Thursday, 18 December 2014

Lunar Passing Blog Tour



Book Title: Lunar Passing (Book 2 of the Caged Moon Series) by Rachel Deagan
Genre: YA  Paranormal Romance



As if in slow motion, the world spun. The front fender of the truck slammed into us from behind, and everything lurched forward. Bags, arms, clothes, sailed by my head. The muffled sound of screams were lost somewhere in a tumultuous roar as the van hit a pothole, and we began to roll. Cold metal crushed in on me, and the splintering sound of gunshots echoed in my ears…

Several months had passed since the murders in the old farmhouse and secrets had been revealed. Too bad a cover up in this day and age, hadn’t been exactly so easy.

EXCERPT

“What are you doing here?” Aaron asked, standing in the doorway at the side of the room marked Staff Only. I hadn’t heard the main door open behind me, nor had I felt the cold draft of air that would have been pulled in with him. So he was already here, before me. The thought sent goose bumps down my spine. “Liam said for everyone to stay put, so we wouldn’t be seen.”
“I should be asking you the same thing,” I said, trying to front an air of self-confident bravery. “Why are you here then?”
A devious smile rose across his lips. “I don’t take orders from my brother. Apparently, you don’t either. I admire that.”
My stomach felt sick. How could he think that I would ever be on his side about anything, especially in defiance of Liam? “He loves you,” I blurted out, trying to refrain from shaking. I was so upset. “How dare you.”
“Oh, please. Don’t go getting your panties all in a bunch. You really need to learn how to relax.” He shook his head, and closed the staff door behind him. “I was teasing, Charlotte, but that aside, what are you doing out here?”
My wolf wanted to claw and scratch him. He had some nerve. “I don’t need to be telling you anything,” I said, slipping the envelope into my pocket while he closed the staff door behind him.
“Well, good then.” He smiled in a way that made me want to growl. “Then I don’t have to tell you, what I’m doing either.” He winked, moving past me to the main door leading to the curb outside. “We have a truce.”
“Wait,” I said, and he paused, lifting a brow. “What are you talking about? Why were you in the office? That’s staff only.”
“Now, come on, Charlotte. I thought we had a deal.”
“I never agreed to anything, and you don’t exactly have a great track record. Did you do something to the guy who works here? Where is he?”
Aaron shrugged, extending his arms with mocked innocence.
I sighed. “Fine, I was going to mail a letter to my parents to tell them I was okay. I didn’t want them to worry.”
“Thank you,” he said with a smile. “That’s all I wanted to know.” He turned back to the door, swinging it wide. The cool air nipped at my skin, making me shiver.
“Hey,” I said, stomping up to him, “that’s not fair. I told you what I was doing. Now you have to.”
“Why?” he asked with a chuckle. “You really are fun to mess with though,” he teased with a grin. “The look on your face is great.”
God, I hated him. I tried to stay calm.
“Did you do something to the man who works here?” I demanded through my teeth, barely containing the coiling fury building inside me.
He licked his lip and then leaned in close to me, his breath tickling my ear. “I ate him.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Rachel grew up in small town Massachusetts where she spent most of her time writing about strange paranormal creatures instead of paying attention in class. She has always been considered the ‘dreamy’ one with her head in the clouds, but it has all been worth it. Rachel, now, is YA Author of both The Caged Moon Series, and The Prophecy.
Twitter: @racheldeagan

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Sunday, 7 December 2014

After Blog Tour



After: (After Series Book 1) by Samantha Gregory
Genre: YA Horror
Published: May 31st, 2014
Published by J Ellington Ashton Press

SUMMARY

The dead walked. The world fell apart. But what happened after? Jenna Deluise is just trying to survive in this broken world, but after her father’s apparent suicide she discovers that she didn’t really know him at all. How was he connected to the zombies? Why is his former boss so sure he is alive?
What else was he hiding?

EXCERPT

The dead walked. People try to forget, to pretend it didn’t
happen. But it happened. I’ve heard the stories, the horror. I’ve even
seen some of it for myself. Lives were destroyed, families torn apart,
so many turned, and when it was over - the world was a different
place.
Now the dead are gone, turned to ash.
From the ashes of the old government rose the New Alliance, a
powerful military group who helped us rebuild and aided in creating
a vaccine to prevent another outbreak.
It came with a price, of course. The Alliance has complete
control over the country. Anyone who goes up against them is sent to
one of the many containment camps.
Maybe we were safer with the dead...

