Saturday, March 29, 2014

The Copper Witch by @JessicaDall #Historical #Fiction #AmReading

She tilted her face up, careful to keep her lips from quite touching his. “I think this is dangerously close to looking like a compromising position, your majesty.”
“I don’t think so.” He shook his head, barely moving side to side.
“No?” she whispered.
He dropped her hand, slipping his other arm around her just below his other hand. He pulled her flat against him. “I think this would look much more like a compromising position.”
She raised her eyebrows, meeting his eyes steadily. “I didn’t know I asked for an example.”
He slid his hands down her silk dress lightly, following the slight curves of her figure. “You are a very beautiful woman, Adela.”
“Perhaps I share that with—”
He kissed her, holding her tight to his chest.
She let him for a moment, enjoying the feeling of his hard body against hers before she pulled back, doing her best to look admonishing. “Your majesty, I’m engaged.”
“And?” he asked, eyes still on her lips.
“And that means this is completely improper.”
He bent, leaving his mouth nearly touching hers. “You don’t seem to be pushing me away.”
“It’s still improper.”
“Doesn’t feel that way to me.” He shifted her against him, sliding a hand further down her back, pressing her hips into him.
She leaned back. “I have a feeling Lord Auborn would not share that particular view, your majesty.”
He raised an eyebrow. “You’d really rather have Auborn than me?”
“I’d rather be respectfully married than end up being the king’s bed warmer for a night,” she said, adding as an afterthought, “your majesty.”
“Why not both?” he asked.
“Something tells me that having improper relations with you would ruin my prospects with Lord Auborn, your majesty,” she said. “He does not seem to be a particularly forgiving man in that aspect.”
“I could make it up to him, I’m sure.”
“I’m the daughter of a poor baron, your majesty. I can’t risk what prospects I have because I would like…” she cut herself off, pretending she hadn’t always intended to say it.
He smiled, prompted, “You would like…?”
She met his eyes, held them. “It doesn’t especially matter now, does it?”
“Oh, I think it does.”
“Your majesty.” Adela finally pushed herself back an inch, the chair behind her stopping any true retreat. “I’m sure there are more than enough women in your dining hall right now who would be willing to make you feel better for the night.”
“And they’ll all expect something from me.”
“You think I won’t?” She cocked an eyebrow.
“I think you understand what it’s like to lose a parent.”
She snorted. “Yes, but I don’t believe I ever used that excuse to try to get someone into my bed.”
Adela Tilden has always been more ambitious than her station in life might allow. A minor nobleman’s daughter on a failing barony, Adela’s prospects seem dire outside of marrying well-off. When Adela catches the eye of the crown prince, Edward, however, well-off doesn’t seem to be a problem. Thrown into a world of politics and intrigue, Adela might have found all the excitement she ever wanted—if she can manage to leave her past behind.
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Genre – Alternate Historical Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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Why Do They Leave #Christianity & Come to #Islam? by Aicha Zoubair #Excerpt #AmReading

