, but his shoulders remained in the Peter’s grip. “Yeah, I’m sure you can.” Jimmy Stu looked inward. “But can I believe you?” His voice fell. “What do I know, really? I’m here. Alive. With you. How do I know who you are, what you want?”
Peter looked horrified. “Uncle, we’ve risked everything to bring you back. We would never harm you! The will of God made flesh! But we need to leave now. Your life could depend on it.”
There was a beep. Peter and Shama blanched. The beep sounded again and repeated every three seconds.
“Who?” Peter glared at a large oblong rectangle of opaque beige light that appeared on the wall. Beside the rectangle, a red light blinked in sync with the beeps.
Shama jabbed a finger at a door across the lab. “In my office! Quickly!”
Jimmy Stu stared back and forth between her and the screen. Joachim jumped over and wrapped an arm around his torso, hefting Jimmy Stu like a sack of potatoes. He trotted toward the doors across the lab, with Peter at his side. They scrambled through a door, and it slammed behind them. They were in an office with a large window facing the lab. Shama stared wide-eyed at them through the window, moving her arms up and down in short jerks. Peter tapped the window, and it became opaque. Joachim set Jimmy Stu on his feet and tapped a black plastic strip on the wall. A screen of light like the one on the lab’s wall appeared.
Peter’s voice was shrill. “We’re not transmitting?”
Joachim folded his arms across his chest, then glanced at Peter. “Just receiving. Relax.”
Lightheaded, Jimmy Stu stared at the screen. Abruptly a red-haired woman with high cheekbones and slightly tilted cobalt eyes appeared in the hologram. She wore a jumpsuit of black leather.
Shama’s voice said, “Hello?”
Peter growled, “Fuck!”
The woman appeared to be standing beside a large semi-circular desk in a spacious lobby, two brutes in black jump suits like hers lounging ten feet behind, at the edge of the screen.
“She’s here!” Peter spat. “Downstairs!”
On screen, the redhead smiled icily. “Dr. Shama Besic?”
“Yes?”
The redhead inclined her head and shoulders in a sort of mini-bow. “Phuong Blake, with the security department of the Church of the Living Lord. We have reason to believe that you possess an item stolen from the Church of the Living Lord.”
Jimmy Stu glanced at Joachim, then spun around to Peter and whispered, “You stole something from them?”
“Yes!” Peter hissed “You!”
A sharp inhalation from Shama came over the holo-phone. “What are you talking about? Stolen item?”
Phuong Blake’s cobalt eyes took on a sardonic sheen, and her full lips twisted slightly to one side. “Oh, I think you know what I’m talking about.” She craned her neck as if trying to better see into the holo-screen. “And where, by the way, are Peter Alvarez and his good friend Joachim Davis? They’re up there with you, aren’t they?”
“Oh,” Shama said, going for nonchalant and missing, “they’re around.”
Blake nodded. “We’d like to come up and speak with them, and you, if we might.”
Shama sounded incredulous, furious. “You think I’ll let you bring your goons up here?”
Blake’s cobalt eyes seemed to burn into the screen. “We’d like to keep the police out of this, if we can.”
Beside Jimmy Stu, Peter snorted. “Of course.” He jumped to Joachim’s side and pointed at Jimmy Stu. “Stay with him.” Peter cracked the office door just wide enough to step through, and strode into the lab.
On screen, Blake’s eyes widened for a fraction of a second.
Peter’s voice came over the holo-phone, an angry bark. “What’s the meaning of this, Phuong?”
Jimmy Stu edged closer to Joachim. “What’d he mean, of course, they’d want to keep the police out of it?”
Joachim closed his eyes for a second. “We stole your head back in April, and it’s June third. They still haven’t reported it to the police. They don’t want anyone to know.” He put his finger to his lips, then pointed at the screen.
Blake sighed through her nose. “Congressman Alvarez.” Irony dripped from her voice. “As I said, we’d prefer to keep the police uninvolved. But I can have them here in no time, rest assured. If necessary.”
Seconds ticked by as Blake’s hologram stared into the screen, her impassive face somehow more menacing than if she’d glared.
Peter’s voice, sounding strangled, came over the holo-phone. “We have nothing to hide, Phuong. You can come up. Your strong-arm guys stay put, though.”
Blake glanced over her shoulder at the two thugs, looked back at the screen, and shrugged. “No problem. I have your permission to come up, then?”
Maybe Peter had nodded, because the picture changed. A middle-aged man in a security guard’s uniform, complete with brimmed hat, stared slightly down into the holo-screen. A vee formed between his eyebrows. “Officer Blake has permission to enter your facility then, Dr. Besic?”

 

Jimmy Stu Lives! is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $0.99

 

Connect with Kent McDaniel:

Website: www.kentmcdanielwrites.wordpress.com

Facebook: Kent McDaniel

Twitter: @dickmoby

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Jaimie: Fire and Ice (The Wilde Sisters), Sandra Marton {$2.99}

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Description of Jaimie: Fire and Ice (The Wilde Sisters):

Zach Castelianos and Jaimie Wilde meet by accident. The attraction between them is instantaneous and hot, hot, hot. Zach is a woman’s dream: he’s tall, dark and ruggedly handsome, but there’s a dangerous edge to him and Jaimie Wilde is a cautious woman.

They’re wrong for each other. Zach knows it. So does Jaimie, but surely one night of steamy sex won’t change their lives… until Jaimie needs protection from an obsessed stalker and Zach is the only man who can provide it.

 

Accolades:

“Scorching hot nights, tender romantic days, well-drawn characters, family dynamics, humor and love…romance does not get better than this. As I await the next exciting installment in this delectable series, take my advice and pick up a copy of JAIMIE: FIRE AND ICE, and see for yourself what all the fuss is about!” 5 star Blue Ribbon review, RomanceJunkies.com

5/5 star review
” Fire meets ice and all logic melts away.” ContemporaryRomanceReviews.com

“I totally loved this book. Evidently it is the second in a series, stands alone well, but I will be seeking out the first as soon as possible! I love a contemporary romance that has a sense of humor. Ms. Marton has given readers a lead couple that will grab you and not let go. Their dialogue is so sharp and spot on. The sparks fly in this one. Strong primary and secondary characters, witty dialogue, detailed settings, even pacing; can’t ask for anything more than that. Oh wait…. a great romance!” Reader at amazon.com

Reviews:

Jaimie: Fire and Ice (The Wilde Sisters)  currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.8 stars from 26 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from Jaimie: Fire and Ice (The Wilde Sisters):

