Book Tour & Excerpt: The Fourth Piece by @E_Ardell + #GIVEAWAY


The Fourth Piece


Series: Order's Last Play, Book 1
Author: E. Ardell
Published: July 8th, 2016
Pages: 338
Audience: Young Adult
Genre: Science Fiction, Space Opera, First Contact


Source:  I received this book for free from YA Bound Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review.


Blurb:

Admitting what you are will end everything you know. Embracing who you are will start a war...

Life is great when you’re good-looking and popular…so long as no one knows you’re a vulatto. Being half-alien gets you labeled “loser” quicker than being a full vader. So it’s a good thing Devon, Lyle, and Lawrence can easily pass for human—until the night of the party. Nothing kills a good time faster than three brothers sharing a psychic vision of a fourth brother who’s off-world and going to die unless they do something. But when your brother’s emergency happens off-planet, calling 9-1-1 really isn’t an option. 

In their attempt to save a brother they barely remember, Devon, Lyle and Lawrence expose themselves to mortal danger and inherit a destiny that killed the last four guys cursed with it. In 2022, there are humans and aliens, heroes and monsters, choices and prophecies—and four brothers with the power to choose what’s left when the gods decide they’re through playing games.

Book I in the Order's Last Play series


Excerpt:

Chapter Five

Lyle

OTHER PEOPLE’S DREAMS SMELL LIKE oranges.
I don’t know why. Maybe it’s some kind of psychic fail-safe.
When I smell citrus, I know I’m not in my own
head. Uncle Jonas said dream-walking is the telepathic
equivalent to sleepwalking. It doesn’t happen too often,
but when I go to sleep, sometimes my mind wanders and
I wake up in different heads as far as Canada. I don’t stay
there long; the figments are lost as soon as I roll over or
scratch my nose.

I stand in a white-washed tunnel. I press my face
against a blank wall, forehead rubbing against the warm,
smooth surface. A scorching wind blows in through the
wall, drying out my skin and making it feel stretched
across my face. The wall becomes transparent, and I’m
looking through a picture window into someone else’s
nightmare.

The sky is green, double red suns glare down at a
bloody battlefield. Men are firing guns with bullets that
explode, showering metallic glitter that melts the skin
off the poor saps beneath the clouds. Bombs shriek
through the sky, arcing back to strike the purple soil, creating
mushroom clouds of debris and body parts. Thick
blood spatters into the air. Men and women writhe on
the ground, screaming and clutching wounds that leak
blood, guts, urine, and bile.

My stomach shudders and I swallow spit that tastes
like tangerines. I touch the window with my palms and
gasp as the clear shield between the war zone and me
shatters into tiny fragments of rock candy. I stagger forward
onto the uneven terrain. My bare feet crunch across
the hot, rocky dirt, grit working its way between my toes.
The atmosphere is hazy with dust and smoke. The sharp
scent of boiling orange juice wafts under my nose on a
hot breeze.

I recognize this battlefield. It’s from the guy’s message.
A woman collapses, her head inches from my foot.
Her neck is twisted at an unnatural angle and her eyes
stare blankly at me.

I was here a few hours ago. A man roars as acid
glitter eats the skin off his face.

A hand closes on my shoulder from behind and I
yelp, whirling around and falling on my ass. I pass right
through the lady with the broken neck. She’s a ghost, a
shade. She vanishes, as do all the other bloody, convulsing
soldiers on the ground. The bombs stop exploding
and the acid glitter dissolves as I stare up at the person
I’d last seen face-down in a pool of glowing water.

Drowning Guy’s a pretty boy type with dirty blond
hair in an armpit-length braid over the shoulder of a tan
shirt with pockets at the biceps. His pants are tan too and
loaded with pockets at the knees, ankles, and hips. Hints
of silver, from the compartments of a thick utility belt,
gleam in the sunlight. Drowning Guy, DG, grins at me,
and extends a slim-fingered hand.

“Well, you’re a new development,” he says.

When I don’t take his hand, he grabs my arm and
yanks me to my feet with surprising strength. DG looks
about fourteen years old. He’s a head shorter than me,
and skinny, but he’s got the stance of a fighter: feet
shoulder width apart, arms loose at his sides but looking
ready to grab or block a hit. His posture reminds me of
Devon. Devon’s always ready to fight somebody with
fists or insults. The word missiles are usually aimed at
me, the distorted reflection he can’t stand.

