Monday, September 25, 2017

Audio Review Tour - Texas Family (Texas #4) - RJ Scott

Narrator: Sean Crisden
Cover Design: Meredith Russell
Length: 4hrs 19 mins

Texas Series

The Heart of Texas (Book #1): 
Texas Winter (Book #2):
Texas Heat (Book #3): 

Jack and Riley Campbell-Hayes begin a journey that will change their lives forever.

Set against the backdrop of the Double D, the cast of the Texas audiobooks face changes that won't leave a single one of them untouched.

Jack and Riley want to extend their small family of three. Their first choice is surrogacy with Jack as the father, and when all this begins smoothly both men can't help but contemplate at what point would things go wrong. After all, their lives are far from normal, and nothing is ever smooth.

Add a small four-year-old boy in foster care into the mix, and suddenly things become a whole lot more complicated.

Karen's review:

It’s been four years since I read this book and I have to admit in my reading experience I’ve found that sometimes when there’s a large gap of time between originally reading a book and when I re-read it or in this case listen to the audio book it doesn’t always go well, but I’m happy to say that was not the case with this book…If anything, I enjoyed the audio book just a little bit more than I enjoyed this story the first time around.

I’ve really enjoyed reading all of R. J. Scott’s Texas series and having the opportunity to revisit these characters in audio book format has been a treat, so much so that I’m looking forward to treating my self to the rest of this series in the near future.

Sean Crisden is the narrator for this title as well as previous titles and I have to admit when it comes to books involving cowboys he’s one of my favorites. I love his deep, gravelly, easy drawl along with the fact that he consistently ticks all my basic audio narrator boxes with his consistent, unique and expressive voices. For anyone who isn’t familiar with this series I strongly recommend starting at the first book and reading them in order. Jack and Riley are the main characters in this series and their story starts back in the first book…The Heart of Texas.

Release Blitz: London Lads Anthology

Paperback Buy Links: Dreamspinner | Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 95,939 words

Publisher: Dreamspinner Press

Cover Design: Valerie Tibbs @ Tibbs Design

A young man uses social media to contact the men he knew as teenaged friends and discovers a soul mate for his own romantic journey. The most ill-matched couple you could ever imagine are thrown together when they exchange flat-sitting—and turn each other's lives upside down. A reserved young man struggles with a secret affair until he dares to take the adventurous step of making his heart’s wish public. One mischievous night on a shopping mall security camera brings an astonishing blind date for a bored student. A frustrating delay in an airport lounge—with only two precocious children for company—drives a young man to confess he’s in love with his best friend.

Five standalone stories, five romantic couples seeking a happy ever after. This collection of stories includes humor, reflection, erotic desire, and sweet devotion. It celebrates the diversity and delight of lovers against the backdrop of London’s vibrant and lively city—young “London lads” whose love, determination, and sense of adventure are strong enough to find the way to a partner’s heart.
  • Chase the Ace
  • How the Other Half Lives
  • A Good Neighbour
  • Peepshow
  • Between a Rock and a Hard Place

Author Bio

Sunday, September 24, 2017

ARC Review: Rank & File (Anchor Point, #4) by L.A. Witt

Rank & File (Anchor Point, #4)
Senior Chief Will Curtis is as straitlaced as they come. While his fellow Sailors have partied their way through their enlistments, he’s had his eye on the prize—making master chief and retiring after thirty years of service.

Lieutenant Brent Jameson is a Navy brat turned Annapolis grad. He’s lived and breathed the military his whole life, and he knows he’s destined for great things—once he’s done paying his dues at the bottom of the ladder.

When their paths cross, both men know better than to give in to temptation, but that doesn’t stop them. It also doesn’t keep them from coming back for more, even though being discovered would sink their careers. Something has to give—Will can retire, Brent can resign, or they’ll both face court-martial.

But there’s also the option neither wants to acknowledge: jump ship and walk away from each other instead of ending their careers over a fledgling relationship. And they should probably decide before they fall in love.

Except—too late.

Jewel's rating:

Say hello to my second favorite book in this series. Rank & File was sexy, not too much angst, and had MC's that I actually liked! After the disappointment that book three turned out to be, for me, Rank & File put a smile on my face!

