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Monday, September 30, 2013

COVER COVET!!!! Murder on a Summer's Day by Frances Brody

30th September 2013

Cover reveal blitz (Crime)

Murder on a Summer’s Day

The writing process can be so long and drawn out...waiting for an idea, pulling ideas out of that idea, thinking of your characters, writing your plot; months and months of hard work all leading up to that one special moment.....the publishing. Then, once that is all worked out, comes the moment of truth...revealing the cover to the world. As we know, the cover is everything. It is the first thing your readers see that draws them to your book. It has to be perfect! It has to be unique! And this time...it is. So, without further ado....

Publisher: Piatkus (3 Oct 2013)
416 pages
ISBN-10: 034940058X
ISBN-13: 978-0349400587

Murder on a Summer’s Day is the fifth novel in the Kate Shackleton Mystery Series set in 1920s Yorkshire.
A Maharajah on the Moors
When the India Office seek help in finding Maharajah Narayan, last seen hunting on the Bolton Abbey estate, they call upon the expertise of renowned amateur detective Kate Shackleton to investigate.
A Priceless Jewel
But soon a missing person’s case turns to murder. Shot through the heart, it’s clear to Kate that Narayan’s body has not been in the woods overnight. Who brought it here, and from where? And what has happened to the hugely valuable diamond that was in the Maharajah’s possession?
An inexplicable murder . . .
As Kate digs deeper, she soon discovers that vengeance takes many forms. Was the Maharajah’s sacrilegious act of shooting a white doe to blame? Or are growing rumours of a political motive too powerful for Kate to discount?
One thing Kate is sure of: her own skills and insights. Qualities that she is sure will help her unravel a mysterious murder on that fateful summer’s day . . .

Frances Brody writes the highly acclaimed mystery series set in 1920s Yorkshire, featuring First World War widow turned sleuth, Kate Shackleton; twice nominated for the Crime Writers’ Association Dagger in the Library. As Frances McNeil, she has written for radio, theatre and television and published sagas, winning the HarperCollins Elizabeth Elgin Award for the most regionally evocative debut saga of the millennium.
Visit Frances online at
Twitter @FrancesBrody


Kate Shackleton receives a dawn telephone call from her cousin James, a civil servant in the India Office. James tells Kate that a visiting Indian prince has gone missing from the Duke of Devonshire’s Yorkshire estate, leaving behind his female companion, a former Folies Bergere dancer. James asks Kate to investigate. Housekeeper Mrs Sugden offers her usual sterling support.

James’s briefing had left me feeling less than well-armed for the task ahead. What was a maharajah of Gattiawan doing in Yorkshire? Why was he visiting Bolton Abbey before the start of the shooting season? Today was Saturday, 2 August, so open season, but with ten days to go before grouse-shooting began, on the Glorious Twelfth.

James had not even told me when the maharajah and his companion arrived in Yorkshire.
I checked my watch. Ten minutes to six.
Mrs Sugden called from the doorway. ‘I’ve found summat about maharajahs.’
‘I’ll be there in a tick.’
Fortunately, Mrs Sugden is a fast reader and The Times Court Circulars have the virtue of brevity. She placed the relevant pages on the piano stool, drawing it up to the chaise longue.
We sat side by side as she tapped the page with her ridged fingernail and read, ‘The Maharajah of Kapurthala is the first Indian Prince to visit the British Empire Exhibition. He expressed his satisfaction with the Punjab Court exhibit. He has now returned to Paris, but will be back.’
‘What about Gattiawan?’
Mrs Sugden is nothing if not thorough. ‘Aga Khan … Maharajah of Rajpipla at the Savoy Hotel … Maharajah of Nawanger … They’ll all know each other. Probably rivals, and one of them has done away with another, perhaps sent an assassin. It’s like Shakespeare. Ah, here he is. The Maharajah of Gattiawan arrived at Marseilles yesterday in the SS Malwa on his way to London.’
I looked at the item, dated 26 April. It gave no indication whether the maharajah was travelling overland, or stopping on the way. ‘Nothing else since then?’
She shook her head. ‘Nowt else in Court Circulars, only an article about the good command of English among educated Indians, from the Special Correspondent in Bombay.’
There was nothing for it but to set off, feeling less than well-prepared.
I shrugged into my motoring coat.
Mrs Sugden followed me along the garden path. ‘You don’t have much luggage. Have you packed an evening dress?’
‘The Delphos robe.’ I opened the car door and got in quickly, before she had time for more questions.
She frowned at my choice of evening wear. ‘I suppose that Delphos gown doesn’t betray its age. But I can pack another bag for you.’
I started the motor. ‘If I need anything else, I’ll send you a telegram.’ My mind already raced ahead. Prince Narayan of Gattiawan, where are you?
Mrs Sugden waved, folding her other arm around herself against the morning chill.
A sudden thought propelled her through the gate. She leaned into the motor. ‘Be careful. They all carry daggers, and they’re very good at strangling.’
‘I’ll try to stay in one piece, throat intact.’
As I drove away I heard her call something about the black hole of Calcutta, but my thoughts were already on the missing man, the lovers’ tiff, and the mysterious Miss Metcalfe who had hooked herself an Indian prince.
James wanted to rule out theft and foul play. The Yorkshire Dales has its sprinkling of poachers. But jewel thieves, murderers? Surely not.

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Saturday, September 28, 2013

Special Feature for Today: End of Dreams by Kim Faulks REVIEW and Blog Hop!!!

