Phantom Touch (The Phantom Series Book 1) #bookreview

  • Title: Phantom TouchPhantom Touch (Phantoms Book 1) by [Hawke, Jessica]
  • Author: Jessica Hawke
  • Print Length: 306
  • Publication Date: January 26, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle, Paperback
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Young Adult, Fantasy, Supernatural, Thriller, Mystery

I absolutely love stories like this. I’ve always been intrigued with the supernatural and the possibility of seeing ghosts or spirits. Phantom Touch is an excellent read by Jessica Hawke. Had I not planned on spacing it out for a few days, I could have finished it in one. With each swipe of my Kindle, I found myself unable to set the book down. It was very rare—if there was even a spot—where the story lagged.

The storytelling was engrossing and the light humor top notch. The star of the book, Bridget Young, is your typical, normal sixteen years old: she’s trying to survive high school and getting past the death of someone close to her. Only, she’s not normal. She sees spirits, most of who had wrongfully died many years ago. When a young girl shows up, just weeks before Bridget’s seventeenth birthday, she realizes she must solve her murder for more reasons other than just letting the girl rest in peace.

Since no one, even Bridget’s best friend, knows her ghostly secret, she has to rely on the dead girl’s spirit and Bridget’s guardian, Kale, to reach the bottom of the truth. Along the way, Bridget learns more about the spirit world and herself.

There were two parts that I can think of off the top of my head that would have served better earlier in the story, such as when Bridget described her features in the narrative. I  would have preferred to know what she looked like within the first few pages, rather than waiting until I read about thirty percent. This way, I could have built the character in my mind, rather than changing it later.

Phantom Touch had a mixture of horror, comedy, and pain, which formed together to create an amazing read. Aside from a few wrong tenses in the writing, it flowed quite nicely. The world and fantasy rules were formed magnificently. It certainly intrigued me enough to want to pick up the rest of Jessica’s books in her Phantom series.

Overall rating: 5 out of 5 stars

*For more book reviews, click here.*

Biography

Jessica Hawke

Jessica Hawke is the author of the YA paranormal Phantoms series and an upcoming urban fantasy series. While she would love to say that she’s been writing for her entire life, that simply wasn’t the case. After a brilliant stint as a story-writer in third grade, she mostly kept to writing papers for school until she headed off to college. From eighteen onward, she spent too much time thinking about the book she might eventually write instead of just writing it. At twenty-six, she finally realized the book would not write itself and got down to the surprisingly difficult yet rewarding work of writing a novel.

Her favorite genres to read and write are urban fantasy, dystopian, and paranormal. When she is not writing, she works as a freelance musician and dabbles in musical theater.

The Sixth Gate (The Gate Trilogy Book 1) #BookReview @ktmunson

  • Title:  The Sixth Gate (The Gate Trilogy Book 1)
  • Author: KT Munson
  • Print Length: 303
  • Publication Date: July 7, 2017
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  •  Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult, Dark Fantasy

As usual, K.T. Munson does well at creating a brand new world that we can get lost in. She definitely has a knack…it goes without saying…after all, her blog is entitled “Creating Worlds with Words.” Her worlds she creates are characters in itself, which is great in fantasy since the only way we can hope to imagine what we’re reading is to delve into the author’s words. After reading several of K.T. Munson’s novels, she’s never failed at delivering.

I read the prequel and was interested in learning more about the heroine, Elisabeth. Unfortunately, she didn’t show up until several chapters in. Although I knew that the story was primarily about her, I wondered where she was. After I did read several chapters containing her, I found the adult version (in the prequel, she’s a child) of Elisabeth very likable. She’s more grown up, but the curiosity of the child is still evident.

It took halfway through reading before the story really picked up. The most I knew was that something big was going to go down…eventually.  I could only tell that Ki was destined to destroy Elisabeth with his Sin Eater because she was half evil. There were a lot of other plot points to focus on and to remember throughout the course of the novel. I knew eventually everything would come together, whether it would be in this book or the ones following. Knowing that it was going to be a trilogy, I wasn’t sure how it would end. Thankfully, it all was tied together in a nice little bow but had room to grow for the sequels.

