This is my stop during the blog tour for Everything Under the Sun by Jessica Redmerski. This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 30 July till 12 August. See the tour schedule here.
Thais Fenwick was eleven-years-old when civilization fell, devastated by a virus that killed off the majority of the world’s population. For seven years, Thais and her family lived in a community of survivors deep in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains. But when her town is attacked by raiders, she and her blind sister are taken away to the East-Central Territory where she is destined to live the cruel and unjust kind of life her late mother warned her about.
Atticus Hunt is a troubled soldier in Lexington City who has spent the past seven years trying to conform to the vicious nature of men in a post-apocalyptic society. He knows that in order to survive, he must abandon his morals and his conscience and become like those he is surrounded by. But when he meets Thais, morals and conscience win out over conformity, and he risks his rank and his life to help her. They escape the city and set out together on a long and perilous journey to find safety in Shreveport, Louisiana.
Struggling to survive in a world without electricity, food, shelter, and clean water, Atticus and Thais shed their fear of growing too close, and they fall hopelessly in love. But can love survive in such dark times, or is it fated to die with them?
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“One more night,” I said, not looking at her. “Give me one more night and I’ll get you out of this city.” All I could see in front of me was the scenario: I’d wait until very late, after most of the city was sleeping, and then I’d dress her in my military clothes, make her pin up her hair underneath a cap, strap a rifle to her shoulder, a backpack full of goods on her back, and set her atop the mare waiting at the stables.
“But there’s nothing for me anymore,” Thais said, wiping away the lingering tears on her cheeks. “There’s nowhere for me to go, and no one waiting for me there if by some miracle I make it alive. My mother and father are dead. My sister”—she looked up at me, and although I didn’t meet her gaze, I could feel her eyes on me—“my whole family is dead, and this world is dead and my soul is dead and everything that was once good and beautiful and right, is dead.”
I looked at her then, her words stirring me.
“That’s not true,” I said, and got up from the chair and crouched in front of her. “You may be the only good thing left in this world, and I’ll be goddamned if I let your light fade.”
Tears tumbled down Thais’ cheeks.
I took the gun that had fallen from her hand, tucked it into the back of my pants.
“Promise me you won’t try anything,” I said as I went toward the door. “Promise me on your sister’s soul, that you’ll stay in this room and wait for me.”
“Where are you going?”
“To get your supplies.” I placed my hand on the doorknob. “Don’t open this door for anyone.” I opened it to blackness; the candles that had been lit in the hallway had burned down.
“Wait,” Thais called out, and I stopped.
She stood up on wobbly legs.
“You said to get my supplies—are you sending me away alone?”
I thought on it for a moment. I’d never had any intention of going with her. I couldn’t. Not if I was going to keep others from following her.
“No,” I finally said. “You’re not going alone. I’ll go with you, at least until I can get you somewhere safe.”
“Is there anywhere safe, Atticus?” Her voice was soft, hopeless, and hearing her say my name like that did something to my heart. “Do you know where you’re taking me?”
I sighed. And I looked at the wall.
“Yes,” I lied, and then stepped out into the hallway.
Just before I closed the door I added, “Promise me.”
“I promise,” she said. “I’ll wait for you.”
It wasn’t supposed to be this way. I was supposed to travel with him until he got me out of Lexington City and then I was to make a run for it, kill him if I had to—but I didn’t. I was supposed to stay with these people and leave Atticus to do what he wanted, go where he wanted, without me—but I couldn’t. I was supposed to be afraid of him not only because of the terrible man he was when I first laid eyes on him, but also because he was a man—but I wasn’t. I wasn’t afraid of him.
I was afraid for him.
I was afraid of being without him…
I looked up; my bottom lip quivered.
“I will wait for you,” I said, trying to be strong. I wiped my tears, swallowed hard and nodded.
Atticus dashed outside, pushing the barn door out of his way. Seconds later he came back with the horse. He tossed the quilt we’d slept on the night in the barn, over the horse’s back. Then he went over to the backpacks, stepping around Rachel’s unconscious body, and shoved everything back inside. He helped my arms into the straps of the larger backpack.
Fitting his hands on my hips, Atticus hoisted me up and set me on the horse; I grabbed a hold of the horse’s reins.
“Stay out of sight of the house,” he said as he fitted the smaller backpack and his jacket between my legs. “And cut through the woods there”—he pointed toward the back of the barn—“that’s west; just keep as straight as you can in that direction, but don’t leave the woods.”
He walked with me outside the barn, stopped to look out at the flat land beyond the highway where those who were coming for us would likely be, and then led me around the barn. The deep woods beckoned me out ahead; I couldn’t help but feel intimidated by them, as if they were some kind of final leg of our journey—or the beginning of my journey alone.
Steadying my breath, I looked down at Atticus once more, transfixed on his intense blue eyes, the sculpted shape and rough texture of his handsome face, and I couldn’t imagine at this point never seeing it again.
