Title

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Tuesday, June 28, 2022

The Ghostwriter of New Orleans Laura Michaud

 


The Ghostwriter of New Orleans
Laura Michaud

Genre: YA, YA Paranormal
Publisher: Pelican/Arcadia Publishing
Date of Publication: 3/28/22
ISBN: 978-1455626243
ASIN: 1455626244
Number of pages: 192
Word Count: approx 55k

Cover Artist: Julie Buckner

Tagline: What if fate got it wrong this time?

Book Description: 

When a boy dies and becomes a ghost in his high school, he creates life-changing consequences for the entire student body when he communicates with his girlfriend by underlining passages in her favorite book in the library.  

But he finds that he also has a decision to make–accept his fate or take a dark path back and start a new life?

Amazon      BN     OctaviaBooks     Goodreads

Excerpt:

How many times have you forgotten to do something small? Shut a window before it rains? Take your phone with you? Do up a button on your shirt? Grab your homework on your way out the door? On the day that seals my fate, I forget to look over my shoulder.

Right before it happens everything is the same. I get the same rush of freedom that I always get in my stomach when I leave the school parking lot, hit the gas, and make a right turn onto St. Charles Avenue. The same line of live oak trees cast their tunnel of shadows over the street. I see their branches moving, so I turn the air conditioning off, roll my windows down, ignore the text messages blowing up my phone, and turn the Jimi Hendrix music (that I only listen to when I am by myself) way up. The sweat starts to pool up around the white collar of my school uniform, but the feeling of the wind across my face is totally worth it. What I do not know is that this is the last time I will ever do it.

I guess if you asked me what I do know for sure in those last moments I would say that I am a pretty fast runner, I am decent at guitar, and that Margot Cramer is the love of my life.


About the Author:

Laura Michaud grew up with her face in a book, so it was natural that she would spend some time in the publishing industry before becoming a children’s librarian and writer. A native of New York and New England, she has called the amazing city of New Orleans home since 2004. The Ghostwriter of New Orleans is her first novel.











Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Murder in the Neighborhood—the story of the first mass shooting in the US Ellen J. Green

 


Murder in the Neighborhood—the story of the first mass shooting in the US
Ellen J. Green

Genre: True Crime
Publisher: Thread Books, Hachette UK
Date of Publication: 4/28/2022
ISBN13: 9781909770706
Number of pages: 324
Word Count: 85k
Cover Artist: Thread books

Book Description: 

On 6 September 1949, twenty-eight-year-old Howard Barton Unruh shot thirteen people in less than twelve minutes on his block in East Camden, New Jersey. The shocking true story of the first recorded mass shooting in America has never been told, until now.

The sky was cloudless that morning when twelve-year-old Raymond Havens left his home on River Road. His grandmother had sent him to get a haircut at the barbershop across the street—where he was about to witness his neighbor and friend Howard open fire on the customers inside.

Told through the eyes of young Raymond, who had visited Howard regularly to listen to his war stories, and the mother trying to piece together the disturbing inner workings of her son’s mind, Murder in the Neighborhood uncovers the chilling true story of Howard Unruh, the quiet loner who meticulously plotted his revenge on the neighbors who shunned him and became one of America’s first mass killers.

Amazon     Audible     AppleBooks


Excerpt:

That September morning started much like any other. Camden, New Jersey, the sparkling little sister of Philadelphia, connected by the high arches of the Delaware River Bridge, was waking up to heat nearing the mid-seventies—by nine o’clock the humidity was sitting high above the city, waiting to descend.

Cramer Hill, a small section of Camden, bound by the Delaware River to the west, the Pavonia Train Yard to the east, State Street to the south and 36th Street to the north—a grid of streets twenty-four blocks long, and about five or six blocks wide contained within—was about to draw the focus of the world but nobody knew it, not that morning at nine o’clock.

River Road cut a swath through Cramer Hill where open-bay trucks rumbled through all day long, overloaded with tomatoes headed for the Campbell’s soup factory a few miles away. The clearly visible cargo was only held in place by wire mesh caging along the sides. The loud engine sounds called to children to get out of the street, to stand and watch, waiting for a tomato to break loose and fall into their small hands. They were often rewarded when a bump in the road threw a few of the greenish-red fruits into the street.

The smells of the river wafting in, the sounds of the boats, the hint of tomatoes cooking at Campbell’s, the smoke from the stacks of Eavenson and Sons soap factory a mile away—it was all there. But mostly it was the shoemaker’s pungent aroma of tannery oils, the lingering, savory fragrance from Latela’s Italian luncheonette on the corner, the endless din of Engel’s bar across the street, and the music that poured out of its doors after the sun went down that filled every home.

Five businesses shared one side of the small block—a cacophonic mix of a pharmacy, a barbershop, a cobbler, a tailor and a café. The other side only had two: a grocery and a bar. Most of the owners lived there, nestled in their small apartments above their establishments. They all knew each other well enough on that small stretch of River Road. Enough to pull a chair out onto the sidewalk on summer nights for a chat. Enough to get a drink at Engel’s now and again. Enough to keep an eye on things and on each other. But not one of them saw it coming. Not the Pilarchiks, the Hoovers, the Hamiltons, the Zegrinos or the Cohens. They’d safely shared that space together for years, but not one of them was spared. 

About the Author:

Ellen J. Green is the Amazon Charts bestselling author of the Ava Saunders novels (Absolution and Twist of Faith) and The Book of James. She attended Temple University in Philadelphia, where she earned her degrees in psychology, and has worked in the psychiatric ward of a maximum-security correctional facility for fifteen years. She also holds an MFA degree in creative writing from Fairleigh Dickinson University. Born and raised in Upstate New York, Ms. Green now lives in southern New Jersey with her two children.

