Sunday, December 31, 2017

Sunday Post

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted here @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. 
See rules here: Sunday Post Meme

*What I did this past week*

I had a good Christmas, we stayed home as usual.  We don't go anywhere anymore, not like when I was a kid.  I didn't really go out shopping or anything.  I have been trying to get all the end of the year stuff done for my stores.  Yeah, that is always fun, not.  LOL  Hope everyone had a great Christmas and hope you all have a wonderful New Year!


*Posts from this past week* 

Stacking The Shelves (weekly meme)

Book Blogger Hop (weekly meme)

Sunday Post (weekly meme)

*Coming up this week on the blog*

Review and weekly memes!


Saturday, December 30, 2017

Stacking The Shelves


Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!



Ravenous (The Ravening, #1)


*Free on Amazon - when downloaded*



From The Falls (The Falls Trilogy Book 2)

From The Falls (The Falls Trilogy #2) by Heather Renee

*Purchased*

Friday, December 29, 2017

Book Blogger Hop December 29 - January 4, 2018


Each week the hop will start on a Friday and end on Thursday. There will be a weekly prompt featuring a book related question. The hop's purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog.  Hosted by Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer


This week's question

What character or characters would you not mind sharing a New Year’s kiss with? (submitted by Kitty @ Vicarious Bookworm)



My answer

Jace from The Mortal Instruments, Adrian from Vampire Academy & Bloodlines series or Patch from Hush Hush series.

Sunday, December 24, 2017

Sunday Post

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted here @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. 
See rules here: Sunday Post Meme

*What I did this past week*

Merry Christmas everyone!  I hope you all have a wonderful holiday
and safe travels if you are traveling.

It's been one of those weeks.  Yeah the ones where it's like I don't really want to do anything.  I did venture out some this week.  The traffic and the stores were crazy packed and I live in a small town.  I was glad to get back home and I'm not going out again until Tuesday.  LOL  It's looking like as of right now we are not going to have a white Christmas.  It snowed yesterday but was to warm to stick.  As of right now it's not doing anything outside but I'm hoping it snows later today.  


*Posts from this past week*

Stacking The Shelves (weekly meme)

Book Blogger Hop (weekly meme)


WWW Wednesdays (weekly meme)

Teaser Tuesday (weekly meme)


Sunday Post (weekly meme)

*Coming up this week on the blog*

I hope to get some weekly memes posted.  We'll see!

Saturday, December 23, 2017

Stacking The Shelves



Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!



*This week I got*


Vampire Addiction (The Vampires of Athens, #1)




SINK (Mermaid Royalty Book 1)


What did you get this week?






Friday, December 22, 2017

Book Blogger Hop December 22-28, 2017


Each week the hop will start on a Friday and end on Thursday. There will be a weekly prompt featuring a book related question. The hop's purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog.  Hosted by Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer


This week's question

Have you ever asked co-workers to give you a book or B&N gift card if they got your name for a Secret Santa gift exchange? If so, did you get whet you asked for? 
(submitted by Maria @ A Night's Dream of Books)


My answer

All of the places that I have worked, we never has a gift exchange.  But if I ever did I would ask for an Amazon gift card because that is where I get most of my e-books.

Thursday, December 21, 2017

Review: Dragon School: First Flight by Sarah K. L. Wilson

Dragon School: First Ride

Book: Dragon School: First Flight
Author: Sarah K. L. Wilson
Publisher: Sarah K. L. Wilson
Rating: 4 Stars
Level: Young Adult
Source: e-book (book funnel)


Summary from Goodreads: 
About a handicap girl who wants to be a dragon rider.

My Review: 
Dragon School was an unique story. I have read books with dragons before but this one was special and different. I couldn't put it down and can't wait until the sequel is released.

Amel is a teenage girl who despite her disability has always dreamed of becoming a dragon rider. She grew up in a small village and has had no formal training. She doesn't really know much about what to expect from her new school, not like the kids from higher ranks and court do. Most everyone thinks she should not even attempt to be a dragon rider and should just choose to become a servant. Will Amel defy every odd and make it or will her dream come to a screeching halt? 


