Don’t Go Gently into That Beastly Night?

Recently, I saw that they are going to make yet another version of Beauty and the Beast, and I couldn’t understand why.

The way I see it, Beauty and the Beast has two possible interpretations. First, it’s about an arranged marriage. At its most basic, the plot of Beauty and the Beast revolves around one man making his daughter live with another dude indefinitely. The fairytale camouflages this transaction a bit: so supposedly, the father is in trouble and his daughter is saving him when she goes to live with a stranger, whom she, of course, sees as a beast because she’s scared and doesn’t know him. Good things are in store for the obedient daughter, though. When, eventually, she gets used to her captivity, she starts seeing the Beast as a human being, and they live happily ever after. In the times when all marriages were arranged by parents, this story was told to little girls so they would be excited about—or at least not rebelling against—the prospect of an arranged marriage.

The second interpretation is more timeless, but still solidly patriarchal. So, for one reason or another, a woman chooses (or sometimes is forced) to go and live with a male stranger whom she civilizes with her love, kindness, and tenderness. The civilized beast turns into a man, and a happily-ever-after ensues. BUT there is never an explanation as to why the woman had to waste her life on a beast rather than, I don’t know, travel or start her own business. 🙂

I heard the latest massively successful book that uses the trope of a woman as a civilizing agent is The Fifty Shades of Grey where that young woman (I don’t remember her name) civilizes that young billionaire (I’m pretty sure his last name is Grey) out of his sadistic habits. So, it’s all sadness.

How do you interpret Beauty and the Beast?

The Siren’s Realm Blog Tour

Today I am having Megan O’Russell over with a guest post on mythical creatures. Megan is a great writer and the author of The Tethering Series.

And here is Megan:

“Centaurs, hippogriffs, minotaurs, dragons: all creatures that have been seen throughout centuries of fantasy literature. There are hundreds of creatures that have been referenced from Greek and Roman legends on, so how, as a writer, do you choose which creatures are right for you and your story?

There are a few creatures, like dragons, that are just plain cool. Giant lizards breathing fire. They are, dare I say, a little bit sexy. Centaurs that can speak like humans are useful, very mythical, and again very sleek and sexy. Using creatures that people are familiar with can be really helpful for both author and reader in a fantasy novel. If I say that my character saw a unicorn in the woods, you can picture what I’m talking about pretty quickly. Since I don’t need to say it’s a horse with a horn, I can move directly on to more intricate details that are unique to my form of unicorn. Like a silver horn or a horn that acts as a prism, casting a rainbow of light across the forest floor. You get more time on the details without having to write a two-page description of a unicorn.

In The Siren’s Realm Jacob and Emilia are a part of a magical world that is crumbling. Magickind, including wizards, centaurs, and yes, even dragons, are at risk of being exposed to the humans.

Jacob loves Emilia Gray, but things aren’t always that simple in the world of Magickind…

The war has begun. 

The Dragons are gaining power, and the Gray Clan stands alone. Desperate to find a way to stop the Pendragon, Emilia is forced to seek answers from someone who hasn’t been seen in seventeen years . . . Her mother. Embarking on a magical journey filled with witches, wizards, centaurs and a dangerous and powerful Siren, Jacob and Emilia must take a leap of faith to a land neither could have ever imagined . . . and hope they can then find their way home.

And then there are a few creatures that are less common than centaurs and dragons. The Nandi Bear is a legendary African creature that is ruthless and bloody when it kills. With giant teeth and sharp claws, Nandi terrorize the night. And I found a very useful place for the Nandi in The Siren’s Realm, and even a use for the Siren herself.

But just like with the unicorn, my telling of these less common creatures is unique to The Tethering Series. Will Jacob have to fight the Nandi? Will Emilia escape the lure of the Siren? I suppose you’ll just have to read The Siren’s Realm to find out.”

