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Ok, ignore the title. Beauty Queens, who wants to read about that? Well, I can promise you that you do! Libba Bray has written a masterpiece satire complete with Ms. Teen Dream contestants that are all over the map. Adena’s a feminist in disguise, Petra is a card carrying member of TransAm, Taylor knows more about fire arms than the average hunter’s safety graduate, and Jennifer can fix anything mechanical. When their plane crashes on what they think is a deserted island, all hell breaks loose, literally, and we learn what the girls are made of.

Add in sexy reality TV pirates, a third world dictator intent on world domination, a corporation that cares more about profit than people, and an ex beauty queen gone rogue...and you’ve got an adventure on your hands.

I suggest that you purchase both the book and the audio version of this novel. Libba reads the audio book, complete with unique voices for all the characters. It really gives you an appreciation for her wacky mind and all the effort she put into the narrative.

For us, this was a family read (and listen). My daughter adored it. Her favorite character was General Good Times, LOL!

A YA horror, paranormal romance mash up, Anna Dressed In Blood by Kendare Blake is amazing.   The flap copy says it all: Just your average boys meets girl, girl kills people story. 


More complications? The girl is a ghost and the boy is a ghost killer. Sound exciting yet?


It is, trust me. Anna rips apart anyone who sets foot in her house, except for Cas who sets out to kill her, but ends up setting her free. The twist? They fall in love. Of course it means he has to overlook the pile of corpses stacked in her basement…


Not a huge issue, apparently.

Imagery in the book is amazing, at times gruesome and possibly sickening, but definitely well done.


5 stars. All well deserved. If you have the spine to immerse yourself in a story that’s brutal and gruesome, but enchanting and romantic at the same time, pick up Anna Dressed In Blood. Just remember to sleep with the lights on, lock your doors, and never, ever step into an abandoned house.


A SUPERNATURALLY Great Read

If you haven’t read anything by Kiersten White yet…what’s your problem? Pick up Paranormalcy and read it, then pick up Supernaturally. 


Kiersten has this off beat, quirky sense of humor that sets me to snickering. If I read it in public I get weird stares because I can’t keep the laughter in. Her voice is amazing! And it’s really her because her Tweets and her Blog posts have the same entertaining magic sparkling about them. She’s one of those people that’s on my short list of “Super Duper Famous People Who I Stalk on Social Media Who I Wish Were My Friends.”


Back to the book, Supernaturally not only lived up to my expectations, it soared through the sky like a sylph on steroids. Evie is fantastic. Strong, Narcissistic, Obsessive, Smart and thoroughly entertaining. Oh Bleep, I love her!

Lend is back, as calming as a cool lake on a summer day and Reth, sexy as ever, starts to redeem himself. We get to follow Evie on her high school journey as she finds out it’s not exactly like it is on TV, but she stills loves her locker.

The new character, Jack, had me thinking of old Robin Goodfellow, the kind of guy you’re drawn too even though you know he’s going to get you in trouble. And he gets Evie into a LOT of trouble.


Pick it up. Read it. Enjoy it. Follow Evie as she continues her journey and see vampires like you’ve never seen them before… (and Trolls, and Fossegrims, and Sylphs, and Dryads, and, well, just read it).


Werewolves on the Titanic! I could leave it at that. I read across many genres, but two are by far my favorite...historical and paranormal/fantasy. Fateful has them both in spades.

I have to admit that I devour anything having to do with the Titanic. Though many make fun, I saw the James Cameron movie four times in the theater. When it comes to bringing the era and the fateful voyage alive, Claudia Gray does a fantastic job. Tess's character is fabulous and embodies the life of an early Twentieth Century servant. The ship is vivid (wish I could have seen it) and the background characters are fabulous.

I liked the wolves as well. Classic werewolf lore with a twist here and there to bring it in line with the period. The Count was suitably sinister and The Brotherhood reminded me a lot of the pack system in Kelley Armstrong's books. 

Bottom line, Fateful is a good read. I read it on a sick day. Glad I had the time because once I picked it up, I couldn't put it down!