The other supporting/main characters were created well and flowed off of each other. I’m looking forward to getting to know them in the coming sequels. While the first book of the series was slow in taking off, I’m hoping to get even more action. I would also like to see fewer plots because this book had so many primary characters and so much going on, it was just hard to pinpoint where they were being led. Of course, I believe that was the purpose. Either way, I can’t wait to find out where K.T. will lead us in the other two books in her new Gate trilogy. But do we really have to wait until 2019, as promised at the end of the book?

Overall Rate: 4 out of 5 stars

*For more book reviews, click here.*

Biography

K.T. Munson

K.T. Munson is a freelance author. First published at 5 years old in the young writers conference, she has pursued writing ever since. She maintains a blog creatingworldswithwords.wordpress.com that is about writing and her novels. She was born and raised in the last frontier, the great state of Alaska.

Severed Empire: Wizard’s Rise Book 1 #bookreview

  • Title: Severed Empire: Wizard’s Rise Book 1
  • Author: Philip Tomasso
  • Print Length: 434
  • Publisher: Sinister Grin Press
  • Publication Date: February 12, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle, Paperback
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy

Seventeen-year-old Mykal, a farm boy from Gray Ashland, along with a few of his comrades are on a quest to save the Old Empire from the Mountain King, whose ambition is to become the next Emperor. If they fail, a terrible darkness will steal the light from their realm forever.

Wizard’s Rise by author Philip Tomasso was a decent beginning to a series. It did what it was supposed to do and introduced us to the characters we should know. When I began reading, it took quite a bit of turning the pages for me to get involved. There were a few actions scenes in the beginning that I enjoyed, other than that, I felt it dragging. However, later on, as it progressed, I became more eager to see what would happen next. I felt the plot grow, along with Mykal, our hero.

The dialogue didn’t always bode well with me. I felt that it was trying too hard to be humorous and it just didn’t seem to fit, although the humor was cutesy. I think it may have been due to who said certain phrases.

Nonetheless, I did enjoy the read the more I went on. The layout of the world was described extremely well. The characters could have had more depth but they still grew as they should have. By the end, it was a great beginning to Philip Tomasso’s fantasy series.  Although any age of fantasy readers may enjoy Wizard’s Rise, I feel it would fit much better for young adults rather than adults. If you’re expecting and prefer a dark fantasy with a lot of grit, like I did, then prepare for more of a lighter read. I do look forward to the next installment.

Overall Rating: 3 out of 5 stars

*For more book reviews, click here.*

Biography

Phillip Tomasso

Tomasso is an award winning, Amazon Best Selling author of over 20 novels and novellas.

Prolific, he has published novels for young readers, suspense enthusiasts, legal thrillers, mysteries, science fiction, and most recently focusing more and more on horror, fantasy, and books for young adults (YA).

He and his oldest son (also named Phillip Tomasso), co-authored YOUNG BLOOD, released in February 2015.

Tomasso works full time as a Fire/EMS Dispatcher for 911, Tomasso dedicates his time to continually working on new writing projects, and his three children.

Be sure to visit his website: http://www.philliptomasso.com

Follow him on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/P_Tomasso

PRESERVATION: Winner, 1st Place Best Book 2014 (The Bookie Monster)

ADVERSE IMPACT: Winner, 1st Place Bloody Dagger Award (All About Murder – 2004)

JOHNNY BLADE: Winner, 1st Place Bloody Dagger Award (All About Murder – 2003)

If you are looking for books with Wizards, Magic, Dragons, Pirates, Private Eyes, Detectives, Suspense, Action, Dinosaurs, or Zombies . . . be sure to check out Phillip Tomasso.

The Gate Guardian’s Daughter (The Gate Trilogy – Prequel) @ktmunson #bookreview

  • Title: The Gate Guardian’s Daughter (The Gate Trilogy – Prequel)
  • Author: KT Munson
  • Print Length: 28
  • Publication Date: May 20, 2017
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Dark Fantasy, Young Adult, Science Fiction

The Gate Guardian’s Daughter is the prequel to KT Munson’s upcoming dark fantasy series, which will be released in July 2017. With only 28 pages, it’s a very quick read. I happily read it in one sitting during a break at work. OK, so I was a little late getting off work. I enjoyed the story that much.

