Ration Book Tour & Giveaway

Ration by Cody T. Luff Genre: Horror

Set in the far future, Ration is an unflinching take on the ways society can both thrive and go wrong as pressure to survive builds. All the girls who live in the Apartments are forced to weigh their own hunger against the lives of the others living in the building. When Cynthia is wrongly accused of ordering an “A” ration, she punished by the other girls. Eventually, she is forced to leave the Apartments along with Ms. Glennoc, one of the former managers who has tormented and abused her for years. Together, they encounter a world of even more scarcity, but one filled with politics and intrigue. Cynthia struggles to return to the Apartments and help the girls who are still there. Forced to reconcile her role in the destruction of these girls with the greater needs of society to find any sustainable source of calories, Ms. Tuttle makes one bad decision after another while she grapples with a mother who is growing more and more impatient with her mistakes. Ration is a dark and forceful book, written in a surprisingly nuanced and accessible way. It combines the darkness and despair of The Road and The Handmaid’s Tale, but has notes of charm like Lauren Oliver’s Replica. Add to GoodreadsAmazon * B&N

Cody T Luff’s forthcoming novel, Ration, will be released by Apex Book Company in 2019. Cody’s stories have appeared in Pilgrimage, Cirque, KYSO Flash, Menda City Review, Swamp Biscuits & Tea, and others. He is fiction winner of the 2016 Montana Book Festival Regional Emerging Writers Contest. He served as editor of an anthology of short fiction with twelve contributors titled Soul’s Road. Cody teaches at Portland Community College and works as a story editor. He completed an intensive MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. Cody grew up listening to stories in his grandfather’s barber shop as he shined shoes, stories told to him at bedsides and on front porches, deep in his father’s favorite woods, and in the cabs of pickup trucks on lonely dirt roads. Cody’s work explores those things both small and wondrous that move the soul, whether they be deeply real or strikingly surreal. Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Goodreads

Cynthia stops eating after the scream finally trails off. The power is still out, and the
smell of her B-ration hangs meaty and dense in the still air of her Apartment. She’s cross-legged
on the rug in the kitchen, her naked feet white even in the darkness.
A deep glubbing sound burbles in the wall; someone flushes a toilet above her. She
swallows and winces as B-ration bits stick to her throat. She waits a moment more, allowing
even the biologic gurgle of the building’s plumbing to quiet before she forks another mouthful
from the plastic ration pouch. Third floor, she thinks. Scream is on the third floor, still above,
just not far above.
After she finishes the last of her ration, the power hisses to life, the ceiling fan jerks to a
spin, the fluorescents in the kitchen click to life, and the little radio she keeps by the bathroom
door retches static. Cynthia stands slowly, her stomach begging her for another ration even as it
disagrees with what she’s given it.
“That’s what we have,” she says. “Hang on to it.”
The door bangs, a flat palm in the hallway slapping the thin wood. Cynthia freezes, finger
covering her mouth.
“Cinnie?”
Cynthia hiccups, belches softly, and sags where she stands. Imeld. Of course, it’s Imeld.
“Cinnie, did you hear that one?”
“Just a second.” Cynthia scuffs her barefoot way to the door, one hand pressed to the flat
of her belly. She pulls the sliding latch and chain, stepping away as Imeld slips into the
Apartment.
“I’m pretty sure that was on the third floor, right? You heard that one, right?” Imeld takes
Cynthia’s hand immediately, her cold fingers like water.
“I heard it,” Cynthia says. She closes the door with her free hand and slides the latch. “I
would say the third floor, too.”
Imeld is small, even for the Apartments. Dark hair that riots away from her brown face in
startled waves. “I don’t know anyone on the third floor. Well, not really. I know Mei and Shuvo,
but …” Imeld pulls her hand away, frowning. She brings her fingers to her nose. “You were
eating,” she says.
Cynthia stands motionless. She does not meet Imeld’s eyes, instead studying her friend’s
stockinged feet. Imeld is wearing the red pair, one brown heel completely nude and wreathed in
worn threads, almost like curled springs. “Yes.”
Imeld does not speak, she doesn’t need to.
“It was a B.”
“Cynthia,” Imeld says, her voice nothing more than a whisper.
Cynthia turns away, pulling her arms to her chest. “What could I do?”
The building hums around them, the newly restored power feeding the other Apartments
in the complex. From somewhere above, a television laugh track rolls uninterrupted, a hair dryer
hisses next door.
Imeld’s fingers find her hands and pull Cynthia’s arms gently apart. “It’s okay, Cinnie.
It’s all right.” Imeld is hugging her, standing on her tiptoes and pulling Cynthia against the sharp
angles of her body. “How long was it?”
Cynthia shakes her head; Imeld’s hair smells of government soap and chicory coffee. “I
don’t know. Maybe three days.”
“Oh, Cinnie,” Imeld says, and they hold each other for a moment, both cold and glad for
the warmth of the other. Without agreeing to, they sit on the little rug in the kitchen, hands still
entwined.
“I didn’t want to,” Cynthia says.
Imeld smiles, lips tight. “Not true. You wanted to eat; we all do.”
“But not …” Cynthia begins.
“But not a B. I guess that’s right. You do and you don’t.”
“You do and you don’t,” Cynthia repeats. Nothing truer, she thinks. Nothing at all truer
than that. How long have they known each other? Two years, maybe? Cynthia stopped marking
her calendar soon after the two had run into one another in the hallway. Imeld had been the first
girl Cynthia had spoken to in over a month. She’d been smiling, a beautiful, full-toothed smile.
“Well,” Imeld says, squeezing Cynthia’s hand, “I think we should see which one it was.”