Website https://ellenjgreen.com/

Twitter https://twitter.com/ejgreenbooks

Amazon Page https://amzn.to/3Hnikh2

Newsletter Sign Up https://ellenjgreen.com/newsletter/  






Surrogate for a Vampire Nina R Schluntz

 


Surrogate for a Vampire
Nina R Schluntz

Genre: Erotic Paranormal Romance 
Date of Publication: 5/10/2022
ISBN: 9798814059086
ASIN: B0B12RD9WQ
Number of pages:543
Word Count: 140,000

Book Description:

Every vampire has one goal- to find a surrogate human strong enough to birth their heir.

Surrogate for a Vampire spans three vampire love stories entangled around the fate of one man, who refuses to be a human, a traditional surrogate, or a vampire. 

Amazon


Excerpt

Jack and Quentin

This crazy fuck wasn’t getting the hint. Jack could barely see him since he’d leaped off the deck with that lighter-than-air shit that the vampires did. And now he was standing off in the shadows. And who was he trying to impress with that smooth jazz voice? Go join a damn poetry reading club and go away.

“If you even think of coming up here, I’ll punch you right in the jaw, and you’ll be drinking blood out of a sippy cup for the next month.” While speaking, Jack gently rapped his knuckle on the door, a sign to Teddy inside the trailer to get the gun and aim it squarely at the door. This wasn’t the first overeager dumb fuck vampire who had to be shot a few times with rock salt before they got the hint and left. Maddock had told him that as long as he didn’t kill anyone, they were welcome to do as they needed, including calling for the female vamp guards. But Jack hadn’t needed to do that yet and didn’t plan to.

Then, the guy was in front of him. Jack had blinked his eyes, and bam, there he was, standing less than a foot away and leering at Jack with those predatory blood-red eyes of a vampire. He hadn’t been able to get a good look at him before, but now he was in the porch light, and Jack’s stomach did a little fluttery kick.

Because this guy was actually hot.

His skin was buttery smooth like someone had spent hours sanding it to a perfect polish. And his black hair was in tiny little spikes, which made Jack wonder how much hair gel the guy had to use to get it to stay perfectly in place like it was. His pointy nose had a perfect edge, and Jack had to remind himself to breathe.

This was the kind of vampire that probably had humans throwing themselves at him and begging him to drink their blood. Jack had never seen one that looked as alluring as this one. Maddock was, of course, gross to anyone. Most men vampires were unappealing creatures who either did nothing to try to improve their looks or were just born ugly to the point of no hope of repair. It was like they’d crossbred with bats at some point in their lineage, and they were deformed fuckers thanks to their bestiality practicing grandpops. Now, the women vampires were a completely different matter. Most of those were turned vampires because the vampire men, being the assholes they were, only turned the hottest women they could find. But the women vampires weren’t interested in Jack. They were completely immune to his mojo. But the men, gah, he’d spent every night of his life beating the fuckers away since he’d hit puberty.

“Did you change your mind?” the vamp asked, his lip twisting in a slight smile. “I thought there was an impending danger if I came up here?”

He knew. He knew he was fucking hot, and that pissed Jack off.

“Right, yeah, I did. Sorry about that.” Jack took a step back, and the floorboard squeaked, giving

Teddy the sign that he was clear. The vampire turned his head to look at the door as if at the last second he’d heard something inside and knew he was fucked. The door exploded, and a mix of shrapnel from the door and rock salt from the 12 gauge shotgun slammed into the vampire’s chest. He was tossed off the deck and landed on the ground, on his back, right about where he had originally stood.

“Did I get ‘em?” Teddy asked. He pushed what remained of the door open. “Maddock’s gonna be pissed we need a new door.”

“What the hell?” Jeff shouted from inside. He shoved Teddy out of the way, wearing only his boxers. “What is going on?” He kicked some of the door bits aside and surveyed the situation.

“It’s another vampire,” Jack said. He ambled past them and grabbed a three-foot metal pipe from where it leaned against the steps as he descended. The pipe was coated in silver, a substance that burned vampire flesh.

He walked up to the vampire and stood over him, a leg on either side of the vampire’s hips. The bastard was dressed in black—a fitted shirt and slacks—and even had one of those capes on, not a long one, it was only halfway down his back. He saw a lot of vampires wear them, some stupid style thing. Even Maddock wore it.

“You should stay down,” Jack said. “Otherwise, I’ll use this pipe to knock some of those fangs out, and it will really be a shame if I have to mess up that pretty face.”

The vampire gave a few coughs and clutched at his shirt, which now had little holes in it. He didn’t see any blood, though, but the impact should have hurt and knocked the wind out of him, hopefully, the fight too.

“Jack, maybe you shouldn’t get so close,” Teddy warned. Teddy was three times Jack’s age and knew more about vampires than any other human Jack knew. The waver in his voice as he spoke the words made Jack wonder why he was suddenly being cautious.

“I’ll just give him one smack for good measure,” Jack said. He lifted the pipe over his shoulder, and his world was suddenly turned upside down as the vampire grabbed his calf and yanked him off his feet.

He heard Jeff shout his name right as his head impacted the ground with a smack. He landed on his back but managed to keep his grip on the pipe. He saw a flash of black cloth and felt two hot pricks on his neck.

Fangs.

The fucker was biting him!

Soddenfeld and Leoquin

“I believe I owe you an apology,” Lord Leoquin said. His finger trailed across Soddenfeld’s forehead. He jerked awake, realizing he was lying on one of the cots inside the medical tent. An IV ran in his arm, likely giving him nothing more than fluids. He knew their supplies of nearly everything medicine-wise was low.

“Ah, it’s fine. It was my mistake.” He tried to sit up, but his head throbbed a bit.

“You’ve been asleep for two nights,” the vampire corrected. “I believe that is my fault.”

“I was the one who tried to treat you when I knew the rules said not to, and then we missed the call to retreat and—” The vampire put his fingers across Soddenfeld’s lips to silence him.

