John A. Heldt – Author of – The mine
Joel thought about mattresses as he walked north on the Ave.
He thought of the queen-sized box spring he had in his apartment, the waterbed he had had growing up, and the king-sized memory foam special in his parents’ bedroom. He even thought about flimsy bunk-bed pads, the kind Saint Xavier’s Mission had but could not offer when it told him there was no more room in the inn.
The pampered youngest son of Frank and Cynthia Smith could not remember the last time fatigue and hunger had gripped him like this. He gained new respect for those who spent each day walking the streets.
Joel also thought about the blonde. Who was she? And why had she stared at him? Was Joel Smith, world traveler, gold card member, and former all-state linebacker, now an object of pity? He did not think so. He saw empathy in those incredible eyes, not contempt. Still, he wondered.
As Joel proceeded down the busy arterial, he passed a few familiar sights. Some things had not visibly changed in fifty-nine years, such as two brownstone apartment buildings, a Mission Revival grade school in the Heights, and three taverns with colorful names. He stood before one, the Mad Dog, and considered his options.
The Mad Dog did not have memory foam mattresses for weary time travelers. But it did have a long sidewalk bench. Joel sat down on one end and extended his legs toward the other. He pondered walking to a nearby park but decided to stay put. The bench was hard but relatively comfortable. If necessary, he could make it his bed for the night.
He closed his eyes and thought of pleasant things: his mother’s Cacciatore, the hot tub at home, Jana in a string bikini, Maui, and the blonde. He could still picture her face.
Miss Denmark has nothing on you.
Instead of commenting on a cover I like – Today I have a cover reveal
The Fragile things by V.Shaw
Shaw is the author of short fiction collection, The Lady of Chains and Other Stories. Having reviewed horror films for FatallyYours.com, she now focuses on creating her own monsters.
It’s available on Amazon from the 30th of April. For FREE for a limited time only
Two girls on the road to self-destruction.
A village upon the brink of collapse.
A past which refuses to die.
The beginning of an epic four-part horror serial.
At seventeen-years-old, Jennifer should have the world at her feet. Instead, she’s an ex-heroin addict living in a council estate with Tony, her boyfriend and former dealer. Shunned by her family and friends, she dreams of something greater than she’s been given.
Beautiful and strange, Ebony has moved in across the street. She’s just lost the one person in her lonely existence to cancer. She’s also a centuries old vampire, struggling to cope with murderous outbursts and the desire to be something more.
When these two lost souls meet, an unusual friendship begins.
But with the news of Morris, Tony’s sadistic best friend and drug-dealing partner, being released from prison, Jennifer knows it’s only a matter of time before his path of vengeance leads to her and Ebony, too.
With a cast of memorable characters, a village full of secrets, and a gripping story, The Fragile Things is a layered tale of friendship, hope, survival and what it truly means to be human.
Ebony didn’t know how long she’d been here for, lying across the floorboards in the dark, like a corpse displayed upon a mortician’s table. Her eyes took in nothing—not the fungus spores creeping across the ceiling or the blistered wallpaper. The atmosphere was heavy and foreboding, as if death itself had seeped into the bricks and plasterboard, the flesh and bones of the building.
In a way, she supposed that it had.
There was a knot of serpents in Ebony’s belly. She could feel them squirming and twisting around her innards. Her fingertips trailed across her ribcage, resting upon her stomach like a mother-to-be.
Well, not exactly.
Ebony’s stomach couldn’t be described as anything close to swollen. Her entire body was wasting away, shrivelling up like a discarded strip of orange peel. And anyway, theirs was a conflicted relationship; as much as the serpents pained her, Ebony welcomed them. Wished they would devour her completely.
However, it was a slow process. They’d been there for almost six weeks now, taking root before the dust had even settled on her old life. But Ebony’s memories were like fire and when she thought of them, (as she frequently did) an odd and frightful thing would occur. The serpents would clench and blood-red spots would appear around the edges of her vision. She was convinced she could even taste them, bitterness and bile coating the roof of her mouth.
It was maddening.
Ebony closed her eyes and tried to imagine what it would be like to be dead. Yes, it was morbid, but so what? There’d be no more fighting. No more disturbing thoughts or impulses. She’d been doing a bit of DIY in the kitchen a couple of days ago, constructing a spice rack from some tattered manual she’d found underneath the sink. She could pick up the claw hammer or maybe even the power drill, make a hole in her head and let all the bad things drain away.
Watch them as they swirl down the plughole.
The doorbell rang.