Title: End of Dreams (The Immortal Destiny, Book One)
Author: Kim Faulks
Genre: Dark Paranormal/Horror
Tour Host: Lady Amber's Tours

A vicious killer hunts a young pregnant woman. He wants more than her blood--he wants her baby too.

Young Eve dreams of being a good mother to her unborn son, that dream is shattered when child killer, Edric Hasting finds her in the middle of the night.

Haunted by the images of black wings on her baby’s ultrasound and the killers last words Eve knows her only hope of survival is to run.

She soon finds hard-bitten detective Adley Scott who dreams of justice for a string of murdered children which hit too close to home.  

A group of Immortals are drawn into Eve’s battle for survival as events are played out across the globe by two opposing factions of immortal beings.

The fragile, divine balance of all things is at stake, and the world is the ultimate prize.

Against a background of universe-changing events and an ensemble of vivid, unforgettable characters, Eve and Adley will have to fight to survive as they begin to learn the truth of The Immortal Destiny.

The author of The Fire and Ice Series, No Angel Series and now the Immortal Destiny Series I was raised on a staple diet of Stephen King and Dean Koontz, there I fell in love with the darker styles of writing. I started writing at a young age but quickly realised that I lacked an important ingredient, life experience. Now I have this in spades.
I am firstly a Mum and a wife and second an Author of Dark Fantasy/Horror, although sometimes I'm sure my family feels it's the other way around. I live in Queensland Australia and work full-time. Writing is my passion and a dream and I'd love to share it with you.

Buy link (Amazon only): http://www.amazon.com/End-Dreams-Immortal-Destiny-ebook/dp/B00DPR22FQ/ref=sr_1_6?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1377400618&sr=1-6


Eve tucked her hair behind her ears and straightened her blouse before stepping inside Hurrow’s Federal Hotel. Narrowed eyes and glassy stares followed her all the way to the bar. She sat down on a ruptured leather stool, listening to the juke box belt out some hit from back in the eighties. The song sounded vaguely familiar. Like something Mother had once listened to—before she became a Christian, before she found God.
“What’ll it be?” The bartender’s voice boomed beside her. Eve jumped and her heart sped. He gripped the counter, leaning forward. He was waiting for her to say something, anything. Eve opened her mouth. But no words came, so she closed it again.
This was her first drink. In her first bar. On the first night of her new life. She was finally away from her mother’s controlling rule once and for all—she was free. She stared back at the bartender as a feeling of hope fluttered low inside her belly like a weighed-down moth. Even his scowls wouldn't dampen her mood tonight. Eve couldn’t help but grin.
The bartender no longer glared at her, but exhaled, closed his eyes and swore. Beer? No. Sex on the Beach? I’m not saying that. Eve’s gaze danced along the row of bottles, trying to find something nice which didn’t look like liquid fire. “Umm. May I have a glass of champagne?”
His brows shot upwards, hovered there for a moment before his forehead creased. “Champagne? Does it fucking look like we serve champagne?”
Like a ghost, Eve’s confidence dissolved, as though it had never been there at all. Someone behind her laughed. A woman who called out behind her, “Champagne? Who does this bitch think she is?”
Eve’s face burned.
“Don’t give the girl a hard time, Trev. Can’t you see she’s nervous? Just give her something sparkling and make it expensive.”
Keeping her head still, Eve glanced sideways at the man sliding onto the seat beside her. He was older, by a lot. His pitted face and long, greasy hair matched a black ensemble of leather jacket and dirty jeans which covered his stick-like physique. He caught her staring and winked. Tiny black stumps she guessed had been teeth were revealed with a smile. She looked away and slid from her seat, her eyes drifting to the door. “No. I’m fine, thank you. I… I’ve changed my mind.”
The stranger caught her arm with a soft hold. His touch made her wince. “Nonsense, come on. You’ve come all this way. Just have one little drink.”
It wasn’t his conviction that made her hesitate—it was his words.
She had come a long way. A lot farther than the four-hour bus ride with one suitcase to her name. Her longest journey was the road she’d traveled within herself. Her fight for freedom, even though she was afraid to be alone, but more afraid she’d give in and go back, so the loneliness was bearable. You won’t survive, you’re too weak. Her mother’s parting snarl still haunted her.
Eve’s vision blurred and her throat thickened, cutting off the air to her lungs. She inhaled sharply, wheezing, coughing. The stench of sweat and nicotine filled her nose as tears blurred her gaze. She thought she’d be able to leave behind all the hurt and the hateful words. There was no new life, here or anywhere. Only the baggage of her old one she dragged behind wherever she went.
Her hair fell into her eyes and she shoved it away with the back of her hand, along with a tear. She’d never escape her father’s suicide, or the depression and Valium which followed. Eve took in the bar, now that her rose-colored glasses were gone. She didn’t belong here. She didn’t belong anywhere. But she had nowhere else to go.
The bartender slid the frosted glass toward her. The drink wasn’t champagne, but at this moment, she didn’t really care. Tiny bubbles surged from the bottom to break free on the surface. She’d tried to break free and yet somehow she still failed. The bartender waited patiently while Eve dug for a crumpled ten-dollar note. Her fingers skirted the tiny yellow pill lodged in the crease of her pocket, her weakness and her disease. She grabbed both the note and the tablet while the stranger beside her opened his wallet. His thick pile of bills was hard to miss. He pushed a twenty along the bar.
“No… please, it's okay.” She might be a lot of things, but she’d never be bought. Not for a drink in a bar, not for anything. “I can pay myself.”
She palmed the pill and slid the note across the bar. The bartender nodded snatched up her crumbled bill. “Looks like she be buyin’ her own drink tonight, Matty. You just run along now and leave the young lady alone.”
The stranger pushed off the stool to tower over her. A flash of rage filled his eyes and Eve was paralyzed. His lips slithered back over his gums. Her scalp quivered and her hands shook. He loomed over her, breathing heavily and pinning her with a piercing glare for what seemed like forever before he stormed away.
Her cheeks buzzed with heat and her hands trembled. She shoved the pill into her mouth and washed it down with the fake champagne. She wanted for one moment not to feel hurt and humiliation. She wanted for one moment not to feel anything.
For Eve, time wasn’t measured in weeks or days, or even hours. She counted time by the minutes and seconds it took for the magic pill to dissolve the grip clenching her insides, so she could breathe.
Valium and alcohol made for a dangerous combination. By the time she swallowed the last of the bubbles, she felt off-balance. The room spun out of control and took her stomach with it. Her heart beat frantically and the walls closed in around her. The barroom chatter became screams of laughter. The raucous roar was too much for her and Eve slipped from her seat, leaving the stares and snide comments behind, and stumbled for the doorway.
The November air was thick and warm. Eve fanned the bottom of her shirt to catch a breeze and headed for the alley which would lead her home. The haunting bay of a dog caught her attention. Her heavy thoughts were captured by that woeful sound while she turned and stumbled in the dark until hands dug into her back. She was shoved hard against the side of a building. The brick walls were unforgiving. Her head cracked against a wall and the pain slashed like lightening through her head. She stumbled sideways and lifted her hand toward the back of her head, her thoughts frozen. 
“Fucking stuck-up bitch! You think you’re too good for someone like me?”
Eve’s world seemed slow and thick, like syrup. The snarl in her ear became distorted. She didn’t understand his words, but revulsion shot like cold fire through her veins, fighting the effects of the pill. He pushed his hand inside her shirt to fumble at the cup of her bra. Her thoughts sharpened. She screamed.
The stranger from the bar invaded her field of vision. He gripped her jaw and squeezed. Eve ignored the pain and whipped her head from side-to-side in an effort to break free. But he held on, snaking his leg around hers to pull her tight against him. Please God, no. Not like this… not like this. “Get away from me! Let me go!”
“I’ll show you. I’ll show you good, you stuck up little bitch!”
“No, plea—”
Her words were silenced by his mouth. Eve felt violated, filled with revulsion… sickened by his touch and the fear of what might happen next. His hands were everywhere. Not one part of her body was left sacred. His tongue slithered in and out of her mouth. His fetid breath, forced into her lungs, became hers as she struggled to breathe.
Valium fought against the adrenaline, pushed along by the rapid fire of her heart, Eve hit, scratched, and kicked with everything she had. Her arms felt like lead, her movements seemed as though she moved underwater. She tried to escape his touch, rolling her shoulders forward and tucking her chin down. He held her still, and his hands burrowed deeper, finding the soft flesh of her nipple. Eve's stomach rolled and the taste of acid filled her mouth. Her attacker stopped moving, his frantic fingers left her bra. Has he given up? Please God….
“I said, take your hands off her.”
A new voice bounced around the alley, low and threatening. Her attacker stilled, but he didn’t let her go. The sound of his voice reverberated against her body as he spoke. “You best be on your way. This doesn’t concern you.”
Eve thrashed, using her weight to break free. He held on, his grip on her mouth became harder, distorting her frantic words. “Pease, pease. Hep me.”
“Shut the fuck up,” her attacker growled into her ear.
The deep voice bounced around Eve once more. “I’ll not say it again. Let the woman go.”
“Or what? You best fuck off or—”
He pulled her forward and slammed her back against the wall. Her shoulders took the brunt of the impact and her head snapped back against the brick. Agony roared inside her skull, the pain took her breath away and dominated her thoughts. White lights sparked in her vision. She stumbled and her knees connected sharply with the sidewalk. Screams from her attacker filled the air. Eve lurched forward as hot wine and acid flowed from her mouth, spilling onto the pavement. Helpless, she rode the waves of panic and revulsion until only dry heaves were left.
She wiped her mouth and glanced sideways. Her attacker flailed on the ground. His body jerked and thrashed in the air and then was slammed to the ground by a blur of a hand. She caught a glimpse of a face, a beautiful face hidden behind savagery. Eve covered her ears, but his screams drilled through the gaps of her fingers. A loud snap fractured his wails. Eve looked up to the night sky. Please… please make this stop.
And the night became silent like the moon above her.
Scared to move, she stayed still and sneaked a glimpse at the fight. The streetlight cut a triangle across the alley entrance, dividing light from the dark. Shiny black shoes and the bottoms of perfectly-creased pants seem to glide toward her. 
“It is okay. I will not hurt you.”
Eve wrenched her hands from her ears to grip the edges of her torn blouse.
“You have nothing to fear from me.”
Her rescuer knelt before her, his hand outstretched. The street light illuminated his broad cheek bones, revealing arctic blue eyes and glossy black hair.
Eve searched those eyes for kindness and compassion. She found none. It's enough he just saved my life, isn't it? Her gaze shifted to the unmoving feet of her attacker.
“He is not dead, merely asleep.”
Eve turned back to her rescuer. He waited for her to take his hand, like he had all the time in the world. She reached out. Her own hand hovered in the air and trembled before she grasped his and he helped her to stand. The minute she felt steady on her feet, she snatched her hand away and gripped the edges of her shirt tightly. Forcing the words through the pain in her jaw, she whispered, “Thank you.”
“Please tell me you are okay. When I saw him hurting you I thought he had already—”
She cut him off, needing to stay the words for her own reassurance. She wrenched her hand from his grasp. “No. Thank God.”
He stared at her, his eyes reflecting the street light. He smiled. “Yes, thank God. Although you really should be thanking me.”
“I’m so sorry, please forgive me. Thank you, thank you so much, Mr…?”
He shook his head and smiled.
He doesn’t want to give me his name. He’s afraid I’ll drag him into this mess… Into my mess. Can I blame him? “I am grateful for everything you’ve done for me. I’m Eve.”
“Eve. That... is... a beautiful name. The name of the woman who begat the fall of man, if I remember correctly. How... fitting….”
He moved closer to her, drawing her into his gaze. In this moment, Eve no longer stood in the darkened alley with the remnants of cheap wine drying on her lips. Instead, she floated, caught in his ice-blue gaze.
Her mind slowed and then stilled. Her panic eased until everything apart from this stranger seemed to fade away. His words were hypnotic. “May I walk you home?”
“Yes.” She answered before she’d had a chance to think it over. Her response had been so automatic. Should I really allow a stranger to walk me home at night? Shouldn’t I be concerned? Those questions seemed to slip through the numbed fingers of her mind. Instead of fleeing in fear, she found herself nodding and taking his hand when he held it out once more.
He walked beside her, not too close so they touched, nor too distant, giving her space to slip away. 
“Are you afraid of me?”
His question was carried to her on the soft night breeze. Even though she wanted to pretend she hadn’t heard him, shame forced her to answer. This man had risked his life to save her. But she couldn't lie, not even to herself. Honesty forced her to accept the fact Valium was a way for her to cope, hiding the truth from her and everyone else—the truth that everything scared her.
“Look at me.”
She stopped, glimpsing the door to her apartment building in the corner of her eye. Keep walking, don't stop, said a tiny voice inside her.
“Eve. Look at me.”
There was something about his voice, something so spell-binding and compelling. It was hard not to look, impossible to not obey his commands. Eve turned toward him, yet somehow a part of her was urging her to run. But she couldn’t run, she was frozen. Eve stared into his bottomless eyes, unable to tear away from his gaze, or his touch.
“You are exactly what I am looking for, someone pure and so... tender.”
His accent was so strange, old-fashioned and rigid. It wasn’t Australian that she was sure of. It wasn’t anything she knew. He trailed his fingers down her jawbone. His finger hovered on the end of her chin and then lifted her face to his. His words were jumbled, whispered phrases she couldn't quite catch. All she could see were his perfect, soft lips. “Shall you succeed where others have failed?”
He didn’t wait for her answer. Instead he stepped closer, towering over her. “Well, we shall see, won't we?”
He stared into her eyes, as though he seemed to savor this moment, before lowering his head. “Ahh, humans,” he whispered, and then he kissed her.

