Guest Post: The Tech of The Fall by S.T. Campitelli

Last month Beverly reviewed The Fall by S.T. Campitelli, Set in 2052 Post Apocalyptic Australia, the novel secured a 4* review from this blog and can be found here.  Following this great review, when S.T. Campitelli approached me about a guest post I jumped at the chance to get to know more about the world he had created.  So sit back and enjoy a delve into the tech of The Fall and how it may not be all that far fetched after all…….

The Tech of The Fall

By S.T. Campitelli

‘The smartfybre material, boys,’ – John raised an eyebrow at Matt, ‘boys’ was a liberty – ‘is a lightweight but damn resilient carbon-nanotube mesh of graphene with a reinforcing cross-matrix of goethite thread. You can see it as the grey running through the black. The suit is ten times tougher than Kevlar,’ – rapping her knuckles against her chest – ‘but super flexible with fibre-reinforced hydrogel at the joints. Go on, do a couple of squats.’

Set in close-future 2052, this snapshot from The Fall takes place on the training ground as two of the characters get taken through the paces of the BACC – Bio Armour Combat Chassis – suits, fictional body-armour worn by the military in the book. But is it all fictional? Yes and no. The BACC suits themselves are, but the tech behind them certainly isn’t. The Fall attempts to make use of tech that is possible, and while the intent was that it was certainly futuristic, it also needed to be anchored in reality because that’s where sci-fi or future-facing authors get the buy in. The best stories incorporating tech present it as a seamless part of the story, in the background, not dominant or too prominent. I hoped I’ve achieved that in this book, but it’s the grounded reality of the technology of The Fall I’m writing about today. A caveat before we start: any of the tech bloopers are totally mine!

Let’s look at some of the elements of the excerpt. We’ve known about graphene since Andrew Geim first discovered it in 2002 at the University of Manchester. And although the ultra-thin carbon sheet is thought to be the strongest material on Earth, a challenge has always been to turn it into a material useful for industry. In 2017, a team of researchers at MIT designed a new material with graphene, modelling it into a sponge-like configuration called a ‘gyroid’, an incredibly light yet amazingly strong sponge-like shape taken from nature. The graphene as gyroid is about ten times stronger than steel, and just as importantly, it’s more workable. It is still prohibitively expensive to produce graphene products, but by 2052, I’m betting we’ll be well down that track.

The hydrogel mentioned as being at the joints of the BACC suit is also a real material, right now. A mesh developed by scientists in Japan, it is thought to be five times as strong as carbon steel. The uber-strong, yet flexible and stretchable, fabric brings together hydrogels, like those found in jelly (yes, the kid’s treat – jello if you’re in the US), with glass fibres, resulting in a very resilient yet elastic material that could have a range of future applications. It’s probably no surprise that the suits themselves are a long-investigated branch of military R&D, but how far they are going at the cutting edge in protection and other applications, including medical, is quite sharp indeed.

And it’s not just the protective suits. The people populating the walled compounds, including the military, are mostly equipped with the fictional ‘360’ – a comms and apps system based on microchip tech implants at the back of the neck. Wearable tech? Uh-huh, embedded implants are here now, so I envisaged that by 2052, we would no longer be using hand-held devices, but have them in an array around us. I pictured them as hovering, movable apps around the head, hence the 360, activated with a swipe through the virtual image of the app. Picture the view that Ironman gets from within his suit and you get the idea, without the need for the helmet. Sound fanciful? The microchip debate is already taking place with, at the very least, one Swedish company already into it for employees with subcutaneous chipping.

Surely, though, we can’t ‘touch’ the projections and activate them? Haptic technology would suggest we can. Haptic tech is behind what makes your smartphone generate physical feedback when you touch buttons, for instance. However, through ultrasound technology, the much greater possibility of experiencing a tangible result when handling virtual objects is possible now. But how can a small projection of a virtual app even occur? It already is. Ostendo Technologies in California have developed an imager chip smaller than a piece of chewing gum which, when paired with a miniature projector, is capable of generating crystal clear 2D and 3D imaging from a phone or flat display device bringing images to life.

