Moonrise CH51 – Children of the Moon

[3370 words]Renewed vigor carried Joaquin through the littered streets, his body swaying with the rhythm of exhaustion mixed with unsatisfied fury. He mine swept across a rough patch of land, being watched by more eyes than he would have wanted. Betty, Nightwave, Quake, Kid, and Miles followed close.

“Trouble ahead,” Nightwave announced, pointing across the street at a convenience store’s parking lot.

A handful of smashed hoods in their twenty’s jumped a police patrol. They were chanting rhymes, rocking the car, kicking dents in its doors with their pristine white sneakers. Classic scene, Joaquin thought, adding it to the fourth position on his shit list, right after breaking and entering. In an unsuccessful attempt to drive off, the patrol car’s tires spun.

Quake sent a minor tremor their way, shaking the ground under the car with enough intensity to throw off half the hoodlums and get the others running like mad, shouting obscenities from afar. Half the block caught on the quake, car alarms lighting up the length of the street with alternating red blinking lights.

Joaquin turned away from the main street, taking a shortcut, his group still close behind. They arrived in front of a black back door, indicating no welcome or entry. Massey, Anne, and Andy were already there, trying to look less out of place than standing in some alley in the middle of the night.

“J, you never mentioned your guardian was such a good looking man,” Quake whispered into Joaquin’s ear.

“He’s on the straight and narrow fool. And he’s a cop.”

Quake pouted. “Shame. Double shame.”

Seeing them all surprised Joaquin. He reacquainted himself with their faces; long lost friends he thought he wouldn’t see again, wouldn’t need to see again. Massey’s five o’clock shadow had grown into a neatly trimmed beard riddled with greys and whites, changing his expression. His eyes were still warm and kind as they studied Joaquin. His slight grin subsided when Andy came into view. As always, Andy’s hair was messy, but his posture wasn’t that of the geeky fast-talker obsessing over supers in that dingy apartment anymore.

“You lot look like shit. Were you mauled by bears on the way here?” Anne didn’t leave a time slot for his reply. “Alright, let’s talk, or do you want to keep silently staring at each other?”

Joaquin snapped out of it, blinking the momentary relapse in memory.

“We talk inside,” he cocked his head toward the black door.

“Inside where?” Massey asked.

“A safe place,” Betty reassured. Joaquin noticed how she chose not to look Massey in the eye, like he’d know that she went berserk on a Prowler earlier.

Joaquin thundered his fist against the steel door.
Continue reading


Cover Reveal – War of the Worlds: Retaliation

Those of you who follow me on Twitter, or John on Facebook, have already seen this, but read the whole thing for more exciting news!

It’s should be old news to you, but John and I signed a contract with Severed Press for them to distribute the English eBook and paperback of War of the Worlds: Retaliation worldwide! They re-edited the story, and came up with a killer cover:

 
Pretty epic, huh?

I promised exciting news, so here it is: Severed Press is interested in another War of the Worlds sequel, and it just so happens that John and I have an outlines for two more books. We’re currently in negotiations for book number two!


Moonrise CH50 – Gut Punched

[2930 words]The chimney missed them by bits with the larger portion of its body crashing into no mans’ land but the top of the thing slammed into the street right beside them catching wires and pulling down poles as it went. It set a cloud of dust and concrete that scattered them. On the opposite side the skeleton of the building was caving into the ground where a large lightning scar separated the street giving the foundations an unstable feeling. Iron rods from the fifth floor came tumbling down giving a ringing sound. One of them went right through a Prowler grounding him permanently where the rest of his squad tried to escape. With dust in his eyes Joaquin was flying blind. He sprinted toward where he thought the van was but it all felt the same, disorientation and darkness doing their job.

“Over here! Joaquin, this way!” Following Kid’s voice Joaquin maneuvered through the settling dust. He could hear the screech the tilting building gave threatening to collapse any second now. He was finally out of the dust cloud when he heard her voice.

“I don’t get what’s so special about you but Globe seems utterly fascinated. Still I don’t think he’ll mind if you are somewhat… damaged.”

Joaquin spun around meeting the butt of a gun to his face. He stumbled backwards.

