THE KATY’S BEST OF 2015

I hope everyone had a wonderful Holiday season and New Years! I took off of one of my jobs so that I could spend more time with my little family. It was awesome.

Now that I’m back to the grind, I thought I’d share some of my favorite books, posts, and other highlights from 2015!

This may get long…2015 was a great year!

Let’s get the longest category out of the way: BOOKS.

2015 Fave books

I’m not really sure if I had a completely #1 favorite book of 2015. There were so many to choose from that I could talk about for hours, so in no particular order here are my top ten! …They are pretty much all Sci-fi/dystopian lit!

  • Killshot by Aria Michaelsbookcover
    • Aria was my first author interview EVER. She wrote such an awesome book, I knew I needed to hear more about it. I’m so happy she agreed to answer a few questions!
    • Killshot is about a girl named Liv and how she goes from being a normal high school girl (with legit problems) to fighting for her life and the lives of those around her. Read more in my review.
    • Buy link
  • Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
    • I’m sure this book is on everyone’s “best of 2015” lists, but I had to add it. It’s awesome! (See review) I added it to my “read yearly” list on Goodreads, which only has two other books on it right now. I received “Ready Player One” from a LootCrate! Best month ever!
    • Buy link (At time of post, the paperback was cheaper than the kindle edition!)
  • UPDATED EBOOK COVER WITH TAGLINESThe Treemakers by Christina L Rozelle
    • This one is classified as YA, but definitely has some scarier parts. I loved it. It was definitely dark, yet remained hopeful through all of the horribleness. Read my reviews and interview with Christina here.
    • Christina is a great author, but also a kind and generous person. She agreed to an interview and I look forward to getting to know her more over the years!
    • Buy link
  • Prep for Doom anthology by Band of Dystopian Authors and Fans
    • This anthology was unique because all the stories intertwined even though multiple authors wrote them! (I was lucky enough to be asked to join the Band of Dystopian team as an assistant in 2015 too. I love BOD!)
    • See my review here.
    • Buy link
  • Tails of the Apocalypse by various authorstsils
    • One of my favorite anthologies I’ve read by far! Not sure if it’s because it followed animals or what, but I loved each story in a different way. Review here.
    • Buy link
  • Anything written by Sarah Noffke in 2015
  • Between Life and Death series by Ann Christy
  • halfwaydeadHalfway Dead by Terry Maggert
    • A story about a witch. I’m usually not “into” witch books, but this one is awesome! It gave me an “Odd Thomas” vibe, which is one of my all time favorite books!
    • Read more HERE and see Terry’s interview here.
    • Buy link
  • Dark Bishop by Casey L Bond and Rachael Brownell
    • This is a suspense-type romance released as a serial series. It is NOT YA. But I love it. Check out Casey’s other books as well. She writes in all different genres and I loved each world she’s created.
    • Interview with Casey here.
    • Buy link
  • Sand by Hugh Howey
    • This one was SO good. I think I liked it even more than Wool. Hugh has a way with words. I felt like I was buried in the sand, in a good way…if that’s possible.
    • Buy link

AGH! That’s ten already? How about some honorable mentions? I really could go on and on. Last year was a great year for books and I cannot wait to read more in 2016!

MORE GOOD BOOKS

BOD ZOMBIE CRAWL REVIEW: The Book of Sam by Ann Christy

Whew, that was a long title for this post! Sorry about that. It had to be done! I am still participating in the Band of Dystopian Zombie Blog Crawl this week and I have a giveaway running until Halloween. Check it out here!

Check out my interview with Author Ann Christy for more insight into her writing and the “Between Life and Death” series!

FIND ANN CHRISTY ONLINE

Find Ann Christy on FacebookTwitter, her Website, and sign up for her VIP List (Free stories for VIPs!).


SYNOPSIS:

cea57-thebookofsamSummer school is supposed to be a pain, but it isn’t supposed to be the end of the world.

Sam has finally finished his first year of teaching and loved every minute of it. Summer school is well underway and he’s starting to feel like he’s getting the hang of this teaching gig, particularly since he’s pretty sure his students are the most awesome kids ever. When a suspiciously high number of students and teachers don’t show up one day, Sam is thrown into a situation he can’t believe. Nanites have saved many lives, but now it’s all gone wrong and people are going crazy.
Trapped inside the school, Sam has to ride out the wave of insanity sweeping across the land. There’s one thing he’s very sure of…no one is going to hurt his kids.
He’ll get them to safety, no matter what comes between them and the road home.


