Category Archives: issue driven

THE NEXUS AND OTHER STORIES is a Science Fiction Sensation!

The Nexus

by Elise Abram

Aliens, ghosts, clones, zombies, vampires, nightmares come to life, teleportation…

There are more things in heaven and earth than modern man will ever know or understand.

The Nexus

They say be careful what you wish for. Meet Josef Schliemann, noted expert in pseudo-archaeology who sponsors a dig beneath a historic church in downtown Toronto. Said to have been built on a tract of land sacred to prehistoric Indigenous peoples living in the area, the secrets of the site have been lost to time. Will Josef survive when he finds the object of his desires?

A Morgan by Any Other Name

In a future where cloning has been perfected–sort of–Rachel, a Morgan model, should have the world at her feet, but she’s not happy. What is the one thing a teenage clone desires?

At the Mere Thought Of

What happens when your worst nightmare comes true? Businessman Crane is about to find out.

The Circle of Life

Bob wakes up the night after attending a wild rave to find he’s not himself. He wakes up, buried alive and hungry…for flesh!

One book, thirteen stories.

In The Nexus and Other Stories, science fiction author Elise Abram explores the myths of the modern world. 

Buy The Nexus and Other Stories.

 

 

 

 

 

THE XERCES FACTOR taps into a believable conspiracy mythology

rp_The-Xerces-Factor-FRONT-FINAL-JPEG-198x300.jpgIn The Xerces Factor by Rodney Page, Charles Arrington wakes up in a hospital room. He had lost an arm, an eye, and his wife in an explosion. Certain that the explosion was an assassination attempt on his life, due to some whistle-blowing calibre research he was engaged in, Arrington assembles a team to continue his research and expose the government for their back-door dealings. The stakes are high. Not only are the lives of Arrington and his associates in danger, but so is the country if not the world. Just how wide do the fingers of corruption reach?

The Xerces Factor is interesting and relevant, given the state of world politics today. His prose is easy to read, and his characters believable. If you like political thrillers, you are sure to love The Xerces Factor. Page’s story is contemporary and high-tech, which both piqued my interest and confused me at times. His characters are likeable and believable, and I found myself caring for them and in awe of how much they are willing to risk to expose corruption in the highest tiers of the government.

Admittedly, political thrillers, particularly those delving deep into American politics aren’t my favourite genre. Also, though I’m technologically-minded, I often get lost when I’m given acronyms, numbers, and lots of technological jargon, as I need more hands-on experience than instructional theoretics when it comes to science and technology. But to Page’s credit, I continued to read in spite of this. My overall analysis is that The Xerces Factor is a quick, relevant read, that taps into a conspiracy mythology that is totally believable.

Mamabear gives this book:

three-bears

Note: I was gifted an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If you like “Outlander”…

enigma of longevityIn The Enigma of Her Longevity, Dr. Kevina (Kevy) Paul longs for something more in her life. Her daughter has died from cancer, and her relationship with her husband has grown lackluster. When she leaves her husband, she visits the local police station to leave behind an ominous message: I am okay. Do not try to find me. Kevy, a leading Canadian authority in aviation, travels to the Middle East to help escape her life, and find new meaning when she’s enlisted to stop an impending digital terrorist attack.

Moe Vyas creates a futuristic world that isn’t hard to imagine, given the state of technology today. The scenery he describes is incredibly detailed, as if we were listening to a play-by-play of Vyas, standing there and describing it in real time. The scenario in the book is realistic, as well. It’s not hard to imagine the world being threatened by a cyber-terrorist who uses existing technology—such as ATMs—to spread a computer virus with potentially catastrophic results.

The only disappointment for me, was that Vyas doesn’t explore the actual enigma behind Kevy’s longevity, as the title promises. There is mention at the start of the book that she has lived a long life, which is revisited at the end, but there is no satisfying explanation as to why.

Vyas’s story is told through the frame of a reporter investigating Kevy who is a unique individual, aside from the fact that she lives to the ripe old age of 137. The frame plot is interesting, and adequately sets the stage for the rest of the story, which is told in flashbacks. Vyas’s structure is best suited for a series, similar in sentiment to Outlander, rather than as a standalone book. If his intention is to revisit Dr. Kevina Paul in order to document another outstanding chapter in the life of this remarkable woman with his next book, then I have no complaints.

