Thursday, February 28, 2013

{Blog Tour: Review + Giveaway} None of the Regular Rules by Erin Downing

None of the Regular Rules
None Of The Regular Rules by Erin Downing
Publication Date: November 20th 2012
Genre: YA Contemporary
Pages: 260

Sometimes, a few dares can change lives…

The weekend before the start of senior year, Sophie Erickson and her best friends, Ella and Grace, discover a handwritten list of dares tucked away in the glove compartment of Sophie’s beat-up old Toyota. But this isn’t just any list; it’s a dead girl's bucket list.

Sophie's beloved aunt Suzy died as a teenager in a fatal fall, leaving Sophie with an overly cautious family, a few fading photographs, and a bucket of bolts that barely passes for a car. But now, Sophie has Suzy’s list of the things she wanted to do in her last year of high school. Sophie can't help but wonder: What would happen if she tried to fulfill Suzy’s last wishes, to live out the longed-for life of her aunt, her hero?

As Sophie and her friends attempt to knock off the things on Suzy's list of dares, love blossoms in unexpected places and Sophie begins to feel that her life is finally coming together...when in fact, everything is slowly unraveling around her. When the truth about a long-held family secret threatens to shatter everything she believed to be true, Sophie is forced to question everything she knew about the life and people she believed in, and ultimately herself.
When the concept of a book happens to be about a list of dares or some sort of bucket list, I am automatically drawn to it. Why? Because I think it’s a blast to watch the characters do things that are out of their comfort zone and sometimes those things may just end them up in some funny situations, so yea I enjoy these kinds of books.
So the moment I started reading I was hooked. I think what helped most for that was the way the font looked in kindle form, it looked easy breezy. It came with this certain charm that pulled me in and it made me feel like I could get lost in it, not worry how long the chapters were cause I wanted to badly read it. And if you've read in kindle form before you know it works differently from print copies and how one page is split into two, so the chapters are actually a bit longer. Thankfully the chapters are short and it made this an easier read for me.
When Sophie found that list of dares with her friends around, I got excited and I couldn't wait for them to start on it. But now I remember these kind of concepts aren’t really meant to being all about that list, it’s about how those things on the list can change your life, and how you handle those changes. Then you see the main character having a hard time finishing it because of those changes. So in the end, this is really a coming of age kind of book.
I enjoy these kinds of books, I hope to write a couple of these kinds of books in the future, however the main character kinda started to bug me. Especially when she wanted to break into the planetarium with a ski mask on as if she was going to rob it, along with that she wanted her friends to wear the same ski masks. Does that seem a bit much for a simple little dare that apparently all the seniors do at one point? So yea, she seemed to get a bit obsess about it.
Though in the end, this list of dares did help out Sophie and it helped her find some things out about her aunt that had died when she was 8, which in a way I kinda saw what was coming with that by how she died, so I'm sure you'll probably figure that out too. But I also liked how it not only helped out Sophie, it also helped out her two best friends.
Elle is this confident girl that seems like she may know what she wants to do with herself in the future but when it comes to this certain guy she is totally tongue tied. But I'm glad this list opens her eyes to other worthy candidates. Grace is this smart girl but in one situation she isn't all that smart. Her boyfriend is this controlling little bastard and he just got under my skin every time in came into the scene. Thankfully Grace found her voice because of this list and strong friendship.
Overall, I enjoyed this but for some reason I just don't feel fully satisfied. Though I did love the romance between Sophie and her crush, it was an adorable relationship but one that took time to become a relationship. I did love the dares, I did enjoy the characters growth within themselves and I did have a blast with the story line and the overall writing of it. But again I wasn’t as completely satisfied as I hoped I would be. However I did like the ending and the sense of humor but I think who’ll love this the most are the bookworms that just love contemporaries.
It will disturb your being
Erin Downing has written more than a dozen books for young adults, tweens, and kids. Her guilty pleasures include an unhealthy obsession with reality TV and cheesy romantic dramas (Revenge! Alias!), an addiction to Us Weekly magazine, and cupcakes.

