Monday, April 28, 2014

#Giveaway for Destruction (The December People #1) by Sharon Bayliss ~ Excerpt

Destruction (The December People #1)
By Sharon Bayliss

Genre: Contemporary Fantasy

Publisher: Curiosity Quills Press

Date of Publication: 4/14/14

ISBN 978-1-62007-498-5 ebook
ISBN 978-1-62007-499-2 paperback
ISBN 978-1-62007-500-5 hardcover
ASIN: Not yet assigned

Number of pages: 249
Word Count: 79,444

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Book Description:

David Vandergraff wants to be a good man. He goes to church every Sunday, keeps his lawn trim and green, and loves his wife and kids more than anything. Unfortunately, being a dark wizard isn't a choice.

Eleven years ago, David's secret second family went missing. When his two lost children are finally found, he learns they suffered years of unthinkable abuse. Ready to make things right, David brings the kids home even though it could mean losing the wife he can’t imagine living without.

Keeping his life together becomes harder when the new children claim to be dark wizards. David believes they use this fantasy to cope with their trauma. Until, David's wife admits a secret of her own—she is a dark wizard too, as is David, and all of their children. 

Now, David must parent two hurting children from a dark world he doesn’t understand and keep his family from falling apart. All while dealing with the realization that everyone he loves, including himself, may be evil.

Available at 

 Amazon   BN   Kobo

Signed copies available at Julie’s Book Spot

 I didn't know what to expect when I decided to read this book. I needed to take time to get used to being inside a cheating mans head. Not somewhere I wanted to be. We did have some jumping around with different people perspectives , though its all written from the 3rd person i guess its called, its not first person.

I had trouble connecting to David, the main male character , its hard to relate to a man who had a whole other family, cheater! Anyway, we do find there could have been a bit f a good reason for his long affair that provided 2 more children, and then he has his kids at home with his wife.

The whole dark wizards was a new twist for me. I liked that part, and overall liked the story.  I didn't get into as deep as I do some stories, probably because of David and not being in the first person view. Felt more like i was looking in, not involved as much.

I do recommend this for sure, its a unique story and think many people will like a dark wizard type book in the modern world, its around the adults, (40's) and there is no sex or anything, very clean, its not a romance for sure (which if fine with me)

I give it 4 out of 5 stars.

I received a copy of this book from the author for my honest review.

Cover review: Love it, its so well done, it just pops out in 3D and I love that. I don't see how it relates very much to the story, but still think its a very attractive cover. Its what had me take a look to see what it was about.

This review is also posted at Goodreads and Amazon

About the Author:

Sharon Bayliss is the author of The December People Series and The Charge. When she’s not writing, she enjoys living happily-ever-after with her husband and two young sons. She can be found eating Tex-Mex on patios, wearing flip-flops, and playing in the mud (which she calls gardening).

She only practices magic in emergencies.

Authors Links


5 paperback copies of Destruction (open to US, UK, and Canada)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

