Saturday, December 29, 2012

Review : Death Sentence

Death Sentence
Escape from Furnace # 3
Alexander Gordon Smith
Square Fish
Alex's second attempt to break out of Furnace Penitentiary has failed. This time his punishment will be much worse than before. Because in the hidden, bloodstained laboratories beneath the prison, he will be made into a monster. As the warden pumps something evil into his veins--a sinisterly dark nectar--Alex becomes what he most fears . . . a superhuman minion of Furnace. How can he escape when the darkness is inside him? How can he lead the way to freedom if he is lost to himself?
My Review:  Alex and his crew are back. This time escape does not seem possible. We have learned in the last two books what happens to prisoners. They are turned into monsters. Now it's Alex's turn.  This book is the best in the series so far. I also found this book to be the darkest and most disturbing book in the series. I think that is why I like this series so much. These books are what nightmares are made of but you can't stop reading because you need the closure for the nightmare to end. My son also enjoys these book because of the action is fast and furious. In this well written book we learn more of the history of the Furnace and where the ideas for the creation of all the creatures comes from. While Alex struggles to keep his mind clear while being turned. We are introduced to new characters and hope for the best as the story progresses. I must admit these books have me trapped I want to see how the story ends so look for the next book soon.

Saturday, December 22, 2012

Review Book : The Culling

The Culling
Steven Dos Santos
Flux Publishing
Lucian "Lucky" Spark has been recruited for training by the totalitarian government known as the Establishment. According to Establishment rules, if a recruit fails any level of the violent training competitions, a family member is brutally killed . . . and the recruit has to choose which one.

As the five recruits form uneasy alliances in the hellish wasteland that is the training ground, an undeniable attraction develops between Lucky and the rebellious Digory Tycho. But the rules of the training ensure that only one will survive--the strongest recruits receive accolades, wealth, and power while the weakest receive death. With Cole--Lucky's four-year-old brother--being held as "incentive," Lucky must marshal all his skills and use his wits to keep himself alive, no matter what the cost.

My Review: I was quite surprised by this book. I had not heard anything about it so I requested it. I started reading and found it amazingly dark , depressing and desolate. Those are also the reason I could not put this book down. Compelling, creative,and stimulating . The world in this book is amazing. The characters are compelling and well developed. As I read this enthralling tale I found my palms sweating and heart pounding, but I did not want to put it down could not tear my eyes away. I still find myself thinking about the story as I work an I pause to think wow that was a great book.
I must address one thing that I have not mentioned above. This book has a gay main character. Did that affect my enjoyment of the book? Hell No. I did not give it one thought until I read the reviews on "Goodreads" everyone seemed to make that a point to mention. To me it did not matter or affect the story at all. I loved this book and recommend it to people who liked "The Hunger Games"

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Blog Tour: Miss Fortune Cookie

Miss Fortune Cookie

Meet Erin. Smart student, great
Lauren Bjorkman’s honest and

charming portrayal of love, loyalty, and

friendship will leave readers with a sense

of having figured out Something Big

about life, while enjoying giggles along

the way. ~
Jennifer Brown, author of

Hate List

, Bitter End, and Perfect Escape     caption
daughter, better friend. Secretly
the mastermind behind the
popular advice blog Miss Fortune
Cookie. Totally unaware that her
carefully constructed life is about
to get crazy.
It all begins when her ex-best
friend sends a letter to her blog—
and then acts on her advice. Erin’s
efforts to undo the mess will plunge her into adventure, minor
felonies, and possibly her very
first romance.
What’s a likely fortune for
someone no longer completely in
control of her fate? Hopefully
nothing like:

You will become a

crispy noodle in the salad of life.



Miss Fortune Cookie

Lauren Bjorkman
Henry Holt Books for Young Readers, November 13, 2012
ISBN: 978-0-8050-8951-6 / $16.99 / 288 pages / Ages 14 & up
For more information, please contact Courtney Griffin, Publicity Asst.
at 646-307-5282 or

My Review: 

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Review: No Ordinary Excuse

No Ordinary Excuse
Michelle Adams
Odyssey Books
Published February 11th 2012
NetGalley gave me this book on request.
Meet twelve year old Gemma Martin. She wants to be an actress, but school is getting in the way. Gemma has used all of the usual excuses to avoid her homework, but this time she’s facing serious consequences and must rely on her vivid imagination to create the most extraordinary homework excuse ever. Initially, Gemma’s stolen project story skyrockets her popularity, but it isn’t long before things start to spiral out of control and Gemma is headed for disaster. No Ordinary Excuse is the story of how our biggest mistakes are often our greatest teachers.
My Review: I thought this book was so cute and perfectly written. I really enjoyed this book and I am buying it for my daughter to read. I would recommend this for any one who has a daughter. I liked Gemma because even all these year later I could relate to her. She was the typical twelve year old who forget homework assignments, but her imagination takes control and then she has to cover to keep the lie alive. I also loved the characters of Kel and Callum , Gemma's best friends and even Brittany. When I think back to my school days  I can remember "MY Brittany".  I also like the lessons learned in this book and how the adults in the book did not fade into the background but played a major role in Gemma's growth and understanding .  

