science fiction

Book Review: Running Out of Space by S.J. Higbee

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Running Out Of Space: Sunblinded One (Sunblinded Trilogy Book 1)Running Out Of Space: Sunblinded One by S.J. Higbee
I’ve followed author S. J. Higbee’s blog for the last year, and while I’m not usually a fan of science-fiction, I decided to read one of her books this month. Sometimes it’s less about the genre and more about the writing style or tone. I selected the first book, Running Out of Space, from her Sunblinded Trilogy, and read it over a few days this week on my Kindle. Let’s jump into the review…

Lizzy and her girlfriends are aboard a spaceship traveling all around. Unfortunately, women aren’t as valued as they should be; instead, they’re often considered simply baby makers. It doesn’t matter that Lizzy is strong and resourceful, she and her quickfire tongue and actions aren’t always welcomed. Her true parentage doesn’t even help make things easier, so the girl has got it rough at the beginning… but then things get worse — a friend is killed in what looks to be a surprise attack battle. Except, not everything is as it seems. What’s really going on here?

As Lizzy’s fate unfolds, she’s hurt physically and mentally by people she trusts or thinks she should trust. Lizzy also meets a guy who causes some new feelings to stir up, and he might not just think of her as a way to create a child. Unfortunately, their road to happiness doesn’t last very long… it seems Lizzy is constantly barraged with pain and problems. She’s a heroine you will feel tremendous things for, and along the path, you hope she finally finds a win. It’s too early to discover if that will happen in the series, as the first book ends without knowing her future fate. I’m curious to learn what happens in the next two of this trilogy!

The aspect of this book that struck me the most was how well written it was… Higbee definitely has a mega grip on how to articulate what’s going on inside Lizzy’s mind and those around her… especially when the friend who was killed ‘visits’ Lizzy on many occasions after she’s been killed. No spoilers here, you’ll have to read it yourself to understand what I mean. From descriptions to dialog, the story’s words really pop. I’d love to read a non-science-fiction book by Higbee, as I’m certain it would be a stellar match for me.

While the story and the characters were good, it was the writing in this one that which made the biggest impact on me. I’m confident science-fiction fans will absolutely love the plot and the futuristic feel of the book. I enjoyed it, but since this isn’t a genre I normally read, some of it probably went over my head. Nonetheless, I kept finding myself intrigued to see how well crafted the book could continue to get. And it did. This just goes to prove… sometimes you need to step outside your comfort zone to experience other new things. You might find something you like, just as I did. Kudos to Higbee for creating a wonderful book, series, and clever writing tone that kept this reader happy!

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

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Book Review: The Proximity of Stars by Benedict Stuart

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The Proximity of StarsThe Proximity of Stars by Benedict Stuart
The Proximity of Stars by Benedict Stuart is a science-fiction novel that pushes readers to think about alliances, friendships, family, and loss. I’d come across this book via Goodreads when I saw the author’s comments on other books, then decided to add it to my TBR. I’m not normally a reader in this genre, so it’s often a new experience for me when I do take one on. I’m glad I had a chance to read this one, as it’s less about sci-fi on several levels and more about relationships. Of course, there’s the necessary alien, technology, and futuristic stuff, but I never felt overwhelmed.

Sometimes funny, sometimes telling a moral, this story has lots of angles and things to consider. I enjoyed the writing style, including the times when it almost poked a bit of fun at the traditional path of aliens invading the Earth. Sometimes people are at war on their own planet, and at others, they move to the moon! When the author revealed the intricate connections between the different ‘sides’ and killed off a few beloved folks fairly soon in the story… I knew it would be different. I look forward to more from the author in the future.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: The Crimson Deathbringer by Sean Robins (.99 from 6/12 – 6/16)

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Today, I’m sharing a book review and an alert: Sean Robin’s sci-fi thriller, The Crimson Deathbringer is only .99 as a Kindle download from 6/12 thru 6/16. Check it out @ Amazon where it was HOT NEW RELEASE earlier this month. I read the book last week and have posted my review below. Scroll down to see it… and you can check out the author’s website for more information on his books and news.

The Crimson DeathbringerThe Crimson Deathbringer by Sean Robins
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Alien Invasion! Future Coming Faster Than We Think! Hold On To Your Senses! My experience in this realm consists of Star Trek and Star Wars, plus a handful of other books I’ve read in the sci-fi genre in the past year. It seems I might like this genre more than I thought… after a few excellent authors I’ve added to my list this year, I’m adding another one with Sean Robins, writer of The Crimson Deathbringer, published in 2019.

