HOW I LOST YOU by Janet Gurtler


D.J. MacHale

BLACK MOON RISING Official Nerd Blast

Marin Thomas


Gaby Dunn and Allison Raskin


Tawni Waters


Levi Black

RED RIGHT HAND Official Nerd Blast

Sarah Porter


Seanan McGuire


Gavin Hignight


James Preller

BETTER OFF UNDEAD Official Nerd Blast

Saturday, September 16, 2017

The Chemist by Stephenie Meyer Review

Book Nerd Review by Sarahjane

In this gripping page-turner, an ex-agent on the run from her former employers must take one more case to clear her name and save her life.

She used to work for the U.S. government, but very few people ever knew that. An expert in her field, she was one of the darkest secrets of an agency so clandestine it doesn't even have a name. And when they decided she was a liability, they came for her without warning.

Now she rarely stays in the same place or uses the same name for long. They've killed the only other person she trusted, but something she knows still poses a threat. They want her dead, and soon.

When her former handler offers her a way out, she realizes it's her only chance to erase the giant target on her back. But it means taking one last job for her ex-employers. To her horror, the information she acquires only makes her situation more dangerous.

Resolving to meet the threat head-on, she prepares for the toughest fight of her life but finds herself falling for a man who can only complicate her likelihood of survival. As she sees her choices being rapidly whittled down, she must apply her unique talents in ways she never dreamed of.

In this tautly plotted novel, Meyer creates a fierce and fascinating new heroine with a very specialized skill set. And she shows once again why she's one of the world's bestselling authors

Praise for THE CHEMIST

"This espionage action story will no doubt tighten Meyer's grip on her devoted readers. Its main character is much like Jason Bourne, to whom the novel is dedicated affectionately.... Meyer knows how to control dramatic tension as skillfully as any of the Bourne movies. The pages turn themselves."―Keith Donohue, Washington Post

"Engrossing.... A terrific ride.... The Chemist is consistently fast-paced fun, especially the way that Alex's scientific genius gives her an array of potions-she's small, but you don't want to get within swiping distance of the rings on her fingers-that verge on the magical."―Charles Finch, USA Today

"Fans will likely tear through The Chemist, just as they did with the Twilight novels and with The Host.... Our heroine is very good at staying alive.... The book hit on an appealing theme. Chris is an expert in her field, one that happens to be male dominated. Her peers are out to get her. She has to watch her back constantly.... With so many popular novels out there featuring unreliable female narrators stuck in various suburbs, it was nice to read about a woman who gets out and has a lot to do."―Meredith Goldstein, Boston Globe

"[Meyer has] an unusual ability to turn genres inside out. The characters in the novel are motivated by love of family rather than by duty to country or abstractions like saving the world. Love gives the adventure meaning, rather than just being a subplot off to the side. Spy fans can be assured that in most respects, The Chemistfunctions in much the same way as a Bourne or Bond story, complete with mounting body count, cool explosions, stakeouts and betrayals. But changing the proportion of gender in the genre gives the concoction a renewed, and welcome, rush." ―Noah Berlatsky, Los Angeles Times

"A tale of skulduggery, bodice rippery, and shoot-'em-up action unfolds, complete with help from a luscious mistress of disguise who could have stepped right out of a James Bond novel. Rated B for badass."―Kirkus Reviews

"The Twilight mogul moves from blood-sucker romance to heart-stopping drama with a thriller about a kick-ass scientist and ex-government agent on the run."―Angela Ledgerwood, Cosmopolitan

"Here, an exciting heroine (see: female Jason Bourne) knows too much, is a threat, and has one last chance to clear her name."―Steph Opitz, Marie Claire

"It's nice to see a heroine whose greatest asset is her brain, one who can fell brawny hitmen with tiny syringes and weaponized jewelry. Meyer is still a skilled pace-setter, and The Chemist's 518-pages fly by."―Isabella Biedenharn, Entertainment Weekly

"Twilight fans will find another romantic couple to root for, plus the most supernaturally intelligent guard since Rin Tin Tin." ―People

"[A] gripping page-turner." ―Ali Ehrlich, Good Morning America

I liked this book. There, I’ve said it. Was it an epic spy thriller? No, not really? Was it filled with death, destruction and pure homicidal rage? Not really, but for a Stephenie Meyer Book, you could argue that it is. But is it like Twilight? No, definitely not, far from it. And that, I feel, is the problem for many readers.

Meyer has made the leap from sci-fi YA to adult thriller, and while she’s no James Patterson or Martina Cole, I don't necessarily see this as a bad thing. Those books do get very clich├ęd and typical after a while.

That said, you do need some patience when reading this book. Like The host, there’s a lot of exposition. Which is needed, Meyer wants the reader to sympathise with a CIA torturer. And I did. I found myself hoping that Alex would survive, I could understand the choices she made, and as I continued to read the book, I began to cheer her on. So, though the start was long and some could argue arduous, it was needed.