Megan O’Russell is thrilled to have her premier novel The Tethering published with Silence in the Library Publishing. Book two in The Tethering series, The Siren’s Realm, is currently available for pre-order. Megan’s work can also be found the anthology Athena’s Daughter’s 2. Originally from New York, Megan is a professional actress who spends her time traveling the country for different shows. When not on stage or writing, Megan spends time with her beloved ukulele and her wonderful husband. To follow Megan’s writing adventures, you can visit her website at MeganORussell.com

Website: MeganORussell.com

Twitter: @MeganORussell

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

TSU: https://www.tsu.co/MeganORussell

Goodreads links:

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/21480311-the-tethering

https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23445448-the-siren-s-real

The Tethering Buy links:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Silence in the Library

The Siren’s Realm Buy Links:

Amazon

Silence in the Library

For more great books and to follow The Tethering’s journey to publication, be sure to visit her publisher’s website: http://www.silenceinthelibrarypublishing.com/

SilenceInTheLibraryLogo[print]

Fun Read

Hysterical Realms is a collection of short stories parodying fantasy, fairy tales, and paranormal literature. I’m usually very careful around spoofs because they can be just too silly for my taste, but this anthology was very funny. I particularly liked “Parking for the Apocalypse” by Branden Linley. It’s about four horsemen of Apocalypse coming to Austin, Texas, to bring about the end of days. Only they can’t park their chariot, which is why they can’t start their Armageddon. And so they bicker and keep on driving around, and Famine is always hungry and always talking about stopping for some fast food, and Death quietly does not want the world to end because he has some side deal with Taxes. It’s hilarious.

Also, some stories in this collection had unusual twists. For example “Dungeoneering for Dummies” by Clay Sheldon describes a city where delving into dungeons is as widespread as hiking or mountaineering. There are professional dungeoneers. There is also a professional organization for them called The Heroes Guild, and its senior member is harassed into coming up with tips and tricks for beginning dungeoneers. His main tip is to not delve into dungeons because it’s dangerous. I loved it.

I also found reading these stories relaxing. Since I knew the characters would be okay at the end of each story, I didn’t stress. I would recommend this anthology to anyone who wants some light-hearted reading.

I was given an Advanced Reader Copy in exchange for an honest review.

Suspected by Rori Shay: Book Blitz

Suspected banner

This is my stop during the book blitz for Suspected (#2) by Rori Shay. This book blitz is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The book blitz runs from 20 April till 3 May, you can view the complete blitz schedule on the website of Lola’s Blog Tours.

So far this series contains 2 books: Elected (The Elected series #1) and Suspected (The Elected series #2). The Elected series is about the environment and environmental change and what can happen after climate change. It’s about a girl pretending to be a boy for the good of her country. Fans of Mulan will love this series.

SuspectedSuspected (The Elected series #2)
By Rori Shay

Genre: Dystopia
Age category: Young Adult

Blurb:
East Country upheld the laws. Mid destroyed them.

In the year 2185 Earth is rebuilding after a global eco-crisis. Countries maintain complete isolation so there is no warfare over scarce resources. One Elected family is chosen to lead each country for 100 years to ensure stability. Women aren’t allowed to take office and must reproduce at all costs. Technology use of any kind is banned to preserve what’s left of the environment.

And yet, I’m my country’s Elected. I’ve just sanctioned technology use to ready us for war. I’m about to cross the border to spy on our neighbor. And…I’m a girl. Shhhhhh…..

You can find Suspected on Goodreads

You can buy Suspected here:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo
Smashwords
Silence in the Library

First book in the series:
ElectedElected (The Elected series #1)
By Rori Shay
Genre: Dystopia
Age category: Young Adult
Release Date: April 8, 2014

Blurb:
It’s the year 2185, and in two weeks, Aloy will turn eighteen and take her father’s place as president of the country. But to do so, she must masquerade as a boy to avoid violating the Eco-Accords, four treaties designed to bring the world back from the brink of environmental extinction. Aloy hopes to govern like her father, but she is inheriting a different country. The long concealed Technology Faction is stepping out of the shadows, and as turmoil grows within her country, cryptic threats also arrive from beyond their borders.

As she struggles to lead, Aloy maintains her cover by marrying a woman, meanwhile battling feelings for the boy who knows her secret—the boy who is somehow connected to her country’s recent upheaval. When assassination attempts add to the turmoil, Aloy doesn’t know whom to trust. She understood leadership required sacrifice. She just didn’t realize the sacrifice might be her life.

You can find Elected on Goodreads

You can buy Elected here:
Amazon
Barnes & Noble
Kobo

Rori ShayAbout the Author:
Rori Shay is a strategic management consultant living in the Seattle area with her family, black lab, and cat. In the writing world, Rori is primarily know for her science fiction trilogy, The Elected Series. She enjoys running, reading, snow-shoeing, pumpkin-picking, and right now…writing the third ELECTED novel! Rori is also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators (SCBWI).