Senior Chief Will Curtis is enlisted. He loves his career path, but an officer he is not and doesn't really want to be. Being a cop is stressful and definitely has moments that are really dreadful, but Will can't see himself doing anything else. Even though there are times when his hands are tied, he still helps people and he helps keep them safe and that gives him a sense of purpose and even pride. His least favorite type of call? Domestics. And, ironically, that is how he meets Brent.

Lieutenant Brent Jameson is a young officer. He's an Academy grad and he comes from a family of Academy grads and career Naval officers. Ever since he learned to walk, it was drilled into Brent that he would be a Naval officer, just like his older brother, just like his father, just like his grandfather. He's never known anything else. Brent is 11 years in and is still waiting for the time he actually likes what he does. He has his eyes on the goal, but the excitement and pride just isn't there.

ARC Review: On the Way to San Jose by Jere' M. Fishback

On the Way to San Jose

Terrence, a socially inept clarinetist whose driver’s license is suspended, needs his panel van driven from Orlando to San Jose, where he plans to start a new life. Levi’s a Stanford University student with Asperger’s Syndrome who answers Terrence’s Internet drive-away listing. 

The two start out as strangers, but as their journey westward progresses a friendship is kindled, one that will change both boys’ lives in profound ways.

Todd's rating:

While I enjoyed this story quite a bit, it honestly felt more like a Great American Cross-Country Road Trip story, where one of the characters just so happened to be gay. And it did *not* feel like a romance.

Until 80% in. And even then, only 'sort of''...

There was a sudden, out-of-the-blue attraction, previously unmentioned. Even the very slight bit of 'confusion' was under-sold, which 'could' have hinted that more was lying under the surface. But the story never really did that, which left me pretty confused, when *voila*, "You're it for me."

And yes, I get that Levi's Asperger's had a hand in slowing that epiphany down; however, I would have thought that the confusion would have gotten a bit more page time, to set up the potential for Levi and Terrence becoming 'more.'

But, as written, the Asperger's wasn't very apparent, either. At every turn, Levi came across as comfortable, confident even, when approached with every single social interaction on-page, which I thought was a bit weird, given his condition. We were only told of his previous discomfort, instead of (ever) really being shown on-page.

Then, we had the whole "Internet Bride" thing with Terrance and some much older Asian dude, which had "you will relinquish total control of every aspect your life to me" written up one side and down the other.

SPOILER:  I was *not* wrong in that assertion.

And we're then introduced to the plot squirrel where they basically adopted an abused, teenage runaway. Don't get me wrong, I loved Jacob and where that sub-plot ultimately ended up going; however, it felt like a distraction, when those pages could have gone to actually create a genuine heart-felt *romance* between the MC's. Romantic, caring gestures, leading to "I love you's," that sort of thing. But nope.

Lastly, there are going to be a *lot* of women roasting Levi alive for his attitude on personal responsibility in regards to getting his ex-girlfriend pregnant, telling her to get an abortion, then fleeing the state, absolving himself of any further duties. Even I was pretty appalled by that, seeing as how the girl didn't get *herself* pregnant. Yeah, no bueno.

Yet, somehow, I still mostly enjoyed the book (except for the BOOGER part, because seriously? Gross! WTAF???), so I'd give it around 3.25 stars and only recommend it to those not looking for a deeper-than-surface-level romance.

My ARC copy of the book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair, unbiased review.

Get the book:

Thanks for visiting our blog and I hope you enjoyed my review!

Buylinks are provided as a courtesy and do not constitute an endorsement of or affiliation with this book, author or bookseller listed.

ARC Review: Golden by RL Mosswood


Harem boy might not be the most appropriate role for someone who’s never really seen the appeal of sex, but Elin’s status as dahabi: golden in a land of tan and brown, has marked him for The Dragon’s service since birth. He’s content enough with his life of uncomplicated, if restrictive, luxury, until an unremarkable chore becomes a case of love at first sight.

Mysterious newcomer Hathar, a roguish “merchant adventurer” from far-off lands, ignites an exploration of Elin’s first taste of physical desire, as well as a desire to experience life beyond the palace. Now, they must find a way to escape before Hathar’s ship departs, stranding them forever in The Dragon’s harem.