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Blog Tour: The Vampire Chronicles

The Vampire Chronicles
Jodie Pierce
2nd book in the Vampire Queen Series
     After reuniting with her ex-lover, the Countess and Kendra journey to Venice to meet with a local coven searching for a vampire leader. The Countess gladly takes on the role and is readily accepted by most of the pure blooded vampires. After a bloody battle with a Japanese vampire who has traveled the world violating the code by creating an army of vampires, the Countess is kidnapped and taken to Japan to atone for her actions. Will she get more than she bargained for or will she learn the biggest secret of her life? Is she in over her head or will she survive and triumph over her adversaries? Will her coven be able to rescue her?
My Review:  The continuation of this series makes you want more. I love the fact that the author can weave such an intriguing story with such well developed characters in just a few pages. The writing is wonderful. I was drawn in from the first page and did not put it down till I was finished. Jodie Pierce creates a vivid world that leaps off the page and stays with you. As a vampire fan it is a must read for adults. I highly recommend this book and I am again glad I picked them up. Fast paced and exciting with a stunning setting and riveting characters. I am reading the third book now and can not wait to see what happens next.
Author Interview : After reading the first book I wanted to know more about a Jodie Pierce, so I asked a few questions.
Q: When did you first realize you wanted to be a writer?
JP: In high school , but I didn't start writing about vampires until in college.
Q: How long does it take you to write a story?
JP: Depends on the story and how into it I am. Sometimes only a couple months, other times longer.
Q: Where do you get your ideas or inspiration from?
JP: Most of my ideas come from dream sequences I have. Also, hubby gives me a general idea that I run with.
Q: Are you working on anything right now?
JP: I'm working on "The Forsaken One" and a new one without a title as of yet.
Q: I love "The Vampire Queen" but I have to ask, are you planning a full length novel?
JP: I have a hard time writing a full length novel. They end up turning into short stories.
Q: Who is your favorite person in your story? And why?
JP: My Vampire Queen is my favorite. She's sassy, takes no sh** and can be arrogant.
Q:What are you reading now?
JP: A non published story for a friend that I'm proofreading.
Q:Do you have a favorite series? Or author?
JP: My favorite author is Anne Rice and Christine Feehan. Anne Rice is the reason I'm writing about vampires. Christine Feehan is the reason I've dabbled with Erotica.
Q: How do you prepare to write?
JP: I don't. I just write when I'm inspired.
Q: And one last question, what is next for you?
JP: The next great vampire novella of course.
 I would like to thank Jodie Pierce for taking the time to answer. I have enjoyed working with her and hope to do so again.
Also don't forget to check out the first book in the series "The Vampire Queen" and enter the giveaway. Thank you for stopping by.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Blog Tour: Flight by J. A. Huss

J. A. Huss

Lies and Luck, they’ll both get you in the end.

There’s a new twist on an old prophecy and this one brings the End of Days. Junco must make a choice – human or avian? Only one race will survive.

Lucan has secrets and the lies are flowing like a mountain river during spring thaw. But he needs Junco to cooperate just a little bit longer or it all falls apart.

The Siblings on Earth are waiting for the Seventh to return and pull their clutch together. But Earth has secrets too – secrets that change everything.

Junco has survived against impossible odds, but the cost of survival is higher than she ever imagined. Luck is about to catch up with Junco Coot and her debt must be paid.
My Review: Another great book. I love this series and will hate to see it end. Again I could not put down this book and the ending keep me wanting the next book. I will have to wait till until the next one is released. This series is wonderful. This is the first series I have read all of them with such gusto. This is a must for any action and science fiction reader. I was on the edge of my seat through most of these series. The action in this amazing book leaps off the page and makes you feel like your in the middle of it all.  WOW is all I can say I can not praise these books enough and I thank the author for the chance to read these compelling books.

J. A. Huss never took a creative writing class in her life. Some would say it shows. Others might cut her some slack. She did however, get educated and graduated from Colorado State University with a B.S. in Equine Science. She had grand dreams of getting a Ph.D. but while she loves science, she hated academia and settled for a M.S. in Forensic Toxicology from the University of Florida.

She went on to write science curriculum for homeschoolers and now runs a successful home business that creates and offers online science unit studies. When she’s not writing science curriculum or fiction, she works as a farm inspector, traveling the Eastern Plains of Colorado in variety of environmentally friendly vehicles that never have four-wheel drive, so when she gets stuck in the mud in said vehicles, she has to beg for assistance from anyone who will help her. She is not bitter about that at all.

She’s always packing heat and she is owned by two donkeys, five dogs, more chickens and ducks than she can count, and of course, the real filthy animals, her kids. The I Am Just Junco series was born after falling in love with the ugliest part of Colorado and the Rural Republic is based on the area of the state she currently resides in, minus the mutants, of course.


Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Blog Book Tour: Black and White and Dead All Over

This book was given to me by Sage's Blog Tours.
Black and White and Dead All Over
Michael Bradley
166 Pages
 CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
When the skeleton of a teenage girl is uncovered at a construction site in Newark, journalist Brian Wilder must follow a twenty-two year old trail of deceit and lies to uncover the truth behind her death. While still struggling with his own tragic past, Brian uncovers a haunting secret of passion and anger that could threaten to destroy one of the most powerful political families in Delaware.
My Review:  This book was great. I thought for such a short book it would be missing a lot of details, but I was surprised to see no stone was left unturned. This is a fast paced and action pack book. For the length of it I was amazed at the character development and how I felt for all of them. I am looking forward to the continuation of the story and to see what happens next. I also like that it was a quick read (only about an hour and a half.) , but well worth the time. This is a book I will re-read and enjoy over and over again.
Now Lets Meet the Author

Michael Bradley

     Born and raised in southern New Jersey, Michael Bradley is an author and IT consultant, whose frequent travels bring him in touch with a variety of people up and down the east coast.
When he isn’t on the road, Michael hits the waterways in one of his three kayaks. Being an avid Apple fan, Michael loves to preach the benefits of Apple’s Mac OS X and iOS.
     Before working in information technology, Michael spent eight years in radio broadcasting, working for stations in New Jersey and West Virginia, including the Marconi Award winning WVAQ in Morgantown. Becoming an author has been a lifelong dream for Michael, which was finally realized with the release of his first book in 2012.
     Among the writers in which he finds inspiration, Michael favors P.D. James, Raymond Chandler, Leslie Charteris, Simon Brett, and Ian Fleming. He lives in Delaware with his wife, Diane, and their two furry four-legged “kids”, Simon and Brandy.Michael does all of his writing on an Apple iPad 2 with a Logitech Ultrathin Keyboard Cover.

