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As of 28 February 2016, due to decline in my health and chronic illness

Friday, November 30, 2012

KINDRED KILLERS by Gary Starta_Review


Kindred Killers (A Stanford Carter Murder Mystery Book 1)Kindred Killers by Gary Starta
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Kindred Killers by Gary Starta
A Stanford Carter Murder Mystery
5 stars

Readers who have read any of author Gary Starta’s series about FBI Special Agent Caitlin Diggs, who underwent a mysterious experience, gaining psychic powers, will be familiar with her good friend and occasional colleague, Stanford Carter of the Bureau of Investigative Services in Boston. Here he is in a series of his own, and does he have a lot on his plate to deal with, both professional and personal. On the investigative side, Carter must track down the killer, or killers, of, consecutively, a real estate agent who took his marital vows lightly; a runaway who danced as an exotic stripper at a low-rate Boston club; and the son, and presumptive heir, of a Massachusetts crime family-not the biggest, but one of the runners-up. Was it one killer, or is there no connection? Carter suspects an answer, but he needs factual evidence. Meanwhile, his engagement to his beloved colleague, forensic technician Jill Seacrest, has been outed; and Carter and Seacrest are informed that, according to Bureau policy, they must either not marry, or one or both must transfer out.

As in any book by this author, what meets the eye is never all there is to know; and by the time we reach the end, secrets upon untold secrets will have been rooted out and exposed, and the reader will have gained an education into certain aspects of forensics, detection, and psychology.


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Thursday, November 29, 2012

ANNIE'S GUEST by Robert Ian Heslop


Annie's GhostAnnie's Ghost by Robert Ian Heslop
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Annie’s Ghost
5 stars

A literary novella, which delves deeply into three major characters: Annie, her husband John, and visitor Will, exploring their character evolution, using as the backdrop a Vermont mountain snowstorm, and the poetry of John Donne.

Annie is a teacher of special needs children, on leave due to surgery. She and her husband live in a lovely farmhouse on the mountain, at her husband’s wish. She is happy in her life, on the surface, but the arrival of young Will, who claims to have wrecked his pickup in the driving snowstorm, reveals dropped stitches, missed cues, and some middle-aged dissatisfaction. Will’s presence over several days presents her with some new options; and her choice will reveal her character-and his.


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GHOSTS OF ROSEWOOD ASYLUM_Review


Ghosts of Rosewood AsylumGhosts of Rosewood Asylum by Stephen Prosapio
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum
5 stars

12 stars! This is a truly enjoyable book: everything I look for in a “haunting” story-that it is set in a truly haunted asylum locale is just thousands of ounces of extra icing for me! The author writes smoothly, balancing that undeniable tension between rationality (“no, this just can’t be”) and belief (“I hear ghosts, I see ghosts, I believe in ghosts”) with a firm but deft touch. Two “ghost-hunting” series broadcast on the same network are cast together (unwillingly or not) to investigate Chicago’s Rosewood Asylum, a locale noted not only for its Victorian – era buildings, but for deaths, suicides, arson fires-you name it. In addition to the tension of reason vs. faith, there is tension between the two divergent programs and their personnel, romantic tension, and conflict between the living and the-well, not so living.

I can’t wait for further “haunting” novels from this author. “Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum” is a definite reread.


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CORNERED by Rich Stahnke_Review


CorneredCornered by Rich Stahnke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Cornered
5 stars

This was a truly original and inventive story. I did not expect the situation the farm family has created for itself; nor could I have thought in advance of the denouement. Everything is delightfully fresh, new, and unexpected. I don’t wish to spoil anything, so I’ll just summarise briefly.

Widowed Alan Wright and his two adult sons live on their isolated tobacco farm in North Carolina, adjacent to the extensive compound of Fort Bragg. The three keep to themselves as much as possible, interacting only occasionally with consumers and townsfolk. Imagine then their surprise when a nearly delirious woman appears from nowhere, climbs their fence, claims she and her boyfriend were attacked by creatures while bicycling. Imagine their further astonishment when the creatures track her to the house, and attack, despite the fact that the three farm men have heavily armed, and excellent marksmen.

I doubt any reader will figure the ending out in advance, which makes the story so enthralling.


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THE HAUNTING OF ALLIGATOR LAKE_Review


Nemesis: The Death of Timmy QuinnNemesis: The Death of Timmy Quinn by Kealan Patrick Burke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Nemesis: The Death of Timmy Quinn
5 stars

Well, here we are, finally (whether we wish it or not) at the conclusion of the Timmy Quinn saga. How do we know it’s over? The subtitle indicates this is it, the end, conclusion, finis for Timmy. And so it is.  I confess to always being dismayed when a favourite character “bites the dust,” as the old Queen song would have it.

But nothing lasts forever, and I guess it must be time for Timmy to see The Stage from the other side.
Beware: you may find yourself crying through this one. It’s very graphic, very gory, very violent (you’ll find yourself turning your head a few times) and of course, very sad (but I still say “Vessels” is sadder). My recommendation is to read all these in quick succession, as I did. I think that reveals more of the character to the reader, and the previous stories stick in the mind while you’re reading the new entry.

Guess there won’t be another new entry now; unless Timmy decides to play the role some of the dead have played throughout the saga, and come back around; but then, who would there be around to see him?


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NEMESIS: THE DEATH OF TIMMY QUINN by Kealan Patrick Burke


Nemesis: The Death of Timmy QuinnNemesis: The Death of Timmy Quinn by Kealan Patrick Burke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Nemesis: The Death of Timmy Quinn
5 stars

Well, here we are, finally (whether we wish it or not) at the conclusion of the Timmy Quinn saga. How do we know it’s over? The subtitle indicates this is it, the end, conclusion, finis for Timmy. And so it is.  I confess to always being dismayed when a favourite character “bites the dust,” as the old Queen song would have it.

But nothing lasts forever, and I guess it must be time for Timmy to see The Stage from the other side.
Beware: you may find yourself crying through this one. It’s very graphic, very gory, very violent (you’ll find yourself turning your head a few times) and of course, very sad (but I still say “Vessels” is sadder). My recommendation is to read all these in quick succession, as I did. I think that reveals more of the character to the reader, and the previous stories stick in the mind while you’re reading the new entry.

Guess there won’t be another new entry now; unless Timmy decides to play the role some of the dead have played throughout the saga, and come back around; but then, who would there be around to see him?


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VESSELS (TIMMY QUINN #3) by Kealan Patrick Burke_Review


Vessels (Timmy Quinn #3)Vessels by Kealan Patrick Burke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Vessels
Timmy Quinn #3
5 stars

I thought “The Turtle Boy” was riveting, and “The Hides” was terrifying, but this one-hurts. Emotionally wrenching, heart-breaking, “Vessels” just ripped the heart out of my metaphoric chest cavity. Poor Timmy Quinn: literally, he can run, but he cannot hide. The dead are everywhere; and not only that, but every locale seems to hold dead who passed untimely, by means either their own or someone else, who must appear to Timmy and urge him to be the vessel of their passage into this plane to seek retribution. I expected that the final installment of the Timmy Quinn stories, “Nemesis,” would be the heartbreaker-but no, it is this one.