Ebony had forgotten it was Thursday. With a strength which had previously eluded her, she got up quickly, pulled on a pair of old leather gloves and opened the front door, stopping when it jerked on its chain. The young man before her grinned, and held out a red tub. Rain dripped off his glasses and ran down the bridge of his crooked nose. Ebony half hid behind the door. “I’ll just get some change,” she said.
There was a glass jar in the sitting room. Ebony had spent the previous night—and the five before that—counting out eighty-eight pounds and twenty-four pence. She went back to the front door and stuck her arm through the gap. The gloves creaked as her long fingers slotted in five pounds exactly.
This was the part where he was supposed to leave, but he didn’t. Instead, he hopped around a bit as if he was gearing himself up for something.
Ebony cleared her throat. “Can I help you with anything else?”
His face went fire-engine-red and then he blurted out, “I wish everyone else around here was as kind as you.”
“Not by a long shot.”
He laughed and Ebony noticed that the gesture crinkled the skin at the corners of his eyes and plumped up his cheeks. “That’s the million pound question,” he said. “Why donate to charity when you can spend it all on booze and cigarettes? It’s easy to ignore the trouble going on in the world when you’re the one having a good time.”
“Yes. I’ve heard that alcohol is a lot of . . . fun.”
“So, you don’t drink then?”
“Of course I drink.”
“No, I mean you’re teetotal?”
“I suppose so.”
“Me too,” he said. “But, if I’m being completely honest with you, I did have a wee slip-up last weekend. Work party. Suppose it’s hard when you’ve got your so-called mates shoving shots of demon spunk in your hands. So, how long have you been on the wagon then?”
“Yeah, you’re something all right.”
“Yes, I am.”
He blew into his large hands, breath misting the air. It was a typically wet November evening and there was a change in the weather, a chill which hadn’t been there before. There was a jar of coffee in one of the cupboards and Ebony thought she should probably offer him a cup. But he’d have to drink it on the doorstep, of course.
“We’re saving up to buy a new homeless shelter,” the young man said suddenly. “It’s taking a hell of a lot longer than we thought it would. But that could be down to the time of year, too.”
“What time is that?”
“And we’ve to get another bad winter. It’s horrible to think of all those poor people going without and I bet you anything it’ll be worse in Glasgow and Edinburgh.”
He continued on and on like this, but Ebony was barely paying attention as she thought about the charity’s predicament. This was the fourth time she’d donated to the young man and she was fond of their little routine. She liked the brief exchange of pleasantries, the shy smiles and, of course, the knowledge that she was doing something good.
But it had to come to an end.
Everything did, didn’t it?
“Stay here, please,” she said, before slamming the door in his face.
Ebony returned a moment later with the glass jar, dragging it across the floor. She removed the chain and the man grunted as she heaved the jar up, thrusting it into his chest.
“Wow. How much do you have?”
She told him.
“I can’t accept this.”
“It’s too much.”
Ebony didn’t understand. She had money and the charity required it. He was staring at her now and Ebony suddenly felt very exposed. The door was wide open and the wind was whipping at her baggy T-shirt, which had more stains on it than the floor of a greasy spoon. Her long, spindly legs were bare and she’d neglected to shave them recently. She tried to flatten the shirt against her stomach.
“I’ve got an idea,” he said. “How about you come and do some voluntary work with us instead? Yeah, the people there are dead nice. Really friendly—okay, so maybe a little bit bonkers, but all the best people are. Plus, we do a great night out . . .”
“I don’t think—”
“And,” he lowered his voice conspiratorially, “it’ll get you away from here.” He removed a leaflet from his bag and wrote down a telephone number. “Just tell them Rick Armstrong gave this to you.” He smiled again and Ebony noticed that he had a dimple at the corner of his mouth. He placed the jar at her feet, and Ebony watched as he walked back down the path, back out of her existence and amongst them. There was a flutter, a sudden ache in her chest—something which had nothing to do with serpents, but a lot to do with something else she didn’t quite understand.
“Coffee!” she shouted.
He stopped and turned around, a quizzical look on his face.
“Umm . . . Would you like some coffee? I have a jar.” She looked down at the ground and chewed the inside of her mouth.
“Sure,” Rick said. “Coffee would be great.”
Ebony returned to the door five minutes later with a steaming cup of something which resembled tar. She’d been unable to find any sugar and the milk in the fridge looked like cottage cheese. It had stopped raining now and Rick was sitting on the step. Ebony remained standing. She’d removed her gloves to make the concoction and her bare fingers curled around the mug as she offered the handle to him.