Todd's rating:


I enjoyed this fantasy novella of harem boy Elin and merchant adventurer Hathar meeting and falling for one another quite a bit.

One thing that surprised me about Elim was his absolute lack of experience regarding all things carnal. Instead of being a 'well-ridden' member of the dragon's harem, he was a bit more like a princess trapped in the dragon's tower. Just without the damsel'y parts. ;- )

Then along came Hathar, who may have bought and sold goods along his journey, but also gave me the impression of being a bit of a pirate, plundering and stealing, when opportunities arose. Or when he created them.

This story was 'mostly' what I had expected (and predicted) it to be; however, the one thing that truly awed me here was just how intimate and evocative the steamy scenes were written. I read a lot of M/M stories, so I'm no stranger to sensuous writing, but the author's connection in those scenes... just wow .

Saturday, September 23, 2017

ARC Review: The Dragon's Devotion by Antonia Aquilante

From The Blurb:
Corentin is a scholar with a secret—his magical Talent allows him to turn into a dragon, and he isn’t alone in that ability. Long ago, dragons were hunted fiercely, until they went into hiding, becoming things of legend. Corentin has traveled the world with one aim—to protect his people and keep their secret safe. Drawn to the principality of Tournai by news of someone close to discovering that secret, he hopes to avert suspicion. His attraction to the too-serious Bastien isn’t convenient for his purpose, but it isn’t something he can ignore either. 
Lord Bastien, Earl of Ardesia, inherited his title unexpectedly when his parents were killed in a sailing accident along with the parents of his cousin, Prince Philip. Since then, Bastien has devoted his life to the obligations of his family and estate—so much so, that it has caused tension between him and his siblings. His world is further shaken when he receives an anonymous letter informing him that the tragic boating accident may, in fact, have been murder. Bastien throws himself into investigating whether the allegations are true and finding out who killed his parents. 
As Corentin and Bastien become closer, the mystery of Bastien’s parents’ death draws him further into danger. Corentin feels compelled to protect Bastien, but the threat is closer than they know. Now, Corentin must decide whether preserving his secret—and potentially his people’s safety—is more important than saving the man he loves. 
*While this book is the fifth in a series, it can be read as a standalone.

Karen's rating:

Do you remember when you were young...

and you'd get ready for bed and there you'd be curled up under the covers all snuggly warm with your favorite toy waiting for a bedtime story...maybe, it's a story about kings and queens, fairies, dwarves, elves, a circus filled with lions, tigers and elephants or maybe it's a story with mystical creatures unicorns, griffins, a phoenix...dragons?

Whatever, the story as children it was a special time...a time filled with the magic of going to a far away land...a different place and time, filled with magic and adventure shared with just one other person...that person reading the story to us...maybe, it was mom, or dad, a brother or sister or even a grandparent.

Whoever it was. It was in those moments that many of us first discovered the magic of books and the wondrous things they have to share with us...the people, places, adventure, mysteries and magic...all of it is magic. Magic that transports us to places and on adventures all without ever having to leave the safety of our cozy, comfortable beds. It's a magic that we get to keep with us our entire lives every time we open a book it's there waiting for us. now you're probably kind of wondering what this actually has to do with a specific called 'The Dragon's Devotion'...well, you see this story took me back to my childhood to the magic of fairytales and happily ever after...there was a dragon and yes, we all know I'm a total pushover for dragons but this one...well, I have to say I think Corentin is going to be one of my favorite dragon's ever. He's large and majestic and his scales are such a deep purple that they're almost black, he has beautiful violet eyes. He's fierce and brave and at the heart of him is a man...a man who is intelligent, kind, loyal, handsome and knows how to love. Yeah...I sorta...kinda have a crush on Corentin.