So, what else does The Fall imagine 2052 life to be like, apart from the impending Apocalypse and super-aggressive infected beings?? The compound has paintable touchscreens enabling portal access to those with the reading tech, bioenhanced soldiers augmented with nanotech, and doctors that can make diagnoses with hand-held devices able to detect medical issues, including cancer, in moments.

Sound like a stretch? It isn’t.

And maybe it isn’t all available right now from your online electronics supplier, but if you want a sneak peek into how augmented reality of the not-too-distant future may look for you, video artist Keiichi Matsuda has given us a vision of it.

Check out The Fall at Amazon or The Fall homepage.

GEN ONE Release Blitz with Amy Bartelloni

Title: GEN ONE
Author: Amy Bartelloni
Genre: Upper YA science fiction
Cover Designer: Covers by Christian
Editor: Toni Rakestraw
Publication Date: July 29th, 2018
Generations after robots conquered Earth, the remaining population survives in the ash of their defeat. Within their walls in Authority City, bots test and develop super soldiers. Rumors of horrible experiments are enough to keep humans in line. At least, most humans.
Eighteen-year-old Delilah O’Connor scavenges the ruins with her friend Zane, and Gen, a generation one bot they repaired off the grid. Gen’s curiosity gives Delilah hope for the future, but not enough hope to go against the Authority. She finds Zane’s dreams of a human resistance pointless, and it’s enough to keep their on-and-off relationship mostly off.
When they discover two dead guards in a shady trading stop known as the Banks, everything changes. Framed for the murders and pursued by Authority bots, Zane takes Delilah to the only safe space he knows—the headquarters for the Human Coalition. Even there Zane isn’t safe. When he’s captured, Delilah and Gen must join an unlikely alliance of bot and human to go in to Authority City and save him before he becomes another casualty. Things in Authority City aren’t as they seem, they’re worse. And Delilah might lose more than her friend within its walls.
Amy Bartelloni is a reader, writer, coffee addict, & musical lover who lives with her husband, 3 children, and various animals in the northeast US. When she’s not playing mom-taxi, you can find her with her nose in a book or her head in the clouds. A people watcher and science fiction junkie, she still believes dreams can come true. The author of the Andromeda series with Limitless Publishing, (Andromeda, Orion’s Curse, and the Scorpio Project), and contributor to Prep for Doom, Tricks, Treats, and Zombies, and 13: Resurrected, some of her favorite authors include Neil Gaiman, Jasper Fforde, Paulo Coelho, and Stephen King.
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Brute shook his head.  “Zane told us you were stubborn,” he said with a grin.  “But he led us to believe you could be fragile.”  He tipped his head.  “I’m not sure he was right about that.  From where I stand, you’re pure steel.  And we could have used you a long time ago.”
“I plan to have a talk with him about that,” she said, absently.  What Brute didn’t know what how fragile she was inside.  How Zane had seen her the day her father died.  How he held her when her Aunt ran off and left them and she thought she’d die in the streets.  How he helped her get a job and earn her own living.  If she was steel, he’d forged her, and it was time to pay him back.
“Well you probably know already, but when someone goes in Authority City, they rarely come out.”  He gestured for Gen to get off the boat first.  The bot swung her legs over the rail gently, all the while watching the waves lap the pier.
“But we are?” Delilah asked, following them on to the pier.  It was more unsteady than she thought, and she had to hold Brute’s arm to avoid falling.
“That’s the plan,” he answered.  “Smoke has a network set up for us to get them the information they need.  Then they plan to bust us out.  And not just us.  This has been in the works for a long time.”  He stepped off the dock and looked back without a hint of amusement on his face.
“She’s going to take out the zoos?” Delilah asked.  She wasn’t sure how she felt about it.  She’d gotten into this for Zane, but it was so much bigger than that.  And after spending the last few days with these people, they felt like family.
Brute shook his head.  “She’s going to take the whole damn city out.  And we’re going to help her.”