David and his family plus Samantha stood in a circle around a small pile of unlit firewood in the backyard. They stood arranged by age: David, Amanda, Jude, Patrick, Xavier, Samantha, Emmy, Evangeline, and then of course, David again, all twice as thick with jackets and scarves. The air felt hard with cold, a determined cold that seeped through all of David's layers. They held candles—but no matches—in their gloved hands. The family had gone through the house turning off lights. All of the lights. They even turned off the red lights glowing on electronics. They had unplugged the entire house. However, David could see easily. An orange haze of light peeked up from the trees. Millions of lights lit up the world all around them. Darkness didn't exist in the middle of Houston.
As soon as they had managed to arrange themselves into a circle, the kids got quiet without David or Amanda instructing them to. Wizards standing in a circle felt significant to David. When they got in that position, they snapped into place. The air became denser around him and he was rooted to the spot, as if with extra gravity. But he didn't feel confined. He felt powerful. He plugged into an energy source he didn't even know existed. His fingers had an itchy, tingly feeling. He knew he could do magic.
The paper in Amanda's hand crinkled loudly as she held it close to her face. She had done her research, which David found endearing and impressive. She had talked to Samantha and Evangeline and some of the witches Penelope's mom knew, and had created a ritual designed specifically for them, as the matriarch of the family should. The matriarch of the family always directed group spell casting, because she understood her family's magic, the purpose of each family member, and knew how to keep them in balance—a tall order, since Amanda didn't know much about some of the newest members of her family and knew even less about magic. But, David had never known Amanda to say she couldn't do anything, so why start now?
Amanda owning this task shocked the kids, but not David. He knew her better than anyone did. Thus, he knew her mind and the rest of her often disagreed. Her left brain dug her feet into the ground and wouldn't budge. That part of her would say things such as, "We're not practicing magic," and "We're divorced," until kingdom come. She would say it. She'd believe it. And she'd do the opposite, because occasionally the parts of her not governed by her left brain would break free. David may not be able to sway the left-brain side of her, but he could influence her other side, and he thought that maybe he had actually convinced her of something, for once.
And, part of Amanda had really wanted to be convinced, because wizards stayed wizards, no matter how many years they'd been indoctrinated otherwise. They listened to forces that had nothing to do with logic or reason, making them stupid, reckless, destructive, and exciting. And they liked to play with fire. Literally and figuratively.
"How I am supposed to read this in the dark?" Amanda asked. "How do people do this?"
"You're supposed to have it memorized," Evangeline said.
"Your eyesight is terrible," David said. "Let me see it."
She thrust the paper out of his reach. "Back off."
"Why don't you just let Evangeline or Samantha speak?" David said. "I'm sure they have some stuff memorized."
"No," Amanda said. "It's supposed to be me. My words." Amanda let out a shivery sigh. "I'm sorry. I know I'm not supposed to do this." She took her phone out of her pocket and turned it on. She illuminated her paper with the dim blue light.
"First we honor the darkness,
For in darkness, our eyes are not distracted by the flash and flare of Mundane sights
So, only in darkness can we truly see.
In the silence of the deepest night, our ears are not assaulted by Mundane sounds
So, only in darkness can we truly hear.
In darkness, we are unable to see danger and are rendered vulnerable
So, only in darkness can we truly feel.
We do not believe that light exists in spite of darkness. We believe that light exists because of it.
Darkness is the only fertile ground for light. It is the only garden where light can be sown.
So, now we experience the darkness. Use this time in the dark and quiet to use your deeper senses. Experience what you are called to experience. The answers wait for you in the darkness. Do not deny them."
And then, she fell silent.
David couldn't hear the cars on the highway anymore. He couldn't hear the music playing down the street. He could hear only the breathing of the others in the circle. And the sky…the orange haze disappeared and the sky reminded David of the one over Big Bend. Millions of stars set against a perfect pitch black. The moon cast a crisp, blue light on the scene. With her words, or perhaps with some other magic deeper than words, she had called the darkness. David pictured it as a bubble around them.
The quiet didn't feel as awkward as David would have expected. No one giggled or even coughed or sighed. His lungs felt larger. He could breathe. This darkness didn't feel frightening. In fact, David couldn't remember ever feeling so safe. The darkness was the foundation that everything else was built on. The garden where the universe grew. The simplest, most basic thing in existence. And it was spectacular.
He supposed that was the answer that waited for him. That darkness in itself was not evil. Darkness was peace. Potential. Home.

I think we can all agree that J.K. Rowling is a Gryffindor. It's pretty obvious by the way she wrote the Harry Potter series. Every important hero was a Gryffindor. Every important villain was a Slytherin. And, the poor Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs were mostly unimportant side characters. That is SO how a Gryffindor sees the world.

In the United States, instead of Hogwarts houses, wizards are commonly classified by the four seasons, as in The December People. The Gryffindors are called summer wizards, which is apt because they believe they are the sun and the world revolves around them. The Slytherins are called winter wizards.

The winter wizards in The December People constantly struggle against dark wizard prejudices, like those perpetrated in the Harry Potter series. You can see this clearly in one scene in the last book, where students are choosing whether to flee or stay and defend the castle. According to Rowling, lots of Gryffindors stay, a few Ravenclaws and Hufflepuffs, and a BIG FAT ZERO Slytherins. I ask you...really? Really? Out of all those Slytherins, not a single one of them thought, "Hey you know, Voldemort is kind of bad guy. Maybe I don't want him to kill me and everyone I love." This is where Rowling really gets it wrong. Although dark wizards are prone to varying degrees of evil, they are definitely not cowards. Opposed to running from battle, they are often the ones at the front lines, the ones least afraid of darkness, pain, and death. And, they would never stand idly by while someone threatened them or people they loved. Like mama bears protecting their cubs, they will maul your face off if you get too close to their babies.

At least, in the last book, she also shows a little more Slytherin complexity than she had in the previous books. Most importantly, we learn the truth about of my favorite characters anywhere, ever. We learn that far from a coward, he is probably the bravest character in the series. He is also capable of loving deeply and being fiercely loyal. We also see Narcissa Malfoy betray Voldemort in order to find and protect her son. I still think it was too little, too late, but I'm glad Rowling finally showed another side of darker wizards.