You can find and contact Rori here:
Website
Facebook
Twitter
Goodreads

There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of Suspected. This giveaway is US and Canada only. These are the prizes you can win:
– a kindle ereader and a signed copy of Elected by Rori Shay

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Lola's Blog Tours

A Launch Day for Dragons are People, Too

Never judge a dragon
by her human cover…

Sixteen-year-old Kitty Lung has everyone convinced she’s a normal teen—not a secret government operative, not the one charged with protecting the president’s son, and certainly not a were-dragon. The only one she trusts with the truth is her best friend—and secret crush—the über-hot Bulisani Mathe.

Then a junior operative breaks Rule Number One by changing into his dragon form in public—on Kitty’s watch—and suddenly, the world knows. About dragons. About the Draconic Intelligence Command (DIC) Kitty works for. About Kitty herself.

Now the government is hunting down and incarcerating dragons to stop a public panic, and a new shape-shifting enemy has kidnapped the president’s son. Kitty and Bulisani are the last free dragons, wanted by both their allies and their enemies. If they can’t rescue the president’s son and liberate their fellow dragons before getting caught themselves, dragons might never live free again.

Read the first chapter and get more info at Entangled Teen’s homepage! Follow along with the blog tour for excerpts, reviews, and an awesome giveaway!

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Kobo | iTunes | Signed Print Copy

About the Author

Sarah is a 30-something YA author who currently lives in Orlando, FL. She believes that some boys are worth trusting, all girls have power, and dragons are people too.

She’s a proud member of the Gator Nation and has a BS in Mechanical Engineering, but has switched careers entirely. She now works as an Event Coordinator for a County Library. She also blogs at YAtopia.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram | Tumblr | Goodreads

Alternate Hilarities: Hysterical Realms

Right now I am reading Alternate Hilarities from Strange Musings Press. It’s a lot of fun. 🙂

Here is the blurb:

Not all epic adventures are fun. Imagine walking all the way to Mount Gloom with a wizard that needs to stop all the time to tinkle, a dwarf who continually asks “Are we there yet?” and a perpetually lost elf that will not stop and ask for directions.

Here is a collection of humorous tales of adventure like dwarf private investigators, mean spirited unicorns, randy genies and girlfriend stealing centaurs.

So if you think you have what it takes to brave the misty mountains and howling canyons, grab your magic sword, sacred shield and your copy of “Dungeoneering for Dummies”.

Enter the Hysterical Realms if you dare!
One Ring of Cheese to Bind Us All!

With stories by
Laura Thurston – Jason Bougger – Clay Sheldon – Leo Norman
Giovanni Valentino – Gerri Leen – Peter Hagelslag
Jeremy Closs – Deborah Walker – Brenda Kezar 
Phil Richardson – Mike Reeves-McMillan – Ken MacGregor – David Elliott
Mark Mills – Dan Stout – Branden Linley – Brian M. Milton – Gary Pattinson
Gerry White – Gretchen Bassier – Simon Kewin – Kelda Crich 
Garry McNulty – Michael W. Lucht – Nick Nafpliotis – Siobhan Gallagher 
Sylvia Anna Hiven – TR Clark – Lela E. Buis – Dusty Wallace
John Dromey – Arthur Carey – Gregg Chamberlain 

Print and electronic editions are available on Amazon.

About the Editor: 

Giovanni Francesco Valentino has struggled at the art of writing for five decades against many demons like self-doubt, chronic depression, OCD and severe dyslexia. He has written a few memoir pieces about his life struggles going undiagnosed for more than half his life. He hopes one day to be a famous published science fiction and fantasy author. He is a member of the CNY Writers Haven, a critique and writer support group. He is the editor of the humorous anthology, Alternate Hilarities.

Goodreads Profile Link: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7772307.Giovanni_Valentino

Website: http://giovannivalentino.blogspot.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/thegiovanniv

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/pages/The-Giovanni-Valentino/514035118649690

Here is a list of some of the stories in Alternate Hilarities: Hysterical Realms:

Mystical Redemption by Giovanni Valentino
Powerful magics are dangerous for even the most masterful wizards. Woody had to learn the hard way that Magic and Coupons don’t mix!

Death to the Girlfriend-Stealing Centaur! by Garry McNulty          
Losing his girlfriend was bad enough, but losing her to a half man, half horse was more than Jervis Devonpost could bear. He angrily resolved to relinquish his favorite barstool and leap into action–with mixed results.

