Posted in Cover Reveal, Crime, Fiction

Cover Reveal: Side Chick Nation by Aya De León

Side Chick Nation_FINAL

Check out the hot new cover for Aya de León’s upcoming book, Side Chick Nation! The story sounds just as sizzling!

Side Chick Nation (A Justice Hustler’s Book)

Expected Publication Date: June 25th, 2019

Genre: Feminist Crime Fiction

Pages: 352

Dulce García was a teen sexually exploited by a violent New York pimp until Marisol Rivera rescued her. But Dulce didn’t stay rescued for long. In SIDE CHICK NATION, Dulce’s unhealed trauma and appetite for thrills lead her into an endless party of sugar daddies in the Caribbean. Until she gets caught in Hurricane Maria in Puerto Rico—and witnesses both the heartbreaking disaster of climate change, and the international vultures who plunder the tragedy for a financial killing, making shady use of relief funds to devastate the island even more . . .

Meanwhile, New York-based mastermind thief Marisol already has her hands full fleecing a ruthless CEO who’s stealing her family’s land in Puerto Rico and getting her relatives out alive. An additional crew member could be game-changing, but she’s wary of Dulce’s unpredictability and history of indiscretion. Still, Dulce’s growing determination to get justice draws Marisol in, along with her formidable Lower East Side Women’s Health Clinic’s heist squad. But their on-the-fly race-against-the-clock plan is soon complicated by a sexy crusading journalist—not to mention powerful men who turn deadly when ex-side chicks step out of the shadows and demand to call the shots…

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About the Author

Aya and book

Aya de León teaches creative writing in UC Berkeley’s African American Studies Department. Her award-winning Justice Hustlers series has received acclaim in the Washington Post, Jacobin Magazine, and The Establishment. Her work has also appeared in Ebony, Essence, Guernica, Ploughshares, The Root, VICE, and on Def Poetry. She is an alumna of Cave Canem and VONA.

Aya de León |Twitter | Facebook

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Posted in Horror, Mature Young Adult, Paranormal

Cover Reveal: FOUNTAIN DEAD by THERESA BRAUN

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How cool is this cover?! I’m thrilled to host this reveal today, and tell you all about Theresa Braun’s first full-length novel, Fountain Dead! Theresa is also giving away a $25 Amazon Gift Card, so be sure to enter at the bottom!

Fountain Dead edited

Fountain Dead

Expected Publication: Mid-November

Genre: Mature YA Horror/ Paranormal

Mark is uprooted from his home and high school in the Twin Cities and forced to move with his family into a Victorian in Nowhere-ville. Busy with the relocation and fitting in, Mark’s parents don’t see what’s unfolding around them—the way rooms and left behind objects seem alive with a haunted past.

Of course, Mark keeps his ghostly encounters to himself, all the while sinking deeper into the house’s dark, alluring, and ultimately terrifying history. As romantic entanglements intensify, the paranormal activity escalates. Past and present come together. Everything is connected—from the bricks in the walls to the hearts beating in their chests, all the secrets of Fountain Dead are finally unearthed.

Coming Soon!

Excerpt

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The vapor wafting from the stagnant pool smelled like the rancid rot from inside a carcass. Mark felt he breathed in fire. The gooey surface boiled and foamed as if a prehistoric substance. His heart stopped as something emerged. A goopy and gnarled dome became a sickly face. The eyelids still closed, the rest of the form rose, covered in green.

A tattered dress clung to the feminine curves. The cloth slipped from the shoulders, drawing his attention to her skin. The texture made him gag.

A sour taste of bile filled his mouth. His skin contracted as he contemplated her spongy flesh. Her black eyes sprang open like a demonic doll’s. Her inhuman gaze stabbed his very core, and he knew he was facing a soul-less being. The eyes burned like hot stove burners.

A decomposing hand extended toward his throat.

Mark woke, wet with perspiration. His pillowcase and sheets were damp, as if he’d taken a swim in the fountain. That idea made him unable to breathe. His heartbeat sped along at a rate close to heart attack status as he tried not to blow a gasket about the evil that lie in wait. He whipped his pillow from behind his head and squashed it to his chest. No one would grasp what he’d been feeling—or what he’d been seeing.

His lip trembled.

Something—a fiend, a spirit, the fountain—wanted to hurt him.

Mark’s chest compressed.

The devil on his shoulder advised him that his mother had to be right. All of the metal music, the cartoons, the swearing, had been an invitation for demons and darkness. Forget the fact that none of his friends had ever mentioned opening some gateway to hell. These dark forces had chosen him.

He lied back, exhaustion sinking him deeper into the mattress. After pulling the blood warm sheets up to his chin, he shunned the moonlight streaming into the room. The crooked claws of the branches squealed against the half-open windowpane. Summer’s hot breath puffed into the house. Mark didn’t have to strain to hear its griping—the sighs of the woodwork and the building’s various joints.

The door to the servants’ quarters was open again. However, that bothered him less and less. A perfume of fragrant flowers sent him to sleep.

About the Author

theresa-braun

Hmmm. What’s this? Looks like Ms. Braun left her computer on and her Goodreads bio open.

This should be fun.

What can we say about Theresa? I mean other than the fact that she’s weirdly obsessed with smiley faces :-). Like, seriously obsessed >:-*. It’s kinda scary :-O.

I think she thinks she’s from Renaissance England or Venice or something. I never could figure out which one it was. (She’s really bad at doing accents.)

She likes romance novels and crime TV, which are pretty much the same thing when you think about it. Ha! Am I right?

She has a hell of a singing voice. Seriously. It’s, like, seventh circle of hell bad.

She likes editing. A lot. Just wait till she get’s aload a this.

Cats. Shoes. Chips and salsa. In that order.

Yeah, that last part didn’t make sense to me either.

Theresa Braun

*There will also be a blog tour for Theresa’s book starting Nov. 12th to Nov. 16th. If you would like to participate, please fill out the sign up form

Giveaway Time!

For your chance to win a $25 Amazon Gift card, click the link to enter! Good luck!

