THE MOON DWELLERS by David Estes – AUDIOBOOK REVIEW

Cover image obtained from www.audible.com

Cover image obtained from http://www.audible.com

THE MOON DWELLERS
The Dwellers – Book One

Author: David Estes

Type of Book: Audiobook – Unabridged

Narrators: Julia Whelan and Will Damron

Length: 10 hours, 34 minutes

Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction, Dystopian Fiction

Release Date: May 12, 2015

Publisher: Podium Publishing

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

* I received a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

This is a dystopian fiction story. This genre has become very popular over the past few years. There are a lot of this type of book on the market and it can be a daunting task to try to decide which titles are worth buying and which ones should be avoided. “The Moon Dwellers” is one that should be added to everyone’s “To Read” list.

After the surface of the Earth has become uninhabitable, an underground colony is established. As is always the case with human beings, a distinct class system emerges. Three underground levels are built and are called the Tri-Realms.

Closest to the Earth’s surface is the Sun Realm where the wealthy and powerful reside. The next deepest level is known as the Moon Realm (the supposed middle-class) and deepest of all is the Star Realm.

Tristan is the eldest son of the President.

The government of the Tri-Realms may consider itself to be democratic, but since positions are earned solely based on bloodlines, it is really a monarchy masquerading as a democracy.

Since he is the eldest son of the current President, Tristan is destined to be the next President of the Tri-Realms. Tristan’s father is obsessed with power and wealth. His father wants Tristan to follow in his footsteps, but Tristan is nothing like his father. In fact, he hates the way the people in the Sun Realm treat those that reside in the Moon and Star Realms, but he has no idea how to go about changing things.

Adele is seventeen and has spent all of her short life living in the middle class Moon Realm. Despite the fact that her parents do not make much money, Adele and her little sister have had a happy childhood and the family is very close-knit.

Since Adele is the daughter of two convicted Traitors the law of the Tri-Realms states that any child of traitorous parents is also guilty of treason and Adele receives a lifetime prison sentence. Since she is not quite eighteen years old she is sent to the youth prison known as “The Pen.”

Against all odds Adele must escape from the Pen and find her family while being hunted by a deranged killing machine named Rivet, who works for the president.

Adele makes friends with two other inmates in The Pen. Tawni and Cole each have secrets that they wish to leave undiscovered.

Other than her friends, the only thing Adele has going for her is the fact that she is an amazing fighter thanks to the combat training she received from her father.

Tristan’s best friend is also his personal servant. Roc has been with Tristan his entire life and they are more like brothers than employee and employer.

When a war breaks out within the Tri-Realms, Tristan is thrust into the middle of a conflict that seems to follow Adele as she searches for her family.

Author David Estes has created an entire society with distinct classes and a unique setting.

I thoroughly enjoyed this audiobook. Since the story is told from two different perspectives: that of Adele and Tristan, it was refreshing to have two narrators to tell the story. Julia Whelan does a great job as the voice of Adele and is able to perfectly convey both Adele’s strength and her vulnerability. Will Damron as Tristan is equally wonderful. Tristan’s character is conflicted and Will is able to use inflection to portray his character’s inner angst with flair. I give the narration of this audiobook a 5 out of 5 star rating.

This book is targeted and marketed as a Young Adult audiobook but I believe that adult listeners will also enjoy this story.

There are a total of four books in “The Dwellers” series. They are:
1. The Moon Dwellers
2. The Star Dwellers
3. The Sun Dwellers
4. The Earth Dwellers

I am definitely interested in listening to all four of these audiobooks. I rate “The Moon Dwellers” as 5 out of 5 stars. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

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THE CANDLE STAR by Michelle Isenhoff — AUDIOBOOK REVIEW

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THE CANDLE STAR
Divided Decade Series – Book One

Author: Michele Isenhoff

Type of Book: Audiobook – Unabridged

Narrator: Fred Wolinski

Length: 4 hours, 32 minutes

Genre: Historical Fiction

Release Date: April 30, 2015

Publisher: Michele Isenhoff

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐

* I received a free copy of this audiobook from the narrator in exchange for an honest review.

Fourteen year old Emily Preston has grown up on a plantation in the South. Her family is wealthy and they own over 200 slaves.

She is a wild and willful child and her parent’s decide to try to curb her behavior by sending her to live with her Uncle who owns a hotel in Detroit, Michigan.

