Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Orangeberry Book Tours – Primal by DA Serra

The writer who made you laugh with Punky Brewster, who made you cry with Just Ask My Children, will now make you cringe with PRIMAL. This story was originally purchased by one of America’s most prestigious storytellers James Cameron.

What if the worst happens and you are not a cop, or a spy with weapons training and an iron heart? What if you’re a schoolteacher – a mother? In this gritty crime thriller a family vacation takes a vicious turn when a fishing camp is invaded by four armed men. With nothing except her brains, her will, and the element of surprise on her side, Alison must kill or watch her family die. And then – things get worse.

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Genre – Thriller

Rating – R

More details about the author

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Barbed-Wire Butterflies by Jessica Kristie

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Genre – Literary Fiction

Rating – PG

More details about the author & the book

Connect with Jessica Kristie on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://jessicakristie.com/

CHAPTER 1

A New Truth

Loud noises banging from the trunk didn’t even make the two men flinch. It was an all too familiar sound. They traveled down a long dirt road toward what seemed, to the untrained eye, to be an abandoned warehouse. The town car didn’t fit the road traveled, but it had been there many times before.

The thumping had finally subsided as they pulled near the desolate building. Quickly, they passed through the guarded entrance and could see another man waiting in his dark green clothing, waving them forward. The large wall receded up, opening into what looked to be an airport hangar. Several small planes, cars, and other equipment were parked inside. The two men got out of their vehicle and walked to the back of the car. The taller man turned to his partner and grinned while he unlocked the trunk.

Inside lay a thirteen-year-old girl, still passed out from the drugs she had been given steadily over the last few days. Her body was twisted from being knocked around during the three-hour trip from the hotel to the warehouse.

“Another one,” the shorter man said with a half-hearted laugh.

“The second one this month; I wonder what’s up,” the shorter one responded.

“It ain’t our business to ask. Let’s just get her in here and get out. I want to get home before four a.m. this time.”

“You take the feet and let’s get a move on.”

They each did their part and carried the young girl to the door where a gurney and two other men were waiting. They placed her on the rolling bed and headed back to their vehicle. It was as easy as that, and they were done. The town car drove off into the night, not to return until another package was to be delivered.

In her unknown destination and an hour after delivery, Elani Benjamin woke up. With confused, red-rimmed eyes and blurry vision, she could make out a tall woman hovering over her. The woman had long red hair and a much-too-wrinkled face to be in her forties. She was dabbing Elani’s forehead with a cold, wet wash cloth knowing full well the young girl would protest soon.

“Where . . .” Elani tried to make sense of her words and surroundings, her head still foggy from the last few days. She darted up from the gurney and scanned the room for something, anything familiar. A nauseous feeling tugged at the lining of her stomach.

Everything was concrete, or white painted over concrete. The room smelled sterile but unclean at the same time. Confused about how she got there, she closed her eyes and tried to remember. The last thing that came to her was stopping at a Quik Stop for something before heading home.

“Elani, I’m Jolene. I need you to keep calm while I explain where you are. Please try and control yourself so you don’t upset the other girls when I put you in your new room.” Jolene paused for a response. “Do you hear me, girl?”

“How do you know my name?” Elani pleaded to Jolene with surprise and a growing concern.

“We know everyone we bring here to The Hub. It’s our job to know who we’re dealing with.”

“Where’s my mom? Does my dad know I’m here?”

“Look, girl. I’m just going to tell you like it is. This is your new home. What you will have is a bed, food, and work. It’s not much, but that’s what it is. Now change into this so I can bring you to your new room.” Jolene threw a blue sweat suit at Elani that was stenciled with an L, along with some old, worn sneakers, and then lifted her hands in a quick attempt to get her going. Elani slowly pulled the clothes toward her and reluctantly changed.

“Here, put your clothes in this. You won’t be needing them anymore. We all just wear the same thing,” Jolene said as she held a plastic bag in front of her.

“I want to go home,” Elani said, panic rising in her voice.

“That’s what you say now, but things will change,” Jolene quickly responded, in hopes to diffuse the pending breakdown. “You’re a big girl, you can do this.”

“I don’t want to do this. I don’t even know what this is,” Elani snapped with tears forming in her big blue eyes. She used her sleeve to rub the salty drops from her face and nervously pushed her dark hair behind her ear.

“Girl, we gotta get a move on. We don’t have time for this. The quicker you realize what is happening here, the easier it gets. I’ve been here for twenty-two years and I ain’t got no qualms about that.”

“What?” Elani was shaking. “I can’t go home, ever? What about my mom and my brother? My brother needs me. I need to get back home.”

“Your brother is fine. Your mom is fine. They will learn to get on without you. Now get dressed and let’s be going.” Jolene was losing her patience and it was obvious she had been through this routine too many times before.

Elani’s heart plummeted in her chest as the lack of control sunk in. She retreated to silence, feeling she might pass out from terror. She had no clue what these people wanted or what new future was being laid out without her permission. It all felt too unreal to comprehend.

She finished changing her clothes and surrendered her old life in a small plastic bag to Jolene. Jolene led her through several dimly-lit corridors with four doors on each side. Each hallway reminded Elani of pictures she had seen on television of the rooms for inmates of a mental-health facility. Small windows, about three inches wide, served as the room’s only peek outside of the personal cells. Elani’s mind was racing. Was this a prison? Had she done something to get put in juvenile hall? She knew of several kids in her neighborhood who had been to juvie, but from what she remembered, the kids went to court first.

Elani was always a fairly good kid. She had never done anything that deserved this kind of punishment. She tried not to shake, and watched Jolene as she stoically continued to lead her down dirty pathways with no hint of natural light to be found.

Finally, after several minutes of walking, they reached a long hallway that was just the same as all the others they had passed. The only difference was a large L stenciled at each entrance. “This is you, girl. L17.” Jolene reached into her pocket and pulled out the biggest ring of keys Elani had ever seen. “You are locked in at all times. We can’t have you girls trying to run about, now. Just keep your head straight and do what you’re told. You got that, girl?” Jolene asked as she unlocked the door and ushered Elani into her tiny room.

“Yes ma’am,” Elani said without thinking.

“Good girl, Elani. That will do. Now meet your bunkmates: Sophie, Jada, and Isabel. They are all nice girls who like being here. You get right, like them, and you’ll be fine.” Jolene turned to the girls in the room, “This is Elani. Tell her what she needs to know.” She then turned back to Elani to confirm she understood.

Elani nodded in confused agreeance as she surveyed the room. There were two sets of metal bunk beds on each wall. The two-foot space between the beds held a single garbage can. To the right of the door was a frayed sheet thrown over a rusted metal frame, serving as a space divider. It seemed to be covering a small toilet and a sink. Elani cautiously moved further into the room and stood there in complete disarray. She was jolted to reality as she heard the heavy door close loudly behind her. Jolene was gone.

“You can have the bed over there,” said a small girl on the bottom bunk across from what was now to be her permanent bed. “I’m Sophie, I’ve been here awhile. About six months, as far as I can tell. I’m trying to keep track but wonder what the point is sometimes.”

Sophie had green eyes and blonde hair. Here hands where tiny, and fit her small frame. She was far too young to be in a place like this and Elani could tell it had aged her too quickly, just like the rest of the girls.

“Where is here?” she asked in a once-again growing panic.

“The Hub,” said the girl in the top bunk above Sophie. “I’m Jada. Been here awhile now, too; it ain’t so bad. Better than what I had before, I guess.” Jada was obviously the oldest. The one who attempted to keep the peace. She had dark brown skin and jet-black hair with beautiful big brown eyes. Her hair, like all the girls, looked matted and dirty.

“Before?” Elani asked.

“Yeah, before they brought me here. I was pretty much livin’ on the streets or from foster home to foster home. Now, I get my own bed and at least one meal a day.” Jada attempted to be reassuring but her sullen gestures gave the truth away.

“Don’t you miss home, though? This isn’t right,” Elani protested. “We shouldn’t be here. I want to go home.”

Tears forced their way down her burning red cheeks and she collapsed on her bed holding her knotted stomach and aching muscles.

“Hey now, don’t upset the other girls. I know it’s weird but you get used to it quick,” explained Jada. “It gets better, I promise. Hopefully the worst is over.”

“I don’t want it to get better. I just want to get back home. I don’t even know why I’m here.”

“You’re here to work,” chimed in a new voice she hadn’t yet heard. “I’m Isabel, and we are all here to work.” A thick Hispanic accent escaped her lips and she twisted her dark hair anxiously. Her brown eyes were bulging slightly from her head and she was far less confident than Jada when she spoke.

“To work? I’m only thirteen, why would I have to work?” Elani said through her blanket of tears.