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Fountain Dead Blog Tour (Nov. 12th to 16th)

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Posted in Anthology, Dark, Dreadpunk, Horror, Romance, Steampunk

Book Trailer Reveal: DEAD STEAM by Bryce Raffle

DeadSteam

I am so happy to share this really cool book with you and reveal its amazing trailer! If you like the cover, wait to you see this! There is also a chance to win a digital copy of Dead Steam, so make sure to enter the giveaway at the bottom!

DeadSteam_Ebook.jpgDead Steam: A Chilling Collection of Dreadpunk Tales of the Dark and Supernatural

Expected Publication Date: October 1st, 2018

Genre: Anthology/ Dreadpunk/ Dark Steampunk/ Horror

Reader beware: to open this tome is to invite dread into your heart. Every page you turn will bring you closer to something wicked. And when the dead begin to rise from the steaming pits of hell, only then will you discover that it is already too late. Your life is forfeit.

Featuring an introduction by Leanna Renee Hieber, author of the Eterna Files and Strangely Beautiful saga, DeadSteam plays host to the scintillating writing of David Lee Summers (Owl Dance, The Brazen Shark), Jen Ponce (The Bazaar, Demon’s Cradle), Wendy Nikel (The Continuum), Karen J Carlisle (The Adventures of Viola Stewart), Jonah Buck (Carrion Safari), and more…

With seventeen chilling tales of Dreadpunk, Gaslamp, and Dark Steampunk, DeadSteam will leave you tearing at the pages, desperate for more. For within these pages, the dead rise from their graves to haunt the London Underground, witches whisper their incantations to the wind, a sisterhood of bitten necks hunts fog-drenched alleyways lit only by gaslight, and only one thing is certain: that dread will follow you until you turn that final page.

And that sinking feeling in the pit of your chest? That fear that something is following you, watching you, hunting you? It is not for nothing. Look over your shoulder, dear reader. Watch behind you. Listen to the whispers in the darkness.

But know this…it is all inevitable.

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Excerpt

Burke Street Station

The city was frost and fog. Icy crystals formed on the windows of the train station. Breath drifted up in a hazy clouds like puffs of cigarette smoke as Theodore tried to warm his hands, blowing hot breath onto his stiff, cold fingers and rubbing his hands together vigorously. When that failed, he thrust them back into his coat pockets, cursing under his breath. His threadbare coat offered little warmth. Drafts of wind found their way through the broken stitching and the tears in his sleeves like rats scrambling through the cracks in the station walls. A discarded page of newsprint, caught in the rushing wind, tumbled and turned in the air and landed, crumpled and torn, at Theodore’s feet.

He stooped over, picked it up, and glanced at the engraving of a wanted man. Even without a skill for reading, he knew what name was printed beneath the picture of masked man on the page. Anthony Tidkins.

Wanted, he read. That was one word Theodore recognized. Crimes was another, and then, finally…murder.

Rubbish. The newspapers always tried to make villains out of the radical thinkers of the world. The Resurrectionists, who named their organization after the sack-em-up men who provided the anatomists with subjects for their scientific endeavors, were scientists. They had provided the world with aether, revolutionizing air travel. They had brought Prince Charles back from the brink of death. They had devised the engines for the London Underground. Anthony Tidkins himself promised to cure death. Yet the newspaper men still called for his blood. Theodore balled up the page and shoved it in his pocket.

He pulled out his trick coin as he approached the gate. The station master was asleep at his booth, a little dribble of spit running down his chin. Typical. Thoedore stuck his coin in the machine, waited for the gate to open, and then, with a light tug on the fishing line threaded through a little hole in the tip of the coin, it popped back out. Easy. He was in before anybody noticed what he had done. He pocketed the coin and started down the hallway.

Tap-tap, clack, tap-tap, clack, his shoes beat a rhythm on the stone steps. The sole of his left shoe was beginning to wear, and the heel of his shoe tapped against the heel of his foot as he walked. He puffed on his hands again, and peeked over his shoulder. No one was after him. He had done this trick a thousand times before. So why did he feel like there was someone watching him?

Clack, tap-tap, clack. Again, he glanced over his shoulder. The odd double-rhythm of his broken shoe was suddenly unnerving in the deserted station. Where were all the other passengers? Nice folks avoided this place like the plague, especially after midnight. The oil lamps that lit Burke Street Station were so routinely out of oil that he could hardly find his own feet in front of him, but still, Theodore expected to see other passengers. But where were the other vagrants? They should be sleeping in the dark corners of the hallway under blankets made of rags. And the boys from the blacking factory should be heading home from their long shifts, fingers stained black with powders and oil. But there was no one. Only the rats skittering through rat tunnels to keep him company.

Tap-tap, clack, tap-tap, clack.

Another set of footsteps began to follow his own, beating out a different rhythm. A steady tap, tap, tap, tap. He paused to listen, and nothing but silence greeted him. He glanced over his shoulder. Nobody there.

He continued onward, and again, a second set of footsteps started up behind him. He paused to listen. This time, they didn’t stop.

Tap, tap, tap, tap.

Whoever it was, they were getting closer. Closer and closer, louder and louder, tapping out a steady rhythm as they approached down the long, dark hallway. He could almost make out the solitary figure in the gloomy, hazy light, but then the fog grew thicker, and whatever he thought he’d seen was gone. The footsteps kept on getting louder, though, and closer. He turned and ran down the hallway.

A long flight of steps delved deeper into the darkness of Burke Street Station, down, down toward the platform. The train was already rumbling, announcing its approach. It vibrated through Theodore’s toes to the tip of his spine, rattling his bones.

He grabbed the railing all but flew down the staircase. The rumble of the train grew louder and clearer.

“Shit,” Theodore cursed. Taking the steps two at a time, he hurtled down the steps and didn’t stop when he reached the bottom.

