BOOK TOUR: The Bone Master by Debbie Iancu-Haddad #YAFantasy #OwnVoices #Teens @RRBookTours1 @debbieiancu

TheBoneMaster copy

Welcome to the book tour for the next instalment in The Sands of Achten Tan series by Debbie Iancu-Haddad, The Bone Master! Read on for more info!

The Bone Master

Publication Date: October 22, 2022

Genre: YA Fantasy/ Own Voices

Kaii Haku has lived his whole life in the shadow of his cruel father’s magic.
Rebelling against his father- the Bone Master- by drinking and sleeping around was Kaii’s main occupation for years.

But when one of his best friends is kidnapped by pirates, Kaii embarks on a perilous rescue mission with two retired pleasure house workers, a shy teen bookworm, and a feisty girl from the pirate crew.
The journey will take Kaii and his allies far from Achten Tan, to a sea ruled by dangerous conditions and ships that travel on the backs of monsters.

For the first time in his life, he has the power to make a difference, but if he wields his emerging bone magic to save the girl he loves, he risks losing himself and becoming like his father – a man who tried to kill him.

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Kaii

It’s cold beneath the bones.

I can feel them now, all around me.

When I first got my magic back, this awareness overwhelmed me. Sensing the ancient leviathan bones, the city is carved into, and the bones of its occupants. It took me a while to discern the living, breathing residents from the structures surrounding us. These fleeting specks of existence celebrate life today and are reduced to dust tomorrow.

Morbid, Kaii. Really morbid. Gast me. I’m turning into my dad.

I stride through the Undercity, sensing the vertebrae all around me. Up ahead, I detect two (probably live) bodies before I see them, and one more, further away, the target of my visit.

“Who goes there?”

Long wooden staffs bar my way into the Undercity. Which is really gasting rude, all things considered. The tall sharp-faced elf who spoke is obviously one of Aislinn’s people, the Svaalti elves who moved into the Undercity the day after the cavern gnomes left. The two elves, one male, and one female, regard me with haughty expressions. Sporting long pale hair, braided in intricate patterns, their robes a fine silk rarely seen in Achten Tan. I’m relieved they haven’t replaced the bone weapons my father confiscated the day they arrived, seeking refuge after the destruction of Satama.

“Kaii Haku, to visit Opu Haku.” I state. Not that it’s any of their business. The elves nod and move aside, their expressions still just on the wrong side of respectful. Aislinn and her people have taken control of the Undercity like a rot growing into the marrow. They’ll need to be dealt with eventually, but it’s not my responsibility to do so. At least not yet.

Today I’m here to see my father, though I don’t know why I bother. I can already feel him up ahead. My ability to sense bones doesn’t tell me if he’s dead or alive, but something tells me he still lives. As I enter the passageway below the Undercity, an almost palpable wave of animosity floats my way. It must be my imagination.

Opu Haku hasn’t taken well to his imprisonment. The rock cage at the end of the tunnel is lit only by a flickering torch. The hunched figure in the shadows doesn’t stir as I approach, but I sense a subtle testing of my wards, searching for an opening. If he finds it, he could break my bones, hurl me across the tunnel, try to kill me. Again.

“Still can’t throw me down the hall.” I aim for glib, but my tone misses its mark, sliding off his hunched shoulders to land in a splat at his feet. He can’t attack me with bone magic. I’m shielded by the protection runes tattooed into my skin, so instead, he hurls sharp words, seeking to make a mark.

“Why are you here?” he snarls.

“The usual.” I approach the stone bars and slide the package of food through the narrow gap. Drizko engineered a device that provides a trickle of water. It flows through his cell, washing away waste, and enabling him to drink. The smell down here is foul. Body odor and refuse with a side of dirt and despair. Does he even bother to bathe himself anymore? He’s sunk so low, figuratively and literally. From the top of Chief’s Rib to the deepest hole in the Undercity.

“Any plans of getting me out of here?” he asks. His voice is close. I look up to discover he’s right up against the bars. Grey eyes, the same color as my own, stare me down, and for an instant, I see vulnerability in his granite gaze, but I blink and it’s gone.

“No. Nobody misses you, old man.”

Ok. That was cruel, but the guy tried to kill me, more than once. All my warm fuzzy feelings for him are long gone.

“Then why bother feeding me?” He hurls the package I just passed through at the bars, the loaves of algae bread and dried meat strips scattering on the dirty cell floor. “Why prolong my suffering?”

“Maybe I won’t come back then.” I turn and leave, his eyes stabbing my back like knives.

I don’t mean it. I won’t let my own father starve to death, even if the bastard deserves it. He blames me for his imprisonment, and for my part in the destruction of his bone staff, even though both result from his own actions. But I’m not the one who decided to leave him down here. That was the town council’s decision. Even his toady, Rapaccio Pallor, couldn’t sway them.

As I exit the Undercity, my feet turn right towards Jezebone’s. That’s where I always end up lately. It’s better than going back to my empty rooms.

I’m nursing my second or third drink when a wide smile and an An’cher uniform block my view of the bar.

“What are you drinking?” Kamal swings his large blond frame down onto the bench opposite me, patting the seat at his side for D’or to join him. D’or hesitates a moment, his green eyes swinging from me to Kamal.

“Do you want company?” D’or asks me, shoving back his mess of dark curls.

I wave my hand at his already seated boyfriend. “Sure.” I love being surrounded by sickeningly in-love couples. Nothing better.

“Should you two even be in here?” I toss back the rest of my Xenthalor Venom and motion to the barmaid to hit me again. Hopefully not literally this time.

Kamal scrunches up his pale eyebrows like a confused dasu pup. “First of all, I’m almost seventeen now and I have An’cher privileges… And D’or…” he turns to his boyfriend, “do you get a Tar-tule rider discount?”

I’m just messing with him, anyway. I seriously doubt Jezebone’s gives a gast about a minimum age for drinking or for use of their other services.

“Where have you two been?” I mumble into my empty cup.

They exchange a look. “Oh, we were out of Achten Tan for a few days… Visiting my parents at the caverns,” Kamal responds.

He’s sweet, trying to spare my feelings, but I force the issue, relishing the prickle of discomfort. “Mila and Geb’s ceremony?”

“Yeah.”

I’m not bitter. They invited me and I wanted to go. I was just too busy with my ‘drinking myself stupid’ schedule… I’d built up a rhythm and couldn’t take a break for things like forever ceremonies, especially when it’s the girl who was supposed to be my future.

Kamal and D’or exchange another look.

“Can you two still read each other’s minds? Or mine?” I ask.

I really should have had them sign a non-disclosure agreement before I invited six people into my brain. They know too much. I’d make them disappear, but I kinda like the two brats.

“We can’t read your mind,” D’or says, his green eyes glinting with mischief. “Not since Mila’s mind-reading elixir wore off. And we still have enough material to work through from the night of the heist.”

“That was a long list,” Kamal smirks. The two boys nudge each other, practically giggling. It’s disgusting, in a cute, nauseatingly sweet kinda way.

The barmaid slams my drink down in front of me, sloshing some of the green liquid out of the glass to splash on my hand. I miss Kiva. How was I to know the new girl only tends the bar and doesn’t offer those services? I mean, it’s a pleasure house, for Gast’s sake.

I study my wet hand for a moment before lifting my eyes to her furious black ones and licking my fingers off slowly, one at a time. For a moment it looks like she’s going to hit me again, but then she huffs, throwing her dark tresses over her shoulder and stamping off towards the bar again.

“Actually, we wanted to order a drink…” Kamal calls after her.

D’or sighs and slides out of his seat. “I’ll get it. Your usual, babe?”

