Friday, January 15, 2021

New release sample: NIGHT OF THE LIVING PROOF

 My woolgathering got me to the main room of the shop. Angela had assembled a little operating room, with tweezers and antiseptic, witch hazel, a pot of her herbal salve, and a few doctor’s instruments, including a scalpel. It all waited on a thick white cloth on the little bistro table where we usually sat to drink chai and discuss guardian matters. I was in no shape to either force my unsteady legs to get me up the stairs, or work with Kurt to fly me up there. Just the thought of using my telekinesis made my head throb again.

“Whoever took the Parker boy was prepared,” Hayward said, once everyone had taken seats and Angela started washing my neck before examining it. “They were ready for failure. If as you speculated the three boys broke free of their handlers, maybe they were closing in. They could have witnessed the takedown on Tuesday. One telling factor in the report I got, which was more extensive than the one your friend, Stanzer got …” He glanced at Angela, who was standing behind me.

“What?” I said, trying not to snap, when the look he gave her was full of communication. I very much hated feeling I had been made a little kid again who needed to be protected.

“Parker was itching and had red patches on his neck. Those false military walked in with their paperwork and took custody of him before the doctor arrived to examine him.”

“False military?” Kurt said. “You’re sure?”

“I have contacts in all the branches. Those people who took the boy were not military, no matter how secretive.”

“So you’re safe,” I said. “Nobody will turn you in, reveal what you’re doing here.”

“We can only hope,” Hayward said with a slight nod and a weary, thin smile.

“I think you’re right.” Angela rested two fingers on the right side of my neck. “There’s something in Lanie’s neck, and the hives are an allergic reaction, resisting the invader.”

“They shot me with what … a tracker?” My neck burned where she touched me. Hopefully just psychosomatic.

“I’m thinking drugs. Reinforcing their mind control on the boys,” Hayward said. “The question is if they intentionally shot you, or you got in the way when they were shooting Parker.”

“Can you get it out?”

Tuesday, January 12, 2021

New release sample: NIGHT OF THE LIVING PROOF


Kurt and Col. Hayward came out to meet us. The Colonel took charge of pushing my chair and Kurt walked around my Jeep twice, scanning it with one of his gizmos. I didn’t want to know what he was looking for, any more than I wanted to know why he thought he should scan for something nasty.

“You don’t have allergies,” Hayward said, once we were all inside. He was still behind me, and I turned enough to see him frowning at the back of my neck.

“Now I do,” I said. Then I saw Angela standing in the doorway of the main room. She looked like she hadn’t slept, and she had her peacock shawl wrapped around her, over her usual blue handkerchief print dress. “I’ve had invasion dreams. All day yesterday. The snake is moving.”

“The defenses of the town are …” Angela shrugged and took a deep breath. Exhaled. “Wobbling is the closest description. Fluctuating, strong and weak, badly enough to cause discord with the music of the shop’s defenses. It was heavy Christmas Eve, faded during the day, then resumed once Ben and Bethany left. I spent most of the night bringing everything back into tune.” She held out a hand to me. “Franklin and I have been discussing your problem.”

Kurt was heading down the hall ahead of me, and he glanced back, cocked an eyebrow, met my gaze, then shifted to Hayward, who was still behind me. My brain was working slower than normal before I caught on. So that was Hayward’s first name. Franklin Hayward. Since he was also a Lost Kid, I wondered who had found him and where, and the reasons for naming him.

Sunday, January 10, 2021

Off the Bookshelf: A BOY CALLED CHRISTMAS, by Matt Haig


Fantasy, Holiday Fiction

I want to start by thanking the lovely ladies on the Bookmarked podcast for Realm Makers, Lauren Brandenburg and Gillian Bronte Adams, for recommending this book.

Lovely, fun, quick read. Humor and suspense and danger, nasties to boo and heroes to cheer -- and special effects!

Nikolas is a poor boy who has only had two presents in his entire life. His woodcutter father doesn't make much money and they barely get by. When Dad gets a chance to go on an expedition that will pay him a lot of money, he takes it. Poor Nikolas is left in the dubious care of his nasty Aunt Carlotta, and immediately his life gets much worse. Until he finally runs away, in search of his father.

He runs into elves who are going through some pretty severe oppression of their own, and barely escapes with his life. When he finds his father, it isn't the happy reunion he hoped for, and Nikolas ends up making some pretty painful choices, and grows up way too quickly. How exactly does a boy go from being nicknamed Christmas to being Father Christmas, and learn magic, and find flying reindeer, and decide to give away toys every year? Read and find out -- I ain't telling you and spoiling the fun!

The world-building and rules for elves and the adventure -- just lovely. Great fun to read. This might just be one of those books you need to read every year. Especially when you need help getting into the holiday spirit.

Friday, January 8, 2021

New release sample: NIGHT OF THE LIVING PROOF

 Yeah, right, like Divine’s Emporium wasn’t the safest place in the entire town, if the snake attacked?

Yet Athena and Doni had been sleeping over at Divine’s when the snake attacked them. Athena had stepped through a wall into another dimension, tricked into thinking Doni was in danger. There were weak spots, even at Divine’s. Stephanie’s death and my broken back proved the energy defending our town was weakening. Continually fading on us.

I slathered more salve on my hives, waited until it was nearly dry, got dressed, and headed for Divine’s Emporium. My dreams likely meant I had been eavesdropping on the enemy’s intentions. The guardians needed to consult with Angela. Felicity had sensed something was wrong, and she was awake and dressed and ready to go when I came outside. She met me at my Jeep. I wanted so much to hear how her Christmas with Jake went. The fact that she wasn’t shimmering with excitement meant she didn’t get that engagement ring. Instead, she made me tell her about my dreams.

