Tuesday 30 June 2015

Starchild: The Age of Akra (Book One) by Vacen Taylor

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):
When Mai is chosen to take a pilgrimage to the Valley of a Thousand Thoughts to train with the oldest and wisest master of their people, an ancient prophecy is set in motion. The events to come have been predicted but are not unchangeable. When the Starchild returns to the planet of Sage, the foreknowledge of the prophecy begins to gain strength.

Four children come together and become linked to the events that lie ahead. In The Age of Akra, the first stage of their journey has them facing the deadly spiderflax, only then to be confronted by a creature of the underworld, an evil Dementra called Amual.

The struggle to bring peace to the world of powerful energies lies in the hands of these four children and a strange little lizard. And it will not come easy. This journey is only the beginning.

My Review

***I received the eBook free as a review copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***

An amazing book with a fast-paced plot.
This book is a fantasy book revolving around a prophecy involving four children with awesome powers. Mai is a thoughtbanker and is selected by the Ministers of the Elements of the world to undertake a pilgrimage to the Valley of Thousand Thoughts. Her brother who is also chaperoning the journey, Long, joins her and they embark on an adventure.
I definitely enjoyed reading this book because the plot was fast-paced. Vacen Taylor didn't waste any time on too many, long descriptions of the environment. It was all really brief and yet we could envision everything sufficiently. I enjoy reading fantasy books and this one had all the important powers introduced at the very beginning of the book. I was trying to keep up, but then realized that it's pretty easy to remember all of the powers which is a good thing. I just got kind of confused when it came to the different nations and regions of the fantasy world.
All of the characters had vastly different personalities. I think that Mai was my favourite character out of the ones to pick, even though I felt that I couldn't really connect properly with any of the characters. Mai was the more responsible, rational one and actually knew what she was doing. Long was really annoying at times because he is unreasonable and acts silly and childish.
As I said, I really liked how Vacen Taylor focused more on the action instead of the descriptions. Everything was written briskly and yet the action and adventures were exciting to read about. It was really enjoyable to read about and the adventures were nice and imaginative.
Overall, I really enjoyed reading this book but I can't give it a full rating because I wasn't able to fully connect with the characters and for a while the story as well. I liked the story the more I read it and I give it 4 out of 5 stars!

Saturday 27 June 2015

Book Blitz - The Witches of BlackBrook by Tish Thawer

The Witches of BlackBrook by Tish Thawer
(The Witches of BlackBrook #1)
 Published by: Amber Leaf Publishing
Publication date: June 23rd 2015
Genres: New Adult, Paranormal Romance

Through space and time, sisters entwined. Lost then found, souls remain bound.
Three sisters escape the Salem witch trials when the eldest casts a spell that hurdles their souls forward through time. After centuries separated, fate has finally reunited them in the present day.
One the healer, one the teacher, and one the deceiver.
Will their reunion return their full powers, or end their souls journey forever?
A Witches of BlackBrook novel.

B&N: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-witches-of-blackbrook-tish-thawer/1121638262?ean=2940151838610

Tish Thawer writes paranormal romances for all ages. Her magickal elements and detailed world-building are a welcome constant in every novel.

Before becoming a writer she worked as a computer consultant, a photographer and a graphic designer. She also operates a custom glass etching business, in addition to being a wife and the mother of three wonderful children.

She's been a fan of the paranormal for as long as she can remember. Anything to do with superpowers, myth and magic has always held a special place in her heart. From her first paranormal cartoon, Isis, to the phenomenon that is Twilight, this genre has always been a part of her life.

You can find Tish on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/AuthorTishThawer

A common FAQ: "How do you pronounce her last name?"

Answer: Think "Bower" or "Thow-er". It's Persian!

Author links:

Tuesday 23 June 2015

The Changeling by Helen Falconer

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):
Some of us are born to be magic.

Aoife is an ordinary teenager, hanging out with her childhood friend Carla, putting up with school. The worst she has to contend with is that the boy of Carla’s dreams is trying to get off with her instead.

But then, after chasing a lost little girl no one seems to be able to see, Aoife starts to develop mysterious powers. Eventually her parents confess that she isn’t their real daughter. Their human child was stolen by the fairies, and Aoife is the changeling left behind in her place.

Shocked and disorientated, Aoife turns to Shay, the taciturn farmer’s son who is the only person who might believe her story. Together, they embark on a dangerous journey, which takes them deep into the underworld and changes everything they thought they knew about fairies.

My Review

***I received the eBook free as a review copy through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review***

A book that definitely kept me reading. (And look at that cover, it looks gorgeous!)
The Changeling is taking place in a village in Ireland called Kilduff. The 15 year old Aoife is living happily with her parents until she finds a heart-shaped gold locket with a picture of her parents and a baby. Soon she sees a little girl running on the bog that no one else can see. And that is when her life goes crazy.
I was intrigued by the book blurb, because I almost always read fantasy books. This book is divided into two parts. The end of the first part was announced by END OF BOOK ONE. At first I was really confused, I was starting to think, that In was reading a combined set of books until it dawned on me that they were parts. The world-building was done alright, but I found it a bit slow because Aoife was so stubborn. She drove two and a half kilometres on a bike in two minutes (twice!) and she thinks: "No, the timer on my phone must have been wrong twice. I don't have any superpowers. "Of course its understandable that she doesn't believe it at the start, while the reader knows what she is already, that's why it was slowly getting a bit annoying. Afterwards though, the action was really well written. Aoife slowly discovers herself while trying to avoid near death experiences. The story was flowing well and it became more exciting to read.
Aoife was an interesting character. She is caring, stubborn and very selfless. First I found her kind of childish, especially when she was texting with her best friend, Carla. But then I started liking her more and enjoyed reading the rest of the book out of her perspective. While I didn't have a character I was particularly attached to, I think that Caitlin was a pretty queer character as well as probably my favourite. She has an interesting back story and therefore a massive mistrust for other people. She does criminal things like stealing and then when she is caught, she tells everyone in her group that she didn't do it or else they would get beat up. Caitlin was very annoying at first, especially because she was skeptical of Aoife and Shay. But then I found it funny how she was treating Ultan and that she always insisted, that she didn't like something and wasn't scared of it. 
It took some getting used to the writing style. I got a bit irritated at the beginning because when the characters talked, then their sentence structure was something like this: "I just wanted to ask are you coming?" I realized soon enough, that a double dot should have been somewhere in the sentence. But once again, I got used to it and then the story flowed really nicely. I always wanted to know what happened next, good suspense was created.
Overall, I really got to enjoy reading this story and loved it. I give it 4 out of 5 stars!