So, if you happen to be of the Slytherin persuasion (and a grown-up...The December People series is not for kids) there is a story for you. Check out my recently released novel, Destruction.

This is a photo of me and my wand. Can you guess which Harry Potter character owned this wand before me? 

Thursday, April 24, 2014

Protostar by Braxton A. Cosby Blitz ~ YA Sci-Fi ~ Excerpt ~ #Giveaway ~ Win Signed Copy!

PROTOSTAR - Week Blitz
By Braxton A. Cosby
Young Adult
Date Published: April 16, 2014

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What Would You Choose, love or duty?On the brink of civil war, the Torrian Alliance continues with its mission to obliterate Star-children across the universe in order to suppress an intergalactic evil. Following the recommendations of his council, King Gregorio Derry reluctantly agrees to send his only son William on a mission to restore honor to his family name. William seeks to complete his assignment, the elimination of a Star-child named Sydney on planet Earth, but when the assassination is delayed he begins to realize an emotional connection with his target. With conspiracy threatening his home planet, and a hidden menace on Earth seeking to secure a vested interest, William finds himself torn between irrevocable duty and sacrificing everything he stands for to defend Sydney. As William and Sydney struggle to overcome their impossible circumstances, they start to wonder if the connection of two Star-Crossed lovers will be enough to save them from certain doom.


He leaned in close to her ear. “Please Sydney, give me one more chance. The dreams, they are of you. If only I could have understood sooner, I may have been able to change our fate. But now, I know you have the power to change this. You are more than any normal person. You are the one thing I have traveled across distance and time for.”
A ray of sunlight broke through the clouds, slipping past the overlying trees. They kissed Sydney’s face. She gasped, and her lifeless body rose from the dead. Sydney swallowed a deep breath and grabbed William’s shoulders. His many tears drained from his face. The infectious warmth returned.
“I knew you’d return to me. Somehow, I knew it,” he whispered.
“I was lost for a moment in nothing but deep dark space. But I heard a voice calling out to me. It was very familiar to me. Someone I had met before. It was a woman’s voice. She told me it was time to go back. She told me I had a calling to do something great and the time of my awakening was at hand.” Sydney wiped the tears from his eyes. “Then I heard you, speaking to me from the darkness. Your voice guided me as I ran forward, until finally I saw a ray of light and I stepped into it.”
He squeezed her and planted his lips on hers. His solar cells erupted, and Sydney became surrounded in a bright aura that lifted them off the ground. He opened his eyes, amazed by what he saw. He planted another kiss, this time on Sydney’s forehead.
“There’s my signature,” he whispered.
They floated back to the ground and Sydney pulled him close.
 “Sydney, is there any way you could forgive me for what I’ve done?”
Sydney caressed his face. “What’s done is done. Even through all the pain, something inside me knew that you would save me. Love brought you to me and somehow, I knew love would give you the strength to protect me.”
The present situation invaded his thoughts. “And protect you I will. I must explain everything to you, Sydney. Come with me.”

About the Author:

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Braxton A. Cosby is a dreamer with a passion for inspiring others to love, in spite of circumstance and convenience. His calling to pen a young-adult series that is smart, witty, and thought provoking, has challenged readers to answer the question: What would you choose, love or irrevocable duty? Braxton lives in Atlanta, GA, where he co-hosts a local radio show on WAOK which is a mash-up of current events and health and wellness. He also has a blog where he discusses everything from health and entertainment to spirituality and relationships.

Author Links

Buy Link


Signed Copy of PROTOSTAR

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Monday, April 21, 2014

#Giveaway for #Book Tour for Recruitz by Katrice Bolton (Afterworld #1) ~ Read my #Review and Excerpt ~ Post Apocalyptic / Dystopian

RecruitZ by Karice Bolton
(Afterworld #1)

Publication date: December 27th 2013
Genres: New Adult, Post-Apocalyptic

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Scientists are the new rock stars. The infection has been contained for nearly three months, and the world is celebrating. But humans are still dying. Rebekah Taylor has seen it firsthand. Her husband was killed right in front of her by the very creatures that humans were told they no longer had to fear.

Rebekah is determined to find out who is responsible for the death of her husband and the obvious cover-up. Fueled with revenge, she begins to find answers that lead to one frightening conclusion. The apocalypse might be over, but the battles are just beginning.

Buy Links

Got to say I loved this Post Apocalyptic zombie book. I was so shocked from that first chapter, if you read the excerpt I posted you will see what I mean,. just wow. With the popularity of comics and tv show of the Walking Dead, books like this really draw in people, and this is in no way like the Walking Dead, these zombies are quite different. But the few similarities just made me like it more anyway.

