Book Spotlight: Symmetry

Welcome to the tour for Symmetry, the exciting first installment in T.M. Caruana’s Eternal Quest Breaker Series!

Symmetry Front Eternal QuestSymmetry

Publication Date: April 2017

Genre: Fantasy

Susy finds herself in isolation with no recollection of her past. Her only friend leaves unexpectedly after handing her a mysterious key-like pendant. To use for what?

When trying to escape her captivity, she is snapped up by a man whose grip is too soft to be that of a kidnapper and too firm to be that of a stranger, but when Susy lays her eyes on him her heart is instantly trapped!

This man speaks of an Honorary Knight Order, a map and seven stones with magical powers that open portals.

Susy’s view of the world will never be the same again!

Love and secrets delay their quest and concerns grow that the balance of life will not be re-established in time as the evil of the two magical schemers gets closer to his goal.

A series with the most elaborate quest the world has ever seen, culminating in a final decision that will determine the fate of our existence as we know it…if only the Eternal Quest Breaker can find a way to overcome the two magic schemers’ battle.

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Excerpt

Would I dare to breathe? Would I try to crawl out through the door they came from? To stay under the workbench still seemed the safest, but it would reach the point when I must get out. Frankly, I was terrified of what awaited me on the outside world. Father hadn’t yet discovered my escape; I would have felt his disappointment shoot straight through me. Why was I such a coward? Was the fear based on the uncertainty about how long my memory would hold? My memory failed me frequently and there were no patterns that suggested whether it was caused by a problem with the short or long-term memory. It was selective, as if someone viewed me from above and chose which moments would give the most amusing outcome or perhaps it was like a random lottery. I had always remembered father, uncle and Vic, but not the nurses on the ward who must have known me for as long as my family. Some news reports on TV may stay with me for a year, others only hours. Days and dates were worse. It was as if numbers didn’t stick at all. Perhaps it was down to my photographic memory because sometimes I remembered faces, but not the names and sometimes the prick of the needles, but not the time they had been carried out.

From under the desk, I could see the two men adjusting some dials and standing to watch with intense interest through the glass window into the small room.

I heard my father say: “Do you believe me now Ben? Have I managed to prove my theory to you after so many years?”

“Well, it suggests a certain success, I must say,” my uncle replied.

Not understanding what on earth they were talking about, I carried on trying to form an escape plan, until the next comment broke into my thoughts.

“I never thought that it would take four hundred years to see the first glimpses of hope,” muttered uncle, “and many have paid a high price for our greed,” he continued in the same low tone.

“No, don’t start on this issue again, you are a scientist and you understand that sometimes a few have to suffer in order for the majority to prosper,” Father explained with a disconcerting satisfaction, which I had never heard before and made me worry more about my mission.

“What is missing in the formula? Could it be the speed at which Susy’s blood collides? Is the blood not hot enough? Or has it to do with gravity?” he continued, debating more with himself, it seemed, than with uncle Ben.

“Maybe the power stone is a contributing factor, and it has to be near the blood for it to be activated?”

Now it was my uncle’s turn to speak.

“Stupid, don’t you think I understand that! But you know very well that the yellow stone disappeared as we returned to Earth through the blue archangel portal,” Father said, slating off his brother to clarify that his suggestion was of no help.

So, they were still trying to find a cure for my disease, or what was the research they had accomplished? What effect from a stone was it that they wanted? And what did they mean when talking about ‘returning to Earth’?

As I listened, I realised that I now had an opportunity. They had turned their backs to the door leading to the outside, which was automatically slowly closing. Quickly, I made my way out. I wished I didn’t have to crawl on my knees. They felt sore and the floor was cold. The first metres were the hardest, but just a little bit further and the room was left behind. It was nice to get back on my feet. Yikes! A long corridor of stairs led up to a closed door about twenty metres away! Stairs, they were going to make my knees just as sore as the cross-trainer in the gym and I wasn’t in the best shape. I felt the agony in every step and was delighted to reach the top.

The door was locked, but fortunately could be opened from my side. As I closed the door behind me, I noticed a sign that read, ‘Restricted Access’. I turned to view the room I had entered – it was massive, with wires, pipes and tubes, high up in the air that could be reached by a yellow metal staircase. It was clinically clean, with an array of buttons lit in green and red and a dull buzzing sound that could be distinguished from the cries I usually heard in my head. What I saw in front of me was one of the engine rooms to the Large Hadron Collider. That was an easy guess since Vic had told me about this place. What baffled me was the fact that I had thought it was located in another building. I was in a private hospital on CERN’s premises and had expected there to be other wards with other ill patients. Was I the only patient here? Was I even in a ward? Did the rest of the staff here even know I existed? It surely didn’t seem so. Looking at the ‘Restricted Access’ sign, it seemed like I had been a lab rat trapped for research. Okay, my illness might have made me useless, but I thought that Father could have found another use for me than this horrible fate.

This realisation of my status increased my fear to another level and I knew I had to get out quickly and undetected. There was no one around and I looked for an emergency exit sign. Drafts of air stroked my cheek and there…there was a large double glass door with white text printed onto the reverse, ‘Entrance’. It was even better than an emergency exit and should lead me straight out to the front of the building.

Considering the spaghetti sensation I had felt after climbing the stairs, my legs carried me surprisingly well across the floor, without stumbling. The doors opened automatically as I approached them and I walked outside and able to feel, for the first time in my life, fresh air. It felt like…as…I didn’t really know what, but it was wonderful. It was fresh, like when you open the refrigerator, though not with the smell of old food or onions. My lungs had probably never taken a deeper breath and they rejoiced in it. I wished that time would stop at this moment so I could embrace the soft breeze against my cheeks. But there wasn’t time and I had to run far away before my father discovered that I was missing.

Turning away from the glass doors, I noticed the car park. Two white vans were parked in the closest possible spaces right in front of the building, on the other side of the railings with a large opening in the fence towards the road, just about visible in the evening gloom. It could be reached via a walkway along the building to my left.

A high-pitched sound suddenly shattered the silence. It was such a loud noise…it was the siren. Panicking people appeared in the brightly lit area behind the glass doors. My heart began to gallop, as they must have noticed my absence. I had never felt so scared yet excited at the same time. Would I only get this far? Would they catch me and take me back, or would I even return voluntarily? But people didn’t say I was stubborn for no reason. My fear made the path towards the fence seem a lot further now.

My own dampened scream startled me when a figure from behind the corner of the building grabbed me around my stomach with a strong left arm and covered my mouth with a cloth. My feet left the ground, as the man was much taller than I. A stench of burnt leather and blood from his hand began to sting in my nose through the cloth. No chemicals appeared to be involved, only heat pressing on my skin. A horrifying gaze met my eyes when I looked up. We stood silent for seconds that seemed like minutes. His intense eyes looked deep into mine after putting put me back down on the ground. His eyes…they were…they were searching for something in mine. But what were they looking for, recognition…an acknowledgement? He moved his hand slowly from my mouth to his own with a gesture to indicate silence.

“Get in the car,” he hissed between his teeth and nodded towards the car parked behind him, hidden along the side of the building. I felt that I should recognise this person, but I was too afraid to see a connection. He acted as if he had known me all his life, as if he thought I knew him. Was he one of the nurses from the ward? My memory couldn’t have been so cruel. If I had seen this perfect creature before I must have remembered him, or at least remembered the feeling my heart created as the warmth was burning holes in my chest.

I stood paralysed by his appearance. It was stupid of me to stare and he must have noticed my astonishment. He grabbed hold of my hand when he had clearly understood that I was both amazed and confused by a stranger with such hostile body language, yet with a preserved beauty that made the Earth stand still. Again, his grip affirmed that he had taken my hand many times before. The steady grip wasn’t too hard to be a forced grip or too soft to be the shyness of strangers who had just met. His hand was hot, near to scorching. My reflexes took control to retract my hand, which released me from his grip. He looked angrily at me as he went around the car to the driver’s side. “How do you want it? Are you in or out?”

More words came hissing from the perfect white teeth. They came from a mouth that seemed not to have given many smiles, but if they happened, they would melt hearts. How could I trust someone I had just met and why would I want to go with him? No, it seemed strange. The gap in the fence was within reach, so I could probably make it. It was what everything was all about tonight. The man must have seen me looking toward the gap.

“No, you are coming in the car, you have no choice, there’s no way I’m letting you out of my sight now. Choose. Jump in voluntarily or cause a scene that can put both you and me in danger,” he threatened.

The stressed threat sounded softer and more pleading than his first commands even though he meant it to be robust and delivered with a nonchalant authority, as he had pulled his hands through the bushy bronze hair that had covered his eyes. I reflected on my choices. I seemed to have been left with two options: either I followed the stranger, or returned to the ward. The decision was made all the more quickly as the cool evening breeze was biting my skin. The temperature didn’t at all seem to bother the stranger as he wore just a black t-shirt, but it made me act quickly.