Nails on a blackboard. The tines of silverware scraping against a ceramic plate. The screaming madmen at Newgate Asylum. The anguished cry of a mother weeping over her stillborn babe. Theodore had heard these sounds all, but not one compared to the shrill screech of an automatic train rolling into Burke Street. Iron wheels grinding against iron tracks. Hot metal sending up sparks, belching out steam as black as sin. The carriages rattling and clanging against one another. The hiss of hot coal burning in the engines. The shriek of brakes as the train ground to a halt. If it went on long enough, it would surely drive a man mad. Theodore covered his ears with his hands, pressing them against his head to muffle out the deafening noise, and waited for the thundering train to come to a halt.

When it did, he realized it must have drowned out the sound of the steadily approaching footsteps he’d heard in the hallway, because he could hear them again, and they were closer. So close he half expected to feel someone’s hot breath on his neck. He whirled around, but there was no one there. Silence greeted him like an old friend. His heart hammered against his chest.

“There’s no one there,” he muttered to himself. But he didn’t sound convinced.

A smell lingered in the air, as if something foul had passed through. The smell was familiar enough, the breath of a man with rotting teeth. It was a foul, cloying stench. He spun around again, and this time found himself face to face with the man to whom those dreaded footsteps belonged.

Only he wasn’t a man. Not really.

About the Author

Bryce Raffle.png

Bryce Raffle writes steampunk, horror, and fantasy. He was the lead writer for Ironclad Games’ multiplayer online game Sins of A Dark Age and is the founder of Grimmer & Grimmer Books. His short stories have appeared in numerous anthologies, including Hideous Progeny: Classic Horror Goes Punk, Denizens of Steam and Den of Antiquity. His short story, The Complications of Avery Vane, was awarded Best Steampunk Short in the Preditors and Editors Reader’s Poll in 2016. He lives in beautiful Vancouver, Canada, where he works in the film industry.

Bryce Raffle| Facebook | Instagram| Goodreads | Twitter

Bryce is giving away a digital copy of Dead Steam to one lucky winner. The giveaway will run from Sept. 17th to Sept. 20th so make sure you enter!

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Posted in Blog Tour, Novella, Serial, Thriller

Blog Tour: Go Home, Afton by Brent Jones

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BF3C3BDF-8C31-4427-8595-E6407A98348CGo Home, Afton
Author: Brent Jones
Length: Novella
Genre: Thriller
Series: Afton Morrison, Book 1
Release Date: June 25, 2018
Format: eBook
eBook Price: 99¢

Blurb:

We all wear masks, and Afton Morrison is no exception.

A small-town librarian with a dark side, Afton, twenty-six, has suppressed violent impulses her entire adult life. Impulses that demand she commit murder.

Blending her urges with reason, Afton stalks a known sexual predator, intending to kill him. But her plan, inspired by true crime and hatched with meticulous care, is interrupted by a mysterious figure from her past. A dangerous man that lurks in the shadows, watching, threatening to turn the huntress into the hunted.

Go Home, Afton is the first of four parts in a new serial thriller by author Brent Jones. Packed with grit and action, The Afton Morrison Series delves into a world of moral ambiguity, delivering audiences an unlikely heroine in the form of a disturbed vigilante murderess.


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MY REVIEW:
I’m so thrilled to tell you how much I loved this fabulous thriller!! Go Home, Afton is the first of four books in the Afton Morrison Series, a serial thriller with an antihero of sorts as the main character.

The Author, Brent Jones, WOW….I’m just completely blown away by his work!! He obviously put a lot into this serial thriller and it shows!!!! The characters are wonderful!!! The MC is a very complex character herself, but even many of the side characters are really well done!! I can’t wait to see more of them all in the next few books!! I’m a very character driven reader, and I just ate this right up!!

If thrillers are your thing, you will love this! It is a serial thriller, but I do know that he plans to release them pretty quickly. This one releases Monday, June 25th. Then the second one is August 7th, third is September 17th, and fourth is October 29th. In fact, Books two and three are already up on amazon for preorder!

Highly recommended, FIVE AMAZING STARS!!!!

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Excerpt: Go Home, Afton > Chapter 3 > Scene 2

Parents—stay-at-home moms, mostly—brought in their toddlers once a week so I could read them a story. And I use the word toddlers loosely. Kids as old as six or seven sometimes attended during the summer. And the stories we would read were made up of fewer than fifty words, for the most part. A lot of the mothers in Wakefield were too lazy to read to their own children, I guess.

Oh, and crafts, too. After reading a story together, we’d break out glitter and colored pencils and paste and other nonsense, but that wasn’t the real reason a dozen women turned out with their little monsters each week. Storytime was an excuse for the mothers to gather and gossip. It always took a little while to get the children to settle down, sure. I’d press my finger to my lips and wait. Five or ten seconds at most, although I would have been happy to wait longer. Their mothers, on the other hand, were so much worse. Getting them to shut their fucking traps was a whole separate exercise in endurance.

But as much as I disliked children, there was something magical about them. It was their inability to see gray, I think. Their entire worlds existed in black and white, right and wrong, good and evil. You could see it in their faces as a story unfolded, rife with nervous energy at every inconsequential turn.

“And she just doesn’t know”—I read to the room, pointing to each gigantic word—“should she stay, should she go?”

I caught a boy’s expression, who sat just inches from me. The hippopotamus in our story was faced with a dilemma, and this boy was transfixed. His eyes were wide, his hands were cupped over his mouth, and he was vibrating with anticipation to see what the hippo would do next.

I flipped to the last page. “But yes the hippopotamus.”

The boy relaxed a little, making a deliberate show of letting his shoulders drop. A talented drama queen in the making. He was new to storytime and looked to be about five or six years old. He had dark hair, a tan complexion, and a missing front tooth. He’d attended just once before and he’d sat close that day, as well. I’d never really been big on learning children’s names, to be honest, but I knew his was Neil only because he’d come to the library alone both times. It sounds strange, I’m sure, but having a parent use the library as a free babysitting service happens more often than most people would guess.

I continued on, reading the final words of the story. “But not the armadillo.”

Neil was stressed all over again, and his tiny hand shot up. “Miss Afton?”

“Yes, ah, Neil? What is it, little man?”

“How come not the arma-darma?”