“That’s why we’re brought here; to work,” Isabel said in a quiet and comforting voice.

Jada jumped in, “You are now a part of what you may have heard called a sweat shop. It’s a place where people are forced to work. We make things like clothes, and put together phones and stuff like that, whatever they tell us to do. We always do what they tell us to do. It’s better that way.”

“So we are here just to work, nothing else? Why would anyone do that?”

“Because it’s cheap and people are greedy. I was fifteen when they took me, and I already knew what nasty things people did for money. Or to save money. I’ve been here a year or so and I don’t mind it. This place is different than most. From what I’ve heard, we get treated pretty damn good compared to other places like this,” Jada tried to reaffirm.

“Why? Why would they treat us good? They kidnapped us and threw us in a cement box to never see our families again. How is that good, anyway?” Elani said, her eyes welling with tears again.

Listening to them talk, she was slowly realizing these kids were brainwashed. Trained to say what The Hub needed them to say, and do what they were told to do. Fear was sharp and palpable from wall to wall.

“There’s not a lot of conversation that goes on here. We all stay pretty quiet, but sometimes we hear the leaders or guards talking. From what I know, they pick people who need a place to stay and food to eat. They don’t really care if we’re happy, but want us to be content enough to stay, or . . . I guess . . . not fight staying. I don’t know how many have tried to break out, but from what I’ve heard, no one has,” Jada explained.

“So this is my life, then?” Elani wimpered.

“This is your life,” Jada said with little comfort.

With that new and shocking information, Elani rolled over into her pillow and tried to hold herself to sleep. The other girls peered over at her from their beds.

Isabel looked down at Elani from the bed above to try and offer one last round of comfort. She pulled herself back up when it became clear there was nothing she could say. Isabel had been there once, too, and the fear never really went away. The girls all lay back in their beds as the room went dark. It was lights out for the night.

Elani was frozen in the dark hoping this was some bizarre slip in reality that would be rectified come morning. Her emotional wounds dug deep under her skin making it difficult to breath. She thought that any moment she might lose consciousness, but almost welcomed it. She buried her face in the flat pillow that sat on her sagging mattress. Everything reeked of dirt, sweat, and fear. The salty tears that crawled inside her mouth served as some familiar comfort. The confusion was unbearable and shock took over. Elani fell into a sleep as her body shut down. She hoped that the morning would prove this was all but a bad dream, and nothing more.

Review: Primal by D.A. Serra

Primal by DA SerraPrimal by DA Serra by D. A. Serra
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What did you think is the climax of the book and why. When Ben puts the gun down and gives up. Alison kills him any way. Because he would have escaped again and hunted her down; and killed her and her family

Who do you think the author intended to read this book and why? It's a book for everyone, unless they are against the violence in it.

If you could only save one character from the book which one would it be and why? Detective Thomas, because he did the right thing and let Alison go.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author.

View all my reviews

Monday, April 29, 2013

Orangeberry Book of the Day – Demon Inhibitions (Caitlin Diggs) by Gary Starta

Chasing a soul stealer in her reality, psychic investigator Caitlin Diggs inadvertently travels through a portal to another reality and witnesses her fugitive kill her alternate self in DEMON INHIBITIONS. Assuming her alternate’s life as an agent of the FBI’s Preternatural Crime Division, Diggs believes her position might help her capture the soul stealer until she finds he may be part of a sinister terrorist plot to keep humans and demons living in segregation. A girl, whose singing inhibits the evil urges of demons, is on the terrorist’s hit list and Diggs will ultimately learn her fugitive is neither supernatural nor demon, but a genetically engineered hit man incapable of being enthralled.

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Genre – Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG13

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Orangeberry Book of the Day - The Learner by Alan Nayes (Excerpt)

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NayéLi has come from the dark side of the universe to learn as much as she can about the third planet from the sun, and to communicate her findings back to her home world. NayéLi is a Learner – and on Earth she assumes the form of a young human female of the indigenous host species.

NayéLi is bound by her rulers’ strict laws of planetary exploration, which state that there can be no involvement with a member of the host species. But NayéLi is more human now than she realizes. And she is about to fall in love.

THE LEARNER is the first book in the paranormal Learner Series.

132,000 words or approximately 450 pages.

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Genre – Sci Fi / Paranormal Romance

Rating – PG13

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THE LEARNER

Alan Nayes

PREFACE

He is coming for me.

I have no clue how I know this—a premonition has never happened to me in this manner before—I just do. My species is powerful. Far more powerful than my hosts; nevertheless, we are unable to read minds, nor can we predict the future. Still, the perception that I am about to be discovered is undeniable.

If I hadn’t been on this particular bus, none of what’s about to happen would be affecting me. And if I hadn’t passed out, he never would have found me. For one of only a few times during my sojourn here on Earth, I experience a profound unease. Even fear. And intense unremitting pain.

He is going to find me. This is inevitable. I’m unable to move. Escape, impossible. I’m too incapacitated. Yet somehow I must save myself, preserve my being; otherwise, I’ll be forced to leave before my time here is done.

I have no choice, I tell myself. My rulers would order, “NayéLi, leave your body.”

And I would say, “No.”

Let him find me.

What concerns me most, though, more than being discovered, is that I harbor no inkling of what will happen next.

Just that it will change…everything!

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Orangeberry Free Alert – Broken Pieces by Rachel Thompson

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PRAISE FOR BROKEN PIECES:

‘So ridiculously amazing, I can’t take it’ ~ Gabe Berman, Author ‘Live LIke A Fruit Fly

‘Engrossed. It is a grippingly brilliant work’ ~ Frank Feather, author and blogger

‘Any woman who has had a former lover (or two or three) will be able to relate to this. Her writing is very poetic.’ ~ LS Hullinger, reader, writer

‘A brilliant and intense must read’ ~ Jeffery Rowan, reader

Out less than three weeks, Broken Pieces already hit the Paid Top 10 list on Women’s Studies!

Welcome to bestselling author Rachel Thompson’s newest nonfiction work! Vastly different in tone from her previous essay collections A Walk In The Snark and The Mancode: Exposed, BROKEN PIECES is a collection of pieces inspired by one woman’s life: love, loss, abuse, trust, grief, and ultimately, love again.

This is NOT a humor book! It IS a book about relationships, a study of women, a book with heart.Want to see why people love it? Why they call it ‘riveting, powerful, insightful?’

Read it and see why Broken Pieces is tearing up the lists for Nonfiction, Women’s Studies, and books for women!

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Genre – NonFiction

Rating – PG13

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Orangeberry Book Tours – Dissolution of Peace by Richard Flores IV

When Earth Navy Captain Christina Serenity is brutally attacked by a traitor, her life is saved by Security Forces Corporal Michael Carlson. On the heels of her recovery, her ship is attacked by terrorists, and she is thrown into a difficult assignment. She must chase after the only clue they have, a Martian ship called the Phobos, and find out what secrets it hides. To make matters worse, someone still wants her dead.

Her ship, E.S.S. Australia embarks on a mission that leads Serenity on journey of discovery, friendship, betrayal, and revenge. She quickly learns the only thing harder to prevent than war, is love.

Now Serenity must trust her protection crew to keep her alive long enough to solve this puzzle while trying to prevent an interplanetary war.

The line has been drawn. Who will cross first?

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Genre – Science Fiction

Rating – PG13 to R (Language)

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Review: Eyes of Ember by Rebecca Ethington

Eyes of Ember (Imdalind #2)Eyes of Ember by Rebecca L. Ethington
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you could continue the story, what events would you include? Ryland would have broken free from his father and regained his memories.

What have you read that is similar to this book? Salem Witches

What are some of the major themes of this book? Love, betrayal, quest for power, murder.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author.

View all my reviews

Review: Dissolution Of Peace by Richard Flores IV

Dissolution of PeaceDissolution of Peace by Richard Flores IV
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

If you could only save one character from the book, which one would it be and why? Mike - He is a wonderful man with great courage. The navy needs him.

Have you ever experienced anything similar to the action of this novel? Nothing has happened to me like this and I think it's too much adventure for me to handle.

Would you recommend this book? I would recommend this book to someone who loved war stories. However, the alien angle might turn them off. But there is action in it so that was a big plus point for me.

Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author.

View all my reviews

Orangeberry Book Tours – Eyes of Ember (Imdalind Series) by Rebecca Ethington

Joclyn is in hiding, hunted by the man she still desperately loves. Ryland is gone, his mind erased; no memory of Joclyn remains, but Joclyn’s heart desperately begs her to hold out hope. Meanwhile the black-eyed monster that possesses him attempts to kill her over and over again.

If it wasn’t for Ilyan, Joclyn would be dead by now.

