Monday, September 1, 2014

It's Monday! What are you reading?

It is a long holiday weekend for those of us in the US. The weather is really nice so I've been doing some yard work and such, but I'm still getting in some reading. I'm also still behind on writing reviews so I'm trying to not read more until I get the reviews done. (I'm really close to being caught thankfully).

Audio Book

The Amber Room
The Amber Room is one of the greatest treasures ever made by man: an entire room forged of exquisite amber, from its four massive walls to its finely crafted furniture. But it is also the subject of one of history’s most intriguing mysteries. Originally commissioned in 1701 by Frederick I of Prussia, the Room was later perfected Tsarskoe Selo, the Russian imperial city. In 1941, German troops invaded the Soviet Union, looting everything in their wake and seizing the Amber Room. When the Allies began the bombing of Germany in August 1944, the Room was hidden. And despite the best efforts of treasure hunters and art collectors from around the world, it has never been seen again.


Now, two powerful men have set their best operatives loose in pursuit, and the hunt has begun once more. . . .

Life is good for Atlanta judge Rachel Cutler. She loves her job, loves her kids, and remains civil to her ex-husband, Paul. But everything changes when her father, a man who survived the horrors of World War II, dies under strange circumstances—and leaves behind clues to a secret he kept his entire life . . . a secret about something called the Amber Room.

Desperate to know the truth about her father’s suspicious dealings, Rachel takes off for Germany, with Paul close behind. Shortly after arriving, they find themselves involved with a cast of shadowy characters who all claim to share their quest. But as they learn more about the history of the treasure they seek, Rachel and Paul realize they’re in way over their heads. Locked in a treacherous game with ruthless professional killers and embroiled in a treasure hunt of epic proportions, Rachel and Paul suddenly find themselves on a collision course with the forces of power, evil, and history itself.

A brilliant adventure and a scintillating tale of intrigue, deception, art, and murder, The Amber Room is a classic tale of suspense—and the debut of a strong new voice in the world of the international thriller.

Buy The Amber Room at Amazon

Paperback

Glow
On the eve of World War II, young Ella McGee sits on a bus bound for her Southern hometown. Behind her in Washington, D.C., lie the broken pieces of her parents’ love story—a black father drafted; an activist mother of Scotch-Irish and Cherokee descent confronting racist thugs.

But Ella’s journey is just beginning when she reaches Hopewell County, and her disappearance into the Georgia mountains will stir up memories long suppressed. As the secrets of Ella’s family history unfold in a vivid generational saga, Glow transports us to the Blue Ridge frontier of 1836, where slave plantations adjoin the haunted glades of a razed Cherokee Nation. Ron Rash’s Appalachia cascades into Alice Walker’s Georgia red clay in this lushly written debut announcing a major new voice in Southern fiction.

Buy Glow at Amazon


eBook

The Bleiberg Project
An adrenaline-pumping ride to save the world from a conspiracy straight out of the darkest hours of history.

Are Hitler's atrocities really over?

1942, Poland. The head of the SS meets secretly with a scientist in charge of a major Third Reich project.

Present day. After another late night with yet another woman whose name he doesn't remember, self-pitying golden boy trader Jay Novacek learns that his long-lost father has died, precipitating events that lead him to board a plane to Zurich. He's got a Nazi medallion in his pocket, a hot CIA bodyguard next to him, and a clearly dangerous Mossad agent on his tail. What was his father investigating? Why was his mother assassinated? Why are unknown sides fighting over him with automatic weapons? Far from his posh apartment, he races to save the world from a horrific conspiracy. Can it be stopped?

Buy The Bleiberg Project at Amazon


Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made through the above links. Covers and summaries are from Goodreads.com. 

Friday, August 29, 2014

Blink: a Short Story by AP Gilbert

Driftwood from the SpecificBelow is a short story from AP Gilbert's collection, Driftwood from the Specific.

Direct from the mind of A. P. Gilbert, 'Driftwood from the Specific' is a fantastically diverse collection of short stories and poems. Serial killers, through mysterious illnesses and all the way to 'The Wall', this collection is sure to grip, amuse and entertain. From a simple ditty to a short tale, it will soon become a favourite accompaniment to your moments of idle.

Buy Driftwood from the Specific at Amazon




Blink

    The first one appeared under his right arm. Small, disguised by the mass of dark hair that grew there. Just a black line, a hole, no more than three quarters of an inch in length. David thought it was just a hair at first, hardened by his roll on deodorant. He scratched at it to try and soften it but to his obvious disgust, the tip of his finger slipped in. David let out a small yip and took a step back.

                "Whoa, what the hell?"

     There was no pain, just a strange pressure as his finger stretched the tiny hole. He lifted his arm above his head and walked over to the bathroom mirror to get a closer look. It didn't look like an injury, could have been a simple black biro mark if he hadn’t known any better. There was no redness or inflamed skin, just a line. Then it moved. Just a small movement. David would have missed it if he hadn't been staring straight at it. It had moved, almost like a fishes gill. No, more like a blink. David let his arm drop and rubbed his eyes.