The amazing story of Mary begins when her mother prayed to Allah while pregnant with her:
Quran 3:35: “(Remember) when the wife of 'Imran said: My Lord! I have vowed unto Thee that which is in my belly as a consecrated (offering). Accept it from me. Lo! Thou, only Thou, art the Hearer, the Knower!”
And, indeed, Allah answered her prayers. However, she expected to have a boy, because only man can serve the Lord as priests. When she gave birth to a girl, she was a bit confused:
Quran 3:36: “And when she was delivered she said: My Lord! Lo! I am delivered of a female - Allah knew best of what she was delivered - the male is not as the female; and lo! I have named her Mary, and lo! I crave Thy protection for her and for her offspring from Satan the outcast.”
Mary then grew up in the most mysterious and holiest way ever witnessed. She was placed in the temple of the Lord, under the care of the high priest and prophet, Zachariah, in order to fulfill the vow that her mother made before she was born:
Quran 3:37: “And her Lord accepted her with full acceptance and vouchsafed to her a goodly growth; and made Zachariah her guardian. Whenever Zachariah went into the sanctuary where she was, he found that she had food. He said: O Mary! Whence cometh unto thee this (food)? She answered: It is from Allah. Allah giveth without stint to whom He will.”
Mary was fed with only the purest of food, given to her daily by the angel of God. The Quran confirms Mary’s special relationship with Allah and her high devotion:
Quran 3:42-43: “And when the angels said: O Mary! Lo! Allah hath chosen thee and made thee pure, and hath preferred thee above (all) the women of creation. O Mary! Be obedient to thy Lord, prostrate thyself and bow with those who bow (in worship).”
If you have ever wondered how Islam and Christianity are similar and different, be ready to learn some of the most interesting facts in this well written and well researched book.
You think you are saved in Christ, think again! This book overthrows the lies that has been spread in the name of Jesus and will make you reflect upon your Christian beliefs. Salvation cannot be found in the blooded cross but is found in the last scripture: the Quran.
You will understand why Islam in its many pure forms attracts so many in the Western part of the world. With thousands upon thousands leaving Christianity behind, you might wonder what Islam has to offer what Christianity does not… Did Jesus really die while being crucified, as he was a submitter to God's will? With scriptural evidences, you will learn that the name of God was removed from the Bible. Not only does the author's new book answer these questions, it is also objective research into the Muslim and Christian scriptures, to understand why Jesus was sent for and what his message was… 
If you are ready to learn why Islam is the religion of truth that God wants all of us to follow, or if you are currently interested in learning how Islam is different from what you learn and see on television, the author's new book is a must to read. You will not be disappointed, as you will learn a lot, and maybe even see an opportunity to change your spiritual life for the better.
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Genre - Religion
Rating – G
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Thursday, March 27, 2014

S.M. McEachern on Writing by the Seat of Your Pants @smmceachern #SciFi #BookClub #WriteTip

I knew absolutely nothing about being an author until after I published.  Yes, I realize that’s a bit like tying my shoes before I put them on, but that’s the point. If I have hard time putting on my shoes, odds are I’ll go looking for a different pair, which will probably put a different spin on what I’m wearing.
For me, writing by the seat of my pants gives me flexibility.  Don’t get me wrong. I’m not sitting down at my computer banging out whatever pops into my head (okay, that’s not entirely true…). I do have a plot in mind. But it’s the journey from the beginning of the story to the end that holds twists and turns even for me. How is that possible, you ask? It’s the characters that lead me.
When I start to write my characters they almost jump up off the page and introduce themselves. Even the minor characters, like a guard who just needs to be in the hallway, has to have a story. I’m thinking of my character in Sunset Rising, Bron Llewellyn.  Honestly, she was just a guard in the first chapter. Why? Because the Pit is guarded and I had to have guards. I made her one of the “good” guards because even in a dystopic world, not every single guard is going to be mean, right? Then I asked myself, why is she a good guard?  Why is she sympathetic to the Pit?  By answering those questions, I hatched a subplot that wove seamlessly into the main plot and spilled into the second book of the series, Worlds Collide.
I’m a member of local writer’s group and I’ve talked to authors who create an outline first and then write to the outline. I’m amazed at this kind of organization. I wish I could apply it to my Tupperware drawer because I’d save myself at least 15 minutes every morning trying to find containers with lids that fit for my kids’ lunches. Then again, if I could readily match lids with containers, I’d probably make chocolate pudding more often for lunch.  Chocolate pudding isn’t really that good for them.  An apple is better.  And an apple doesn’t require a container.
You see the logic?
The point is, if the story is already laid out for me, I’ll write to the storyline. I’ll stop asking myself questions—and if I do that, I’ll stop coming up with answers I didn’t expect.  For me, writing by the seat of my pants gives me the freedom to be creative.
February 2024: Desperate to find refuge from the nuclear storm, a group of civilians discover a secret government bio-dome. Greeted by a hail of bullets and told to turn back, the frantic refugees stand their ground and are eventually permitted entry.  But the price of admission is high.
283 years later...  Sunny O'Donnell is a seventeen-year-old slave who has never seen the sun.  She was born in the Pit, a subterranean extension of the bio-dome. Though life had never been easy, the last couple of months had become a nightmare. Her mom was killed in the annual Cull, and her dad thought it was a good time to give up on life.  Reyes Crowe, her long-time boyfriend, was pressuring her to get married, even though it would mean abandoning her father.
She didn't think things could get any worse until she was forced upstairs to the Dome to be a servant-girl at a bachelor party.  That's when she met Leisel Holt, the president's daughter, and her fiancĂ©, Jack Kenner.
Now Sunny is wanted for treason.  If they catch her, she'll be executed.
She thought Leisel's betrayal was the end.  But it was just the beginning.
"Sunset Rising" is Book One of a series.
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Genre - YA Science Fiction, Dystopian
Rating – PG-16
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#Historical #Fiction #Excerpt from Holderby's Landing by J. D. Ferguson