Ilyan, the man who once stalked her, is now Joclyn’s protector, the only person she has left. He protects Joclyn from the men who seek to end her life, and all the while, she is haunted by dreams where Ryland begs her to break the bond between them.

Ilyan is there. Always there.

Ilyan trains and prepares her, teaching her everything she needs to know in the hope that one day she can avenge Ryland, if not protect herself from him.

And then, there is her father.

The man who has never been there is suddenly responsible for everything. And who he is has made Joclyn into something she never wanted to be:

The Silnỳ.

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Genre – YA Paranormal

Rating – PG

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Orangeberry Book of the Day - Refuge by NG Osborne (Excerpt)

PROLOGUE

escape
Kabul – February 1981

ONE

“NOOR‌—‌NOOR, MY love, please get up.”

Noor opens her eyes to find her mother crouched over her, her mother’s lantern just bright enough to bathe her face in a warm glow. Noor fights the urge to go back to sleep.

“The Russians are coming,” her mother says.

Noor’s eyes snap open, and she swings her feet onto the cold stone floor.

“Wait,” her mother says. “Put these on first.”

Her mother holds out a set of clothes. It’s only now that Noor realizes her mother is wearing a shalwar kameez.

“Mamaan, do I have to?”

“Think of it as a disguise.”

That at least makes it palatable.

“Now quick,” her mother says, “we’ve no time to waste.”

Her mother hastens away. Noor pulls her pajamas off and grabs the first article of clothing, a pale green kameez.

“You ready?” a voice hisses.

Noor clutches her kameez to her chest. Her brother, Tariq, stands in the doorway, holding a lamp of his own, his shadow looming behind him.

“Get out, I’m dressing,” she says.

“Nothing to see,” Tariq smirks.

“Not the point.”

“Well hurry up.”

Noor waits for Tariq to leave before slipping on the kameez and the baggy shalwar pants. She shoves her feet into her tennis shoes and takes off at full tilt. She finds everyone in the kitchen, their faces lit by the flickering light of the stove. Her Aunt Sabha is crying, and her sobs only intensify upon seeing Noor.

“Oh my sweet, sweet girl. When will we see you again?”

“You’ll come and see us in America,” Noor says.

“That’s right, that’s exactly what we’ll do.”

Aunt Sabha sweeps Noor into her ample bosom.

“Do you have the letter from Doctor Abdullah?” her Uncle Aasif asks her father.

“The letter?” her father says.

“Good God, Aamir,” her mother snaps, “the introduction to the American Ambassador.”

Her father searches his jacket pockets and emerges with a crumpled envelope.

“Give it to me,” her mother says snatching it away.

Her mother looks around.

“Where’s Bushra?”

“She’s awake,” her father says.

“But was she out of bed when you left her?”

It’s clear from her father’s expression that Bushra wasn’t.

“Noor, go and get your sister now,” her mother says.

Noor grabs a lantern and sprints back upstairs. She finds her older sister asleep, her shalwar kameez lying undisturbed beside her. Noor shakes her.

“Bushra, you’ve got to get up.”

Bushra groans and draws her covers close. Noor rips them off and yanks Bushra out of the bed.

“The Russians are coming to arrest Baba,” Noor says.

Bushra yelps and jumps to her feet.

“We’ve got to go,” Bushra says

“That’s what I’ve been trying to tell you.”

Bushra scrambles into her shalwar kameez, and the two of them run out the room. Noor halts outside her bedroom door.

“Keep going, I’ll be right there.”

Noor enters her room and takes one last look around; at the doll’s house her father built last Eid and which, to her eternal guilt, she hasn’t played with once; her posters of Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova; her pet rabbit Bjorn, sitting up in his cage, his nose twitching. She thinks about setting him loose but knows he wouldn’t last more than a day before becoming someone’s dinner. She puts a finger through the mesh and rubs his forehead.

“I’ve got to go, Bjorn. A long way away, but I’ll always love you, remember that.”

Bjorn’s ears prick up; outside some cars screech to a halt. Doors open, and a man yells out commands in Russian. Noor sprints out of the room and back downstairs.

“They’re here,” she screams.

Aunt Sabha lets out a shriek. Booming thuds reverberate from the front door.

“I’ll delay them,” Uncle Aasif says. “Now go, go.”

Noor’s mother grabs Noor’s hand, and they run out of the kitchen across the snow covered courtyard, past the ancient apricot tree that, to Noor’s eternal triumph, she climbed higher than Tariq the week before. Her mother tugs her into the dusty old servants’ quarters past the laundry room with its wooden washboards and iron ringer and up to a large metal door. Her mother yanks it open and pulls Noor into an alley where a donkey and cart await.

“Why aren’t we taking the Oldsmobile?” Noor says.

“It’s too conspicuous.”

Her mother grabs Noor by the waist and throws her up onto the straw. Tariq and Bushra bundle in beside her while her parents sit up front. Her father clicks his tongue, and the donkey starts plodding forward.

“Put this on, Bushra,” her mother says.

She holds out another article of clothing: it’s a burqa. Bushra complies, and her mother puts on one of her own. Noor shivers. They look like jinns sent to steal her soul. Tariq nudges her.

“You scared?” he says.

“Course not.”

“Liar.”

Her mother hisses at them to be quiet. Noor looks towards the end of the alley. Despite the early hour, the street beyond is already bustling with traffic.

“Faster,” her mother says.

Her father urges the donkey on, but if anything the donkey seems to slow.

“We’re a simple peasant family from Aynak,” her mother says. “If we’re stopped let your father do the talking.”

“But what if they ask us questions?” Noor says.

“They won’t.”

“But what if they do?”

“Then only speak Pashtu. If they speak to you in English pretend you don’t understand.”

A car pulls into the alley its round headlamps lighting the morning mist a garish yellow.

Her father and mother stiffen.

Noor squints; in the glare it’s impossible to tell who’s inside. The car honks and she senses her parents relax; she assumes if it were Russians they’d have gotten out by now. Her father looks over his shoulder to see if he can back up.

“Don’t you dare,” her mother says.

The car nudges forward, but for once the donkey’s obstinacy works to their advantage. After some virulent honking the driver puts the car into reverse. The donkey keeps pace, as if galvanized by its victory.

Noor hears shouts behind them and twists around to see four men emerging from the back of their house.

“Stop,” one shouts.

Her mother grabs the reins from her father and whacks the donkey as hard as she can.

“Stop right now, or we’ll shoot,” another yells.

The men pull guns from their holsters.

“Children, get down,” her mother shouts.

Her mother grabs a hold of Noor and shoves her into the straw. Shots ring out, and Noor clenches her eyes shut.

Her mother yells at the donkey to keep going, there’s another crackle of gunfire. The din of traffic and the sweet scent of petroleum fumes engulfs them.

Noor opens her eyes; her brother’s crotch is inches from her, a dark urine stain smearing the front of his pants. She rises up onto her elbows and sees the owner of the car shake his fist at them before accelerating back down the alley. Her mother hands the reins to Noor’s father.

“Turn right on Chicken Street,” she says panting.

She looks back at her children.

“Is everyone alright?”

Tariq sits up doing his best to hide his piss stain with a handful of straw. He catches Noor looking at him and reddens. They turn down Chicken Street with its souvenir shops and restaurants. Bushra lies on the straw moaning.

“Bushra, are you alright?” her mother says.

“Yes, Mamaan.”

“Then sit up.”

They come to the end of the street and merge onto another bustling thoroughfare. A convoy of Soviet armored personnel carriers rumbles towards them. Noor holds her breath. One of the helmeted gunners stares at her: the days of the soldiers pretending to be their friends are long gone. The final personnel carrier passes by, and Noor thinks it permissible to breathe again. She looks at Zarnegar Park, the Mir Abdul Rahman Tomb’s dull, copper dome framed by the snow covered mountains. She wonders if she’ll ever see it again.

The cart hits a pothole. It sends Noor tumbling forward and elicits a pained groan from her mother. Noor puts a hand on the floor and feels something damp. At first she assumes it’s Tariq’s urine, but when she brings her hand up she sees it’s stained with blood. She notices her mother is bent over.

“Mamaan.”

“Yes, my love.”

“Are you alright?”

Her mother doesn’t answer. Her father looks across.

“What’s the matter?” he says.

Her mother pulls up the front of her burqa. Even in the pale light of dawn Noor can see her mother’s kameez is soaked in blood. Noor cries out.

“Shh,” her mother says, “don’t draw attention to us.”

Up ahead, just before the turn for the river, a group of Russian soldiers have set up a checkpoint. The traffic slows. Her father yanks on the reins and tries to turn the cart around. It’s impossible, a bus is right behind them.

