Friday, November 30, 2012

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Review Tour - In Leah's Wake by Terri Giuliano Long

Welcome to my stop on Terri Giuliano Long's Review Tour for In Leah's Wake.  Please be sure to leave Terri a comment a question below to let her know you were here and also to enter her tour wide giveaway of a $100 Holiday Cash Amazon Gift Card, which will be awarded to a random commenter during her tour.  You can follow all of her tour stops here, the more often you comment, the better your odds of winning.


 In Leah's Wake
 by Terri Giuliano Long
Release Date: March 27, 2012
Published by: Terri Giuliano Long
ISBN: 978-0-615608-32-7
Length:370 Pages


A Story of Love, Loss, Connection, and Grace

At the heart of the seemingly perfect Tyler family stands sixteen-year-old Leah. Her proud parents are happily married, successful professionals. Her adoring younger sister is wise and responsible beyond her years. And Leah herself is a talented athlete with a bright collegiate future. But living out her father’s lost dreams, and living up to her sister’s worshipful expectations, is no easy task for a teenager. And when temptation enters her life in the form of drugs, desire, and a dangerously exciting boy, Leah’s world turns on a dime from idyllic to chaotic to nearly tragic.

As Leah’s conflicted emotions take their toll on those she loves—turning them against each other and pushing them to destructive extremes—In Leah’s Wake powerfully explores one of fiction’s most enduring themes: the struggle of teenagers coming of age, and coming to terms with the overwhelming feelings that rule them and the demanding world that challenges them. Terri Giuliano Long’s skillfully styled and insightfully informed debut novel captures the intensely personal tragedies, victories, and revelations each new generation faces during those tumultuous transitional years.

Recipient of multiple awards and honors, In Leah’s Wake is a compelling and satisfying reading experience with important truths to share—by a new author with the voice of a natural storyteller and an unfailingly keen understanding of the human condition…at every age.

WINNER, Global eBook Award, Popular Literature, 2012

WINNER, Indie Discovery Award, Literary Fiction, 2012
Recipient of the CTRR Award for excellence
2011 Book Bundlz Book Pick
Book Bundlz 2011 Favorites, First Place 

Praise for In Leah’s Wake

“An astounding story of a family in transition." -- Tracy Riva, Midwest Reviews

"A powerful and intimate portrait of a family in disarray." -- Margot Livesey, award-winning author of The Flight of Gemma Hardy

"Terri Long's accomplished first novel takes the reader on a passionate roller-coaster ride through contemporary parenthood and marriage. Sometimes scary, sometimes sad, always tender." -- Susan Straight, National Book Award finalist, author of Take One Candle, Light A Room

"An incredibly strong debut, this book is fantastic on many fronts." -- Naomi Blackburn, top Goodreads reviewer worldwide, Founder Sisterhood of the Traveling Book

“A very moving and, at times, heartbreaking story which will be loved by many, whether they are parents or not.”-- A. Rose, Amazon UK, TOP 100 REVIEWER

“Pulled me right along as I continued to make comparisons to my own life.”-- Jennifer Donovan, 5 Minutes for Books, Top 50 Book Blog

"A masterpiece of psychological tension and unbearable suspense, a portrait of America in the present day." -- Frederick Lee Brooke, author of Doing Max Vinyl

“Multiple ripples of meaning contribute to the overall intensity of this deeply moving psychological drama.”-- Cynthia Harrison, author of The Paris Notebook



On their way home from the workshop, Leah said, “I’m impressed, Ma.”

They were stopped at an intersection, waiting for the light to change. Zoe looked at her daughter and smiled. “Thank you, honey. That’s sweet.” This is my daughter, she thought. This is my Leah.

“I mean it.” Leah turned the radio up. “You’re great with them.”

Why in the world were they constantly fighting? Getting along required only this: mutual respect.

The car behind them honked. The light had turned. Startled, Zoe stepped too heavily on the gas. The car jerked into the intersection.

Leah grabbed the handhold above her door, letting out a yelp.