     "I definitely need more sleep" he said and let out a small, slightly nervous sigh.

     Tiredness can do that to a person; make them see things, believe things that cannot possibly be real.

     David turned to the small cubicle behind him and turned the shower on. As the water poured out he walked from the small bathroom to grab the towel, still damp, from its place on his bedroom floor. His mobile barked from the table next to his bed. A text message from his girlfriend; what time are you getting here this morning? David opened up the small touchscreen keypad and typed his reply. When he walked back into the bathroom, the steam had clouded the mirror, his fingerprints visible along the edge.

     David hopped under the shower, his skin reddening almost immediately under the hot flow. He washed quickly, remembering the promise to his girlfriend; he needed to be out of the door in about 10 minutes. By the time he had got out, realised he had left his towel in the bedroom, dripped all over the floor, slipped and stubbed his toe, got dried and dressed and left the house, he had forgotten all about the line under his arm.

     +++

David didn't emerge from his bed until gone 11, after a light and broken sleep. Charlotte had left at 6 for work but he had no work today. It had been a good evening. They had watched a romantic comedy at the Odeon; which seemed as funny and romantic as every other romantic comedy released in the last ten years. This had been followed by dinner and drinks, then home so Charlotte could say ‘thank you’.

     David walked into the small kitchen/diner and turned on the TV. There was a cartoon playing. He yawned and stretched, remembering last night. They had never filmed it before; it had been Charlotte’s idea. She had made him promise not to watch it before she got back from work. David thought about this. She would never know, and “what she doesn't know won't hurt her”.

     David went into the bedroom and ejected the disk from the digital camera at the foot of the bed. He only had a 14 inch combi in his room so strode purposefully into the living room to make full use of the 52" HD TV, blue ray player and Bose surround sound system. The curtains were still drawn, a small sliver of light came through in-between them separating the room into two unequal sides and causing a reflection on the TV. David walked over and pulled the curtains together. The light disappeared. He sat down, master controller in his left hand and watched. It was all looking good, both of them had better than average bodies, Charlotte had a fantastic bum. It was about ten minutes in when David had needed to stop the disk, skip it back and watch it again.

     He had already removed Charlotte's top and had his arms above his head while she slipped off his. It was once his armpit was revealed that caused him to sharply intake a breath. He had forgotten all about the line under his arm. He held his hand over his mouth, his index finger resting against his top lip. The line was still there, and not only was it longer and wider, there was now something protruding from it.

     "What the hell is that?" David put his hand up his T-shirt sleeve and tentatively felt the hair under his arm. There it was, not large, about 2 inches from the line to the tip, and hard. A trip to the doctors was in order. Grabbing his trousers and his car keys he left the apartment at a jog.

     David arrived home at just after 3pm. It had been a wasted trip. It was only a short drive and as he travelled he had phoned for an emergency appointment. He arrived, checked in and walked into a room so full of snot filled, coughing kids that he had to stand back outside again. It was loud and warm, there was no air conditioning and the small window on the far side of the room was only open an inch. People were called out of the waiting room by the doctors on duty and other people arrived with paper white children wrapped in their arms. Kids argued and shouted at each other and David had begun to get a headache.

     He left the vicinity of the waiting room, walking down the narrow stairs and outside to get some air. It was warm for September and there were no clouds to shield the early afternoon sun. It was still cooler out here than in the waiting room which was surely a breeding place for sickness. Why is it that doctors never seem to get ill? David had absently checked his arm pit again, through his T-shirt, feeling a light sweat but no lump. It didn't take much persuading to stop him from going back in. He had headed back home.

     His phone rang. David walked over to the small table next to the front door where he had left it along with his car keys and the half-drunk bottle of Evian he had bought on the way back. 'Charlotte Work' was displayed on the large screen. The words disappeared before he could answer it.

     He unlocked his phone and dialled the number back, but was met with the familiar 'beep beep beep' of a phone in use. Walking back down the short hall towards the living room he noticed something on the light cream carpet right next to the skirting board. He bent to his knees and looked closer at his find. It would have seemed fairly insignificant if in the right area but it was completely out of place.

     It grew from the carpet. David picked it up, one tiny root snapped with an audible pop. A translucent stem split about 1cm from the root into two small, round green leaves. David stood, rolling the stem in between his index finger and thumb. The leaves were solid but soft to the touch and they let out a small amount of clear liquid onto his palm as he pushed his thumbnail into it. David walked into the living room and left into the kitchen/diner, dropping the weed into the bin.

     He filled and began to boil the kettle while checking the voicemail which had appeared as a message on his phone. It was from Charlotte; she wasn't going to make it round tonight, too much work on, and don't watch the video without her. "Sorry babe" thought David, "too late, but not to worry, don't think I'll be watching the rest!"