One
Jenna
I kept my head down as I walked along the C road, clutching the
bag of groceries to my chest. It wasn’t the kind of neighborhood you
wanted to linger in, and it was one of the better ones in the city. I
sidestepped a man sitting on the ground. He was wrapped in an old,
tattered blanket. He held his hands out to whoever passed him,
begging for any money they could spare. I tried not to look at him. I
didn’t have any money to give him. I barely had enough for the
groceries I just bought.
Joining the queue for the checkpoint, I tried to ignore the chill
wind blowing. Summer was definitely over. My jacket was
threadbare as it was and I couldn’t afford a new one. Winter was
going to be fun. Not.
I kept my gaze fixed on the ground as I moved closer to the front
of the line. It wasn’t a good idea to make eye contact with a lot of
the people who lived around here. I missed our old house. At least
you could walk the streets without worrying about getting mugged,
or worse.
I was jostled from behind by a woman wearing a black knit cap
and a long black coat.
“What are you looking at?” she snapped. I quickly faced front. I
wasn’t interested in a fight; I just wanted to go home.
I swiped my identity pass at the checkpoint; I was two blocks
from home. The Alliance soldier posted there scrutinized it carefully
before handing it back. Seriously, did I look like a threat?
“Reason for entering this area?” he asked, his cold blue eyes
piercing mine. He wore the standard black uniform with the red
Alliance symbol on the breast. An automatic weapon hung at his side
and I had no doubt that he knew how to use it. The New Alliance
was the ultimate law enforcement.
“I live here,” I said.
“What’s in the bag?”
“Food.”
I don’t think he liked my tone, but I didn’t have another I cared
to use. Every freaking day I had to go through this. I’m pretty sure it
was the same guard too, but the AS had a habit of making people’s
lives miserable. He took his time searching my bag, for all that was
in it. A few canned goods.
The line behind me was a long one; everyone was crowded
together, eager to get home before dark. Most of the people looked
half starved. Food wasn’t cheap in this quadrant and a lot of people
had taken to stealing it to survive. We weren’t that bad, yet.
Finally, he waved me through. I hurried away, glad to put him
behind me.
I didn’t get far before startled cries rang through the crowd. I
glanced back to see someone stagger into the road. He was dressed
in rags, his face covered in dirt. The crowd fell silent as he let out a
loud moan. I froze. It couldn’t be. My heart began to race.
A ripple went through the crowd and one word rang out clearly.
The word no one wanted to hear, the word most people were too
terrified to even utter.
Several AS ran forward, weapons already drawn. When the man
saw them coming he dropped the act and raised his hands in
surrender.
“It was a joke,” he cried as he was tackled to the ground. There
were grunts and cries from him as the AS laid into him. Idiot!
Nobody tried to help him, and I didn’t blame them. It wasn’t
something to joke about.
They hauled him to his feet and led him away. I wasn’t sticking
around any longer.
Turning into the alleyway that would take me home, I found that it
was already occupied by a street vendor, selling a variety of fruits
that were hard to come by nowadays.
“Hey sweetness,” the vendor crooned at me. I glanced at him,
taking in the ratty hair, beard and cold black eyes that were checking
me out. I used my free hand to pull my jacket tighter around me.
I sped up, hoping to get past him, but he stepped forward,
blocking my path.
“Why don’t you choose something nice for yourself, then we can
discuss payment,” he raised an eyebrow. He was standing way too
close for my liking. I could smell his rancid breath.
9
He was at least six inches taller than me and while he was no
wrestler, he still had more muscle than me. This could go wrong
very quickly. Thinking fast, I said, “Do you have a permit to sell
these goods?”
I tried to keep my voice steady. The question seemed to confuse
him, “What?”
“A permit. Under section seven of the New Alliance code, it is
illegal to sell imported goods without one.”
“Yeah? And what would you know about it, little girl?”
I pulled an ID card from my jacket pocket, “Plenty, I’m an
undercover agent for the Alliance.”
He backed away, swearing, “An agent? What are they hiring
them straight out of kindergarten now?”
I glared at him. Okay, I look slightly younger than my seventeen
years but not that young.
“I should shut you down right now,” I said.
“Come on, I’m just trying to make a living, like everyone else.”
I sighed and took a closer look at his pitch. I spied some oranges.
I hadn’t had one in years. I picked up three of them and dropped
them into my grocery bag.
The vendor watched me, but didn’t say anything. Usually where
there was one agent, another was never far behind. He was probably
used to them shaking him down. Why would they pay for things
when they could just take them?
I lifted an apple too, making a show of biting into it. It was
delicious.
“If I catch you around here again, I’ll shut you down,” I walked
away.
At the end of the alley I turned right, passing a burnt out car. A
huge black skull had been painted on the wall beside it, along with
the words CHAOS REIGNS. Yeah, it did.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR


When she’s not writing, Samantha works as a journalist and in her spare time she enjoys reading, archery and is learning to play guitar. After is her second novel and is the first book in a new zombie series.