“I drank from you without consent. For that, I apologize and wish to compensate you. Name your price.” He removed his finger, but Soddenfeld wished he hadn’t.

“It’s war. Things happen. It's fine. Really.”

“A debt must be repaid, Dr. Soddenfeld. If you refuse to tell me what you desire, then I shall deposit funds into your—”

“No, I don’t want your money.” He did manage to sit up this time and almost regretted it as he saw a glimmer of angst on the vampire’s face. This vampire was in a class above him, and he’d just interrupted him, and he was refusing his payment. Rude on top of rude, good job, Soddenfeld.

“I nearly killed you.” The vampire leered closer, putting his face dangerously close to his. “The other facts involved are trivial.”

“Sex.” He spoke the word and couldn’t believe he had. The vampire’s silence indicated he was as surprised by the confession as he was. “I’m sorry, that was inappropriate. I’ve been told by nearly every person I’ve tried to date that I’m a sex addict masquerading as…I don’t know. I have excuses, but I shouldn’t have said that. I—”

The vampire put his fingers to his lips again. “Never be ashamed of what you are. Come to my tent when you are feeling better, and I shall endeavor to repay you to your satisfaction.”

The man pulled his hand back and stepped away from Soddenfeld’s cot. “You’re serious? You’ll have sex with me?”

“Am I the first vampire to accept your proposal?” He continued to back away as Soddenfeld nodded. “Intriguing.”

He left the tent, and Soddenfeld still couldn’t believe what he’d asked, nor the response he’d gotten.

Tessa and D’eclat

Tessa walked up the staircase, grateful that today was Klara’s turn to be with Azul. Someone brushed her shoulder as they passed, and she stumbled. The same person who had bumped her grabbed her shoulder to steady her.

“We seem to have this problem,” D’eclat said. “At least you were not carrying anything this time.”

“My apologizes.” She took a step away from the vampire as he dropped his hand. “I shall try to be more aware of my surroundings.”

“No need. We are leaving today. We’ll not cross paths again until Lady Azul comes to the castle for the wedding.” His tone didn’t sound thrilled by any of the news he announced.

“I thought you were staying for a week.”

“I found there to be no point.”

“What of Yuentin? He was looking forward to your mentoring.”

“I cannot stay.”

“Why?” It wasn’t until he gave her a stern look that she realized she’d pried more than her status allowed.

“I am a king. I am accustomed to taking what I want. However, there are things within these walls that do not belong to me. I fear if I stay here for any significant amount of time, my ability to restrain myself will falter, and I will take that which is not mine. I do not wish to be the kind of king who steals from other lords.”

“I am certain that whatever resides here, that you want, Lord Jaspar would give you. He wants nothing more than to please you.”

“It is not Lord Jaspar that I want to please.”

“Then Lady Azul—”

He turned from her, uttering an animalistic grunt of disgust. “Goodbye, Miss Tessa.”

She watched his folded wings twitch in agitation as he went, and she knew Jaspar would have all their heads if he saw the Vampire Potentate leave like this.

“Wait, please, if someone has offended you.” She rushed to catch up with him, not expecting him to stop. She collided with his wings, which were warmer than she expected. He grabbed her wrist to stop her fall.

“I am beginning to believe this is intentional,” he said, pushing her to the wall so if she fell, she would have it to grab. “I must leave.” His voice wavered as he said it, and his red eyes looked at her with something akin to hunger. He turned, and she did not follow this time. She remained on the steps until she heard the slam of the house’s main door and Jaspar’s angry shout. She walked into the foyer mid-rant.

“—didn’t even get her to see him. What do I say? Who insulted him? Why?” Jaspar slammed his foot to the ground, his chest heaving. He looked around at those who were gathered. “He said something happened in the kingdom that required his attention, but I don’t believe it. If I find out which of you spurred him to leave.” His eyes fell upon Azul. “I know I promised to take care of you like you’re my sister because we share the same mother.” He shook his head. “Seriously, you couldn’t do this one thing?”



About the Author: 

Nina Schluntz is a native to rural Nebraska. In her youth, she often wrote short stories to entertain her friends. Those ideas evolved into the novels she creates today.

Her husband continues to ensure her stories maintain a touch of realism as she delves into the science fiction and fantasy realm. Their three cats are always willing to stay up late to provide inspiration, whether it is a howl from the stray born in the backyard or an encouraging bite from the so called “calming kitten.”

You can find Nina at:








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Tuesday, June 21, 2022

Forbidden Rendezvous with the Devil Dark Lore Vampire Conspiracies

 


Forbidden Rendezvous with the Devil
Dark Lore Vampire Conspiracies 
Book One
Isra Sravenheart 

Genre: Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Isra Sravenheart
Date of Publication:  11/5/2022
ISBN: 979-8410497251 
ASIN: B09M61Y4HN 
Number of pages: 217
Word Count: 64.940
Cover Artist: RJ creatives 

Tagline: Trust me. Actually don't. This forbidden rendezvous could cost Sabine her life.

Book Description: 

Sabine Nevemone has just moved to the small quaint town of Gloomvale to start a new life after being dumped by narcissistic boyfriend Oliver Rein.

Sabine has landed herself a job at Bad Brews coffee house, where she is working for the handsome rogue Tristan Roseblood. A mysterious handsome devilish vampire who always gets what he desires.

At first, Sabine could not believe her luck that she’s gotten a job so fast but things in Gloomvale aren't all they seem. Tristan is a powerful man and he knows it.

Sabine is reluctant to comply when Tristan forces her to come on an errand with him, which almost results in both her and Tristan getting killed because an old enemy catches up with Tristan. Tristan patches Sabine up telling her she’s in a very dangerous world and it would be best if she got out of town for her own sake. Sabine refuses to leave. This proves to be a fatal mistake on her part.

“You can’t get close to me. Get out while you can. I’m not a good match for a sweet thing like you. Trust me. Actually, don’t.” He warns her.