Mamabear gives this book

four-bears

Note: I was gifted an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Contact Us – Flash Forward meets 24

contact us cover macyImagine everyone in the world sneezing simultaneously, followed by a brief, yet excruciating bout of pain. Then, within 24 hours, most of the world’s population dies in their sleep. And if that weren’t enough, the survivors are contacted by an alien in the guise of Walter Cronkite and given What would you do? Contact Us documents the lives of some of the survivors–top advisor to the president Charli Keller, long since retired and presumed dead former agent Jake Corby, among them–as they strive to discover the cause and meaning of the sneeze, pain, and culling, in order to save the human race.

Contact us was a quick and entertaining read. Part Flash Forward, part 24, the plot–absurd though it was at times–kept propelling me forward. Charli is a strong, female character who takes the lead in the investigation. Jake is far too driven by his emotions, but learns to rein them in when necessary. Cronkite the Alien is a weird character, who, for all of his peculiarities, had me thinking more like Nixon on Futurama than not, but the caricature works; people trusted the real Walter Cronkite–it’s not a stretch to imagine a shape-shifting alien who chooses to look like him in order to gain a similar trust with the people of Earth. Or is it?

Though Al Macy’s story is farcical at times (not usually my cup of tea), I enjoyed the story. The characters–the human ones, at least–are smart and relatable. Even though the population of Earth suffers a culling, the aftermath isn’t necessarily dystopic. Sure they’re at the whim of a psychotic alien, but they’ve been given the blueprints to all of these useless inventions, and now their resources will go further, and the environment will replenish itself, besides.

Contact Us is a contemporary sci-fi that discusses modern themes and offers a horrific solution to our woes. It does what all good fiction must , which is to help us shed light on the shortcomings of our modern world.

Mamabear give this book:

four-bears

Note: I was gifted an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

If Landry can do it, maybe I can too

best friends forever coverIn Best Friends Forever, Landry’s about to enter into grade 9. She’s an aspiring model, has a few good friends, and a boy is interested in her. So why is life so tough? No matter what she may have going for her, Landry must deal with the same petty jealousy, new school anxiety, and boy problems any other teenage girl faces. It’s not until she is reinstated as a contestant in the modeling competition that she meets someone, an older contestant, that helps her put her life into perspective. Will Landry reunite with her estranged friends? Will she ever work it out with Vladi, her on-again-off-again “boyfriend”? How will she fare in the competition?

I read a lot of YA fiction, most of it rife with abuses I wouldn’t wish on my worst enemies. It was refreshing to read a novel dealing with the trials and tribulations of an ordinary, everyday teen. Rather than grapple with questions of life or death, the author, Krysten Lindsay Hager, hands the grappling over to the reader. Landry has everything going for her and she is still dealing with the same trivial issues blown to mammoth proportions. If Landry is experiencing the same thing as the reader and still manages to come out on top, maybe the reader can, too.

Best Friends Forever is a charming peek into the life of a normal teen. Rather than depict an ordinary teen in extraordinary circumstances so she can emerge extraordinary in the end, Hager’s book shows an ordinary teen in ordinary circumstances who emerges extraordinary, nevertheless. Though Landry possesses beauty, emerging fame, and popularity—all the makings of a “mean girl”—she faces every challenge she meets with aplomb, never giving up on wanting to do what’s right for everyone around her.

Landry is the perfect protagonist around which to base a series. I wish Hager all the best with this series, and hope to check in with Landry later on, to see how she fares in high school.

Mamabear gives this book:

Note: I was gifted an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Fast-paced and Entertaining

andrea and the 5-day challengeWhen Andrea promises to complete a 5-day bible study and journal, she isn’t sure if she will be successful or how it will affect her life. But as the week wears on, she faces a number of seemingly insurmountable challenges, most of them concerning school and her crush on new guy Luke Ryan, not to mention Luke’s crush on her. Then there’s the piano recital and the potential to be scouted for Julliard. To make matters worse, mean girl Stephanie is also interested in Luke. Will Andrea survive the week, let alone see her 5-day challenge through to the end?