Twitter: @sam_skgregory

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Wednesday, 3 December 2014

Last House Burning Blog Tour



Last House Burning by Katy Scott
Genre: YA/NA urban fantasy with a touch of satire
Publication Date: October 14th, 2014
Publisher: Herringshaw Press

SYNOPSIS

When you speak of the Devil, he probably won’t appear. But he may send one of his staff.last-house-burning-cover-webIn an old house in a deserted, burned-down village, a young woman called Verla lives alone. Year after year she stays there while the world changes around her, no one else ever stepping foot in the village, the people in the nearby towns forgetting she exists. Verla is used to it. It’s the way things have to be.Until Ben, a bored teenager visiting the area with his family, barges into her life and discovers her terrible secret. As he spirals deeper and deeper into the bureaucratic world of Heaven and Hell that Verla is part of, he realizes he has one chance to help free her from her lonely fate.
But securing Verla’s freedom is going to involve more than just an appointment at the local office of the underworld. Especially when Ben encounters a charismatic American with a suspiciously broad knowledge of Hell, a mysterious elevator with deep and terrifying powers, and a pinstripe-suited demon with an evil scheme that could shake the foundations of Heaven, Hell and Earth.
And things are about to get personal.
Last House Burning is part urban fantasy, part satire and all adventure. After all, the last thing you expect on a family vacation is to discover that there are pockets of Hell here on Earth – and a rowdy crew of Heaven and Hell employees running the entire show.

EXCERPT

That night, Ben lay fully-clothed on his bed, thinking. No one else seemed fascinated with Verla and her big house, and he felt a little foolish about his persistence with finding out what her story was. But he had a sense of curiosity, not just about the house but Verla herself, and he had a strange but distinct feeling that whatever was going on in her life, he could help her.

But she hadn’t been particularly forthcoming about her circumstances, and everyone else was showing a frustrating lack of interest. What did people do when they were in this situation? 

In the movies they trotted down to their local library, found a large dingy room with pools of sunlight dropping through the windows, and searched through huge, dusty tomes until they found the answer. But Ben didn’t know what he was looking for in the first place. Maybe finding out more about the town’s history would be a good start.

“Mom?” he called, jumping up from his bed. “Do you know if there’s a library around here? Would it be open now? I need to look something up!”

“It’s ten o’clock at night,” his mother’s voice floated back to him. “Can’t you just Google it?”

Right, of course. Ben rolled his eyes at himself.

His phone still wouldn’t connect to the internet, so he settled himself in front of his father’s laptop in the lounge and brought up a search page. Feeling more than a bit like a stalker, he typed in ‘Verla’ and ‘Carmenton’.

No results.

Like it was going to be that easy, he told himself – did he expect that she’d have a personal website with her full story detailed?

He searched for ‘Carmenton fire’ and scrolled through the results. Swimming carnivals from 1950 onwards. The official website for the bottle cap museum. After he'd clicked on a few dead ends, the website for the Carmenton Historical Society flashed up in front of him.

There was a page dedicated to the fire, with a few black and white photos of burned houses and a list of everyone who had died. Ben scanned through the names and felt a small pang when he saw the name ‘Diamant’ appearing a number of times. He'd had no idea his mother’s ancestors had been so involved in this little town and its big tragedy.

The photo gallery contained sepia images of large, imposing houses: the mansions before the fires ruined their grandeur. Even though the pictures were faded and marked, he could see how beautiful the town must have been. There were groups of people posing stiffly in front of the houses, with the formal faces that usually appeared in the photographs of that time. 

He scrolled through a whole page of these photos, and sighed to himself. It hadn’t told him anything he didn’t know already. He’d just have to go back and pester Verla again. At least she’d said they could be friends. He closed the lid of the laptop and with nothing better to do, went to bed to read his book for a while before going to sleep.

Hours later, Ben woke with a start, and lay in bed listening to the silence of the night. Something was sitting at the back of his mind, something was trying to tell him something…

He leapt out of bed, into the lounge room and back to the laptop. He hunted through the browser history to find the historical society’s website, and clicked on the photo gallery. After scrolling past several images, he finally came to the one he was looking for. A picture of a man and a woman with three little boys and a teenage girl. Ben stared at the picture, then zoomed in impatiently. The girl’s face stared at him, unsmiling and formal. She was dressed in a high-collared dress with a long flared skirt, which reminded him of some pictures he’d seen of Amish people. He looked from her clothes to her face, the dark eyes, the black hair and the now-familiar sombre expression.