Before Justin can make answer Osman steps forward, and extending his hand, grasps the Captain’s in a firm but welcoming shake. “Osman Treat is my name, Captain, and my companion, Master Justin Thorne.”
The Captain turns to Osman is if noticing him for the first time, pauses to take a quick measure, then liking what he sees before him softens the eyes and widens his smile. “Macklin O’Donnell, Mister Treat. Good to meet you and Master Thorne”, he says with relish but casts little acknowledgement to Justin. “Did you enjoy your short river ride, then? How do you like my Rose?”
“Captain, words fairly fail me. Were I not on a mission of some importance, sir, I tell but the God’s honest truth, I would continue on that vessel to the end of the line, even if my position was one of cleaning the stalls and emptying night jars. It must take a devil’s own bargain indeed to be given so lofty a position in this world as river captain, and to spend your days in service to the wiles of so tantalizing a lady.”
Now Captain O’Donnell bursts forth in honest good cheer and full-throated laughter. “Well well, a river man as sure as God makes little green apples. You, sir, are a man of discerning tastes, and deserving of only the best in life, and I for one wish whole- heartedly that it comes your way.”
Osman with a smile stretching all angles of his broad face replies, “Thank you, Captain, for the good wishes. And I will take them as they come, but at present, I and Master Thorne are in need of quarters for the night and longer. Can you recommend an inn?”
“Recommend, is it? I will not only recommend, but I will lead the way. Ahh, here come your mounts and traps, now. Let us walk but to the top of yon small rise, to The Missed Way. There you will find the best and cleanest beds in the whole of the river, along with food to satisfy any hunger, good company and beer kept cool in a spring house against the day’s heat.”
“A missed way, you say? But…” Osman starts.
“Not a missed way, Sir Treat, but The Missed Way Inn. Oddly named, indeed it is, but second home to this river vagabond, and a house of warm welcome to all, even to the likes of us.”
The men trudge the rise away from the soft murmurs of the Ohio, and toward the red ivy-streaked walls of the inn. Justin walks just a bit out of step.
When Justin Thorne, coddled student and heir apparent to Sylvan Springs Plantation, is forced to find his heritage, his manhood, and his destiny, in the space of one brief spring, all hell breaks loose on the banks of the Ohio River. His Virginia of 1836 is a time of transition and enormous growth. Northern industrial might and southern aristocracy, abolitionist movements and slave cultures, collide in turmoil and lay bare the raw needs and desires of those intrepid spirits confronting the frontiers of the antebellum South. Coming of age is an expected result of time and circumstance. It happens to all who live so long, but to each within the dictates of their own lives. The process is on-going and ever dynamic. 
Every person is a precious product resulting from the effects of nature and nurture. One's ancestry, culture, and environment collude in myriad ways to make us; all as different as each life's story, and as singular as snowflakes. This theme is played out over-and-over throughout the world and throughout history, in millions of places like Holderby's Landing; as similar and as different as each human is to the other. Holderby's Landing is a single glimpse in time at the coming of age of a land, a community, and a few determined souls thrown together in love, strife and chance. What they make of the time, the opportunities and themselves is the story told and the living breath of this book.
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Genre – Historical Fiction
Rating – PG-13
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Kevin Sterling on His Personal Life & the Jack Lazar #Series @KsterlingWriter #Action #Mystery