Dungeoneering for Dummies by Clay Sheldon
You want to be a dungeon-delver? Here’s a few tips to help you from dying a gruesome, bloody and horrible death. Optimism not included.

Agnes, a Fairy by Brian M. Milton
There used to be thousands of gods, poking their noses into every aspect of human life. Where have they all gone and how on earth would you manage them in this day and age?

Sympathy For the Devil by Brenda Kezar
In today’s cynical world, there’s no more room for belief in Heaven and Hell. What’s Satan to do, when he’s as relevant as Santa and the Easter Bunny? Simple: write a book and promote it on social media!

Bath Time by Dan Stout
When life throws you a curveball, sometimes the best response is to just Duck and cover.

SAD by David Elliott
The weather.  Why does it always rain when you’re burning your ex-spouse’s possessions? Why is it always baking hot when you’re trying to complete your ice sculpture of John Merrick’s head? Why is there always a gale-force wind when you’re scattering your Grandmother’s ashes? And why isn’t there somebody we can blame?

Sister, Dear Sister by Deborah Walker
Being a mythological being out of time is never easy, especially when the whole world wants to throw itself at the feet of your sister.

How to Have a Fabulous Un-death by Kelda Crich
Just what do you wear during the upcoming Zombocalypse? Follow these tips to make the End of Days a time to remember.

Parking for the Apocalypse by Branden Linley
The hour of the Apocalypse is at hand and the Four Horsemen head for downtown Austin, Texas, to kick things off. When they agreed to carpool by hitching their mounts to Pestilence’s new chariot, however, they didn’t realize what a pain it was going to be to find parking.

Possession is Nine Tenths by Gerry White
Bones Baldesac is on a mission to kill his personal demons, or at least one demon who loves barbecue, cookies, and cats…especially cats.

Seeing is Believing by Gretchen Bassier
In Robin’s village, only girls can see unicorns – and the girls enjoy never letting him forget that fact. After all, nothing could equal the awe, privilege, and sheer wonder of viewing such a majestic and ethereal creature…right? During a fateful trip to the forest, Robin finally gets to find out the truth about unicorns for himself – for better or worse.

Services Rendered by TR Clark
Do thrones come with booster seats? It’s an important question when you’re a half inch taller than the prerequisite for being a Dwarf.

The Tale of Plod the Rude Shoemaker by Gary Pattinson
Be they large or small, with corns or flattened arches, Plod the rude shoemaker understood feet, and even the most exalted of nobility endured his insults and placed their feet in the hands of Plod. Then came the day that Plod got off on the wrong foot with a sorcerer who was a wee bit ticklish about his feet.

Axe Stone, Svart Detective by Mike Reeves-McMillan
Axe Stone: a dwarf detective who’s not so much noir as svart. And not so much smart as… street smart.

Caravan Healer by Jeremy Closs
Flarra, a mercenary hired to guard a caravan, receives an injury on the job. When she stops in to visit Lano, the caravan’s healer, she learns about the unique curse that he is forced to live with.

Bookworms by Jay Fuller
In the further adventures of Stanton, Smiir, and Mercurious, they are stalked by a literary bird, cause a coup at the public library, and solve an epicureal issue threatening the stacks.

Witch’s Treasures by Ken MacGregor
Tommy and Becky venture into the woods, looking for the witch’s hidden treasure. When they get caught in her house, the twins get the surprise of their lives.

How Gnarsh Lost His License by Laura Thurston
The daily commute is an adventure when a troll tangles with traffic cops.

The Firework Dizzplay by Leo Norman
When Arch-Mage Ellery Fizzletop discovers his study has become infested with bees, he decides on a rather explosive solution. Unfortunately, such decisions often come with a sting in the tail.

The Wizard Who Knew Not Much by Michael W. Lucht
When confronted by a dreadful prophecy, ordinary people can at least choose to believe that the prophet was lying and thus remain comparatively happy until doom spits them in the face. Not so for poor Timbo, a wizard who can detect lies and… no, that’s about it.

Repossession by Nick Nafpliotis
There was a time when spending money you didn’t have was considered irresponsible; now it’s simply ‘buying on credit.’ There’s seemingly no limit to what some are willing to mortgage in exchange for what they desire, including their very souls…

The Question is by Phil Richardson
What do you do when you are awakened by an intruder in your bedroom? Call the police, of course!–or not.