Tuesday 16 June 2015

Cover Reveal - The Glass Mermaid by Poppy Lawless

The Glass Mermaid
by Poppy Lawless
Release Date: 07/14/15
Love Potion Books

Summary from Goodreads:

I'm the last mermaid.

I’m back on shores of Lake Erie, but the cold waters are silent. There is
nothing here for me but ghosts and the beach glass that litters the rocky
shore. Long ago, I lived below the waves. Now, I am the sole survivor, and at
long last, my mermaid glamour is leaving me.

Every day, I walk the beach. Every day, I wonder what happened to my people.
The little pieces of colored glass that wash ashore give me simple pleasure.
They are gifts from the lake, reminders of home. I fashion them into trinkets:
necklaces, earrings, bracelets. They are beautiful things. The humans seem love

Every day, I walk the beach. Nothing ever changes, until the day he says hello.


I’m dying.

It’s not a question, it’s a fact. The cancer is eating me alive. They told me I
have six months to live, maybe less. I came home, back to Chancellor on Lake
Erie, to die. The sunsets are vivid there, and I will relish every one.

I've never seen anything more beautiful than a Lake Erie sunset until I see

All life is fragile as glass.

What would you sacrifice to save the one you love?

About the Author
Romance author. Cupcake connoisseur. Certified herbalist. Beach bum. Fan of all things Starbucks.
Holistic healing advocate. Surfer girl wanna-be. Lost guru.
Maker of dandelion wine. Counselor. Paranormal buff. Etsy addict. Secretly
Jedi. So not a geek girl. Gifted in sarcasm. Hot wife. Ninja mom. And now, I'm ready to share a whole head full of witty, mouthy, smart, lovely, heart-warming, and hot characters with the world. Are you ready?

Poppy Lawless is the author of the forthcoming series Love & Chocolate releasing in 2015 and The Glass Mermaid. Poppy holds degrees in English and Psychology. She is a counselor in the field of mental health and is a trained
herbalist. Poppy's new series blends the best of romance with a Practical Magic or contemporary Bewitched appeal.

Author Links:

iconwebsite-32x32_zps1f477f69.png  photo
icongoodreads32_zps60f83491.png  photo icontwitter-32x32_zpsae13e2b2.png  photo iconfacebook-32x32_zps64a79d4a.png

Cover Reveal Organized by:

Monday 15 June 2015

Blogger Recognition Award

Woohoo! Our second award! Who would have thought this day would come?

We got nominated by the amazing blogger Laura, over at Blue Eye Books. Thank you for nominating us! This award was created by Eve @ Edge of Night. You can check out the original post here.

Here are the rules:
1. Select 15 other blogs you want to give the award to. Do some digging if you must! Find those blogs. You cannot nominate yourself or the person who has nominated you.
2. Write a post to show off your award! Give a brief story of how your blog got started, and give a piece or two of advice to new bloggers. Thank whoever nominated you, and provide a link to their blog. List who you've nominated in the post. 
Make sure to also attach the award itself! (You can do this by right-clicking, saving, and uploading the image above).
3. Comment on each blog and let them know you've nominated them. Provide a link to the award post you created.
4. Provide a link to the original post on Edge of Night. That way, anyone can find the original guidelines and post if needed, and we can keep it from mutating and becoming confusing! 

Our blog's story:
We had two fail starts at blogging before we started this one. This blog was created on the 24th August 2014. We didn't have any followers at the beginning, but we just kept on writing our reviews and this is how we ended up today! We gradually started developing the blog more and got more, we think we can call it skill, at running the blog and writing our reviews and expressing our opinions better.

Our advice:   
     1. Run a blog along with a friend
 We think, that it is immensely helpful to both of the co-bloggers to run one blog together. Then both of them can keep each other on track if they have a posting schedule. A partner is also good moral support. We can prove that from our own experience. As an example, we used to post our reviews when ever we finished reading the books. But then we both coincidentally landed in a reading slump and didn't post for a long time. Then we both agreed on a posting schedule and therefore we could save some reviews for a later time.
     2. Don't feel pressured to post something
Never feel forced to post something on time or post something that you don't want to. You created your blog for leisure and out of interest (hopefully). It is understandable is you want a break from the blogger world, after all a blog is a good thing and shouldn't be viewed as a chore. A good example for that would be Jessica. She sometimes needs more than a week to gather her thoughts about a book and therefore misses her posting day. Sometimes she just doesn't have the time, but she posts her review on the coming posting day then. She doesn't force herself to post on the day if she can't.
We nominate:
- Book Jawn 
- Lilac Reviews 
- Rose @ Rose's Reids 
- Rachel @ Rachel's Really Random Reviews
- Karleigh @ Karleigh Reads 
- Ayesha & Monisah @ twinsturnpages 
- Jasmine @ Freshly Picked Books 
- EI @ Flickering Lights
- The BookTrotter 
- Mehsi @ Twirling Book Princess
- Maryam @ Captain Swan Bookishhh
- Undeniably Addicted @ Undeniably Addicted to Books
- Shonima @ shoshow
- Rachael @ Reading Rachael
- Chloe @ The Page Starts Here
- Shannon @ The Fault in Our Blogs

You guys deserve this award!

Skinniness is Next to Goddessness? Lacey's Story (Skinniness is Next to Goddessness #1) by Julia Keanini

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):
Hate is a powerful word, especially when you’re using it against your own reflection.
In fourteen-year-old Lacey Steele’s world, being “skinny” equals no more caustic remarks comparing her to Shamu the Whale, meriting the attention of her ten-year crush aka the beautiful quarterback next door, and finally deserving her distant mother’s love- pretty much goddess status. But diets, nor health food, nor exercise bring Lacey desired results and her future looks everlastingly chubby.
Unexpectedly, Lacey and her friend Ashley stumble on an easier method. Extreme calorie cutting may seem a little drastic, but of course it’s better than … an eating disorder. Unfortunately, the easy route has a price neither girl planned to pay, but it comes due anyway, for one of them.
A story of hope and eventual acceptance, Skinniness is Next to Goddessness?Lacey’s Story, takes a brighter approach to an age old tale.
Book One in the Skinniness is Next to Goddessness? Series.

My Review

***I received the eBook free as a review copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review***

An enjoyable and refreshing read. 
This book is about a girl called Lacey, who has been bullied by kids in school and by her mean mom because she is fat. Her parents have divorced and Lacey now lives with her mom. When she wanted to marry again, Lacey is sent off to live with her father and back to her normal home which she left for 4 years. There she starts a club, Future Goddess Girls, with a friend named Ashley. They want to lose weight as fast and efficiently as possible. 
The focus of this book is about eating disorders. It is a very serious topic and Julia Keanini has done a great job in writing about it seriously, while still creating an enjoyable story. I liked reading Lacey's Story, it was interesting and there were more turns to the plot (or not really the plot, more like the story itself) than one might suspect. The plot isn't deep, but it was refreshingly simple and there weren't any hidden plot twists or anything. Lately I've been reading pretty intense books, this was a nice and different change.  
I felt that the characters were kind of stereotypical. The girls were all crazy about their looks and weight and then there were also the socially perfect girls, that rule the school because they are beautiful.  Even though I know that people like these exist in almost every school, I still think that the mean bullies like Jamie were a bit too typical. I still liked certain characters though. As an example, I really liked Gina. Her family might have been a bit too good to be true but her lovable personality was really good. She accepted Lacey for what she is and was nice and hospitable to all of Lacey's other friends as well. Ashley was an interesting character. She was what we could describe as a girly girl and wasn't that interesting to read about, but the more the story progressed, the more I got used to her personality. 
Julia Keanini wrote in a way, that kept the reader reading. Getting to read out of Lacey's perspective made the story more personal and the reader had a greater chance of relating to the characters. It was written simply and not in a poetic kind of way. 
Overall, I enjoyed reading a different book for a change and just found, that the characters were too stereotypical. Otherwise, it is easy to read and I give it 4 out of 5 stars! 

Saturday 13 June 2015

The Graveyard Book by Neil Gaiman


Book Blurb (From Goodreads) 
After the grisly murder of his entire family, a toddler wanders into a graveyard where the ghosts and other supernatural residents agree to raise him as one of their own.

Nobody Owens, known to his friends as Bod, is a normal boy. He would be completely normal if he didn't live in a sprawling graveyard, being raised and educated by ghosts, with a solitary guardian who belongs to neither the world of the living nor of the dead. There are dangers and adventures in the graveyard for a boy. But if Bod leaves the graveyard, then he will come under attack from the man Jack—who has already killed Bod's family . . . 

Beloved master storyteller Neil Gaiman returns with a luminous new novel for the audience that embraced his New York Times bestselling modern classic Coraline. Magical, terrifying, and filled with breathtaking adventures, The Graveyard Book is sure to enthrall readers of all ages.
My Review
Neil Gaimon is defiantly one of the most unique writers that I have ever seen, and The Graveyard Book is the first book that I have ever read by him. 
The plot in this book was slow at the beginning since it followed Bod as he was growing up and the adventures that he has in the graveyard. The first half of the book was more centered around him growing up and learning about the outside world. However, in the second half of the book you start to get more answers to the questions which have been hanging around since the beginning of the book and there are some characters that come back to move the plot along, it is around here that the plot really starts to get interesting. Each chapter at the beginning followed separate adventures that Bod has over the years but the last ones follow on after the other without any time gaps to string together the story. 
Bod was an interesting character to read about since we got to know him so well. We were first introduced to him when he was a baby and since then we watched him grow-up in the graveyard with ghosts as his tutors. He made a lot of mistakes over the years, some of which were harder to fix then others, but they all brought on more character development for him. He is an intelligent boy who also has an interesting way of thinking. The conversations that he had with some people when he was five years old, defiantly did not seem like the kind of conversations that a five year old should be having. Mainly because the language the he was using was almost to fluent for a five year old, but maybe that was just the writing style. Bod manages to also make some interesting friends, some of which are ghosts and others are actually living people, which I enjoyed reading about and I wish that I could f learned a little bit more about some of them. 
Finally, I give this book 4 out of 5 stars.

Monday 8 June 2015

An Ember in the Ashes (An Ember in the Ashes #1) by Sabaa Tahir

Book Blurb (from Goodreads):
Laia is a slave. Elias is a soldier. Neither is free.

Under the Martial Empire, defiance is met with death. Those who do not vow their blood and bodies to the Emperor risk the execution of their loved ones and the destruction of all they hold dear.

It is in this brutal world, inspired by ancient Rome, that Laia lives with her grandparents and older brother. The family ekes out an existence in the Empire’s impoverished backstreets. They do not challenge the Empire. They’ve seen what happens to those who do.

But when Laia’s brother is arrested for treason, Laia is forced to make a decision. In exchange for help from rebels who promise to rescue her brother, she will risk her life to spy for them from within the Empire’s greatest military academy.

There, Laia meets Elias, the school’s finest soldier—and secretly, its most unwilling. Elias wants only to be free of the tyranny he’s being trained to enforce. He and Laia will soon realize that their destinies are intertwined—and that their choices will change the fate of the Empire itself.

My Review
Wow, I can totally understand why this book had so much hype surrounding it.
I picked this book up because of several reasons. First, all the positive reviews encouraged me to read it and the blurb seemed like I would like this book. Plus, the cover looks so awesome. It's so beautiful!
This book is based in a fantasy world, where an Empire, based on Ancient Rome, has taken over the Scholar land and enslaved the Scholars. Living in a seemingly normal Scholar family, Laia is a free woman and is trying to support her family. That is, until her brother is captured and her grandparents are killed. She seeks the Resistance to help free her brother and in return they want her to spy on the Commandant of Blackcliff Academy, where the dangerous Masks are being trained. That is where Elias is training to be a Mask, even though he didn't want to be a Mask. And that is where they meet.
This book was amazing. It is told out of two perspectives: Laia's and Elias' perspectives. This is done very well. The plot progresses really quickly on both ends and once both the characters meet, it is interesting to read about both of their thoughts. The plot was very interesting, intriguing and flowed very nicely and I love it. All the solutions to the problems were interesting and the problems were so intense.I guess, that some things were kind of predictable and some things weren't, but that's what makes a book really good.
All of the characters were amazing and written about really well. All of them had their own unique personalities and I will probably start talking about Laia. She is a very quiet girl and I found, that I could somehow relate to her. She just wants the best for her family and I just really liked her. Elias was the kind of guy, who was good at something but doesn't enjoy it. He is rebellious and unlike other Masks, he actually knows mercy, kindness and friendship. I kind of liked him and the more I read out of his perspective, the more I liked his point of view. Helene Aquilla is a different story. I guess I can understand where she's coming from and why she does some things, but I just didn't like her personality. Especially when she was interfering with my ships! Yeah, while I was reading this book I was busy shipping Laia with everyone. First I shipped her with Elias and then I shipped her with Keenan and stuck with that. Keenan is really sweet and Laia and Keenan really belong together.
I loved how the book was written. The story was flowing really nicely  and I think I detected some kind of a deeper meaning. Don't give up. Do what you think is right. Sabaa Tahir wrote in a way, that makes the reader connect with the characters. They feel what they are feeling.
This was definitely an amazing book which I recommend to everyone. I enjoyed it so much and I give it 5 out of 5 stars!

Saturday 6 June 2015

Leeway by Colleen Caitin

25548778Book Blurb (from Goodreads)
“Ye know sometimes people wanna tell ye how they feel, but they can’t.”
“Why not?” I ask sadly.
“Because they are afraid of what ye think about them.”
“When you love someone you should be able to say anything. No matter what.”
“Yeah, that’s the theory…”
What happens when a very young and charismatic pirate captain meets an unbelievably annoying and bitchy princess? All hell breaks loose!
Captain Lian loves the sea and the life he built for himself. No rules. At least he did before he ended up with the youngest daughter of the King on his beloved ship which couldn’t be more problematic. Everyone knows that a girl on board of a pirate’s ship brings bad luck!
Now he has to figure out how to get rid of her as soon as possible without incurring the King’s wrath on him and his crew. Easier said than done. While facing one heated argument after another with the royal pain in the ass, it turns out the captain and the princess have more in common than they would like to admit.
As both of their lives start to fall apart they see themselves making choices that could change their lives forever.

My Review: 

***I received the eBook free as a review copy from the author/publisher in exchange for an honest review***

I have never read a book that centers itself around pirates before, so reading Leeway was a new experience for me.
The plot of this book steadily paced throughout. This book was differently not as intense as other books which I have read before, since you never get that feeling of excitement and suspense whilst reading it. That said, there were some parts of the book which got me excited. For example the scene with the mermaids kept me on edge and curious as to what was going to happen next. I do think that Colleen mentioned some ideas which she didn't follow up on, but with how this book ended, I think that there might be a second book. 
Mila is a supposedly bitchy princess but as you continue reading you find out that she is not everything that other people think that she is. She has an interesting backstory which perfectly explains why she acts as she does throughout the book, but you don't find out exactly what it is until the near end of the book. She locked up her emotions most of the time but she let them out when she was with Lian which allowed them to have some heart to hearts. Lian was annoying most of the time, and not so different to Mila. He was bossy most of the time but then again he was the captain of the ship so he would have to be bossy to get the other men to do what he wanted. He never really took other peoples feeling into consideration except a select few, and unfortunately Mila was not on that list in the beginning. However as the book went on their relationship grew and they found out that they actually had a lot in common. I loved to read about Mila and Lian and to see how their decisions moved the plot along. 
Finally I give this book a three of of five stars. 

Monday 1 June 2015

The First Annual Hedlund Summer Steampunk Festival

Come to Hedlund for a riveting good time.  Arrive in style using your personal steamcoach.  Don’t forget to wear your finest attire and top it all off with a shot of absinthe. 
Hedlund is home to Clark Treasure, the rogue star of TREASURE DARKLY, a young adult romance set in a steampunk Wild West world.  Join him here in Hedlund while wearing your best cowboy boots and goggles.  For three days only (July 1st, 2nd, and 3rd), TREASURE DARKLY is on sale as an Amazon ebook for just 99 cents.  That’s a quite a steal, and Clark knows a lot about stealing, having swiped a bottle of what he thought was absinthe, but the green liquid actually gave him the ability to save the already deceased. 
TREASURE DARKLY picks up when Clark finds the father he never knew – a millionaire rancher meeting his illegitimate son?  Ut oh – but what happens while Clark is on the run from the army and its captain who seeks to use him for his newfound power?  Check out the following short story for an adventure featuring Clark Treasure in all his bad boy glory.
A Treasure Tale
By Jordan Elizabeth

 Clark extended his hand for a shake, but the manager of Arvay Ranch shook his head. Not a good sign, that. Clark pulled off his glove, the leather worn almost clear through in the knuckles, and stretched out again, but the manager rocked back on his boot heels.
 “You’re an honest looking kid. I like that about you.” The manager turned his head to spit tobacco juice into the dirt. “We’re just mighty filled up here for the time being.”
 “I’m willing to do any job, sir. I can wrangle and rope. Work the fields. I know my way with a saw.” Brass glass, he’d be eager to muck out the outhouse if it came to that. His pockets didn’t jingle with coins as loudly as they used to. He’d had to leave his last job at a ranch further south –
 a good position where he looked after horses, when the army sniffed too close, and he hadn’t dared stop until now. “I can do housework too. I’ve trained with butlers.” He’d seen them, in the fancy ranch houses. That sort of work seemed to mean politeness and servitude, and not much else.
 The manager jammed his hands into the pockets of his denim slacks and narrowed his gaze at the Arvay Ranch. The Bromi woman who’d fetched him from the “Big House,” as she’d called it, stood by a fence with her head bowed.
 “Good lookin’ ranch,” Clark said. “Smaller than some I’ve seen, but hearty. A fellow can tell you folk love the land here.” Managers didn’t appreciate sugar-coating. If a man told it like it was, he got further with those who loved work, and Arvay Ranch shone with crisp paint and clean yards. “Place looks run well.  Looks like your crop is peaches?”
 The manager nodded, tugging at the red bandana at his throat. “We are pretty booked here. Don’t really hire a lot of outside folk. You know what, though. My brother’s the doctor in town and I’m certain he could use help.”
 The image of a physician’s saw biting through a man’s gangrene-ridden leg pierced Clark’s mind and he forced his lips to remain in a line. He’d done worse in life. Brass glass, he’d helped the midwife back in Tangled Wire for spare pennies. Maybe he’d be able to use his ability to save a few lives.
 “I’d be grateful, sir. I can’t stay forever, just passing through, but I’d appreciate the job for the time being.”
 “I’ll write you a letter and some directions. Feel free to get yourself a drink at the well.”
 Clark pulled his glove back on and headed toward the pump near the shed. Sunlight beat against his neck, the skin bared by his ponytail, as he worked the brass handle. Water flowed out in clear spurts into a bucket on the grass. He used the hanging ladle to scoop out the liquid, frigid from the earth, and sighed. Nothing beat fresh water from a pump, not canteens or streams. Streams were good, but the water had a grittiness to it that stuck in his teeth.
 When his stomach felt thick with water, he sidled back toward his steamcycle, wiping the back of his mouth on the sleeve of his leather jacket. The Bromi woman stared at him while she plucked at the stained apron tied over her calico dress.
 Clark lifted his hand in a wave. If he spoke to her in her tongue and the manager returned, he might not be so willing to get him the job.
 “I know who you are,” she said.
 Talking in her tongue might not be so devastating then. Some ranches treated their Bromi with humanity. “I’m looking for work—”
 “Those who die live again for you.”
 She meant it in that way then. Ice crept over Clark’s skin and he folded his arms to appear nonchalant as he glanced at the ranch house. A dog barked in the distant fields. “That’s something that’s not talked about.”
 “A new Bromi is here. He knew you from the desert. He spoke of you to us. You saved his father from the dark sleep.”
 Clark kept his facial muscles slack to avoid looking suspicious. “Glad I could help him, but there are people who don’t like that part of me.”
 She nodded so hard her bonnet slipped down her broad forehead. “We never harm our own and you are one of us now. Be careful with Mr. Parker’s brother.”
 “How’s that?” Clark leaned his back against the fence beside her, drooping his arms over the top and hooking one of his boot heels into the wood. If anyone looked over, the individual might not realize they carried on a conversation.
 “Manager Parker has a brother who’s crazy. Doctor is crazy.” The woman wiggled her fingers in a jagged pattern in front of her face, the Bromi sign for mentally unsafe.
 “What’s he do?” The doctors could be cruel to Bromis; not many would treat the natives.
 “You smell it on him,” she hissed.
 The Bromi relied on spirits and herbs; the woman might be uncomfortable around modern medicine. “Thank you for the warning.”
 “Not even you, who befriends the dead, can protect against crazy.”
 The brick house’s side door slammed and the manager swaggered across the lawn with a paper in his hand. “You can read, can’t you, kid? You seem like a bright one.”
 “Yes, sir.”
 “If you know your sums, point that out too.” Mr. Parker slapped the note into Clark’s palm and at last shook his hand.


 Clark parked his steamcycle along the dirt road through town. The doctor’s house, a three-story white clapboard with a veranda and four chimneys, had to be the nicest place for miles, at least the nicest place he’d seen all day. Trimmed bushes lined the porch and walkway, and a wrought-iron gate blocked off the property. The doctors Clark had known in the past kept shacks; they didn’t have time to build up a fancy life.
 He slung his leg off the ride and hung his helmet off the handlebars. A buggy rattled by in the road and two little boys stood across the street outside the general store. When he looked at them, they darted behind a rain barrel. He’d been like that once, Clark and Mabel, pretending the world was out to get them and hiding in near plain sight would save them.
 The world was after them and hiding didn’t help a lost soul.
 Clark tested the gate and it swung open – halleluiah for that, he wouldn’t have to try to call for attention from the road – so he shut it behind him and headed to the front door. A brass plaque read: Doctor of Ailments, Lionel Parker. Clark whistled; what other kind of doctor existed?
 He lifted the brass knocker shaped like a lion’s head – how fitting with the name Lionel – and let it smack the mahogany door. Clark stepped back and wiped his hands on his denim pants.
 No gloves. He pulled them off and stuck them into his jacket pockets. His hair would have to do with a quick brushing of his fingers through the shoulder-length yellow strands.
 The little boys laughed from the rain barrel. A cowboy on a horse clopped past.
 Clark knocked again. Brass glass, the doctor might not be home. How long would he stay around before he headed out to find the next ranch? Ranches were safe. Drifters wandered through on a regular basis, but workers in stores tended to stick around. People asked questions about folk they saw every day. Hired ranch hands stuck to themselves in the fields or barns. For sure, Mr. Parker wouldn’t have sent him if he’d known the doctor was out, but living miles apart, communication might be sparse between them.
 The door opened to an elderly Bromi woman in a black dress. “You need Doc Parker, suh?”
 “Um, yes. Thanks.” Clark cleared his throat. “His brother sent me.”
 Her dark eyes widened before she nodded. “Come, please. I get him for you.”
 Clark stepped into a hallway of red walls and polished wood. No pictures or mirrors offered decoration. She opened a left-hand door and slid aside for him to enter. He wondered how she could move so soundlessly until he looked down, noticing her bare feet beneath her skirt.
 Potpourri scented the room to a degree that made his throat clench. Like the hallway, naught adorned the room, apart from the smelly balls hanging from brass hooks in the ceiling. Two velveteen sofas faced each other.
 He wasn’t a patient or someone sent to fetch the doctor. Clark had no spare money for medicine, if he’d needed any. He hovered near the window, with its crimson curtains, to avoid touching anything he could dirty with filth from the road.
 What did the potpourri serve to hide?
 The door opened to a tall, thin man in a black suit…and a ghost with a missing leg. Clark bit back a groan. He should have known a doctor’s office would be riddled with the kind of dead who didn’t want to pass on.
 “My brother sent you?” A smooth accent toyed with his words.
 Clark held out his hand, but the doctor made no move to shake it. Not a shaking family, the two men. Clark dropped his arm down to his side. “I was looking for work out at the ranch and Manager Parker sent me here. He said you might have something for me to do. I know my words and sums.” He removed the letter from his jacket and held it out; the doctor did accept that. “I don’t plan on staying long, a month at the most.”
 The doctor flared his nostrils in his long nose as he read the note. “My brother enjoys the richness of life and the joys of people. I, unfortunately, do not share his feelings. I have seen too many men harm their brethren.”
 Clark licked his lips. Doctors had to want to help people. Why else would they invest in learning cures? “Sorry to waste your time, sir. I’ll get off.” On to the next town then. He might find a farm that would give him food for a few hours of work.
 Doctor Parker breathed through his lips. “Have you ever helped a physician? Do you know how to measure vials and sterilize instruments?”
 Hope lodged in Clark’s throat. “I can sterilize, sure, and if you show me with the vials, I can do that too.”
 “Those vials,” the ghost hooted from the doorway. “They’re tainted. Don’t get near those vials.”
 Clark caught himself before he could frown. Ghosts tended to struggle with truths.
 “I’ll keep you for a day or two,” said Doctor Parker. “I can pay you two cents an hour for odd jobs. If you work out, we can extend that period. I do amputations, son. I need strong hands to hold down the patient.”
 It would be lost limbs then. Clark forced himself to nod. “Is there a place I can hunker down? I normally stick to ranches, and they offer food and a roof.”
 The doctor snorted, crumpling the paper into his pocket. “I can’t offer you any rooms in here. I keep them for patients to stay in. You know what a hospital is, son?”
 “He thinks this place is a hospital,” the ghost hollered.
 “I’ve heard of army hospitals.” Clark nodded. Those places he avoided. Besides, he wasn’t salaried by the government. Only soldiers could go there.
 “The east has one in each main city. I want to bring the safety of the east out here. That’s where I’m from.”
 The ghost drew a line across his throat. “He came out here to torture us stragglers.”
 Whatever operation the doctor had done must have failed. Clark had seen it before, men who lost limbs in hopes of saving their lives, but passing on anyway. It had happened to a Tarnished Silver who had worked with his mother. She’d cut her hand on a razor, the wound had festered, and even though the doctor had removed it, she’d grown sicker and left the world in a week.
 “I can stay in a barn.” If Clark had to find lodging elsewhere, it would eat up his money like a brushfire.
 Doctor Parker touched his goatee, drawing the graying hairs into a tighter point. “My Bromi girl can get you some bedding. Stay in the stable if you want. I have scraps in the kitchen; eat that if you like, but if not, you’re buying your own.”
 “Thank you.” He’d lived on worse than scraps.
 “If it comes to you being my assistant, you’ll have to wear black. Hides the blood. I see you’re mostly in that now. If we get anyone staying here, I have a no shoes policy. Keeps things quiet for them.”
 “Yes, sir.”
 “Come on with me to the back room where I mix my medicines. I’ll get you to that and we’ll see how it goes.”


 The ghost of a woman with no arms joined the one-legged ghost in the backroom. Clark bent over a table using eyedroppers and glass beakers to fill vials. Doctor Parker had scribbled the recipe on the back of his brother’s note, wrinkles and all.
 “Bad man,” the female shrieked. “Look at what he did to me arms!”
 Clark glanced toward the door. Doctor Parker had shut it, saying, “If a patient comes, you’re to stay out of sight.”
 “Sometimes operations are necessary,” Clark said. The green and blue liquids created a murky purple shade.
 “Not this one! Me husband called me an adulteress and off went me arms.”
 Clark looked up. “That can’t be the reason.”
 “Doc Parker’s known for taking the man’s side. Ask him.” She glared at the other ghost.
 The male scowled. “Sure, you got a problem and you pay enough, Doc Parker will help.”
 Clark clenched his hand around the glass vial. That couldn’t be true. Anyone in the west knew some doctors wanted money for medicine, then didn’t deliver more than dyed water or sugar cubes, but he’d never heard tell of one amputating limbs for perversion.
“Doc’s crazy,” the female ghost continued. “He has his own daughter locked up. Real bright girl. Sad state.”
Clark pictured a shed with a girl pounding against a padlocked door, and his skin crawled. “What do you mean?”
“The room upstairs, end of the hall,” she exclaimed. “He won’t let her out. He’ll probably experiment on her next. See if she grows back a tongue.”


            Clark crouched outside the room indicated by the one-legged ghost. He held his breath as he worked his tools into the lock. If anyone came, the ghosts had better warn him. If it weren’t for their nagging, he wouldn’t have bothered skulking around the house. A girl locked in a shed was one thing; a girl locked in a room was another. She might have a disease. Clark chuckled under his breath; his abilities had better keep him from catching it.
            The lock clicked and he slid the toolkit back into his jacket pocket. Easing the door open enough to peer through, he studied a white wall and plain table with a single chair. Not really girl friendly, from what he’d seen. Sure, he knew more about men on the run, but the soiled doves who’d worked with his mother had treasured knick-knacks. His mother would have had a table cloth, a candlestick, maybe a cushion on that chair. He’d drawn a picture for her once with a hunk of charcoal and a meat paper. She’d stuck it to her wall on an old nail and never taken it down, even though neither of them could remember after a few years what the blob was meant to be.
            Clark pushed the door open a bit more, and froze. Against the opposite wall, a young girl sat on a cot beside a window, paper taped over the glass as if to obscure the image. Lank brown hair hung down her back, oily and matted, and she wore a shapeless gray shift.
            He glanced back into the hallway before he darted inside and shut the door, in case the Bromi slave or doctor wandered by. “Um, hullo.” He cleared his throat and shifted his stance. “Are you… the doctor’s daughter?”
            She nodded. “I’m Brenda. Father didn’t send you, did he?” Dark circles lined her eyes a shade grayer than her linen shift.
            “A fella your pa worked on told me to find you here.” She didn’t need to know the fella was dead, or that he’d only discovered her after haunting the halls. “I can help you leave. We can go now.” So much for having a good job for a day or two.
            “No, I can’t.” An Eastern accent tinged her voice. “I’m sorry, but I can’t, sir.”
            The “sir” title didn’t really fit with him, made his skin crawl.
            “Are you sick?” He fought to keep from wrinkling his nose.
            “I’m not sick. Father said if I tried to leave, he’d never let me find my sister. As long as he’s got me, he’ll keep her safe.”
            Clark almost growled. Doctor Parker was the monster the ghosts had hinted at. “We’ll go find your sister then. I can’t leave you locked in here.”
            She stood and wobbled; the arms and legs poking from her clothes showed skin and bones, as malnourished as some of the thieves he’d run across in the desert. “If he finds me gone, he’ll hurt her. I know he will.” Her lower lip trembled. She couldn’t be more than fourteen-years-old at the most.
            “Brass glass,” Clark swore. Brenda had a point in that. “I’ll find out where your sister is. We’ll get both of you away.”
            “He’ll lock you up, too,” she said. “The man’s crazy. I’m safer in here. It’s better to be safe.”


            Clark spread the new leather cover over the medical text and glanced at Doctor Parker from the corners of his eyes. The doctor scribbled into a notebook, a gaslamp illuminating his work.
            Clark set the tome back on the bookshelf. “Have you been in the west long, sir?”
            The doctor hesitated, his stylus hovering above the paper. “Long enough. I am needed here. People need medicine.”
            People who wanted their enemies to suffer. “Thanks for doing the good deeds.” The words swelled in Clark’s throat as if to choke him.
            Doctor Parker nodded as he returned to his notebook.
            Clark pulled down another tome to cover it in the new binding. “Before I got here, I heard you had a daughter. I haven’t seen her around. A little girl,” he added, in case the doctor thought he liked to sniff around pretty skirts.
            Doctor Parker set down his stylus, the movements slow and deliberate, his gaze on the office’s only window. “I have no children.” Liar. “That’s enough work for today. It’s getting late and I’ve already sent the slave off for the night.” He turned in his chair to face Clark. “Don’t ask questions here, boy, or this arrangement won’t work out.”

Something shook Clark awake; he clamped his hands down on the offender and he shoved. Maybe he should have opted for the shed, but he’d taken the doctor up on his offer of a pallet in the kitchen. A female gasped; a single candle sent a yellow glow around her shape.
“Brenda?” Clark reached for the pistol he’d left on his belt. When he’d first started sleeping with it out in the desert, it had jammed into his side each time he’d moved, but he’d grown used to slumber in one position.
“I did it, sir. I snuck out. The lock on my door’s faulty and Father never fixed it. Did you know she’s here? My sister’s here.” Brenda’s eyes seemed to glow in the dark of the kitchen. “He’s got her locked in too and he told her the same thing, about behaving so nothing happens to me.” Her voice rose with each word and Clark cringed.
“Hush!” If she didn’t keep quiet—
The door to the kitchen smacked into the wall and Doctor Parker stormed inside, his robe flapping around his legs.
Brenda screamed and yanked at Clark’s hands as though to pull him up, but her father caught her around the waist and shoved her back against him, slapping a cloth over her mouth. She screamed against the rag, slashing at him with her fingernails and kicking with her bare heels.
The doctor muttered as he dragged her into the hallway, her shrieks growing quieter. 
Clark gripped the pallet of old linens, his heart pounding. He’d seen something he shouldn’t have. Doctor Parker would have to explain it away and send Clark off before he witnessed more.
 “You.” Brenda Parker appeared beside the stove with hollow, black eyes, and marks around her mouth and neck.
 “You’re dead.” Clark stood, kicking off a blanket, before Doctor Parker could return.
 She touched her lips. “Chloroform can do that, you know.” Brenda lowered her hand to her belly. “Go get my sister. My father’s crazy. Don’t let him hurt Maura, please.”
 Clark’s muscles tightened; Doctor Parker knew what he was about. Brenda wouldn’t have been an accident. The doctor would return to deal with Clark.
 “That’s how you found out about me. Ghosts told you.” She floated higher before sinking back to the kitchen floor. “Send Maura east. Our grandparents are there and Mother.”
 How calm she acted for a ghost. Usually the newly dead screamed at him until they realized he worked better when he understood. “I’ll get Maura.” She’d been alive in front of him, but he hadn’t managed to save her. “You can be with your Mother now.”
 Brenda recoiled. “Mother’s not dead. Father made her work as his assistant and she threatened to tell on him for what he did to his patients. He put her up in Wade Asylum and whisked the two of us out here.”
 “Does your uncle over at the ranch know about all this?”
 “They’re grave diggers together. My uncle used to send parts to my father when we lived in the east.”
 Bile rose in Clark’s throat. Sure, that earned a few dollars and he’d seen people decimating graves for an eyeball or brain, but he had enough of the dead on a daily basis without dealing with them in the dirt at night.
 The kitchen door swung again – that thing was going to tear off its hinges if the doctor wasn’t careful. Lionel Parker barreled through with his hands clenched into fists. “Get out. You’re not needed.” He fumbled in his jacket pocket, the item thrown on over a thin nightshirt, and threw coins at Clark’s feet.
Clark pulled the pistol from his holster and aimed it at Lionel’s chest. “You killed your daughter.”
The doctor swore as he patted his body, as if searching for a weapon. “I would never do that. Get out of here, you and your lies!”
Clark pulled the trigger and a hole blossomed with blood in the center of his chest. The doctor gulped as she stumbled backwards into the wall and slumped.
“You killed him,” Brenda said.
“Yup.” Maybe his ghost would appear for the other spirits to tear into him.
Clark glanced at the door leading to the backyard, but no shouts came from outside. Someone would find the doctor and Clark didn’t want to be arrested for murder, no matter how warranted. If the men in town liked the doctor to take care of their troubles, including upset wives, then they wouldn’t care about a deceased daughter.
Clark fastened his pistol into his holster. “We’ll free the Bromi so she can get a head start, and then we’ll nab your sister.”


 “This one.” Brenda slapped her hand against the door, but it slid through and she grimaced. “Did you see my body down there on the parlor table? What do you suppose he wanted to do with me?”
 Clark shrugged; his tongue seemed to have thickened past speech. He worked his picking kit into the lock and waited until it clicked to turn the knob.
 “She should be in here,” Brenda said. “I called to her through the door and she answered. She was crying. That’s when I got you.”
 That would also be when Lionel Parker overheard Brenda’s escape.
 Clark stood, his gas lamp in hand, and entered the bedroom that reeked of mothballs. A little girl huddled on a cot similar to Brenda’s.
 “That’s her!” Brenda soared over to the child, whose black hair hung loose.
 “Maura?” Clark lifted the lamp higher so she could see him. “We need to leave, Maura.”
 The little girl rubbed the back of her hand across her nose. “Where’s Brenda?”
 “I’m right here, sweetie!”
 Clark licked his dry lips. The child had lived through imprisonment; she couldn’t be reduced to lies. “Brenda’s gone. Your father got her.” If she were Mabel, he would have hugged her and she would have wept, made up some statements about feeling strong. Maura was a stranger, though.
 She pressed a pillow against her face and her shoulders trembled.
 “Brenda gave me directions to your grandparents in the east,” Clark said. “I’ll send you to them. They’ll take care of you.”
 “Mama?” She lifted her face, tears on her cheeks.
 “Right. She’ll be there too.”
 “But not Brenda.”
 “Not Brenda.” The poor chit had to be only seven or eight.
 “I’ll be with her the whole way,” Brenda interjected.
 “She’ll be with you in spirit.” Clark eased the pillow away from her. “Do you have anything to take with you?”
 Maura shook her head, lips parted. Like Brenda, she wore a sack dress, minus the corset.
 “We’ll find your father’s money,” Clark said. “Then we can get you a train ticket and something warm to wear. Some food. I’ll wire ahead if we can find the address for your grandparents.”
 “I remember the address.” Brenda floated in front of him. “I want you to take some of the money by way of thanks.
It would be the first time a ghost paid him for help. Usually they screamed and vanished. Brass glass, maybe it would be the last time he had to help a ghost. Clark laughed. Nah, his curse wouldn’t let him go that easily.

What’s a festival without games and prizes?  You can win this awesome spyglass necklace and be able to see across the desert, in case a rival gang is hot on your trail. 
Check out my website for contests related to my books, and you can read the first three chapters of TREASURE DARKLY: http://www.jordanelizabethmierek.com/
Craving more steampunk?  The clockwork adventures continue with GEARS OF BRASS, a steampunk anthology featuring TREASURE DARKLY’s own Amethyst Treasure.
The Summer Steampunk Festival might end soon, but you can return to Hedlund in September for the release of BORN OF TREASURE, the sequel to TREASURE DARKLY.  Twice the romance, thrice the ghosts, and a heap of clockwork inventions. 
As a special addition to the summer steampunk festival, TREASURE DARKLY is on sale for 99 cents this week only!  Check out Amazon for the deal.