Being raised by slave owners in the lap of luxury and never having to do anything for herself, Emily is in for a huge dose of culture-shock when she arrives in Michigan.

Emily meets Malachi who is a black boy that is almost the same age as Emily. Never having met a free black person, she is shocked to discover that not only can Malachi read, but he also attends school.

Emily had always been told that black people were not capable of learning the way white people can.

As she spends more and more time in the company of her uncle as well as Malachi and a terrific cast of characters who work in the hotel, Emily starts to question everything she has ever been taught about black people.

But, being so young, what good will her changing attitudes be? Does it even matter?

This book is thoroughly researched and I absolutely loved the description of Emily’s trip to the Michigan State Fair.

The period of time this book is set in was a volatile time in American history. I liked the fact that the book is written from the perspective of a fourteen year old privileged white girl. I have read many books set during this era and this is the first time I have read a book written from this point of view, and I found it extremely well done.

The author has done a commendable job of describing the conflicting emotions that Emily goes through and I enjoyed listening to this audiobook.

Narrator Fred Wolinsky has a very expressive voice. Initially the simpering, whiny voice he used for Emily grated on my nerves and I thought it was a bit overdone. However, as I learned more about Emily’s spoiled and indulged childhood and her superior attitude I realized that the voice perfectly matched her character. I also have to give the narrator kudos for being able to perform multiple accents including both Yankee and Southern ways of talking. He also does a great job of using different accents for Zeke (the elderly black slave) and Julia and Malachi (free blacks living in Michigan).

I rate this audiobook as 4 out of 5 stars.⭐⭐⭐⭐

THE LADY OF DEVICES by Shelley Adina – BOOK REVIEW

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LADY OF DEVICES
A Steampunk Adventure Novel
Magnificent Devices Series – Book One

Author: Shelley Adina

Type of Book: eBook

Genre: Science Fiction, Steampunk

Release Date: 2011

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

* I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

The cover of this book is a stunning treat for the eyes. It was this cover which caught my eye and made me want to know what the book was about. I must give kudos to Kalen O’Donnell for the cover design. The cover art is by Phat Puppy Art and the images are from Shutterstock. All images and artwork are used under license.

The year is 1889. The setting is London, England. Victoria is Queen of England and Charles Darwin’s son is the Prime Minister. Their world is powered by steam.

Seventeen year old Claire Trevelyan, the daughter of Viscount St. Ives attends St. Cecelia’s Academy for Young Ladies.

The book begins with Claire causing a minor explosion during her “Chemistry of the Home” class. Her professor punishes her by assigning her the task of writing out a phrase one hundred times. The phrase she is to write is: “I will obey instruction and curb my unladylike curiosity.”

Readers learn quite a bit about Claire just based on this single incident. The professor had told Claire not to add peppermint to an infusion of dandelion and burdock, but had neglected to tell her why. When he asks her why she mixed the chemicals after specifically being told not to, she replies with complete and utter honesty: “To see what would happen, sir.”

Claire is curious and inquisitive, but neither of those traits are deemed as desirable in a young woman. Claire is expected to want nothing more than to marry a rich man and to be the perfect wife, but Claire wants to attend University to study engineering.

A tragic turn of events changes Lady Claire’s life forever.

This book is full of amazing and surprising twists and turns. I loved the characters she included and the world she has created is vivid and believable.

I am very much looking forward to reading the entire Magnificent Devices series.

I rate this book as 4.5 out of 5 stars.

The Magnificent Devices Steampunk Adventure Series consists of eight books. In order they are:

1. Lady of Devices
2. Her Own Devices
3. Magnificent Devices
4. Brilliant Devices
5. A Lady of Resources
6. A Lady of Spirit
7. A Lady of Integrity
8. A Gentleman of Means

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

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Shelley Adina is an author, a copyeditor, and a teaching writer in the MFA in Writing Popular Fiction program at Seton Hill University. She also writes Amish fiction under the name of Adina Senft. Her “Magnificent Devices” books have been on the Amazon bestseller list.

To learn more about this author visit http://www.shelleyadina.com

REMEMBERERS by C. Edward Baldwin – BOOK REVIEW

Cover image obtained from www.netgalley.com

Cover image obtained from http://www.netgalley.com

REMEMBERERS

Author: C. Edward Baldwin

Type of Book: eBook

Length: 350 pages

Genre: Thriller, Paranormal Fiction

Release Date: June 1, 2015

Publisher: Ink and Stone Publishing

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

* I received a free copy of this book from NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Have you ever experienced Deja Vu? What if that Deja Vu actually meant something? Something potentially life altering? How would you know? And what could you possibly do about it?