A Review of The Iron King

This weekend I finally picked up The Iron King by Julie Kagawa. I know I'm late jumping on the bandwagon this time, but there are so many books out there it's hard to get to them all in an even somewhat timely fashion. 



At first, I wondered what all the fuss was about...I'd read similar plot lines several times. Young girl doesn't know she's half fey, stumbles into fairy land (this time to rescue her brother who was replaced with a changeling), runs into the Seelie and Unseelie Courts with the same old characters...but then it starts to get interesting. 



The author throws in another faction, The Iron Fey, the result of human imagination combined with technological progress. There’s also a nice little love triangle between my beloved Robin Goodfellow (who is very well written, intriguing, and multifaceted in this tale) and Ash, a Prince of the Unseelie Court (who can't decide if he wants to kill our heroine or kiss her).



The author's imagery is spot on as well. The story played along in my mind with a Tim Burtonesque fascination...and the chapter in Chillsorrow Manor caused images of The Corpse Bride to dance in my head..."skeleton-thin gnomes with pure white skin and long, long fingers glided silently around the house..."



Needless to say, there is questing, fairy shenanigans, magic, improbable escapes, and an Iron Fortress reminiscent of a D&D Dungeon raid. 



I loved it! The narrative weaves around you like the branches of an ancient growth forest and draws you in to a tale of epic proportions. Can’t wait to read the rest of the series!

I Love You Will Grayson, Will Grayson!!!

I hate to use to use the word really too much in one sentence, but how many is too many? In this case, there should be an exception, whatever the rule is, because I really really really really love Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan.



It was laugh out loud funny, falling quickly into cry your eyes out torturous awfulness, right back to absolute hilarity.  Will Grayson and Will Grayson are both so real in their messed up, who am I and what do I want anyway sort of way. And Tiny? Everyone needs a Tiny Cooper in their lives. He’s the kind of guy you want to hate, but you can’t because he’s so good at just being.



That’s the gist of it all really, who would have thought when we started out our measly, pathetic, doomed existence that the hardest thing––the absolute no holds barred hardest thing about it––is learning how to be yourself–and being okay with it at the same time.



Bravo Tiny! Life lessons abound. This book is for you, especially if you’re human!


So, work has been heinous lately, what with the budget crisis, pay freeze, and the fact that the DoD seems to have no money. So, how to cheer up the workforce you ask? How about a satire? Coleen, this story is for you. You know which character you are. Hope you enjoy and hope no one else gets offended!


LAST ONE STANDING

Janeen was obsessed with zombies. They made great fiction, the more splatter gore the better. When she woke up Wednesday morning, little did she know that she’d be using her vast knowledge of zombie lore for more than the standard lunchtime game of Zombie Fluxx with her boss…

“Ha, got the car and no zombies. I win. You lose.”

Kate’s eyes flickered to the cards spread out on the table and she groaned, dropping the cards in her hand. “Eight zombies and a baseball bat, one more and you would have been toast. Shit. How is it you always win at the last minute?”

Janeen laughed. “Zombies are my thing. I never lose. If there ever is a zombie apocalypse, you definitely want me on your side.”

“Quit gloating and get back to work,” Kate spat out, then laughed, ruining the bitchy boss persona.

Janeen opened the door just as Marcus, aka the shambler, shuffled past. “Dude is seriously creepy. What do you think’s wrong with his foot?”

Boss lady rolled her eyes. “Not PC Janeen. I don’t know. It’s not like they list physical deformities in people’s personnel records. If they did, yours would mention a complete absence of tact.”

Janeen shifted in the doorway. “He looks sweatier than usual. Skin’s kind of gray too. Do you think he’s sick?”

“How would I know?” Kate huffed. “Go ask his flight chief.”

Janeen glanced back as a ping sounded on Kate’s computer, eyebrow raised. “What’s up?”

Kate shifted a hand over the mouse and read the pop up message. “Same old, same old. Another water boil warning. Dangers of working on base. Who knows what’s leaked into the water supply over the years what with all the nukes, hazardous materials, and alien autopsies.” She laughed at her own joke. “No one drinks the water anyway, they use the water club.”