“Oh no,” Ben whispered. “Verla.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


I write books in a couple of different genres: urban fantasy and chick lit/romance. When I’m not writing books I write for lifestyle magazines and corporate websites, and I blog about gaming over at warpkey.org.
I like movies, video games, cheese, shoes and my husband. I’m technically an adult but most of the time I feel like I’m just pretending to be one.


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Tuesday, 11 November 2014

The Woman Who Stole My Life by Marian Keyes


SUMMARY

Stella Sweeney is back in Dublin. After living the dream in New York for a year - touring her self-help book, appearing on talk shows all over the USA and living it up in her 10-room duplex on the Upper West Side - she's back to normality with a bang. And she's got writer's block.

Stella wants a clean break as she didn't exactly leave New York on a high. Why is she back in Ireland so soon? Who is it who keeps calling? Stella wants to get back to being the woman she used to be. But can she? And should she?

REVIEW

I wasn't sure what to expect from this book as it is my first Marian Keyes novel that I have read, however, I was pleasantly surprised, and it for sure will not be my last!

Our main character is Stella, she is at the beginning living with her son in Ireland. The story goes back and forth in time, and we soon come to know how she is in the situation that she is in now. We soon realize that she was married with two children, and something happens during that marriage to cause it to fail, which she feels responsible for. Through the whole book we get to know more and more about Stella, and you really find yourself rooting for her, wanting things to work out in her favour. 

I loved all the characters in this book, even the unlikeable ones because they were real, I can imagine running in to any of them on the street and them being completely normal as no one is perfect. The pacing was great, nothing thrown at you in big gulps, you just take the whole story in one part at a time.


Thursday, 6 November 2014

Jesus Jackson Blog Tour



Purchase Links
Barnes & Noble

SUMMARY

Jonathan Stiles is a 14 year-old atheist who is coping with his first day of ninth grade at the fervently religious St. Soren’s Academy when his idolized older brother Ryan is found dead at the bottom of a ravine behind the school. As his world crumbles, Jonathan meets an eccentric stranger who bears an uncanny resemblance to Jesus Christ (except for his white linen leisure suit and sparkling gold chains). Jesus Jackson, as he calls himself, offers to provide faith to Jonathan. He also suggests that Ryan s death may not have been an accident after all. Jonathan teams up with Henry, his new best friend at St. Soren s, to investigate. The two boys find footprints leading to the ravine that match Ryan s sneakers. They are assisted by Ryan s grieving girlfriend, Tristan, who also thinks the accident theory is bunk. The police, however, will not listen. But Jonathan knows something the police do not know: Shortly before his death, Ryan was doing cocaine with fellow footballer and number one suspect Alistair not far from the ravine where his body was found. An inspired Jonathan battles sanctimonious school psychologists, overzealous administrators, and a cavalry of Christian classmates on his quest to discover the truth about Ryan’s death and about god, high school, and the meaning of life, while he’s at it. But he keeps getting distracted by Cassie Alistair s quirky younger sister who holds the keys to the answers Jonathan is searching for, but who also makes him wonder if he should be searching for them at all.”

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


James Ryan Daley is a writer, editor, and digital designer. After earning an MFA in fiction at the Vermont College of Fine Arts in 2004, James has spent most of the years since teaching writing to college students, creating websites about video games, and editing anthologies of fiction and political rhetoric. When he's not glued to his computer, James can usually be found skiing the slopes of Vermont’s famous mountains or sailing the harbors of Rhode Island. He lives in Newport, RI with his wife and two daughters

Author links:  www.jamesryandaley.com

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Saturday, 1 November 2014

Shade Blog Tour







SYNOPSIS

Clendon Kiernan has always preferred the shadows. A place where he was free from the hate and fear, from the stares and ridicule of others. One night Clen discovers the shocking truth of why. He is a Shade. A thing of darkness. A creature with the ability to shred souls. When a vile whisper tells him to destroy everything around him Clen does the only thing he can.

 

But he cannot run from himself. The darkness growing inside Clen will soon consume him if he does not learn to control it. In his quest to do so, Clen learns that there is an entire world that exists in the shadows of Ellis, a world that has been hidden from him – secret clans with extraordinary abilities, the ghosts of a hidden past, and a war that’s been brewing for millennia. Clen must uncover the true history of Ellis, see through the generations of lies and deceit, and suffer betrayal and heartbreak if he is to save all those who hate and fear him. But when he learns the truth, will he want to?