“When I reached out to Globe and told him who I was and who I worked with he lit up like a Christmas tree.”

Cosma fired the stasis rifle, once, twice, thrice. The rounds caught him square in the chest, not harming but slowing down his reflexes.

“Why didn’t you turn us in sooner?”

She rolled her eyes.

“What makes you think I didn’t?”

Joaquin didn’t know at what value to take her words.

“He’s bullshiting you and you know it. Look what he’s done to people like us!”

Cosma cocked her head. “Saving them? He’s doing just that.”

“He’s hunting us like pray, experimenting on us. C’mon! You spent three months fightin’ against him.”

She just shook her head. “I’ve already been saved, given a purpose beyond this pity little game you called vigilantism. I can be a Goddess. And you can be just some test dummy labeled in a jar. I’m just sad dear old Betty isn’t here to see me wipe that smug look off your face.”

Cosma waved her hand manifesting the vacuum prison. Joaquin wiggled as it started crawling around his body, the cool black substance like jelly putting impossible weight on his limbs. The crushing strength of space encompassed him.

“Step away from him, bitch.”

Joaquin watched a bullet erupt through Cosma’s middle. She stumbled, the vacuum bubble bursting to nothingness. Her fingers clutched at her stomach, blood spilling between her fingers. Some words bubbled on her lips, incomprehensible now. She hit the ground, body curling. Then she lay still. Joaquin’s searching eyes found the shooter and he lighted up when he saw Betty trembling with her gun still raised. She helped him up.

“Looks like you guys have it all under control.” She raised an eyebrow, eyeing the destruction that surrounded them.

“Where the hell were you?”

“To see a man about a horse.”

Joaquin blinked confused.
Continue reading


The Piper’s Price, by Audrey Greenhouse

Peter is plotting his retaliation against the latest bombing. Neverland needs an army, and Peter Pan is certain children will join him once they know what is at stake. The lost boys and girls are planning an invasion in suburbia to recruit, but in order to deliver their message, they will need the help of an old and dangerous associate—the infamous Pied Piper. Hunting him down will require a spy in in the real world, and Gwen soon finds herself in charge of locating the Piper and cutting an uncertain deal with him. She isn’t sure if Peter trusts her that much, or if he’s just trying to keep her away from him in Neverland. Are they friends, or just allies? But Peter might not even matter now that she’s nearly home and meeting with Jay again. The Piper isn’t the only one hiding from the adults’ war on magic though, and when Gwen goes back to reality, she’ll have to confront one of Peter’s oldest friends… and one of his earliest enemies.

The Potter-esque trope of the fanciful children at odds with the stuffy adults is alive and well with the sequel.

The Good: The writing was crisp and suspenseful. There aren’t any questionable situations or swearing, so this is acceptable for all reading ages and levels. I expected to enjoy The Piper’s Price since I enjoyed The Neverland Wars and I was not disappointed. The oddities in the writing that I mentioned were gone in the sequel.

The Bad: Pan is still emo. Why is it that the adults want to destroy Neverland? There is a bit of talk of needing magic, but overall, the needs and desires of the adults are pretty one-dimensional. The Pied Piper, who I expected to read more about, seemed to be woefully underwhelming, especially since he had the power to turn the tide of the war.

The Beautiful: I’m still not a fan of Peter Pan as a fairy tale, but I am a fan of Audrey Greathouse. I had a lot of fun reading The Piper’s Price. If you like fairy tale retellings, then you’ll like both books by Audrey Greathouse.

The Final Word: Just like The Neverland Wars, The Piper’s Price is a suspenseful read appropriate for all ages. As far as a star rating is concerned, I think The Piper’s Price is a slightly better story, and it deserves a solid four stars.

audrey-greathouse

Audrey Greathouse is a Seattle-based author of science-fiction and fantasy. Raised in the suburbs, she became a writer after being introduced to NaNoWriMo during her sophmore year of high school. Since then, she has drafted more than a dozen books, 100 sonnets, and 800 other poems, and a handful of short stories and one-act plays. After dropping out of her university and beginning training as a circus performer on the aerial silks, she returned to school to study at Southern New Hampshire University College of Online and Continuing Education to earn her B.A. in English Language and Literature, with a minor in Computer Information Technologies. Audrey Greathouse is a die-hard punk cabaret fan, and pianist of fourteen years. She’s usually somewhere along the west coast, and she is always writing.

