Saturday, December 28, 2013

Most Anticipated books of 2014

The following books are my most anticipated books of 2014 (not in any particular order)

January 7, 2014
Aida Palmer performs a spirit medium show onstage at Chinatown’s illustrious Gris-Gris speakeasy. However, her ability to summon (and expel) the dead is more than just an act.

Winter Magnusson is a notorious bootlegger who’s more comfortable with guns than ghosts—unfortunately for him, he’s the recent target of a malevolent hex that renders him a magnet for hauntings. After Aida’s supernatural assistance is enlisted to banish the ghosts, her spirit-chilled aura heats up as the charming bootlegger casts a different sort of spell on her...

On the hunt for the curseworker responsible for the hex, Aida and Winter become drunk on passion. And the closer they become, the more they realize they have ghosts of their own to exorcise…

 January 28, 2014
Darrow is a miner and a Red, a member of the lowest caste in the color-coded society of the future. Like his fellow Reds, he digs all day, believing that he and his people are making the surface of the planet livable for future generations. Darrow has never seen the sky.

Yet he spends his life willingly, knowing that his blood and sweat will one day result in a better future for his children.

But Darrow and his kind have been betrayed. Soon he discovers that humanity already reached the surface generations ago. Vast cities and sprawling parks spread across the planet. Darrow and Reds like him are nothing more than slaves to a decadent ruling class.

Inspired by a longing for justice, and driven by the memory of lost love, Darrow joins a resistance group in order to infiltrate the ruling class and destroy society from within. He will stop at nothing to bring down his enemies... even if it means he has to become one of them to do so.

January 21, 2014
Of the various star systems that make up the Confederation, most lie thousands of light-years from First Earth-and out here, no one is free. The agencies that govern the Confederation are as corrupt as the crime bosses who patrol it, and power is held by anyone with enough greed and ruthlessness to claim it. That power is derived from one thing: metatech, the devices that allow people to travel great distances faster than the speed of light.

Jeth Seagrave and his crew of teenage mercenaries have survived in this world by stealing unsecured metatech, and they're damn good at it. Jeth doesn't care about the politics or the law; all he cares about is earning enough money to buy back his parents' ship, Avalon, from his crime-boss employer and getting himself and his sister, Lizzie, the heck out of Dodge. But when Jeth finds himself in possession of information that both the crime bosses and the government are willing to kill for, he is going to have to ask himself how far he'll go to get the freedom he's wanted for so long.

Avalon is the perfect fit for teens new to sci-fi as well as seasoned sci-fi readers looking for more books in the YA space-and a great match for fans of Joss Whedon's cult hit show Firefly.

 February 4, 2014
You know the theory that ghosts are energy trapped when someone dies violently? It’s true. I know it for a fact...

My name is Jensen Murphy, and thirty years ago I was just an ordinary California girl. I had friends, family, a guy who might be The One. Ordinary—until I became a statistic, one of the unsolved murders of the year. Afterwards, I didn’t go anywhere in pursuit of any bright light—I stayed under the oak tree where my body was found, and relived my death, over an over. So when a psychic named Amanda Lee Minter pulled me out of that loop into the real world, I was very grateful.

So I’m now a ghost-at-large—rescued by Amanda (I found out) to be a supernatural snoop. I’m helping her uncover a killer (not mine—she promises me we’ll get to that) which should be easy for a spirit. Except that I’ve found out that even ghosts have enemies, human—and otherwise…

 February 25, 2014
Night Owls book store is the one spot on campus open late enough to help out even the most practiced slacker. The employees’ penchant for fighting the evil creatures of the night is just a perk…

Valerie McTeague’s business model is simple: provide the students of Edgewood College with a late-night study haven and stay as far away from the underworld conflicts of her vampire brethren as possible. She’s lived that life, and the price she paid was far too high to ever want to return.

Elly Garrett hasn’t known any life except that of fighting the supernatural werewolf-like beings known as Creeps or Jackals. But she always had her mentor and foster father by her side—until he gave his life protecting a book that the Creeps desperately want to get their hands on.