 

The darkness in him could save Ellis. Or it could be what destroys it.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Cody was born in Upstate New York. Eventually setting off to seek his fortune, he worked in a paper mill, a whipped cream factory, cleaned apartments, and administratively assisted several organizations before returning to the Adirondacks with a wife and child that he picked up along the way.

 

He approaches life as though it were a page – frequently rearranging paragraphs to make it more interesting if not wholly true, fudging with the margins to fit more in, and, sometimes, erasing entire sections altogether.

When not altering reality, he is scouring comic book shops, lying on the ground, or floor (whichever he happens to be standing on when he feels the need to go horizontal), trying to convince his wife to make french toast (she makes amazing french toast), and searching for the darkest cup of coffee in existence.

 





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Monday, 13 October 2014

Dead Girl Walking (Royal Reaper #1) by Ruth Silver


Published: April 27 by Patchwork Press
Pages: 242

SYNOPSIS

Forget everything you know about grim reapers. Princess Ophelia Dacre sneaks out of the castle to visit her boyfriend in secret. A perfect night cut short when she's brutally murdered. Ophelia is given the rare chance to become a grim reaper. She must become Leila Bele, cut ties with her old life, and follow the rules of the reapers. Her greatest adventure begins with death. 


REVIEW

Ruth Silver has done it again! I devoured this book in one sitting, it starts with some action in the first chapter, and never ends!

We meet Princess Ophelia when she is sneaking out of the castle to meet her boyfriend Larkin. They go to a pub where she believes that no one knows who she is, and they are having ale and going to dance. She goes to use the latrine outside and when she reaches it, she is suddenly murdered. 

She then meets Edon, who tells her that she has been chosen to be a grim reaper. She does not believe what is happening to her, she does not think that she has been murdered, and wants Edon to put her back in her body and bring her back to life, though he cannot do that.

He brings her back to the asylum where all the other grim reapers live. She is introduced to some of them, and she immediately moves in to a house with some of the other girls. 

This is when the story picks up and she starts to get her assignments, and she learns very quickly what happens if she decides to ignore one of them.

I loved all the characters in this book, and the plot, everything was bang on, and cannot wait for the second installment in the series.

If you are looking for a YA paranormal with something a little different, this one is for you! I give it a 4/5!

Monday, 6 October 2014

Origins (Demonkin #1) By Sean Hayden


Published Sept 2 2014
by Untold Press

SYNOPSIS

Being different is never easy, especially when you're a vampire.
Ashlyn is far from normal. She was born a vampire, a trait that makes her utterly unique. Knowing this, her family strived to keep her existence a secret. Tragedy forces her from hiding and hunger drives her into the open. Unfortunately, living in a world that has accepted, embraced, and yet still fears the supernatural is never a good place to stand out. Especially when the one who notices you wants you dead. The only people who can save her want to use her as well, but she's left with little choice. Ashlyn joins the FBI and becomes torn between two worlds. She can either be a monster, or she can help destroy them.

REVIEW

Ashlyn is kick ASS! Let me just start by saying that! 

We start the story off when Ashlyn's Mother is calling forth a spirit, or so she believes, and it does not go well for her, we find out at the end of the novel why.

We then turn to Ashlyn when she is about 17 years old, and living with her Aunt. She has been living with her Aunt since birth as her Mother did not make it through childbirth. She has no ID to speak of, and she does not exist anywhere, she has been living in the house with her Aunt, and no one knew. Her Aunt passes away in a traffic accident (and this is all in the first chapter, so I am giving nothing away). This is when the story picks up as far as action, etc and does not stop!

Ashlyn figures out that her Aunt has left her some fake ID to use, and a key to her safe deposit box, so she goes to the bank and gets in and her Aunt has left her $10,000.00 to start off a new life for herself somewhere, she knows that Ashlyn could not be left the house or anything as she does not technically exist anywhere, so this is the best that she could do.

Ashlyn has been surviving by drinking her Aunt's blood her entire life, so now she is confused on where she is supposed to find a supply as unlike "typical" vampires, she has no use for humans as their blood does not appeal to her, only blood of some kind of supernatural she is beginning to realize appeals to her, so on top of everything else, she is trying to figure out what her Aunt was as she came off as a typical human to her her entire life.

