Dreaming in the Pages

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Broken Pieces

Jack Canon's American Destiny

Friday, November 22, 2013

Joyfully Yours by Amy Lamont @Amy_Lamont

Chapter Two

Faith trudged up the walkway of her mother’s duplex clutching her two cans of cranberries to her chest. Looking up at the house, her steps slowed. The faded brick and white awnings were exactly the same as when she was a kid. Warmth seeped slowly into her chest, but she couldn’t help but shake her head. 

Distance-wise she was only a few miles or so from her own apartment. But her neighborhood, with its mixture of industrial buildings, artists’ studios, and funky little shops, was a long way from the tree-lined streets and neat rows of duplexes that marked the Brooklyn neighborhood she’d grown up in. 

She clutched the wrought iron railing separating her mother’s stoop from the neighbor’s, ready to navigate the too-steep concrete steps in order to get to the welcoming warmth of her family home. 

Definitely too steep. Faith tottered up on her slim heels, wishing her feet were snug inside a toasty pair of Uggs instead of the heels that were sure to be the death of her. But there was no way she could arrive at her mother’s house for a holiday in comfortable clothing. Her mother would have her head if she showed up in the jeans and boots she wanted to wear. She’d opted instead for a little black dress and the silver heels of death. She might still catch hell for not being more festive, but for some reason she had no sweater sets featuring pumpkins and fall leaves. She rolled her eyes as she remembered the outfit her sister Maddie wore to Thanksgiving last year.

Faith raised a hand to knock, but the door burst open. She tripped over the threshold and fell into her brother’s arms. 

He snatched her into the house and shoved her into the powder room just inside the front door before she could so much as blink. “Faith, thank God you’re here.”

She gave him the stink eye. “What the heck, Frank?”

He took her by the shoulders. “Just wait. Wait until you see the yummy morsel Mom invited to dinner.” 

She scrunched her nose at him. Frank didn’t usually have such a flare for the dramatic, but they did seem to share the same taste in men. A fact their mother tried to ignore, often inviting a “nice girl” over for dinner in an attempt to convince Frank that being gay was just a phase. His excitement over his mother’s guest definitely raised her curiosity. 

Frank slid her coat off her shoulders and opened the bathroom door enough to slip an arm out and hang it on the hall coat rack. He cracked the door a bit wider and poked his head out, ensuring the coast was clear before tugging her by the hand to the living room doorway. With a finger to his lips, he motioned for her to take a peek around the corner while he moved stealthily to the other side to get his own gander at their guest. 

Faith’s gaze immediately fell on the man standing in front of the fireplace admiring the considerable display of family photos. With only a view of his back, she scrutinized what she could make out—dark hair falling just over his collar, starched blue oxford shirt tucked into khaki pants. 

The outfit was a little conservative for her taste, but those broad shoulders, long legs, and tight buns could make up for a plethora of fashion faux pas. A thought began to tickle at the back of her mind and she narrowed her eyes. The tickle became a smack upside the head as the man turned from the mantle. They jumped back, each hiding on their respective sides of the doorframe.

“Dibs,” Frank whispered. 

Faith smirked and shook her head. She didn’t need to see full frontal, so to speak, to know who her mother’s guest was. “He’s taken.” 

“What? By who?” 



“He’s taken by God.” She kept her voice low to ensure the room’s occupant couldn’t hear her. “He’s a priest.”

“No way!” Frank mouthed at her, his mouth dropping open. 

“What are you two doing skulking around out here?” 

They jumped as if on cue. Faith rolled her eyes. Talk about skulking. Of course they hadn’t heard their mother come down the hall from the kitchen. Stealth was one of their mother’s greatest gifts. Right up there with giving guilt and matching her shoes and purse to her lipstick.

“Faith, don’t roll your eyes. Come in and greet our guest.” 

Great. Back home for less than five minutes and already feeling like a ten-year-old. She leaned over and pecked her mother’s powdered cheek. “Happy Thanksgiving, Mom.” 

Her mother gave her an affectionate, if absent-minded, pat on the shoulder and immediately homed in on Faith’s hands. Faith’s empty hands. “You forgot the cranberries.” 

Faith knew she made the right decision forgoing her paycheck in favor of getting those cranberries. The horror in her mother’s voice made it sound like forgetting the cranberries was a sin akin to selling herself on the street. Now if only she could remember where she left those cans. 

“Oh!” She scooted back into the powder room. There were the cranberries, perched exactly where she left them on the edge of the sink. She emerged from the bathroom holding a can up high in each hand just as their guest appeared from the living room. Their gazes met and a slow grin spread across his face. 

Joyfully Yours

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Genre - Contemporary Holiday Romance

Rating – PG

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Connect with Amy Lamont on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://amylamont.com

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Author Interview – J.J. Ward @MI7Ward

Image of J.J. Ward

What book should everybody read at least once?

On Liberty by John Stuart Mill. Mill wrote it together with his wife, Harriet Taylor Mill, and there’s probably of much of her in it as him. There isn’t one superfluous sentence in the entire book. It’s about what makes democracy and justice in society possible, and it’s entirely convincing.

Are there any books you really don’t enjoy?

Badly written ones. If something’s well written, and it’s internally plausible, it’s for me, I don’t care what it is.

What do you hope your obituary will day say about you?

“He meant well, poor fellow.”

Location and life experiences can really influence writing, tell us where you grew up and where you now live?

I grew up in Middlesbrough, an industrial town in the North of England. It’s the setting for one of my Kindle/ Smashwords novels – a romantic comedy called The Weird Problem of Good. The thing about Middlesbrough, though, is that although it’s got a lot of factory chimneys and cooling towers, it’s surrounded by some of the most beautiful countryside in the land. So I’m equally at home in the city and the country. I love Central London. I love the Lake District. I hope that comes through in my writing.

How did you develop your writing?

It really took off when I started to read style manuals, at about the age of forty-five. Strunk and White’s The Elements of Style, and Browne and King’s Self-Editing For Fiction Writers. If anyone wants to be a writer and they haven’t read these, they almost certainly should.