Review:

“The Book of Sam” is sort of a prequel to the first book in the “Between Life and Death Series” (The In-Betweener). It was awesome to see how Ann Christy’s version of the Zombie Apocalypse begins ( although the main character, Sam, refuses to call them zombies). The “In-Betweener” really connects the reader to Sam and the kids he has taken in after there isn’t anyone else to do so. They are a new family together in this new horrible world. Sam is sweet. I feel like we could hang out.
Or kill zombies together.

Since I read “The In-Betweener” first, I KNOW things. Things I won’t share in a review because I don’t like spoilers. But just know that if you read “The In-Betweener” first, you also will know things and be waiting for these certain things to happen. But I think you can really read either book first since they overlap just a little bit.

Also, even though I know things…the thing I know still made me so sad. It was even more sad, because now I have strong connections to these characters.

I cried. A lot. I would suggest not reading the last third of the “Book of Sam” right before bed. The book doesn’t end on a cliffhanger or anything like that, but it does set it up nicely if you DO want to jump right into the “Between Life and Death” series.

To sum up: “The Book of Sam” is a heartbreaking, literally gut-wrenching, Zom-poc smash hit!
I highly recommend this book to any zombie lover out there!

If you want to find out more about the “Between Life and Death” series,
check out my reviews here!

Author Spotlight with Ann Christy

Please join me in welcoming Ann Christy for the author spotlight on THE KATY today!

Ann is an awesome writer of such novels as Strikers, The Between Life and Death Series, and many short stories in many wonderful anthologies.

(Check out a few of my reviews of Ann’s books here!)

Thank you for joining me today, Ann!

annchristyAUTHOR BIO

Ann Christy is a recently retired Navy Commander and secret science-fiction writer. She lives by the sea under the benevolent rule of her canine overlords and assorted family members. You can find her running about the house in her pajamas and taking great glee in creating terrible situations for her characters to find their way out of…or not.


Stalker Links

Find Ann Christy on FacebookTwitter, her Website, and sign up for her VIP List (Free stories for VIPs!).

INTERVIEW

silo49What point in your life did the dream of being an author pop into your head? Any inspirational people or books that helped you take that first step?

I’ll be honest, it never did. I had never once considered this as a profession before I actually put that first cover on that first book. Seriously. I was a scientist and a naval officer and that’s who I was. Hugh’s first tiny volume of WOOL changed that. I wrote the Silo 49 series set in his world without knowing anything at all about writing. But it’s like all the other things people warn you about that will get you addicted…I was hooked from the first bite. Now, instead of working like crazy at my former profession, I spent up to 16 hours a day writing and I rarely take a day off and I love it. It’s the hardest and most awesome job I never thought I’d have.

What are the pros and cons about being an Indie published author?

inbetweenerThe list of pros is far longer than the list of cons, so I’ll start there. Freedom is first on that list because it’s a factor in every single part of the writing/publishing process. From finding that story in your head to advertising long after the book is out, all of it is *more* possible…or possible at all…when the author is Indie.

I’m free to publish on my schedule and work on the projects I want to. I adore my editor and he is my choice. The cover artists I work with are my choice, not a publisher’s. I keep all my money! I advertise and put on specials in terms of pricing as I want to and I don’t have to beg anyone to do it for me. I make sure my VIP list can buy every new release at $0.99 for the first few days after release and no publisher would go for that. Really, the list is endless.

Cons? Well, I suppose the main one is that I’m not in physical bookstores. While I could probably work very hard to get a few copies into bookstores on my own, it’s a labor intensive process that takes time away from writing and publishing, so I have to pick and choose my battles when it comes to time. The only other con I can think of is that there are still a whole lot of people who see me as a wannabe because I haven’t signed away all my potential profit by signing on the dotted line.

The truth is, I was offered contracts twice. I turned down both. The terms were egregious and none of the books I’ve published since those offers were made would have been published. *Not one book.* Primarily because of non-compete and first-refusal clauses. When you look at it from that perspective, it’s very hard to understand why anyone like me…solidly midlist because I’ve not yet had any breakout hits (::weeps silently::)…would ever sign a contract like the ones we’re traditionally offered.

What is your favorite experience as an author so far?

perprFrom the perspective of being a writer, it would be publishing that first book. It was amazing to click on Amazon and then see my book come up. I squealed.

From a public response point of view, it’s a tie. The first was being asked for my autograph for the first time. True, it was awkward because I was in Wegman’s near DC and was standing at the meat counter, but even though I was a bit flustered, I was also secretly delighted. The other was getting that first piece of reader email telling me how much they liked the book. I freaked in happiness. I still have it. I’m going to save it forever!

Are you a plotter or a panster?