Elizabeth is only ten years old, aching to become a normal child. But she can’t be normal when her adoptive father, Matheal, is insisting she remain nearby. The reason being is that Elizabeth is special. Matheal knows that one day her true nature will be unleashed.

This is yet another story I’ve enjoyed reading by KT Munson. It’s to the point but does well in giving us the general background of Elizabeth and her family, while providing us with just enough surprise to make us want more. It was a very well-written intro to The Gate series, and I, for one, can’t wait until the first one is released.

Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

*For more book reviews, click here.*

Biography

K.T. Munson

K.T. Munson is a freelance author. First published at 5 years old in the young writers conference, she has pursued writing ever since. She maintains a blog creatingworldswithwords.wordpress.com that is about writing and her novels. She was born and raised in the last frontier, the great state of Alaska.

Recreance (The Aeternum Chronicles Book 1) #bookreview @hgcbooks

  • Title:  Recreance (The Aeternum Chronicles Book 1)
  • Author: H.G. Chambers
  • Print Length: 406
  • Publication Date: May 14, 2017
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  •  Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle, Paperback
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

After his parents are murdered by the Ministry Breakers, Oren flees New Arcadia to the dangerous Miralaja desert, leaving behind his once comfortable life and his best friend, Clementine. With his mentor, Khalil, he begins to learn the truth of his path and unfolds the devious plans of the Ministry. Meanwhile, Clementine has to survive on her own by thievery. When she performs her latest job infiltrating the Ministry Defense building, she barely manages to escape. Soon, she catches up with Oren and Khalil and together, they embark on an epic journey of survival and unraveling ancient mysteries.

I enjoyed Recreance. For the most part, it was fast paced. The only time I felt it sluggish was when it would jump without warning to the past. Sometimes I had to reread it for me to say, “Oh, we’re not in the present anymore, I understand what’s happening now.” It was meant to bring more debt to the characters and their lives but I found myself skimming over some parts because I wanted more of the here and now.

The skipping between the past and the present was my main issue with the story. Other than that, I loved the plot line and the world building. The characters were easy to get to know, especially Khalil and Clementine. I loved Khalil so much. He had great humor and I felt he breathed life into the story. The chemistry between him and his apprentice, Oren, was great. Clementine was smart and very resilient. Again, she had amazing chemistry with Oren, which says a lot about his character. So, I guess in truth, there is no way to choose a favorite character.

Recreance is a great start to the series, a magnificent way to introducing the characters and the evil ways of the Ministry. It held my interest, especially as I neared the end of the novel because it was hard to put down. I wanted more and I wanted it right away. Very well done.

Overall Rate: 4 out of 5 stars

Biography

H.G. Chambers

I was born in British Columbia, Canada, but spent most of my youth on the beaches of Maui. Throughout my life, I’ve been fortunate enough to explore my passions. I’ve had harrowing experiences as a helicopter pilot, drying cherries in the desert mountains of Washington state. I’ve toured with a band down the eastern seaboard in a $2,000 van, surviving on Arby’s fixins, and selling CDs for gas money. I’ve built websites and designed logos for businesses all over North America. Of everything I’ve tried, writing fantasy is by far the most exciting and fulfilling.

My whole life I have been fascinated by stories. Especially the kind of stories that transport you into incredible worlds where the impossible becomes real; where epic battles between good and evil rage across the centuries. This sense of escape and wonderment are what I hope to embody within my own work.

*For more book reviews, click here.*

World of the Innocent #bookreview

  • Title: World of the Innocent
  • Author: Nadine Keels
  • Print Length: 108
  • Publication Date: May 23, 2017
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle, Paperback
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Romance, Christian, Young Adult

World of the Innocent is a sweet story of two young people, Jhoi and Marcas, as they explore themselves and romance. Jhoi (pronounced JOY) is a young, African-American woman who’s poetic and guarded. Marcas is admired by many but is viewed as strange.