Kamal nods and unashamedly watches Do’r’s backside as he moves towards the bar. Not that I blame him. I’d watch too if I wasn’t worried about Kamal thumping me for ogling his boyfriend. Not that I care about being hit, but they are friends, sort of, and I don’t do it with friends. I don’t even think about doing it with friends. I made that mistake before and I’ve learned my lesson.

But as my eyes follow D’or towards the bar, I spot a girl who most certainly is not a friend. In fact, I’ve never seen her before. She’s leaning on the wall by the bar, holding a tankard the size of a pumble and wearing a frown that promises to burn this town to the ground. She’s definitely not from around here. Not to brag, but I’ve slept with every unattached, reasonably young, warm body around these parts, who ISN’T a friend. I’d love to add her to my list.

Her clothes are distinctly foreign and I use the term clothes lightly. Apparently, she thinks knives are a fashion accessory. I’ve counted five from this angle alone and I can only see one side of her. She’s not so much wearing a shirt as a type of leather halter with room for more knives, but it affords a very enticing view of her breasts. Before I think too hard about it, I’m out of my seat and crossing the bar in her direction.

I’m not quite into weaving territory yet, which is good, because this girl looks like she’ll require the use of at least part of my brain, not to mention other parts of me. I wonder if her tongue is as sharp as her knives. Still, I manage to walk a pretty straight line over to the bar, my fresh drink only slightly sloshing over my hand.

She watches me, locking her dark eyes with mine, a smirk lifting one side of her full lips. Challenge accepted. I make it across the room to her side, planting one hand on the wall by her head. Mostly for effect, but also a bit for support.

The girl turns towards me, wiping her luscious lips with the back of her hand, and slaps her tankard back onto the bar.

“Can I get you another?” I ask though I don’t know how she finished the first one.

“I’ll pass.” Her voice is deep and raspy. “It tastes like whale piss.” She scrapes a hand through her hair, pushing the short dark strands back behind her ear. One side is shaved short, while the other brushes her bare tattooed shoulder. Mmmmm, tattoos. No, wait. Tattoos are bad. I’m not into tattoos… anymore. Oh, Gast, who am I kidding?

“Well, if you hate the taste, why did you finish the first one?” Am I imagining it, or is she shifting closer?

She shrugs. “I was thirsty.” Yup, she’s definitely moving closer. Running her hand up my arm, she gives my bicep a squeeze, “but now I’m hungry for something else.” Then she licks those pink lips, my eyes following the motion with fascination.

I’ll admit, this has never worked quite so well on a complete stranger before. Maybe she’s heard about me. I lean in, testing the limits of this arrangement. She doesn’t give an inch, which places us chest to chest, and hers is just as pleasing up close as it was from across the room.

“Are you new in town?” I murmur.

Her dark eyes turn up to mine. I’m half a head taller than her, just the way I like it.

“I’m just passing through. Here today, gone tomorrow. So why don’t you show me a good time while I’m here?” She leans in to speak and her breath whispers along my cheek. Her hand is moving again, sliding across my chest and scraping my jaw. She pushes up on her toes, her mouth hovering close to mine.

“What’s the best view in Achten Tan?” she asks. Her scent is tantalizing. A salty, flowery combination I can’t place. I want to inhale her. Better yet, I want to taste her. I swallow, my mouth suddenly dry, and take the last gulp of my drink. She watches my mouth as I lick my lips, her pink tongue darting out to wet her bottom lip.

“Best view in Achten Tan is from the top of Chief’s Rib, where I live.”

She nods in a type of weird satisfaction, like I got the answer right. I look down again; she’s practically plastered to my front, which is good… or bad… because she’s going to feel…

Her smile widens and her hand is on the move again, sliding down, down, down…

I catch her wrist before her hand can reach its destination. I’d like to continue this, but not in the middle of Jezebone’s. They don’t allow that behavior here unless you’re paying for it.

“How about I give you the tour?” I ask.

“Of your rooms?” I thought she wanted to see the view from my father’s chambers, but apparently, she’s as eager as I am.

“Sure. Of my rooms. This way…” I pause, waiting for her name.

“Tara. Tara Phenix.”

Available on Amazon

Speechless in Achten Tan (The Sands of Achten Tan #1)

Sometimes Magic leaves you…Speechless!

Eighteen-year-old Mila hasn’t spoken in the five years since she became an Onra, a first level Everfall witch. After failing the test to reclaim her voice and control her magic, her mentor sends Mila to Achten Tan – City of Dust – a dangerous desert town, built in the massive ribcage of an extinct leviathan.

To reclaim her power, Mila must steal a magical staff capable of releasing it, from the sky-high lair of the Bone Master, Chief Opu Haku.

Her only resources are the magical luminous elixirs of the cursed caverns where she grew up, and a band of unlikely allies; a quirky inventor, a giant-ant rider, a healer, a librarian’s assistant, a Tar-tule rider and the chief’s playboy son.

But in the City of Bones, enemies & friends are not who they seem and trusting the wrong person can be deadly.

If Mila fails she will never speak again and her bones may be added to the wasteland.

About the Author

Debbie Iancu-Haddad is a Jewish Israeli author living in Meitar in the Negev Desert.

She spends her time taking part in Anthologies (seven to date with two more on the way), writing VSS on Twitter, and buying way too much stuff online. Her goal is to promote body positive characters and include characters dealing with physical challenges. #ownvoices

For her day job, she gives lectures on humor, laughter yoga workshops and chocolate workshops, and sees how often she can make her two teenagers roll their eyes.

Debbie Iancu-Haddad | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

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COVER REVEAL: The Panacea Project by Catherine Devore-Johnson #medicalthriller #coverreveal @cdjohnsonauthor @RRBookTours1

Welcome to the big reveal of the cover for upcoming medical thriller, The Panacea Project by Catherine Devore-Johnson! Read on for more details!

The Panacea Project

Expected Publication Date: February 28th, 2023

Genre: Medical Thriller

A timely exploration of bodily autonomy set in a classic medical thriller

Calla Hammond has always been a loner―a product of the foster system and avoided by others because of a skin condition. When doctors discover her immune system holds the key to curing cancer, she struggles to advance lifesaving research in a world that sees her only as a means to an end. Yet along the way, Calla gains the one thing she has always longed for: a chosen family.

When a group of unscrupulous people join forces to sell Calla’s blood to the highest bidder, she digs deep to find the strength to retake control of her life, her body, and her story.

The Panacea Project is a layered examination of self-sacrifice, implicit bias, and the juxtaposition of bodily autonomy with high-stakes capitalism―for those who love fiercely strong characters and deep themes infused with heartwarming moments of love and humor.

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About the Author

Catherine Devore Johnson is a former attorney turned writer. Her work has won or placed in competitions held by the Houston Writer’s Guild and the Writer’s League of Texas, and she has published an essay in The Houston Chronicle about caring for her mother after two strokes. She works as a writer and editor at a children’s hospital and lives in Houston with her husband and two children. The Panacea Project is her first novel.

Deborah Brosseau Communications

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BOOK TOUR: Ghost Witch by Ian Conner #supernatural #horror #ghoststory #horrorcommunity @RRBookTours1

I have the petfect story to curl up with on Halloween! Check out Ian Conner’s Ghost Witch and make sure to leave a light on!

Ghost Witch

Publication Date: June 2nd, 2022

Genre: Supernatural Horror/ Ghost Story, Native American Folklore/ Mythology

The Two Spears and Four Claws clans for generations. Now the evil has returned, once again threatening the lives of a young mother and her twin babies. It is an evil that temporarily killed and banished with fire and magic, but it can never be destroyed. It is a source of great shame for the clans. So much so, that it is never spoken about outside of the tribe.