ARC Review: Tramps and Thieves by Rhys Ford

From The Blurb:
Whoever said blood was thicker than water never stood in a pool of it. 
Retiring from stealing priceless treasures seemed like a surefire way for Rook Stevens to stay on the right side of the law. The only cop in his life should have been his probably-boyfriend, Los Angeles Detective Dante Montoya, but that’s not how life—his life—is turning out. Instead, Rook ends up not only standing in a puddle of his cousin Harold’s blood but also being accused of Harold’s murder…and sleeping with Harold’s wife. 
For Dante, loving the former thief means his once-normal life is now a sea of chaos, especially since Rook seems incapable of staying out of trouble—or keeping trouble from following him home. When Rook is tagged as a murder suspect by a narrow-focused West L.A. detective, Dante steps in to pull his lover out of the quagmire Rook’s landed in. 
When the complicated investigation twists around on them, the dead begin to stack up, forcing the lovers to work together. Time isn’t on their side, and if they don’t find the killer before another murder, Dante will be visiting Rook in his prison cell—or at his grave.

Karen's rating:

First there was Cole McGinnis...
then it was the men of Sinner's Gin 
and now...

Now we have Rook Stevens retired Cat Burglar extraordinaire and Dante Montoya the man who stole his heart and spends his days fighting to keep that same heart alive because Rook seems to have a penchant for trouble...the kind of trouble that can get a person dead.

When I first started reading this author's works I actually started with her 'Sinner's' series and by the time I was part way through that one I was wondering what was wrong with me that I'd been ignoring 'Cole McGinnis' for so long? I mean seriously, how could I have been so obtuse? Well never mind, that deficiency has long since been remedied.

So here we are several Rhys Ford books later and we have what has quickly become an absolute favorite couple for me with Rook and Dante...please understand I love Cole and Jai, I adore the men of 'Sinners' like seriously adore them...they are some of the hottest men going, but something about Rook and Dante just speaks directly to my heart. When these two men are together they just melt my heart. I want them to be together.

Blogtour: Yuletide Truce by Sandra Schwab

We're delighted to welcome Sandra Schwab with 

Yuletide Truce 

Publisher: Sandra Schwab

Release Date (Print and Ebook): 22 September 2017

Length (Print and Ebook): 18,000 words

Subgenre: historical romance, Victorian romance, mm romance, holiday romance

Purchase Links:


London, 1845

It's December, Alan "Aigee" Garmond's favorite time of the year, when the window display of the small bookshop where he works fills up with crimson Christmas books and sprays of holly. Everything could be perfect — if it weren't for handsome Christopher Foreman, the brilliant writer for the fashionable magazine About Town, who has taken an inexplicable and public dislike to Aigee's book reviews.

But why would a man such as Foreman choose to target reviews published in a small bookshop's magazine? Aigee is determined to find out. And not, he tells himself, just because he finds Foreman so intriguing.

Aigee’s quest leads him from smoke-filled ale-houses into the dark, dingy alleys of one of London's most notorious rookeries. And then, finally, to Foreman. Will Aigee be able to wrangle a Yuletide truce from his nemesis?


Foreman brushed a hand through his hair. “Does that mean I can no longer sharpen my pen on your reviews?”

Aigee’s lips twitched. Suddenly, he felt quite lighthearted, almost daring. As if anything might be possible.

As if this little room had been touched by some Christmas magic.

As if he might take the boldest chance of all…

“Oh, I’m sure you’ll have no difficulties in finding something else for sharpening your pen,” he said. “After all, the lashings of your pen and tongue are renowned.”

Foreman snorted. “It’s hardly my fault that people insist on being ludicrous."

Aigee looked out of the window at the darkness that was only broken by the feeble glow of the a few lamps in the windows of the houses around this little yard. “Hm…” For a moment, he still hesitated. Then: “Did you also give a tongue-lashing to that fellow I saw you leading up the stairs at the Little Rose?” He turned, wondering if he had overshot his mark.

Rather pale, Foreman stared at him, which made Aigee realize that his remark could be misconstrued.

“I was rather jealous of the man,” he clarified.

Color came and went in Foreman’s face. With narrowed eyes, he looked Aigee up and down. “I see,” he said, nastily. “And you expect me to give you the same in gratitude for services rendered, is that it?”

