by Melanie Weiss
Publication Date: March 12, 2019
Genres: Adult, Young Adult, Coming of Age
AVAILABLE NOW! (#Free with #KindleUnlimited)
High school freshman Roman Santi has everything — good looks, great friends, a mansion with an infinity swimming pool — except the one thing he really wants. A relationship with his father.
When Roman’s life gets turned upside down, (thanks, Mom!?), he is forced to leave his pampered Hollywood lifestyle and move into his grandparents’ Midwestern home. Sleeping on a lumpy pullout sofa and starting at a new high school is the worst, but Roman’s life starts to look up when his pink-haired friend, Zuzu, and his crush, a classmate named Claire, introduce him to performance poetry through the high school’s Spoken Word Club. While his mom is flying back and forth to L.A., trying to return them to the life they had, Roman becomes part of a diverse group of characters who challenge his rather privileged view of the world. Through Spoken Word, Roman recognizes the hole in his own life he needs to fill and discovers his voice. Spoken Word leads Roman on a journey of new friendships, first love, and finding the dad he never knew.
“Spoken” is an uplifting, funny, and heartfelt coming-of-age story that captures how the honesty of performance poetry binds together students from all different walks of life and forever changes Roman’s life.
ABOUT MELANIE WEISS
Melanie Weiss is a graduate of the Medill School of Journalism at Northwestern University and worked as a journalist for newspapers and magazines for 20 years. She began writing her novel, Spoken, shortly after her younger child left for college in 2015 and she became an “empty nester.” She currently manages a scholarship foundation at her local high school that provides scholarship support to more than 60 graduating high school seniors each year. Spoken is her first novel but it won’t be her last.To learn more about this author visit the following links:
To learn more about this author visit the following links:
Dawn Michelle Hardy
Publicist | Literary Agent | Book Consultant
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Title: ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY
Author: JOANNE VANNICOLA
Genre: NON-FICTION, BIOGRAPHIES AND MEMOIRS, MENTAL HEALTH, CANADIAN NON-FICTION, LGBTQIA
Length: 232 PAGES
Publisher: DUNDURN PRESS
Received From: NETGALLEY
Release Date: JUNE 25, 2019
Price: $19.99 USD
Rating: 5+ OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
Joanne Vannicola grew up in a violent home with a physically abusive father and a mother who had no sexual boundaries.
After Joanne is pressured to leave home at fourteen, encouraged by her mother to seek out an acting career, she finds herself in a strange city, struggling to cope with her memories and fears. She makes the decision to cut her mother out of her life, and over the next several years goes on to create a body of work as a successful television and film actor. Then, after fifteen years of estrangement, Joanne learns that her mother is dying. Compelled to reconnect, she visits with her, unearthing a trove of devastating secrets.
Joanne relates her journey from child performer to Emmy Award–winning actor, from hiding in the closet to embracing her own sexuality, from conflicted daughter and sibling to independent woman. All We Knew But Couldn’t Say is a testament to survival, love, and Joanne’s fundamental belief that it is possible to love the broken, and to love fully, even with a broken heart.
*** WARNING – TRIGGER WARNING***
This book contains scenes of child sexual abuse and physical abuse of children. If any of these topics cause emotional triggers for you, I strongly suggest you do not read this book.
There are many memoirs that contain disturbing subject matter and ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY is no exception. However, the difference between other memoirs and that of Canadian Joanne Vannicola is that Joanne somehow managed to live through her horrific childhood and yet still emerge into adulthood full of compassion for others. Rather than allow her abusers to keep her ‘small,’ she has gone on to have a phenomenal career. To my way of thinking, Joanne being happy and successful is the best revenge. Her strength and determination are a big “F” you to her abusers. She didn’t let them win.
Not only that, but she has also become an advocate for LGBTQ youth. According to Joanne, “[Her] role meant [Joanne] could impact their lives, provide a little hope for others even though [she] still hadn’t learned to hold on to it [herself]…and it provided a deeper purpose…”
Joanne says in the book:
“I could not erase my own pain, but if I could help other kids, it meant healing was possible.”
This memoir is powerful. It is horrific in parts, especially when readers learn how Joanne was treated as a child, but it also includes some wonderful and touching moments and shows the power of friendship.
I do not want to give away too much with my review because I am hoping that everyone who reads this review runs out to buy/pre-order a copy of ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY.
YES, this book will make you shake in anger at the people who were supposed to love Joanne the most, but who turned out to be the perpetrators of her abuse, BUT I BELIEVE THIS IS A BOOK THAT NEEDS TO BE READ.
There are children suffering at this very moment, and people who see these things happening are often afraid to call Children’s Aid in case they are wrong. BUT … What if a child dies or suffers irreparable harm because you did not make that simple phone call? How would you feel? Could you ever forgive yourself?
PLEASE MAKE THE CALL. If it is determined that there was no abuse, then you can rest easy knowing you did the right thing. A bit of embarrassment is nothing when a child’s life and/or his/her mental health is on the line.
This book is not only about abuse. It is also about growing up and trying to come to terms with your sexuality. Joanne came of age not too long ago, but it was long ago enough that being gay, bisexual, trans, or queer was not acceptable to society at large. In fact, the phrase “non-binary” did not even exist. People kept their sexual orientations quiet and this fact made Joanne question what exactly was “wrong” with her. This memoir follows her journey from questioning her sexuality to accepting it and to become an advocate and role model for other LGBTQ youth.
Joanne’s life has been full of pain and agony, but it has also been a life filled with many triumphs, including her winning the her battle with anorexia.
I could go on and on about how amazing Joanne Vannicola is (all based on her book as I have not met her yet.) Instead, I will encourage everyone reading this review to pre-order her book immediately. Don’t wait to do it. Order it immediately. You will not be disappointed. ALL WE KNEW BUT COULDN’T SAY is a 5+ Star Book and you will continue to think about Joanne and her life long after the final page has been read. It is impossible not to. ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Joanne Vannicola is an Emmy award-winning Canadian actor and writer, who has been working in film, television, and theatre since she was eight years old. She has also been nominated for a Genie, a Gemini, and an ACTRA award.
Joanne is a long-time advocate for the LGBTQ community and has an essay in the anthology Cuarenta y Nueve, a book by 49 artists for the 49 victims of the Orlando Pulse club massacre. She is the Chair of the first LGBTQ+ committee for the actors union, ACTRA, and sits on the sexual assault ad-hoc committee at ACTRA for women in film and television.
Joanne’s forthcoming memoir, All We Knew but Couldn’t Say (Dundurn Press) will be available 1 June 2019.
She is a recipient of the Ontario Arts Council Grant in 2016—Writer’s Works in Progress for her memoir. Joanne was selected for the Diaspora Dialogues Program in 2013 and worked with author David Layton for six months. Her short screenplay His Name Was Steven, was selected for the Queer Ideas Screenplay competition.
Joanne founded the non-profit organization, Youth Out Loud, between 2004-2009, to raise awareness about child abuse and sexual violence.
Equity issues have always been at the forefront of Joanne’s work both in her artistic world and in her personal/political life and she is very passionate about youth, women, and LGBTQ equity and rights.
To learn more about Joanne Vannicola visit the following links:
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Title: THE LEGACY AND THE LION
Series: THE YUSAN CHRONICLES – BOOK ONE
Author: ELAINE JEMMETT
Genre: FICTION, FANTASY FICTION, CANADIAN AUTHORS, SCIENCE FICTION, POST-APOCALYPTIC FICTION
Length: 390 PAGES
Publisher: TITONIK BOOKS
Received From: THE AUTHOR
Release Date: MARCH 29, 2017
Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The future is a primitive place. Three hundred year from now, the kingdom of Yusay stands solidly amid the broken bones of our broken world. Horses ply the roads, the best weapons are broadswords and bows, and the Ancients are feared and despised.
Patrick Bell hails from a secret colony that remembers the Ancients. After the violent death of his wife and children, Patrick needs a new home. He follows the trail of his ancestor to the kingdom of Yusay, only to find that ancestor is not merely remembered, he is worshipped. Patrick wins the powerful post of Master of Guards, but his mysterious past and his claim to be the descendant of the Yusan prophet make him the target of enough suspicion and envy to put his life on the line.
Gar of the First Line was once a young scholar. Forced to become a warrior when a murderous uprising slaughtered most of the ruling family, Gar reconquered Yusay. Now an ageing king with a long lifetime of impressive reforms, Gar needs a man as talented as Patrick to protect his family, and his legacy. He risks trusting him, but only to a point. Gar’s trust is increasingly tested when it becomes obvious that Patrick is a prime suspect in a plot to murder the king . . .
This book is the beginning of a truly epic saga.
It is exceedingly rare that I find a new author who writes so well that I believe her book can easily be rated up there with famous and bestselling authors. The only reason people have not yet heard of this book is a lack of marketing.
THE LEGACY AND THE LION could, and I believe would, hit the best-seller lists if more people spread the word as to how truly exceptional this story is. In fact, when I was speaking to my husband about this book, he asked me which writer I thought this book matches up to. My answer was George R.R. Martin, who is the author of many books including the Game of Thrones series.
For me to compare Elaine Jemmett to George R.R. Martin is a huge compliment.
The reason I am so passionate about this book is that Elaine Jemmett has created an entire post-apocalyptic civilization, yet the events in the book occur three hundred years after the fall of civilization and, neither what led to the apocalypse, nor what took place during or immediately after, are not mentioned at all. This in itself makes this book unique.
The hero of the tale is a man named Patrick Bell. Patrick arrives at the palace of Yusay from a colony far enough away that no one in Yusay is even aware of its existence.
Despite his outsider status, Patrick wins the position of Master of the Guards and quickly becomes indispensable to King Gar.
As Patrick works hard on reforming what he sees as a lack of organization within the ranks of the guards. This, plus the fact that he is not from Yusay, is enough to put his life in danger on more than one occasion.
King Gar learns of a plot to end his life, and despite his growing affection for his new Master of Guards, he has a list of suspects and Patrick is high on that list.
This book contains many different important characters, all of whom are responsible for various aspects of the palace and/or life within the kingdom of Yusay. With so many characters it would have been easy to become lost in the minutiae of their lives and responsibilities, but, author Elaine Jemmett weaves the details seamlessly into the story. This impressed me greatly and brought to mind the many different houses and kingdoms in the “Game of Thrones” books.
This story contains multiple layers as well as a variety of intricate plotlines that drew me in and literally held my attention right to the last page.
If you love books full of intrigue and deception as well as books with fantasy type plotlines, then you must read this book. This tale can be seen as good versus evil, but that is only part of the story. There is an undercurrent of an additional plotline which has yet to be explained and has only been hinted at thus far.
Character development in this story is phenomenal. I felt like I knew each of the important characters intimately by the end of this first book in the series and I am extremely excited to get my hands on a copy of BLACK KING; Book Two of the Yusan Chronicles.
I rate THE LEGACY AND THE LION as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
** Thank you to the author for providing me with a free copy of this book.**
*** The fact that I received this book for free has nothing to do with how I rated it. Before I accept a book to read and review, I make sure that the author is aware that I will review it honestly, whether good or bad.***
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Elaine Jemmett was born in 1958 in Toronto, Canada, the youngest child of three.
When Elaine was ten the family moved to the country. Her nearest friends were far away, and Elaine spent a lot of her free time rambling in the woods with the family dog, feeding a deep love of nature and developing an already over-active imagination.
Born at the beginning of the space age, Elaine Jemmett grew up watching endless reruns of Star Trek and dreaming about adventure. In university she majored in English and her reading interests expanded to include literature, science, history, and politics.
She studied English Literature at Toronto’s York University and has worked as a legal editor and author’s representative.
When not writing, she can usually be found attempting to quench a dire addiction to iced tea.
The National Geographic has landed in the family mailbox for some 50 years and remains a steady source of inspirational tinder.
Elaine is married, and lives with her husband and overgrown offspring in Ontario, Canada.
To learn more about this author, visit the following links:
Here are Links to the FREE short story VALUE by Elaine Jemmett:
ABOUT THE BLACK KING:
The Black King is a much longer, far more complex book than I thought I was going to write. It’s shorter than Legacy and the Lion, but still a fairly long book. There’s a lot more action in this book (yes, heads will roll) and the psychological drama is far more intense. I’m hoping people will find it an excellent read.
Anyone interested in contacting the author can do so by sending an email to ElaineJemmettAuthor@gmail.com
ABOUT THE PUBLISHER:
Founded in 2016, Titonik Books is a privately-owned company based in Ontario, Canada. At present we publish the literary works of only one author. We do not accept manuscripts for consideration.
For more information about this publisher click on the following link:
Title: Extinction of All Children
Series: Extinction of All Children – Book One
Author: L.J. Epps
Publication date: June 4th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult, Dystopian Fiction
A young adult, fantasy novel about a teenager who is the last eighteen-year-old in her territory. There will never be another child; every baby born after her has been taken away. Everyone wonders why she survived.
Emma Whisperer was born in 2080, in the small futuristic world of Craigluy. President Esther, in charge for the last twenty-two years, has divided their world into three territories, separated by classes—the rich, the working class, and the poor—because she believes the poor should not mingle with the others. And, the poor are no longer allowed to have children, since they do not have the means to take care of them.
Any babies born, accidentally or willfully, are killed. Emma is the last eighteen-year-old in her territory; every baby born after her has died. Somehow, she survived this fate.
During the president’s Monday night speech, she announces a party will be held to honor the last child in the territory, Emma Whisperer. Emma must read a speech, expressing how happy she is to be the last eighteen-year-old.
Emma doesn’t like the rules; she doesn’t believe in them. So, she feels she must rebel against them. Her family doesn’t agree with her rebellion, since they are hiding a big secret.
If this secret gets out, it will be disastrous, and deadly, for her family.
During Emma’s journey, she meets—and becomes friends with—Eric. He is one of the guards for the president. She also befriends Samuel, another guard for the president, who is summoned to watch over her. As Emma meets new people, she doesn’t know who she can trust. Yet, she finds herself falling for a guy, something which has never happened before.
After doing what she feels is right, Emma finds herself in imminent danger.
In the end, she must make one gut-wrenching decision, a decision that may be disastrous for them all.
“Fans of dystopian fantasy will devour this book. L. J. Epps writes a story that, while dealing with heavy subject matter, is still a light, enjoyable read. This dystopian fantasy novel ignites the imagination, and is a must read for fans of The Hunger Games and the Divergent Trilogy.”
—Kristina Gemmell, Beta Reader
The complete series:
I take in a deep breath before walking into my family’s house. Our brick home is around a thousand square feet. My father says since it is on the smaller side, it takes a lot less money to heat and cool. The back of the house is like a forest, and the front of the house is on a dirt road with lots of gravel. As soon as I reach the front door, I notice the stench of beans lingering in the air, making the room smell as if a skunk has run through it.
“You’re late,” my brother, Theodore, says. “You know dinner is at six.”
He shoves my arm. He has on dark clothing that mirrors my own.
“Whatever,” I say, rolling my eyes. Another stupid rule. “It’s almost eight.” I glance at the brown clock on the wall. “Shouldn’t you be done?”
“We had to stop what we were doing and watch the box,” he says, then he gulps down a bottle of water.
His Adam’s apple moves in and out, while the bottle crinkles in his hand.
“Yes, the announcements came early.” My father rises from the dining room table. “I’m sure you heard them.”
He walks to the living room where I am.
“I did.” I lower my eyes.
“Where were you?” Mother asks. “We were worried.”
“I know, and I’m sorry, but I’m fine. I watched the announcements from the supply store.”
I know they worry about me, but I also know they won’t ask how I ended up at the supply store, or ask why my jeans are dirty. There is a more pressing question they want to ask.
“Did you see her?” my mother asks.
“Yes,” I reply.
Now that is what they really care about.
“How was she?”
“I guess as good as she can be.” I shrug.
“What does that mean?” my mother asks with a frown. “You’re not giving me any details.”
I sigh. It was the same questions every time I go to the wooded area. Another sigh follows because my heart saddens, seeing how old my mother looks. She is only in her fifties, but I can see the gray strands in her dark hair instantly becoming grayer every time we discuss this. Even when I bring back food, my mother is too tense to eat. Day by day she is growing thinner.
“Emma, answer your mother,” my father says, looking at me with slanted eyes.
“If you want to know how she is, why don’t you go and see her yourself?” I snap back. I’m tired of the theatrics. But it was a stupid question. I know why they can’t go. They aren’t strong enough or fast enough.
“You know your mother moves too slowly. She would never make it there,” my father says, echoing the very words in my head.
L.J. Epps is a lover of all things related to books: fiction and nonfiction novels, as well as biographies and autobiographies. She has also been known to sit and read comic books from cover to cover, several times over.
Over the last few years, L.J. has written several manuscripts; her mission is to publish all of them. She enjoys writing fiction in several genres, including contemporary romance and women’s fiction, as well as young adult dystopian, science fiction and fantasy. She loves to write because it immerses her into another world that is not her own.
To learn more about this author visit the following links:
Title: THE MATHEMATICS OF ETERNITY
Series: JOE BALLEN – BOOK ONE
Author: DAVID M. KELLY
Genre: SCIENCE FICTION, MYSTERIES AND THRILLERS, CANADIAN AUTHOR
Length: 318 PAGES
Publisher: NEMESIS PRESS
Received From: THE AUTHOR
Release Date: 2017
Price: $14.99 USD (Paperback)
Rating: 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐
The future’s about to get a lot more action-packed!
Meet former space engineer, Joe Ballen. These days, he’s scraping a living flying cabs in flooded-out Baltimore, trying to avoid the clutches of his boss and the well-meaning advice of an old friend.
When one of his passengers suffers a grisly death, Joe is dragged into a dangerous web of ruthless academic rivalry centered on a prototype spaceship.
A NOTE ABOUT THIS REVIEW:
I had the privilege of meeting David at the Word on the Street Festival on Toronto’s waterfront. This festival is an annual event and is held every September. At the event David was gracious enough to give me an autographed copy of “Mathematics of Eternity” so that I could read and review it. Due to unforeseen medical issues I am extremely late in posting my review, but I did not want to dash off a quick review, I wanted to make sure to write an in-depth review of this terrific book.
MATHEMATICS OF ETERNITY is the first book in the Joe BALLEN sci-fi series written by the talented Canadian author David M. Kelly.
Set in Baltimore in the year 2143, life is unlike what we are accustomed to. The West Coast no longer exists, except underwater and even Baltimore is mostly flooded beyond redemption. The bottom floors of many highrises are now underwater. Barely anyone lives there, and those who do are extremely unwelcoming to anyone who sets foot in their domain.
Unfortunately, there are some things that, no matter how many years have passed, have remained the same. That is the fact that “the rich get richer and the poor get poorer.”
It is in this post-catastrophe world that Joe Ballen lives and works. He used to work in space as a construction foreman, but, an almost fatal accident put an end to that career, and almost put an end to his life. Now, he flies a taxi for a living.
One night he picks up a fare and ‘drives’ him home, only to end up as a witness/suspect in the man’s death. Now, the police want him arrested and someone wants him dead. All in all, Joe Ballen wishes he had never let the man into his cab.
With twists and turns that will keep readers on the edge of their seats, this story is both thrilling and full of excitement. This is futuristic sci-fi as it should be.
The world-building is phenomenal and I love the fact that there are a variety of genders and sexual orientations represented, including one major character who just happens to be a hermaphrodite. I completely agree with main character Joe Ballen when he says “I’ll never understand why some people feel they can treat others like property. Everyone should be able to follow their own path, so long as they’re not hurting others.” He goes on to say, “Everyone has a right to make their own choices – good or bad. Forcing your ideals on someone else is the ultimate in egotistic selfishness.”
The characters are so well developed that they will linger in the reader’s mind long after the book is finished. This, in my opinion, is the mark of a great writer. Kudos to author David M Kelly for creating such characters.
I rate MATHEMATICS OF ETERNITY as 5 OUT OF 5 STARS ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ and I am thrilled that Book Two of the Joe Ballenger series is already available.
**Thank you to author David M. Kelly for providing me with a free copy of this book.**
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
David M. Kelly writes fast-paced, near future sci-fi thrillers with engaging characters, cynical humor, and plausible science.
He is the author of the Joe Ballen series and the short story collection Dead Reckoning And Other Stories. He has been published in Canadian SF magazine Neo-opsis.
David’s interest in science and technology began early. At the age of six his parents allowed him to stay up late into the night to watch the television broadcast of Neil Armstrong stepping on to the surface of the moon.
From that day he was hooked on everything related to science and space. An avid reader, he worked his way through the contents of the mobile library that visited his street, progressing through YA titles (or ‘juveniles’ as they were known back then) on to the classics of Robert Heinlein, Isaac Asimov, Arthur C. Clarke, and Harry Harrison.
David worked for many years in project management and software development. Along the way his interests have included IPSC combat (target) pistol shooting, crew chief on a drag racing team, and several years as bass player/vocalist in a heavy rock band. He also managed to fit in some real work in manual jobs from digging ditches and work on production lines to loading trucks in a haulage company.
Originally from the wild and woolly region of Yorkshire, England, David emigrated to Canada in 2005 and settled in Northern Ontario with his patient and supportive wife, Hilary. Foot surgery in 2014 temporarily curtailed many of his favourite activities – hiking, camping, piloting his own personal starfighter (otherwise known as a Corvette ZR-1). But on the plus side, it meant a transition from the world of IT into life as a full-time writer—an opportunity he grasped enthusiastically. David is passionate about science, especially astronomy and physics, and is a rabid science news follower.
Never short of an opinion, David writes about science and technology on his blog davidmkelly.net. He has supported various charity projects such as the Smithsonian’s Reboot The Suit and the Lowell Observatory Pluto Telescope Restoration. He also contributes to citizen science projects such as SETI@home.
To learn more about this author, visit the following links:
MORE BOOKS BY DAVID M. KELLY
PERIMETER-JOE BALLEN #2
Deceit has no boundaries Joe Ballen is working on a new ore-processing platform in the harsh environment around Mercury. But then the security forces come calling. Vital starship engineering files are missing, and without them Earth has no hope of escaping Atoll domination. Someone has to locate the files, and Ballen is bulldozed into the not-so-choice assignment. But he’s not the only one in the hunt. As Joe struggles to find the data, he becomes tangled up in a high-stakes game of cat and mouse. It’s a journey that will take him to the perilous depths of space, where no one is quite what they seem. Can old enemies ever make good allies? And can Joe trust even the people closest to him? Ballen’s back in another action-packed sci-fi noir thriller, guaranteed to keep you turning the pages.
DEAD RECKONING AND OTHER STORIES
Looking for SF that’s intelligent, action-packed, and humorous?
This collection of ten short stories features a cast of characters all in need of some serious therapy.Hector discovers life after death ain’t easy when your shorts itch and your ass belongs to a whip-wielding giant. And Murphy’s fighting to keep the peace as his team of geeky scientists and a gung-ho lieutenant investigate a mysterious alien ship—all while dealing with his own case of Murphy’s Law. First Contact is always complicated, especially when you have to call in cranky old relic, Casteneda, to bail you out. Fresh off the battlefield, Matt Holbrook is also grappling with a perplexing new species, but all he wants is to make it home. And Earl Duarte is in for some interesting pet therapy in How Much Is That Doggy?
Discover Dead Reckoning And Other Stories. SF with attitude!
This book is my entry for the letter ‘M’ in the GingerReads 2019 A to Z Reading Challenge.
Author: C.L. Denault
Series: The Prodigy Chronicles #2
Publication date: March 22nd 2019
Genres: Dystopian, Romance, Science Fiction, Young Adult
In 2012, one cycle of an ancient calendar system came to a close. Humanity predicted its downfall, but it wasn’t the end of their evolutionary climb. It was the beginning.
Willow Kent is discovering that life as a second-phase prodigy comes at a price. Trapped in the London Core, her choices are limited, made difficult by her forbidden romance with Reece and the presence of a new commanding officer who establishes harsh rules. With unpredictable skills and a growing distrust in her birth parents, she is struggling to play the Core’s game. But when opportunity arises in the form of a mysterious shapeshifter, Willow realizes there’s more to her own evolution than meets the eye. She soon learns that keeping secrets is a key move, and the more dangerous they are, the greater her need to evolve into the powerful prodigy nature intended her to become.
But those closest to her have their own secrets, and her status has made her an easy target for betrayal. Who will she turn to, when nothing is as it seems?
The blow shouldn’t have stunned me. I’d grown up in a tavern, defending myself, and had spent plenty of time training with Kane and Tem. I knew how to take a hit.
This was more than a hit. Kristoffe’s swing was fast and brutal, with a force behind it that rivaled my own—enough to knock me off my feet and send me flying down the hall.
Sensations took over. There was the feel of backward motion. Loss of control as my body hit the floor. More motion from sliding, and the hot sting of my flesh scraping tile. Ceiling lights blurred into white lines. Pain throbbed in my cheek.
But it was the tightness in my throat that hurt most. The tiger clawed like mad as we slid. Her screams pierced the fog in my brain, parting it, carving out a path. If I didn’t stop her, she would use it to climb up and take control.
Let me in!
I managed to shake my head.
You need me!
“No,” I whimpered, bumping into the limp body of an elevator guard. One of his arms stopped me, and I sat up quickly, recoiling. He was spread-eagled, face down among his comrades, his fingers wrapped around a retinal scanner. I cringed. Was he dead? Had the tiger killed them all? Then my eyes fell on the laser resting at his hip.
I couldn’t. I’d never fired one before.
He’ll kill us!
Not sure who she meant, I jerked my head around. The man with the sabre was still gone. But Kristoffe and his patrol were marching in my direction, dragging Toby with them. He struggled violently until one of them drove a fist into his stomach. A savage tug tore through my belly. Gasping, I leaned over, fumbling for the guard’s laser.
“I wouldn’t do that if I were you.” Kristoffe signaled for his men to stop, but continued walking toward me. He didn’t waver, not even when I grasped the laser in both hands and aimed it at him.
“That’s far enough,” I said.
He kept coming.
“I’ll shoot.” My finger instinctively hugged the trigger. “I mean it.”
Spreading his arms, Kristoffe made a target out of his broad chest. His smile was icy. “Go ahead, then. Shoot.”
Was he bluffing? I couldn’t tell. He might have a defensive shield. On the other hand, he might go down with one shot. There was no way to know. But somehow, he’d survived the tiger. This laser was my only hope.
Do it, the tiger spat.
My pulse spiked. “I will shoot.”
He kept coming.
“Stop,” I cried, my hands shaking.
But he didn’t stop, and the closer he came, the harder I choked on the tiger’s fury. Her strength was more than I could handle. He was only a few feet away when her hissing cry forced me to pull the trigger. A matching cry left my lips. The laser clicked, shuddered—
C.L. Denault is a speculative fiction writer who loves dreaming up tales of adventure and intrigue. A former systems analyst, she gave up her nerdy code-writing skills to care for her family (including a son with special needs), and currently lives among the vast stretches of cornfields in Illinois.
Writing and working out are her biggest passions, along with drinking coffee and watching sci-fi. When she’s not hanging out with her husband and kids, she can usually be found at a library or tucked away in the shadowy corner of a hip coffeehouse. She’s also been glimpsed sneaking into her garage, late at night, to work on her time machine.
She enjoys connecting with people—especially those from other planets, nearby dimensions, and the future. To find her, just visit her website or social media pages. Or use a Stargate. Whichever is easiest.