Carlyle Allen, the wealthy new owner of Haunted Gap, is building his dream home for he and his young bride, Rebecca. Carlyle discovers a hidden room in the basement and comes across the corpse of “The Maiden”, a form the evil entity takes to seduce and trick people into doing its bidding.

A very pregnant Rebecca Allen visits Haunted Gap for the first time. Rebecca becomes exposed to poison from “The Maiden,” leading to a trip to the clinic where she meets Maggie Four Claws and Dr. Sally Manning. Realizing that Rebecca has been marked by the Ghost witch, she contacts her grandmother Opal for help and to alert the clans.

Maggie manages to convince both Rebecca Allen and Dr. Manning that she and the babies are danger, not only from the Ghost Witch, but from her husband Carlyle as well. As Dr. Manning races to get Rebecca to safety, the Ghost Witch causes an accident, allowing Carlyle to kidnap Rebecca in order to sacrifice her and the children to “The Maiden.”

Meanwhile, Maggie Four Claws, Grandma Opal, and the rest of the clans move into action to hunt down and banish the Ghost Witch. But, will they find the evil in time enough to destroy it and save Rebecca and her babies?

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About the Author

Ian Conner is retired and spent most of his adult life as a Marine and Army Infantry Sergeant. Now living near San Diego California with his wife Bonnie, a cellist, and their two dogs, Cookie and Isabella. Conner spends his days fostering kittens, gardening, crafting beautiful stained glass and creating worlds on the page.

Conner has authored several other novels:

Cooper’s Ridge – Science Fiction

The Long Game – Political Thriller

The Price of Partisanship – Political Thriller

Solaris – Political Thriller

Griffins Perch – Epic Fantasy

Ghost Witch – Horror

After a lifetime of destruction the thought of creating something tangible and lasting holds great appeal. He finds writing a cathartic way to redefine himself both in his eyes and the eyes of others.

Black Raptor Books

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COVER REVEAL: Fountain Dead by Theresa Braun #audiobook #coverreveal #youngadult #paranormal @tbraun_author @RRBookTours1

I am thrilled to share this beautiful new cover of the upcoming audiobook edition of Fountain Dead by Theresa Braun!

Fountain Dead

Expected Publication Date: Fall 2022

Genre: Mature YA/ Paranormal/ Ghost Story

Mark is uprooted from his home and high school in the Twin Cities and forced to move with his family into a Victorian in Nowhere-ville. Busy with the relocation and fitting in, Mark’s parents don’t see what’s unfolding around them—the way rooms and left behind objects seem alive with a haunted past. Of course, Mark keeps his ghostly encounters to himself, all the while sinking deeper into the house’s dark, alluring, and ultimately terrifying history. As romantic entanglements intensify, the paranormal activity escalates. Past and present come together. Everything is connected—from the bricks in the walls to the hearts beating in their chests, all the secrets of Fountain Dead are finally unearthed.

Coming Soon!

About the Author

Theresa Braun has a Master’s degree in English literature and lives in South Florida where she has been teaching literature and writing for over 20 years. Traveling, ghost hunting, and all things dark are her passions (when she is not coming up with romantic subplots). She has presented at HWA conferences, as well as Utah Quills Conferences. Her published works include both novels and short stories that have appeared in various horror fiction publications. In 2018, she was included in a Best Speculative Fiction anthology.

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BOOK TOUR: The Abdication by Justin Newland #Fantasy #Supernatural @RRBookTours1

Welcome to the book tour for fantasy novel The Abdication by Justin Newland! Read on for more info and enter the giveaway at the end! You could win a signed copy!

The Abdication

Publication Date: July 4th, 2021

Genre: Fantasy/ Supernatural

Publisher: Matador

The town of Unity sits perched on the edge of a yawning ravine where, long ago, a charisma of angels provided spiritual succour to a fledgeling human race. Then mankind was granted the gift of free will and had to find its own way, albeit with the guidance of the angels. The people’s first conscious act was to make an exodus from Unity. They built a rope bridge across the ravine and founded the town of Topeth. For a time, the union between the people of Topeth and the angels of Unity was one of mutual benefit. After that early spring advance, there had been a torrid decline in which mankind’s development resembled a crumpled, fading autumnal leaf.

Following the promptings of an inner voice, Tula, a young woman from the city, trudges into Topeth. Her quest is to abide with the angels and thereby discover the right and proper exercise of free will. To do that, she has to cross the bridge – and overcome her vertigo. Topeth is in upheaval; the townsfolk blame the death of a child on dust from the nearby copper mines. The priests have convinced them that a horde of devils have thrown the angels out of Unity and now occupy the bridge, possessing anyone who trespasses on it. Then there’s the heinous Temple of Moloch!

The Abdication is the story of Tula’s endeavour to step upon the path of a destiny far greater than she could ever have imagined.

Excerpt

Tula’s swollen ankle ached as she trudged up the mountain. It had moaned incessantly, ever since she had left her home in the city before embarking on this journey. Then again, it had always hurt. Perhaps since birth: she could never remember that far back. She had complained to her parents, who could not afford to get it seen by the doctor.

A gust of wind whipped up particles of sand which spiralled in the fractious air ahead of her. She squinted and pulled her keffiyeh up to cover her nose. At this altitude, the air was a thin gruel, offering paltry nourishment. Her gut was rumbling, but that was nothing new. She had walked uphill all afternoon from Seliga in the valley below and now she was gasping for breath. Her backpack seemed to weigh as much as that boulder up ahead. A vulture circled effortlessly in the azure blue sky. There was another one above the next valley, griffon vultures searching for prey; so long as they left her alone.

Wisps of straw-coloured grass sprouted beside the graves of an unkempt cemetery. The top of the surrounding low stone wall was speckled with reddish spots, like splashes of copper rain. A few of the gravestones had fallen over and kissed the parched earth. This was the summit of a mountain and even the grand old yew trees huddled in one side of the cemetery were bending to the east, bowing to the omnipotent goddess of the winds in her distant unseen shrine.

Between the cemetery and the town lay a vibrant carpet of blue thorns; large cones of tiny blue flowers surrounded by a spiky, electric-blue collar.

Up ahead were the town walls, shimmering in the waves of heat rising from the scorched land. Finally, her journey’s end was in sight. On the side of the road just outside the town’s South Gate was the Welcome Boulder. It towered above her, which was not that difficult because in the city she was constantly mocked as the shortest amongst her peers. Most of the boulder was coated in that brownish-red dust. Towards the top of it was the immortal sign that declared the town’s identity:

Welcome to Topeth.

The First Free Town and

‘The Top’ Town of all.

Long before her arrival, her parents and teachers had fired her imagination with their stories about Topeth. As the sign proudly declared, it was once ‘The Top’ town, not only because it was perched precariously on the highest mountain in the range, but also because it was the living exemplar of humanity’s stumbling progress. Many years before, that epic story had featured Herman, the First Man. It told how he had ushered in a brilliant new freedom for mankind – hence the First Free Town. Yet, after that early spring advance, there was now a torrid decline in which mankind’s development resembled a crumpled, fading autumnal leaf.

Many people asked whether their forefathers had used that freedom wisely. Some answered with a resounding ‘Yes’, but Tula had doubts. That was why she was in Topeth; to find out for herself.

On either side of the entrance road was a row of tall, spiky cacti, standing like pale, bloated fish out of water.

To the west of the town was a large area of open ground. Huge scars pitted the land which was dotted with peaked mounds of reddened earth. A gnarled ghost haunted the land. Crouched amidst its shadow lands were rickety sheds and wooden shacks, all dowsed in the same brown-red dust. Even the town’s walls were tainted in the same hue. This was the infamous Topeth open cast copper mine.

In these dangerous times, many towns shut their gates well before sundown. Thankfully, the main gates to Topeth were still open.

An old man sat cross-legged with his back against one of the gate posts, whittling a long, rod-like piece of wood and chewing on a wedge of tobacco. What an obnoxious substance. Yellow pouting lips glared at her from within a grey, untended beard. On his head, he wore a scruffy, black and white chequered keffiyeh.

“Who’s there?” He completed the question by spitting prodigiously onto the earth.

“Me, I’m Tula. And you are?”

“Can’t you see I’m blind or are you as well?” The man was gruff. He faced her. Empty sockets peered into the void.

“No, I mean yes. I’m sorry, I didn’t notice. I’m exhausted. It’s been a long day.”

“Don’t recognise your voice. You new here?”

“Yes, sir. I’ve just arrived.”

“Got your pass?”

A blind man was asking her for a pass to travel. That she had not expected. She pulled out a wrinkled piece of paper from her knapsack and hesitated, not knowing what to do with it.

“Give it here,” he demanded. “I may be blind, but do you think I can’t see right through you?”

“No, sir. I’m sure you can. It’s just that…” She gave him the travel permit.

He held it to his cheek. He rubbed it first against his left cheek, then against his right, and nodded to himself, as if reading its contents with inner eyes. She gazed at him wide-eyed.

He handed it back to her. “Go on. All in order here.”

“What did you just do?”

“When I hold something against my cheeks, I get pictures in my mind.”

“I never knew that was even possible. What did you see?”

“I saw a fair-haired young woman with blue eyes, sparkling like rays of sunlight dancing on a flowing river. I saw a smile that warms the day, a pretty face. Your fringe and pale skin and freckles will drive the young men crazy.”

“That’s kind of you to say,” she said, failing to hide a blush. “May I ask you something?”

“Carry on. You’re good at asking questions.”

No one was going to intimidate her. No one.

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About the Author

Justin Newland is an author of historical fantasy and secret history thrillers – that’s history with a supernatural twist. His stories feature known events and real people from history which are re-told and examined through the lens of the supernatural. He gives author talks and is a regular contributor to BBC Radio Bristol’s Thought for the Day. He lives with his partner in plain sight of the Mendip Hills in Somerset, England.

Justin Newland

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BOOK TOUR: Kingdom Come by Danielle M. Orsino #Fantasy @birthofthefae @RRBookTours1

Welcome to the book tour for the beautiful fourth installment in the Birth of the Fae series, Kingdom Come! Read on for more details and a chance to win a FairyLoot Crate!

Kingdom Come (Birth of the Fae #4)

Publication Date: May 30th, 2022

Genre: Fantasy/ Fae

All is peaceful in the Veil, which is usually when everything falls apart…
Queen Aurora of the Court of Light and King Jarvok of the Court of Dark have fallen in love despite all odds. A relationship of political convenience has turned into something real and tangible for the two monarchs. After centuries of conflict and mistrust, the two Courts are about to unite as one: the Court of the Fae. But not every Fae is happy about the impending union.
Queen Aurora’s most trusted advisors have never lost touch with their old Angelic ways. These bishops still believe that Virtues and Power Angels were never meant to mix. According to them, Queen Aurora is no longer suitable to rule. As they mount a complex coup d’état to grasp the throne, a new threat to the monarchy makes their move.
Will the entire foundation of peace crumble with one last act of betrayal? Or will the bond between Court of Light and Dark prevail in the face of danger?

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About the Author

Danielle M. Orsino is a fantasy novelist whose lifelong vision to create whimsical realms that her readers can escape to. Her compelling word-weaving pays homage to a multitude of personal muses, from Chris Claremont and George Pérez (both famous comic book writers), to Anne Rice and Wonder Woman.

The creative spark of storytelling has been with Danielle ever since she was a child, but martial arts and her nursing career took center stage into adulthood. Then, on a day like any other, it was reignited during the most unexpected of moments: while treating one of her patients. Seeing that they longed for a distraction during their arduous treatments, the floodgates of inspiration soon burst forth. So, Danielle took it upon herself to tell them a story; a fantastical narrative that would leave the confines of that IV room’s walls and land upon a page. Before she knew it, what started as an imaginative tale to pass the time, turned into book, followed by an entire series: The Birth of Fae. This awe-inspiring series includes Locked out of Heaven (Book One), Thine Eyes of Mercy (Book Two), and From The Ashes (Book Three), all of which are published by 4 Horsemen Publications, Inc. And with an unwavering passion for cosplay and comics, it was a unanimous decision to place her on the cover of each book in all her Fae cosplay glory. The Birth of Fae also features Los, an affable chameleon dragon inspired by her fun-loving Yorkie named Carlos.

When writing wasn’t at the forefront of her mind, Danielle was a successful Martial Artist. Some of her achievements include “1999 World Martial Arts Hall of Fame Inductee”, “Female Martial Artist of the Year”, “WKA World Champion Silver Medalist 2008”, and numerous more. She has also garnered hundreds of martial art tournament wins, various other national and world titles, and features on big-name channels like TLC and CBS. She even had the rare opportunity to perform for former U.S. President Bill Clinton and collaborate alongside Vincent Lyn and Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson. From there, she pursued her Bachelor’s degree in Kinesiology and Exercise Science, and she is now a Licensed Practical Nurse who focuses on Lyme disease research.

This “New Queen of the Fae’s” unmatched world-building and masterful Fae-origin retellings have led to an ever-growing queendom of “Fae-natics”. To begin embarking upon a quest in an epic world unlike any other, visit Danielle M. Orsino’s official website at http://www.BirthOfTheFae.com. You can also connect with her on Instagram (@BirthOfTheFae_Novel) and Twitter (@BirthOfTheFae).

“After summoning this world into existence through an imaginative force of will, Danielle has scoured every inch of the landscape several times over. Critics often praise a story’s world building by saying that it feels “lived in.” Well, the world of the Fae certainly seems like that because Danielle herself has happily lived there for years as she worked to put all of this together… My favorite part of this story is that it is gloriously depicted in vibrant images.”

-Clete Barrett Smith, New York Times Bestselling Author of If We Were Giants, Aliens on Vacation series, and Magic Delivery

The Birth of the Fae | Instagram | Twitter

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BOOK TOUR: The Safe Game by Wes Verde #CrimeThriller #HistoricalFiction @RRBookTours1

Welcome to the book tour for The Safe Game by Wes Verde. Read on for more details!

The Safe Game

Publication Date: July 22nd, 2022

Genre: Historical Fiction/ Crime Thriller

New Jersey, 1928.

The Cons – Roy, Urbane, and Victoria – made a living by separating fools from their money and rarely stayed in one place for too long. Keeping food in their bellies and a roof over their heads often meant hopping from one game to the next, barely staying ahead of the law or poverty and sometimes both.

That was until the day Roy – the Idea Man – thought he found a big score; one that would put the Cons on Easy Street. No more scraping by. No more hungry nights in the cold or picking pockets in desperation. Maybe even enough to get them out of this life for good. But things were never that simple.

When a tragic death brings the law snooping around, the Cons find themselves running afoul of cops, gangsters, and other powerful people – ones with secrets.

The Cons have gotten out of scrapes before, but their luck may soon run out and this particular game may end in luxury, a jail cell, or an early grave.

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Excerpt

Today she was on fire. Heads started to bob and the group pressed closer, trying to get a better look at the device.