The car looked brand new, a black SUV with tinted windows and was not exactly discreet enough for a car chase, which I guessed was what was probably about to take place. Not that I was an expert on cars, but it looked stable and fast. I would have been more scared if the last hour hadn’t had a positive impact on my health. I felt much stronger than usual. It must have been the adrenaline. The silver metal handle was cold against my hand when I opened the door to the passenger’s side.

The moment the car drove around the corner towards the gates I could see Father rushing out from the building’s entrance doors. The troubled eyes along with the stressed body language appeared in slow motion and all I could hear was my name screamed in panic.

“Susy, Susy…Susy, come back!”

But it was more than a panic. There was something else in his voice, something I couldn’t put my finger on. Given that he was seeing his only daughter driven away in a car with a stranger, indicating that he might never see her again, I could have sworn he looked at me like a lost possession. I saw greed. ‘Susy, come back’, his voice echoed in my head as the guilt tore at my conscience. The mystical creature next to me drove the car so fast that it skidded on the gravel path through the gates, before I even had time to react to my father’s cries. There was silence in the car for several minutes whilst I watched buildings fly by outside the car windows. On the left-hand side was a large, round, ball-like building at the end of a long road lined with buildings on both sides; after it we made a right turn at a roundabout.

“Are you alright?” the man asked.

He was obviously trying to show compassion, but it sounded spoken out of duty.

“I have no idea,” my voice barely whispered.

A few hours ago, I had seen Vic’s face peeking into my room at the ward, giving me a smile and now I was in a stranger’s car on my first ever time outside the research institute. To think of it, it was the first time I had been near a male of my own age, except for Vic, who could be either harmless or extremely dangerous. Was this how it felt to sit inches away from another man’s flesh and blood, or was this feeling due to him being the most beautiful creature I had ever beheld? His body was faultless. There wasn’t a male model that could measure up to him, neither in physique nor complexion and that’s considering that the models on TV weren’t even real. Well, of course they were real, but they had lighting that was set up at a favourable angle and stylists who took care of every detail. This man’s appearance was natural. The muscles were clearly visible through his tight t-shirt and there was no makeup on his face that I could detect. His hair…well, it was drenched in hair gel, but still had more than a supernatural perfection. His three-day stubble was sensual and even his arms manoeuvred the car with a confident precision. He projected a calm, secure control with superiority. “Yes, I’m fine,” I replied slightly louder to the same question so as not to seem inferior to him.

“Are you sure you’re alright?” he asked again to make sure that I meant my words, and this time with what seemed to be sincere concern.

He took a new grip of the wheel since the leather had begun to give off smoke from the heat of his hands. It was the first time I spotted the cuts on his right hand. The blood seeped out of three straight wounds. It was fresh and hadn’t coagulated fully. The blood seemed bubbly, as if it had boiled from the inside out. I dared not even ask why he had the wounds and assumed my concern would be in vain because he didn’t seem to be the type who provided any answers.

“You have a small bag of crisps in the glove compartment, you need salt and it’s your favou…” he stopped his sentence without completing it.

He must have realised that I was staring his way and blushed with embarrassment. I reached into the glove compartment, not because I was hungry, but because I felt weak and salt always increased my ability to concentrate. The crisps were cheese and onion flavour – my favourite, which the stranger seemed somehow to know. This situation felt completely surreal.

“Are you going to hurt me?” I asked slowly, immediately regretting my question since I didn’t really want to know the answer.

Either he was going to hurt me and then it was already too late, or he was helping me and then the question was actually another. “Who are you? Where are you taking me? How did you…?” my questions all blurred together.

“Time will tell, Tarus – home – the Chameleon,” he replied.

He seemed irritated and had not appreciated the quizzing. It was as if I had no right to ask. I remained silent, pondering over the answers he had given. They didn’t clarify the situation at all. It didn’t help that I had also forgotten the order in which I had asked the questions. But what I gathered was that his name was either Tarus or the Chameleon. I wished he would explain a bit more. If his agenda was to help me, he could at least have been more talkative.

“My name is Susy.”

I tried some small talk and hoped it would catch on for him to return the same information about himself. To confirm his name, for example, was a good start.

“I know.”

Those were the only words I got in response as he kept his eyes focused on the road. I couldn’t understand why, but he sounded disappointed that I had introduced myself, maybe even angry. But it was also clear that he didn’t want to provide any information. If I wanted to know anything, I would have to drag it out of him. He glanced nervously at the side mirror and back again to the rear-view mirror.

A white van suddenly appeared at full pelt from a turning three streets behind us, complete with flashing orange lights and sirens. We turned abruptly down a side street to the left and then took a turn to the right to proceed in parallel with the main street. We were being followed. It must be my father who had come to save me. Or would he really save me? I would be locked up in the ward again. Even if Father wouldn’t punish me for this defiant adventure, I still didn’t want to spend any more time in the hospital. No, I’d rather die than be taken back to the same bed with the same faded wallpaper and the same pitiful eyes on the nurses’ faces.

I kept a firm grip on the door handle and my left hand clenched onto the edge of the seat as the car swung between the traffic. The road signs that flew past had one common denominator, ‘Airport’.

“Airport! Are you taking me to the airport and out of the country?” my voice stammered in haste at the reluctance toward that thought.

I hadn’t planned every possible outcome for this evening, but even if I had, it would never have involved leaving the country. The idea had at most been to be on the run for a few days and then return to the ward to prove to Father that he could trust me on the outside once in a while. If the escape proved successful, perhaps it could bring some other perks, but leaving the country was petrifying. Could he really take me out of the country? I had no passport and no money!

“You were never good at trusting me, ironic that this time you have no choice.”

The man’s sentence was brief and mysterious. Now I felt really uneasy. Did this mean that I had known this man previously? Who was he? What’s more, he said that I hadn’t trust him in the past, but I had no choice now. Was I kidnapped or rescued? The situation was absurd.

The car sped through the darkness and towards a sign on the roof of a large building that started to become visible from the car, ‘Crowne Plaza’ Hotel. The car didn’t change direction and went straight into the hotel’s private car park. Once there, and a few metres past the entrance, a garage door opened for the car to enter, almost as if it were programmed to do so. The door closed behind us and we were in darkness. The man opened the driver’s door, emitting a dim light and stepped out.

“How silly of me to think that we were going to the airport,” I admitted as I stepped out of the car and slammed the door behind me.

“Not tonight,” he retorted, smiling arrogantly and handed over a passport that he retrieved from the side compartment of the car door.

I flicked open the passport and, sure enough, there were all my details. My blue eyes, though they were actually leaning towards violet, my height, name and Swiss nationality. There was a picture that looked exactly like me, but I had never had the photo taken. A lump formed in my throat. Whoever it was that I had in front of me, he was clever. He knew what he was doing and made no mistakes. I was a puppet in his play who could only wait for the next instruction.

“Shouldn’t I have a fake name since you are kidnapping me?” I questioned, keeping my chin high not to seem scared and to try to gain respect by pointing out his mistake.

A brief release of air left his lungs from what seemed to be amusement.

“Kidnapping, you say?” he asked me, and I could tell he felt hurt by my choice of word.

Why did I get the feeling that his good and bad demons struggled to remain under control, a ticking bomb of emotions that could explode at any second?

“Aye, kidnapping, I say.” I verified with a stern pirate-like voice that I had learned from Vic’s storytelling.

“I would never…you are free to go if you please,” he declared, pointing at the garage door.

I looked at the solid door and realised I would have to bring out my big boots to be able to push it open. As my hand gripped firmly around the metal handle at the bottom of the door, I saw him squat down and he stared at me with his suffering gaze, which made me fall to my knees in surrender. This time he didn’t touch me.

“I can’t let you go yet,” he whispered regretfully and pointed to a door on the other side of the garage before he himself started to make his way there.

The man’s confusing actions didn’t help make my understanding of the situation any clearer.

“A fake name is pointless. Isaac would never report you as kidnapped because you don’t exist,” he finally answered and without further explanation he opened the door from the garage leading to the hotel’s reception.

There were two young women sitting in the rear room, who came rushing towards us with excited smiles and only had eyes for my mysterious kidnapper.

“Good evening, Tarus. What adventure have you been up to this night?” inquired one, holding on to a key in her right hand.

Unusually, the key was a traditional key instead of the plastic card that hotels normally used nowadays. The second girl stood right behind the other where I could only catch a glimpse of her. When she had come over, I had thought she looked like a Goth. I managed to count up to seven piercings around her ears, mouth and nose alone and she was dressed entirely in black. In the next second, the first woman looked at me and I saw her eyes widen and her smile turn to a sour frown. It didn’t suit her soft face at all. It made her look like a spoilt ‘Daddy’s Girl’, used to getting her own way. Her blonde hair was tied back in a ponytail, revealing all her pearl jewellery on both ears and around her neck.