“Armadillo.” A woman in baggy gray sweatpants corrected him from the back of the room. She was a few years older than me, had bleach-blonde hair in a ponytail, and her voice resembled a seagull getting crushed by a car.

I shut the book and set it on my lap. “That’s a good question, Neil.” I bit my lower lip, deciding how much to share. “Well, let’s see. Ah, no one likes armadillos, for starters. They’re bullet-proof, if you can believe it, and ugly as sin. They carry leprosy, too, but they don’t bite children too often.”

The woman at the back of the room—Sweatpants, let’s call her—looked horrified. Her stained teeth chattered and she blinked in rapid succession. She placed her palms over her daughter’s ears, a girl around three or four in age.

Neil scratched his head. “What’s a lepra-she?”

“It’s—”

Sweatpants raised her hand to silence me—not that I minded—and looked to a few of the other mothers in the room for support, most of whom were checked out or occupied with their phones. She looked back at me again, then at her daughter. “It’s when good little boys and girls get ice cream.” That wasn’t how I might have defined the word, however. “You want to stop for ice cream on the way home, Jessi?”

It was hard enough getting these little turds to sit still for all fourteen pages of But Not the Hippopotamus. Why on earth would this woman want to stuff her daughter’s face with sugar before lunch? But the girl jumped up and squealed at the mention of sweets, and soon, other kids joined in, as did their mothers.

I peeked down at Neil to see him cradling his head in his hands, masking a look of disappointment by staring at the floor. It appeared he had forgotten all about armadillos and leprosy and storytime, and now sulked, wishing he had a parent present to take him for ice cream like the other children.

The mothers talked amongst themselves, and their toddlers fed on the elevated energy levels. The room was alive with discourse, and I wondered if the local Dairy Queen might consider paying me a small commission. “Well, that’s it for storytime, boys and girls. Thanks for coming.”

Sweatpants spoke up at the back of the room, the self-elected leader of Wakefield’s fattest and frumpiest. “But it’s only quarter past, Afton. Isn’t storytime supposed to be a full hour?”

“Just figured you were all on your way to get a double-scoop of leprosy.”

“Very funny.”

I raised my hands in a gesture of mock uncertainty. “We’ve got crafts we can do.” I pointed to three short tables covered in plastic, adorned with supplies that Kim had set up for us. “Should we get to it?”

“That won’t take long. Couldn’t you read them another story first?”

Couldn’t I read them another story? It’d been her idea to squeeze out one of these little nightmares. Why was I being punished for it? “Not this week, I’m afraid. Sorry.”

But she just wouldn’t give up. “Afton, do you know where Jessi’s daddy is right now?”

My first thought was that her husband was probably fucking her sister at some roadside motel with hourly rates, bed bugs, and a one-star rating on Trip Advisor. I couldn’t say that out loud, of course, and so I fought like hell to keep a smirk off my face. It helped to keep my sights trained on Jessi, who had sat back down, cross-legged in a checkered dress. She was drawing on the floor with one small finger.

Sweatpants answered her own question. “He’s at work, Afton. And he works hard, by the way, and we pay more than our share of taxes in this town. Taxes that pay your salary.”

Oh, the salary card. How I loved it when disgruntled parents brought up my salary, as if any one of them wanted to trade places with me. Yes, her taxes paid me a small fortune. That’s why I rented a one-bedroom apartment in a triplex. And it’s the same reason I drove a seven-year-old Corolla. I was so grateful—indebted, even—to Sweatpants and her husband that I just couldn’t wait to read another story.

“Sure thing.” I grabbed a second book off the pile next to me. “One more story, coming right up.”

Sweatpants smiled. It was a flat, fake smile, of course, the kind where the mouth curls tight but the eyes are dormant. It was about the best I could have hoped for, and it seemed to have a calming effect on the other mothers. They quieted down, eager to return to their various text message conversations.

I pointed my finger to more jumbo text on a colorful page. A story about an overweight and diabetic caterpillar with impulse control issues, who was always so very very fucking hungry. “In the light of the moon, a little egg lay on a leaf . . .”

And I couldn’t help but lose myself in thought. I was that little egg on a leaf, glimmering in the moonlight, and about to hatch. Soon after, the morning would come. And my hunger would be satiated at last, because Kenneth Pritchard would be dead.


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Brent Jones

From bad checks to bathroom graffiti, Brent Jones has always been drawn to writing. He won a national creative writing competition at the age of fourteen, although he can’t recall what the story was about. Seventeen years later, he gave up his career to pursue creative writing full-time.

Jones writes from his home in Fort Erie, Canada. He’s happily married, a bearded cyclist, a mediocre guitarist, and the proud owner of two dogs with a God complex.

Social Media Links:

Twitter https://twitter.com/AuthorBrentJ

Facebook https://www.facebook.com/AuthorBrentJ/

Instagram https://www.instagram.com/authorbrentj/

Goodreads https://www.goodreads.com/AuthorBrentJ

Website https://authorbrentjones.com/


BLOG TOUR SCHEDULE 

June 25th

Reads & Reels (Review) http://www.readsandreels.com

Book Wonderland (Review) https://bookwonderlandweb.wordpress.com/

Down the Rabbit Hole (Review) http://meggydowntherabbithole.wordpress.com/

Touch My Spine Book Reviews (Review) https://touchmyspinebookreviews.com

June 26th

Book Dragon Girl (Review) http://www.bookdragongirl.com

Jessica Rachow (Review) http://jessicarachow.wordpress.com

Sinfully Wicked Book Reviews (Review) https://sinfullywickedbookreviews.com

The Scribblings (Review) https://thescribblingssite.wordpress.com

On the Shelf Reviews (Review) https://ontheshelfreviews.wordpress.com

June 27th

Tranquil Dreams (Review) http://klling.wordpress.com

June 28th

Dash Fan Book Reviews (Review) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com