An hour ago, she’d been trying to get away from Zacharias Castelianos.
What a mistake that would have been.
He wasn’t only drop-dead gorgeous, he was fun. He was charming. He was a man any woman would want. Well, except her. She was far too busy chasing her new career to get involved with anybody. Besides, he lived in New York. She lived in Washington.
And wasn’t thinking like that ridiculous?
Why did she always have to come up with logical reasons to explain things? She was, OK, she was attracted to him.
And unless she’d forgotten everything she’d ever known about men and women, he was attracted to her.
For tonight.
This wasn’t about forever. It was about attraction.
Pheromones.
For goodness’ sake, Jaimie, it’s about lust.
And if she were a different kind of woman, if she could give herself a good reason to let go and just enjoy whatever the night might offer…
“Such deep thoughts.”
His voice was low and rough. Jaimie blinked, looked up. He was inches away, smiling down at her as she sat at the counter, and what she saw in his eyes left her breathless.
“No,” she said quickly, “not deep. Just—just—I was wondering if there’s any news.”
The hell she was.
Her face was an open book. She’d been thinking the same thing he was thinking. He could see it in the sweep of color high on her cheeks, in the way she suddenly and, he’d bet, unknowingly swiped the tip of her tongue over her bottom lip.
Such a full, perfect, pink bottom lip.
God, he wanted to touch her.
Just once. Just lightly.
Zach let himself reach out and stroke an errant strand of gold behind her ear.
It wasn’t enough.
He wanted to kiss her.
He wanted to strip her naked, sweep everything from the counter, lay her across it and take her again and again until she was mindless with pleasure.
At least he didn’t have to worry about the knot in his balls anymore. It had been replaced by one hell of an erection.
He took a quick step back.
“News,” he said, in the manic tones of a desperate man.
“Excellent idea. I forgot all about that wind-up radio.”
He swung away, all but marched to the butcher-block table where he’d stashed the box of emergency supplies. He stood with his back to her and concentrated on cold showers, ice storms, glaciers and whatever other hard-on killers he could think of until it was safe to pluck the radio from the box, carry it across the room, set it on the counter and crank the handle.
“Here we go,” he said brightly. “We won’t get much time out of it, so—”
“…huge software glitch that has affected the grid on virtually the entire East Coast. Authorities have isolated the problem but say they cannot offer an estimate of when they’ll solve it—”
Static. More static, and the crisp intonations of the announcer gave way to… A piano. Soft, bluesy notes. And then a raw, emotion-filled voice.
“Springsteen,” Jaimie said.
Zach nodded. “It’s ‘Back in Your Arms Again.’”
“I know.” She hummed a little of it. “I love that song.”
He laughed. “It must be almost as old as you are.”
“Not even close,” she said, laughing along with him. “But I admit, I grew up on this stuff. I have older brothers. One of them is a big Springsteen fan.”
She shut her eyes, hummed softly with the music, head back, shoulders gently swaying. He watched her for a few seconds. Then he reached for her hand.
She looked at him.
“Dance with me,” he said softly.
Time, the very universe, narrowed down to this moment.
He held his breath until, slowly, she rose to her feet and put her hand in his.
He drew her into his arms.
She came to him willingly on a soft, sweet sigh.
He drew her close, closer still until her could feel the beat of her heart merge with the beat of his.
He pressed his lips to her hair.
She wrapped her arms around his neck, put her head against his shoulder.
They moved slowly to the music. After a while, it faded. Died. Still, they swayed together as the candlelight painted their silhouettes on the walls.
An eternity went by. Then Zach put his hands into Jaimie’s hair and raised her face to his. He knew he would never forget the smoky blueness of her eyes.
“Jaimie,” he said his voice low and urgent.
“Zacharias,” she whispered back.
And then his mouth was on hers, her lips parted to the stroke of his tongue and, in a heartbeat the night turned to magic.

 

Jaimie: Fire and Ice (The Wilde Sisters) is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $2.99

 

Connect with Sandra Marton:

Website: http://www.sandramarton.com

Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/sandramartonauthor

Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/sandramarton

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Six Times a Charm, Deanna Chase, Angie Fox, Julie Kenner, Mindy Klasky, Rose Pressey, Liz Schulte {$0.99}

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Todays Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Six Times a Charm:

Six sexy, exciting, laugh-out-loud books from some of the top names in paranormal romance. Enjoy:
• Haunted on Bourbon Street by Deanna Chase
• The Accidental Demon Slayer by Angie Fox
• Carpe Demon by Julie Kenner
• Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft by Mindy Klasky
• How to Date a Werewolf by Rose Pressey
• Easy Bake Coven by Liz Schulte

 

Accolades:

Individual books each have at least one hundred 4- and 5-star reviews (some have even more!). Three of the books are NY Times bestsellers. One is a USA Today bestseller.

Carpe Demon:
A blend of sophistication and wit that has you laughing out loud!” – Charlaine Harris

The Accidental Demon Slayer:
“Fabulously fun!” – The Chicago Tribune

Girl’s Guide to Witchcraft:
“A zany blend of fantasy and romance.” – Booklist

Reviews:

Six Times a Charm currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.8 stars from 14 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from Six Times a Charm:

When I opened the door to greet my grandmother for the very first time, I’m not sure what I was expecting. I know I hadn’t envisioned an apple-shaped woman in a Kiss My Asphalt T-shirt, with windburned cheeks and a sagging tattoo of a phoenix on her arm. But what I really didn’t bargain for was a brief hug, followed by a forceful shove that had me landing firmly on my butt on the cold, black-and-white checked floor of my hall bathroom.
“Let me out of here!” I twisted the bathroom doorknob until I wrenched my wrist. How the frig did this happen? One minute I was answering my door, and the next I had landed booty over tea kettle on tile that was about two weeks overdue for a good scrubbing.
“Buck up, sugar cake.” My grandma’s chunky silver rings clinked against the other side of the door, and her gravelly voice sounded like she’d spent the last century breathing semi-truck exhaust. “This is for your own good.”
My own good? In what world could she know what was good for me? I’d never even heard from my mom’s mom until she called me the day before. The next thing I knew, she was flying to Atlanta to meet me. I had assumed that meant air travel, not the hot pink Harley parked in my driveway.
I kicked the door with all my strength. “Ouchie!” I hollered as pain seared my foot. Dang it all. Three years of teaching at Happy Hands Preschool and I couldn’t even cuss right. I limped in circles, the pointed toe of my simple black heel curled up like an elf shoe.
Why tonight, of all nights, did this have to happen?
Grandma chuckled. “Why, Lizzie Brown—kickin’ and a hollerin’. Thank heaven my grandbaby has spunk. I know you’re hacked to Hades, princess. But trust me. If I let you out now, you’d wreck all your pretty furniture.”
She’d obviously cracked her head on the pavement one too many times. As for ruining my Pottery Barn knockoff furniture, my pathetic excuse for a watchdog would take care of that. Pirate, my Jack Russell Terrier, tended to piddle at the first sign of trouble. I pounded against the door until my hands throbbed. Of all the dumb things to do, I had to let a stranger into my house.
Was I that desperate for affection?
Probably. My adoptive parents, Cliff and Hillary, meant well. But they weren’t exactly warm and fuzzy. They didn’t even like to touch each other. So, sue me, it felt good—even if it was a little forced—when my biological grandmother hugged me for the first time.
“Levitis cadre. Familio, madre,” she chanted like a deranged monk.
“Cut it out! Today is my thirtieth birthday, and I’m going to be late for my party if you don’t open this door. Now!” Let’s face it. I couldn’t go out much on my salary. Happy Hands Preschool wasn’t exactly raking in the big bucks. And the one night out of the year where I could count on all of my friends to be dateless and available, this geriatric biker had to take me prisoner.
She rapped her knuckles on her side of the door. As if I were going anywhere. “Lizzie dear? You have ridden a bike before?” she asked, as if I’d taken Hog 101 in high school.
Had she seen my cream-on-white front room? “Yeah, um. In case you haven’t noticed, I’m more of an indoor girl.” Not that I was against motorcycles, in theory. But if Grandma thought I was going to hoist my rear end up on the back of her hog, a pot hole had knocked something loose in her head.
“Well, Lizzie, the thing is…” She paused to find the right words to say whatever it was I was sure I didn’t want to hear. She cleared her throat. “Our coven’s on the run.”
Oh lordy. “You think you’re a witch?”
“Am a witch, darlin’. So was your mother. And if I wasn’t such a damned good witch, all hell wouldn’t be after us. I don’t have time to spell it out for you right now, but do you own any leather chaps?”
Yeah, hanging right next to my white capri pants. “No!”
“Well, that bites,” she said. “Life on the road can chafe your thighs.”