Tales of MI7

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Genre – Espionage Thriller

Rating – PG

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Onio by Linell Jeppsen @nelj8

Chapter 4

For four days, Mel drifted in and out of consciousness. When she was able to swim up from the tendrils of death that held her, she dreamed vivid and horrifying dreams.

Once, she sat up with a start and saw a scene from Dante’s Inferno. She saw a huge hairy man being flogged by a branchless tree trunk. The tree was very large and the branches on it had been cut crudely so that long splinters sprouted from its surface like jagged teeth. The man was held in place by long ropes of vine that were hung from stalactites so that his feet barely touched the floor. He was screaming while others of his kind either cheered in triumph or wept with sympathy.

Another time Mel awoke in a hospital room with nurses all around her. She felt like she was in familiar territory, but wondered how she had changed places with her mother. Her mom held her wrist in one large hand and peered into her eyes with concern.

“Mama…,” she croaked, and drew back in alarm when her mother’s face disappeared. Now she was surrounded by monsters. Their giant hairy faces leered down at her. Their mouths sang an eerie chorus Mel couldn’t hear, but understood. The hospital room dissolved into a small cave and her crisp, white sheets were replaced by a scruffy fur blanket. She shrugged it off, screaming, before succumbing to the healing darkness once again.

Finally Mel awoke to voices. She felt a little better and her head no longer felt like it might explode. She looked over to the far side of the cave and saw Onio being tended to by the old sasquatch female. He looked pale and shaken. The old one, whose name was Rain, rubbed some sort of ointment on Onio’s back. Although their lips didn’t move, they were talking. Mel closed her eyes and listened.

“Onio, what he did was just,” she murmured.

“Just!” Onio snarled. “The test is designed to punish the worst criminals…murderers, and rapines! What I did was not even a crime! Why did he bring his grandson, who would be king, to his knees?”

Mel peeked at the two sasquatches through her eyelashes. She saw that Onio’s head was bowed and that his shoulders heaved with sobs. Rain stood some distance away and wiped her hands clean with a rag. She regarded her grandson with an eyebrow raised in equal parts exasperation and love.

She brought Onio a mug of something to drink and Mel’s throat ached with thirst. She watched as he set the mug down, staring at the floor in anger. Rain sat next to him on the shelf of rock that served as a bed.

“Onio, what you did was akin to murder. I know you know this, because I have taught you these things myself!” She placed a hand on the male’s thigh. “I will teach it again, Grandson,” she continued. “Maybe this time you will listen and truly understand.”

Rain slapped the young sasquatch sharply and stood up. Onio hunched his shoulders at the reprimand, glaring at his own toes.

“The small humans have small brains, Grandson. Also, their brains work differently than ours. We are intuitive, telepathic and sensitive to the ways of nature and the planet around us. They are none of these things, but they are creatures of intellect. Look at the marvelous machines they construct, the technology they have invented! In many ways their workings are like magic to us. Just as, I think, our ways are magical to them.” Rain sighed.

“That is why we hide from them, Onio. They are a covetous race, and would take from us, by any means necessary, that which they desire. For many generations the humans have tried to unlock the mysteries of our brains. They want to know how to use the soul song, and would steal it from us if they could. Many times they have tried…this you know, first-hand!”

Tears were dripping out of Onio’s eyes and falling to the floor. He murmured, “I am sorry, Grandmother. I wasn’t thinking properly.”

Mel saw the old female smile as she fussed with some things in a bag, then walked over to cook something on a fire set in the middle of the floor.

“Now, finally, First Son admits to not thinking before acting.” Although the sasquatches lips didn’t move, Mel could hear the sarcasm dripping from Rain’s voice, as the smell of meat cooking filled the air.

“Onio, listen and hear my words.” Rain’s voice was urgent. “There are as many reasons as birds in the sky why we do not co-mingle with the little humans. Most importantly, they will hunt us down and kill us for the gifts we possess. They would experiment on us and dissect our brains, and all for nothing! Even if they knew how to extract our abilities, their brains do not have the means, or the capacity, for soul song. It is called neural pathways…or some such. I have forgotten the exact words.” Now she glared at her grandson again. “We think that this little human will survive what you did to her, Onio.”

Mel slammed her eyes shut as she saw the big male glance her way. Guilt was written all over his face.

“You were lucky, I think, that this creature survived at all. Your gift opened pathways in her brain…neural connections most humans are not equipped to deal with, or understand. We believe that the only reason the girl hasn’t died is because her ear canals are damaged. Our gifts are sense, rather than thought, oriented. Hearing is a sense, so her brain was able to withstand the new impulses. She is very ill, though, and will be frail for a long while to come. She may not survive the change…someday her brain might break from the strain you yourself put on it!”

Mel saw Onio put his hands over his face and shudder. “Oh Grandmother,” he moaned. “Truly, I did not think to kill this little human…I did not think at all!”

Rain nodded, filled a wooden bowl with meat, and handed it to him. She glanced over at Mel and sat down next to Onio again.

“You are young yet, Onio, and perhaps foolish, but you will be a fine leader someday. To lead well, though, you must learn to listen to the world around you. Drak, your uncle, is also a fine man, but he suffers from jealousy. He never thought that you would be declared king after Bouldar is gone…not with the small human blood that flows in your veins. That he himself told you this only serves to prove that he hasn’t the wisdom to lead the tribe.”

She chuckled. “There is a thing the small humans call irony. It took me many, many years of study to understand this concept, but I find it ironic that the very thing Drak used to wound you with actually ensures your ascension to the seat of leadership.”

She stood again and moved around behind Onio to apply more salve to his wounded back. “My husband believes that the human soldiers are renewing their efforts to find us, and hunt us down. He believes that these soldiers want to use the soul song as some sort of weapon. They are a warrior species who will use even the most benign gift as a tool for destruction!” The old female apparently forgot to be gentle in her application of the medicine on his wounds. Onio winced with pain.

“He thinks that the tribe needs a leader who can both sympathize with and out-maneuver the humans who want to conquer us. The blood in your veins has made you smarter than the rest of us…especially Drak. You still possess the tribe’s gifts, like telepathy and camouflage, but your intellect will be the thing that can save the tribe from the small humans’ greed.” She gave her grandson’s shoulders a shake, not caring that he cried out in pain.

