Thursday, July 31, 2014

Guest Post: A Haunted Place in A Human Element by Donna Galanti

A Haunted Place in A Human Element
By Donna Galanti

I often get asked if the characters in my paranormal suspense book A Human Element are “me”. Yes they are…in some ways.
I was a photographer in the U.S. Navy stationed at Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, as Ben Fieldstone is in A Human Element. I worked in Fleet Intelligence processing top secret film in “the building with no windows”, as Ben did.

The beauty of Oahu is amazing with its violently defined landscape, a place to find–and keep–secrets in its hidden spots. I also lived off base in Honolulu. Likini, the wife of Ben’s friend, in A Human Element is actually named after the street I lived on, Likini Street (where I got around in a Herbie-styled 1972 white VW bug).

But in A Human Element, book 1 in the Element Trilogy, you’ll find Hawaii is not all palm trees and Mai Tais. Ben finds himself in dire circumstances there as a sailor on Oahu one terrifying night.

I also know of the dangers sailors can find themselves in on the island of Oahu if they’re not careful. I was told not to go to the Pali Lookout alone, a spot far above Honolulu in the Koolau Mountains that is set on cliffs with treacherous falls awaiting those who aren’t careful. Or those who are tossed off…or those who jump off. It’s known for its moaning, howling winds. People have disappeared up there, they’d say. It’s a haunted place where the ghosts of Hawaiian ancestors are said to roam.

But back to Ben and his night of terror at the Pali Lookout. Can he be saved? More importantly, can he be saved from himself?

Ben meets the Man in Black in Hawaii:
He closed his eyes and forced himself to find a dark place with peace and no pain. The two men continued to taunt him, but they echoed far away in a tunnel. He held his breath, willing himself to pass out. The wild wind of the mountaintop raged around him and shrieked in his ears.
Then two loud cracks shot out over the howling wind. The hands on him fell away. He let out a huge sigh, dizzy from holding his breath.
Ben opened his eyes and craned his head around to see what had happened. Under the bright moonlight the outline of the two big Samoans rose up from the overgrown road. They didn't move. The wind whipped the giant leaves of the banyan and guava trees about like sails on a great clipper ship. The buzz of traffic from the new Pali road carried up to him from below. He scanned the area. What had happened? Who else hid out there? He pulled at the stakes. His hands shook as he tried to break free.
"Forget it, kid, they're held down in cement," a deep voice said. "These stupid locals make up these playgrounds just to mess with us haoles."
Ben swallowed the saliva stuck in his throat and focused on his surroundings. There stood the green-eyed man, hidden in the swaying banyan trees. His black outfit blended into the dark forest. He moved toward Ben and holstered his gun, then popped open a switchblade from his back pocket.
"I am not here to hurt you," the man said when Ben shrunk into the rock. "I'm going to cut the ropes."
In a few swift movements he slit the ropes binding Ben, who staggered back. The man caught him and held him up, then ripped off the duct tape.
"Who are you?" Ben's body trembled from the rush of fear and a fierce headache pounded in his temple.
The man didn't answer. He bent over one of the dead Samoans and pulled out a wallet. He looked inside and threw it at Ben. "It's yours." Then the man led him by the arm down the overgrown road where he handed Ben his clothes from the brush. He tried to put them on but his hands shook so bad the man had to help him. He winced from the whip marks brushing against his jeans and shirt.
"Come on," the man said. Ben looked back at the dead men sprawled face down. They oozed like two fat walruses sunning themselves in the moonlight. "Don't worry about them. I'll dump them later, somewhere they'll never be found."
In a daze, Ben followed his savior up the rough road, stumbling behind him in the dim moonlight. Those men had carried him unconscious down this road.
"I'll take you back to base then you're on your own," the man said once they reached his car, parked off the main road. "Don't speak of this to anyone. Understand?"
Ben nodded and climbed in the car. He looked over at the stranger in black who had saved him.  "You were at my foster mother's funeral. Why are you following me? Why save me?"
"I'm an interested party. Leave it at that."
"I can't. I would have died up there for sure."
The man didn't respond.
"Thank you."
The man looked at Ben. His green eyes glowed in the moonlight that filtered into the car. "Someday you might not thank me. Someday you may not survive."