 

Six Times a Charm is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $0.99

 

Connect with Angie Fox:

Website: www.angiefox.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Angie-Fox/176533609089557?ref=br_tf

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AngieFoxauthor

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Disciple, Part II, L. Blankenship {$2.99}

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L. Blankenships Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Disciple, Part II:

The prince first kissed Kate Carpenter for fear of missing the chance if they didn’t survive the journey home through the monster-prowled mountains.

Now that kiss seems like a fever dream. It’s back to work for her, back to the fellow physicians jealous of her talents and the sneers of an infirmary director who wants her shipped off to some tiny village. Kate means to be on the front lines to save lives. She’s worked too hard to overcome her past to let them deny her the chance to serve her homeland when the enemy’s army reaches their kingdom.

The grand jousting tournament is a chance to prove she can manage combat wounded, and at the royal Solstice banquet Kate means to prove she isn’t an ignorant peasant girl anymore.

But the prince’s kiss still haunts her. Their paths keep crossing, and the easy familiarity they earned on the journey home is a welcome escape from their duties. It’s a small slip from chatting to kisses.

This is no time to be distracted by romance — a vast and powerful empire is coming to slaughter anyone standing between them and the kingdom’s magical fount.

Kate ought to break both their hearts, for duty’s sake.

 

Accolades:

“I don’t deliberately read any kind of romances, but this fantasy romance is such a logical continuation of the first part of the story that the addition of love to the stew makes the characters all too human in a world where the rules are subtly different… I can’t wait for the next episode.”

- Maridebarr (http://www.goodreads.com/review/show/667771672)

“[Kate's] attempts to carve out a career for herself as a healer provides fodder for a good fantasy story — and one I haven’t heard before… I am excited for Part III and I’ll be sure to let you guys know what I think of it after its released. In the mean time, check out Disciple Part I and II for all the jousts, feasts and romance that you can handle.”

- Michael Panush (http://panusher.wordpress.com/2013/08/09/a-friendlier-fantasy-l-blankenships-disciples-part-ii/)

Reviews:

Disciple, Part II currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4 stars from 1 review. Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from Disciple, Part II:

(After spending the day debriefing the king on the results of their mission, Prince Kiefan leads Kate into a quieter part of the castle…)

He still held my hand. No voices, nobody nearby to see us. I swallowed a nervous lump in my throat, wondering where he meant to take me. And what he meant to do there. Surely I didn’t have to worry whether anyone would hear me scream… was there anything he could do that I’d need to?

My cheeks warmed.

Slim pillars held up a graceful stone arcade. Between them, we walked onto frost-burnt grass. A gnarled apple tree, leaves golden and half fallen to the ground, stood ringed by a waist-high juniper hedge. Beyond, the castle wall rose sheer and seamless. To either side, the watchtowers bulged from its face and spiked up like smooth horns. I had to crane my neck to find the tips, and in doing spotted the catwalks that connected each tower to the roof of Castle Kaltkern. The garden lay below the keep, hemmed in by saint-cut cliffs on both sides.

A crescent garden, I saw now. To either side, more fruit trees dropped their leaves, and the rose bushes had gone bare for the winter, but the juniper hedges held their green. Under the central apple tree waited a broad wooden bench. By my hand, still warm in his grip, Kiefan led me toward it and a tangle of hopes and fears snapped tight around my heart.

He didn’t sit, though. He stood under the tree and looked up. “Sometimes I can get some quiet here,” he said. “When Mother isn’t seeking solitude herself.”

I looked up, too, into golden leaves and dark branches. Blue, beyond. “It must be lovely in the spring.” I could imagine the trees hazed by white blossoms.

“And in the summer, when the roses are out, the scent hangs like a fog between the walls.”

He still held my hand. My nerves eased, I sidled closer to his shoulder. He smelled of sweat, under his layered woolens. “You spent the afternoon at swordplay?”

He nodded, bringing his gaze down to me. “I thought he would send for the captain, but Woden tossed me a sparring sword himself. I nearly dropped it when he chose one and stood at guard.”

“You sparred with a saint?”

Kiefan shook his head, disbelieving it himself. “I saw him spar with Captain Aleks, once. She said it was her most valuable lesson.”

“You lived to tell. You didn’t ask him to give you quarter?” I risked a smile.

A chuckle. “He gave none, that’s true. I won’t know how many bruises I have until morning, I’m sure.” He tugged out the collar of his cote to feign checking inside. “We spoke about the lamia, and he told me I was using my kir to keep their teeth off me despite the close quarters. The beginnings of a kir-shield. With training, I’ll be able to control it more.”

“We all learned something out there.” I looked up as a chilly breeze sent a few more leaves spinning from the branches and caught a wince on Kiefan’s brow. “Are you hurt? A headache?”

“A little.”

I knew what that meant. I put my hand on his fresh-shaven cheek and turned his head toward me to call his kir. It glowed in answer, revealing a few tangles on his meridian, but I got no further in checking him.

Kiefan leaned over and kissed me, wrapping me in both strong arms. Coaxed my mouth open to spar with his tongue. He left me breathing harder with my palm still on his face.

I combed my fingers over the ridges of his Blessing at the back of his neck and pulled him down for another. His arms tightened on me. His lips made their way to my throat and his tongue tracing the hollow there stabbed a shiver into my spine. My pulse surged.

With a hard breath, he buried his face against my neck and squeezed me till I squeaked. I clung to his shoulders, my feet lifted an inch off the ground. He held me warm and safe, despite the cold breeze.

“You must come to Prohzgrad with us,” he said against my neck. “Cure me with a kiss each night.”

I swallowed a sudden lump. “You’re going away?” I managed to ask through his grip.

 

Disciple, Part II is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $2.99

 

Connect with L. Blankenship:

Website: http://discipleofthefount.blogspot.com/

Facebook: www.facebook.com/louise.blankenship.1

Twitter: www.twitter.com/LBlankenship_sf

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Nickels, Karen Baney {$2.99}

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Karen Baneys Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of The Nickels:

Niki Turner has finally arrived. Her career as a Software Engineer is soaring–she has just been offered the company’s most sought after account, Helitronics. Life would be perfect, if she could stop her roommate from playing matchmaker.