“Can you talk?” DG asks. His voice has a chime-like
quality to it, and his phrases are accented with a
Scandinavian-sounding lilt.

I frown. “Say something else,” I demand. For some
reason, I don’t think he’s speaking English.

“I don’t usually have dreams about men in their underwear,”
DG says, and his grin widens as I glance down
at my Houston Rockets boxers.

He laughs, the cackle setting my teeth on edge. He
sounds like the friggin’ Joker on helium. “Maybe I’m
developing new preferences,” he says.

I narrow my eyes. When I concentrate on his
speech, I hear another language over a bad English dub.
But when I let go and focus on him instead of the sentence,
I understand him just fine.
“So, who’s coming to save me?” DG asks.

Huh? Save him? “Oh, I....”

His smile fades and his eyes narrow. “You are an
under-dressed emissary come to tell me extraction is underway, right?” He bounces on the balls of his feet. “Or I’m already extracted and I’m in a coma. You’re a psy-ops agent sent into my head to wake me up?”

Damn. This guy thinks I’m a professional here to
help him. His eyes go glassy for a second and I see fear
in them. Hell, I feel the fear in him, and that flips my
SNAFU switch. This guy’s in trouble somewhere and
he’s stuck with me.

“Uh, I’m not—I’m not any of those things, but
you—you sent me a message. Earlier, when I was awake,
I saw you drowning—felt you drowning.” My lungs constrict
and I crack my knuckles to give my hands something
to do.

I’ve been in plenty dreams, I’ve even talked to the
sleepers, but never like this. No one’s ever needed me to
do anything, and no one’s ever been dying. I guess it’d
be decent of me to contact someone for him or something,
but....

“I don’t even know where you are,” I say. In a place
with two suns, local nine-one-one probably isn’t an option.
“Can you tell me who I can call for you and how?”
This guy’s a Visitor, no, an alien on another planet. An
alien with a familiar face who can broadcast directly into
my head like only Devon and Lawrie can.

The prickling sense of déjà vu ripples through me,
and a tip-of-the-tongue sensation brings DG’s name so
close to the surface of my mind I almost say it. I know it.

“You’re not Remasian,” DG says, deadpan. “And
you’re not speaking Common Tongue at all.” He takes a
step toward to me, invading my personal space.
I want to jump back so I can breathe. I hate when
people crowd me. It’s harder to block out surface
thoughts. I keep twelve inches of space between me and
anyone who’s not family or a girl I’m messing around
with.

DG won’t let me back away from him. He stalks
forward with each step I take back. His eyes glint and his
jaw is set like my mom’s when she’s determined to win.
“I bet you don’t even know who I am, do you?” he asks.
“You.” He reaches out and snags my shoulders, holding
me in place.

This guy’s strong as Thor! I go rigid as DG leans
forward and runs his friggin’ nose over my chest, neck
and shoulders like he’s part canine.

“You smell like something I used to know.” His
nose twitches like a rabbit’s as he studies me. When his
grip eases up, I break out of it, shoving him away from
me.

“What the hell, man!” Okay dream, you need to end
before this guy sniffs my crotch too. Screw helping him.

“Where are you from?” DG’s still looking me up
and down.

“What does it matter? Look, dreams don’t last
forever. If you want me to try to do something, before
you—I don’t know—die....”

In a blur of motion, DG whips a small silver dagger
with a jeweled hilt from one of his bicep pockets and
begins cleaning his short nails with it. His expression is
dangerous. “I asked you a question,” he says.

I hold both of my hands up, fingers splayed. My
heart beats fast. I need to take control. This is DG’s
dream, but I can alter it if I need to. I’ve changed my
clothes and made black horses appear in dreams before. I
visualize steel. I want a wall between DG and me. I close
my eyes, seeing steel beams stacking themselves. I push
the beams outward, sending them from my mind into
the dream space, and wait for the tugging nausea that
comes with the mental strain of tampering with someone’s
head. But I feel fine.