Friday, September 22, 2017

Audiobook ARC review: Played! by JL Merrow

From The Blurb:
Listening Time: 6 hrs., 58 min. 
All the world’s a stage...but real-life lessons are hidden in the heart. 
Tristan’s in Shamwell for one last summer of freedom before he joins the family firm in New York—no more farting around on stage, as his father puts it. But the classically trained actor can’t resist when members of the local amateur dramatics society beg him to take a role in their production of A Midsummer Night’s Dream. 
Especially as he’ll also be giving private acting lessons to gorgeous local handyman, Con, who’s been curiously resistant to Tristan’s advances. Tristan’s determined to get Con in his bed—not only is the man delicious, there’s fifty pounds riding on Tristan’s success after a bet made with his drama school chum Amanda. 
Con’s never dared to act before. A late-diagnosed dyslexic who had a hard time at school, he’s always been convinced he’d never be able to learn his lines—but with Tristan helping him, he might just be in with a chance. Trouble is, the last time Con fell for a guy, he ended up getting his heart broken, and with Tristan due to leave the country in a matter of months, Con’s determined not to give in and start anything that’s bound to finish badly. 
Just as Tristan thinks he’s finally won Con’s heart—and given his own in return—disaster strikes. And the curtain may have fallen forever on their chance of happiness. 
Warning: contains a surfeit of Bottoms and asses, together with enough mangled quotations to have the Bard of Avon gyrating in his grave.

Karen's rating:

I was more than willing to give this one a go. It had a lot going for it...I like J.L. Merrow's writing, Mark Steadman is the narrator and I like him, I enjoyed 'Caught' the first book in this series. The blurb sounded cute and Shamwell seems like a quaint little place to I was all in and while I gave this one 3 stars, I have to admit it probably fell a little bit short of that mark. But between the quality of the writing and the audio narration in good conscience I wasn't really comfortable giving this one less than 3 stars and there were several things that I liked about this one.

I liked Con. While he was a bit sensitive about his dyslexia, I can't in all honesty say that he was 'bitter' or 'excessive' about it. It struck me that his attitude was more a case of it was what it was and he just seemed to want to get on with his life. He's had his heart broken before and he's not looking for any one night stands or quick hook-ups.

Tristan on the other hand is just in town for the summer and he's more than happy to do no-strings-attached, commitment free fun as he sorts out the house he's inherited and gets it ready for sale before going to New York to join the family business, give up his desires to perform live theater and fulfill his obligation to the family as per daddy's instructions.

Tristan's also more than a bit full of himself which leads to him being more than a little surprised when Con turns him down and doesn't return his interest. When circumstances conspire to throw Con and Tristan together in an amateur production for the local theater company.  Con and Tristan begin to form a tentative friendship and feelings begin to grow on both sides.

Review Tour: Manic Pixie Dream Boy by K.A. Merikan

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK
Length: 52,000 words approx
Cover Design: Natasha Snow

You can’t hide the cracks under the spotlight

Dusk. Leader of The Underdogs. Destined for greatness. Lives in the now.

Abe. AKA Lolly. Iridescent. Unicorn.

All Dusk wants out of life is for his band to become world famous. He also wants to have a lot of fun along the way. And to get his rocks off. When he wants something, he goes for it, consequences be damned.

So when he sees a gorgeous pink-haired guy who is the human equivalent of tattooed cotton candy, he can’t help but have a taste. But it’s when Lolly ends up on their tour bus that Dusk knows their meeting was destiny.

Abe is the kind of guy who goes with the flow. He was hitchhiking anyway, so why not spend the week with a hot piece of rocker beefcake, getting smothered by his sexy long hair? And why not play the part of the supportive cutie while he’s at it? It’s not like he’d be sticking around for long anyway.

All plans hit a wall when photos of Abe and Dusk emerge online, suddenly pushing the band into the spotlight. To take advantage of the sudden popularity, the band offers Abe money for staying.

Which means money for being in a fake relationship with Dusk.

Which isn’t even fake.

Or is it?

Jewel's review

Manic Pixie Dream Boy is pure ​sugar. Strawberry bubblegum, cotton candy, and lollipop sweet. Not my normal fare from this very talented duo. And, sadly, not my favorite, either.

The cast of characters is an unknown band, by the name of The Underdogs, whose members are two brothers -- Dusk and Dawn -- and their two friends, Mage and Sid, along with a spontaneous hitchhiker, named Abe, who is all cotton candy --- pink hair, strawberry lollipop, Disney tattoo, sweet -- or is he? Abe has actually been around the block a time or two and is definitely no innocent lamb of a unicorn.