Contact: Michael Bradley






Saturday, December 8, 2012

Blog Tour : Vampire Queen & giveaway

The Vampire Queen
Jodie Pierce
 Eternal Press
This Tour was set up by the author
Next week don't miss the Q&A with the author
and Review of the next book in the Trilogy
A young woman awakes to find out not only is she an important Countess but she is also the very first or 'Ancient One' as she is called by her subjects. Her memories of being a vampire or anyone are gone so she must relearn everything (from spells to flying) from the people around her, but can they be trusted? She learns her main objective as the old Countess was purifying the vampire race and wishes to continue with that work. The 'Others', powerful and evil vampires, attempt to use her memory loss to their advantage. They had been trying to entice her to their side for centuries. Struggling to remember her past, battling the 'Others' and coping with her new life keep the Countess busy throughout this spellbinding and thrilling novel. Will she succeed in her goals or will the 'Others' win her over to their side this time around?
My Review: Since I started this blog. I have to say I have read things that I would have never thought of reading before. I have always stayed away from short stories. Never thinking they had enough substance to capture my attention. Even from authors I love reading. I would like to thank Jodie Pierce for opening my eyes to how naive I was being.
          This story captured me from page one and I finished it in a few hours. I did not put this book down. I loved how the story flowed and the world created. I also like how each character in the story had purpose in the story. I hate stories that introduce characters that are just filler. This is a short story but you get more than you bargain with out of the story. I will never look at short stories the same again. When I was done with this book I wanted more. What happens next? I am glad I will be reading the next two in the trilogy in the upcoming weeks, and look forward to sharing my thoughts on them too.

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Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Blog Tour: Bitter Frost

YA Paranormal Fantasy
Title:Bitter Frost
Author: Kailin Gow
Date Published: 6/2010
All her life, Breena had always dreamed about fairies as though she lived among them...beautiful fairies living among mortals and living in Feyland. In her dreams, he was always there the breathtakingly handsome but dangerous Winter Prince, Kian, who is her intended. When Breena turns sixteen, she begins seeing fairies and other creatures mortals don t see. Her best friend Logan, suddenly acts very protective. Then she sees Kian, who seems intent on finding her and carrying her off to Feyland. That's fine and all, but for the fact that humans rarely survive a trip to Feyland, a kiss from a fairy generally means death to the human unless that human has fairy blood in them or is very strong, and although Kian seemed to be her intended, he seems to hate her and wants her dead.

This edgy tale about beautiful and dangerous fairies, based on Dutch lore, will leave you breathless...
My Review: I enjoyed this book, not as much as I wanted too but it was still good. The plot and characters are good . I like the way Breena's dreams were so vivid that you were drawn into them. The first half of the book was wonderful the character building and world building was great. The second half of the book seemed to slow down a bit pacing seemed to be off and kind of slow. The action was good but the story just seemed predictable .

My Overview this was a fun and quick read. I enjoyed it but I hope the second book will be better. I am going to continue the series and hope for the best. Since Kailin Gow is crossing over from children to y/a books I think she will grow with the series.
About The Author
Kailin Gow has appeared on top national syndicated talk shows such as ABC Radio, Barbara Dooley show, Chat with Women on KKNW Seattle, Broadminded on Sirius Radio XM, and more as a leading authority on YA and women's issues including self-esteem, body image, dating and sexual relationships, abuse, and bullying. Kailin has been a published author for over 10 years with over 100 titles published under her name and under pen names.

She is the founder of the community social site, The Saving You Saving Me Project, which helps teens, young adults, and women deal with social issues like sexual abuse, self-esteem, body image, bullying, cutting, relationships, and more in a positive community environment. The Saving You Saving Me Project is an extention of her YA-mature fiction Saving You Saving Me.
Kailin Gow began writing books for tween girls to help them with self-confidence and self-esteem. Her book, Gifted Girls Activities Guide to 365 Days of the Week, became a reference book used in girls organizations across the U.S. As her tween fans grew to become teens and young adults, Kailin began writing engaging and entertaining young adult book series for them. The results are book series like the Frost Series, PULSE Series, Wicked Woods Series, Stoker Sisters, Phantom Diaries, The Fire Wars, FADE, DESIRE, and more.

All her books are inspired by personal experiences. Saving You Saving Me was inspired by her experience as a peer counselor for young women during college and from her psychology major college roommate's experience being in a relationship similar to the one portrayed by Sam and Collins in the book. Loving Summer was inspired by Kailin's experience growing up with a family consisting of a mother, two sons, and a daughter who went through a similar experience of tragedy in the book. Aunt Sookie is based on herself and some actor friends she knows. The Frost Series, Circus of Curiosities Series, and FADE Series came about through vivid dreams. Never Say Never was inspired by Kailin's experience as a radio host and working with and interviewing bands, as well as having college friends who were in bands. Kailin also played the drums and keyboard for a band she once started. A classically-trained musician, she was once led her school orchestra, playing first chair violin. Her experience in the music world and her love of Phantom of the Opera, inspired the Phantom Diaries. PULSE was inspired when Kailin was in the hospital suffering from heavy blood loss post surgery and needed several bags of blood to survive (like a vampire). Beautiful Beings was inspired by her college encounter with a young demon exorcist. A pastor once told her she had the gift of sight and that she was destined to become a prolific author, many times over.

She began taking her writing seriously when her daughter was diagnosed as being on the spectrum and her mother was fighting three types of cancer. Four years later, her daughter was no longer on the spectrum, and her mother became cancer free. Kailin believes in hope and miracles, after having been through several struggles and experiences herself. This is why she writes.
When not busy inhaling chocolate and drinking coffee by the gallon, Kailin makes time for writing fantasy books, blogging as an expert blogger for Fast Company, volunteering as an Emergency Responder and volunteering for battered women's shelters. For fun, she plays the electric violin, and puts together a music playlist for her radio and web shows.
Her Frost Series consisting of the Bitter Frost Series, The Wolf Fey Series, and the Fairy Rose Chronicles along with her other book series are being developed into worldwide MMORPG Games by SEE GLOBAL ENTERTAINMENT, which is the world's leading game developer known for developing the top blockbuster films into games.