When I first read the title, a bloody crash came to mind. After starting the book, I thought… this doesn’t seem all that sci-fi. It’s more post-apocalyptic world settling, but then… all hell breaks loose. What I commend the author for most… is starting with great characters and a solid story. I was immediately pulled in by the first couple of characters we’re introduced to. And then, when the aliens invade, I felt even more connected with the story. There are two different alien races, and I had to choose which one I liked. Rather than provide more details on the actual plot, here’s what you need to know: Young love. Strong female fighters. Bonds of friendship. Trust in a species you haven’t ever encountered before. Cool technology with mind altering systems. Betrayal. Humor. Just the beginning of this series.

Interested? Sounds kinda intense, and it is… but don’t think there aren’t laugh out loud moments and some good old-fashioned romance. Robins includes tons of references that even a clueless guy like me picked up on. I knew several from Star Wars, Star Trek, and Game of Thrones. There were others I vaguely knew of, but it all made for a witty and clever approach to telling the story. Love blossomed between unlikely characters and world domination was a clear theme. Has it hit too close to home? Possibly, but only in the good ways.

I like Robins writing style. It’s easy to digest without the clunk of super-sci-fi stories that sometimes go over our heads. There is A LOT of all that futuristic stuff, but it’s described in a very understandable manner and it makes you kinda interested in exploring it more. Until, of course, death happens. No alien invasion can be successfully thwarted or pulled off without pain and loss. I’m happy to say that 1 of my 2 fave characters survives this international / foreign / outer galaxy war, but I did have to hold back a tear or two when some bad things happened. As an author, I know what it’s like to do that to someone you’ve created whom you love… which tells me I know Robins painfully made this decision, and probably because it was the right one.

We’re left with a bit of a “what could happen next” moment at the end, but I’m along for the ride. Looking forward to the sequel!

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Fractalistic by Gerardo Delgadillo

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FractalisticFractalistic by Gerardo Delgadillo
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

The title and the cover of this book are the initial reasons someone would feel compelled to pick it up and learn more. I say that because it’s eye-catching and pushes a person to wonder more deeply what it could be about. Would there be the potential for science-fiction or fantastical elements? I had little knowledge of the subject matter of fractals, but I was familiar with the author’s work, as I’ve read (and very much enjoyed) two of his other books. I assumed the tale would have something to do with a ‘broken’ young adult and that it would focus on Mexican heritage (based on cover and past styles — the author excels in these settings)! But what I read was so much more… and I’m excited to share my thoughts on it today.

Winter, ~17ish American girl, moves to Mexico with her parents, searching for a cure for her mother’s illness. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work, and her mother passes away. Winter and her father struggle to overcome the pain and loss. The book starts after the death, so we learn much of this in back story. The struggle is clear and obvious through the lack of words and emotion, brittle arguments, and abrasive moments between the two characters — all done in a beautiful and heartfelt way. Winter then meets some new friends at school, something she was reluctant to allow because the last time she trusted her friends, they all abandoned her when her mother had gotten sick. She’s been through a lot, but she is strong and pushes through the swirl around her. Winter is a fine balance of a young girl in need of love and guidance and a soon-to-be adult who is mature beyond her years.

Delgadillo lets us stir in confusion for a little while, trying to understand the mysterious fractals that her father is working on. All we know is that they are a way to communicate with his deceased wife, Winter’s mom. They both want to see her again, whether it’s real or spiritual, but we can clearly tell it’s affecting them differently. Her father is angry and forceful to get Winter on board with trying harder to connect with her mom. We think he’s being too aggressive, but there are reasons beyond what we know at the time. This is where we feel the fantastical elements, and it’s a startling and beautiful moment of bliss and pain — what if it actually works?

By midway, Winter’s developed friends, even a boyfriend of sorts. He has his own issues. It’s with her new best girl friend that Winter finds an intriguing connection, as her mother is also interested in the research Winter’s father is conducting. We see the relationships grow among each of the people in Winter’s life, all the while knowing something else is going on beyond what we’ve been told. It’s not easy to figure out, and when it hits you about 75% through the book, you’ll stop and need to take a breath. Our beloved characters are far worse off than we realized, but we feel even more enamored with them, hoping they can make the fractals work.

