Category Archives: Action

Review – The Talisman Chronicles – T. M. Franklin

Summary:

A mysterious house. An old journal. A dusty chest holding more than secrets.

Each talisman found in the chest grants the chosen a gift, a unique ability.But with that power comes a burden–the duty of The Order.

Something is coming.

Something evil.

And it’s up to The Order to stop it.

The Talisman Chronicles – All Six Episodes Available for the First Time in a Single Volume

 

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Review:

Six short stories, all centred around a house and a mysterious chest. This is T. M. Franklin at her YA Paranormal/romance best!

Window:

I originally read this when it was first released, and this is my review from back then (I will edit at the end)

The touch of paranormal to what is a seemingly normal house makes for an interesting story. Chloe has always been linked to the house and the picture window in the living room. It shows her things. Thinks of the past, the present, and what could be.

Chloe, apart from her gift, is your average teenage girl who isn’t part of the ‘in crowd’ at school, preferring to spend her time with her best friend Miranda. Ethan, the boy who lives across the road whom she has a crush on, used to be their friend, but became big man on campus and decided to hang with the popular crowd. Chloe and Miranda are fine about this, until the house shows Ethan in danger.

What follows is a very sweet story about friendship and caring for others and hilarious Twitter conversations. Without spoiling the story, I will say it took me about an hour to read it and I loved every minute. The characters are likeable and relateable, even with the gift Chloe has, and the reader cares about them just as much as the house does.

I want a house like that, that makes me feel warm and fuzzy

*EDIT*

The way Franklin has extended and adapted this story to make it the beginning of a series is fantastic as she hasn’t lost the soul of the original story. It smoothly leads into the next without any hitches!

Timepiece:

Following on from the first book, Wren is new into town. After Chloe and Miranda become friends with her, and she’s having weird dreams about Chloe’s house, she begins to embrace her destiny – afterall, that is what it is.

By the end of this book, it’s still not completely clear why these things are happening to the teens in their town, but Franklin’s effortless writing style makes you want to keep reading until the very end so you have all the answers.

Gauntlet:

I think Beck, the main in this episode of The Talisman Chronicles, is my favourite character. He’s focussed on doing well at school and with his swimming, but there’s something about him, a serious side that is so endearing. What we don’t know, until this episode, is about his sister, and the crap he and his dad are going through with her and Beck’s mother.

While all that is going on, Beck is brought into the fold with the others and the prophecy. His destiny is explained to him, and it takes him a while to get used to it and his relationship with Wren. He’s a strong character with flaws that make him all the more relateable.

Mantle:

I have to admit. This episode was my last favourite (which I still enjoyed), but I can’t work out why. It still had the action and a lot more resistance from Maia to everything happening. She was the first to not just blindly accept what was happening to them all. I liked that about her as it made it feel that little more realistic, but there was something a little… off about her episode.

While a lot of questions left open by the previous episodes are answered in this book, more are created by the end of it which is frustrating in such a good way!

Shield:

Dylan has been a character readers have met a couple of times due to his knowing Chloe and Miranda at school, and then his dad becoming involved with the Order. When Dylan is given his gift, his dad wants nothing more to do with them, and orders Dylan not to either, but the draw is far too strong, for them both.

Dylan defies his dad and puts himself in danger, but eventually his dad realises he needs to do this, they ALL do.

Prison:

Once again, Chloe is the main in this episode, but by the time this one comes around, we can see how much stress she’s under and how tired she is by everything. All she wants to do is protect Ethan and others not in The Order while The Order prepare for the big fight.

Sadly, it seems that not everyone will survive the battle and this is weighing on Chloe and her friends worry about her.

Are The Order strong enough to band together and do battle?

 

All in all, this series is fabulous, and I couldn’t put it down. Not one episode slowed the flow of the entire story, and there were a couple of moments that shocked me as I hadn’t seen them coming. I’ve miss T. M. Franklin’s writing, and as ever, I need more!

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Filed under Action, contemporary, Favourites, NA, Novella, Paranormal, Promo, Review, Romance, Series, Short Story, Supernatural, YA

Review – Grievous – J. M. Darhower

Synopsis:

Once upon a time, there was a girl who stopped believing in fairy tales after her innocence was stolen.