Cindy K. Green’s Andrea and the 5-Day Challenge is a quick and entertaining read, one which I finished over the course of 4 days. The story is fast-paced and the characters are believable. Poor Andrea is stuck feeling like such a hopeless failure as she tries to please everyone around her: her parents, whose only dream is to see her be a successful pianist, her friends who want her to let loose and have fun with Luke, she neglects to please herself. Rather than embrace a chaste relationship with Luke, she spurns him several times, but by the end of her 5-day challenge, she learns how to communicate and negotiate and that, if she’s simply honest with the people in her life, there is a way to make everyone, including herself, happy.

Though I’ll admit I was a bit wary of the religious aspect of this text, Green manages to work in the importance of prayer and God in one’s life without hitting the reader over the head with it. The Bible passages are short and relevant to what’s happening in Andrea’s life. In addition, Andrea uses the passages she chooses on each day of the challenge to find solace in her life and to become a better person, which is kind of cool. Young girls will be able to identify with Andrea’s search for her identity, her soul, and for a way to have it all.

Mamabear gives this book:

four-bears

Note: I was gifted an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Believably Dystopic

rp_autumninthecityofangelscover-220x300.jpgWhen 17 year old Autumn finds herself alone in Los Angeles after a global pandemic, she does her best to survive. On a foray into the city, she is taken in by The Front, a group whose focus is power and repopulation. Autumn escapes and is saved by Grey, who disappears shortly thereafter. She returns to her condo where she discovers Ben and his seven year old sister, Rissi. The three of them set up house in Autumn’s penthouse and grow to become a family, but waning supplies forces Autumn out into the dangerous streets of Los Angeles in search of Grey. Due to the air of mystery surrounding him and the kindness he showed her, Grey has become all Autumn can think of lately. And she thinks she knows just how to find him, based on the directions he left her just before he disappeared.

Kirby Howell’s Autumn in the City of Angels was a great read. Howell expertly sets the scene of a believably dystopic Los Angeles. And while Autumn contains many of the plot lines familiar to this genre– a mysterious boy with whom the protagonist can’t help but fall in love; two camps, one good, one evil; most of the world destroyed by a super-virus–there is one plot twist that I didn’t foresee (and which I won’t divulge here) that makes it different from the rest. Autumn in the City of Angels is more than a simple tale of surviours in a post-apocalyptic world. The sci-fi elements are there if you look closely enough. These elements serve to throw a wrench into Autumn and Grey’s sweet love story and hooks the reader further in as the novel races toward the end.

I’ll admit I was thrown for a loop when the big sci-fi element was spelled out for me. When I went back to write this review, I realized that was because I wasn’t reading closely enough. Howell drops hints that I’d missed throughout. Simple things like Autumn’s loss of time that are credited to her injuries, have a much deeper meaning, so watch out for them when you read. And though my first impulse was to stop reading at the point of the reveal, I’m glad I didn’t. My one true complaint is that the book ends too abruptly, and without resolution, probably to leave the reader wanting more for the next book in the series. I’m one of those few people out there who don’t particularly like binge reading series, and would have preferred more of a plot resolution as a result. If you enjoy reading series, however, then you won’t be disappointed. Howell’s intention, to leave the reader wanting more, is bang on.

If you enjoy dystopic sci-fi and paranormal, romance book series, you are in for a treat in  Autumn in the City of Angels.

Mamabear gives this book:

four-bears

Note: I was gifted an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Interview with author Krysten Lindsay Hager

Please join Britbear Book Reviews in welcoming Krysten Lindsay Hager to today’s author spotlight.
Next Door to a Star FRONT COVER

Next Door to a Star by Krysten Lindsay Hager

Genre: Young Adult Romance

Publisher: Limitless Publishing

Release Date: September 1, 2015

Hadley Daniels is tired of feeling invisible.

After Hadley’s best friend moves away and she gets on the bad side of some girls at school, she goes to spend the summer with her grandparents in the Lake Michigan resort town of Grand Haven. Her next door neighbor is none other than teen TV star Simone Hendrickson, who is everything Hadley longs to be—pretty, popular, and famous—and she’s thrilled when Simone treats her like a friend.