When the book gets stashed at Night Owls for safe keeping, those Val holds nearest and dearest are put in mortal peril. Now Val and Elly will have to team up, along with a mismatched crew of humans, vampires, and lesbian succubi, to stop the Jackals from getting their claws on the book and unleashing unnamed horrors

 February 25, 2014

A deadly virus and an impossible discovery unite in one enthralling can’t-miss read...

Sixteen-year-old Mia Kish has always been afraid of the dark. After all, she’s baby Mia, the one who fell down a well. That was years ago, though the darkness still haunts her. But when her classmates and teachers at ritzy Westbrook Academy start dying of old age from a bizarre and frightening virus that ages its victims years in a matter of hours, Mia becomes haunted by a lot more than the dark. Their deaths are gruesome and Mia worries she and her friends may be next. In order to survive, Mia and her small crew must break quarantine and outrun armed soldiers in hazmat suits who shoot first and ask questions later.

And there’s only one place to go—the Cave, aka Fenton Electronics. Mia knows it’s somehow connected and hopes her dad, Director of Fenton Electronics, who has always been strangely secretive about his work, has the answers she needs, and more importantly a cure to save everyone before the whole town succumbs to the mysterious virus. Unfortunately, it’s not answers Mia discovers, but something far more treacherous and impossible than even the virus itself.

March 4, 2014
Dusty Everhart might be able to predict the future through the dreams of her crush, Eli Booker, but that doesn’t make her life even remotely easy. When one of her mermaid friends is viciously assaulted and left for dead, and the school’s jokester, Lance Rathbone, is accused of the crime, Dusty’s as shocked as everybody else. Lance needs Dusty to prove his innocence by finding the real attacker, but that’s easier asked than done. Eli’s dreams are no help, more nightmares than prophecies.

To make matters worse, Dusty’s ex-boyfriend has just been acquitted of conspiracy and is now back at school, reminding Dusty of why she fell for him in the first place. The Magi Senate needs Dusty to get close to him, to discover his real motives. But this order infuriates Eli, who has started his own campaign for Dusty’s heart.

As Dusty takes on both cases, she begins to suspect they’re connected to something bigger. And there’s something very wrong with Eli’s dreams, signs that point to a darker plot than they could have ever imagined.

 March 11, 2014
When Liv Bloom lands an art scholarship at Wickham Hall, it’s her ticket out of the foster system. Liv isn’t sure what to make of the school’s weird traditions and rituals, but she couldn’t be happier—especially when Malcolm Astor, fellow artist and scion of one of the school’s original families, starts falling for her. Fellow scholarship kid Gabe Nichols warns her not to get involved with a “Wicky,” but things are finally going Liv’s way, and all she wants to do is enjoy it.

But Liv’s bliss is cut short when she is viciously murdered. In death, she discovers that she’s the latest victim of a dark conspiracy that spans 150 years and many, many lives. Gabe, cursed with the ability to see their ghosts, turns out to be Liv’s only link to the world of the living.

Liv must rely on Gabe’s help to prove to Malcolm that she’s still present… lingering with the other spirits. Together, Liv, Gabe, and Malcolm fight to expose the terrible truth that haunts the halls of Wickham before more lives are lost.

 May 6, 2014
America, today. A continent upended by the deaths of tens of millions of women from a synthetic hormone in meat. Now teen girls are the country’s most valuable commodity, watched over by guards, gates and Paternal Controls on phones, internet and media.

Seventeen-year-old Avie knows her life is over when her father contracts her in marriage to millionaire businessman Jess Hawkins to raise money for his ailing biotech company. Destined to be moulded into Hawkins’s perfect First Lady as he runs for governor on the Paternalist ticket, Avie knows she has to get away - to save who she is and everything she wants her life to be.

Yates, Avie’s childhood friend turned revolutionary, knows Avie has what it takes to make it to freedom in Canada. But on a perilous flight from the mansions of Los Angeles and Malibu to the cover of an exclusive escort service in Las Vegas, Avie begins to learn dangerous truths about who really controls the US government. As her friendship with Yates turns to love, and pursued to the snowy Canadian border by government agents, she must discover whether she really is ‘a girl called fearless’. . .