It was supposed to be a quick hookup​ in a gas station restroom​ between Dusk and Abe, whom Dusk has dubbed "Lolly", but circumstances required they make a quick getaway and so Abe hightails it out with the band. And then stays.

Dusk and Lolly had an instant connection and that kept up through the story. The sex was super hot and served up extra dirty. And the characters were likable, though I don't feel like I really got to know any of them as well as I would have liked.

Manic Pixie Dream Boy is an entertaining read, for sure, but I admit I've come to expect more from these authors, and so was somewhat disappointed. There wasn't enough depth to the characters or the feels and the conflict​ and relationship development​ came too late to keep my interest. I was dying to feel something real, but Dusk and Lolly don't have a conversation with any substance​ or any real conflict​ until around 70%​​ and there was too much miscommunication, or non-communication, really.​

I do seem to be in the minority, here, though, so if you're a fan of these authors sweeter books, please do give Manic Pixie Dream Boy a shot. And, hopefully, book 2 will be more my speed.

** A free copy of this book was provided by the tour organizer in exchange for an honest and fair review. **


The sun hit him like a red-hot hammer, and he squinted, rushing through the courtyard and into the shadow of the roof. His mouth was already smiling when he saw the logo of an ice cream manufacturer in the window. Since they’d already stopped, he might as well have something sweet to go with the savory. Or, possibly-maybe get peanut butter ice cream and win at breakfast?

The store greeted him with fresh, cool air that he inhaled with pleasure, delving between the shelves to find his prize. He could already see it from afar, next to a few jams, and coffee, and—who the fuck was that?

Dusk stopped breathing and just watched the dreamy, pink-haired creature move along the aisle, headbanging gently to music he was listening to through his mint-colored headphones. There was a lightness to his step, and Dusk followed the guy as if he were a rabbit leading Dusk to Wonderland.

The guy’s hair was styled into two thick, messy boxer braids tied with glittery bands. A pair of rollerblades swung from the guy’s large backpack. With each hypnotizing movement of slim hips clad in well-fitting denim shorts that ended just above the knees, Dusk was beckoned closer to the creature who was so at odds with the coarse surroundings, he must had stepped out of a fairytale and gotten lost in the New Mexican desert. His bare calves were nicely toned and dusted with blond hair, twitching slightly as the angel of a guy danced his way through the aisles.

He only stopped once he approached a newspaper stand and pulled out a music magazine. Leaning slightly against the wall, he finally allowed Dusk a good look on the profile of his boyish yet angular face. Working his way through the pages, he seemed completely immersed in his own little world.

One arm, tattooed in pastel-colored shapes that Dusk could not discern from afar, rose, and the guy pulled on a little white stick that peeked out of his mouth, revealing a shocking pink lollipop that he must have been sucking on all along.

Release Blitz: Would It Be Ok To Love You by Amy Tasukada

Buy Links: Amazon US | Amazon UK

Length: 41,000 words

Would It Be Okay To Love You (Book #1)
Would It Be Okay To Love You: Year One (Book #2) 

A robot fanboy. An erotic voice actor. When love comes calling, will they shed their armor?

Sato’s only long-term relationship is the one he shares with his Gundam collectibles. He dreams about the kind of unconditional love his parents enjoy. If only he could break out of his shell, he might find his special someone…

Outgoing playboy Aoi has sworn off relationships. He knows they only distract him from his budding voice acting career. He’s earned a few loyal fans, and if he keeps at it, he may even earn enough to never worry about being evicted again…

When Sato meets Aoi at the local anime store, there’s definitely a spark. But even as they tread carefully, their commitment issues and Aoi’s troubled past soon muck things up before they can start. In order for Sato and Aoi to have their happily-ever-after, they’ll both have to take a leap of faith… and hope to be caught.

Would It Be Okay to Love You? is the first book in a gay romance series set in Japan. If you like original characters, nerd culture, and simmering chemistry, then you’ll love Amy Tasukada’s charming multicultural love story.

Author Bio

Thursday, September 21, 2017

Author Of The Month - Brent Hartinger - Week Three

Welcome to our third week of celebrations for the amazing 

In today's post, we'll look at Shadow Walkers and Project Sweet Life, plus a personal story of how Brent met his husband. There's also another chance to win!