Janeen shook her head. “Not in this economy. Water club’s down by half. Apparently, all these federal workers decided to cut out that five bucks a month.”

“I’m sure they’re packing it from home then. No one drinks the water. The drinking fountain practically has cobwebs.”

Janeen shrugged. “Unless they run out. Someone could get awfully thirsty.” She trilled her voice up ominously, like she was announcing an impending war of the worlds, and Kate shifted her eyes to the jug sitting in the corner.

“Well, no one’s getting it if they haven’t paid for it. Is that why you shifted it in here?”

Janeen nodded.

“That’s why I keep you around.” The phone rang and Kate shooed Janeen out the door to answer it.

Sitting at her desk, Janeen was so buried in her work she didn’t have time to worry anymore about the shambler. Their task list was overflowing, as usual, and it seemed like no one knew how to assemble a staff package. 

Janeen huffed as she marked up another one, routing wrong this time. That one had a messed up signature block. The next one? It wasn’t even in English, or so it seemed. Maybe some primitive version they spoke in Central Ohio.

She heard a shambling and moved so her back was to the wall and she could peek around the corner. God, that was so creepy. She watched as Marcus moved back towards his cube, a full water bottle in hand. A freshly full water bottle. It had been empty moments before. He hadn’t been in Kate’s office. Shit. He was drinking the water.

Janeen rushed the other direction and knocked on Kyle’s office door. 

“Come in,” he mumbled.

Janeen burst in and wanted to burst back out. He was sweaty too and it smelled like he’d just seeded in the space.

A gray face looked up at hers, pupils large and black, shifting in and out as if they were trying to focus. She looked down and saw a half empty water bottle on Kyle’s desk. Pointing at it, she asked, “Didn’t you see the boil advisory?”

His expression didn’t change. No recognition lit up his eyes. She tried again. “You know. The pop up on your computer? It was black, like they make it when the heat’s really bad and you shouldn’t go outside?” Still no response.

Janeen backed up. “Okay, never mind. Why don’t you get back to whatever it is you were doing?” She fluttered her fingers as she backed up and almost smacked into Marcus. She shifted on the balls of her feet and slid to the side to extricate herself from the situation. Jesus, he smelled like the dead too. What on earth did they have for lunch?

A shamble sounded from the other direction and she looked up in confusion. That wasn’t right. Marcus was right there in front of her and he was the only one in the office who noticeably shambled.

Janeen backed down an intersecting hallway, her head moving right and left, taking it all in. Half empty water bottles, blank stares, sweaty faces, shambling bodies, and a smell like the moat of an overfull castle. 

Fuck.

Zombie apocalypse.

She ran into Kate’s office and slammed the door, locking it forcefully. Leaning against it, she bent over and rested her head on her knees, panting heavily.

“What in the hell?” 

Janeen smiled. Good, Kate was her usual terse self.

Footsteps and then a hand on her head. “Janeen?”

She looked up, still panting, pointing towards the door. “Water. Bad. Zombies. Smell. Everywhere.”

Kate raised one manicured eyebrow and put her hands on her hips, her lady suit making her look every inch the irritated executive. “Seriously? Is this like an extended game of live Zombie Fluxx?”

Janeen shook her head.

Kate tapped a foot. “Marcus is harmless. Come on. Grow up.”

Janeen shook her head again. “It’s not just Marcus, it’s everyone.”

Kate opened her mouth to protest, then closed it again, her lips pinching in distaste and her nostrils flaring. “What on earth is that God awful smell? Did you fart in my office?”

Choking out a laugh, Janeen slid to the floor. “It’s them. They all drank the water. Everyone. I think that’s the smell of their tissues decaying as they turn into zombies.”

Eyes rolling, Kate reached down a hand to help her up. “You have an overactive imagination. Maybe it’s the water that smells. Maybe that’s what the boil warning was about.” She sniffed again in distaste. “It should have said something like, ‘Warning, remnants of corrupted plague victim flesh have leaked into our water supply, put on your gas masks and whatever you do, don’t light a match.’ I mean, wow, that is going to make me puke.” 