The only trouble is now Sabine is in too deep. She’s falling for him. Hard. But when Tristan rebuffs Sabine and she falls straight into his mysterious brother Laurence’s arms, it can only spell disaster for all concerned. Sabine then gets herself in real trouble when she's bitten on her way home. Will Tristan find her in time or will she die alone?

USA Today Best-Selling Author Isra Sravenheart brings us into the intense world of Tristan Roseblood. A vampire with a dark past only trouble is when Sabine stumbles into it, she too becomes entwined in his chaos. A paranormal romance jam-packed with suspense and intrigue and two charming vampires to boot.


Excerpt:
            Sabine

A new day. A new dawn. I'm Sabine, and I'm all alone here in this secluded wilderness. Gloomvale. A quaint little town that I've just moved to because, quite honestly, I had no other choice. My delightful ex-boyfriend Oliver took great pleasure in humiliating me, and let's face it, he reveled in it. It was absolutely enthralling to him. All because he'd discovered I am a witch. But here's the clincher. I'm not even that good at it. I barely know even the most basic spells. I'm terrible at making potions. I truly suck at mixing up herbs to create tinctures, and as for my despicable failure at casting love spells… let's not even go there, okay?

I’ve done this more than once. I’d never attempt it again. It was so stupid because I didn’t know what I was messing with. You know how you get that one big crush on someone who you know for a fact will virtually never date you? Yeah, well, that was the case with me and Oliver until I started weaving magic into the equation. And I get it right? Bad move. Yup, especially when he becomes a mega control freak who can’t handle things unless he’s in the know every three seconds.

I’m descended from a long line of witches and I should know better. But I'm a sucker for attention.. Heck, I fucked up. This wasn’t just the result of one spell. It was lots of little spells and while I admit I should have just allowed nature to take its course; I was really into Oliver and it sucked because he wasn’t really that invested in me. I was that dumb, naive, insecure girl that thought. He’ll play it cool. It won’t take much for him to come running over when I start throwing the right spell into the mix. Erm that was one of the craziest things a girl could ever say about a man. If he wants you then he’ll chase you until it kills him not to have you. I wish I’d taken the hint with Oliver, though, because I was determined to pursue him no matter what the cost. Which was only my self esteem and confidence being filtered out of me. But I guess what’s past is past right? After that, well, I left the magic stuff alone as I’d done enough damage.

Eventually we got to this level of a relationship where things were cool, almost simmering to steamy, with enraging tension that surged out every now and again, but it wasn’t ever romantic. We’d be casual. Dating, just not so much with the actual commitment aspect. Oliver didn’t want people to know about us. There would always be some kind of excuse. Like oh, my mother would frown upon it because of this or that. He’d come up with something to avoid us going public, so we had settled for this mundane life where I’d like to have thought we were happy but really we were skeltering over the edge. I really loved him, though, so I desperately did anything I could to hold onto the hope.

The point is I didn't ask for this, but Oliver made it so that there was no other way. He had shunned me, so the only alternative was for me to skedaddle and fast. Painquel wasn't the greatest village to live in. It had its faults. But the beach was stunning when a full moon rose and night delicately covered the midnight blue skies just enough so those tiny twinkling, silvery-white stars were visible above you. The people? Oh goodness me. Terrible. They just were the most mundane morons you could ever meet. Everyone was so focused on making ends meet and the latest goings-on with the government and this and that. It was just so pitiful, you know? The way humanity desperately clung to these mediocre things that didn't even mean anything was just baffling to me. I never really understood the way they documented their lives up to the last bagel and chai latte to try and prove to the world that they were living something that was worth it.

But I was the optimistic type. The spiritual one. Devoted to all that mindfulness stuff and making a go of it. Trying to be happy. Putting all my energy into making every moment count. Otherwise, what's the point? I'd been hiding my dark secret for years. Ever since I was around twelve years old, I'd known that I was a witch. It shouldn't have been this big dramatic secret, but unfortunately, it was. Give or take around eight generations. But witchcraft was in my family on  my great-grandmother’s side  who I'd never met but I had seen pictures of Geraldine. She lived during the first World War and was formally accused of witchcraft, so when Oliver had dramatically announced my deep secret to all who would listen, needless to say, I was a little freaked out. Thankfully the days of burning witches are long behind us, but here we are.

I was  about to start my first day properly living in Gloomvale. I was lucky. I managed to find an apartment and a job in the same week. You could say that it was miraculous, but stranger things have happened. I was a newbie in a secluded town cut off from the rest of civilization, so I was extremely blessed that Bad Brews Coffee was even hiring. But the boss was in dire need of someone to bake the cakes and pour the drinks as his last barista had vanished without a trace. I haven't met Tristan Roseblood yet, but apparently, he's quite the looker. Dangerously smart too. I envision him looking major dapper in a suit, but again, I only had my imagination to create just what he might be like. I’m rather adept at baking, having had to adjust to my own gluten intolerance. And so, I often conjured up tasty sweet treats designed to bewitch the eyes and tantalize those salivating taste buds. So when I found this quaint coffee house that was strictly gluten-free, I had to chuckle because the chances were one in a million. Seriously, everything is vegan these days. It's like a plague. I know people are health conscious, but damn that's just a little extreme for my tastes.

Ten o'clock in the morning. Friday. I've downed the last of my lukewarm coffee. I've tied my deep red mahogany hair into a tight bun. Hey, it brings out the green in my eyes. I'm getting ready to walk out the door and take the ten-minute stroll to Bad Brews, where I'll finally get to meet Tristan. The walk isn't terribly unpleasant, and the sun is gently shining down, which is ironic for October, but an Indian summer is promising. Finally, I get to the bend just down the road, where the large cherry blossom tree stands just beyond Bad Brews.

I'm about to walk in through that blood-red door. This Tristan guy must have eccentric tastes. As I walk through the red door, I am surrounded by dark violet walls and bright white lights that are almost too much for me to handle.