First up, Shadow Walkers


Zach lives with his grandparents on a remote island in Puget Sound in Washington State. With only his little brother, Gilbert, to keep him company, Zach feels cut off from the world. But when Gilbert is kidnapped, Zach tries the only thing he can think of to find him: astral projection. Soon, his spirit is soaring through the strange and boundless astral realm--a shadow place. While searching for his brother, Zach meets a boy named Emory, another astral traveler who's intriguing (and cute).
As Zach and Emory track the kidnappers from the astral realm, their bond grows--but each moment could be Gilbert's last. Even worse, there's a menacing, centuries-old creature in their midst that devours souls and possesses physical bodies. And it's hungry for Zach.


“What is it?” I asked, even as I felt the vaguest tingle of the chill I’d felt twice before, the one in my soul.

Emory didn’t look at me. It was like he couldn’t move, couldn’t even speak. He just kept staring into the corner.

I floated closer and took a look. The shadows were particularly thick there, and I didn’t see anything at first. Then I saw something curved and hanging—another coiled garden hose maybe. And there were two small round objects, almost white, suspended in the middle of the coils.

It wasn’t a hose. It was some kind of … creature. It was floating in the corner of the garage, not any bigger than a basketball.

And it had tentacles or legs of some kind. It looked like a cross between an octopus and a spider. I knew it was alive, because its legs were slowly curling in on themselves.
It’s the thing I saw earlier. The tentacle was real.

Now I stood frozen, hanging in space. Somehow I knew it was definitely in the astral dimension with us, a being without actual substance, but something made up of shadow and darkness, not light like Emory and me.

Had this creature followed us from the cabin? Emory had said he’d been drawn to me because he’d heard me making all that noise. Maybe this creature had heard me too, and then followed us back here to Hinder Island. I still didn’t know how populated the astral dimension was, but from the look of things so far, it was mostly deserted.

It wasn’t moving, so I edged closer to Emory. I could see the thing much more clearly now. It definitely wasn’t an actual octopus or spider. For one thing, it had more than eight legs—at least a dozen, maybe more. It floated there, quivering slightly with its legs splayed out.

But it had eyes, looking back at us.

Human eyes.

These were the white objects I’d seen floating in the middle of the shadows. Lidless, they peered out at me from near the top of all that blackness. It was the whites of those eyes that had made me realize it wasn’t just a shadow in the first place. But as white as they were, the pupils were as black as the rest of the creature, dark and full of hate.

I don’t know how I knew with such certainty that these were human eyes, but I did. You could see the intelligence in them, and the anger.

The chill in my soul deepened, and I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t. The creature was such an appalling mixture, so obviously alien and yet also somehow human. I’d never seen anything like it—never even imagined anything like it. If being in the astral dimension meant becoming aware that the boundaries of the universe are artificial—that we’re all one—did that mean I was part of that
creature, and it was part of me? It was bad enough that it even existed.

But then, the very instant the creature made sense to me, it was gone. It didn’t vanish—it shot away, like a retreating octopus. Unlike an octopus, it didn’t leave a cloud of black ink in its wake, but because the creature was so dark, so black, it did seem to leave a dark spot in my vision even after it was gone.

Celestia Moonglow hadn’t said anything about any of this.

Neither Emory nor I spoke for a second. It had all happened so fast.

Finally, he said, “Let’s get out of here. Now.”

I didn’t need to be told twice. It was all I could do to get out of the dark confines of that garage.

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Second in today's line-up, Project Sweet Life


For most kids, fifteen is the year of the optional summer job: Sure, you can get a job if you really want one, but it isn't required or anything. Too bad Dave's dad doesn't agree! Instead of enjoying long days of biking, swimming, and sitting around, Dave and his two best friends are being forced by their fathers into a summer of hard labor.

The friends have something else in mind, though: Not only will they not work over the summer, but they're determined to trick everyone into believing they really do have jobs. So what if the lifeguard doesn't have a tan or the fast-food worker isn't bringing home buckets of free chicken? There's only one problem: Dave's dad wants evidence that his son is actually bringing in money. And that means Dave, Curtis, and Victor will have to get some . . . without breaking the law and without doing any work!

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How Brent Met Michael - a love story

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