  1. What are you most proud of in your personal life? My son, Preston. He completed both his undergraduate and law degrees in a fraction of the usual timeframe and now serves the people at the Texas State Capitol, earning a much lower income than he would have made at a law firm. He truly cares about others and is dedicated to helping the world, and I am so proud of him for all of that.
  2. What books did you love growing up? My favorite book back then was Airport by Arthur Haley. I’ve always been an airplane and travel fanatic and had the unique opportunity to spend many of my summers in Europe growing up. So reading about all the intricacies of commercial aviation in combination with Haley’s gripping story really hit my buttons. I also ate up every single James Bond novel by Ian Fleming.
  3. Who is your favorite author? That is so hard to say because I appreciate different things about so many authors. But if I had to pick one, perhaps it would be John Grisham. He does a great job of building a complex story while writing in a style that is quick and easy to read, and I do my best to emulate that style in my own writing. Like Grisham, I want readers to feel like things are speeding along, that they’re not getting bogged down with excessive details, and it won’t take long to reach a resolution to the suspense keeping them on the edge. But then, there’s always something else to take its place! Otherwise, what’s the point in turning the page?
  4. What book genre do you adore? Adore? Interesting word choice. In that case, I’ll have to say romantic suspense. Unlike most other authors who write action/mystery/suspense, I am compelled to throw romance (and…ahem…sex) into my books because I personally enjoy reading it. In my opinion, intimate human interaction makes life so rich and yummy that I want as much of it as I can get…and give, too!
  5. What book should everyone read at least once? I’m going to steer away from the obvious classics or religious texts and say The Road Less Traveled by M. Scott Peck, M.D. It does such a great job of putting life into perspective and teaching us how to be happy. It encourages us to take responsibility for our own feelings, stop looking “out there” for happiness and/or blaming something or someone else for our problems. Once we do that, we become very powerful and can simply decide to live life however we choose. Happiness is a choice, plain and simple.
  6. Are there any books you really don’t enjoy? Yes, and I know I’m in the minority here, but I get bored with books that have pure fantasy with no connection to reality – i.e., to the point where I can’t personally relate or credibly put myself in the story. If it’s science fiction and utilizes technology that is reasonably plausible, even in the distant future, I’m still good.
  7. What do you hope your obituary will say about you? That I made a positive impact on other people’s lives and was regarded as a world class author.
  8. Location and life experiences can really influence writing. Tell us where you grew up and where you live now. Technically, I grew up in Dallas, Texas. But I traveled a lot growing up and spent many of my summers in Europe. I also enjoyed lots of time with my grandparents at their homes in Amarillo and Tucson as well as other family in Colorado, Washington, DC and the New York City area. I’ve continued to travel worldwide in my adult life and shuttled between homes in Colorado and Texas a good part of that time, so I feel like I’ve lived a lot of places and didn’t really entrench myself until a few years ago when my wife and I consolidated into our Colorado mountain home. Nevertheless, we still travel extensively, so I still kind of feel like a resident of the world.
  9. How did you develop your writing? Without question, the more I write, the better I get. But there are two other important things that honed my craft. The first was reading other authors and paying attention to what they were doing. The second, and probably most important, was working with a first class editor who pointed out what I was doing right or wrong, encouraged me to explore my strengths, and helped me conform to “industry standards”.
  10. Where do you get your inspiration from? It usually starts with real life situations and news stories. For example, with Lazar’s Mission, I got the idea for a World War II fighter plane crash-landing in the Sahara desert from the discovery in 2012 of just such an airplane. From there, I let my imagination run and did extensive research on tangential subjects that eventually sparked ideas for the plot, and I let my mind stew on all of it until I found a clever way to tie everything together. It’s funny how all of that comes together, too, because I always have the experience of sitting amidst a sea of research with no idea how it’s all going to meld into an intriguing book. But one day I wake up, and it all makes sense. Then just try to wrench me away from my computer!

"James Bond Meets Fifty Shades of Grey"

Immerse yourself in the world class novels that combine action, mystery & suspense with tantalizing and tastefully written erotica. You’ll find all your sensibilities roused at once with Kevin Sterling’s ultra-sexy, action-packed Jack Lazar Series.