Contact Links
To sign up for news on new releases, contests, events, and more, join
Twitter - @kailingow


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Book Tour : Fledge by J. A. Huss

Fledge : I Am Just Junco Dot Com
Book 2
J.A. Huss

Junco Coot can’t even remember her trip off Earth; she was too busy being morphed into her new avian body.  But reality hits her hard when she wakes up to find her new life is not what she expected. Not even close. Tier is on trial for disobeying his commander’s kill order and only Junco seems to care.

In most places the avian coming-of-age Fledge ritual would be nothing more than mass murder, but here in the capital city of Amelia, it’s called growing up. Junco has no choice; either fight to the death to prove her worth or get sent back to Earth in the hands of her enemies.

Her new military team is hostile, her body is being taken over by an illicit artificial intelligence, the avian president wants her dead, and her only friend is a ten-year old throwaway boy.

On a foreign habitat, in a foreign culture, and surrounded by people she can’t trust or count on, Junco must find a way to save herself and Tier without losing her immortal soul in the process.

My Review: This is the first time I have had a repeat author do a book tour on my blog. I am also hosting the 3rd book blog tour in Dec. That being said lets get to the review.

     What can I say about this book. You may ask is it better than the first?  Oh Yes, I have grown to admire and love the character Junco Coot. She is stronger and fiercer in the second book, but also shows she has a huge heart in this compelling sequel . After Clutch I thought I could not be surprised, but Fledge is full of them. Every page you read pulls you deeper into this riveting world till you feel like your there. 
         This book is also a roller coaster ride of emotions. Yes there are moments that make you want to cry and then within a page you are cheering again. I don't want to spoil the book for anyone but I consider this a must read if you like action and adventure so far the series has been amazing. Fast paced and heart racing. My pulse quickened and at times stopped cold. The ending was quite a surprise and I thought very original.  J.A. Huss is a wonderful author with an amazing vision. I am for more from her. She is rapidly becoming one of my favorite authors for two reasons. She introduced me to Sci-Fi a subject I have never read before and, her compelling character who invade your life and your mind (in a good way).      

Meet The Author 

J. A. Huss never took a creative writing class in her life. Some would say it shows. Others might cut her some slack. She did however, get educated and graduated from Colorado State University with a B.S. in Equine Science. She had grand dreams of getting a Ph.D. but while she loves science, she hated academia and settled for a M.S. in Forensic Toxicology from the University of Florida.
She went on to write science curriculum for homeschoolers and now runs a successful home business that creates and offers online science unit studies. When she’s not writing science curriculum or fiction, she works as a farm inspector, traveling the Eastern Plains of Colorado in variety of environmentally friendly vehicles that never have four-wheel drive, so when she gets stuck in the mud in said vehicles, she has to beg for assistance from anyone who will help her. She is not bitter about that at all.
She’s always packing heat and she is owned by two donkeys, five dogs, more chickens and ducks than she can count, and of course, the real filthy animals, her kids. The I Am Just Junco series was born after falling in love with the ugliest part of Colorado and the Rural Republic is based on the area of the state she currently resides in, minus the mutants, of course.
·         Amazon Kindle copy



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Sunday, November 25, 2012

Clutch First chapter & Giveaway


Okay, I signed up twice for this tour and that is fine, I really enjoyed this book so here is the info and the first chapter.  If you have not read my review  --------> Clutch



Picture yourself standing on the edge of a dock...

I shake my head.

Fuck that.

I’m standing on a dirt road barefoot, exhaust from the Goat swirling the dust up my funeral dress, trying to make sense of things.

The closed stop-gate in front of me signals the entrance to the Stag, but the antlered skull in the middle of the arm spawns a moment of pause. My eyes linger on the decorations only long enough to log them. Blood-red paint on the antlers, an old wooden arrow sticking out of one of the orbits, and a crown of acacia thorns draped around the tines.

A child’s prank.

The cigar slips between my lips. I cup my hand to block the wind, touch the cigar to the striker, and suck in deeply as the end glows bright orange. They make me stink, but I don’t care.

Today, I don’t care about much.

I slam the Goat’s door and walk towards the skull, then hear the tell-tale crack of a sonic boom and turn to squint at the sun. It’s losing its battle with the rotating earth and starting to sink. Peak City has been out of my sight line for hours but I know where it should be on the horizon and the contrail of a suborbital coming out of the north points back to my home in the distance.

Turning back to the gate, I watch the wind pick up the strip of wood across the excuse for a road and make it dance. A stray magpie lands and rides the skull with a rhythm that reminds me of better days. It watches me, tilting its head to the side, and squawks, "Away!"

I flick the half-smoked stub at it and it flies off.

There is nothing here to stop my progress into the Stag but since this is a forbidden zone in the Rural Republic, I pause before taking this final step. Consequences tend to mean less with the loss of precious things, so they mean nothing to me now.

Reaching up, I release my long auburn hair from the tie and let it flap around my expressionless face as the wind tries to carry it across the grasslands.

If only the wind would carry me across the grasslands.

My cold toes scrunch into the dirt and I remember my funeral shoes are in the backseat, discarded hours ago. I walk over to the Goat and fish around until I pull together a pair of field boots and some black thermals. I hike the warm leggings up to my hips and then sit on the edge of my old Humvee and meticulously lace up each boot so they are snug, but not tight.

A sheathed hunting knife is in danger of dropping through the rusted-out floorboard and I rescue it, stashing it inside the boot. Then I slide my shotgun onto the front seat and drop my little pistol into the crap box with other items one finds in a vehicle. The lid drops closed with a snap.