August 5, 2014
There are whispers of a ghost in the slaughterhouse where sixteen-year-old Wen assists her father in his medical clinic—a ghost who grants wishes to those who need them most. When one of the Noor, men hired as cheap factory labor, humiliates Wen, she makes an impulsive wish of her own, and the Ghost grants it. Brutally.

Guilt-ridden, Wen befriends the Noor, including their outspoken leader, a young man named Melik. At the same time, she is lured by the mystery of the Ghost and learns he has been watching her … for a very long time.

As deadly accidents fuel tensions within the factory, Wen must confront her growing feelings for Melik, who is enraged at the sadistic factory bosses and the prejudice faced by his people at the hand of Wen’s, and her need to appease the Ghost, who is determined to protect her against any threat—real or imagined. She must decide whom she can trust, because as her heart is torn, the factory is exploding around her … and she might go down with it.

 Other honorable mentions (since I haven't read the most recent in the series, but KNOW it's going to be spectacular!)

What are your 'Must Reads' of 2014?!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Mystery Box Giveaway

I thought it was time again that I give away some books! The mystery box of books contains used books (great condition, like-new), new books and some ARCs. The books are a mixture of adult, young-adult and children books. *As previous winners can vouch, it is a big box! :)*

US only (sorry!), please fill out the Rafflecopter below!
Giveaway ends 1/2/14 11:59 est

**UPDATE: It seems that I made a mistake with the Rafflecopter. I added duplicate options which now has been fixed and I had to delete the extra entries (to be fair) sorry people!**

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Saturday, December 21, 2013

Review: Long Live the Queen by Kate Locke

Title: Long Live the Queen
Author: Kate Locke
Genre: Paranormal, Steampunk
Series: The Immortal Empire #3

Hardcover, 311 pages
Publication: November 12, 2013 by Orbit  

Source: I received a  review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review.

Xandra Vardan thought life would be simpler when she accepted the goblin crown and became their queen, but life has only become more complicated. Everyone -- vampires, werewolves and humans -- wants the goblins on their side, because whoever has the goblins -- wins.

Queen Victoria wants her head, Alpha wolf Vex wants her heart, and she still doesn't know the identity of the person who wanted her blood. What she does know is that a project from one of the 'secret' aristocrat labs has gotten free and she's the only one who can stop the perfect killing machine -- a sixteen year-old girl. With human zealots intent on ridding the world of anyone with plagued blood and supernatural politics taking Britain to the verge of civil war, Xandra's finding out that being queen isn't all it's cracked up to be, and if she doesn't do something fast, hers will be the shortest reign in history.

Long Live the Queen is the third and final installment in Locke’s outrageously fun Immortal Empire series. 

Xandra is the newly crowned goblin queen but unlike most full blooded goblins, Xandra is able to walk in sunlight and is fur and snout less.  Xandra is still having a hard time adjusting to her new role and to makes matters worst the British Empire is in a tizzy.  All supernatural sects and the human league are in a state of unrest because an experiment from the secret aristocrat labs is let loose on the streets on London…and the said experiment looks exactly like Xandra except a little younger. It turns out that the people who abducted Xandra before used her DNA to create this monster that is attacking aristos, half bloods and humans alike. With the help of her friends and family Xandra hunts down her doppelganger because if she fails; the empire will have another Insurrection war on their hand. 

Long Live the Queen was another solid fun read.  Xandra has grown a great deal since the first book, but still suffered a little bit on needing to be the center of attention. She believed she was strong and invincible and tried to bite off more than she can chew. At times it got annoying but thankfully she realized her mate Vex, the plague and her siblings are all capable of taking care of themselves/ or can fight alongside her.  We see and learn a lot more about Queen Victoria, Prince William, Juliet (Xandra mother) and other secondary characters this time around. I especially enjoyed seeing more of Queen Victoria; she turned out not to be as cold-hearted as everyone thought she was. The bickering-banter between Queen Victoria and Xandra is probably the highlight of the story for me…every time these women encounter each other you can expect to be laughing out loud. 