As Rick sipped, Ebony looked down the liquorice-whip road and across the deserted football field beyond. The lights from the houses in the distance looked like glowing eyes in the darkness and she imagined they were regarding her with malice. She crouched down, balancing on her toes as she leaned towards him. “You’ve encountered them, haven’t you?”
“The people who live here. I was wondering what they were like.”
“You don’t get out much, do you?”
She didn’t say anything.
“Do you want me to be completely honest with you?”
“I think,” Rick said, pausing to wipe the steam off his glasses, “that if Blackcross was to vanish, nobody would really be upset. Sometimes it’s not just people who cause problems, you know, but a place. I know that sounds weird, but it’s true. I mean, you just have to take one step into this village, and you know it’s got nothing good to offer anybody. But places like Blackcross take a while to die and always take a body count with them.”
“Do you think bad people are drawn here?”
Rick smiled weakly. “People are people. You’re going to get a variety wherever you go, aren’t you? Every place has its good and bad. Maybe Blackcross is greyer than most, but it doesn’t change that. I mean, what about you? You just . . . I don’t know, seem different.” He drained the last of his coffee and turned around. Ebony could feel his breath across her face, could see the stubble around his jaw like iron-fillings. He gave her the mug back, his hand touching hers. “Lost or something.”
The serpents coiled inside her, tightly like a spring.
A line had been crossed and it was her fault. Without another word, Ebony stood up and drifted back inside, down the hallway and into the sitting room, stopping at the threshold to the kitchen.
“Hey,” he said. “Hey!”
But his voice sounded tinny and faraway. It was all serpents and red mist now, clouding her head, clouding everything. And then she could hear him somewhere behind her, coming into her space uninvited.
“You left your jar outside.” He paused. “Wow . . . Did you make all of these? They’re incredible. I’ve never seen anything like them—”
“Stop talking, please.”
“Okay.” There wasn’t a trace of annoyance in his voice, just confusion. “I’ll go, but I don’t even know your name.”
“I can’t tell you.”
“I just can’t.”
“That’s not an answer.”
“I . . .”
The floorboards creaked and Ebony felt as if she’d been impaled with an iron spike. “Don’t move.”
But he’d taken another step and Ebony’s fingernails cut little half-moons into her forearms. “It’s too late. If you run now, it’ll only trigger something inside me and then you’ll leave me with no choice; I will chase you and I will kill you.”
“Like a wolf?”
Ebony didn’t say anything. She was trembling all over.
Rick was oblivious. “You’ve got a strange sense of humour, girl.” He stepped closer. “I knew you were different.”
“What’s your name?”
She could smell him now, could feel the warmth secreting from his skin like a toxin, rushing over her, ruling out rhyme and reason. And then he made his final mistake as he reached up tenderly, his fingers brushing the thick band of scar tissue around her neck.
The red mist swelled and Ebony couldn’t see or feel or hear anything. There was nothing. She was nothing. And then there was a shrill noise in her head, like somebody had replaced her brain with the power drill. And then Rick screamed, the sound disappearing—or becoming one with?—the drone.
When the red mist lifted, Ebony saw the terrible thing she’d done.
Like what you saw? Here are some links to places you can find V.Shaw and her novel. Remember It’s FREE on Amazon for a limited time only!
Very sorry about the lack of review this week. I’ve been sick and haven’t had a chance to read very much at all.
“The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be.” ~Ralph Waldo Emerson
Halfkinds Volume 1: Contact – Written by – Andrew Vu
About the Author:
Andrew Vu is a writer currently living in Oakland, CA. He attended UC Berkeley and has been writing since he was a teenager.
His novels are fast paced, character driven stories that are sure to keep you engaged and on the edge of your seat.
About the Book:
In the twenty fourth century, a scientific experiment gave a few species the gift of intelligence, and after much struggle, they’ve carved out a place in society. By the thirtieth century, humans find themselves co-existing, negotiating, and residing on Earth with these animals as equals.
Maya Lawton is a lonely prostitute living in this world. She gives birth to the first halfkinds, creatures who are half animal-kind, and half mankind. Since interspecies breeding is illegal, she is forced into seclusion and raises them alone. Then one day, without warning, she dies, and her death leads to their discovery. Abandoned and lost, this family of halfkinds plan to escape to a terraformed moon. But the law is after them. The order is to kill, sent by the highest authority, the United Species Alliance.