The story is fast paced and well written. I liked some of the characters and then there are the ones you just love to hate. I really liked the purple dragon, Raolcan, that Amel is paired up with. I thought it was interesting how each color defines different jobs and things throughout the riders. Overall a fun story. I'm looking forward to reading the sequel when it is released.


Connect with the author:  Website  Goodreads  Twitter  Facebook 

Wednesday, December 20, 2017

WWW Wednesdays

IMG_1384-0

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


*I'm currently reading*

To the Falls




*I recently finished reading*

Dragon School: First Ride




*What I'm going to read next*

I'm not sure, too many good ones to choose from!

Tuesday, December 19, 2017

Teaser Tuesday


Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by ThePurplebooker.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!



To the Falls

My Teaser: "Back it up lady," she grumbled.  "Nothing to say about my awesome orb skills? And second, boy talk.  Have you spoken to Lucas yet?  Spill it, girl."



Monday, December 18, 2017

Blog Tour + Excerpt + Giveaway: Tainted Legacy by Tabitha Peattie




Tainted Legacy: The Ash Academy Series
by 
Tabitha Peattie
Genre: YA Fantasy Romance
Release Date: August 25th 2017



Summary from Goodreads:


What would you do if your parents had committed the worst crime in history?

Who would you turn to if the laws, meant to protect you, were corrupted?

When is it ok for all the good people to do bad things and the bad people to do good things?

How can you fall in love with the person who was destined to hate you?

Welcome to the world of the world of the Gifted.

Ava has always lived on the fringes of society with her close-knit family. Ever protected, loved and sheltered until the day it’s time to start at Ash Academy.

Nothing is as it seems, as Ava finds out that everything she thinks she knows is tainted. Tainted by death, lies and deceit. It is her job to learn the truth and stay true to herself despite the darkness all around her.

No one survives that kind of drama alone. Through Ava’s discovery of their society and her place in it, she will find kindness and support in the most unlikely places.

From the Ashes we Rise!


For Readers who enjoyed authors such as:
Richelle Mead
Cassandra Clare
Kelly St Clare
Jaymin eve
Laura Thalassa

A gripping first book in the Ash Academy series. This book is a full-length novel with a HEA and no cliff-hangers. Step into a magical world about love, loss and self-discovery.  


Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK



*Excerpt*


Ava idly put her hand in the water and swayed it around against the gentle current of the river, which like her, seemed to relax in the tranquility of the woods. She felt something brush against her fingers, she looked down to find an array of colours, as her hand scattered a shoal of fish into disarray. Leaving her hand in the river motionless, some of the fish came up to her and started to tickle her with the brushes of their tails and bodies.
A fish rising to the surface caught her attention, it was floating unnaturally on its side, which baffled Ava. Than another one joined it and then another until at least ten fishes were bobbing along the surface, unmoving. A scene from ‘War of the Worlds’ flashed into her head, where dead bodies floated down the river unmoving, like these fish, whose eyes, with their blank stares, shot daggers through Ava.
Jumping up, she felt the air rush out of her and the familiar tightening of her chest begin. What had just happened?  Horrified she let out a strangled cry. Wiping river water from her face, only to realize it was her tears wetting her face. Trying to get distance from the dead fish, she tried to jump back across the river but without the momentum she had before she hit the muddy side of the bank.
In her frustration and panic she blindly scrambled up the bank, mindless to her ripping muddy school uniform. All she wanted, no needed, was to get away from the river and the blank eyes of death. Her dream came rushing back to her and she found she didn’t have enough air in her lungs to run. She just crumpled down to the forest floor, silently sobbing, waiting to wake up from this nightmare also.
She was vaguely aware of movement around her. The sounds of the woods seemed to engulf her as one of their own, as she blended in by her unmoving form. She heard footsteps and tensed, not wanting to have to try and explain everything. It took a moment to realise that who or whatever was making those footsteps was not human, so she started to relax.
Feeling hot breath on her face and a light snort, she blinked away her tears to see a deer staring down at her, its expression not too dissimilar as her own, surprise mingled with fear. But the deer did not back away, and Ava was too caught in her downward spiral to care all that much. It bent its head lower and she felt its lips brush against her forehead nibbling on some leaf or something which had landed on her. Still she lay unmoving and uncaring as a small voice in the back of her head was telling her there was a deer, a wild animal, so close.
The deer had stopped nibbling and Ava carried in her self-pity, which turned into self-disgust when she realized how pitiful she was. Then she heard a distinctive thumping sound, as if something had hit the ground hard. Turning her head to the side, it took her a few minutes to blink back her tears again, so she could survey the woods.
What she found was the deer’s eyes staring at her. Startled she jumped back, but even though she had made a sudden movement, the deer stayed motionless on the floor. The screaming started to build up in her head, it was so loud. Everything was dying around her, and she didn’t know why. She did know it was her fault, she was causing it. As in her dream, she was the only thing standing when everything she touched lay motionless, now and forever more.