The Immortal Empire series was a great ride while it lasted and I’m a little sad now that it ended. While the story wrapped up and everything was answered; I can’t help but feel that the characters/world still has so much to offer. Like previous books in the series you can expect nonstop action, snarky dialogue and a fun mystery with twists and turns that will have you captivated till the very end. I highly recommend this book/series to anyone who enjoys a deliciously dark (but not too dark lol) Victorian steampunk full of vampires, werewolves and goblins! I’ll definitely be on the lookout for Locke’s future books. 

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Review: Fallen by Traci L. Slatton

Title: Fallen
Author: Traci L. Slatton
Genre: Scifi-Dystopian
Series: After Trilogy #1

Paperback, 240 pages
Publication: July 27th 2011 by Telemachus Press

Source: I received a review copy form the author in exchange for a honest review.

Buy|Amazon|Book Depo|

When the world ends, all that is left is love....

As chaos descends on a crippled Earth, survivors are tormented by strange psychic gifts. In this time of apocalyptic despair, love is put to the test. One woman with mysterious healing power guides seven children to safety. Charismatic Arthur offers her a haven. Slowly Emma falls for him. But at the moment of their sweetest love, his devastating secret is revealed, and they are lost to each other. Will Emma stay with him?

Fallen is set in a post-apocalyptic France. Our main heroine Emma was with her daughter Mandy on a business trip when the world ended. A mysterious and lethal mist came out of nowhere and devoured everything in its path. The mist seems to be attracted to metal; wiping out buildings, technology and even people that come too close to it. It’s been approximately 10 months since the mist emerged and Emma is doing her best to take care of her daughter and 7 other children that she found/rescued along the way.

The book grabbed my attention immediately when Emma’s daughter Mandy is cornered by the mist and Emma is prepared to shoot her if the mist touches her (once the mist touches you, you pretty much start to melt and die a slow painful death).  Right off the bat you see how dreadful the situation is for Emma’s group; they’re trying to stay alive by finding whatever scraps of food that hasn’t been tainted by the mist and at the same time avoiding the band of cannibal rogue men.  Emma is a tough character, and is willing to do anything to protect her ‘kids’. She pretty much puts everyone above herself, and I admire that about her but…within the first chapter or two she meets a group of men scavenging for supplies and bargains her body to the group’s leader. I didn’t like that. As much as it pains me to say as the book progresses, the character and story didn’t get much better…well not till the very end.

Arthur, the group leader takes Emma up on her offer and brings her and the children into his all male camp.  Arthur at first treats Emma like a piece of object and his property( I mean, she did offer her body).  Emma continues to take care of the children and tidies the camp here and there but for the most part I saw her as nothing more than Arthur’s sex slave. Speed forward a couple months in the book, Arthur and Emma’s relationship is still questionable. She sees their relationship as a means to an end, till she reunites with her HUSBAND in Canada but Arthur is falling for Emma and falling hard. Most reader thought their relationship was cute-sweet…I didn’t. Arthur is a controlling alpha guy; he makes Emma report to him everything she does, and gets scary jealous when she interacts with other male members of the camp. At one point when Emma reveals to Arthur that she is in fact still married, he tells her his word is law and if he deemed her divorced…she’s divorce.  I don’t know.  I just think it was a mess-up relationship to begin with and it didn’t help that both of them kept secrets from another. As for the other characters, they all didn’t make a strong impression as I hoped. The characters still needed a lot of development, but I expect it will be better as the series goes on…as this book was super short, only about 250 pages. 

The most interesting aspect of the book is the mist and the different abilities that people inherited ‘after’ the world ended. For example Emma is able to heal people (to an extent) when she puts her hands on a person, Arthur is able to control the mist, Dermatologist/Doc James is able to see inside a person like x-ray vision and so on. Fallen sounded like a paranormal (IMHO when I first read the synopsis) read but once readers discover the truth behind the mist; people powers/abilities…it turned out to be scientific. I don’t really know how I feel about Fallen. It honestly didn’t start out so great, the middle dragged a bit and it wasn’t till the end that I found myself interested again (not since the first paragraph of the book). Fallen had so much potential to be that great story but it was missing something (what I’m not so sure) and the two main characters weren’t that likeable. 