Cynthia stares. “You mean now?”
“Yes, now.”
“It’s too soon, Imeld. We don’t know if they’re, you know, done yet.”
A girl calls a name down the hallway, the walls break the syllables into a muddy sound
and both Cynthia and Imeld jump.
“Barbara,” Imeld says. “That was Barbara.”
“Who was she calling?”
Imeld shrugs and both sit for a long moment, listening.
The building breathes its constant hush, distorted voices, touches of static, the deep belly
gurgle of flushing toilets, running taps. It is the dull music of Cynthia’s sleep. It lulls her, and she
closes her eyes. So many nights, lying on her thin mattress in the dark. Smelling the sweat of the
place, old, harsh soaps, unwashed clothing, even the mattress itself holds the odor of the girls
before her. Backs and shoulders carving out the well in the cotton batting she sleeps in. Heels
pressing the gentle craters into the seam at the foot. She imagines all of them, all the girls who
came before, curled around one another in sleep, holding one another for warmth in the dark and
listening to the building whisper its rumors.
“Come back to me,” Imeld says, and Cynthia opens her eyes, her box kitchen flickering
into view. The empty refrigerator, silent and warm, the single gas range built into the counter.
Has she ever used either?
“Where did you go?” Imeld asks as she squeezes Cynthia’s hand.
“Sorry,” Cynthia offers. “I guess I’m sleepy.”
Imeld smiles again, a small flash in the fluorescents. “Eating always makes me sleepy,
too.”
A twinge, a gentle reminder that Cynthia has chosen a B ration.
“I’m sorry,” Cynthia says.
Imeld answers with another hand squeeze. “I still want to go check,” she says.
Of course she does. It is inevitable. Imeld is everything Cynthia is not: brave, beautiful,
willful. She doubts Imeld has ever chosen a B ration, although this is ridiculous. Eventually
everyone in the Apartments eats their B. Everyone. “Okay,” Cynthia says.
Imeld does not release her hand; as she stands, she draws Cynthia with her, pulling her
close as she opens the latch and slips into the hallway.
The hallway is very wide, entirely too wide. Cynthia has always hated it. She is the tallest
girl she knows in the Apartments, and even she, with her arms fully outstretched, can’t touch
both sides of the hallway. It would take two of her, and possibly one of Imeld, to create a link
between the walls. A damp, red tongue of a carpet lies stretched loosely in the center of the
hallway, threads bleeding from its seams, peeling away and creating rusty drifts that the girls
sweep up dutifully on cleaning day. Her feet hate the texture of it, hate the cool slickness and
sticky threads. Doors stand opposite of one another the length of the hallway. Twenty per floor,
beyond each, an identical Apartment, identical mattresses, identical, unused burners and
refrigerators. The stairs create a pivot between each length of hallway, also terribly wide, also
tacked with rotting red carpet. Cynthia uses them only when she must, only on cleaning day and
bath day. Imeld pulls her along behind, her own bare feet whickering through the carpet’s shed
skin.
“Wait,” Cynthia says. She knows Imeld will not wait, but she has to say it, has to protest
even with such a small voice.
“Come on,” Imeld says as she pulls, and Cynthia follows, watching her friend patter up
the stairs, still connected to her by cold fingers and Imeld’s greater will.
The stairs speak as they climb. Bitter old wood, sour creaks chased by the occasional
sharp crack. Even from her Apartment, Cynthia can hear when girls moved between floors.
“Have you ever eaten a … B?” Cynthia whispers.
Imeld does not slow her ascent. “That’s a stupid question, Cinnie.”
“Oh,” Cynthia says. They turn the sharp corner on the small landing. A ration pouch lays
folded against the stair wall. The large A printed in faded maroon on the tan plastic face of the
pouch stops both girls.
“Somebody just left it here,” Imeld says.
“For anyone to see,” Cynthia whispers.
“They wanted us to see.” Imeld lets go of Cynthia’s hand and bends to pluck the ration