Kallie Hunt seems like a typical college student. She isn’t sure what she wants to do with her life and hasn’t even chosen a major in college yet.

The death of her mother a year earlier from brain cancer had left Kallie with her grandmother as her only relative. Well, she has a father, but since she’s only spoken to him three times in her entire life, he does not count.

When Kallie begins experiencing almost daily feelings of deja vu, she is understandably concerned that she might have inherited brain cancer from her mother.

Dennard Bennett is an ICE agent. ICE stands for Department of Immigration and Customs Enforcement. His job entails investigating anything he or his department believes could be a threat to national security. ICE is a direct result of the passing of The Patriot Act that came into being after 9/11.

Father Frank McCarthy is a Catholic priest who gave up what could have been an extremely profitable career in the NBA to follow his “calling” to God.

Reverend Johnny Swag is the charismatic preacher for the New Vibe Community Church located near Kallie’s college.

What ties these people together will surprise you. Together they are all needed and will ultimately save or destroy hundreds, if not thousands of lives.

You will need to read “Rememberers” to find out how!

This is quite the book. I’m not sure what I initially thought this book would be like, but it turned out to be an even better read than I had hoped.

This book is intelligently written and will challenge the reader’s beliefs in many ways.

I do not want to give away too much of the plot with this review, but I definitely recommend this book to lovers of many different types of fiction. There are historical aspects, religious aspects, mysterious happenings, shades of the paranormal, romance and more.

I rate this book as 4 out of 5 stars.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

Cover image obtained from the author's blog

Author photo obtained from the author’s blog

C. Edward Baldwin is originally from North Carolina. He is a married father of two. He published his first book in 2013.

To find out more about this author visit his blog at https://cedwardbaldwinblog.wordpress.com

FRACTURED MEMORIES by Jo Schneider – BOOK REVIEW

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Cover image obtained from www.xpressobooktours.com

Cover image obtained from http://www.xpressobooktours.com

FRACTURED MEMORIES
Jagged Scars Series – Book One

Author: Jo Schneider

Type of Book: eBook

Genre: Dystopian, Post-Apocalyptic Fiction, Young Adult

Length: 204 pages

Release Date: May 20, 2015

Publisher: Just Add Peril

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

* I received a free copy of this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

Wendy, her sister, Kenzie and their father live in a wilderness Compound referred to as “The Den.” They are vigilant about security and avoid both other people and “The Skinnies.”

The Skinnies were created by The Starvation. “The Starvation came when a person ate bad food. After a few months the person’s body would stop taking in nutrients. They could eat until they burst, but they would still slowly starve to death. Raw meat was the only thing that curbed the hunger. This usually led to insanity and packs of Skinnies roaming around looking for anything they could find to eat, including other people.”

The Den is attacked by Skinnies. Wendy is shoved into a crate during the fighting and passes out. When she awakes she realizes that she is the sole survivor.

A group of regular people arrive and they force Wendy to come with them away from her compound. Her injuries are so severe that she passes out again and does not wake for several days.

Awaking alone, in a locked room, in some sort of medical ward, Wendy is wary and suspicious of the people who ‘rescued’ her. As far as she can tell, they are the ones who unleashed the Skinnies on her home and she vows to take them down.

How she will go about it she isn’t sure, but she is determined.

What follows is a heart stopping, action-packed adventure in a post-apocalyptic world where trusting the wrong person can get you killed.

I was sucked into this story from the very beginning. I was intrigued by the Skinnies. They are very different from zombies. They are not dead. These are sick human beings whose hunger drives them crazy. What an interesting concept.

The character of Wendy is well developed. She is 16 years old, but since she looks like a 12 year old people are constantly underestimating her. I like that she is strong and doesn’t take crap from anyone.

I am definitely enthralled by this series and am very much looking forward to the release of the second book.

This book has done a great job of setting up the “Jagged Scars” series. I can’t wait to learn more about “The Primate” who is mentioned in this book, but the reader does not receive much concrete information about him/her. I also am interested in seeing how Wendy fits in with the people who rescued her after how she behaved the first time she spent time living amongst them.