“They’ll see me,” her mother says to her father.

“No, just stay where you are. We will be past this at any moment, and we will go find a doctor.”

“Aamir, it’s too late for that.”

“Nonsense.”

The cart edges forward, and her mother rests her burqa on top of her head. Her cheeks, so rosy even in the coldest weather, are drained. She looks at each of her children as though she wants to burn their images into her soul.

“I love you all,” she says, “more than you’ll ever know.”

“No,” Tariq screams.

Up ahead a soldier looks in their direction. Tariq wraps his arms around his mother.

“Don’t go, don’t go,” he says.

Her mother strokes his hair and whispers into his ear. The cart trundles forward again; they’re now only three vehicles away from the checkpoint.

“Please, Aamir,” her mother says.

Her father stares at her, unwilling to grasp what’s unfolding in front of him.

“For their sake,” she says.

Somehow he manages to nod. Her mother leans forward and kisses her father on the forehead.

“I love you, Aamir,” she says. “Look after them for me.”

She extricates herself from her son’s grasp, and Noor’s father wraps his arms around Tariq. Tariq fights back, his legs kicking out, his arms flailing.

“Take the reins,” her mother says to Noor.

Noor scrambles into the front seat. Her mother grabs her by shoulders.

“Never compromise who you are. You hear me?”

Her mother places the reins in Noor’s hand and pushes herself off the cart. Noor looks back. Her mother lies there in the street, blood already staining the snow around her. With whatever life she has left she struggles back up onto her feet. Tariq breaks free and crawls to the back of the cart.

“Mamaan,” he screams. “Mamaan.”

Her mother looks stricken. From beneath her burqa she pulls out the envelope containing Dr. Abdullah’s letter. She collapses on the ground, and a woman in the bus behind lets out a piercing shriek. Soon soldiers are running past them until her mother’s body is lost amidst a sea of green uniforms. With the checkpoint no longer manned the donkey picks up its pace. The road bends to the left, and soon the checkpoint is out of sight.

Noor turns back and sees her father’s eyes are brimming with tears. In the back her brother lies on the straw sobbing while her sister sits immobile as a statue. Noor takes her father’s hand in hers, gives the donkey a whack with the reins, and they continue on out of the city.

Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Literary Fiction / Romance

Rating – PG13

More details about the author & the book

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Website http://www.ngosborne.com/

Saturday, April 27, 2013

Orangeberry Free Alert - Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability by Bruno McGrath

Genetically Modified Foods vs. Sustainability - Bruno McGrath

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre – Food & Cooking

Rating - PG

4.0 (14 reviews)

Free until 30 April 2013

Connect with Bruno McGrath on Facebook

Website http://moonstarluxury.com/

"We can't solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them." - Albert Einstein
This ebook points out the surrounding issues of genetically modified fruit and vegetables that consumers are unaware of. While several parties defend the use of technology to create food, it appears that little is being done to increase awareness about this matter to the end consumer.
It also points out alternative food sustainability options such as organic farming and land management. This ebook will indicate that although some parties agree that genetically modified food items are cost effective and considered safe, its long-term results have not been adequately researched and the use of pesticides on these items are far higher than for other types farming or food products.

Orangeberry Book of the Day - For Gods and For Me by James R. Johnson

Chapter 1

The black-clad figure slipped between trees and bushes under the darkness of night. The moon was hidden behind a sky filled with menacing clouds. Rabbits and field mice scattered from the hurrying figure, but not until he was close upon them. His stealth and speed were the attributes that won him this mission; not to mention the history he had with his contact.

              He floated over the fields and woods of the Italian countryside on his trek to Rome. He followed the Via Flaminia, the main road north out of Rome, at a distance to further hide his tracks. He crouched behind a large tree as he heard distant sounds he could not identify. Holding his breath as the wisps of his last breath dissolved into the cold night air, his eyes darted for any sign of movement. The night, an enemy itself, stabbed at his face and eyes. Searching for anyone following him, friendly or not, he tried to remain as still as the tree protecting him. This was a dangerous mission and he could not afford to be caught. He needed to pass on his information.

They have found him, he thought again to himself. It doesn’t make sense. Why now?

              He watched closely as the greenery waved to him in the wind. In the moonlight he saw the mausoleums lining the Via Flaminia, blue and cold, immovable in the wind. Rome was a city that believed the dead should not be buried within its walls. So, every main street out of the city was lined with mausoleums housing those who were respected. His path to life was shrouded in death.             

Seeing nothing to alarm him and hearing the only the biting wind of the night, he ventured on  toward the great city looming on the horizon. He tightened his cloak against the cold, spring air and continued at a brisk pace. The sooner he could deliver his message the sooner he could return home.

How do we know this information is even correct, he raged to himself. Senefann is taking too great a risk. And where is this information coming from? A spy, perhaps? Certainly a traitor of some kind. Traitors, by definition, cannot be trusted.

              He remembered telling Senefann, his tribal superior, “It is foolish to get involved in the plans and practices of the Gershenah.” For centuries he and his people had hidden themselves from the Gershenah’s intent to dominate mankind. What makes this one man special enough to risk interference, he wondered.

              “It has always been our charge to aid mankind”, Senefann had said plainly. “Whether we help them survive against the Gershenah or themselves, the task remains.”

              “We have been isolated for so long, why do we need to get involved now? Why do I need to get involved? Let him resist the Gershenah on his own as fate dictates.” He was very animated in his pleas to stay out of the fight. Had they learned nothing from the last fight, the Great Civil War?

After all, we helped create those that call themselves Gershenah, he remembered soberly. It is my fault as much as anyone’s.

              Rome began to loom larger and fiercer, nestled on its seven hills. In the early morning hours before dawn, drovers were herding their livestock toward the city for the market day. Dodging prying eyes became more difficult and time consuming. Once inside the city gates, it would become easier to move around unnoticed. The task would then become harder. Where was his contact hiding these days?

              He paused as a wagon carrying vegetables passed close by. Remaining unseen, he headed for the gate. His strategy for stealth changed as he mingled with merchants waiting to enter the city to sell their wares. He only hoped there were no Gershenah agents hiding among the merchants.

Normal and casual, he reminded himself as he tried to blend in. It serves nothing to be captured now.

              The sun broke the night and the light brought increased activity around the city. He slowed his pace and improvised a limp for good measure. As long as he could make it to the gate without speaking or being spoken to, he greatly increased his chances of success. Who knows how many Gershenah are watching for this kind of interference? Are they even still watching? We have been silent for centuries. Do they still see us as a threat to their new way of life?

              Thinking about the Gershenah was something he had not done for several hundred years, and for the last six days he had thought of little else. Those renegade immortals that spurned the teachings and commands of their creator ventured into human society to conquer and control. The end of the Great Civil War that forever split the immortal world replayed in his mind over and again. The Gershenah left behind the crumbled and broken Fenkheti, the immortals that lost the war. They were an immortal community ripped in two. Brothers, fathers, mothers and sisters torn apart as ideologies differed concerning their controversial creator.

I should have been banished along with the rest of the fighters he thought.

              The Fenkheti that were military leaders in the war against their brothers were banished. They were condemned to fight the Gershenah alone without the assistance or acknowledgement of those they represented, those they protected.  

              The gate drew near and the market day bustle was heavy. Good, he thought. His limp ensured that passersby would give him a wide berth and keep to themselves. A limp was a non-specific symptom that sent a simple message: steer clear.

As the guards looking over the wagons and herds entering the city spotted him, he could feel their penetrating eyes on him. They stood several meters in front of the gate, the Porta Fontinalis, which was the closest gate to the Forum in the Servian Wall. Armed guards were forbidden to enter the pomerium, the sacred area around the city of Rome that was protected by the divine spirit Roma. There must be real upheaval in the city for this demonstration of might.

Are these real guards or hidden Gershenah? He wrapped his hand tightly on the hilt of the sword he had stashed under his cloak.

              “Hold!” the larger of the soldiers said. He stopped immediately, head lowered, not raising his alert gaze higher than the armored legs of the soldier who approached him. He could hear the creaking of the cheek pieces in the hinge on the monteforino helmet. Only legionaries wore helmets like these.

              “Out of the way, old man”, the legionary grunted and shoved the messenger aside, heading for another man behind him. Letting his held breath escape slowly, he moved on slowly towards the city, limp still in place. He stumbled as he walked past the younger guard, who reflexively took a small step backwards. He smiled to himself and shuffled through the gate and into the city.

Now, where can I find that old fool?