     He turned off the kettle and opened the fridge, pulling out a Bud before heading into the living room and jumping onto the sofa. He turned the TV on, flicked through the channels until he found a violent action movie and promptly, surprisingly fell asleep.

     He knew he was dreaming because Charlotte was there but she didn’t look like Charlotte. It was just the two of them, walking down a paved, walled in alleyway. Everything was right angles, nothing out of place. One hundred yards into the path, there was one of those little stems. He picked it up and Charlotte held out her hands so David placed it gently on the palm. They continued to walk. Between every five paving slabs another one of those little stems grew. David continued to pick them and place them into Charlotte’s hands. They reached the end of the alleyway, blocked by a solid brick wall. Charlotte turned and looked him dead in the eye, smiled softly and whispered, "run".

     David opened his eyes with a start. The TV was still on but the film had finished and now there was a man with far too much makeup on trying to sell him a special tool that helped to fillet fish. David looked at the clock, it was a quarter past midnight. He had been asleep for more than eight hours yet he still felt tired. It was very warm so he cranked the window, downed his flat Bud and stripped to his boxer shorts before walking to the toilet for a piss. He flushed and took a step over to the sink to wash his hands.

     He was greeted by a drawn dark-eyed face in the mirror. "Christ" he said "I'm glad I don't have to be in work until ten". He turned rubbing his eyes and walked out of the bathroom, failing to notice the two protruding spikes appearing from beneath his arm.

     +++

    Charlotte had been ringing all morning but there had been no answer. Also, she had received no responses to her text messages and now she was beginning to worry. It was very unlike David not to answer, maybe he was unhappy about her missing their DVD night. Still, she expected at least some sort of response, just something to let her know he was okay. Charlotte decided that if she heard nothing before lunch, she would walk round the corner to the garage where he worked. "Are you coming down the cafe, Charlotte?" Jessie already had her purse in hand and was standing by the office door tapping on her mobile.

     Charlotte looked up from her computer screen, "I'll meet you down there, I've just got to pop over to the garage" she said.

     "Still no reply then?"

     "No,” Charlotte laughed, “bastard.” There was, however, a hint of unease in her voice.

     Logging her computer off, she left the small office and the door shut softly behind her as she walked into the busy street outside. There was no air and as she walked, her pale pink shirt clung to her chest and stomach, vacuum packing her body in a sticky wetness. Charlotte heard car horns and revving engines from the nearby city centre, the heat of the afternoon making tempers rise. As she walked, she tried to phone David but it once again rang through to voicemail. She didn't leave a message.

     Charlotte rounded the corner and could see the garage, shimmering like a mirage in the distance. She reached it in two short minutes and walked in, straight up to the till. Stephanie was sitting behind the counter reading some sickly romance novel with a shirtless man on the front.

     "Hey Steph, could you give David a shout for me please?"

     "Little shit, didn't turn up for work today" replied Stephanie, "hence I get woken up at 10:30 on my day off to come and cover for him." She looked up from her book. "I thought you must have pulled a skive with him for a bit of late morning sex!"

     "No," Charlotte looked confused, "No, I haven't spoken to him."

     Charlotte left the garage at a slightly quicker pace than she came in, and started heading to the apartments David lived at. On the way she text Jessie, letting her know that she may be back a bit late, and to cover for her. She tried David again, still no response, so for the third or fourth time she left a message after the beep. As she walked purposefully past tall buildings, housing multi million pound businesses, past what felt like hundreds of newsagents called things like 'Choudhry's' and 'Deepak's', past people holding out free papers and others trying to sell expensive ones, she kept her hand outstretched to hail a taxi. One stopped just outside 'Gupta's Off Licence' and she jumped in.

     The taxi ride took five minutes and cost £7.50. Charlotte jumped out and jogged towards the main door to the four storey apartment block. She pushed the buzzer to call David’s intercom and waited thirty seconds. No answer. She tried again and waited another few seconds. Each floor held two apartments, one north facing and one south. The lift, which Charlotte had never seen out of order, ran up the centre.

     David had lived in his apartment for just under four years now and Charlotte had been with him for three, so why, she wondered, had she not introduced herself to the neighbours? Charlotte tried each of the apartment buzzers and got two answers. One was an elderly lady from apartment 1A who wouldn't let Charlotte in without ID, and before the man who answered the 3A intercom could speak, he was dragged away by a giggling female.

     She was wondering what to do next when the postman came out of the lift with his royal blue satchel over his shoulder and walked towards her. He opened and held the door for her as she walked in. She walked past him and straight into the lift, selecting the fourth floor.

     As the lift rose, Charlotte looked at her reflection in one of the three mirrored walls. She could see the worried look on her face. She was worried that David had hurt himself and was lying dead on the floor or worried that David had decided that he didn’t want to be with her anymore. She didn't know which was worse. The lift came to a slow stop with a ring and a mechanical voice announcing the destination reached. The doors opened immediately and Charlotte walked out, her heels tap tapping on the grey tiled floor. She reached the door to David’s apartment and lifted her hand to the brass knocker just above the letter box. Before she could knock the unlocked door began to open.