1. What aspired you to become a writer?
Aversion by Kenechi Udogu
For Gemma Green’s first time, things should have been straightforward. Find your subject, hold their gaze and push a thought into their head to save them from future disaster – Aversion complete. A pretty simple process given that the subject was to have no recollection of the experience. But Russ Tanner doesn’t seem to want to forget. In fact the more she tries to avoid him, the more he pushes to get to know her. Gemma knows she has a problem but is she facing the side effects of a failed Aversion or has the school’s tennis champ really fallen for her?
Rated 5 stars
Aversion is a YA paranormal which follows int he eyes of sixteen year old Gemma Green.
This book is certainly a page turner. The only reason I put it down was because I have to deal with responsibilities and life.
There was barely a moment I didn’t want to know what happened next right from the get go. It progressed perfectly right up to the dramatic ending when Gemma obtains a glimpse of what what shes really capable of. It is followed by a clear intention of a sequel, which I was quite pleased about. I would like to read more of this series.
The only real criticism I had was that the novel was too short. I got through it quickly because it’s closer to a novella size than a novel. It’s only 133 pages.
In saying that the criticism was such a minor aspect It didn’t really bother me. Some books just work if they are shorter and being short had no impact on the success on the story. In comparison to the way the whole book flowed from start to finish and kept me interested the entire time a short novel seems irrelevant. It is that reason that I give it 5 stars. It is rare that a book can hold my interest the whole time and Aversion failed to disappoint.
I would recommend this book to any YA fan. It’s a page turner and a great story.
Where to get the book:
Connect with the author:
You know you’ve read a good book when you turn the last page and feel a little as if you have lost a friend.
Grigory Ryzhakov – author of – Mr. Right and Mr.Wrong
About the author: Grigory Ryzhakov is a molecular biologist and speculative fiction writer dwelling in the cosmopolitan London ecosystem (which is located in England, the coordinates for navigators 51°30′26″ N 0°7′39″W ).
Grigory grew up by the seaside, on the Pacific Coast of Sakhalin Island, which arguably belongs to Russia. In his stories, he likes to explore people in difficult situations facing unusual challenges and aiming to achieve the impossible.
His stories contain references to world literature, science, history, politics, I also like to use grotesque and irony. His major literary influences are: Haruki Murakami (romantic and mystic), Fyodor Dostoevsky (psychological), Jasper Fforde (quirky and humorous), Jack London (sincere).
Having two admirers can be a headache. Chloe meets Blake, a hunky DJ, and Terrence, a charming banker, on the same day. Dating two men was never her plan, so what is she going to do?
With her tough uni course, a job at a florist’s and a mother desperate to marry her off, Chloe’s got more than enough challenges in her life already. She doesn’t need this new one her heart has thrown up for her.
What aspired you to become a writer?
I’m a practicing biomedical researcher, but a part of me wants to create art. I felt like it’s a calling in me from the very young age. I have been writing poetry since the age of six, in Russian, and then during my twenties I started song writing, both in English and Russian. Then at the age of twenty five I tried writing prose, again both in Russian and English, and since then the need to write fiction has always been growing in me. The primary urge was to write stories with characters reflecting on the modern world, on its present and future. I guess I’m too young to reflect on the past yet. I wanted and still want to make this world better with my stories, to inspire people to fight for their lives, for their dreams. I think literature is not just for entertainment, it’s a way of educating the human soul.
What are your favorite books and why?
There are many books I adore, the first that came to mind is Martin Eden by Jack London, probably because it’s a story of a troubled writer in love.
Who is your favorite author and why?
Fyodor Dostoevsky, I admire the ambition and the grandiose scale of his thought, his psychological analysis of human life.
Is there anything you like to do while you write (eg listen to music, have tea?)
I drink gallons of water, tea, coffee; I eat tons of sweets while I write; I graze on seeds, nuts, etc. My brain needs energy and liquid to create worlds. I don’t drink alcohol while I write; I’d probably fall asleep if I did. I don’t need help with my imagination, it is crazy enough already.
What is your latest book? Tell us a bit about it:
It’s called Mr Right and Mr Wrong. It is a novel about a girl called Chloe who falls for two guys at the same time. Then she has to make a choice. It’s quite a journey featuring London, Paris, Heidelberg and fictional Leighborough locations. As all of my stories, it belongs to a literary fiction genre, though it’s disguised as a romantic comedy. There’re lots of underlying themes in it: betrayal, friendship, confidence, choice, delusion, emotional instability. There are scientific topics in it as well, like plant intelligence or soil ecosystem, since all major fictional characters I write about are connected to science somehow. Story-wise, the closest famous books to Mr Right… are Salmon Fishing in the Yemen and Bridget Jones’s Diary.
How long did it take you to write your last novel?
It took me four months to write my latest book, very quick compared to my first novel, which took 6 years. Sometimes books come to you in a ready from, so you just write them down. I was lucky with my latest one.
Do you take bad reviews to heart?
Yes, because I pour my soul into my stories, even if they’re cheeky and comic. They are sincere. I don’t hold grudges if I receive criticisms. It’s one of the foundations for writer’s growth. Luckily, so far I have had mostly positive reviews. So, the worst is to come yet.
Do you read all of the reviews you receive?
Absolutely, unless I’m not aware of them being published somewhere.
How do you create your characters?
Out of ideas a person can have, then I model sketchy images of them on archetypes and Jungian types to make them feel real to me and the reader, then add some features of people I know, then add further details, like quirks.
Do you ever experience writers block? What do you do to get past it?
I don’t have time for writers’ blocks. Besides, my imagination is too wild to stop talking to me in the years to come.
What are your favorite Genres to read?
Mostly literary fiction, with elements of romance, humour, sci-fi, psychological drama. Thrillers, erotica and horrors are not my cup of tea. I used to read a lot of fantasy, but stopped doing several years ago.
What are your favorite genres to write?
Literary fiction, heavy on love and science.
What are your future book plans?
I’m working on a sci-fi blockbuster at the moment.
If you could have any magical ability what would it be?
Making people happy. I might have a small amount of it already, I need to be working on developing it further.
Is there a writing tip you swear by? What is it?
Write from your heart, edit with your mind.
You can find Mr Right and Mr Wrong to purchase via these links:
Amazon Kindle http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00C76XMV4
If you want to know more about Gigory you can find him here:
It’s Tuesday which means – Random cover day. It’s as simple as this: I pick a random cover of a novel I have never read before and comment on it.
Rippler by Cindey Swan. I love this cover from the way that the wave towers over her to the flowing ripples in her white dress. The cover draws me in so much so that I would be tempted to read the book without even knowing what it is about. I like the blend of the colors of the white and blues in the waves. It’s clear that they are waves and not the sky. I also REALLY like the purple instead of sand. It fits in perfectly. Sand would have wrecked this cover. Instead It’s quite awesome. Here’s the good reads link if you want to check it out.
Years ago, a gene virus ran rampant across the planet, leaving a small percentage of people gifted/ cursed with extraordinary abilities and humanity itself forever changed. Suddenly, there were people with super strength and speed, people who could read minds, people who could teleport themselves from place to place with but a single thought.
Several of these people joined together to form The Seven, the most powerful group of supers the world had ever known. Led by the enigmatic Agent America, The Seven kept the country safe from threats both foreign and internal. That is until the United States government decided the threat of the supers outweighed any protection they could offer.
After a war between the super powered and the normals (as non-powered humans are now referred), The Seven have placed themselves as the nation’s rulers, controlling the country through fear and intimidation. But now, someone or something is murdering The Seven one-by-one, single handedly attempting to make them pay for all of the sins they have committed.
To stop a killer, The Seven turn to a man who hates them as much as anyone. An imprisoned man known only as The Detective finds himself in the unenviable position of helping the people he despises in exchange for his freedom.
You can find his novel at: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00BV746O2
THE REVIEW – 3.5 out of 5
Kingdom of Heroes is an adult novel revolving around a murderer seeking revenge over a group of seven super heroes. It contains a mix of action and mystery, however I had mixed feelings about this novel.
The concept of the novel is quite interesting, including many of the characters within it. I liked the seven, their personalities and even their ties with already known super heroes. Their impending death was quite intriguing as I turned the pages eagerly awaiting to find who their revengeful killer was. I also quite liked how Jay Phillips switched between past a present all without the obvious chapter swap.
The novel reached a point where I couldn’t put it down, but as it came to It’s peak I noticed it was only halfway through. Everything Jay Phillips had built up to was over and I can’t lie by saying this wasn’t a letdown. The plot continued, but at a much slower pace. I think the book could have been much better if the second half was shorter and the first half extended. I continued to read on the hope that it would pick up again, and though it did during the final confrontation it took way too long to get to there and it just wasn’t as captivating as the first half of the novel.
It took me a really long time to decide what to rate this novel because I truly did like the first half, but I couldn’t get into the second half. Ultimately I decided to meet at the halfway point. Wildly fantastic first half. Disappointing second half. I would still recommend it to anyone who loves a book with copious amounts of action, but if you are turning the pages for the mystery and the characters then be prepared for the peak mid way.