Being popular is a lot harder than it looks.

It’s fun and flattering when Simone includes her in her circle, though Hadley is puzzled about why her new friend refuses to discuss her former Hollywood life. Caught up with Simone, Hadley finds herself ignoring her quiet, steadfast friend, Charlotte.

To make things even more complicated, along comes Nick Jenkins…

He’s sweet, good-looking, and Hadley can be herself around him without all the fake drama. However, the mean girls have other ideas and they fill Nick’s head with lies about Hadley, sending him running back to his ex-girlfriend and leaving Hadley heartbroken.

So when her parents decide to relocate to Grand Haven, Hadley hopes things will change when school starts…only to be disappointed once again.

Cliques.

Back-stabbing.

Love gone bad.

Is this really what it’s like to live…Next Door to a Star?

Buy Next Door to a Star on Amazon, Amazon Paperback, Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, iTunes, and KoboBooks.

 

Welcome, Krysten. What inspired you to write the Landry’s True Colors series?
 
When I was in college, I heard the phrase that you should write the book you want to read. I had been wanting to write a YA novel and had several starts, but nothing that I really went the distance with until I heard that. I began writing the books I would have wanted to read at that age as I was dealing with my own insecurities about fitting in and comparing myself to images in magazines. I grew up in the era of the supermodels, which reminds me a lot of how teens and, really, people of all ages, compare themselves to what they see on social media sites. So I wrote from the point of view of a character who sees these perfect looking girls, with perfect looking lives and what seems like super tight-knit friendships, but begins to realize that the grass isn’t always greener. I also wanted to write with humor because that was something I found missing in the YA novels I read growing up.
 
I love having a character that grows throughout the series  although the books can be read as standalone novels as well. It’s fun for me to continue on with the Landry character as well as all her friends and develop them more as the series goes on.
 
You are a self-proclaimed book addict. What are the best books you’ve ever read? Why would you include those books in your list of best books?
 
I love to read and my to-be-read stack is growing all the time. One of my favorite books is The Great Gatsby. It was assigned to me in 7th grade and again in 9th, but I didn’t connect with it until I reread it the summer the movie with Leonardo came out. This time all the themes jumped out at me and I appreciated what Fitzgerald was doing. I love Fitzgerald’s essays and short stories as well. Growing up, I loved all the series books. I read everything from Nancy Drew to Sweet Valley High, The Babysitters Club, and fell in love with a book called Goodbye Glamour Girl by Erika Tamar. I also like reading books by Susan Shapiro, May Sarton, Sarah Mlyanowski, and Judy Blume as well.
 
There are some great and classic series in that list.
In your web site bio you say that when you’re not reading you are catching up on your favourite shows. What are a few of your favourite shows and why?
 
I am bad luck for shows, apparently, because so many of my favorites get canceled–like Hart of Dixie and Dallas, Freaks and Geeks. My current must see programs are: American Dad because I love the writing on it. I love how the writers have the characters of Stan and Roger play off each other. I watch The Simpson and Family Guy for fun, escapist humor and I love The Goldbergs. My friends and I are always talking about that show. Watching Adam Goldberg go through middle school is like going back in time to our own awkward experiences at that age.  I also like watching shows on the Disney Channel, like, Girl Meets World, and Austin and Ally. I started watching that show a few months ago when I realized the Austin character looked a bit like how I was imagining Vladi Yagudin in my series. I tune in to Switched at Birth and I also watch sports a lot: figure skating, basketball, football (both college level as well as the pros–the Detroit Lions), soccer (Real Madrid), and during the playoffs I watch the Detroit Tigers.
 
Your Amazon bio says you have worked as a journalist and humor essayist. What is the connection between writing in this style and writing fiction?
 
My favorite thing as a journalist was interviewing people. Human interest pieces were such a treat because I got to talk to people from all walks of life like politicians, athletes, teachers, priests and preachers, and a lot of people in the arts. It often brought a new perspective to how I viewed things and I’ve been inspired by many of the people I’ve interviewed over the years for my stories. I wrote an essay that was published in an anthology called, Patchwork Path: Friendship Star, about a woman I was sent to do a human interest piece on. She and I became close friends, but then she passed away from a heart condition and I wrote about her impact on my life. When it came to writing humor essays, it was a great way to get my foot in the door by showing a more creative side of my writing and people who liked the humor in those pieces get a taste of what I write in my fictional work as well.
 