With her work done, Victoria fell quiet. The excitement of the crowd was properly kindled now. A contended grin curled up her full lips. To Urbane’s surprise, her sharp eyes suddenly found his. At first, he thought it might be a fluke. Or perhaps his supposedly concealed location had been somehow compromised. Before he could stress himself over the matter, she winked. Then, all other thoughts fled. Just as his face started to heat up, she returned her attention to Roy. It was his turn to bring it home.

“Now, I’ve been given strict instructions by Treasury Department officials to accept no less than two thousand dollars for this device,” he intoned formally.

This was met with groans of disapproval and one or two boos and justifiably so; one could buy a small house for that amount of money. It was a far higher bid than in previous towns.

Feigning surprise, the Idea Man continued. “You understand, surely, that such a sum would be recovered in a matter of weeks if the prescribed regiment is followed?”

Urbane wondered if that was right. Knowing the scam – game – he had not previously given much thought to its premise. Having lost sight of Victoria for the moment, he quickly did the math in his head and came up with about fifty days. This was with the assumption that the machine was operated every five hours… and that it was not a scam.

As one who dealt in numbers and concrete reality, this world of deception was foreign to him. How people could believe such an outlandish proposition boggled his mind. A naturally curious sort, Urb simply could not fathom the lack of such in others.

Outside, Roy let the groans begin to subside before he extended the olive branch.

“Hang on, now. Hang on. Well… it will mean some hard questions from my superiors. Maybe even some shady bookkeeping on my part. But if that is asking too much, perhaps a discount might be considered. Just for the hard working folks of Lawrence, mind you.” In a quieter voice, he added, “But I must implore you to please keep this just between us. I could go as low as twelve hundred dollars.”

Again, boos. Though, fewer than before. In the end, Roy was obliged to drop the bid twice more before a collection hat started passing around. Urb shook his head, astonished. Roy and Victoria could steer a crowd the same way he could tickle a lock or build a mechanism. For the price of a decent used car, these people had accepted this deal that should have been too good to be true – of course it was. The crowd soon divided into two factions, apparently debating how the forthcoming riches would be allocated.

One man emerged as the representative of the group, holding the collection hat. Urbane’s eyes went wide. It was more cash and coin than they had made in the past three towns put together. If properly budgeted, it could well be enough to carry them into summer. The crowd shifted and he caught sight of Victoria again. She had also glimpsed the considerable sum. Like Urb, she bit her lower lip in anticipation. Seeing the curve of her face and the swell of her hips, he nearly forgot about their windfall and most everything else for that matter.

And he was not the only one to take notice. Would-be suitors were not an uncommon issue. As a professional hazard, Victoria tended to attract male attention like iron filings to a lodestone and today was no exception.

It was a young fella. The excessively confident ones often were and Urbane frowned as this one fixed Madame Charmer in his sights. She inspired many emotions: infatuation, longing, lust. Urb was a thinking man, but after six months of living and working in close proximity, even he could not fully resist her allure. Watching others make the attempt for her affection, even knowing they were doomed to fail was not good for his heart.

Though entirely capable of rebuffing such attempts, it seemed Vic had not yet detected her latest admirer. As the young man drew closer, Urb realized too late that something was off. This fellow had none of the telltale signs of one about to ask for a date.

At the same time, another speaker fired a bombshell question directly at Roy.

“How is this not counterfeiting?”

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Wes is an engineer by trade, a busybody by habit, and a lifelong Jersey boy.

Writing has been a hobby in one form or another since 2006 when he started drawing 3-panel comics. When he is not putting words down, he is picking them up; the “to-read” pile only seems to grow larger.

A fan of nature, he spends as much time outside as possible.

Wes Verde

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BOOK TOUR: The Past That Haunts by Jennifer Porter #MafiaRomance #ParanormalRomance

Congratulations to author Jennifer Porter on the release of novel, The Past That Haunts! Read on for more details and an exclusive excerpt!

The Past That Haunts (Wardman Chronicles #1)

Publication Date: September 12th, 2022

Genre: Paranormal/ Mafia Romance

Lilith Wardman was six when her parents died. Since then, she’s gone through the motions of life, dreaming of what might have been had her world not been ripped apart.

Yet at the age of twenty-three, she finds herself thrust into a fresh nightmare.

Two sides are pitted against each other in a brewing vampire war, and Lilith is caught in between them. One wants her dead. The other will put their lives on the line to save her.

When Dominic Rosini kidnaps Lilith, he claims he accepted his boss’s offer to protect her. Little does she know, Dominic is driven by motives of his own. His boss made a promise Dominic intends to keep, despite his growing attraction to the frightened mortal.

Trapped in a deadly game of cat and mouse, can Lilith trust the feelings she’s developing for Dominic? Or will the delicate life she built be left in shambles once more?

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Excerpt

“Go on. I won’t stop you. But you have two minutes from the time you open that door.” He fished out another cigarette and lit it, talking as he closed the lighter. “What are you waiting for?”

Two minutes… I could do it. All I had to do was run until I found the front door and then run some more. Should be easy enough. Right?

I forced myself to stand up, but the room spun quickly. The sedative… Damn it. I fell, my right knee slamming against the floor. I bit down on my bottom lip, making a fist against the thin rug as I cursed under my breath. I didn’t realize just how unsteady this stuff made me.

“Looks like you’re the one in your way.”

“Fuck you,” I fired back, jaw clenched.

Dominic walked past me and opened the door. “Keep going.”

Doing all I knew I could do, I mustered up the strength and crawled across the floor. Dominic stepped out of the way, neglecting to help me up as I reached the doorway. I pushed on and dragged myself, entering the hallway with my handbag in my hand. Time was of the essence. I needed to think fast, but it was difficult through the fog.

The long, narrow red area rug was rough beneath me.

I approached a railing and took advantage, moving toward it as fast as I could, and grabbed its smooth wood. Using it for support, I pulled myself up on my feet, my legs wobbling like jelly.

“One minute and ten seconds,” he announced.

I looked over my shoulder to see Dominic tapping his watch as he watched me, leaning against the door frame.

Fear should’ve consumed me like the sedative did. But I wasn’t afraid; I was focused. When someone told me I couldn’t do something, I proved them wrong or exhausted everything inside of me trying.

I could do this; I had to.

Shaky, my first few steps were slow. I looked at the ceiling. Hardwired lights went down the length of the hall. With the red of the area rug, it gave off a chilling glow.

“Forty-five seconds.”

Inhaling deeply, I ran as fast as these wobbly legs would take me as I exhaled. My heart raced wilder than my thoughts.

But fate had other plans.

I lost my balance and collided with the railing, almost falling down the connecting staircase. I gritted my teeth, close to tears. “Damn it.” I tried again, even though I was certain at this point I wasn’t making it out of here. A fluttering spread through my chest. I clutched my handbag tight against me when the voice of another man that I couldn’t see interrupted my thoughts.

“Time’s up,” he said in a mocking tone.

Studying the staircase where the voice came from, the man became clearer through the dark. So did the barrel of a gun. The unfamiliar man was tall like Dominic, wearing a gray, hooded sweatshirt and black sweatpants. He kept his head tipped forward, his face hidden by the hood as he aimed the gun at me, moving up the staircase step by painfully calculated step.

My breaths sped up, my chest tightening. I tried absorbing everything in sight, backing up a step at a time. The only way out was to jump through the curtained window behind me.

Available for Purchase Here!

About the Author

Jennifer Porter resides in the city of Lewiston, Maine. She enjoys writing and reading adult paranormal romance, mafia romance, & dark romance. The darker and spicier, the better.