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THE HIDES (TIMMY QUINN #2) by Kealan Patrick Burke_Review


The Hides (Timmy Quinn #2)The Hides by Kealan Patrick Burke
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of The Hides
Timmy Quinn #2
5 stars

Those who’ve read and enjoyed the first Timmy Quinn story ,”The Turtle Boy” (a story which I know I will never delete from my imagination), will remember that Timmy was then an eleven-year-old boy living a quiet (or so it appeared on the surface) existence in Delaware, Ohio. That, of course, was prior to Timmy’s discovery of “The Stage,” the means by which the deceased (or some among them) appeared to him, demanding retribution, justice, and revenge.

When this next installment commences, some years have passed, and they have not been happy ones: not for Timmy, either of his parents, the deceased, nor the grieving. Timmy’s parents decide to divorce, and his father returns to his native Ireland, taking Timmy along. Well, the dead are just as present over there as in Ohio (they’ve actually had many centuries more to collect dead) and right away, Timmy encounters them, including unwittingly discovering some of his grandmother’s terrible secrets. A terrifying encounter (it still frightens me!) with an entity called, for no better term, “The Hides,” inside the two-story leather factory where Timmy’s father Paul finds work, may have fatal consequences. (That’s fatal, in addition to terror that will scare the living daylights out of you.)

Timmy never asked to see the dead, but they see him, and they use him as their instrument. What he wants does not seem to matter.


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VALLEY OF THE SCARECROW by Gord Rollo_Review


Valley of the ScarecrowValley of the Scarecrow by Gord Rollo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Valley of the Scarecrow
5 stars

Did I find this book SCARY? You bet. Imaginative? Ditto. Enthralling? Yep of course. So what more do you need to know ?

“Valley of the Scarecrow” is one of those horror stories that postulates the existence of actual evil, not just psychological misfitting, but real, down-to-earth (or down-to-Hades) evil. Way back during the Great Depression in America, a community of Scottish immigrants following the directives of their pastor, found their crops bountiful and prospering. The problem was, the preacher was enriching himself at the expense of surrounding communities, and he wasn’t growing these incredibly expansive crops through prayer. Instead, he had dealt himself and the Community to “the Man in Black.” Worse comes to worse, and a group of men from the small community unite to stop this devilishness, in a horrifying way.

Decades later, the son of one of that number, now in his eighties, makes the mistake of mentioning the anecdote to his granddaughter, and speaks of the Reverend’s treasure. Greed is set afoot, and she and her ex-boyfriend and several of their best friends decide to hunt the lost community and dig up the treasure, wherever and whatever it may be. Treasure is not all they discover, though.


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CLUTCH (I AM JUST JUNCO #1) by J. A. Huss_Review


Clutch (I Am Just Junco, #1)Clutch by J.A. Huss
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Review of Clutch by J. A. Huss
I Am Just Junco #1
4 stars

Junco Coot is one of the toughest, most outspoken, heroines I have encountered. This girl is a sharpshooter, profane, constantly angry, rebellious, and highly unpleasant to just about everybody she encounters. In her defense, she lives and grew up in a seriously Dystopian society, her father has just died, and an avian alien wants to take her out. So she does have some excuse for her sour attitude.
In 2152, aliens are, yes, real. They are avian, which I had expected would mean they were “bird-like,” but although they fly, they are more like the way that angels are often pictured: humanoid, with very large wings (and they move about as fast as an eye blink).
This is a rollicking nonstop adventure and nonstop is no exaggeration. Junco and Tier (the avian sent to assassinate her) never seem to stop for a breath, and the tension (between those two, between Junco and those who are supposed to her cohorts, and between Tier and his species and Junco’s human fellows) never lets up.

I reviewed this novel for Innovative Online Book Tours, which provided me with a copy to review.


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Wednesday, November 28, 2012

DAY OF THE PESKY SHADOW by Vickie Johnstone_Review


Day of the Pesky Shadow (A Smarts & Dewdrop Mystery, #2)Day of the Pesky Shadow by Vickie Johnstone
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Day of the Pesky Shadow
A Smarts & Dewdrop Mystery
By Vickie Johnstone

A delightfully humoured filled tale, set in Crazy Name Town, the locale of the author’s previous “Day of the Living Pizza,” this story follows a human shadow, which happens to be a person, not a shadow attached to a person. In other words, he is just—shadow. Officer Dewdrop finds the Shadow, Mr. Shady, a friendly and likable fellow, but notes that a regular person can’t sit, share a cup of tea, or eat dinner with – a shadow. Detective Smarts wishes it would all go away-until he discovers that there’s not just one, but more, shadows in Crazy Name Town, and one of them is determined on being-pesky-and troublesome.
Don’t worry, Smarts & Dewdrop will persevere until they get to the bottom of the situation-and please readers with a happy ending (if those readers can stop laughing long enough, that is).


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KILLER PROTOCOLS by David E. Manuel_Review


Killer ProtocolsKiller Protocols by David E. Manuel
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Killer Protocols by David E. Manuel
5 Stars

Another can’t-put-it-down, read-in-one-sitting thriller/adventure/mystery, with a subtle touch of humour that caught me up and occasionally made me laugh out loud-AFTER I caught the joke! “Richard Paladin,” our protagonist, is a cynical yet patriotic (believe me, it’s possible) Federal government bureaucrat-or so he seems. Richard Paladin is not even his real name, but it is the appellation by which he is known to his coworkers at an “outpost” of the Environmental Protection Agency. In actuality, he is a well-paid government assassin-or so he believes. His supervisor is his “handler,” providing him with aliases and credit cards, and with assignments to remove terrorists within the boundaries of the U.S.

I won’t spoil this very enjoyable story line, but do know that Paladin is a truly original character, and this plot line is amazing. I really want to see him return for a new round of adventure and excitement, and his trademark subtle cynical humour, leavened with his patriotic devotion to his nation.
- - -
I reviewed an e-book copy, received from the author, via the Goodreads Group Making Connections, in return for my fair and impartial review.


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Tuesday, November 27, 2012

A CHILD IS TORN: INNOCENCE LOST by Dawn Kopman Whidden_Review


A Child is Torn “Innocence Lost”A Child is Torn “Innocence Lost” by Dawn Kopman Whidden
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review shortly-wow, what a book!

Review of A Child is Torn: Innocence Lost
5 Stars

I don’t very often use this phrase, but here it applies: this novel totally “blew me away.” I could not but read this in the space of a few hours, as I was not about to put the book aside unfinished. That ending! The author does give a clue or two, but believe me, the denouement is not telegraphed and so comes as an unexpected revelation, to the characters as well as to the reader. Yet-logically it all works out, and after four and a half decades of self-study of psychology and a baccalaureate degree in the subject, it makes perfect sense, and I appreciate the ways in which the author works out the plot; and her discussion of the Nature vs. Nurture debate.

