Sunday 30 September 2012

Look at my RAK

I have been lucky this months and got two RAKs!

Samantha surprised me with a pre-order from The Dead of Winter by Lee Collins. The book releases on October 30th, so I have to wait for it a bit, but just knowing I'll be receiving it makes me all happy.

Doodle send me Glitch by Heather Anastasiu.
I already read Glitch and it's a cool read. My review will be posted somewhere the next few weeks.

Thanks Samantha and Doodle!

I also send a RAK this month and hope the receiver will enjoy the book I picked for her.


The RAK movement (=Random Acts of Kindness): it is an initiative organized by the Ladies at the Book Soulmates where everyone posts their whislists and then other people realize one (or more) wishes of a person. Meaning that they send some books to the lucky person they picked! Doesn't it sound fabulous?


• Sign up each month you'd like to participate in.

• Show off your participation! Grab one of the buttons available :)

• Create a wish list and post it in the Google Doc located in each R.A.K post for the month.
{Post on your blog, Amazon, where ever as long as there's a link to it.}

• If you choose to do a R.A.K for someone, check out their wish list and contact that blogger for their address.

• At the end of the month, SHOW US YOUR R.A.K!

• Make a post saying 'Thank You' to whoever granted one of your wishes and share it with us :)


Let's keep our International bloggers in mind and in our hearts.

Remember, there's always the Book Depository and they offer FREE shipping!


I owe you two winners!

The winner of This is Not a Test.
The announcement has been delayed, because the first winner didn't get back to me. I had to pick a new winner and that is:

Secondly I picked a winner for an ecopy of The Night Beat by Gini Koch:
(Selwyn: I send your addy to Gini so you can receive your prize)

congrats to both of you!

Friday 28 September 2012

A Blood Seduction - Book Review by Voodoo Bride

A Blood Seduction (Vamp City #1)
by Pamela Palmer

What is it about:
Vampires live only for lust and pleasure in the eternal twilight of Vamp City. But the city's magic is dying. The only person who can restore it? A beautiful woman from the mortal who knows nothing of the power she wields.

Quinn Lennox is searching for a missing friend when she stumbles into a dark otherworld that only she can see—and finds herself at the mercy of Arturo Mazza, a dangerously handsome vampire whose wicked kiss will save her, enslave her, bewitch her, and betray her. What Arturo can't do is forget about her—any more than Quinn can control her own feelings for him. Neither one can let desire get in the way of their mission—his to save his people, hers to save herself. But there is no escape from desire in a city built for seduction, where passion flows hot and blood-red.

What did Voodoo Bride think of it:
*Might be a bit spoilery about the romance*

I'm not sure what to think of this book to be honest.

First of all the description of the story threw me off. It speaks of a world only Quinn can see...

It turns out that is only the case in the first couple of chapters. After that she is transported to that world and everyone she meets lives in that world so can see that world just fine.

Not that there's anything wrong with that, but it made for a whole different story than I was expecting.

I really liked the world building though. The world where Quinn is transported to is dark, sinister and very creepy. I like the idea of a world created especially for vampires so they can give in to their dark nature. There were times I was utterly icked out by their actions.

The action storyline was really intense and suspenseful. I kept wondering where it all would lead. The book did end with lots of questions unanswered and I will confess I'm anxious to know what will happen next.

Then there was the romance.

Hmm.... I'm not so sure about that I have to say. There was a strong attraction between Quinn and Arturo, but the relationship was build on layers and layers of distrust, lies and deception. I found it hard to believe these two will ever find a happily ever after or even a happily for as long as it lasts. Maybe their relationship will undergo strong changes later on in the series, but for now I'm unconvinced they can ever work their differences out.

So in the end I enjoyed the setting and the action storyline, but am wary about the romance. I think I'll give the next book in this series a try once it's released though and I will probably also try out other books by Palmer.

Why should you read it:
It's a dark and disturbing PNR

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Thursday 27 September 2012

Entwined - Book Review

by Heather Dixon

What is it about:
Azalea is trapped. Just when she should feel that everything is before her . . . beautiful gowns, dashing suitors, balls filled with dancing . . . it's taken away. All of it.

The Keeper understands. He's trapped, too, held for centuries within the walls of the palace. And so he extends an invitation.

Every night, Azalea and her eleven sisters may step through the enchanted passage in their room to dance in his silver forest.

But there is a cost.

The Keeper likes to "keep" things.

Azalea may not realize how tangled she is in his web until it is too late.

What did I think of it:
I love fairytales, so when I read that Entwined is a retelling of one of my favorite fairytales, 'The Twelve Dancing Princesses', I just had to read it.

It turned out to be an enjoyable read.

I will confess I had hoped the story would be a bit darker, a bit more seductive. When The Keeper was first introduced I was looking forward to Azalea being drawn in by his charms. That was not to be. From the start The Keeper is cast as too creepy to ever really make it believable that Azalea is even the least bit smitten by him and even for those unfamiliar with the original fairytale it's more than obvious who Azalea will end up with.

Now usually I'm not much for love triangles and such, but this tale could have profited from a bit more duality in my opinion. The romance was tame and flat.

I did enjoy the romantic storylines for Azalea's sisters Clover and Bramble I will confess and I actually wished at times that one of them had been the lead character of the book.

I also really loved the king. He's an intriguing character and I felt for him as he was trying to (re)connect with his willful daughters.

All in all this was a very nice read with little surprises, but that's what you get with retellings of course.

Why should you read it:
It's a nice retelling of a beautiful fairytale

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Wednesday 26 September 2012

Wishlist Wednesday - Between

I've been internet stalking Kerry Schafer for some time now and giving her unwanted zombie advice. She's a really cool person and I'm really looking forward to the release of her book Between.

Doesn't it sound cool?!

by Kerry Schafer

Vivian’s life is finally on track. She has a job she loves as an ER doctor and has just met – literally – the man of her dreams. But when her eccentric grandfather is murdered and designates her as his next of kin, she discovers that she is the last of a race of beings known as dreamshifters. It is her task to guard the doorways between waking and dreaming, which have already begun to unravel, spilling dangerous creatures from dream into the waking world. When she sets out to close the open doors and protect her town and the people she loves, Vivian confronts dragons, intrigue, and the dark secrets of her own family history. In the end she comes face to face with a sorceress seeking eternal life and ultimate power. Vivian must find a way to stop her, or reality will be forever altered.

Expected publication: January 29th 2013 by Ace

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Teaser Tuesdays - First Grave on the Right

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: - Grab your current read - Open to a random page - Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) - Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"Were you just possessed?" Cookie asked after a long moment, awe softening her voice. "'Cause let me tell you, sweetheart, if that was possession, I'm selling my soul."
(page 78, First Grave on the Right by Darynda Jones)

Monday 24 September 2012

Divergent - Book Review

Divergent (Divergent #1)
by Veronica Roth

What is it about:
In Beatrice Prior's dystopian Chicago, society is divided into five factions, each dedicated to the cultivation of a particular virtue--Candor (the honest), Abnegation (the selfless), Dauntless (the brave), Amity (the peaceful), and Erudite (the intelligent). On an appointed day of every year, all sixteen-year-olds must select the faction to which they will devote the rest of their lives. For Beatrice, the decision is between staying with her family and being who she really is--she can't have both. So she makes a choice that surprises everyone, including herself.