I found it hard to concentrate on the girls’ behaviour, even though it amused me somewhat, because I was excited to finally know my kidnapper’s name. Tarus was his name. Furthermore, it was difficult to determine what relationship he had with the blonde as he gave her a charming glare that made her smile from one ear to the other, as he held his hand up over the till for her to drop the key in it. Was I jealous? No. That was a ridiculous thought. I didn’t know him, yet it felt like he was MY kidnapper. It was he and I. When I looked at him, I surely felt overwhelmed with…something. And it wasn’t he who flirted with the receptionist. He couldn’t help his adorable eyes and my gut instinct made me believe that he really was indifferent towards the woman and simply wanted to claim the key.

Without a word he looked at me for confirmation and we went along a corridor to the lift. He ushered me in with a polite hand gesture and pressed the button for the top floor.

“An old flame?” I asked playfully, not knowing if I was talking outside the boundaries of the social code that existed between us, and hoping again that it would lead to some small talk. Besides, I was probably a little bit jealous, even though I didn’t want to admit it to myself. I had by then concluded that this man was actually trying to help me in some twisted way since he had made no attempt to hurt me yet. Also, if I trusted my instincts, I could feel an electric tension between us, indicating that we shared deeper feelings.

“No,” he answered sharply, obviously not wanting any intrusions into his personal life.

He looked at me and waited for my reaction to his response and maybe even assurance that I had believed him. I remained quiet until we saw the lift door open. He held out his hand in a gesture to indicate that I should go first. I stepped out and waited for him to catch up. We walked side by side along the carpeted hallway towards a dark-brown wooden door numbered 607, which he opened with the old key and let me go in ahead of him.

“Welcome to my humble abode.”

I wasn’t sure whether this lighter tone was indicative of a change of mood or not. His mood swings had been unsettling so far.

The room was simple, but full of scattered personal items. I got the impression that he wasn’t expecting company.

“How long have you stayed here?” I asked, to open the conversation with something general.

Surely that question couldn’t be offensive.

“Twenty-five years,” he replied shortly.

“But then you must be…”

I trailed off, more because of my mathematical calculations, than through surprise that the answer was in years and not days.

“Older than you assumed? Believe me, don’t worry your pretty head with that calculation,” he said quietly, as he tossed his key onto the mahogany desk beneath the window.

The hotel room was furnished in much the same way as I had seen hotel rooms furnished on TV. However, as for my expectations for this evening – there was only one bed.

“It is true then, you can’t remember anything that happened prior to twenty-nine years ago?” he griped.

I didn’t respond. His question was outrageous. I didn’t even remember what happened last year let alone what happened twenty-nine years ago and besides, I would only have been a baby, so instead of answering his silly question I replied with a counter-question.

“What is it you want me to remember?”

Unexpectedly, he sat quietly for some seconds. Then, all of a sudden, he stood up. He seemed angry again and stormed into the small bathroom without closing the door. Embarrassed, I tried to look the other way and sat down on the edge of the bed with my back to the door. The normally ever-present noise in my ears had resumed after having been absent since the sirens at the institute. The crisps had maintained my concentration, but my bones had become sore again. I hadn’t taken my evening medication and so I retrieved the bag from the chair. Tarus had dumped it there after having carried it from the car.

“How do you suggest we sleep? If we sleep opposite each other I want my head furthest away from the door!” I demanded, trying to sound tough rather than the hostage that I was.

“You need not worry. There is a full moon tonight, so you won’t be able to sleep anyway. I suggest that you continue to take your anticoagulation medication until we meet up with the other members of the Order, and have a soothing bath,” he ordered back irritably, seemingly impatient that he had to tell me how the world best suited me.

But he was right again, or so I thought anyway. I sometimes had trouble sleeping but hadn’t understood until then that it must have been due to the moon, which the stranger had just pointed out. Keep taking my medication? I had never contemplated stopping, wasn’t it vital for me? Vic was the only one who had the authority to prescribe more of the drugs when they ran out and had given me a month’s supply before he left. I hadn’t previously had any idea what effect the drugs had. How would the anticoagulation help my pain? It sounded rather as if it would have the opposite effect.

Before I decided to acknowledge his advice to take a bath, I heard Tarus starting to run the water in the bathtub. His perfect face, followed by his bare torso, appeared from the bathroom doorway as a supernatural being with no reason for improvement. My eyes tried their best to look down at the floor whilst he wiped his hands on his t-shirt as he approached me.

“The bathroom is yours whenever you want,” he gestured, towards the door.

It was impossible to hesitate and it was no use trying to protest. Inside the bathroom he had folded what must have been one of his t-shirts on the toilet lid.

“You can use my toothbr…” growled his half sentence from the bedroom before he came in with a purple toothbrush and placed it on top of the t-shirt before he disappeared again.

My heart felt sore. Purple was my favourite colour. His next gesture was even stranger: a lit candle gleamed on the edge of the bathtub giving a romantic glow. I had seen another tea-light holder on the desk and ran out to retrieve it. With two candles, I could turn the light off and still see clearly.

“May I borrow your lighter?” I asked politely without having to explain myself when he saw that I was holding the candle in my hand.

“No,” he replied briefly as always.

He approached me with his majestic body, where even a quick peek would clearly catch sight of the eight-pack on his sandy toned skin. He stood close enough for me to smell his cologne, arousing my senses. I closed my eyes to inhale his scent and held my breath, not because I wanted to, but because I wasn’t sure I could control myself otherwise. I felt his hot hand against mine when he took the glass holder for the tea-light and our eyes met. I had forgotten his beautiful emerald eyes. Without breaking his gaze, he wrapped his fingers over the wick and at the same moment a flame arose from nowhere. It wasn’t normal, it wasn’t human. Who was he? This explained his burning body heat. This whole evening had been so unreal, so insane that I couldn’t bring myself to be either scared or impressed. I had a feeling in my gut that I couldn’t abandon. We must have shared a special connection. I had to know the truth.

“Who are you…really? Have you and I…I mean…are we special to each other?” I asked earnestly.

I could feel my eyebrows folded down over my eyes into a V-shape in intense concentration. My eyes tried to penetrate even deeper into his. His answer took far too long. His eyes still locked onto mine as time stood still. Not a movement was made, nor a sound.

“No,” he answered after a while, so low that I almost couldn’t hear him. “I am here out of duty to take you home safely, that’s all.”

The sound was like a broken record on repeat, as if that was his programmed answer. He grabbed his phone from the desktop and before I had time to say a word, he left and slammed the door behind him. His mood swings didn’t distress me anymore, but I felt hurt by his answer. I turned to go back into the bathroom but remained next to the door when I heard Tarus’s voice in the corridor. He was speaking softly with someone on the phone. My hearing had improved considerably though since the morning, and I could hear nearly all of the conversation.

“We are at the safe house. When has the Order been summoned for?” he asked.

From his voice, it seemed he was in a hurry to get rid of me.

“Someone needs to release me because I don’t know how long I can be close to her without burning something to the ground.”

His voice was more protective now. It sounded like he wanted to fulfil his duty without mistakes.

“Something isn’t right. She is weak and has forgotten everything that happened twenty-nine years ago and yet my strength has increased since she came near me. I think she must be wearing one of the power stones.”

His voice was confident and it was apparent he was talking to someone he could trust. His superior must either have great power or a lot of money to control a man like Tarus, a man who didn’t seem to take orders from anyone if it wasn’t important.

“No, I haven’t forgotten my duty, Hunter,” he replied irritably and then there was silence.

I hurried into the bathroom and closed the door in case he came back and realised I had overheard.

The bath was relaxing and eased the soreness in my joints. He had been right again. Was there really a part of me that I had forgotten? Who was I and why couldn’t I remember anything?

After the bath, I dressed in Tarus’s black t-shirt. It was way too big and reached my knees. I brushed my teeth thoroughly and combed my fingers through my hair as I looked at myself in the mirror. I looked tired and I freed my hair from my ears in an effort to appear more attractive. Soon I was going to be on the other side of the door, my body near his. I was surprised by my desire towards this stranger. I wanted nothing more than to feel his hot skin against mine. I must pull myself together – I had already been stupid enough to ask about our relationship and got an embarrassing answer. He had confirmed that we didn’t share a romantic relationship.

As I came out of the bathroom, I found Tarus rummaging through my bag.

“What on earth are you doing?” I spat.

In a rage he showed me Vic’s poem and quickly placed it on the desktop so as not to catch fire. My heart started beating faster as I remembered my dear cousin, but I was still furious that Tarus had taken the liberty of going through my belongings.