Bottom line, Fallen wasn’t bad or great. I like the idea of the book and some of the characters but I think that if the book was a little longer, it would have made a difference (like to get to know the other characters better…there were too many characters to keep track of, from different groups).

Thursday, December 05, 2013

Review: Parasite by Mira Grant

Title: Parasite
Author: Mira Grant
Genre: Science Fiction
Series: Parasitology #1

Hardcover, 504 pages
Publication: October 29, 2013 by Orbit

Source: I received a review copy from the publicist in exchange for a honest review

Buy|Amazon|Book Depo|

A decade in the future, humanity thrives in the absence of sickness and disease.

We owe our good health to a humble parasite - a genetically engineered tapeworm developed by the pioneering SymboGen Corporation. When implanted, the tapeworm protects us from illness, boosts our immune system - even secretes designer drugs. It's been successful beyond the scientists' wildest dreams. Now, years on, almost every human being has a SymboGen tapeworm living within them.

But these parasites are getting restless. They want their own lives...and will do anything to get them.

I remember hearing about this book when the author was still in the process of writing it and I thought the premise sounded creepily interesting. Parasite is the first book in a duology by Mira Grant, pseudonym for Seanan McGuire. Parasite is narrated by our protagonist Sally/Sal Mitchell (Sally before accident, Sal after accident). Sal had an accident leaving her brain-dead and on the verge on getting removed from life support when she suddenly wakes up from her coma. It turns out that Sal is only alive because of an engineered tapeworm (yuck) created by SymboGen Corporation. Sal has no memories of her life before waking up from the coma; being forced to learn everything from the start like a toddler (ex. speech).

The year is 2027 and thanks to SymboGen Corporation the majority of the world’s population all has a genetically engineered tapeworm inside of them for protection against sickness and to boost their overall health. The first half of the book was quite slow as the author sets up the world and characters of the novel. Sal has been adjusting to society for 6 years since her coma, and the way she acts and talks is much like a young child. She doesn’t know anything and still has a hard time grasping basic/slang English.  I wasn’t a fan of Sal at the beginning because of her medical condition she did read like a passive adolescent. I also didn’t understand her absolute fear of riding in a car/bus, especially if she has no memory of it (the accident)…I still think its weird and frankly it doesn’t make sense.  Thankfully Sal wasn’t passive the entire time. As the story progresses we see people start showing symptoms of the ‘sleeping sickness’ (kind of like a zombie state, your body is moving but no one is home), and Sal finds herself in the middle of the outbreak, trying to solve the problem and finding out what  SymboGen is hiding.

At the beginning of each chapter there are two short biography snippets from 2/3 SymboGen founders/creators. These little snippets give a more in-depth view of how things came to be. There were also quotes from the characters and short poem/passage from a children book that added another creep factor to the story. Many reviewers said this story is far-fetched and if you know anything about biology/microbiology than hold those thoughts at the door or you’d be angry while reading this book. While the concept does seem out-there, I do think something like this can possibly happen in the future. NOT the whole; having billions of people swallow a tapeworm (disgusting) but if it was a one-time pill/procedure that promised to cure you from all sickness including cancers etc…then I’m sure many people would jump on that bandwagon; or at least those that can afford it. 

Overall I enjoyed Parasite, there wasn’t much action as I would have liked but the story was engaging at least. This is my first time reading a book by the author under the pen name Mira Grant (I’ve read her other series under McGuire) it was different from her fantasy series but still good. The ending of the book was pretty predicable; I think anyone reading the synopsis alone can figure the story out before reading the actual book. The book also ended abruptly which sucks because readers are going to have to wait an entire year to know what happens next. I want to know what's going to happen to all the 'sick' people! Plus the ending takes an interesting turn (not the big revel) but there are more than two groups at play behind everything.