“That leader will be you, Grandson!” she shouted. “But only if this little human woman survives and you learn to think before you act!”

Rain’s voice was pensive when she spoke again. “Before Bouldar became my husband he was much like you; curious and compelled to seek out the small humans’ company, despite the risks.” She threw her arms up with a growl of rage.

Onio revised (2)

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Genre – Fantasy/Romance

Rating – PG13

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Website http://neljeppsen.weebly.com/

Thursday, November 21, 2013

#Bargain Human Plus by David Simpson @PostHuman09

PROMOTION: Now you can switch back and forth between reading the Kindle book and listening to the Audible audiobook. Add the professional narration of Sub-Human (Book 1) for a reduced price of $2.99 after you buy the Kindle book of Sub-Human. Listen to Sub-Human Chapter 3's sample here goo.gl/kdxS8i. Also, Post-Human (Book 2), Trans-Human (Book 3) and Human Plus(Book 4) are all $0.99 each for a LIMITED TIME as well!
And their audiobooks are coming soon!
Age Range: 14 years and up
The Post-Human Trilogy is done, but the Post-Human series is just heating up! Human Plus is Book 4 in the smash hit science fiction series. Not exactly a sequel, not exactly a prequel, Human Plus will defy expectations. No matter what you thought was coming next, you're in for a surprise!
JUST ONE CAUTION: When you're finished, you're going to want to share the surprises with everyone online...Please don't! Please respect future readers and let them enjoy the surprises just as much as you did!
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Genre - Science Fiction
Rating – PG
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Boundless by Brad Cotton @BradCott0n

Chapter 6

NOT TWENTY MINUTES after leaving the motel, young Ruby fell asleep upon her bag in the back seat. As the BMW crossed the border into Colorado just before lunch, Ruby had still not awoken.

“When did you know?” Ray asked Duncan. He put down his book and looked over to the driver.

“Know what?”

“Did you just decide it one day or did you always think it?”

“This again?”

“Maybe it’s just a feeling,” Ray surmised. “Like people who think that everything happens for a reason. But you don’t think that, do you?”

“I think some things happen for a reason, sure,” Duncan said.


“Why would there be a word for fate if it didn’t exist?”

“There’s a word for unicorns, isn’t there?”

“I think there has to be some kind of plan,” Duncan said. “You can fall off the path or change direction, but you can’t run from who you are.”

“What’re you guys talking about?” a voice said from the back seat.

Ray curled his head around the over-sized headrest.

“Oh, nothing,” he said. “Just something we started a long time ago.”


“No. Not unicorns.”

“It sounds like you’re talking about unicorns.”

“Ray’s been trying to understand how I can believe in God,” Duncan said.

Duncan looked in the rear view mirror to see if he could catch Ruby’s reaction. He couldn’t even see the top of her head. Though awake, Ruby had slouched down even further and curled across the entire back seat. She rested her head on her bag and shut her eyes once more.

“Arguing whether there is or isn’t a God is like arguing whether or not a song is good,” she said. “You can never be right and you can never be wrong.”

“You believe in God?” Ray asked.

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know?”

“I’m assuming you don’t?”

“Not for a second.”

“How can you be so sure?”

“The evidence against it is overwhelming.”

“So then what happens to you when you die?” Ruby asked.

“You die,” Ray said. “You’re dead. End. Over. Bye bye.”

“I think I believe in reincarnation,” Ruby said, her eyes still closed. “Haven’t you ever met someone that you feel you’ve met before, or that you know from somewhere else? And what about all those people that just seem so new?”

“Well, if there is such a thing as reincarnation, I’d come back as a cat,” Ray said.

“A cat?” Duncan said. “You hate cats.”

“For the same reasons I’d want to be one.”

“A cat?”

“A housecat, yeah. I’d lie around all day. Someone else would get my food, rub me down, and no one would give a shit if I ever paid any attention to them.”

“Pray on it,” Duncan said.

“Don’t you want to be in heaven?” Ruby asked. “Don’t you want to think that once you die you’ll get to be with the people you love? The people you’ve lost?”

“I think it sounds like a pretty crowded place,” Ray said. “And no, I don’t think I’d want to be anywhere where I had no purpose.”

Duncan shook his head.

“Can we stop?” Ruby asked.

“Yes, please,” Duncan said. “We’ve been talking about it forever and we never get anywhere.”

“No, can we stop. I’m a girl, small bladder.”

“Oh, yeah, sure,” Duncan answered. “I’m hungry, anyway.”

“Yeah, a cat.” Ray said. “That’s the life.” He nodded as he looked out the window at the grass whizzing by.

Duncan pulled off Interstate 70 at the outskirts of Grand Junction, Colorado. He screeched into a gas station and Ruby sprung from the car and scurried to the washroom. Ray got out to stretch his legs; Duncan began refueling.


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Genre – Contemporary Fiction/Literary Fiction

Rating – R

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Website http://www.bradcotton.com/

Birth of an Assassin by Rik Stone @stone_rik

Chapter 4

Colonel Michel Petrichova read the dossier as Jez stood to attention in front of his desk.

“At ease, Kornfeld… You said you were as fit as anyone here and it appears you weren’t far wrong.” He looked up over half-framed glasses. “And according to the man I had at the camp, you’re a natural rifleman, and your ability to deal with military strategy and leadership, as far as it went, is excellent. I commend you… but he also said you broke your NCO’s arm in response to a bit of bullying.”

He turned back to the report and Jez was sure it was to hide a grin. When the colonel’s words had sunk in, he realized who the man in the shadows had been.

The colonel lifted his gaze but his face had soured. “Of course, you realize you could be in a prison cell right now?”

“Yes, sir, but…”

He held up a stilling hand. “No buts. If my man hadn’t been there to stop any further action, that is where you would be. Watch your temper.”

“Yes, sir,” he said, but felt cheated.

Petrichova sifted through the paperwork. “It says here that you became cozy with one of the girls in the unit.” He sounded foreboding.

“We were friendly, sir, but now we’ve gone our separate ways,” Jez replied, but hoped he was wrong.