Delgadillo tells a poignant story. With several parts using Spanish (and enough English translations in the text to make the points clear), we have a different layer to the story. It’s not just a typical family we might know; it’s a family with different cultural beliefs, heritages, stories, and interpretations of life and death. I loved seeing these aspects in the book, as I felt it made the story even stronger. Winter is not a typical young adult, but in many ways, she is exactly the type of kid we’ve all seen somewhere along the path. Take away the science-fiction and ‘death’ turbulence in her life, she is going through all the normal things teenagers do… relocation, making new friends, dating a boy/girl for the first time, dealing with parental issues, etc.

Kudos to Delgadillo for a multi-dimensional story with tons of emotional peaks that will make you quite glad you took a chance on this one!

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Marika by Mari Collier

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Marika (The Chronicles Of Tonath Book 3)Marika by Mari Collier
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

Marika is the 3rd book in the ‘Chronicles of Tonath’ series written by Mari Collier. While you don’t need to read them in order, it’s probably a good idea to give it a try if you can. I chose to read this one first (the latest) because I liked the plot line and wanted to sample something by the author. I can easily say that Collier is a wonderful writer, and I will continue to read more from her.

The people of Tonath have been through a tremendous amount. Some of them, like Marika, have secrets that have yet to be discovered, even by the secret keeper themselves! The book kicks off with Marika as a young girl at religious / spiritual services with her mother and several brothers in an institution. She has a weird out-of-body experience where a voice speaks to her and warns her that someone is in danger. Marika tries to tell the person, but her mother prevents her from speaking the truth and chalks it up to a young girl’s imagination. We soon learn Marika’s mother wants the property her daughter inherited from her recently deceased father. We’re unsure if her mother is good or bad, but we continue to see the relationship spin and evolve for the next 10+ years as Marika grows up and must wait until her 18th birthday to formally decide what to do with the land.

Meanwhile, as Marika tries to understand these strange powers building inside her mind, someone from the past visits her and provides a quest that she is destined to follow. Marika wants to be informed about her life, the truth, and her planet’s history before she listens to her mother to sell the property and get married. Two suitors are interested, but Marika won’t commit. Then she decides to follow the quest that someone puts before her… revealing Marika’s true lineage and purpose in the world. What must this amazing young woman do to accept the truth and protect those around her?

Collier takes her readers on a wild science fiction and fantasy ride through life on another planet. We know a little bit about Tonath, but not everything (perhaps it’s covered in earlier books), so we’re learning a lot as we go on this journey. Marika’s gift and responsibilities run deep. Will she be able to contain them? Once she makes a decision about whom to marry, and how to deal with her mother’s relentless grip on things, Marika’s mind and world open up to the past. She discovers what happened years ago, what she needs to do, how to stay alive for longer than most, and how to fall in love the right way. She learns to trust and become part of the solution rather than just another cog in the system that does little to help the world around her.

Collier has created a believable world with lots of emotional situations for her characters. While everything feels human, there is another layer to the complexity of Marika’s past and her powers, so as readers… we’re always wondering what else might happen. She’s suffered a lot, and when she meets people like the teacher / professor and some of the brothers in the institution, it’s clear to tell she is special – but we also know some do not want her to survive.

I’m always impressed by writers in this genre when they create the unimaginable for me. I live with walls and structure, yet on another planet, so much can happen. It’s intriguing to discover how authors like Collier can dream up such fantastic worlds we’ve never been in but make them feel so real. Kudos for a well-written story that just happens to have a basis in science fiction and reality. While that’s an important component, what readers will enjoy most here is the maturation process of a young girl who yearns to find the truth about her father, the past, and her purpose. She’s a role model for many, and I look forward to seeing more of her in future books perhaps.

View all my reviews

About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new book series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations but with a twist. There are four books: Academic CurveballBroken Heart Attack, Flower Power Trip, and Mistaken Identity Crisis. I read, write, and blog A LOT on this site where you can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Book Review: Endgame by Patrick Hodges

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Endgame (Wielders of Arantha, #3)

Endgame by Patrick Hodges

My rating: 5 of 5 stars


Endgame is the third book in the Wielders of Arantha trilogy written by Patrick Hodges. I read the first two book in late 2018 and had to finish the conclusion while every little detail was fresh in my mind, as these books pack in a tremendous amount of story, characters, and settings. Each is a fantastic component, but when woven together, the series is a definite stand-out with the makings of potential major fandom. And that comes from a non-frequent fantasy reader who’s mostly familiar with works like Star Wars and Lord of the Rings — I got the same feels reading Hodges’ work as I did the others!