Before turning to writing full time, Erin worked as a book editor, spent a few months as a cookie inventor, and also worked for Nickelodeon. Erin has lived in England, Sweden, and New York City, and now resides in Minneapolis, Minnesota, with her husband and kids. More information about Erin and her books can be found at:

Author Links:


Happy Reading Everybody!
Thanks for stopping by!

{Book Blast + Giveaway} The Cypher (Guardians Inc. #1) by Julian Rosado-Machain


A chance reading of a newspaper ad will send 16 year old Thomas Byrne into the world within our world.

Following the ad he will find Guardians Incorporated. A seven thousand year old organization charged with protecting the balance between Magic and technology.

Through their guidance, technology has kept Magic at bay since the Renaissance, but the balance is shifting and soon all those creatures we've driven into myth and legend will come back with a vengeance.

To protect the present, Guardians Incorporated needs to know the future and to unlock the future
they need a Cypher.

Book Trailer

Guardians Inc.: The Cypher is FREE on Kindle, Nook & iBooks

USA Book News 2012 Finalist -Young Adult Fiction

"Rosado-Machain brings a light, humorous touch to themes of teenage love, loss and betrayal wrapped up in a tasty package of magical coming-of-age."
~Kirkus Reviews

"It's like Julian Rosado-Machain took everything that I love about middle grade children's fiction and slammed it into one awesome, well-paced fantasy"
~Emi London

"The Cypher hooked me from the beginning. And kept my attention right through to the very end."
- Heidi Roth

Get Your Copy for FREE

Author Julian Rosado-Machain

Julian has enjoyed pizza in three continents, holds a degree in graphic design, built armored vehicles and computers, handcrafted alebrijes and swears has seen at least one ghost.

He is the Co-owner of Hacienda de Vega Restaurant in San Diego, California and enjoys the sun with his wife, three children and cat.

Book Blast Giveaway
$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 3/13/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks for stopping by!

Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Teaser Tuesday (60)

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by MizB from Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:
  • Grab your current read.
  • Open to a random page.
  • Share (2) "teaser" sentences from somewhere on that page.--BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS. Make sure that what you share doesn't give too much away. You don't want to ruin the book for others.
  • Share the title & author, so others can add to their TBR list if they like your teasers.
Our Teasers This Week. . .
The last thing I saw were the whites of Fane’s teeth as he grinned. A month earlier I wasn’t so much as a blip on that boy’s radar. Now he was everywhere, appearing at my worst moments, like Satan, witnessing my fall from grace.
-From 40%, Transfusion (Aurora Sky: Vampire Hunter #1)
Happy Teasing  Everybody!
~Stopping by soon~

Review March 30

After approximately fifteen minutes, the diabolical plan bore its fruit, so to speak. Rudy pointed his finger into a gap in the bush. "There  he is." Otto came around the corner, dopey as a lamb. He wasted no time in losing control of the bike, sliding across the ice, and lying facedown on the road.

-from page 162-163, The Book Thief


Review: The Cupid War by Timothy Carter

The Cupid War: All Love Is Warfare
The Cupid War by Timothy Carter
Publication Date: August 8th 2011
Genre: YA Fantasy
Pages: 229
Ricky Fallon had decided not to kill himself after all--moments before accidentally slipping off a bridge and plunging to his death. Now he's a Cupid in the afterlife, helping high school students fall in love. The job would be cool if it weren't for the dorky pink bodysuits, his jerky boss, and attacks from joy-sucking shadowy entities called Suicides.

