Friday, December 12, 2014

The Sham by Ellen Allen Excerpt (Tour Stop)

Eighteen-year-old Emily Heath would love to leave her dead-end town, known locally as "The Sham", with her boyfriend, Jack, but he's very, very sick; his body is failing and his brain is shutting down. He's also in hiding, under suspicion of murder. Six months' ago, strange signs were painted across town in a dialect no one has spoken for decades and one of Emily's classmates washed up in the local floods. 

Emily has never trusted her instincts and now they're pulling her towards Jack, who the police think is a sham himself, someone else entirely. As the town wakes to discover new signs plastered across its walls, Emily must decide who and what she trusts, and fast: local vigilantes are hunting Jack; the floods, the police, and her parents are blocking her path; and the town doesn’t need another dead body.    

**This book is unsuitable for younger teenage readers. It depicts adult situations, murder & profanity.


          Terrorising ten-year-olds was clearly a well-rehearsed routine and the four of them got busy: Becky yanked off his coat, gloves, shoes and trousers; Cath pulled out string; Kitty grabbed Charlie’s hands; and Rebecca tied them behind his back. They seemed to plug into each other, becoming connected, operating in rhythm. But it was Becky that seemed to pollute them for the worse, like a fucked up blood transfusion. All the time, she was goading me. Daring me to stop them.
          I did try. Pathetically. “Come on, guys,” I said. “Let him go.” They began to circle Charlie, me and the pram. “Give him his coat and shoes back at least.” He was shivering uncontrollably in his sweater and pants.
          I scanned the common above us, and the river path below, but a rush of people desperate to use the climbing frame seemed unlikely. Jim definitely wasn’t coming. Even so, I still couldn’t shake the feeling that we were being watched. Every bush or tree seemed to convey some sort of threatening shape.
          Rebecca opened the cardboard box and pulled an animal out as Charlie began to cower, trying to dissolve into the sludge beneath him. In the darkness, it took me a while to make out the shape of a bird, about the size of her palm.
          “What are you doing?” I asked.
          “We’re ‘Muzzling the Sparrow’,” she said, as she passed the bird to Kitty.
          “It’s an old local custom, a sport,” said Kitty.
          “For who?” I mumbled, well out of earshot. “The mentally retarded?”
          Kitty knelt down. “Charlie,” she said. “Meet Mister Sparrow here. His wings have been clipped so he can’t fly away. We’re going to put its wing in your mouth...”
          “– You need to use your teeth to turn it around –”
          “– Get its head in your mouth before it pecks you to hell –”
          “– When you’ve ripped its head off, then you get to go home.”
          Holy crap.
          I responded in the only way I knew how. The only way I could cope since last year, since Gracie died. “A pure qubit state is a linear superposition of the basis states,” I mumbled.
Becky gave me a what-the-fuck-are-you-saying kind of look but I was forgotten as Charlie began to make shrill shrieking noises, terrified to have the bird in his mouth, terrified of what they would do to him if he didn’t.
“This means the qubit can be represented as a linear combination of 0 and 1,” I stuttered.
To the four of them, Charlie’s reaction was better than telly. He couldn’t balance with his hands tied behind him and was shuffling around on the muddy grass. Kitty was moving towards him trying to put the bird in his mouth but he was refusing, darting back, moving his face from side to side. The other three were skipping around us, egging him on, chanting his name, “CHARLIE, CHARLIE, CHARLIE”, euphoric in their malevolence. They seemed to blur into each other with their curly hair and black clothes. In the dark, it was hard to tell them apart.
I mumbled louder. “Multiple qubits can exhibit quantum entanglement.”
Kitty looked to Becky – she couldn’t get Charlie to acquiesce – and Becky moved in, kneeling down, pinning him to the ground. Rebecca cut off his air by holding his nose. He had no choice but open his mouth as Kitty rammed it in.
          Charlie gagged and threw up the bird.
          Becky picked it up from where it lay in fits on the floor and poked it back in his mouth, speaking slowly as if he were a four year old.  “T–h–a–t’–s            c–h–e–a–t–i–n–g.   B–i–t–e    i–t–s    h–e–a–d    o–f–f    a–n–d     y–o–u    g–e–t      t–o       g–o      h–o–m–e.” She sounded deranged.
One of Charlie’s socks came off as he thrashed on the ground. He was desperate, beginning to realise he might have to do what they asked before he’d be released. A greeny-black paste was spreading over his face and body as the bird was splattering him with its poo. It was mixing with his tears and the rain.
          I couldn’t stop with the equations, “entanglement is a nonlocal property allowing a set of qubits to express higher correlation than is possible in classical systems,” as I retched from the smell. Bird poo, sweat, tears, mud and then wee. Charlie had wet himself.
          The bird had fallen out again, or Charlie couldn’t keep it in, and Cath ran forward to stuff it back. But Charlie couldn’t bear to open his mouth. She lunged at him, screaming, “OPEN UP!” shoving him towards the frame of the swing. He fell on it hard. We heard a bone crack. Then a long wail came out of Charlie like he was about to be put down.
          Becky picked him up and manhandled him back into position; on his knees, in the centre, bird in mouth. I saw a bone poking out of his skin, jutting through his collar. I could smell what I thought was poo. Human shit. But Charlie didn’t notice that he’d soiled his pants because the only thing he could focus on was the bird; the sparrow was fighting to live, gouging out his cheeks, pecking at his eyes.
          It was too much. I once saw two men fighting outside a bar, really kicking and punching the crap out of each other, blood everywhere, and I couldn’t move then either. It was surreal to see that much nastiness up close and it sort of transfixes you, glues you to the spot. I couldn’t leave Charlie but I couldn’t save him either. I was relegated to my role as impotent bystander.
          Just like when Grace died.
          You have to stop,” I cried, tears rolling down my cheeks. 