pouch off the carpet and bring it to her nose. “Oh,” she says and the smell hits Cynthia. Warm
spice, meat, ghosts that brought saliva flooding to her tongue.
“Why would they do that?” Cynthia asks.
Imeld opens her mouth to speak and a thin, silver thread of drool slips from her lips. She
drops the pouch and wipes her mouth with a palm.
“I,” Imeld begins, and her stomach speaks a high and needy note. She reaches out to
Cynthia and steadies herself on her friend’s shoulders.
“Are you all right?”
Imeld waits, her eyes locked on the ration pouch at Cynthia’s feet. Another groan courses
through her body, ending in a painfully loud gurgle behind her breastbone.
“How long?” Cynthia asks.
“I had a C four days ago,” Imeld says.
Shame rushes to Cynthia’s face, blood squirms at her temples. “You’re … so much
stronger than I am,” she says.
Imeld frowns, her fingers tightening on her friend’s shoulders. “Don’t say that.”
“But …”
“Please. Just don’t.” Neither girl moves, the fluorescent light bolted crookedly to the stair
wall fizzing unhappily.
“Whoever had the A wanted us to know,” Imeld says.
“Why would they?” Cynthia asks. The last time a girl was discovered eating an A,
everyone on the second floor gathered outside her door. The girl knew, of course. She could hear
them out there, could hear the whisper of their clothing, of their feet. She did not open the door
when the first girl in line knocked. They waited for three hours before the offender had finally
opened the door, resigned to her punishment. They held her down in the hallway, rolling up her
sleeves to the elbow. Each girl in line stomped once, just once, on one of her outstretched hands.
Cynthia had been the one to hold the offender’s right arm, forcing the hand palm down on the
floor. She felt bones break after the first bare heel struck just above the wrist. The offender didn’t
scream until the fifth heal, tears coursing over the cheek that was not forced against the floor.
Cynthia was offered a turn after the line had dwindled to just a few girls, the offender, sobbing
weakly against the floor, no longer needed to be held down, her broken hands curled against her
chest like bloody bicycle spokes. Cynthia had passed. Imeld had watched from down the hall,
she hadn’t even joined the queue.
“Maybe they’re just that mean,” Imeld says. “They want us to know we have to pay.”
“But we always find out,” Cynthia says.
“No. We don’t.” Imeld turns from her, slipping Cynthia’s hand in her own as she does so.
She kicks the ration pouch as they continue their ascent.
The third-floor hallway is much like the second, save the carpet has been worn nearly
through. Great holes lay open to the bare wood beneath like terrible, fleshy wounds. There are
girls in the hallway, all strangers to Cynthia, all draped in shirts entirely too big and bottoms that
pool around their feet like muddy water. Several glance their way. One girl, her red hair fizzing
around her sharp face like watercolor, holds a single finger to her lips. “They’re not done yet,”
she says, her words too round.
Imeld pulls Cynthia over along the tortured carpet, the redheaded girl falling in beside
Cynthia. They stop just behind the greatest concentration of girls in the hallway. Five or six
faces, blank and still, all stare into the open door of the Apartment labeled 19.
“They’re still in there,” one of the girls says.
“We know,” the redhead responds.
From the hollow of the Apartment, Cynthia hears a heavy grunt.
“Now be careful, Ms. Glennoc.” A Woman’s voice, warm and richly spiced.
“I always am, Ms. Tuttle.” Another voice, higher, sharper.
The girls in the hallway draw together; Cynthia’s free hand is taken by the redhead.
“Now there, you see? Not to worry, not to worry at all,” Ms. Tuttle says with a pleasant
open mouthed ah for all.
Another grunt and a quick burst flat, staccato sound.
“Oops.”
“Oops, indeed. Say you are sorry, Ms. Glennoc.”
“I say better out of me than in me, Ms. Tuttle.”

A sharp sound, flesh against wet flesh followed by a hissing pause.
“Now, say you’re sorry, dear. Right?”
“Yes, Ms. Tuttle. I am really quite sorry.”
The girls fill the open doorway, Imeld at the center of the group, Cynthia just behind. The
Apartment is deliciously warm, the heating vents somehow alive and generous. The little kitchen
beyond is a mirror of Cynthia’s, the same ragged rug, the same pointless counter, the same
blistered paint. The bedroom/toilet room door stands open, the back of a very tall Woman framed
in the black doorway. She is wearing a beautiful white blouse, pearls stitched into the shoulders,
cuffs kissed with cream lace. Her bottoms are vivid green corded and clutch at her wide hips
greedily. But it is her shoes that Cynthia focused on. Black leather flats, real shoes surrounding
black stockings that look impossibly thick and richly warm. It is the shoes that always catch her
eyes during these rare moments when the Women come.
“Well, we have quite the crowd out here, Ms. Glennoc. Nearly the entirety of floor three,
did you know?” Ms. Tuttle, the speaker, turns slowly, red lips parting into a white blade of a
smile. Blonde hair curls at her temples, parted at the center of her forehead, framing a smooth
face and wide eyes. The flat, blue latex of her gloves diminishes the perfection of her clothing,
long fingers caught in clinging surgical wrap.
“They always come out for a show, Ms. Tuttle. Moths to candles and such.” Another
grunt issues from the darkness of the bedroom.
“Good evening, girls. You all are looking so very well, aren’t you?” Ms. Tuttle sweeps
the group with her eyes, and Cynthia feels the absence of the girls behind her, hears the slap of
their feet and the click of their doors closing. Imeld squeezes her hand painfully. None of the
remaining girls speak.
“Just cleaning up a bit. You know the drill,” Ms. Tuttle says. She seems to notice her
gloves and frowns, thin lines crawling away from corners of her mouth. Another wet sound,
fabric and flesh, issues from the room behind Ms. Tuttle. “You’ll want to give Ms. Glennoc
some room, girls,” Ms. Tuttle says, the frown bending her red lips. “She’s none too steady on her
feet these days.”
“Is that so, Ms. Tuttle?” Ms. Glennoc says from within the bedroom, annoyance
thickening her voice.
“Well, yes, it is. How many times have you dropped her now?”
“A job for one is made simpler still if it is made by two,” Ms. Glennoc says, her form
blooming in darkness behind Ms. Tuttle. The other Woman steps aside and Ms. Glennoc shuffles
into the little kitchen. She is much taller than the already tall Ms. Tuttle, hard shoulders with a
drawn face balanced on a neck corded with sinew and veins. Long, black hair gathered into a
braid falling away down her back. She balances the girl from Apartment 19 on her shoulder.
Naked and wrapped in many layers of clinging plastic, the girl’s mouth visible as a black O, she
curves, boneless, over Ms. Glennoc’s shoulder like a rolled-up rug. The Woman adjusts her
burden with a flat grunt, muscles crawling the length of her forearms.
Imeld’s hand crushes Cynthia’s and she tries to pull away. Her friend’s eyes spark, tears
immediate and heavy. “Mei, it’s Mei.”
“One side, girly girls. I need to get her there before all her uses are dried up,” Ms.
Glennoc’s says, her black brows heavy against her pale face. “We don’t like to waste, do we, Ms.
Tuttle?”
“No, we surely do not like waste of any kind. Move aside, girls.” Ms. Tuttle steps
forward, shedding her gloves on to the floor of the kitchen. Cynthia imagines the girls of floor
three staring at these on cleaning day. They would have to be picked up, but who can do it?
“She was my friend,” Imeld says and the shock of her voice splits the little group of girls
in the doorway. Some simply leave, others step away, their mouths open. Cynthia feels the
redhead drop her hand, the cold of the hallway immediately replacing the warmth of skin.
“Well, I am sure she was. Which one are you?” Ms. Tuttle smiles again, reaching out and
touching the frizz of Imeld’s hair, plucking at it gently.
“Imeld.”
“And which Cohort?”
“Floor two, room eleven, Cohort Five,” Imeld says. Her voice cracks on five.
“Oh, I like Five,” Ms. Glennoc says brightly.
“We all like Five,” Ms. Tuttle says as she wipes her hand on the hem of her blouse.