She was told she had the potential to write her own book while attending elementary school, and as she grew older, she discovered her passion to become an author. She has written opinion pieces for her local newspaper. Coffee, music, and her supportive husband and family keep her going.

Jennifer spends her spare time with her husband and tends to get lost in her favorite television shows when she’s not lost in books or her creative worlds.

Jennifer Porter | Instagram | TikTok | Facebook

Book Tour Schedule

September 12th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

Riss Reviews (Review) https://rissreviewsx.wixsite.com/website

@booktreasuresau (Review) https://www.instagram.com/booktreasuresau/

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.com/

September 13th

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

@libraryofash (Review) https://www.instagram.com/libraryofash/

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

September 14th

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

@brandidanielledavis (Review) https://www.instagram.com/brandidanielledavis/

@bhaneereads_ (Review) https://www.instagram.com/bhaneereads_/

September 15th

@over.on.my.bookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/over.on.my.bookshelf/?hl=en

@itsabookthing2021 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/itsabookthing2021/

@takealookatmybookshelf (Review) https://www.instagram.com/takealookatmybookshelf/

September 16th

@bookishkelly2020 (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/BookishKelly2020/

@mels_booksandhooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/mels_booksandhooks/

@wolfesbooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/wolfesbooks/

@the.brooke.library (Review) https://www.instagram.com/the.brooke.library/

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BOOK TOUR: Grave Intervention by Shira Shiloah #MedicalThriller #Suspense @ShiraShiloahMD @RRBookTours1

Welcome to the book tour for the latest thriller by Shira Shiloah! Read on for more details and a chance to win either a paperback edition of the book (US) or a digital edition (International)!

Grave Interventions

Expected Publication Date: September 20, 2022

Genre: Paranormal/ Medical Thriller/ Suspense

Dr. Amir Hadad, a successful radiologist, hears an intruder. Hiding in the dark, the stranger whispers, “I can’t rest.”

Alarmed and unwilling to risk his family’s safety, Amir contacts the police. Only there is no trace of an intruder, no marks of forced entry. If there is a stalker afoot, the police cannot find him.

As the days wear on and Amir continues to hear the same disembodied voice speaking to him, he worries about his sanity. The Irish lilt has escalated from pleas for help to threats unless Amir helps the voice find rest – and revenge.

Inspired by true events set in Naperville, Illinois, Dr. Shira Shiloah takes readers through suspenseful twists and turns in her latest novel. GRAVE INTERVENTION, a paranormal medical suspense, blurs the lines between real and imaginary to expose the hidden side of a historical suburban town.

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Excerpt

Camille remained on the couch, her expression sad. He could tell she’d been crying and saw the episode “Death of a Goldfish” was streaming. He thought her grief would’ve let up by now; two-and-a-half years in, the depression showed no sign of leaving. He wished she’d see a therapist. He’d broach the topic again with Viva; maybe she’d listen to her sister.

“Let’s get Mommy,” he whispered into Sami’s ear, and she squealed with delight. He put Sami on his shoulders and said, “One, two, three… attack the Mommy… here we come.” He walked behind the couch and bent at his waist so both he and Sami could hug Camille. “Give Mommy kisses. So many kisses.”

Camille reached for them, pulling them into an embrace with each arm, and taking Sami onto her lap. “Cuddle puddle,” she said. She kissed them both. “How was your day?”

Yer lady’s a grand feen.

The voice. He heard the words clearly. He surveyed the room and saw the front door was closed; no one was there but the three of them. He turned behind him and glanced at the hallway leading from the garage into the foyer.

“Did you hear that?” Amir whispered.
“Hear what? You’re scaring me.”
Jaysus, her legs. You lucky bastard.
“Take Sami now. Get in the car.” He went to the kitchen,

grabbed his phone and a carving knife from the drawer. “Go.” Camille gathered their coats from the laundry room, set Sami on the washing machine and put shoes on her. “Come

with me, Sami. Daddy wants us to take a drive.” Camille carried her and Sami dropped her doll while reaching for her father.

“Daddy, come.”

“I’ll be right there, baby. I have to get dressed. Go with Mommy.” He watched from the garage entrance as Camille strapped Sami into her rear facing car seat in the back of the Tesla SUV. She held her palms up to him.

“Where am I going?”

“Go to Malnati’s, order for us. I’ll be right there.” He closed the garage door after they drove away, and went inside. He walked from the kitchen to the den. Sami’s toys and dolls were scattered on the carpet. Another episode of Mister Rogers’ had started. He turned off the television. The room had turned colder. Amir checked the front windows, all were sealed. He shivered.

Yer lady’s grand.

“Come out where I can see you, you psychopath. Who’s there?” Amir dialed 911 on his phone. “Police. I have an intruder.” He put on jeans and a sweater, grabbed his coat and wallet, and went out the front door holding the carving knife.

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About the Author

Dr. Shira Shiloah is an anesthesiologist and author of the debut thriller, Emergence, that details Dr. D.K. Webb, a neurosurgeon who intentionally maims and kills his patients in Memphis, Tennessee. Dr. Shiloah bring both a personal and professional perspective for what may happen when a sociopath holds a scalpel.

Shira Shiloah MD | Twitter | Instagram

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Book Tour Schedule

September 12th

R&R Book Tours (Kick-Off) http://rrbooktours.com

Riss Reviews (Review) https://rissreviewsx.wixsite.com/website

Rambling Mads (Review) http://ramblingmads.com

@thrillersandcoffee (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/thrillersandcoffee/

September 13th

@ofmoviesandbooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/ofmoviesandbooks/

Bunny’s Reviews (Review) https://bookwormbunnyreviews.blogspot.com/

@itsabookthing2021 (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/itsabookthing2021/

Stine Writing (Spotlight) https://christinebialczak.com/

September 14th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

@gin_books_crochethooks (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gin_books_crochethooks/

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

Liliyana Shadowlyn (Spotlight) https://lshadowlynauthor.com/

@fle_d (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/fle_d

September 15th

Monkey Reviews (Review) https://www.monkeyreviews.net/

@infinite.readlist (Review) https://www.instagram.com/infinite.readlist/

@amber.bunch_author (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/amber.bunch_author/

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

September 16th

@fariha_binte_islam (Review) https://www.instagram.com/fariha_binte_islam/

@gryffindorbookishnerd (Review) https://www.instagram.com/gryffindorbookishnerd/

Book Reviews by Taylor (Spotlight) https://www.bookreviewsbytaylor.com/

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BOOK TOUR: Year Zero by David Dean Lugo #YoungAdult #dystopian @daviddeanlugo @RRBookTours1

 

Welcome to the book tour for the first installment in David Dean Lugo’s Revolution’s Children series, Year Zero! Read on for more info!

Year Zero (Revolution’s Children Book 1)

Publication Date: May 24th, 2022

Genre: YA Dystopian

A thrilling new YA dystopian novel has dark parallels to a conceivable future America.

It’s been two years since the establishment of the brutal dictatorship The Incorporated Precincts of America and its governing Board and CEO, as well as the death of the old America. Sixteen-year-old Joey Cryer has two missions: to keep their six-year-old sister, Julia, safe, and to not die.

America first. America last. America always. This is the vow that the CEO leader of the IPA—The Incorporated Precincts of America—pledges to his suffering citizens. With violent protests breaking out in every city, attacks against immigrants, and the national crisis of the Capitol Event, young Joey must keep their vigilance in staying clear of the IPA’s ever-watching Sons of Liberty—its ruthless police force—to avoid becoming “disappeared” with his little sister. This means not maligning the governing body, The Corporation, with any thought, word, or action, or else suffer the consequence. One such sanction for disobeying citizens is being forced on to the required viewing television show “Manhunt,” where they fight for their lives against the Sons, upholding The Corporation’s domination over society.