I give the author an A++ for both character building and world building. This is my first experience with this author, but it will definitely not be my last.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars.⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

If you are a fan of the Dystopian Fiction genre you are sure to love this book.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Author photo obtained from www.goodreads.com

Author photo obtained from http://www.goodreads.com

Jo Schneider grew up in Utah and Colorado and now lives in Salt Lake City with her husband, Jon.

To learn more about the author and to find out about her other books visit her website at http://www.joannschneider.com

ATHENS AND ME by Elaine Bertolotti – BOOK REVIEW

Cover image obtained from Amazon.com

Cover image obtained from Amazon.com

ATHENS AND ME

Author: Elaine Bertolotti

Type of Book: eBook

Genre: Travelogue, Memoir

Length: 86 pages

Release Date: December 4, 2014

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

This is the third book I have read from Elaine Bertolotti. I have thoroughly enjoyed everything she has written and this book is no exception.

The year is 1970 and Elaine’s adventure in Greece began as she enrolled in a course for the Greek language in the city of Athens.

She had been teaching in a Greek-American elementary school in Brooklyn and the Greek teachers there often spoke so enthusiastically about their native country that she decided she’d love to see it for herself.

Elaine found a friend willing to embark on this adventure with her. They learned the language by immersing themselves in the Athens culture.

The two young women met some wonderful people who took the time to help them explore the Athens.

The Greek islands that they visited captivated them and led them on interesting adventures.

Elaine’s writing style pulls in the reader and makes you feel like you were on the trip with her. Her love of food and for trying new things shines through on every page.

I rate this book as 5 out of 5 stars.⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐

Yikes: Another Quirky Audiobook by Adele Parks – AUDIOBOOK REVIEW

Cover image obtained from www.audible.com

Cover image obtained from http://www.audible.com

YIKES: Another Quirky Audiobook

Author: Adele Park

Type of Book: Audiobook- Unabridged

Narrated by: Steve Campbell, Melissa Sandberg, Alexandra Harbold, Garry Morris, Brittany Shamy, Jesse Pepe, Rhett Guter, Kent Hayes, Kiki Thompson, Adam Schroeder, Lesley Mendenhall

Length: 10 hours, 27 minutes

Genre: Humor, Fiction

Release Date: September 25, 2012

Publisher: Straight to Audio Productions

Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

*** This audiobook has adult themes and might not be suitable for younger listeners. There are scenes of drug use and sexual situations.

Twin sisters, Blue and Moon McKenna were born on a hippie commune on Halloween in 1974. The family left the commune when the girls were five years old, but their parents still lived a very unconventional lifestyle.

Despite being identical twins, the two sisters are very different.

Blue and her parents were travelling in a crop duster when the pilot went into convulsions after eating a magic mushroom sandwich. The plane crashed killing Blue’s parents and injuring Blue.

Now, all grown up, Blue is an author, but Moon is the one whose name appears on the books. That is just fine with Blue. It allows her to indulge in her favorite pastime: growing and smoking marijuana.

However, there is a problem. Blue has a book due and she is experiencing a major case of writer’s block. Her editor, Chet Waterhouse, has an idea. He wants to set up a reality television show and Blue can use the show and the contestants as inspiration for her new book.

Living in the mostly polygamist community of Navel, Utah, Blue does not get out much. Chet’s idea just might work, so they decide to give it a try.

The contestants arrive to compete for a chance to win the opportunity to showcase their talent at a prestigious New York gallery.

The contestants are a varied group and they all have some sort of issue. There is Steven Finch who smokes almost as much weed as Blue does and has a vendetta against the rock band The Rectal Surgeons. There is Randall Smoot who is a member of the Gay Mafia and has unlimited funds. There’s the bible thumper, the slutty up-and-coming actress who will do anything to succeed and more.

This audiobook is definitely hard to describe. It seems like one long “Saturday Night Live” sketch of absurdity and yet it works. This audiobook will definitely make you laugh.

The large cast of narrators makes this book all the more enjoyable. Whoever chose the narrators did a wonderful job. As an avid audiobook listener, I found that each character having a distinctive voice that was all it’s own made the audiobook more interesting and I was never in doubt which voice belonged to which character.

If you are looking for a serious read, this is not the audiobook for you. But, if you want to laugh out loud and just be entertained, YIKES will fulfill that wish.

I rate this audiobook as 4 out of 5 stars overall and the narration as 5 out of 5 stars.

* I received a free copy of this audiobook in exchange for an honest review.

SUBMIT BY TREATY by Kayla Stonor

SUBMIT BY TREATY

by Kayla Stonor

edited by Travis Luedke

She offers sanctuary.

He demands sexual torment.

SubmitByTreatyFinalCover

After decades of war, the Qui Empress ushers in a new era when she takes a human tribute as her price for a peace treaty with Earth. She orders the surrender of all human prisoners of war.

Qui Commander Meseri is charged with reuniting Lieutenant Zeus Windsor with his team of POWs. She captures a man on the brink of insanity, a lethal soldier who kills any K’lahn in reach.

Zeus lives a fractured existence, forever at war, seeking vengeance for what they did to him and his team. Meseri is Qui, a winged, angelic lizard who shapeshifts into a gorgeous human female. Her Qui form bears an alarming similarity to the winged lizards who tortured and experimented on Zeus, but her intoxicating pheromones transform torture into exquisite delight. He needs Meseri, for his sanity, to master his broken mind, and to live with what was done to him.

For Zeus left a man behind and the guilt eats away at his soul.

Only Meseri can break the cycle and set his mind free. Bound in submission to her sensual torment, Zeus finds new reason to live, and a new addiction – Meseri, a female who was once the enemy and now holds the key to his future.

This sexy alien shapeshifter romance is the fourth in a futuristic collection inspired by Under By Treaty, a space opera romance in Kayla Stonor’s Surrender collection. Each tale in the Qui Treaty Collection is a standalone novella set in the Qui galactic empire, with annihilation of mankind held at bay only through the Treaty consummated between the Qui Empress and the human consort abducted under its terms.

Available at Amazon 

Now at $0.99 for a limited launch period only!

FREE ON KINDLE UNLIMITED

SPECTACLE – BLITZ

SpectacleBlitzBanner

Book & Author Details:
Spectacle by S.J. Pierce
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult
Spectacle
Synopsis:

***This is currently a web series!!! I’m releasing a chapter at a time on my website at www.sjpiercebooks.blogspot.com. You can read there or go to Scribd, download their app, and read there.***

Hunger Games meets Avatar meets Gladiator in this spellbinding new Young Adult Science-Fiction web series by bestselling author Susan James Pierce.

Fear can make you a target…

Two hundred years after the Great Disaster, the day earthquakes ravaged Earth’s landscapes, humanity has finally regrouped and is working toward a better future. But in New America – one of three small, remaining landmasses – the threat of overpopulation makes a better future seem bleaker by the year.

Mira (Mirabella) Foster and her parents are citizens of New America, and with the threat of starvation and disease looming on the horizon, a new discovery threatens to push everyone to the brink of chaos: blue markings develop on people’s skin. Markings that are distinctive of a humanoid alien race named Changers that secretly sought refuge on Earth years ago. Markings that allow them to camouflage their skin, but also make them feared, and eventually, targets of violence.

Mira’s dad is one of them.

Anger can make you a spectacle…

Banished to a treacherous, uninhabited island, a newly orphaned Mira and her kind struggle to survive and settle into a new way of life. Her main priority becomes seeing to Jackson’s care, her friend with Muscular Dystrophy, and tending to her garden as a way of distracting herself from the pain of losing everything she loved. But just as she’s adapting to this new life, their Elders approach her with a plan to insert themselves back into New America to uncover a conspiracy. A conspiracy, they believe, that includes the presidency and landed them on the island, costing many Changers their lives, including her parents’.

In a world where staying on the island means a possible untimely death, as does risking her life to uncover a horrible secret that might one day set them all free, which one will she choose? And if she chooses to help, can she tame her anger over their mistreatment long enough to make sure their plan goes off without a hitch? Because, after all, the last thing her kind needs is to make spectacles of themselves, and as she knows all too well, both anger and fear have a perilous knack for destruction.

 
Purchase:
All proceeds from pre-orders are going to a local kid named Brayden who has Muscular Dystrophy.
Amazon – http://www.amazon.com/Spectacle-S-J-Pierce-ebook/dp/B00YLUZO3S/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8
B&N – http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/spectacle-sj-pierce/1122059507ean=2940151949255&isbn=2940151949255
Kobo – https://store.kobobooks.com/en-US/ebook/spectacle-6
Apple – https://itunes.apple.com/us/book/spectacle/id1001695474?mt=11
GIVEAWAY
Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)
  • $25 Amazon gift card

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Giveaway ends July 2, 2015

AUTHOR INFO:
SJ
Susan James Pierce has a degree in Marketing Management, works for a Fortune 500 company in Atlanta, Georgia, and devotes her precious, spare time to writing Fantasy, Paranormal and Sci-fi novels.

Please visit www.sjpiercebooks.blogspot.com and sign up for her mailing list or subscribe to her blog if you’d like to hear when new books come out! Coming soon:

Iris (Novella: The Captivated Series) Available now!!!

Fight for Me (Book Two: The Captivated Series)

Links:
ALL PROCEEDS FROM THIS BOOK WILL BE DONATED TO BRAYDEN WHO HAS Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Brayden

Brayden is a smart and witty twelve-year-old boy, who loves video games and sports of all kinds, especially football, but the only thing holding him back is that he has Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. He was diagnosed on April 1st, 2010 with the disease, which will one day (possibly sooner than later) put him in wheelchair fulltime. His mind is sharp as a tack, but his little body is giving out daily; the more tired he gets, the more frequent the falls. Luckily he hasn’t broken any bones (yet). He will one day need a tracheotomy to be able to breathe and speak, and his lungs and heart are muscles that will give out just as easy as his arms and legs. Most boys with this disease will not live into their 20’s, and the disease claims lives daily. To help Brayden in his journey with DMD, S.J. has pledged to donate all of her pre-order proceeds to Brayden’s family.
AN EXCERPT FROM SPECTACLE:

I lie in my bed and stare at the ceiling. Dad covered them with glow-in-the-dark stars for my tenth birthday. I think of leaving for the mountains and I’m filled with a mixture of agony and relief. In a way, I don’t want to leave this place; memories of my father, as painful as they can be, are everywhere and it’s all I have left of him now. But in another, I want to start fresh, even if we have to live in huts or caves or whatever they’re planning on doing. The thought unnerves me a little, like any unknown thing, but it’ll be good for mom to leave here and be around others. And I’ll be able to see Jacks and Luxxe more; I desperately need their company.

A knock on the front door startles me. It was too loud to be Jacks or Luxxe. A man shouts through it, but I can’t make out what he’s saying from here. Our dog is going wild.

Mom stirs on the couch and I wait to see if she’ll get it.

The man shouts again, and her feet patter my way. She finds me erect on the bed with my covers wrapped around me in a cocoon. Her eyes are huge white saucers, and she presses her finger against her lips to keep me quiet before she shuts my door and sprints away.

Alone in my room, I hide inside the space between my bed and the wall and snatch a book of Robert Frost poems on my nightstand, hugging it close for comfort. To distract myself, I try to recite The Road Not Taken but can’t focus enough to do so. My heart gains speed as panic courses through me. Whoever is on the other side of the door has her worried. Are we in danger? I’ve never wanted my dad more than I do in this moment. This isn’t right. He should be here to protect us. If I wasn’t so scared, I’d pay more attention to the anger writhing inside me. I hope whoever took him from us is dead. I hope they’re gone for what they did.

The man shouts louder this time and bangs three times on the door. I still hear our dog, but where’s mom? I don’t hear mom!

After an eternity, she shows up again with a bag slung over her shoulder and points to my cracked window. She wants to escape. But where would we go? I nod silently and stand, slipping the book into my waistband.

A loud bang rattles our apartment, and the living room door hurls into the kitchen. Splinters of wood lie in its wake. In one swift movement, mom snatches me by the arm and heaves the window open the rest of the way.

The thumping of loud boots fills our apartment, and to keep from screaming out, I bite my tongue so hard it bleeds. The men in uniforms, they’re here for us.

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FOREVERLAND BOXED SET by Tony Bertauski – BLOG TOUR POST