“What is this?” he fumed, obviously frustrated that I had discovered him. “You have one of the three parts to the map. It has been missing ever since you were brought to Earth. Have you possessed it all this time without saying anything?” he continued furiously, and he hadn’t finished. “You have a power stone as well, don’t you? I know because I can feel it!”

He was yelling now. My despair at his sudden aggression almost destroyed my confidence and my breathing grew quicker until I almost burst into tears.

“I don’t know what you’re talking about, that’s a poem I’ve been giv…”

I had to stop myself. Firstly, I hadn’t really been given the poem, it was stolen from Vic’s desk drawer, and secondly, I felt my tears starting. I was dizzy with misery and had to sit down on the bed. This time, with my back to Tarus, staring at the beige wall. I focused all my strength, but the tears trickled like a river down my cheeks. It had been too much to take in one day and I had to cover my hands over my face to hide my ugly cry. Tarus said nothing more and sat down quietly on the opposite side of the bed. I wished I could hear his thoughts, or have eyes in the back of my head to see if he would come up with further attacks. Instead, I felt that he threw something lightweight behind my back. His footsteps approached, but he passed straight by, exiting the room.

“You shouldn’t sit in the moonlight,” he commented briefly and they were the last words I heard before he was out of sight.

The moonlight had found its way through the window and shone on my skin displaying all colours of the rainbow, as if reflected on a calm lake. Why would it be dangerous for me? It was the only thing about me that was beautiful. I wriggled and turned my hands to see how the colours played over my arms, the indigo more dominant than the others this time. I was angry with Tarus too and didn’t want to take his advice.

Then I remembered that he had thrown something behind me, so I turned around to see what it was. It had been too light to be my bag, but too heavy to be the poem. The sight of what it was made my tears return more than ever. It was Novus, my dear purple teddy bear. It was the best consolation I could imagine. It was my beloved friend with the torn left foot and the same black eyes. I knew it should have made me annoyed that I couldn’t remember who had given it to me, but right now it didn’t matter. How Tarus had got hold of it was a mystery as I had left it on my bed. But like everything else, it didn’t matter. I just wanted to hug it and feel the soft fabric on my cheeks.

As I hugged my old friend, I tried to make sense of my feelings for the erratic mister Tarus. He had a hard façade, however he was still caring for me in a peculiar way. Since I had met him, I had felt much stronger and I could think more clearly now than ever. I held the bear’s stomach tightly whilst I stroked the fabric.

He must have punched a hole through the window to my room in order to retrieve the teddy bear. It could have been the reason that his right hand had bloody scratches, but why? Had he really been looking for something else? I couldn’t bring myself to think about the possibilities. If only I could remember. What had happened all those years ago? What was the reason behind this unexplained rescue?

About the Author

T.M.Caruana

Living in Gibraltar, having earned an MBA and being a member of the ACCA, T. M. Caruana is an author who likes doing too much rather than too little. Apart from consuming too much coffee and chocolates she also enjoys writing complex stories with a vivid imagination, manifesting in new worlds and versatile characters. Having always been a free spirit at heart, her dream had always been to write fantasy novels in which to escape to. Your life is your dream -if you can dream it, you can live it-.

TM CaruanaTwitter | Facebook | InstagramYouTube

 

Symmetry

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I got more books! This means it was time to do another book haul and this was the best book haul I have done so far this year. I’m sure there will be more. Let me know if you have read any of these books and what you thought of them in the comments below!
Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: Intent – In The shadows

I have the perfect book for you to curl up with while stuck indoors, called Intent: In the Shadows by Krista Wagner!

CoverFinalLG-InTheShadows(1)In the Shadows (Small Town Secrets #1)

Publication Date: December 2018

Genre: YA Suspense/ Thriller

It’s hard to enjoy high school when someone is stalking you. . .

Raylee, a pastor’s daughter, just wants to get through the last two years of high school. But it’s not easy when you’re an outsider. Or when the most popular girl in school’s goal is to make your life miserable.

Or when someone starts to STALK you. . .

When classmate Paul befriends Raylee, she is determined to ignore Crystal’s ploys. And when new student Billy arrives, Raylee finds herself drawn to his mysterious side. But Crystal is determined too, and she will do whatever it takes to keep him from Raylee and to ensure that the rest of Raylee’s high school years remain angst-ridden.

Raylee must cling to her FAITH in God more than ever, because someone lurks in the shadows, watching her, leaving scary clues, someone who wants to set her on edge. But why? Is it Crystal and her clique, or worse, someone she trusts?

*Book #1 is a clean mystery suspense appropriate for young adult and up.

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

It was time to play volleyball a few minutes later, and once again, Raylee proved her pitifulness at the game, missing every ball that came her way and messing up every serve. She was glad when the bell rang, anxious to escape her peers.

“Don’t worry about it. It’s just a game,” Katy was saying as they ambled toward chemistry.

“Ha, easy for you to say. You’re good.” Raylee was tugging on her sleeves; the shirt was a size too large, but it was the smallest available.

“I don’t know what I’m worse at, algebra or PE.”

“Algebra. Definitely algebra.”

“Great. Now I feel really stupid.”

“I can help,” a male voice said from behind them.

They both turned around. Billy.

“What?” Raylee asked, feeling her cheeks burn and wishing she could slide into a hidden dimension.

“If you’re struggling with math, I could tutor you after school. I’m pretty good with anything math-related, especially algebra.”

Her mouth dropped open, an attempt to speak. Nothing came out. That dryness in her mouth was filling with unused saliva.

“Thank you, Billy. I’ll have to call my parents, but I should be able to meet you in the library.”

“Sure.”

“Thanks a lot!” Raylee said to Katy when he was out of ear shot.

With a giant smile on her face, Katy replied, “You’re welcome.”

Her last class was impossible. She couldn’t concentrate on anything except Billy. She was getting sick of herself, it was ridiculous. This was what it must feel like to be lovesick. She’d always made fun of those romantic movies because the girls swooned over cute guys. She’d vowed to never be like one of those girls. And somehow, she’d become one of them.

Get a grip, Raylee. Get a grip.

The last bell of the day finally rang. Students scurried out to the parking lot. Raylee hurried to the front office to check with her parents about going to the library. Her mom answered and told her to go ahead. Raylee stopped by her locker to grab her math text and a notebook, hesitating for several minutes before she could bring herself to touch the metal door. Her skin crawled, remembering the horrific-looking rubber mask and the live worms forcing their way through it.

Slowly blowing out air, her heart hanging in the balance, she swung open the door really fast and hopped back a foot. All that was inside were her books and folders. No mask. No worms.

Her heart calming down, she snatched her math materials.

The library was located at the back of the school. She had to pass several classrooms to get there. Most of the lights had been turned down since teachers were already heading home.

As she neared the sharp corner that led to the main hallway of the library, a shadow, tall and misshapen, wobbled against the wall in front of her.

She halted.

The shadow stopped.

She took one quiet step back, locking her eyes on the twisted shape. The shadow moved toward her, one small step. Whoever it was was mimicking her.

She didn’t want to be afraid, but the feeling that someone was out to get her was overpowering.

She waited in the hall, hoping for the shadow to move, but it seemed to be waiting on her.

In the movies, the victims always asked, “Who’s there?” She wasn’t about to fall into that trap, which almost always ended up deadly.

Of course, they were in a school, there must be people close by, at least someone studying in the library. Whoever this was would be a fool to try something out in the open like this. That fact didn’t keep her from feeling cautious.

Willing herself to not let fear paralyze her, she took one stiff step forward. The shadow moved backwards this time. She took a second step. The arms of the dark obscure shape wiggled (like a worm) and she heard footsteps echoing down the hall.

Hoping to catch who it was, she pushed herself forward, breaking into a run, but by the time she rounded the corner, there was no one in sight, the door to the library open, a few students quietly studying, their heads down, oblivious to any strange sighting of a shrouded figure playing hide-and-seek.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Author Pic-3

 

Krista Wagner has been creating stories since she was seven and is best known for her mystery and suspense novels. Back in the 90’s, she was on her high school literary magazine staff, and she also co-authored a zine, a montage devoted to the creativity of multiple teenagers. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in several literary publications. She wrote her first novel at the age of 14, but it wasn’t until her thirties that she published her first book. Krista reaches into those chasms of darkness, dealing with themes of betrayal and deception and hope, with intriguing characters and intense story lines. All her books are for young adult and up.

“Dealing with danger and handing out hope” Krista Wagner, author of mysteries, thrills, and all that is real

Find out more about Krista here: https://www.kristawagnerauthor.com/
Follow her on Facebook: facebook.com/kristawagnerofficial/

 

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I got more books! This means it was time to do another book haul and this was the best book haul I have done so far this year. I’m sure there will be more. Let me know if you have read any of these books and what you thought of them in the comments below!
Check out the video below:

Book Review: A Tale Of 6?