And Now the Zombie Forecast… by Simon Kewin
Always check the forecast before you leave the house. You never know what’s out there…

Necromancer’s Kit: How to Bring Back Your Dead Girlfriend by Siobhan Gallagher
When a friend is distraught over his girlfriend’s death, what do you do? For Steven, it means going along with his friend’s delusion of resurrecting said girlfriend. But the whole ordeal summons more headaches than girlfriends, to the point where if there are any ghosts, or demons, or zombies, they better come with some aspirin.

A Very Special Child by Sylvia Anna Hiven
An elven king returns home after battle for the birth of his first child. But doesn’t his strapping young son look a little… different?

Waking up in the Woods by Jason Bougger
When you’re left for dead lying naked in the middle of woods miles away from home, you only have one option: Pick up a big stick and start walking.

Demon, Devils and Deadbeats by Giovanni Valentino
Be careful when you embark on an adventure. Sometime not everything is as it seems, even a demon.

Dangerous Love Blog Tour

DangerousLoveTourBanner

Hi, everyone! Today I am hosting Kara Leigh Miller and Jody Holford, the authors of a romance Dangerous Love that has just been released! Congratulations to Kara and Jody! And onward we go with their post on dangers of a writer’s life. 🙂

Dangerous Life of a Writer

“Kara and I have been trying to come up with unique blog posts that will engage readers and let them get to know us. We’ve answered serious questions on other blogs about writing, co–authoring, and the themes in our book DANGEROUS LOVE. For today’s blog, we’d like to do something a little different. We’re going to go below the surface, take a look at the X-ray films, if you will, to see what dangers lurk in a writer’s life. The tone of our book is serious, but it doesn’t mean we always are. In fact, humor is a great way to alleviate the tension and conflict that you sometimes submerge yourself in while writing. We hope you enjoy this up close and personal view into the writer’s life.

It’s important to understand the side effects and complications that can arise from being a romance author. These can include, but are not limited to:
– Overexposure to caffeine
– Risk of carpal tunnel in one or both hands
– Addiction to various forms of social media
– Emotional attachment to electronic devices

Immersing oneself in a fictional world that includes crush-worthy heroes and admirable heroines can have undesired effects. Pulling ourselves out of the pages and returning to the real world takes time and needs to be handled carefully. Writers should not be expected to perform the following tasks immediately upon closing their laptops:
– Dress in clothing other than pajamas or yoga pants
– Distance themselves from their laptops (this could lead to separation-anxiety)
– Answer questions such as “when did you last shower?”, “have you eaten?” or “can I borrow your laptop?” (to save you from guessing, the answers to those questions will most likely always be: I don’t know, I don’t know, and no)

While it is human nature to wonder about what it’s really like to be a writer, the truth is not all that glamorous. In fact, rather than fancy book launches and premiers, the daily life of a writer often includes:
– Obsessively checking email
– Obsessively watching Facebook and Twitter feeds
– Several appointments with self-doubt
– Being easily distracted by….anything

While the patient…we mean, writer seems normal on the outside, it should not be expected that they can participate in the following tasks without some level of difficulty:
– Leaving the house to….(sorry for the bad word) socialize in person
– Solve problems without thinking of the issue like a plot hole
– Have conversations without thinking about how that particular moment would fit in a book
– Setting a book aside, whether reading or writing

As you can see, writers are a tricky species. They are sensitive but strong. They have to have some degree of self-confidence to put themselves out there again and again through querying, sharing their books, blog posts, interviews, and in person meetings. But, they are also fueled by a desire to be better, which necessitates an awareness of their flaws. The emotions from their writing curl up inside of them and sometimes take over, which is why it is best to approach a typing writer with caution. Writers are solitary socializers, which is why social media is favourable: they can connect and interact without leaving the house.

If the writer you live with or are close to shows signs of agitation, place bite-sized amounts of food within their reach, hydrate with caffeine and, for extreme cases, leave copious amounts of chocolate.”

Thank you, Kara and Jody. Chocolate is always welcome – I can attest to that myself.

And now for Kara and Jody’s book:

DANGEROUS-LOVE-MILLER-HOLFORD-COVER 18 percent

Blurb:
He’s fighting to forget his past while she struggles to remember hers…

Doctor Josh Parker lives with guilt about his wife’s death every day.