“Good. I’m about to have you assigned to a special unit and I don’t want my time wasted by you messing around with girls. Understand?”

“Yes, Colonel. And I look forward to the opportunity you’re giving me, sir.”

And he did. He wanted to jump up and punch the air. But more than that, he wanted to run from the office and find Anna. He’d love to hear one of her blunt responses.


Birth of an Assassin

Set against the backdrop of Soviet, post-war Russia, Birth of an Assassin follows the transformation of Jez Kornfeld from wide-eyed recruit to avenging outlaw. Amidst a murky underworld of flesh-trafficking, prostitution and institutionalized corruption, the elite Jewish soldier is thrown into a world where nothing is what it seems, nobody can be trusted, and everything can be violently torn from him.

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Genre - Thriller, Crime, Suspense

Rating – R

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Connect with Rik Stone on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://rik-stone.simdif.com

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Author Interview – Christina George @publicistgal

How did you come up with the title? That’s a funny question. So I wrote The Publicist Book One and had every intention of naming this The Publicist Book Two and then one night I woke up thought: Wow, that’s stupid, how will anyone be able to tell the difference between the two? So, I was on a plane the next day for a writer’s conference and the title Shelf Life came to me. And as anyone who has ever “named” a book knows, a title is right when it’s right. This one felt right and it still does. I love it!
Can you tell us about your main character? I adore Kate, she’s my main character. She’s strong, she knows what she wants and she’s not afraid to tell it like it is. She’s also really dedicated to her authors which is so important in this line of work and she loves publishing. Despite the fact that the industry seems to be crumbling down around her, she loves it.
How did you develop your plot and characters? Well Kate is sort of a person I’d like to be. Ha! Isn’t that always the way? She really knows what she wants so Kate, in my view is the perfect publicist. Mac really existed, so that was easy but Nick did not – at least not yet. Many of the folks in the book are based on real people I’ve either met or worked with. The story however sort of happened. I really didn’t know where I was going with it till I was halfway through it. When I wrote this initially, I had a totally different book in mind Candidly I like this one better,
Is there a message in your novel that you want readers to grasp? Please be kind to your publicist or marketing person :-)
How much of the book is realistic? It’s all very realistic. Ninety-five percent of what happens in the book actually happened to me while working at my job.
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Genre – Contemporary Romance
Rating – R
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Quality Reads UK Book Club Disclosure: Author interview / guest post has been submitted by the author and previously used on other sites.

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

In a Milk and Honeyed Land by Richard Abbott @MilkHoneyedLand



Refreshing like rain are my words,

distilling like dew is my speech,

like cloudbursts upon the grassland,

or rainfall upon the young crops.

BARUK CAME OUT OF Danil’s house and set off across the ridge towards home. After completing his childhood and passing through the ceremonies to be counted as a young man of the community, he had deliberately set out to be noticed by Danil and the others of the raiding party. So far he had not succeeded in being really included in that group, and Danil’s own son was too different in age from him to make anything to his advantage out of a potential friendship, but he entertained hopes. Bashur, almost the same height despite their year separation in age, followed him as closely as possible and was clearly attempting to make every available use of the sibling relationship. Today, Baruk had managed to spend time with Danil without his brother. He smiled to himself as he joined the main track down from the high place. He was genuinely fond of Bashur, for all his over-close attachment, and most of the time was happy that he was there with him like a shadow. Though they were not twins, they understood each other’s moods and feelings better than most brothers or friends, even when they disagreed over their thoughts and opinions. Mostly, he appreciated Bashur’s presence nearby. Some days, though, it was good to go on his own.

He heard his name being called, and turned to see Damariel hurrying down towards him from the high place. He waited until he caught up with him.

“Just going home?”

“Yes. Dad let me off some time in the olive field this afternoon. Reckoned we’d done enough for the day or something. So I took the chance to spend a bit of that time with Danil.”

“That went well?”

“Yes. He’s always helpful, whenever I ask he’s happy to talk to me about how the raids are done. I’m learning a lot. There’s not so many of them go regularly, never quite enough for what they want to bring back. So I think I can talk my way into going with them if they think I’m keen. Well, and if I know what I’m doing.”

They walked a bit further in silence together.

“Been up with the seer, then, Damari?”

Damariel nodded.

“And what did you learn today?”

“He’s been teaching me these last months how to read not just our own writing, but the older stuff too. Like they used way back before our time. Actually they still do in the big towns, and if you have to write to the Mitsriy ever.”

Baruk nodded, not especially interested yet in the topic, but before he could speak, Damariel rushed on with enthusiasm.

“Baruk, I never knew before today that a woman from here, from our own town, wrote to the Mitsriy governor once.”

“Oh yes? What did she say?”

“Nothing much, really, just warning him about a big raid between two of the nearby towns. The usual double-dealing and trickery they do in those other places. But she wrote to them, Baruk, and they took notice. She called herself the lady lioness and they thought she was like our queen.”

Baruk laughed.

“They didn’t know much about us, then. Though the lion bit wasn’t far off.”

Damariel joined in the humour.

“No, I suppose not. But they took notice of her all the same. Respected her.”

“She can’t have been from mum’s family or we’d have heard about her years ago. If there was anything like that in her ancestors she’d have told us.”

“That’s true. I don’t know if she was a chief’s wife or the seer at the time, or even just one of the village women who could write. But I saw the copy of what she wrote and have been puzzling over it all morning.”

At that point they both stopped and looked back up the hill. A sudden shouting had started somewhere up near the high place, men’s voices raised in fierce anger. Baruk took a step or two back up the hill, but Damariel stopped him.

“Do you think we ought to?”

“Are you kidding? Whatever it is, I’m not going to miss it.”

They set off again along the ridge, and started running as the shouting began to grow louder. Like them, others were coming out of houses, looking, and starting to gather together up at the heart of the community. At the stones, Ethan the shepherd, his large face red and his large fists clenched, was being held away from Iqnu by three of the other men. Qerith had pulled her kef down over her face and was facing away from them off to one side, leaning on the wall of the seer’s house, her expression completely hidden. The two boys joined the gathering circle of villagers, Baruk pushing through to the front so they could see, and Damariel following. Ethan took a breath and shouted something incoherent at Iqnu; the only words they could make out in the whole tirade were “Isheth” and “while I was away”. Beside him, Baruk heard Damariel gasp.