So fans of books and shows like that will love this. I really wish I could get my hands on book 2 now, lol. Its called Alibiz and it can't be here soon enough.

I am a bit surprised that I liked this book as much as I did, as zombie books are just not really my thing, I am more a vampire,shapeshifters, witches , fallen angels etc  kind of girl.

I didn't connect right away with the main female character, Rebekah, but she grew on me, and found she sure has guts. I liked the way the story progressed, and think it was written really well.

I see this series to have alot of promise. Can't wait to read them all as they come out. Just hope the wait isn't too long.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars. 

I was given a copy of this book by the author for my honest review.

Cover Review: 5 out of 5 stars. This is an awesome cover, the way it was done, gives it that feeling of the bad-ass character. The cover is what caught my eye and made me check it out. So love the cover. Covers are extremely important, so glad it did catch my attention.

This review is also posted at Amazon and Goodreads

Karice Bolton lives in the Pacific Northwest and is a writer of Young Adult and New Adult books. She loves to read anything and everything. She also enjoys baking, skiing, and spending time with her wonderful husband and two English bulldogs.

Books currently available:
*Beyond Love Series:
Beyond Control (Free) (Book 1)
Beyond Doubt (Book 2)
Beyond Reason (Book 3) – Feb. 28th
*Afterworld Series: RecruitZ (Book 1)
*The Witch Avenue Series: Lonely Souls (Book 1), Altered Souls (Book 2), Released Souls (Book 3) Shattered Souls (Book 4)
*The Watchers Trilogy: Awakening (Book 1), Legions (Book 2), Cataclysm (Book 3), Taken Novella (Watchers Prequel)
*The Camp

Karice would love if you stopped by her blog or FB page to find out the latest news on giveaways and upcoming releases, or you can just send her an email. She loves hearing from her readers and responds as soon as she can.

Author Links

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This is another part of Chapter One, you can read the First part if you want at my Blitz post, Here. (you do not have too, still get a great taste)