Nadine Keels creatively weaves a genuine romantic tale of two people who falls in love before they realize what’s happening. The words across the pages are vivid enough that you get a feel for not only the scenery but for the characters’, particularly Jhoi and Marcas, sentiments as they explore their budding relationship and faith in God.

Time goes by quickly in this novella and at times took a few seconds for me to realize that it had been a few days or even a month from the last sentence. The ending came as a surprise to me (in a good way) but I wanted more of an elaboration because it had the opportunity to draw some tears.

Either way, this was a sweet YA novella that deserves a chance in the limelight.

Overall Rating: 4 out of 5 stars

For more book reviews, click here.

Biography

Nadine C. Keels

Find hope and inspiration here. http://www.prismaticprospects.wordpress.com

Nadine. A French name, meaning, “hope.”
With her lifelong passion for life-enriching fiction, Nadine C. Keels enjoys reading and writing everything from short stories to novels. Her fiction works include Love Unfeigned and The Movement of Crowns Series, and select pieces of her lyrical poetry can be found on her spoken word album, Hope. Lyricized. As the founder of Prismatic Prospects, her communication company, Nadine has served as editor for a number of titles, and through her writing, from her books to her blog posts, she aims to help spark hope, inspiration, and genius in as many as she is privileged to reach.

Poet of the Wrong Generation #BookReview

  • Title: Poet of the Wrong Generation
  • Author: Lonnie Ostrow
  • Print Length: 455
  • Publication Date: November 10, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle, Paperback
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Romance, Contemporary Fiction, Young Adult

My Review:

I was surprised to find that I loved everything about this book–from the cover to the prose. The storyline was engrossing, the characters extremely well-developed, the dialogue superb…well, Poet of the Wrong Generation is a book you have to read when you have no pressing matters to attend to because it’s that hard to put down.

We open with a prologue to the present. Johnny Elias is staring into a photograph taking himself back into a time when life was good and carefree. He was in love, had friends, he had happiness. And now, because of the things happened since then, he’s feeling regret. Don’t we all when we start feeling that nostalgia?

After we’re through we the prologue, the next time we see Johnny is back in time in 1991. He joins Megan Price, the girl he loves, and their friends at a concert in Central Park. However, soon after, everything changes. Feeling heartbroken and betrayed, he begins doing what a lot of real people do in these kinds of situations: a writes down his feelings. But these aren’t just words. They’re magical poetry from the heart. Johnny ends up turning his writing to music and falls into success and fame.

This was a truly amazing novel. I can see it becoming a summer series or even a mini-series on the Hallmark channel. But at the same time, perhaps they better not touch this story. After all, bringing stories to live, especially on network television, it just may ruin this beautiful creation of Lonnie Ostrow’s.

If you want a book complete with twists and turns, pick up Poet of the Wrong Generation. If you want a book with star-crossed lovers, pick up Poet of the Wrong Generation. If you want a book that tugs at your heartstrings in every way, pick up Poet of the Wrong Generation. It’s well worth the time it takes to read. I highly recommend this pleasure of a book.

Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

Lonnie Ostrow
Biography

Lonnie Ostrow has been an innovator, storyteller, promoter and celebrity-insider for more than two decades. With Poet Of The Wrong Generation, he combines all his unique experiences to bring you a novel of love & betrayal, music & fanfare, downfall & redemption — a fable of stardom’s rewards, set in New York City during the 1990s. It’s been hailed as “the ultimate rock & roll love story.” Since 2001, Mr. Ostrow has been the publicity/marketing director & researcher for the iconic best-selling novelist Barbara T. Bradford. He also serves as an editorial and marketing consultant for a collection of first-time authors through The Editorial Department in Tucson, AZ. Previously he served as a PR executive, promoting an assortment of first-time celebrity authors including Ray Manzarek of The Doors.

From 1995 – 2001, Mr. Ostrow was widely credited with inventing the “living celebrity postal phenomenon.” In all, he worked with more than 40 legendary personalities from the Bee Gees to Bob Dylan, Sylvester Stallone to Jackie Chan, creating media events to celebrate their postal recognition by an assortment of foreign nations.

Ostrow’s first publication, Titanic, A Postal Collection, was published in 1998.