Amazon
Goodreads
https://www.audreygreathouse.com/
Twitter


Moonrise CH49 – Seismic Evening

[3148 words]Joaquin tucked the semi-automatic in the waistband of his jeans preparing to leave the church. He didn’t need prayers, nor a blessing to see this mission through. His able hands flexed.

“Yo, Joaquin, ain’t we waiting for the cop?” Nightwave joined him in his stride.

“Told you she would be a no-show,” Cosma threw mockingly. “Poor baby is too scared of the Nightprowlers.”

That resulted in a snicker from Quake and an uncomfortable head scratch from Kid. The boy liked Betty and Joaquin thought it might be a little more than just a friendly thing. Joaquin’s eyes turned to slits but he remained silent. His impulsive reaction was to think Betty had ditched them, gone to Massey. The thought that made him bite his lip was that Betty had been caught. She hadn’t picked up the phone when he called, hadn’t done that the second and third time either.

Choosing to ignore the first and pursue the second thought distracted Joaquin from the task at hand. If she was in danger she could use their help but securing Miles Jensen was equally important and they had only one chance at that. Then again the prospect of Betty captured and tortured frustrated him deeply. Joaquin chased those demons away. The dome of the place weighted on him filling him with regrets and doubts. It amounted feelings atop of him, tightening his chest with the responsibility of someone’s life lying in his hands. This church was a quiet torturer itself. Joaquin set his jaw firmly waving a hand, the decision made.

“Naw, we go. We got this.”

They looked suspicious together so they moved separately through the bustling chatter of the city, its wet grimacing face stretched to sharp outlines, skyscrapers lost amidst low rolling clouds, the only things see-through – the tall glimmering lights, promises written in nostalgic neon, pop colors spilling through the old cowboy with the cigarette and down the length of the “ladies” in drag. They rejoined in the dark where there was nothing above a whisper, no color but that diluted grey that reflected their figures in dusty car windows, in pools of rainwater eagerly savored by grey dogs with yellow eyes sniffing their true purpose through their dark clothes.

At the interception location there was a sense of vastness; low buildings, modern shacks drenched in dark, concrete ambitions sprung from the ground soon to house businesses; tall smokeless chimneys loomed in the background close enough to breath in the poisonous smoke they puffed out lazily into the starless sky. Joaquin closed his eyes taking in the ambient atmosphere, the stretching night cool and quiet save for the distant rumble of the departing storm. Postcard scenery, eerie and calm drenched in the dull glow of buzzing lights. The asphalt was slick, the moist in the air still detectable, a refreshing sensation against his skin. He opened his eyes and pointed one long finger north.

“Tha’s where the van would be comin’ from. I want eyes on it before it hits that curve and comes swingin’ our way. Kid, get up on that building see if you got a clear vision.”

As Kid, with his backpack holding a baseball bat in place, began climbing up the front skeleton of an unfinished construction doing fast rounds on the makeshift pull up bars, Joaquin turned to Quake, Nightwave and Cosma.

“As soon as Kid gives the signal I wants you two ready to jump the van once Quake flips it like a pancake.” He received their nod of approval.

“No problem mijo. They’ll feel the night close to their hearts,” Nightwave sniggered.
Continue reading


A Second Chance at Life, by Kassandra Lynn

Lady Elaina had everything—wealth, title, and irresistible beauty—until her jealous half-sister ruined her reputation and forced her into a disgraceful marriage. She died amidst the flames, murdered and betrayed by her husband and half-sister. As the flames roared, the loss of her unborn child created a thirst for revenge. A magical amulet sent her two years back in time. She has another chance to make things right for herself and her family, yet what began as a plot to undermine her half-sister’s machinations quickly evolved into a political conspiracy that will rock the entire empire and make Elaina realize she might not have traveled back in time alone.