Think of it as a cosmic chess game. Two unknown players (until the end, of course) battling for control over millennia, tossing curveballs and misery at one another, until the game concludes. But it’s much more than that… Hodges has created a bevy of memorable characters and intense passions for survival that will keep you glued to the book for hours at end. While the focus is on epic battles to conquer other lands or obtain your freedom, within each major conflict exists the fundamental emotions and goals we all experience in life — love, pain, embarrassment, lust, anger, revenge, friendship, shock, judgment…

At times, I wasn’t sure who would end up winning the war. It could be the good or the bad guys. Then again, I had moments where I was no longer sure which side was good or bad. There is a middle ground where Hodges forces readers to question our loyalty and our connection to certain characters. People make mistakes, can they be forgiven? Others betray you for a necessary reason, can it be forgotten? Power is thrust upon those not ready, should they be punished for inexperience or immaturity? Mothers are forced to abandon, but what if they had the best interests at heart? These are only the basic level of questions readers will evaluate while reading this trilogy. It gets deeper from there.

As a conclusion, it’s strong. There were a few characters I wish had different endings, but that’s only because I feel different things than other readers will. The entire story is wrapped up, but it is not perfect and happy. Just like life. There are losses in war. The bad guys / girls sometimes win a few battles. People will die. Sin will persist. Hodges covers all the remnants of a long-lasting war that will never be forgotten. I found happy endings for some couples and families, but it was a wonderful balance of humility, acceptance, and tolerance.

If you’re a fantasy fan, you’ll undoubtedly enjoy this trilogy. While you could just read this last book, as Hodges does an excellent job of briefly summarizing pertinent history, you’d lose out on all the beautiful emotions and relationships that lead us to this final epic ending. It’s a quick read despite being either ~400 or ~500 pages for each book, which makes it highly worth it, and then even a little sad when it ends! With over 20 key characters, all easily identifiable and visualized, I couldn’t possibly describe everyone here… but I’ll definitely share my favorite: Maeve is a the strongest, the type of person you’d want to be on your side in any battle. She has the nurturing and loving side to make her appeal even more, but it’s her honesty that is the best.

Definitely give this one a chance if you love complex and multi-generational tales that have surprise connections between characters and history you learn as the story unfolds. Congrats on a superb finish, Hodges!



View all my reviews

About Me

For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. The debut book, Academic Curveball, in my new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.

Launch Day Book Blitz: Clouded by Envy by Candace Robinson

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Today is extra special because it’s LAUNCH DAY for CLOUDED BY ENVY, the next amazing young adult fantasy book written by Candace Robinson. I’m thrilled to share my review and key links for readers everywhere to dive into this wonderful story. Isn’t that cover TRULY spectacular! Don’t wait… check out my review below, add it to Goodreads, and visit Amazon today!

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*** MY REVIEW ***

Clouded by EnvyClouded by Envy by Candace Robinson

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

In my quest to become a more well-read and genre-diverse connoisseur of great literature, I often pick up a book that I think will be one thing yet turns out to be something quite different in a wonderfully shocking and engaging way. I’ve read several novels written or co-written by Candace Robinson in the past, but when the opportunity to read her upcoming release, Clouded by Envy, arose, I had to jump on it — initially from the cover alone. What is that!?! I bet you want to know… it’s gorgeous and captivating and peculiar and oddly sensual, don’t you think? Throw in the always-intriguing concept and deadly sin of envy (I’m Roman Catholic, so my repression requires me to love it) and you’ve got all the makings of a fine book. Guess what? It totally lives up to that hype!

I’d classify it as science-fiction, fantasy, young adult, re-appropriation of a few fairy tales, and life advice. There are two worlds. There are twins who were abandoned by their parents. When they’re magically transported to a human environment, and they only look human at certain points in their lives, there’s bound to be a plethora of page-turning scenes, intense thrills, heart-stopping emotions, and a few eye squints — at least for me because I kept finding myself trying to guess how it could possibly end given the different themes encircling this complex story.