Two years earlier, before the Second Revolution ended and before the election, Joey’s biggest concern was sitting at the right cafeteria table at his high school or if the girl they liked liked them back. Avoiding the school bully, Harlan Grundy, was always a plus, and so was not getting pummeled. So, it was no big surprise that Harlan became a Son, loyal to The Corporation and carrying out their dirty deeds to keep citizens in check and in fear. The only correct response to a Son? Everything is goodly.

Having lost everything in the revolution’s aftermath, Joey takes an unfathomable risk by helping the near-dead leader of the rebellion, John Doe. Having anything to do with Doe will skip you right past penalties and sanctions all the way to the death penalty, not only for you, but for anyone you love. And yet Joey’s sole mission is keep Julia safe until they can secretly escape to freedom. To do so, they finds they have an unlikely partner in a recently betrayed Harlan. Trusting their former enemy may be the only way to ensure their future—but is it worth the risk for Joey, Julia, and his community?

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Excerpt

No law respecting the established religion, prohibiting its free and compulsory practice, may be passed. All citizens free or otherwise are responsible for their speech, as is the press. The Board may sanction the people or the press should they choose to malign The Corporation or its representatives in print, thought, word, or action.

—First Amendment, Constitution Incorporated Precincts of America

A hand grabs my shoulder, and I know I’m screwed. The flickering light from the Jumbotron across the street dispels the concealing darkness. What was I thinking trying to sneak my way across town square after dark? I pull my hat lower, hoping that he won’t recognize me.

Especially if curfew has started.

Dan and Katie are starting the Manhunt preshow on the Jumbotron, which isn’t a good sign. Manhunt rarely starts before seven.

My mouth is dry, and my heart’s hammering fills my ears. It’s the fight-or-flight response kicking in big time. Except in my case, it’s the flight-and-still-get-pommeled response.

Even knowing how it will end, I still think about running.

Just for a second.

Old habits die hard.

I move my eyes to the hand, hoping it’s not covered by a white glove. Crap. It is. So, the he attached to the hand isn’t a regular cop. A cop will just shake me down and let me go. But not this guy.

He’s a Son of Liberty.

I’m surprised he hasn’t shot me yet. They usually do. I mean, it’s kinda their go-to move. I glance from his glove to his face.

I silence a scream. This guy isn’t any old Son. He’s Harlan Grundy. That name alone makes most kids cry. Always has.

Harlan’s been bullying kids since the old days, back when we still lived in a place called the USA. By the time The Corporation ran things and changed the name to The Incorporated Precincts of America, or IPA, Harlan had transformed bullying into an art form. I mean, watching him terrorize a kid is like watching Michelangelo turn a hunk of stone into a statue. Pure artistry.

Unless you’re the rock.

All the Sons are big, but Harlan’s bigger. Not like Schwarzenegger big. It’s more natural. Like a gorilla. Most let his stocky form, with its squashed nose, thick fingers, and stubby legs, fool them. But he possessed a speed unheard of, even among Olympic athletes.

And I, underneath this big ass coat, am just a scrawny sixteen-year-old. Exercise and me are not the best of friends. I mean, we wave when we pass by in the halls. Unless running from Harlan counts. Because if it does, I’m a gold medalist.

Okay, maybe a bronze because he always catches me.

“Hold it, citizen,” he says loud enough for me to hear over the Jumbotron’s droning voices. That is quite a feat since they always have it turned up to like a million.

Wait. Citizen?

He doesn’t recognize me.

He says something, but Dan speaks over him from the Jumbotron. “We’ll be back after this message.”

A second later, tolling bells replace his smug voice, sounding out the half hour. I glance at the screen, hoping it says six thirty. Instead, a robotic voice says, “The time is now seven thirty. Curfew is in effect.”

I’m doubly screwed.

After curfew, you get arrested or worse, unless you’re on official IPA business. It won’t take anyone more than one look to know I’m not. And Harlan’s fists and I have known each other since I was eight, and he was eleven. It’s only a matter of time until his dim brain dusts off the cobwebs and the first faint itch of recognition dawns on him.

If he doesn’t shoot me, which I doubt, I have two simple choices left. But I won’t get to choose. Instead, an Inquisitor will decide between sending me to a Liberty Camp or inducting me into the army.

The second is most likely. They’re drafting more people every day. Younger and younger too. I mean, except for like Ward Commanders, Inquisitors, and Auditors, the whole Corporation is getting younger. I guess they figure the young don’t have as much attachment to the way things were.

The CEO says we’re winning the war, and the extra troops are for the last push into Ottawa. But I’ve heard the rumors. Who hasn’t?

Some say Mexico, Canada’s ally, has won ground in the Southwest. Others say the early winter weather has paralyzed our troops in Ontario and Alaska. What’s happening in Europe is anyone’s guess.

So, whatever the Inquisitor decides, it’s better if Harlan shoots me.

Usually, I’m home before curfew, but I had forgotten it’s earlier now. That’s thanks to the Does—John and Jane Doe—and their rebels blowing up stuff. Last Tuesday, the day most Sons get their rations, they blew up the rationing center. Now, the rest of us are still living off our last pitiful portion.

Movies make rebellion seem exciting and heroic. I guess it is, fighting oppression or whatever. But from where I sit, trying to get by and staying off The Corporation’s radar, it’s terrifying. It doesn’t help people like me. Maybe it will someday, but I’m not holding my breath.

I burrow deeper into my father’s coat, trying to avoid eye contact. The coat must be the only reason Harlan hasn’t recognized me. There’s no point in trying to hide the bag of contraband I’m holding.

I mean, it’s right there.

Besides, it’s just dumb cans of stupid beef stew I bought at the black market. E-rations don’t hardly give anyone enough food. So, most people, leastways those who can afford it, turn to the black market. Even Block Watch Commanders like Harlan.

It’s not totally the Does fault, though. Food, at least the unpowdered kind, was scarce even before they blew up the rationing center. The troops passing through on their way north to the wall, took most of what we had. They didn’t bother leaving much for us citizens.

I’m not sweating the stew, though. I expect he’ll “impound” it. I’m more worried that what’s stuffed into my belt will spill out. If it does, he’ll definitely shoot me.

He’s eyeing the bag though. His mouth might even be watering. We both stand there, playing our weird freeze tag while waiting for the stupid bell to stop tolling.

As soon as it does, Harlan says, “You’re behind curfew, citizen. Slice me the stew, and I won’t donate a one.”

Ugh. Slanguage.

It takes me a moment to translate his words to regular English. If I give him the stew, he won’t give me a class one penalty. I can’t speak because he’ll recognize my voice, so I nod. Kneeling, I set the bag down and take off.

I don’t look back.

You never look back.

If you do, they might see your face, connect it to a list of subversives, rebels, or whatever list you didn’t know you were on.

I’m two blocks away before a grin spreads across my face. Dumbass Harlan was so preoccupied by the bag that he didn’t notice the cans crammed in my pockets.

I decide to go home through the woods. It’s longer and a thousand percent spookier, but it has more cover. Plus, The Corporation hasn’t put cameras in the forest. At least not yet anyway. That might change if they suspect the squirrels of treason.

Plus, Harlan lives two houses away from me. If he’s heading home, it’s worth the extra twenty-minute walk to avoid him.

I trudge along. I can’t see a thing in the inky blackness. Everything is a muddied silhouette, and I don’t want to trip on something and break my neck. I used to find the sounds of leaves crunching under my feet satisfying. But I don’t anymore.

They just tell the Sons or the rebel squirrels where you are.