“What is it, Damari? What’s this about?”

Damariel shook his head, his eyes fixed on Iqnu who was looking around at the ring of villagers, clearly trying to elicit sympathy or help from the assembly. One of the older lads nearby heard the question.

“Ethan says the seer took his woman for himself. While he was away up along the ridge with the flocks. Just before you came he was saying she confessed it all to him when he got back today. Over a year all told they’ve been at it with each other, so he says. Not just once, you know. All while he was away with the flocks. And in her own house, too. Not like it was somewhere else.”

“Is it true?”

“No idea. But Ethan’s all a sweat. Look at him. He’s called the seer both thief and liar, and the seer hasn’t said anything back.”

“Where’s Isheth? What does she say?”

The other shrugged. “Never seen her yet. Maybe she’s got a tale to tell too, but right now she’s not here to tell it.”

Ethan’s parents, Hinnah and Nawar, had arrived. Nawar went over to his son and gripped his arms, waving away the men who had been holding him away from Iqnu. Hinnah went off with Danil’s wife Rivkah towards Isheth’s house. In the sudden quiet they heard Ethan’s voice as he spoke to Nawar. Most of what he said was indistinct, but every so often one word or other would burst out loud. Nawar listened without comment for some time, still keeping hold of his son as though he might burst away at any moment. Qerith moved away from the house to one side and sat on one of the flat stones, her face still covered. Shelomith-Rahmay went and sat with her. Nawar looked very sombre as he turned towards Iqnu, who glanced around the circle again, still trying to gauge whether the mood of the community was for or against him. But before Nawah could speak, Rivkah came running in, across to where Qerith and Shelomith sat, her kef all awry and blood on the sleeve of her smock.

“He’s tried to kill her. Beaten her something terrible. But she’s not yet gone across, not yet. Lady, she needs someone good with healing. Lady, please come and do what you can for her.”

She knelt in front of Qerith, but there was no reply. After a long pause her veiled, hidden head shook once. Shelomith stood up slowly, looking suddenly much older than her years, beckoned to one of the other women to take her place with Qerith, and went off with Rivkah. Someone on the other side of the circle pushed their way through to the front.

“Her brother lives up at Woodlands. Azziy, they call him. Someone should get him. If Ethan’s killed her he’ll want to know about it. The whole family will. It’ll be a matter of honour.”

Nawar thought about it for a long moment, several different emotions playing across his face as he inclined his head reluctantly. But before he could speak, Mahiram’s older voice broke in. “Hear me now, there’s more involved than the honour of two families. It’s a seer’s matter and we need a seer to judge on it now. So yes, send a boy up to Woodlands by all means, but send one up to Giybon as well to get a seer down here to tell us how both Iqnu and Ethan are to be treated. They’ll be here tomorrow. If I’m heard there’ll be no judgement upon anyone’s family before then.”

There was a murmur of acceptance, approval around the circle. Two lads were sent off in different directions up the ridge. Debate began then as to where Ethan and Iqnu should be kept while they waited for others to arrive, but before this could be resolved Rivkah and Shelomith returned with Hinnah, all with torn kef and dust on their head and shoulders. Isheth had not been able to bear her injuries and had gone across. Ethan said nothing, did nothing, but looked away into the distance with no expression on his face. Iqnu grimaced, made as if to tear his own kef but then stopped. Nawar shook his head and sat on one of the nearby stones, head in hands. Qerith shook off the hands of the woman who had been sitting with her, took off her sandals, walked across to Iqnu and slapped him across his face with them, twice, side-to-side, before turning and walking away down the hill. Shelomith went with her.

It was as though Qerith’s actions stirred the community into action, as though they were like a judgement on the case. Two of the men nearby took Iqnu’s arms and led him into his own house. They shut his door and at Mahiram’s word, pushed a boulder against the door so it could not be opened. Ethan turned as though to go with Nawar, but he shook his head and turned away. Ethan stopped short, clearly shocked at his father’s response, and hung his head, speechless. Nawar walked away without turning. Hinnah wavered, looking this way and that between the two men, but eventually, with an anguished look at her son, followed her husband down the hill. Ethan was taken away to a hut adjoining one of the empty, unfamilied houses and put inside it, with a boulder against the door just as they had done with Iqnu. The group began to disperse, a buzz of conversation flowing like streams into the tracks and pathways, flooding into the doorways and filling up the individual houses.

The next morning the door of the hut Ethan had been placed in had been broken open from the inside, and the stone outside the seer’s house tossed to one side. Neither Ethan nor Iqnu were there. By the time Azziy arrived from Woodlands, Iqnu’s body had been found at the base of a low cliff just west of the village. He had died in the end from the fall, but before that had clearly been roughly treated. Ethan was nowhere to be found, but a group of the men who went hunting soon found the place where his tracks led away down into the valley, heading north-west towards the lowlands. They followed the trail for a few dozens of paces but then turned back to the village rather than go on. There seemed little point: the trail was perfectly clear but Ethan was not stopping for anything and had several hours start. When Qerith was told she made no reply, but simply moved back from Shelomith’s home into the great house by the stones and waited for the seer to arrive from Giybon.

In fact they came not from Giybon but from Meyim, a married couple called Saniyahu and Halith. Halith went in to be with Qerith, while Saniyahu called a meeting of the whole adult community beside the town gate and heard the whole tale told. Baruk was not there, nor Damariel, as their adolescent status did not qualify them as part of the formal assembly, but they heard of it later. Ethan was publicly declared no longer welcome in the village, though there seemed little chance he would attempt a return. Iqnu, though already dead, was proclaimed no longer a seer among the four towns, and denied any rights to a burial on their land or with his family. Azziy accepted the sum of four times the bride price that had been paid, renounced any further claim that there might be on Nawar’s family, and took Ishesth’s body to rest with her ancestors. Nawar had remained silent as he had weighed out the sum in silver and other goods in front of them all. The house that Isheth had shared with Ethan was to be pulled down and the stones scattered here and there around the village field walls and terraces, and such possessions as were in it would be given to widows and orphans. Only the foundations and a few of the bigger wall-stones would be left to mark the place in the community memory. Saniyahu and Halith were to take up the duty of town ministry themselves, starting right away, that very day. Apparently the seers had already met and decided the matter in an all-night vigil of talk and prayer. A younger couple, not long past apprenticeship, were to take their place at Meyim, releasing them to begin at Kephrath. Qerith, still veiled and silent, speaking only with Shelomith and Halith, packed her few belongings and moved back to be near family just past Shalem.