“Sorry,” Zoe said sheepishly. “Think there’s a Success Skills workshop for driving?”

“Driver’s Ed,” Leah said, giggling. When they finally stopped laughing, she said, “Can I ask you something, Mom?”

“Certainly, sweetheart. Anything.”

“What made you do it? The seminars, I mean.”

“Tough question.” She’d been unhappy. No, unhappy was the wrong word. Frustrated. Discontented, maybe. “Something,” Zoe said quietly, “was missing.” She signaled their turn onto Main Street. Don’t get her wrong: she loved her family. She squeezed Leah’s forearm. Most days, she enjoyed her job. “How can I explain it?” She wanted to make a difference. “I thought if I could help people make important changes in their lives, I’d be doing something worthwhile.”

“Was it hard?” Leah reminded her of the long hours she’d spent developing, organizing, and marketing her workshops. She reminded Zoe of her so-called friends and colleagues, who’d warned her that in a tiny suburb like theirs she’d never attract enough attendees to make the venture worthwhile, who’d insisted that she was wasting her time. “Don’t you get tired? Do you ever think about quitting?”

“Sure,” Zoe admitted. “Sometimes. Then I think about the women I’m helping and I get excited again.” She told Leah about the cards and letters she received after the workshops, thanking her, telling her—she laughed—she was an angel. “The confidence I see in their eyes at the end of the day. That’s what makes it all worthwhile.”

After that, Leah grew quiet.

They passed a cornfield, the harvested stalks lying in the furrows, to be shredded for compost. Soon the fields gave way to forest.

Leah yawned. Within minutes, she was asleep.

Zoe turned off the radio and plugged a CD into the changer. The Liszt piano solos had been a gift from a student. “You’ll like the freethinking music,” the woman had said, and she had been right.

Zoe stroked Leah’s temples, pushing the hair out of her daughter’s eyes. Zoe felt sick about their blowout yesterday. The business with this Todd was her fault as much as Leah’s. If she’d paid closer attention to her daughter, instead of allowing herself to be driven by the demands of work, Leah would not have looked for affirmation from a person like Corbett. That’s all in the past, Zoe vowed. From now on, she planned to be available for her children. She’d rearrange her patient schedule so that she was there when Justine came home from school. She’d pick up Leah after practice; she’d attend every game. She would set aside at least four hours of individual, quality time, per week, for each of the girls. She’d pack healthy, appetizing lunches. Bake cookies. Sew Halloween outfits. She’d be the perfect mother. Better than perfect, she thought, and brought herself up short. Let’s not get ahead of ourselves. Let’s take this one step at a time.

On Old Orchard Road, a mile from home, Leah opened her eyes, yawning. “I was having this crazy dream,” she said, yawning again.

“What were you dreaming about?”

Leah rubbed her eyes. “I can’t remember. What’s this music?”

“Liszt. Hungarian Rhapsodies. A student gave it to me. Like it?”

“It’s cool,” Leah said, fingering her belly ring. “Kind of—wild.”

“It’s gypsy music.” Zoe eyed the ring. “Did it hurt? Getting pierced?”

“Not too much. You still mad?”

Zoe squeezed Leah’s thigh. “No, sweets. But I wish you’d talked to me first.”

“You weren’t home,” Leah said, a hint of accusation in her tone.

“Sorry. I’d like to have been there for you. That’s all I meant.”

“Dad was pissed.” Leah scraped her thumbnail, chipping the garish blue polish.

Zoe remembered. Will had been angry with her, too. In the Tyler household, by order of both parents, belly rings were forbidden. If you’d stay on top of things, she might not have done this, he’d charged, after the girls had gone to bed. “So it’s my fault?” Zoe shot back. “Like you’re ever around?” The argument ended in a stalemate. “Dad doesn’t mean to be so hard on you, honey. He just worries.”

Slouching, Leah slid her hands under her thighs. “He doesn’t need to.” She wasn’t a baby.

“I know, sweetie.” Zoe signaled their turn onto Lily Farm Road. “It’s just, it’s scary being a parent. The decisions you make now—”

“Will affect the rest of my life. God, Mom. Can’t you say something different for once?”