As a book reviewer it is very rare for me to give any work 5 stars, but this story did that one thing that every great story does - it made me want more!! I couldn't stop thinking about it even when I wasn't reading. I found myself putting off things I was supposed to do because I wanted so badly to keep reading!

Eve is a young, pregnant runaway, working two jobs as she tries to survive and provide for her unborn child. Edric Hasting used to be a serial killing paedophile, before he sunk even deeper into darkness and has now fixated on Eve as his ultimate victim.

Adley Scott is a policeman who's haunted by the abduction and death of his nephew by Edric Hasting, who he's determined to make pay. Rashda is an oracle, seeing glimpses of the present and future, unable to act other than with limited communication to her Family and Adley.

When Rashda receives a vision, she realises that Eve's unborn son could play a pivotal role in the future of humanity, but only if Edric doesn't kill Eve first. With the limited information she has, she sets Adley and her Family to find and protect Eve. Time is running out for Eve though, as Edric closes in for the kill while the others are still trying to locate her.

I really enjoyed the characters. I felt like they were well rounded with history behind each and every one of them. I am not sure where the story is going to go with them, but I am anxious to find out. My favorite would have to be Jinx. I know he is like the bad luck charm of the group (hence his name) but I can't help but love the vampires best. I am a paranormal romance fanatic and the vampires are always my favorite. 

I wasn't sure where the story was going at first. It was very fast paced, but I did feel like there was a lot of filler material. The chapters are broke up into different points of view of the same situations (common in POV stories). My only issue with this was some of the POV were unnecessary. I felt like in order to get more pages, there was more and more unnecessary content. Now, that isn't to say that the information leads somewhere (which I find most of the time) so I wasn't turned off by it. 

This story had many twists and turns. I was dark, sexy, thralling, passionate, and keeps you on your toes. I was not bored from beginning to end. The author did a fantastic job of keeping me interested from the first to the last page. I am usually not a thriller reader, but I have to chalk this up to me trying to go outside of my binds and I am so glad I did. SO much can be said for a book that is outside of your normal genre that puts you on an epic thrill ride. The story was fascinating, the writing was unique, and the story was seamless. Hats off!! 5 out of 5 stars!!