In the end I didn’t need to waste time in front of the gate. It was never a question of if I would go. Only when. I climb back into the front seat, jam the Goat in gear and veer off the road, pressing up against the low-hanging cottonwoods that have crept up from the dry riverbed. I brace myself as my vehicle bounces down into the ditch and then jolts back up. I gun it as the tires lose a little traction in earth soft from the rains, swing her around the ominous gate, and surge back onto the dirt track that still thinks it is a road.

On the other side I stop once more to check for Peak City in the distance, but all I see is the magpie, back on the skull, riding it out. I flip it off and gun the Goat again. We lurch forward, sputtering out a cloud of smoke that could get you hanged in some parts of the world.

But not here.

The Rural Republic might officially be part of the United Republics, but that’s pretty much where it ends. Our national motto is quaint. Simple Serves . A reference to the throwback life we are supposed to be leading. But if you’re not from around here and need help, (which is strictly theoretical, we’re a closed campus, kids) the answer you get is disinterest. If you’re lucky.

The drive out to Stag Camp is a stretch of open road, peppered with the occasional falling-down farmhouse or small herd of antelope. So I settle in, light another cigar, and slide the window down even though the warm November afternoon has given in to the cold November night.

Nothing to do now but think about the job. My eyes track to the passenger seat, past the shotgun, and come to rest upon the thick envelope pressed into my hands as I left the funeral several hours ago. The label on the front is machine-printed, but it doesn’t say Junco. It says Dale. Resident of one Stag Camp in the middle of nowhere.

The dying light seeps out of my world. The eye-shine peering back at me from the side of the road as I take a wide turn is what clues me in. The two glowing dots are far enough apart to estimate size and my body gives an involuntary shiver as I run down the short list. Nightdog or prairie lion. Either one would eat me alive.


The sky is filled with stars long before I spy the dark shadow of the landmark hill in the distance. It’s a slow climb that turns into a nightmare halfway up, then a flat patch to gather some steam so you can push your vehicle to its limit and struggle up the final grade that will plunge you over the other side.

I watch the approaching ridge with some trepidation. Once over it, I’ll be more in than out. A sigh escapes my lips and I push the Goat until her body shakes, getting ready for the ascent.

We hit the hill going about 110, but the steep initial grade checks us and we lose speed quick. I downshift, then again, and by the time the grade evens back out for several hundred feet we are barely skimming 40. I gun it again so we can gain some momentum to get over the hump and I catch a little air as we pass over the summit.

The buck in the road never has a chance. The Goat slams into the animal midair and the tendons and bones snap loudly in the cold night. The lower half of the deer slips under the tires, creating a slick mess of tissue and blood on the road. The head flies straight at my face and the bloodied antlers crash into the glass.

I slam on the brakes and the head loses its hold on the window and flies off out of sight. I hit a patch of greasy mud left over from the last rain and slide sideways, towards the edge of what may be a cliff, or a gently rolling embankment.

I quickly correct, not waiting to find out, only to discover I’m now sliding backwards. I swing the wheel around, body parts flipping out from under the tires, and hit the brakes again. The Goat and I slip sideways into the ditch and I use the bounce to straighten out the wheels. When she comes down hard we’re moving forward into a sparse grove of pines.

I force my foot down on the brake one more time, sliding sideways in the softened mud, and barely manage to aim between two old-growth Ponderosas as the lower branches slap against the Goat’s doors.

I steer us through as best I can, but when you’re racing a five-thousand-pound vehicle through a small forest, you tend to run out of luck sooner rather than later. A deep ditch of water erosion plunges the Goat down, but she recovers and jerks back up. My head hits the steering wheel and I feel the blood slip down my face, then taste iron as it trickles into my mouth. The Goat’s front tires find another ditch and I lurch forward, cracking my head on what’s left of the driver’s side windshield. Finally we slam into the thick twisted trunk of a cottonwood. I have a second or two to moan, and then it all goes black.



Picture yourself standing on the edge of a dock. In front of you is a mountain lake...

The blood seeps into my mouth and I cough, then spit out a coagulated hunk of something before opening my eyes.


I listen for noises around me and panic sets in when I hear the sharp snap of a dry tree branch off to my right. My head rolls towards the noise, not quite controlled, and I wait a few more moments to let things clear up a bit. The pain in my shoulder is like fire and the blood is hot as it trickles down the side of my head.

In front of me is a stream, not a goddamn mountain lake.


I shake my head.

A small trickle of water has materialized from the last rain and the sound of it makes my mouth dry up immediately. I move my head slightly, allowing a moan to escape, and let my right hand reach out for the water bottle on the seat.

Of course, it’s not there.

I twist my body a little so I can make a more earnest search of the cab, then grab the steering wheel with my left hand to stabilize my movement.

"Fucking shit!"

That hurts.

The pain is pulled up into every synaptic center of my brain. The resulting vertigo almost makes me heave. A thousand birds take flight from the trees and the wingbeats flare up in my ears.

And then the whispers start.

The dark whisper of a flock of starlings too long in the company of men. There is nothing more creepy than human words coming out of a starling beak and the contents of my stomach experience another moment of protest until I can push it down. I reach into the crap box with my right hand and pull out the pistol, aiming it through the broken glass of the window in front of me. The shot rings out and the recoil travels through my body like a standing wave. When it reaches my left shoulder I scream again. This time the starlings stay silent.

More tree branch snapping hauls me back to my current situation and my eyes dart around, alert for movement. I take a deep, cleansing breath and let it out slowly, but that does nothing to stop whatever is moving out in the trees.

I shoot another round off and do a better job at damping down the recoil. This time I see a shadow of a great owl fly off in the distance. It must have been hunting in the trees.

I sit there for a little longer and then swing my legs across the gear stick, scoot over to the passenger side door and release the handle. Pure determination allows me to coerce my legs into standing and then I seize my water bottle off the floor and down it in large gulps.