“I’ll come for you,” he promised.
Tearing my gaze from his, I faced forward and tightened my grip of the reins.
“Why are you so angry, Atticus?” My voice was soft and concerned now.
He blinked, but offered no response.
“I’ve seen men fight before,” I went on, “but I’ve never seen a man as angry at the world as you are. The way you beat that man in your room”—I shook my head with despondency—“the one just now; Atticus, you’re just so full of rage and hate. Why?”
He snorted, as if he’d found my question ridiculous.
“Why?” he mocked incredulously, holding out his hands, palms up. “I’ll tell you why, Thais: at every turn someone wants to rob or maim or kill us; we can’t sleep, night or day, without the thought in our heads as we close our fucking eyes that we might not wake up.” He gestured his arms wildly, his features constricted with indignation. “We’re covering our shit up like animals, sleeping in ditches, watching over our shoulder every second of every day for the chaos to grab us by the ankles and pull us down with it—and you ask why?”
I sat against my quilt, unable to stand to hear this truth. And as if his movements depended on mine, Atticus fell into a crouch in front of me, bouncing on the toes of his boots. I never looked away from the pull of his gaze, trapped by the intensity of it.
“I haven’t slept since you arrived in Lexington City,” he went on. “When I saw you that day, clutching your sister as she was ripped away from you; when you lay on the sidewalk, begging me to help you—it did two things to me, Thais”—he held up two fingers, and then dropped them between his legs—“it fucking killed me; the things I had to do, the part I had to play in not only your fate, but the fate of every girl in those ropes—it fucking killed me! It killed what little was left of my humanity!” His voice had risen with his heated words, his memories, but then he paused to calm himself, lowering his head but for a moment.
I remained motionless, speechless, but my heart began to ache and fill up at the same time. I listened raptly to every word, my heart breaking as he spoke them.
“It killed me,” he repeated. “But then something reached into Hell, grabbed me by the throat and pulled me back. I died that day in the street, Thais Fenwick; I died and then there I was, looking down at you with the eyes of the man I used to be, and I wanted to help you. I still fought with myself after that, but I wasn’t going to let you die or be raped or forced to marry a man you didn’t love—I didn’t know what to do, but I was going to do something, goddammit.”
I sighed. I wanted to hold him, but all I could do was sigh.
About the Author:
Jessica Redmerski is a New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, international bestseller, and award winner, who juggles several different genres. She began self-publishing in 2012, and later with the success of THE EDGE OF NEVER, signed on with Grand Central Publishing/Forever Romance. Her works have been translated into more than twenty languages.
Jessica is a hybrid author who, in addition to working with a traditional publisher, also continues to self-publish. Her popular crime and suspense series, In the Company of Killers, has been optioned for television and film by actor and model William Levy.
She also writes as J.A. Redmerski.
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It was just like Sen had said it would be. All of a sudden, she just knew it was here. It felt like time was catching up to itself so she could be hurled back into her own world. Grace knew that there was no stopping it. She had just a few moments before all of the knowledge of this place would leave her, the Love, the Magic, the Pain, the Boy.
Her heart, even though it had been Uncovered and glistened with the essence of pure emotion, began to break. A small and life-altering crack edged along the perimeter. It made a quiet rolling gesture along the surface of her heart and then as time found its trail of breadcrumbs back home, the crack made for the center. It struck with the force of lightning. All it left in its wake was a single Love letter. A song he sang to her playing over and over again filling the void where her memory once was.
When she opened her eyes, she was alone in her bathroom again. The knife she held so long ago, was lying lifeless in the sink and all she could do was hum a strangely familiar tune, though she wasn’t sure where she had heard it before.
Her senses in this world were peaked … Grace could hear things she couldn’t see, see things she couldn’t feel and feel things she couldn’t imagine.
This place didn’t have incessant needs to answer. It didn’t have constant reminders of shoulds, coulds and woulds, and it didn’t speak to her like the world she came from. This world was more like a meditation. It didn’t imprint on her, but rather for the first time since she was six, she felt like she was imprinting on something else … she felt a need rise up … Her chest convulsing, her breath irregular, her eyes tearing, she sobbed as this need found its home inside of her. It had been there so long that it lay deep in her blood, her bones and in the chambers of her heart. How could she not know it was there all this time? She fell to the ground, knees catching her. Her hands pounded the grass as her eyes leaked a bright hazel green into the ground. As her chest convulsed with the power of needing to imprint, Grace let go of something, of a part of herself and as she did, a second Grace flickered into existence, naked beside her. Hands pounding the grass, on her knees leaking bright green hazel color into the ground. Grace’s heart returned to one heartbeat; her vision was clear again, her hands stopped trembling. The calm was gone. Grace felt confidence. Grace felt acceptance. Grace felt Love.