Milk & Honeyed Land

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Genre – Historical Fiction

Rating – PG13

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Website http://www.kephrath.com/

A Simple Soul by Vadim Babenko

Chapter 1

One July morning during a hot, leap-year summer, Elizaveta Andreyevna Bestuzheva walked out of an apartment building on Solyanka Street, the home of her latest lover. She lingered for a moment, squinting in the sun, then straightened her shoulders, raised her head proudly, and hurried along the sidewalk. It was almost ten, but morning traffic was still going strong – Moscow was settling into a long day. Elizaveta Andreyevna walked fast, looking straight ahead and trying not to meet anyone’s gaze. Still, at the corner of Solyansky Proyezd, an unrelenting stare invaded her space, but turned out to be a store’s window dressing in the form of a huge, green eye. Taken aback, she peered into it but saw only that it was hopelessly dead.

She turned left, and the gloomy building disappeared from view. Brushing off the memories of last night and the need to make a decision, Elizaveta felt the relief of knowing she was alone. She was sick of her lover – maybe that was the reason their meetings were becoming increasingly lustful. In the mornings, she wanted to look away and make a quick retreat, not even kissing him good-bye. But he was persistent, his parting ritual enveloping her like a heavy fog. Afterward, she always ran down the stairs, distrusting the elevator, and scurried away from the dreary edifice as if it were a mousetrap that had miraculously fallen open.

Elizaveta glanced at her watch, shook her head, and picked up speed. The sidewalk was narrow, yet she stepped lightly, oblivious of the obstacles: oncoming passersby, bumps and potholes, puddles left by last night’s rain. She wasn’t bothered by the city’s deplorable state, but a new sense of unease uncoiled deep inside her and slithered up her spine with a cold tickle. The giant eye still seemed to stare at her from under its heavy lid. She had a sense of another presence, a most delicate thread that connected her to someone else. Involuntarily, she jerked her shoulders, trying to shake off the feeling, and, after admonishing herself, returned to her contemplation.

Old Square gradually came into view, revealing the church that once stood over public executions, and the commercial section next to it crowded with merchant stalls and cars parked willy-nilly. Elizaveta navigated like a seasoned pilot, her shoes squelching in mud seemingly left over from centuries past. Finally, she reached the flimsy fence that, by some strange design, had no gate. She shook her head, stepped gracefully over a massive chain, and found herself in a park with the cool shade she longed for, even though it was still early in the day.

Then began the long journey up the hill. Elizaveta winked at Saints Cyril and Methodius, who stared bleakly at a plaque reading “From a Grateful Nation” – a bitter joke about a nation that never learned how to be grateful. She skirted a bench with a sleeping bum who exuded an unbearable stench, and, after a brief hesitation, took the left alley, which was slightly more shaded than the right.

The promise of another blistering day loomed over Moscow. The park was full of people – victims of morning hangovers, refugees from the nearby office buildings, clutching their beer cans. The adjacent bar was also far from empty. The waitress wandered lazily between the tables, fully aware of the power she wielded. Elizaveta surveyed the unfriendly territory. She noted the casualties dispassionately, without registering their faces, which looked blank in their identically aloof, self-absorbed expressions. She walked with virtually no effort, pretending to float above the sidewalk, the meager greenery, and the bushes filled with trash. Only once did she stumble – and it brought back the sense of that persistent, hidden gaze. She was probably only imagining it, but her heart remained heavy and her thoughts disintegrated into a confused jumble.

As she reached the top of the hill, the sun sliced into her eyes, and the smell of asphalt and burned gasoline filled her nostrils. Elizaveta crossed the road and arrived at the Polytechnic Museum, which cast a much better shadow than the despondent trees. Many years ago, this spot housed a zoo. The museum had fallen on hard times – possibly the hardest since the zoo’s Indian elephant broke under the persistent attention of gawkers and went on a rampage. The fate of the museum, much like the fate of the elephant, was regrettable, but Elizaveta had her own concerns. She continued to feel uneasy and even glanced over her shoulder. There was nothing there. She hesitated at a theater poster framed behind glass, watching the wavy reflections, but they looked harmless enough. Then she snorted, frustrated with herself, and read the advertisement inviting passersby to learn about varieties of packaging at a Packers’ Club that had found a home in the impoverished building. For a moment, she felt amused, and her unease took on a mystical, ghostly quality. Past the museum, Elizaveta gave the menacing Lubyanka building a cursory look and descended into the underground walkway, which led to her office building on Maly Cherkassky. With a glance at her watch, she hastened up the stairs – but the exit beckoned her with its bookstalls, and she gave in and began to examine the covers.

One of the books caught her attention. She opened up an imposing black tome, but somebody jostled her elbow and the book tumbled out of her hands, wreaking colorful havoc on the neatly arranged stand. In the resulting commotion, the woman next to Elizaveta yelped with surprise, a man’s deep voice muttered an apology, and the proprietor of the kiosk rushed to straighten out his wares, worried he might get robbed. Elizaveta tossed an absentminded “It’s okay” in the direction of the voice, whose owner’s face she never saw, and stepped aside to leaf through another book with a picturesque dust jacket. Its contents, however, proved to be too serious, and the second page was branded with a triangle that nearly covered the entire sheet. She immediately remembered something she once read: The triangle is a grand figure; it controls souls. It was an ill-timed sign, a dumb hint verging on mockery. Embarrassed, Elizaveta cast a furtive glance around, set the book down, and hurried away from the racks toward the old, five-story building that housed small companies and underfunded government offices.