After setting herself up in a hotel, she decides to travel out to where she knows of some clubs to see what she can come across. A situation occurs and she is brought to the owner of the club to see what is going to be done with her, and she starts to realize what some of her powers are. She is then brought to the vampire that really runs Chicago to see what he thinks can be done with her as far as keeping her alive or not. There is another big situation that happens there, and that is when she meets the agents of the FBI for the first time.

She is taken in to custody and questioned extensively as far as who she is, who her maker is (as every vampire is made, not born), and she answers all the questions honestly and tells her life story as best that she can. They decide that she is unlike anything that they have seen before, and decide to offer her a job.

We get to see Ashlyn go through training and get put on her first case, and see how that goes, but I don't want to give anything else away as it would totally take away from the awesome that is this book! If you love paranormal and are in for reading about a creature that is unlike anything you have read about before, this book is for you! I give this a 5/5 and I cannot wait to get my hands on book #2 in the series!

Wednesday, 1 October 2014

Vanished From Dust Tour



Book Title: Vanished from Dust by Shea Norwood (Book 1 in the Vanished from Dust series)
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Pages: 320
Published: October 16th, 2013
Published by Createspace
Barnes & Nobles: http://bit.ly/1o0HuEq

SUMMARY

A CHILL RUNS THROUGH HIS SKIN AS THE PHANTOM APPEARS.

HE SEES THEM EVERYWHERE . . .

Eric Stark is not insane. Or at least he doesn’t think so. He wishes everyone in Dust, Texas, felt the same way. But that’s not going to happen since the whole town thinks he’s crazy. Why didn’t he keep his mouth shut?

No one understands. Eric is alone as he battles his sanity in a town of tormenters. Suddenly a new friendship emerges after the new kid, Kyle Barrett, moves to town.
Eric reluctantly reveals his secret. Is it a curse or a gift? He isn’t certain, but with Kyle by his side he finds the courage to seek the truth.

They soon realize that something sinister is descending on the residents of Dust.
Is it caused by Eric’s phantoms or is it something else? Is it connected to the mysterious death of hundreds of townspeople over sixty years ago? One thing is certain—only Eric and Kyle can save them.

They set out on a heart-pounding adventure and find themselves transported to a disturbed and deserted version of their small southern town. They quickly discover that this new world has mysteries of its own to uncover. What they find could prove more than they bargained for, and it only leads to more questions. Eric and Kyle must face a horrifying fact—they may never get out alive.

“We’re gonna die here,” Kyle muttered.

 “I don’t believe that,” Eric said. “And neither do you.”

Will they survive their encounter with these dark and mysterious beings?

Will they find a way back home?

Or will they be lost forever?

The Vanished from Dust series is perfect for anyone who craves a hair-raising thriller packed with mystery and suspense. This paranormal story for young adults can be compared to Stand by Me, mixed with Odd Thomas, and a twist of The Dark Tower.
EXCERPT

CHAPTER    1    


    

“I’m    not    crazy,”    Eric   Stark    shouted    at    the    crowd    of    seventh    graders    as    they    surrounded    him.    He    looked    up    from    the    ground,    which    consisted    of    patches    of    grass    and    dirt,    to   see    the    sunlight    glinting    off   of  the    metal    braces    of    a    girl    with    pigtails    as    she    pointed    and    laughed    with    the    rest    of    them.    Another    boy    kicked    him    in    the    stomach,    causing    him    to    retreat    into    a    fetal    position    to    guard    against    another    blow.    
“Oh  yeah?”    Greg    Coffey    asked    as   he    towered    over    Eric.    His    lip    was  curled,    showing    his    crooked,    heavily    stained    teeth.    “What    happened    last   week    in    class?    You    said,    ‘They’re    watching    me.’    Remember    that,    loser?”    
“I  didn’t    say    that.”    Eric    tried    to    get    up,    but    Greg    pushed    him    back    down    and    kicked    dirt    in    his    face.    Eric rubbed    his    burning    eyes    with    both    hands.    When    he    opened    them    he    saw    four    more    kids    sneering    over    him,    all    laughing    at    his    expense.    Where    was    a    teacher    when    you    needed    one?    The    hot    Texas    sun    was  high    on    the  horizon,    almost    blinding    him    as    he    stared    back    at    his    tormentors.    Sweat    was    pouring    from    his    brow,    mixing    with    the    tears    that    streamed    down    his    face.    
“Yeah  you    did,”    Adam    Marshall    said    with    a    smirk.    “You’re    going    off    the    rails,    
crazy  train.”   
“I    like    that—crazy    train.    Just    like    the    song,”    Greg    said.    He    laughed    and    gave    Adam    
a    high    five.    “That’s    your    new    name.    Like    it?”    Greg    kicked   another    pile  of    dirt  at    Eric.    Eric    tried    to    spit    it    out,    but    his    entire    face    was    covered    in    a    muddy    film.    He    
wished  that    he’d    just    kept    his    mouth    shut    about    it,    but    it    was    too    late    now.    News    traveled    fast    in    a    small    town,    and    he    was    sure    everyone    thought    he    was  insane    by    now.    
He    didn’t    know    what    he    was.    
“Leave  him    alone,”    a    kid    said.    He    leaned    over    to    help    Eric    to    his    feet.    “I    don’t    like    
bullies.”  
“Stay  out    of    it,    new    kid.”    Greg    said    and    gave    him    a    scowling    stare.    
“Or   what?”  The    kid    got   closer.    
“Let’s  go,”    Adam    said.    “There’s    a    teacher    coming.”    He    slapped    Greg    on    the    
shoulder.  
“This   ain’t    over,”     Greg   said   as   he   walked    away.    “Thanks,”    Eric  said.    
“I’m    Kyle    Barrett,”    the    kid    said,    extending    his    hand.    
Eric  shook    it.    “Did    you    just    move    here?”    
“Yeah,    this    is    my    first    day,”    Kyle    said.    “It’s    hard    being    the    new    kid.    No    one    talks    to    
you.”  
“No  one    talks    to    me    either,    except    to    make    fun    of    me,”    Eric    said.    
    