“She was my friend,” Imeld says, and Ms. Tuttle sighs, a soft little puff between
impossibly white teeth.
“Yes, I’m sorry, dear. But friends fade. It looks to me that you have a new one anyway.”
She gestures to Cynthia, and Cynthia steps away, trapped only by Imeld’s grip on her hand.
“Besides, if you wanted to keep your friend, you should know better than to ask for so many A
rations, right? I mean, we all know the rules here, don’t we?”
“You asked for an A?” A voice from the hallway, Cynthia turns, and the redhead peeks
from behind her nearly closed door.
“I did not,” Imeld says.
“She didn’t,” Cynthia says, staring at the redhead through the slit of her door. “We’re
Floor Two, anyway.”
“Well, there were ten As this week,” Ms. Tuttle says, her voice thick with sympathy.
“Ten. Hungry girlies, I should say.” Ms. Glennoc adjusts her burden again, shifting from
foot to foot.
“You should say so, indeed, Ms. Glennoc.” Ms. Tuttle nods.
“I can’t stand here all day, Ms. Tuttle,” Ms. Glennoc says.
“Right. Time to be off, girls.”
Imeld swallows and Cynthia hears the click of dry flesh against dry tongue. “If there were
ten …”
“Then we are coming right back, girly. My back will give me hell even if the next one is
skin and bone,” Ms. Glennoc says.
Ms. Tuttle steps to her companion, hand raised, and brings her palm across the taller
Woman’s face. The sound is like wet cloth against tile. Both Women are still for a moment, Ms.
Glennoc holding on to Mei with both hands, her cheek blossoming into an angry red.
“Say sorry, Ms. Glennoc.”
The Women stare at one another and Cynthia wishes for nothing more than to sink
through the floor and into her own Apartment, to pull the old rug from the kitchen and wrap
herself in it as she lay on her mattress. The thought of the rug causes her to once again find the
dark O of Mie’s mouth through the plastic wrap. She looks away.
“Ms. Tuttle,” Ms. Glennoc begins.
“Make your manners,” Ms. Tuttle says through bared teeth. Again, a moment of silence.
“I say sorry, girlies. I say sorry, Ms. Tuttle. Now, let me by,” the taller Woman says, her
voice thick and clotted.
“Good. Let her by now, girls.”
It is perhaps the smell of Ms. Glennoc that forces Cynthia away more than Ms. Tuttle’s
order. The Woman smells hot, like black oil baking on raw steel. Both Imeld and Cynthia step
away, the rug catching Cynthia’s foot and causing her to stumble. “She took ten As,” a voice
says, the voice leaking from behind a door barely held open. “Ten. That’s two of us.”
Ms. Glennoc moves fast, her legs pumping, and her shod feet heavy against the raw wood
of the hallway. Ms. Tuttle follows. She stops for a moment, reaching out to Imeld, dropping
something small and white into Cynthia’s friend’s hand.
“If things are a little unreasonable, this will help a bit. Off you go.” She pats Imeld’s
shoulder, her hand awkward and loose.
The Women retreat to the stairway, Ms. Glennoc bent beneath Mei’s wrapped body. They
whisper to one another, Glennoc’s voice hot, Tuttle’s voice bitterly cool. The stairs speak
beneath their feet as the Women climb to the final floor.
“You took ten As,” a girl steps from her doorway, her brown face twisted, her own teeth
visible.
“She did, I heard Ms. Tuttle say so.” The redhead slips from her own doorway. Within a
moment the hall is filled with girls.
“We’re from floor two,” Cynthia says. “We’re not from three.”
“Maybe they changed the rules,” a girl says. Her eyes wide, poisoned.
“They would have told us,” Imeld says as she glances into her palm.
The redhead holds up her hand. “I smell it!” she says, triumph in her voice. A short girl
with a flat face grabs the redhead’s wrist. She brings the girl’s fingers to her nose. “I do, too.” A
hiss moves through the hallway and Cynthia reaches out for Imeld.
“That was a B, Cinnie had a B. A floor two B. Nothing from floor three.”