J Bronder Book Reviews (Review) http://jbronderbookreviews.wordpress.com/

Just 4 My Books (Review) http://www.just4mybooks.wordpress.com

Life at 17 (Review) https://lifeat17.wordpress.com

June 29th

Kim Knight (Review) http://kimknightauthor.wordpress.com

Misty’s Book Space (Review) http://mistysbookspace.wordpress.com

Port Jerricho (Review) http://www.aislynndmerricksson.com

Errin Krystal (Review) https://errinkrystal.wordpress.com

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Posted in Book Blitz, Survival, Thriller, Young Adult

Book Blitz: Feel Me Fall by James Morris

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Feel Me Fall Cover 2D.jpg

Genre: YA/ Thriller/ Survival

Publication Date: May 2017

Blurb:

Secrets and survival in the Amazon

Emily Duran is the sole survivor of a plane crash that left her and her teenage friends stranded and alone in the jungles of the Amazon. Lost and losing hope, they struggle against the elements, and each other. With their familiar pecking order no longer in place, a new order emerges, filled with power struggles, betrayals, secrets and lies. Emily must explain why she’s the last left alive.

But can she carry the burden of the past?

Discover the gripping new adventure novel that explores who we are when no one is watching, and how far we’ll go in order to survive.

Buy at Amazon                Add to Goodreads 

Excerpt

I have tried so hard to forget, but memory is a stubborn thing. Memories linger no matter what I do. They’re there all the time—and worse. Even my dreams aren’t safe. I have vicious nightmares, and they’re real—too real—and suddenly I’m back there. I can’t will them away, I can’t squeeze them away, and the more I try, the more they burrow in my head. I want to cut open my skull and dig my fingers into my brain and just pull them out.

I press the Call Nurse button.

This place, this room; it’s no better than a white coffin. Sometimes I feel like the walls are closing in on me and I have to remind myself nothing’s moving. Nothing at all.

Breathe, I tell myself. Just breathe.

A nurse enters. She’s got skin the color of rich walnut. She says, “It’s late, you should be asleep.”

“I can’t.” She tilts her head, knowing it’s a lie. The truth is I don’t want to. “Can I have some coffee?”

“You’ve got to sleep sometime, honey.” She walks over and gently grasps my bandaged hand. “Do you want me to stay with you a while?”

Usually my mom is with me, but she must’ve had to run home. Reduced to a little girl, I nod.

I close my eyes, but my mind runs and runs. Tubes and fluids enter my body, but there’s nothing to stop the anxiety. My heart pounds and sometimes I fear I’m on the cusp of crossing into whatever lies on the other side of sane. Being in the hospital makes it harder. The white walls and sick people only remind me that I am so far from normal. My mom’s apartment in Los Angeles is less than five miles away, but it might as well be a million.

The nurse, staff, doctors, everyone; they all know me for one thing. The thing that will define me for the rest of my life. I am a survivor. The only survivor of Air Brazil, the plane that crashed in the Amazon jungle carrying 134 passengers; 37 of them students, teachers, and chaperones from Riverdale Academy High. I used to hear about plane crashes and wondered how the victims felt in the seconds before impact, wondered what it was like to know you were about to die.

Now I know. And I’d give anything not to.

I knew those people from school. Every. Single. One.

They aren’t faceless names. They are people and they are dead.

The counselor didn’t help, either. She told me not to feel guilty. Survivor’s guilt, she called it. She warned I could expect to be angry and sad. I could expect to be confused. I wanted to tell her I was angry and sad and confused long before I got onto that plane.

My counselor told me to write my story down. By writing I could make sense of all that happened. I keep thinking if I remember everything the way I need to that the memories will fade away. That I can accept what happened. I can accept that I survived and everyone else died.

The laptop on my nightstand is waiting for me. I’m scared to touch it.

###

I was dead to the world and when I came to I was drowning. Water gushed into my mouth and I was tumbling, flailing, not knowing what end was up or down. I heard the sounds of screaming and the roaring of water and then nothingness. Coming up for air, I held something, something rectangular. The seat cushion I was holding kept me afloat. I was in a river and I didn’t know why. I kicked and kicked and it made no difference. I never believed in God, an all-powerful being that allowed so many horrible things to happen, but as I saw the rocks up ahead, I prayed.

The current sped faster, churning like boiling water and I thought I was going to die.

I was 17 and I was going to die.

All the time wasted. All the things I never got to do.

I had one thought over and over: I don’t want to die. Someone else, but not me.

I held onto that seat cushion for dear life and plunged into the rapids. I was a human rag doll. The torrent sucked me into a watery hell and I couldn’t breathe; my eyes shut, mouth shut, face tight against the murk, willing everything to stop. I couldn’t breathe. I started to panic.

Someone else, but not me.

I needed air, my body screamed for it and I opened my mouth about to take in water when I bubbled up to the surface and gasped. As quickly as I was brought above, I was taken under again. I slammed against the rocks and buried my face deeper into the cushion. I saw nothing, heard nothing, and imagined I was in a womb. I could only wait for the terror to pass. There was no outlet; my fear was so deep and tangible I couldn’t scream. It felt like an actual substance that enveloped my body, my brain, my very being. I receded further and further within myself, a dark hole, my entire body a taut muscle.

Suddenly, I took a shot to the head and saw stars. A high-pitched squeal rang in my ears. I fought the growing sensation of darkness that threatened to overcome me, but I knew to give in meant death. I was tempted. So, so tempted. I forced my eyes open and saw the water, the dark water and wondered in that emptiness if I hadn’t died already.

My prayer must’ve been heard.

The water calmed and I was spit out near a bend. I realized I had to give up the cushion, my lifeline—it was holding me back. I let go, cursing myself as it floated away and I swam, giving everything I had. My body had nothing left but I commanded it, willed it, to swim. As I approached the shore, my shoes finally touched bottom and I heaved myself onto land.

I don’t know how long I lay there catching my breath. But there is no greater feeling of security than the sensation of the earth beneath your stomach, hands grabbing dirt. The scent of decay and wet leaves smelled like a bouquet. All this time I’d taken the ground beneath me for granted. Now I was thankful for this place to rest.