              The sunlight pulled the shadows back from their lengthy trail as the day progressed. He carefully made his way through the busy Forum. This was the market day, which happened every nine days. It seemed as if every Roman needed to purchase something that day. With the sun higher in the sky, the grime and detritus of the city streets were much more evident. The islands of weeds that sprang up in the cobbled cracks of the streets brought some refreshing color to the monotonous hues of the dirt and straw littering the ground. The glorious days of the city, the triumph of engineering, lay forgotten and lost on the people who lived here.

              He moved outside the Forum and searched through the streets looking for any sign of his contact. His route took him through several temples, government buildings and apartment courtyards in the heart of the city. This is going to take longer than I thought, he said to himself in resignation.

              The shadows stretched to the other side of the city. Twilight was coming and he was no closer to finding his man than when he started. The flow of people; slaves and freedmen, nobles and plebs, had not diminished. At this time of the day, most of that traffic was heading towards the brothels and taverns. It would be difficult to search the brothels for his man, if he even indulged such trivialities. It was better to look in the wine establishments first.

              He searched one tavern after another and found little in the way of evidence. He received several glances of appraisal, presumably from thieves, and quickly fled the scene. No wonder these backward people need our help, he thought as he remembered the instructions to all the immortals before the Great Civil War; help the humans, be an aid to them, save them from themselves. Oh yes, how they needed it.

              It was hard to believe these people had the power to destroy the harmony of his peaceful village. Thousands of immortals were born and raised, living contentedly, away from the world of men and their problems. The creator taught them to be wise and thoughtful, always offering to assist mankind in their time of need. It was these teachings that eventually destroyed the fabric of their community. The Gershenah felt that with the superior power and knowledge the immortals possessed, a life of quiet assistance to a weaker race was ludicrous. This was why the war started - between those who wanted to follow the teachings of the creator and those who did not. After the Gershenah claimed victory, they set out on their own. The beaten Fenkheti banished those warriors who lost them the war, and became a nomadic tribe. The Fenkheti leadership council did not care that they were essentially disobeying the creator in the same way as the Gershenah. Fenkheti desired peace and to be left alone, Gershenah wanted to dominate and rule mankind. Only mankind was watching out for its own interests.

              He entered the last tavern in the Subura, the slum area of the city. It was no different from the many he had already explored. The light was dim, the women were scandalously dressed and the tables served as gambling centers. The wine flowed and the men were collectively drunk and merry. Their moods made his seem graver. The bar was filled to capacity with filthy bodies and loud clamorous carousing. Prostitutes wandered the mob looking for work. Servers moved tirelessly through the throng selling wine and stealing sips where they could.

As he stood in the doorway looking in, he saw his contact. The man he assumed was his goal was face-down on a table, hand clenching a wine cup. He was sharing the table with a rowdy dice game. Several men were around him, laughing and pointing.

              “Go on, he won’t feel a thing”, one of the men slurred as he pushed another toward the unconscious drunkard. The man he pushed was thin and gangly, hardly worth the clothes he wore. He stank of stale and fresh wine mixed with the odor of the unwashed.

              The gangly man stumbled through the crowd. From the doorway, the messenger watched as he slowly slid his hand into the pouch of the unconscious man on the table. The thief retrieved a few coins and raised them up in triumph, to the great delight of his cheering audience.

              The messenger took a step toward the thief who again plunged his hand into the pouch of his mark. This time however, the thin arm jerked violently as the unconscious man became quickly animated and took hold of the robber with both hands. In one swift motion, he bent the thief over, arm wrapped around his back, and threw him into the group of bystanders to their utmost entertainment. Many fell but a few remained standing on shaken legs. This was not very amusing, but at least the messenger had identified his man. And he was recognized as well.

              He stepped over to the table and stood facing the now awake and lively looking thug. The two men faced each other, ignored by everyone in the room. The look of importance on his face was evident to the drunk. The malice the look returned was penetrating and he was momentarily speechless. The rabble in the room increased their din and clamor as the two men surveyed each other.

              The drunkard was young and well built. His muscles could be seen stacked beneath his dirty tunic. He was bronze in color and his short, tight, curly hair was matted, standing up in unnatural places, presumably from passing out on the table. His eyes were a piercing grey, reminiscent of the goddess Minerva. Romans thought anyone with grey eyes was bestowed with wisdom from the great goddess. The messenger knew this to be absolutely true.

              “Salve, General”, he began before his jaw was violently knocked to his right as the drunkard swung and hit true. The impact sent him to the soiled floor. Picking himself up to the fascinated silence of the room, he locked gazes with his attacker, his contact. Without breaking his stare, he wiped the blood from his split lip. The crowd roared suddenly as one organism in its bloodlust, encouraging the fighters to continue dueling.

              “Good to see you again, too”, he whispered before he threw a punch back at the general. The drunkard stumbled back, barely escaping the thrust of the punch. As he continued forward after failing to land his attack, the drunkard again swung his stone fist. He staggered, dazed after the second strike. With one hand on his shoulder, the other on the right side of his head, the drunkard used the continued forward motion to swing him into the back wall, sending him to the floor in a crumpled mess. The drunkard lost his balance and collapsed onto a table of burly drinkers. They jumped to their feet and threw punches back toward the violator.

              The messenger shook his head to regain composure and focus, and looked back to see that the general had started another fight. He saw his opportunity to tackle the man and talk some sense into him before either of them hurt anyone. He leaped towards his target.

              The general stepped to the side and he landed squarely in the middle of a table occupied by much larger men. In the ensuing melée benches were thrown and cups of wine bounced off the walls. Oil lamps were broken on the floor, with little fires springing up here and there. It was then that the proprietor began throwing people out of the tavern.

              The fight spilled into the dark streets of the city. The general grabbed the messenger and dragged him away from the fracas. He stumbled and the general propped him up and half-carried him down the street and into an even darker alley.

              “Come on, old friend”, the general said and heaved him against the wall. Once he was able to stand on his own, the general slapped him to bring him around.

              “Ka’Tewet. Wake up”.

              He slowly opened his eyes again and focused on the general once more. “I think you could have found a better way of getting some privacy, Friend.”

              “And miss the chance to bloody an old warrior, even one as treacherous as you?” the drunkard stated without the slightest hint of intoxication.

“General”, he began.

“Don’t call me that. Those days are long gone.”

              Ka’Tewet nodded, understanding that the days were indeed long gone, centuries gone. “What are you calling yourself these days?”

              “Priscus. Nestor Priscus.”

              “What does it mean?”

              “It means you had better tell me what you’re doing here”, Priscus said.

              Licking his swollen lip again, he breathed in a rhythmic, controlled fashion to alleviate his rising anger. “The Gershenah have found him”, he said.

              “Found him”, Priscus began and stopped. He stepped away from his old friend and stared at the street’s opposite wall for several moments.

Ka’Tewet thought he knew what his general of old was thinking. If they’ve found the heir, then they have found her, the general’s reason for living…

              “As far as I know, they have only located him, the heir, and no one else. And they haven’t taken possession”, he ventured. “How they hunted him down, we don’t know, but they still seem intent on having the prophecy in their fold.”

              “It never was a prophecy, just a supposition from an old man. Sedjet wasn’t always the best at reading deeper than the surface”, Priscus stated.

              “Still calling himself that is he?”

              “Neser Sedjet, the scourge of the human world, self-appointed god of the Gershenah. Surprised?” Priscus asked with a smile.

              Neser Sedjet had given himself this name after he claimed victory in the Great Civil War that forever changed the isolated village of immortals many centuries before. The name itself, in the language of the early immortals, translates The Burning Flame. The arrogance of Sedjet was only matched by his skill in keeping his men in line, by whatever means necessary, usually violent.

              “I assume the Shebikem will pursue the heir and deliver him to Senefann for protection”, he said.

              The Shebikem were those war leaders banished by the Fenkheti, the elite few the Fenkheti tapped to defend them against Sedjet and his Gershenah army. When those Shebikem warriors lost the war, the Fenkheti leadership council banished them as punishment for their loss. Meanwhile, the thousands of surviving immortals left behind after the departure of the Gershenah coined the title Fenkheti for themselves.

              “If the Fenkheti want the heir, then you apprehend him. If the Shebikem find him, we’ll use him to bring that wicked Lifeblood down. Who is the heir and where do I find him?”

From the very beginning of their existence, the immortals had called themselves Lifebloods. They weren’t men or women. They were a creation that was greater and capable of so much more than mere mortals. No one remembered where the term came from or who started it, but all eventually accepted the label and made it their own. Every immortal, Fenkheti and Gershenah alike, proudly wore the badge of Lifeblood.

              “Priscus, we need to know what this is all about. There must be more to this than just having the heir in his possession. We need to know what is so special about him.”