About A Human Element:

Evil comes in many forms…

One by one, Laura Armstrong’s friends and adoptive family members are being murdered, and despite her unique healing powers, she can do nothing to stop it. The savage killer haunts her dreams, tormenting her with the promise that she is next. Determined to find the killer, she follows her visions to the site of a crashed meteorite in her hometown. There, she meets Ben Fieldstone, who seeks answers about his parents’ death the night the meteorite struck. In a race to stop a madman, they unravel a frightening secret that binds them together. But the killer’s desire to destroy Laura face-to-face leads to a showdown that puts Laura and Ben’s emotional relationship and Laura’s pure spirit to the test. With the killer closing in, Laura discovers her destiny is linked to his, and she has two choices—redeem him or kill him.

**Get your evil on with this re-release, A Human Element, book 1 in the Element Trilogy! Newly edited, new scenes, new cover! Book 2 in the Element Trilogy, A Hidden Element, releases 8/28!**

Praise for A Human Element:
“Be afraid. Be very afraid. And be utterly absorbed by this riveting debut that had me reading till the wee hours of the night. A thriller star is born.” –M.J. Rose, International bestselling author
An elegant and haunting first novel. Unrelenting, devious but full of heart.  Highly recommended.” –Jonathan Maberry, New York Times best-selling author
About Donna:
Donna Galanti writes murder and mystery with a dash of steam as well as middle grade adventure fiction. She is an International Thriller Writers Debut Author of the paranormal suspense novel A Human Element, A Hidden Element (August 2014), the short story collection The Dark Inside, and Joshua and The Lightning Road (Books 1 and 2, 2015). She’s lived from England as a child, to Hawaii as a U.S. Navy photographer.

Purchase A Human Element, book 1 in the Element Trilogy, here:

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Thursday, July 17, 2014

The Young World by Chris Weitz

Title:  The Young World
Author:  Chris Weitz
Genre:  Young Adult / Dystopia / Post Apocalyptic
Publisher:  Atom / Hachette
Publication Date:  29th July 2014
ISBN:  9780349001937
Stand Alone/Series:  The Young World Trilogy #1
Pages:  352 pages
First Lines:  It's another gorgeous spring day after the fall of civilization.  I'm doing the rounds, following the path that winds through Washington Square Park like a warped infinity sign.

Synopsis:   Welcome to New York, a city ruled by teens. After a mysterious Sickness wipes out the rest of the population, the young survivors assemble into tightly run tribes. Jefferson, the reluctant leader of the Washington Square tribe, and Donna, the girl he's secretly in love with, have carved out a precarious existence among the chaos. But when another tribe member discovers a clue that may hold the cure to the Sickness, five teens set out on a life-altering road trip to save humankind. The tribe exchanges gunfire with enemy gangs, escapes cults and militias, braves the wilds of the subway and Central Park ...and discovers truths they could never have imagined. 

My Thoughts:  I was pretty stoked.  I arrive home from work one afternoon with a couple of packages sitting on my desk.  I had requested a book from Hachette a little while ago and was lucky enough to be given a few different books to read.  This was one of them.

I must admit, I did read the back of the synopsis and think, "Damn, no zombies in this." I've read similar post apocalyptic story lines like this before too but you know what?  I love the post apocalyptic/dystopian genre and have not yet reached my threshold of "I've had enough of this".. yet.

I must admit, I wasn't completely hooked the first few pages in, but like alot of other books that turn out to be awesome, I kept going.  And I'm glad I did.

The two viewpoints in the book are Jefferson, reluctant leader/Generalissimo and Donna, his long time friend. Both POV's are in first person present but unlike Jefferson's, Donna seems to talk to the reader a little more.

I liked Chris Weitz's writing style and his characters were true to form of typical teenagers (without hopefully stereotyping teens), eg. declarations of love, the constant use of "like", everything is so amplified when your a teen.  It almost as if teens feel more than any other age group.  Hopefully that makes sense.  I got that feeling throughout the book.  Maybe not as up front and in your face obvious but it was there.

There were parts of the book which were less enjoyable than others, but I had to look at it this way.  If you were to take any adult and child away from a scenario leaving teens, how would things be.  I can totally understand the grouping.  Maybe not so much the emphasis on the "b&*%es" and the whole sexual objectification, but this is really only targeting one small group in the whole story and not all characters agreed with that attitude.  On the other hand I did laugh at the group from the library.  A little bit scary but at the same time a bit amusing and a little gross.  Sorry if there are a few spoilers here, I'm trying to keep some things as vague as possible so as not to ruin it for others.