And yes, it has action. But not constant. There is a section where Alex is hiding, and I can see how this may bore some thrill seekers out there, but to me this just makes the story more believable. She’s not James bond, she needs to regroup once in a while. I can’t hold that against her. Besides, someone on the run and whose whole narrative is “I need to survive” isn’t going to go and ask for trouble out right.

And that brings me to the Romance. Oh la la. Is this the “timeless” burning passion of Bella and Edward? No, and again I’m glad because Meyer has been there and done that. Yes, the romance here does fill rushed, and that's an honest criticism, but I still did wonder if the romance would pan out. And what’s more Alex isn’t a damsel in distress! For a writer who highly criticised about the feminist perspective, Alex is a fighter. A fighter who not only challenges male counterparts, but thrives when doing so. So, why can’t she be a fighter and have a little happiness on her own terms too?

The Chemist isn’t perfect, but for what it is, I repeat, I liked it. If you're a Kathy Reichs fan, this may not be your cup of tea. But it is a well researched narrative, with all the traits a true Meyer fan will love. Give the book your time and effort and you will be rewarded. But if you want a book that you can read in an hour, pick something else. This book needs to be savoured, not choked down in one gulp.

You can purchase The Chemist at the following Retailers:

Author Spotlight
Photo Content from Stephenie Meyer

Best known for her Twilight series, Stephenie Meyer’s four-book collection has sold over 100 million copies globally in over 50 countries, with translations in 37 different languages. Meyer was the highest-selling author of 2008 and 2009 in the United States, having sold over 29 million books in 2008, and 26.5 million books in 2009. In 2008, Meyer also released The Host, which debuted at #1 on The New York Times and Wall Street Journal bestseller lists. Additionally, USA Today declared Meyer “Author of the Year,” citing that she had done something that no one else had in the 15 years of the USA Today bestselling book list– she swept the top four slots in 2008. Meyer also accomplished this feat in 2009, when The Twilight Saga once again dominated the top of the bestseller list. All together, her books have spent over 303 weeks on the New York Times Bestseller List.

Stephenie Meyer graduated from Brigham Young University with a degree in English Literature. She lives in Arizona with her husband and sons.
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Friday, September 15, 2017

Marin Thomas Author Interview

Book Nerd Interview
Photo Content from Marin Thomas

Marin Thomas is an ward-winning author of over forty romance novels for Harlequin Books and Tule Publishing Group as well as her own Indie titles. She also writes romantic women's fiction for Berkley Books. Marin grew up in Janesville, Wisconsin, where she was inducted into the Janesville Sports Hall of Fame for being the city’s first female athlete to receive a Division I basketball scholarship. Marin played basketball at the University of Missouri in Columbia for two years before transferring to the University of Arizona, where she played center for the Lady Wildcats from 1983 to 1986. During her time at Arizona, Marin was an Academic All-American and earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in radio-television. After graduation, she married her college sweetheart in a five-minute ceremony at the historic Little Chapel of the West in Las Vegas, Nevada. Marin and her husband are recent empty nesters and currently live in Phoenix, Arizona, where she spends her free time junk hunting and researching ghost tours.

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Was there a defining moment during your youth when you realized you wanted to be a writer?

I’ve always been an avid reader and I loved writing research papers in high school and college, but it wasn’t until college that I jumped into fiction writing. I took a creative writing class as an elective—who does that? I spent more time doing homework for that class than in all of my others classes combined and I loved every minute of it. My short stories received praise from my instructor as well as the classmates who’d critiqued my work. At the end of the semester the teacher pulled me aside and encouraged me to continue writing. She said no matter what career path I chose, I should make time to write. It wasn’t until I had my first child and became a stay-at-home mom that I pulled out those short stories from college and began writing with the intent of becoming published.

Beyond your own work (of course), what is your all-time favorite book and why? And what is your favorite book outside of your genre? 

Outlander by Diana Gabaldon. My mother passed her love of reading on to me and this was the last book she and I read together and discussed before she passed away in 2006. A favorite book of mine that I read at least once a year is the Rules of Life by Richard Templar.

What is the best piece of advice you ever received from another author?

You can’t please every reader so don’t try to. Write your book the way you believe it should be written and it will connect with the readers it’s supposed to.

In your new book; THE FUTURE SHE LEFT BEHIND, can you tell my Book Nerd community a little about it?

The Future She Left Behind is a story about a woman who has lost herself in marriage, motherhood and caring for others. Along the way, she also lost her art, the very thing that drove her from her hometown decades earlier. When Katelyn Chandler’s life goes off the rails and her husband files for a divorce, she’s forced to start over and live life for herself. But starting over gets complicated when her mother-in-law insists on coming along for the ride.