     +++

In the early hours of that morning, after David’s marathon sleepathon, he was struggling to sleep again despite feeling utterly exhausted. The light from the streetlamps two floors below his window cast a glow from the top of his curtains. He had lain awake for what felt like hours just staring blankly at the ceiling; his eyes following swirls in the Artex. Lifting his hands to the top of his head, linking his fingers, he stretched. He felt like shit; had never felt this tired, this drained. He twisted his body to the side, taking up as much of the wide bed as possible, tousling up the duvet beneath him. Then something caught his eye - a cobweb, a thin strand that ran across the room from the deep red lampshade and into the corner where a thick funnel like web attached itself to the coving. He could have sworn that it hadn’t been there earlier but just assumed it was a quick working spider. It wasn’t large, maybe four by three inches wide and a solid white in colour. David propped himself up onto one elbow and glanced around the room; vision starting to blur as the night continued to take its toll; but he couldn’t see the webs lodger. Not to worry, he thought, even his thoughts were beginning to slur, I’ll find you in the morning. He chuckled out loud; or was it in his head; as he slipped gently into delicious sleep.

     David woke up suddenly, a few beads of glistening sweat had sprung up on his forehead, a scream only just held inside his lips. He had experienced the dream again. It had begun the same, the walk down the paved alley, solid walls either side, the same plants every four or five steps. It had changed as they had reached the end of the alley with the daunting red brick wall blocking their path. Charlotte had turned to him, her hands cupped in front of her, full of the round leafed weeds and it had actually been Charlotte this time, not just a dream interpretation of her. This time, however, she didn’t say “run”. In one swift motion, she dropped the plants to the floor and grabbed the sides of his face. David had instinctively grabbed her wrists but he couldn’t move them. His eyes looked towards the floor, the stems seemed to be rooting back into the ground and spreading towards his feet. He tried to move them away but his feet were stuck to the paved floor with some sort of invisible force. The weeds moved onto his shoes and up underneath the hem of his trousers. He could feel them sticking into his legs, bare beneath his chinos. They felt like tiny mosquito bites but deeper. Beads of blood dripped gently down his legs. Now Charlotte spoke, although it was nothing that David could understand as the English language, more of a guttural, tribal cry. As she did, a second set of arms ripped from her torso, spraying blood in little rivulets that the weeds seemed to lean towards, and tore into David’s chest. Long, jagged fingernails scraped though skin and muscle, boring a deep hole inside him, her fingers curling around his ribs. Then she jumped high, landing on the wall amidst the sound of bones breaking and flesh tearing…

     Before David had woke, he had seen the thick trail of webbing that she had left behind.

     David rubbed his eyes furiously, “stupid”. He said this aloud, the voice sounding strange in the dark, making him feel even more stupid than he already did. He realised, of course, that the dream had been caused by that damn spider’s web that still sat in the corner of his room. He glanced at the clock on his bedside cabinet; a Jack Daniels alarm clock that his Aunt Kate had bought for him a couple of Christmases ago. The little hand was halfway between the three and the four. Despite the early hour, David had already decided that his friend, Henry the Hoover would shortly be evicting the arachnid from its stolen home.

     He pulled the duvet off his chest, throwing it to one side and pulled his elbows up on to the bumpy mattress, half sitting up. He stopped, a confused frown on his face and slowly moved his hands towards his body, fingers reaching out. There was something there, laying each side of him. He moved the thumb of his left hand over something hard, rutted and thin. He did the same with his right hand, suddenly feeling very cold. His palm grasped the foreign object in his bed. He quickly pulled both hands away, falling back onto his pillow. Not only could he feel the gnarled sticks lying adjacent to his semi naked body but he could feel himself feeling them. He launched himself out of the bed, duvet falling to the floor, and hit the mahogany cupboard shoulder first, ignoring the bolt of pain that shot up his neck. Panic hit him, the sane part of his mind telling him to calm down, that it was only a dream. He didn’t quite dare to flip the light switch, wasn’t ready to look just yet. All the same, he needed to know.

     “From this day on,” David spoke in short gasps, “I will stamp on every fucking spider I see”.

     He reached across his body, his right bicep grazing against a scab-like roughness and put his finger to his left armpit. The gash had gone; it had been filled up with whatever was growing out of him.

     +++

David heard the buzzer going off, heard his girlfriend’s voice as she talked to Mrs Draping from downstairs. He heard the giggling couple from directly beneath him, both through the floor and as the sound came through the window from the entrance doors intercom. She couldn't get upstairs to him. He stood strong, didn't go to the window to look out at her.