“We’re your parents, sweetie. It’s our job to provide guidance.”

Leah bolted upright. “You are such a hypocrite. All day long you tell those women to make their own decisions. Then you tell your own daughter she’s supposed to listen to you?”

Zoe tightened her grip on the wheel. True, she advised her students to take control of their lives. But that was advice for adults. “You’ll be an adult soon enough, Leah. Then you can make all your own decisions. For now—”

“I’m an adult already.”

“You’re sixteen, honey. I know you feel like an adult—”

“Well, guess what, Mom?“ Leah shifted aggressively toward her door. “In November, I’ll be seventeen. You’ll have no say over me then.”

Zoe’s jaw clenched. A therapist, she was well aware of the state law governing the legal age of adulthood. “Until you’re a responsible adult—living on your own—your father and I make the rules.”

“So I’m irresponsible now?”

Zoe caught herself, before she went on a rant about Corbett. She felt closer to Leah today than she’d felt in ages. She refused to end the day with a fight. She reached for Leah’s arm. “Honey, listen. All I said is—”

Leah jerked away. “You said I’m a baby.”

Patience, Zoe told herself. Take a breath. She eased the Volvo alongside the mailbox, pulled out the mail and set it on the console, then turned into their driveway. “Honey,” she said, forcing a smile, “think about it. How would you feel if your daughter came in at three—”

“Oh my God,” Leah spat. “That’s why you were so big on me coming.” She scooped her team jacket from the floor. “So you could get me alone. Try to get me to dump him. I hate to break it to you, Mom. You wasted your time. It’s up to me who I go out with.”

“Leah, please.” Zoe stopped at the foot of the drive and pressed the button to lift the garage door. Leah’s dollhouse sat on the metal shelf at the back of the garage. When Leah was six, Zoe and Will had bought two houses, one for each of the girls, at a yard sale. At night, after the kids had gone to bed, they’d decorated the houses, painting and papering the walls. She’d cut squares from scatter rugs to carpet the floors, sewed tiny Cape Cod curtains for the miniature windows. Until last summer, Leah had kept the dollhouse on a table next to her bed. One day, she’d decided that she was too old for a dollhouse, and carried it down here. Leah wasn’t a baby. Zoe knew that. She wanted to protect her daughter; keep her safe. “I didn’t say a word about your boyfriend.”

“Right, so lie to me now.”

“Well, honey, admit it, he’s not exactly a person any parent—”

Leah clapped her hands over her ears.

“—wants to see their child—”

“La, la, la, la, la,” Leah sang.

“Listen to me.” Zoe pried her daughter’s hands away from her head. “He’s not good for you, honey. He’ll hurt you—”

“La, la, la, la, la,” Leah trilled, her voice drowning Zoe’s.

“Damn it, Leah. He used to be a roadie. This is not a good guy.”

“I don’t need this.” Leah flipped the lock on her door.

Zoe caught Leah’s wrist. “The kid sells drugs, for God’s sake.”

“You tricked me,” Leah spat. “I’m done with you,” she shouted, wrenching free. “I’m never going with you again. Anywhere. Ever.”

“No problem,” Zoe spat back. She was sorry she’d talked the little brat into coming. Big mistake. She should have known this would happen. “Believe me, I have no intention of asking again.”

“I hate you,” Leah cried. “I hate you. I’m not pretending I don’t anymore.”

Leah slammed the door, and went hurtling into the house.

The histrionic gypsy music rang in Zoe’s ears. She slapped the dash, her fingers fumbling with the dial, and cut the music off.

She’d lost her cool, said all the wrong things. Leah was spewing words, trying to hurt Zoe as much as Zoe had hurt her. Leah wanted reassurance. She wanted to be told she was capable and smart. She wanted to know that Zoe was proud of her, that she trusted her to make her own decisions. Zoe had let her down. She’d seen the ache in her daughter’s eyes, the disappointment. Maybe this was what people meant by the term “growing pains,” not the pain children experienced in their joints as their limbs grew, but the ache they felt in their hearts.