Morgan Myers is tired. So damn tired. Most people either push her around or brush her off, and she’s not putting up with it anymore. Determined to reclaim the life that had been stolen from her, she puts her trust in the last person she ever expected to: the notorious they call Scar. Morgan sees a side of him that few people seem to know—the man, not the myth. Lorenzo. And what she sees, she likes, a lot more than she thought she would.

But fairy tales aren’t real, as life likes to remind her. Some dragons, you just can’t slay, no matter how hard you fight them. And when hers comes back around, breathing fire, she’s forced to face some unimaginable horrors. But there’s a white knight in combat boots out there that isn’t afraid of monsters.

You see, it’s impossible to be afraid of something you see every day in the mirror.

 

 

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Review:

Silver Stars 4

 

 

After leaving the first book on a cliffhanger, knowing J.M. Darhower was reeasing Grievous a short while after was a relief.

Diving straight in, knowing I was going to get the answers to the questions I was left with, I devoured each and every word in the matter of a day.

While I loved the characters in the first book, I loved the MORE in this one. Morgan, while breaking, is still as strong and quick mouthed as ever. Despite the one thing she wants, she’s not blinkered in her fight to get what is hers back.

And Lorenzo… well. He’s still foul mouthed, quick to anger, but he has a soft side. But, don’t cross him because let’s face it. He’s a bit batshit…

Grievous is as, if not more, fast paced as Menace. The action never slowing or losing momentum keeps the reader turning the page, needing to know how everything’s going to play out in the end.

There are certain characters I wanted to see hurt, and other I wanted to see get their HEA. It doesn’t happen that way for everyone (Sorry Three), but nothing ever came across as forced or as a thrown in plot point.

Another excellent series from Darhower.

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Review – Menace – J. M. Darhower

Once upon a time, there was a guy who got so fed up with life that he resorted to murder and mayhem just to feel alive.

Lorenzo Gambini is bored. So fucking bored. Most people either annoy him or avoid him, afraid to face him. Figuratively. Literally. With his face partially disfigured, scarred, he looks every bit the monster the stories make him out to be: the notorious menace they call Scar. They say he’s a sociopath. Maybe he’s a psychopath. Whatever path he’s on, people tend to stay far away from it.

Until one day, a young woman bumps right into him–a woman just as fed up with life, but for much different reasons. With a Scarlet Letter inked on her wrist and secrets buried deep in her soul, Morgan Myers is running from something… or maybe somebody. Lorenzo isn’t quite sure.

You can bet your ass he’s going to figure it out, though.

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Red Stars 4

 

Considering how much I LOVED the Sempre books but wasn’t a huge fan of the Monster books, I kind of knew what to expect with this book – after all, Darhower writes the Mob so very well and the darkness to her main characters is what makes them so likeable. I expected fabulous dialogue, chemistry between the characters, and just the right amount of angst – well, I got all that, and more.

Mixed into what amounts to a dark romance book, is a mystery. Morgan (or Scarlet as she’s known as to Lorenzo) is on the run. She will literally do anything to stay away from whomever she’s hiding from. Lorenzo (Scar to those who fear and hate him) is running the show around New York, and there’s a little girl who has been taken away by her daddy. Told from alternating POVs, we get a story that not only steamy in all the right places, funny in others, but most of all, keeps you turning pages to find out what the hell is going on.

Lorenzo, in his ‘boss’ persona isn’t the most likeable character – let’s be real, the guy has a massive chip on his shoulder which has seriously earned it’s way there. But, there’s something about him. His men are loyal, and Morgan can’t seem to stay away from him. However, reading about him and how he interacts with his brother Leo, you see a completely different side to him. Put this with the Morgan who is desperate to stay alive, to the Morgan who fucks a cop who is supposed to help her because she NEEDS answers and you can feel the hurt behind her actions, shows how well rounded these characters are. They’re far from perfect, but their flaws and fears make them real.

As the story unravels, I couldn’t help but need to keep reading, flipping those pages. However, while some answers are answered, many aren’t because there is another book to follow. I NEED that, kinda like yesterday!