coverForeverland BannerForeverland Boxed Set

by Tony Bertauski 

The Complete Foreverland Saga. THE ANNIHILATION OF FOREVERLAND When kids awake on an island, they’re told there was an accident. Before they can go home, they will visit Foreverland, an alternate reality that will heal their minds. Reed dreams of a girl that tells him to resist Foreverland. He doesn’t remember her name, but knows he once loved her. He’ll have to endure great suffering and trust his dream. And trust he’s not insane. Danny Boy, the new arrival, meets Reed’s dream girl inside Foreverland. She’s stuck in the fantasy land that no kid can resist. Where every heart’s desire is satisfied. Why should anyone care how Foreverland works? FOREVERLAND IS DEAD Six teenage girls wake with no memories. One of them is in a brick mansion, her blonde hair as shiny as her shoes. The others are in a cabin, their names tagged to the inside of their pants. Their heads, shaved. Slashes mark the cabin wall like someone has been counting. Hundreds of them. There’s wilderness all around and one dead adult. The girls discover her body rotting somewhere in the trees. As the weeks pass, they band together to survive the cold, wondering where they are and how they got there. And why. When an old man arrives with a teenage boy, the girls learn of a faraway island called Foreverland where dreams come true and anything is possible. But Foreverland is dead. In order to escape the wilderness, they’ll have to understand where they are. More importantly, who they are. ASHES OF FOREVERLAND Tyler Ballard was in prison when his son created a dreamworld called Foreverland, a place so boundless and spellbinding that no one ever wanted to leave. Or did. Now his son is dead, his wife is comatose and Tyler is still imprisoned. But he planned it that way. The final piece of his vision falls into place when Alessandra Diosa investigates the crimes of Foreverland. Tyler will use her to create a new dimension of reality beyond anything his son ever imagined—a Foreverland for the entire world. Danny, living outside of Spain since escaping the very first Foreverland, begins receiving mysterious clues that lead him to Cyn. They are both Foreverland survivors, but they have more in common than survival. They become pieces of another grand plan, one designed to stop Tyler Ballard. No one knows who is sending the clues, but some suspect Reed, another Foreverland survivor. Reed, however, is dead. Everyone will make one last trip back to Foreverland to find out who sent them. And why.

Kindle Edition, 935 pages

Published March 21st 2015 by DeadPixel Publications

author

AUTHOR BIO

During the day, I’m a horticulturist. While I’ve spent much of my career designing landscapes or diagnosing dying plants, I’ve always been a storyteller. My writing career began with magazine columns, landscape design textbooks, and a gardening column at the Post and Courier (Charleston, SC). However, I’ve always fancied fiction.  My grandpa never graduated high school. He retired from a steel mill in the mid-70s. He was uneducated, but he was a voracious reader. I remember going through his bookshelves of paperback sci-fi novels, smelling musty old paper, pulling Piers Anthony and Isaac Asimov off shelf and promising to bring them back. I was fascinated by robots that could think and act like people. What happened when they died? I’m a cynical reader. I demand the writer sweep me into his/her story and carry me to the end. I’d rather sail a boat than climb a mountain. That’s the sort of stuff I want to write, not the assigned reading we got in school. I want to create stories that kept you up late. Having a story unfold inside your head is an experience different than reading. You connect with characters in a deeper, more meaningful way. You feel them, empathize with them, cheer for them and even mourn. The challenge is to get the reader to experience the same thing, even if it’s only a fraction of what the writer feels. Not so easy. In 2008, I won the South Carolina Fiction Open with Four Letter Words, a short story inspired by my grandfather and Alzheimer’s Disease. My first step as a novelist began when I developed a story to encourage my young son to read. This story became The Socket Greeny Saga. Socket tapped into my lifetime fascination with consciousness and identity, but this character does it from a young adult’s struggle with his place in the world.  After Socket, I thought I was done with fiction. But then the ideas kept coming, and I kept writing. Most of my work investigates the human condition and the meaning of life, but not in ordinary fashion. About half of my work is Young Adult (Socket Greeny, Claus, Foreverland) because it speaks to that age of indecision and the struggle with identity. But I like to venture into adult fiction (Halfskin, Drayton) so I can cuss. Either way, I like to be entertaining. And I’m a big fan of plot twists.

EXCERPT

Click-click-click-click.

The walls inched closer. Reed gripped the bars of his shrinking cell.

His legs, shaking.

The cold seeped through his bare feet. The soles were numb, his ankles ached. He lifted his feet one at a time, alternating back and forth to keep the bitter chill from reaching his groin, but he couldn’t waste strength anymore. He let go of the bars to shake the numbness from his fingers.

He’d been standing for quite some time. Has it been hours? Occasionally he would sit to rest his aching legs, but soon the cell would be too narrow for that. He’d have to stand up. And when the top of his cage started moving down – and it would – he’d be forced to not-quite stand, not-quite sit.

He knew how things worked.

Although he couldn’t measure time in the near-blackout room, this round felt longer than previous ones. Perhaps it would never end. Maybe he’d have to stand until his knees crumbled under his dead weight. His frigid bones would shatter like frozen glass when he hit the ground. He’d fall like a boneless bag, his muscles liquefied in a soupy mix of lactic acid and calcium, his nerves firing randomly, his eyes bulging, teeth chattering—

Don’t think. No thoughts.