              “Special? If Sedjet wants him, he has something that Sedjet needs. That makes him bait”, Priscus said smiling. “When Sedjet finds the heir, he’ll find me with him.”

              “Good. Then you can ask him what this is all about”, he said. Priscus looked at him and clapped him on the shoulder. Reassured, he told Priscus where to find the heir, the last born immortal, in the city of Rome.

              “So it begins again”, Priscus breathed.

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Buy Now @ Amazon

Genre – Urban Fantasy

Rating – PG13

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Connect with James R Johnson on Facebook & Twitter & GoodReads

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Friday, April 26, 2013

Orangeberry Free Alert - Aura by Doug Dandridge

Aura

Aura - Doug Dandridge

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Fantasy

Rating - PG13

4.8 (4 reviews)

Free until 29 April 2013

The Aura decides the fate of its possessor on this World of battling Gods. Those with a strong Aura are able to control the forces of magic. Those with weaker Auras are controlled by the strong. And those without an Aura are outside the game.
Triplets are born in an out of the way village to the headman and his wife. Ariel, the girl, has a more than double Aura, and is destined to become a mighty magic user, Mage or Priest. Aiden possesses a less than average Aura, and will be a soldier or laborer. Arlen has no Aura, and is seen as an abomination in the eyes of the Church of Baalra, the Dragon God. When Arlen is discovered the parents are killed by the soldiers of the Church. Ariel is taken to the capital to be raised to become the future Avatar of the God Baalra, while Aiden is sold into slavery. Arlen is rescued before he can be killed, to be raised as an Assassin of the Rosacaran Order, his purpose in life to destroy those Evil Priests thought to be too dangerous to live.
It will be up to the brothers to save their sister before she can be taken by Baalra, her soul destroyed and her body the powerful instrument of the Evil God. But can the triplets stand before the military and magical might of the Empire? Or will the boys die in a vain attempt to save their sister from damnation.

Orangeberry Book of the Day – Confession (Under Mr. Nolan’s Bed) by Selena Kitt

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FROM BESTSELLING & AWARD-WINNING AUTHOR SELENA KITT
OVER ONE MILLION BOOKS SOLD!

“With the mouth, confession is made into salvation…” ~ Romans 10:10.The shocking discovery best friends Leah and Erica have made under Mr. Nolan’s bed has them down the wicked path of temptation, both girls veering far from the narrow path dictated by their strict Catholic upbringing, and their sexual transgressions have had unintended consequences.

Erica finds her life turned upside down when Leah falls for Erica’s father, but just as Erica is beginning to accept their love for each other, Leah disappears. Bewildered and abandoned, Erica and Mr. Nolan are faced with sadness and confusion at their loss, but while Mr. Nolan spirals into mourning, Erica is determined to find her friend.

Erica can’t possibly know why Leah has vanished, but when she enlists the help of Father Michael, her search and the real reason for Leah’s disappearance intersect to uncover a multitude of shocking confessions and a secret that will shake not only the foundation of their faith, but the entire institution of the Catholic Church itself.

First in the series: TEMPTATION (Under Mr. Nolan’s Bed)

Look for the exciting conclusion to the trilogy, GRACE (Under Mr. Nolan’s Bed) coming in April 2013!

EXCERPT:

“Erica?” Father Michael looked down at her, curious. “Earth to Erica?”

She couldn’t tell him. It was too dangerous to tell him. She raised her head, looking into his eyes in the dimness, knowing she didn’t dare. She did the only thing she could think of to distract them both. She kissed him. This wasn’t like the last time, when it had been soft and sweet and light and easy. This kiss held everything, all the secrets, all the darkness, all the twists and turns in her, she put into the kiss, wrapping her arms around his neck, feeling the heat of his body, the way he held her.

“Erica…” He gasped as they parted, searching her eyes, and then he bridged the gap this time, taking her mouth, probing it open with his tongue, hands roaming under her long wool coat, her uniform blouse and skirt a thin barrier. She whimpered, struggling out of her coat. She pressed herself as fully against him as she could, letting him shift her weight, pulling her easily into his lap. He was wearing his cassock and collar, his uniformed commitment to the church and celibacy, but neither of them cared in that moment.

When he lifted her blouse, the heat of his hand was like a brand on her back, around to her belly, cupping the full weight of her breast. She moaned against his mouth, wanting more, more. She felt him, wiggling in his lap, so hard. She felt him through his priest’s robes, and she wanted him. She so desperately wanted him. She couldn’t fight it anymore, and he couldn’t either. They were lost in their lust, in the heated battle of their tongues, and they clung to each other as a soft white cover of snow on the windshield hid their passionate embrace.

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Genre – Adult / Historical Romance

Rating – NC17

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Connect with Selena Kitt on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://selenakitt.com/

Orangeberry Blast Off – The Exemeus by Folami Morris

Hyalee Smith is dead, she just doesn’t know it yet.

Her short life was devoted to love and to hate. Love of the man who stole her heart, hate for the man who stole the world. Murdered by the government she swore to destroy, she’s been given another chance to make it right. But to save the planet, she needs the help of the most powerful mystic the world has ever seen—unfortunately he hasn’t been born yet.

In a world where fear is the only currency, Dephon has committed the ultimate crime: inspiring hope.

His only goal is to make it safely through ninth grade, but on a post-apocalyptic Earth run by the Treptonian government, it isn’t that simple. Heir to a legendary power, Dephon Johnson is the only threat to the government’s rule. And on Trepton, all threats must be eliminated. When hundreds of assassins are dispatched to neutralize him, Dephon is forced to fight back. His only chance of survival is to enlist the aid of the greatest warrior the world has ever known. The only problem is, she’s been dead for 13 years.

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Genre – Young Adult

Rating – PG to PG13

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Connect with Folami Morris on Facebook & Twitter

Blog http://www.theexemeus.blogspot.com/

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Thursday, April 25, 2013

Orangeberry Book Tours – The Eden Plague: Book 1 (Plague Wars) by David VanDyke

A thriller/military science fiction apocalyptic technothriller.  BOOK 1 OF THE SERIES.

Rule #1: Try not to shoot your future wife. When special operations veteran Daniel Markis finds armed invaders in his home and it all goes sideways, he soon finds himself on the run from the shadowy Company and in possession of a biological breakthrough that might throw human society into chaos. Out of options, Daniel turns to his brothers in arms to fight back and get the answers he needs. Soon he takes possession of a secret that threatens the stability of the world, as he leads a conspiracy to change everything.

This thriller leads readers into the exciting and engrossing Plague Wars military science fiction series.

The Eden Plague is a science-fiction military techno-thriller in the tradition of Michael Crichton, Dean Koontz, with shades of David Drake, Jerry Pournelle, S. M. Stirling, Vaughn Heppner and B.V. Larson. Second Edition.

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Genre – SciFi /Adventure

Rating – PG13

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Connect with David Van Dyke on FacebookTwitter

Blog https://davidvandyke.wordpress.com/

Orangeberry Book of the Day - Jack Templar Monster Hunter by Jeff Gunhus

Excerpt from Jack Templar Monster Hunter

 

My name is Jack Templar and I am an orphan.

Just before my fourteenth birthday, I discovered that I came from a long line of monster hunters. You know, vampires, werewolves, zombies, you name it.

Not only that, but if monsters around the world could choose one human to kill, it would be me. Why? I haven’t a clue. I’d like to find out some day, but for right now, I’m happy just to stay alive.

WARNING

Yeah, you read it right. I’m a monster hunter.  Back before I actually became one, I would have thought that sounded totally awesome. And don’t get me wrong, in a lot of ways it is.  But most of the time, I’m either running for my life or hiding in the shadows, praying the monster chasing me doesn’t pick up my scent. And I’m almost always scared to death. In a few pages, I think you’ll see why.

But there are a few things I need to warn you about before I tell you my story.

First, this isn’t a cartoon. These are bloodthirsty creatures who will stop at nothing to kill. They are scary. Very scary. Second, the only way to stop them is to kill them first…and that gets gross and messy. Third, this is all real.

You think I’m kidding, don’t you? I can almost see you smirking as you read this. But this isn’t a joke. Monsters are real and the story I’m about to tell you really happened. If you’d rather walk through life believing that monsters are only found in books or on the movie screen, then you should shut this book right now and go do something else.

I give you these warnings because the story I’m about to tell you isn’t for everyone. Not everyone can handle it. The blood. The gore. The monsters.

This life was thrust onto me. I had no choice but to take up a sword and fight. But you can still walk away and pretend this dark world doesn’t exist. Or you can walk through the door that I’m about to open and find out the truth about the world around you.

But I warn you (and this is a big warning), if you read this book, if you learn about the monsters that roam among us and the hunters who fight them, if you decide to learn the truth, then you will become fair game for the monsters to chase.