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Promo Tour – Search for the Red Ghost – Sherry Alexander

SEARCH FOR THE RED GHOST

by
Sherry Alexander


Official genre of book: Action/Adventure Fiction (ages 10-14)

Thirteen-year-old Jake Thrasher’s mother is dead, and the only clues left by the beast that killed her are a few strands of red hair and a set of plate-sized tracks. When his Army Scout father refuses to hunt the animal down, Jake takes matters into his own hands and heads into a hostile desert. Wolves, snakes, grizzlies, renegade Apache, and the ever-present threat of death are waiting for him. Will Jake find his Red Ghost? Or, will he succumb to the inherent dangers? 

Jake started out into the darkness to follow her trail. He had an uneasy feeling that something was there—something barely beyond his sight—watching him and waiting for the right moment to strike. He knew lions stalked their quarry long before they attacked, knew they did it silently, and knew they killed by pouncing on an animal’s back, and biting its neck. He had seen it, had sat on a ridge with Pa, followed it winding through the rocks with his eyes, and heard the crunch of bones when it brought down a bull elk.
That was the first time Jake felt fear—honest to the bone, hands shaking, heart pounding, hair standing up on the back of the neck, fear. It was the same feeling he was having now.
Suddenly a series of deep, sharp snorts and squeals cut through the darkened space of air. There was no time to think. Jake sucked in a quick breath, gripped his rifle with both hands, and ran.
Jake saw the lion first, and it was huge—close to seven feet long with a thick tail about a third of the length of its body. It was crouched, butt up, and head down on a boulder above Storm, and ready to pounce.
Jake raised the rifle to his shoulder, and fingered the trigger. The lion studied him, and snarled. The yellowness of its eyes, the low guttering sound, was frightening, but somehow it was also beautiful—dangerously beautiful and for a second, Jake’s muscles tensed, and he froze. He looked at Storm.
The mare was wide-eyed wild, and in constant motion, bucking and kicking. She tried to rear, raised herself several feet, but the hobbles had slipped over her hooves, and she came down hard, and almost fell.
She wobbled and shook, and tried to steady herself.
Jake swallowed hard. He aimed at the lion and fired—Crack! The cat vaulted off the rock, and landed spread eagle on Storm’s back. Thick claws dug into the mare’s shoulders, and tore her flesh. She screamed and reared. His shot had missed.
He raised the rifle again, and pushed the butt into his shoulder. He aimed at the lion’s head, and fired. Almost at the same instant, Storm’s hind legs gave out, and she started to tumble backwards. Crack! The shot bounced off the rocks, and thundered down the dry wash.
The lion let out a low growl, raised its yellow eyes, and hissed at Jake.
He cocked the gun again and fired. Crack! He saw the lion’s body jerk. Storm was on her back now, and he couldn’t tell if the cat was wounded or dead. Rifle ready, he took a breath, and held it while Storm struggled to her feet. The lion dropped to the ground. Jake moved in closer. The tawny blood-stained lump of fur was motionless in the dirt. He thought it was dead, but he wasn’t taking any chances. He raised the rifle to his shoulder, took aim at the animal’s head, and fired—Crack!
Behind him, the mare started stumbling, and Jake whirled on his heels as she fell to her side. 

Three years ago, I came across a historic picture of a camel tied to a hitching post in front of an old Southwest Army Fort. I like to believe that I am an American history buff, but I had never heard of camels in the 1800s. I had to know more, so I started researching the where, when, and whys of the photo. That research led to my non-fiction book, The Great Camel Experiment of the Old West, and it led me to a legend.
After the Civil War, the military sold the camels, but a few were released into the deserts of New Mexico and Arizona. One of those camels was spotted off and on for decades. It harassed miners, cowboys, and lone riders. Then in 1883, it killed a woman drawing water from a creek. That incident led me to ask, “What if?”
What if no one knew what animal was responsible for the woman’s death? What if she had a son and he wanted revenge? And, what if the boy’s Army Scout father refused to hunt down the animal because Geronimo’s warriors were attacking ranches? The answers to these questions became Search for the Red Ghost, a tween action/adventure novel set in the desert of 1883 Arizona. 