Zoe stared at the discarded playthings in their garage, Leah’s dollhouse, her tricycle, her wooden blocks dissolving in a watery blur. If only you knew how hard it is to watch you stumble, to see you in pain. Pull yourself together, Zoe told herself. Don’t let your failures defeat you. Yet here she was, her failures an anchor, sucking her under the sea.


AUTHOR Bio and Links:

Terri Giuliano Long is a frequent blog guest, with appearances on hundreds of blogs. She’s written news and feature articles for numerous publications, including the Boston Globe and the Huffington Post. She lives with her family on the East Coast and teaches at Boston College. Her debut novel, In Leah's Wake, was a Kindle bestseller for more than 6 months. For information, please visit her website:

Twitter: @tglong


My Review: 

With the message that growing pains are as difficult on parents as they are on children, Terri Giuliano Long gives us In Leah's Wake.  An emotionally engaging tale with complex characters, realistic and occasionally frank dialogue, and a well paced plot, this take on modern family life in suburbia deals with teenage rebellion and a marriage in crisis.  It was more than what I expected.

A picture of the typical American family, Will, Zoe, Leah and Justine Tyler are a family in flux.  Allowing distance and a lack of communication to grow between them, Will and Zoe find themselves unprepared for the challenges of dealing with a rebellious teen bent on testing all of the boundaries in their lives.  When Leah, their 16 year old daughter goes from being the star of the soccer team and an above average student to skipping class, smoking weed and hanging out with the wrong crowd, Will becomes the parent who believes in ultimate discipline while Zoe wants to try a laid back approach to try to get in touch with the girl she used to be.  Almost ignoring their younger daughter, Justine, Will and Zoe soon find themselves at odds with each other and with both of their kids.

Giving us insight into the mind of all four main characters, Ms. Long gives her characters one challenge after another.  While open and honest communication is what they all desperately need, Will, Zoe, Leah and even Justine, are caught in an emotional roller coaster full of accusations, guilt, anger and loneliness.  Taking the reader along for the ride, Ms. Long treats the reader to all of the emotional angst these characters suffers.  There were actually times where I wanted to put them all in a room, tie each of them to a chair and force them to talk and really listen to each other.  Of course there were also plenty of times when I wanted to lock Leah in her room and throw away the key.

Will Will and Zoe be able to resolve their problems before their family life goes up in smoke?  Will Leah realize the destructive path she's been on will only lead to something worse?  You'll have to read In Leah's Wake to find out.  

My Rating:  4.5 out of 5 Crowns

FTC Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of a book tour in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Don't forget to leave Terri a comment a question below to let her know you were here and to enter her tour wide giveaway of a $100 Holiday Cash Amazon Gift Card, which will be awarded to a random commenter during her tour. You can follow all of her tour stops here, the more often you comment, the better your odds of winning.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Blog Barrage & Review - The Reluctant Santa by Sylvia McDaniel

Welcome to my stop on Sylvia McDaniel's Blog Barrage for The Reluctant Santa.  Please be sure to leave a comment or question below for Sylvia to let her know you stopped by.  You can use the Rafflecopter form below to enter her tour wide giveaway.  You can follow all of the tour stops here.  The more often you comment, the better your odds of winning.


The Reluctant Santa
by Sylvia McDaniel
Published by Virtual Bookseller

Genres: Paranormal Romance

Heat Level: Sensual

Length: 200 pages/80,000 words

Available at:



Colin McDermott has one last chance to get Christmas right. Since his mother abandoned him on Christmas Eve never to return, Colin McDermott has hated Christmas and sworn never to have children. But this year two angels are giving him everything he didn't want. A Santa suit, a child and a chance at love again. This is his last chance to learn the true meaning of Christmas.


“His soul is mine,” Devon, the devil's angel, said. He watched the humans, who were oblivious to his presence, gathered in the sales office. One of the best things about being an angel was his ability to pop into just about anywhere and spy on his subjects without their knowledge. He could observe the humans as if were watching a play and even occasionally act as director.