A Simple Soul

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Genre – Literary Fiction

Rating – PG13

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Website http://www.vadimbabenko.com/

Author Interview – Rob Manary @robmanary

It is vital to get exposure and target the right readers for your writing, tell us about your marketing campaign?

I made the decision to retain CanAm Social to do my social media marketing. I enjoy writing; I don’t enjoy the necessary marketing required of a self published author. Diane Lebow at CanAm Social is absolutely brilliant, and never tires of holding my hand.

She has developed a website, a facebook page, and has arranged a blog tour in support of “Icarus Rising”. In addition to great content she is a constant cheerleader and forces me to do things like answer questions for interviewers when I would much rather be writing.

And she reminds me to mention the newest book when I wander. “Icarus Rising” first book of the Icarus Trilogy. Can I put a link to CanAm Social somewhere?

If you could have a dinner party and invite anyone dead or alive, who would you ask?

I would invite Jesus and the Pope. I think it would be fun to watch the Pope try and explain the opulence of the Vatican to Christ. My Jesus would probably put the Pope over his knee.

I’d also like to have dinner with Milo and David, two minor characters that first appear in “Icarus Rising”, members of Rachel St. Claire’s band.  I don’t think I even give them names in “Icarus Rising”. I really flesh them out in “Icarus Ascendant” and they get names. I think they would be fun to have dinner with. I would lock the liquor cabinet though.

When you are not writing, how do you like to relax?

I like to rock climb, bungee jump, or go scuba diving off the great barrier reef. That’s a lie but I thought it would make me sound much more interesting.

The truth is when I am not writing I want to be writing, or I am sketching out storylines in my head. I write to relax. Writing is my hobby, but one I am incredibly passionate about. Honestly, I can think of nothing I would rather be doing.

How do you feel about social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter? Are they a good thing?

I don’t do my own marketing so I don’t know how valuable either Twitter or Facebook is. From what little I have observed, however, I am not impressed.  It might be fun to do but I don’t know how effective it is. I don’t do my own marketing as I have mentioned so I don’t know. I think in theory both Facebook and Twitter are good platforms but the reality in my experience has been a bunch of writers connecting with other writers. I’ll concede I could be terribly wrong. I just can’t imagine William Shakespeare tweeting his daily word count or about the particularly good ham sandwich he had for lunch.

If you could do any job in the world what would you do?

I would like to be Minister of Propaganda. Do they still have that post? With the media at my disposal I think I would be extremely adept at selling a concept or symbol to the masses. Like making it patriotic to wear your boxer shorts over top of your pants. That was just an idea off the top of my head as Minister of Propaganda I know I could do better.

Second choice would have to be Male Escort. It would mean getting back to the gym, that would be a good thing, and working nights, which I enjoy. Before I start getting phone calls for price quotes I should mention I want to be a high priced Male Escort. I’m classy.


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Genre – Erotic Romance

Rating – R

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Website http://robmanary.com/

Monday, November 18, 2013

Talion by Mary Maddox @Dreambeast7

Rad had decided Whistler would be his last victim. Whistler had died in Rad’s foyer. The parquet floor had to be torn out and burned, and blood sanded off the underlayment. The wallpaper had to be steamed and scraped from the wall. Every trace of Whistler had to be erased before Rad could bring in workmen to redo his foyer.

When the cops showed up at his office at the university, Rad told them what they would have found out anyway. Robert Whistler had been his student. Yes, he and Whistler had a few beers together. He described an unhappy, confused young man whose disappearance was sad but hardly surprising. “I don’t know what he’s looking for,” Rad said, easing Whistler into present tense. “I don’t think he knows.”

He could have said anything, but clichés worked best on those idiots. He’d known both of them since third grade. Later they would refer to Rad by his childhood nickname, Radish, and snuffle with laughter.

“To your knowledge was he using drugs?” Dave Reynolds asked. Dave used to call Rad mama’s boy and tit-sucker and taunt him for not fighting back.

“He talked about pot,” Rad said. “I never actually saw him smoking it.”

Facing his old schoolmates, their ugliness stark in the office fluorescence, he relished the paradox of his childhood weakness. It protected his strength. In a town like Richfield, where folks never change and you’re only a stranger once, the cops know who the killers aren’t.

Their questions turned to Whistler’s friends. It became apparent they suspected those losers of operating a drug cartel and believed Whistler had met his end in a dispute over methamphetamine. Rad helped them along by implying Whistler had been afraid of their prime suspect. That got them going. Dave pumped his hand and thanked him for his cooperation.

Rad still wondered how Whistler found the article in The St. Louis Post-Dispatch. He couldn’t have been a subscriber. And unless he was looking, he easily could have missed the generic homicide story or failed to recognize the girl he’d seen only once in a bar on Laclede’s Landing. The blurry black-and-white photo negated her most striking feature, her cinnamon hair. It was a disappointment to Rad, who hadn’t been able to take Polaroids of their encounter. All he had were yellowed newspaper clippings and a lock of that hair.

Whistler hadn’t seemed suspicious before he showed up that night in late January. “Yo,” he said when Rad opened the door.

“Robert. It’s been awhile.”

Whistler shuffled in without waiting for an invitation. He reeked of beer. He stopped in the middle of the living room and thrust the folded newspaper at Rad. “Recognize her?”

Rad thought of her raw whisper, her lips reduced to meat, begging him. Please kill me, please just kill me. She still turned him on. “It’s late, Robert. What’s this about?”

“The girl in St. Louis, she disappeared that night you hooked up with her.”

Rad glanced at the photo. “It’s not the same girl.”

“It’s her,” Whistler said. “Could be you’re the last one to see her. You better talk to the cops.”

Rad scanned the article. Before their St. Louis excursion, he’d dreamed of making Whistler his protégée, but the moment for revealing himself had never come. Now he saw how dangerous the dream had been. “The body was found in Illinois, Robert.”


“She must have gone out again after our—encounter.”

“I went to your room at four in the morning” Whistler said. “Guess what, you weren’t there.”

“I was sleeping, Robert.”