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Friday, September 27, 2013

Special Feature for Today: Frozen Secrets by W.S. Greer Blog Hop!!!

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 Detective Jarrod Granger is a homicide detective with the Anchorage Police Department, investigating a slew of murders in the city. The killer is stabbing his victims 19 times each, and cutting out their tongues, and he has already struck three times. Detective Granger's own past may get in the way of his present and future, but he and his partner, Detective Misty Lawrence, must trudge through their tumultuous work relationship to track down the killer who has been dubbed The Tongue Snatcher. Stacey Alexander is a guarded, 26 year old, unnatural redhead who is unshakably loyal to her father Vincent. She works day in and day out to take care of Vincent since he has been diagnosed with stage four pancreatic cancer and she would do anything to keep him safe, even when she meets a detective who is quickly falling for her. But Stacey and Vincent have a dark secret; one that bonds them together more than any "normal" family. And soon, Stacey will have to choose between protecting the father that she loves, or accepting the love of the detective who is zeroing in on a familiar target. ©

  Meet the Author


I am a new, independent author currently living in Anchorage Alaska, as an active member of the United States Air Force. I have been in the Air Force for 9 years and have been writing since 1995, when I was in the 5th grade. My whole life, I always wrote poetry and music, and it wasn't until I started reading books in June 2012 that I had aspirations of becoming a novelist. My Wife of the last 10 years, Roxanne, is also an aspiring author, writing her first novel,and it was by her influence that I began reading and falling in love with characters and books. I have her to thanks for all of my success, both as an Airman, and as an Author. My 2 beautiful children, Janae (8), and Justin (6), both are very supportive of both my military career and my 2nd job as an author and I love them both so very much. And I look forward to taking my entire family along on this amazing journey that I know is waiting for us in the near future. I want to give a special thanks to all of my family and fans that have shown so much support!! You guys mean the world to me and I appreciate all of the love and support more than I could ever explain!!

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Thursday, September 26, 2013

Special Feature for Today: Clover by Braxton Cole GIVEAWAY and Blog Hop!!!!

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  Clover Watson wants more from life than what she can find on her daddy's farm in southern Oregon. Young, smart, and driven, she has a plan and she refuses to be distracted from her goals. After four years at the University of Washington in Seattle, she heads home for the summer with her diploma and an acceptance letter to graduate school at University of Portland. She's sure she’s got things all figured out. Except for Jake Feldman. He was one of her childhood friends, and she hasn't seen him since she left for college four years ago. This summer he's back in town and all grown up -- sweet, handsome, and completely smitten with Clover. At first, she thinks a harmless summer fling is the perfect reward for her hard work at school. But as the summer continues and their romance grows, Jake challenges everything she thought she knew about herself and her plans. When the end of summer comes, Clover is forced to evaluate what she really wants, but can she find a way to write Jake into her life?

Meet the Author

Braxton Cole lives in the Pacific Northwest where she spends most of her time holed up in her office writing stories. When she's not writing, she can be found riding her bike, hiking the fabulous local trails, chasing her kids, or wishing that her thumb was a little more green. She has a bad habit of killing what she tries to grow, but hasn't given up hopes of one day being a successful urban farmer. Braxton writes erotic romance because romance is the stuff that makes life great, and sex is fun. The two belong together, both in life and in fiction.

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Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Special Feature for Today: The Outside by Laura Bickle Blog Hop!!!

Name: The Outside: The Hallowed Ones Book Two
Author: Laura Bickle
Genre: paranormal YA
Publisher: Harcourt
Date of Publication: September 3, 2013
ISBN: 978-0544000131
Number of pages: 320
Word Count: 85000 words
Cover Artist: Shane Rebenschied

One girl. One road. One chance to save what remains…

After a plague of vampires is unleashed in the world, Katie is kicked out of her Amish community for her refusal to adhere to the new rules of survival. Now in exile, she enters an outside world of unspeakable violence with only her two “English” friends and a horse by her side. Together they seek answers and other survivors—but each sunset brings the threat of vampire attack, and each sunrise the threat of starvation.

And yet through this darkness come the shining ones: luminescent men and women with the power to deflect vampires and survive the night. But can these new people be trusted, and are they even people at all?

In this edge-of-your-seat thriller, it’s up to one Amish girl to save her family, her community, and the boy she loves . . . but what will she be asked to leave behind in return?

 Advance Praise for The Outside:

 “Top-notch. . . . A horror story with heart and soul.”
—Kirkus, starred review

“At once horrifying, hopeful, and hauntingly beautiful, this gorgeous read with its rich textures and spine-tingling suspense kept me glued to the pages in utter fascination. Laura Bickle is a master storyteller.”

 -Darynda Jones, NY Times Bestselling author of The Darklight Series

Praise for The Hallowed Ones

"This is a book to make you fear the shadows--a horrifying and gruesome tale of faith, and things that blink red eyes in the night. I began reading in the daylight, and read on into the late hours, leaning close, biting my lip. I could not look away; I was obsessed. Katie is an unbreakable soul."
—Lauren DeStefano, New York Times Bestselling author of the Chemical Garden Trilogy

"What an eerily believable, unique story! I can't stop thinking about it--or shivering."
—Melissa Marr, New York Times bestselling author of the Wicked Lovely Books

"Tight pacing, suspenseful scenes, Wow! moments of tension, and exposure into a world I knew little about, The Hallowed Ones is an exciting, terse read. . . . Laura Bickle's debut novel for young adults has quickly become my favorite dystopian novel of 2012. . . . It left me wanting more, so much more."