Janeen watched Kate’s gag reflex set in and her throat bob.

“Yep, just upchucked a bit in the back of my throat.” She reached for her blazer. “Come on. Let’s get out of here. Maybe they need something in 70.”

Janeen shook her head. “Too late.”

Something smashed into the door and Kate jumped, moving towards it. “What in the hell was that?”

Janeen grabbed her arm and yanked her away from the door. “Don’t. Open. It.”

Eyebrows scrunched incredulously, Kate shook her off. “How in the hell am I supposed to find out what’s going on if I don’t open the door?”

She was tapping her foot again, that always meant business.

“Fine, but just humor me, okay? Don’t open the door until I have a weapon ready.”

Kate looked at her like she was crazy and Janeen dropped her shoulders. “Please?”

“Whatever. You better not cause an incident though. I so do not want to fill out the paperwork for any office injuries related to your psychosis.”

She saluted. “I promise not to maim anyone,” she paused, “unless it’s in self defense,” she paused again, then whispered, “or unless they really have turned into zombies.”

Kate sighed loudly and threw out her arms in exasperation. “Just find your weapon already so that I can open the door. I’m so going to need a stiff drink and a neck massage after today.”

While Janeen started moving around the room looking for a likely weapon, Kate picked up her phone.

“What are you doing?”

“Texting Gabe that you’ve finally gone crazy.”

“Good idea. Let them know we’re still alive and uninfected.”

Rolling her eyes, Kate was all thumbs as she started rapidly typing on her smart phone.

Janeen stopped in front of the paper cutter. “Do you have a screw driver?”

Kate looked up, thumbs frozen in mid-air. “What for?”

More eye rolling, this time from Janeen. “Weapon, remember? It's not like you keep a machete in your office. I need the arm of the paper cutter.”

Kate’s shoulders vibrated with her contained laughter. “It won’t even cut through six sheets of paper, but you think it will cut off zombie limbs? We really are doomed. Stupid budget cuts.”

Janeen laughed. “I can sharpen it.” She pointed to the corner. “That point at the top of the Air Force flag looks pretty wicked too.”

Phone abandoned for now, Kate clapped her hands and pulled the flag out of its base. “Woot, my very own Air Force spear.” As she removed the flag from the pole she grimaced at Janeen. “Not that I’m saying I want this to be a zombie apocalypse, but if it’s not, we are in so much trouble it’s not even funny. I’m over here defacing government property, the Air Force flag for God’s sake, Dan is going to kill us. Well, kill me.”

A shrug was Janeen’s only response as she removed the last screw and moved to sharpen the paper cutter arm on the flag pole, it was the only metal in the room. “Better safe than sorry.”

Kate’s phone buzzed and she picked it up. “Hmm, not Gabe. It’s Brian.”

Janeen looked up. “What does he want?” Her voice sounded ominous.

Kate looked gray. “He’s out there, hiding. He says they’re all zombies. He needs us to save him.”

A pause, “Are you sure it’s him?” Janeen asked?

Kate shrugged. “It’s his phone. Plus, aren’t zombies supposed to be dumb? They wouldn’t text.”

The sound of metal screeching on metal filled the silence as Janeen continued to sharpen the blade. “So, what’s the plan?”

Another buzz on Kate’s phone. “He’s going to distract them, then knock softly on the door, three times.”

Janeen ran a finger across the blade, a line of blood rising up. “I have a bad feeling about this.”

“We can’t leave him out there to die.” Kate shivered. “I can’t believe this is happening.”

“Believe it.” Janeen’s eyes were fierce.

“I’m checking the news. WHIO would have something if there really was a problem here on base.”

Janeen shrugged. “If it makes you feel better.”

“CONTAINMENT PROCEDURES INITIATED AT WRIGHT PATTERSON AFB AFTER LEAK OF UNKNOWN SUBSTANCE AT AIR FORCE RESEARCH LABORATORY.” Kate read the headline, then laid her head on the desk.

Janeen touched her shoulder. “It’s going to be okay.”

“No, it’s not,” Kate whispered, “I know the containment protocol.”