I read this book for an author friend that reached out to me on Instagram and let me tell you, it was a blast. This one was A Tale of 6? by George Morris De’Ath.

Synopsis: Two strangers meet on a stormy night before retreating to a nearby cabin in the woods. There they find themselves amusing each other with six equally chilling stories, as it is soon revealed that one of them is not who they appear to be…

I really enjoyed this book. It was like a collection of short stories but they were told through an over arching storyline that is going on at the same time. It was a really fun way to experience these chilling tales and I liked trying to figure out the main plot as it went along.

A lot of the short stories reminded me of Black Mirror episodes and I really like that show so this was right up my alley! I would strongly recommend this if you want a quick, fun read that gives you creepy horror book vibes!

Book Rating: 4/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads!

Disclaimer: This book was sent to me by the author in ebook format to read and give an honest review.



Thank you to our Patreon Supporters:

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I got more books! This means it was time to do another book haul and this was the best book haul I have done so far this year. I’m sure there will be more. Let me know if you have read any of these books and what you thought of them in the comments below!
Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: Takakush

I’m thrilled to share this wonderfully dark fantasy with you all today. It’s called Takakush by Raine Reiter!

Read on for an excerpt and a chance to win an amazing giveaway – A copy of the book AND a bunch of swag!

Takakush-Kindle

Takakush: Genus Magic #1

Publication Date: January 25th, 2021

Genre: Mature YA/ NA/ Urban (Dark) Fantasy

When Professor Elena Lukas returns to her cozy Pacific Northwest hometown with a broken heart, she’s plunged back into the fate she tried to escape. Like her mother and grandmother before her, Elena must now dedicate her life to a powerful ancient Lithuanian goddess. Although she is prepared to live as a priestess hiding in a contemporary tourist town, she arrives to find that a series of so-called animal attacks have terrorized her forest.

With the help of a handsome detective from the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife, Elena uses her expertise in invasive and endangered species to identify that these are no normal animal attacks. The woods are stalked by a dark, mystical creature bent on ravaging the area in an attempt to quell its insatiable hunger. When her little sister goes missing, Elena realizes that the beast can only be vanquished if she is brave enough to face it in-person, embrace her identity as a high priestess, and expose her powers to the man she is growing feelings for.

Raine Reiter weaves together an empowered, female-centered narrative with rich descriptions of nature and an ever-present sense of mystery. Her vivid, flowing prose takes readers of dark fantasy into a world that looks and feels real, while still evoking the enticing paranormal creativity shared by authors such as Richelle Mead and Kat Richardson.

Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

Crunch, rustle, crunch. Gabby turned toward the noise. “Come on, boy. Here, kitty.”

A statue stood silhouetted against a backdrop of trees. Clouds gathered in the night sky, the moonlight faded, and stars disappeared. Goosebumps rose on her arms. “Trouble?” Gabby got to her feet and stepped forward for a better look.

It took her a moment to recognize the sound; air rasping in and out. Something very close breathed.

Then the statue moved. Gabby froze.

That’s not made of stone. It’s someone. Adrenaline hit her bloodstream with an electric jolt. Her heart sped. Gabby squeaked, short and high as a rodent in a trap. She turned and sprinted toward the house.

Purchase Here!

About the Author

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Raine cavorts in the wilds of Washington’s Olympic Peninsula with her dog, Luke, and writes Northwest Gothic. Her first novel Takakush will be published on Amazon in January 2021. This is the first book in the Genus Magica Series.

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To enter for a chance to win a copy of Takakush, and whole bunch of swag (tee, magnet, notebook, and sticker), click the link below to enter! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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February 17th

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February 18th

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Bookish Laura (Review) http://www.bookishlaura.co.uk/

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Book Spotlight: Six Strings

Today we’re celebrating the upcoming release of C. Billie Brunson’s genre-bending novel, Six Strings – Available on February 16th!

SStrings Digital coverSix Strings

Expected Publication Date: February 16, 2021

Genre: New Adult/ Magical Realism

Publisher: Liminal Books

Carl Percival (Percy) VanNess inherits a guitar from his father. He’s intent on learning to play and wants to use it as a roadway to fame and riches. But this guitar is not as benign as it appears. In fact, the music produced when it is played incites anyone within earshot to murder whomever is in sight.

Troubles escalate when Carl lets his buddy Peyton borrow the Gibson. Next, Mat, Peyton’s older brother, gets caught up in the same diabolical intrigues surrounding the instrument.

Only Stacey, Carl’s enduring sweetheart, is aware and seems immune to the Gibson’s evil persuasion. Is this due to some latent magic she holds within, dumb luck, or something else entirely?

Can she, with the help of her loyal Lab, Diva, convince her friends to let go of something they cherish before it tears their friendship apart? Might two Djinn token seekers who are after the guitar to fulfill their own agenda put the brakes on her efforts?

Excerpt

“Carl, this is dope. You got some sick strings right here. I’m serious, bro.” Peyton said, picking up the guitar to admire it up close and test its weight.

“Well, duh. Isn’t that what I’ve been saying?” Carl replied, feeling almost giddy with pride.

“I heard. Didn’t get it, though.” Peyton improvised a few notes. “But I do now.”

“You can’t help but to.” Watching his peer strum a few more chords caused a possessive anxiety to rise within Carl and he ran his hand through his hair. It wasn’t long before he felt impelled to intervene. “Enough, newbie. Hand it over. Let the pro show you how it’s done.”

“Hold on, bro. I’m rippin’ some sweet sounds.”

Carl took a deep breath in an attempt to ease the tension that resulted from seeing his precious Charlene perform so sweetly for another. “You’re not too bad. H-how’d you learn to play?”

“My big brother had a guitar for a while. We used to take turns foolin’ around with it. Then, he lost it over a stupid bet,” Peyton said, pausing for only the few seconds it took to say the words.

“Aw, tough luck, Man.”

“Yeah.”

“Right. Fine. Now hand her over. It’s my turn.”

Peyton played on as if he didn’t hear. With eyes closed, he reveled in the sumptuous notes coming from the guitar. Shoulders dancing, his head bobbed in time with the rhythm.

Indignant over being ignored and at the way Peyton’s fingers seemed to grope his precious girl, Carl raised his voice in a near growl. “I’m warning you, Peyton. Better not try me. For the last time, hand her over.”

“Just hold on, bro. I’m ‘bout to throw it dowwnn!”

Unwilling to bear or listen to what that meant, Carl turned, scanning his room for a more assertive means of getting his demand across. A sturdy desk used for homework and other projects offered a mess of school work paraphernalia, among this lay an opened box of pre-sharpened writing pencils.

Without sparing a thought about his next move, Carl stepped over to the desk and pulled a pencil from the package. Holding the pencil like a crazed butcher, he pivoted while lifting the pointed end high. His eyes zeroed in on Peyton’s jugular.

Peyton kept playing, his eyes closed in blissful ignorance of imminent and fatal assault.

Carl drew the uncommon weapon in his hand back and up high as he could, making no sound or alarming movement.

In the next second, the door swung wide and Stacey burst in, coming close to hitting Carl with the door. Startling from his violent mission he dropped the pencil. He deftly shoved it somewhere out of sight with his foot.

“Okay. Where’s this guitar you–Oh, right here. Wow! Carl, you weren’t kidding. This is sooo nice.’”

Peyton jarred from his plucking revelry. “Yeah, uh, ain’t it though? And it sounds amazin’.” Turning to Carl he begged, “Dude, you gotta let me borrow it for a few days.”

“Nope, I don’t gotta. And I won’t.” Carl said reaching and grasping the neck in one hand. “You can let go of it now.”

Instead of conceding, Peyton tightened his grip on the instrument and replied. “What’s the big deal? I promise I’ll bring it back.”

“You don’t need to promise ’cause I’m not lending it.”

“How ’bout if I pay you? A buck a day.”

“No thanks.”

“Two, then.”

“No way, man. She’s not for hire.”

“Oh, so it’s like that, then.”

“Yep. Take it or leave it.”

“I thought you was my bro. But, I guess yer nothing but anotha punk.”

Instead of responding, Carl simply jerked the Gibson free of Peyton’s grasp.

Peyton protested. “Heeey! What the hell? What’s yer problem, fool? Somebody need to show you what it means to share?”

“Yeah? And I guess you think you’re the guy for it.”

“Maybe I am.”

“Bring it, then.” Carl quickly set the guitar aside and turned back to Peyton. He clinched his hands into two stumps of rage and raised them up to punching level. “We’ll see who can teach who.”

They faced-off and moved in a tight, threatening circle.

Stacey rolled her eyes as she broke between them. “Before the two of you throw any punches, I think you should know I’m not impressed.”

Carl and Peyton both let down their guards at the statement. Each looked at Stacey with questioning expressions.