"Readers will find it hard to put down this suspenseful, scary, compulsively readable adventure."
—Kirkus Reviews

"Katie's an original character, and her thoughtful rebellion makes her an interesting addition to supernatural fictions's gallery of strong heroines."



Copyright © 2013 by Laura Bickle


The hard part about the end of the world is surviving it, surviving when no angels scoop you up to fly you away to heaven. God doesn’t speak. But I kept asking.

“Unser Vadder im Himmel . . .”

My breath was ragged in my throat, my voice blistering around the words of the Lord’s Prayer. I spoke in Deitsch, the way my people always did when we prayed. It didn’t matter if evil understood me, only God.

“. . . Dei Naame loss heilich sei . . .”

I opened my arms, my coat and dark skirts flapping around my legs and wrists. I stared out at a field, holding a sharpened pole in each fist. One had been a garden hoe in a previous life and the other a shovel. The metal had been stripped from them, but they were still tools. Weapons. A crumpled piece of paper was fastened to my chest with straight pins, the writing growing faint and illegible in the gathering darkness.

Darkness with eyes.

“Dei Reich loss komme . . .”

I strained to see into the night. Shapes seethed. I knew that something terrible was out there. The bullfrogs had stopped chanting and the late-season crickets had gone silent. I heard crunching in leaves, saw something shining red.

“Dei Wille loss gedu sei.”

My knuckles whitened on the wood in my hands.

“Bonnet, c’mon!”

My head snapped around, my bonnet string slapping my chin. I could see two familiar figures retreating behind me. A short, round woman scurried through the field. Her platinum hair was bright against the night, almost appearing as a moon bobbing along churning water. She reached a nervous white horse who was pawing at the earth, clambered clumsily onto its back. Between her and me, a lanky shadow in a dark jacket gestured at me with white hands. Alex.

Bonnet. That was Alex’s nickname for me. My real name is Katie.

Alex said that God did not rule the end of the world. Alex said the end of the world was ruled by sun and Darkness. By time. And time was one thing we had very little of. The light had drained out of the day, and we were vulnerable.

I saw Alex taking off his jacket, wading through the grass toward me. I swallowed. That meant that he sensed the same thing I did, that the hair also stood up on the back of his neck, that he was ready to fight.

He stripped off his shirt. My heart flip-flopped for a moment and my grip on the stakes slackened for a fraction of a second. His pale skin was covered by black sigils that seemed to blur in the twilight. It was cold, but for them to work well, the creatures pursuing us needed to see them —the same reason I’d pinned the petition to God to my chest.

I worked the prayer through my teeth, one eye on the horizon, at the roiling shadows in the east.

“ . . . Uff die Erd wie im Himmel.”

“Damn it, Bonnet.” He grabbed my elbow. He tore the white bonnet off my head, stuffed it into his pocket.

I snatched at the strings. “Don’t . . .”

“This thing makes you a target. I could see you from all the way back there.” He stabbed a thumb at Ginger’s retreating figure on horseback, melting into the grass. “It shines like a beacon.”

I lifted my chin. “Ja. Maybe it should.”

This was an argument we repeated often. Though the end of the world had come, I adhered to the old ways. I was born Amish, and I would die Amish.

But hopefully not tonight.

Alex’s eyes narrowed and he looked over my head. I could feel his hand grow cold through the sleeve of my dress.

“They’re here,” I breathed.

He swore.

Alex pulled me back, back into the tall grass disturbed by a breeze.

My breath hissed behind my teeth:

“Unser deeglich Brot gebb uns heit,
Un vergebb unser Schulde,
Wie mir die vergewwe wu uns schuldich sinn.”

I ran. I felt the grass slashing around my skirts as I plunged into the gathering night. The landscape slipped past, and I had the feeling of flying for a moment, of hurtling through that striped shadow in which no crickets sang.

But I knew that a more solid Darkness gathered behind me. I could feel it against my back, the way the air grew thick and cold, the way it felt above the earth right before first frost.

The last lines of the Lord’s Prayer slipped from my lips:

“Un fiehr uns net in die Versuchung,
Awwer hald uns vum ewile.
Fer dei is es Reich, die Graft,
Un die Hallichkeit in Ewichkeit . . .”

Evil hissed behind me, crackling like ice popping over a fire. I felt the thread of a spider web slip through the grass, breaking on my hands.


I turned, swinging the hoe in an arc around me. It whipped through the grass with the sound of a card trapped in bicycle spokes. A pair of glowing eyes leapt back, but claws scrabbled around the makeshift stake. I lunged with the second weapon in my left hand. The point struck home into something solid, and that something shrieked. I fought back the urge to shudder.

Nothing human made a sound like that. It was a sound like a bobcat wailing at sunset, mourning the loss of the day. Only this shadow mourned the loss of flesh.

Alex, ever the anthropologist, had a theory about that sound. In the calmer daylight hours, he speculated that this shriek had been at the root of the banshee myth, in an earlier, more orderly age. Once upon a time, when there had been civilization. I’d never heard the myth before, but I knew that inhuman sound all too well now.

The stake broke off in my hand, and I stumbled back with only splinters in my fist. Something swept up from the grass and ripped at my sleeve with claws.