A chill wind howled outside the downtown Denver office, heralding the arrival of winter and the holiday season. The perfect time of year to increase his soul count. Devon studied his next soul, a brown-haired young man with expressive brows and a quirky grin. Unbeknownst to him, the salesman's life meter was about to expire unless he made drastic changes.

“Devon," a voice echoed into the atmosphere before the being that irritated him the most shimmered into his vision. “Doing a soul count before he's yours?”

Slowly, an angel materialized, clad from head to toe in a white leather jacket and white knee-high boots fit snug over white leather pants. A gold belt around her waist, held a cross that signified sergeant, angel, first class. Her halo was tilted at a rakish angle. In earth terms, Gabriella looked hot.

“Whoever is in charge of your wardrobe, I like the changes they’ve made,” Devon said, letting his eyes rake her until a searing heat reminded him he was crossing boundaries. "Please tell me they ditched the boring robes."

With a toss of her blonde hair, her blue eyes flashed, glinting silver as her brows rose.

“My robes are hardly boring, but no, one of my cases is a motorcyclist. I'm riding shotgun today, trying to keep him from splattering all over the highway. The robes kept blowing up in my face, so I found a solution.”

"Nice!" Devon shook his head and forced his eyes back to the human whose life he'd soon influence. “I thought your promotion at Easter took you out of the saving souls division.”

Gabriella smiled as the air around her shimmered. Why didn’t the angels from purgatory patrol get that shimmery essence?

“Devon, we work so…well together” she said, drawing out the word until he wanted to snap at her. He held onto his temper.

“We're all looking for ways to make quota this time of year. Only the strongest stay out of the pit, and every time I come up against you, I lose. But not this time. This one belongs to me,” he announced, staring at the man whose only interest in life was making money. No family, no girlfriends, no friends— just work and money.

Gabriella tsked. “Now why would you want to send this poor man to hell for eternity? He just needs a little coaxing to choose the right path.”

Devon sighed. “His time is about to expire. I'm here to collect his soul.”

“Maybe,” she said. “Unless, I can give him some guidance and save him from evil.”

“Not this time. Heavenly angels may not be able to play dirty, but I can,” he said, smiling at Gabriella. “And I intend to win this one.” Gabriella laughed.

"Always so arrogant, Devon." She glanced at their human. “His case is challenging, but I'm certain I can help him.”

She turned toward Devon, her brows rising. “Playing dirty landed you where you are now. Why should I expect anything less?”

“How I got here doesn’t matter. I need this soul,” he snapped. "You make your soul count or the big man sends you back to the pit to fight and claw your way back for another chance."

“And Colin McDermott needs to be saved,” Gabriella said, swirling back to their subject. “I mean, look at the poor man. He has no idea his priorities are in the wrong place. He's a selfish, greedy man because he's unloved."

“Love!" Devon exclaimed. "You heavenly angels think loving someone solves everything.”

Gabriella shook her head at Devon, her blue eyes darkening with some sort of power. “Even you deserved love, Devon. In fact, if I had been your angel, I would found someone to show you love. Hopefully, you'd have been smart enough to grab the lifeline."

“Well, you weren't my angel, and now I'm the big man's soul catcher.”

“It's simple, Devon. Why would you want to lure more men into the darkness you already face?” she asked.

Devon clenched his fist, struggling to control the frustration that spiraled through him. Hell was not a place anyone planned on going. “The pit!" he said. "Let’s just concentrate on the human.”

"I already was." She contemplated Colin McDermott. “He's quite handsome with those long, sandy lashes and sparkling honey eyes. If I were human, one look and he’d melt my heart.”

“Women on earth know he's not a good risk. I could wrap this case up before Christmas, if you weren't here."

“Too bad. I'm here to keep you from destroying him,” she said, giving him a stern frown. “The poor soul has no idea of what he's about to face. I'm sure you’ve got some nasty surprises in store for him, some hard to resist temptations. But hopefully, with my guidance, he'll make the changes his life needs.”