During the highly competitive initiation that follows, Beatrice renames herself Tris and struggles to determine who her friends really are--and where, exactly, a romance with a sometimes fascinating, sometimes infuriating boy fits into the life she's chosen. But Tris also has a secret, one she's kept hidden from everyone because she's been warned it can mean death. And as she discovers a growing conflict that threatens to unravel her seemingly perfect society, she also learns that her secret might help her save those she loves . . . or it might destroy her.

What did I think of it:
This was a surprisingly cool read.

I did have some trouble with the world view of this book at first. The factions and how they function didn't seem very believable, but for the sake of the story I decided to take them for granted.

And I'm glad I did.

The story is suspenseful, intense and really cool.

I really liked Tris and could understand her struggle to try to fit in. And even though I was still a bit skeptic about the factions they did make for a very interesting setting.

The initiation Tris goes through is brutal and made for some really intense moments. There was lots of cool action as well. I did wonder how the initiation for other factions would be and luckily for some of them it is explained.

The romantic storyline was very nice, though slightly predictable, but at least it wasn't yet another love triangle or square, so that made me all happy.

Very late in the book a second major storyline gathers speed and plunges Tris in even more intense situations. This leads to an ending that makes you want to pick up the next book in this series right away.

This is certainly one of the more interesting Dystopian stories I've read lately and I will try to get hold of book 2 as soon as possible.

Why should you read it:
It's an action packed, intense Dystopian YA

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Sunday 23 September 2012

Head Rush - Book Review *

*This review was posted before, but as now finally the print version is out as well, I decided to repost it.

Head Rush (The Disillusionists Trilogy #3)
by Carolyn Crane

What is it about:

In an attempt to put her unhappy past behind her, Justine Jones throws herself into nursing school and planning her wedding to Otto Sanchez, the man of her dreams. But something is off. Random details aren’tadding up…and is it her imagination, or are her friends and fiancĂ© keeping secrets from her? And what’s with this strange sense of unease, and her odd new headaches?

Justine tries to stay upbeat as Midcity cowers under martial law, sleepwalking cannibals, and a mysterious rash of paranormal copycat violence, but her search for answers leads her into the most dangerous mindgame yet.

With the help of unlikely allies, including her paranoid dad and best frenemy Simon, Justine fights her ultimate foe…and unravels the most startling mystery of all.

What did I think of it:
This book is utterly amazing!

Crane does it again: She made me rage, cry, chuckle, laugh and sigh in this rollercoaster ending of her Disillusionists Trilogy. There are few authors who manage to get me so involved in a lead character to actually make my blood pressure spike and heart rate increase, but so far Crane succeeded to do so with every book she wrote.

Crane's world building and her characters are both strong as ever. My favorite characters were all present again, there was a very cool new character and Carolyn even indulged me by including my beloved professor Teufelsdrockh (how awesome is that!?).

All in all this book is everything I hoped it would be and more. If you haven't started this series yet, you should run out right now to buy it! It's amazing.

Why should you read it:
It's amazingly cool and utterly awesome Urban Fantasy

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide
Buy the ebook here
Buy the audiobook here

Friday 21 September 2012

Two Winners!

Two of my giveaways ended so there's two winners to announce.

Aleksandra won The Hallowed Ones giveaway!

Irene Jackson won The Under Sea giveaway.

Congrats to both!

I send them an email to let them know they won.

Thanks everyone for participating!

Pod - Book Review

by Stephen Wallenfels

What is it about:
Surviving a massive alien siege is one thing-surviving humanity is another.

I'm all cried out. I'm still alone. The sky is full of giant spinning black balls that kill anyone stupid enough to go outside. I've only been out of the car twice-once to pee and once to look at the sky. That one look was enough for me. Now I sit alone in the car, staring out the window like a rat in a cage. But I don't have anyone to look at. The parking garage is empty, except for twisted-up cars, broken glass, and the smell of leaking gasoline.

POD is the story of a global cataclysmic event, told from the viewpoints of Megs, a twelve-year-old streetwise girl trapped in a hotel parking garage in Los Angeles; and sixteen-year-old Josh, who is stuck in a house in Prosser, Washington, with his increasingly obsessive-compulsive father. Food and water and time are running out. Will Megs survive long enough to find her mother? Will Josh and his father survive each other?

What did I think of it:
This was a really gripping read.

This book is actually two stories: one about Megs and the other about Josh.

I think I liked Josh's story the most. It was emotionally intense and I could easily picture myself in his place.

Megs' story was more suspenseful and had more action. It was cool, but where I was emotionally invested in Josh's story, Megs' story felt more like a suspenseful thriller.

The difference in their situations and how they handle things did make for a compelling read though and I couldn't put the book down. Things just kept getting more and more desperate and I was eager to find out how everything would end.

And that takes me to the one negative thing about this book:
The ending.

I really felt like Wallenfels didn't really know how to end this story and that made for an ending that had me raise my eyebrows. If the rest of the book wasn't as good as it is, I'd have felt like throwing the book across the room.

So while I did enjoy this book very much i'm not too sure if I would pick up another book by Wallenfels.

Why should you read it:
It's a suspenseful story about human nature

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Thursday 20 September 2012

Working Stiff - Book Review

Working Stiff (Revivalist #1)
by Rachel Caine

What is it about:
Bryn Davis was killed on the job after discovering her bosses were selling a drug designed to resurrect the dead. Now, revived by that same drug, she becomes an undead soldier in a corporate war to take down the very pharmaceutical company responsible for her new condition...

What did I think of it:
This was a fun read.

The idea of someone resurrected from the dead was well thought out, including weaknesses and how such a person would react to her state. I also really liked the action storyline where Bryn and her allies are on a deadline to find a corporate thief before her boss decides she's a liability and she needs to be terminated. It makes this story very tense and suspenseful.

I had some difficulties with Bryn. For someone who's been in the army she's acting like a damsel in distress a bit too much in my opinion. I also had some trouble getting into the romance. I once again started rooting for the wrong guy and maybe that's why I didn't feel a connection between Bryn and her love interest at first. But after a shaky start it picked up nicely and I ended up enjoying the romance.

The ending felt a bit chaotic and rushed though. I felt a bit disappointed by some of the solutions. There was also a plot line that was left open for the next book.

In the end I really enjoyed this book and apart from the flaws I mentioned it's a compelling read. I will most probably give the next book in this series a try.

Why should you read it:
It's a suspenseful Urban Fantasy read

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Outpost - Book Review

Outpost (Razorland #2)
by Ann Aguirre

What is it about:
Deuce’s whole world has changed. Down below, she was considered an adult. Now, topside in a town called Salvation, she’s a brat in need of training in the eyes of the townsfolk. She doesn’t fit in with the other girls: Deuce only knows how to fight.