I howled, smelling my own blood. The scent would bring more of them.

I twisted in its grip. The letter pinned to the front of my dress rustled and the creature with the glowing eyes hissed. It loosened its hold, enough for me to jam the ruined stake into its face.

I was no longer a pacifist. I meant to kill.

I was no stranger to death. We Amish lived close to the earth, under the watchful eye of God and all of his kingdom. I had helped with the butchering of pigs, mourned the loss of dogs at my kennel in whelping. I had stood at the bedsides of my grandparents when they died. I’d held my mother’s last child, a stillborn, and witnessed a neighbor die during child-birth. Those things had happened in normal life.

But when life stopped and God’s kingdom fell into shadow, I saw death in an entirely different fashion. I had dressed the bodies of women in my community for burial, only to be forced to cut their heads off before daylight’s fingers of sunshine had left them. I had seen children torn asunder, reduced to unrecognizable smears on a ceiling. I had slain men who were once like brothers to me, impaled them, and burned them.

I had seen too much. 

I had seen true Darkness.

My heart thudded against the fabric of my dress and the holy letter pinned there —small defense against the undead, but still a defense. I thrust down with all my might to jam the stick into the face of the creature twisting beneath me in the grass.

This was not murder, I had decided. This was doing the Lord’s dirty work. Putting the dead back in the earth.


I glanced up to see a pale face with a gaping maw hurtling toward me. I saw fangs, red eyes, little else. I flung my right hand with my remaining stake up before me, but the creature slammed against it, buffeting me back to the sea of grass. I landed on my backside, my feet tangled in my skirt. Its cold shadow passed over me, blocking out the pinpricks of starlight in violet sky. It smelled like blood.

Food,” it rasped. “Lovely food . . .” It reached toward my face, gently, reverently, almost as an intimate might. It was a very human gesture, rendered savage by the greed in the red eyes. By hunger for the blood that slipped down my arm and pooled in my palm.

Get away from her!

A black and white blur passed between me and death. Alex. From behind, I could see the familiar tattoos stretching across his skin: a Djed pillar, sacred to Osiris. And on his chest, an ankh made of scars, which he told me was the symbol of eternal life.

It was nothing like the carefully scripted letter pinned to my dress. It was called a Himmelsbrief, and had been made for me by my community’s Hexenmeister, a petition to God on my behalf. But any symbol of divine power behaved in the same way, the way that crucifixes and holy water did. God, in whatever guise he chose, did have some power over these creatures.

The vampire reached for Alex with an expression of longing.

“Food,” it whispered, with a nearly palpable sorrow.

But its hands were stilled just above the ankh burned on Alex’s chest. It was as if this was an invisible barrier it could not cross. The vampire froze in puzzlement, and I could almost imagine that some thoughts still rattled around its head as it had learned what was safe to eat and what was poisonous.

“Not food,” Alex responded. There was a subtle jerk at his elbow, and the flash of a silver knife plunged between the vampire’s ribs. The creature clawed, scratching at the edge of the ankh. I could hear the sizzle of his flesh, a sound like bacon frying. Black blood flowed over Alex’s wrist. He shoved the vampire down to the grass, and I could see his knife slashing, the black droplets of vampire blood clinging to the tips of the grass stalks like dew. I was still mystified by it, by its lack of redness, by its soft, inklike consistency. It smelled like iron, though, which was enough to tell what they had once been. Alex speculated that iron oxidized in their blood, darkening it.

That black blood was on my wrist. I smeared it against my skirt as Alex’s fingers wound around my hand. “We’ve got to go. There will be more.”

I nodded. This was no time to contemplate biology or humanity. This was time to act, to move. To survive.

We ran, hand in sticky hand, sliding through the grass like ghosts.

I could see the bright helmet of Ginger’s hair and the stark white figure of the horse far before us. We’d given them a head start, which was good —Alex and I had the only really effective weapons against the vampires. Alex had his tattoos and I had the Himmelsbrief. They were more of a deterrent, Alex said, like spraying mace at a perpetrator. The startlement they created sometimes gave us enough opening to run away. Or kill.

“Where are we going?” I asked, casting my gaze about the dark landscape. It was suicide to be out in the open like this. “We can’t fight until daylight.”

He shook his head, mouth pressed in a flat line. “I don’t know. The sign said that there was a church back there, but all we saw was burned timbers. Useless as shelter, if it was desecrated by the vamps.”

“We’ll have to find someplace else,” I decided, nodding sharply to myself.

“How do you feel about sleeping in trees?” His face split open in a lopsided grin, his teeth white in the darkness. There were some at the horizon we could possibly reach, but none in the field.

“I’m quite sure the vampires can climb trees.”

“Maybe not if we set fire at the roots . . . they don’t like fire.”

I made a face. “I don’t much fancy the idea of being roasted alive in a tree.”

“Reminds me of a movie, The Wicker Man . . .” he began.

I glanced at him blankly. I had never seen a movie.

“Never mind, then. I’ll tell you later.”

Ginger’s horse was climbing a slope ahead of us. This part of the meadow wasn’t cultivated, and the grass and weeds swelled over this rill in the earth, perhaps five feet tall, stretching east to west.

My skin prickled. In the far distance, I could see more glowing eyes gathering. They had heard us. They smelled blood. I pulled at Alex’s sleeve and pointed.