A jet engine blast shook the windows and Janeen looked to Kate. “No.”

“Yes, containment means we go boom.”

Janeen backed up again. “No.”

A tear trickled down Kate’s face as she checked CNN. “We’ve got less than an hour until the air strike.”

Janeen pointed at the phone. “Text someone. Let them know we’re alive.”

Thumbs flying, Kate typed a frantic message. “There, sent it to the command post.”

Janeen nodded, a flicker of hope rising up in her eyes. Another buzz on Kate’s phone.

“Command post?”

Kate shook her head. “Brian.”

“The message?”

“Now,” Kate said and picked up her spear. 

Janeen held out a hand. “Let me open it. You can be my back up.” This was her party, her expertise. She knew everything about zombie lore. She should be in front, protecting her boss.

Three light knocks. Janeen squeezed her eyes shut and took a deep breath, then gave Kate a thumbs up as she unlocked the door and slowly opened it.

Brian stood there all right, Brian and an army of lightly shuffling zombies. Zombies she recognized, not only Marcus and Kyle, but Dan and Glenda, and everyone else in the office. Even the lady who vacuumed was vacantly staring. Brian had tricked them. Zombies could text. They were doomed.

“No,” Kate screamed and threw herself at Janeen, knocking the wind out of her as she tried to slam the door shut on the incursion. Brian stuck out a foot to keep it from closing and Janeen finally swam out of her surprised haze.

She raised the blade and hacked quickly down at Brian’s foot, gashing through the skin and muscle, a spray of blood rising up as the blade stuck into his hard bone.

“Gahhh,” he moaned, but his arms continued to push on the door and the zombie hoard behind him surged forward.

Janeen struggled to remove the blade, but it wouldn’t budge. Kate nudged her to the side.

She looked right into Brian’s eyes and whispered, “I’m sorry,” then skewered him on the Air Force spear and pushed with all her strength, slamming the door and locking it.

The frame vibrated and a ceiling tile fell, covering them both in a white dust, as the zombie hoard stormed the door. On hands and knees Kate crawled to the corner and heaved out her breakfast and lunch. Then she crawled over to the other corner and collapsed.

“I killed Brian.”

Janeen nodded, in shock. “Zombies can text,” she said. “We’re doomed. The command post will never believe we aren’t infected.”

Kate drew in a deep breath. “They won’t stop the air strike for us. Our only chance is to get the hell out of here.”

Another jet buzzed by, shaking the windows, just as another crash shook the door frame.

“We won’t make it to the air strike. They’ll break down the door first.”

Janeen eyed the hole where the ceiling tile had been.

“Well, looks like up is our only way out.”

Kate sat up, “The ceiling?”

Janeen nodded. “Air vent.”

Shimmying onto Kate’s desk, Janeen stood up and studied the vent. She reached down a hand. “Screw driver.” One, two, three, four screws, then a rending sound as Janeen pulled off the vent cover.

She looked around again. “This is going to be dangerous. We need to stack a few things to get in there.”

Hopping down, she took one end of the round conference table and Kate took the other, hoisting it up onto the desk.

Carefully, Janeen crawled up on the desk and then onto the conference table, holding onto the edge of the ceiling as she stood up, grabbing the edge of the ventilation system and hoisting herself into the narrow corridor.  She moved down the shaft a bit and waited for Kate to pull up beside her.

She felt Kate’s weight added to her own in the ventilation shaft, then heard a crash.

“Knocked the conference table over so its harder for the zombies to follow us,” Kate murmured.

Janeen shrugged and started moving forward into the dark. Kate shoved something into her hand. “Use my phone as a flashlight.”

She woke it up and held it in front of her as she crawled, touching the screen occasionally to keep it awake.

Kate’s breath was shaky behind her.

“You okay?”

“Claustrophobic,” she replied.

Yikes, if they made it out, it would be a miracle.

It seemed like they crawled forever, quietly creeping along, not wanting to draw any attention to themselves. The building was eerily silent, only the sound of jets overhead and muffled alarms from the PA system populating the quiet.