Reed learned that his suffering was only compounded by thoughts, that the false suffering of what he thought would happen would crush him before the true suffering did. He learned to be present with the burning, the cold, and the aches. The agony.

He couldn’t think. He had to be present, no matter what.

Sprinklers dripped from the ribs of the domed ceiling that met at the apex where an enormous ceiling fan still moved from the momentum of its last cycle. Eventually, the sprinklers would hiss another cloud and the fan would churn again and the damp air would sift through the bars and over Reed’s wet skin, heightening the aches in his joints like clamps. For now, there was just the drip of the sprinklers and the soft snoring of his cellmates.

Six individual cells were inside the building, three on each side of a concrete aisle. Each one contained a boy about Reed’s age. They were all in their teens, the youngest being fourteen. Their cells were spacious; only Reed’s had gotten smaller. Despite the concrete, they all lay on the floor, completely unaware of the anguish inside the domed building.

They weren’t sleeping, though. Sleep is when you close your eyes and drift off to unconsciousness. No, they were somewhere else. The black strap around each of their heads took them away from the pain. They had a choice to stay awake like Reed, but they chose to lie down, strap on, and go wherever it took them. They didn’t care where.

In fact, they wanted to go.

To escape.

Reed couldn’t blame them. They were kids. They were scared and alone. Reed was all those things, too. But he didn’t have a strap around his head. He stayed in his flesh.

He took a deep breath, let it out slowly. Started counting, again.

1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9…10.

And then he did it again. Again.

And again.

He didn’t measure time with his breathing. He only breathed. His life was in his breath. It ebbed and flowed like the tides. It came and went like the lunar phases. When he could be here and now, the suffering was tolerable. He counted, and counted and counted.

Distracted, he looked up at the fan. The blades had come to a complete stop. The air was humid and stagnant and cold. Around the domed ceiling were circular skylights that stared down with unforgiving blackness, indifferent to suffering. Reed tried not to look with the hopes of seeing light pour through them, signaling an end. Regardless if it was day or night, the skylights were closed until the round of suffering was over, so looking, hoping and wishing for light was no help. It only slowed time when he did. And time had nearly stopped where he was at.

1, 2, 3—

A door opened at the far right; light knifed across the room, followed by a metallic snap and darkness again. Hard shoes clicked unevenly across the floor. Reed smelled the old man before he limped in front of his cell, a fragrance that smelled more like deodorant than cologne. Mr. Smith looked over his rectangular glasses.

“Reed, why do you resist?”

Reed met his gaze but didn’t reply. Mr. Smith wasn’t interested in a discussion. It was always a lecture. No point to prolong it.

“Don’t be afraid.” The dark covered his wrinkles and dyed-black hair, but it couldn’t hide his false tone. “I promise, you try it once, you’ll see. You don’t have to do it again if you don’t like it. We’re here to help, my boy. Here to help. You don’t have to go through this suffering.”

Did he forget they were the ones that put him in there? Did he forget they made the rules and called the shots and forced him to play? Reed knew he – himself – he had gone mad but IS EVERYONE CRAZY?

Reed let his thoughts play in his eyes. Mr. Smith crossed his arms, unmoved.

“We don’t want to hurt you, I promise. We’re just here to prepare you for a better life, that’s all. Just take the lucid gear, the pain will go away. I promise.”

He reached through the bars and batted the black strap hanging above Reed’s head. It turned like a seductive mobile. Reed turned his back on him. Mr. Smith sighed. A pencil scratched on a clipboard.

“Have it your way, Reed,” he said, before limp-shuffling along. “The Director wants to see you after this round is over.”

He listened to the incessant lead-scribbled notes and click-clack of shiny shoes. When Mr. Smith was gone, Reed was left with only the occasional drip of the dormant sprinklers. He began to breathe again, all the way to ten and over. And over. And over. No thoughts. Just 1, 2, 3… 1, 2, 3… 1, 2—

Click-click-click-click.

Reed locked his knees and leaned back as the cell walls moved closer. Soon the fan would turn again and the mist would drift down to bead on his shoulders. Reed couldn’t stop the thoughts from telling him what the near future would feel like. How bad it was going to get.

He looked up at the lucid gear dangling above his head.

He took a breath.

And began counting again.

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