Unfathomable Chance #BookReview @KTMunson

  • Title:  Unfathomable ChanceUnfathomable Chance by [Munson, K.T.]
  • Author: KT Munson
  • Print Length: 194
  • Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
  • Publication Date: September 10, 2016
  • Sold by Amazon Digital Services LLC
  •  Language: English
  • Formats:  Kindle, Paperback
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Science Fiction, Fantasy, Young Adult

The first KT Munson story I read was Zendar, A Tale of Blood and Sand, which I loved, so when she gave me the opportunity to read another of her work, I graciously accepted. This time, it was a Young Adult fantasy, Unfathomable Chance. It opens with a young Diana exploring a church in England with her mother and twin brothers. The child somehow gets swept into a world not of her own. When she reenters the real world, Diana is confounded by what happened to her, but as she and her family leaves, she begins to forget.

On Diana’s 23rd birthday, she realizes that a bracelet had clasped to her wrist, and soon she finds out that it contains the heart of the Cosmos. As she meets unusual aliens, befriends a talking cat and searches for a way to get rid of the bracelet, Diana tries to figure out why the Cosmo chose her.

Unfathomable Chance takes off from the moment it opens and holds my attention throughout. After meeting the talking cat, whose name was Kal Zed, I knew that he’d be my favorite character in the story. But that isn’t to say I don’t enjoy the rest I met along the way. Each person and alien in the story held their own.

The dialogue was amusing, the chase was fun, and most of the scenes were painted quite well. My only wish for this story would be more talk about the scenery so I could step further into the story like I did with Zendar: A Tale of Blood and Sand.

Unfathomable Chance has it all: mystery, romance, comedy. Although I do enjoy Zendar a little more, I enjoyed reading every bit of this story. As always, I look forward to reading more books by KT Munson.

Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

Biography

K.T. MunsonK.T. Munson is a freelance author. First published at 5 years old in the young writers conference, she has pursued writing ever since. She maintains a blog creatingworldswithwords.wordpress.com that is about writing and her novels. She was born and raised in the last frontier, the great state of Alaska.

Curse #BookReview @readstevenjames

  • Title: Curse
  • File Size: 2355 KB
  • Print Length: 492 pages
  • Publisher: Skyscape
  • Publication Date: May 24, 2016
  • Sold by:Amazon Digital Services LLC
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B017TVZO5S
  • Formats:  Kindle, Paperback, Audible, Audio CD
  • Goodreads
  • Genres: Young adult

From the Author

When I started Curse, I had no idea it would be as intricate and complex as it became. The story developed in a way that introduced more fascinating characters who each had their own unique storyline to develop.

Watching this occur, and seeing where each character’s special interests and skills led them, deeply intrigued me and helped carry me through some of the most intense editing months of my life.

As I mention in the author biography at the end of Curse, I have never owned a turtle named Snookums or a basketball named Alfie (you’ll have to read the story to fully appreciate that). But while researching the book, I did see the synchronous fireflies. And they are quite remarkable.

Review

The Blur trilogy (Blur, Fury, and Curse) is James’ first young adult series. It is the story of Daniel Byers who has had what doctors think are hallucinations, but in truth, the dead are trying to tell him how to solve the crimes. In Curse, Daniel begins preparing to attend a basketball camp when the terrifying blurs return to haunt him. As he tries to figure out the meaning behind his most recent blurs, Daniel finds himself teamed up with two other teens that are just as extraordinary. They race against time in order to save a young woman who was abducted by a scientist with distorted views of justice.

James’ degree is known as a master storyteller, and let me tell you something:  it is no joke. The thing I love most about any of his work is that he has a way of making you feel as though you are a part of the story. Curse was no different. The images given of Daniel’s blurs were so vivid and real, it was as though I was watching it happen.

Curse was written in first-person view and in the present tense (when we’re seeing Daniel’s perspective), and also in third person view for the other characters’ perspectives. The first two novels of the series were written all in third person, so when I began reading Daniel’s point-of-view, I was thrown off track for a second, but thankfully I got used to it quickly enough.

As always, I enjoyed the roller coaster ride of twists and turns, and I had no clue how it would end. With this particular story, I was quite mad at myself that I didn’t figure it out, but proud that James managed to trick me, so to speak.