Devon shook his head. “No, by Christmas he’ll be mine. Count on it." 


About the Author:

Sylvia McDaniel and her very supportive husband Don, the love of her life, live in Texas with son Shane, Putz the klutzy dachshund and Ashley our shy dachshund. During the day, she works for a small insurance agency from home, helping clients with their commercial insurance coverage. 

The weekends are spent working out in the garden until the temperature climbs above ninety degrees. Recently, with the help of her husband, she learned to make homemade blueberry and blackberry jam. Cooking is not her favorite past-time and she prefers Don’s cooking any day of the week.

Currently, she’s written fourteen novels.  In the last year, she’s been a finalist in six writing contests and was a 1996 Romance Writers of America Golden Heart finalist. Sylvia is very involved with the Dallas Area Romance Authors.

She can be reached by email at

Visit Sylvia online at:

Website -
Blog -
Facebook -
Twitter - @WriterSylvia


My Review:

With a message that family is more important than money and prestige, Sylvia McDaniel treats us to a second chance romance taking place during the holidays.  With a likable, yet also annoying, hero and heroine, a precious child and well written secondary characters, Ms. McDaniel's story is a good reminder of what's important, regardless of the season.  Ms. McDaniel's well paced plot and setting round out this entertaining tale of love.

Ambitious and hardworking, salesman Colin McDermott has worked all year to earn a promotion to Regional Sales Manager of the West Coast.  Discovering the promotion he thought was a done deal is now up for grabs thanks to some last minute sales by a rival, Colin heads out to make additional calls on prospects he's trying to turn into clients.  He didn't plan on running into Brooke, his college sweetheart, at one of the prospective hospitals he's trying to sell software to or on having to play a last minute Santa Clause to a roomful of kids.  Ms. McDaniel does a good job developing Colin's character; at first he comes off as a single minded, almost obsessive businessman who has money and success on his mind.  As we get to know Colin and his background, we get to see a man who grew up poor and thinking both of his parents abandoned him.  Discovering he has a child he never knew about throws him into an emotional tailspin and makes him question what's really important.

Single mother, Brooke Warren, is content working at a local hospital and raising her daughter Olivia.  Running into Colin, her college sweetheart, and the man who is secretly the father of her child, is something she never planned on.  Talking Colin into playing Santa Clause in a last minute emergency is easy, coming clean about their daughter is not.  While Brooke plans to keep Colin at arms length, she wasn't counting on Olivia, an angel named Gabriella and a demon named Devon, ruining all of her plans.  Ms. McDaniel did a good job with Brooke's character; she's responsible, a loving mother and a good daughter.  She's also scared of letting Colin into their daughter's life and into her heart. 

The scenes between Colin and Brooke are well written; they're both likable characters but their fear, their stubborn behavior and their unwillingness to forgive their shortcomings in the past, made me want to slap them once in a while.  Luckily Olivia, Gabriella and Devon always know what to do to bring them together, even if it wasn't what they planned.  While Ms. McDaniel did a good job through most of these scenes there were a few times when both Colin and Brooke's emotional immaturity and inability to be totally honest with each other got annoying.  

Will Colin choose money and a promotion over Olivia and Brooke or will he make peace with his past and look towards a brighter future?  Who will win the battle for Colin's soul over the holidays - the angel or the demon?  You'll have to read The Reluctant Santa to find out.  It's a short, entertaining holiday read.

My Rating:  3.5 out of 5 Crowns

FTC Disclosure: I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of a book tour in exchange for a fair and honest review.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Online Book Tour - Clutch: I Am Junco Dot Com by J.A. Huss

Welcome to my stop on J.A. Huss's Online Book Tour for Clutch: I Am Junco Dot Com.  Please make sure to leave a comment or question below for J.A. to let her know you were here.  You can enter her tour wide giveaway by filling out the Rafflecopter form below.