Admittedly obsessed with American and Native American history, Sherry Alexander comes by it honestly. Her ancestors were pioneers who traveled west in hopes of making a new life, and she was fascinated by the stories of their lives on the frontier.
“As a kid, I wanted to be a pioneer, so reading books was the last thing on my mind. Instead, I lead my siblings and cousins on great adventures into the forests of Scappoose, Oregon, hunted and fished with my brother, and dreamed of forging new trails to an unknown land.”
Sherry is also not one to take a dare lightly. She started writing on a dare, and her first book, published in 1987, was the result of that dare. Recently retired, Sherry now spends her days writing children’s articles and books, homeschooling her 11 year old granddaughter—a job she says is the best part about being a grandmother, sharing her new found love of books with her family and friends, and enjoying life with her husband on their ten forested acres in Southwest Washington.
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Release Tour & Review (with Giveaway) – Rise of the Alpha – Lorenz Font

RISE OF ALPHA – THE PRODIAN JOURNEY

by
Lorenz Font
Official genre of book: Young Adult/Urban Fantasy/Coming-of-age

All Brian Morrison wants is to be an ordinary teenager with normal teenage problems, but his uncontrollable twitching and phonic tics make that impossible. The butt of jokes in school, he is nothing but a laughing-stock until a visit to a local tarot shop turns his life upside-down.
The psychic’s strange prediction thrusts him into a mysterious world of ghastly creatures and bizarre events, and he must come to terms with the abrupt changes if he is going to survive. One mother’s plea for help presents him with an impossible challenge, but it also brings him closer to the most popular girl in school. Brian must overcome threats from all sides to honor his promise, and he is determined to succeed. His heart won’t let him turn his back on someone in need, especially when he’s fallen in love with her.
Protecting Shannon McKesson soon becomes the greatest purpose of his life. Brian discovers many things on this new journey, but the biggest one might be the truth about who he is. If only he and Shannon can stay alive long enough to unlock the mystery.
“Bro, you’re acting weird today—weirder than usual, anyway. I know you well enough to know something’s up, so spill the fava beans!” Mark made that Hannibal Lecter hissing sound from one of our favorite movies.
“Yeah, you ran out of that psychic shop like you’d seen a ghost.” Darryl seconded. “Then you got sick and wouldn’t answer our calls until this morning. Spill, dude.”
I wavered between the truth or a lie about what had happened over the past few days. Telling them would also mean I had to tell them about Shannon. For some selfish reason, I wanted to keep her all to myself. My own little secret.
“We’re your best friends, in case you’ve forgotten. We’ve shared dirty secrets since middle school,” Mark reminded me.
As long as I could remember, these two had been watching my back.
I still hesitated, but the overwhelming need to share my fears with them overcame the urge to keep Shannon to myself.
“Fine. It’s weird, and I expect you to keep this on the down-low, aʼight?”
They nodded.
“That night at Madame Elizabeth’s, she said something that scared the crap out of me. I know it was bogus, but it freaked me out bad.”
“What did she say?” they asked in unison.
I mimicked Shannon’s mom. “With your curse comes a blessing.”
“Really?” Mark narrowed his eyes. “That scared the shit out of you?”
“Yeah.” I was sure they’d start making fun of me, but when neither of them said anything, I continued. “She’s creepy, bro.”
Again, there was silence except for the crunching sound of their chewing, and the music of the forgotten video game’s menu screen.
After a moment, Darryl began picking at his ear piercings, a nervous habit of his. “Okay, fine. Madame Elizabeth confused the hell out of me with my reading. I got the man hanging upside down. She said that it symbolized self-sacrifice and adapting to changes. Like there’s going to be a pause in my life until I give up something for the greater good. So I asked what it really meant, because my creep-o-meter shot through the roof. She said that my friend would be going through a transition and I needed to be there for him.”
Mark and I looked at each other while Darryl resumed his assault on the chips.

“Who is transitioning?” I asked, not sure what it meant.

