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A Shot at the Big Time: A Maxima City Talent Novel by [McMullen, Christina]

Available at Amazon

I liked this story. To expand on that statement – I really liked this story! It is quite a different take on characters with superhuman powers told from the point of view of a Talent, as they’re called, who’s not on the side of the “good” guys.

Frostbyte, a female Talent who admits to being on the other side of good, is determined to exact revenge on a member of the hero faction, Magnificent Man, for a traumatic incident suffered by her family when she was a kid.  She finally gets her chance at moving up into the big league of villains and prepares to deal out her payback. Things escalate and s**t happens.

That’s all I’m gonna say.

Well, except for this: The story moves along at a good pace; it’s got satire, a little romance, a bit of angst, some heavy drinking, fighting, IT fixes, stolen panties, and a woman longing for pockets (not necessarily in that order), but best of all, it’s got FUNNY!

I would recommend this book to anyone who’s ever read a super-hero comic book and/or to anyone who needs a good laugh.

Five stars – for making me snort.

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inevitable change 93temp5  Juri Turner has three problems: one, those big, venomous dinosaurs with huge claws known as Revishers, are causing trouble on Mur; two, Tet Sonicdragon has been abducted by a demon and taken to a place of no return; three, her recently discovered inner twin is trying to surface and inhabit their one body. She finds herself dancing to the tune of music magic to reach reasonable solutions.

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Coming Thursday, November 17: Turner: Inevitable Change

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All Juri Turner thought she’d have to do after returning to Mur with Tet Sonicdragon, was to finish with her secondary schooling and get on with being trained to rule.  Well, it doesn’t go quite that way because the first thing they have to do is to attend to a problem with those big, venomous, bald-headed chicken-looking dinosaurs with huge claws known as Revishers.  Can the problem be resolved with tyngrith singing?

And then, one morning Tet disappears from the face of Mur and is found to have been abducted by a demon and is in a place from which he can’t return.  Can Juri perform the impossible and bring him home?  Can she do it before her recently discovered inner twin surfaces and tries to occupy their mutual body?

Find out by reading this fourth installment of Spaceships and Magic!

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Going Green by Christina McMullen – available at Amazon

Over the past year, I’ve accumulated a host of books on my Kindle that I’ve simply not gotten around to reading. I’ve had this one since back in the spring and I’m kicking myself for taking so long to get to it – but glad that I finally did.

I’ve read a few zombie apocalypse stories and I have to say that this one is not what I expected – and that’s a good thing as I like stories that take an old theme and turn it into something new and fresh.

It’s kind of a case of “the road to Hell being paved with good intentions” or maybe “missing Heaven and hitting Hell” would be another way of describing it. It’s the end of the world (as we know it) written in a series of interconnected stories that describe the catastrophic outcome of a wrong-way government official having released a toxic agent onto the world that causes nearly everyone to become a shambling, grunting, flesh-eating zombie. While the book is short, the story is complete and definitely won’t leave you hanging. I don’t want to say a lot because I’m afraid of introducing a spoiler but I certainly liked the twist at the end and felt it was the perfect ending.

I loved the writing style, the satire, and the humor, and I certainly will be reading more of Christina McMullen’s work. (While perusing my Kindle I was happy to discover that I already have a couple other of her books and I’ve already bought her newest one.)

If you like sci-fi and zombie stories (and even if you don’t!) you will love this one!  A solid five stars.

Brooklyn: Remembering the old ‘Hood

In my city – Charlotte, North Carolina – they’re finally moving towards redeveloping the neighborhood in which I grew up. Back in late spring or early summer, the city accepted a bid from a contractor, and I just saw someone on the news talking about the plans and how to best honor the place.

They’re calling it “Brooklyn Village” but when I lived there it was simply “Brooklyn”. It was part of the redevelopment program in the nineteen-sixties and until now, though there have been various and sundry proposals made over the years, it was never actually redeveloped unless you count that portion of the freeway that cuts through parts of it, and little pieces of it pinched off for something else – which included a section from the end of Brooklyn where I lived.