Pantser! But that’s sort of not a good description because I have a really good memory, so the story is laid out in my head and I write it from that. So, I pants from the outside looking in, but often it’s from a well-thought out plot already in my head.

The downside of doing it that way is that there is often a great deal of cutting involved in my editing process because something that takes one second in my head might actually drag on for a bit on the page. I’m trying to be more methodical because it’s more efficient, but I don’t want to lose what’s working for me either.

I loved your Between Life and Death series, which had such an interesting and unique take on the zombie apocalypse. How did you come up with that awesome and terrible world?

futurechrScience! (Use a teen titan voice there.) I’m a huge zombie fan and always have been, but as a working scientist in more than one field, it bothered me a great deal when there was never any logic involved in how it happened. I know how viruses and bacteria will work in terms of spread and no, it won’t happen like “that.”

While I enjoyed many of those books and could rattle off a list as long as my arm of books I loved, I wanted to feel that sense of looming terror while reading because it could happen or something. (Not that I want it to, but part of that tension comes from that feeling.) Suddenly, after reading some papers on nanotech in the course of regular life, I had a sort of bingo moment.

A lot of research followed that included many papers and reports on current research and testing, but in the end, I thought I had something that resonated with our technological trends in a way that might enhance that sensation for the reader. It’s still a huge stretch, but there is workability there. After the science part, it was all just my naturally diabolical nature having a good time romping through the wasteland.

strikersAnother of my favorites Is Strikers. The main character, Karas, is a tough girl in a brutal dystopian society. Is Karas (or any other of your characters actually) created after yourself or someone you know?

Not really, but always. There is strength and resilience everywhere you look in the world, and I think I take something of everyone I’ve ever met and put them into my characters. In particular, I’ve known thousands of sailors in my life, and almost every single one of them is a tower of strength. That gives me a whole lot of material to work with.

How did you get involved with Samuel Perelta’s amazing anthologies? I loved your story, Vindicia, which was set in The In-Betweener world.

I was right there at the beginning and had a story in the very first volume, The Robot Chronicles. I think it sort of Zchronhappened by him saying something about putting together an anthology and asking if I felt like being in it. No one knew the Chronicles series was going to be a juggernaut that raised the bar for anthologies. If I would have known that, I probably wouldn’t have been asked to be in it. 😉 Just kidding. Well, hmm, maybe I shouldn’t think too much about that now that I come to think of it.

Since then, I’ve been in a few of them and will be in the upcoming Time Chronicles and Doomsday Chronicles. My story for Doomsday is called A Mother So Beautiful and I love that story. It’s just freaking creepy. Sam was very enthused about it after reading the draft and that made me do the happy dance.

If you had to spend a week in any fictional world (yours or otherwise), which one would you pick and why?

No way would I want to go into one of mine! Are you kidding? Those places are way too dangerous. I’d be dead in a heartbeat. If I had to pick one, I’d pick something nice and relaxing and far into the future so I could get a peek at the future I won’t live to see. ::pause:: I just went to look through my bookshelves and pretty much every world has far too much craptasticness in it, so I’ll just stay here.

Can you give us a hint for future projects? 😀

cea57-thebookofsamHints, eh? Well, I had to push back Strikers: The Eastlands because of reader response and requests for “origins” stories for characters in the Between Life and Death world. So, The Book of Sam is coming out at the end of October since he got the most email. I really liked writing that book and I feel so bad for Sam. Such a nice guy.

Once I’m done with the wrap-up and launch of that, I’ve got my stories for the Chronicles to polish off, plus more to write for another anthology. Then it’s back to work on Eastlands and possibly another Between Life and Death Origins book, this one with my personal working title: Savannah Slays. I’m not sure what the real title will be, but that’s my own fun one.

Any advice for aspiring authors?

I say this all the time and it’s probably the biggest lesson I learned. Once we put words down with the intention of publishing them, we’re no longer objective about them. A good editor is an absolute must. If that’s not at all possible due to finances, then get as many other eyes as you can on it. Also, use the four views method to find errors and improve writing.

Four Views Method:
1) Regular read-through in your word processing program. Edit there.

2) Have the program read it to you using text-to-speech. Word can do this very well. Edit again.

3) Read it on kindle like a regular book. (This one you might have to do more than once, but put it in Kindle format and read it like a regular book.) Highlight what you don’t like plus errors, then edit again.

4) Print it out and read it aloud to yourself in a room. This is seriously important. Our brains process words on a page slightly differently than we do on a screen. We’re less efficient at it and that means you’ll see things you didn’t see before. Also, our brains translate written words to verbal utterances in a radically different way than simply reading silently, so you’ll be amazed at the things you find when you do it like this. Not just errors, but awkward phrasing, habitual words, sentences that don’t work…etc.