Clutch: I Am Just Junco Dot Com Book 1
by J.A. Huss 
Publisher: Science Future Press
Release Date: September 16, 2012

ISBN: 978-1-936413-11-9

Amazon Paperback


In 2152 the avian race is on Earth looking for something stolen from them decades ago – their genetics. At the center of the search lies the Rural Republic; a small backwards farming country with high hopes of military domination and a penchant for illegal bioengineering.

19 year old Junco Coot is the daughter of the Rural Republic’s ranking commander. She’s the most foul-mouthed, wildly unpredictable and ruthless sniper the Rural Republic has ever trained. But when her father’s death sparks a trip into forbidden places, she triggers events that will change everything she knows to be true.

As an elite avian military officer, Tier’s mission is to destroy the bioengineering projects, kill Commander Coot’s daughter, and return home immediately. There’s just one problem. Junco isn’t who she claims to be.

With no one to trust, not even herself, Junco must confront the secrets of her past and accept her place in the future, or risk losing herself completely.

CONTENT WARNING - The I Am Just Junco series is NOT young adult and contains A LOT of bad language and violence.


"I think we should stick together, Junco. In fact I was thinking I can help get ya back to safety. Ya know, help ya get the Goat back up on the road. Even though yer healed, yer still pretty–" He hesitates.

"I’m pretty?" I ask.

He laughs a little and shakes his head, which pisses me off for some reason. "No, I was going to say pretty weak, ya know. From yesterday’s crash. But then I wondered if ya would take that as an insult as well."

I roll my eyes and try to push past him to get the winch hooked up to a tree, but he leans his hands on either side of the Goat, essentially boxing me in. I shoot him a nasty look and he drops his hands to let me through.

"Thanks for all your help," I call back to him, "but I’m going to take it from here. And I won’t report you, so don’t worry about that. Just get hell out of the RR before anyone else sees you." I turn to see how he’s taking the news but he’s not there. When I turn back he’s in front of me again.

He shakes his head at me.

I shake mine back and raise my eyebrows.

"You’ll refuse my help?"

"Look," I huff, "you have those people tracking you and neither of us is supposed to be out here in the first place, so let’s just cut our losses and move on. Separately."

He looks down to the tech that is still in his hand. "They can’t see anything here. Some sort of shield."

"Right. That’s called a defense system. The deeper you go into the Stag, the thicker the shields. So why don’t you just fly over to the Mountain Republic where they probably can track you?"

He lifts the device to illustrate his point. "In case ya haven’t figured it out yet, these people aren’t my ride home."

"So why are they tracking you?"

His eyes twinkle and I know what’s coming and push past him at a full run. He’s on me before I can take more than half a dozen strides and pulls on my shirt until I slip in the mud and go down hard on my back.

"Stop!" I scream, but instead of stopping he pins my arms down and sits on top of me as I wriggle and kick to try and get him off. His legs twine around mine, essentially cutting off any thoughts of getting him off me that way. Then his eyes are glowing again and his lips are touching my cheek, whispering for me to settle and be calm.

To my surprise, I do settle. I can’t help it. I realize too late that the soft words brushing past the sensitive skin on my cheek are controlling me. I can feel the sound waves trickling into my ear canal, making their way to the nerve pathways that control my muscles, and I bring my shoulders up to try and push his face away. His lips remain next to my ear and I am just about to fully give in when the tech device, forgotten and left on the ground during our struggle, sounds off an alarm. He loses his concentration and the words stop for half a moment, but that’s all I need.

I take my opportunity and flip myself over so that I’m on my belly. This takes him by surprise and for a split-second he is off balance. I flip back around and use my right arm to knock him in the windpipe as my body turns. He goes reeling off of me and I’m up and running down into the little creek.

A boot goes flying just past my head, but I don’t stop and wonder at this weird turn of events. I run as hard as I can, over the opposite bank, out of the small grove of cottonwoods, and into the tall flowing prairie grass. I’m short, so the leftover husks slap me in the face as I run, blurring my vision.

The wings descend and he’s swooping down upon me. I look up to see talons where his boots were just a few minutes ago and they latch onto my shoulders, puncturing my skin and making me scream. His grip tightens and clutches onto my shoulders making me fall. I roll as I land and pop back up, booking it again without missing a beat.