Janeen stopped and Kate ran into the back of her.

“What gives?”

Janeen sighed. “You’re not going to like this.”

A sound of resignation floated forward. “It can’t be any worse than it already is.”

“Positive attitude, I like that.”

A groan. “What is it?” Kate asked.

“Oh, just a drop of unknown depth. Light doesn’t reach down there.”

“Is it our only option?”

“Yep”

Kate pushed her from behind. “Then what are you waiting for?”

Janeen fell forward, arms flailing as she fell, feet first, landing in a crouch, feet tingling.

“Well?” From above.

“I’m alive. There’s a vent in front of me. Just a second.” Janeen crouched further and peered through the vent. No sound. No movement. Boxes stacked here and there.

“Looks like a storage room.” She took out the screwdriver. Frack. Screws were facing the other side. Sighing, she used the handle as a hammer, banging until one corner popped free, then set to work on the next, slowly prying the vent down as she went.

She crawled into the room, checked again to make sure it was clear, and shouted, “All clear, jump down.”

Kate fell with a bang, then crawled through and stood up in the room, taking a deep breath as she went. “God, that was awful. What now?”

Janeen pointed. “That’s an exterior door.” She looked down at Kate’s phone in her hand. “And we don’t have much time left. I guess we make a run for it.”

Kate’s shoulders slumped. “Chance we don’t get shot?”

Janeen smiled, “On a military base? Slim to none. Want to go for it anyway?”

Eyes closed, Kate nodded. “Let me do one thing first.” She took her phone back from Kate and opened up her text messaging program. Her thumbs flew as she wrote a message and pressed send.

“Tell Gabe you love him?” Janeen asked. Kate nodded and sunk down into a runner’s crouch.

“Ready.”

“One, two, three.” Janeen unlocked and threw open the  door and they both took off in a sprint.

The fence rose up in the distance, razor wire lining the top. A line of military trucks, tanks, and guns hovered on the horizon. They watched as a squadron of F-16s flew overhead.

“Ordinance dropped,” Kate stated in a matter of fact tone. There was a boom somewhere far behind them. The Air Force was doing what they did best, precision bombing. Containment Phase Three was underway.

They kicked it up another notch and the fence loomed closer. Boys with guns, younger than them by decades, raised their weapons as they approached.

Kate started to wave her arms. “Hey, we aren’t infected. I repeat. We’re survivors. Put your weapons down.”

Kate’s voice was pinched with fear. Janeen noticed that the soldiers didn’t even twitch. They didn’t lower their weapons. No one said a word. This was it then. They had their orders.

The atmosphere finally sinking in, Kate stopped screaming. “Containment protocol rule one,” she whispered, “absolutely no survivors.”

She’d known all along that they'd never make it out alive.

Still running, they slowed to a jog. Janeen grabbed Kate’s hand. “Nice knowing you,” she said.

Kate nodded and they skidded to a stop, facing the boy soldiers standing a dozen yards away. A hand signal from somewhere down the line and they fired. A soft sigh echoed from somewhere as the women’s bodies danced like marionettes on a string, their bodies jerking with the gun fire. They fell to the ground and the air grew silent, all except for the sound of bombs exploding in the distance.

They had been the last ones standing.


Red Rover--A Sci Fi Short!

 I just finished another anthology, Life on Mars: Tales From the New Frontier, it was fantastic! Of course, as usual, it also got me thinking…if I was writing a story that took place on Mars, what would it be about?

Flash Fiction Time!

Funny thing, the more I thought about it, my mind filled with the children's game, Red Rover. If you'd grown up on Mars, what would you think it was about? How would other common children's rhymes change in meaning for you? How would your curses and exclamations change?

Thus, Red Rover was born. Enjoy, I sure did!




RED ROVER
Red rover, red rover send Tristan right over.

Leyla loved to read the old children’s rhymes in the histories. The Elders told her it didn’t mean what she thought it did, but still who’d give a child a rover? Leyla was already several months past her eighth birthday in Mars years, totally reasonable to drive, and she didn’t have her own rover. Why would someone give one to a child? Especially when they were going to use it to play some insanely expensive version of bumper cars?