Curse was very fast-paced. I ended up loving the finality of this trilogy. James has been my favorite author ever since I picked up The Rook, book two of his Patrick Bowers FBI series. I fell in love with his writing, and will buy every book that he writes. I recommend him to friends, and I anxiously wait for a new novel to be produced. Although Curse is marketed as “young adult,” anyone would enjoy it. I highly recommend this trilogy, as well as every other novel he printed.

Overall Rate: 5 out of 5 stars

Biography

Steven James

Steven James is a national bestselling novelist whose award-winning, pulse-pounding thrillers continue to gain wide critical acclaim and a growing fan base.

Suspense Magazine, who named Steven’s book THE BISHOP their Book of the Year, says that he “sets the new standard in suspense writing.” Publishers Weekly calls him a “master storyteller at the peak of his game.” And RT Book Reviews promises, “the nail-biting suspense will rivet you.”

Equipped with a unique Master’s Degree in Storytelling, Steven has taught writing and storytelling on four continents over the past two decades, speaking more than two thousand times at events spanning the globe.

Steven’s groundbreaking book on the art of fiction writing, STORY TRUMPS STRUCTURE, won a Storytelling World award. Widely-recognized for his story crafting expertise, he has twice served as a Master CraftFest instructor at ThrillerFest, North America’s premier training event for suspense writers.

Respected by some of the top thriller writers in the world, Steven deftly weaves intense stories of psychological suspense with deep philosophical insights. As critically-acclaimed novelist Ann Tatlock put it, “Steven James gives us a captivating look at the fine line between good and evil in the human heart.”

After consulting with a former undercover FBI agent and doing extensive research on cybercrimes, Steven wrote his latest thriller, EVERY CROOKED PATH—a taut, twist-filled page turner that is available now wherever books are sold.

If you’ve never met environmental criminologist and geospatial investigator Patrick Bowers, EVERY CROOKED PATH is the perfect chance to dive into the series and find out what fans and critics everywhere are raving about.

“Blur” Book Blitz

Book & Author Details:Curse
Curse by Steven James
(Blur Trilogy #3)
Published by: Skyscape
Publication date: May 24th 2016
Genres: Thriller, Young Adult
 

Synopsis:
Don’t miss this intriguing and climactic conclusion to the Blur Trilogy.
As Daniel Byers prepares to attend a basketball camp before his senior year of high school, the terrifying blurs that’ve plagued him for the last nine months return.Dark images begin to haunt him—creatures crawling from the deepest pits of his nightmares, glimmers of chilling memories from his early childhood. But before he can unearth the meaning behind his mysterious hallucinations, Daniel must team up with two other extraordinary teens to save a young woman who has been abducted by a scientist obsessed with enacting his own warped form of justice.This atmospheric mystery picks up where Fury left off and takes readers into the uncharted regions where reality and madness intertwine.

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28230959-curse?from_new_nav=true&ac=1&from_search=true

Purchase:

 
Enter for a chance to win a copy of “Blur”
https://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/d04251231236/

Read below for an Excerpt:
 
CHAPTER ONE

FRIDAY, JUNE 7

COUNTY HIGHWAY G

5 MILES OUTSIDE OF BELDON, WISCONSIN

Dusk.
The forest, thick on each side of the road, lies caught in the deep shadows of the coming night. Lake Algonquin sits nestled among them.

A net of darkness settles across the woods.

Though I’m driving, there’s no traffic and I’m alone in the car, so I sneak a quick glance at my phone.

No texts from Kyle.

His house is exactly eight miles from the corner up ahead, so at this speed I’ll be there in just under twelve minutes and forty seconds.

I don’t even have to consciously think about it. Math comes naturally to me. Sometimes it’s helpful. Sometimes it’s just annoying.

We’re going to spend some time planning for our upcoming trip to Georgia next Saturday.

In my headlights, I glimpse movement ahead of me on the right side of the road and I brake.

Two skittish whitetail deer stare at the car, then bound in front me. I wait for them to clear, make sure there aren’t any more coming, then pull forward.