Review of Grace and Fury by Tracy Banghart

In a world where women have no rights, sisters Serina and Nomi Tessaro face two very different fates: one in the palace, the other in prison.
Serina has been groomed her whole life to become a Grace – someone to stand by the heir to the throne as a shining, subjugated example of the perfect woman. But when her headstrong and rebellious younger sister, Nomi, catches the heir’s eye, it’s Serina who takes the fall for the dangerous secret that Nomi has been hiding.
Now trapped in a life she never wanted, Nomi has only one way to save Serina: surrender to her role as a Grace until she can use her position to release her sister. This is easier said than done. A traitor walks the halls of the palace, and deception lurks in every corner. But Serina is running out of time, imprisoned on an island where she must fight to the death to survive and one wrong move could cost her everything.

Once in a while a book will really take you by surprise and this was the case with Grace and Fury.  A YA fantasy based on two sisters (one fawning for a prince and the other, not so much) may seem like familiar ground but I found that this book couldn’t be further from the typical.

The world building creates more of a dystopia, a world where women are so downtrodden it is an offence for them to even read.  Given no choice in their existence and very little say in any part of their lives, their future is stark. The way out? To train as a Grace and hope to find favour with the Superior. The life of a Grace however is a gilded cage and is little more than loveless, polygamous relationship with extra dresses.  Indeed, not all prisons have bars.  But for our sisters it is all that Serina has ever trained to be and Nomi to be her handmaid. What starts as a journey full of hope quickly turns to despair for both sisters as all they have ever thought to be gets turned on its head.

The world that has been created is actually quite fraught, even the palace appears to have little joy despite the lavish celebrations. A palace devoid of love and friendship, where everyone is potentially a spy and even the smallest transgression will have you banished to the prison island.  An island which perpetuates the mistreatment of women and reduces them to little more than entertainment, not in the way you would think but brutal all the same. From defiant to demure the character of the sisters change throughout the story, both incredibly naive they are often too slow to put the pieces together but the one thing they have is their love for each other and a fierce determination to change their fates.

It’s not all a tale of downtrodden women though, it is actually very much a tale of bravery, a tale of how women are able to adapt and fiercely defend that which they love. Refreshingly, the lure of boys doesn’t stop them and it was a relief to me that whenever that started to raise its head it was quickly stamped out by their need to put each other first.

The story itself is brilliantly written, the pages just flowed by, pulling you in with every chapter leaving you wanting more and more.  The twists, the misdirection and as a reader the painful realisation of what is coming just a few pages before the sisters do. I was rooting for them every step of each gut wrenching moment.  I desperately want to know what happens next and I truly hope there isn’t a long wait for book 2.

I give this 5 fantastic stars!


VORTEXES Release Blitz & Giveaway with Holly Barbo

Author: Holly Barbo
Genre: Dystopian Urban Fantasy
Publication Date: July 23rd, 2018
Cover Designer: Darkmantle Designs
Publisher: Paper Gold Publishing
A Dystopian Urban Fantasy Desperate times have come to Emma Maya Ando’s country. A totalitarian regime with no tolerance for deviation has marginalized thousands. Neither physical exceptionality nor freedom of thought has a place. All is conformity. But Maya doesn’t conform, and time is running out on her ability to conceal her condition. Can Maya find a cure before she is swept up in a purge… or will she take her secret to the grave?
Holly Barbo’s world is shaped by her love of her family, the beauty of the natural world in Northwest Washington State and an irrepressible creative drive.
 Living where the scenery is incredible with a rich abundance of wildlife “is so special and soothing that it feels like a quiet kind of magic,” according to Barbo. She is drawn to creating stories where there is just a bit of something unworldly, perhaps it is magic or psychic skills. Her stories are mostly in non-urban settings and usually have some focus on nature, building a discordant drama inside the peaceful frame.
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Twitter: @HBarboWriting
Etsy: SimplyElegantWoods
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Happy Release Day Derek Borne! Ultimate Agent 2 is Live!

UA2 - Red Banner Blitz & Blog


The Ultimate Agent 2 by Derek Borne
#Superhero #Spy #Novel #NewRelease #YA #IndieAuthor #BlogTour

The Ultimate Agent - book two - Copy 1



The best superhero spies in the biz are back for more banter, action, and intrigue. Powers, gadgets and now hybrid creatures, this fun summer read will have you on the edge of your lounge-chair! Amazon Link:

Enemies - Hero - Cover


Your Mission:
Reconvene with The Ultimate Agent, Specialist, and their team as they uncover a threat of biblical proportions.

Agent #772 – Dr. Isaiah Manning


Isaiah Manning

A reclusive geneticist with ground-breaking concepts and technology is recruited to the Ultimate Agency, making it possible to create endless advancements which could change the world for the better.

Agent #125 – Spencer Raymond


Spencer Raymond

A low-key yet crucial operative for the agency is thrust into a life-changing assignment. Further details are classified.


Mission Data – Confidential

Agent Devon Bertrand and Dr. Jade Hathaway take a new step in their relationship. Due to unexpected circumstances, Dr. Brett Gallagher faces new responsibilities which may hinder his ability to protect the innocent at full capacity. Agent Valeriya Yashin and her dynamic abilities are now an invaluable part of the team. Unite with agents old and new as they fight to eradicate those responsible for terrorizing the world with unfathomable creatures.

Perfect - Cover
Monstrous Creature

Author Bio



Derek Borne lives in Paris, Canada (thought it was going to say France, right?) with his wife and moody bearded dragon Ziggy. When he isn’t writing superhero spy novels, he’s selling olive oil and balsamics, belting out Phantom of the Opera, playing guitar, and watching Marvel superhero movies and TV shows, playing hockey, and making movie references daily.


Social Media Links: Get to know the real Director of The Ultimate Agency!

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Fairyloot Uboxing: July “The Power Within” box

Fairyloot arrived a little earlier than expected this month, even without being in first dispatch it still arrived in excellent time which I expect is because the team wanted to get everything out before YALC this weekend. As far as their box swag goes, for me it was a little on the underwhelming side but I think that is mainly down to the fact that for the most part I didn’t know most of the fandoms featured.  The book this month however, is beyond amazing so I can kind of forgive the other stuff.

The first item, continues with their ongoing relationship with Geeky Clean (and why not – they are lovely people) and is a Room Spray based on the book Snow Like Ashes.  The theme is Theron’s Study, it’s scent is lavender and old books and I think it will be an acquired taste as it has quite a masculine musk scent underneath the lavender  I actually quite like it and have been spraying it around a fair bit, I can’t quite put my finger on what it reminds me of though??? Next is a vinyl sticker by Reverie and Ink based on the book The Sky in the Deep – the phrase is Ond Eldr, but it sadly means nothing to me, which is a shame as I was after a new sticker for my laptop. A fairyloot designed quidditch pen was also features, shaped like a broomstick with the quote “don’t catch the quaffle if you see the snitch” – it’s a quirky item which I’m sure will find it’s way to Little Miss Playground eventually.

Randomly this months box included a tea towel! This is from KDP Letters and features a quote from the book “And I Darken” but I can’t tell you what it is because it was a whole batch misprint item.  The quote is mirrored and fairyloot are in the process of having them reprinted and sent out but it could take a couple of months.  It’s actually quite handy, we needed a new tea towel in the bunker and as it’s a misprint, I won’t feel bad using it! A lovely print by Diana Dworak was also included which features the character Zelie from Children of Blood and Bone – I’m quite taken with this as I’m currently reading that very book!  It’s beautiful and really captures the essence of the character.

The main swag item in this months box was a magic mug by Little Inkling Designs, again it’s a wonderful item but it’s based on the book Falling Kingdoms which I don’t know either! I can totally appreciate that it would be an amazing item for someone who is a fan and the mug underneath its beautifully done with lovely little stars around the quote.  Maybe it will be an incentive to read the story (I really need to get to the library to order some of these books that I don’t necessarily want to buy)

Finally, the book! This months featured book is Heart of Thorns by Bree Barton.  It is an absolutely stunning edition.  Whilst there is no hidden image under the dust jacket the spine work is just gorgeous. The book has sprayed edges in red and is actually signed by the author (not a bookplate.) As a formatter this book gives me #goals, its simplicity is wonderful, I can’t wait to start reading this!!

I think fairyloot of late have been getting a bit of a hard time for always featuring the same fandom’s, it’s fair enough, those fandoms have a huge fanbase and are always likely to go down well with the majority of subscribers.  It seems with this box they have really focused on the smaller series or stand alone’s.  Whilst I can still really appreciate the work that has gone into the items, many of them just weren’t for me this month.  But the book looks epic and is such a special edition that it kind of makes up for that entirely.  For the other bits there is always the B/T/S group if I dare tread there again!

The August theme is Mutinous Pirates, so I really should get reading “To Kill and Kingdom” and the rest of the Grisha Trilogy!!

Review of Warriors by R.A. Denny

Let the battle begin! The vast Tzoladian army clashes with the Karsonian confederation in the valley of Mt. Sarmos. But the stakes are higher than a mere fight for power between countries. As the cruel emperor intensifies his persecution of the “subhumans,” the three chosen youths make tough choices that will decide the fate of the world.
Amanki is a soldier fighting for an empire that wants him dead. After losing her freedom and her seal, Brina faces the ruthless leader of the Sparaggi tribes. Tuka is surrounded by intrigue. Plots of assassination abound. 
Thrown into circumstances they never would have chosen or even imagined, the teens must adapt or die. Have they forgotten their true mission?

Warriors takes us into book 4 of the Mud, Rocks, and Trees series and the world is as deep and rich with mysticism and intrigue as it has always been.  In fact it’s probably my favourite of the series so far, maybe because I have become so connected now with these characters and the transformation they have undergone since starting out. It seems a long time now since that star first appeared. As you would expect from the title, war is upon land and all but Tuka find themselves on the battlefield. Brina has managed to gain freedom and she now fights with the Spraggi, Amanki with his “Duck Corps” and of course Metlan with the Cat Riders.  The battles are spectacularly written and you get the feeling of being there jump out of the page at you.  Amanki, really comes into his own as a leader, but has something more darker been unleashed in him?  Brina’s character as well seems to have a new resolve and sense of purpose, I’m loving how she has no qualms about who she speaks to and how when something is close to her heart.

Baskrod gives a handy history of Metlan and his family, which provides a background that was much needed and a new path to tread, which really then makes you wonder who the prophecy is really about.  With both Metlan and Amanki seemingly changing roles in the eye of this reader, i’m intrigued as to whether I’m being sent down a beautifully crafted distraction.  The prayer to Adon “When the son of a duck, the heir, takes the throne” now has a beautiful ambiguity.

For Tuka, he may not be on the battlefield but that doesn’t prevent him being in one of the most dangerous positions of all them.  Now working in the palace as an Artisan he is not only close to the Emperor but also close to all the guarded whispers and secrets.  The palace is beset with plans to double-cross across one another and the depth of the corruption and greed for power has left Tuka knowing far more than he should. With the lines blurred more than ever, knowing who to trust, not just for Tuka but for all of them, is becoming harder and harder.

Given the title, this is perhaps the most stark of the books for our travellers but it is also quite a hopeful one too, many questions are answered and it feels like a turning point has been reached .  As I said at the start, this is my favourite of the series and I will give this one 5*


Review of Lizzie Borden, Zombie Hunter by C.A. Verstraete

Every family has its secrets…
One hot August morning in 1892, Lizzie Borden picked up an axe and murdered her father and stepmother. Newspapers claim she did it for the oldest of reasons: family conflicts, jealousy and greed. But what if her parents were already dead? What if Lizzie slaughtered them because they’d become… zombies?
Thrust into a horrific world where the walking dead are part of a shocking conspiracy to infect not only Fall River, Massachusetts, but also the world beyond, Lizzie battles to protect her sister, Emma, and her hometown from nightmarish ghouls and the evil forces controlling them.

I absolutely loved the twist on twist on the Lizzie Borden story, Lizzie is a level headed girl who likes to stay in control of situations and just get on with life but after strange and horrible things occur with Mrs Borden her step mother and her farther she learns life has many a horror hiding in plain sight. Life changes for Lizzie after she meets John who is to help her prepare for her trial and potential jail sentence. John introduces her to real life and what he and others have been doing in secret as to not alarm the general population and after she gets a taste she finds a new calling in life however it isn’t easy as she must train to do well, find out what her father had to do with these horrors lurking in the dark as well as find who she really is and keep her sister Emma safe. I was absolutely hooked on this read as I felt I felt I was there in their time and didn’t know what twist or surprise would happen next and seeing everything Lizzie went through emotionally as well as physical was addictive. But be warned you know the ending is coming but still when you read it you are still gutted, thankfully we have book 2 to see what happens next!!!



The Loudest Silence Release Blitz with Kate L. Mary

Title: The Loudest Silence
Author: Kate L Mary
Genre: Post-Apocalyptic/Zombie
Publisher: Twisted Press
Editor: Lori Whitwam
Publication Date: July 23rd, 2018
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
When Regan was a young girl living in the small town of Altus, OK, Kellan was just her brother’s best friend. Then the virus came, turning the world’s population into zombies, and he became so much more. They were only kids, but he saved her. Watched over her. Kept her alive. And he’s been doing the same thing every day since.
After living the apocalypse for nine years, Regan thought they’d experienced every kind of loss and terror imaginable. But when a new group starts wreaking havoc in the Oklahoma wastelands where they live, Regan and Kellan are faced with a new set of horrors.
When they cross paths with a teenage girl, offering to help seems like the right thing to do. But Regan and Kellan soon discover that lending aid to the girl very well could lead to their undoing.
Kate L. Mary is an award-winning author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, ranging from Post-apocalyptic tales of the undead, to Speculative Fiction and Contemporary Romance. Her YA book, When We Were Human, was the 2015 Children’s Moonbeam Book Awards Silver Medal Winner for Young Adult Fantasy/Sci-Fi Fiction, and the 2016 Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal Winner for Young Adult Science Fiction.
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Outside, the sun was making its final descent toward the horizon, painting what was left of the blue sky orange and pink and purple. It was beautiful. Almost heartbreakingly so. Living where we did, I got to see so few sunsets, and no matter how lucky and how safe we were, I couldn’t help missing some of the simple things everyone else got to experience on a daily basis. Sunsets, rainbows after a storm, the flicker of lightning bugs on a dark summer night.
Kellan had his bag and was already headed toward the door when I grabbed mine. I slung it over my shoulder and followed, feeling groggy and slightly unsteady on my feet. In front of me, he opened the door, but paused to look around. Before he had even uttered a word, I knew what was coming.
“Heads up,” he called as he stepped out.
Even half asleep, pulling my gun was an automatic response, and it was in my hand before I’d taken another step, the safety flicked off and the barrel pointed at the ground just like I’d been taught. I couldn’t see much of the yard thanks to Kellan’s broad frame, but his tone told me there wouldn’t be more than three of the dead. He was too calm. Too laid back.
When I made it out, I had to squint against the swiftly setting sun. Kellan was already moving across the yard, and through the bright rays I could make out two figures. They were slow, which was normal these days, and after my eyes had adjusted, I could see that they were old. Early days of the apocalypse, I’d guess. Their clothes were little more than rags, torn and weathered, and the zombie on the right dragged his foot behind him as he lurched toward Kellan. Of course, I couldn’t say for sure if the thing had at one time been a he, because at this point there was no way to tell. The creature’s scalp was ripped down to the bone, and not a single tendril of hair had survived, and its face hadn’t fared much better. The skin on its cheeks had been ripped—or eaten—away, and its gums, black and rotten, were visible, along with the few teeth left. There weren’t many, and they were brown, gnarled things that probably hadn’t been in good shape when it was still a person. Not that the lack of teeth stopped the creature from chomping at Kellan and me right now.
I kept my gun out, but transferred it to my left hand so I could pull my knife with my right. Bullets weren’t the issue—we had plenty of those—it was the noise a gunshot would make. Not only would firing a gun risk drawing more zombies our way, but it could also attract the attention of people, and that was the last thing we needed right now. Or ever, for that matter. Especially not the type of people who would come running at a gunshot.
Kellan pulled his own knife when the first zombie was still six feet away. The one in front of him wasn’t the one with the bad foot. No, this one was faster, and his facial features were intact enough to tell me that he had in fact been a man when he was alive. A pair of beat up cowboy boots still adorned his feet, and the tatters of a plaid button up shirt clung to his torso. When he opened his mouth to growl at Kellan, revealing a full set of brown teeth, a shudder moved down my spine. Nine years, and I still wasn’t used to these things.
“Stay back,” Kellan called as he charged forward and grabbed the zombie by the little bit of fabric still clinging to his body.
I didn’t listen, of course, but instead hurried after him so I’d be there in case he needed backup. Odds were good he’d be okay. Kellan knew how to handle himself, but you never knew what was going to happen these days, and it was better to be safe than sorry.
He wrapped his fist in the creature’s shirt, working to keep the struggling zombie at arm’s length. In his other hand he held the knife, which he expertly flipped over so he was holding it blade down. When Kellan lifted his hand, the zombie in his grasp growled and chomped, but he held his ground, not flinching even a little bit when the creature’s teeth snapped inches from his skin. I moved closer, my fingers tightening on the knife in my own hand, but just like I’d thought, he didn’t need me. The blade was stuck deep in the zombie’s eye socket only seconds later, and the thing went down, its body thumping against the dry Oklahoma ground.
Kellan’s eyes were focused on the second zombie when he leaned down to retrieve his knife, but I was already moving before he’d managed to pull it from the skull.
“Regan,” he said, reaching out for me, “stop.”
I was too far away, though, and too focused on the dead man in front of me. Copying what Kellan had done only a few seconds ago, I flipped my knife around so I was gripping it with the blade pointed toward the ground. My heart thumped out a beat that echoed in my ears and nearly drowned out the sound of the moans. Meanwhile, a bead of sweat had begun a slow descent down my body, starting on my chest and moving between my breasts. I swallowed an irrational bubble of fear that was desperately trying to rise up from deep inside me, and kept my gaze focused on the zombie. He was old and slow, but I was young and had the reflexes of someone living. There was nothing to worry about.
I lifted my arm and prepared to bring it down, aiming for the eye socket just like Kellan had, but before I could do anything, he grabbed my elbow and pulled me back. I stumbled over my own feet and tried to regain my footing, but my balance was off and my hands full. I went down hard, my ass slamming into the dusty earth, and the impact vibrated through me until I felt it in my teeth. A hiss of pain and annoyance forced its way between my teeth, followed only a moment later by another thump as the second zombie hit the ground.
Kellan yanked his knife from the thing’s eye socket and turned to face me. “You okay?”
“No thanks to you.” I twisted my body, pushing myself half off the ground so I could rub my sore ass. I’d landed on the bruise that had already started developing from my fall the night before, and I now knew my entire butt cheek was going to be black and blue. “What the hell was that?”
“I told you to stay back.” He shoved his knife into its sheath and replaced his gun in its holster. Then he held his hand out to me. “Come on.”
I slapped it away and pushed myself up, pausing long enough to swipe my own weapons up off the ground. His gaze was on me, I could feel it burning into my back, but I couldn’t look at him. My blood felt like it had been baking in the damn sun for hours, and more than anything right now, I wanted to hit him.
“What’s your problem?” he asked.
“Like you really don’t know.” I stared down at the crisscross pattern the sole of his boots had left behind in the dirt, too angry to look at him.
“I don’t.” He paused like he was waiting for me to respond, but when I didn’t, he said, “You think I should have let that thing take a bite out of you?”
I spun around to face him. “Why do you automatically assume it would have gotten the better of me?”
“Because you’re not experienced enough.” He shoved his hand through his dark hair, pushing it back off his forehead. “You’ve only been out a handful of times.”
“And exactly how am I going to get any experience if you won’t even let me take down a slow zombie like that? What will I do if I’m by myself and I come up against a new one, one that’s faster, and I have no experience? How do you think I’ll survive?”
Kellan blinked like my words made no sense to him. “Why would you be alone?”
“Because things can happen, Kellan.” I rolled my eyes and shoved my knife into its sheath. “Seriously, I can’t even believe I have to tell you that.”
“I’d die before I let anything happen to you.”
His words made my insides clench and tingle. Made me feel like I was soaring into the sky. Still, I was obligated to point out the implications behind them.
“That’s my point,” I said slowly. “What if you died and I was left alone? Shouldn’t I have some experience so I can make a stand?”
Kellan’s mouth dropped open, but he said nothing. We stood there staring at each other while the scorching Oklahoma sun pounded down on us. I couldn’t read his expression, which was strange. Usually, I could tell what Kellan was thinking. But at the moment, he was too guarded. It was like a wall had gone up.

Review of Wildwood by Jadie Jones

Tanzy Hightower is not crazy. At least, that’s what she tells herself. Crazy looks more like her mother, who studies each sunrise with the same fascination other women give tabloid magazines in the grocery store checkout line. Crazy sounds like the woman on the radio claiming there’s a whole separate world existing parallel to our own. Still, Tanzy can’t deny the tingle of recognition she feels each time she sees her mother standing at the kitchen window, or hears the panic in the woman’s voice coming through the speakers of her father’s truck.
Tanzy intends to follow her father’s footsteps into the professional horse world. But the moment she watches him die on the back of a horse in an accident she feels responsible for, everything changes.
On the first anniversary of his death, a fight with her mother drives her back to her father’s farm in the middle of a stormy night. Neither Tanzy nor life as she knows it escapes unchanged when she is struck by lightning and introduced to a world… unseen, and receives proof her father’s death was no accident.
Two strangers seem too willing to help her navigate her new reality: Vanessa Andrews, a psychiatrist who believes lightning chooses who it strikes, and Lucas, a quiet, scarred stable hand with timing that borders on either perfect or suspect. But Tanzy has secrets of her own. Desperate for answers and revenge, Tanzy must put her faith in their hands as her past comes calling, and her father’s killer closes in.

I grabbed this book because I enjoy reading YA books, it includes horses and the name “Wildwood” is special to me. I really didn’t know what to expect and I’m still not sure exactly how to categorize it.

The first part of the book is very emotional, heartbreaking and poignant. Tanzy Hightower is horseback riding with her father on her 18th birthday when tragedy strikes. Tanzy blames herself and finds herself lost in her sadness. To top it off, her mother, who is a bit strange at normal times, totally draws into herself and Tanzy has to take over the running of normal life. Is her mother going crazy or is it Tanzy who is losing her mind?

In Part Two, the book totally changes tracks and Tanzy finds herself drawn into another parallel world inhabited by beings called the Unseen. She meets several people who try to tell her what is happening, but who can she trust?

When you reach Part Three, get ready for another complete shift in the story. Tanzy “travels” back in time in order to find out what is happening to her sanity and we find her in a quasi-gladiator story. Young women are forced to fight predators and each other in order to gain favor with Asher, the self appointed King of the Unseen world. Tanzy is led to believe that she is the reincarnation of Spera, the Queen and key to unlocking the door between the worlds.

Through all of this, who can Tanzy trust (or can she actually trust anyone)? Everybody she thinks she can trust eventually let her down and she is left to fend for herself in a strange new world.

The writing was very good and very descriptive. I felt like I was living in the story, not just reading it. The author definitely has a way with words and telling a story. My main complaint with the book is that it was pretty confusing at times. There was a lot of information thrown at you in a very rapid manner without much background. Also, I really didn’t care for many of the characters and had a hard time relating to them. It seemed like the author started out writing a YA coming of age story with a lot of emotion and then changed midstream to a fantasy.

I really never got invested in the story enough to want to continue the trilogy. And, although horses are a part of the story, they aren’t as big a part as I thought when I picked up the book.

If you truly love fantasy and strange new worlds, you will probably be entertained by this book. It just fell short for me.