Not that it mattered much. Tristan had a bright shiny new one, well as shiny as it could be covered in the ever present dust that ruled this planet, and he didn’t mind taking her everywhere. It probably helped that there was no one else their age at the research facility, but Leyla didn’t think of it that way. She thought she looked brill in her form fitting suit when they went out for a day outside of the bubble.

She hummed under her breath while she waited for him, another rhyme. Something about a bridge, like of a spaceship she guessed. She’d made up her own words though. Polar Lander crashing down, crashing down, crashing down, Polar Lander crashing down and buried in red soi-oil. Even that happened ages ago, long before she was born, but what the Deimos, it made more sense than a bridge.

A whir sounded outside the door and Leyla burst through the hatch ready for a day of fun. Tristan pulled off his helmet and looked behind him, a frown on his face as he rushed over.

“Ley, inside, now, we’ve got to talk.”

He was out of breath and the frown ground itself deeper into his features, lining his forehead and pocking his chin with little worry dimples.

Leyla bounced up on her toes and kissed him. “What’s got your nut huggers in a twist?”

He grimaced at her lewdness and grabbed her by the elbow. “Ley, now, forget inside. The shed.”

He dragged, she sulked. “By all that’s bouncy, Tris, what gives?”

Shutting the door, he bent over at the knees and panted.

“Leaving.” Was all Leyla heard of his reply. The rest was masked by his heavy breathing, and not the kind of heavy breathing that made her heart pound.

“What?” She put a hand on his back. Something big must be going on, he always had a smile for her.

Tristan stood up and grabbed her chin. His eyes looked so deep at this range, so close.

“They’re leaving. Tomorrow.”

“Who?”

Tristan sighed. “I don’t have time to explain it all. You’d know if you watched the vids from Earth.”

“The vids from Earth? What do they have to do with anything?” Leyla had been born on Mars. So had her parents. So had most of the people she knew. Except for Tristan, he’d come here as a boy with his ‘butt nailed to the lab chair’ father. Sent by the government, or so the rumors said. Tris never talked about it. Leyla never asked.

“Politics, debt, world war. They’ve cancelled the expedition. We’re leaving tomorrow.”

Her eyes went saucer sized and her mouth dropped open wider than a frozen scream. “Earth? We’re going to Earth?”

Hands cupped her shoulders and pulled her close. “Not you. That’s why I snuck out. They’ve run the numbers, looked at the medical read outs, the probabilities. They’re only taking the ones who weren’t born here, who still have something to go back to on Earth.”

Leyla still didn’t get it. “So you and your Dad are going home? You’re leaving me here?”

He let out another exasperated sigh. Apparently he thought she was being dense on purpose. “Not just Dad and I. E-v-e-r-y-o-n-e who wasn’t born here.” He emphasized every letter.

The half frozen scream look dropped down over her face again. “What does this mean for the rest of us?”

He shook his head. “I don’t know. Not much. No scientists. No new research. No new crops. Most of the docs gone.”

He stopped there. Didn’t say the rest. That most of the Martians, as the Earthlings liked to call them, were manual laborers, drones. Why’d they need more drones on Earth? Problem was they already had enough of them. Overpopulation, too many mouths to feed.
Even after all the time they’d spent together, the ribbing he’d gotten for it from the other scientists, the high borns, the Earthlings, he still thought of her as a lesser being. She smarted against it.

“We can farm. We know this soil, this environment. Grandma’s a healer. Phobos will be with us.”

“Phobos is a moon, not a God. It’s all just dreck your Grandmother’s been feeding you since Mommy and Daddy froze to death on the Martian Plains. Understand this. We’re leaving. Tomorrow.”

Tristan had the decency to look shocked when Leyla reeled back a fist and bopped him as hard as she could in the frag hole.

“Sneak me on the ship. Take me with you,” she raged. He couldn’t, wouldn’t leave her behind.