A thorough shuffling through dirty field clothes leads to a belt. I position it across my body and slip my arm into the loop of leather to take the weight off my injury, then sling the shotgun over my good shoulder and grab my pack to begin my walk back up the hill to the road. Looking and listening for any sign of apex predators.

The road looks like it usually does when a large deer gets mowed over by a military vehicle, so I don’t dwell on it and instead walk the short distance back up to the top of the hill and try to see if there are any lights in the distance.

The Rural Republic is a chancy place to be stranded on any given day, but being alone in the Stag is exceptionally bad luck. There are no vehicles on the road, nor will there be. No one knows where I am, so no one will come looking.

I look east and see nothing. I look west and see nothing. That pretty much sums up the extent of what’s available in terms of assistance. It makes no difference which way I go, the stop-gate back in Council 5 and the Stag Camp proper are about equal distance from the spot where I stand. I will have to winch the Goat up and out of that ravine before any other decisions can be made.

The night isn’t as black as it could be and for that I’m grateful. The moon has fully risen in the time it took me to free myself from the Goat and hitch up my arm, and while it isn’t anything near full, neither is it a sliver of hopelessness. Walking outside of the boundaries of the road leads me to an almost flat, grassy patch of earth. I find the Big Dipper and then Cassiopeia to ease the creeping feeling of aloneness, then lower myself down on the ground and rest my throbbing head back into the palm of my hand for just a few moments of rest.

The sounds of nature come back.

And with them are the dark whispers of starlings. They haunt me as I drift off to sleep.



Picture yourself standing on the edge of a dock. In front of you is a mountain lake and behind you is a small cabin, pristine white curtains flowing in the breeze passing through the windows. Down below the water you can see the scales of brightly colored fish reflecting the sunlight...

... and then you are in a church, looking down on a meeting.

No, wait, that’s not how it goes.

I’m a piece of stained glass high up in the window. I look down at my body and see that I’m naked, but that’s not the disturbing thing. Instead of feet I have long raptor talons that host a variety of knives instead of claws. From my mouth come the whispers of the starlings and the gurgling in my throat causes me to scream and break free of the glass. It shatters down to the floor where people argue. The shards of blood-colored glass kill them as they slice through their backs and then I am flying high up in the air, looking down on the Stag. I know it’s the Stag because of the tall perimeter wall and the guardhouse at the gate. I land near the guardhouse, still outside the camp, and my father exits in full uniform and puts his hand up to stop me. I need to get in, Daddy, I say – even though I haven’t called him Daddy since my mother disappeared when I was six. He opens his mouth and starlings fly out, screaming their whispers in my ears, and then they attack me with their long thin beaks and their wings beat against my body. I fly away, circling the Stag Camp, and then I dive down, spiraling into the gushing wind. It explodes and I am thrown up into the sky as a constellation where Orion hunts me like the bull for time everlasting.

And then I am warm and the starlings are gone, but the whispers are still there, making me feel safe. They are soft now, not deep and evil, but soft. And I listen to them and I say OK.


The warmth of the dream fades and I wake shivering as the sweat drips off my body. A movement catches my eye across the expanse of wild grass and I sit upright in an instant, ignoring the fire in my shoulder. I have the shotgun out, propped in the area where my hip meets my stomach, and I brace my arm on my thigh as I level the barrel on the shadow in the distance as best I can. My finger slips onto the trigger and squeezes lightly as I prepare for the shot.

It’s not a prairie lion because I can see the outstretched wings back-lit by starlight as it skulks across the field. And it’s obviously not an owl because it’s walking on two legs.

"I wouldn’t do that if I were you," it says.

I squeeze the trigger and the recoil slams me into the ground, screaming in pain.

I’m back in the blur of agony once again and fuck is coming out of my mouth at regular intervals. The black shadow stands over me now, the dark wings fully outstretched and imposing.

"I told ya not to do that."

It’s a male voice.

I pull away wincing, trying to sink down into the ground to avoid him as he leans into my personal space.

"That’s really going to hurt now. You humans. It’s always shoot first, ask questions later."

I find my voice and snort at him. "At least a human would know better than to sneak up on a girl stranded in the middle of nowhere with a shotgun."

The avian’s hypnotic green eyes brighten as he smiles at me. "Ya have a point there, darlin’."

We have a semi-serious staring contest for a few seconds and then he reaches down towards me. "Ya need a hand?"

I look him up and down from my unfortunate submissive situation. His wings are a lot more imposing than I figure they should be. I’ve seen images of avians here and there over the years, but not enough to be any kind of expert on them.

Sighing, I consider my options as he waits. I can either roll around on my knees and try to get up – or I can get up with some dignity left intact. I shrug and extend my good arm up to him. "Sure."

He takes it and I brace for the explosion of agony that will surely come from my shoulder, but he pulls me to my feet in a smooth, gentle manner. I manage to end upright with only a few squeaks of pain escaping my lips.

"That was unlucky, eh?"

"Unlucky? I almost shot you. I figure that’s pretty fucking lucky myself."

"The accident, friend. An unlucky thing to hit that animal."

I grab my gun and ignore him as I hitch my pack up on my hip and shuffle through to check my ammo supply.

"Missing something?"

I give him a long once-over and he waits patiently for me to finish. "You do realize you’re trespassing, right? Aliens are not permitted in the RR under any circumstances."

"You’d be surprised," he says.

I swing the shotgun on the strap so it’s out in front of me, brace it on my thigh to compensate for my injured shoulder, cycle the next round into the chamber, and then point it straight at his chest. I strain to prevent the wince that really wants to leak across my face. "Look, I don’t know who you are, or why you’re here, but as a Farm Family Representative of Council 3, I’m asking you to leave under Regulation V.1.b – Aliens are not permitted in the Rural Republic under any circumstances. I have the authority to shoot and if you doubt me, I apologize ahead of time for taking your life. You are hereby legally warned."