I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys a scifi medical-mystery or horror. Now I’m off to check out Mira’s Newsflesh Trilogy! :)

Tuesday, December 03, 2013

Proxy by Mindee Arnett [Excerpt & Giveaway]

If you need something stolen from any star system in the Confederation, you need look no further than the Shades. Jeth Seagrave and his band of teenage mercenaries have been making a name for themselves for being able to steal anything—and for disappearing before anyone is the wiser.

Their latest job, a jewel heist on Grakkus, should be no different. But when Jeth's boss replaces a key member of his crew just before takeoff, and Jeth discovers a betrayal within his own ranks, he begins to suspect that not everyone is going to be coming back from his job alive.

Proxy is an action-packed introduction to a world like nothing readers have seen before.


The thrill of the job never got old. Jeth Seagrave lived for it. For the way the anticipation sent electricity pulsing through his veins, making his blood burn hotter, his heart beat harder, and sharpening his senses until he felt like something more than human. A superhero from one of the ancient myths of First Earth, perhaps.

You’re no hero. The automatic thought skidded through his mind, barely registering. No, he wasn’t. He was a thief. One of the best.

And that was all that mattered. Never mind that he was only sixteen. Never mind that most of his crew was even younger. Together they were an unstoppable force, a gang of teenage thieves their adult marks never saw coming. The thrill pulsed harder inside him, and with an effort he focused on the nav monitor in front of him. They would be entering the patrolled zone around the planet Grakkus soon.

To his left, Celeste piloted the Debonair forward, her hands steady on the control column. Jeth would’ve preferred to pilot this job—he would prefer to pilot every job—but he and Celeste took turns. All of the members of the Malleus Shades held specific roles that played to their strengths. Celeste’s forte was counterintelligence, particularly the art of distracting marks. Jeth’s was strategy, and he typically took point on every job. But when it came to piloting, he and Celeste were equally matched.

Jeth drew a breath, still struggling to focus. He couldn’t help it. The upcoming job was the most challenging, complicated one they’d taken on yet. The target was located in a vault at the top of a tower only accessible through the emperor of Grakkus’s personal bedchambers—not some insignificant politician or petty crime lord, but an emperor. Pulling it off would be like flying a spaceship through a solar storm without getting fried. A grin threatened to break on his face. The job was going to be fun, and with a payout well worth the risk.

At last the nav computer flashed an indicator that they were heading into the patrolled zone.

Celeste glanced at him, her dark eyes narrowing. Straight black hair hung in a blunt cut down to her shoulders. “Are you going to turn on the stealth drive or what?”

“I’m thinking about it.” A part of him didn’t want to. The so-called stealth drive was brand new and untested, at least by the Shades. If it didn’t work, things were going to get a whole lot more interesting real quick. And if it did work, well, then things weren’t going to get interesting. He couldn’t decide which he preferred.

In the end, Celeste made the decision for him, reaching over to a switch on a sleek new section of the control panel. Jeth sighed. It was the right thing to do, of course, and there would be plenty of risks to be had once they landed.

Or it might not work properly, he thought, examining the nav monitor once more. Best not to blindly trust some newfangled technology. Within minutes he spotted a blimp on the monitor, a patrol to their starboard. The ship was far off, but within range to scan them.

“What should I do?” A hint of panic colored Celeste’s voice. They had never before flown so boldly through a patrolled area.

“Hold course,” Jeth said, not taking his eyes off the blimp. So far the patrol ship hadn’t given any sign that it had spotted them.

“You sure you’re right?”

“Aren’t I always?”

Celeste snorted. “Do you want an honest answer?”

“Nope. I prefer my own version of the truth.”

“Right.” Celeste tightened her grip on the controls. According to the instructions they’d received from their employer, who owned the Debonair, the stealth drive worked best when the ship maintained a constant speed and course. Any sharp turns or drastic acceleration or deceleration could turn up on a system scanning for thruster signatures, stealth drive or no.

Maybe it was for the best that Celeste was piloting, Jeth realized. He would’ve been tempted to test the theory of what constituted “drastic.”