******  
Six  months    after    the    dirt-­‐kicking    incident,    Eric    and  Kyle    had    turned    from    strangers    
into    fast  friends.    But  everyone    else    still    thought    Eric    was    crazy.    Even    now,    he    
couldn’t  be   sure    if    they    were     right    or  wrong.    
He    only    knew    one    thing—he    hadn’t  actually    seen   them    in    several    months.    So    was    
it  all    in    his    head?    His    mom    always    told    him    time    heals    all    wounds.    But    this    wound    

was  more    like    a    cut    that    never    healed.    It    festered    in    the    eyes    of    everyone    in    Dust,    Texas.    He    was    just    a    mentally    defective    kid    who    barely    deserved    their    pity.    
He    was    in    the    eighth    grade    now,    and    he    tried    to    put    those    troubled    years    behind    
him.  It    seemed    that    most    of    his    classmates    felt    the    same    way,    but    a    select    few    never    grew    tired    of    reminding    him    of    his    sanity    (or    lack    thereof)    and    demeaning    nickname    from    time    to    time.    
Eric   looked  up    at   the   clock.   The     second  hand    moved    in    a    slow,    agonizing    speed    
before  the    bell   rang     loudly,    reverberating    throughout    the   building.    
“Finally,”  he    said    quietly    to    himself.    The    sound    of    the   bell    signified     the   end   of   the    school    week,    and    he    was    happy    to    hear    it.    It    was    only    the    week    after    Thanksgiving    and    he    was    already    looking    forward    to    summer    break.    He    scrambled    down    the    stairs    and    out    the  heavy    double    doors.    Kyle   Barrett   waited    at   the    foot    of    the    steps    wearing    
a    tucked-­‐in    red    polo.    They    had   been    inseparable    ever   since   Kyle    had    stood    up    for    
him    that    day.    
He   didn’t    stop    when    he    got    outside,    taunting    Kyle    to    a    footrace.    Kyle    ran    hard    to    catch    up    after    seeing    Eric    dart    by.    Kyle    was    five    months    older,    but    for    the    time    being    they    were   both    still    fourteen,    and   they   were  often   thought    of    as    brothers    due     to   
their  similar    appearances.    Both    of    the    boys    had    dark-­‐brown    hair,    chestnut-­‐colored    eyes,    and    olive    skin.    But    Kyle    was    broader    in    the    shoulders    compared    to    Eric’s    slender    frame.    
“Bet    I    can    beat   you    to   the    car,”    Eric  yelled.    
“No   way,”   Kyle   said    as   he    raced    ahead    of    Eric.    
Eric   wasn’t     going    down    without    a    fight,    so   he  ran    harder     while  dodging    several    students    loitering    outside   the    school.    He    was    closing    the    distance    when   he   tripped,    scattering    his    books    across    the    parking    lot.    A    group    of    girls    standing    on    the    sidewalk    giggled    as   he   got    to    his    feet   and   gathered   his   things    and    what    little    dignity    he    had    
left.  Kyle    made    it    to    the    car    and    pointed    at    Eric,    laughing.    “You    busted    big    time,”    Kyle    said.    
“You    got   lucky.    If   I   hadn’t  tripped     I    would’ve     beat    you,”   Eric   replied.   
“Yeah  right,    you’ll    never    beat    me.”    
Jean,  Kyle’s    mother,    rolled    down    the    car    window.    She    had    a    cigarette    hanging    from    her    lip.    Eric    watched    as    the    smoke    drifted    out    the    window    and    disappeared    into    the    wind.  
“Can    I   spend    the    night    at    Eric’s    house    tonight?”    Kyle    blurted    out,    still    breathing    
hard.  
Eric    was  standing    anxiously     next  to   the   car,    waiting    for    her    reply.    He   bent    over   to    rub    his    knee.    He    was    pretty    sure    he’d    scraped    it    hard    enough  to   draw    blood.    He    looked    back    to  see    if    the    girls    were    still    watching    him.    They    were    on    the    sidewalk    waiting    for    their    rides    but    apparently    had    found    a    more    interesting    topic    to    discuss    since    they    were  no  longer   looking     at   him.    
“Did  Eric’s    mom    say    it    was    all    right?”    Jean    asked.    She    flicked    her    ash     out    of  the    window    and   took    another  drag.    She    had    dry,   ashy-­‐brown    hair,    along   with    a    pair    of    large-­‐rimmed    glasses    that    draped    over    her    hazel    eyes.    She    wore    a    simple    mauve-­‐ colored   T-­‐shirt    and    blue    jeans.    