It's like something out of a hospital room. You'd think with the boldness of the red that he'd have simmered down when it came to the lighting. I was staring over at the jet black and purple tables and chairs when suddenly I spotted him out of the corner of my eye.

He's smirking at me from behind the counter. He really was as devilish as I expected. A sharp black tailored suit jacket and trousers, probably Armani, a white shirt with the collar raised up slightly, and a dark blue tie hanging loose around his neck. His dark brown, almost black, hair is delicately tucked behind his ears as his sideburns distract me while I find my gaze locked into those bewildering dark brown eyes of his. They are like dark chocolate, but inside there's a shade of blackness within them as though he's not quite what he seems. A little bit of a dark side, but what's new? We've all got one of those. I resist the urge to say something as I don't want to speak out of turn. After all, this is my new boss, and I want this day to go off without a hitch. If such a thing is possible.

“Finally. You are here. I was starting to get worried for a moment.” Tristan scowled at me as he stood impatiently waiting for me to take the initiative. “Oh, you're not sure what you're supposed to be doing? Girl. I'll have a coffee. Three sugars. Black as my soul,” he orders as he steps back, waving his hand towards the coffee machine, indicating that I need to go over to it and get going. I reluctantly force a smile, thinking, Oh God, he's arrogant, as I plant myself in front of the machine, grabbing some coffee beans and placing them inside before I switch on that magnificent red button that's beaming at me like a beacon.


About the Author:  

Isra is an eccentric author whose heart resides with the dark fantasy but also the paranormal genres. Cats and coffee are her main interests. She's also a pretty badass witch and often envisions new adventures involving dragons, witches, warlocks and really likes villains.

https://amzn.to/3zqkL0n

https://linktr.ee/israsravenheart

https://twitter.com/ISravenheart

https://israsravenheartblog.wordpress.com/

https://www.bookbub.com/authors/isra-sravenheart

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Boondocks: An Asian Evil Apocalyptic Thriller Survive the Doom Book One Jaydeep Shah

 


Boondocks: An Asian Evil Apocalyptic Thriller
Survive the Doom
Book One  
Jaydeep Shah

Genre: Apocalyptic Thriller
Publisher: Rage Publishing
Date of Publication: June 9, 2022
ISBN:9781734982657 (eBook)
ISBN: 9781734982664 (Paperback) 
ISBN:9781734982619 (Hardback)
ASIN:B096WRWG1D
Number of pages:383 pages
Word Count: 74,668 words
Cover Artist: bookcoverzone.com

Book Description:

They believe it is only about defeat and escape.

Little do they know; it is something more than that. It is about the rise of the dead and the world’s destruction.

Lost in the desert of Rajasthan, India, Rahul and Elisa learn the truth about a wicked wizard named Dansh and some enchanters performing resurrection rituals.

Though they try to stop him, Dansh knows black magic and they find him a challenging adversary. Even worse than him, Rahul and Elisa soon discover that the churel named Dali has returned. Soon, the King of the Underworld, an immortal rakshasa named Sekiada, will make his way to the earth with the force of his thousands of fallen angels to conquer the world.

Rahul and Elisa must find a way to stop them and save humanity.

Terror inflames the nation. The country’s best commando, Aarav Singh, and the best local police officer, Arjun Rawat, reach the city’s border near the desert with the force of gifted soldiers to commence battle against evil. They turn the border into a battlefield to prevent the demons from entering the city.

The apocalypse is struggling to reach its highest peak as the Asian evils slowly spread across the nation: churels, rakshasas, pishachas, daayans, shaitans, and many more hair-raising bloodshed lovers.

Rahul must find a way to murder the immortals: the wicked wizard, the king of the Underworld, and the strongest churel of all time, and Elisa must gather her own courage to battle the demons, especially one of the immortals, to prove women are not weak.

Welcome to the world of horror, where the characters play games of deceit and betrayal to achieve their goals, and the demons enjoy slaughtering the humans.

The end is near. Or it’s just the beginning!? Dare to witness the apocalypse, but only if you are comfortable with bloodbath and barbarity.


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CHAPTER ONE

The Present

The white Mahindra Scorpio Jeep ran along the deserted road. Rahul kept his foot glued to the accelerator as he followed the route to Jaisalmer under the clear blue sky and the burning sun. His and Elisa’s cellphones had lost signal, so Elisa, his girlfriend, was directing him using the paper map. It had been three hours, and Rahul had been driving without a pause. So far, they had only had a sandwich they bought in a restaurant near Nathdwara that morning. Their stomachs lurched now, craving food.

“I’m hungry as hell,” said Elisa.

“There must be a restaurant or something coming up soon,” said Rahul, and just then, his eyes fell upon a building on the right side of the road that looked like a restaurant. It was about fifteen feet away from the road in the desert. He accelerated, and the engine roared. Slowly, they came to a halt near the building.

Rahul lowered the window and read, “Manu Da Dhaba.”

“Mənu Də Dhabə!” Elisa said, pronouncing the words correctly, tilting her head, and squinting at the name on the vinyl awning.

“Would you like to go here?” he asked, unsure whether she liked spicey food. He had heard from his parents that Dhaba food was delicious, even better than five-star restaurants and hotels in the cities. But his and Elisa’s relationship was only eight months old, and he had never heard her mention Indian food before. In the United States, they spent their time in Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, and American restaurants like Red Lobster.

Elisa gently pushed him back into the seat so she could get a closer look and asked, “What does this mean?”

“Manu Da Dhaba,” he answered. “An eating house.”

Elisa licked her lips. “I’m hungry as hell. I’m going in.” She unbuckled herself and jumped out of the Jeep, running toward the eating house, her brown Michael Kors’ Nouveau Hamilton purse hanging on her shoulder.

“Hey! Wait for me,” he shouted, hanging his head out of the window.