     Then, there was the postman. David heard the click of the heavy wooden door, the cheery voice of one of Her Majesty’s servants and soon enough the loud merry ring of the elevator reaching his floor. The click of stilettoed shoes moved towards his apartment, getting louder on the wooden floor. He heard her raise the knocker on his front door. No, that was wrong. He felt her raise the knocker. Felt her grip and felt the door slowly begin to open.

     +++

The door only opened a few inches at first and Charlotte could smell something that didn't belong there. An earthy, mouldy smell, like a fungus, and it was strong. Charlotte squinted and wrinkled up her nose as she pushed the door further with her foot and the smell hit her with an even greater severity. It wasn't just that earthy smell, there was something else, something rotting, festering. It smelt, almost, like death.

     "David?" she called, "baby? Are you in here?" Charlotte pushed the door fully open, peering in to the hallway, barely lit even with the afternoon sun. She breathed through her mouth to keep the smell from entering her nostrils but she could still taste it. She gagged, glad immediately that she hadn't yet had her lunch. Turning her head she had to will her accelerated breathing to return to normal and she pushed the cramp in her belly away.

     Charlotte had to find out if David was okay, realising with that thought that she loved him, more than anything. She turned back to the open door and cautiously stepped over the threshold into the apartment. Two steps in and the air seemed to change. It became cooler and the smell less fetid. There were sounds too, movement surrounding her. Only soft, but enough to send a shiver up her spine. Charlotte reached her hand towards the light switch, found it and pushed the button. Her pupils contracted as soon as the light hit them and she realised how dark it had been.

     She blinked her eyes, overwhelmed by the bright light, floaters momentarily blocking her vision. Her hands instinctively rose to her face, rubbing away the strange shapes. She pulled her lower eyelids down, looking up and then blinking, refocusing on the scene in front of her. She was too shocked to do anything but shake her head, not understanding the scene in front of her. On the floor, the carpet was alive, moving. It was covered with weeds, bright green, round leaved and each plant about ten inches long. The walls were almost totally with a thin patchy green-black moss, pale tendrils that seemed to reach out towards her. She looked up. Hundreds of long legged, spiderly creatures moved between hanging, twisted vines, along thick strands of newly sewn web. Millions of eyes staring straight at her. Suddenly and at the same time every spider let go of the funnel web or their leafy vine. With a simultaneous hiss they fell quickly to the floor, their inch long legs tucked in to their swollen, black bodies. They opened up as they hit, the full four and five inch bodies sprinting towards their target. Charlotte couldn't suppress her scream this time, she turned back to the door but it had noiselessly shut behind her.

     She grabbed for the handle, ripping through the vines that grew thickly there. She screamed again as she felt the long legged arachnids touch the skin beneath her trousers. She screamed as they crawled from the thick overgrowth down her fingers and up her arms, disappearing into her shirt. She screamed as she furiously slapped at her stomach to stop the creeping, hooked legs moving over her; the things exploding like balloons of creamy white pus. They held on to her hair even as she relentlessly shook her head backwards and forwards in violent disbelief. She kept screaming until the creatures found her open mouth.

     +++

David looked down at the corpse of his former lover, watching the pitted skin shift and stir, moved by the creatures climbing her bones. He watched through closed eyes. He watched through the multiple eyes of the spider like creatures, the ones that still crawled from blinking, breathing holes in his hardened skin. He could see as their hooked feet pulled at the ravaged flesh from the inside of the rapidly disappearing bag that once housed the soul of Charlotte Ellen Maille.

     David could feel his subconscious stretching out as the vines grew down from the ceiling, spreading dark leaves across the walls. He could feel them using the energy they had taken from the dead woman on the floor, growing, reaching out, meeting the round leafed stems on the floor, intertwining, as if they were holding hands. The whole apartment seemed to beat in rhythm with David’s heart and every throb sent a shimmer across the floor.

     Light from the hall still filtered faintly through the thickening foliage and the moving leaves on the floor sent flashes across the walls like a jungle rave. David couldn't help but think of the lines "Hush my darling, don't fear my darling. The lion sleeps tonight". He tried to laugh but nothing more than a scraping, dry rasp emerged from the small hardened slit where his mouth had been. He stood in the living area between the mossy sofa and widescreen, high definition TV, unmoving, surrounded by mouldy photos in cracked glass frames held at impossible angles by twisted leafy stems.

     He heard the loud, merry ring of the elevator reaching his floor. He heard the voice of Mrs Draping enquiring as to the scream she had heard from downstairs. He felt the brass knocker of his front door being raised up. His door began to open as the hall light stopped shining through.

     +++

     Jeanie skipped around the corner, trying to keep up with her brother “You’re ‘spose ta walk me home from school Jakey, slow down”.

     He had slowed down, in fact, had stopped in the middle of the pavement. She almost bumped right into him. Jake was staring straight ahead, open mouthed. Jeanie peered around his leg to see the blinking lights of both a police car and a fire engine. There were a number of people standing around, most with the same expression as her big brother. They were all staring at the green mass in front of them.