Tease:
“ Welcome students and parents to your first year at Ash Academy. It is OK to be nervous. It is your first day at the place you will live, breath and eat for the next three years. When your parents leave this room, they are taking with them your protection and your title. Here like generations before you, you will learn how to protect yourself and earn your title back into your family.
I warn you now, the journey you will embark on will be long and painful. But it will be a journey where you will grow and learn.
So, you begin as equals; wealth, power and status are no longer important. Understand this now and you will learn quickly, ignore my words and your ignorance will be costly.
Now say goodbye to you parents and promise to write regularly because no doubt they will miss you more then you will miss them.
We give you the key to the future, it is up to you whether you open the door and prosper.
From the ashes, we rise.” 




About the Author
I have been writing for 6 years and have written a number of books. I am really excited to start publishing these and see if others love my books like I do. I'm influenced by so many authors and books that I couldn't list them all the! All my stories have a theme of overcoming what nature has given you as this is something I have really experienced in life. I have struggled with MS since I was 17. This is something which has given me the strength and the experience to be able to write about the lowest lows and the highest highs. 


Author Links:



GIVEAWAY:


Book Tour Organized by:




Sunday, December 17, 2017

Sunday Post

Sunday Post

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted here @ Caffeinated Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news~ A post to recap the past week on your blog and showcase books and things we have received. Share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. 
See rules here: Sunday Post Meme


*What I did this past week*

Well another crazy week that went by to fast.  I got my hair cut a little shorter and colored it, same brown.  I listed some items on Vinted and Mercari.  I'm going to try out these selling sites too.  It has been really cold outside and we got some snow but it doesn't last.  It seems to melt the next day.  Oh well here's to hoping for a white Christmas.

*Posts from this past week*

Stacking The Shelves (weekly meme)


Book Blogger Hop (weekly meme)

Review: When Gargoyles Rise (Shades & Shadows #1) by Ashley C. Harris (book review)

WWW Wednesdays (weekly meme)

Teaser Tuesday (weekly meme)


Sunday Post (weekly meme)

*Coming up this week on the blog*

Blog tour, book review and weekly memes!








Saturday, December 16, 2017

Stacking The Shelves


Stacking The Shelves is all about sharing the books you are adding to your shelves, may it be physical or virtual. This means you can include books you buy in physical store or online, books you borrow from friends or the library, review books, gifts and of course ebooks!
If you want to find out more about Stacking The Shelves, please visit the official launch page!



This week I got:

City of Skies


What did you get this week?



Friday, December 15, 2017

Cover Reveal: Angel Of Hope by L.L. Hunter

Title: Angel of Hope
Author: L.L. Hunter 
Genre: YA Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance
Publication Date: January 31st, 2018
Cover Designer: KILA designs
Hosted by: Lady Amber's PR




Blurb:
Gabriel Daylesford thought he had escaped a fate worse than death after the battle with Lucifer and his demons.
He knew one day Samson would seek revenge for killing his father.
But until then, Gabe has to navigate the halls of Michael Academy and learn what it means to be Nephilim.
At least he has Eden and Asher for company.
When he starts receiving frightening visions, and a warning from his human grandmother to stop using his trait, he realises he is in more danger than he thought.
He has to decide who to trust if he wants to save the world from being overrun by demons once more.
And with the sudden appearance of two mysterious girls added to mix,
Gabriel knows this won’t be easy.
He always knew he was fated for something much bigger than himself. He just doesn’t know what that is yet.

Angel of Hope is the exciting first book in an all new spin off series set in the same universe as The Legend of the Archangel series and The Eden Chronicles.