When Fallon discovers a dangerous new Suicide in human form, a terrific battle erupts. Before the Suicide can become too powerful, Fallon has to convince his fellow Cupids of the extraordinary threat, protect the girl he's falling for . . . and foil the Suicides' evil scheme to spread despair to all humanity.
~My Review~
I knew this wasn’t going to be fluffy and overly romantic as the Cupids were having a battle against suicides but I wasn’t forewarned for the attitude the main character had. I mean yes, I get why sometimes he was on edge but he wasn’t on edge throughout the book yet he still had a chip on his shoulder. But I do have to say I love his rebellion. If it wasn’t for that then the Cupids wouldn’t have found out about their latest threats.
Pretty much shoving aside the bit of Fallon’s bad attitude into the corner of my brain, I was able to get wrapped into my first look see into the world of Cupids as I have never read about them before. I loved the suits they had to wear (a pink skin tight suit that left nothing for the imagination with a red heart on their chest, placed over the spot to where their hearts are ha-ha), loved what love looked to them (big red Jell-O cubes) which was also their payment and what kept them alive, loved how they gave love to humans (by sticking their hands into the humans heart, seeing what interest them, and then shots sparks of love into their hearts), and finally the way the Cupids worked in our world and how they lived in another plane as if they were ghost. How they can see us but we can’t see them except for certain people that have a higher hearing power.
Enter in Fallon’s love interest. I won’t say her name but she’s pretty much close to the first girl he meets after his death. She’s able to hear the Cupids and the only one, at least around him that can. She’s a freak in school as everybody knows about her ability she has. And for the most part, she is proud of it except when the mean girls of the school are around. For then I feel a little sympathy towards her but other than that she is one tough cookie, which makes me love her and which makes her stand out better to me than the main character does.
I did like the blooming romance they had going on, especially when they talked in class and she was writing her part of the conversation on a piece of notebook paper, but I kind of rolled my eyes that it’s another paranormal where the main character is going after someone that isn’t like them.
Overall, I did enjoy the plot, the book. The way the suicides are love’s enemy, the way Cupids work, the sense of humor that flows throughout this book, and how in the end Fallon was actually good for the Cupids.
However there was one big thing that bugged me which is that the main character was knocked out for a month. So a month went by and when he finally awake I felt just as much confused as Fallon had. Like we missed so much, too much, and it rubbed me the wrong way. And I see, when time like that gets skipped over and things could have happen sooner than later, is starting to turn into a pet peeve of mine when authors do that. I feel like they didn’t know what to do within that time, where I’m sure there is so much they could have done, but they just don’t and skip right over it. And that’s starting to get to me just a bit. But other than that, having to warm up to the main character’s attitude and sort of seeing whom the bad guy was halfway through the book, it was a fun ride of a read. It’s a book I am glad I picked up around Valentine’s Day. 
~Cover Talk~
I absolutely love the cover. For some reason I am drawn to these kinds. The simplicity, the little splash of red, the way it looks like a drawing, these just seem to catch my eye. And I actually have two other books that have the same theme to their covers and they are just so cute!
Happy Reading Everybody!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

I am a Book Hoarder (20)

Of our weekly treasures of books!

Lullaby (Watersong #2) by Amanda Hocking
I know I said I wasn’t going to by any more books from Barnes and Noble for a while and I’ve been doing good for the year so far. However when my boyfriend and I were just cruising the shelves I just so happen upon this book and when I opened it (cause I wasn’t paying attention to the cover, heehee) there was a signature by the one and only Amanda Hocking the author, so I freaked. Big time! So I debated with myself for a while….should I or shouldn’t I, should I or shouldn’t I, cause I knew I was going against my rule if I did… the same time browsing the signatures. She had two different styles, one written with the page and the other slanted and I just loved the slanted one.

So I picked out the perfect book but I was still debating myself over it. My boyfriend said that I should get it cause it was signed, so I did and I am so happy I did! :D Great thanks to my beau for helping me out. So, I can’t wait to dive into the book and this is my first signed book I found at a store, so it was a great mini adventure ha-ha!  

~Received for Review~
Far Far AwayThe BaneGirls & MonstersEnd of the Line
Far Far Away by Tom McNeal- (eARC Netgalley)
The Bane (The Eden Trilogy #1) by Keary Taylor- ( eARC Netgalley) When Mrs. Taylor told the world about her changing her book, Eden, into a trilogy and that it was on Netgalley I jumped the gun. I have not read the original one but I do have it on my kindle apps, ha-ha. I can't wait to get to this one!
Girls & Monsters by Anne Michaud- (eARC Netgalley)
End of the Line by Emma Meade- (eARC from the author) When she sent an email asking if I could review this for her I was so freaking excited!!!! And then that excerpt, oh my, I just had to have it ha-ha. So, soon I hope to be getting to it ^_^


My mom went to Costco and bought herself a Samsung tablet and she said if we liked it she would go buy another. Well, I loved it since I can read my Netgalley books on it, yee :D! Which is something I needed cause I just couldn’t read them on my smart phone screen, I just couldn’t do that for long novels, I just couldn’t. So, as you can tell, I use it quite a lot and it needs to be cleaned because of my abuse ha-ha.

So, that’s it for this week.
Happy Reading Everybody!

Thanks for stopping by!

Sunday Song (25)

Sunday Songs is the feature where we talk about songs that we are really hooked to at the time or it has spoke to us in some way and we just had to share it with you guys, our amazing readers!
Radioactive by Imagine Dragons

This song I think is great for writing action/thriller/impulse scenes. It’ll be the background music for my main character when she gets a wakeup call of what’s going on, in my secret WIP’s.

I’ve probably heard this song on the radio before but it didn’t really catch my attention like it did when I was watching The Host movie Trailer. It truly gave me a thrill and it helped me get into the trailer ha-ha.

Anyways, I love listening to it and I have yet to get tired of it! Woohoo! So, of course when I am listening to it I feel like I can do anything, which means it’s a great motivating song too. ^_^
So, what song is hooking you right now?
Happy Listening Everybody!

Know Us Better (15)

Know Me Better is a Weekly Meme hosted by I'm A Reader, Not A Writer. Each week she'll pick 5 questions off of her author's interview list to answer and invites us to join in on the fun, giving a way for our readers to get to know us better.
If you could live anywhere in the world where would it be?
A: Probably Hawaii, though I have never been there yet. I’ll love it cause of the weather, I just love the warmth and being wrapped in the warmth all day.
T: I don’t know. I would have to travel more to have an idea. Somewhere a little different and exotic, but not to exotic.

Favorite Literary Characters?
A: Wow, so glad you aren’t asking for just one cause I read a lot so of course quite a few stood out to me. Chrissy, Savannah, Tristan, and Tansy from My Fair Godmother series; Pearl from Drink Slay Love; Greer from Sweet Venom; like all the characters from Wake; Alona from The Ghost & The Goth series; Quince from Forgive My Fins; Anna from Anna Dressed in Blood; etc I’m sure ha-ha.
T: Hard one. Annabeth from Percy Jackson, Isabella from the Mortal Instruments, Skeeter from The Help, Holly Short from Artemis Fowl just to name a few.

In your wildest dreams, which author would you love to co-author a book with?
A: I actually have two now :D. First it would have to be Stacey Kade, I just absolutely love her Ghost & Goth series, so I think it would be a blast to co-write with her. And my latest dream, I just recently had the pleasure to read her stuff, is Emma Meade. I absolutely loved her short story The Old Vampire and it captivated me! Now, soon I’ll be reading the latest short story she so kindly presented me, End of the Line. I truly can’t wait to start that one! ^_^ Just what I’ve read of it, I know I’ll just love it too!
T: Rick Riordan, Cinda Williams Chima, Eoin Colfer are people that come to mind. They wrote some of my favorite series and it would be cool to write with them.

Things that bring a smile to your face?
A: My boyfriend, he sure knows how to make me smile from ear to ear <3. Reading, Bunheads abc family, my own writing especially if an idea pops up for what I am currently working on, having great family moments/gatherings, my pets, and my friends.
T: My family, animals (as long as they’re not trying to kill me), reading, Ellen, and anything really funny are things that come to mind.

Do you have a favorite saying?
A: Run, Bitch, Run!! Okay, that’s mainly towards horror movies, but still *shrugs* ha-ha. Honestly, nothing is coming to mind right now J
T: “The difference between genius and stupidity is genius has its limits.”  I love it because it’s true.


Now it's your turn to have fun with these questions!
Thanks for stopping by!


Friday, February 22, 2013

{Book Blitz: Excerpt + Giveaway} Disconnect (Divided Worlds Trilogy #1) by Imran Siddiq

Disconnect (Divided Worlds Trilogy #1) by Imran Siddiq
Publication Date: February 22nd 2013
Genre: YA Sci-Fi
Pages: 278
In space, love has boundaries.

Dirtying fingernails in sewers is fast approaching worthlessness for Zachary, a 16-year old Underworld scavenger. When footage of an Overworld girl, Rosa, is discovered, his intrigue heightens at why she expresses sadness with a lavish lifestyle.

In meeting Rosa, Zachary is scorned by her opinion of the deprived. She pities him and provides a means for them to communicate. With time, friendship and something he’s never felt grows; love for another human. Knowing Rosa calls him when it suits her isn’t enough; he wants to meet her, but how? Relationships in Underworld are few, let alone the impossibility with those above the ceiling.

Underworld will suffer when plans to conquer Jupiter’s moon, Europa move ahead. Worse is Rosa’s father, a disgraced Overworld ambassador, approving the plan.

Zachary must defeat the prejudice of the worlds, sneak within opposing forces, lose friends and challenge Rosa’s sadness. In doing so, a twisted secret is uncovered that may devour the reason he lives; Rosa.


Imran Siddiq may have tried to leave Leicester a few times, but its become his place to wake up to two cats, freeze when the heating’s off and most of all, get down to writing. At a young age, his primary school teacher commented on his creativity and ability to tell stories. At the age of 29, during a night in the jungle, the bug inside awakened, and for the last 5 years he’s been sacrificing every second that he can to write. A veteran of writing festivals, a presence on Twitter and gobbling up all forms of Star Wars and Lord of the Rings, he hopes he can bring a smile to others in the same way that he had, aged 5, reading with a torch under his duvet. Imran’s preferred genre is YA Sci Fi, and he has a tendency to throw a droid in every novel.

Author Links:


Chapter 1 - Worthless
Zachary stopped at the clunk under his boot.How had nobody seen the box? With a glance into the darkness of the
Wastelands, he licked his chapped lips.Taking the box, Zachary darted past heaps of tottering metallic sheets. So far
today, he’d scavenged nothing that was worth shoving into the pockets of his knee- length coat. If there was one thing to beat today, it was the pride-crashing kick to the guts of returning empty-handed for a fourth day. As the shortest scavenger of the stall at five foot six, a barren run made him the easiest target for teasing.
The stall’s heckles from the day before still chilled him. The quickest rat with the hunting skill of a slug.
But thoughts of leaving the vast Wastelands with only a handful of screws and two-inch nails drowned in his anticipation that the jingling in the box would be ratchets, fuses and battery cells.
Zachary sprinted along the ledge of the bay to an overhanging bank. Not even the sick rested amongst the rusty vehicles deserted here. Using his trusted titanium screwdriver, he teased off the knot of wires beneath the mesh. Why would anyone take trouble to wrap and then to discard this box?
Whatever, thought Zachary freeing the last clasp of the lid. Inside there was a folded note, a silver Intercom-transmitter, and an orange-tinted bracelet. Result! Twiddling his long, brown hair, he scrutinised the box for hidden compartments within the padded interior. The smooth texture couldn’t have started life in Underworld, could it?
Locked away from light, Underworld was a murky pit in comparison to the rich nature of Overworld that few had seen, and finds such as these were rare here. Luck placed Zachary within easy access of the clutter that lay on the west side of Underworld, the Wastelands. Spending most of his day amongst the sewer pipes didn’t bother him for it was far better than the dull lanes of District Two. No day was the same amongst junk. Every gush from the pipes revealed a new surprise.
Nobody knew how thick the ceiling was or why its creation blocked Underworld from the world above. Often Zachary pondered what exactly sat above the ceiling. He guessed unlimited power, droids with abilities that dwarfed the functions of humans, and a life that didn’t require working in muck. Short hours. Free time.
An eerie chill climbed his spine at imagining the scattered giant steel support pillars dropping aside? Would Overworld add to the mess of Underworld? Could the two worlds of the Galilei Research Base co-exist? No chance.
What did it matter? Underworld’s builders had left it to rot.
Zachary squinted in the darkness at the unbroken chain links on the bracelet and the deep dent in its centre. Components of music-playing Harmon bracelets weren’t difficult to locate, though one as complete as this? He clicked his teeth thinking of when a working bracelet had last been handed to the stall. Longer than five years at least. There was a harsh rattle as he shook the bracelet. If he fixed this, it could be enough to save him another day of shame.
More than that, he could show his dad that scavenging wasn’t a deadbeat job by putting some good food on the table.
The Intercom-transmitter, a communication device he’d often see in the hands of a ruthless looter, felt light in his palm. If this find functioned – he held his breath – then mushrooms for supper would become a memory. Zachary squirmed. Adjusting to the slimy, vomit-wrenching taste of mushrooms that thrived in abundance was at the bottom of his to-do list.
He rubbed his back against the carcass of a vehicle, his heart thumping. Maybe the Master of the stall would let him look behind the curtain?
Zachary’s hazel eyes reflected off the Intercom’s shiny shell. He rubbed the recognition pad underneath, not sure what to expect. Dull lights clicked along the screen’s circular pattern. Blue tinted static formed in the air a foot above the Intercom.
“What in Europa!” Zachary swiped the image. Signs of energy were a signal to the greedy. If any of the gangs roaming the dry deluge saw this, they’d seize the Intercom and snap his skinny limbs apart.
Coat over the Intercom, Zachary sunk deeper into the bank. He paused before returning his thumb to the pad. The blue static burst out again, accompanied by a disturbing cackle. A human head with long hair formed in front of him. The image rotated, showing blurs where the eyes and mouth should have been. An incomplete android? Or an Overworlder?
Zachary’s curiosity peaked. He’d never seen an Overworlder before and it wasn’t like he had a choice in that matter. Galilei’s distinct division prevented any
mixing. There was no doorway, window or ladder to allow sight or sound between the worlds. Yet, he held a gateway to one in his hand. Were Overworlders as perfectly skinned as he imagined them to be? Did they wash every day without scrounging for water under steam-filled pipes?