"Look, sweetheart–"

I squeeze back and the round blasts out of the chamber but he’s high above me in the air as the shot passes into the trees. The leaves rustle and the birds are wild once again. The recoil pain isn’t as bad from the standing position, but I feel the blood leaking out under the skin on my hip, creating a bruise. I push the pain down. "I’ve been shooting since I could walk, sweetheart, and I’ve had a really shitty day. Do not fuck with me."

He flies off over the trees about a dozen yards away and I can just barely make him out as he lands in the cover of the brush.

"Is that how ya treat someone who saves your life? Shoot them?"

I snort. "Saved my life? I must have missed that one while I was sleeping."

"Except ya weren’t sleeping, Junco. Ya were unconscious."

It isn’t often that I get stunned into silence, but an alien knowing my name in the middle of nowhere can do it. "How the hell do you know my name?"

Silence from him now.

The glimmer of light that was previously there is gone, and so is he.

I take stock of the mountaintop meadow. Where are you, where are you?


I pivot on my heel, gun braced one-armed against my stomach to catch the recoil, and do a proper survey of the area. My good arm is tiring quick after all the adrenaline I’ve used up and it begins to shake. I force the bravado. "Guess you decided to take my–"

Then he is behind me, the gun is flying across the field, and he’s twisted my bad shoulder just enough to make me scream out. His lips touch my cheek as he whispers, "Look, I’m not usually the type of person who abuses little girls, but you’ve shot at me two times now and I’m not going to stand for it. I’m here for the moment and you’re just gonna to have to deal with it. Ya got it?"

He eases up on my shoulder and pushes me away from him.

I rub the flaming tissue and wince. "Did you just insult me?"

He tilts his head at me. "What? Me? Ya tried ta shoot me – twice!"

"I might be little, but the way you said it implied I’m insignificant. Which I assure you, I am not. And besides, you’re the one who’s trespassing, right? That’s you." I point my finger up at him. "I have every right to tell you to leave, I’m a fucking representative of Council–"

"3, yeah, I heard ya the first time. Who gives a shit? I’m here. Get over it."

I stare at him in the dim moonlight and quite frankly, I don’t care for what I see. "You’re so fucking lucky I’m injured."

"Or what?"

"Why are you here?"

"Why are you here?"

"Oh my fucking God, are we in playschool or what?"

"I know where you were going."

I laugh. "The road only goes one place, alien. That’s not a hard deduction."

"I know what you were gonna do, as well."

That’s it, I’m done. I begin walking down the hill.

"Oi! Now what are you doing?" he calls.

I ignore him as he trots a little to catch up. He keeps his distance to a few paces behind as I make my way to the road and then begin the descent down the slope back to the Goat. When I finally reach it I wiggle into the back seat of the cab and lie down, trying to even out my breathing before he gets there. My eyes close as I hear him climb into the front passenger seat.

"What are you doing?" he asks.

"I’m sleeping. Get the fuck out of my Goat." My good arm slides under the seat and I allow my finger to caress the high-powered rifle tucked away for emergencies. I can’t shoot it, my shoulder would never tolerate that, but it gives me comfort to know it’s there.

He doesn’t get out. Instead he talks.

"I saw yer headlights coming in the darkness. I didn’t think much about it really, but the accident had me concerned. Ya hit yer head pretty hard, there."

Yeah, thanks for the update.

"I’m sorry for twisting yer shoulder, OK?" The anger seeps out of me as I listen to his hypnotic words. I struggle to keep my eyes closed but an overwhelming force urges me to look him in the face.

"Junco, I did save your life. Ya had a bad concussion. It was a mistake to fall asleep. I was just tryin’ ta help when I brought ya out of it."

This revelation jolts me out of my trance and I fight to shake off my weariness to get this story straight. "Wait," I say as I painfully push my body back up into a half-sitting position. "What? You were touching me when I was sleeping?"

He squirms a little at my tone. "No, look, it wasn’t like that. Ya weren’t sleeping, ya were unconscious – I just – wrapped ya in my wings so I could bring ya back up."

"You were touching me." It’s a statement this time, not a question. "In my sleep."

"Look, I saved your life, for Christ’s sake!"

"How dare you swear at me! Don’t you realize–"

"I’m sorry, you’re right,” he looks away and blows out a breath, “I shouldn’t have said that. I forgot you are a pious bunch out here."

"Get out!" I snarl. I feel the blood rush to my face and the adrenaline flood my muscles as I watch him extract himself from my vehicle, stopping only to release one of his wings from the floppy seat belt as he exits the Goat.

I let myself smile after he leaves. That pious bullshit works every time on strangers. And he even heard me cussing like a soldier up on the hill. But I’m glad he’s gone. I don’t remember reading anything about avians having glowing green eyes before. Creepy.



When I wake my crusted-closed eyelids are the least of my worries. I struggle to force them open once I realize the sun is up. My muscles have been welded into my current sleeping orientation and no matter how hard I fight against it, they reward me with an intense shooting pain in my left shoulder with the slightest of movements.

A delicious smell meanders into the cab from outside so I force a shift in position until I can prop myself up without contorting my face into an expression of disfigurement. I ease my head up just enough to peer out the window and see the avian poking a stick at a roasting bird over a small campfire.

He looks up at me and smiles.

Dammit. So much for stealth. I should be ashamed of myself.

"Hungry now?" His accent is something different than mine, but I can’t place it. "Still not talking, eh? Well, I made breakfast," he points to the smoking fowl, "so that should buy me some goodwill."

I wrestle around frantically for a second, trying to find an extraction route that won’t cause me to scream, but I can’t see it.

"So, how long do ya young ladies typically pout out here in the wilds, then?" he calls. "Can you give me an estimate?"

I struggle again, pulling on the seat belt that hangs limply behind the driver’s seat to get some leverage, but the aging bracket attaching it to the headliner snaps off from my weight and I give up and lie back with a sigh.