He had no one to blame but himself. Sometimes he savored the loneliness of his life, but when the darkness was more than he could endure, he yearned for another pair of predator’s eyes to confirm its harsh and absolute reality. His friendship with Robert had grown from his own weakness. Now he was paying. The dumb redneck would go to the cops sooner or later.

“I’ve still got her number,” Rad said. “Let’s call and ask her if she’s dead.”

Whistler looked at him with dull suspicion.

“Come up to my office. The number’s in my Rolodex.”

Leading the way upstairs, Rad considered the situation. Whistler was fifteen years younger, two inches taller, and outweighed him by twenty pounds. He might be drunk, but he wasn’t afraid to fight. If he got the chance.

Halfway up the stairs, Rad spun and slammed his forearm into Whistler’s face, then delivered a sharp kick to the knee. Whistler tumbled down the stairs and sprawled in the foyer, motionless. Then he stirred and raised himself onto his elbows.

A jackknife open and ready, Rad straddled him, leaned one knee hard into his spine and yanked a fistful of hair to expose the scrawny throat. Whistler’s ponytail made it easy. Rad wore his hair like a Roman soldier, cropped, so it wouldn’t give the enemy a handle.

He ditched the jackknife afterward. For years he’d carried it around to cut rope or trim an occasional branch, never dreaming his life would depend on it someday. The four-inch blade was long enough for slitting throats, but it could have been sharper. Its edge seemed to bounce off Whistler’s resilient flesh. Rad was forced to keep pressing and sawing deeper until the skin gave way to sinew underneath. Then came a mess of blood, the dark smell.

Whistler thrashed convulsively. Clawing and plucking at the knife. Lunging with his heels, pummeling Rad’s thighs, swiping at his groin. Several times the blade was knocked from its track or lost traction and slipped. Rad wrenched Whistler’s head further back and twisted until the tortured neck groaned. The dying body has a thousand voices.

Rad kept sawing at the carotid artery. He wasn’t enjoying himself. It wasn’t like doing a girl—slow, elegant recreation. It was work, like chain-sawing tree stumps or hacking holes in rocky ground. Afterward he needed ibuprofen for the bruises and abrasions. His left wrist, wrenched during the struggle, had to be wrapped in an elastic bandage.

Then the cleanup, all night and the next day without sleep. After emptying Whistler’s pockets he wrapped the body in old shower curtains that he kept in the garage to use as drop cloths. He taped the edges so that no trace of death leaked into his car trunk.

Whistler’s Pontiac was blocking the driveway, so he dealt with it first. He wasn’t worried about anyone seeing the car. The yard was cloaked by trees, and students visiting their friends in the neighborhood often parked where they didn’t belong. Stowing his mountain bike in the Pontiac’s backseat, Rad drove across town to Whistler’s Automotive, the garage where Robert worked for his father and uncle. The peaked hood of a parka shielded his face, but nobody saw him. Nobody was walking around in the freezing night.

The car reeked of beer and marijuana. Empty aluminum cans rattled in the backseat. Rad began to shiver, his jaw twitching and molars drumming. It wasn’t fear. Just cold and aftershock. The rush of killing, usually pleasurable, had gone bad.

He parked behind the garage among the cars waiting to be picked up or serviced. Searching the Pontiac’s interior with his pocket halogen flashlight, he gathered up another section of The St. Louis Post-Dispatch and stuffed it inside his parka, then checked the ashtrays for cigarette butts that weren’t Whistler’s brand. He could imagine Robert cruising with his buds, smoking weed and running his mouth. But nothing in the car suggested any confidential parties lately.

He skirted a floodlight to reach the garage’s rear entrance and tried several of Whistler’s keys. In a minute he was inside an office redolent of metal and grease. His flashlight skittered over a desk sloppy with piled-up work orders, coffee cups, and stacked boxes of auto parts. He drew a breath. No lingering odor of beer or recent smoke here. Whistler hadn’t partied in the garage that night, as he sometimes did.

It took more than chance to account for Rad’s luck. Events fell into place like expressions of his will.

Drinking with a friend, Whistler might have talked about Rad and the missing girl. But everything pointed to his being alone—driving somewhere and parking and downing several cans of beer while he brooded. He probably had mentioned the St. Louis trip to some of his buds and maybe his parents. But Rad was safe as long as nothing connected him to the girl with cinnamon hair.

His muscles howled with exhaustion as he cycled home. Blasts of frigid air stung his face. It was three in the morning when he finally pulled his own car out of the driveway. In the next eight hours he stowed Whistler’s body in his farmhouse outside Richfield, returned home and scrubbed the foyer, then showered and drove to campus in time to teach his first class at eleven.

Rad’s farmhouse was half a mile from the nearest paved road, isolated by brush-choked ravines, a wide crescent of meadow, and fields of corn and soybeans where deer came to graze. Friends and strangers pestered Rad for permission to hunt there, but he always said no. The place was his refuge in hunger and rage and black depression. He loved its smell, moldy to the core, already a grave when he buried Whistler in the dirt cellar two days after killing him. He imagined the corpse decomposing, feeding the carnivorous roots of his house.

Nothing much happened in Richfield, so Robert Whistler’s disappearance was news. The local paper ran stories featuring his distraught family and his reputed ties to drug dealing. The cops claimed to be following up clues. Dave and his partner never returned to ask more questions, but Rad knew he’d pushed his luck far enough. After eight sweet captures and Whistler, it was time to stop. He would succumb to fate and become what he was meant to be, an anonymous loser. He would treasure the memories.

He let his hair grow.

Then Lisa had crossed his path. The moment he saw her, Rad had known he would follow her anywhere. Even to Utah.


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Genre – Thriller / Horror

Rating – R

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Website http://marymaddox.com & http://www.ancientchildren.com/

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Peter Simmons and the Vessel of Time by Ramz Artso @RamzArtso


Peter Simmons thinks he is an ordinary boy, before he is abducted by a man with certain special abilities, learns of his inescapable destiny, befriends immortals and becomes famous wordlwide. Why? Because Peter Simmons is mankind’s last hope for survival.

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Genre – Young-adult, Action and Adventure, Coming of Age, Sci-fi

Rating – PG-13

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Website http://ramzartso.blogspot.com/