Author Bio:
L.L. Hunter is the author of over 20 published works, including The Legend of the Archangel Series and The Garden of Eden. She has studied everything from veterinary nursing, forensic science, and dramatic arts, but has always known her true calling was to be an author.


She has been writing since her teens - everything from fan fiction, to song lyrics, to plays and musicals. When not working on her next paranormal romance, she can be found at home in Australia, reading somewhere comfortable with one or both of her “fur babies.” Follow her on Facebook, Twitter @llhunterbooks, and her blog - http://llhunter.blogspot.com.au.


Pre-Order Links:
Amazon US: http://amzn.to/2j2CIcI
Amazon UK: http://amzn.eu/5M3n4Ms
Amazon AU: https://www.amazon.com.au/dp/B077XY96W7
Amazon CA: http://a.co/2zJ46PJ
iBooks: https://itunes.apple.com/do/book/angel-of-hope/id1193302213?l=en&mt=11
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/au/en/ebook/angel-of-hope-2
Nook: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/an-angel-of-hope-ll-hunter/1125461352?ean=2940153952086





Book Blogger Hop: December 15 - 21, 2017


Each week the hop will start on a Friday and end on Thursday. There will be a weekly prompt featuring a book related question. The hop's purpose is to give bloggers a chance to follow other blogs, learn about new books, befriend other bloggers, and receive new followers to your own blog.  Hosted by Ramblings of a Coffee Addicted Writer


This week's question

Which book(s) would you like Santa to bring you this year? (submitted by Maria @ A Night's Dream of Books)

My Answer

There are so many books that I would love to have.  But I'll narrow it down.  I would love to get the Bloodlines series books 3-6 by Richelle Mead to complete my collection.  Also would love to get The Raven Cycle series by Maggie Stiefvater.  

What would you like to get this year?

Thursday, December 14, 2017

Review: When Gargoyles Rise (Shades & Shadows #1) by Ashley C. Harris

When Gargoyles Rise (Shades & Shadows, #1)

Book: When Gargoyles Rise (Shades & Shadows #1)
Author: Ashley C. Harris
Publisher: Ashley C. Harris
Rating: 4 Stars
Level: Young Adult
Source: Won

Summary from Goodreads: 
When Rose was born in the year 1544, she and the other gargoyles were a beautiful race of humans with dragon's wings. Created by magic, the gargoyles were able to do and take whatever they wanted... Until the vampires came, and with them, they brought a curse.

Almost five hundred years later, Rose awakens from stone in Washington DC, to a world that's very much changed. The kingdom of the gargoyles is no more; instead, the same group of blood suckers that cursed Rose's family now rule a hierarchy of shades and shadows.

Desperate to awaken her loved ones and break the spell, Rose learns she must convince Sean Noble, a human, to fall in love with her. Something that should have been easy... if he and Rose weren't only seventeen, and required to attend school.

Sean and his high school girlfriend dislike Rose as much as they do homework. And to make things worse, the handsome vampire prince, Adamus, who betrayed Rose in the year 1556, he and his bad boy brother have surfaced...

Rose, before graduation, must find a way to keep her identity secret from Adamus, not let him get too close, and trick Sean into falling in love. Easy if you have wings, right? Not so much.

Readers of Twilight, Vampire Diaries, and Shadow Hunters will love this story's female hero who brings a new level of fierce into a supernatural game.

My Review:
When Gargoyles Rise is a book that I didn't want to put down. It was a real page turner and a pretty fast read. It was my first book about gargoyles and it didn't disappoint.

Rose is a garoyle who was born in 1544. She comes from a royal gargoyle family and one whose family didn't always treat the humans like they should. She was just a kid so there wasn't much she could do. Then there are the vampire royal family who Rose has mixed feelings about.

Present day, Rose is awakened and looks somewhat different then she did before. She also comes to find out who wanted her awakened which is slightly shocking. Now she learns that to save some of her family and this guy she just met, Sean Noble they must fall in love before his 21st birthday. Only problem, he has a girlfriend and she has a crush on someone else. Oh and there are so many other things but I don't want to give away too much.

I really enjoyed the plot and the characters. I loved how the author gave us the background and setting of Rose's life before now. There are a lot of twists and turns and so many exciting, edge of your seat moments. Shocking moments, revelations, a bit of romance and a great plot add to this exciting and fun story. The ending is a real cliff hanger. I was like this can't be the end, no I need to find out what happens! I am excited to see what happens in the sequel. I'm hoping for more romance but between characters that might not be intended to be together. Overall a great book that I recommend reading.

Connect with the author: Goodreads  Website  Twitter  Facebook  

Wednesday, December 13, 2017

WWW Wednesdays

IMG_1384-0

Welcome to WWW Wednesday! This meme was formerly hosted by MizB at A Daily Rhythm and revived here on Taking on a World of Words. Just answer the three questions below and leave a link to your post in the comments for others to look at. No blog? No problem! Just leave a comment with your responses. Please, take some time to visit the other participants and see what others are reading. So, let’s get to it!

The Three Ws are:
What are you currently reading?
What did you recently finish reading?
What do you think you’ll read next?


*I'm currently reading*

Dragon School: First Ride



*I finished reading*

When Gargoyles Rise (Shades & Shadows, #1)



*What I'm reading next*

I'm still deciding.






Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Teaser Tuesday



Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme hosted by ThePurplebooker.
Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title and author so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!



Dragon School: First Ride

My Teaser: "You looked like the freest man in the world yesterday.  I saw you fly your dragon like thistledown flying in the breeze."





Monday, December 11, 2017

Guest Post + Excerpt: Why I Write YA by Chris Pavesic



*Guest Post by Chris Pavesic*

Why I Write YA by Chris Pavesic

YA novels appeal to me because I enjoy “coming of age” stories where a person journeys into the world and, through hard-won experience, gains knowledge and maturity. The heroes/heroines learn about themselves and their roles in the world. The various temptations and obstacles faced bring out their characters and develop their faculties, leading toward a greater self-awareness.

In many other types of novels the protagonists gradually accept the rules of society and learn to integrate themselves into its rules—to adapt their ways of thinking and behavior so that they can succeed in their life goals. But, in my opinion, the very best types of YA novels, the ones I love to read, blow that sort of “adaptation” idea out of the water.

Look at Harry Potter and Katniss Everdeen for examples of how YA heroes/heroines forge their own path and shape the world around them. These protagonists achieve a realization about their roles in the larger society and see themselves as possessing the capacity to not only disagree with prevailing opinions, but to act out against them.

Many of the YA novels where the heroes/heroines strive to change society are set in dystopian or fantasy worlds. Dystopian themes touch many controversial issues faced in the world today, from terrorist attacks to evolving cultural gender roles. In the fantasy settings there is less moral ambiguity than in the real world. There are more issues painted black and white and fewer shades of off-white or dark grey clouding the picture.

The YA protagonists inhabit these types of dysfunctional story worlds and, as they awaken to the realities around them, determine how to take corrective action. This often puts them at odds with family and friends who do not share the same realizations. The heroes/heroines are a force of change within their societies and often stand alone at the center of a revolution, where their choices and actions have far-reaching consequences.

These are the types of novels I enjoy reading, which is why I started writing them. “Write what you enjoy reading” is advice I have taken to heart. I hope that you find these types of YA stories as compelling as I do!

If you enjoy YA, I would like to offer you a glimpse into Starter Zone, the first book of my newYA/LitRPG series, The Revelation Chronicles.



Blurb

When hydrologists inscribe the consciousness of a human mind onto a single drop of water, a Revelation sweeps the land. The wealthy race to upload their minds into self-contained virtual realities nicknamed Aquariums. In these containers people achieve every hope, dream, and desire. But governments wage war for control of the technology. Terrorist attacks cause massive destruction. The Aquariums fail. Inscribed human minds leech into the water cycle, wreaking havoc.

Street gangs rule the cities in the three years since the fall of civilization. Sixteen-year-old Cami and her younger sister Alby struggle to survive. Every drop of untreated water puts their lives in peril. Caught and imprisoned by soldiers who plan to sell them into slavery, Cami will do anything to escape and rescue her sister. Even if it means leaving the real word for a life in the realms, a new game-like reality created by the hydrologists for the chosen few.

But life in the realms isn’t as simple as it seems. Magic, combat, gear scores, quests, and dungeons are all puzzles to be solved as the sisters navigate their new surroundings. And they encounter more dangerous enemies than any they faced in the real world.

Time to play the game.

PROLOGUE

I was born into a world where silicone still ruled. Where the products of the earth outshone those of the sea. Integrated circuits ran all electronic equipment and scientists strove to make the conducting lines smaller and smaller. Silicon Valley tried, and failed, to make chips fast enough to upload human consciousness.
The Revelation came a few years later from the hydrologists. They designed a system that did not use silicone, but instead worked with water molecules. The hydrologists managed to imprint the consciousness of a human mind on a single drop of water.

The water was to be kept in self-contained, sealed aquariums—pure, undiluted, eternal—where virtual realities were constructed to meet every need and desire. All of human knowledge encoded and stored in literal pools of data and integrated with the drops of human consciousness. It was, the hydrologists claimed, utopia achieved.

The obscenely rich were the hydrologist’s first clients, many taken near the end of their lives. The procedure did not always work, but there were enough successes to spur people’s interest. People suffering from terminal illnesses volunteered to be inscribed, and the hydrologists worked and refined their process. Private companies formed and competition forced price wars. Hundreds of customers grew to thousands, and then to millions.

There were landmark court cases arguing whether or not health insurance should cover the cost of the inscription—whether or not this was a medical procedure designed to save lives or a form of physician assisted suicide. The law struggled to decide if life ended when the body was drained to a dry, leathery husk, or if life continued inside those glowing, sealed aquariums.

I was thirteen when the governments seized control of the laboratories, first in the Eastern European countries. Then the labs of Europe and the Middle East were swallowed up. Terrorist attacks soon followed and destroyed most of the civilized world over the next three years. The United States, Canada, and Greece, those bastions of democracy, did not fall until the very end. Of course, by then no one cared whether or not the government or the private companies ran the uploading programs.

 Many of the aquariums ruptured in the strife and the droplets, imbued with human consciousness, re-entered the water cycle of the planet.

CHAPTER ONE

As the sun hovers near the horizon, ready to dip below and plunge the world into darkness, the weather changes for the worse. Clouds gather. Peeking out my window and over the outline of rooftops in the distance is what looks like thunderheads moving toward me in the invisible polluted gusts of wind.

I try not to think about the coming storm as I methodically pull on my boots and zip up my jacket. It is supposed to be waterproof, but I would not risk going out in anything above a light drizzle. Water has a way of seeping through even the best defenses. There’s also a lining that’s overly warm for a summer evening. I’m already sweating and the discomfort adds to my nerves.

I check the hunting knife strapped to my left leg. It was one of the first weapons purchased for me by my dad back when the sporting goods stores were still open for business. He didn’t think I was ready to handle a handgun at thirteen, but he taught me to shoot a rifle in the open fields by our house, helping me hold the weapon steady until I grew strong enough to support the weight. Now, three years later, I have a handgun, a Ruger semi-automatic, but bullets are scarce and loud noises are problematic. My small ammo stash sits in the bottom of my backpack next to the gun.

Instead of the gun, I carry an extra-light crossbow as my go-to weapon. I can hand-make the bolts so I don’t worry about running out of ammunition and the shot is relatively silent. I carry the spare bolts in a quiver strapped to my right leg. It’s awkward when running, but I can draw the bolts fast when needed.

My little sister, Alby, has loaded her own backpack. I lift it to test the weight and then pull a few things out. I place them in my own pack without comment. I help her position the lighter pack over her shoulders, tightening the straps so that it will stay balanced. She always tries to do more than she should, but I don’t like the way her face has a perpetual pinched, strained look or the deep shadows under her eyes. She looks far older than her seven years. This scares me more than everything else and that fear threatens to register on my face. I force myself to stay calm.
I check her raincoat and boots, making sure everything fits snugly. I help Alby pull up the hood of her coat, tucking in a strand of dark hair that has escaped her ponytail. As frightened as she is, she manages to give me a smile. I smile back, trying to present a brave front. As my dad used to say, “fake it till you make it.”  Over the last few years, I’ve been faking confidence more and more often for Alby’s sake.

“Ready to go?” I ask with all the false cheer I can muster in my voice. I take one last glance over the motel room that had served as a temporary home for the last few days, looking for anything that we might have left behind. The room is swept clean. No trace whatsoever that we had ever been there.