They passed out of range of the patrol a few minutes later, and Jeth sat back in the copilot’s chair, folding his arms across his chest as he tried to ignore his disappointment. They flew within range of three more patrols but moved past them without incident, finally breaching Grakkus’s atmosphere.

Once through, Celeste headed for their rendezvous point, an isolated forested area a few hundred kilometers outside of the capital city. Beyond the bridge’s main windows, the first rays of sunlight were breasting the horizon, heralded by a swath of purple, pink, and vermillion.

At last Celeste set the Debonair down on a large stretch of tall grass the color of seaweed. She powered off the engines and turned on the auxiliary, which would keep the shipboard systems running, including the stealth drive. It wasn’t likely that anyone would spot them out here—the place was well off the main thoroughfares, not to mention how inhospitable the swamp surrounding them was—but Jeth decided not to point that out.

Celeste stood and stretched, the movement languid as if she were part cat. The dark, fitted clothing she wore aided the illusion. “So, what now?”

Jeth checked his watch, which he’d synced to Grakkus time. “I say breakfast or lunch, whichever works, and then a couple hours’ R and R. The setup man’s not due to arrive until fourteen hundred.” They’d had to get here early to avoid being detected during landing. The stealth drive hid them from sight, but it couldn’t disguise the sound of the engines or the wind raised by the thrusters.

“Think I’m going to shower again, before—” Celeste broke off as a voice echoed over the ship’s comm system.

“Um, Boss? We sorta have a situation. You might want to get down to the common room.”

Jeth blinked, all his disappointment from their unadventurous journey vanishing in the space of a single breath. It wasn’t often that Will Shady sounded nervous.

Wondering if maybe the ship was on fire, Jeth turned and headed off the bridge with Celeste quick on his heels. They arrived in the common room on the deck below moments later. Jeth stopped in the doorway, surveying the scene. There wasn’t a fire. There wasn’t anything amiss at all, as far as he could tell. Shady was sitting on one of the sofas, his attention focused on the 3D projection from his portable gaming system, a wave of bloodthirsty robots coming at him, each one falling to his simulated gunfire. The comm unit he’d used to radio the bridge sat discarded on the sofa beside him, in danger of being swallowed by a cushion.

Jeth approached him. “What are you doing?”

“Practicing,” Shady said, not looking up. The scowl on his face as he let off a triple blast, drilling a robot right between its bulbous black eyes, made his features look distinctly leonine, the appearance aided by his shaggy mane of blond hair. Shady’s assigned role in the Malleus Shades was ordnance officer.

Jeth put his hands on his hips. “We’re not going to be shooting anybody on this job. And please tell me this wasn’t the thing I needed to see.”

Shady shook his head. “Nope. It’s in that storage locker.” He pointed to the row of lockers along the wall across from them. “The one in the middle.”

Jeth arched an eyebrow. He considered pressing Shady for more, but knew there wasn’t much point. All the crew dealt with prejob nerves in different ways, and once engrossed in his ritual video game, it was hard to get Shady to concern himself with anything else.

Jeth crossed the floor to the locker in question, wondering where the Debonair had been last. Their employer used the ship for lots of different jobs, and it was possible it had been parked planetside somewhere a wild animal could’ve gotten in. An image of something furry and clawed and with teeth the size of fingers flashed through Jeth’s mind. He wasn’t wearing a gun, and he briefly considered getting one before finding out what had Shady so nervous, but then he shrugged and pulled the door open.

There was something alive in there all right, but it wasn’t a wild animal. Even still, it took Jeth several moments to come to grip with what it was. Who it was.

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Mindee Arnett lives on a horse farm in Ohio with her husband, two kids, a couple of dogs, and an inappropriate number of cats. She’s addicted to jumping horses and telling tales of magic, the macabre, and outer space. She has far more dreams than nightmares. She's the YA author of The Nightmare Affair (Tor Teen), an urban fantasy series about a girl who is literally a nightmare and must use her skills to solve a murder, and the forthcoming science fiction series, Avalon (B+B, 1/21/2014), where Jeth and his teenage mercenaries need to pull off one last big job in order to earn their freedom.