Make sure you understand what I’m saying.

If you read this book, you will be part of this world and the monsters will come after you too. You will start to see things that no other humans can see. The shadows will move when you walk near them. The creatures of the night will seek you out, testing the doors and windows of your house, looking for a way in.

And, at some point, they will find you, just like they found me, and you will be forced to defend yourself.

So, think carefully before you turn the page, because once you do, there’s no turning back.

Ever.

Once a monster hunter, always a monster hunter.

See you on the other side.

If you’re brave enough. 

WARNING #2

OK, so looks like you were brave enough (or stupid enough) to ignore my warning. I would say congratulations, but that might imply that I think you made the right choice. Just promise that you won’t say later that I didn’t warn you.

See, I don’t want you to be a big crybaby later on and complain to me that you can’t fall asleep because of all the creepy-crawlies in your room. Or that it’s my fault that a werewolf chewed off your left foot. Or that one of your eyes was plucked out by a harpy when you weren’t looking.  

I especially don’t want any grief from your parents or from your teachers if you’re too scared at night. I’m going to say it as simply as I can:

THIS BOOK IS TOTALLY INAPPROPRIATE.

I’M SERIOUS. IT IS.

If you think there’s someone in your life who’s not going to approve of you reading about monsters eating people in gruesome ways, or of monsters getting killed in even worse ways, then I suggest you do one of two things:

a) Don’t read the book

b) Hide the book and don’t tell them you’re reading it.

And whatever you do, don’t let them read it. That would be the worse thing. Imagine if you started to read this book, then you got it taken away from you before you got done. You’d have monsters looking for you and you’d have no idea how to fight them. You’d be a sitting duck.

So, are we clear? No parents. No teachers. No crybabies.

If you’re still in, turn the page and I’ll tell you a story you’re not going to believe.

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Genre – Middle Grade / YA Fantasy

Rating – PG

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Connect with Jeff Gunhus on Facebook & Twitter

Website http://www.jacktemplar.com/

Wednesday, April 24, 2013

Orangeberry Book Of The Day - Widow Woman by Julia Tagliere

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Chapter One

The salt-bleached pavement unwound behind the brand-new ‘62 Dodge Dart 440 wagon, borrowed from our neighbor to save on the airfare to Minneapolis. His unexpected kindness eliminated our need to rent a car for all the driving we’d be doing over the next few days. Flying back would have been easier but I’d been in no condition to protest.

I fixed my attention out the window, counting the sooty, aging snow berms lining the roadside. My mother’s ashes, nestled in the urn at my feet, overshadowed everything as we made the one-way trip back to Graceville from her home in nearby tiny Cokato.

Tense and hungry, I rooted through my box of peanut M&M’s for a yellow one. I held it up to the window, masochistically focusing on the little makeshift sun that hurt my eyes almost as much as the blue sky.

I popped it into my mouth and Peter murmured, “Breakfast of champions,” and held out his hand. “Though Wheaties would be healthier.”

“At least it’s not a cigarette,” I said, dropping a red one into his open palm.

We shared the rest of the box in silence. I closed my eyes, but the memories relentlessly pinched and prodded at me:

The first desperate call from Catherine, Mom’s best friend.

The neighbors’ voices, urgent, in the background.

The endless long-distance wait for word.

Peter, across the room, not knowing how, or whether, to console me.

The second call. We lost her. She’s gone.

Gone.

I turned my attention back to the window, concentrating on keeping my cheeks dry. I tried to doze, the slideshow of memories continuing their assault behind my eyelids.

First I heard Mom’s throaty laugh, erupting over one of her corny puns, shared around the bonfire. I closed my eyes, smelling the smoke. About to leave for college, I was scared; she was not.

“I’m so proud of you. You’re going to have such adventures. I wish I could go with you,” she whispered, hugging me fiercely.

The memory shifted to a sudden taste on my tongue of our regular weekend breakfasts: feasts of blueberry pancakes, burnt bacon, and inexhaustible chatter.

Mom’s last letter had arrived at our house in Nebraska the day she died.

Come home, Audrey. You can stay here for a few days until you figure things out with Peter. Even with Mom gone I’d still considered going back, to think things through. But could I call it home anymore without her there? There was always Catherine—

“How much farther?” Peter’s voice startled me awake.

I rubbed my swollen eyes and squinted out the windshield at Catherine’s car, poking along ahead of us. We were now onto the next step in this mind-boggling process. I had, with Catherine’s help, planned the funeral long distance, and as soon as we arrived we held a memorial service to honor Mom. Friends, co-workers, her former students of all ages, neighbors, and townspeople all attended and said nice things about Mom, things I had forgotten or had never known, but which eased my saddened heart.

Now we were completing the most final of steps—scattering her ashes.

“I don’t know, Peter. I haven’t been up here in years,” I yawned, exhausted and disoriented.

“I thought your grandparents lived here,” Peter said.

“Yes, but after they died, we never came up here anymore. I think it was too hard for Mom.”

That had been a terrible time for her, my grandparents’ dying in a car accident so close on the heels of her divorce from my father, Hank. Catherine’s news last week that Mom had held onto her parents’ farm outside of Graceville had taken me by surprise.

Ahead of us, Catherine’s car—my mother’s old Plymouth—slowed.

 

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Genre – Women’s Fiction

Rating – PG13

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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Orangeberry Book Tours – The Symbolon (The Sibylline Trilogy) by Delia Colvin

The Symbolon is the passionate second novel of the addictive Sibylline Trilogy!

For 3000 years, Alex has dreamt of a life with his mortal beloved, Valeria. And it appears that they will at last have a chance for a life together!

But when they approach the ancient council of immortals, for approval of the marriage,
they discover that sinister forces object to their union. Soon they find themselves faced with terrifying threats including a devastating separation that neither may survive!

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Genre – Paranormal

Rating – PG

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Website http://www.deliacolvin.com/

Review: The Symbolon by Delia Colvin

The Symbolon (The Sibylline Trilogy, #2)The Symbolon by Delia J. Colvin
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

What is the time period in which the book happens? It's summer. It jumps from 500 years to 3000 prior.

What was the problem in the book, and how was it solved? The problem was Alex and Valeria want to be married. But Alex is already married. They escape the ancient council of immortals.

What kind of book is this? List three evidences of this This book is fiction. Vampires, Ancient council of Immortals, Reincarnation.

What was the author's purpose or purposes in writing this book? To write a really passionate love story with a little vamp's thrown in for good measure.
Disclosure: I received a review copy of this book from the author.

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Monday, April 22, 2013

Orangeberry Free Alert - Water by Terra Harmony

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Water - Terra Harmony

Amazon Kindle US

Amazon Kindle UK

Genre - Fantasy

Rating - R (Mature)

3.8 (64 reviews)

Free until 30 April 2013

Elemental powers in the palm of her hand…and it won't be enough to save her. When Kaitlyn Alder is involuntarily introduced to a life of magic, she becomes part of an organization hell-bent on saving the Earth. Her newfound life holds promises of purpose, romance, and friendship, but the organization divides and a rogue member holds Kaitlyn hostage. Now one of the most terrifying men the human race has to offer stands between her and Earth's survival.
This novel contains sexual situations, some non-consensual, and is for mature readers only.

Orangeberry Book of the Day – Double or Nothing by Meg Mims

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A mysterious explosion. A man framed for murder. A strong woman determined to prove his innocence.

October, 1869: Lily Granville, heiress to a considerable fortune, rebels against her uncle’s strict rules. Ace Diamond, determined to win Lily, invests in a dynamite factory but his success fails to impress her guardian. An explosion in San Francisco, mere hours before Lily elopes with Ace to avoid a forced marriage, sets off a chain of consequences.

When Ace is framed for murder before their wedding night, Lily must find proof to save him from a hangman’s noose. Will she become a widow before a true wife?

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Genre – Western Historical Mystery

Rating – PG

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Orangeberry Book Of The Day - Deadly Memories by S.D. O’Donnell (Excerpt)

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Who is the beautiful Jayne Doe? And why does someone want to kill her?

Ex-detective Saul Becker learned the hard way not to get involved in the troubles of beautiful women. But what else can he do when a barefoot, catatonic Jayne Doe turns up practically in his backyard? Who is she, and what is she so afraid of?

Jayne Doe doesn’t remember anything about her life before she crawled into a hollow tree at the lake next to Saul’s home.. All she knows is that she’s afraid of something—or someone.

Together, Saul and Jayne set out to uncover her past. But they are in more danger than they know, and it will take all of Saul’s skill and training to track down the past that’s stalking them.