In this fourth action-packed thriller, Jack travels to Denmark for a business venture, but what seems to be a textbook transaction turns into a nightmare after he gets involved with Katarina, a vivacious Danish girl who apparently lacks a moral compass, not to mention an off button. After naively believing their liaison was just a random encounter, Jack discovers she’s connected to his business deal, and there’s a dangerous political group with skin in the game, too.
Katarina makes a convincing case of being a victim, not part of the conspiracy, but can Jack really trust her?
The firestorm gets out of control as Jack digs deeper, unearths the convoluted plot behind it all, and discovers that innocent people are being heartlessly killed. He’s not only horrified by the reason why it’s happening, but how it’s being done, and there appears to be no way to stop it from occurring again.
Then the scheme’s real objective emerges, launching Jack into action with intelligence operatives to prevent it. But that’s not so easy with assassins on Jack’s tail, forcing him to struggle for survival while trying to prevent Katarina from getting caught in the crossfire.
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Genre – Action, Mystery, Suspense
Rating – R
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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

James McGovern Says Don’t Bore the Reader! @mcgovernwriter #YA #MustRead #SciFi

Runcie and I climbed slowly closer towards the sharp edge of the cliff. The sharp stones were hard beneath our feet and with each step I could feel the jagged edges ripping through my cheap sandals. We walked and walked until we came to the chasm. The space stretched down beneath us, and the overflowing river flowed past many feet below, filled with angular rocks. There was only one way across. My heart was beating heavily in my chest. Thump! Thump! Thump! I looked at Runcie; sweat was dripping down his thick brow into his eyes. He always said he was fearless, but I knew that he wasn’t. I looked down again at the gulf, and shuddered. 
The above paragraph is a slightly exaggerated example of the writing that I dislike. I mean, what’s really happening? The two characters have walked towards the edge of a cliff, and looked down. Why does the writer (me, in this case) need over 100 words to tell us this? Such writing surely insults the intelligence of the reader.
I call this kind of writing micro-description—that is, breaking events in a story down to a micro-level. Often, such writing is extremely boring. Of course, all writers have their own style, and my style happens to rather concise. Many other writers enjoy creating more ‘flowery’ prose, and do it very well. However, many others write micro-description in an attempt to add colour—or disguise a thin plot—and end up making their writing exhausting. If I were to include the above scene in one of my books, I would most likely write something like:
Runcie and I climbed over the sharp stones towards the edge of the cliff. It was a sheer drop; the dark water, broken by rocks, flowed past far beneath us. Even the ‘fearless’ Runcie was sweating. I shuddered.
Many modern writers have a habit of micro-describing. A good antidote for writers in this habit is Voltaire’s Candide. In less than 100 pages, the eponymous protagonist is expelled from a Baron’s castle, captured by the Bulgars, caught in a storm, caught in an earthquake, flogged… he meets a Hebrew, meets Jesuits, kills his lover’s brother, visits Eldorado, visits France, visits England, visits Venice, visits Constantinople… Voltaire ends with a deeply philosophical conclusion that ties the story together and makes the reader think. Even in translation, Voltaire’s prose is fresh, crisp and concise—most importantly, it never bores the reader!
My own novel, Martin King and the Space Angels, is very concisely-written—even to the point of shocking the occasional reader. Some people have expressed irritation at my supposed ‘sparseness’. Others have praised my concision. However, there is one criticism that is virtually impossible to level at my work—that of boring the reader. I sincerely hope that nobody will ever be bored by my work. And if you do ever decide to micro-describe, please have a good reason for it!
James McGovern is an author and poet. Martin King and the Space Angels, the first book in the Martin King series, is available on Amazon.

"The book draws you into its world in the same way that the Harry Potter books do." Kophi (5 -star Reviewer). 
"If you like Percy Jackson, Twilight, or The Mortal Instruments, chances are you'll love Martin King." Teen eBook Review. 
"Reminiscent of Ron, Harry and Hermione." Lucinda (5-star Reviewer). 
"Martin King is something like a cross between Harry Potter and Frodo." Meghan (Top 500 Reviewer).
Martin King is just an ordinary teenage boy in love with a girl… until he gets a superpower.
An evil force called XO5 is looking for something on Earth – something dangerous. Martin King and his friends must find it first.
Martin, Darcy and Tommy soon find themselves caught up in a massive, universal conspiracy.
But who really is the mysterious XO5 – and what does he want with Martin?
This is the first book in the electrifying Martin King series. With it's gripping plot, exciting characters and readability, the book has been compared to the novels of of J.K. Rowling, Rick Riordan and Cassandra Clare. Martin King and the Space Angels has been described as a "majestic masterpiece" and "one of the most entertaining YA fantasy-science fiction novels". If you're looking for a thrilling, sensational, romantic page-turner from an exciting new author, you'll love Martin King.
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Genre - Young Adult, Teen, Sci-Fi
Rating – PG
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#Excerpt from Eileen Maksym's HAUNTED @EileenMaksym #Paranormal #YA #BookClub