He believes himself incapable of ever loving again, but when a
mysterious woman arrives in the Emergency Room, brutally beaten and left for dead, he starts to feel something he hasn’t felt in far too long: hope.

Alessandra Matthews has no memory of the events that led to her being hospitalized. Worse, she has no idea who hurt her or why. Although she’s uncertain of who she is, she is fully aware of one thing—she’s falling for her doctor.

Sometimes, what you don’t know can kill you…

As Josh and Alessa work to solve the mystery surrounding her past, she soon realizes just how much danger she’s really in, but Josh refuses to let her face the darkness of her memories alone. With each of them struggling to put their pasts behind them, theirs is a DANGEROUS LOVE.

Release Date:
April 14, 2015

Book Links:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23209752-dangerous-love
Anaiah Press: http://www.anaiahpress.com/DangerousLove.html

Buy Links:
Amazon: http://www.amazon.com/Dangerous-Love-Kara-Leigh-Miller-ebook/dp/B00SEIOA42/
B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/dangerous-love-kara-leigh-miller/1120864186
Smashwords: https://www.smashwords.com/books/view/498292

Excerpt:
The long, drawn out beep of the heart monitor silenced the room. “Call it,” Dr. Parker said, his voice strained and low with defeat.

“Time of death, eleven twenty-four p.m.” Nurse Renee pulled the sheet over the patient’s head.

Dr. Parker walked out of the room. Once in the hallway, he leaned against the wall and lowered his head. Losing a patient sucked, but knowing he had to go tell a waiting room full of friends and family that their loved one was dead made it much harder. He rubbed his hands over his face and blew out a long breath. The smell of antiseptic and blood still permeated his senses.

“You did everything you could, Josh,” Renee said, joining him in the hallway and patting him on the back.

“Thanks.” He smiled weakly. “I’m going to go tell the family.” Dr. Parker headed down the hall toward the bank of elevators, the sound of his dress shoes clapping the linoleum. He hated this part of his job. Working in the ER was good to keep his mind busy, but it was taking its toll. It was physically and emotionally exhausting. Not to mention, it always seemed when he was on duty, there was at least one death. He couldn’t handle much more.

Josh pushed the down button and waited for the elevator to arrive. The idea of opening his own practice was becoming more and more appealing. The doors slid open, and he stepped inside, forcing himself to breathe deeply. Pushing the button for the lobby, he made a decision to take a short break and grab some coffee, maybe a sandwich from the deli across the street.

The elevator dinged, the doors slid open, and because he had no other choice, he stepped out. As soon as he came into view, the boy’s parents stood. The patient was a twenty-year-old college student who’d been out partying with his friends, drinking, and was in a car accident that left two of his friends in critical condition and him dead. It was such a senseless waste of life and a prime example of why drinking and driving, in any amount, is harmful.

“Doctor, how is our son?” the mom asked.

Josh’s stomach lurched, making the words catch in his throat for a moment. “I’m sorry, Mr. and Mrs. Sutton, but Jackson didn’t make it. There was a lot of internal bleeding. We did everything we could.” Mrs. Sutton shook her head, denying what Josh said. Her husband’s face crumpled as he reached for his wife, pulling her into his arms. She let herself fall into him, and Josh looked away in an effort to give them some privacy. After a few moments, Josh said, “I’m very sorry for your loss. The hospital has grief counselors on staff if you’d like to meet with one of them.” His words did nothing to ease their pain, and he knew it. He knew firsthand just how empty they were, how daft and cold they sounded, but they were protocol.

With a sad nod, Josh left the family to grieve. He needed some air that didn’t taste like the hospital. Stopping at the nurses’ station, he said, “Renee, I’m going to go out for a bit. Page me if you need me.”

She looked up from the chart she read and gave him a weak smile. Concern shone from her dark, quiet eyes. She knew him well, had worked beside him many times.

“You look tired. Try to sneak in a nap.”

“Thanks.” He smiled, but there was no emotion behind it. He often wondered if he had the ability to feel emotions anymore. Ever since Laura . . . He shook her name from his mind. Thinking of her would only bring his mood down even more than it already was.

He stepped out into the cool, evening air and took a deep breath, letting his eyes close momentarily. His stomach had been in knots all night, and he didn’t know why. There was a sense of unease, restlessness coursing through his body. It was wreaking havoc on his ability to concentrate, and he couldn’t help but wonder if his lack of concentration led to a mistake in the ER—a mistake that had cost that boy his life.