Anything else you’d like to add?

I absolutely love books, movies, and pretty much everything entertainment, (which includes cute animal videos), so find me on Facebook or what-not and let’s be friends! I also love Goodreads as a reader, though I’m very quiet on there because I’m now an author, so if you’re also a Goodreader, hit me up as a friend so I can find more great books to read too. I’m a habitual shelf-peruser and I find loads of books that way.

Thank you for joining me today, Ann! It was great to have a chance to chat with you.

And you, as always, are awesome, Katy!


GIVEAWAY ALERT!

Visit bandofdystopian.com to check out their second annual Zombie Blog Crawl, which begins TODAY! My crawl day is this coming Sunday (October 25th), so stay tuned for my own (amazing) giveaway.

Cover reveal: “The Book of Sam” by Ann Christy

Summer school is supposed to be a pain, but it isn’t supposed to be the end of the world. 

Sam has finally finished his first year of teaching and loved every minute of it. Summer school is well underway and he’s starting to feel like he’s getting the hang of this teaching gig, particularly since he’s pretty sure his students are the most awesome kids ever. When a suspiciously high number of students and teachers don’t show up one day, Sam is thrown into a situation he can’t believe. Nanites have saved many lives, but now it’s all gone wrong and people are going crazy.
Trapped inside the school, Sam has to ride out the wave of insanity sweeping across the land. There’s one thing he’s very sure of…no one is going to hurt his kids. He’ll get them to safety, no matter what comes between them and the road home.

Between Life and Death Origins
 
Chapter One – Day One
 
The school bell rings and I look at the students in front of me. Only eight today. Bella is missing, but I half-expected that at some point. She has an older sister more than capable of taking care of her during the day while her mother works, something many of my students don’t have. The hassle of getting Bella to the bus stop, waiting for the bus, and then worrying about picking her up at the end of the day can be alleviated by simply letting her stay home rather than attend summer school.
 
Still, summer school is important for my students, no matter how much of a pain it might be. The challenges of Down syndrome are significant enough without adding a nine-week break from school into the mix. These students often lose more during the course of a summer than children in mainstream classes if nothing is done to reinforce what they’ve learned. And Bella had been doing so well.
 
I sigh, drawing the attention of one of my students. Little Piper—so sweet that it almost seems she might melt in the rain like a cube of sugar—gives me a sidelong glance and smiles her sweetest smile. It’s the one that brings up two dimples next to her lips and lifts her chubby cheeks into two rosy balls. I can’t help but smile back. We’re not supposed to pick favorites, but some kids are just too awesome not to adore. Piper is one of those.
 
“Okay, kids! Let’s settle down,” I call out to the socializing group of kids. Aged between seven and eleven, they’re at that age where any meeting with a friend is cause for loud celebration. “Paulie, that’s enough hugging for now. Okay? Can everyone find their name for me?”
 
They sort of turn their attention to me, but the lure of chatting is a strong one. I walk toward the rough circle formed in X’s of tape stuck to the short carpet, the name of a child in the class carefully written in bold capital letters on each one. Having their attention shift to me, and then to the X spots on the floor, lowers the decibel level a little more.
 
Each child seeks their X, most of them remembering exactly where their mark is, but going through their standard process of sounding out their name and pointing to each letter in turn, before sitting. I have to help Corinne to her X. She’s still working on the spelling of her name and she still doesn’t always recognize it. We point to each letter and sound it out, her giggling and laughing in delight the whole while. I love my job. I really do.
 
The two empty spots that should be for Bella and Thomas are a bit like a silent rebuke. Unfortunately, chance would have it that those bracket my most sensitive student, Michael. He looks to either side of his spot, his face crumpling as he does. Michael is the youngest in his family, with four much older siblings. He feels rejection very keenly, even when there is none intended.
 
Michael is a loud and expressive crier, so I scoot over toward one of the empty spots and sit down on the X marked Thomas. That drawers his attention, so I lean down to grin at Michael and say, “I’m very lucky to sit next to you today, Michael!”
 
The confusion on Michael’s face fades quickly, the happiness returning like the sunshine after the passing of a single obscuring cloud, and he leans over to put his head against my arm. As much as I like the kids, I have to gently adjust the boy back to a seated position in short order. I’m always keenly aware of the caution that all teachers must have with respect to contact with their charges. The cameras in each corner of the room remind me of it every time I see their obtrusive and untrusting eyes.
 