The car rocked back and forth as the number of beasts grew on both sides, creating a trance-like rhythm that was terrifying.
“Grab the bat,” Gavin instructed, his voice low.
I slid my hand to his knee, squeezing it hard before I reached behind us and grabbed the wooden weapon.
The challenges we faced living off the land paled in comparison to what we faced confined in this car.
Gavin turned the engine on and sunk it into reverse, only to be stalled right where we were.
“Pedestrians in minimum safe distance,” the car warned again.
“Shut up!” I shouted at the car’s inhuman voice.
An oily residue smeared against the glass all around us from their bodies touching and gliding along the surfaces. They were crawling on the hood, metal pops sounded with every dent created. Their bodies slowly snaked up the windshield as they climbed toward the roof. Their mouths opening, jaws clicking as they tasted our scent. That was all we had separating us from zombies—glass. It would be only a matter of time before they mangled the metal above us and shattered the glass around us.
“If I get out of the car, I can distract them and you can run. I need you to run,” he said slowly, his eyes locking on mine.
“No way. I’m not—”
The glass shattered, interrupting my objection. The shards of glass crumbled down the door and into Gavin’s lap. Several mismatched arms shoved their hands through the nonexistent barrier, reaching for Gavin as I let out a scream and lunged with the knife in hand.
“Don’t watch what happens, babe. Promise me you’ll look away,” his voice pleading, as he struggled against the fleshy fingers that twisted and pulled at his shirt.
I reached across Gavin and began breaking off fingers and slicing hands and anything I could connect with that was attempting to gouge at Gavin. Pieces of flesh tumbled into the car.
We’d been vaccinated.
We’d be okay.
The stench of the decaying flesh filled our small car with every crack of a bone and tear of the skin. Gavin and I were shoving the arms, bodies, and heads back the other direction, but they kept pushing through the small driver’s window. Gavin grabbed the bat, shoving and poking the zombies through the window. The space was so small it was hard for him to hit with any force.
It wouldn’t be long before they broke the other windows. The first thump on the roof made me jump and then the second. The metal was crunching with every step above, and I looked up to see the roof dipping in places.
The moans grew louder as more arms pushed through the opening, scraping and digging at our flesh. Fingers with calloused skin grazed my face, poking at my eyes and scraping my cheeks, but they would fall from my face almost instantly in search of Gavin. Why Gavin?
Gavin propelled the bat into the crowd with such velocity that he managed to run it through the stomach of one of the beasts, spreading the group out momentarily. The zombie collapsed, but the swarm returned, descending on us again.
I jabbed the knife directly into the neck of the most insistent intruder and pulled it out, severing the head from the neck. The head toppled into the car as the body slumped outside against the door. There was a brief hesitation as they stepped back, and I grabbed the ADD, removing the pin and flipping the lever. I threw the ADD out the window, but it bounced against an undead girl in the back of the crowd. It dropped to the ground with a thud. My heart sank with the realization the zombies wouldn’t be running anywhere.
Maybe I was wrong.
Once the ADD sounded, the zombies peeled away from our car and turned toward the device, but there wasn’t enough distance to open the door or escape through the window. They’d get us in a heartbeat. The deafening sound made it hard to think. I watched as each zombie turned back toward the car and shoved their arms back at us. A set of hands latched onto Gavin’s neck, and I slashed clear through the zombie’s wrists—bone and all—, stopping only because the blade encountered the softness of Gavin’s throat.
“They’re not going to stop until they get what they want,” he whispered, punching back at the beasts.
The windshield began cracking from the weight of the bodies. The ADD siren stopped blaring, and I was almost completely positioned in Gavin’s lap, stabbing at anything and everything in the opening. Hands had broken through all of the windows. The passenger side window had arms flailing as bodies attempted to squeeze into the narrow opening.
“I don’t know what to do.” My yell could only be heard as a whisper of desperation above the noise of the horde.
“Becca, there’s some research in my folders from the campus…” his voice trailed off. His eyes began to cloud over, and I dropped my gaze. Dodging rotten, fleshy fingers and elbows, my hands ran protectively over his chest as I fought the undead. There was nowhere for us to hide.
“Don’t start saying goodbyes,” I commanded, noticing blood on my fingertips, lots of blood. Where was this blood coming from? There was no pain beyond the scratches on my arms. I felt no pain. Elbowing the beasts, I looked at Gavin. His eyes on mine—locked on mine—as his lips curled up slightly.
“What are the odds?” he whispered weakly.
A cry wanted to escape my lips as I watched Gavin blink slowly. His breathing became shallower with each passing second. I searched feverishly, gliding my hands along his chest and stomach. My fingers fell into his wound.
The zombies had torn through his shirt, through his abdomen. Blood was pooled on the seat, blood was everywhere, and I watched the hands of the undead still stirring and grabbing pieces of him. I swallowed my horror. A gasp wanted to escape my lips, but I was stronger than that. We were stronger than that.
I continued slapping the hands away but none were after me. They only wanted Gavin.
“I’ve loved you since your sixteenth birthday,” he murmured, closing his eyes.
“No!” I screamed, grabbing him, attempting to move him from the window.
But it was too late. Several arms had wrapped around Gavin’s neck and chest, hauling him through the window. I grabbed his body but he told me to let go. I couldn’t let go. I wouldn’t let go.
My hands slid from his waist…to his thighs…to his knees…to his ankles. I was holding on so tightly, but it wasn’t enough. Only his feet were left inside the car, and I held on with a strength I didn’t recognize as my own. As they pulled the last of him out the window, I followed right through the opening, collapsing on the concrete driveway. None of them attempted to attack me beyond the accidental push or scrape. They weren’t after me.
I watched in horror as the love of my life was torn to pieces and thrown about. Why didn’t they take me too? Why were they leaving me alone? My screams did nothing. I wasn’t sure I was even screaming. The zombies huddled together, and I forced my eyes away from what was left of my husband.
“Please, kill me too,” I whimpered.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Rematch (Vortex Book 1) by Janine Caldwell ~ Review and Excerpt

Rematch (Vortex #1)
by Janine Caldwell
Genre: YA Paranormal/Sci-Fi Romance (Time-Travel)
Published March 11th 2012

Trent Astor is many things—orphan, runaway, musician. But what’s most extraordinary about Trent is that he’s a time traveler. His supernatural gift sends him on missions to the past to save unsuspecting victims from harm. However, when he fails to save the life of a young girl, his life changes in ways he could never have dreamed.

At eleven-years-old, Cassie Moore suffered through a horrific shooting. Tragically scarred from the ordeal, the once promising tennis prodigy was forced to throw away all hope of a future in tennis. Now, as she begins her senior year of high school, the past continues to haunt her. She struggles to find herself, her self-esteem at an all time low. If only she could resolve the past, she might be able to move on with her life. She never imagined that could be possible until she meets the gorgeous new student in her PE class.