A young child, age ten, is found playing a video game in his living room; alone, except for his bludgeoned parents upstairs in their bedroom. He says, “I did it,” yet no one can believe it; the boy is small for his age, almost silent. How could he have? Well, read on and find out: did he or didn’t he? Why were the parents murdered? What really happened, and what is in the background of this family? Child abuse?  A killer from outside the family?  Be prepared for nearly continuous surprises in this very, very, rewarding novel.


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WANTED: DEAD OR UNDEAD by Angela Scott Blog Tour_and Review


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Trace Monroe doesn't believe in luck. He never has. But when a fiery-headed cowgirl saunters through the saloon
doors, wielding shotguns and a know-how for killing the living dead, he believes he just may be the luckiest man
alive.

Trace wants to join Red's posse, but she prefers to work alone--less messy that way. In order to become her traveling
companion, Trace has to agree to her terms: no names, no questions, and if he gets bit, he can't beg for mercy when
she severs his brain stem.

He agrees, knowing only that Red is the sharpest shooter he's ever encountered. The fact she's stunning hasn't
escaped his attention either.

What he doesn't know, is that Red has a very good reason to be on top of her game. She not only has the answer for
how they can all outlive the plague taking over the wild, wild west, she IS the answer.

BIO:

I hear voices. Tiny fictional people sit on my shoulders and whisper their stories in my ear. Instead of
medicating myself, I decided to pick up a pen, write down everything those voices tell me, and turn it
into a book. I’m not crazy. I’m an author. For the most part, I write contemporary Young Adult novels.
However, through a writing exercise that spiraled out of control, I found myself writing about zombies
terrorizing the Wild Wild West—and loving it. My zombies don’t sparkle, and they definitely don’t
cuddle. At least, I wouldn’t suggest it.

I live on the benches of the beautiful Wasatch Mountains with two lovely children, one teenager, and a
very patient husband. I graduated from Utah State University with a B.A. degree in English, not because
of my love for the written word, but because it was the only major that didn’t require math. I can’t spell,
and grammar is my arch nemesis. But they gave me the degree, and there are no take backs.

As a child, I never sucked on a pacifier; I chewed on a pencil. I’ve been writing that long. It has only
been the past few years that I’ve pursued it professionally, forged relationships with other like-minded
individuals, and determined to make a career out of it.

You can find me at my website, where I blog obsessively about my writing process and post updates on
my current works. I’m also on Twitter and Facebook, but be forewarned, I tweet and post more than a
normal person

ONLINE LINKS:

Blog - www.angelascottauthor.com
Twitter - @whimsywriting
Facebook - https://www.facebook.com/AngelaScottWriter
Goodreads: http://www.goodreads.com/book/show/13636317-desert-rice

Stalk me (I like it) at: Blog . Twitter . Facebook . Amazon . Zombie Book Trailer . Desert Rice Book Trailer

Check out:
WANTED: Dead or Undead
Survivor Roundup
Desert Rice

BUY NOW LINK:

Amazon Link: http://www.amazon.com/Wanted-Dead-or-Undead-ebook/dp/B007MCHXEU/ref=cm_cr_pr_product_top
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/wanted-angela-scott/1111940096?ean=2940044667570



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Amazon Kindle copy



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First Chapter:

Prologue – The Night Knew No Difference
Elisabeth walked the path to the streambed with precise, careful steps. The moon proved enough light to go by as she navigated the familiar brush and rocks. She held a metal pail in one hand, and her father's pistol, pointed toward the ground, in the other.

At the end of the path, she placed the gun on a small boulder and knelt to dip the bucket into the stream. Frigid water trickled over her fingers as she clung to the handle, waiting for it to fill. She struggled to her feet on the muddy bank, weighed down by the heavy bucket, but she found her footing and stood in the slippery mess.
 

"
 Elisabeth!"
She stopped moving and the bucket slapped against her thigh, soaking her dress. Tortured sounds came from the direction of the cabin—screams and cries intertwined—and wrapped their frozen fingers around her.

"
 Elisabeth!"

She threw the bucket down, grabbed the gun, and ran toward the sound of her brothers' squeals. Sharp rocks tore at her bare feet as she leapt over fallen trunks, clutching the pistol in her white-knuckled grasp.
 

The deer carcass her father had hung in the barn could have brought a mountain lion or wolves to the premises, but most likely, the smoke from the chimney had attracted unwanted attention from the Natives in the area. Attacks were common. The Smiths on the other side of the hill had been burned out of their cabin just a few months before.
 

Elisabeth cleared the trees and scanned the grounds around her home. Nothing—no Natives, no animals—only the swirl of smoke that escaped the chimney and the yellow, flickering glow of firelight that illuminated the windows. Silence blanketed the cabin and surrounding woods, which frightened her more than the sound of her brothers' screams and cries. She stood, gun raised, panting heavily as her fingers trembled on the trigger.
 

"Ma?" She took a hesitant step forward. "Pa?"
 

No answer.
 

"Peter? William?"
 
She half expected her brothers to come running through the open door and tackle her about the waist, but they didn't. Instead, she heard the sound of a wooden chair being dragged across the floorboards. Furniture tumbled. Dishes crashed. A shadow crossed in front of the window.
Elisabeth cocked the gun and pointed it toward the sky, afraid of accidentally shooting her mother or brothers in a panic. She lifted her foot and placed it on the bottom step.

"You a'right?" She softly placed one foot in front of the other on the weather-beaten boards until she reached the landing. "Ma?"

The door stood open a crack, but not enough to see inside. As she stepped forward to push the door wide, a sticky wetness seeped between her toes. Blood oozed over the threshold onto the porch and Elisabeth stood squarely in the middle of it. She opened her mouth to scream, but clasped her free hand over it and allowed only whimpers to escape through the spaces between her fingers.

She plowed through the door and wielded the gun like the sharpshooter her father had trained her to be. He would have been proud to witness his daughter's steady hand wrapped around the Remington revolver, if he weren't looking down the barrel of it instead. His cloudy eyes stared up at her as he knelt over the dismembered, gutted body of her mother. No sound crossed over Elisabeth's lips, though her mind exploded with terror and her knees threatened to buckle.

She didn't doubt her pa's guilt for a second. Blood drenched him, dripping from his hands, face, and mouth. He threw his head back and grunted, displeased by the interruption. The inhuman sound forced her to take a step back. That man was not her pa. He was hardly a man at all. He reminded her of a wild animal in the forest, feasting on fallen prey. Her mother? Fallen prey?
 

"Pa?" The word choked her. She couldn't breathe. On crooked limbs, he worked his way to a crouching position, cocked his head to the side, and pinned his gaze on her. He stood and dragged himself forward—one step, then another.
 

"Pa, no!" Tears wet her cheeks. The man who had hugged his family just hours earlier, who swung each of the boys around until they fell laughing and dizzy on the ground, had vanished. He had called her li'l girl, even though she was no longer little. The hideous monster that slowly lugged itself toward her had replaced the man she knew and loved.
 