He appears at the broken window on the passenger side. "I can’t believe you slept back there in that tiny space." He laughs at me, and I have to admit, he’s got a nice look to him, plus his green eyes are bright in the sunlight and they are no longer glowing, so the creep factor has been dialed down a bit.

His large black wings are tucked tight against his back and the tips cup over the top of his shoulders, so I can’t see much of them. A few loose arcs of dark hair tumble off his forehead and fall around his eyes. He’s wearing some kind of foreign get-up that might be the alien equivalent of black jeans and t-shirt, but they are cut to his specific body modifications and made out of some kind of heavy canvas. It has the look of light armor, something we might wear for war games. His skin is light, but not fair. Like fall has stolen most of the golden tan of summer away.

"That’s nice. Short jokes. Very funny." My voice sounds as cranky as I feel.

He lets off a little laugh. "Need some help out?"

I scowl and try to think up another way. But I can’t. "Yeah, sure. Just come around here to the other side of the Goat and get in so you can push me up a little." Then I add, "Please."

He smiles at my manners, which make his eyes twinkle a little. Not glow, but still. The creepiness is just under the surface.

The old door creaks as he opens it and I try to turn and look at him but the shoulder flares up at my attempt. I feel his hands reach under me to my good arm and I struggle not to laugh, but it bursts out anyway. I wriggle away from his touch before he pulls back in hesitation.

"Now, what the hell was that?"

"I’m ticklish, so kill me. You can’t just slip your hands into someone’s pits and not expect them to laugh."

“Can I push you up or not?"

"Yes, push. Just don’t stick me in my pits."

He does push and I flail around like a turtle on its back for a few embarrassing seconds, then find myself upright and looking out the window facing the campfire. It smells wonderful.

"Whew, that’s better," I say as I turn my whole body so I can see him properly. "Thanks, I really appreciate it." I even manage a smile, which in turn allows him to offer me one back.

"Would you like some help with that shoulder before ya eat?"

"What’s that mean?" I ask, looking at him sideways.

"The wings, darlin’," he says, pointing a thumb towards his shoulders, "they heal, remember?"

Of course I remember but I’m not even remotely interested in letting him get a hold of me again, so I lie instead. "No, I’m fine. Really." And just to prove it I scoot over to the door and flip the handle with my good hand, then smile back at him as I push it open.

His hand goes to my good shoulder and stops me before I can make my hasty exit. "Relax, Junco. I can fix it. We aren’t going to get far with ya like that, anyway."

"I don’t know what you mean by we, but in case you haven’t noticed my legs are just fine."

"Yeah, I see that. But we won’t be walking out of here. That would take days."

I laugh a little and send him a crooked smile. "The Goat has a winch, so don’t you worry about me."

"Sorry, darlin’, you won’t be winching anything if you don’t let me take care of that shoulder."

My lips involuntarily form a snarl and my eyes narrow in anger. "What’s with this darling bullshit? Stop calling me that."

He just smiles. "Fine, Junco. Come here, I’ll fix the shoulder. Think of it as a gift."

"No." I move to get past him but his eyes catch mine and begin to glow. I’m drawn in and I can’t stop looking at him.

"I said come here, Junco."

In my mind I say no. But my body is already wrapped up in his wings and my head begins to spin. I can hear him whisper in my ear, and his breath dances across my cheek.

"Does it feel good?" he asks.

"Mmmmhmmmm, yesss," I say, slurring my words a bit. The heat from his body exchanges between us and my shoulder is sucking it up like a vacuum. My thoughts twist around in an incoherent mess as we sit, melded together in heat. He stays that way for several minutes and my mind is carried away with the effects of his body.

Then I am high above looking down on the Stag. I see a few straggling antelope and watch the wind caress the grass as I begin to float away. "Stop, no flying."

In an instant the heat is gone and the avian has twisted me around to see my face. "What did you just say?"

My shoulder doesn’t hurt anymore but my head is really fuzzy, like I’m drunk, so I don’t even remember what I said.

He shakes me a little to jar my memory. "Junco? What are you talking about?"

I think hard and squint. "Flying? Did I say flying?"

"What about flying?"

"The Stag is burning," I say as I try to open my eyes.

I feel his chest collapse as he exhales. "What?"

"Just a dream," I say, forcing myself to concentrate. "It was just a dream. Didn’t make any sense."

We sit there as I recover. He’s still got his arms around me, but his wings never return to make their addictive cocoon of healing. I stay still as the world comes back to me a little at a time. Then our closeness gets weird and I push him off. He hops out and comes over to my side of the door to help me out.

"I’m starving. Can I have some of that?" I point over to the browned bird strung up over the coals.

"Help yourself, there’s water too."

"Aren’t you going to eat?" I ask. But he just walks away and busies himself with his pack.

"More for me then. And hey," I call out, "Thanks, I guess. Shoulder really does feel better."
J. A. Huss never took a creative writing class in her life. Some would say it shows. Others might cut her some slack. She did however, get educated and graduated from Colorado State University with a B.S. in Equine Science. She had grand dreams of getting a Ph.D. but while she loves science, she hated academia and settled for a M.S. in Forensic Toxicology from the University of Florida.
She went on to write science curriculum for homeschoolers and now runs a successful home business that creates and offers online science unit studies. When she’s not writing science curriculum or fiction, she works as a farm inspector, traveling the Eastern Plains of Colorado in variety of environmentally friendly vehicles that never have four-wheel drive, so when she gets stuck in the mud in said vehicles, she has to beg for assistance from anyone who will help her. She is not bitter about that at all.
She’s always packing heat and she is owned by two donkeys, five dogs, more chickens and ducks than she can count, and of course, the real filthy animals, her kids. The I Am Just Junco series was born after falling in love with the ugliest part of Colorado and the Rural Republic is based on the area of the state she currently resides in, minus the mutants, of course.

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