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Let me start of by saying that this is one of the best books I have read in a really long time. Not to say I haven’t liked the books I have been reading, but this one just really, really hooked me, and just made me fall in love with Trent/Jeremy (his alias is Jeremy) Anyway, I was enthralled right from the start with the first chapter and reading from Trent’s point of view. The emotions and feelings portrayed makes you just feel it and choke up with them at times.  We get alternating point of views between Trent and Cassie, and I love that.

Trent is the perfect guy, and Cassie is a great girl too. I really felt for her and what she went through. Now Jeff , her boyfriend at the start is an ass. He basically gives an unspoken ultimatum to either give in and have sex, or it’s over. Not that he exactly says this, but it’s obvious. So, of course that relationship doesn’t make it. (this happens in beginning of book) but he sure is a typical guy, wanting her after someone else is interested, just how egotistical guys can be.

Her best friend Kelli is a good supportive friend, and I liked her too. I really liked Trents sister, Lorelei (Lucy is her alias) she is quite mature having to deal with a disappearing time traveling brother she has to cover for.

This story reminded me of a movie I seen that I actually liked, called The Time Travelers Wife. But in that you can’t change the future or anything, just the disappearing and all that.

I love the idea of this story, how Trent is given this power from a vortex when he was younger, and how he has to struggle along the way trusting his instincts to save who he is sent back to save. I think it was genius how he took advantage of the time travel back when it was only a decade or 2, and manipulated his families money to invest it better, so in his own timeline money would not be an issue. That was pretty cool.

This kept me on the edge of my seat most the time, wondering if and when the evil doctor will find him, so he can dissect his brain. That’s just horrid, and believable.  There were some great twist and turns that I never saw coming that I really enjoyed.

I just loved how in the first chapter Trent is saving 11 year old Cassie from being killed (though he thought he failed) and then a few days later for him, he sees her at school as a 17 year old senior.

Over all its just a great idea and the writing was great. I was really glad to have book 2, Double Fault already, as I just didn’t want to leave this world.

If you like paranormal\supernatural books, or sci-fi books, you will enjoy this too. It’s like a touch of both, as we really do not know why he gets his ability, and that’s still a mystery we are yet to uncover.

I give this book 5 out of 5 stars.

Cover review - 4 out of 5 stars: I like the cover, it’s simple yet attractive. Not my favorite, but 100 times better than the old cover I seen just recently, that one would not have had me stop to take a look to see if I would like the book. It was not a good one for sure. So this one is much better.

I highly recommend this series. This is book one, Double Fault is Book 2, and Deuce is Book 3 in this Vortex Series.

I was provided this book by the author for my honest review.

This Review is also posted at Amazon and Goodreads.