     “Jakey”, Jeanie said, looking up at him and tugging at his trouser leg, “why is everyone looking at a bush?”

     Jake didn’t speak, just took her hand as they walked across the road. Jeanie looked confused as they stopped just outside of the short wooden fence, the same wooden fence that had, this morning, circled round where she lived. It wasn’t a bush that everyone was looking at; this was her ‘partments’. Jeanie stared at the leaves covering the building that had been bright, clean and white before she had left for school. They flashed blue and white and yellow in time with the turning lamps on top of the vehicles in front of them.

     Jeanie thought how pretty it all looked. She thought how pretty it looked until she saw the hundreds of eyes staring out at her, each one an individual flashing ball. Everyone else appeared to notice this at the same time because it became almost silent, just the low hum of the vehicles and the distant drone of faraway streets.

     Jeanie let out a small squeak as she saw a giant spider creeping towards her; it was as big as her head! Jake had seen it too and he took a step forward, stamping down on the arachnid with a sickening squelch. Thick white jelly oozed from beneath his black plimsoll. The instant his foot hit the floor a deep, dark, other worldly sound came from the building. That sound caused almost everyone to shiver, hair standing up on the backs of the necks.

     David lifted the curtain of vines from what used to be the main doors and walked slowly outside. He limped along on legs which were too thin, his trousers viciously torn in places showed the ripped, gnarled flesh. He must have been in pain but what was left of his face gave nothing away. The lower jaw hung at an awkward angle from what could have been a thin tendon but looked more like a bloody vine. His left eye was black and swollen, weeping thick viscous fluid down a split cheek. His right eye was missing, in its place a woody stem. His hair still looked fine.

     The shout of fear and disgust from the still growing crowd was very obvious and most took an involuntary step back. One of the police officers, a female in her mid-twenties, took a few step forwards, towards the obviously wounded man, ready to help or to run. It would turn out to be neither.

     She began to say, “are you okay?” when the man, David, stopped and let out a loud rattling cry.

     It could not have come from his mouth, which no longer existed but it did come from him. He lifted his arms, tearing the shirt from his yellow withered body and as he did, revealed the two new arms which grew from beneath his own. They stretched out, unfolding and pulled his body backwards, the rattling growing louder. His legs began to crack open releasing two more new limbs which anchored into the ground. The upper limbs had pulled his body into something resembling a giant, wrinkled mouse foetus. This all happened in less than thirty seconds. The policewoman had drawn her baton.

     Most of the crowd stood and stared, both loving and hating the freak show which took place in front of them. It was what happened next which caused them to move. The body of David began to split.

     The tear began at his groin, slowly at first and then speeding up as his skin ripped all the way to his throat with a sound like ripping paper. The two halves flapped over like a popped balloon. This is when the spiders leapt from the building, running towards the crowd in a blanket of black.

     Almost everyone who had been there died on that first attack. It was only Jake and Jeanie who saw the rest of the show. It was only Jake and Jeanie who saw the swarm of anthropomorphic creatures pulling themselves from the belly of the man in front of their home. Only Jake and Jeanie who saw the spiders turn from their feasts and run towards the creatures emerging from the broken body of David, covering them with their hundreds of legs, embedding into blue-green flesh, creating a living armour. Only Jake and Jeanie saw the creature’s standing in a line before the vine covered building; wide muscular bodies with thick necks and angular heads; before they began to march forwards in unison, weapons held at their chests. It was only Jake and Jeanie who looked straight into the creatures eyes; oval, expressionless purple swirls. It was only Jake and Jeanie who saw the rest of the show, and it was the last thing that they ever saw.




About the Author
Married father of four, A.P. Gilbert is better known as children's author, Tony Gilbert. He has released several short works to raise money for charities such as Bliss and Winston's Wish and works with world class illustrators for his range of picture books. Recently his focus has been towards a more adult market with a collection of his genre-hopping short stories and poems being released very soon. You can find his work on Amazon and through his publishers, Visionary Press and Ghostly Publishing.
Twitter  *  website

Read more from AP Gilbert: http://smarturl.it/APGilbert
Also check out his children's book: http://smarturl.it/TonyGilbert


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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Kathryn Elizabeth Jones: 5 Marketing Tips for the Frantically Busy Author

If you're busy like I am, and find that time to write and/or market is about as difficult to grasp as a rocket in flight, you'll want to read this post, because, truth be told, none of us who are writers have any time.

We're always cramming in the writing and marketing time, doing dishes and the bathroom toilet on the side; we're at our full-time job and come home only with the desire to put our feet up and veg in front of the television screen.

We hardly have time to write, let alone market what we write.

Or do we?

Perhaps we're thinking of big-time television spots, or long-winded radio opportunities. We may even think that if our book is good enough we won't need to market.

I hope not. I hope, instead, that we think of our marketing as a grand adventure, one not to be taken lightly, one in which we put one foot in front of the other until we reach our final destination; book sales, happy readers.