"Please, Pa, don't!"
 

He snapped his head from side to side and roared a guttural response. Her mother's blood fell from his tongue and lips, splattering the floor at his feet. He reached his arm forward, and Elisabeth didn't hesitate—she wound her finger around the trigger and pulled.

The bullet ripped through his shoulder and his arm fell limp at his side. If anything, the injury stunned him, but didn't alter his progression. He continued his slow, agonizing path toward her. She fired again. The bullet penetrated his right eye and went clear on through, lodging itself in the wall behind him. His knees bowed and he wobbled briefly before collapsing in a broken mess on the wooden floor.

She continued to hold the gun in her hands, but squeezed her eyes shut.
 This can't be happening. This can't be happening. Her shoulders shook as sobs ripped through her chest and heart. Now she turned to throw her head back and yell into the night, to release the pain and fear that threatened to destroy her.

The sound of whimpering from the loft caused her eyes to fly open. She'd forgotten about the boys.

"Peter! William!" She stepped over her father's broken body and refused to look at her mother's remains as she moved past. "It's okay," she called to them. They must be terrified, hiding in the loft above her. "It's okay now. Everything's gonna be a'right. Come on down."

"Beth?"

She released a sob from her constricted throat upon hearing the sound of her brother's voice. "Peter!" She climbed up the bottom rungs of the ladder. "It's okay now. No one's gonna hurt you."

He poked his blond head over the edge of the loft and peered down at her. "I don't feel so good, Beth." Beads of sweat dotted his brow as he wrapped his arms around his stomach. "Pa bit me."

Elisabeth climbed the remaining rungs to reach her brother. He sat on his haunches, rocking in pain. He leaned to the side and retched dark blood onto the floor.

"It hurts!" He removed his arms from around his belly, exposing a gaping hole beneath his bloodied nightshirt.

She grabbed the closest thing she could find—his discarded jacket—and balled it up before pressing it into his abdomen.
 Why is this happening? It doesn't make sense.

"It's gonna be okay. It's gonna be fine." She looked around the loft, panicked. "Where's William?"

Peter shook his head and nodded toward the shadows. "Willie's sick, too."

She crawled on her hands and knees toward the huddled figure in the corner. "William, you okay? You hurt?" She held her hand out toward her frightened brother. "I know you're scared, but it's a'right now. It's a'right."

The ten-year-old boy lunged forward, leaving her mere seconds to pull her hand back to escape his snapping jaws. He wore the same crazed expression she'd seen on her pa's face.

She fell backwards and scooted away from him, but William sprang forward again and gripped her ankle. He opened his mouth, ready to clamp down, but she kicked at him with her other foot until he released his hold. Once free, she pushed past Peter and climbed part way down the ladder before jumping off and landing on the floor below.

"Peter!" she yelled up at him. "Jump down to me! Come on! Jump!" The sick little boy, still pressing the increasingly bloodied jacket to his stomach, launched himself over the side and Elisabeth caught him.

"Don't look!" she told him, and Peter pushed his face into her shoulder to avoid the gruesome scene of their parents' deaths.

She carried him out the door and ran toward the barn with Peter wrapped firmly around her torso. He dug his fingers into her shoulders, while his tiny body shook and grew hotter by the moment. His warm blood seeped through her dress. She didn't have much time.
 God, help me!she silently prayed. I can't do this on my own.

The town was ten miles away, and she would have to hitch up the wagon in order to get her brother to help safely—balancing him on a horse would be near impossible—but it would take too much precious time. Time she didn't have.

"It's okay, Peter. Just hang in there."

He let out a low, throaty hum and she quickened her pace. If she didn't hurry, she would lose him, too.

Elisabeth struggled to hold onto her brother while fumbling with the wooden latch that held the barn door closed. As she shifted his weight to her hip, his sharp baby teeth clamped down on her tender flesh and a searing pain engulfed her shoulder. He shook his head like a dog refusing to release its bone.

She cried out, begging him to stop. Agonizing pain radiated down the length of her arm and her fingers splayed to the point of near breaking. She grabbed the back of his head and tugged at his hair in an attempt to pull him off, but his strength rivaled that of a full grown man.

She spun around and slammed his body against the barn door, trying to knock him off with force. He clung to her with greater resolve and tightened his fingers around her upper arms. When she slammed her brother's body into the barn door for a second time, it splintered and flew open, but the boy seemed unaffected. She wound her left hand around Peter's twisted face, pushed her fingers into his eye sockets, and began to pry him off her. He screamed out briefly, but his vice-like jaws clamped onto her shoulder once more and she lost all feeling in her arm.

She stumbled into the barn searching for anything she could use to strike him. A burning pain flowed through her veins and stiffened her joints and muscles, shortening her steps. Her eyes began to blur and she blinked in an effort to restore her vision. Her mouth dried up, as though her body was reabsorbing itself, and her stomach growled and rolled.

Without warning, Peter's head snapped upright. He cried out as his body went rigid, and his grip on her arm slackened. He slipped from her body and sunk to the earth at her feet, crying as his arms and legs jutted out and retracted.

She couldn't see him clearly, but heard everything—his moans, his cries, the sound of him choking to death. She stumbled backward, clutching her useless arm to ease her own pain. When her brother lay still, Elisabeth fell to her knees and looked heavenward.

Crickets chirped in rhythm and an owl hooted its warning off in the distance. The night knew no difference.



Review of Wanted: Dead or Undead by Angela Scott
5 Stars
An Innovative Online Book Tours Blog Tour
I was astounded at the depth and breadth of this totally enjoyable and intriguing book. If you’re expecting your average Zombie-hunts-flesh story, look again: this is a Western like you’ve never seen it before. Deep, well-emphasised characters, unexpected plot twists, well-researched historical backgrounds, romantic tension and conflict, fatalities, danger, injury, danger, zombies, danger: it’s all here and more. I ended this book after reading it in one sitting, eager to read the sequel. Red, Trace, and Wen, as well as the children Rivers and Fisher, and the mongrel Lasso, wormed their way into my heart. There are human villains as well as zombies to jeer at, and plenty of three-dimensional secondary characters too.
Whether or not you’re a Zombie fancier, do try out this series. You’re gonna love it.

STREAM LINER OF THE LOST SOULS by Paul Leslie Griffiths_Review


Stream Liner of the Lost SoulsStream Liner of the Lost Souls by Paul Leslie Griffiths
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Review of Stream Liner of the Lost Souls
by Paul Leslie Griffiths
5 Stars

Wow! What an adventuresome, exciting, non-stop-paced, horror-laden, hopeful, wonderful book! I literally raced through in one sitting and could not put it down till I reached the end-and found myself wanting the story to go on and on.