Kurt’s truck was sitting in the lot next to Divine’s when we arrived. I pulled up and parked at the curb in front of the gate, behind a now-familiar sedan with a discrete military sticker in the window. A powdered sugar snow was falling as I slid out of the driver’s seat and braced myself on the door. My head throbbed when I prepared to pull my wheelchair out of the car with telekinesis. I couldn’t do it with my arms because I still ached in all my joints. Felicity told me to wait, and she came around to take care of it for me.

While she unfolded my chair, I got that shivery-creepy feeling down my back that I always equated with someone nasty watching me. I looked around, but the snow thickened and I couldn’t see anyone on the sidewalk on either side of the street. For the first time, I was not glad there were empty lots next to Divine’s and across the street. The lights from the nearest houses looked miles away. The big olive-and-gold Victorian house looked a little creepy in the growing haze of snow.

Tuesday, January 5, 2021

New release sample: NIGHT OF THE LIVING PROOF


I woke up late Christmas day with a splitting headache. Along with the hives that kept spreading, despite Angela’s tea, my joints ached. I spent most of Christmas day sprawled on the sofa, sipping tea and dozing. The boys got to gorge on all the goodies: shrimp, cheese ball and crackers, smokies in barbecue sauce, wings, egg rolls. My stomach did backflips just thinking about the food I was missing. Felicity and Jake elected to have a quiet, romantic Christmas day at her place, rather than joining us. I didn’t blame them. I made a bet with myself she would get a ring for Christmas.

My big mistake was combining Angela’s salve and tea with antihistamines. I spent the day in a haze, broken at irregular intervals by strange dreams that kept jerking me up out of sleep, trying to fly away from something nasty. My strongest impression through all those twisting, looping, slimy dreams was of something trying to drill or melt or pound its way through a shield around Eden. Sometimes it turned into the Wishing Ball, and Divine’s Emporium was inside it.

Friday morning, I woke up before dawn with the worst dream yet. In it, Bethany and Athena were having a sleepover at Divine’s, like they used to do when they were little. The house filled with shadows that reached out tentacles from the walls and tried to grab both girls. That frightened me, because Bethany had made it home for Christmas just before midnight. She and her father, Ben, had spent Christmas day with Angela, who was Bethany’s godmother. I was worried because we had kept her ignorant of her heritage as the daughter of a guardian. Stephanie had died defending Neighborlee from the snake trying make our town its doorway to invade Earth. We had honored her wishes that Bethany not become a guardian. What if the snake or whatever that ugly, persistent enemy really was, had made Bethany a target because she was ignorant and untrained?

Sunday, January 3, 2021

Off the Bookshelf: DRAGONS IN A BAG, by Zetta Elliott




In Jaxon's world, there used to be magic, but it has been fading away, so there isn't enough magic in Brooklyn, where he lives, to support magical creatures.

He doesn't know that yet -- not until his mother has to spend the day in court dealing with a nasty landlord, and leaves him in the home of a cranky old woman only known as Ma, . Jaxon is sure he's going to be miserable, and at first it looks like he's right. Then things just start happening, beginning with a mysterious package covered with foreign stamps, and a squirrel that is desperate to break into the kitchen at get at that package. Jaxon's mother raised him to be polite, but it's hard when Ma is so mean ... at least, for a while.

When Jaxon goes on a delivery errand with Ma, suddenly everything starts changing. He's full of questions, and as he learns the truth about Ma and what was in the package, his world changes around him -- and he steps into another time, and then another world. When he and Ma are separated, he is desperate to get help, to find and rescue her. Since he left her behind in a place inhabited by dinosaurs, he turns to the only dinosaur expert he knows, his friend Vikram. Unfortunately, Vikram brings along his little sister, Kavita, who goes digging into Ma's purse ... and before Jaxon knows it, they've broken the most important rules Ma told him: don't let the dragons out into the light, and don't feed them.

So very much happens, so quickly, in this lovely story about learning and growing up and needing to think fast and be smart. I hope there are more adventures for Jaxon and Ma, as he becomes her apprentice and learns about the magic that remains in the world.

Friday, January 1, 2021

New Book! NIGHT OF THE LIVING PROOF, Neighborlee Book 5


Night of the Living Proof 

The shadows from Lanie's past continue to haunt her and her friends as Neighborlee moves from Christmas to New Year's Eve. Something or someone is tampering with the magical defenses of the town. Things and people disappear and reappear, with no explanation, and gaps in memories and time. An age-old nemesis is gathering its strength for another attempt to shatter the door that Divine's Emporium holds shut. 

Sylvia Grandstone returns, and she's got her sights set on Daniel, Lanie's new boss. It's the same old Grandstone scheme to gain power and wealth by any means possible, including marriage. It would be easy to blame Sylvia for the new problems and mysteries, applying the Jessica Fletcher theory of crime-solving: the most famous guest artist is the murderer. However, Sylvia's years in Hollywood never got her anywhere near star status, and no one would ever believe she could be a criminal mastermind. Or so the guardians would like to believe. 

As New Year's Eve approaches at Eden, the Neighborlee community center, the disappearances and time gaps increase. Instead of trying to convince town officials to cancel the New Year's Eve party, the guardians prepare for a showdown, and brace themselves to do what they have always done: defend the people of Neighborlee from the outside world, and defend the outside world from the magic and wonder and general weirdness that is Neighborlee, Ohio.

From Ye Olde Dragon Books