Stacey explained. “I mean if you want to impress a girl with your beat-down skills, at least let the fight be over the girl. Am I right?”

Carl scoffed. But he did move away from Peyton. He picked up the Gibson, slung the strap over a shoulder so she could hang comfortably at his front and sat down on his bed.

Peyton stood grumbling and staring at his feet a few seconds before plunking down onto the small chair beside the desk.

Stacey parked herself on the bed next to Carl. “There. This is good. Way better than getting all to’e up over a guitar. A pretty awesome one, for sure. But it’s still only wood, strings and a few metal knobs—that’s all.”

Carl rushed to correct her viewpoint. “Carlotte’s not just any ol’ guitar. She’s way better.”

Stacey scoffed. “Charlene?”

“Yes, Charlene,” Carl said. “What’s funny ‘bout that?”

“Yeah, Stacey lots of guys who play guitars name ‘em. Mat named his Maxine,” Peyton said.

“And Mat is?” “Who’s Mat?” Stacey and Carl both asked at the same time.

“My brother.” Peyton cleared his throat and made a show of not looking at Carl. “Who knows how to share things.”

Stacey cut off Carl’s low growl. “Whatever, Peyton.” She looked at Carl. “But what makes you say this guitar—I refuse to call it any name—‘better’ than any other one?” She held up a hand. “Wait. I know. Your plan is to use it as a babe magnet, huh? I know how you boys think,” she said, narrowing her eyes in a reproving glare.

“It might be a tired ol’ plan but…Sure. Why not?” Carl teased, giving Stacey a mischievous nudge. “Besides, it gave you enough reason came by today, didn’t it?”

Crossing his arms, Peyton said, “Yeah. Well, havin’ a guitar to catch a girl’s attention is one thing. It’s another to really know how to play? That’s what the honeys go for.”

Stacey said, “I hate to be a…uh, ‘honey.’ But, Carl, can you play something for me? Please?”

Foregoing a verbal response, Carl stood and faced her, purposefully presenting his backside to Peyton.

After making a show of loosening his arms, his shoulders and flexing his fingers, Carl launched into the captivating tune he’d mastered that morning in the garage.

Within seconds, the ambience of the room shifted as he progressed through the melody. Though the light coming through the lone window in the wall behind him did not dim, a cold, sinister presence invaded the air.

Stacey hugged her body and rubbed her hands over her arms against the chill as she tried to listen to Carl’s playing. Movement at the edge of sight caused her to look across at Peyton. She watched with a perplexed frown as he pulled out a drawer to retrieve a pair of heavy-duty scissors meant for cutting poster board or thin plastic sheets. Her frown deepened as she surmise the sleepless, nightmarish parody developing before her eyes.

Peyton pushed up from the chair and took a step in Carl’s direction, holding the scissors ready for effective spiking.

At last determining what she saw was legit instead of crazed illusion, Stacey flung her arms out in alarm. She gesticulated a frantic warning and yelled, “Stop! What do you think you’re doing?” But the frigid, melodious aura swallowed her voice.

Carl, intent on performing as he was, misinterpreted her actions as encouragement. He played with more vigor.

Stacey reached the point of leaping from the bed to tackle Peyton when bone-cracking thumps sounded against the window.

Carl stopped playing the song mid-refrain.

Peyton jolted and stepped back as though hit by some invisible stun gun. His attention went to the scissors he held in his hand. For a brief moment, he stood staring down at the now deadly-weapon-turned-crafting-tool and then twisted around to lay it on the desk. He turned back, wiping the palm of his hand on his clothes as though to clean away something vile.

Stacey sat on the edge of the bed huffing and puffing in relief when their gazes locked and she sensed the passing of his moment of murderous insanity.

Oblivious because he’d turned his attention towards searching out the source of the thumping noise, Carl said, “Oh, my dreamcatcher fell.” Then he stepped over to retrieve it from the floor and hang it back on the nail in the wall.

“Uh-huh.” Stacey said. “But…no. It couldn’t have made such a loud sound by landing on the floor.”

“What are you talking about?” Carl asked.

Stacey said, “I think the noise came from the….” Her words trailed off when she noticed the window.

She gasped at the splatter of blood already drying on the sun-drenched pane.

Grab yourself a copy from Amazon on February 16th!

About the Author

IMG_20210118_085214613color

Billie Brunson enjoys writing novels that don’t necessarily fit in any genre “box.” Six Strings, is her second published book, the first of which is Heart of Malice (2015) and she has a number of other manuscripts in the pipelines.

Born in Chicago, IL, C Billie Brunson lived for several years in Indiana and, later, Iowa before moving to Arizona in the 1990s where she has settled in Scottsdale. She’s the mother of two and loves all animals, especially cats.

If you want to connect, you’ll catch her on Twitter more so than any other social media platform.

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I made a list of the Top 10 Best Graphic Novels I have read so far! All of these graphic novels have an amazing storyline and I can promise they won’t disappoint! Let me know in the comments below what you think of this list and if you have any recommendations! Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: My Grimm Cases

Welcome to the book tour for MU: The Grimm Cases by Lyla Oweds! Read on for more details and a chance to win a print copy of this amazing collection!

The Grimm Cases Omnibus 1-3

MU: The Grimm Cases

Genre: New Adult/ Urban Fantasy

Publication Date: August 15th, 2019

Length: 688 pages

Bianca, a timid and shy university student, has no choice but to step outside her comfort zone to seek answers to her ghostly problems. The only problem is that, because of what she finds, she now has more questions than before.

The things I see aren’t for the faint of heart.

And I am no longer willing to ignore them. Not even when my family, and my best friend, tell me to keep quiet about what’s happening. They say people will think I’m crazy.

Maybe I am.

But the spirit haunting my professor’s house is definitely trying to tell me something, and I’m the only one who can see it.

The one person who can help me is my best friend’s brother. But I don’t know if I can trust him or his friends. Or if I can step outside the protective bubble I’ve built around myself.

At this point it’s a toss up: the ghosts will kill me or my panic attacks will.

Either way, I figure I’m going to die.

This bundle includes The Grimm Cases books one through three, the Home novella, and bonus scenes from the guy’s point of view.

*Reader Warning: The Grimm Cases deals with the psychological aftermath of character trauma and abuse, although nothing graphic happens within the time-frame of the book. Please keep that in mind when you begin the series.

Add to Goodreads

Trail through a mysterious dark old forest in fog. Autumn

Available on Amazon!

About the Author

author

Lyla Oweds is a paranormal romance author who resides in the beautiful Pocono Mountains, Pennsylvania. She grew up near Gettysburg, Pennsylvania and is a native of Baltimore, Maryland, and has a deep appreciation for the paranormal, hauntings, and Edgar Allan Poe. As such, she loves all things fantasy, mystery, crime, and horror.

She is the author of the Paranormal Reverse Harem series, The Grimm Cases and related novellas. She has also published the first book of Gloria Protean’s story, The Red Trilogy. You can find out more about her current and upcoming works at her website, http://lylaoweds.com.

When not reading, writing, or working as a web programmer, Lyla can be found doing adult-y things such as being a mom, decorating the house, and baking. She also frequently enjoys makeup videos, massages, wine, and coffee.

Lyla Oweds | Lyla’s GrimmlinsInstagramTwitter

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I made a list of the Top 10 Best Graphic Novels I have read so far! All of these graphic novels have an amazing storyline and I can promise they won’t disappoint! Let me know in the comments below what you think of this list and if you have any recommendations! Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: Father & Son

Welcome to the blog tour for Father & Sun by Ross Victory! Read on for more details!

FrontFather & Sun

Publication Date: December 20th, 2020

Genre: Contemporary Fiction

Some say family is everything. Some say family are just people we’re assigned to at birth.

Trey Amana, a forty-something, hardworking father of two, discovered his dad’s death five years ago on the day after Christmas. Although Trey has grieved and prioritized his health, holiday music and decorations trigger painful memories. To take the final step toward healing the loss while saving extra cash for his holiday-obsessed kids, Trey decides to close his late father’s storage unit once and for all.

Trey discovers a journal written during his father’s college years. His dad, Art, reveals an outrageous family secret driving Trey into a wormhole of suspicions. With family members en-route to Trey’s home, Trey is burdened by the need for answers while somehow producing a hospitable Christmas.

Father & Sun explores how secrets and well-meaning motivations from the past can have a counteractive generational impact.

Father & Sun contemplates life in the shadows or life standing on the Sun (owning one’s truth), speaking to the passing of the torch from father to son, what it means to be honorable, and the spiritual, emotional, and mental effect on heirs.

​Core topics: Family, Generational Curses

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About the Author

Ross Victory Smile

Ross Victory is a singer/songwriter turned author from Southern California. After the back to back loss of his father and brother, Ross dove into self-discovery and healing practices, which reignited his passion for writing and music production. Ross uses his unique voice and social intersections to inspire and entertain listeners and readers through Urban Adult Contemporary music, and literature, with a focus on non-fiction and thematic novelettes and short stories.