“Fourth of August 2340, 15:16,” said a young girl.
Shut up!
Zachary crammed the Intercom to his waist. A spark erupted in the centre of the device, and then it switched off. He gasped open-mouthed. Eyes closed, he bugged his memory to repeat her soft words. It was gone. Zachary rubbed the pad. Nothing. Inactive. Dead. Worthless. No – the Intercom could be salvaged. It could be worth ... something.
His eyes narrowed at the unfolded note. “Initial surveillance confirms the location. Continue with Project Centurion.” There was nothing on the reverse.
The word surveillance bothered him. It was what scavengers said when watching a lucrative drop point in the Wastelands. Did the girl write the note? Was she after someone?
Zachary tapped the Intercom. It didn’t make sense for anybody to write on paper if they were going to place it with a messaging device, unless they knew the Intercom to be faulty.
He shrugged, putting all three items into his pocket. The box weighed little, but it was valuable. Hooking a wire from the box to an inner seam of his coat to aid its hidden transport, Zachary smirked. The mushrooms looked closer to being history.
After snaking around the vehicles, he jumped onto a protruding sewer pipe to reach the upper level. Whirring sounds halted him. Eastwards, embedded turbines spun clockwise like a volatile drill within the high ceiling.
A drop was coming. Normally, Zachary would’ve dashed over bust circuit boards to reach the drop point. Instead he watched a triangular section of the ceiling, secured by hydraulic arms, eject downwards. Wind spurted ahead of blazing light before rock-like objects rushed out, followed by a rainstorm of particles in pursuit. Discarded rubbish of Overworld had entered his world.
Zachary’s eyes tightened upon other Underworlders swarming to the falling treasure. It was a good one-minute run away, and by the time they reached it, the Wasteland gangs would have fought one another for the glory. If the wired-box had
been part of that drop, there’d be steel cutting through bodies to get it. He shivered with thoughts of the carnage if they’d found the Intercom.
Emitters within the ceiling dimmed, ending the artificial day. Turning on his heels, Zachary took the southern route to the bartering camps of District Two.
He manoeuvred to the steep ladder against the gigantic heated pipe. Halfway up on the forty-fifth rung, Zachary gazed over the irregular horizon of the Wastelands scanning for a girl running between the swamps, searching for her box. Who was she?
On reaching the platforms jutting from a mountain of metal, Zachary moved into the bartering camp, avoiding locking eyes with the near-naked hut occupiers begging with their scrawny fingers. Drooped faces, similar in every way, shared cracked bowls of sludge. He considered them to be a clever scheme, detracting from the pick-pocketers groping his coat.
If anybody here owned an Intercom, they wouldn’t place it in a box, even for safekeeping. No – they’d solder it to their belts and some to their piercings. That wired-box had to have come from Overworld.
Zachary licked his lips. The Intercom wasn’t totally broken; some life inside remained, and that gave it a chance to be repaired. There was someone who could repair it, but he’d have to be quick. If Zachary’s dad found out that he’d messed around with a device rather than exchanging it for money, then he’d be in for a kicking.
Recessed between the huts of the rat seller and the cockroach grinder sat Zachary’s employer’s stall. A bullish man nodded, allowing him entry into the candlelit foyer. He spoke little to the other scavengers lining the room’s edge. Either their goods had been delivered, or they had nothing spectacular to show. He continued, descending to the symmetrically carved area underground.
At the front of a corridor, a middle-aged man mumbled at his desk as he scribbled into a paperbound book. Shekhar peeked over cracked spectacles, showing no amusement at Zachary’s tentative loosening of his fingers.
The Harmon bracelet glittered in the candlelight.Shekhar bit the lid off his red pen. “He already has many.”“This works.” Zachary yanked the bracelet away from the attempted snatch. “Whereabouts?”“The drop.”“A working Harmon, Mister Connor? Why would anybody throw it away?”
Zachary gulped. The stall’s beady-eyed Secretary wasn’t a man to irritate. “Why does anyone throw away anything?”
Shekhar murmured. Pushing his spectacles up onto the bridge of his nose, he led Zachary to the wooden door with depictions of men carrying building blocks and guiding barrows. Shekhar knocked three times.