Two weeks ago when I received the invitation to the basketball camp in Atlanta, I was surprised. I’d had a good season, but it’s an elite camp and usually fills up early, so just getting an invite was a big deal. But since it was half- way across the country, getting there was going to be a challenge.

Because of their work schedules, neither of my parents could take me.

Apparently, there was some anonymous donor who gave money to cover the tuition and travel costs of students from out of state to help assure “diversity.”

At first we weren’t sure if the camp scholarship was legit, but everything cleared, my coach told me it wasn’t breaking any college recruitment rules, and I sent in my registration. But there was still the issue of getting down there.

The camp is at Northern Georgia Tech, a private university just outside of Atlanta.

Not a short trip from Beldon, Wisconsin.
Right around eighteen hours, actually.
Then Kyle’s girlfriend, Mia, mentioned that she had an aunt in Atlanta whose house wasn’t too far from the cam- pus and it got us thinking.

Dad told us his college roommate lived half an hour south of Champaign, Illinois, which is about halfway down there. After he brought that up, things came together quickly. Kyle, Mia, and Nicole, the girl I was dating, would go down with me.

All of us are rising seniors, getting ready for our last year of high school. Three of us are seventeen, but Mia is eighteen and that helped our case.

Her aunt could show everyone else around Atlanta while I was at the camp. Just the right amount of freedom for us and the right amount of supervision for our parents.

Ground rules: Check in every day. No drinking. No drugs. Nothing stupid.

The first three, no problem.
That last one might take a little more work.
Now, as I come around a curve that follows the shore-line of the lake, I catch sight of some movement again, about a hundred feet away.

I slow to a stop.
 But this time it’s not a deer. 
A little boy emerges from the woods. He’s maybe five or six years old and seems distracted as he wanders to the middle of the county highway.

He stops at the centerline.

I wait to see if his mom or someone will follow after him, but after a moment it’s clear that he’s alone.

I let the car idle, then, stepping out, I call to him, “Hey, are you okay?”

The summer day has cooled off. There’s a slight chill in the air.

Crickets chatter in the shadows.

After a quick glance toward the forest, the boy faces me. Pale complexion—even in the dim light I can make that much out. He reaches one hand toward me as if he some- how wants me to hold it from this distance, but he doesn’t leave the road.

Beyond him, around the bend, headlights cut through the darkening day and the rumble of a logging truck rolls toward us from the direction of the sawmill.

I start the boy’s way. “You need to get off the road.” He doesn’t move.
 As I get nearer, although I can’t place him, I have the sense that I’ve seen him before. “Hurry!”

Nothing. 
The truck doesn’t slow. 
Now I’m running. 
Its headlights come sharply into view, glaring toward me, backlighting the boy.
 As it barrels toward us, I yell again for him to move. His back is still turned to the logging truck as he stands completely still with that one arm held out to me.

“Hey!” I gesture wildly. “Get off the road!” He stays there, but lifts the other arm. 
Both hands outstretched now. 
He wants you to help him.

He needs you to save him.

I bolt as fast as I can toward the oncoming truck to sweep the boy into my arms and get him to safety.

My mind is calculating speed, distance. Math. 
Second nature.
 There isn’t time to get there and save him. Yes there is. There has to be.

Go!

I do.

The driver blares his horn and slams on the brakes, but he’s going too fast and there’s no way he’ll be able to stop in time. The sharp smell of burning rubber fills the air. As the cab begins to slow, the truck bed, which is loaded with logs, starts sliding sideways along the road.

When I’m just a few strides away from the boy, he finally looks over his shoulder at the truck.

I throw out an arm to pick him up, but my hand passes through empty air.

I spin to see how I could’ve missed him, and my back is to the truck as it clips my left side and launches me into the air toward the ditch.

Time somehow slows and slurs around me while I’m in midair. The night becomes liquid and I’m aware of the cool evening air brushing against my face, of the rich scent of pine trees surrounding the road, of the sound of the wailing brakes. The glaring sweep of the headlights. The rocky ground beneath me. Coming closer.

Time collapses. Rips forward.

Impact.

I careen down the embankment, rolling toward the lake until I smash into a tree and come to an abrupt stop about fifteen feet from the road.