Mark raised both hands and shook his head with a grin. “Don’t look at me. My voice doesn’t squeak. I’m circumcised, and all cylinders are a go.”
I socked Mark in the arm. “You’re stupid.”
“What did Madame E tell you?” Darryl asked him.
He was thoughtful for a moment. “Well, mine was kinda freaky, too. She had me pick a card, and I got temperance. She said it meant I had self-control and was able to handle tough situations, but that I had to deal with impatience and conflict. It could also mean angels and guardian spirits were around, but in my case, she said I was it.” He sighed and looked over at me. “Go figure what that means. Anyway, now you can tell us whatever it is you’re holding back.”
Cornered, I knew it was time to tell them about the dreams. I turned my desk chair around and straddled it. “That night, I started having weird dreams. First, this creature was chasing after Shannon McKesson. It was all a blur. I went back to sleep and dreamed something different. This random woman was being bitten by a rattlesnake. It was like I was there watching it happen. Then the next day, there she was in the news.”
I stopped to take a deep breath, and my friends stared at me like I’d lost my marbles. “See, I told you it’s weird. But that’s not all. I dreamed about Shannon and the weird creature again. It woke me up. I went back to sleep, I had another dream. This time, there was a girl running away from a man, and he was holding a bat. I could see everything around them, but I had no idea where they were. The next day, Shannon came over, and she and my mom were watching the—”
“Hold it right there! Shannon was here?” Disbelief was all over Mark’s face. Darryl stopped chewing, mirroring Mark’s surprise.
My secret was out. “Yeah, she came over when I didn’t show up for class yesterday.” I tried to make it sound like it wasn’t a big deal.

REVIEW:

Silver Stars 4

Usually, Font’s book suck me right in from the very first word, but I have to admit, the first 15-20% were a bit of a struggle to get into and I can’t even explain why. However, once I got past that, I read the next 70% in one sitting without even realising.

Right off the bat, we’re introduced to Brian, a kid who’s been fighting for acceptance his entire life thanks to his Tourette’s. He has a couple of close friends and he’s mostly happy with his life. Then he goes to a tarot card reader one night and his entire life changes…

Becoming friends with Shannon is Brian’s biggest change and he’s not quite sure how to act around her as not only she pretty, but she’s one of the most popular girls in school, yet she accepts him for him. Tics and phonic tics and all.

That’s not the strangest thing to happen to him, and all I’m telling you for fear of spoilers. Once things start to change for Brian, this story is one of the most consuming I’ve read for a while. You honestly have to keep reading to find out what happens next.

Naturally, there’s a twist at the end. It wouldn’t be a Lorenz Font book without one… and I have to admit, I didn’t see it coming at all, and because it’s the first in the series, the ending is left open – not a cliffhanger, for her to build upon the world she’s created. Believe me when I say you will want book two, yesterday.

A great opener to what promises to be an exciting series from Font.

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A professional daydreamer, Lorenz Font discovered her love of writing after reading a celebrated novel that inspired one idea after another. Since being published in 2013, she has been conspiring, butting heads, and enjoying her spare time with vampires, angels, samurais, and other creatures she has created in her head.
Her perfect day consists of writing and lounging on her garage couch (a.k.a. the office) with a glass of her favorite cabernet while listening to her ever-growing music collection. She finds writing urban fantasy exhilarating and places an intense focus on angst and the redemption of flawed characters. Her fascination with romantic twists is a mainstay in all her stories.
Lorenz lives in Southern California with her supportive family and three demanding dogs.
Enter the Goodreads giveaway for a chance of an autographed copy of Rise of Alpha.
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Filed under Action, Blog Tour, contemporary, excerpts, giveaway, New Release, Paranormal, Promo, Review, Series, Urban Fantasy, YA