“I’m sorry. I can’t,” she shouted, laughing, as she entered the dhaba; Rahul grinned as he pushed his head back and murmured. “Alright, girl. Let’s see what you order!”

Hesaw a board indicating that the parking lot was behind the building, so he drove around and parked up. He fixed his hair, looking in the rear-view mirror. When he was satisfied with his appearance, he stepped out and entered the dhaba through the backdoor.

“So—” He stopped as he found Elisa sitting on a chair at a round table, gaping at their map. He was alarmed to see that it was covered in water. The map was their only solution to reach Jaisalmer and explore more Rajasthan cities, but it was now drowned. A metal water jug, now empty, lay next to it.

“What did you do?”He asked in a blend of shock and panic, still staring at the map.

Elisa startled and looked up at him. Worried, she stood up from the chair, shifting her distressed gaze from him to the map and back. “I’m sorry. I was marking a few more places we need to visit. But I accidentally nudged the jug and spilled water all over it. I’m so, so, so sorry.” Her eyes were almost wet with tears.

He swiftly grabbed her in his arms and tried to calm her down, patting her head, “No worries, and my dear. I’m sorry for the way I reacted. We’ll find another map. I’ll ask someone here.”

“I hope you’re not upset with me,” she said.

“Not at all. It’s humans’ error to make errors,” he said. “I could have done this as well. It’s just a mistake. Don’t worry. I love you.” He smiled.

“You’re so sweet,” she said, tightening the hug for a fraction of a second. “I’m glad to have you in my life. I love you, too.” Her worried face glimmered with a smile.

Rahul kissed her on the head.

Still in their hug, Rahul looked around and saw a young couple, only a few years older than them, exiting from the back door.

“I’ll be back in a moment,” he said, making to walk after the couple, but at that moment a young server wearing a white shirt—not tucked into his khaki pants—arrived to serve the food Elisa had already ordered. On seeing the spilled water, he pointed to the next table and said, “Excuse me, could you please move over here? I’ll clean this up.”

At his words, Rahul stopped. He must have a map. “Thank you,” said Elisa in a soft voice, giving a quick appreciative smile.

They moved to the next table and waited for him to serve the food.

“What’s your name?” asked Rahul as he placed the bowl of sabji and a plate of two Garlic Butter Naans down.

“Bhim,” he answered, now setting up the dishes for them.

“From Mahabharat, an ancient Indian epic?” joked Rahul, smiling. The waiter chuckled as he served them Garlic Butter Naan.

Rahul cleared his throat in hesitation. He looked at Elisa and then the waiter. “Could you please do me a favor?” he asked after a moment.

“It’ll be my pleasure.”

“Could you please arrange a map for us?”

Elisa’s face flushed with embarrassment.

Bhim was holding a serving spoon halfway over the bowl, the orange-color Paneer Sabjiwithin ready to be poured onto their plates, and he glanced at the wet map on the previous table. It had become so wet that it would fall to pieces if he tried to pick it up. “I could try.”

He served the sabji and then left the table, leaving the bowl there for them to serve themselves more if they wished.

“You knew what to order?” asked Rahul, wanting to change the subject to divert Elisa’s attention from what she had done to the map.

“My boyfriend is an Indian guy, so I know a little about Indian food.”

Rahul smiled; his plan was working. He could feel it in her excited voice.

“Oh, really?” he said, “but I don’t remember hearing anything about Indian food from you.”

“That’s because you never talked about it, even though I love talking about your culture,” said Elisa. “You turned yourself into a complete American. You always want boiled vegetables, eggs, Buffalo wings, chocolate chip cookies, cheeseburgers, and so on. It was completely fine for me that we didn’t eat Indian food together, because I was waiting for the right moment to surprise you.”

“Wow!” said Rahul, and gulped down a bite. “When did you learn all this?” He hummed. “I must say you do surprise me. I find it amusing, fabulous, and fantastic.”

Elisa let out a quick laugh.

“I’m glad to hear that,” she said. “I learned to cook some dishes from YouTube,” she added, tearing the naan with her fingers and dipping it into the sabji, “the revolutionary platform of entertainment and education.”

“Sounds great!”

Bhim returned and interrupted them, “I’m sorry, sir.”Rahul and Elisa looked up at him expectantly. “I’m sorry. I couldn’t find a map.”

“You have no map?” asked Rahul in shock. He believed employees of any dhaba would usually keep maps, just like any restaurant or hotel would, especially if it was at a deserted place like this.

“I asked my boss, the proprietor, and he tried to find one but could retrieve none.”

“Are you sure?” asked Elisa before Rahul could say something, using a smooth flirty voice, a broad smile on her face.

“I’m sure, ma’am,” said Bhim, his tone slightly changed. It was as if Elisa’s voice melted his heart somewhat and made him feel shy.

“Please find one for me,” insisted Elisa, her voice now completely sensual, her smile so damn cute, and her gaze completely alluring as she played with her hair.

All the while, Rahul remained silent. He knew what she was trying to do. She was attempting to lure the waiter to do her bidding.

Bhim’s lips quivered and he looked down at the floor, not able to manage to look at Elisa anymore, perhaps finding it hard to release his words. Anyone could have fallen for her. Even as her boyfriend, Rahulhad to stop himself from kissing her at that moment.

“I-I’m so-sorry, ma’am,” he stuttered in hesitancy. “We really don’t have any map.”

Elisa looked at Rahul, chewing her lip.

He sensed her disappointment. “Let me try,” he told her, speaking by moving his lips in a way that didn’t let out any words. It was a common trick he used with Elisa when playing games with their friends or in any situation where they didn’t want another to hear their words.

Rahul shifted his look to Bhim.

“Even if you have one map that you can’t give us to take, please let me look at it,” Rahul asked, suspecting that Bhim might be lying. Perhaps they needed it for themselves. “I’ll take a picture of it on my cell phone and return it to you guys.”