I was soaked. My jeans pressed against me, my hair drenched, my socks squished against my feet. I didn’t understand. I had left on a flight from Los Angeles with a layover in Panama City and then on to Asuncion, Paraguay for a year-end class trip. We were traveling as an inter-disciplinary trip for history, international relations, foreign language and biology. We were going to have the trip of a lifetime.

Then it hit me, a delayed reaction: I almost drowned. I almost died. My body seized and I was overwhelmed. I cried; I didn’t even know why or for what, but I sobbed on that little stretch of dirt. I heaved, gasping for breath. Every inhale was a wheeze, and I caught myself hitting the ground, my hands balled into tight fists, pounding and pounding.

Moments passed and I cried myself empty. I told myself: get up. You have to get up.

I placed my hands in the dirt to help me stand and looked around thinking: What is this place? There was green everywhere, too much green, and a river the width of three football fields in front of me. The air was heavy, a physical pressure against my skin. I was in the jungle, a tangled web of trees and totally foreign. Any other time, I might’ve been amazed by its majesty, only now I felt small. Trees towered behind me, the river flowed in front, and I was trapped.

It was then I felt the weight of my cross-body bag. I’d been wearing it the whole time. Not very heavy, I managed to unhook it and was about to open the zipper when I heard screams.

Floating down the river were more people. I wasn’t alone! A ripple of joy overtook me until I saw their faces reflecting what I sensed my own might look like—bruised, bleeding, and utterly thrashed.

Exhausted, I shouted my voice hoarse, “Over here!” I waved my hands over my head. “You can do it,” I encouraged. “Almost there!”

Some didn’t move at all. They floated, faces down, rolling through the current, lost in the rapids, disappearing for far too long. Those were the ones who didn’t thrash. Others were swept in the rapids, their screams barely heard over the rushing water only to be silenced on the other end. I was watching people die. The bodies were like a slow leak, trickling down the river a few at a time, and yet almost none of them emerged alive on the other side of the rocks. I couldn’t save them. They were too far away.

Someone else, but not me.

I didn’t mean like this.

Then I saw Viv and my heart nearly stopped.

She struggled in the water, past the rapids, a bobber about to go under. She was never athletic even though she was stick thin. Water gurgled from her mouth and she barely moved. I couldn’t bear to lose her. I wouldn’t allow it. I was terrified of my own exhaustion, but I jumped into the water and found a strength I never knew. I swam out to her. Her head dipped under the water and I would not let that be the last time I saw my best friend alive. I grasped her flotation cushion and then headed back to shore.

She looked at me, dazed. “Emily, it’s you.”

“Yes, it’s me.” I could barely contain my relief.

The sun shone over my head, reflecting in the ripples. “You look like an angel.”

I knew Vivian was out of it. “Stop talking now. Just swim. We’re going to be okay.”

I reached the shore for a second time and pulled her up with me. Once on land, she pulled me into a hug and nothing had ever felt better. Always shorter than me, her face burrowed into my chest and I felt I was protecting an abandoned baby bird. Her inky dark hair, usually so pretty was now plastered to her head, her make-up had washed away, and she was just this tiny thing. Her whole body shivered. “Tell me it’s a dream, tell me it’s a dream….”

“I wish it was, Viv.” I would’ve stayed hugging her if not for the other people in need of help.

Nico, Viv’s immature boyfriend, splashed ashore, his glasses gone, his nose bloody, red streaks smeared across his face. He was panting and heaved over, and I thought he might throw up. We had a history, but there was no time for irritation. Any familiar face was cause for celebration. He seemed surprised to see me. “You made it.”

He then eased Viv from my arms and into his.

Further down the river there was movement. It was Derek, all limbs and urgency, his face pockmarked with acne and not a hint of stubble. He splashed onto shore, his fingers digging into sand and he kissed the earth.

Twenty yards away, Ryan Wray followed. One of his prosthetic legs was missing—he’d lost his legs below the knee after contracting a rare case of meningitis a few years earlier—and he crab-walked onto land, his one pant leg empty, wet, and flat. He wasn’t alone. He helped guide Mean Molly with him. She was far from mean then, almost drowned, flustered and frantic. Once she got out of the water, she toppled in the mud, curling into a fetal position.

I stayed where I was as Ryan, Molly and Derek staggered along the shore, finally meeting up with us.

There was no time to rest or reflect. The river scattered more survivors along the shore. I pulled in a man and stopped in alarm when I saw that one of his arms had snapped off. I gently laid him down and he didn’t even notice until he turned his head. He said with an eerie calm, “That looks painful.” I recognized him from the plane. He’d sat a few aisles in front of me and slammed back drinks whenever we hit a patch of turbulence. On land, he didn’t even scream. His face was pale and blood spurted in rhythmic pulses from below his shoulder.

“What do we do?” Nico said.

I had no clue. I only knew we needed to do something. “Derek, your belt!”

Derek looked from his perch on the mud and shook his head. I couldn’t believe it.

“Derek, give me your belt! He’s losing too much blood.”

Derek, in shock or otherwise, didn’t move.

I searched for anything that would act as a tourniquet, but my efforts were in vain. The man’s blood had dwindled to a dribble, leaving a red puddle in the mud.

Another woman emerged from the water like a swamp creature, stumbling. We sat her down and she gazed at the water. She had a head injury like mine. Blood ran from her scalp and there was a small spot where her hair had been chafed away. It wasn’t a wound. It was a hole. Looking closer, I could see something I didn’t want to—her skull and what lay within. Her eyelids fluttered and she swayed, falling unconscious. I tried to grab her, but gravity took her to the ground. I nudged her once, twice; she didn’t respond. “Wake up,” I pleaded. “Please wake up.” She never moved again.

I wanted to scream. I wanted to run from this place.

It seemed like a Halloween parade. They had to be in costume or using special effects; the injuries and deaths couldn’t be real.

They were all too real.

One man drifted to shore, his face down in the water, his wispy gray hair splayed out on the water’s surface. We grabbed ahold of him and he was heavy, far too heavy for his slender body. We saw why. The flotation device had kept him afloat, but he’d drowned somewhere along the way.