I open my eyes and balk. There’s no wall. Why is
there no wall? Tiny tremors race through my body as I
continue standing on an empty battlefield with no protection
between DG and me. He hasn’t moved any closer,
but he’s changed his stance. He’s got his arms folded
over his chest. The dagger’s gone and irritation pulses
from every fiber of his being, trickling into me and making
me sweat. I lick a salty droplet off my upper lip.

“Don’t strain yourself, Dream-walker,” DG says.
“In my head, I’m the boss.” His voice is hard as the steel
I’d failed to create. He sighs. “Look, I don’t have my
coordinates, but my emergency code is—”
Blood dribbles down his chin. He gurgles, spitting
up more blood. He rubs his mouth with his right hand,
and it comes away bright red. I feel panic explode inside
him like a punch to my own stomach.

“Oh gods.” His voice sounds syrupy and congested.
He doubles over, and a thin string of blood yo-yo’s from
his lips. Violent choking noises become the soundtrack
over an otherwise silent battlefield. DG staggers to his
knees, clutching his left shoulder, and I gape as blood
seeps through the spaces between his fingers.
Horror grabs me and won’t let go. My minor tremors
turn to full-blown shakes. Pain echoes from DG’s
body into mine. Something sharp tears a hole through
my left shoulder, severing tendons and splintering bone.

I expect to feel hot blood running down my arm and torso, but I only feel beads of sweat rolling down my face and back.

ChildofMagicChildofMagicChildofMagic.

The voice seems to come from everywhere and nowhere.
The wind blows so hard I barely stay on my feet. I
spin around, and see tall gray trees with V-shaped leaves
surrounding the battle area. They weren’t here before.
The war zone isn’t a plowed field on a plain; it’s a clearing.
The trees sway in the wind, bending so that they’re
bowing backward and marking a path through tall blades
of purple grass. A deep feeling of need squeezes my guts
together in a vice grip better than DG’s. I gasp as my legs
start moving on their own. I’m walking toward the path.

No! No! I try to plant my feet, but they won’t stop.
I’m not in control; psychics always have to be in control.
If they’re not—if I’m not, I lose my mind.

“D-don’t leave. H-help...” a broken voice calls.

Something snaps like a tether line stretched too
far inside me. I stumble a few steps before I can stop
walking and stand, feet together, fists clenched. My heart
practically vibrates it’s going so fast, and my lungs burn
from too much air. I’ve been breathing in but not out.
Fear prickles under my skin. I feel scrubbed raw.

“D-don’t go. Please. I don’t want to die,” the broken
voice calls again. Hitching breaths and hoarse sobs
make me turn around. DG is curled on his right side, in
fetal position. Blood saturates the dirt around him, red
and purple mix together making black.

I take slow steps to reach him, kneeling down and
grimacing at the warm, sticky feeling of blood on my
bare knees. Resting a hand on his back, I peer into his
face. His eyes are squeezed shut, feathery lashes fluttering
like he’s in REM sleep. He could be waking up from
his dream, meaning I’ll be waking up soon as well. I
should be relieved, but I’m not.

“Hey.” I shake him and his eyes open, but they’re
dazed, pupils dilated. “What were you telling me about
an emergency code? I need to know now. I think you’re
waking up.”

His mouth opens.

ChildofMagicChildofMagicChildofMagic.

Need floods me again. I have to move, to follow the
path. I hold onto DG to keep myself in place. “Tell me
what you want!” I yell at him.

“Need to go. Help me up.” His voice is stronger.

My hands hover over a huge blood stain on his uniform.
There’s no new blood. In the blink of an eye, his
uniform’s clean again and he looks like he did when he
first appeared to me.

He sits up, right hand going to his left shoulder and
squeezing it. “It stopped.” His eyes are fully alert. They
lock onto mine. “I have to go that way.” He nods toward
the bending trees. “And so do you, I think.”



About E. Ardell:

E. Ardell spent her childhood in Houston, Texas, obsessed with anything science fiction, fantastic, paranormal or just plain weird. She loves to write stories that feature young people with extraordinary talents thrown into strange and dangerous situations. She took her obsession to the next level, earning a Master of Fine Arts from the University of Southern Maine where she specialized in young adult genre fiction. She’s a big kid at heart and loves her job as a teen librarian at Monterey Public Library in Monterey, California, where she voluntarily shuts herself in rooms with hungry hordes of teenagers and runs crazy after-school programs for them. When she’s not working, she’s reading, writing, running writers critique groups, trying to keep up with a blog, and even writing fan fiction as her guilty pleasure.