Breathe, breathe, breathe.
You’re okay. You’re going to be okay.
 It should hurt. It will hurt, but right now adrenaline is blocking the pain—during all my years of playing football I’ve taken my share of hits. I know how this works.

But right now, I don’t care about any of that.
 All I can think of is the boy. 
You didn’t get to him. You missed him. He’s gone.
 My left arm hangs loose and useless from a dislocated shoulder. 
It’s happened to me before in football and every time it does, seeing it like that is pretty shocking, but the pain hasn’t quite registered yet.

I get to my feet and scramble up the bank toward the pavement.

The logging truck has skidded past me and finally come to a stop. One of the straps holding the logs in place must have snapped because the logs have spilled sideways off the bed and are strewn across the road, blocking it.

Terrified of what I might see, I scan the pavement, but can’t find the boy. No blood. No sign of a body. I gaze into the ditch I landed in. It’s shrouded in lengthening shadows, but from where I’m standing I can’t see the boy—or what might have been left of him if he was hit by that truck.

My ankle got wrenched when I landed and as I take a wobbly step forward to study the other side of the road, it buckles. I collapse and the driver of the logging truck comes hurrying toward me.

“You okay?” he shouts.

Using only one arm, it’s tough to push myself to my feet again, but I manage. “Did you hit him?”

“Who?”

“The boy. The little boy.”

“What boy?” He stares at me dumbfounded. A mixture of confusion and fear. “We’re the only ones out here. You came running at my truck. What happened to your arm?”

“No, no, no. The boy who was in the road.”

“Listen, I’m telling you, there wasn’t anyone else. Just you. What’d you think you were doing?” He offers a hand to steady me. “You could’ve been killed. Are you okay?”

I take a step, but lose my balance again and barely catch myself from falling by grabbing his arm.

“We need to get you to a hospital. Is your shoulder . . . ?”

“Dislocated. I’m okay.”

“You shouldn’t be walking around.”

“We have to find the boy.”

The pain is finally tightening around me. I gaze at that left arm. By the awkward angle, anyone could see that things aren’t right. The last time this happened the physical therapist told me it might sublux again.

So. 
His prediction came true.

Either I get it back in place myself or I wait for a doctor to do it—and it’s going to hurt just as much then. And in the meantime the tissue will continue to swell, so it’ll only get harder to pop back into place if I wait.

“Help me,” I say to the driver. “I need to get to your truck.”

He tells me once more that I shouldn’t be walking around, but when I start limping forward, he joins me, supporting my good arm. We arrive at the flatbed and I wedge my left wrist into a gap between the boards on the back.

Okay, this is really not going to feel good. The man gasps. “What are you doing?” “Traction. I have to get . . .”
 I clench my teeth and lean backward.

A sharp explosion of pain.
I almost collapse.
But, I didn’t go back far enough. The shoulder remains out of its socket.

Relax. You need to relax the muscles. It’s the only way it’ll go back in place.

“Give me a sec.” I take a deep breath, close my eyes, ready myself, and pull back again, harder. I twist slightly and finally, after what seems like the longest three seconds of my life, the shoulder grinds as it slides back into place. There’s a shot of relief but, at the same time, a wave of a heavier, duller kind of pain.

The driver’s face blanches. “Did you just . . . ?”

“Yeah.”

I use my right hand to support the weak arm and to keep it from swinging. Based on how things went the last time this happened, it’s going to be sore for a couple weeks at least.

“You might have internal injuries.” The man produces a cell phone and punches in 911. “You should lie down until help gets here.”
“We need to find the boy.”

Finally, he gives in. “Listen. I’ll look for him. But you, rest.”

When dispatch picks up, I say to the driver, “Tell them I’m Daniel Byers. They’ll know who I am.”

“They will?”

“Yeah. My dad’s the sheriff.”

 Steven
AUTHOR BIO:

Best known for his high-octane thrillers, Steven James is the award-winning author of eleven suspense novels. The Blur Trilogy is his first mystery series for teens. Steven has taught creative writing around the world and loves rock climbing, science fiction movies, and chicken fajitas. Find him at www.stevenjames.net.

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