Knowing what our goal is, is only half the battle. We need to know how we're going to get there. 

Start early.  
Make sure your book cover is finished early (3 - 6 months before your book is released). You can use this cover every time you do an interview, ask for a review, put together a book trailer, etc.

Plan your day. 
Don't spend an entire day marketing or an entire day writing if you can help it. Balance out the two pursuits so you won't feel overloaded in one direction or the other. 

Stick to your plan. 
It's easy, very easy for writers to get distracted. The phone rings. The dog poops on the carpet. We remember that we've signed up to help our local PTA. Honestly, so many writers (myself included) often forget that their writing is their career, not some last minute thing they do (like a hobby) when there's nothing else to fill their time. 

Buy Conquering Your Goliaths at Amazon

If the distraction happens, and it will, take care of it, knowing at the back of your mind your marketing is waiting. 

Do the easy stuff first. 
Forget the spot on the Phil Donahue show. Think of the small (and realistic) things you can do NOW to get the word out about your book. Get online. See who is out there who offers author interviews, free advertising spots on their blogs, free book trailer templates (and yes, I have done all of these things for free). See what you can do in 15 minutes. Can you set up a book signing at your local grocery store? Can you write a short guest post? (At least the first draft?) 

Keep going even when the going gets tough. 
And it will. If someone tells you 'no' go on to the next someone, and keep going even when that negative review comes, or someone won't host you on their site (for whatever reason). Thank them and move on.

You are frantically busy, after all, right?

About the Author:

Kathryn Elizabeth Jones is the owner and editor-in-chief of Idea Creations Press, a publishing services company offering writing, publishing, and marketing services to writers and non-writers alike. She is also the author of six books:

A River of Stones
Conquering Your Goliaths: A Parable of the Five Stones
Conquering Your Goliaths: Guidebook
The Feast: A Parable of the Ring
Scrambled: A Susan Cramer Mystery
Marketing Your Book on a Budget

website  *  publisher


Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made through the above link. The views, opinions, and beliefs expressed by guests are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads.


Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Review: The Butternut Tree by Maureen Ann Richards Kostalnick

by Donna Huber

The Butternut Tree
I'm never sure about memoirs. If not careful they can stray more into a biography which I often find to be a bit dry. But the good memoirs (or at least the ones I like) always have a deeply emotional element to them. I realized this when I read The Watchmaker's Daughter, and found it to be even more true while reading The Butternut Tree by Maureen Ann Richards Kostalnick.

There was something very sweet, well maybe bittersweet would be a better description, about the tale. And Kostalnick painted a vivid picture with her words. It completely captured my attention. I'm thankful it was short enough to be read in an afternoon as I could not have put it down. Moreover, I don't think the child Maureen would have let me rest until I had completed her story.

The book's description on Goodreads ends with a quote from Eldon Thompson, author of The Divine Talisman. I think it sums up how I felt about The Butternut Tree well.

"By turns humorous and poignant, Maureen Kostalnick's The Butternut Tree is insightful, entertaining, and stands as a testament to the human spirit. A tragedy, but also a triumph, this nostalgic tale brims with love and seethes with vengeance, seemingly in equal measure, pulling no punches in its honest, heartbreaking exploration of the vast spectrum of human emotion."

I caught myself several times going "wow, this really happened", or similar sentiments, as I flipped the pages.

If you love memoirs or stories of human strength, then The Butternut Tree should be on your reading list. Though I don't read memoirs often, I found this one to be an especially nice treat. And in some ways it made a great summer read.

Buy The Butternut Tree at Amazon


Book Info
paperback, 266 pages
Published October 2012 by Bookstand Publishing
ISBN13: 9781618633170
Source: Publisher
Read: July 2014

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Review: Ty the Bull by Brenda Perlin, K.D. Emerson and Rex Baughman

by Claire Rees

Ty the Bull
The story is about Ty, who feels that he is alone after his parents get divorced.  Ty is invited to his best friend’s birthday party and is really looking forward to it until he starts to get bulled by a new boy.  It doesn’t just stop at the party though and he also starts to get bullied at school. His friends now become his old friends and they start to play with the new boy too. 

With his mother always at work and his father never available on the phone, Rex reaches his lowest point . He goes to the local skate park where he makes an usual and unlikely friend who gives him the advice and strength he needs to feel confident enough to stick up to these bullies. He visits this new friend a few times and each time his friend gives him some sound advice that really seems to help Ty and i found myself glad that he finally had someone to talk to.

Buy Ty the Bull at Amazon

Ty the Bull is amazing and so inspirational. Everybody gets bullied at some point during their lives although some are worse than others it just shows that you need to be strong and confident and not let them get to you. I loved this story and it made me chuckle when Ty turned himself around and started to stick up for himself more and answer the bullies back.

I recommend this to anyone who enjoys a ‘good vs bad’ story, or who has children. This will show your children that even though there are bullies out there you can take their power away by sticking up for yourself and being strong.