Then Kyle Jacobs mysteriously re-enters her life. As painful memories resurface, his presence turns her life upside down and threatens to waylay her career. She must find a way to work with him–after all, he’s the helicopter flight consultant for the new flight control system she’s coding.

Can she forget the past and see him as the new man he has become? Or will her resentment keep her from finding what she has always been searching for?

This contemporary Christian romance novel is an upbeat and compelling story set in the Phoenix Metro Area. Karen Baney shows a new side to her writing with great wit and banter between the main characters. Inspired by her love of romance and of computers, this story takes readers on a journey filled with laughter and tears.

 

Accolades:

“Karen Baney weaves a wonderful and enjoyable romance with realistic and believable characters you will grow to love as family. Nickels is an intriguing story that will capture you in the very first pages and keep you engrossed until the end.” –Readers Favorite Reviews

Reviews:

Nickels currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.3 stars from 49 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from Nickels:

When Niki stood, her back and legs were stiff. How long had she been sitting there? Glancing at the clock on her computer, it was three hours later than the last time she checked. Crazy how she could completely lose track of time when she was deep in the zone, coding.
She stepped from the tall cube and ran straight into Kyle. Coffee flew from his hand and down the front of her shirt. She looked down. Drat. Her new lilac colored shirt turned purple-brown as the coffee soaked in. Of course it was her new shirt. She’d only worn it once before.
“Sorry,” Kyle said. “Wait here. Let me get some paper towels or something.”
He set what little was left of his coffee on her desk before he hobbled off to the break room. She grabbed it and tossed it in the trash and followed behind him, pausing briefly at Doug’s desk.
“Run into a coffee cart?” Doug teased.
“More like run over by a Kyle-sized coffee cart. I’ll be back in a minute. Try not to add too many bugs to the code while I’m gone, ‘kay?”
As she hurried down the hall, Doug fired back, “Ha! I’m the bug masher!”
She smiled as she opened the door to the break room only to run into Kyle a second time. Her smile was instantly swallowed by a frown.
“Really, we have to stop meeting like this,” he said stepping back. He offered her a wad of paper towels. “People are gonna talk.”
The humor in his voice was evident, but Niki was not in the mood. She snatched the towels from his hand and turned her back so she faced the wall, trying to modestly wipe down her front. She felt his eyes on her and glanced over her shoulder.
“Don’t you have someplace to be?”
“Nope.”
“Are you sure?”
She finished mopping up her shirt and tossed the towels in the trash. When she turned around to face him, he smiled that blasted charming smile. She wanted to smack it off his face.
“I was actually on my way to see you.”
“Oh, so the coffee attack was intentional then.”
“I was coming to see you about an issue, before heading out for lunch.”
“I was on my way to help Doug, who by now has grown worried thinking I’ve been kidnapped by aliens or something. Can you stop by later? Or just email me?”
Kyle muttered something under his breath.
She didn’t wait for a real answer before leaving the break room.
When she stepped into Doug’s cube, he commented again on her appearance. “Oh, look, lilac and coffee brown go so good together. You might just have hit on a new fashion trend.”
“Shut it.”
“I agree.” Kyle’s voice sounded from behind her. “You could make a fortune with that.”
Was he stalking her now? Had she not made it clear she would talk to him later?
“Have you seen my coffee?”
She pointed to her shirt with a furious look and raised eyebrow. “I’m pretty sure I am well acquainted with your coffee. Now, if you don’t mind, I have some work to do.”
“I meant my coffee cup. I thought I set it down somewhere around here.”
“Go look in my cube then.” She shooed him away.

 

Nickels is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $2.99

 

Connect with Karen Baney:

Website: http://www.karenbaney.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/Karen-Baney-Books/138412459527446?ref=hl

Twitter: http://twitter.com/karen_baney

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: The Nirvana Plague, Gary Glass {$3.99}

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Gary Glass’s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of The Nirvana Plague:

What if perfect peace and happiness were a contagious disease? In this fast-paced, thought-provoking thriller, a schizophrenic scientist, an ambitious Chicago psychiatrist, and a hard-driving Army colonel are at the center of a frantic international struggle between the powers of government and a mind-bending outbreak of cosmic consciousness.

A bizarre illness spreads through a Chicago psychiatric hospital. Dr Carl Marley, a bored but ambitious psychiatrist, seizes the chance to grab some attention by “discovering” the new disorder. But when an Army colonel summons him to a government-sponsored taskforce to investigate the syndrome, he learns the disease he thought he’d discovered is already so widespread in the military that it threatens to undermine the foundations of power. A high-stakes race to understand the disease takes the team from the NIH campus in Bethesda, to a war zone in the Kashmiri highlands, to a high-tech biodefense facility near Juneau, Alaska.

As the outbreak spreads around the globe and desperate governments impose increasingly severe measures to contain it, Marley begins to suspect that what is happening is not the apocalypse they fear — but something far more radical. Marley’s star patient, a brilliant but profoundly psychotic scientist named Roger Sturgeon, escapes from the facility into the city, and Marley attempts to bring him back before the government sends in troops. Only then does he learn the truth about what is happening.

Before it’s over they will all be forced to choose between the precarious comfort of the world they know and the mysterious wonder of a new reality — between their commonplace fears, ambitions, and loyalties, or the hope that lies in The Nirvana Plague.

 

Accolades:

A difficult book to put down. Your attention is grasped continually with ever growing suspense and mystery. The author captured the essence of James Michener incorporating facts into the saga; and the essence of Steven King’s art of timely and mounting suspense. And the ending – what an ending! ~ Amazon reviewer

The Nirvana Plague is a mile-a-minute race to understand and contain an outbreak of…what? Is it a virus, bioterrorism, a movement, or the next stage of human evolution? Well-drawn characters will lead you on a wild chase in a thriller based on a great what-if premise. The book is written with authority, imagination and intelligence. ~ Amazon reviewer

It has been thirty years since I read any Vonnegut, but this book reminds me of his work. It also reminds me a bit of Don Delillo’s ‘White Noise.’Gary Glass manages to create a thought-provoking, philosophical, thriller that takes place on a global scale while also focusing on a core set of characters in a very intimate way. Well done. ~ Amazon reviewer

Reviews:

The Nirvana Plague currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.6 stars from 9 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from The Nirvana Plague:

Chapter 1

It is well past blackout. Starlight silvers the empty campus. A fresh snow has fallen, and a hungry wind drives in off the lake. A lone student hurries home between the dark buildings.

From a doorway, a thin jet of breath streams out and is shredded by the wind.

She looks up.

“Wait!” comes from the doorway. The sound is raw, guttural.

She puts her head down and walks on, fast, her boots striking hard on the packed snow of the sidewalk.

He calls after her:

“Wait!” he says. “Come back!” His voice is a hiss on the air.

She looks ahead — there’s no one else around, but it’s only another block to the street. Then she hears his footsteps behind her.

He sees her look back and calls after her again, urgently, trying to keep his voice down:

“Wait! Please! I have to talk to you!”

She runs. Her boots slip, slowing her, but the unpacked snow off the sidewalk is too deep. Her backpack bounces from side to side, throwing her off balance.

“Stop!” the man calls, running after her. “Stop! For God’s sake!”

She comes to a crossing and cuts to the left — instantly realizing her mistake: she should have kept on and just outrun him. She loses her footing, her boot slides under her, and she goes down hard on her side. Her parka cushions the blow a little, but the glazed snow is almost as hard as the concrete under it, and she catches her arm under her weight, wrenching the elbow.

Before she can get to her knees, he’s on her. She wriggles and kicks, but he straddles her hips and pins her down. He grabs her by the shoulders and thrusts his face toward hers. His short hair and short beard are grizzled, his lips pallid, his eyes bright, glassy, and crazed.

“Listen to me!” he hisses, bending over her. “Listen! I’m trying to warn you! They’re coming here! They’re coming—”

He looks suddenly confused.

“They’re—”

The girl screams, as loud as she can, screams with her whole body.

The man is startled and claps his bare hand over her mouth.

“No! No! They’ll hear you! That’s how they—”

The girl jerks her head back and forth. His hand comes loose — she catches it in her mouth and bites it, hard.

He stifles a yelp of pain: “Ahhh!”

He gets his hand free and jams it under his arm, grimacing.

“No!” he says. “Don’t! You don’t understand!”

The girl screams again, and twists her body violently.

The man loses his balance, falls sideways. He puts out his hand to catch himself, the hand she’s just bitten, and with a yelp of pain he goes down on his elbow.

The girl squirms away from him, kicking at him with her boots. One of them connects, she hears him grunt and feels him fall away. She scrambles to her feet and runs. She’s lost her bearings now and doesn’t know which way she’s going. But in a few seconds she comes to a street. There are still a few cars moving, but no pedestrians. She stops and waves, trying to flag someone down.

The man slams into her, knocking her over. They sprawl on the sidewalk, the girl flailing and kicking at him again, yelling bloody murder, the man desperately trying to make her stop and listen.

* * *

“Slow night,” Marley said, twizzling the lime in a vodka tonic. It was his third. Or fourth. He cupped his hand over the glass as if to measure it. Felt like the third. His hand, like the rest of him, was square and meaty. His bulldog build made his mild voice and easy manner seem practiced, and there was something in his eyes, when he let it show, that could stop a person cold.

“Yeah, Mondays are slow,” the bartender said.

Susan something. He could never remember her last name. But she was his favorite bartender, and this was his favorite bar. Bernie’s. Barry’s. Something like that. Clean and dark and cozy. Close to the hospital. And tonight it was empty: downtown bar on a frostbitten weeknight.

“At least we’re here,” Marley said.

“Yup. But I’m working. What’s your excuse?”

“I’m in recovery.”

“From Monday?”

Marley frowned. “Yes. I told you that one?”

“Yesterday you were in recovery from Sunday. Tomorrow you’ll be in recovery from Tuesday.”

“And Wednesday’s child is full of woe,” he said. “I guess I’ve exhausted my repertoire of not-so-wisecracks.”

“You’re all right. Always nice to see you again.”

“Thanks, but I—”

Marley’s phone buzzed. He plucked it out of his jacket pocket — it looked like a gold fountain pen — and checked the caller ID on the barrel.

“Looks like I’m busted,” he said. “It’s the cops.”

“Really?”

“They must have found out I’m a criminal bore.”

He laid one end of the phone against his ear, and when he squeezed it the other end curled in toward the corner of his mouth.

“Carl Marley.”

“Doctor Marley?” said the caller.

“Yes,” Marley said.

Susan drifted down to the other end of the bar and watched TV.

“Dr. Marley,” said the caller, “this is Sergeant Wissert, Evanston Police. I think we have a patient of yours in custody. Roger Sturgeon?”

Marley sighed wearily.

“Yes. Paranoid schizophrenic.”

“Northwestern University security officers apprehended him this evening. They turned him over to us about twenty minutes ago. Seems he’s been chasing students all over campus. He didn’t have any ID on him, and he wouldn’t talk to us. We ran a rid on him and came up with his record. That’s how we got your name, doctor.”

“Ran a what?”

“Retinal ID.”

“Right. OK.” Marley was feeling the vodka a little. “Did he hurt anyone?” he said, trying to sound especially professional.

“Not really. Scared the panties off a couple of girls though. Northwestern police are pretty pissed about the whole thing. I guess they’ve been getting reports and trying to find him for hours.”

“Well, he’s smart.” Marley waved at Susan for a refill. “Reload, please.”

“What?” said the caller.

“Nothing. So what can I do for you?”

“We need to get him off the street. I see on his record that he’s done a few turns in Joplin Psychiatric. He’s obviously delusional. So, if you wanted to sign a commitment order tonight, we could maybe avoid locking him up on an assault charge.”

In the background, another voice: “I’m not delusional. I’m perfectly lucid! I’m trying to help you! Try to understand—”

“Be quiet!” someone else said.

“That’s him,” the sergeant said.

“Yes,” Marley said.

“So what do you want to do, doc? We’re about done here.”

“Where?”

“We’re in the emergency room at General. He got a nasty bite on the hand from the last little girl he jumped.”

Marley could hear him smiling.

“She was pretty shook up, but she’ll be all right. Cute little thing too.”

“So?”

“So, if you want to commit him, we might be able to convince Northwestern to drop charges.”

“He’s married. Have you talked to his wife?”

“Not yet. The number we have on record for him is wrong.”

“Did you check his phone? Her number is probably on his cell phone.”

“I’ll check on that.”

Susan returned and set a fresh drink in front of him, spilling some of it.

“Thanks.” Then to the officer: “Wife’s name is Karen. Different last name. I forget what it is. But if you need it you can get it from my office in the morning.”

“So what do you want us to do with Mr. Sturgeon here?”

Marley took a drink, getting his sleeve wet. He rolled up his sleeves as he talked, revealing tattoos on both forearms. “OK, let’s put him back in Joplin. Why don’t you message me the order to sign.”

“All right. I’ll call the precinct and have them send a three-day commit over to you. Should they use this number?”

“Sure.”

Marley hung up and clipped the phone back in his pocket. He took out his mini-tablet and started scribbling orders: 24-hour isolation, restraints PRN, resume meds (see hx for specs), maintain standing orders, call if changes…

“Everything all right?” she said.

“Just another day at the office.”

“Thought you were off the clock.”

“Trouble with a patient. He goes off his meds now and then. Usually gets in trouble when he does.” He took a drink. “Interesting fellow, this patient. You’d like him. He was a scientist before he got sick. Really brilliant. His delusions are very sophisticated.”

“I have a few clients like that myself.”

“You do?”

“Sure. Bartender, shrink, same thing basically.”

“I’ll drink to that. Cheers!”

“I never drink with patients.”

“Ha! I’m just doing this till I make it to the big time. What about you?”

“Same here. My plan is to hit the lottery. What’s yours?”

“I haven’t decided yet.”

The commitment order came. He signed and dated it — February 15, 2027 — and sent it back. Then he fired off his orders to Joplin’s admissions office and put his mini-tab away again.

“That’s that,” he said. “Where were we?”

“You were telling me how you plan to get rich and famous.”

“That’s right. Thousands of adoring fans. A gaggle of groupies at my beck and call. And flights of angels to sing me to rest.”

“Sounds great. What’ll your wife think of all that?”

“I think she’s resigned herself to the inevitable,” Marley said stiffly, and took another drink.

Susan saw she hit a nerve and changed the subject. Pointing at his arms with her chin, she said, “Nice tats.”

He turned his arms out so she could see them. A Chinese dragon curled down the inside of his left arm, a Chinese tiger down his right.

“Get those at shrink school?” she said.

“Before shrink school. In the navy. I think I was compensating.”

“For…”

“For being a lowly communications officer. I was a runt of a kid then. Not the fine figure of a man you see before you now.”

She looked around the empty bar. “Really? Where?”

“Touché.” He raised his glass to her. She smiled. Still holding the glass, he extended one finger and ran it down the dragon on the other arm. “I got them in Taiwan. They’re Shaolin temple brands. But actually that’s bullshit. There’s no such thing.”

“They’re high quality though. Very good work.”

“Young, dumb, and et cetera. Long time ago.”

“Did you like the navy?”

“Loathed it. But it paid for shrink school.”

“And those tattoos.”

“Yup. Three months’ pay. And now I have to go to work in long sleeves.”

“You don’t really like your job, do you?”

He pulled his chin in, ducking a punch. “Now and then. When I get an interesting case or an interesting patient. Like this fellow the police just called about. He was brilliant before he got sick. He was on the team that found the first proof of extrasolar life. I think they were considered for a Nobel prize. There are videos of him lecturing and giving talks about it. He’s still brilliant. Much smarter than me anyway. I would like to be able to help him get his life back.”

“Can’t you?”

“It’s hard. I’ve been treating him for years. We still know so little about how the brain gets broken. Sometimes I think we don’t want to know really.”

Susan leaned back against the counter behind her, studying him.

He admired her figure. The bartenders here all dressed in tight black shirts and slacks.

“So here’s my question for you, doc,” she said, an impish light in her eye. “What’s a shrink with bad ass tats doing hanging out in a dead bar on a weeknight flirting with the bartender rather than going home and getting busy with his lovely wife? If you don’t mind me asking.”

Marley didn’t like it. “You ask some questions.”

“I’m just curious.”

“Curiosity killed the cat.”

“But you like your wife, don’t you?”

“Crazy about her actually.”

“So you’re iffy on your job and crazy about your wife, but you work late and you drink later. I’m just curious.”

“Do I need to call my lawyer, officer?”

“Why, are you guilty of something?”

“I think my wife thinks so.”

“Ya think? Husband comes home late every night…”

“Not about that,” he said, waving the idea away. “It’s not that.” He felt the alcohol loosening his reserve, but he didn’t fight it. “She’s disappointed in me.”

Susan’s expression changed. She saw the guilt in his face.

“Things were supposed to be different,” he said, not looking at her. “Life wasn’t supposed to be this easy.”

“Can you fix it?”

“I don’t know.”

 

The Nirvana Plague is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $3.99

 

Connect with Gary Glass:

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/gary.glass.31

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: The Silver Sphere, Michael Dadich {$3.99}

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Michael Dadich’s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of The Silver Sphere:

Shelby Pardow never imagined killing someone. That’s about to change.

While hiding from her troubled father in the local library, Shelby stares at a flashing instant message on her computer: YOU ARE NEEDED. She discovers a portal that opens and teleports her to the planet Azimuth, where soldiers await. Here, she is not a child but a warrior, Kin to one of the six Aulic Assembly members imprisoned by Malefic Cacoethes, the daunting leader of the Nightlanders.

Malefic, the evil spawn of the demon Biskara, razes towns and cities in his quest to rule Azimuth, and yearns to turn his forces against Earth. Yet every time Biskara gets close to achieving his malevolent goals, the Assembly uses the Silver Sphere, a sophisticated armillary device, to thwart him.

With the Assembly deposed, Biskara directing Malefic’s conquests, and the Silver Sphere out of reach, Shelby is thrust into an unforgettable quest with her fellow Kin. She must learn to kill and lead an army into battle, or Azimuth—and Earth—will fall.

Winner of the prestigious Mom’s Choice Gold Award for Young Adult Fantasy.

Winner of the Wise Bear Books Gold Award including best in category for Young Adult Fantasy-Adventure and Young Adult Fantasy-General.

 

Accolades:

“A vivid mind has most definitely brought back the Technicolor that’s been missing since Potter made his last stand.” ~ Feathered Quill Book Reviews

“This is definitely a book to watch as it has all the right elements to be the next Hunger Games-type phenomenon.” ~ Wise Bear Book Reviews

“This fresh twist on the quest fantasy novel is done with charm and humor.” ~ Foreword-Clarion Reviews

“As a warrior, Shelby must learn how to kill, and how to lead an army to preserve the light of hope, in this captivating and highly recommended saga of life and death on the battlefield.” ~ Midwest Book Review

Reviews:

The Silver Sphere currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.7 stars from 91 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from The Silver Sphere:

“Your world will be over soon, won’t it, dear Bianca?”
The cloaked creature rasped out the syllables one at a time, and each sound pushed Bianca closer toward the cold stone floor. Moonlight splashed across the room from a wall of windows. Even if she could have yelled, no one would have heard her. Pain made her dizzy.
As the assault on her consciousness raged, she struggled to her feet against the heavy stupor overtaking her body. Her limbs shook. The long table in front of her provided only a moment of support before she collapsed upon the solid oak board.
Her vision blurred from the pressure, and a murmur gurgled from her throat as she tried to call out to the Assembly members hunched in their chairs. The maroon wine spilled across the table told of their downfall. Were they unconscious or dead? She couldn’t begin to guess. Her goblet remained almost untouched.
“How easy this was….”
The din of his words made her gaze upward, where a hood surrounded his darkened features. Screams echoed in her head, though no sound broke from her lips.
He knelt beside her and whispered, “Dear Bianca.” His hands caressed full chunks of her raven hair, and he started pulling the strands through his fingers.
Horror traveled down her spine and numbed her. She felt the escape of fainting descend upon her, fogging her mind; how she wanted to drift off and shun the maddening fear. Yet he would not let her. She tried in vain to pull away, but his power over her was too great.
“Don’t.” She must have said it aloud because his grip tightened and he jerked her head back, forcing her to look at him. She gasped as he pulled the cowl away.
Her tormentor had a pallid complexion and a high forehead. Long, wiry auburn hair framed his narrow face, at the center of which sat a nose snubbed like a snout. It was the piercing glare of his eyes that caught her, though. Their intensity made her skin crawl.
“Malefic,” she mouthed, her breath releasing in a terrified wheeze.
He loosened his grasp and eased her to the floor. Then he stepped over her body and slithered to the head of the table, admiring his handiwork.
Bianca’s legs and arms stiffened. Malefic oozed power, and as she watched him, her mind reeled. What had led to such laxness in their security? Where had he come from?
We were betrayed, of course, she thought, as unconsciousness bid her closer to blackness.
Malefic turned and glared into her eyes, a sneer twisting his expression into a grotesque mask. “The Aulic Assembly is mine.” His harsh voice pulled her to the brink. “Father will be pleased.”

 

The Silver Sphere is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $3.99

 

Connect with Michael Dadich:

Website: www.thesilversphere.org

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/AuthorMichaelDadich

Twitter: https://twitter.com/michaeldadich

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: Paphos 1, N.R. Burnette {$0.99}

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N.R. Burnette’s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of Paphos 1:

When Austin brought his daughter to the unexplored planet Paphos, it was supposed to give him a chance to reconnect with her. But when he and his crew of scientists discover an alien facility, all of that changes. Eager to become rich, the crew ventures inside, surrounded by the remnants an alien massacre. By the time they realize that something has been luring them in all along, it is already too late. Now Austin isn’t worried about reconnecting with his daughter, he’s worried about keeping her alive.

This book is part 1.

 

Accolades:

5 Star Reviews from Amazon:

From the very beginning until the end it was one of those books that once I started reading nothing else was accomplished.

I was captivated from the very beginning!!! 

Engaging and fresh story by an upcoming science fiction author. I see Paphos as the next step in the evolution of N.R. Burnette’s career. Looking forward to where he takes us…

Reviews:

Paphos 1 currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.7 stars from 9 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from Paphos 1:

Carolina blinked. There was a wall here, buried into the hillside.
This was interesting, she had discovered a new place or something. But then Carolina’s face grew puzzled. She thought they said no one else had ever been here? She was certain they said that. Didn’t they? Wasn’t that the point of coming here?
Carolina blinked again, trying to remember what the grownups had talked about. She was certain they said something like that. She went to scratch her head, but her breath froze when she saw something move out of the corner of her eye. Carolina whipped her head around, frightened by the suddenness of it. But nothing was there, just trees and bushes, unless the forest had eyes. Carolina took a moment and tried to relax. She was just a kid, she knew there must be a logical reason for what she found. Obviously someone had been here before, or the wall wouldn’t be there. She would just have to go ask her dad, assuming she wasn’t going to be grounded for traveling this far.
When her fear subsided she followed the long stretch of black steel to see where it went. The hillside had mostly grown over it, giving it natural camouflage, and there wasn’t a window or door. She climbed around long gnarled tendrils of foliage, it reminded her of ancient ruins from Earth. She didn’t understand why they hadn’t seen this before landing, she thought they had different satellites that could read building materials and stuff. Now she knew she would have to ask her dad. He always had the answers, he was the scientist.
This felt like trespassing, and she still felt like someone was watching her. She continued to walk along the ominous black wall another thirty meters, wondering when she would reach the end. The more she walked the farther she felt from home. Finally the wall disappeared completely into the dirt and it didn’t resurface. She stopped for a moment to notice her reflection in the wall, surprised at how messy her hair looked. She was much farther beyond the second perimeter than she was supposed to be. Carolina bit her lip disappointingly. With a huff she realized it was time to tell her dad about it and walked back to the quadrohuts.
The walk back, a few kilometers it must have been, offered no greater relief from the feeling that she was being watched. She stopped and turned her head at so many shadows, so many branches swaying in the wind, each of them a looming figure in her imagination. If something else moved out of the corner of her eye she was likely to break out into a full run.
Finally she approached the quadrohuts and waited for the door to open. Upon entering she found the crew inside, all looking ill as they listened to Dmitry speak. Muster, they called it. Apparently Dmitry wasn’t happy with their progress, they were running out of time to make good on key projects that the company had commissioned them for. So many big words, being an adult didn’t seem very fun. Carolina didn’t understand why they couldn’t just stay until the job was done, not that she wanted any delays in their return home. Daddy mentioned something about a schedule, something about a launch window, gravity, alignment… he was never good at explaining simple questions with simple answers.
Carolina paced, wanting to interrupt, but daddy noticed and glared, so she waited. Dmitry was long winded tonight. Carolina sat down and out of boredom began to draw little circles and shapes on the wall next to her. Then, realizing what she was doing, she quickly put her markerpen away. All she could think about was what she had found. She wanted to go back but it was getting too late for today. She could at least go back tomorrow with her photolense and take some pictures this time. Dmitry’s voice drawled on. She was excited, knowing something that the others didn’t know, she wondered what else she might find. When muster was over Dublin and Athen sat at the tiny table they called the mess hall and ate, Austin and the others took their meals to their own rooms. Carolina decided to follow him, she grabbed a packaged ham slice and a juice. They ate in silence on the bottom bunk bed, she had a feeling even if she did say something he wouldn’t hear her. He had a far away gaze that didn’t break for many moments.

 

Paphos 1 is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $0.99

 

Connect with N.R. Burnette:

Website: www.nrburnette.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/nrburnette

Twitter: www.twitter.com/nickburnette

THE FRUGAL FIND OF THE DAY: The Gift, Rachel Newcomb {$0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!}

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Rachel Newcomb‘s Frugal Find Under Nine:

Description of The Gift:

Is egg donation a gift or a transaction?

After several years together, Elise and Peter’s marriage is on the rocks. She can’t get pregnant, and he can’t seem to finish his dissertation. An editor with a promising publishing career, Elise decides to shelve her ambitions to pursue the baby that she believes will stabilize their shaky union. Meanwhile, Peter’s mind is elsewhere, haunted by memories of his glory days as a Peace Corps worker in Morocco.

Celia, the Princeton scholarship student who answers their advertisement for an egg donor, appears to be the solution to their problems. The daughter of an unemployed mill worker from South Carolina, Celia doesn’t quite fit into the elite Ivy League environment. But when Elise decides that Celia needs a mentor, the situation takes an unexpected turn.

 

Accolades:

“The Gift is a moving and beautifully rendered story about ambition, whether overt or oblique, thwarted or fulfilled. In precise and elegant prose,Rachel Newcomb explores the ethics of egg donation, campus politics, and marital conflict. A smart, complex book by a deeply empathetic writer.”
- Laila Lalami, author of Secret Son and Hope and Other Dangerous Pursuits

“Clear and relentless… this timely, stark, dead-on story nails two of our biggest contemporary dilemmas and brings into question the entire arrangement of marriage in a world wrenched by torrents of ambition amid doubts about the future that turn friends and even spouses into rungs on the ladder, or roadkill.”
- Philip F. Deaver, author of Silent Retreats and How Men Pray

Reviews:

The Gift currently has an Amazon reader review rating of 4.5 stars from 21 reviews. Read the reviews here.

 

An excerpt from The Gift:

At 6:30 Peter closed the book he was reading, a weighty book about sea exploration in the fifteenth century. Somehow it must relate to his dissertation, but as of yet he wasn’t sure how. He climbed the stairs to the main floor of the Firestone Library, which at this hour hummed with activity, the large reading room with its high ceilings and tall windows packed with industrious students hunched over chemistry notes and history books.

Heading to the exit, he passed one of his students from his Introductory Arabic class, a boy with a brush cut and a face dotted with acne who had expressed interest in someday using his Arabic to work for the CIA. Peter had to fight his dislike for Kevin, who saw the Middle East as a hostile, monolithic region and showed no interest in learning more about the beauty or diversity of its people.
“Hey Professor,” Kevin said. “I went looking for you after class but you weren’t in your office hours. Could we talk for a second?”
“I was in my office hours,” Peter sighed. “I must have just been in the bathroom. Actually, I’m running late for dinner, can this wait?” He tried to keep moving, but Kevin matched his stride.
“I wanted to talk about the grade you gave me on my last paper.”
Peter stopped in the lobby.
“The paper that was supposed to be about culture?” he asked. “You mean the one where you wrote that Israel is the only civilized country in the region?”
“Yes, you gave me a D. I thought that seemed a little undeserved.”
“You didn’t respond to the question correctly.”
“You mean I didn’t answer in a way that pandered to your political views.”
“No, you didn’t do what the assignment asked. I asked you to write about some aspect of Middle Eastern culture, not a polemic. I didn’t ask you to make value judgments. No culture is more or less civilized than any other.”
“Depends on your definition of culture. I was defining culture as the elevation of civilization, which Israel has reached. They’ve got world-class orchestras to prove it. Not like their barbaric neighbors.”
“Barbaric?” Peter said. “You can’t use words like that.”
“I can’t call suicide bombings barbaric?” Kevin argued. “Honor killings? Last time I checked, both practices were popular in that neighborhood, except for Israel.”
“How about targeted assassinations?” Peter said, wanting to bite his tongue but finding himself unable to do so. He tried to keep his voice low, but the security guard was listening with interest. “How about torture in the prisons?”
“Terrorists don’t play by the rules, so why should we have to when we’re dealing with them? These are exceptional times.”
“Hitler claimed that, too.” Peter knew he was on dangerous territory.
“Well, it seems obvious to me that I got a D because you didn’t like my subject, not because of the grammar, which was acceptable. I had Dr. Thomas look it over and he had no problems with it. He said he would have given it an A.”
“Dr. Thomas is neither your professor nor your teaching assistant,” he responded. “And whether you’re writing in Arabic and English, the subject matter is just as important as the grammar and style. You did not write about culture. You wrote a political polemic. Had you written about Israeli wedding ceremonies or Bedouin goat herding practices, you would have been on safer ground. Just remember the parameters of the assignment next time.”
“I certainly will, Doctor… or wait, you’re not a doctor yet, are you.” He smirked. “I’ll definitely keep this in mind.” Kevin looked at him pointedly then turned to go back into the library.
Peter stepped out into the chilly September air. He had no interest in bringing politics into the classroom and only wished that he could teach without feeling that students cared only about their grades. If only they were there to learn Arabic because of their love for the language’s unconventional beauty, and for the region’s rich and compelling history! He was used to students complaining about their grades—this was Princeton, after all, and the students were competitive—but Kevin made him nervous. The professor he was assisting as a teaching assistant, a Lebanese expert on 19th century Levantine social history, would back him up here. He would have to tell her about all of this before Kevin went to her, if he hadn’t already.
His discussion with Kevin made him late for dinner. Elise wouldn’t care, but Peter preferred order, and for his own sanity he liked to parcel the day out into planned tasks, just to make sure they were completed. The run at six thirty each day, shower and breakfast, and on campus no later thaneight thirty, ensconced in his carrel. Teaching from eleven to twelve on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, followed by a lunch, sometimes brought from home or else in the student union. Back in the library from one until three, a coffee break at the hour when he was most likely to get drowsy, then more work again until at least six o’clock. Office hours on Wednesdays from three to five.
The dissertation would only be completed if he were meticulous about his ordering of time. Inspiration without discipline was nothing. At night he could be more spontaneous, going out for the occasional dinner and a movie, or, if Elise were out of town, a beer at the grad student bar. Arranging his life this way offered just enough comfort to prevent him from other excesses that might afflict him if he dropped his insistence on routine. Sometimes even the slightest deviation from the schedule led to chaos, and when this happened he might find himself needing to spend a good hour arranging his books, first by descending order of size, then alphabetically, then by publication date. Without the routine, other troubling behaviors threatened to appear, operating beyond his volition.
Unlocking the door to their apartment, he breathed in the smell of seafood. Seated at the functional wooden IKEA table drinking wine with Elise was a girl he didn’t recognize. He wondered if Elise had started working at the rape crisis center again. When she did, it was not uncommon for him to come home to find unfamiliar faces around the dinner table, fellow activists, or girls whom Elise was helping to get through difficult times. He suspected she had boundary issues, so he’d been relieved that she was not volunteering as much lately.
“Peter, this is Celia,” Elise said. She stood up to shake his hand. For a minute her name did not register, and Peter tried to recall where Elise might have met her. A friend from yoga class, maybe? Suddenly he remembered where Elise had been yesterday, and why he had avoided coming home until the last possible instant, when she was already asleep.
“This is…” he stalled, reaching out his hand to shake Celia’s as she stood up to meet him, her face slightly flushed, whether from the wine or the awkwardness of the meeting, he wasn’t sure. She seemed so young; she could have been one of his students, one of the masses of slender, elfin girls who populated the Princeton campus, with perfect, television-commercial hair and shiny white teeth. She wore the requisite long hair over her shoulders, jeans, and a t-shirt from a bar that claimed to be in Key West but was probably the creation of a marketer at Old Navy. She looked at him expectantly.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t know I’d be meeting you this soon,” he said. “Elise didn’t mention…”
“She caught me just as I was about to leave for dinner,” Celia said. “Risotto sounded a lot better than the usual fare they serve in the cafeteria.”
“What are they serving in the cafeterias these days?” Elise said. “When I was in college, I avoided the cafeteria assiduously. But then, I avoided food in all its guises, institutional or otherwise.”
After a few drinks, Elise became expansive, her personality a little more outsized. He knew she was planting the comments about food on purpose. Ask me about my eating disorder. But Celia was diplomatic, not falling for the bait.
“I bet the food is the same from when you were in college; they’ve just updated the names. Like calling something penne arrabiata changes the fact that it’s really just spaghetti and tomato sauce with a dash of Tabasco.”
Peter smiled and sat down at the table.
“Wine?” Elise lifted the bottle in his direction, already half finished.
“Just a bit,” he said. “What kind of cheese is that?”
“Your favorite—St. André triple cream.”
“How decadent. What’s the occasion?” he asked. Elise angled her head in Celia’s direction.
“Celia’s agreed to help us out,” she said, placing her hand over his. “She’s going to help us have a baby.”

 

The Gift is available for purchase at:

 Amazon Kindle for $0.99 or Borrow FREE w/Prime!

 

Connect with Rachel Newcomb:

Website: http://www.rachelnewcomb.net

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/rachelnewcomb2

Twitter: @rachelnewcomb

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