“I smell it,” the redhead says again as she stares at Cynthia, “I held your hand and I
smelled it on you.”
“I had a B,” Cynthia says, her voice shivering in her throat.
“She admits it,” a girl says.
“She said a B,” Imeld shouts, and the girls flinch in unison.
“A B is just as bad,” the flat face girl says. Cynthia can see blue veins running the length
of the girl’s thin neck.
“Which one did it?” A voice from the back, fingers are pointed.
“You know what’s coming,” a girl says.
“You smelled a B, just a B ration. We’re from floor two, don’t be so stupid.” Imeld
points at the redhead and the redhead seizes her hand. She sniffs violently at Imeld before
Cynthia’s friend can pull her hand free.
“I don’t smell anything on that one,” the redhead says. The hall grows silent and the girls
turn to Cynthia.
“It takes 25 Bs,” she says, tears breaking her voice. “I just had one. I just had one,” she
says, and the girls move. They are not fast, they don’t need to be. Imeld tries to shout, tries to
pull them away, but just like the girl who hid behind her door, Cynthia knows what will happen.
It’s the same on every floor. It’s the same anywhere.
They push her down, a girl sitting on her back, another holding her right hand against the
floor. A third girl struggles with Cynthia’s left hand, Imeld desperately trying to hold her back.
“Don’t fight, okay?” she says to Imeld. The girls might hurt her, too, might kill her if she
keeps fighting them. “You hold me, okay? Will you let her hold me?”
The girls of floor three look to one another and finally the redhead nods. Imeld is crying
but she holds Cynthia’s left elbow down, her fingers gentle and cool.
“Everybody gets a turn,” the redhead says. The girls begin to form their queue.
“Eat this,” Imeld says, pressing something to Cynthia’s lips. “Ms. Tuttle, she gave …”
The first girl in the queue, the girl with the flat face, misses Cynthia’s hand, her heel
instead crushing Cynthia’s thumb.
Pain, so much at once. Cynthia remembers the girl she held down in the hallway of floor
two, remembers how the girl was silent for so long. She can hear herself screaming and feels
Imeld’s fingers in her mouth.
Bitterness blossoms on her tongue. Slowly, lightning courses down her throat. What was
it? What did Ms. Tuttle give Imeld?
The next blow is muted, still bright, still liquid red, but the bones that break do so at a
distance. After the seventh heel, she is gone somewhere dark, somewhere crimson.

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School Days Giveaway Hop: $10 Starbucks Gift Card

Welcome to the School Days giveaway hop! This August event is hosted by Savings in Seconds. Host and participating bloggers are not responsible for prizes not delivered by sponsors. Good luck!

I honestly have mixed feeling about sending my kids back to school. I often feel like the oddball mom because I honestly am not looking forward to my kids going back to school. I enjoy having them home. There’s no homework stress, no projects due, no forgetting to pack snacks or worrying about “dress like the 80s day”. Back to school means my life gets hectic. Making sure I get back home on time to get my kids off the bus. Juggling my older boys’ football practice and games with homework, open house, meet the teacher night, and calendars for everyone.

But there are things I do look forward to. I enjoy the fall, I love Halloween, I do find some enjoyment in the 2 hours I have to myself until my kids get home from school. Then there’s fall fashion. I love layering, cardigans, boots, and light jackets. I’m not big on the pumpkin spice train but I do love sitting on the porch with a warm fall drink watching the leaves fall.

I want to treat one of you to one of my fave fall moments by giving away a $10 Starbucks gift card!

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School Days Giveaway Hop

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Kado: Lost Treasure of the Kadohadacho Book Tour & Giveaway

Kado: Lost Treasure of the Kadohadacho by E.Russell Braziel Genre: YA Historical Adventure

KADO – Lost Treasure of the Kadohadacho is the saga of eighteen- year old Tom Murrell, who in 1818 strikes out with his family from Tennessee to the “Arkansaw” Territory to build a new life in the frontier west of the Mississippi. Tom’s father, John Murrell, plans to carve a homestead out of the wilderness, but Tom wants no part of it. He wants to do something else with his life besides spend it behind a plow, but it seems he has no choice in the matter. Their expedition would take the Murrell family and their traveling companions through the perilous Great Raft, a 100-mile tangle of broken trees, stumps and hidden perils between Natchitoches, the last civilized town on their journey and Long Prairie, their destination on the banks of the Red River. Everything changes for Tom and John when they encounter an Indian massacre — four Osage are murdering a Kado Xinesi (high priest), and his guide. Trying to save the Kado, Tom is forced to kill one of the Osage braves and is almost killed himself. Before Tiatesun, the Kado holy man dies, he makes Tom his blood brother and draws a map in his own blood in John’s Bible to some place called Na-Da-cah-ah. Tiatesun wants them to somehow get the map to his tribal elders. This draws Tom into a raging conflict between the Kado and their arch enemies, the Osage. His new friends Mattie and James say there is no alternative. They must use the map to find Na-Da-cah-ah. Only then can Tom be sure that his family and friends will be safe. But it is a race against time – a race against Wey Chutta’s band of renegade Osage. Dangers are everywhere. The only chance to save his family is for Tom, Mattie and James to join with six Kado warriors, make sense from the map and the many clues they uncover on their quest, and discover the real Na-Da-cah-ah. It could already be too late. Because the Osage know more than they should. Everything and everyone important to Tom is threatened unless he can solve the mysteries of the Kadohadacho. Add to Goodreads * Purchase Links Here!