You have a master’s degree in American Culture. How often do you use what you learned in school in your writing?
 
Daily! I have often said the most helpful thing in my writing career has been the classes I’ve taken over the years. The literature classes showed me how stories are put together and honestly, it’s like taking a class from the masters. With American Culture you’re covering everything from literature, communications, history, art history, and I also took pre-law classes. So many of these experiences helped me to become a better writer by teaching new things I can use in my novels or helping me to understand a subject better. As an undergrad, I took mostly European history and European lit classes, so moving on to American culture was great because I felt much more well-rounded and have a unique take on things having studied both.
 
My degree is in Cultural Anthropology and I feel the same way about those classes.
Back to writing and books, how did you find your publisher? Why did you decide to publish with Clean Reads?
 
A few years ago, I was living in Portugal and in a freelance writer group. I was mostly writing for newspapers, magazines, and online sites and one of the writers in the group mentioned she was happy with the company and then later I saw another writer from that group had signed with them as well.
 
What’s the best review you have received to date? Quote something from it and tell us why it meant so much to you.
 
The first one that comes to mind is from a high school student who reviewed both books on her blog, Indyia’s Reviews. Part of the review for the first book (True Colors) said, “I’m in love with this book because almost ANY middle school, or even high school teens can relate to this! …Through this journey she gets caught up in trying to be herself, but also wanting to be ‘perfect middle school girl’ to meet her new friend’s standards! Landry learns throughout the story how to deal with her new found enemies, a crush, and she figures out modeling isn’t this great big fairy tale world! In the end, she figures out that true friends will love you for you! I love the moral of this story because to me, it’s very self motivating! It’s okay to be yourself and a little quirky sometimes!”
 
I loved that review because that was exactly what I had hoped readers would walk away from the book thinking and feeling. I also loved hearing from a reading specialist about two of her students who appreciated the fact Landry deals with insecurities even as she is picking to go on in modeling competitions. One of the students said it made her feel better knowing even Landry dealt with self-esteem issues like she (the student) did.
 
Getting reviews is one way to publicize. How else do you go about publicizing your book? How much time do you spend on publicity? What is the most helpful site(s) you have found to date?
 
I’ve done book tours and book blasts, but I think having other writers on my own blog/website has been helpful as you’re bringing in new readers to your site. I think Facebook pages are a great way to connect with people so that’s been the most helpful, but I’d suggest each writer pick one thing they feel comfortable with because if you feel awkward using it, it will show. I don’t know how much time to say I devote to it as I don’t keep track.
 
What is your next project about?
 
I have a new standalone YA novel called, Next Door to a Star, out now from Limitless Publishing. It’s about a high school student named Hadley Daniels who winds up moving to a lake resort town near a teen TV star for a summer that involves first love, true friendship, and realizing that what you see in the magazines isn’t always what you get.
 
I also finished the third book in the Landry’s True Colors Series, so I’m looking forward to the release of that and I’m working on book 4 of the series as well as another YA novel and an adult one.
 
Is there anything else you’d like to tell your readers that’s not covered by this interview?
 
I feel so fortunate to be able to connect with readers online, so drop me a line any time on my website.
Thanks, Krysten.
Here’s where you can learn more about Krysten Lindsay Hager and her writing:
About the Author 

Krysten Lindsay HagerKrysten Lindsay Hager is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series, a clean reads young adult series. Krysten writes about  friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, middle school and high school, frenemies, modeling, crushes, values, and self-image in True Colors and Best Friends…Forever? as well as her upcoming release, Next Door to a Star.

Krysten is an Amazon international bestselling author and book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and  writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in Portugal, South Dakota, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.

Excerpt from Robert Eggleton’s RARITY FROM THE HOLLOW

Today’s feature author is Robert Eggleton. Robert joins us with an excerpt from his novel, Rarity from the Hollow.