Stephen H. Provost
Publication date: February 22nd 2018
Genres: Horror, Young Adult
A collection of 16 short stories and 10 dark poems in the tradition of “The Twilight Zone.”
Trapped for eight centuries in a space no larger than a shoebox. What would you do to escape? How far would you go to rid yourself of that parasite in your brain that feeds off the worst of your nightmares? What if the person closest to you were fated to die – and you were powerless to stop it?
What if your savior were also your greatest fear? Would you trade years of your life for a chance at redemption? Would you slay or spare the dragon whose eyes gaze up at you pleadingly in the final moments of its life?
These are the questions that run through the mind when twilight fades and eyelids grow heavy. Fight the onset of sleep. Thrash beneath the covers in futile defiance of what lies beyond. This is the between-time of Nightmare’s Eve, those brief but lingering moments between the waking world and the abyss. It will have you. It’s only a matter of time.
As an avid reader of Neil Gaiman, Stephen King and Edgar Allen Poe, I appreciated Nightmare’s Eve.
The book is structured in such a way that it reads easily for those wanting to get their feet wet in the worlds of horror the author weaves together.
I specifically appreciated the mix of short stories as it gave enough of a plot to instill a sense of spine-tingling thrill but allowed me to move on to something written completely different. I especially loved the poem written about a corpse as though he were watching his own decay. The imagery here alone was beyond amazing.
My criticism would be I wanted to feel more terror. More suspense. I felt the spine-tingling in some of the prose but in others it didn’t quite reach the expectations I was looking for. There was almost a lack of inconsistency.
However! I did enjoy this book and loved the change of pace from recent reads. Really well written book, very imaginative and worth picking up.
Fans of Twilight Zone, Stephen King, Edgar Allen Poe or dark poetry and short stories will love this book.
Stephen H. Provost is a veteran editor, reporter and columnists with more than 30 years of experience at daily newspapers in California. He’s currently the managing editor of The Cambrian on the Central Coast, as well as a columnist and assistant city editor for The Tribune in San Luis Obispo.
As an author, he has written historical nonfiction (“Fresno Growing Up” and “Highway 99: The History of California’s Main Street”), novels (“Memortality” and “Identity Break”), while also exploring the realms of mythology, fable and ancient history.
Title: Losing Adam
By: Adrienne Clark
Publication date: April 24th 2018
Genres: Adult, Contemporary, Romance
Winner of the silver medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards for best YA novel!
What happens when the person you love most in the world suddenly becomes a stranger?
Adam and Jenny’s world is falling apart. Their dream of attending college together away from home quickly becomes a nightmare when Adam begins hearing the voice of the Snow Queen. Adam’s startling transformation from popular drama student into a withdrawn, suspicious stranger leaves Jenny frightened and confused. How can the person she loves most in the world suddenly become someone she doesn’t recognize? As Adam drifts farther and farther away into the Snow Queen’s mysterious world of ice and snow, Jenny believes she must fight to bring him back or risk losing him forever.
Vividly narrated by Adam and Jenny, the struggle to understand the impact of Adam’s mental illness, forces both characters on a journey of self-discovery that leads to understanding about life’s uncertainty, the power of first love, and the pain of letting go. Drawing on elements of The Snow Queen fairy tale, Losing Adam is a unique combination of drama and romance.
Choosing Adam is a novel I usually don’t read but thoroughly enjoyed the change.
The story follows the two main characters, Adam and Jenny as they begin their journey from two difficult households to college life. However, as the story progresses, it becomes very clear something is wrong with Adam. He begins hearing voices, getting headaches and appears to be overall paranoid of everything and everyone around him. This puts great strain on the relationship between Adam and Jenny but their loyalty for each other is nothing short of heart-warming.
The critique I would add would be the overall repetition of the story seemed to drag out in a day to day basis. I almost wanted some more conflict. To me this story could have been told as a flash fiction rather than a novel with just as powerful of an impact.
This all being said, I enjoyed reading it. It is definitely a change from what I usually read or write and was well-formatted. I appreciate the author’s willingness to bring a very real struggle to the forefront of the literary world.
Very well done and I will gladly review this author’s work in the future.
I would recommend this book to people who appreciate contemporary writing that does not involve the paranormal or anything other than two lovers struggling to hold onto something they care deeply about. It’s very heartwarming and sad at the same time.
About the author:
A lover of faerie tales, fantasy and gothic horror, a thread of the mysterious or unexpected runs through all my work. My dream is to find readers who will gather round and let me tell them stories that will become a part of their life the way they have become a part of mine.
A past winner of the Alice Munro short fiction contest, my work has appeared in a number of publications including, The Storyteller, A Fly in Amber, New Plains Review, Silly Tree Anthologies, and in the e-zines Les Bonnes Fees, The Devilfish Review, Rose Red Review and 87 Bedford. My novel, Losing Adam, garnered a silver medal in the Independent Publisher Book Awards for best young Adult novel.
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