“Does anyone remember what we were doing at the end of the day yesterday?” I ask, looking around the circle and meeting the eyes of each student. I’m careful to give an encouraging smile to each and every one of them.
 
Several hands shoot up, then a few more because raising hands is apparently great fun. I call on one of the first to raise her hand, so that I’ll be sure to get a correct answer. No one likes to start the day by giving a wrong answer.
 
Mary, the oldest in my class at almost twelve, yells the answer just a little too loudly, “Counting and colors!”
 
“Right!” I exclaim—though not as loudly—and flip over the pile of oversized cards lying in the center of the circle. Bright shapes in vibrant colors along with the letters spelling out the color cover the cards, and several of the children clap at the sight of them. This is a favorite activity for many of them. It’s true that a good many of my kids are well past the need for counting and color activities like this one, but it’s an excellent reinforcement for them. It also allows them the chance to lead the younger ones. From my point of view, that’s another important part of growing up.
 
The morning class begins and I feel that same sense of fulfillment I do whenever I enter the classroom. It takes more to prepare these wonderful children for their future lives than many teachers have the patience for, but to me this is a balm to the soul and the fulfillment of a promise to the brother I lost.
 
My older brother, George, was born with severe Down Syndrome. Unfortunately, he was also born with most of the physical problems that can come along for the ride with the syndrome. Though he had corrective heart surgery as a toddler, he passed away one night in his sleep. There was no warning, no hint that it was coming. We shared a room, so it was to my mother’s screams that I woke that morning, seeing her bent over his bed and shaking him, begging him to wake up.
 
I was only ten and George was thirteen. To say that his loss struck me deeply would be an understatement. And I don’t mean just because I was just eight feet from him when it happened and I slept right through it, though that’s certainly bad enough. It was because he was gone and I missed him in a way I’ve never missed anything or anyone else.
 
I still do.
 
While it’s true that George was three years older than me, I learned pretty early that he needed me to stick up for him. He didn’t understand the casual cruelty of children at our primary school. I didn’t always understand it, but I sure knew it when I saw it. Though I never got into another fight after he passed, I learned to scrap pretty well at a young age.
 
So, it’s easy to see why I chose the profession I did. Every single day I work is like me saying thank you to my brother. I promised I would always take care of him. This is how I do that now that he’s not here himself.
 
Before the first recess bell sounds, the door to my classroom bangs open, the metal kickplate banging against the stop like a shot. The kids jump, but I think I jump even more. Bethany, another teacher and probably my best “teacher friend” rushes in. The look on her face sets my heart to racing. Something is very wrong.
 
She stops after two steps inside, probably realizing that she’s just scared the bejesus out of me, and then makes it worse by waving me over with urgent sweeps of her hand. I’m guessing she also notices the effect her facial expression is having on my kids, because she tries to smile at the kids. It looks more like a grimace.
 
In a shaky voice, she says, “It’s okay kids! Everything is fine. I just need Mr. Sam for a minute. Is that okay?”
 
Piper shouts up at her, “We’re on blue!” She waves the big card with a circle of bright blue on it to demonstrate what she means.
 
“Blue is my favorite!” Michael shouts and tries to grab for the card.
 
I get up from my spot in the circle and pass the stack of cards to Michael to distract him from his grabs. He snatches them in delight and I tell him, “Why don’t you take one and then pass them around the circle. Everyone take a card when it gets passed to you and practice on that color. Okay?”
 
That suggestion gets me a round of happy agreements, so I step away, but keep half an eye on the kids, while worrying what that pale, strained look on Bethany’s face might mean. As always, my first thought is that something bad might be happening inside the school. Even in elementary school, it’s something all teachers have in the back of their minds. That’s just the way things are nowadays. That possibility is an unfortunate fact of life.
 
Then again, Bethany wouldn’t likely be standing in full view of the hallway with an open door at her back if there was that kind of problem. She’d have hit the deck, closed and bolted the door, or be herding her kids out of the building. Plus, there’s no noise.
 
As soon as I get within reach, Bethany grabs my forearm, her fingers sharp and tight. I lean close, hoping that will encourage her to keep her voice down. She looks more than worried now that we’re close, she looks frightened.
 
“Sam, can you take my class? I have to go. Now,” she says without delay.
 
I look back at my charges, but they’re busily exchanging cards with each other to get their favorites, then back at Bethany. “I really shouldn’t. You understand, right?”
 
Bethany sneaks a peek around my shoulder at my students and bites at her lip. I can see the warring needs in her as clearly as if they were written in magic marker across her forehead. I’d love to help her, but the rules are very firm in a few regards and this is one of them. Bethany’s class is made up of mainstream summer schoolers. Specifically, her class is made up of math students who might noth otherwise pass up into the next grade. They’re also all fourth and fifth graders. And there are more than twenty of them.
 