In a dingy, run-down town in England, where the depressed economy has put paid to the profiteers who once tried to make a go of industry, sometimes it's all a person can do to just get by. Shannon is one such individual, working two low-paying jobs to keep a flat and to try to keep her elder brother-her only remaining family-on the straight and narrow. The problem is that Ben isn't even on the straight-he's in a gang, and rather narrowly escapes the inexplicable massacre that kills most of the members. His buddy Dave is new to the gang; and Dave has a lot of secrets, some of which could prove deadly. But neither of them, and quite possibly no one human, can stand up to and conquer the fatal threat known as the “Stream Liner of the Lost Souls,” an unearthly creature of illusion and claws, unleashed in Japan, now haunting Littleton.

This reviewer is so glad this is just the first of a series. A multilayered and complex novel which will keep your attention, and then refuse to leave your mind, “Stream Liner of the Lost Souls” is unforgettable.


View all my reviews

Sunday, November 25, 2012

WISTERIA by Bisi Leyton_Review

BLURB:
Sixteen year old Wisteria Kuti has two options—track the infected around the Isle of Smythe or leave the only known safe haven and face a world infested with flesh eating biters. But even with well-armed trackers, things go wrong and Wisteria ends up alone facing certain death, until she is rescued by the mysterious Bach. Uninfected, Bach is able to survive among the hordes of living dead.
Eighteen year old Bach, from a race known as The Family, has no interest in human affairs. He was sent here to complete his Great Walk and return home as a man—as a Sen Son. The Family regard humans as Dirt People, but Bach is drawn to this Terran girl, whom he has never seen before, but somehow knows.
Hunted by flesh eaters, cannibals, and the mysterious blood thirsty group called Red Phoenix, Wisteria and Bach make their way back to the Isle of Smythe, a community built on secrets and lies.
Quotes from Reviewers / Praise for Wisteria:
“I love the buildup of this story, getting to know the characters and watching their connection grow. I had no idea which way the story was headed and I was kept in suspense right up to the very end! It has plenty of action and a fascinating plot and I can’t wait to see what Bisi Leyton has for us next!!” Naomi Hop, Book Reviewer, http://nomisparanormalpalace.blogspot.com
“There are a lot of great things in this book, so much more than zombies and a struggle for survival. At it’s base core it is about star-crossed lovers, literally and the supporting characters roles… Ms. Leyton brings to Wisteria a mixture of science fiction, fantasy, dystopic world with a twist to the paranormal romance angle!”
http://cabingoddess.com/2012/10/wisteria/
“The book was full of nonstop action from the beginning until the end, and I did not put it down until I had finished it. I loved the book.” Author Monique Morgan, http://www.moniquemorgan.com
BIO:
Bisi Leyton was born in East London in 1978. She grew up in London, Nigeria and the States, listening to the stories life and love from aunts, cousins and big sisters.
She lives in London, but has worked around Europe including France, Germany, Ireland, Belgium and the Czech Republic. She has a fondness for reading graphic novels.

ONLINE LINKS:

Twitter:  @bisileyton
Goodreads:  http://www.goodreads.com/Bisileyton

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Book Info:
Book Title: Wisteria
Author Name: Bisi Leyton
Author Location (for press releases) London , England
Name of series and book number in series: Wisteria Series Book 1
Total Book in the Series: 3 so far
Genre:  Young Adult Paranormal Romance
Date of Publication:  Aug 2012
ISBN: Paperback: 9781291114898
ASIN: B008XRI3BA
Number of pages: 275
Word Count:  90,000
Formats available: PDF and Mobi/prc
Cover Artist: Olivia Smith
Book Trailer: - http://goo.gl/ZXY14
Purchase Links:
Amazon – Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B008XRI3BA
Paperback: http://goo.gl/90mIF





Wisteria

By
Bisi Leyton


PROLOGUE

Thirteen months after the first official case of Nero Disease

“Wisteria, run!” Rebecca O’Leary screamed over the radio.
Wisteria Kuti whipped around and came face-to-face with the blood-red eyes of a hungry flesh-eating biter. The biter was a man, infected by Nero Disease, who had long lost his mind. He looked more animal than human and he wanted one thing—to feed on the flesh of uninfected people. The biter growled and staggered toward Wisteria.
She fled down the deserted road to the nearest house. The front door was locked. She kicked at the door, but it didn’t open. Taking out her handgun, she smashed through the window of the door.
“Ugh,” more biters growled behind her.
She spun around, fired once, and hit one in the head. She unlocked the door by reaching in and turning the lock. Once inside, she chained and bolted the door.
Crash—a biter smashed through another window into the house.
Wisteria’s heart jumped and she darted up the stairs as fast as she could.
“Get out of the house, Wisteria!” Rebecca radioed.
I’m trying.
A biter grabbed her ankle as she ran. Falling hard on the steps, she wailed in pain. “Ah.” No time to cry, Wisteria. She fired at the biter holding her. One bullet left.
Three more biters appeared below and started coming up the stairs. Leaping up, she sprinted to the top floor and dashed into the first open doorway that led to the master bedroom. Locking the door, she headed straight for the window.
The infected clawed at the door, tearing it apart and snarling as they entered.
Trying to open the window, she found it was stuck and the panes were too small to fit through. She pulled harder—nothing. Then she heard the biters’ cries. They were now in the room with her.
“Just hold on,” Rebecca said over the handheld radio.
Wisteria fired at a biter.
The bullet went through one and hit another—two fell.
She fired again. Click. No bullets. “Wonderful.” She stoned the biter with her useless weapon, but that had no effect.
Noticing a red-handled samurai sword in the corner of the room, she dove for it. Another biter entered the room. She took the sword out of the sheath and pointed it at the approaching biters. The blade trembled in her grip, and then there was a gunshot… two more biters fell.
Thirty-something Lara Kuti stood in the doorway with two handguns trained on Wisteria, which she slowly lowered. “Wisteria, what the hell are you doing here?” the older woman seethed.
“I was cleared to work,” she explained to her mother.
“You’re prepared to die out here?” Her mother glared at Wisteria. “You think we’re playing here? And how the hell did you leave Smythe?”
“Major Coles cleared me.” Wisteria shook her head.
“Coles knew?” Her mother’s eyes thinned at the mention of Coles.
Something moved in the corridor.
Her mother whipped out her handguns and aimed them at the door.
A few seconds later, red-headed Rebecca O’Leary entered. “You’re all right.” She was red-faced and out of breath. “I told you that you would be.”
“You sent her out here alone?” Wisteria’s mother didn’t lower her weapons.
“Mum, it’s Rebecca,” Wisteria said. “I don’t think she’s infected.”
“You almost got her killed.” Her mother ignored Wisteria.
“Lara, the girl’s fine.” Rebecca seemed unfazed. “We almost get killed every day.”
Her mother stomped her way over to the taller woman. “Don’t ever take my fourteen-year-old daughter on one of your boozed up, pathetic patrols again.”
“Whatever, Lara.” Rebecca tried to sound nonchalant, though she did look rattled by Lara’s fierce words.
Turning away, Wisteria cautiously made her way through the quiet house. Bodies of cured biters lay motionless on the ground. Making her way down the stairs, she saw a tall brown haired man at the front door, Lieutenant Andrew McDowell, her mother’s patrol partner.
He shook his head and chuckled when he saw her.
Still without a word, Wisteria walked toward him and out the front door. She felt like such a fool.
“Hell of a first day,” Andrew commented as he followed her. He then unlocked the backdoor of the battered SUV they used for patrols.
“I messed up,” Wisteria replied nervously and slid inside. She felt foolish because her mother had had to rescue her. Wisteria wanted to be a tracker to prove she could take care of herself.
“So, Coles agreed to this, knowing you’re only fourteen?” Andrew frowned and took her firearm from her.
It was partly true—he had agreed, Wisteria thought to herself without answering him. She’d convinced Major Coles that she was sixteen.