Book info
ebook
Published July 2014 by Blossoming Press
Source: Author
Read: July 2014




Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made through the above link. Don't have a Kindle? Get a FREE Kindle Reading App. An ebook was provided for the review.


Monday, August 25, 2014

Meet Jane Carroll

Can you tell us about your books?
I’d love to Donna. Bertha-Size Your Life! is a funny, coming of age story for women who already have… a time or two. It’s all about empowering women to be themselves… once they discover who that is. But don’t get me wrong… it’s not a stuffy self-help book. No, far from it! Bertha is quite the character strutting around in her lime-green spandex, tube tops, and stilettos. She jumps on a soapbox at a moment’s notice and still finds time to maintain a perfect pedicure and fight with the cat.

Where the Joys Are: Bertha’s Guided Journal is all about finding more joy in your life. It is a series of vignettes and journaling prompts…but the best part to me is the Joy Meter… you get to pick the shoe that best describes your mood. WTJA was the most fun book to write… Bertha is in her wildest outfits and having a blast!

Becoming Bertha is in the editing process and is slated for a fall 2014 release. It continues the self-discovery of the first book and has a cool twist and the end.

The character Bertha is so lifelike that it’s easy to forget that she isn’t a real person. Do you hear that often?
Absolutely! I can’t tell you how often friends and readers ask me how Bertha is doing or what she would do in a particular situation. It’s like, “Hi, Jane, nice to see you. Now where’s Bertha… we need to talk!”

One of Bertha’s favorite sayings is “When life hands you an ostrich… make a boa!” Can you tell us about your boa collection?
Oh, I just had to add on a new closet to house all the boas I’ve collected over the years. What I’m learning, with Bertha’s help of course, is to not feel regret, failure, anger, guilt, or any of those emotions when things don’t turn out just exactly as I’d planned. I try to see the experience as helping me to become the person that I want to be.

Bertha Size Your Life
Bertha has some rather, how can I say this delicately, zany antics. Do they come from your life?
Unfortunately, some of them do…I have been known to put on my sandals and polish the toenails that were showing when I was in a hurry. And, yes… we rolled our hair on orange juice cans in the day. The actions of the cat… well… I couldn’t make them up… I’m not that creative. (Smile) But mostly the things that Bertha does are outrageous exaggerations of everyday life.

What about you, what do you do for fun?
I’m supposed to be having fun? Seriously, I love writing and for the most part it is FUN. I have always loved playing with words, twisting them around, putting them in unexpected places. I also love to read, ride my bike, and spend time with family and friends.

Buy Bertha-size Your Life at Amazon

Do you have a favorite review?
I love all my reviews because they give me insight into my readers and how they identify with Bertha. And, yes, there have been a few who didn’t identify with her at all… but it’s good to know that, too. I think the phrase that delighted me the most was in a recent review for Where the Joys Are… “I love this author. I would read her grocery list…” I’m just hopeful that while she is reading it… she’ll pay for them, too!

One last question. Will you continue to write about Bertha?
I’m pretty sure of it. I think she’s like one of those soap opera characters… that even if I killed her off… she’d come back from the dead in a couple of years! But I can’t see her going anywhere anytime soon. In fact, she’s considering starring in a cozy mystery next year. Who knows where Bertha will show up next?


About the Author

Alabamian Jane Carroll, Author of Bertha-Size Your Life and Where the Joys Are: Bertha’s Guided Journal, is a Life Coach, Registered Nurse, Reiki Master, Mother, Grandmother, and long-time student of life. She has seen the focus of her over 30 year nursing career change from illness to wellness to wholeness, a philosophy that permeates everything she does.
Jane gives a face, a wardrobe, and a flare to inspirational humor. Her writing weaves a rich tapestry of humor, inspiration, insight, southern roots, and friendship for readers in the empty nest period of life.
While she enjoys all aspects of her life, writing is her passion and she is currently working on Bertha’s latest adventures.
 website  *  Twitter  * Jane's Facebook  *  Bertha's Facebook


Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made through the above links. Don't have a Kindle? Get a FREE Kindle Reading App. The views, opinions, and beliefs expressed by guest are their own and do not necessarily reflect those of Girl Who Reads.

Friday, August 22, 2014

Bestselling Vampire Thriller: MOTH by @SeanPoindexter

MOTH

Social worker Max Hollingsworth is no stranger to the otherworldly. But when he's called upon to investigate a missing child, he stumbles upon a deeper mystery.

Children are vanishing and no one remembers them, not even their parents. Suspicion turns to Neo-Nazi vampires and humans running a child slavery ring, but that is only the beginning. For help, he turns to friends, old and new, but even they might not be enough. When new enemies turn deadly, old enemies become allies, including the least likely ally of all: an enemy whose cruelty and evil was almost his end, and haunts him still.

Buy MOTH  at Amazon



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Girl Who Reads is an Amazon advertising affiliate; a small fee is earned when purchases are made through the above link.

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