E. Russell (“Rusty”) Braziel is the author of KADO – Lost Treasure of the Kadohadacho. He has been a rock musician, company executive, serial entrepreneur, widely read blogger and is the author of The Domino Effect, bestselling nonfiction book about energy resources. Born in Caddo country in Northeast Texas, Rusty is the gggg-grandson of John Murrell, patriarch of the Murrell family whose 1818 expedition from Tennessee to a frontier settlement in Arkansas launches the story in Lost Treasure of the Kadohadacho. For over 15 years, Braziel has been a student of the Caddo tribal culture in pre-Columbian and early frontier periods, including the tribe’s history, language and beliefs. He and his wife Teresa split their time between a homestead in Northeast Texas and grandkids in Houston. Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Goodreads

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The Smuggler’s Escape Book Tour & Giveaway

The Smuggler’s Escape by Barbara Monajem Genre: Historical Romance, Adventure

After escaping the guillotine, Noelle de Vallon takes refuge with her aunt in England. Determined to make her own way, she joins the local smugglers, but when their plans are uncovered, Richard, Lord Boltwood steps out of the shadows to save her. Too bad he’s the last man on earth she ever wanted to see again. Years ago, Richard Boltwood’s plan to marry Noelle was foiled when his ruthless father shipped him to the Continent to work in espionage. But with the old man at death’s door, Richard returns to England with one final mission: to catch a spy. And Noelle is the prime suspect. Noelle needs Richard’s help, but how can she ever trust the man who abandoned her? And how can Richard catch the real culprit while protecting the woman who stole his heart and won’t forgive him for breaking hers? Goodreads * Amazon

Winner of the Holt Medallion, Maggie, Daphne du Maurier, Reviewer’s Choice and Epic awards, Barbara Monajem wrote her first story at eight years old about apple tree gnomes. She published a middle-grade fantasy when her children were young, then moved on to paranormal mysteries and Regency romances with intrepid heroines and long-suffering heroes (or vice versa). Regency mysteries are next on the agenda. Barbara loves to cook, especially soups. She used to have two items on her bucket list: to make asparagus pudding (because it was too weird to resist) and to succeed at knitting socks. She managed the first (it was dreadful) but doubts she’ll ever accomplish the second. This is not a bid for immortality but merely the dismal truth. She lives near Atlanta, Georgia with an ever-shifting population of relatives, friends, and feline strays. Website * Facebook * Twitter * Pinterest * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Setup: Noelle needs Richard’s help, but she doesn’t want him interfering in the
smuggling business. She refuses to marry him, and she can’t afford to let him seduce her, either.
Richard has other ideas…

Noelle slid off Snowflake’s back, passed her to a surprised groom, and hastened toward
the house. The wind ceased its fitful snatching at her bonnet and tore it off good and proper,
dancing with it in the sunlight, tossing it around the side of Boltwood Manor.
Noelle picked up her skirts and ran after the hat. The wind teased it away from her
grasping fingers and threw it this way and that across the lawn. Noelle followed, cursing, while
the wind tugged her hair out of its pins and flapped it into her face. The bonnet flew through the
herb garden, lit briefly on the outstretched hand of a stone nymph, and fluttered toward the
terrace.
Richard Boltwood stepped through the French doors to the terrace, reached out a long
arm, and rescued Noelle’s hat from the wind.
Sacré tonnerre, but he was beautiful. Most improperly, he wore only shirt and breeches.
His sleeves couldn’t hide those powerful shoulders and arms, nor his breeches the muscles of his
thighs. The open neck of his shirt revealed his firm throat and a few hairs of the masculine chest
she had seen and touched only once.
His face was bright with laughter, his bearing confident. Masterful. Irresistible. In spite of
herself, Noelle quivered inside.
No. This was no time for quivering. She hurried forward. “Richard, I must speak with
you.”
“With pleasure,” Richard said. “Your bonnet, ma’am.” He held it out but made no
attempt to touch her.
Noelle closed her fingers around the ribbons, and immediately Richard put his hands
behind his back. She moved closer, and he inched away. “In private!” she whispered. She put her

hands on her hips and scowled at him. The hat strained away from her hand, and her hair flapped
in her face. “Stay here! It’s urgent. I need your help immediately.”
“Ah,” Richard said, “I am of course at your service, my love, but do consider. Your only
legitimate excuse for such a precipitate arrival must be desperate love for me, but if there is to be
no touching, it won’t look like love, will it?” He danced away like the bonnet on the wind. “You
do look delightfully desperate, my sweet.”
“That was your idea,” Noelle fumed. “I never said I wouldn’t touch you, merely that it
would be wiser not.”
“It would have been wiser not to involve yourself in the free trade. As to not touching
me, do as you please, as long as you understand that if you touch me, I will consider it a clear
invitation to touch you in return.” His lips twitched.
“Nom de Dieu.” She must keep her distance, but he was making that impossible. “Oh,
very well. You may kiss my hand.”
“Your Majesty is most gracious.” He took her gloved hand in his and tugged at the tip of
one finger.
She tried to draw away, but he wouldn’t let go. “What are you doing?”
“Exactly what it looks like. I won’t waste one of my burning kisses on a mere glove.” A
few seconds later, the glove was in his breeches pocket. He took her cool hand into his large
warm one and brought it within an inch of his lips.
The warmth of his hand, the heat of his breath, traveled all the way to her toes. “Get on
with it,” she said, quivering with impatience. Get it over with before it kills me. When he did
nothing, she pulled at her hand.
He didn’t let go. “It’s not enough. No woman who gallops to her lover’s door would be
content with one little kiss.” He paused. “On her hand.”
Waiting for that kiss was torture, and she had urgent news. She said in French, “Richard,
the excisemen are nearby! We don’t have time for playing games.”