To make matters worse, her Hunter partner, Fade, keeps Deuce at a distance. Her feelings for Fade haven’t changed, but he seems not to want her around anymore. Confused and lonely, she starts looking for a way out.

Deuce signs up to serve in the summer patrols—those who make sure the planters can work the fields without danger. It should be routine, but things have been changing on the surface, just as they did below ground. The Freaks have grown smarter. They’re watching. Waiting. Planning. The monsters don’t intend to let Salvation survive, and it may take a girl like Deuce to turn back the tide.

What did I think of it:
Sometimes you come across a book that touches on subjects you have often wondered about as well and that makes you wish you had written it yourself.

Enclave, the first book in the Razorland Trilogy, is such a book for me and I have been looking forward to Outpost ever since I finished reading Enclave.

Was Outpost worth the wait?


Deuce is a wonderful heroine in my opinion. In Enclave it took me some time to get to like her, but it's the growth Deuce goes through in these books that makes it worth getting to know her. She's a though heroine, not your typical girly YA heroine who needs a hero to protect her. Better yet: it's often Deuce who has to do the protecting. I really like how Deuce can stand on her own, while Aguirre manages to give her enough softer characteristics that make you cheer and rejoice for Deuce when she discovers she doesn't have to do it all on her own and that there are other people who will stand by her.

Then there's the other major characters:
Fade: who's complex, hurt and insecure about where he and Deuce stand with each other. I loved him in Enclave and still love him in Outpost, although in the first part of the book there were times I wanted to whack him on the head.
Tegan: hurt and traumatized by events in Enclave she just wants to leave the past behind her. I loved the scenes between her and Deuce and wished there had been more.
Stalker: a character who at first glance seems rather straightforward, but who has more layers than an onion and has just as much bite as well.

There are lots more intriguing, cool and wonderful characters in Outpost, but to name all of my favorites would take forever. So let's leave it at this.

The story:
After the grim events in Enclave, Outpost starts out on a much brighter and more peaceful note than Enclave. But clouds are soon gathering on the horizon and it doesn't take long for the story to take a dark turn. I loved how Aguirre build the tension in this book. She gives us hope, doubt, despair and lots of other emotions in between. This book ends with quite a cliffhanger and with some of the hints given in Outpost I got the feeling the last book in this trilogy will be epic.

All in all Outpost is an amazing book that kept me up reading deep into the night to finish it. I will be rereading it often and I'll be pre-ordering book three as soon as possible.

Why should you read it:
Post Apocalyptic Awesomeness!

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Tuesday 18 September 2012

Teaser Tuesdays - A Blood Seduction

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: - Grab your current read - Open to a random page - Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) - Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

Out of nowhere, the hair on her arms began to rise. Her breath caught as she recognized the energy that meant the worlds were once more bleeding together.
(page 83, A Blood Seduction by Pamela Palmer)

Monday 17 September 2012

Savage Awakening - Book Review by Voodoo Bride

Savage Awakening (Alpha Pack #2)
by J.D. Tyler

What is it about:
After one of their own is captured, the Alpha Pack must save him. With them is Psy Dreamwalker Rowan Chase. Her priority is her brother's rescue. What she doesn't bargain for is a scorching affair with a rugged wolf shifter. When his life is endangered, Rowan must ask herself what she's willing to sacrifice in the name of love.

What did Voodoo Bride think of it:
This was a bit of a disappointment.

I had hoped this would be a hot, romantic, paranormal read.

I got about one and a half out of these three.

So... The scenes between Rowan and Aric were hot, no doubt about that. But the romance was no where to be found. I really didn't get why they fell for each other and even the mate trope wasn't convincing enough in this case. It just felt like two people seriously in lust, but not in love to me.

Then there was the paranormal part of the story. Aric is a shifter and there's also some other shifters and a fairy. so far so good. Then there's Rowan, who's promoted as a Psy Dreamwalker on the back cover of the book. I was really intrigued by that and was wondering how her powers would be used.


Apart from Rowan and Aric having some hot dream sex Rowan's Dreamwalker powers are left totally unused!

The story around the romance/hot sex wasn't very intriguing in my opinion and I did contemplate putting the book down about halfway through. I didn't because I was curious to find out what would happen to one of the side characters and guess what:
That storyline was left open to be continued in the next book.

All in all I am not impressed by this book and won't be reading other books in this series.

Why should you read it:
It's a hot (paranormal) read

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Saturday 15 September 2012

This Is Not A Test - Europe Only Giveaway

Due to a mix-up I have two copies of This Is Not A Test.
As I only need one I want to find the other book a good home. Sending it outside of Europe would be a bit too expensive (postage would be more than the book costs) so just this once I'm doing a Europe Only giveaway.

- Leave a comment on this post
- Leave a way for me to contact you
- Do this before September 25th
- You must have a European address I can send the book to
- No need to be a follower

Thursday 13 September 2012

Under the Sea Giveaway Hop

I've been thinking long and hard about what Under The Sea themed book I would give away for this hop, but came up empty.

Well.... To be honest: the only books I know that have to do with the sea are about Titanic. And I already had a Titanic giveaway in April. So what to do....

Then I had this brilliant idea!
Some of you might know about books that fit the theme Under The Sea.

So you as a participant get to chose!

And maybe it will give me some ideas what sea themed books to put on my wishlist ;-)

To be entered for a chance to win a book from bookdepository (up to $10) you will have to:
- Leave a comment telling me which sea/water themed book you would love to win
- Leave a way for me to contact you
- Do so before September 21st

Open to everyone who lives somewhere the bookdepository ships to.

The Under the Sea Giveaway Hop is hosted by I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and The Musings of ALMYBNENR

Wednesday 12 September 2012

For the Love of Lovecraft - Necropolis Enforcement Blog Tour 2012 Guestpost by Gini Koch

Today I have a special guest:
Gini Koch

She's one of my favorite authors and today she will tell you something about one of my other favorite authors.

Welcome Gini!

Thanks for stopping by on the Necropolis Enforcement Blog Tour of 2012! If you haven’t read the first chapter of The Night Beat, hit Deathless Prose over at my website and check it out. Then, hit each stop along the way to get more of the story. Missed a stop? Check the website for the Tour Page and get caught up.

And don’t forget to get entered to win a copy of The Night Beat at EVERY blog tour stop along the way! Plus, follow the Tour ‘til the end and get entered for a mega-prize! So, grab your badge -- it’s time to join Necropolis Enforcement!


For the Love of Lovecraft
By Gini Koch

H.P. Lovecraft didn’t invent modern horror -- really, that honor goes to Mary Shelley and Bram Stoker, and, after them, Edgar Allan Poe (though Shelley also gets to have invented science fiction -- sisters been doin’ it for themselves for a long time) -- but if he’s not the Father, Mother, or Eccentric Uncle of Horror, he’s certainly the Godfather.