Deadly Memories is a fast-paced novel with unexpected twists and a surprise ending.

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Genre – Murder / Thriller

Rating – PG13 (some foul language, a few short love scenes)

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PROLOGUE

SHE HUDDLED ON DAMP EARTH, knees to her chest, back pressed against something rough and wet, comforted by the smallness of her retreat. A thin cold film of moisture enveloped her skin. Why? When had that happened?

Honking geese broke the silence, reminded her that a bigger world still thrived, outside.

Dew. That’s what the film of moisture was.

She didn’t want the night to end, wanted to stay in the quiet, alone in the darkness, the smallness. She heard splashes, a duck’s quack, piercing yips that passed and faded into the distance.

Each sound scraped against her nerves.

Wet drops traced down her checks. Fat drops. Not dew. She heard a sob and realized it was hers.

Someone called out, “Hello?”

She gasped.

“Are you okay?”

She needed a new place to hide, one where morning couldn’t reach her. Without moving, without thinking, she escaped to a safer, even smaller place.

CHAPTER 1

SAUL BECKER SURFED THE WASTELAND of early morning television, one of his more successful tactics for overcoming insomnia. When that didn’t work, he sat for hours in the dark, thoughts tumbling through his head like clothes in the dryer.

He’d finally achieved a kind of mental numbness he would have happily called sleep when a shrill noise brought him out of his chair. He yanked a pistol from the end table drawer before the phone rang a second time. Feeling like an idiot, he glanced at the clock as he picked up the receiver. It was seven thirty.

“What?” he said, his voice like gravel.

It was his elderly neighbor, Mrs. Blackstone. Her voice sounded an octave higher than normal as she rattled off something he didn’t quite follow.

“Say again?”

He slid his custom Colt Series 70 M1911A2 back into the drawer.

“Get down here,” she said. “There’s a lady crying inside the tree.”

Saul took a moment to stretch in the cool August morning before jogging down to the lake behind his townhome. He could see the Rocky Mountains on the western horizon, the early morning air north of Denver still clear enough to make the foothills seem closer than they really were.

He worked hard to stay in shape, proud to still be lean and muscled as he edged over forty. He had fair skin, sky-blue eyes, and sandy hair with hints of red. Add his freckles, and he looked a stereotypical Irishman.

The townhomes were built on top of a hill and he kept his stride short as he ran down the trail to the lake. When he got close, he saw Mrs. Blackstone pacing beside a huge cottonwood tree. Two patrol cops watched from fifty feet away. They jerked around at the sound of his approach, hands moving toward the service pistols at their waists. Saul braked to a walk, holding his hands up, palms out.

When he was close enough to identify who they were, presuming they could do the same, he lowered his hands and called out a greeting.

“Roan. Mathews. Been a while.”

Roan’s height made Saul’s 6’4” look short and Roan was built to intimidate. Mathews was barely 5’ 10” and looked more like a geek than a cop, right down to the thick glasses sitting on the bottom of his nose.

“Becker.” Roan rubbed a hand across the stubble on his chin. His palm didn’t hide a slight frown. “What’re you doing here?”

“That’s my neighbor.” Saul nodded at the white-haired woman next to the tree, who interrupted her pacing to dab at her eyes with the edge of a thick shawl. “She called me, I told her to call you.”

“So we’ve got you to thank for this end-of-shift call,” Roan said.

“Thank the woman she found. You seen her yet?”

Mathews rolled his eyes. “We were just wondering if your neighbor isn’t quite right in her head. Maybe what we really need here is the loony toon squad.”

“Why?” Saul said.

A yawn cut off Roan’s snicker. “She pointed to the tree and yelled, ‘She’s in there.’ What would you think?”

“That the woman is inside the tree.”

Saul sprinted down the path and circled around to the side of the tree where Mrs. Blackstone waited.

“Finally.” She gestured at the tree. “Go see if she’s okay.”

Several years prior a lightning-induced fire had burned through about five feet of the trunk’s interior from the ground up, creating a hollow that still smelled of stale smoke, and a black-rimmed hole that allowed entrance.

Saul ducked inside and squatted for a minute to let his eyes adjust to the shadows. A woman sat with her legs pulled up, her arms wrapped around them, and her face buried between her knees.

She didn’t move when Saul said hello. She didn’t move when he tugged gently on her arm.

“Well?” Roan’s voice sounded muffled. “What’s in there?”

“I told you already,” Mrs. Blackstone said. “It’s a woman. She was crying.” Saul heard impatience in her answer.

“Not crying anymore.” Saul backed out of the tree. “Don’t think she’s all there mentally.”

“You couldn’t have brought her out with you?” Mathews said.

Saul shrugged. “I gave her a tug. She didn’t want to come.”

“Aw, shit.” Roan pressed his hand against the rough bark as he bent over, looking as if he had folded himself in half. He emitted a low whistle. “This is your job, Mathews. I won’t fit.”

Mathews took his turn to look inside.

“If I do this myself,” he said as he crawled into the tree, “you owe me big time.”

From outside, they heard Mathew’s grunts, interspersed with a string of curses.

“Do something,” Mrs. Blackstone said, with a light push on Saul’s shoulder.

“You know I don’t do this for a living anymore.”

“Hey!” Mathews yelled. “Need some help here.”

He’d maneuvered the woman to the opening. Saul took her elbow and held her head down with his other hand until she cleared the entrance. Once she was standing, he kept his grip until he was certain she wouldn’t bolt.

She was close to 5’ 11”, underfed, no older than her mid-thirties. Her shoulder-length pale blond hair resembled fine silk, though it was stringy and matted. Sapphire eyes with specks of gold blinked in an uneven pattern. Lines of dirt streaked across a perfect face. Even dirty and disheveled, she belonged in a class of gorgeous Saul had only seen on a movie screen.

She wore faded jeans, a dingy gray T-shirt, and a purple hoodie. No socks or shoes.

“I don’t see anything else in there,” Mathews said, flexing his back when he was out of the tree. “She seems okay except for being nonresponsive. What do you think, Roan? Call an ambulance or take her back and call Social Services?”

“We call an ambulance—one of us has to sit with her at the hospital.”

“One of us is gonna have to sit with her anyway.”

“Hanging out at the station beats the hospital.”

Roan placed his hand on the woman’s arm and took a few steps. She moved with him.

“Hold on,” Mrs. Blackstone said. “She’s barefoot.”

Roan glanced up the trail.

“Short of throwing her over my shoulder, I don’t think we have any choice here.” He shortened his stride to match the woman’s but began walking faster as they neared the parking lot. The woman stumbled.

Saul sprinted forward to catch her. The maneuver left her lax body tightly wound in his arms and he felt a memory playing hide-and-seek. It vanished before he could place it.

Within minutes of reaching their vehicle, Roan, Mathews, and the woman were gone. Saul and Mrs. Blackstone retreated up the hill to their homes.

They lived in a group of townhomes known as The Courtyard. Saul paused at the edge of the real estate’s namesake, a square yard in the middle of the U-shaped complex, hoping the sunlight would burn away the memory that had threatened him as he caught the stumbling woman.

Instead of burning away, it ripped open. Every muscle from his face to his feet clenched in a surge of rage and grief.

The woman in the park had felt like Martha.

Closing his eyes, he shoved all recall of her back into the off-limit corners of his mind.

He opened his eyes to Mrs. Blackstone watching him.

“Tea,” Mrs. Blackstone said. It wasn’t a question.

When they reached her door, they found her potted plants scattered across the ground. Some of the pots were broken.

“Well, look at the mess our raccoons have made,” Mrs. Blackstone said.

Saul bent to pick up a pot.

“Leave them be.” She slapped his hand away. “I’ll take care of it myself in a bit.”

A faint pattern in the scattered dirt looked almost like a smiley face. He startled, then shrugged. The wind must have swirled through the yard and used the dirt as canvas. He followed his neighbor inside, where he was greeted by the faint aroma of potpourri.

He waited on the sofa while she brewed one of her custom tea blends. She served his in a thick-walled mug, then sat in an armchair across from him. Her hands shook visibly and her china cup rattled against the saucer when she lowered it.

“I wonder what happened to her.” She sighed. “Poor thing. And so lovely too, wasn’t she?”

Saul grunted in agreement, happy that his neighbor’s equilibrium seemed to improve with each sip of tea. He put his empty mug in the sink and made it as far as the door before she spoke again.

“Saul?”

He knew that tone.

“I just can’t stop worrying about her. Would you go down to the station and make sure she’s okay?”

He didn’t think she really understood what she was asking, but then he wasn’t sure it would stop her if she did. He rubbed an open palm over his stomach as it hardened into a knot and wished he’d just let the damn phone keep ringing.