Release Tour – Finders Keepers – J.J. DiBenedetto

FINDERS KEEPERS
Book 1 of A Jane Barnaby Adventure series
by
JJ DiBenedetto

GENRE: Action/Adventure
It should have been a simple job. All archaeology student Jane Barnaby had to do was pick up a box her professor needed and deliver it to him at his dig site, along with his new car. Yes, his office was in Oxfordshire, and his dig site was in Spain, a trip of 1,400 miles across three countries and two bodies of water. Still, it should have been simple.
And it was, until Jane discovered she picked up the wrong box by mistake. Not the one with boring pottery samples, but instead the one with priceless ancient Egyptian artifacts. The one that a team of international art thieves is after.
Now she’s chasing – and being chased by – the thieves. And she’s picked up a pair of passengers who claim they can help her outwit them, get her professor’s pottery back and return the artifacts to their rightful owner. If only she could figure out which one of them is working with the thieves and which one she can trust in this high-stakes game of finders keepers.
According to Dr. Welldon, the trip from Oxfordshire to Dover should take two hours, two and a half at the outside. Being careful, Jane had built in extra time. Her intention had been to leave by ten AM and give herself four hours to reach the port, and then an hour to buy her ticket and figure out how to get the car aboard the boat. But that was already shot to hell; she didn’t start until eleven thirty, and she’d lost nearly an hour missing the ramp onto the M40. She couldn’t afford to fall further behind, and that meant she couldn’t miss Exit 1A.
Unfortunately, Jane was so busy thinking about how off schedule she’d gotten that she missed several signs indicating the approach of the exit. The first sign she actually saw told her that it was 250 feet away. And it was a right-hand exit. She was four lanes over to the left. Jane took a deep breath, muttered to herself, “Oh, God, I am an idiot!” and proceeded to cut off a taxi, a tour bus and what looked like a brand-new black Mercedes.
Jane only had a momentary glimpse into the Mercedes, but she was pretty sure that she saw a Styrofoam cup fly out of the driver’s hand and shower him with coffee. She felt guilty, but only for a fraction of a second, just long enough for her brain to register the other Mercedes – the one directly in front of her.
KOBO  GPLAY
J.J. (James) Dibenedetto’s fans would swear he’s got a sixth sense when it comes to seeing into the minds of others and often wonder if his stories could possibly be fiction. He enjoys suspending disbelief with suspenseful paranormal tales that are a perfect blend of reality meets fantasy.
His popular Dream Series continues to delight readers with each and every exciting installment.

Born in Yonkers, New York, he currently resides in Arlington Virginia with his beautiful wife and a cat he is sure has taken full advantage of its nine lives. When it comes to the cat, he often wonders, but then again it might just be his imagination.

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Release Tour – Walking Among the Shadows: Belly of the Beast – Navi’ Robins

 

Walking Among the Shadows: Belly of the Beast
BOOK 2 of Walking Among the Shadows
AUTHOR: Navi’ Robins
Genre: Young Adult/Action Adventure
Shadows beware! A. Storm is coming……

Aiden Storm, a 17 year old high school student has discovered that he and his girlfriend Jasmine are descendants of two ancient supernatural bloodlines that have been at war for thousands of years, But despite the ongoing war between their factions the two teenagers have fallen deeply in love.

Now the two lovers have been thrust into a war that forces them in a direct conflict with their love for each other and duty to their own bloodlines and families. Can their love survive the ongoing conflict or will either of them be forced to choose a side over their love?

 

Thirty miles outside the border of Babylon-1994, 
Bullets whistled through the night at great speeds with violent intention of penetrating flesh and bone as a platoon of Shadows fired their automatic weapons towards Captain Manuel Storm Sr. He’d positioned himself behind a wall of hardened desert rock, preparing himself for a last stand against an enemy determined to make this hot and humid night his last. There weren’t any orders to bark out, no tasks to delegate because there wasn’t anyone else behind this wall. In an attempt to give those he commanded a fighting chance, the Captain orchestrated their successful escape, but in doing so, his own demise. Someone needed to stay behind, holding off these Shadow soldiers long enough for them to reach the rendezvous point for extraction. The Captain didn’t trust anyone else to carry out this suicide mission, not even his second in command and best friend Ricko Martinez.
Ricko, a very capable man with looks that rivaled the actor Denzel Washington and with the body structure of a professional wrestler, was the closest to anyone the captain trusted to stay behind. But the burden of leaving his best friend behind to die was something Manuel couldn’t live with. So he didn’t give anyone the option of accepting this final mission. Ricko, overcome with grief ragefully protested the captain’s decision, forcing five of the team members to restrain and carry him off against his will.
The captain peeked around the wall just in time to discover two Shadows moving through the darkness towards his right flank. He quickly pulled the trigger, dispatching them both with two quick shots. As he took cover he could hear them in the distance; their lifeless bodies falling heavily onto the hot desert floor.
Conserve ammo, conserve ammo. 
Those two words kept running through his head like a popular song on the radio that you initially hate, but after weeks of repetition grow to love.
Left flank, check my left flank, he thought as he willed himself to move closer to the left side of the stone wall in front of him. Manuel was physically and mentally exhausted from having to constantly move and concentrate in the strangling heat. Even without the sun scorching this desert from its throne in the sky, it was still unbelievably hot and the stone wall in front of him gave off a heat that seemed to slowly cook the captain with each passing minute.
Manuel reached the far left side of the wall and pressed himself against it. He grimaced in pain as the heat from the rocks burned his arm. He hesitated for a second; inhaling deeply before sticking his head around the edge of the wall to see if any other Shadows were trying to maneuver on his left flank. The idea of facing death sent his emotions into frenzy, but nothing came close to the guilt of leaving his family behind in this evil world. The images of his two sons and pregnant wife flashed across his mind, causing his heart to shudder in his chest like a car’s engine ready to shut down for the last time.
Glancing from behind the wall he quickly noticed six Shadows moving towards his left, completely exposed, allowing the Captain to aim effectively without wasting ammo. It was an aggressive yet foolish tactic that was an uncharacteristic mistake from his adversaries. But this maneuver wasn’t what alarmed him. What concerned the Captain was if they were sending six to his left, there was a high probability another group of Shadows were also flanking him on the right.
Manuel shook his head and quickly slid to the right side of the wall just in time to catch a couple of Shadows fully morphed; crawling over the top of the wall like two demonic predators. They immediately began hissing and clawing at the Captain with their massive talons, attempting to tear the flesh from his bones. But the top of the wall was too high for them to reach him.
Infuriated, hatred erupted across their disfigured faces that looked like the skin of a dead carcass left in the desert sun; coarse and lifeless. Manuel had fought countless Shadows and sent them all to hell. But no matter how many he’s confronted, their appearance was still terrifying.
Manuel quickly planted two bullets in both their faces and rolled over, reaching the left side of the wall before their evil and lifeless forms slid down to the dirt like dead snakes. He quickly fired towards where he anticipated the other six Shadows were; immediately hearing their frightening screeches of pain filling the night air as his bullets found their targets. The remaining Shadows hiding in the darkness quickly returned fire, hitting the rock next to Manuel’s face. Pieces of the rock flew through the air like shards of glass, cutting the captain under his left eye. He quickly fell back and began moving backwards along the wall towards the two dead Shadows. He frantically began checking them for any weapons or ammo that he could use.
Dammit! Nothing! They were smart to send these two without anything I could use. 
The Shadows were still firing towards the left side of the wall, sending more pieces of rock flying through the air at deadly speeds. Manuel could tell they were closing in on him and it would only be a matter of time before he had no other option but to submit to the reality of death. Looking at his gun he noticed he didn’t have many rounds left or additional clips at his disposal. The next few minutes would be very interesting, but he was determined to make each bullet count. As the gunfire intensified, now on both sides of the wall, Manuel readied himself for his last stand. He tried clearing his thoughts, but it was useless. He did what he had to do, but regretted he had to do it.
He fought with every muscle in his body not to allow himself to despair at the thought of never seeing his loved ones again. He knew his family would not take his passing well and their safety would now be in the hands of Ricko. He prayed that Ricko was up for the challenge because he wasn’t a Baraqu. Ricko was one hundred percent human and as skilled as he was in combat, going up against the Shadows would be a daunting task even for him. But the captain knew he must trust in his best friend, because tonight they had been betrayed and there was only one person who knew of this mission and that was—