About Ellen Allen

In a previous life, Ellen Allen was an Associate Director in a small consultancy firm (focusing on Sustainable Development and Climate Change) running research projects and writing client reports. She doesn’t find fiction writing too dissimilar in process but she gets to use her imagination considerably more! She now lives in the south of France with her small daughter.

You can contact Ellen Allen on twitter @EllenWritesAll or on facebook

Alternatively, find her on Amazon or read her writing blog here:

Friday, December 5, 2014

Review: Daughter of the Fallen by Madeline Wynn

Most sixteen-year olds aren't worried about the fate of their immortal souls.

May Krieg should be.

Typically, honors student May's biggest problems have revolved around her super-hot arch-rival, Jack. But when a school project takes them ghost-hunting in a local cemetery, she discovers that an ominous force roams in the darkness around her. And it follows her home.

It claws its way into her life, burning messages into her wall and imprinting them onto her body.

Even worse, she can't tell if it's trying to possess her... or protect her. May's thoughts soon become actions, causing the target of her anger severe physical pain and giving her a rush the likes of which she has never experienced. She quickly realizes that she needs to find a way to reign in this power before she kills someone. May hates the pleasure it gives her, hates herself for hurting others, but she can't stop. As her entire world shatters around her, she is forced to ask what her soul is worth-- and who would she risk losing her soul to save? 
My Rating
My Review
I read Daughter of the Fallen at exactly the right time, as it satisfied a craving not only for a YA Paranormal, but a well-written YA Paranormal. This novel is fast-paced and addictive. In fact, the pages turn so quickly that if you're anything like me, you might want to save the book for an entirely free afternoon. Otherwise, you may end up forgetting about plans given the un-put-down-able nature of this book.
Although I initially classified this novel as paranormal, it also reads like an excellent thriller. The plot has plenty of action, with enough turns to prevent the reader from ever getting bored. The story is beautifully weaved and thoroughly engaging, and I was compelled to the very end. I loved the darkness and creepiness of the novel (they really are my favorite things to read about) although the contrast of that with the romance also blew me away (as a great romance is my second favorite thing to read about).
May is an excellent heroine, and very easy to relate to. Although it isn't necessary for protagonists to be, necessarily, likable, I do think it is important for them to be believable, and May was definitely that. A great example of a strong female character despite true-to-life flaws that are very human, May had a really authentic teenage voice. It was wonderful to hear from her perspective, although through the dialogue, a clear picture of the other rounded characters was easily painted.
Whether a die hard YA fan or a casual reader, I can easily recommend Daughter of the Fallen. The stunning debut should appeal to fans of paranormal, romance, thriller, or anything in between. I couldn't get enough of the authenticity and excellent pacing, and devoured the pages of this novel. Madeline Wynn is definitely one to watch. 