The last man we helped suffered so many burns his face was charred and etched in pain—I had the horrible thought of grill marks on steak. Once on land he jumped back into the water. Maybe the water had soothed him. I tried to reach out and grab him. “Let me help you!” But he was hysterical, too fast, and we watched as he floated away. I tell myself that he would’ve probably died anyway.

It’s terrible that I only knew them as The Woman, The Old Man, The Man Without an Arm and The Burned Man. Somewhere people knew their names, their histories, secrets and loves. Many of them rested at our feet, their chests still, mouths open. We were among the dead, and I found that we all, consciously or not, distanced ourselves from the horror.

###

The six of us stood on the shore, a hodgepodge of strained relationships, but I hoped the past meant nothing now. Silence fell over us. My voice felt robotic. “What happened?”

They looked at me as if I was stupid and in that moment I knew.

You’ve been in a plane crash.

You’ve been in a plane crash and you survived.

Viv broke down crying. “Where’s everyone else?” I asked.

“Where do you think?” said Ryan.

There had been a whole planeload of people, 37 of them from our school including my English teacher, Mr. DeKoning. We couldn’t be the only ones left. Things like this didn’t happen. At least not to us. To me.

I struggled, trying to remember, and yet there was only me sitting in my cramped seat, my body wracked with discomfort after such a long flight, the recycled air making my skin feel plastic, and then this. “How did we end up in the water?”

Ryan looked at me, stunned. “You don’t remember?”

I shook my head.

“Maybe it’s better that way.”

Derek rose. “The plane crashed in the Amazon. At least that’s what the map on my seat showed. You don’t remember bracing yourself? The flight attendants freaking out?”

“She said no, Derek!” This from Viv.

Derek said, “The plane broke apart. Flooded. We were lucky to get out.”

I didn’t remember any of it. “How did I get out?”

“Same way we did,” Derek said. “We were all sitting near each other. Near the exit rows. Threw on our life jackets or grabbed seat cushions and jumped in the water. A lot of people….” He paused. “A lot of people didn’t.” Derek looked at the dead adults. “They did, though.” He spit near the dead bodies.

“What are you talking about?”

“You should’ve seen ‘em claw over everyone. Trampled over people. They scratched and pushed their way out. There were no heroes on that plane. Not them, at least. They deserved to die.”

Nico shot back, “No one deserved to die. No one.”


3786BDB9-DBFF-4D64-B17A-BF88F09AA899James Morris is a television writer who now works in digital media. He is the author of the young adult thriller What Lies Within, the dystopian love story Melophobia, the young adult suspense Feel Me Fall, and the young adult horror Screams You Hear. When not writing, you can find him scoping out the latest sushi spot, watching ‘House Hunters Renovation’, or trying new recipes in the kitchen. He lives with his wife and dog in Los Angeles. Catch him at jamesmorriswriter.com.

Website: http://www.jamesmorriswriter.com/
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Author Link: https://www.amazon.com/James-Morris/e/B00XRTJ138/ref=sr_ntt_srch_lnk_1?qid=1499311931&sr=8-1

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Posted in Blog Tour, Book Review, Coming of Age, Fantasy, My favorites, Mystery, Young Adult

Blog Tour & My Review: The Shadow Girl by Misty Mount

Blog Tour: The Shadow Girl by Misty Mount

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SG Digital CoverGenre: YA/ Fantasy/ Coming of Age

Publication Date: December 28, 2017

Synopsis:

Blackness. Nothingness. It was in the shape of a giant, hazy shadow, enveloping me, swallowing me, and digesting me into the unknown. It was my biggest fear and my ultimate fate.

Shy, thirteen-year-old Zylia has always known she was different. Most teenagers feel unnoticed and unseen, but for Zylia, it’s something much worse. She’s disappearing from this world and doesn’t know how to stop it. At times, she’s not sure she wants to. Until she stumbles across a family mystery surrounding the disappearance of her great-aunt Angelica years earlier. During her quest to unravel the mystery, Zylia discovers she’s able to cross the boundary and enter the “in between” world. Now, it’s up to Zylia to save herself before she’s trapped “in between” forever.

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“Grandmother looked up just then, staring right into my face with those unblinking, birdlike eyes, and said, “Angelica, is that you?”

I tried to answer her, but my mouth wouldn’t even open. Besides, what would I have said if my voice were to have worked?

“Answer me, you. Why are you always hiding from me?” She was peering so intently that the beam of her vision was surely searing my skin.

The feeling of being watched had always been a phobia of mine, the curse of someone who is used to being invisible. Icy terror washed over me, although I wasn’t sure why. I was only sitting in the cabinetry, but if I hadn’t known any better, it felt like I was being caught in the act of murder, knowing my punishment would be the end of my freedom and life.”

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About the Author

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Misty Mount has written since age five and was first published at fourteen. By day she’s a caregiver, wife, and mother to a young son but during the quiet hours of night she becomes a novelist. She resides in Wichita, Kansas.

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 “I have always known that I am invisible—I had no idea that eventually I would fade away completely.”

THIS BOOK!!!! It deserves so many shiny stars, and hearts and a nice big trophy! Misty Mount is such an enormously talented writer! The way she was able to develop Zylia Moss’ world and the characters in it, all through just Zylia’s eyes was AMAZING!!! The characters were very well developed. I felt I knew each character well, and the ones that Zylia was closest too…like her sister, Ivy, and her best friend, Terra…I felt that I knew them the best, aside from Zylia of course. Her house, with its many rooms and floors. Her school. Her best friend, Terra’s house, and her dad’s DIY projects leaving the house always array. I could picture these places so well when reading the book. All described through only Zylia’s voice. This is pure gold to me! I love a book where things truly come to life for me. Where I can really picture the people and places, and what is going on, in my head. It makes feel like I have left my world and stepped in to the author’s world for a while, and I can vividly see my surroundings and the people. Books like these are the ones that I go to bed and end up dreaming about afterward, that’s how deeply it affects me.