Robinson excels at capturing the young adult voice of someone yearning to escape and find whatever’s missing in their heart or mind. She draws you in based on the sadness of what’s happening to a seemingly kind and lovable character, then tosses you to the wolves with a scene so crazy or shocking, you no longer know what to believe. After being tossed around a bit, you develop your own sense of connection and wait for the next shoe to drop. In this case, the characters often forget to wear shoes, so it’s kinda fun to see how that eventually plays out (just including a little side humor so after you read the book, you’ll get what I am saying here).

If you like something different, or something you know well but that’s been turned upside and written from the perspective of a non-human creature, you’ll enjoy this novel. It’s on the shorter side in page count which makes it easy to get through in a few hours one afternoon or evening. It’s also something you can put down and pick up again without feeling lost. The story is told in alternating perspectives from the twin protagonists, but there’s a few other character POV’s sprinkled from time to time so you see what’s happening in totality. What a ride! I look forward to seeing everyone’s thoughts and reactions when it’s officially released in early 2019. I got lucky and received an ARC (thank you) which made me quite happy… this is the 4th or 5th book I’ve read by the author… always leaves me thirsting for the next one.

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If you’re unfamiliar with Candace Robinson, you should check out the other books I’ve read of hers. I’ve created a dedicated page on my blog where you can see them all!

Candace

***

Title: CLOUDED BY ENVY

Author: Candace Robinson

Pub. Date: February 19, 2019

Publisher: The Parliament House

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Pages: 215

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NiBooks

OVERVIEW

Brenik has always been envious of his twin sister, Bray. Growing up as fairy-like creatures, known as bats, everything came easier to Bray. While Brenik spent his time in her shadows, never feeling he was enough. After escaping their world of Laith, and living on Earth for ten years, Brenik attempts to strike a deal with the Stone of Desire to become human. Though true humanity is not an option, he will accept the curse that will alter him to get as close as he can.

Living in a tree trunk for the past year hasn’t been easy for Bray, more so after her brother disappears again. When a human boy and his brother, Wes, find her, a new friendship is struck. Through Wes, Bray learns there can be more to life than waiting within a tree. But worrying over where Brenik has vanished to always remains in the back of her mind.

When Bray reunites with Brenik, she realizes she must help him break the curse after she discovers the need for blood is beginning to overpower him. The curse not only damages those who get close to Brenik, but it could also destroy whatever is blooming between Bray and Wes.

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Book Trailer:

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Exclusive Excerpt!

Bray wasn’t sure how long she had drifted off for, but there was a puddle of wetness against her cheek when she woke up—okay, so it was only drool from herself. Lifting a hand up toward her cheek, she swiped the saliva away and rubbed it on to the hammock. Classy, she thought, but there was already some gathered there anyway.

Remembering the events from earlier, Bray headed straight to the hole and peeked out. She shifted her head from left to right. Nothing. Bray looked up and down—she could see a few bushes had already been planted in the dirt.

Then she saw it: a circular stone bowl filled with water sitting on top of a long thick stem, attached to a circular bottom. A birdbath! Almost giddily, Bray stepped on the ledge of the hole and leaped off, flapping her wings hurriedly to the nearest pink and yellow peach. Opening her jaw wide, she bit into the thin skin. A juicy one. The fruit filled her mouth with delicious pleasure, and she took one more long bite before diving down to the birdbath.

The top of her newfound treasure was a perfect circle with tiny mounds around it resembling hills. Bray landed on the ceramic and bent down to take a seat, before placing her bare feet into the warm water that had been perfectly heated from the shining sun.

Peering down at the clear water, Bray saw no sign of intrusion from other creatures yet. She rotated her head in every direction, as if she would be caught just by thinking about slipping into the water—still no sign of life.

Flicking her braid over her shoulder, Bray pursed her lips together to hide the smile aching to shine against her face and jumped into the water. The splash echoed. Her bare feet scraped the rough bottom, while her dress inflated and then clung to her body as she shot to the surface. She let out a small giggle to herself. It was sad that the only highlight of the past year was hopping into a shallow pool of water with no one around except for her.

She leaned back into the liquid, letting herself float and moving her arms slowly up and down, while swimming in figure-eight circles.

Bray closed her eyes and let the water cover her ears, so it felt like nothing in the world existed, except for the muffled vibrations from the liquid.