“I can’t,” he said while delicately probing his now split lip. “I told you, they ran the probabilities. You’d never survive. You were born here. Raised in a gravity one-third that of my home planet. The probabilities say Earth’s gravity would crush you. Your bones, muscles, wouldn’t be able to take the added weight. Plus, there’s the little issue of immunities. You’d probably die of the common cold within weeks of landing, if your heart didn’t give out first.”

His voice was cold, almost uncaring and Leyla bit back a hysterical laugh. He didn’t care what happened to her, not really, she’d been a play thing, a distraction. Someone to keep him company while he was so far from home.

“How long have you known?” She asked.

“Today. Dad told me this morning.”

“No, not this time. Not this specific time. How long have you known this would never be permanent?”

His expression changed. So, he understood her now.

“Always.”

Leyla shut her eyes. He’d always known that one day he’d be leaving. He never thought he’d stay here.

“Will they still send supplies?” She’d already figured the answer, but she wanted to hear it from him.

He shook his head.

Drones. With debt and war on their very door step and, from the rumors she’d heard, widespread environmental issues as well, why would they spend even a dime to save a colony of drones?

Leyla stepped back and turned away, facing the corner of the storage shed. The colony crates. The pallets of supplies. They had what they had. There would be no more.

“Goodbye.”

Good riddance thought Leyla, but didn’t say it. Let him think she was stronger than she really was. She stood up straighter and refused to give him even that word.

Moments passed. Silence. Just the rush of stale air from the vent and the fluttering of dust, then the whoosh of the door and the whir of his engine. Red rover, red rover. Maybe he’d at least leave her that.

Out of some kind of misplaced loyalty, or maybe out of worry over the despair it would cause, Leyla didn’t say a word. Didn’t tell the other drones they were being left to perish in the Martian soil.

She stared out the portal in her bedroom at the station up on the hill. Watched them load the ship. Watched them board. Like ants. The Earthlings go marching one by one, hurrah, hurrah. Tristan among them, one of the ants, but not one of the drones.

She watched as the first colonist heard the commotion of the engines as they fired, old Marcus, running out into the commons and shouting. Too late, Leyla thought, too late. They are gone and we are here.

She watched the ship as it trailed into the sky and then she lay back down, singing a lullaby to herself.

Our soil’s red, dilly dilly,
Our soil’s rich
When you terraform it, dilly dilly
The atmosphere will be fixed.

Who told you so, dilly dilly,
Who told you so?
It was the histories, dilly dilly,
That told me so.

Call up your drones, dilly, dilly
Set them to plant…


White Cat had me mesmerized, but Red Glove cast some sort of curse on me that bent me to it’s will. I couldn’t put it down.

Cassel is the perfect tragic hero. Your heart breaks for him, you can’t see any way out of the mess he’s gotten himself into and, truth be known, there isn’t one. Red Glove has a satisfying ending, but it’s not a happy one.

Not happy at all. My heart ached for Cassel, and a lot of the time I questioned his logic, but in his own strange way he was loyal to those who really deserved it.

If you like con artists and mobsters with a little bit of magic thrown in, The Curseworkers series is for you. Just be forewarned it’s full of the dark side of life filled out in fantastically fine detail.

Holly Black is a master of the Urban Fantasy genre and she’s clearly outdone herself again.

Darkly Enticing, White Cat by Holly Black

Admittedly, when I read the flap copy of this book I didn’t know if I’d like it. I’ve never been interested in crime families, never watched The Godfather, never really liked stories involving con men. The thing is, I love Holly Black, so I figured I’d give it a try.

By page three I was mesmerized by Cassel. The sleepwalking scene drew me in, Cassel’s slightly amoral attitude and his tragic past drew me in. Why was he dreaming of a white cat? Had he really killed his best friend when he was 14?

Enter the world of the curse workers and I was hooked.

White Cat is a fantastic urban fantasy. Cassel is Hamlet and Erik from Phantom of the Opera all rolled up into one with a dash of Taran, the assistant Pig Keeper, from the Chronicles of Prydain. He’s tragic and yearning. He’s now one of my favorite literary protagonists of all time.

I’ve got to go, I picked up Red Glove from the library and I’m dying to find out what happens to Cassel next!