It’s not just about breaking class size rules, because there’s always room to wiggle on that when it comes to an emergency like a teacher having to stop a class for whatever reason. The real problem is that mixing mainstream students with his students is just not done. My first priority is the safety of my students, but my second is their happiness. I won’t have them scarred by unthinking slights or rude giggles.
 
“What about one of the other teachers?” I ask. There aren’t many here—this is a small neighborhood school—but there are some. I can’t be the only choice. It may be summer school, but we’ve got five classes going.
 
Bethany shakes her head, lips thin and tight. “Debbie’s got thirty-three kids in her class already and Rob’s already got two classes worth because Sherry didn’t show up. She’s probably in the same boat I’m in,” she says, then trails off, her eyes finding the clock and her jaw muscles tightening.
 
“Wait, what?” I ask, now concerned. A teacher just not showing up is a big deal any day, but particularly during the summer. There’s just one admin person, no aids at all this week because of training, and like every week after a holiday, a whole lot of people scheduling vacation time.
 
When I came in, I saw the office was occupied, and I passed Bethany getting ready in her classroom, but I was running late so I didn’t go to the teacher’s lounge or anywhere else this morning. I lean forward just enough to see down the hallway, and everything looks fine, if somewhat empty. There’s only Henry, the single school maintenance person on duty, rolling his mop bucket down the hall on squeaky wheels.
 
Bethany takes a deep breath, as if centering herself or reaching for calm when being pushed by a particularly challenging child, and says, “Right. Okay. I’m guessing you don’t know what’s going on out there?”
 
She looks up at me with those huge, dark eyes of hers and I’m pretty much done for no matter what she says. I can tell she’s searching for an answer even before I speak. I can also tell she knows I’m clueless. My shrug just confirms it.
 
“You remember about my Dad?” she asks.
 
This is a jarring change in topic. I should have realized what it was about as soon as I realized nothing was on fire and no one was shooting. The concern, the wringing hands, the ways she’s shuffling her feet a little as if she’s poised to run finally come together in my clearly, inferior brain.
 
“Oh, no. Did he…I mean…has he…” I trail off, not sure what the appropriate words are when asking if someone died.
 
She grips at my forearms again, understanding what I mean—which is good, because it was so not clear—and smiles a shaky smile. “No, no! Nothing like that. It’s the opposite. He woke up, but he’s very disoriented and…not himself.”
 
The relief I feel at not have to do any consoling cannot be overstated. Seriously. That sort of thing doesn’t come easy to me yet. I’m never sure if I’m doing it right or saying the right thing. Plus, this is good news. Or, it should be good news. But if it is, why does she look so scared?
 
“Are you okay, Bethany?” I ask her, but this time I focus entirely on her so she’ll know I want to hear the truth.
 
She surprises me by leaning forward and bumping her forehead into my chest. Seriously, she couldn’t have surprised me more if she’d kissed me. Even so, this feels like an overwhelmed lean instead of a flirting one, so I just let her keep doing it. I should just enjoy it while it lasts, though I’d never, ever confess that to anyone.
 
Bethany is older than me—as in almost twice my age—but there’s something about her. She’s divorced, has kids that aren’t too many years younger than me, and probably hasn’t thought twice about me that way. Even so, I have my daydreams. And even without daydreams, we’re friends and I know how hard the last two years have been for her.
 
After a boat accident, her father had been shot full of First Responder nanites by emergency services. It was protocol, but like so many others, it hadn’t worked the way it was supposed to on him. The First Responders boost oxygen in the blood, encourage heart activity, and stimulate the body’s natural responses to trauma, helping many survive the trip to the hospital and giving most those crucial few minutes they need to get truly sophisticated medical care. They are, on the whole, a good and life-saving thing.
 
Only they don’t always work. Her father’s traumatic brain injury meant that the nanites kept his body alive, but without enough brain function to return to normal life. He became one of the many people commonly referred to as vegetables, perfectly healthy yet never again to wake.
 
And now Bethany is saying he’s awake. But she’s not talking to me and she’s leaning against me in front of my class instead of jumping for joy.
 
“Aren’t you happy? You always said he would beat it,” I say, extricating an arm so I can pat her on the back. I look back around at the kids, some of whom are very interested in what we’re up to. That must bring her back to the present, because she pulls away and pushes back her hair. She smiles at the kids, then at me.
 