Lovecraft’s style can be hard to take if you’re only used to reading modern authors. He’s very descriptive, and really does spend a lot of time on “tell” instead of “show”. But you know what? It doesn’t matter. Because Lovecraft came up with some of the scariest stuff imaginable.

He was also a very inclusive author, encouraging others to play in the sandbox he’d built. As J.C. Koch, I write horror, much of it Lovecraftian, and I’m always grateful that Lovecraft built this amazing world he encouraged the rest of us to play with.

But The Night Beat isn’t horror, it’s paranormal/urban fantasy. And it’s not written by J.C. but by Gini Koch. So why the Lovecraft fangirl love letter?

Well, if you’ve been following the Necropolis Blog Tour, you know by now that what my gang of Prosaic City policemen and Necropolis Enforcement operatives are fighting is something that sounds like it stepped straight out of a Lovecraft story.

The Night Beat was a fun book for me to write. I love the characters, and I loved bringing what I consider the “guest star” or “cameo” characters into the world as well. The book is chock full of “is this who I think it is?” moments. As you journey on this particular blog tour, you’ll meet one of them. And after this, who it is won’t be a total surprise.

That’s right. Lovecraft allowed everyone to play in his sandbox, so I brought him over to play in mine. Hey, it’s kind of an homage. He’s a fun guest star, and I think you’ll enjoy him as much as I do.

And if not, don’t blame me if Cthulu shakes a tentacle at you in dismay.


The majority of Prosaic City’s residents don’t know that their town exists on top of another place -- Necropolis, City of the Undead. For the most part, the two planes of existence manage to remain separate. And when they don’t, Necropolis Enforcement has beings in place to ensure the general human population remains blithely clueless.

Victoria Wolfe is more than just a policewoman. She’s an undercover werewolf assigned by Necropolis Enforcement to work Prosaic City Police’s Night Beat. Victoria’s comfortable working the shift where all the weird comes out to play, especially since her partner is also her perfect man. Or would be, if Victoria could ever work up the nerve to tell him she isn’t like other girls.

It’s hard enough being a werewolf in disguise, but when a creature from the Depths of Hell shows up in an alley preferred by junkies, bums, and hookers, it’s going to take more than just Victoria’s special gun and werewolf skills to subdue the ancient Sumerian demon. Especially when the demon is merely the start of what appears to be a major takeover attempt by the Prince of Darkness.

Soon all of Necropolis Enforcement’s Undead Brigade is involved in the fight to stop the Prince’s Major Minions from taking over Prosaic City and the rest of the human plane. But it’s Victoria who has to face the Adversary and figure out what intricate plan Lucifer has up his wings before everyone she cares about is destroyed.
In other words, it’s just another day on the Night Beat.

Small excerpt:

Maurice got into the act. He hated going into what was politely called the Ancient Vampire Form, but he wasn’t an idiot. If we didn’t stop this thing, we were going to be dinner or minions. We were at the top of the food chain and refused to leave that spot without a fight, and if we’d wanted to be minions we would have already committed our souls to the Prince.

From the little I could see as I chomped on a big face tentacle and got flipped around, Maurice was attacking the stomach area, normally considered somewhat vulnerable. This thing had three top level, professionally trained, Enforcement personnel on it and all we were doing was causing it to stagger a little. I got flipped around even more and realized we weren’t causing the stagger -- the thing’s foot was sort of caught on the lip of the hole the Dirt Corps had created.

Author Bio:
Gini Koch lives in Hell’s Orientation Area (aka Phoenix, AZ), works her butt off (sadly, not literally) by day, and writes by night with the rest of the beautiful people. She writes the fast, fresh and funny Alien/Katherine “Kitty” Katt series for DAW Books, the Necropolis Enforcement Files series, and the Martian Alliance Chronicles series for Musa Publishing. As G.J. Koch she writes the Alexander Outland series for Night Shade Books. She also writes under a variety of other pen names (including Anita Ensal, Jemma Chase, A.E. Stanton, and J.C. Koch), listens to rock music 24/7, and is a proud comics geek-girl willing to discuss at any time why Wolverine is the best superhero ever (even if Deadpool does get all the best lines). She speaks frequently on what it takes to become a successful author and other aspects of writing and the publishing business. She can be reached through her website at

Buy Links:

Amazon Paperback


Barnes and Nobles


Gini has kindly offered an electronic copy of The Night Beat to one lucky winner, open internationally.

- Leave a comment for Gini on this post
- Leave a way for me to contact you
- Do so before September 29st

Tuesday 11 September 2012

Teaser Tuesdays - POD

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: - Grab your current read - Open to a random page - Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) - Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

I lunge to go out and help her. Two arms wrap me in a vice from behind. I'm pulled, screaming, back into the house.
(page 13, POD by Stephen Wallenfels)

Monday 10 September 2012

This is Not a Test - Book Review

This is Not a Test
by Courtney Summers

What is it about:
It’s the end of the world. Six students have taken cover in Cortege High but shelter is little comfort when the dead outside won’t stop pounding on the doors. One bite is all it takes to kill a person and bring them back as a monstrous version of their former self. To Sloane Price, that doesn’t sound so bad. Six months ago, her world collapsed and since then, she’s failed to find a reason to keep going. Now seems like the perfect time to give up. As Sloane eagerly waits for the barricades to fall, she’s forced to witness the apocalypse through the eyes of five people who actually want to live. But as the days crawl by, the motivations for survival change in startling ways and soon the group’s fate is determined less and less by what’s happening outside and more and more by the unpredictable and violent bids for life—and death—inside. When everything is gone, what do you hold on to?

What did I think of it:
This was a really intense read.

I was a bit disappointed at first that the zombies were kind of background noise instead of them having a bigger role in the story, but that disappointment soon vanished.

Summers wrote a beautiful and grim story about human nature. Trapped in their school the six students have nothing to fall back on except each other. But there's conflict, mistrust and other emotions getting in the way of working together.

I really liked how Summers created tension between the students. It was very believable and there were moments I really wanted to whack some of them for their behavior.

I had some difficulties with Sloane. She's presented as someone who's already lost everything and wants to be done with living. For someone in that state she had lots of fight left in her and that made her character feel a bit off at times.

But that small criticism aside this is a great read that I can advice to anyone who loves a good story about human nature and about how people react when society falls away and they have to fight for survival.

This book will get a place on my keeper shelves and I will check out what other books Summers has written.

Why should you read it:
It's a grim and intense YA read.

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Friday 7 September 2012

Hunting the Siren - Book Review by Voodoo Bride

Hunting the Siren (Blood Currency, #2)
by Jeffe Kennedy


What is it about:
A vampire queen grown powerful with age, Imogen has protected her band of nightriders through the centuries. When refugee vampires from earthquake-shattered Europe seek shelter and sustenance, she’s honor-bound to feed them, by any means necessary. When her lieutenants dump the vengeful human man Kasar at her feet, Imogen succumbs to his masculine vitality and her overwhelming hunger for his blood—and his body.

Kasar has survived the breaking of the world, only to discover the vampire queen has slaughtered his sister and her unborn child. With the last of his bloodline dead, only his desire for vengeance keeps Kasar alive. He imagines he can pretend to succumb to Imogen’s seduction—not that he has a choice, chained as he is to the foot of her bed—and bide his time until he has an opportunity to kill her. The passion he finds in her arms is unexpected and impossible to resist. But this haven of desire and satiation could easily destroy them both.

What did Voodoo Bride think of it:
This is a seriously hot story.

I love a romance where there's a forced seduction if it's done right. And Kennedy manages to deliver. This story is intense and more than satisfying.

What I really liked about this romance was that it's the heroine who's in charge. Most of the times with forced seduction it's the male who gets to be the aggressor, so it was fun to read a story where it's the other way around. Not that Kasar didn't get a chance to turn the tables on Imogen I must add.

I love the world Kennedy created for this series. It's grim and dark and it feels real. I could easily picture the setting and see tons of possibilities for more stories.

The romance was hot, steamy and surprisingly sweet as well. I loved Imogen, who's a strong woman, but also has a softer, more vulnerable side. Kasar is a great match for her.

The one negative thing I can say about this story is that Kasar starts out having a beard, but it gets shaven off during the story. I know this is a very personal pet peeve (beards are cool! Let heroes keep their beards!) and that most women love their heroes clean shaven, so this is probably only a negative thing for me and not for other readers.

The ending, although giving enough closure, left some things open and it makes me hungry for more. I hope Kennedy will write many more books in this series. I for one will read them all.

Why should you read it:
It's a hot Post-Apocalyptic Vampire Romance

Buy it here

Thursday 6 September 2012

Fated - Book Review

Fated (The Soul Seekers #1)
by Alyson Noel

What is it about:
Lately strange things have been happening to Daire Santos. Animals follow her, crows mock her, and glowing people appear out of nowhere. Worried that Daire is having a nervous breakdown, her mother packs her off to stay in the dusty plains of Enchantment, New Mexico with a grandmother she’s never met.

There she crosses paths with Dace, a gorgeous guy with unearthly blue eyes who she’s encountered before...but only in her dreams. And she’ll get to know her grandmother—a woman who recognizes Daire’s bizarre episodes for what they are. A call to her true destiny as a Soul Seeker, one who can navigate between the worlds of the living and the dead. Her grandmother immediately begins teaching her to harness her powers—but it’s an art that must be mastered quickly. Because Dace’s brother is an evil shape-shifter who’s out to steal her powers. Now Daire must embrace her fate as a Soul Seeker and find out if Dace is one guy she’s meant to be with...or if he’s allied with the enemy she’s destined to destroy.

What did I think of it:
This was a nice enough read.

I thought Daire was a bit of a brat at first, but she quickly changed luckily enough. Of the other characters I really liked Paloma, Daire's grandmother. All other characters, with a small exception here or there, all felt very one dimensional in my opinion. They didn't feel very real.

The writing wasn't for me either. The story was written in Present Tense and not in a good way. I kept getting pulled out of the story by the writing and struggled to finish the book.

The story had a lot of potential, but didn't really deliver what I hoped for. It felt a bit uneven. First Paloma takes a long time to train Daire and to make her understand what's happening and then suddenly Daire is rushed into action. It would have been better to even things out a bit I think.

In the end this was a pleasant read, but it didn't really grab me. I don't think I'll continue reading this series.

Why should you read it:
It's a nice Paranormal YA read.

Buy This Book from Book Depository, Free Delivery World Wide

Wednesday 5 September 2012

Wishlist Wednesday - Monument 14

This sounds like it might be an interesting read.

Monument 14
by Emmy Laybourne

Your mother hollers that you’re going to miss the bus. She can see it coming down the street. You don’t stop and hug her and tell her you love her. You don’t thank her for being a good, kind, patient mother. Of course not—you launch yourself down the stairs and make a run for the corner.

Only, if it’s the last time you’ll ever see your mother, you sort of start to wish you’d stopped and did those things. Maybe even missed the bus.

But the bus was barreling down our street, so I ran.

Fourteen kids. One superstore. A million things that go wrong.

In Emmy Laybourne’s action-packed debut novel, six high school kids (some popular, some not), two eighth graders (one a tech genius), and six little kids trapped together in a chain superstore build a refuge for themselves inside. While outside, a series of escalating disasters, beginning with a monster hailstorm and ending with a chemical weapons spill, seems to be tearing the world—as they know it—apart

Tuesday 4 September 2012

Teaser Tuesdays - Endgame

Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following: - Grab your current read - Open to a random page - Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!) - Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

In a glance at Vel, who's easy to ID given the shape of his helmet, I ask a silent question. He inclines his head to confirm that he can do all kinds of interesting things with this stuff.
(page 94, Endgame by Ann Aguirre)

Monday 3 September 2012

The Accidental YA - Guestpost by Laura Bickle with Excerpt and Giveaway

I'm happy to announce that today I have a special guest on my blog:
Laura Bickle

Welcome Laura!

I love Laura's book and I was very happy when I heard that she had a YA book coming out: The Hallowed Ones.

Today Laura will tell you how this YA book came to be.

The Accidental YA
By Laura Bickle

Sometimes, where we start out isn’t where we end up.

THE HALLOWED ONES was one of those projects. I began wanting to write a rural fantasy – something a bit different from the urban fantasy I had been writing. I love urban fantasy very much, but I wanted to turn it around a bit and see what darkness is like from a rural perspective.

I also wanted to experiment with writing first-person. Katie, the protagonist of THE HALLOWED ONES, is a young Amish woman testing the boundaries of her rural life. I wanted to see what life would be like from her point of view. I grew up in a rural area, within driving distance of a pretty big Amish settlement. I remember seeing Amish girls my age and wondered what their lives were like.

I knew that Katie would have to be a young woman – I wanted her to be still young enough to be unmarried, to be struggling with Rumspringa. Rumspringa is the time in Amish life when young men and women can experiment with the outside world before being baptized into the Amish church. I wanted Katie to wonder about what lay beyond the boundaries of her land, to be curious about the world around her.

As the work came together, I did some more experimenting. I played with horror elements. Katie’s Amish settlement appears to be the last safe place on earth from a plague of bloodthirsty creatures. In thinking about a post-apocalyptic world, it occurred to me that the Amish would be well-equipped to survive. And I wanted them to be facing some pretty feral creatures, creatures that remind them of vampires, with their violence, fear of sunshine, and aversion to holy ground. I didn’t shy away from the gore and the harsh decisions it would take to survive in such a world.

Once the story was complete, I sent it to my agent. I thought about whether it would work best in the contemporary fantasy or the horror market.

And to my surprise…she said I’d written a YA novel.

So I re-read the book, and it began to come together for me. I never explicitly gave Katie an age. Katie was dealing with many of the issues that young adults deal with: questioning authority, creating her own identity, and developing her own moral compass.

It was a happy serendipity. I’d wandered into new territory for me, territory that’s challenging and also really exhilarating.

But it also affirmed the idea to me that when we write, we’ve gotta follow the story. Trying something new often brings us far away from where we began. And challenging ourselves and shoving at those boundaries is a good thing.


The Hallowed Ones
by Laura Bickle

If your home was the last safe place on earth, would you let a stranger in?

Katie is on the verge of her Rumspringa, the time in Amish life when teenagers are free to experience non-Amish culture before officially joining the church. But before Rumspringa arrives, Katie’s safe world starts to crumble. It begins with a fiery helicopter crash in the cornfields, followed by rumors of massive unrest and the disappearance of huge numbers of people all over the world. Something is out there…and it is making a killing.

Unsure why they haven’t yet been attacked, the Amish Elders make a decree: no one goes outside their community, and no one is allowed in. But when Katie finds a gravely injured young man lying just outside the boundary of their land, she can’t leave him to die. She refuses to submit to the Elders’ rule and secretly brings the stranger into her community—but what else is she bringing in with him?



Copyright © 2012 by Laura Bickle


After the end of the Outside world, the Plain folk survived.

At the time, I didn’t know that the end of Outside had happened. None of us really did. We knew that something was wrong, of course. That knowledge trickled in slowly, like a leak in a roof. The signs accumulated, and then there was no denying the dark stain spreading over the pale ceiling of our world.

My first inkling was on a day in late September under a cloudless blue sky. The ravens had begun picking at the corn that was drying in the fields, black specks in the gold. I leaned on the wooden fence post, watching the birds scratch and listening to them caw to one another in their inscrutable hoarse language. The wire fence was pierced here by a wooden gate, to move farm equipment and cattle. This was a remote part of our little settlement of Plain people, but it made a good place to get away from chores and parents.

Beside me, Elijah had picked up a rock to scare the birds away.

“Don’t throw that,” I said, automatically. “It’s mean.”

Elijah looked at the stone, shrugged, put it down. He was a year older than me, but he would do anything I asked. Tall and lanky and sunburned from working outdoors, he cut a handsome figure: dark hair and hazel eyes that crinkled when he smiled. I wasn’t sure what I thought about that yet. We had grown up together. But things were changing. We both could feel it.

He leaned against the fence beside me, staring out at the field. I knew what he was looking at, the same thing I was . . . at what lay beyond the field. At the black ribbon of road just beyond the corn that carried the English to and from their business Outside. They drove their shiny cars down the two-lane highway, intent on going home or to work or school. At this distance, we could barely make out the drivers. Sometimes men or women drove boxy sedans in pressed suits and blouses. Often they would be couples with children strapped into harnesses in the back seat. Other times the drivers would be people around our age, talking on their phones or chatting with friends in the passenger seat. We were too far away to see their expressions. But during the summer, with the windows down, we could sometimes hear snippets of their laughter.

Since the time we were children, Elijah and I had made up stories about the people in the cars. We imagined that they were driving to the movies or going to parties. Once, we spied a sleek black limousine and fancied that it contained men in tuxedos and women in evening dresses. Maybe a group going to prom. It was as far away from our everyday world as we could envision.

“Someday that’s going to be us out there,” Elijah said, gesturing with his chin toward the road.

“Soon. Three more weeks.” I’d been daydreaming about Outside for so long. And it was almost time for Rumspringa. Literally, it meant “running around.” It was the time for young Amish men and women to go beyond the gate and taste the Outside world. After years of begging and pleading, my parents had finally relented and let me go Outside this year, on two conditions: that I wait until the harvest was completed, and that Elijah go with me. We wouldn’t be formally living together, of course. I intended to room with one of the girls I’d grown up with, Hannah Bachman. And one of Elijah’s friends, Sam Vergler, would go too. Sam and Hannah had been courting since Hannah had turned sixteen. We’d have a girls’ apartment and a boys’ apartment. Proper. But for all practical intents, Elijah and I would be going on Rumspringa together.

Though he could have gone sooner Elijah had declared that he wouldn’t participate in Rumspringa without me. He’d been saving money, apprenticing to a master carpenter and helping out with his father’s farm. He seemed content, though, with his day-to-day life, content with the waiting. And I knew that my parents hoped that Elijah and I would someday be married. Indeed, I couldn’t picture myself being married to anyone else . . . though I admitted that it would be strange to see him with a beard like the ones worn by all married Amish men, rather than his handsome, clean-shaven face. It was the destiny I’d accepted. I was Amish. I didn’t dislike my life and accepted the inevitabilities cheerfully. Still, I wanted the experience of Outside. To know that I’d made the right choice. To be absolutely certain.

There was a difference, I had decided, between knowing and believing. And I wanted both.

“What’s the first thing we’re going to do Outside, Katie?” Elijah asked, grinning. “Eat sushi?”

“Ugh. No.” I wrinkled my nose. This was a game we played often: When we are Outside . . . “I am going to buy a pair of britches. Jeans.”

He stood back and looked at me, considering. “You? In britches?”

“Ja,” I said, lifting my chin defiantly. “And I want to go to the movies.”

“The movies?” he echoed. He was still fixated on the jeans; I could tell by how he stared at my rump. “What kind of movie do you want to see?”

“I’m not sure.” I smiled slyly. I’d found a newspaper while Outside with my father earlier that day. He occasionally delivered fresh produce to a convenience store that catered to English tourists. If I picked the produce, I could keep the money. I kept mine squirreled away in a wooden box that Elijah had made for me, with the word Rumspringa carved on the top. After we delivered the produce, I found the page of movies in a trash can outside of the store and had tucked it away in my apron pocket. I pulled it out now and smoothed it over the top beam of the fence. “See. There’s a lot to choose from.”

Elijah leaned over my shoulder, and I could feel his breath disturbing the tie on my bonnet. “Wow.” His finger traced over the listings. There was one that showed an explosion and soldiers in uniform. Another depicted a cartoon dragon with wings wrapped around a castle. I was partial to that one. It seemed magical, dangerous, and compelling. Though he was only printed in black-and-white, I imagined that the dragon was blue — blue as the sky at dusk.

“How about this?” Elijah pointed to an advertisement for a film that showed a female spy in a leather suit. Her breasts strained to be released from the zipper that contained them, and she held a gun longer than her impressive legs.

I peered at the woman in leather. “If you want. As long as I can see the dragon film.”

Elijah laughed. “I would think you’d object to that. But she is wearing britches.”

I shrugged. The woman seemed very unreal, as two-dimensional as the paper she appeared on. I wasn’t threatened by fantasy. “No. I’d be eager to see if she really looks like that in the film, though.”

“So am I.” He lifted his eyebrows. I swatted him playfully.

Our gazes gradually settled back to the horizon, at the black ribbon of road. The whine of an engine echoed in the distance, like a mosquito.

“Ooh, a speeder,” Elijah said. He stepped up on the lowest rail of the fence for a better look. Sometimes the speeders were followed by policemen with lights blazing and siren howling — a special thrill.

I shaded my eyes with my hand and peered at the faraway road. To my surprise, it was not a sports car that zinged along. This was a square sport-utility vehicle, piled high with luggage and boxes lashed to the roof. The driver, a man, was yelling. His wife was turned around in the passenger’s seat, and I could not see her face. Nor could I see the expressions of the children.

But I could hear high-pitched crying.

“They must be in a hurry to go camping,” Elijah murmured.

“I’m glad I’m not going on that vacation,” I said.

The vehicle sped out of sight, and no police car followed it.

I frowned, feeling sorry for the family. That sense of unease was foreign to me. My parents had always given my younger sister and me a happy home. I had never been afraid of my father, nor could I remember him ever having a cross word with my mother. Like Elijah and me, they had grown up together. That familiarity had not bred contempt, and they didn’t concern themselves with what lay beyond the gate.

I did. And I wondered if Elijah and I would ever be like them.


I jumped, hearing my father’s voice behind me. I whirled, stuffing the newspaper page into my apron pocket.

My father was crossing the meadow to the fence. Under his straw hat and above his gray beard, I could see the glimmer of a smile. Though his voice was stern, he wasn’t angry with me. And I had never given him reason to be, never been disobedient . . . that he knew about. He didn’t know about the time that I’d spent at the county library when I’d been ostensibly studying to be a teacher. He didn’t know that I’d read about dinosaurs and planets and plenty of other things not accepted by the Amish. He may have suspected, but he didn’t know. And he was a fair-enough man not to punish me just for the simple suspicion of wrongdoing.

“Ja, Father?”

He nodded at Elijah. He never chastised me for spending time with Elijah. “Mrs. Parsall is here to see the puppies.”

I smiled, though my stomach churned. “She’s at the kennel?”

“Ja. She stopped by the house first, and I told her to go on to meet you there. She’s wondering how many puppies to expect for her customers.”

“I’ll see to her now.”

“Good girl.”

I gave Elijah an apologetic smile and hurried across the sloping meadow to the weather-silvered barn in the distance.

My father had given me the responsibility of managing the family dogs three years ago. I’d been very proud to have the job — he even allowed me to set the prices and keep a portion of the money. He’d told me that it would help make a businesswoman of me. I’d made a profit every year, tucked it away in my Rumspringa box. Maybe it should have gone into the sparsely filled hope chest my mother had given me. But Rumspringa was the apple of my eye, my immediate future.

Running the kennel was often a challenge for me — letting go of what I loved. Though we’d always been kind to our dogs, we’d heard stories of others who weren’t so humane. Those tales made me very, very sad. I loved the dogs dearly, and it was hard for me to give them up. Even to Mrs. Parsall, who promised that she found them loving homes and showed me photographs that people had sent her of the puppies as they grew up. She sometimes told me what their new names were, though they were still classified in my head under the nicknames I’d given each and every one.

Mrs. Parsall was waiting for me outside the dilapidated barn, dressed in jeans and a floppy sun hat. She was a plump, middle-aged woman with blond hair and glasses that slid down her nose. I adored her. She extended her arms out for a hug, and her blue eyes crinkled. She often encouraged me to use her first name, Ginger, but that seemed too disrespectful.

“Katie, how are you, dear?”

I grinned against her shoulder. “Good, good. And you?”

Mrs. Parsall smiled. “Wonderful. And how is Sunny? Is she ready to have her babies?”

“Come see for yourself!” I pushed open the creaky sliding door and led her into the barn. “I expect she might go another week, maybe two. But she’s huge.”

Mrs. Parsall grinned. “That’s great. I have a waitlist . . . The more, the merrier.”

The barn was cool in shadow, and it took a moment for my eyesight to adjust from the brilliance of the day. It was an old gray barn, not for any good use for cows and horses anymore, and more than distant from my house. It sat a stone’s throw from the foundations of a house that had once existed decades ago. I’d been told that the house had been struck by lightning. The neighbors who once lived there move east, and their property had fallen into disrepair. But it was my own little kingdom.

The Hexenmeister had painted a hex sign over the barn door years ago, when I’d started breeding dogs. The symbol he’d picked included sheaves of wheat, for fertility. That part was for the dogs. He’d also worked in spokes of purple tulips, signifying faith and chastity. That part was for me. I’d smiled when I saw it, but it felt like the Hexenmeister was giving me a lecture every time I saw the contradictory images.

Sunlight streamed into the barn through chinks in the old slats, and I smelled sweet hay. Though I called this place a kennel and there were wire cages, I rarely used them. The golden retrievers I raised were a good bunch and had free run of the farm, except when birthing or when the puppies were very small. It wouldn’t do to have one injured or have a bitch give birth in an unknown place.

But Sunny was here, waiting for me. She ran up to me, her bulging body wobbling as she came to greet us. She licked my hands and arms, made an effort to jump on my shoulders, but she was just too heavy with puppies for that kind of horseplay. Mrs. Parsall crouched down at Sunny’s level, and the dog vigorously washed her face with her tongue.

Mrs. Parsall ran her hands over Sunny’s sides. “Oh my. You look about ready to pop, old girl.”

Sunny wagged her tail. This was her third litter. She was a good mama, attentive and loving to her pups.

“Who’s the sire?” Mrs. Parsall asked.

“The papa is Copper. He’s likely to be around somewhere, maybe chasing chickens.”

“Ah. They’ll have beautiful pups.” She rubbed Sunny’s glossy stomach. “Just beautiful.”

“I think so,” I said modestly. “Copper has the broad chest and that dark gold. I’m hoping that the pups will inherit their mother’s desire to stay home, though.”

Mrs. Parsall kissed Sunny behind the ear. “A little wanderlust never hurt anyone.”

I laughed. “You’ve not seen Copper being chased by the rooster. He isn’t fond of the dog harassing his hens.”

Mrs. Parsall looked up at me through her bifocals. “This will be your last litter before you do the Rumspringa thing?”

I nodded. As eager as I was to experience Outside, a pain welled in my throat at the idea of leaving the dogs. “It will be. But I’ve been training my little sister about the dogs. She’ll care for them in the meantime.”

“How long will you be gone?”

I shrugged. “I’m not sure. I haven’t really thought about how long.” The group of us had talked about going north, to the nearest large city, to rent apartments and find some work. We could be gone a week or a year.

Or . . . a small voice in my head prodded. Or you could be gone for always.

But as much as I wanted to experience Outside, the Plain community was all I’d ever known, and I didn’t know if I had the desire or the fortitude to leave it permanently.

I suppose that was what Rumspringa was for. To test limits and make decisions. Most of the young people in our community came back after only a few weekends Outside, spent at amusement parks or camping. Some made no formal display of leaving. They just wandered to the malls and cities during the day, wearing jeans and makeup and experimenting with cigarettes and fast food in a halfhearted way before being baptized into the Amish faith and giving up those things for good. Very few Amish “jumped the fence” and stayed Outside. But it still seemed possible. Vague, but possible.

Mrs. Parsall smiled. “You are always welcome at my house. You know that.” Her home was empty now that her son and daughter had gone away to college across the country. Though she was very proud of them, I could tell that she was lonely. But contemplating Rumspringa at Mrs. Parsall’s house seemed a bit like a sleepover at a favorite aunt’s . . . not the full experience of Outside that I craved.

I gave her a spontaneous hug and a grin. “Thank you.”

She patted my cheek. “You just have to be careful. There are a lot of dangers out there for a young woman.”

“Don’t you mean for a naive young woman?” I didn’t bristle; my tone was teasing.

“For anyone.” Mrs. Parsall’s pretty moon face darkened. “It’s not like it used to be.”

“My parents went Outside for their Rumspringa,” I said. “They told me to be wary of the intentions of strange men. And smoking and drinking and staying out late.” My parents had raised me to be a so-called nice girl; they wanted me to return as one.

“Not only that. Things have become more violent.” She frowned. “There was a mass murder, not too far from here, last week. A whole family slaughtered in their sleep.”

I shuddered, though the idea seemed unreal as the movie advertisements. “I will have Elijah.”

“Just be very, very careful,” the older woman said. “It’s a dangerous world.”

“You sound like my parents.”

“All parents love their children. You should have heard the lecture I gave my kids before they left the house.” She grinned. “Though they were well-armed with cell phones, checking accounts, laundry soap, and condoms, I still worried.”

“Mrs. Parsall!” I could feel the blush spreading beneath my pale cheeks. Though I had seen the dogs breed many times and knew perfectly well what caused children, I was still uncomfortable with the idea of myself having babies. Or experiencing sex, for that matter. And love . . . love was a mysterious thing. I saw a lot of couples marrying out of a sense of acceptance, of duty. That was a kind of love, but not the passionate love that I saw people emphasize Outside.

“These are the facts of life, m’dear.” Mrs. Parsall chuckled. “Love and lust and laundry soap. Just ask Sunny.”

Sunny grinned her inscrutable canine grin, her pink tongue protruding beyond her teeth. She was a dog and already more wise than I was about such things.

I walked Mrs. Parsall outside the barn, through the golden field back to my house. No one but she and I and the dogs ever came back here, and there was no path worn in the grass. The sun had lowered on the horizon, shining through the leaves of sugar maple trees just beginning to yellow with the coming of fall. I could still feel the warmth of the day through the dark brown cotton of my dress. If I didn’t look up at the trees, I could almost convince myself that it was still summer. Almost.

But our community was bustling with the work of autumn and the activities of harvest: younger children gathered apples from a small orchard; men drove horses with carts containing bales of hay to barns; a group of women was busy gathering grapevines to make wreaths to sell in the English shops for Christmas.

We were a good-size settlement of Plain folk, about seventy families, spread over half a county. We had heard rumors of other Plain communities that were shrinking, owing to the youth and the spell of Rumspringa. And there were tales of other communities that grew so fast, there was no farmland for young families. But not ours. Ours had remained the same size and shape as far back as anyone could remember. There always seemed to be enough land for everyone to have at least forty acres to farm, if they wanted it.

And everyone seemed happy, unaffected by the schisms that seemed so common in other Amish settlements. The Bishop said that was because we stuck to the old ways. Everyone knew what was expected of us. There was no renegotiation of rules every time some new technology flew up a bonnet. The Ordnung was the Ordnung. Period. And we had been rewarded for following the Ordnung: there was always enough work and food and spouses and land for everyone. God provided for his people.

The pumpkin patch that my little sister tended was nearly as ripe as Sunny with distended gourds. There was one particularly large monster of a pumpkin that Sarah had a special fondness for. Twice daily she squatted beside it, whispering to it and petting it. Whatever she was doing seemed to be working — the pumpkin was easily over a hundred pounds, with another month to go before it would be severed from the vine.

Mrs. Parsall leaned against the bumper of her old blue station wagon. She pulled her keys from her pocket, gave me a one-armed hug. “You take care of yourself, kiddo.”

I grinned against her shoulder. But something dark against the blue sky caught my attention. I squinted at it, first thinking it to be a bird. But it wasn’t a bird at all.

I stepped back from Mrs. Parsall, pointing at the sky. “Look!”

A dark dot buzzed overhead, growing larger. It was a helicopter, flying so low that I could hear the whump-whump-whump of its blades. It was painted green with a white cross on the side, seeming to wobble in the blue.

Mrs. Parsall shaded her eyes with her hands, shouting to be heard above the roar. “It’s Life Flight.”

“It’s a what?”

“It’s a medical helicopter. From a hospital.”

“It shouldn’t be doing that, should it?”

“Hell, no. It — ”

The helicopter veered right and left, as if it were a toy buffered by a nonexistent tornado. The breeze today was calm, stirred by the helicopter blades and the roar. I thought I saw people inside, fighting, their silhouettes stark through a flash of window, then lost in the sun. The helicopter made a shrieking sound, the whump-whump-whump plowing through the air as it bumped and bucked. It howled over us, so close that I could have reached out and touched it if I’d been standing on the roof of our house.

Mrs. Parsall grabbed me and flung me to the ground. I shoved my bonnet back from my brow in enough time to see the helicopter spiral out of control, spinning nose over tail into a field. It vanished above tall tassels of corn.

For a couple of heartbeats, I saw nothing, heard nothing.

Then I felt the impact through my hands and the front of my ribs, bit my tongue so hard I could taste blood. Black smoke rose over the horizon.

“Oh no,” Mrs. Parsall gasped.

I scrambled to my feet, began to run. I heard Mrs. Parsall behind me, the jingle of her purse strap. I dimly registered her voice shouting into her cell phone. I ran toward the fire, across the grass. I swung myself up and over the barbed-wire fence, mindless of the scratching on my hands and in my skirt.

I plunged into the stalks of corn, taller than me, following the smell of smoke and the distant crackle of fire. I was conscious of the brittle yellow stalks tearing at me as I passed and realized that they were too flammable this far into the season. If the fire got loose in the corn, we’d have no way to stop it.

But my immediate concern was the people on the helicopter.

I ripped through the field and shoved aside blackened stalks of corn to view the site of the crash. The heat shimmered in the air, causing my eyes to tear up. I lifted my apron to cover my nose against the smell of oily smoke.

Fire seethed above me in a black and orange plume, curling around the husk of the dead helicopter. The bent and broken tail jutted out from the ground at an odd angle. The cockpit had broken open, flames streaming through the broken glass.

And I swore I saw something moving inside.


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Expected publication: September 25th 2012 by Houghton Mifflin Harcourt


And now for a giveaway!
To celebrate Laura's YA release I'm giving away one copy of The Hallowed Ones to a commenter.

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