Kyle’s  little    sister,    Katie,    and    older    brother,    Ben,    were    sitting    in    the    backseat.    Katie    Barrett,    the    youngest    of    the    family,    had    wavy    dirty-­‐blonde    hair    that    looked    like    a    poodle’s    fur.    Ben   was   Kyle’s   older    brother.    
“She  is    okay    with    it,”    Kyle  said.    
“Yeah,    we  asked    last    period,”    Eric   added.  
“Well    if    she    doesn’t    mind,    then    it’s    fine    with    me,”    Jean    said.    She    took    her    huge    glasses    off,   wiped   the  lenses  with    her    shirt,    and    put    them    back    on.    “Kyle,    do    you    still    have    your   bike    at    Eric’s?”     
“It    should    be  there.”    Kyle   eyed    Eric    for    confirmation,    and  he   nodded.   
Eric  looked    in    the    backseat    and    saw    Ben    picking    his    nose    with    no    shame.    He    thought    about   pointing    it   out   but    quickly    decided    against    it.    It    was    only    a   couple    of    weeks    ago    that    Eric  had    narrowly    escaped    getting    his  head   dipped   in   the   toilet   by    him    at    the    high    school    football    game,    so    it    was    best    that    he    kept    a    little    distance    for    now.    If   it    hadn’t    been    for    the    school    principal    walking    in    during    the    act    he    would    have    had   the    unfortunate   opportunity    of    seeing    a    close-­‐up    view    of    the   inside    of    the    toilet    bowl.  
“Dammit  Ben.    Don’t    pick    your    nose    and    throw    boogers    in    my    car,”    Jean    
demanded.  
Ben  looked    up    and    replied,    “I’m    not    picking    my    nose    Mom.”    
“Katie,  did    you    see    him    picking?”    Jean    asked.    
“No  ma’am.    I    didn’t    see    anything,”    Katie    said.    Eric    was    fairly    certain    that    she    had    
in  fact    seen    her    older    brother    pick    a    fairly    large    booger,    methodically    roll    it    into    a    neat    ball,    and    then    flick    it   onto    the    floor    of   the   car,   but   she   probably    knew    that    it    was    much    wiser    to    keep    her    mouth    shut.    
Jean  turned    and    gave    Ben    a   stern   look    before   turning  back   to   look   at   Kyle.   “Y’all   
be  good    now.”    
Kyle   and   Eric    nodded    in    near   unison    as   she    rolled    up   the    window    and   pulled   out   
of   the    school    parking    lot.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR


Shea Norwood is an emerging author and native of West Texas that currently lives in the DFW area with his wife and son.He was drawn to writing at an early age and recently rekindled this passion after dusting off a decade-old manuscript, titled Vanished from Dust. The fictional town of Dust is loosely based on a small town south of Odessa, TX.
When he’s not writing, Shea loves to spend time with this family, read, and is a frequent globetrotter. His travels have taken him to France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Italy, Germany, and Mexico.Shea writes Young Adult Fantasy/Paranormal/Mystery

Follow Shea on Facebook to get updates on upcoming releases. https://www.facebook.com/sheanorwoodauthor

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