Something flashes through her smile, some hint of emotion other than joy. I think it really is fear. I don’t think I’m imagining it. Then it hits me what she said before. “Wait, you said Sherry was in the same boat as you. What’s going on?”
 
One of the children calls, so we pause long enough for me to persuade Piper to go back to her spot in the circle. Back at the door, Bethany says, “Yeah. She never talked about it, but her grandmother is in long term care in nearly the same condition as my father. Anyway, I haven’t talked to her or anything, but it’s happening all over, so it’s probably happening with her grandmother too.”
 
“Wait,” I say, because now I’m really confused. “You mean it’s not just your father waking up? Did something happen?”
 
Bethany’s eyes widen and she gives a little shake of her head, “Really? Sam, do you never watch the news? Seriously.” She puffs out a breath and waves a hand as if it doesn’t matter. “It’s all over the news. There was some experiment to try to correct neural deficits or something—basically wake up the people like my Dad—but it wasn’t supposed to be everywhere. The nurse called me here and said that it has something to do with the Monitor nanites Dad has now. They picked up the signal or something. I don’t know. Honestly, I’m just glad he’s waking up! Except…”
 
Sentences that trail off after words like that are never good. Not ever. “Except?” I prod.
 
“Well, he’s strapped down now, but the first thing he did was bite my mom on the arm. Hard. And he’s sort of out of it.” Again she flaps her hands in agitation. “It doesn’t matter. But I need to get to their house. I really do. The nurse is only supposed to be there for an hour and she has a lot of other patients. My mom can’t handle him like this on her own. Who knows what will happen?”
 
I’m no more capable of resisting that sort of plea that I would be able to leave a kitten in the middle of a busy street. It just isn’t in me. I push a hand through my hair and sigh. It must have been enough of an answer for Bethany, because she squeezes my arms and says, “Oh, thank you, Sam! I will totally return the favor someday!”
 
“Fine, yes,” I say, but I’m still very unsure about the whole thing. “Can you go to the office on your way out and ask them to call in a sub?”
 
Bethany nods, her mind clearly already shifting to getting out of the school as quickly as possible. “Sure, sure. I’ll go get my kids. Or do you want to bring yours over?”
 
I consider it, but decide that this room, which is about twice the size of a regular classroom given the variety of activities that go on in here, is the better choice. “No, bring them over for now. But give them some sort of assignment to tide them over until a sub gets here. Will you?”
 
“Of course! And school’s out at lunch anyway. Everything will be fine,” Bethany says, stepping away and clearly ready to dash. I let her go and then face my kids, wondering how I’m going to handle two such disparate groups for another two hours. There’s no way a sub will make it in time and I know it. At least it’s only a half day. It could be worse.
 

 

 
The In-Betweener- AMAZON
Forever Between – AMAZON
Between Life and Death- AMAZON
  

 

 
 
 
 

 

 Ann Christy is a recently retired navy commander and secret science fiction writer. She lives by the sea under the benevolent rule of her canine overlords and assorted unruly family members. She’s the author of the popular Silo 49 series set in the WOOL universe, assorted novels and a slew of stories. Her latest work, the Between Life and Death series, is a new and entirely novel take on the zombie genre that is turning out to be equally popular with teens and adults. It includes The In-Betweener, Forever Between, and Between Life and Death.
You can find out more about Ann Christy and read extended sneak peeks of her books at her website.

 



 

Review: Between Life and Death by Ann Christy

Synopsis: Veronica waits for news while a broiling summer bakes the deaders still 11207799_1557108074553141_711101007_o (1)roaming the world. Back at the warehouse complex, the rest of the group keeps watch over their group of captive in-betweeners and tries to stay alive. At long last, Veronica finds a package left by Princeton and Violet at their drop-off point. Everything is finally going their way and a cure for the in-betweeners might finally be within their grasp.

But, nothing stays easy in the post-nanite world of deaders and in-betweeners. Not everyone wants a cure for the nanite plague. Around every shiny, white cloud is a deep, black lining. This time, the clouds are smoke and there is a storm coming.

Between Life and Death is book three in the exciting, post-apocalyptic Between Life and Death trilogy. With mild language and occasional violence, (and some very gross undead), this series is suitable for ages 16 and up.