Zylia has low self-esteem, she’s socially inept, she’s shy, clumsy and very awkward. When she is put in a situation she can’t handle she flies into an anxiety/panic attack. I found it so curious that someone from such a large family would have this problem, but I don’t know, maybe that’s the problem. Maybe being in a large family it’s easy to get lost, ignored, and when you’re a sensitive young child you might develop low self-esteem from that. So, Zylia has retreated and drawn into herself. She has done so much so that many people don’t notice her, even when she right there in the same room with them. She can’t seem to speak up for herself at all, not even to ask for them to pass the mashed potatoes at the family dinner table. She tries, but all the comes out is a whisper. But when you have the parents and six children at the table, the conversation gets pretty loud. So poor Zylia ends up with the last tiny bits of mashed potatoes left in the bowl by the time it gets to her. It’s the same at school and trying to speak up in school or talk to other kids, either a whisper or nothing comes out. If they even notice her, they never hear her. Poor Zylia.

But now, Zylia starts to physically fade away. She’s actually disappearing. I won’t tell you anymore, because you need to read the book to learn the mystery of it all. But you will love it. You’ll love sweet Zylia and her good heart. You will love Zylia’s world, her best friend, her family and more. I don’t want to say too much. But, I will say this! If there were Academy Awards for Authors, I feel that Misty Mount would definitely deserve one!! She is a phenomenal writer!!! I don’t think I have ever read “first person” done SO well!! This is definitely going into my favorites of 2018!!

I recommend you read this NOW!! It’s YA Fantasy/Coming of Age, but you could really add so much more to that label!!!


The Shadow Girl Blog Tour
Schedule

February 15th
Book Dragon Girl (Review) http://www.bookdragongirl.com
J Bronder Book Reviews (Review) http://jbronderbookreviews.wordpress.com/
Tranquil Dreams (Review) https://klling.wordpress.com
February 16th
Port Jericho (Review) http://www.aislynndmerricksson.com
This is My Truth Now (Review) https://thisismytruthnow.com
Midwestern Ladies Who Lit (Review) http://mwladieswholit.wordpress.com/
Girl Masked (Review) http://girlmasked.wordpress.com
Love Books Group (Review) http://lovebooksgroup.blog/
Where Dragons Reside (Review) https://kernerangelina.live

Posted in Book Blitz, Coming of Age, Fantasy, Young Adult

Book Blitz: The Shadow Girl by Misty Mount

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The Shadow Girl by Misty Mount

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Genre: YA/ Fantasy/ Coming of Age

Publication Date: December 28, 2017

Synopsis:

Shy, thirteen-year-old Zylia has always known she was different. Most teenagers feel unnoticed and unseen, but for Zylia, it’s something much worse. She’s disappearing from this world and doesn’t know how to stop it. At times, she’s not sure she wants to. Until she stumbles across a family mystery surrounding the disappearance of her great-aunt Angelica years earlier. During her quest to unravel the mystery, Zylia discovers she’s able to cross the boundary and enter the “in between” world. Now, it’s up to Zylia to save herself before she’s trapped “in between” forever.

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Quotes from “The Shadow Girl”

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“I have always known that I am invisible—I had no idea that eventually I would fade away completely.”

“Blackness. Nothingness. It was in the shape of a giant, hazy shadow, enveloping me, swallowing me, and digesting me into the unknown. It was my biggest fear and my ultimate fate.”

“As the freezing rain hit me, I could feel the stares…smoldering on my skin. I longed for invisibility. At times like this, the very curse that plagued me was also my protection.”

“…in school I felt more undetectable than ever. I walked through the crowded hallways like a human pinball, careening off one person and bouncing into another.”

About the Author7

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Misty Mount has written since age five and was first published at fourteen. By day she’s a caregiver, wife and mother to a young son but during the quiet hours of night she becomes a novelist. She resides in Wichita, Kansas.

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Posted in Chic Lit, Contemporary, Romance

Book Trailer Reveal: Follow The Snowflakes: A Christmas Novella by Angelina Kerner

Animated Follow the Snowflakes.gifFollow the Snowflakes: A Christmas Novella

Publication Date: December 15, 2017

Genre: Chick-lit, contemporary romance

Synopsis:

At 28, it’s bad to be single. After four years of relationship struggles, Cat is ready to try anything.

That’s when her friend tells her about her class’ Dear Santa letters. One little boy asked for a new mommy, and she suggests Cat meets the kid’s dad, just to see where things go. Cat figures it can’t hurt…until she meets a stranger in the midst of a car accident. The man is handsome with a sad look in his eyes. He still wears a wedding band and she’s not sure his heart’s available, even if he makes her heart race. But, maybe he’s a widower? Cat wonders if she should resign herself to being an old maid, or whether she could possibly be the answer to a little boy’s Christmas wish, unless there’s a third option – a future with the stranger.

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About the Author

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Angelina Kerner’s writing career started at a young age when she discovered that her creativity could be channeled through a bit of ink and paper.

She moved around during her younger years from Novosibirsk and Kaluga Russia to finally settle in the San Francisco Bay Area, California. This startling contrast between the fierce snow of Siberia and the bright sun of the American West is a crucial source of inspiration and humility: the forces of people is to be found not only in their spirits, but in their land too.

Angelina’s curiosity in the human condition led her to pursue courses in psychology and blossomed into a master’s degree in Topographical science. It was with a burning fire that she rejected the status quo offered to her generation, and after many meaningless jobs, she decided that writing could be the canvas in which she could express this dichotomy. While working full time behind counters and registers, she persisted in supporting her family, her full-time coursework, and her creative dreams.

She dared to believe in her talents, and most importantly, in her ability to make a real mark on this world.

Like any creative soul, there was time for doubts, self-loathing, and loneliness, but never fear. She worked on countless experimental narratives, universes, genres, until her voice crystallized into her first published narrative. She is now the author of Deity’s Soulmate and Seven Hours: Challenge Accepted. Her next project involves a competition for a beautiful phoenix. Angelina currently divides her time between her family, work, writing, lots of cats, and two celestial dragons.

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Where Dragons Reside (Blog) | Pinterest | Goodreads

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