Synopsis:

rarity from the holloLacy Dawn is a true daughter of Appalachia, and then some. She lives in a hollow with her worn-out mom, her Iraq War disabled dad, and her mutt, Brownie, a dog who’s very skilled at laying fiber optic cable. Lacy Dawn’s android boyfriend has come to the hollow with a mission. His equipment includes infomercial videos of Earth’s earliest proto-humans from millennia ago. He was sent by the Manager of the Mall on planet Shptiludrp (Shop ’till You Drop): he must recruit Lacy Dawn to save the Universe in exchange for the designation of Earth as a planet which is eligible for continued existence within a universal economic structure that exploits underdeveloped planets for their mineral content. Lacy Dawn’s magic helps her to save the universe, Earth, and most importantly, her own family.

At first, this story seems sooooo serious, until…

Then, through the darkness, or perhaps because of it, laugh-out-loud comedy erupts to move the plot toward an outrageous closing scene.

Saving an entire universe is a big job for anybody. It takes more than just magic. Lacy Dawn needs a team, and a very strong sense of humour. First, she motivates the android into helping her fix her family by putting her foot down and flat out telling him that she won’t save the universe unless he helps her first. The android agrees to the terms. After Lacy Dawn’s father is cured of his mental health problems and stops being so mean to Lacy Dawn and her mom, Lacy Dawn next arranges for her to mother get her rotten teeth replaced, pass her GED, and to get a driver’s license. The mother feels so much better about herself that she also joins the team. By this time, the android has fallen so deeply in love with Lacy Dawn that she has him wrapped around her little finger. Add a pot head neighbour who sells marijuana and has a strong sense for business transactions, Brownie, a dog who proves to have tremendous empathy for the most vile occupants of any planet, and Faith, the ghost of Lacy Dawn’s best friend who was murdered by her own father, and the team is ready to embark on a very weird, off-world adventure. Of course, in preparation, Lacy Dawn has studied for hours to learn about sociology, math, economics, psychology, languages, culture and every other school subject that has a title — her brain gets so filled up with knowledge directly downloaded from a universal database that she increasingly needs the perspectives of others on her team to sort it all out. Working together, the team figures out how a few greedy capitalists have made such a mess of the entire universe, and how to prevent its destruction without intentionally killing one single being.

You’ve heard this line before: “Due to the mature nature of…” Seriously though, Rarity from the Hollow is a children’s story. For adults. The content includes serious social commentary and satire. There are graphic scenes in the first chapters before Lacy Dawn’s family is fixed. If you can’t handle watching South Park on TV, or if you are under eighteen and your parents would object if you do, or if you are very straight-laced and conservative about frank presentations, maybe you should pass on this story. Otherwise, as award winning author, Darrell Bain, said, “You will enjoy the ride with Lacy Dawn, her family and friends, but don’t expect the ride to be without a few bumps, and enough food to last you a long time.”

Buy Rarity from the Hollow on Amazon, and from Dog Horn Publishing.

Excerpt from Rarity from the Hollow, chapter 13: “Mom I’d Like to Introduce You to My Fiancé”

Jenny [the mother] walked up the hill to Roundabend. She called Lacy Dawn’s name every few yards. Her muddy tennis shoes slipped and slid.

I hear her voice. Why won’t she answer me? 

“Sounds like she’s talking to someone,” Jenny said to the Woods.

Nobody responded. The trees weren’t supposed to since Jenny was no longer a child. Her former best friends had made no long-term commitment beyond childhood victimization. They had not agreed to help her deal with domestic violence in adulthood. She hugged the closest tree.

I will always love you guys. 

Jenny quickened her pace, stopped, and listened for human voices. A few yards later, she stopped again.

Now it sounds like she’s behind me instead of in front. 

Jenny looked to the left of the path.

There ain’t no cave Roundabend, but there it is. 

She walked toward the entrance. The voices grew louder and she looked inside. Lacy Dawn sat on a bright orange recliner. Tears streamed down her face.  Jenny ran to her daughter through a cave that didn’t exit and into a blue light that did.

“All right, you mother f**ker!”

“Mom!” Lacy Dawn yelled. “You didn’t say, ‘It’s me’ like you’re supposed to [a traditional announcement mentioned earlier in the story].”