CHAPTER ONE


Two years later

“Summertime, boys and girls,” the gravelly voice of Jake, the controller, crackled on the radio that was on the dashboard of the beaten up and much abused SUV.
Sixteen-year-old Wisteria was now assigned to be a tracker on her mother’s team. She reached out to answer the radio from the back seat, but her mother reached it first.
“Jake, you start singing and I’ll boil your face in oil when I get back,” her mother replied.
“Whoa,” Andrew remarked jovially as he adjusted his tranquilizer rifle. “Trouble in paradise?”
“Shh,” her mother snapped back. “We need to focus.”
The three of them were parked in front of Green Heart Pharmacy and they sat in silence.
Wisteria watched through the iron mesh that used to be the rear window. As a tracker, she monitored the number of biters around the Isle of Smythe. The epidemiologists and other scientists on the island told the trackers where to look and tried to predict the biters’ movements. Usually, they were wrong, but the trackers were still able to collect valuable information about the biters and monitor their activity level.
The hope was that one day, perhaps far into the future, people could start living on Norton again. Today, she was tasked with photographing any infected. For some reason, the doctors on the Isle of Smythe needed them. Things were quiet today. They hadn’t seen a soul, living or dead, in Norton.
“Okay, darling, I’ll stop singing if you’ll have dinner with me tonight,” Jake teased.
Wisteria knew Jake said this to wind her mother up and it always worked.
“Give me the damn radio,” her mother demanded from Andrew.
“Jake,” Andrew spoke into the radio as he continued to scan his side of the street. “Lara says she’d love nothing more than to go out with you.” Andrew snickered.
Being on the outside terrified Wisteria and she couldn’t laugh. Their weapons wouldn’t provide enough protection if a lot of biters swarmed. She learned to keep cool, but how Andrew found the levity to joke amazed her. She guessed it was because of his twelve years in the army.
They heard a crash.
“Shh!” Her mother shut off the radio. “The back, Wisteria, watch the back.”
They all crouched lower in the SUV.
Wisteria focused her attention on the area behind them. Her trained gaze steadily centered through the caged rear window. The blood in her body rushed to her head as she braced herself. She double-checked that her rifle and sword were by her side.
There was another crash and a dog ran past.
“A dog,” Andrew muttered.
“Wait,” Wisteria whispered.
A woman emerged from an alley behind the vehicle, dressed in filthy rags, her hair caked with dirt. Limping toward them, with a blank expression and blood-red eyes, her putrid stench filled the air.
No, this wasn’t a woman. It was the flesher of a woman, a biter, and as it moved closer, the hairs on Wisteria’s neck stood on end.
“Wisteria, take the picture,” her mother reminded her. “Hair, nails, eyes, and mouth, those are the pictures you need. Like you’ve done a hundred times.”
“I know,” she whispered back to her mother. Containing her fear, she focused on the approaching biter.
“You’ll be fine,” Andrew calmly encouraged.
Wisteria knew her job, but Andrew’s relaxed tone made her feel even surer of herself. Steadying her camera, she photographed the woman’s features.
“Do you have it?” Her mother started the car. “Andrew, check it.”
“I have it, Mum.” Wisteria tossed him the camera and collected the rifle next to her.
“Don’t even think about it.” Andrew reached for the weapon. “Use the dart gun.”
“The sound of a gun will attract biters from miles away,” her mother lectured.
“I just grabbed the wrong one by mistake,” Wisteria admitted. “I know what I’m doing.” She aimed the rifle and fired it out through the rear window’s iron mesh. Instead of bullets, a cyanide dart shot out, hitting the biter in the head.
The flesher marched defiantly forward, refusing to fall, but then collapsed.
“Right.” Her mother maneuvered the vehicle out of the parking lot. “Focus on the left side, Wisteria. You don’t need to worry about the back, now that we’re moving. I’m checking the mirror.”
Wisteria sighed heavily. She was already watching the left side and didn’t need to be reminded. She began to question her decision to be a tracker for the third time that day.
“We haven’t seen any biters here for six months and now we’ve had two sightings in three days,” she said, oblivious to Wisteria’s frustration. “It could be a problem.”
“Lara, it’s only the second sighting in six months,” Andrew added. “It’s actually a good sign.”
They sped through Norton, moving past empty playgrounds, backyards, and abandoned vehicles. This was once home to fifteen thousand people, but now it was derelict. Only trackers from the Isle of Smythe and the occasional refugees passed through the town—and the biters.
A long drive later, they came to a narrow bridge. At the foot of the bridge was an iron gate, covered in barbed wire.
Andrew radioed to Jake and less than a minute later, the gate opened. They drove across a barbed wire bridge while under the hardened gaze of armed guards.
Suddenly, Wisteria felt safe.
At the end of the bridge was a massive wall. Squinting, she could make out several soldiers on top, watching them with their weapons trained on them. After waiting for several minutes, the gigantic gates of the inner wall opened and revealed a dingy, granite mining town that was the Isle of Smythe.
They drove past the rows of run-down houses, navigating over potholes. The so-called road was lined with the skeletons of rusted cars.
Even before Nero, the Isle of Smythe was this way, according to Rebecca, who had lived on the island for fifteen years. She said, Smythe was a dump then and was even a bigger dump now.
As usual, there were very few people outside. Wisteria counted four.
They parked at the front of an old bank. This was the trackers’ station where most of their ammunition and supplies were stored. The entire structure was now covered in sheets of metal and a fence was erected around the parking lot.
“You need to try and not get so tense out there,” Andrew advised as Wisteria got out of the SUV. “You know what you’re doing.”
“Andrew, I was calm.” She looked over at her mother, hoping she wasn’t listening, but her mother was already gone, probably updating someone about the trip. “The gun thing was a stupid mistake.”
“We’re lucky there wasn’t a swarm.”
“I’ll work on it.” She started to leave.
“Wait,” Andrew called. “You did good though.”
“Yeah, whatever,” she muttered.
On every trip over the last months, something always went wrong.
“Seriously, you’re better at this than most.” He smiled down at her. “No one got hurt. That’s a success to me.”
Andrew was such a nice guy. If she’d been a lot older and if he wasn’t Major Elliot Coles’s only friend, she might’ve stood a chance with him. “I’ve got homework and you’ve got a debriefing with Major Coles.” At his smile and friendly encouragement, she suddenly became self-conscious. Turning away, she strolled out of the gate and made her way along the muddy road. She jumped around the massive potholes that were now filled with black water from the morning rain.
“Watch where you’re going,” Keith Wicks, her neighbor, yelled as she nearly ran into a sheep. The older man was crossing with a small flock of them.
“Sorry, Mr. Wicks,” Wisteria replied.
“Bloody refugees,” he muttered as he moved along.
Wisteria wasn’t originally from the Isle of Smythe. She was one of about seven hundred refugees who arrived here in the last three years to escape the biters. Some of Smythe’s locals resented the migrants, but most were just glad to be alive.