“I did everything I could,” he muttered to himself, not finding any solace in the words. Josh took several steps toward the road, toward the deli when his beeper went off. “Shoot.” He jogged back inside and met the EMTs as they wheeled a stretcher into the ER. “What do we got?” he asked.

“Young woman, early thirties, beaten unconscious, trauma to the head, stomach, and chest,” the EMT ticked off the woman’s injuries. “Possible broken ribs, too. Breathing is shallow.”

Josh pulled a tiny flashlight from his pocket and checked her eyes. They were reacting to light. That was a good sign. Unhooking his stethoscope from around his neck, he checked her heart. Slow, but steady. “Do we know her name?”
“Alessandra Mathews.”

“Okay, Alessandra,” Josh said in a soft voice. “My name is Dr. Parker. You’re at Metro General Hospital. Can you hear me?”

On the stretcher, she groaned in pain. Tears fell from her bruised and swollen eyes. Dried blood coated her face. Dear God, she looked horrible, so scared and weak.

“We’re going to take care of you now. You’re safe.” Josh put his hand on her shoulder in an attempt to soothe her. It unsettled him to see this woman so shaken, perhaps more than it should. He kept his hand light on her but with enough pressure for her to register that he was there, that she wasn’t alone. “Okay, let’s get her into room four. Renee,” he motioned for her to follow, “we need to get her into a gown and cleaned up.”

At the count of three, the EMTs lifted her from the stretcher and onto the bed. Josh went about checking her from head to toe. There were several deep lacerations on her face and neck that would require stitches. There were also defensive wounds on her hands and arms. Who would do this to her? And why? The depravity of mankind would never cease to disgust him.

“Laceration above her left eye needs sutures. Abrasions on her lips, along her jaw, on her cheek.” Josh lifted her eyelids, checking her pupils against the light again. “Possible concussion.” He moved down her body, inspecting for further injury. “Ribs don’t appear to be broken, but we’ll need an X-ray to be sure.”

Renee efficiently scribbled each one of them down, nodding to confirm she’d heard and noted them.

“A rape kit will need to be done.” He hated having to even think that let alone say it, but in this type of situation, it was a bleak reality. “And get a tech up here with a portable X-ray, STAT.”
He would not lose another patient tonight. He couldn’t.

About the Authors:

Kara Leigh Miller
Kara Leigh Miller lives in Upstate New York with her husband, three kids, three dogs, and three cats. When she’s not busy writing romance novels that leave readers swooning, she’s spending time with her family or attending one of her many writers groups. An active member of The Romance Writers of America and the CNY Writers Haven, Kara is also Managing Editor for Anaiah Press’ Surge and Romance Imprints. She absolutely loves to hear from her fans and fellow authors, so feel free to drop her a line anytime!


 

Jody Holford
Jody Holford lives in British Columbia with her husband and two daughters. She is a fan of Nora Roberts, Jill Shalvis, Rachel Gibson, and Rainbow Rowell. In reading and writing, she likes characters who are flawed, but driven toward the pursuit of love and happiness. In November 2013, she published A Not So Lonely Christmas with Foreward Literary. In December 2014, she published Forever Christmas through Kindle Direct.


 

Kara Leigh Miller
Website: https://www.karaleighmiller.com
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/KaraleighMille1
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/6553837.Kara_Leigh_Miller
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/KaraLeighMiller

Jody Holford
Website: https://www.jodyholford.weebly.com
Twitter: https://www.twitter.com/1prncs
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7370077.Jody_Holford
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Authorjodyholford

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Would You Try to Escape if You Knew You’d Be Killed if You Stayed?

I totally bought this book because of the description:

“As a child, Kathy—now thirty-one years old—lived at Hailsham, a private school in the scenic English countryside where the children were sheltered from the outside world, brought up to believe that they were special and that their well-being was crucial not only for themselves but for the society they would eventually enter. Kathy had long ago put this idyllic past behind her, but when two of her Hailsham friends come back into her life, she stops resisting the pull of memory.

And so, as her friendship with Ruth is rekindled, and as the feelings that long ago fueled her adolescent crush on Tommy begin to deepen into love, Kathy recalls their years at Hailsham. She describes happy scenes of boys and girls growing up together, unperturbed—even comforted—by their isolation. But she describes other scenes as well: of discord and misunderstanding that hint at a dark secret behind Hailsham’s nurturing facade. With the dawning clarity of hindsight, the three friends are compelled to face the truth about their childhood—and about their lives now.”