I'm Not Dead...

Well, obviously because who is posting all these Book Reviews and Blog Tours.

Seriously though, I have been a little M.I.A. in the personal blog post department. Blogging has never been my strong suit. Coming up with subject matter that’s interesting? UGH… who do you think I am a writer? Oh... wait...

Yeah Okay. I write stuff about things, but I take many hours to fine tune my ideas before spending even more hours writing them. Then heaping another few hundred more hours with edits and promotions... Books take a lot of time, but somehow are hella easier than ONE. SIMPLE. BLOG. POST.

That being said, I am going to try to make time for personal posts. Even if the only thing I have to say is – today I wrote some words and parented some children. That’s interesting, right?

Right?

In the spirit of blogging here is my update: kids = unpredictable, self = stressed, family = love them, friends = both wonderful and tragic, and books = excited.

With my family selling our house and our move looming in the distance, writing has been a thing I do when I’m not cleaning my house for a showing or running around looking at other houses to buy. SHIFT has finally received a release date of July 22nd 2016 and will conclude The Caelian Cycle. I’m sad to see Sadie’s story come to an end, but at the same time thrilled to start on a new project.

Earlier this year, I decided to jump ahead in my Works-In-Progress line to write a stand-alone novel to honor my JanMom BFF who passed away in March. This novel had nothing more than an idea and some working thoughts on character development (unlike the duology I have been working on for almost a year while writing The Caelian Cycle).

Since finishing SHIFT, I have spent what little free time I have researching and developing this new world set in a different part of our galaxy. Not everything has been set in stone, but I have a working plot and an interesting history for my new set of characters.

I can’t wait to share it with you, but until then check out SHIFT on Goodreads or Amazon and please leave reviews – indie authors depend on them in order to sell more books. 

Until then - STAY AWESOME!

Blog Tour & Review: Artificial by Jadah McCoy @theQueryFaerie + #GIVEAWAY


Artificial


Series: The Kepler Chronicles #1
Author: Jadah McCoy
Published: April 4th, 2016
Pages: 225
Audience: New Adult
Genre: Science Fiction, Genetic Engineering


Source:  I received this book for free from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my review.

Available for FREE with Kindle Unlimited


Blurb:

She struggles to feel human.

In 2256, the only remnants of civilization on Earth’s first colonized planet, Kepler, are the plant-covered buildings and the nocturnal, genetically spliced bug-people nesting within them: the Cull. During the day, Syl leaves her home in the sewers beneath Elite City to scavenge for food, but at night the Cull come looking for a meal of their own. Syl thought gene splicing died with the Android War a century ago. She thought the bugs could be exterminated, Elite city rebuilt, and the population replenished. She’s wrong.

Whoever engineered the Cull isn’t done playing God. Syl is abducted and tortured in horrific experiments which result in her own DNA being spliced, slowly turning her into one of the bugs. Now she must find a cure and stop the person responsible before every remaining man, woman, and child on Kepler is transformed into the abomination they fear.

He struggles not to.

For Bastion, being an android in the sex industry isn’t so bad. Clubbing beneath the streets of New Elite by day and seducing the rich by night isn’t an altogether undesirable occupation. But every day a new android cadaver appears in the slum gutters, and each caved in metal skull and heap of mangled wires whittles away at him.

Glitches—androids with empathy—are being murdered, their models discontinued and strung up as a warning. Show emotion, you die. Good thing Bastion can keep a secret, or he would be the next body lining the street.

He can almost live with hiding his emotions. That is, until a girl shows up in the slums—a human girl, who claims she was an experiment. And in New Elite, being a human is even worse than being a Glitch. Now Bastion must help the girl escape before he becomes victim to his too-human emotions, one way or another.


My Review:

“When the sky is bruised purple, when the shattered glass no longer glints, that is when they wake.” – Artificial, Jadah McCoy

When it comes to science fiction, it doesn’t take a lot to make me excited. The genre speaks to me in ways that none of the others can compare to. Yes, I have been feeling a little BLAH with the influx of dystopias as of late, but that doesn’t mean that I won’t pick one up.  That being said, when I was scanning through book tours and saw the absolutely gorgeous cover for Artificial and then read the exciting blurb – I got all kinds of excited for this novel.