Ross Victory | Instagram | Goodreads

Blog Tour Schedule

February 8th

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

@esmeralda_lagiggles18 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/esmeralda_lagiggles18/

February 9th

The Faerie Review (Spotlight) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

@tabz_talks_tales (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/tabz_talks_tales/

Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1

February 10th

Book Review Crew (Spotlight) https://bookreviewcrew.blogspot.com

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com/

Dash Fan (Spotlight) https://dashfan81.blogspot.com/

February 11th

@brendajeancombs (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/brendajeancombs/

Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://tsarinapress.com/blog/

@booknerdkat (Review) https://www.instagram.com/booknerdkat/

February 12th

Bonnie Reads and Writes (Spotlight) https://bonniereadsandwrites.wordpress.com/

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

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Thank you to our Patreon Supporters:

Get your name/blog added to our blog posts and Youtube videos by supporting us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/breakevenbooks

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

I made a list of the Top 10 Best Graphic Novels I have read so far! All of these graphic novels have an amazing storyline and I can promise they won’t disappoint! Let me know in the comments below what you think of this list and if you have any recommendations! Check out the video below:

Book Spotlight: Road To Breaking

Welcome to the blog tour for Road to Breaking by Chris Bennett! Read on to learn more about this riveting historical fiction and enter for a chance to win a $25 Amazon gift card!

Road to the Breaking - PaperbackRoad to Breaking (The Breaking Saga #1)

Publication Date: October 19, 2019

Publisher: CPB Publishing

Nothing survived ‘The Breaking’ unchanged; lives and fortunes, love and hate, freedom and slavery …
It’s early 1860, and war hero Captain Nathaniel Chambers, commander U.S. Army Fort Davis in the west Texas wilderness, has received shocking news – his father is dead. He must return home to Virginia and claim his inheritance before a maniacal neighbor can murder his widowed mother and seize the family plantation.
But he’s torn by a terrible dilemma – to stay in the army and turn his back on his fortune, his mother and his beloved childhood home, or become the thing he despises; a slave master! Is there no other choice?
Meanwhile, a woman desperate to redeem her family’s fortunes schemes to marry her beautiful but troubled daughter to the handsome young heir. But will Evelyn’s own plans break his heart instead?
An epic journey across a young nation seething with debauchery, brutality, corruption, and political intrigue, unwittingly on the brink of an unimaginable disaster; the American Civil War. Nathan Chambers has left the violent army life behind in Texas, never imaging he’s on the very ‘Road to The Breaking’.

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Excerpt

“Hey, Billy. Why is it the Comanche hate the Tonkawa so much?” he called out. The Captain’s bowed head looked up, startled by the sudden noise.

“What … the Comanche? Oh, it is a very long, old tale. Would you like to hear it, Sergeant Clark?”

A long tale, Tom thought. Just the medicine the Captain needs.

“Yes, Billy, if you please.”

The other men started to perk up. Billy rarely spoke much, but when he did his stories tended toward the bizarre and supernatural, with plenty of his own special brand of odd, dry humor thrown in. This typically made for highly entertaining stories.

“There once was a time, very long, and long, ago. Back before the grandfathers of our grandfathers were even conceived by their grandfathers’ grandfathers. So long ago, in fact, it is said it was almost the very beginning of time—whenever that was.” He shrugged his shoulders and grinned.

“Anyway … in that long-ago time it was different between the Comanche and the People, those of us you white men now call Tonkawa. Back then we did not hate each other and fight always, the way we do now. We didn’t love each other either, of course; there is no amount of time going that far back, ha!

“In that time the People and the Comanche knew each other, but lived apart, sometimes seeing each other when they shared the hunting grounds. The land was not dry as now. It was filled with a great greenness. It is said the water was abundant, and fell from the sky so often, it flowed carelessly, wandering across the land, heedless of its proper places in rivers and lakes.

“And so, the land was filled with so many animals the People did not have to hunt long or hard for their daily meat. And never did they give thought to saving anything for tomorrow. Both the People and the Comanche were wasteful in their excess, never having known want.

“But there came a time when the People were led by a great and wise man. His name was Tchezse—um … Tchezselkeizl … well, it would mean nothing in your language, anyway. You would say something like ‘Sun-and-Moon-in-Sky-Together-and-Wind-in-Stars,’ but that is not quite right either. For my story, I will just be calling him ‘Sun-Moon’ and you will know who I’m talking about.

“Sun-Moon was very wise, as I have already said. One day he called the People together saying, ‘I have had a mighty dream of the gods, and they have made my eyes to see many great and terrible things.’ And the People listened as Sun-Moon told his seeing—of a time to come when water would stop falling from the sky and would no longer flow heedless across the land. It would return to its ancestral home in a few, shallow rivers and lakes or sink deep into the ground. And the land would change from green to brown, and the animals that once provided the People with their daily meat would hide away in far-off lands.

“Then the People were afraid, and asked Sun-Moon what would become of their children, and their children’s children, if there were no greenness and no meat. But Sun-Moon said, ‘You needn’t worry about your children’s children, or even your own children; this time the gods have shown me is coming even unto the lives of you who sit before me. If the People do not prepare to face the evil time coming, all will perish from the earth.’
“And so, Sun-Moon led the men high into the hills, or deep into caves under the Earth. There the animals were few and fierce, so the men must become great hunters and trackers. And he taught the women and children to cure the extra meat they did not eat daily, with salt and different herbs growing in the earth. In this way their meat might be saved for many months in time of want. And he showed them where to find roots growing under the ground, for water, and food, at greatest need in time of dryness.

“But the Comanche had no great leader like Sun-Moon. They laughed at the People for making their hunts so difficult when meat was so plentiful. And they mocked them for digging in the earth for roots when food and water were so easily had on the open earth.

“But Sun-Moon was not angered by the cruel laughter of the Comanche. You see, he was a truly great and wise man—but I think I have already said that. So he went to them and told them also of his dreams, by way of warning they should prepare for the evil days to come. But still they would take no heed and sent him away with great scorn.

“And so, you will not be surprised to hear there came a day when the water stopped falling from the skies. And then the land turned all to brown, even as Sun-Moon had foretold. And though the People had been warned, and had prepared as best they could, still the greatness of this evil time was even greater than any had imagined. So although they had practiced hard to become mighty hunters, and great trackers of animals, still, bringing home the meat was hard. Though they ate little, and salted and kept back what they could, still many, and many died. And all suffered great want.

“This story was told me by a wise, old man when I was just a young boy, and he called this terrible time The Breaking.”

“The Breaking?” Nathan asked, having become absorbed in the tale. “What does that mean?”

“He said it was called that because it was a time of such suffering and death, it caused the breaking of all the old ways. Some for the good, and some for the worse. Nothing came through The Breaking unchanged, and all that once was, even to the greenness of the earth, was broken during that time, and was never again the same.

“Well … it is said while the People suffered greatly in The Breaking, the Comanche suffered more. They had not heeded the words of Sun-Moon, of course. So they had never learned the skills to hunt the few animals remaining, and to dig the roots from the earth. Their need was great, and they became desperate, and dangerous.

“They saw the People still had the meat they had preserved, and a store of the roots they had pulled from the ground. And they became angry the People had food, and they had none. So they came to the People and demanded they be given the food the People had saved.

“But Sun-Moon took pity on them. He said, ‘There is not enough of the salted meat and roots for both the People and the Comanche, so we cannot give it to you. But we will teach you to hunt that you may bring home your own meat. And we will teach you to save your meat by salting, and how to find roots living under the ground that you might dig them up.’

“But the Comanche were hungry and did not want to wait to learn these things. Instead they decided they would take the food from the People by war. So they returned to their village, put on their war paint, and collected their hunting spears. By the time they had made ready for war it was becoming dark. They lit torches and carried them to see their way back to the camp of the People.

“But Sun-Moon had foreseen this as well and made ready the People for the war that was coming. The Comanche came, carrying their torches. They have always been larger, stronger, and more fearsome than the People, so they carried their deadly spears with confidence of easy victory. They could already taste the precious food that would soon be theirs.

“But they had forgotten the men of the People had become great hunters. Because their prey had been more fierce and cunning, the People had learned to use the bow, and shoot arrows with deadly aim. And they had learned to use lightweight throwing spears to hit prey from a distance, rather than short, heavy spears the Comanche used to butcher their easy kills.

“Many Comanche were killed, and the rest fled in fear. But those who fell, and those who fled, all dropped their torches, and the dry earth was set afire. It burned all that night with a great flame that lit the sky.