Ginger had reached the top of the hillock. She was panting, and her glasses slid down over her nose. She was dressed as an Amish woman, but she was not one of my people. She was an Englisher, like Alex. She was an old friend of my family who had lost everything: her husband, her children. And she was the only part of my old life I had left. I clung to her.

The horse stared to the south. His ears flattened, and his eyes dilated black as obsidian. His nostrils flared, and his tail swished back and forth. He pawed the earth, pacing nervously. I had found him back on Amish land with an empty saddle, smeared in blood and with his former rider’s boot still in the stirrup. We had discovered that the horse had a sixth sense about the vampires. Perhaps he could sense them the way dogs could sense earthquakes. Or perhaps he was merely a nervous horse and vampires were everywhere.

Alex had named him Horus, after an Egyptian god of the sky who defeated evil. Ginger and I just called him Horace.

“They’re out there,” Ginger said, staring out at the dark and patting Horace’s sides soothingly.

Ja. They’re coming.” I climbed up the hill, gazing at the flattened trail of grasses we’d left.

Alex scrambled to the top of the hill. Ginger and I made to rush down the slope on the other side, but he said: “Wait.”

I looked up at him, my brows drawing together. “What do you mean?”

Alex shook his head. He squatted, and squinted to the beginning and the end of the strangely squiggling formation of land.

“Alex. We’ve got to go.” Now it was me urging him on.

He slipped on his jacket. “We wait here.”

Ginger’s head popped up above the grass line like a platinum gopher. “What are you talking about? We’ve gotta get moving.” She tugged at Horace’s reins, but he would not budge. He stood on the pinnacle of the hill as if he were a statue.

Alex shook his head, and he pressed his hands to the ground. He was smiling. “No. We wait here. On the hill.”

I bit my lip. Perhaps the stress of running from vampires for the last several weeks had caused Alex to finally lose touch with reality. Perhaps he had some desire to make a last stand. I confessed to myself that I felt like that often. I hadn’t been baptized, so I wouldn’t get to heaven, but it was sometimes peaceful to imagine not existing in this chaotic world any longer. I didn’t think I’d be sent to hell, but I just wasn’t sure.

In any event, I wasn’t quite ready to test theology.

“Alex,” I said. “We need to go if we’re to have any chance of—”

“Do you trust me?”

He crouched on the top of the hill, looking at me with an infuriatingly jovial smile. I felt myself frown, but I reached down for his hand. Behind me, Ginger sighed and scrambled up the grass bank.

We sat on the crest of the little hill, looking down, as dozens of glowing eyes converged upon us.

“We’re screwed,” Ginger said.

I didn’t disagree with the sentiment.

Those luminous eyes drew near. I counted more than two dozen pairs. My heart hammered, and my mouth felt sticky and dry. I fingered the rough edge of my makeshift weapon. I might be able to kill one vampire with it. Not dozens.

Jagged silhouettes of people pulled themselves from the grass, like spiders extricating from webs. I braced myself, clutching my puny staff. Their eyes swept up the hill. I expected them to rush to us like water in a trench after a rainstorm.

They reached up with pale fingers that smelled like metal. Their lips drew back, hissing, and I could see the thirst in their eyes. But they made no move to climb the hill.

I sidled closer to Alex. “What’s stopping them?”

“Holy ground,” he said, grinning.

My brows drew together. I didn’t understand. I saw no sign of any human habitation here. No church. No graveyard. Just this oddly shaped hill that rose up out of the field.


Ginger started laughing behind me. She turned on her heel and surveyed the sad little hillock. “I see it now,” she said. She huddled in closer with us when a vampire snarled at her.

“See what?” 

“We’re on an Indian mound,” Alex said. “A holy site built by any one of a number of tribes in this area. They were used as burial mounds, ceremonial sites, astronomical measurements . . . some, we have no idea what for.”

“How did you know?” It looked like just a rill in the land to me. A bump.

“See how it’s sorta shaped like a snake?” He gestured to the west. “It’s hard to see underneath the tall grass, but notice how it undulates in the ground?” He swished his hand back and forth like a snake swimming, and I could see some of the suggestion of a reptile in it.

“I saw a mound one time that was shaped like a big serpent eating the moon.” He cocked his head and started to walk off down the snake’s back. “I wonder if this one is like that . . .”

Ginger snagged the back collar of his jacket. “No exploring in the dark with the monsters down below.”

“What do we do now?” I leaned on my staff. The hissing and bright eyes below were unnerving. Pale fingers combed through the grass.

Alex sat down. “We wait for morning.”

I sighed and knelt down to pray. I could feel the chill of the earth beneath my knees, dew gathering. My skin crawled at the thought of the creatures, only feet away. I shut my eyes, trying to prove that I trusted God. He had kept us safe so far. He would keep us safe as long as it suited his purposes.

That was part of what I believed —what the Amish believed. We believed in Gelassenheit — surrendering ourselves to God’s will. It was difficult, at times like this. I struggled to keep my eyes closed, seeing crescents of light beneath my lashes; I could not quite make myself trust the darkness.

“Unser Vadder im Himmel . . .
. . . dei Naame loss heilich sei . . .”

“Damn. I wish I had a harmonica,” Alex grumbled. 

Laura Bickle’s professional background is in criminal justice and library science, and when she’s not patrolling the stacks at the public library she’s dreaming up stories about the monsters under the stairs (she also writes contemporary fantasy novels under the name Alayna Williams).

Laura lives in Ohio with her husband and six mostly-reformed feral cats.

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