Let me tell you about the slice of Brooklyn which was home to me.

The vast majority of the houses were rentals, and by the time I was born in the late forties, the whole area was, in fact, considered to be a slum. Most of the houses were what were called shotgun shacks because they had only three rooms in a straight line, and you could fire a shotgun at the front door and it would go clean through the house and out the back door without hitting the walls (I have no idea who first came up with that description because in all the years I lived there I never actually witnessed anybody firing a shotgun through one of the houses in that fashion).

I lived on Watt Street in one of the poorest section of the neighborhood, and the street had never been paved. It was, instead, covered in gravel rather than the usual tar, and the city sent a truck every year in late spring or early summer to renew the gravel (I hated that gravel because in the summer, we went barefoot and have you ever tried walking without shoes on newly laid-down sharp rocks? Sucks).

When you turned onto our street from Brown Street – which was paved – you could see all the way down to where the street was broken by a creek. I think it was a tributary of Sugar Creek but don’t quote me on that. We just called it “the creek”.

Anyway, there was no bridge across the creek though I think that, once upon a time, there had been one but by the time I came along it was gone, so the only way to get across to the other end of the street – which went up a really steep hill – was to walk across the sewer pipes that came out from under the street and continued in the open across to the other side,  or you could use the large, flat rocks in the creek or wade through the water. Since the pipes stayed slick from the creek spray, I think most folks used the rocks. Or, you could “skin” across the pipes – a method of straddling them and scooting across on your butt.

We, as kids, had a lot of fun “skinning” the pipes across to the other side – when we didn’t try to walk across them without slipping off and onto the rocks below, or into the water.

I vaguely recall seeing fish in that creek when I was very small but by the time I was around four or five years old, the fish were gone and the only things in the creek were broken bottles and other trash, accompanied by an oily sheen that left a greasy residue in the water.

Our parents were always on us to stay out of the creek. Not only were there all those broken bottles plus rocks and other things to cut our feet on, not to mention the germs, the usually shallow creek would rise after a rain and become more than deep enough in which to drown (of course, being kids we sneaked into it anyway. Hey, high water was the best time for skinning the pipes!). High water after a rain was the reason why the houses near the creek were built on stilts or pilings since if the rain was big enough, the creek would overflow its banks.

Closer to the business district of the neighborhood and therefore closer to the uptown of the city, there was an elementary and a junior/senior high school – Myers Street and Second Ward schools, respectively – that served the blacks (or “coloreds” as we were called in those days) in the community, both of which were several blocks from my street and to which we walked – rain, shine, sleet, or snow.

There was a neighborhood playground on the street that ran parallel to the street I lived on,  a block behind the house I lived in ( which, by the way, was one of the two or three houses on my street that were not shotgun shacks because it had four rooms, though it was unpainted and had a tin roof that leaked, and up until I was around five or six years old, the only water to the house was a facet out on the back porch).

We enjoyed that playground immensely, especially during the summer when we’d go “swimming” in the wading pool. In the winter, we’d go washing-machine-lid or cardboard-box sledding down the steep hills of the playground when there was snow (sometimes we’d go “sledding” on the slick grass when there wasn’t any snow – or we’d just roll down the hills). It had a cement skating rink where everybody eventually got scraped up from falls on our adjustable skates that sometimes loosened up on us.

There were businesses that served the neighborhood: beauty and barber shops, little grocery stores, a drug store, clubs, a couple of movie houses, and various other shops (we won’t get into the illegal liquor houses but they were there, too, though mostly down side streets or back alleys. Hey, there was one on my street. A very nice lady ran it). There was even a library for us, up on Second Street next door to the Savoy theater. I hung out at the library a lot but along with all the other kids, I also frequented the “movie house”. This was because when school let out for the summer, we were all given “show badges” that allowed us to get in and see a movie for a nickel instead of the usual ten cents.