“When the sun rose in the morning, the People found all their food had been destroyed by fire. They were hungry but were also very tired from the fighting and the fire and had no strength left to hunt. Also, all the animals they might have hunted had been driven far away by fear of the flames.

“And so the People did the only thing left for them to do. They ate the Comanche they had killed.”

“They … ate them?” Georgie asked.

“Yes. Sun-Moon told them it was the only sensible thing the People could do so they would not all starve and die. And so that is what they did.

“It is said the great flames of the fire sent smoke high into the sky. It climbed so high it mingled with the scant clouds, and caused the water to start falling again, though never so much as before.

“The war with the Comanche, you see, was the end of The Breaking, but it was the beginning of the hatred of the Comanche for the People.”

“Well, I don’t see why the Comanche should hate the Tonkawa. Sounds like they lost the war fair and square, and after they started it!” Jamie said, and Georgie nodded in agreement.

But Billy shrugged his shoulders and said, “Guess Comanche don’t like being eaten. Ha!”

The men chuckled and even the Captain smiled.

“I’ve heard people say the Tonkawa still eat their enemies,” William said.

Billy turned toward him and grinned, “Then best hope I never have to kill you, William!”

William shook his head “No,” emphatically.

Billy continued, “I have heard of it being done. When the enemy is not of the People and is killed in man-to-man battle. Some say it is to honor those who fought the war of The Breaking. Others say the fighting spirit of the dead is taken into the living that way. I don’t know … seems to me the one left alive had more fighting spirit than the dead one! Ha!”

Though he seemed more alert after Billy’s tale, by the time they’d made camp that evening Nathan was already laid down and asleep, as if from utter exhaustion. Tom was still concerned and sat up long into the night watching over his Captain. At first, Nathan tossed in his sleep and seemed to moan as if in pain. But then at some point, it seemed to Tom he began to rest more at ease and sleep more at peace.

Available on Amazon

About the Author

Bennett Author Photo

Chris Bennett grew up on the shores of Klamath Lake in southeastern Oregon. For a young boy it was a dream world of water, hills, forests and abundant wildlife. His love for action and adventure morphed into a lifelong love for books when his Mom read The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings to the family on a long road trip.

It was routine and normal for the family dinner table discussions to involve history, politics, and anything interesting going on in the world. So, when he attended the University of Oregon it seemed perfectly natural (and easy) to study history and political science. But everyone said you couldn’t make a living in those fields, so he decided to try his hand at Computer Science. He’s been writing professionally, in the software development business for more than 35 years now.

However, Chris’s thirst for adventure never faded and he began to live out his love of history onto the pages of his first book, The Road to the Breaking. Once he started writing he just couldn’t stop and the result is The Road to the Breaking series; an epic journey across a young nation seething with debauchery, brutality, corruption, and political intrigue, unwittingly on the brink of an unimaginable disaster; the American Civil War.

Chris Bennett | FacebookInstagram

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Blog Tour Schedule

February 8th

Reads & Reels (Spotlight) http://readsandreels.com

@esmeralda_lagiggles18 (Review) https://www.instagram.com/esmeralda_lagiggles18/

Meli’s Book Reviews (Spotlight) https://melisbokreviews.wordpress.com/

February 9th

Breakeven Books (Spotlight) https://breakevenbooks.com

Didi Oviatt (Spotlight) https://didioviatt.wordpress.com

The Magic of Wor(l)ds (Spotlight) http://themagicofworlds.wordpress.com

Jessica Belmont (Review) https://jessicabelmont.wordpress.com/

February 10th

Book Dragons Not Worms (Spotlight) https://bookdragonsnotworms.blogspot.com/?m=1

Nesie’s Place (Spotlight) https://nesiesplace.wordpress.com

Tsarina Press (Spotlight) https://tsarinapress.com/blog/

February 11th

Book Review Crew (Spotlight) https://bookreviewcrew.blogspot.com

@tabz_talks_tales (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/tabz_talks_tales/

The Faerie Review (Review) http://www.thefaeriereview.com

February 12th

@brendajeancombs (Spotlight) https://www.instagram.com/brendajeancombs/

B is for Book Review (Spotlight) https://bforbookreview.wordpress.com

Rambling Mads (Spotlight) http://ramblingmads.com

Blog Tour Organized By:

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Thank you to our Patreon Supporters:

Get your name/blog added to our blog posts and Youtube videos by supporting us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/breakevenbooks

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

I made a list of the Top 10 Best Graphic Novels I have read so far! All of these graphic novels have an amazing storyline and I can promise they won’t disappoint! Let me know in the comments below what you think of this list and if you have any recommendations! Check out the video below:

Book review: Specter

This was a book that I read as part of being a panelist for the BBNYA group this past year and now we are doing book tours for the winners so here is my review of Specter by Katie Jane Gallagher.

Synopsis: Horror aficionado Lanie Adams should be thrilled when two eighties-era ghosts materialize in her bedroom. Yet after a fainting incident unbecoming of a horror nerd, she would rather her haunting just go away—the ghosts’ waterlogged voices and ice-cold auras are more terrifying than any movie. Enlisting the help of Ryan, an entirely-too-cute stoner, she makes it her mission to put the spirits stalking her to rest.

Some sleuthing reveals that their sleepy Connecticut town is host to a shadowy, decades-old conspiracy. If Lanie wants to say a final goodbye to her ghosts, she’ll need to keep digging. But it’s important to tread carefully. The culprit is still in town—and they’ll stop at nothing to keep the truth buried.

The book was equalling chilling as it was thrilling. I love following along with these characters as they tried to solve this mystery and set these ghosts to rest. It was a very compelling story that had me gripped from the minute I started the book.

I was also a little creeped out at times when reading this which was perfect! I love when I book can give me that feeling. It is what I look for in thriller/mystery books.

I also liked the paranormal aspect to it. I don’t read enough paranormal books and this just made me want to pick up more!

Book Rating: 4/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I read this book as part of being a panelist for a competition.



Thank you to our Patreon Supporters:

Get your name/blog added to our blog posts and Youtube videos by supporting us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/breakevenbooks

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It’s time to talk about all the booktubers I love in the Booktube Gratitude Tag! This tag is so supportive of other booktubers so let me know in the comments your favorite booktuber and why you like them! Check out the video below:

Book Review: Turn Of The Key

If any of you follow my Youtube channel then you know my feelings about this book already. It may have been featured on my Worst Books of 2020 list. But this time, I read Turn of the Key by Ruth Ware.

Synopsis: When she stumbles across the ad, she’s looking for something else completely. But it seems like too good an opportunity to miss—a live-in nannying post, with a staggeringly generous salary. And when Rowan Caine arrives at Heatherbrae House, she is smitten—by the luxurious “smart” home fitted out with all modern conveniences, by the beautiful Scottish Highlands, and by this picture-perfect family.

What she doesn’t know is that she’s stepping into a nightmare—one that will end with a child dead and herself in prison awaiting trial for murder.

Writing to her lawyer from prison, she struggles to explain the unravelling events that led to her incarceration. It wasn’t just the constant surveillance from the cameras installed around the house, or the malfunctioning technology that woke the household with booming music, or turned the lights off at the worst possible time. It wasn’t just the girls, who turned out to be a far cry from the immaculately behaved model children she met at her interview. It wasn’t even the way she was left alone for weeks at a time, with no adults around apart from the enigmatic handyman, Jack Grant.

It was everything.

She knows she’s made mistakes. She admits that she lied to obtain the post, and that her behavior toward the children wasn’t always ideal. She’s not innocent, by any means. But, she maintains, she’s not guilty—at least not of murder. Which means someone else is.

This book was alright. It had some creepy parts to it that I liked (for example, the full glass walled kitchen) but it wasn’t as thrilling as I was hoping it would be. I was going into it with the impression that it was going to blow me away and I would be freaked out based on what I had heard about the book so I think my expectations were too high for it.

I found the setting to be very pleasant and the house that she was nannying at was pretty cool. The way it was written was really nice and I think I would like to try other Ruth Ware books. This one may have not been my favourite but I think she tells a story well and I am sure I will like one of her other books a lot more.

The book definitely did make me feel for the main character though and all the stresses that come along with being a caregiver to children. I did not envy her one bit as it seemed like she barely had time to even sleep.

I think that if you want a thriller that is not too intense, then this would be a good one for you.

Book Rating: 3/5

You can buy this book on Amazon and find it on Goodreads.

Disclaimer: I read this book because I wanted to and was in no way compensated for my review.



Thank you to our Patreon Supporters:

Get your name/blog added to our blog posts and Youtube videos by supporting us on Patreon: https://www.patreon.com/breakevenbooks

Buy Me a Coffee at ko-fi.com

I read some great books in January and even managed to complete my TBR and read extra! Check out my thoughts on the books in my January reading wrap up and see what I thought of them. Let me know in the comments if you have read any of these books! Check out the video below: