Friday, October 31, 2014

End Dayz by Kellie Sheridan

It's month after the dead first began to walk. The miracle vaccine that was supposed to save us all has failed.

Now, four teens fight to stay alive as a stronger, smarter breed of zombie begins to appear, threatening to end humanity for good.

Four short stories, 11,000 words total.

My Thoughts:
Zombie novels are like crack to me. I just can't read enough of them. I can usually read them in one sitting because I get so emotionally involved, no matter what the length of the book is. When I found out that one of my favorite YA fantasy authors, Kellie Sheridan, wrote a zombie novel, I knew that I had to read it. Sadly, I was a little disappointed.

The book takes place through four different character points of view, which kind of reminded me of T.W. Brown's Dead series. I liked seeing how all the characters coped with the zombie apocalypse in different ways. End Dayz starts after the zombie apocalypse has already begun, which I find interesting. Most zombie books start before the apocalypse. I thought it was a nice change of pace.

I have mixed feelings on the characters. I thought Pierce was boring, and didn't really care whether he lived or not. The only time he impressed me was when he didn't stop to check on the voices he heard in another apartment. That was smart thinking. Speaking of smart thinking, I liked that Alex decided to leave notes for his dad at all the places they stopped. It's debatable if his dad would find them with all the different situations that could arise, but it's still a cool idea. Alex's story saddened me, but it was definitely my favorite in the book.

I hated Belle and her father. They annoyed me so much. Actually, I disliked most of her chapter. Most of it was confusing. For being a leader, her father didn't have proper survival skills. There was no character intro for Grace. At first I couldn't tell if she was Belle's dad's girlfriend, or Belle's sister. Later in the chapter, it becomes clear though. Sometimes Belle seemed like a teenager, and other times she seemed like a child. 

I did enjoy Kellie Sheridan's take on zombies, and how they were starting to evolve differently based on region. I thought it was original. I also like how she made two characters stories intersect at the end. I'm hoping that all the characters will end up together eventually. Even though some parts of the book fell flat for me, I am looking forward to reading Morality, the first full length book in the series. I want to know whether the characters survive the zombie apocalypse or not. There are some that I hope do, and some that I hope get bitten.

I give End Dayz: 3/5.

Want to know more about the author?

I received this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

The Dogma of Cats for Kids by Debra Snyder

Join an adorable collection of cuddly cats for their warm wisdom on how we can live a happy, heart-centered life. With colorful illustrations, mindful lessons and sweet, rhyming text, award winning author Deb Snyder delivers a book that will have cat lovers of all ages purring for more!

My Thoughts:
Most of you that know me in real life, or have been following my blog for a while, know that I love cats. I will read anything about cats. When The Dogma of Cats for Kids became available to request on NetGalley, I was excited to be able to read it, even though it's a children's book. 

The Dogma of Cats for Kids shows that no matter how old you are, cats can always teach you something about life. They teach you to keep a fresh perspective on life. They also teach you how to forgive, how to love, and how to protect the ones you care about. The cat to human metaphors in the book were clever. It must have taken quite a while to think of some of them.

It might be the way it was formatted on my Kindle, but some of the illustrations just seemed like they were slapped in wherever in the book, which bothered me. In the beginning of the book, there was a search for Cagney, the author's cat game. I thought it was going to be fun. Instead, it was really easy. It was just a clip art picture of a cat after some stories. It wasn't even well hidden. That brings me to my second problem about the book. Some of the illustrations were well done, which I loved. Others looked like they were cheap clip art. The combo of the two didn't fit the mood of the book well. I did love the illustration of the two black cats making a heart with their tale.

All in all, I really enjoyed this book. I think it is a great way for children to learn some life experiences, and to learn more about cats at the same time. Heck, I know some adults that could learn a thing or two from the book as well. If you do buy The Dogma of Cats for Kids, make sure to read until the very end, where you can find ASPCA links to help cats. I recommend this book for anyone ages three and older.

I give The Dogma of Cats for Kids: 3/5.

Want to know more about the author?

I received this book from the publisher, via NetGalley, in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Here/Now by D.D. Lorenzo cover reveal

Join our Royal Celebration with the Cover Reveal
for HERE/NOW by D.D. Lorenzo

HERE/NOW Book 3 of the Depth of Emotion Series

Carter Sinclair…
He’s gone home.
He’s assessed mistakes.
He’s risen from the ashes.

Carter was a “rules” kind of guy. He worked and believed in the system, but the system was unjust. His wife is dead, his brother tragically injured, and an innocent woman paid for the sins of another. Assessing his life, he determines that deceit and lies no longer have a place there. He’s lived in the darkness of his own despair, and watched evil corrupt the lives of those he loves. His intent is to destroy it.
What he didn’t expect was something beautiful to emerge from the darkness...
Regret lives in the past.
Hope lives in the future.
Reality is the present.

is the struggle.

Is it possible that tragic circumstances can birth the most unexpected blessings?

Add it to your Goodreads Book shelf by clicking below:


DD Lorenzo is a modern-day storyteller. Her novels reach deep into the heart of readers and engage them through the emotions of her characters. DD resides in Maryland, The Land of Pleasant Living. She met the love of her life in high school and decided to look no further. Together, they have an eclectic and amazing family. When she isn’t writing stories of the impassioned lives of her characters, she is rooting for the Baltimore Ravens or the Baltimore Orioles. Her favorite pastimes include spending time with the wonderful people in her life and riding in her husband’s classic Mustang to the Eastern Shore. “Selective/Memory” is Book 2 in The “Depth of Emotion” Series. It is the conclusion to the cliffhanger “Positive/Negativity” (she promises!). There are five books planned for the series. Book 3, “Here/Now” will be centered on character Carter Sinclair, a fan favorite. “Here/Now” is planned for release Fall, 2014.

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Insidious by Aleatha Romig release day launch

    Aleatha Romig       INSIDIOUS Release Day LaunchAleatha Romig's Insidious RDL Banner Cover
insidious cover

Book Info

Title: Insidious (Tales From The Dark Side)

Author: Aleatha Romig

Genre: Dark, Erotic Thriller

Cover Design: Melissa Ringuette

Release Date: Oct 21st 2014


Book Jacketinsidious wrap (1) Synopsis **Due to the dark and explicit nature of this book, it is recommended for mature audiences only. **

Dark desires…Deadly secrets…Devious deceptions…Nothing is exactly as it seems in INSIDIOUS, the new erotic thriller from New York Times and USA Today bestselling author ALEATHA ROMIG!

When a powerful man is willing to risk everything for his own satisfaction, only one woman can beat him at his own game: his wife. Or so she thinks…

“Let’s start with you calling me Stewart. Formalities seem unnecessary.”

Stewart Harrington is rich, gorgeous, and one of the most powerful men in Miami. He always gets what he wants. Anything is available to him for the right price.

Even me.

Being the wife of a mogul comes with all the perks, but being Mrs. Stewart Harrington comes with a few special requirements. I’ve learned to keep a part of myself locked away as my husband watches me submit to his needs. But the more he demands of me, the more beguiled he becomes and that’s to my advantage. So I keep fulfilling his fantasies and following his rules because he doesn’t know that what he’s playing is really my game. And winning is everything, right?

INSIDIOUS is a stand-alone novel and the first Tales from the Dark Side title by ALEATHA ROMIG.

Buy Links

Amazon | B&N | KOBO | iBooks

My Review

Aleatha Romig has always been one of my favorite authors. The way she writes a story line is so complex and unique. It makes her one of the most talented writers out there today in my opinion. Consequences is one of my favorite series that I have read this year. Insidious shows that Aleatha can write a great stand alone as well.

Unfortunately, there's not much I can say about the book without revealing spoilers. Therefore, I will go over a few brief points that I really enjoyed. As always, if you've read the book and wish to discuss spoilers with me, feel free to send me a message on Facebook, or Goodreads. 

One thing that I loved about Insidious is that it keeps you on your toes. There are all sorts of crazy plot twists and turns. You never know what's going to happen next. Aleatha Romig does the brilliant, complex plot weaving that she's best known for, and the result is genius. She made me suspicious of all characters. There were times in the book that I didn't even trust Vik, the main character. There are times when I was reading the book, I had to stop and go, wait what the hell just happened?! I also loved the crazy ending. It was one of the best endings I have ever read in a book. I read the book almost two weeks ago, and I'm still thinking about the ending. She also threw in very subtle references to Tony and Claire, which made me fan girl.

I loved Insidious. Out of all of Aleatha's books that I've read, I think it's her best work yet. You'll want to read it more than once to pick up things that you may have missed the first time (or the second time). She is truly the queen of dark books. I can't wait to read the next stand alone novel she releases.

I give Insidious: 5/5.

Teasersdisobey Casey sophie made

Meet Aleatha Romigar 

Aleatha Romig is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author who lives in Indiana. She grew up in Mishawaka, graduated from Indiana University, and is currently living south of Indianapolis. Together with her high-school sweetheart and husband of twenty-eight years, they've raised three children. Before she became a full-time author, she worked days as a dental hygienist and spent her nights writing. Now, when she's not imagining mind-blowing twists and turns, she likes to spend her time with her family and friends. Her pastimes include reading and creating heroes/anti-heroes who haunt your dreams!

INSIDIOUS is Aleatha's seventh novel. It is her first time to delve into the world of erotic thrillers. The Consequences Series, her first series has been categorized as psychological thriller and dark romance. With INSIDIOUS, Aleatha took the twists and turns of CONSEQUENCES and turned up the heat.

CONSEQUENCES, her first novel, was released August 2011, by Xlibris Publishing. Then in October of 2012, Ms. Romig re-released CONSEQUENCES as an indie author. TRUTH, the sequel, was released October 30, 2012, and CONVICTED, the third in the series, was released October 8, 2013. Unexpectedly, the fourth book of the Consequences series came to life with REVEALED: THE MISSING YEARS. It is the fourth full-length novel in the series. It explores the years in CONVICTED that previously were only mentioned, as well as a complete character glossary and timeline. REVEALED was released May 20, 2014.

INSIDIOUS, the first released book from TALES FROM THE DARK SIDE will be released October 21, 2014. TALES FROM THE DARK SIDE will be a series of standalone, dark, erotic thrillers guaranteed to take you on a wild, hot, and dark ride. Each novel in the series will be independent of the next. The characters from one book will never be revisited. Instead, Aleatha leaves it up to her readers to imagine how each story will end while remembering that it is the journey that is the most fun.

Aleatha is a "Published Author's Network" member of the Romance Writers of America and represented by Danielle Egan-Miller of Brown and Miller Literary Associates.


Facebook | Twitter | Website | Amazon | Goodread

Friday, October 17, 2014

Alice in Tumblr-land by Tim Manley

Disney meets Lena Dunham in this illustrated humor book featuring your favorite fairy-tale characters dating and finding their way in 21st-century America

The Ugly Duckling still feels gross compared to everyone else, but now she’s got Instagram, and there’s this one filter that makes her look awesome. Cinderella swaps her glass slippers for Crocs. The Tortoise and the Hare Facebook stalk each other. Goldilocks goes gluten free. And Peter Pan finally has to grow up and get a job, or at least start paying rent.

Here are more than one hundred fairy tales, illustrated and re-imagined for today. Instead of fairy godmothers, there’s Siri. And rather than big bad wolves, there are creepy dudes on OkCupid. In our brave new world of social networking, YouTube, and texting, fairy tales can once again lead us to "happily ever after" — and have us laughing all the way.

My Thoughts:
Have you ever wanted to know what happens to your favorite fairytale characters after the happily ever after? Then Alice in Tumbr-land is the perfect book for you. It has all the answers about the fairy tale characters, even some of the ones I had forgotten about. It also takes a look at what fairy tales would be like in our modern world.

Alice in Tumblr-land takes the harsh realities of being an adult and puts them in a sarcastic, humorous light. I think everyone will be able to identify with at least one of the characters, whether that be Peter Pan who is addicted to social media, or The Ugly Duckling who is always finding flaws about herself. Peter Pan is my favorite character in the book. A few people I know (including myself) could learn a few things from him. The book also takes a few slight jabs at pop culture, which I found hilarious.

One of the things that blew me away in the book was the illustrations. I was impressed at how beautiful most of them were. I didn't expect it based on the book's subject matter. There were a few of them, such as the one of Robin Hood thinking while on a walk, that would make awesome tattoos. There are a few quotes in the book that would also make cool tattoos. I know it's weird, but it's something that caught my attention while reading.

Alice in Tumblr-land was an incredible book. I was pleasantly surprised at how much I enjoyed it. The book got added to the list of my favorite fairy tale retellings. If you have a great sense of humor, like sarcasm, and need a laugh, you should definitely check out Alice in Tumblr-land. You won't regret it.

I give Alice in Tumblr-land: 4/5.

Want to know more about the author?

I received this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Mystery, Matzo Balls, and Moxie by Z.B. Heller

A mystery weekend gets steamy and stuffed... with food.

My Thoughts:
Mystery, Matzo Balls, and Moxie is part of the Shiver anthology.

The Chronicles of Moxie was one of my books that I've read this year. It's refreshing to find a romantic comedy that's actually hilarious. Mystery, Matzo Balls, and Moxie lived up to my expectations as well.

From the very first page, Moxie had me laughing at her smartass sense of humor. It made me realize how much I missed these characters. I definitely needed more of Moxie and the rest of the gang in my life. It was fun trying to figure out who was "the murderer". The crazy hi jinx at the end was hilarious. It was interesting trying to see how Moxie and everyone got from one situation to another. I'm still not entirely sure what a matzo ball is though. I'll have to Google it later. I recommend this to anyone looking for a good laugh.

I give Mystery, Matzo Balls, and Moxie: 5/5.

Want to know more about the author?

I received this ARC from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

A Letter to My Cat by Lisa Erspamer

The follow-up to A Letter to My Dog takes on cats, with celebrities writing letters of love and gratitude to their beloved pet felines.
Alluring, elusive, mysterious—the cats in our lives are not always easy to get to know. But as with all pets, they have unique personalities and stories to tell. Alongside beautiful four-color photos of their cats, A Letter to My Cat collects personal letters from celebrities offering love and gratitude for all that their cats bring to their lives.

My Thoughts:
I have always loved cats. There are very few times in my life that I have not had a cat. Right now, I have a black cat named Sir Pig. He is my world. He's just like a child to me. Therefore, I find the idea of people writing letters to their cats very interesting. As soon as I saw this book, I knew I had to read it. 

A Letter to My Cat was heartwarming. I was reading it before I fell asleep in bed, and there were parts that I laughed so hard at, I almost woke up my husband. As a cat owner, I can definitely identify with the book because I've seen my cat do a lot of the silly things that the letter writers talk about. Stephen Simmon's story about finding the cat in Iraq was inspiring. It shows that cats truly can change lives.

The book was also heart breaking at times. Nina Laden wrote a letter to her cat Cali that made me bawl. Her cat was dying of cancer. I've went through the pain of losing a cat before, and it's one of the worst things imaginable. I couldn't imagine my life without Sir Pig being there every morning to wake me up with meowing and kitty kisses.

I loved this book. It makes me want to write a letter to my cat. That way, in the future I won't forget about the time we spent together and how much he impacted my life. I recommend this book to cat lovers everywhere.

I give A Letter to My Cat: 5/5.

Want to know more about the author?

I received this ARC from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Friday, October 10, 2014

Dual Review: Becoming Calder, and Finding Eden by Mia Sheridan

Synopsis for Becoming Calder:
There is a place in modern day America with no electricity, no plumbing, and no modern conveniences. In this place, there is no room for dreams, no space for self-expression, and no tolerance for ambition.

In this place, there is a boy with the body of a god and the heart of a warrior. He is strong and faithful and serves his family honorably. But he dares to dream of more.

In this place, there is a girl with the face of an angel and a heart full of courage. To her family, she is the vision of obedient perfection. But she dares to want that which she has been told can never be hers. 

Becoming Calder is the story of good versus evil, fear versus bravery, and the truth that the light of love has always found its way into even the darkest of places . . . From the beginning of time, to the end of the world.

Synopsis for Finding Eden:
Finding Eden is the continuation, and conclusion, to Becoming Calder.

When the world as you know it has ended, when all that you love has been washed away, where do you find strength? 

When the new world you've stepped into is as isolating as the last, when your heart is broken, and your future is unclear, where do you find hope? 

Finding Eden is a story of strength, discovery, forgiveness, and undying love. It is about believing in your destiny and following the path that leads to peace.

My Thoughts:
This is a review of both Becoming Calder and Finding Eden. I felt like I could write a better review if I combined the books. 

Earlier this year, the book club I belong to read Archer's Voice. It was the first Mia Sheridan book I had read. I loved it. I was hooked on Mia's writing style. I think I finished it in about three hours. When I heard she was coming out with a new duology this year, I knew it was going to be good. I thought that there was no way she would be able to write another book that I liked as much as Archer's Voice. Well I was wrong. I liked Becoming Calder and Finding Eden more than Archer's Voice. It ties with Ugly Love by Colleen Hoover for my favorite book of the year. The books also put Mia with Colleen as my favorite author of all time.

Cults have always been a subject that I am interested in. I think it's fascinating to see how some people have crazy thoughts that gain them power. It's always interesting to see other people being charmed enough that they too believe those thoughts. Mia Sheridan doesn't just give you an insight to what that is like. She makes you feel like you are there living this lifestyle with Calder, Eden, and Xander. Every horrible thing that happens to them, I felt like I was right beside them experiencing it. At one point during Becoming Calder, the emotional aspect got to be too much for me and I had to set the book down for a few. That's how intricate and beautiful the writing is. I have an ARC so I can't share quotes from the book, but I really wish I could.

I am so happy that Mia decided to release Becoming Calder and Finding Eden simultaneously. That wait for Finding Eden would have killed me. I love how things were wrapped up in Finding Eden. You really get to see Eden grow as a character. She becomes a strong independent woman. There were several twists and turns in the series, especially in Finding Eden, that left me speechless. There's a scene towards the end of Finding Eden that left me gasping. The whole time I was reading it I thought WTF, that can't be true! Thanks to Mia Sheridan, I will never look at peaches, morning glories, and butterscotch candies the same way again. I think I definitely need a bed of healing. 

If there is one duology I wish I could put on everyone's Kindles and make them read, it would definitely be this one. You truly come out of the experience a better person with a new outlook on life. I can't recommend Becoming Calder and Finding Eden enough. 

I give Becoming Calder, and Finding Eden both: 5/5.

Want to know more about the author?

I received ARCs of both books from the author in exchange for an honest review. I was in no way compensated for this review.

Tuesday, October 7, 2014

Vanished from Dust by Shea Norwood tour

About the Book:
Book Title: Vanished from Dust by Shea Norwood (Book 1 in the Vanished from Dust series)
Genre: Young Adult Paranormal
Pages: 320
Published: October 16th, 2013
Published by Createspace
Barnes & Noble:

Eric Stark is not insane. Or at least he doesn’t think so. He wishes everyone in Dust, Texas, felt the same way. But that’s not going to happen since the whole town thinks he’s crazy. Why didn’t he keep his mouth shut?
No one understands. Eric is alone as he battles his sanity in a town of tormenters. Suddenly a new friendship emerges after the new kid, Kyle Barrett, moves to town.
Eric reluctantly reveals his secret. Is it a curse or a gift? He isn’t certain, but with Kyle by his side he finds the courage to seek the truth.
They soon realize that something sinister is descending on the residents of Dust.
Is it caused by Eric’s phantoms or is it something else? Is it connected to the mysterious death of hundreds of townspeople over sixty years ago? One thing is certain—only Eric and Kyle can save them.
They set out on a heart-pounding adventure and find themselves transported to a disturbed and deserted version of their small southern town. They quickly discover that this new world has mysteries of its own to uncover. What they find could prove more than they bargained for, and it only leads to more questions. Eric and Kyle must face a horrifying fact—they may never get out alive.
 “We’re gonna die here,” Kyle muttered.
 “I don’t believe that,” Eric said. “And neither do you.”
 Will they survive their encounter with these dark and mysterious beings?
 Will they find a way back home?
 Or will they be lost forever?
 The Vanished from Dust series is perfect for anyone who craves a hair-raising thriller packed with mystery and suspense. This paranormal story for young adults can be compared to Stand by Me, mixed with Odd Thomas, and a twist of The Dark Tower.
About the Author:
Shea Norwood is an emerging author and native of West Texas that currently lives in the DFW area with his wife and son.He was drawn to writing at an early age and recently rekindled this passion after dusting off a decade-old manuscript, titled Vanished from Dust. The fictional town of Dust is loosely based on a small town south of Odessa, TX.
When he’s not writing, Shea loves to spend time with this family, read, and is a frequent globetrotter. His travels have taken him to France, the United Kingdom, Japan, Italy, Germany, and Mexico.Shea writes Young Adult Fantasy/Paranormal/Mystery

Follow Shea on Facebook to get updates on upcoming releases.

CHAPTER    1    

“I’m    not    crazy,”    Eric   Stark    shouted    at    the    crowd    of    seventh    graders    as    they    surrounded    him.    He    looked    up    from    the    ground,    which    consisted    of    patches    of    grass    and    dirt,    to   see    the    sunlight    glinting    off   of  the    metal    braces    of    a    girl    with    pigtails    as    she    pointed    and    laughed    with    the    rest    of    them.    Another    boy    kicked    him    in    the    stomach,    causing    him    to    retreat    into    a    fetal    position    to    guard    against    another    blow.    
“Oh  yeah?”    Greg    Coffey    asked    as   he    towered    over    Eric.    His    lip    was  curled,    showing    his    crooked,    heavily    stained    teeth.    “What    happened    last   week    in    class?    You    said,    ‘They’re    watching    me.’    Remember    that,    loser?”    
“I  didn’t    say    that.”    Eric    tried    to    get    up,    but    Greg    pushed    him    back    down    and    kicked    dirt    in    his    face.    Eric rubbed    his    burning    eyes    with    both    hands.    When    he    opened    them    he    saw    four    more    kids    sneering    over    him,    all    laughing    at    his    expense.    Where    was    a    teacher    when    you    needed    one?    The    hot    Texas    sun    was  high    on    the  horizon,    almost    blinding    him    as    he    stared    back    at    his    tormentors.    Sweat    was    pouring    from    his    brow,    mixing    with    the    tears    that    streamed    down    his    face.    
“Yeah  you    did,”    Adam    Marshall    said    with    a    smirk.    “You’re    going    off    the    rails,    
crazy  train.”   
“I    like    that—crazy    train.    Just    like    the    song,”    Greg    said.    He    laughed    and    gave    Adam    
a    high    five.    “That’s    your    new    name.    Like    it?”    Greg    kicked   another    pile  of    dirt  at    Eric.    Eric    tried    to    spit    it    out,    but    his    entire    face    was    covered    in    a    muddy    film.    He    
wished  that    he’d    just    kept    his    mouth    shut    about    it,    but    it    was    too    late    now.    News    traveled    fast    in    a    small    town,    and    he    was    sure    everyone    thought    he    was  insane    by    now.    
He    didn’t    know    what    he    was.    
“Leave  him    alone,”    a    kid    said.    He    leaned    over    to    help    Eric    to    his    feet.    “I    don’t    like    
“Stay  out    of    it,    new    kid.”    Greg    said    and    gave    him    a    scowling    stare.    
“Or   what?”  The    kid    got   closer.    
“Let’s  go,”    Adam    said.    “There’s    a    teacher    coming.”    He    slapped    Greg    on    the    
“This   ain’t    over,”     Greg   said   as   he   walked    away.    “Thanks,”    Eric  said.    
“I’m    Kyle    Barrett,”    the    kid    said,    extending    his    hand.    
Eric  shook    it.    “Did    you    just    move    here?”    
“Yeah,    this    is    my    first    day,”    Kyle    said.    “It’s    hard    being    the    new    kid.    No    one    talks    to    
“No  one    talks    to    me    either,    except    to    make    fun    of    me,”    Eric    said.    
Six  months    after    the    dirt-­‐kicking    incident,    Eric    and  Kyle    had    turned    from    strangers    
into    fast  friends.    But  everyone    else    still    thought    Eric    was    crazy.    Even    now,    he    
couldn’t  be   sure    if    they    were     right    or  wrong.    
He    only    knew    one    thing—he    hadn’t  actually    seen   them    in    several    months.    So    was    
it  all    in    his    head?    His    mom    always    told    him    time    heals    all    wounds.    But    this    wound    

was  more    like    a    cut    that    never    healed.    It    festered    in    the    eyes    of    everyone    in    Dust,    Texas.    He    was    just    a    mentally    defective    kid    who    barely    deserved    their    pity.    
He    was    in    the    eighth    grade    now,    and    he    tried    to    put    those    troubled    years    behind    
him.  It    seemed    that    most    of    his    classmates    felt    the    same    way,    but    a    select    few    never    grew    tired    of    reminding    him    of    his    sanity    (or    lack    thereof)    and    demeaning    nickname    from    time    to    time.    
Eric   looked  up    at   the   clock.   The     second  hand    moved    in    a    slow,    agonizing    speed    
before  the    bell   rang     loudly,    reverberating    throughout    the   building.    
“Finally,”  he    said    quietly    to    himself.    The    sound    of    the   bell    signified     the   end   of   the    school    week,    and    he    was    happy    to    hear    it.    It    was    only    the    week    after    Thanksgiving    and    he    was    already    looking    forward    to    summer    break.    He    scrambled    down    the    stairs    and    out    the  heavy    double    doors.    Kyle   Barrett   waited    at   the    foot    of    the    steps    wearing    
a    tucked-­‐in    red    polo.    They    had   been    inseparable    ever   since   Kyle    had    stood    up    for    
him    that    day.    
He   didn’t    stop    when    he    got    outside,    taunting    Kyle    to    a    footrace.    Kyle    ran    hard    to    catch    up    after    seeing    Eric    dart    by.    Kyle    was    five    months    older,    but    for    the    time    being    they    were   both    still    fourteen,    and   they   were  often   thought    of    as    brothers    due     to   
their  similar    appearances.    Both    of    the    boys    had    dark-­‐brown    hair,    chestnut-­‐colored    eyes,    and    olive    skin.    But    Kyle    was    broader    in    the    shoulders    compared    to    Eric’s    slender    frame.    
“Bet    I    can    beat   you    to   the    car,”    Eric  yelled.    
“No   way,”   Kyle   said    as   he    raced    ahead    of    Eric.    
Eric   wasn’t     going    down    without    a    fight,    so   he  ran    harder     while  dodging    several    students    loitering    outside   the    school.    He    was    closing    the    distance    when   he   tripped,    scattering    his    books    across    the    parking    lot.    A    group    of    girls    standing    on    the    sidewalk    giggled    as   he   got    to    his    feet   and   gathered   his   things    and    what    little    dignity    he    had    
left.  Kyle    made    it    to    the    car    and    pointed    at    Eric,    laughing.    “You    busted    big    time,”    Kyle    said.    
“You    got   lucky.    If   I   hadn’t  tripped     I    would’ve     beat    you,”   Eric   replied.   
“Yeah  right,    you’ll    never    beat    me.”    
Jean,  Kyle’s    mother,    rolled    down    the    car    window.    She    had    a    cigarette    hanging    from    her    lip.    Eric    watched    as    the    smoke    drifted    out    the    window    and    disappeared    into    the    wind.  
“Can    I   spend    the    night    at    Eric’s    house    tonight?”    Kyle    blurted    out,    still    breathing    
Eric    was  standing    anxiously     next  to   the   car,    waiting    for    her    reply.    He   bent    over   to    rub    his    knee.    He    was    pretty    sure    he’d    scraped    it    hard    enough  to   draw    blood.    He    looked    back    to  see    if    the    girls    were    still    watching    him.    They    were    on    the    sidewalk    waiting    for    their    rides    but    apparently    had    found    a    more    interesting    topic    to    discuss    since    they    were  no  longer   looking     at   him.    
“Did  Eric’s    mom    say    it    was    all    right?”    Jean    asked.    She    flicked    her    ash     out    of  the    window    and   took    another  drag.    She    had    dry,   ashy-­‐brown    hair,    along   with    a    pair    of    large-­‐rimmed    glasses    that    draped    over    her    hazel    eyes.    She    wore    a    simple    mauve-­‐ colored   T-­‐shirt    and    blue    jeans.    

Kyle’s  little    sister,    Katie,    and    older    brother,    Ben,    were    sitting    in    the    backseat.    Katie    Barrett,    the    youngest    of    the    family,    had    wavy    dirty-­‐blonde    hair    that    looked    like    a    poodle’s    fur.    Ben   was   Kyle’s   older    brother.    
“She  is    okay    with    it,”    Kyle  said.    
“Yeah,    we  asked    last    period,”    Eric   added.  
“Well    if    she    doesn’t    mind,    then    it’s    fine    with    me,”    Jean    said.    She    took    her    huge    glasses    off,   wiped   the  lenses  with    her    shirt,    and    put    them    back    on.    “Kyle,    do    you    still    have    your   bike    at    Eric’s?”     
“It    should    be  there.”    Kyle   eyed    Eric    for    confirmation,    and  he   nodded.   
Eric  looked    in    the    backseat    and    saw    Ben    picking    his    nose    with    no    shame.    He    thought    about   pointing    it   out   but    quickly    decided    against    it.    It    was    only    a   couple    of    weeks    ago    that    Eric  had    narrowly    escaped    getting    his  head   dipped   in   the   toilet   by    him    at    the    high    school    football    game,    so    it    was    best    that    he    kept    a    little    distance    for    now.    If   it    hadn’t    been    for    the    school    principal    walking    in    during    the    act    he    would    have    had   the    unfortunate   opportunity    of    seeing    a    close-­‐up    view    of    the   inside    of    the    toilet    bowl.  
“Dammit  Ben.    Don’t    pick    your    nose    and    throw    boogers    in    my    car,”    Jean    
Ben  looked    up    and    replied,    “I’m    not    picking    my    nose    Mom.”    
“Katie,  did    you    see    him    picking?”    Jean    asked.    
“No  ma’am.    I    didn’t    see    anything,”    Katie    said.    Eric    was    fairly    certain    that    she    had    
in  fact    seen    her    older    brother    pick    a    fairly    large    booger,    methodically    roll    it    into    a    neat    ball,    and    then    flick    it   onto    the    floor    of   the   car,   but   she   probably    knew    that    it    was    much    wiser    to    keep    her    mouth    shut.    
Jean  turned    and    gave    Ben    a   stern   look    before   turning  back   to   look   at   Kyle.   “Y’all   
be  good    now.”    
Kyle   and   Eric    nodded    in    near   unison    as   she    rolled    up   the    window    and   pulled   out   
of   the    school    parking    lot.  

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