“This is no game,” he answered in the same language. “Lives are at stake, and therefore
our charade must appear real.”
Charade?
Did that mean he accepted her refusal to marry him? In which case, she should be glad.
Or at the very least, relieved.
She didn’t have time for emotions. “Lives are at stake, and therefore we must hurry.”
“But not appear to do so,” he said. “A bargain—both your hands. It’s not dangerous,
surely . . . just a little hand kiss or two.”
Before she had a chance to respond, he took the other hand, pried her fingers open, and
released the ribbons of her hat.
It fluttered away across the lawn. “My bonnet!”
“What’s a mere bonnet when one is deep in love?” Richard removed the second glove
and stowed it in his pocket. He pulled her close and pressed his hot lips to the back of one
tingling hand.
Something inside Noelle pulsed in response. Yes.
His lips settled hotly on the other hand.
Oh, yes.
“Enough?” Richard whispered. “We have demonstrated love, but what about passion?”
Noelle couldn’t bring herself to move. Her breathing quickened, and her knees felt
abominably weak.
“Only a passionate woman would ride ventre à terre to the man she loves.” He turned her
hands over and cupped them in his large ones. “You, my sweet, are the essence of passion.”
He pressed his lips into one palm and then the other. The pulsing inside her deepened to a
throb.
She couldn’t help it. She whimpered, staring at his lips and her hand.

His tongue reached out and gently, devastatingly, licked her palm.
Dieu du ciel. His arms surrounded her and his heady aroma overwhelmed her senses. She
drank it in through her very pores. I love you. Oh, how I love you. She pressed her face into the
hollow at his throat.
No.
She made a small despairing sound, and immediately his arms loosened. He pushed up
her chin and deposited a swift kiss on her lips. “You do love me, and you know it.”

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Road to Nowhere Book Tour & Giveaway

Road to Nowhere by Evan Shapiro Genre: Cli-Fi (climate fiction), SciFi, Mystery, Thriller, Satire

Is humanity on a Road to Nowhere? What forces are at play behind global warming and its threat to every species? Is humanity irrevocably heading down a Road to Nowhere? This near future page-turner, weaves conspiracy, murder, genius and love into a fast-paced ride across the globe, through the absurd and beyond. Patrick, Kirby, Ancient and Costas thrust us into the world of corporate juggernaut, PetroSynth, where science, politics and corruption jostle to determine our future. How can so much power over our planet be in the hands of so few? “This book is the stuff of modern mythology, an exciting adventure with intricate personalities leaving the reader in a state of agitated ‘not knowing’ until the very end. Can we succeed (we are all in this one together) or will the corporates and their minions win out only to abandon the planet in crisis? A racy and worthwhile read capturing the zeitgeist of our times.” Ian Cohen – first Green MLC, NSW Parliament and Author of ‘Green Fire’ MORE REVIEWS What makes this debut novel from Evan Shapiro a thoroughly engrossing read is that it is hard to pigeon hole into any particular genre. Part science fiction, thriller, mystery and romp. A fun and at times gritty ride. It’s a page turner written with insight, irreverence and is an apt observation of humanity’s capacity for suffering and destruction, yet with potential to make a positive change. G King ‘Road To Nowhere’ gives us a thought-provoking glimpse into an uncompromising future that brilliantly juxtaposes futuristic hedonism with the bare fundamentals of human frailty. M Jury Goodreads * Amazon

The second of four children born to would-be bohemians, Evan grew up on a diet of independent cinema, junk TV, Shakespeare and chocolate biscuits. As a toddler he drank Dettol and shampoo and stuck forks into power-points. Growing up he was often reminded by his family that he was lucky to have survived past the age of five. While his parents blamed him for being dangerously active and carelessly inquisitive, he lays the responsibility squarely at their feet for repeatedly leaving Dettol, shampoo and forks within his grasp. He likes to define the resulting confusion from his upbringing as his ‘perspective’ which he now relentlessly channels into works of fiction. These day’s he likes to prod people instead of power-points. He lives in Sydney and divides his time between co-parenting, fixing his father’s TV settings, changing his mother’s light bulbs, graphic design work, writing and meditation. He claims to have found the secret to perfect parenting, but as the answer is endless patience he’s not sure it’s any use to anyone. Website * Facebook * Twitter * Instagram * Bookbub * Amazon * Goodreads

Prelude
One hundred and fifty million kilometres away from the Earth a big ball of fire busily burns away,
converting four hundred million tons of hydrogen into helium every second in a seemingly
endless nuclear fusion.
As our world orbits the Sun, we revolve our lives around our own daily concerns, forgetting that
the big bright light in the sky, by its very nature, creates our day and feeds our existence. Eight
minutes after its atomic birth the light that reaches Earth helps plants photosynthesise, taking in
carbon dioxide and releasing oxygen.
Buried by our needs, our hopes, our dreams, our petty dislikes, our great loves and our
monstrous hates, is a forgotten truth. It is so intrinsically human that we are capable of pushing
this thought to the dark reaches of our primitive brains, that we know the words but don’t truly
appreciate the concept. We can tell ourselves what we like but there’s no getting away from it.
You can’t hide from the truth forever, and this is true, so listen up.
Our lives are just a by-product of a cosmic breath!
Patrick closed his notebook, content with another great thought committed to paper. As he
reclined into the comfort of his manager’s plush office chair the feeling of self-satisfaction gave
way to a pervasive self-doubt: how likely was it that a set of human eyes other than his own
would ever read his words? His thoughts would remain just that, his own. To ensure that fate,
he hastily removed the notebook from sight and shoved it into his bag. He shifted focus from the

sense of his own mediocrity to that of his manager’s. Leaning back further into the leather-
padded chair he surveyed the room with contempt. Except for his position of authority, Patrick’s