“I’m extremely sorry, sir.”Bhim looked at Rahul with his face dropped, finding himself helpless. “We have no map.”

He walked away before they could continue.

Rahul couldn't eat anymore as he had satisfied his stomach, and Elisa seemed to have finished too, leaving some food on her plate. Perhaps she was also full, or perhaps she was just distressed. They just stared at each other with worry. Neither had an idea how they’d reach Jaisalmer.

For a moment, Rahul thought about going back to Nathdawara the way they came, but he didn’t remember the way. I could have asked that couple. Then, I would at least have map’s picture in my phone.

“Shit!”

“I’m sorry,” Elisa said.

“It’s not you,” said Rahul. He didn’t want to make her upset or cry. “I was just thinking that I should have gone after that couple.”

“We can check if they’re still outside.”

“They left over forty-five minutes ago. I don’t think they’d be outside still.”

“Let’s test our luck!”

Rahul left the dhaba, and Elisa rushed out after him after leaving some rupees on the table, believing it also included some tip for Bhim.

Both stood at the back door and scanned the parking lot, but the couple had already left in their car, the evidence being the stripes on the sand going away toward the asphalt.

 

* * *

 

The sun was heading back toward its home as the night approached. The Jeep was still racing even after four hours of driving. Miles and miles they went, but only the desert was visible around them. There was not a trace of hope of them reaching their destination. The route seemed to be secluded; not even one car passed them. In the middle of the colossal desert, the Jeep seemed like a rat running around in the middle of nowhere, trying to find something to feed its stomach.

“Where are we?” asked Elisa. “Oh, damn God! I should have been more careful.”

“Hopefully, we will reach Jaisalmer soon, if I have mysteriously caught the correct route.”

“I feel miserable. I’m extremely sorry for my silly error,” said Elisa.

“It could also have been me.” Rahul glanced over at her, and then he fixed his vision back on the road.

When his eyes captured something in the distance, he accelerated in excitement.

The car slowly came to a halt near a timber frame sign board. He lowered the window and read, slightly craning his head out to see: KENDRAA VILLAGE.

He was surprised at finding a village in the desert. He looked at Elisa, who seemed to be thinking the same thing.

Narrowing her eyes as if she were thinking something deeply before letting the words out of her mouth, Elisa said, “I don’t think I saw this village on the map.”

“Are you sure?” asked Rahul.

Elisa looked at the board, then down, as if she was trying to recall the map on her knees.  “Yes. I’m pretty sure this village wasn’t on the map.”

“If that’s the case,” said Rahul, “it maybe an abandoned village, so we might not find help. But there’s a better chance to try there than wait for someone on the open road.” He looked at the dashboard and his eyes widened in dismay as he noticed the fuel gauge. “We’re running out of fuel,” he sighed and shook his head.

“We better find someone here!” said Elisa, her voice full of concern.

Rahul looked up at her, then out at the colossal dry landscape. They were in the middle of nowhere, where human essentials could be barely found.

He exited the car, and Elisa followed after him.

“I hope we find kind people here,” said Rahul, standing with Elisa at the edge of the asphalt, trying to get a clear look of the place. Their eyes were fixed in the distance, about a thousand feet away, where the hundreds of small triangle-shaped huts stood peacefully.

“That’s so negative, Rahul. Can’t you think we will find kind people?” she asked. “Be positive, honey.” She stroked his hair, but his worried gaze was shifting around, careful of any danger.

“My grandma used to tell me to stay alert, especially when you accidentally find yourself somewhere where you shouldn’t be,” he said. He instinctually took out his cell phone from his jeans pocket. As he did so, he accidentally pulled out a locket along with it. It fell onto his shoes.

Elisa bent down and picked it up. She ran her fingers over the pendant. It was made of diamonds. “Wow! So beautiful.” She gazed at him and asked, “Where did you get it from? And when?”

“It’s a long story,” said Rahul. “I’ll tell you another day.”

“No. Please tell me now. We have nothing to do here.”

“All right,” said Rahul. “In brief, my grandma gave me this locket to keep me protected from negative energies like ghosts and spirits.”

Elisa hummed. “My boyfriend needs protection from things that don’t exist,” she chuckled.

“It’s not funny!” defended Rahul, unlocking his cell phone.

“Whatever!”

In every place Rahul had visited in Rajasthan in the past two days eating pizzas and sandwiches, he had seen people raising their cell phone in the air to catch signal, and it seemed to work for some of them. And so, Rahul decided to give it a try.

“What’re you doing?”

“Trying to catch the network,” he replied, “to call the police for help.”

“Seems like you now want to become a complete Indian,” she chuckled, looking at him as he struggled to extend his hand high enough.

After a few seconds, Rahul frowned. Still no signal.

“Stop stressing, honey,” said Elisa. “We’re wanderers. Let’s explore this place, and we’ll find someone to help us. At the same time, you can take photographs for our Instagram account, and I’ll shoot a video for my YouTube channel.”

“We don’t know whether this place is safe or not. I hate haunted and strange places. I only visited Bhangarh Fort yesterday because you wanted to,” said Rahul. Suddenly, his eyes fixed on the locket in Elisa’s hands. “Give me that, please.”

“No. I’m throwing it away,” mocked Elisa.

“Please don’t tease me, babe,” said Rahul. “Please give it to me. I don’t want to lose it and then go crazy; feeling like a ghost will haunt me.”

“Don’t cry, my baby boy,” said Elisa, laughing. “Here it is,” she said, extending her arm.

Rahul took the locket from her hand, and as he was putting it back into his pocket, an orotund voice came from behind, “Do you need help?”

Both spun around to see an old man standing right in front of them. He was wearing a black cloak and holding a long wooden stick as if it were a cane; the right side of his face was burned, and he was suffering from camptocormia—a medical term that Rahul knew, thanks to one of his good friends who was a doctor. Every time, he spoke to this friend, Rahul learned a new medical word, one of which was camptocormia: a bent spine.