* * * * *

The next morning was a school day. Like all the under-eighteens in Smythe, she had to be in class. At nine o’clock, Wisteria was on her window seat in the crammed classroom. The school was just an ordinary house used as a school. The old schools were in Norton and now only the biters hung out there.
This meant the younger students and pupils were crammed into this makeshift building. It was like most of the buildings—in desperate need of repair. Several of the windows were broken and replaced by wooden panels. Many of the ceiling panels were missing. There were even holes in the roof and the walls. Handwritten graffiti covered the walls, and even after several attempts to scrub it off, it still remained. The room needed to be repainted, but that was a luxury.
“Ladies and gentlemen, I need you to quiet down. As part of your reward for all your hard work, I’m giving you a test,” Mr. Silas Cheung, the mathematics teacher, announced to the year eleven class. He scribbled the test over the black square on the wall, which served as their blackboard.
“Mr. Cheung, what’s the point of taking the stupid test? No one cares!” Steven Hindle yelled. “It’s not like I need it to get a job.”
Some students laughed.
“Steven, if you want to leave by all means, get out of my class.” Apparently annoyed, Mr. Cheung pointed to the door.
The boy hesitated.
“Are you afraid?” The teacher asked.
The younger man got to his feet, glanced over at Wisteria, and then winked at her.
She quickly looked away from his hypnotic blue eyes.
“Does anyone else want to join Mr. Hindle on his crusade?” the man asked the class.
No one said a word.
Wisteria wanted to leave with him. Maybe they would be able to spend time together, and then he would tell her how beautiful she was. She laughed at her foolishness, because she couldn’t compare to Steven’s girlfriend, Hailey Davenport. Hailey was simply beautiful. She glanced at Hailey and her friends—Karen, Melissa and Yvette—as they sat together at the back of the class.
Hailey’s light gray eyes shot from Steven over to Wisteria and her pretty face briefly reflected a frown.
Wisteria on the other hand was short, shapely, and dark with black hair and very dark eyes.
“Hindle, what are you waiting for? Get out of my class,” Mr. Cheung repeated.
“You can’t talk to us like that,” Gareth Hubbard, Steven’s best friend, piped in.
“Really, Gareth?” the man asked.
“Yeah, you shouldn’t.” Steven continued his defiance.
Cheung walked up to Steven and stopped when he was about a foot away. Though man was shorter than Steven, but he didn’t look intimidated. This was unusual, because Steven’s father, Tom Hindle, was one of the senior scientists in the town.
His father ran the quarantine center and was part of a group still trying to find a cure. He was also on the leadership council and this made Steven as untouchable as any student could be. Most teachers treated him and other children of the island’s leadership with kid gloves. They could get away with anything expect missing school; not even Steven could do that.
The number two rule in the Isle of Smythe was to earn their keep. This meant everyone had a job and one of their jobs was to go to school. The number one rule was to follow the rules. Break the rules and you’d be leaving the Isle of Smythe. They all had seen what had happened to the Nelsons. No one wanted to face a life outside.
“Mr. Cheung, those biters don’t scare me,” Steven boasted.
“Hindle, have you ever seen the infected?” The teacher raised a brow in disbelief.
Steven’s rebellion was futile, but it endeared him to his classmates and to her. He was a native of the town and not a refugee. Some locals never went outside since the Nero outbreak. In her heart, Wisteria knew he’d be less pompous if he understood what the outside really looked like.
“Give me a shotgun and I’ll be fine,” Steven continued to brag.
A couple of the students cheered.
In the days following the outbreak, Wisteria, her mother, and her brother travelled from Dover to Norton. On a normal day, the journey took an hour and a half, but it took them over three months to make it through. Those were the dark days. She shuddered at the memory of those days and nights of continual screaming by people she knew who were turning into biters or being dragged away at night. Going to school was like going on vacation for her when they first arrived, but that was before she’d met Hailey.
Now, she was stuck here. In her heart she wanted to believe that she wasn’t going to be in the Isle of Smythe forever. One day, all this madness would blow over and she would be able to return to Lagos…to her real life. This was why she needed to be a tracker; it was a job that taught her how to take care of herself on the outside, ensuring that when the family was ready to leave, she’d survive.
Steven slammed his book on the table and dropped into his seat.
Victorious, Mr. Cheung smirked and returned to the blackboard.
“Don’t worry; I’m not going anywhere,” Steven whispered to her.
Gareth chuckled.
Wisteria ignored them both. They weren’t actually her friends. Most days, she didn’t operate in the same universe as Steven or Gareth.
“Steven, I gave you a chance to leave my class. That offer’s still open.” Cheung fumed. “Wisteria, do you want to join him?”
“She wants you to kick her out of the class with Steven,” Yvette said with a slight French accent.
Several students laughed.
“Make all her dreams come true,” Melissa Abner added with a snort.
“Come on Karen, she’s not that desperate,” Hailey responded sympathetically.
The rest of the class, including Steven, erupted into laughter. In the two and a half years that she’d lived in Smythe, her crush on Steven was a never-ending source of ridicule. Trying to ignore them, she focused her attention on her notebook and scribbled the words, Colista-Bren-Navida-Dor-Elson over and over. She didn’t know what the words meant, but they gave her comfort.