“If I’ve learned anything from the few yellowed and fragile history books that remain, it’s that mankind loves nothing more than a scapegoat.” – Artificial, Jadah McCoy

Artificial is not a typical YA/NA dystopia. It’s a layered masterpiece of storytelling that keeps you both enthralled and confused by the complexities of this futuristic society. AND I LOVED EVERY MINUTE OF IT! I just cannot think of another book – that I have read – that includes so many SciFi elements (genetic engineering, androids, other worlds, dystopia society, and all wrapped in a neat cyberpunk package) in a way that doesn’t feel phony and weave them into a multifaceted story of civil liberties of intelligent creatures and morality.

Syl, a human living in the sewage under the former human city of Elite, is a gritty and raw lead female that has no issues expressing herself and fighting for what she feels is right. She is a refreshing character in the expansive landscape of female-lead dystopias.

“That look is back – the starry-eyed one I always ignore. Maybe if I ignore it long enough, his feelings will go away.” – Artificial, Jadah McCoy

Syl’s hardness is a direct result of having to fight for her life every day since the moment she was born.

“That’s just like him, shove little Syl out of the way so the menfolk can blow stuff up with their big, phallic guns.” – Artificial, Jadah McCoy

Her tenacity is forged from being told that her job as a woman is to ensure humanity’s survival through procreation instead of fighting.

“I refuse to be one of those wide-eyed women back at the Sanctuary – the ones who stare as the Cull’s pincers slice them in two.” – Artificial, Jadah McCoy

Then there is Bastion, a sex android who is trying to stay under the radar of those in charge of the machine-run town of New Elite. He is a glitch – an android who has emotions. In an ironic twist of governing, the androids in charge have deemed glitches as “human sympathizers” and will be destroyed. Bastion character compliments Syl perfectly. Where Syl tamps down any emotion she feels and tries not to make any deep connections, Bastion feels everything and has a sassy personality to boot – never thought I would ever write that about an android. Since the story is told from both character’s perspectives, the reader gets to feel his emotions without Bastion giving himself away.

“She would fight him like an angry kitten would fight a dog, but she would still lose.” – Artificial, Jadah McCoy

Let me be straight with you, I honestly thought going in that Syl and Bastion would either insta-love or do the slowly, but steady fall madly in love with each other thing. Neither happened and – again – I couldn’t be happier. Yes, there is a spark of feeling between the two that encourages their continued involvement in each other’s lives, but it doesn’t go much farther than that – I’m sure future installments will expound upon those feelings and for that, I cannot wait.

When it comes to series, authors (myself included) tend to leave endings open or in a maddening cliffhanger. McCoy leaves Artificial wrapped up rather nicely to where you feel like you finished a story, but then sets up the next book in a way that doesn’t leave the reader feeling unsatisfied. Bravo McCoy!

If you like an imaginative world building that is descriptive in subtle ways – my favorite type of narrative when it comes to complex science fiction worlds – a gritty female lead, a sassy sex-bot android, monsters of the genetic variety, as well as, human and android, and dystopian societal structure just looking to be taken down… look no further. Artificial is the book for you.



About Jadah McCoy:

Jadah currently lives in Nashville, TN and works in law. When not babysitting attorneys, she can be found juicing her brain for creative ideas or fantasizing about her next trip out of the country (or about Tom Hiddleston as Loki - it’s always a toss up when she fantasizes).

She grew up in rural Arkansas, yet can still write good and sometimes even wears shoes! She did date her first cousin for a while but they decided against marriage for the sake of the gene pool.

Her true loves are elephants, cursing, and sangria - in that order. If you find an elephant that curses like a sailor whilst drinking sangria, you’re dangerously close to becoming her next romantic victim - er, partner.

She cut her writing teeth on badly written, hormone-driven fanfiction (be glad that’s out of her system), and her one true dream is to have wildly erotic fanfiction with dubious grammar written about her own novels. Please make her dreams come true.


Author Links:

https://jadahmccoy.wordpress.com/

https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/14903289.Jadah_McCoy

https://www.facebook.com/Jadah-McCoy-Author-1570450153179469/