One second I’m hauling ass towards the open prairie, the next he’s on the ground in front of me and we’re on a collision path. I plan my move and let him get to within a few strides of me and then I flip into the air and land on the other side of him. He misses a step and I take advantage of it, turn and deliver a hook kick to his jaw. His head snaps to the side and he stumbles over sideways a little.

I run hard for a few seconds and don’t look back. Off in the distance I hear the roar of a hovercopter and a few seconds later I feel the effects of the prairie grass wind tunnel it creates from the blades, but still I push my way through the now wildly swaying wheat until I come upon the alien again.

His lip is bleeding and his jaw is slightly red from my kick. I stop in my tracks, bent over and panting hard.

He’s not even out of breath.

"I’m not the enemy, Junco," he screams above the roar, "and if you know what’s good for ya, you’ll run like hell because if those guys from the Mountain Republic get you, you’ll end up in the same messed-up place as your father."

He flies off, disappearing in the tallgrass before I can even string together a sentence.

But his words stay with me. Dead like my father is not something I want to be so I follow his advice. I run until the MR soldiers in the hovercopter blast me with a plasma bolt and I fall to the ground unconscious.



J. A. Huss never took a creative writing class in her life. Some would say it shows. Others might cut her some slack. She did however, get educated and graduated from Colorado State University with a B.S. in Equine Science. She had grand dreams of getting a Ph.D. but while she loves science, she hated academia and settled for a M.S. in Forensic Toxicology from the University of Florida.

She went on to write science curriculum for homeschoolers and now runs a successful home business that creates and offers online science unit studies. When she’s not writing science curriculum or fiction, she works as a farm inspector, traveling the Eastern Plains of Colorado in variety of environmentally friendly vehicles that never have four-wheel drive, so when she gets stuck in the mud in said vehicles, she has to beg for assistance from anyone who will help her. She is not bitter about that at all.

She’s always packing heat and she is owned by two donkeys, five dogs, more chickens and ducks than she can count, and of course, the real filthy animals, her kids. The I Am Just Junco series was born after falling in love with the ugliest part of Colorado and the Rural Republic is based on the area of the state she currently resides in, minus the mutants, of course.



My Review:

With nonstop action, J.A. Huss takes you into a futuristic world where the United States we know no longer exists and where alien life forms are engaged in a battle to keep humanity from stealing their DNA.  A hybrid of science fiction and fast action fantasy, Clutch grabbed my attention and never let go.  With a heroine who prefers to smoke a cigar, kick butt and ask questions later, this book is not to be missed.

Set in 2125, the world as we know it no longer exists.  Newly orphaned Junco Coot, the 19 year old daughter of the commander of the Rural Republic, is determined to leave the life she knows behind and head into the STAG, a barren section of the country where secret military actions take place.  Wrecking her vehicle within hours of going AWOL was not a part of her plan, neither was meeting an Avian named Tier.  

Tier, a member of the alien race known as Avians, is determined to befriend Junco no matter the cost.  Assigned to bring her back to his planet, he believes she's a lost member of his race.  A lost member who is an important part of a prophecy about the future of his people.  While Tier mostly looks human, his wings and talon like feet enable him to travel much faster than any human and armed with the technology of his people, he's a formidable enemy.

As Junco and Tier begin to get to know each other, they are interrupted by soldiers from a different faction of the country.  While Tier gets away, Junco becomes a prisoner and meets up with a man she once considered a friend.  Trying to escape, Junco once again runs into Tier who again is determined to get her to his planet.

Will Junco ever discover who was behind her father's death?  Will she discover whether or not she's a member of the Avian race?  You'll have to read Clutch to find out.  While it's been a while since I read a science fiction novel of this kind, I found Ms. Huss's writing addictive and can't wait to read what happens to Junco next.

My Rating: 4.5 out of 5 Crowns 

FTC Disclosure:  I received a complimentary copy of this book as a part of a book tour in exchange for a fair and honest review.

a Rafflecopter giveaway