DotCom [the android] sat naked in a lotus position on the floor in front of the recliner.  Jenny covered Lacy Dawn with her body and glared at him.

“Grrrrr,” emanated from Jenny.  It was a sound similar to the one that Brownie [Lacy Dawn’s dog] made the entire time the food stamp woman was at their house.  It was a sound that filled the atmosphere with hate.  No one moved.  The spaceship’s door slid shut.

“Mommmmmy, I can’t breathe. Get up.”

“You make one move you sonofabitch and I’ll tear your heart out.” Jenny repositioned to take her weight off Lacy Dawn.

Stay between them.

“Mommy, he’s my friend. More than my friend, we’re going to get married when I’m old enough — like when I turn fourteen. He’s my boyfriend — what you call it — my fiancé.”

“You been messin’ with my little girl, you pervert!” Jenny readied to pounce.

“MOM!  Take a chill pill! He ain’t been messing with me. He’s a good person, or whatever. Anyway, he’s not a pervert. You need to just calm down and get off me.”

Jenny stood up. DotCom stood up. Jenny’s jaw dropped.

He ain’t got no private parts, not even a little bump.   

“DotCom, I’d like to introduce you to my mommy, Mrs. Jenny Hickman. Mommy, I’d like to introduce you to my fiancé, DotCom.”

Jenny sat down on the recliner. Her face was less than a foot from DotCom’s crotch and she stared straight at it. It was smooth, hairless, and odor free.

“Mrs. Hickman, I apologize for any inconvenience that this misunderstanding has caused. It is very nice to meet you after having heard so much. You arrived earlier than expected. I did not have time to properly prepare and receive. Again, I apologize.”

I will need much more training if I’m ever assigned to a more formal setting than a cave, such as to the United Nations.

“Come on, Mommy. Give him a hug or something.”

Jenny’s left eye twitched.

DotCom put on clothing that Lacy Dawn had bought him at Goodwill. It hung a little loose until he modified his body. Lacy Dawn hugged her mother.

[Scene of Dwayne, the father, overheard by those in the spaceship while talking to himself.]

“Besides, the transmitter was part of Daddy’s treatment. There’re a lot of other things that he did to help fix Daddy. DotCom is like a doctor. You can see that Daddy has gotten better every day. And no, there ain’t no transmitter in you. DotCom figured you out like a good doctor and the only things wrong are a lack of opportunity and rotten teeth that poison your body. You don’t need no transmitter. He just gave you a few shots of ego boost. I don’t know what medicine that is, but I trust him. You ain’t complained since the shots started — not even with an upset stomach.”

“He’s a doctor?” Jenny asked.

“What’s your problem anyway?” Lacy Dawn asked. “I know.  You’re prejudiced. You told me that people have much more in common than they do that’s different — even if someone is a different color or religion, or from a different state than us. You told me to try to become friends because sometimes that person may need a good friend. Now, here you are acting like a butt hole about my boyfriend. You’re prejudiced because he’s different than us.”

“Honey, he’s not even a person – that’s about as different as a boyfriend can get,” Jenny said.

“So?”

Mommy’s right. Maybe I need a different argument.

A fast clicking sound, a blur of motion, and a familiar smell assaulted them.

“What’s that?” Jenny asked.

She moved to protect her daughter from whatever threat loomed. Brownie, who had been granted 27/7 access to the ship, bounded over the orange recliner, knocked DotCom to the floor, licked DotCom’s face, and rubbed his head on Jenny’s leg. He then jumped onto the recliner and lay down. His tail wagged throughout. Jenny sat down on the recliner beside Brownie and looked at Lacy Dawn.

“But you were crying when I first came in. That thing was hurting you.” Jenny shook her finger at DotCom to emphasize a different argument against him.

“Mommy, I’m so happy that I couldn’t help but cry. My man just came home from an out-of-state job. I didn’t talk to him for a whole year. Before he left, he told me that he wasn’t even sure if he’d be able to come home. I still don’t know what happened while he was gone. We ain’t had no chance to talk. All I know is that he’s home and I’m sooooo happy.”

“Your man came home from an out-of-state job?” Jenny patted Brownie on his head, some more and some more.