And just as totally I bought the book in spite of its rather atrocious cover. The woman seems to be wearing a wig. Why? And why does she sit in all this greenery? I mean, technically, yes, the author mentions shrubs and trees and whatnot around Hailsham, the house where the protagonist Kathy grows up, but they are not very important. And besides, am I imagining things or does this spot look like a Japanese garden? And could that be because the author has a Japanese name?

Anyway, the book itself is great. It’s satisfyingly complex, and Kathy is a very meticulous, logical narrator. She describes one event, and during this description she would mention another event, and then she would repeat this process, and the book goes on like knitting, one loop after another. I loved it.

I also loved how “Hailsham” is a play on “hail” and “sham” because that’s what that school did: it was hailing sham.

But I did have a few problems with the book, the biggest one being that the author, in my opinion, is hiding from a huge question. So, Kathy, Ruth, and Tommy are clones, and they are made for one purpose only: organ harvesting. They are raised in an orphanage by a bunch of guardians who teach them everything a non-clone child would be taught. More than that, the guardians don’t hide from the kids what will become of them, but they apparently soften the specifics. Or maybe they soften some other things. I don’t know. The author only tells us that while the clones know about their organ-donating future, they are somehow also lied about it. So that they wouldn’t despair.

And all of this is good, but I wish I knew exactly what these kids were told because when later neither Kathy nor Ruth nor Tommy tries to escape from England or fight these enforced donations, I don’t believe it. Why don’t they try to escape? I know I am sort of spoiled by that movie The Island that has the same premise as Never Let Me Go: clones are made to be later cut up for organs. Well, in The Island, the protagonist, who is obviously a clone, escapes AND fights back.

However, I also understand the important difference between The Island and Never Let Me Go. In The Island, the clones spring into existence while already being adults, and in Ishiguro’s book, they start out as babies. And mind, I do believe you can brainwash kids into anything, but since Ishiguro does not tell us exactly what lies or softened truths those guardians fed to the kids, I have trouble buying that Kathy would never try to escape. She looks perfectly human; she does not seem branded on the face or anything. Ishiguro does withhold from us any info on how Kathy and her friends look, but in more than one episode, they go to a town populated by humans, and nobody points fingers at them, so they must look human enough. And while not all clones learn how to drive, Kathy does. She also has a car and knows the roads (this is specifically mentioned). Finally, as a caretaker for other clones, Kathy is required to drive long distances alone. So why doesn’t she run?

A Book to Read Should You Ever Feel Too Happy

For a while I hesitated if I should say, “Spoiler Alert,” at the beginning of this post, but then again, the plot is given away in the title, right?

What surprises me, though, is that The Last Man is not more popular in this era of the post-apocalyptic, everybody-dies-of-something-or-other-in-the-nick-of-time narrative revival.

But back to the plot. The Last Man is about a guy named Verney. His father lost his position at the royal court of England, then died in obscurity, leaving behind a son, Lionel Verney, and a daughter, Perdita Verney, penniless and hopeless. However, due to some luck and a bromance between Lionel and the king’s son Adrian, Verneys get financial help and a high social status in England. Lionel Verney also gets to marry Adrian’s sister Idris. Then an outbreak of plague happens, and everyone starts dying in graphic and troubling ways.

It’s a great book. Lionel Verney is a narrator in the vein of Victor Frankenstein. Very eloquent and sophisticated, he tells us the truth. Yes, he hurt Perdita, which ultimately led to her death, but he did it for her own good. Yes, he indirectly killed Idris, but it wasn’t his fault she froze in a blizzard after he told her to stay in a cold carriage. I mean who would have imagined people freeze to death like this?

One detail about The Last Man charms me in particular, though. Other texts about humankind’s extinction-type woes that were available to Mary Shelley like for example, Lord Byron’s poem “Darkness,” Daniel Defoe’s A Journal of the Plague Year, or Boccaccio’s The Decameron either do not mention what becomes of animals in those tough time (The Decameron) or show animals dying alongside the people. In fact, A Journal of the Plague Year particularly mentions pigs as carriers of the disease. But in The Last Man, animals are fine. People are dying in droves, and animals are like “Good riddance.” And of course, Mary Shelley being Mary Shelley gives the most brilliant explanation for this at the end of the novel.