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Release Day Blitz: Evolution (E #2) by Kate Wrath

Evolution, the second book in the E series, is now available! Get Evolution and E for only 99¢ each during release week, November 12th-19th, 2014.

cover of Evolution by Kate Wrath
Outpost Three is still standing… barely. But the deadliest threat it has ever faced is on its way-- a violent force that will annihilate every man, woman, and child.

With the Sentries under his control and Grey’s army defeated, Matt is more powerful than ever. Eden is little more than his prisoner, but that line is blurring as her affection for him grows. Now, as the Outpost faces total destruction, Matt must sacrifice the possibility of attaining Eden’s love in the vague hope that her past might hold the key to saving them all.

Eden’s journey will begin to unravel the mysteries of her previous life, reveal dangerous new questions, and change not only the future of Outpost Three, but shape the course of history.

This eagerly anticipated sequel to Kate Wrath’s E begins an epic quest into the dark, dystopian landscape of Eden’s world.
 Add to GoodreadsBuy E $0.99Buy Evolution $0.99

Get both books in the E series, E and Evolution, for 99¢ each on Kindle for a limited time only: November 12th- 19th, 2014.

Connect with Kate:
Kate Wrath's WebsiteTwitterGoodreadsFacebook


Join Kate for the Evolution Release Day Facebook Party:

You're invited! Come hang out November 12th from 8-12 pm Eastern and celebrate the release of Evolution. Woohoo!


An excerpt from Evolution:

We run down the narrow alley and take the first turn, then another. We keep running, moving. I don't even notice my surroundings until, at last, we slow to a stop. The smell hits me first—the stench of piss, of something rotten, all condensed into a small space. Breathing hard, we stand in the street and look around us. We're in a main thoroughfare now, judging from the traffic, but it’s still narrow. I feel squashed, smothered. On all sides, a crowd throngs around us. Most of them are dressed in rags. Hollow faces huddle three or four bodies deep against both edges of the road, dirty, hopeless, and lost. Many of them are children.

I'm scanning their faces frantically before I even realize what I'm doing. "Oscar," I hear myself whisper. It hits me, and I break off before I can call out his name. Before I can start running again, sifting through the masses of them.

Apollon's hand clamps onto mine, but he says nothing. He and Jonas are focused on Jacob, who is shaking violently. Tears are pouring from widened eyes down his face. I want to help him, but all I can do is stand here trying not to break down, myself.

"We need to find somewhere to regroup," Jonas says quietly. "Get out of this mess."
I cast around for somewhere to go, but as far as I can see, it's piles upon piles. People, and people, and buildings looming over them. There's no breathing room. No space. I have to force my breath to steadiness. It's too much.
There is a commotion on the street ahead, maybe a block away. The ragged masses push away from the center, squashing and trampling each other in the process. We're caught in a wave of motion and carried backward, but still we try to look. Where the commotion started, there's a group of figures, similarly dressed in black with blue bandanas. They're moving down the street toward us.

The wave of people suddenly backlashes from the other direction, and we're pushed the opposite way from before. We manage to finally see why. On our opposite side, there's another group of people. These are dressed primarily in white. One of them, clearly a leader, wears a purple doo rag and carries what might be the biggest gun I've ever seen. He raises it toward us.