I can see other readers saying this type of story has been done before, but really which ones haven't?  I'd love to see where the next two books takes the story and its characters!  Maybe in the second and third book it will set this trilogy apart from other books in this genre.

I've also read that this book has been optioned for movie rights already by Warner Bros so keep your eyes open.  It would sure make a great movie.  Especially since the author happens to have had a hand in The Twilight Saga: New Moon, A Better Life, About a Boy, The Golden Compass and American Pie.  Yep.  I reckon the movie should be good :)

Fave Lines:  "..You and Jefferson will have ten Eurasion babies.  Me and Theo will adopt half of them.  I'll host a TV show called Apocalypse Wow." Page 327
Book received from:  Hachette Australia

Monday, July 7, 2014

As Stars Fall by Christie Nieman

Title:  As Stars Fall
Author:  Christie Nieman
Genre:  Young Adult / Contemporary
Publisher:  Pan Macmillan Australia
Publication Date:  1st July 2014
ISBN:  9781743517697
Stand Alone/Series:  Stand Alone
Pages:  320 Pages
First Lines:  The light was strange.  The darkness was a deep red, and there was a thickness between the stars.  And the air was strange too.  It had a bitter tang.

Synopsis:  In north-eastern Victoria, bush-covered hills erupt into flames. A Bush Stone-curlew escapes the fire but a woman studying the endangered bird does not.
When Robin's parents split up after the fire, her mother drags her from the country to a new life in the ugly city. Robin misses her dog, her best-friend, the cows, trees, creek, bushland and, especially, the birds. Robin is a self-confessed, signed-up, card-carrying bird-nerd. Just like her dad.
On the first day at her new school, Robin meets Delia. She's freaky, a bit of a workaholic, and definitely not good for Robin's image. Delia's older brother Seth has given up school to prowl the city streets. He is angry at everything, but mostly at the fire that killed his mother.
 When the Bush Stone-curlew turns up in the city parklands next to Seth and Delia's house the three teenagers become inextricably linked. Soon their lives are circling tighter and tighter around each other, and the curlew.

My Thoughts:  As Stars Fall was one of those books that I really enjoyed, most of the time.  I hate to say it but there was a part in the middle in the section named "States and Transitions" where it was, well for me, a bit slow and I kept putting the book down, because I just wasn't interested.

In saying that,  I really enjoyed the rest of the story.  The beginning, "Disturbance" drew me in, and had me feeling sad for both the bird and the woman. Especially the woman as she lost her life in the fire.  We've had some serious fires in Australia, and in February 2009 was the most extreme.  The fires were so bad that they jumped roads and incinerated cars, homes, people.  "Black Saturday" was a very sad day, and the pictures that circulated, including the Koala who came up to the cyclist for water, showed how harsh and unrelenting it was.

The characters were unique, and it was easy to tell each voice apart.  It is labelled at the beginning of a narration change, but even so, to me, it didn't seem needed.  Robin is the new girl at school, a country girl, who has moved to the city with her mother.  She's strong but confused on how she fits into the new city life and is having trouble adjusting.

Delia and Seth are struggling to deal with their grief, and anger; the aftermath of losing their mother.  Living with their father who is drowning out his sorrows with alcohol rather than dealing with his grief head on.  Delia seems to be a little bit of a loner at school, but when it comes to the new girl she has no problem sticking her neck out for her and telling the other "In" girls just how it is.  I feel like she's trying to be so strong that she's just about to crumble under the surface.  Seth skips school, and is drowning out his sorrows another way.  But the thing I love the most about these characters, is how they each see the bush stone curlew.  And this is what ties them all together.

The story is narrated by all three of these characters, Robin in first person, and Delia and Seth in third person.  But occasionally throughout the book, you see the curlew narrating her story, as well as an essay here and there from Selena.  It adds to the story I think, but it also seems to slow the narration and jars it a little.

Overall I did like this book.  There are bits that I didn't like, but it picks up where it needs to towards the end and I loved the ending.  Not for everyone though.

Book received from:  Pan Macmillan Australia

Sunday, July 6, 2014

In My Mailbox (154)

In My Mailbox is a weekly post created by The Story Siren.

For Review:


What did you get in your IMM?


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