Buy Links

Excerpt (Chapter One, from Trent’s Point of View)
I can’t remember how many missions I’ve been on now. Too many to count. I would like to say that they’re a complete nuisance, interrupting a packed social life, but that would be a lie. My missions have become the main event in my life. For a teenage guy, I guess that sounds pretty pathetic. Unfortunately, there’s no way to change who I am.
“Hey, you there! Young man!”
I squint in the direction of a light brown-skinned man in work gloves and a belt full of crusty gardening tools heading straight for me.
“You can’t be here. Didn’t you see the signs?”
“Sorry no,” I say groggily, slowly pushing myself up to a sitting position.
“This part of the campus is closed for maintenance. Take your nap somewhere else,” he barks.
“No problem. I was just leaving,” I tell Mr. Angry Green Thumb when applause and cheering erupt from somewhere close by us.
“Any clue what that’s all about?” I dare to ask him.
“Ah, some sort of tennis event,” he grumbles before hurrying off with such determination, his tools swing and clink together with each step.
I limp along, wincing at my throbbing head. I cross a grassy field and up a hill in the direction of the clapping, passing a sign for Saint Mary’s College at the edge of a parking lot. I don’t remember the sign from my flashes and wonder how far off I am from where I need to be. Distracted, I almost bump right into a frenzied mom zigzagging through the parking lot while tugging on her daughter’s arm.
“Come on! We’ll miss your match!” she screams at the girl who looks weighed down by a backpack the size of New Jersey with tennis rackets poking out the top.
As I get closer to the action, I see people perusing a few vendor stands, their arms full of the freebies being handed out. Next to them is a Channel 3 TV van parked in such an inconvenient spot that everyone has to walk out of their way to get around it. I tail a family that appears to be on a mission of their own down a narrow path to a stadium that overlooks an impressive tennis court. Not that I know a whole lot about tennis, but the court seems special like it’s the Grand Poobah of all courts. I try following the family into the stadium, but am stopped at the entrance.
“Whoa! Not so fast there. You need a ticket to get in,” a freckly, junior high-aged boy warns me, clearly enjoying his role of gatekeeper. “Five bucks to enter,” he says while eyeballing my black jeans and black T-shirt. They’re normal clothes for me, but probably look strange to him with all the other spectators dressed in preppy outfits and light colors.
I rummage through my pockets, but score only a few quarters, a guitar pick, and a couple of ancient gum wrappers. Scowling, I surrender to the peeping Tom technique. Through the chain-link fence, looking now like a cheapskate, I study the stadium’s interior. A snap of a banner flapping against the perimeter fence catches my attention. It reads that this is the “JR. GIRLS NORTH COAST TENNIS CLASSIC,” while the scoreboard beside it lists this particular match is between Moore and Chen.
Irritated by my limited view, I move further down the fence to get a better line on the players and to avoid any further curious glances. It’s then that my heart jolts—one of the competitors mirrors the girl from my flashes. She’s wearing the same white visor and tennis dress from my visions, the same high ponytail whipping her neck. A familiar tingling sensation spreads through my body as I realize she’s the one, the one I came here to protect.
I guess the girl and her Asian opponent to be no older than ten or eleven. Even so, they are playing with a fierce intensity that seems to go beyond their age. Nonetheless, the Asian girl is starting to fall apart. Being down a set, she’s turned to huffing and stomping into position and slamming her racket down like a poor sport.
I can’t tear my eyes away from them, but without shade or a hat, the heat of the day begins to take its toll. Wherever I am, it’s hot and the sun is directly overhead, beaming down on me in my black clothes. I use the stretched out band of my T-shirt for a mop, all the while sensing a nagging feeling that leaves me edgy. I know I’m missing something, but what critical clue from my flashes am I not remembering?
It suddenly hits me—a flood of disturbing images relating to a man. He’s of Asian descent with thinning black hair and a slight build, but it wasn’t until my most recent flash that I saw a horrible vision that gave me chills. It was of him pointing a silver pistol and shooting it at children.
Ignoring a lump the size of a tennis ball now lodged in my throat, I stride over to the kid working the entrance.
“Hey, little dude,” I begin as if we’ve become the best of buds.
He looks up at me skeptically. “Yeah?”
“The match is just about over; can’t you let me in without a ticket now?”
He runs a finger under his nose and sniffs. “My mom said I’m not supposed to let anyone in unless they pay first.”
“Ah, come on. Be cool. You’re mom won’t find out.”
He shakes his head, determined to be a stickler to the rules. “Sorry, can’t.”
Frustrated, I withdraw from the table to avoid causing a scene and hurry back to my place at the fence. I’m so intent on my visual hunt for the Asian man of my flashes that when a round of clapping breaks out, I nearly collapse into cardiac arrest. Checking the scoreboard again, I see that Moore has just won another game. It’s in that moment, out of the corner of my eye, that I notice a man rising from the stands. I can’t see his face, but instinctively watch him, paranoid and antsy to find anything out of the ordinary. His body resembles the physique of the man from my visions, but from this angle I can’t tell for sure if it’s him. Deciding not to panic yet, I wait to see what he does.
After the man meanders his way to the court, he hunkers down near the chairs that are set up on the sidelines. His hands are hidden in the pockets of his yellow windbreaker, darker in the center of his back from sweat. No one pays him attention, but he makes me nervous all the same. It doesn’t seem right that anyone can just wander onto the court like that in the middle of a match. I freeze when at last he pulls his hand out from his pocket to reveal a gun.
It takes me a second to get over my shock, wondering why in the world someone would be packing a weapon at a children’s tennis tournament. My fingers strangle the fence, helplessly trapped behind it, watching the man’s shaky hand clutching the gun. I almost swallow my tongue when he shifts to aim it at the girl with the visor, my girl!