So, we’d go to the library first (you also got gold stars for the books you read over the summer) then we’d hook next door to see the double feature and the cartoon that was always shown in between. The movies were changed twice a week, so we’d hustle up five more cents and go back for the new films. I read a whole lot of books and saw plenty of movies (my favorite books were fairy tales, and once I discovered them, science fiction and fantasy, and my favorite movies were science fiction, horror, and monsters. I probably saw every one ever made).

I reckon it wasn’t what could be called the finest of neighborhoods, but I suppose with it being segregated the way such neighborhoods were back then, that it was a little town – or a village – within the city. I imagine that’s why they’re calling it Brooklyn Village, now – except that one hopes the new place won’t be so segregated.

When urban renewal came rolling through, the people were moved out, and a lot of them went to live in the newly built public housing of Earl Village. My family opted not to move into those – my mother said she didn’t want to live in an apartment because there wasn’t enough yard, and she did love her flower and vegetable gardens – so we moved from our street into a house that was still in the general vicinity but nearer the high school which was a later part of the redevelopment program.

So, there the area has sat for all these years, not really being developed or used for much of anything.

There have been a lot of proposals made for what to do with the place since then but nothing really happened. Now, at last, they’re revving up for renewal, and I truly hope it comes about, this time. I just saw on the news where the developer wants to honor the old neighborhood, and I suppose that’s good. However, will there be room for folk who used to live there? I saw where they’ll be putting in retail, hotels, and residential housing, and even keeping a portion of a park (Marshall Park) that was built much later in what I would call the actual uptown, plus, I think I’ve heard someone say the old Second Ward High School gym – which is still there though the school is long gone – will be retained (nice touch!) but I wonder – what of the people who used to live there? Will anyone (still alive) who used to live there be able to afford to move back? I hope so but I would say that for the most part: probably not.

This is not the entirety of my experience of having lived in Brooklyn as I could probably fill a book if I were to write it all but as unsavory as it may seem to some now, it was home and I loved it.

It’ll be interesting to see what they’re planning to do to “honor” the old neighborhood. Since the work isn’t scheduled to begin anytime soon – in five years for the first stage, I think – and I’m sixty-nine years old, I just hope I’m around long enough to at least see it get a good start.

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Turner: Inevitable Change is available for .99 cents on pre-orders – price to change after release date of 11/17/2016

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Synopsis:

Juri Turner has to help resolve a problem on Mur concerning those big, venomous, bald-headed chicken-looking dinosaurs with huge claws known as Revishers.  What does the fact that she and Tet Sonicdragon are tyngrith singers have to do with solving this problem?

And, when one morning without warning, Tet is abducted by a demon and taken to the dark realm, a place from which there is no return, what can Juri do to get him back?  Will being the human-born dragon help her in this instance?  Will being a worker of the magic of Tyngrith help?

To compound her troubles, she realizes that the stress of her efforts to go to the rescue of Tet is  causing her recently discovered inner twin to try and surface.  If that happens, she will no longer be herself.  Furthermore, her brother and friends who’ve pledged to help her in the rescue will be stranded, and Tet…well, Tet will be dead.

Again, the mettle of the human-born dragon is put to the test.

 

Three stories in one…

 

Trilogy of Quiet SW

A Short Trilogy of Quiet – contains the three stories of the Cady and Sam series – Only 2.19! Or buy them separately (see below)

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Excerpt from chapter 2 of  “Interruptions” (FREE as a single at Smashwords, no coupon needed)

 

“I recognize that car, Cadence.  It was parked beside mine at the Harris-Teeter,” she whispered in that breathless voice.  She had her cell ‘phone out and was turning it around trying to detect a signal.

I looked at the car, and could see why it would be recognizable.  Damned thing was a real rust bucket with flaking green paint, and the grill looked as if it had tangled with a pole or a tree at some point and then pulled back out into some half-assed semblance of straight.  Eloise had probably been relieved that whoever owned it hadn’t slammed the door into her Mercedes.

The door opened, and a big, burly guy stepped out.  “You ladies need some help?” he asked, languidly.  I could see two other heads in the car and the door opened out on the other side.

Uh-oh.  I smelled them and knew.  In my mind I said: Sam, we got a problem.

How many?  he asked the same way.  He knew I wouldn’t call him without a good reason.  I could handle three regular human guys.  These guys were not human.  I surreptitiously sniffed again, to be sure of exactly what they were.  Ghouls.  I wondered, absently, why the hell they were bothering Eloise.

Three big ghouls, SamGet here fast.  “Eloise,” I said quietly, “Get behind me.  Don’t say anything.  Let me do the talking.  I don’t think they’re here to help.”  They were probably the ones who’d put the antifreeze in her tank.

Taking Annamae next door, Babes, then I’m on my way.  Hang tough, he said.  Good daddy.  He wasn’t about to leave our kid in the house alone even though it would delay him a few minutes.

The big guy walked over to us swaggering a little.  I could see the two others coming around the car to start across the road.  They were nearly as big as the first one.  They were confident they had this.  Ghouls can’t smell worth a crap so no way they knew what I was.  Some paras  can tell even if they can’t smell, but ghouls can’t.

I’m small as a human, though even then I’m stronger than I look.  When I’m outside my neighborhood, I often pretend to struggle with heavy objects, just so I don’t get strange looks.  I’m a not-so-small wolf, and even stronger then.  I could probably take on three little ones though it wouldn’t be easy, but three big ghouls was a whole different bucket of bolts.  I could have taken one of them, maybe even two, but three this size especially with Eloise to look out for – not so much.  And I knew I’d have to change.  I hoped it wouldn’t scare the bejeezus out of Eloise.  Maybe she’d just faint and roll under the car or something.  Still, I wasn’t changing until I had to.  Even though it’s fast, it hurts like a sonofabitch.

“We’re fine, sir,” I said as if I didn’t know what he was.  “My husband is on his way.”

They looked at each other and grinned – horribly.  Behind me, I heard Eloise gasp.  Yeah, razor sharp teeth.  She hadn’t seen yet, that they also had very long claws.

“Oh, we’ll just wait right here with you, then,” he drawled, “just to make sure you’re…safe.”  The other two snickered.  I could see their pointed teeth gleaming in the faint light from the far off street lamp.

They were trying to get us rattled to heighten our fear.  They got off on it.  I backed into Eloise as they came closer, and I could feel her shaking.  I could smell her fear, too.  Damn.  That was just going to excite them even more.  “If you don’t mind, sir, please stop right there,” I requested politely.

I’m on my way, dear, keep ‘em talking if you can, sent Sam.

Trying, but I think they’re about to attack, I sent back just as the big one abruptly moved fast, coming at me like a suddenly unleashed pit-bull, claws extended.

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Excerpt from chapter 3 of  “Living in the Moment” (.99 at Smashwords as a single)

 

I bounded forward and went through the broken door after the ghoul.  Very faintly, I could hear Eloise screaming.  She was in a safe room.  Too bad she didn’t have sense enough to be quiet so that the ghoul would have to hunt for her instead of just going up and starting to rip at the wall.

I started for him, but suddenly smelled one of the vampires.  I needed to take it out first.  I hoped the ghoul wouldn’t get into Eloise’s safe room, and turned to find the vampire.

I couldn’t see it, well, actually it was a “her”, but I knew where she was, and jumped at what appeared to be thin air, hitting Miss Fang and knocking her against the wall, which jarred her back to visibility.

She screeched and grabbed me around the neck, trying to pull my head off.  I did my twist and slipped out of her grip, and bit her right leg off.  I felt something rush past me as the vampire jumped up balancing on her remaining leg.  Boy was she pissed.  Those take a while to grow back.

She changed into that huge bat-thingy with three-inch fangs they can become, and came at me.  That was a bad move on her part.  Not enough room to stretch those wings out.  She must have been relatively young or she wouldn’t have tried something like that in an enclosed area, anyway.  It was the last change she ever made.

She fell forward, and we went tumbling through the living room, she trying to sink her fangs into me as we rolled, me trying to avoid that and get mine into her.  We bumped and crashed into just about everything in that poor room, each trying to get the upper hand.  Eloise’s stuff was taking an awful beating.

We separated, and she immediately hopped at me on her one leg, missed, and skidded into the crushed coffee table.  I jumped on her back, grabbing the back of her neck in my fangs, and bit her head off.  I batted the head farther into the living room and plunged my claws into her chest.  Taking her head off would kill her, but I wanted to be sure.  She started crumbling into a pile of dust.  Okay, beg pardon.  That was the last change she ever made.

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Excerpt from chapter 2 of  “A Blankie for Baby” (1.99 at Smashwords as a single)

 

“Fight’s in the woods to the left!” I yelled, turning and running the few feet to the tree line.

As soon as we passed the first trees, I shucked my clothes and changed on the run, and from the grunts I heard, so did the other three.  The transformation is always instantaneous and painful.  You get used to it after a while but it can still wring a groan or two from you sometimes.

As a wolf, I was just as large as the male and a lot bigger than the females.  I could tell they were surprised but we all kept running toward the sound of the fighting.

We burst through the trees and into a clearing to see three werewolves surrounded by a slew of ghouls and several…things.  From the shriveled remains on the ground in various places, there had been more ghouls, and from the ugly sulfurous smell lingering in the air, the things were demons.

I jumped on the back of a big bruiser of a ghoul, extended my claws and ripped his back open.  My claws shredded his heart, and I quickly flipped the remains away and whipped around to find myself facing one of the demon thingies.  Shit. Shit. Shit.  I abhorred demons.

My face and head had been ripped open by a demon during that battle over eleven years ago, and my scar was now throbbing as if in memory of it.  We circled, each looking for an opening, some kind of weakness.

Cady, they’re minor demonsI dispatched one by hamstringing it.  Go for its legs!  Sam sent urgently.

Trying, I sent.

I darted in snapping at its ankles and dodged away just as it grew rapier sharp blades from its fingers and swiped at me.  Yikes.  Shades of Wolverine!  Fucking copy-cat!  I rushed back in between its legs and it stumbled.  Yes!  I twisted around and grabbed its scabrous looking calf in my jaws and bit down – yuck it tasted awful – it screeched out in a high pitched whistle and brought those blades down again but I was already moving and it only managed to clip some of the fur on the left side of my head.  Damn.

If I survived this, I was going to have to even up my hair on the other side.  Good thing I wore it short.

I saw the smoky fumes coming from the holes I’d put in its calf and I did a roll and wriggle and grabbed the other leg and bit through its ankle.  Its foot came off amid more reeking fumes and the demon vanished, dispatched back to Hell.  Whew.

Something smacked me in the top of the head and though I was seeing stars, I pushed off and twisted around to see a ghoul drawing back his ham fist to have another try at busting my head open.  He must not have been too experienced at this.  Everybody knew you couldn’t bash a werewolf’s head open that way.  Skull’s too hard.

I whipped around and extended my claws and the ghoul looked at me in shock.  That claw-extension thing of mine takes ‘em by surprise, sometimes.

The dumb-shit goon yelled, with indignation: “You ain’t no damned cat! How th’ hell…!” He didn’t get any further with that thought as my not-supposed-to-be-able-to-be-extended claws took his head off just then, as I leaped high and swiped hard.  Then I opened his chest up and pulled his heart out and tossed it into the trees.  The ghoul immediately began that shriveling thing they do when killed.

Stupid-ass.  Who the hell stops to get outraged during a fight to the death?

 

 

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