Zachary exhaled upon entry into the Master of the stall’s five-cornered room. Air swept from Shekhar’s slam of the door didn’t detract from the heart thumps Zachary felt. He was seconds away from the padded curtain that hung behind the Master’s chair. Desperation at wanting to peek behind the curtain accompanied the slide of his heel. No – wait, there wasn’t time for the curtain, no matter how long it’d been since he’d gazed beyond it. Priority stormed his mind. Get home. Repair the Intercom.
Cobwebs pinned inside picture frames decorated the walls above stacked items and metallic gadgetry. Dust floated between the generous glows of the corner- mounted tubes of energy. Zachary passed the human skeleton standing there with sharpened pencils crammed into the holes and notches of its skull. It was a symbol of man stripped of protection whose purpose was to hold objects of use. Maybe that was the Master’s interpretation of Galilei; Underworld lived as the skeleton holding up Overworld.
A strange smell hooked Zachary’s nostrils. Of all the sewers he’d stepped in, this was by far the most rancid. Had something died here?
He drew near to the long, polished table in the centre of the room where Master Salvador “Biro” Burton sat observing him. The rear curtain skewered in place by copper rods tempted a grin.
Then, the thump of Zachary’s heart tightened.
On the table lay a male torso. No arms or anything below the waist. Splatters of blood and jagged cuts ran along its light brown skin. Charred muscles overlapped where the neck should have been. Zachary’s eyes swept the floor for dismembered limbs and the head. The rotting smell filled his lungs. A dead body? Here? Whose?
For a man who’d hoarded enough coins to build his own town, the Master’s scrawny state drew pity. Going on seventy years, Biro had entered beyond the final phase of life. Blemishes littered his sunken skin. He looked ill. Diseased. Almost like the skeleton in his room. But what the heck was the Master doing with a corpse? Glaring at the torso, Zachary rubbed his sweaty palms.
Biro twitched with a never-ending shake of his left leg. “Quite extraordinary, isn’t it? They’re now creating them to look like us.” His tone hummed between tainted teeth.
Zachary almost cried out. The corpse was an android! Impossible. It looked – too – perfect. Lines of blood-carrying veins could be made out above the region of the collar bone. Zachary shivered. Androids were pale, almost ghost-like. Where was the streaming-port that every android had on its abdomen? And why the blood, and the muscles?
“I suspect Overworlders are trying to integrate them deeper into their extravagant lifestyle,” continued Biro. “It’s rather artistic, isn’t it?”
“Did you find this?” Zachary gulped. It wasn’t his place to ask a question.
Biro’s smirk lasted a second. “Found in the most intriguing manner. Something almost flawless and no doubt expensive, yet, it came to rest here. Enough of that. Your find?”
Zachary handed over the bracelet. His eyes focussed on the padded curtain which was coloured black to prevent the sneakiest glimpse of the reward behind it. Zachary’s palms moistened as he clenched his anxious stomach. His thoughts stopped lingering on the torso.
After loosening the slim compartment on the bracelet’s edge, the aged Master directed a charged-stylus onto teeny cogs inside. The bracelet illuminated. Frozen in mid-twitch, Biro shuddered at the melody’s beginning. Soft strings gave way to a slowly building drumbeat.
An intensifying harp played, swaying Biro’s pleased face. “Shekhar will give you enough to treat yourself for this find.”
Zachary unhooked the box from his coat.Biro’s gaze sharpened. “What’s inside?”“I found it ... empty.” He looked at the curtain, knowing the Master would
interpret it without asking.“Going behind will forfeit any reward for the box,” Biro went on, seeing
Zachary’s furrowed brow. “Tell me. Why love something so far away?”“It lets me without asking,” replied Zachary.Spinning the bracelet twice to prolong the melody, Biro waved for Zachary to
continue. “You need to find yourself a girl”.
There was no point in Zachary fighting the urge. His breathing accelerated. Hands trembling under his chin, he went around the table, and then behind the curtain. Lights sparkled outside the awaiting window with greater strength than a thousand diodes. His heart raced quicker. The melody, behind him, peaked to a thunderous fanfare.
Remnants of Zachary’s breath frosted the glass as his eyes soaked up the atmospheric dense bands of the gas giant of space.
He’d always thought that there was nothing more intriguing than this planet. Except now. Something new seeped into his mind; something that reduced the gas giant to a ball. Eyes closed, Zachary took a deep breath. He visualised the blurred face of a girl without eyes.
Who was she?
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