Kicking myself for wavering, I barrel toward the ticket table. There are people on either side of the table blocking my way, but it doesn’t stop me. Just as the freckly, snot-nosed kid glances up from his handheld computer game, I leap up on the table and soar right over his head.
“Hey! You can’t do that. Security!”
A couple of chubby dudes in uniform I spotted skulking around earlier respond to the boy’s protests. I hear them struggling to chase after me, but I tune them out and channel in on my mission. By the time I reach the perimeter railing, no one else has noticed the Asian man on the court. I hesitate then, evaluating the quickest route that would draw the least amount of attention, but sense time is running out. If I have any chance of stopping him, it’s now or never.
I swing my legs over the railing and drop to the court. Just before I lunge to tackle the creep, he fires. I want to look around and see if the shot hit anyone, but I’m busy trying to wrestle the gun away from him. Fighting for control, I flinch when a second shot is fired.
“Let us help you, son!” an older man yells urgently. He rushes over and it takes both of us, plus a couple of others, to finally pin down the Asian man and secure the weapon.
When I look up, mass pandemonium has taken over the match. People are screaming their heads off, pouring out of the stands and rushing over to Moore, the girl from my visions. It takes my breath away when I realize she’s lying on the ground.
I’m freaking out about the girl when the rent-a-cops catch up to the scene, panting and looking scared out of their wits. Their eyes bug out, fumbling with their handcuffs as if stunned their services are needed for once. When they start to drag the Asian man away, I can’t help but notice the wild look in his black eyes. It’s like staring into the eyes of a madman.
Leery of an audience, I clamber up trying to figure out what people saw. I can’t afford to be in the spotlight anymore than I already was, but I also want to know if the girl is okay. Battling through the crowd, I force my way through the shield of people to kneel by her side. She looks traumatized, but at least she’s alive. I watch her grasp at her left side, the crimson stain seeping through her tennis dress expanding by the second. She blinks up at me then, her expression filled with alarm.
I gasp at the direct view of her eyes. They’re a mixture between green and blue; a rare color that’s as close to aqua as I’ve ever seen. More than just their interesting color, though, is the soul I found behind them.
Although I’m mesmerized by her gaze, the girl releases her superhuman stare to close her eyes while she clutches her side again and groans in pain. A cold sweat floods my body then when I notice a black blob pooled up underneath her. So much blood! Recklessly, I grab hold of her hand, willing my strength into her small frame. At first she grips my hand back, but before long she seems to lose her ability to fight, the blood loss draining her of life. Eventually she turns perfectly still, her lips a watery blue and her hand now limp in mine. I hear sirens approaching, but I fear any help is too late.
The girl’s parents rush onto the court with the paramedics not far behind them. I’m quickly swept out of the way, but I hardly notice. I’m too shocked to move on my own. Before I’m able to pull myself together, a microphone is thrust into my face. My eyes flicker up to a female reporter looking at me expectantly. Her narrow face is flushed, eager for the opportunity of a big scoop. Her camera operator is close behind focusing his equipment on me.
“That was a truly brave move on your part. How’d you know that man had a gun?”
I blink back at the reporter, weighing out my options.
She gives me a quizzical look. “Hello? Are you okay?”
“Yeah.” I rake a trembling hand through my sweaty hair.
“Well?” she blinks at me.
“I-I don’t know how I knew. I guess I just noticed how close he was to the players and thinking that was odd. That’s when I saw the gun. Who is that man anyway?”
“We don’t know yet, but we’ll get the full story soon. The police are on their way now. I hope you aren’t planning on going anywhere.”
The police! They’re the last thing I need, especially since I don’t know how I can lie myself out of this one. I’ve got to get out of here, but I can’t stop staring at the girl.
The girl is surrounded by a team of paramedics who are shouting orders in a frenzied but efficient blur, and I wish I could understand what the orders all mean.
“What?” I ask when a persistent buzz draws away my focus.
“I said, ‘What is your name?’” the reporter repeats impatiently.
“Uh...” I stall, scanning around me. I spot the girl’s discarded Head tennis racket and spurt out the first name that comes to mind. “Ed,” I tell her. She scribbles on her pad of paper while it dawns on me that this interview is being filmed. I stiffen.
The reporter turns to wave over the uniformed city cops who have just arrived. While she’s distracted, I take the opening to sneak away. Swarms of people are still jamming up the court, so it should be easy to hide in the confusion, but when I peek back at the reporter she’s signaling frantically to the cops in the direction I’ve gone.
While my heart hammers at my chest I bust into a full on sprint. I don’t know where I’m heading; I only know that I can’t deal with being interrogated by the police, or with having this nightmare to continue being filmed and then stored in the vaults of TV history. I dash across the parking lot into a dense section of trees, hoping it will discourage the cops from pursuing me. Sharp branches slice through my bare arms while I navigate blindly through the forest, but I’m grateful for the physical pain. It’s helping to bury the horrible images clogging up my mind—the girl’s haunting eyes, her lifeless body saturated in blood. The images that I have no doubt will burn in my mind for the rest of my life.

About the Author

Janine Caldwell is the YA fantasy author of the romantic yet action-filled trilogy, The Vortex Series. She lives in the desert town of Anthem, AZ with her husband and two sons. When she's not trying to cool off, she's playing tennis, practicing yoga, banging on the drums, or reading.

Books published by Janine include Visited, a YA coming-of-age fantasy, Rematch, Double Fault, and Deuce.

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