Alby nods. “Ready, Cami.”

“If we get separated, remember to keep going north,” I say. “Follow the road till you get to the park, then take the walking paths. No matter what happens, keep going. Stop when you get to the Stone River. I’ll meet you at the bridge in the center of the park where we used to feed the ducks, okay?”

She nods again, looking up at me with those dark eyes so full of trust. I hug her, because if we do get separated, there isn’t much hope we will ever see each other again. I need to keep up the pretense of hope, though, because that’s all we have to keep us going.

Stone River Park is at the very limits of the city and the area surrounding it is relatively unpopulated. I figure that once we are out of the city, our chances of survival will dramatically increase. After reaching the park, we can follow the Stone River north. There’s bound to be deserted houses in the country and less chance that any of the gangs would be interested in the meager pickings outside of the city.
We might even be able to find a place to stay before winter.

I crack open the door of our motel room. It is still light enough to stain everything with graying shades of color. The setting sun casts long shadows between the buildings, so I depend more upon my ears to find signs of other humans. I hear no motorcycle engines and no voices, only the wind, blowing and moaning, and the far-off call of a bird. The coming storm appears to have cleared the streets. They are deserted except for empty, crashed vehicles abandoned in every lane.

Alby and I had been lucky to reach the motel a few days ago. The single-story building is on the outskirts of the main town and catered to big rig truck drivers and other traffic from the interstate. I had found the skeleton key in the motel office after climbing in through the bathroom window. Alby and I spent the nights scouring every room for supplies.

No one had broken into it before we got there. Too many other rich targets to go around. But inside each room was a mini-fridge filled with snacks. Even though the electricity had been turned off, the chocolates and small bags of honey-coated nuts were edible. The tiny bottles of alcoholic beverages in each fridge did not seem useful, but I kept a few. They might be helpful in starting a fire someday when we made it outside the city. We even discovered coffee filters and a small bottle of chlorine bleach—a major score for treating our drinking water.

If I hadn’t spent days secretly peering out the dark windows of the motel, I might believe my sister and I were the last two people left on earth. But I know that out there, behind the ruined buildings and boarded-up windows, there are at least a few pairs of eyes whose owners would kill us without a second thought. My eyes flick toward the two bodies hanging from the traffic lights in the nearby intersection. They hadn’t been moved. Good.

The daytime usually belongs to looter-gangs, each with spray-can marked territories in bright displays of color that start on the buildings and drip down toward the pavement. The gangs wear something marked as well, usually a jacket or bandanna that will stand out from a distance. The snipers hole up in their nests and target anyone who encroaches on their gang’s territory. They particularly looked for members of other factions trying to increase their terrain.

Paint tags don’t show up well after dark, though, so the gangs have started leaving their victims as warnings to others not to encroach on their holding. These bodies have been hanging undisturbed in the intersection for several days, indicating a lack of activity in the area. I can only hope that the gangs have moved inward, toward the center of the city and more supply-rich targets.

No one is ever going to catch the murderers, or the ones who strung up the bodies like macabre trophies, and put them in jail. They’ll just go on and do it again and again. Like animals in the jungle—except that animals are not cruel.

We were lucky to go unmolested by the local gangs. Heaven knows we don’t look like we have much of anything, and we don’t look threatening, but that will only last for so long. Someday someone will try to kill us, possibly for no other reason than wanting to watch us die. The whole world, it seems, is at war, and no one is on my side except Alby. We only have each other.

A streak of lightning splits the sky almost directly overhead, making me wince. It is followed by a heavy clap of thunder. As frightening as it is, the bad weather is to our advantage. No one wants to be caught outside in the rain. Everyone is more afraid of fresh, untreated water and what it can do than they are of each other. But I believe we can make it out of the area and to shelter before the rain poses any danger.

In fact I’m betting our lives on it.




Interested in reading more? 
Purchase Starter Zone at Amazon.com  

Available in Kindle, Print, and Audiobook.

Learn more about the author at chrispavesic.com or follow her on Twitter @chrispavesic

About the Author

Chris Pavesic lives in the Midwestern United States and loves Kona coffee, fairy tales, and all types of speculative fiction. Between writing projects, Chris can most often be found reading, gaming, gardening, working on an endless list of DIY household projects, or hanging out with friends.