Suddenly, a sound like a metal can hitting the ground echoed behind the wall. Manuel didn’t turn to see what had made that sound because he knew he only had time to dive out from behind the wall of desert rock before the heat and metal fragments of the grenade were propelled through the air, tearing his body to pieces. Even though he had moved far enough to avoid getting killed by the shrapnel, the concussive power from the blast flung him through the air; slamming the left side of his body against the edge of the wall and tossing him to the ground like a rag doll. The blast created a dust cloud that seemed to stick to the Shadows’ dark figures as they moved in closer.
Like a saw grinding up against a piece of wood, Manuel could feel his broken ribs scraping against the flesh on his side. The pain was so intense it caused him to cough uncontrollably as he tried to pick his body up from the dirt.
Get up! Get your ass up! This fight isn’t over yet. You still have a few rounds left in this gun and two machetes at your side; you will not die until you use them all! 
The Shadows seeing an opportunity, decided to sweep in for the kill. Five Shadows rushed in through the dust cloud like black cloaked phantoms, moving so fast that they pulled a trail of dust behind them as they glided with talons outstretched, ready to split their enemy in two.
Ignoring the pain of his broken ribs, Manuel sat up and fired at the two Shadows closest to him. The shots rang out with an echo that seemed to enhance the atmosphere of death throughout this dark field of battle. The Shadows screamed, twisting and clawing at the air as the bullets tore into their dark forms, slamming them into the ground. With an amazing resolve few men alive have inside them, the captain managed to get to his feet and started moving forward towards the attacking Shadows. His aim was flawless and his concentration unwavering. He was determined to take out as many of these abominations as his wounded body and limited ammunition would allow.
One, two, three, four shots rang out and four Shadows fell to the dirt as the cloud created by the grenade began to clear, revealing more Shadows whisking through the night trying to be the one to take out this highly skilled and valuable target. While he dispatched one Shadow after another, Manuel kept note of how much ammunition he had left. He knew the Shadows wouldn’t give him time to discover he was empty before they pounced on him. Every step forward caused Manuel more pain as his broken ribs began to cut through his side. The pain after each step made it difficult to keep his balance, but it seemed like an unseen force kept him standing and moving forward, taking down one Shadow after another.
Without warning a Shadow attempted to attack him from behind. Like a well-rehearsed dance routine Manuel spun around, switching positions with the unsuspecting Shadow and ended the deadly ballet with the nozzle of his gun directly below the twisted and deformed chin of his assailant. He pulled the trigger, releasing his final bullet. The Shadow’s face exploded into a black mist of dark matter as its sinister form fell to the ground.
The other Shadows hesitated while watching their comrade die in such a flamboyant way. Manuel wasn’t sure if they were admiring his handiwork or terrified. Either way, he had more tricks and horrible things in store for them. He slowly reached down on either side of him and pulled out his favorite weapons. Two custom machetes made by a very powerful Warlock that once sided with the Baraqu many years ago. Each machete was about two and a half feet long with a leather handle that seemed much older than the steel it held. The blades sparkled as they reflected the glow of the moon that lit up the night sky in this barren desert. Each blade was inscribed with a powerful spell that was like a deadly poison to a Shadow. Death by these machetes was painful and the legend of their death count was well known to everyone fighting this war between the Shadows and the Baraqu.
At the sight of these two legendary blades the Shadows slowly backed away from Manuel. None of them wanted to be the first to feel the sting of the cut, the deep hellish pain of the poison infecting their dark bodies. The captain smiled. He could see the fear in the hollow void where their eyes should be. But he also knew that even though they feared the blades he held tightly in his hands, eventually one of these abominations would get the best of him. But until then, he aimed to become the nightmare of nightmares. His final thoughts before readying himself were of his two sons, his wife Alexia, and the unborn child he would never meet. He longed to see them and suffered at the thought of never holding them in his arms again. But there was no sense in feeling regret. He was alone in this desert facing down a multitude of enemies.
This is going to be a wonderful death. 
Without fear and forgetting the pain of his injuries; Manuel Storm charged into the ranks of the Shadows who stood before him. Disappearing into a cloud of dark matter…
Bestselling author Navi’ Robins was born in Chicago, IL and comes from a family as diverse as the characters in his novels. At the young age of 10 his family relocated to the West African country of Liberia and while living abroad for 7 years he found and nourished his immersive imagination. Learning and living with different cultures and languages gave Navi’ a unique prospective on life and self expression that can be experienced while reading one of his novels.
After several years at attempting to complete a novel; in 2012 Navi’ was able to complete his first novel entitled Walking Among the Shadows: Awakening, which is the first book in a planned 7 book series. Walking Among the Shadows: Awakening was officially published in May of 2013 to rave reviews with a small yet dedicated following. Wanting to push himself to write in different genres Navi’ Robins pinned 3 short stories in another series entitled Article 88: Jericho’s Revenge. On October 23rd 2014 Navi’ Robins released a revised edition of his first novel Walking Among the Shadows: Awakening debuting at # 18 in the top 100 bestsellers in the Thriller/Paranormal genre. Since then Awakening has remained a top 100 bestseller on Amazon.com and peaked at #4 in March 2015. On March 24th 2015 Navi’ Robins released his first romance novel Tragedy, Lust & Destiny to rave reviews from book bloggers and readers alike becoming an Amazon.com bestseller two days after its release.
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