My breath comes quick now. Heart racing. It’s my anxiety getting the better of me. I don’t bother fighting it because I’m too busy cursing myself. If Harlan is out on patrol, he’s nowhere near his house. Then again, it might be dumb luck that we ran into each other.

Either way, I don’t really care right now because I’m sure Jason Voorhees or Michael Myers has spotted my dumbass alone in the woods. I stop for a second, but the sound of crunching leaves doesn’t.

A twig snaps.

I turn.

A half-naked figure lunges from the darkness, falling to the ground.

I almost scream.

A man lies motionless. I get a little closer and notice he’s covered in blood. Against my better judgment, I turn him over. A few holes leak his blood.

Someone shot him.

The only people with guns these days are Sons or rebels. Which means they’re probably out searching for him. That thought alone makes me nope my sorry ass out of the woods as fast as I can.

I emerge, unharassed by either rebel squirrels or a fictional slasher, near the non-Harlan end of my block. My breath comes in short, panicked gasps. I’m more than a little embarrassed by how fast I’m moving down the block.

I turn the corner. My house blazes bright in the frigid night. It’s almost enough to chase away the harsh twilight glow from the screens on the telephone poles.

Julia, my little sister hates being alone, but she isn’t right now. Unless Winnie’s wandered off again. She has turned on every light, which means he probably did. The Sons don’t pay him much mind, so he’ll be okay. Hopefully, she hasn’t used up our electricity ration for the month.

I linger in the driveway, eyes darting. I need to make sure I wasn’t followed.

An angry orange flower of fire blooms over the nearby hills. Must be the rebels blowing something up or being blown up themselves. Either way, a bunch of people are dead. A tenth of a second later, a dull roar reaches my ears, and everything shakes.

Every porch light in the neighborhood blinks on, and people spill out from their houses, scurrying around like angry ants. A few have wide eyes, their O-shaped mouths gulping the chilly night air. Which reminds me of the fish that Dad and I used to catch. Others just sigh, wringing their hands. A few look furious.

I’ve lived here for like forever and recognize everyone.

That is everyone except the young man with the neat dark hair walking along the walkway in front of the house next door. His hands are in his pockets, posture crisp but relaxed.

I do a double take because I didn’t expect to see anyone coming from there. It and the house across the street have stood vacant since the Perrys and the Youngs disappeared a year ago. He might be a zig though.

Zig is short for zigzag. They’re the people who refuse to go along with The Corporation but won’t join the resistance either. So, they zigzag between the two opposing forces that shape the IPA. They usually come in small groups, no more than four. There’s not a lot of them. At least as far as anyone can tell. Anyway, neither side likes them much, and both will see them wiped out just as soon. Which is why, if he is a zig, he certainly wouldn’t be so careless and let everyone know where he lives.

He might be a rebel. They sometimes hunker down in vacant buildings. That thought both excites and frightens me.

As he draws closer, there’s no mistaking this man for a zig or a rebel. He wears a suit, but the distant flames give everything a crimson tone, so I can’t tell what color it is. Something on his jacket flickers. He reaches the end of the walkway, and I notice that the light glints off a bunch of Corporation commendation pins on his lapel.

At first, he acknowledges no one as he crosses his arms and stares straight ahead. He appears calm, but his breath comes in peculiar fits like he’s out of breath but doesn’t want anyone to know. Maybe he’s asthmatic? I don’t know. His eyes don’t watch the distant flames like everyone else; they’re watching the streetlights.

Something glistens on his forehead like sweat, but the night is cold, so that’s impossible. He appears to sense me gawking and gives me a nod.

By reflex, I wave.

Another fireball blossoms, this one almost bright enough to read by. The windows rattle from the blast. The neighborhood lights blink a few times before going out. Someone screams as we’re plunged into a weird twilight of flickering screens since those never stop.

I swear Pinman smirks.

A second later, old Doc Salazar asks, “Do you think it’s the Canadians?”

That isn’t as silly as it sounds, since if you’re lucky enough to own a car, it’s like three hours to the border.

“Nah. I bet it’s the Does and the rebels,” Mr. Taylor replies.

Everyone stares at him for a moment. Calling the Does rebels is against the law.

“You mean terrorists,” a throaty unfamiliar voice—my new neighbor—says.

“Yes, y-yes,” Mr. Taylor stammers. He probably noticed every commendation on Pinman’s jacket. He chuckles nervously, running a hand across the back of his neck.

I don’t want to call attention to myself, but Taylor was my dad’s fishing buddy. I can’t count the number of times that the Taylors shared a meal with us after a good day on the lake.

A familiar voice breaks the uncomfortable silence. “Mr. Taylor is scaredly is all. He’s not trying to be outside the box.”

I look around, trying to find who spoke. For some reason, everyone’s staring at me like I punched a nun or something.

Well, everyone except Taylor. He’s got a grateful smile pasted on his stupid round face. The looks confirm my growing suspicion. The voice was familiar because it’s mine.

Pinman doesn’t reply, just cocks his head.

“Well, um, good night, sir,” Mr. Taylor croaks as he scurries back inside his house.

A second later, the loudspeakers atop every telephone pole on the block crackle to life. On the screens, a severe looking yet appealing middle-aged woman appears with her hair wrapped tight around her head. Everything can go dark but not PR Polly, the voice of The Corporation.

There’s a whine of feedback, and Polly stares with a Mona Lisa smile on her lips, waiting for it to pass. It fades to a crackling static and clears.

Her familiar, faintly British voice sounds out. “Return to your homes. All is goodly. We have the situation under control.” As always, she adds the Corporate slogan. “America first. America last. America always.”

Another squeal of feedback sounds out. Dan and Katie return to the screens, laughing about the ratings bonanza it’ll be when the real Does are caught and put on Manhunt. But since Manhunt is required viewing, ratings are a bonanza every day anyway. I’m also not sure how we’d know if they’re the real Does. I mean, every time they think they’ve got them, it turns out they’re regular rebels.

No one even knows what the Does look like.

A weird sensation tingles my leg. It’s my phone vibrating in my pocket. I put aside my stray thoughts for now as I fish it out.

“What did you think of this Realnews brief” flashes on the screen. Underneath, like always, are two emoji:

a smiley one,

and a frowning one.

I tap the smiley face to show that I loved it. No one clicks the other one anymore. Well, no one without a death wish.

Soft clicking echoes around me as my neighbors do the same. By the time I’m done, they’re scurrying back into their homes. I guess they’ve all realized it’s after curfew, so we are all technically criminals right now.

Pinman still stands there with his arms crossed, staring at me. I try not to meet his gaze and mumble something about how my little sister is waiting for dinner inside.

In the distance, sirens blare. A lot of them. All isn’t goodly. I sense the stranger watching me as I walk into my house.

I don’t look back.

You never look back.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Author David Dean Lugo often gets ideas for his stories by wondering what if? In his new young adult dystopian novel, Year Zero, he probed this when writing about a future fascist America run by a governing body called The Corporation and its CEO. Lugo believes that today’s trend of people judging one another too harshly—whether based on their political party, gender identity, or something else—is causing people to drift too far away from one another. His story explores potential extreme ramifications of this.

Lugo believes a great book is one that has believable characters that readers can identify with and relate to. He hopes his stories evoke emotion and thinking from his readers long after the book is closed.

When he isn’t writing thought-provoking YA novels, Lugo enjoys playing guitar, watching movies, playing video/board games, and hanging out with his amazing family. He lives in southwest New Hampshire with his wife Meredith, son Jacob, and their rascally Labrador/Collie mix named Astrid. Year Zero is the first volume in his The Revolution’s Children trilogy.

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