Looking directly into Rahul’s eyes and then shifting his look to Elisa, the man said once more, “Do you need help?”

Elisa grasped Rahul’s hand; her gaze fixed on the man. Rahul’s lips quivered as he tried to speak. The stranger’s sudden appearance and his strange appearance had troubled him for a moment.

However, suppressing his feelings, Rahul finally asked, “Who are you?”

The man kept his blank stare locked on his. Elisa tightened her hold on Rahul’s hand.

The man’s silence somewhat bothered him, and before the man could introduce himself, Elisa whispered, “Why on earth did we have to encounter this creepy guy?”

Panicked thoughts were rushing through Rahul’s head. Is he a bandit? Is he here to loot us and kill us?

Rahul and Elisa stared at each other, and Elisa edged back, trying to hide behind him, believing Rahul could protect her. Rahul remained standing in place, looking out the corner of his eyes to verify whether any more people, partners of this man, were standing around them, blocking their way of escape. When he saw no one, he focused on the man and waited for his reply, trying to suppress his fright.

Elisa remained half visible behind Rahul, her worried eyes also fixed on the man, her fear escalating.

“Pardon me if I scared you,” said the man, observing the expressions on their faces. “I didn’t mean to.”

Rahul and Elisa stayed quiet and continued listening.

“I’m Dansh,” said the man after a short pause. “It seems like you lost the path.”Dansh smiled. “I know I look a little creepy because of my burned face. That is what bothers you and many other people, I can understand. My look generates a ball of fear inside other people.”

Rahul and Elisa glanced at each other.

“Trust me, sir,” said Dansh. “I have met many like you. Lost wanderers. And you don’t have to worry about anything. I’m a guide here. I could help you explore this place if you want, or I could show you a path back to the city.”

Elisa ceased her grip on Rahul’s hand. It was although, inexplicably, she suddenly felt light and free. I can’t judge him just because of his face, she thought.Now that she had heard something sweet from Dansh, something that could help them reach their destination, she wasn’t afraid anymore.

“I’m sorry,” said Elisa. “We didn’t mean to insult you. We just weren’t expecting anyone else to here. I believe there is a tragic history behind your scars.”

Dansh nodded. “It happened when I was a kid.”

“My commiseration is with you.” Elisa pursed her lips.

Rahul still was looking at Dansh suspiciously. His grandma used to tell him Trust everyone, but not blindly’. However, Rahul felt that he had a valid reason to not trust Dansh: he was a stranger, a stranger with a harrowing physique and a burned face, just like how the horror movies presented villains. And as you often learn in movies, it was often the kind, helpful person you later found out was the villain. “Do you want to explore the place, Rahul?” asked Elisa.

Rahul glanced at her and then fixed his gaze on Dansh. Then, with no agitation in his spirited voice, he said, “It will be great if you just show us the way back to the city.”

“I know I can’t force you to explore the village,” said Dansh. “But it will be my pleasure if you do so.” He paused for a moment. “I will accept whatever you will give me in payment.”

“Please give a moment while we decide, sir?” Elisa said as she took Rahul aside near the car. “Tell me the truth,” she said, looking at his face. Rahul was looking at the huts in the distance. “You think he’s a sinner?”

Rahul locked his eyes with hers. After a short pause, he sighed and peeked at Dansh. Then, as if he had mastery in reading people, he said, “He’s a crook. I can bet.”

Elisa peeked at Dansh, who was also looking away at the desert in the distance. “No doubt he looks scary because of his appearance. I was also scared. But we can’t judge him by his looks. He’s an aged person. He’s trying to earn some money, showing his village to the lost travelers.” She waited for Rahul’s reaction, but he stayed quiet. “Please. Let’s explore the place.” When she tried to take Rahul’s hand, he let her take it, and she folded her fingers over his. “For me. Please.”

Rahul continued looking at her. He knew they had little choice but to accept his help. They were lost; it was getting late, and they had no idea where to go. After a brief pause, he sighed. “All right. Just for you.”

Elisa gave him a quick kiss on the cheek. Rahul smiled, looking at her contented face. Then he shifted his gazebo Dansh. His smile disappeared. “I don’t think I can trust this guy, though.”

“I believe you will learn to!” said Elisa. She turned and stepped back toward Dansh, grinning. “We would like to explore the village with you, please.”

A broad smile appeared on Dansh’s face. “It’s my pleasure. I will also arrange a place for you to stay for the night.”

“Wait,” said Rahul. “We could give you only 5000 rupees for tonight. We’ll leave tomorrow early morning.”

“That’s fine,” said Dansh as he extended his hand. Rahul took out the money from his wallet and handed it over.

Dansh securely put the money in his cloak’s pocket. Then he walked ahead of them. “Let’s go,” he said, his gaze fixed on the sand.

Elisa and Rahul followed as he continued to walk toward the village, Elisa’s thoughts filled with enthusiasm at how she could create a vlog on this place, and Rahul’s with concern and doubts about Dansh.

I hope he’s not a sinner, butchering people as you see in some horror films.

I hope he’s not a wizard performing dark magic to sacrifice people to bring something to life.

Whatever it is, I just hope we at least get a chance to escape.


About the Author:

Jaydeep Shah is an avid traveler and a multi-genre author. As a bachelor’s degree holder in Creative Writing, he aims to entertain as many as people he can with his stories. He is best known for Tribulation, the first book in the “Cops Planet” series.

In addition to those books, The Shape-Shifting Serpents’ Choice, Jaydeep’s first young adult flash fiction written under his pen name, JD Shah, is published online by Scarlet Leaf Review in the July 2019 issue. Currently, he’s endeavoring to write a debut young adult fantasy novel while working on a sequel to his first apocalyptic thriller, Havoc.

When Shah is not writing, he reads books, tries new restaurants, and goes on adventures.










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