manager was an inferior in every respect. The man’s gruff manner, his constant barking of
orders, ensured his control but alienated him from his subordinates. To Patrick he was a man to
be managed. There were ways of dealing with him to get what you wanted: picking times when
he was most distracted to ask for personal leave, never presenting him with an unsolved
problem, always offering a solution no matter how stupid it may seem. Like a dog gnawing into a
bone your offering would be viciously snatched and ripped into pieces, devoured before your
eyes and the remnants spat back at your feet. But he would be secretly grateful you threw him
something to sink his teeth into. Yes, he was to be managed and by no means trusted. A
company man through and through, a company man who had access to information being
withheld from Patrick. He looked around the room again, attempting to intuit where his superior
would hide things he didn’t want his subordinates to find.
The office was dark other than the light emanating from the desk lamp and a few beams of
orange glow that crept in around the edges of the block-out blind covering the large window on
one side of the office. A glint of light reflecting on the stainless steel filing cabinet in the corner of
the room pulled Patrick to his feet and drew him towards it.
The vivid orange light from outside was easing rapidly, receding as the day drew to a close.
Another twilight gone, another twilight spent alone, the most precious part of the day nearly over
and nothing but a long lonely night ahead. With the sun setting fast Patrick had to increase his
pace if he didn’t want his break and enter to be discovered, if he didn’t want to waste having
braved the intense heat of the sun to be in the office a few hours early. His colleagues would
soon filter in, once the cover of night gave them safe passage. He stood at the locked cabinet
and tugged ineffectually at the top drawer. Yes there was definitely something in here that was
not meant for Patrick, making him all the more determined to gain access.
Back at the desk he pulled open drawers, turned over papers, lifted up objects. No key to be
found, nothing. He spotted the coffee cup next to the keyboard. ‘Let me drop everything and fix
your problem’ branded on it in large type. His manager would often sit behind his desk holding
the cup at eye level while subordinates talked to him, not answering, just waiting for them to
read the message, get the point and get out of his office. If they took too long to register he’d
soon throw them out, barking at them as they retreated. In all the time Patrick had worked with
the man he’d never actually seen him drink from it. The cup was just a prop, another object
littering a cluttered desk. Patrick picked it up, raised it to his eye in the manner of his superior,
fleshing out what it felt like to be such a dickhead, before tipping it over and pouring the key into
his palm.
Patrick rummaged around the now unlocked filing cabinet drawer. A bottle of vodka, some retro
porn magazines, there must be more the man was hiding. Then bingo, official looking

documents – ‘Project Helios’ – it smelled clandestine. His eager fingers took hold of the report
and he could feel its suppression itching to be released.
With the document in hand he quickly covered his tracks – easy enough given it was a mess
when he’d arrived. Lock the cabinet, key back in the cup, papers back in their stacks. He
scooped up his bag and hit a button on his manager’s desk. The large block-out blinds rose
allowing the last vibrant orange rays of the sunset to fill the room, removing all shapes and
objects with its intense glare. Then as the sun dropped behind the horizon and the room crept
into darkness, Patrick closed the office door behind him and moved quietly to his workstation.
Compared to his supervisor’s office, Patrick’s desk was uncluttered and sparse. He’d never
given the space much thought, other than to avoid it. What was the point in decorating? It
annoyed him the way his co-workers littered their spaces with photos of families and friends,
displaying them as some measure of achievement. ‘This is what I have outside of this place,
what do you have?’ Why should he offer a window into his life to be assessed and ranked
amongst the workforce? Worse still were postings of platitudes and self-motivating mantras,
stuck to people’s cubicles to help them through the day. At least Patrick wrote his own and kept
them in his notebook. He didn’t force them into his co-workers’ field of vision the way they
foisted their banalities on him.
His standard-issue ergonomic chair took his weight but creaked and squeaked as he shifted to
find a comfortable position. He placed the document on the desk and pulled the chair in closer,
ready, a little excited even, to discover what form of administrative ineptitude middle
management had planned: a restructure, job losses, productivity gains? What idiocy would they
be imposing on the workforce next?
As he began to read he was overcome with an acute awareness of the moment. As the words
worked their way through his cerebral cortex he became filled with the horror of their reality.
This was no minor administrative report. Patrick was discovering a truth that put his own
concept of ‘Cosmic Breath’ into the realm of the pathetic. This was not a moment to be
treasured, not a moment to be loved, but as clear a moment as any in his life, a milestone, a
point of reference that couldn’t be erased now that it had made its mark and he realised that
from this point on his life wouldn’t be the same.
Patrick sat with his hands frozen on the document and watched as workers began to arrive, safe
now under the cover of night. Safe from the very sun in the sky that burned their lives into being
but a sun now too strong for them to be exposed to.
He didn’t move, didn’t respond to his co-workers’ ‘good evenings’, didn’t react when the phone
rang, didn’t even realise he was continuing to breathe. There was only himself, the document
before him and what was happening to his mind now that the information had transferred from
paper to grey matter, nothing else registered, nothing else could.
Without fully knowing why, he stood, took the document in one hand, his car keys in the other
and began to move. As he made his way steadily towards the exit he passed the early starters –
some of them he knew, others he didn’t, some he liked, others annoyed him, but they all looked
like ghosts to him now. This pounding idea forced into his head by that wretched document
made them all look dead, their activities meaningless, anything they might have to say useless.
The information was infecting him – a vile fast moving virus corrupting and consuming his
system.
The night air gave little relief, the ground still hot from the day’s saturation of sunlight, the heat
rising and filling his lungs. Every breath made him light-headed. He reached his car – the auto
cooling made the interior a welcome relief from the outside air, but it didn’t bring him back, didn’t
stop the pounding urge to keep moving. He started the car, capitulating to the unknown force
propelling him forward. With no sense of destination, only a need to move away from that
moment, that ground zero moment, he drove onto the open road. His lone vehicle travelled in
the opposite direction to the stream of headlights making their way to work, collectively
illuminating one side of the road as his sole set of headlights moved freely, seemingly
unencumbered.

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