I’m always a sucker for time travel stories. From the zany Bill Murray in Groundhog Day to adventures through time like Timeless, I love me some time travel. So, when I saw A Second Chance at Life on NetGalley, I was all in. It was categorized as romance and science fiction, but the romance elements are pretty light. There was a little bit of violence and some sex, but nothing more than a PG-13 movie. The story had strong mystery elements, and it was definitely full of action and adventure, including a twist near the end that I did not see coming.

I read the entire book on a 6-hour road trip. I enjoyed the aspect that even with foreknowledge, Elaina still managed to find herself in compromising situations. I was hooked from the first chapter, and devoured the story as it unfolded. I relished in Elaina’s strength, but shuddered at her bumbling over and over again.

Although the time period and location are not known, the vibe I got from the story placed the characters in a pre-Victorian patriarchal society, so there was a lot of sexism in the story. I’d imagine that more than one reader would find this off-putting, but unfortunately, most of the sexism and androcentrism portrayed in the story is not too far from the truth even in the year 2017.

I enjoyed the story, and look forward to reading more installments by Kassandra Lynn. A four-star read worthy of your time. Kindle Unlimited readers can get it for free.

Kassandra Lynn is the author of Book of Immortals series and Demon Kingdom Fairy Tales series. Her favorite genres are fantasy and romance. She especially enjoys reading and writing about unique concepts, unpredictable plots, and protagonists who aren’t the typical protagonists.

Amazon
Goodreads
http://www.kassandralynn.com/


Moonrise CH48 – Tunnel Vision

[3590 words]April is mega-chapter Moonrise conclusion month. This week and next week, you’ll see an oversized chapter on Monday and Friday. April 24th through the 28th will be a chapter every day!

* * *

They slipped through the twisted gate barring the entrance of the underpass to enter a concealed world filled with the stench of stale water mixed with urine. Their hoods came off, eyes blinked to regain sense of the impenetrable darkness. Anne produced a glow stick and snapped it, a steady blue glow soothing the atmosphere. Massey followed suit providing light from behind revealing spray-painted panels, faceless caricatures of people and grotesque snails made up from swirling letters. They jumped down from the white-tiled platform and swiveled along with the curve of the primitive tunnel with its single lonely track.

On some nights while going through the routine, Anne thought the walls of the tunnel echoed her rising heartbeat back and forth along the hollow length of the dank sleeve, multiplying it to make it sound like some giant beast was there with them crawling like a shadow along their weak ones, waiting patiently in the dark ahead. The hiss of air coming from her parted lips whistling back through the ceiling holes didn’t help battle the image either. The first time they had come down here they were met with two mole people securing themselves from the pouring rain on the basic platform stretching along the rail. Massey scared them off easily enough but now every time they crossed this path of dangerous righteousness, Anne expected a worse type of guest waiting for them. Her mind liked putting Globe there, a ridiculous thought. Jacob Globe would never dirty his expensive suit in a sewer like this.

The gravel on the narrow yard crunched under her boots as she followed the imprints of long lost train tracks, no doubt dug out and cut to be sold rather than reused on another line. The remainder of them had collapsed, submerged under the pool of water gathered in a slope.

The gray water pooled ankle deep then knee deep and Anne slowed down to let the refugees get their bearings. Fragile light from outside briefly entered the tunnel through punctured holes in the semi-healthy roof. The walls leaked with cool water from ancient yellow pipes, the drip-drop the only other sound apart from their sloshing feet and labored breathing. They reached a man-made clearing in the debris where the roof had caved in creating a dam of large blocks of cement and century-old materials from the original construction. It still required them to crawl through a gap on all fours scraping foul smells and muck on their palms. The 1930’s collapse followed by the 2009 collapse had permanently locked the better part of the tunnel abandoning it to stream in the city filth, creating a convenient escape route in the process.

Years ago while still functional, the tunnel would have opened through a wide portal climbing to the surface, rising from a lower level before descending again after the train had made its brief stop. Now, this was its last stop as the tracks faded into gravel blending into sand. The rest of the tunnel was nonexistent, collapsed fully and cleared away abandoning the territory to the spread of industrial, red and yellow shipping containers stacked behind a fence. Anne quickened her pace, dropped the glow stick, crushing it under her boot.
Continue reading