A loud booming sounded from above, and her eyelids thrust open, meeting dark brown eyes, light brown skin, and that black bowl hair. Tiny human. Luca.

Freeze, Bray thought to herself, not even blinking her eyes. She held them wide open, thinking he wouldn’t notice her, or maybe he would just assume she was a bird. Even though he was staring at her and had spoken something she didn’t hear clearly.

Nope. That isn’t going to work. He hovered closer, his eyes scrunched halfway closed to examine her more thoroughly. Unable to hold her eyes open any longer, Bray blinked several times.

“What are you?” he asked, genuine amazement creeping into his words, lips slightly parted.

“A bat!” Bray yelled, and she jumped up from the warmth of the water, darting straight for the tree hole.

Breathing heavily, Bray landed inside and collided with the floor. She rolled to her back, running both hands down her face. “Why did I come out without paying attention? I know not to!” Ruth had always told her this.

A quake trembled through the tree, causing shivers to run up and down her spine. What is the little beast doing? Oh no, what if he is trying to chop down the tree? My home—the peaches! Bray didn’t know why she was thinking about stupid peaches when there was another fruit tree directly next door.

Despite the thunderous rumbling, Bray grabbed the needle from underneath her hammock and dodged toward the window. If the little beast thought he could take her down, then he had another thing coming. She would prick his eye—actually, she would poke both of his eyes to protect her and Brenik’s home.

When Bray reached the edge of the window, the sound stopped. She peeped her head out of the hole, right as a face met hers, his black hair falling forward over a hazel eye—an eye she was going to poke. Startled, she jumped back instead of toward him.

A broad smile crossed the little beast’s face. “Hello.”

Freezing once again, until she remembered that the staying-still-as-a-statue strategy didn’t work in the birdbath, she meekly said, “Hi.”

Bray brought the needle up toward his smiling face, just in case.

“Are you planning on sewing something?” He tilted his head at the needle.

“Yeah, your eyeball.” She gave him a hard glare.

“What?” he asked while laughing hysterically.

He was laughing? Not scared? Bray brought the needle closer. “Yeah, you need to leave and never come back. This is my home.”

“No. Technically, it’s my brother’s home,” he said, still smiling.

“What brother? You mean your dad out there who was planting this morning?”

Luca shook his head, and she didn’t miss the wince before he spoke. “No, that’s my brother, Wes. I don’t have a mom or dad.”

Crestfallen, Bray lowered the needle. “Oh. Me neither. I only have a brother, but he will be gone for a while.” She paused and glanced at the note Brenik had left behind, her chest tightening. Then she shrugged it off and shifted her gaze back to the boy. “By the way, my name is Brayora, but you can call me Bray.” For some reason, she wasn’t worried anymore about the human.

“I’m Luca Duran.” He plopped his thin fingers on the edge of the hole.

“Yeah, I heard your name this morning, little beast. I mean, Luca.” She thought little beast suited him better than Luca.

 ***

About Candace:

My name is Candace Robinson. I’m just your average hemiplegic migraine sufferer. My days are spent writing, book reviewing and traveling through books for my blog, Literary Dust. I live just outside of Houston, Texas, where it feels like the hottest place on Earth with the crazy weather. No, seriously, one day it’s 30 degrees and the next it’s 70 degrees! I live with my husband and awesome daughter!

You can also follow her on her review blog Literary Dust

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About Me
For those new to me or my reviews… here’s the scoop: I’m Jay, an author who lives in NYC. My stand-alone novels, Watching Glass Shatter and Father Figure, can be purchased on Amazon as electronic copies or physical copies. My new mystery series, Braxton Campus Mysteries, will fit those who love cozy mysteries and crime investigations. There are two books: Academic Curveball and Broken Heart Attack. I read, write, and blog A LOT. First the book review goes on Goodreads, and then I send it on over to my WordPress blog at https://thisismytruthnow.com, where you’ll find the revealing and introspective 365 Daily Challenge –and multiple Readathons. You can also find all my social media profiles to get the details on the who/what/when/where and my pictures. Leave a comment and let me know what you think. Thanks for stopping by. Note: All written content is my original creation and copyrighted to me, but the graphics and images were linked from other sites and belong to them. Many thanks to their original creators. Follow my blog with Bloglovin.