* * * * *

Eighteen-year-old Bach looked down from the penthouse balcony of the once-bustling Hunter Tower in Central London. Thirty-one floors below, several of the infected Terrans, or humans, as they preferred to be called, moved through the streets. Why the Terrans created such a sickness astonished Bach. Eighty percent of the population was infected or dead. The infected were now turning on the few who managed to escape the infection.
Bach’s people, the Family, looked similar to the Terrans. The similarities were only superficial. He considered the Terrans to be even worse than the infected. But in a way, he was glad he was here.
It was expected that before any male of the Family turned nineteen, they must complete the Great Walk, a thousand day experience away from their home. Granted, Bach did not have to leave his home realm to go to the human’s realm. He could’ve gone to one that didn’t require journeying across the different plains of existence, but he’d come to Terra because he wanted to see this world die. He’d had a horrendous experience with Terrans as a child, around the time his mother died. Now, over a year after arriving into the center of the madness, Bach was tired and bored. He thought the Terrans would be gone by now, but a few of them still held on.
“How many?” Enric, his friend asked, as he joined him.
“Seventy-three. Why?”
“I meant, how many days have we been on the Great Walk. How much longer until we are declared men?”
“Six hundred and fifty-nine days gone.”
“Almost one for each spot on your arm.” He flicked Bach’s arm.
“My shana are not spots.” Bach remarked.
“Yes, I know. They are birthmarks that move,” Enric recited.
Bach had a trail of black marks that ran from his shoulder down past his elbows and disappeared somewhere on his forearms. This was something he and his brothers inherited from their mother. “They do not move,” Bach corrected him.
“They disappear and reappear, when you are in love,” Enric mocked. “I cannot believe we have been here less than a thousand days.”
“Are you starting to regret that you have done this with me?”
“I chose to come on your Great Walk with you, Bach. I could have sailed the Jade Ocean or gone into the Moon Desert, but I came to Terra as your friend. The same way my father came with yours.” Enric leaned over the banister. “I am past regretting this. So, anyone down there I can use? I need a new Thayn.”
“No, they are all infected.”
“Are you sure?” Enric peered over the edge. “Not even one you can renew for me?”
“Why do you need another Thayn?” Bach wasn’t happy that Enric had even one. “What is wrong with the one you have?”
“Piper,” Enric scoffed and climbed up on the railing next to Bach. “You know how she is.”
Enric’s Terran, Piper, was unstable to say the least. He renewed her shortly after they arrived; she was his first Thayn. Unfortunately, she didn’t turn out right as he’d done it without having the necessary knowledge. He wouldn’t receive the knowledge until he ascended to the Ino caste after the Great Walk.
Bach, on the other hand, was born into the Ino caste, so was taught from an early age how to turn free-minded Terrans into devoted Thayns. “She is the way you made her.”
“The way I made her? If you had renewed her when I asked, then she would be fine and I would not have needed another.”
“Enric, I do not want Terrans around me,” Bach said angrily.
“No, she would effectively be my Thayn, once you have directed her to serve me,” Enric said.
“I do not want Terrans around me,” Bach repeated.
“Enric, leave Bach alone,” Felip, Bach’s steward interjected as he came into the balcony. “Everyone in the Family knows Bach is allergic to Terrans.”
“I am sick of this, Bach. Piper has been here for months and you appear fine,” Enric retorted.
“She is your Thayn. I do not have any need for her.”
Bach rarely saw Piper. Enric had the sense to keep her away from him.
“You have Felip.” Enric pointed at the steward. “He is practically Terran.”
“He is only part Terran and completely one of us.” Bach rubbed his temples in frustration.
No one spoke about Felip’s mixed heritage. Enric found out during the long walk because Felip required a greater amount of obsidian coral for the journey. Enric initial reaction had been revulsion, but over the last four hundred days, it had improved to irritation.
The steward’s ancestry was an embarrassment to the Family and especially Bach’s Pillar, the Third Pillar. Bach understood that firsthand, as Felip and he were cousins. Bach’s father, the Sen of the Third Pillar, often referred to Felip as the “great mistake.”
Bach didn’t know how much Terran was in Felip, but he looked like the rest of the Family, except for his eyes. They weren’t pure green as was the case with the rest of the Family. His green eyes had brown speckles, something his Terran ancestor left with him.
“Only the Family can take the Great Walk. Felip would not even be here if he was not one of us,” Bach continued.
That wasn’t entirely true. Bach saw no Terran in Felip and treated him like the Family. Only when Felip completed the Great Walk would he be considered Family in every sense and by everyone. And no one would call Felip a mongrel.
“Do not concern yourself with me.” Felip laughed, unscathed by Enric’s insults. “I know who I am. I also know Enric’s tetchy because he is having difficulty controlling Piper today. He’ll be fine in a few days.”
Bach was amazed that Felip was so relaxed. He would’ve thrown Enric off the side of the building if he’d said that to him. A fall off the Hunter Tower wouldn’t hurt Enric, but it would get his annoying friend out of his face, at least for the moment.
“Piper might be the last Terran we see for months,” Felip replied.
“This is going to be a very dull walk. I do not see why they believe this will convert you into a man.” Enric groaned.
“The Seven have their reasons,” Felip stated. “But that is not why I am here. Enric, can you leave us, please?”
“Bach, you sent Felip with a message to the Sen. I would like to hear what happened,” Enric said. “And any other news from home.”
Only the Steward was allowed to journey to the home world during the Great Walk. “Enric, when Bach and I are done, I will tell you whatever you need to know.”
“You decide what I need to know?” Enric glared.
“No, I will,” Bach retorted.
Enric nodded and walked out without a word.
“How is he?” Bach watched the glass door close behind Enric.
“Your father is very well. He is getting used to his new wife,” Felip replied. “There is nothing really to say about home.”
“So, why did you ask Enric to leave?”
“Because, I know how much it infuriates him.” Felip smirked as he walked back and forth on the railing.
“You need to be careful that Enric does not break your arms.” Bach laughed.
“He might be strong, but I am smarter.” Felip slumped, but Bach caught him before he fell over the side.
He dragged Felip back to the safety of the Penthouse and set his friend down on the ground. “What is wrong?”
“The obsidian coral I used for the journey home was cracked.” Felip attempted to get up. “I forgot to check it before I left.”
“You went in through the threshold without it? You could have died.”
The Family used portals, called thresholds, to travel to their realm. Journeying through thresholds drained every one of their essences. The only way to make it through safely was by carrying a certain amount of obsidian coral. Travelling without it promised a painful and prolonged death.
“I thought I would be fine,” Felip slurred.
“You should not have provoked Enric so soon after your journey home,” Bach reprimanded. “You should save your energy.”
“I had to. It is too easy.”
“Felip…”
“I will be fine in a few days after I have regenerated.”
Bach was not comfortable with his answer. His friend looked pale, but he was right. He needed to regenerate. “Felip, this conversation is over. Please go and get some rest.” He ushered his friend into the penthouse..

Review by Mallory Heart Reviews:

Review or Wisteria by Bisi Leyton
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5 stars

A complexity of world-building structures the foundation of this novel, first in a series. First of all, this “post-apocalyptic,” very Dystopian, society exists in the midst of (or around the edges of) “The Infected,” sick individuals who suffer from a type of virus that renders them zombie-like, determined to consume human flesh-live human flesh. Often called “Fleshers,” they're implacable-and their bite is fatal, because the recipient always turns.
In addition is another “world,” a culture that disdains Terrans (Earth humans), and either kills or enslaves them; a culture whose young males spend 1000 days on a Great Journey (something similar to a vision quest, in a way). Three young men of The Family: Bach, his close friend Enric, and the Steward Felip, live in the penthouse of a London tower which is one of the Family's safe houses, protected from the Infected, patiently waiting out their 1000 days till they can return home. All is well, if not exciting; until Bach encounters Wisteria, a tracker living on the Isle of Smythe, and saves her from an overrun of Infected.
The background is complex since the author must juggle more than two worlds (including the histories of the cultures and the characters) and the characters are enticing. Action fills the story, and the reader will end it looking forward to the next in the series.

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