It’s unusual for a man to promise to come back home and ever be seen again. Brownie likes him and that’s a good sign. Maybe she’s right about him helping Dwayne. Something sure did and it wasn’t me. It is a nice living room. They’ve been together for a while, and I ain’t seen a mark on her. That’s unusual too. He ain’t got no private parts and that’s another good thing. Hell, if I get in the middle, she’d just run off with him anyway. Id better play it smart. I don’t want to lose my baby.

“What about his stupid name?” Jenny asked.

“I’ve got a stupid name, too. All the kids at school call me hick because my last name is Hickman.”

“My name was given to me by my manager a very long time ago. It represents a respected tradition — the persistent marketing of that which is not necessarily the most needed. I spam,” DotCom said.

They both glared at him.

“Dwayne is sure to be home. I don’t want him to worry. Let’s go,” Jenny said.

“Okay, Mommy.”

“I love you, DotCom,” Lacy Dawn stepped out the ship’s door, which had slid open. Brownie and Jenny were right behind her.

“I love you too,” DotCom said.

Lacy Dawn and Jenny held hands and walked down the path toward home. The trees didn’t smile — at least not so Jenny would notice. On the other hand, no living thing obstructed, intruded, or interfered with the rite.

Jenny sang to the Woods, “My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up.  My little girl’s going to marry a doctor when she grows up, marry a doctor when she grows up, when she grows up.”

 

 

About Robert:

roberteggleton

Robert Eggleton has served as a children’s advocate in an impoverished state for over forty years. He is best known for his investigative reports about children’s programs, most of which were published by the West Virginia Supreme Court where he worked from 1982 through 1997, and which also included publication of models of serving disadvantaged and homeless children in the community instead of in large institutions, research into foster care drift involving children bouncing from one home to the next — never finding a permanent loving family, and statistical reports on the occurrence and correlates of child abuse and delinquency. Today, he is a recently retired children’s psychotherapist from the mental health center in Charleston, West Virginia, where he specialized in helping victims cope with and overcome physical and sexual abuse, and other mental health concerns. Rarity from the Hollow is his debut novel and its release followed the publication of three short Lacy Dawn Adventures in magazines: Wingspan Quarterly, Beyond Centauri, and Atomjack Science Fiction. Author proceeds have been donated to a child abuse prevention program operated by Children’s Home Society of West Virginia. Robert continues to write fiction with new adventures based on a protagonist that is a composite character of children he met when delivering group therapy services. The overall theme of his stories remains victimization to empowerment.

Learn more about Robert Eggleton and his work at: 

| Website | Goodreads | Facebook| Twitter |

The Simulations – What if?

thesimulationsbyjohnforellicoverJohn Forelli’s The Simulations opens with Ray’s interview for a new job running computer event forecasting simulations. He gets the job, but it’s not very interesting. He’d much rather spend the time with new found friend, Bob in the server room, where Bob plays The Sims, surrounded by bikini-clad beauties frolicking in a penis-shaped pool. When Ray develops a fascination with engaged receptionist Delilah, he and Bob begin running increasingly complicated computer simulations with the hope of helping Ray figure out how to woo Delilah away from her fiancé.

The Simulations is a veritable Groundhog Day of events, as Ray lives and relives his first encounter with Delilah, hoping to find the magic bullet, that specific series of words, phrases, or conversational topics, that will allow him to worm his way into her heart. Ray and Bob are stereotypical slackers, looking for any excuse not to work. Bob is a crass, Cheeto-eating loser, not your typical sympathetic protagonists. Rather the two are more like millennial anti-heroes, which is enough to make tail-end boomers like me cringe. What saves them is Forelli’s narrative. Reminiscent of Charles Yu’s voice in How to Live Safely in a Science Fictional Universe, Forelli’s voice is ironic, mostly via sarcasm, which imbues the story with humourous insight and keeps the reader turning pages.

If I had one wish for The Simulations, it would be a good copy edit. The story, characters and dialogue kept me reading, but an old stalwart grammar stickler like me kept on getting hung up on the punctuation and capitalization. I recommend The Simulations, a fun and easy read that will leave you questioning “what if?” at the end.

Mamabear gives this book

four-bears

Note: I was gifted an eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review.