It was an old-fashioned elevator: a steel cage with a door that folded in and out like an accordion, and black floor-buttons protruding from a brass plate.  Tara and Steven stepped in, the latter pulling the door closed after them;  it screeched and rattled along the track, then crashed shut.  Steven tugged on the handle to make sure it had caught, then turned to Tara and nodded.
She pressed the button next to the ornately-engraved 4.
The elevator shuddered, then the bars vibrated as the motor moaned into life and they began, slowly, to ascend.
“Good thing Paul couldn’t come,” Steven mused.  “Three of us in here might have done this thing in, once and for all.”
“I’m sure it carries more than three people on a regular basis and does just fine,” Tara said.  “It’s old, but it’s perfectly usable.  They must inspect it on a regular basis.”
“Why spend the money?  I mean, you can only fit maybe four people in here.  Four undergrads in 200 years is an acceptable casualty, right?”
“The lawsuits wouldn’t be so acceptable.”
The elevator came to an abrupt stop and bounced sharply; Tara threw her hand against the side for balance.  Steven raised an eyebrow.
“Not a word, Trent.”
He snorted, squeezed the handle and slid the door open.
The stacks were dark, save for a small bulb that illuminated the light switches – and even when Tara flipped these on, the rows and rows of books were only dimly lit.  The overhead fixtures hung down in hemispherical metal shades, grimy with dust.
Tara started walking, and Steven followed.  She studied the card in her hand, then began scanning the call numbers of each row she passed.  Suddenly she stopped and frowned.  "Did you hear something?"
Steven drew closer to her, then stopped, listening closely.  For a moment he thought she was imagining things; then, he heard it, too: a faint whispering sound.
"Maybe someone else is up here?"
"Maybe."  Tara held her breath for a moment – then exhaled and shook her head.  "Probably nothing.  Come on."
Seven rows in, she turned left between two bookcases.  It was even darker here.  Steven could barely make out the printing on the spines of the books.
Tara was apparently having trouble as well.  She leaned in close and squinted, looking back and forth from the dimly-lit spines to the list in her hand.  Then she folded the card in half and tore it in two.  She handed half to Steven.  “Here. If we both search, we’ll be out of here sooner, and probably save ourselves a hell of a lot of eyestrain.”
“I hear you.”
Together they scanned the shelves, pulling down books as they located them.  A few minutes later, with three books cradled in her arms, Tara turned to Steven.  “How are you doing?”
Steven, four books tucked under his left arm, was frowning at the numbers.  “I can’t find this last one.”
“Don’t worry about it; I couldn’t find two of mine.  Sometimes they’re just not here.  I think seven's a good start.”
They returned to the elevator and rode it, rattling all the way, back down to the first floor.  Tara went straight to the reading room, while Steven stopped at the counter to retrieve the articles that he had printed out.
The student on duty approached with a stack of pages, shaking his head.  "Dude, I'm sorry; our ink cartridge must be busted or something.  Funny – I thought that printer was black and white."  He handed the pages to Steven.
The articles were printed in red.
Tara Martin – exceptionally accomplished neurobiology major with a troubled past. Steven Trent – confident political science major with an irresistible attraction to Tara. Paul Stratton – history major who is able to hear spirits. Together, they make up the Society for Paranormal Researchers at their prestigious New England University. When they’re not in class or writing papers, the three friends are chasing their passion….ghosts.
When the group learns of a local retired couple trying to sell a house they claim is haunted, they decide to investigate. As the clues unfold, a familiar spirit interrupts their investigation and Tara finds her life in danger. Can her friends save her before it’s too late?
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Genre – YA paranormal, NA paranormal
Rating – PG-13
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