Review: The final installment to Ann Christy’s take on a post-apocalyptic zombie tale is an action packed non-stop adventure ridden thrill ride. Not only do Veronica and her adoptive family need to discover a cure, but they also have to worry about the people who don’t want a cure to happen. I can’t believe the series is over! I feel like Veronica, Emily, and the rest of their group are my family. Another awesome part is that no one was a whiny person that didn’t want to pull their weight to help the group. Each person wanted to help find a cure, even if they had differences of opinion on other topics. Family. Team mates. Survivors together. Love it! Ann Christy has woven an amazing world where the undead In-Betweeners may not be all that they seem to be. Veronica is a fighter with heart. She feels responsible for everything around her and especially for Emily, who she has sworn to protect. Absolutely amazing ending to a series! If anyone reads it and wants to message me to talk about it in depth, feel free! I won’t spoilers here, but HOLY CRAP.

You can find Ann Christy on her website, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and buy her books on Amazon.

Z is for Zombie

Wow. April is over? This is the last day of the A to Z Blogging Challenge! It has been a crazy ride, but I think I have grown as a blogger, writer, and reader. I found some new blogs to read and some others have found me as well. I hope you’ve enjoyed my posts this month. We finish up by talking about Zombies for the letter ‘Z’.

The Good: What can be good about zombies, Katy? Well, they aren’t REAL for one. Also, without zombies we wouldn’t have some awesome shows and books. I’ve listed a few of my favorite series/movies below.

Ann Christy’s Between Life and Death Series: Link to my review of the first two books, here and here. I can’t wait to read the third book, which comes out in a month! Ann just updated her covers and they are GORGEOUS. As I have mentioned in several of my reviews, I usually do not like when books show me what the main character looks like. I like to imagine them for myself. But these covers are awesome. I do not mind seeing her at all.

I really enjoy Zom-Coms (not sure if that is an actual term for Zombie Comedies, but it is now). Something so entirely serious about the end of the world, combined with laughable moments, makes an amazing movie. Love them so much.

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The Bad: Can you think of a worse way to go? Not only do you get either bitten by someone you used to love or torn to shreds by a disgusting, moaning mob….you have to come back and eat other people. Not my favorite ending if I got to choose.

The Katy: I was a zombie for last Halloween. It was awesome. Not just a zombie, but a Hipster Zombie. “I liked brains before they were cool” people. Zombie make up is fun to do! : )

That’s it for April. I have a lot of book reviews to catch up on, which will be featured right here next week! Happy end of April, everyone!

Review: “Forever Between” by Ann Christy

Synopsis: Four year ago the world was destroyed by medical nanites gone awry, leaving humanity divided into three groups: the living, deaders, and the horrific in-betweeners. Two years ago, Emily braved that dangerous world to try and save a group of children trapped downtown. Now, it’s Veronica’s turn to try and save Emily in return. Their only hope lies eighty miles away at a military hospital where nanite treatments were once given. Between Veronica and that hospital is a world of deaders, in-betweeners and possibly something even worse…humans. Forever Between is book two in the exciting post-apocalyptic trilogy, Between Life and Death. With mild language and occasional violence, (and some very gross undead), this series is suitable for ages 16 and up. (via Amazon)

Forever Between cover

She WILL bite you.

I was privileged to be on Ann Christy’s “read and review” list for book two in her “Between Life and Death Series.” You can read my review of book one, “The In-betweener”, here.  Book two, “Forever Between,” was just as exciting (if not more so!) than book one. The book is in the viewpoint of Veronica, a girl saved by Emily in the first novel. Veronica is brave, intelligent, but real at the same time. She does what she has to, but is still (understandably) afraid of the horrible circumstances thrust upon them. I like a real character. I want to relate to this person, even if their situation is something I will never find myself in someday. The other characters are also real, yet different. Each has their own personality, allowing them to shine when it’s their turn to speak. In some books, I forget about secondary characters because they are bland. Here I remembered who in this post-apoc “family” was speaking without having to backtrack to see where they were introduced. And little Jon…he kills me. I have kids, a 3.5 year old and a 2 year old. This boy speaks to me with such heartbreaking truth about their horrible situation as if my own sons are written into the text. I can’t imagine them needing to go so still and quiet and Jon has to in times of need. Yet, he (and the little girl, Maribelle) holds hope and childhood joys for the future. He still plays and laughs (quietly!), not fearing death unless the situation calls for it at the time. Beautiful and sad, Ann. Nicely written. You’ve killed my motherly heart!

I still haven’t figured out a “star” rating system or anything for reviews, but if I had one I would give “Forever Between” a five. I will definitely reread this series at some point because of the characters, story, and entertainment value. I think if it’s worth rereading, it needs a high rating. Let’s face it, there are a lot of books out there! So if I want to read it again at some point instead of reading a NEW book, that’s got to be a good sign!

Visit Ann on Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter, and her website.
Buy “The In-betweener” here and “Forever Between” (on paperback) here and kindle here (pre-order).