Katelyn returns to Little Springs, Texas where the proud matrons of the town—her mother and an old flame—show Katelyn what life could have been like if she hadn’t been so desperate for something different all those years ago. And Katelyn isn’t the only one changing. Her mother and mother-in-law also find their inner selves in ways they never would have imagined.

The Future She Left Behind is filled with strong women, quirky, heart-warming characters and stresses the importance of family, friendships and finding your roots.

What part of Katelyn did you enjoy writing the most?

I had fun writing Katelyn’s relationship with her mother-in-law. Don’t get me wrong. I love my mother-in-law, but I should have known I was in for a wild ride with the lady when my husband confessed that one of the reasons he was so attracted to me when we met was because I had nothing in common with his mother.

What was the most surprising thing you learned in creating Jackson?

That he was able to forgive his mother for abandoning him as a child and that he found the strength to let her back into his to life.

What are some of your current and future projects that you can share with us?

I’m finishing up two contemporary romances, scheduled for release in 2018 and then I’m digging out a book I began writing years ago but had put aside when I got too busy writing Harlequin romances. This story is a light-hearted, action-adventure with my trademark whacky sense of humor, a great cast of geriatric characters and an opposites-attract love story.

If you could introduce one of your characters to any character from another book, who would it be and why? 

I’d introduce the wealthy mother-in-law Shirley Pratt in The Future She Left Behind, to Hank McArthur, the cranky old rancher who lives in Unforgiven, Oklahoma, in The Promise of Forgiveness. I’d love to see those two butt heads.

What’s the best advice you can give writers to help them develop their own unique voice and style? 

What helped me develop my writing voice and style was my ability to draw on my own life experiences. I don’t try to be someone I’m not and I don’t try to write like I’m someone I’m not. I’m a blue-collar girl at heart and my life experiences…the people I associate with… those I grew up with…are salt of the earth folks. They aren’t perfect people. They’ve made lots of mistakes in life, but they’re people with big hearts. These are the people I care about and write about.

What's the most memorable summer job you've ever had?

During a summer break from college I worked the night shift in a non air-conditioned factory that made fuzzy bathroom rugs. The machine I operated sported a warning sign with an image of a man’s severed arm—lest you fall asleep at 3:00 a.m. while operating this machine. After my shift ended at 7:30 a.m. I had to walk through the department that applied the non-slip rubber backing on the rugs. By the time I got to the exit I was high from sniffing the glue fumes in the air.

What would be harder for you, to tell someone you love them or that you do not love them back?

It would be more difficult to tell someone I do not love them back. I don’t like hurting people’s feelings.

What decade during the last century would you have chosen to be a teenager?

I’d stay in the 70’s before computers and cell phones. Did I forget to tell you my nickname is Vintage Marin :)

Where can readers find you?


One woman's journey home gets derailed by her soon-to-be ex-mother-in-law in a novel filled with humor, small-town charm, rekindled love, and the resilient ties of family.

Cast aside by her cheating husband, Katelyn Chandler is ready to pack it all in and drive home to Little Springs, Texas. She wants a chance to regroup, reconnect with her mother, and get back to her art.

But Shirley Pratt--master manipulator, elitist snob, and Katelyn's terror of a live-in monster-in-law--has other ideas. Shirley insists on joining Katelyn's trip after her son tries to pack her off to a retirement community. Katelyn has no choice but to play peacekeeper between the ornery old woman and the proud matrons of Little Springs. Yet the small town seems to be changing Shirley. And as Katelyn weighs the wisdom of picking up where she left off with Jackson Mendoza, the town bad boy and her high school sweetheart, she must find a way to believe in the strength of her dreams.


“A deeply emotional story about family ties, second chances, and the pleasures of taking life one day at a time. Beautiful.”—Jane Porter, USA Today bestselling author of It’s You

"Characters who feel like neighbors, a quirky small-town setting, a snooty mother-in-law, a heroine coming into her own and a smokin’-hot leading man are ideal ingredients for a story that readers will find difficult to put down. A book-club worthy reminder that family can be found in unexpected places."—RT Book Reviews (starred review)


“There’s a big promise in this book: love, redemption, and a story so gripping I couldn’t put it down.”—Debbie Macomber, #1 New York Times bestselling author of Silver Linings

“A compelling story of forgiveness with a warm heart at its center. You won’t want to put it down!”—Joan Johnston, New York Times bestselling author of Shameless

“Resonates with the power of redemption and absolution while exploring the idea of choosing your own family. A complex novel that examines the mother-daughter bond and the lengths a person will go to to be forgiven.”—Kate Moretti, New York Times bestselling author of Thought I Knew You

“A heartfelt novel of mysteries hidden in lonely hearts. Marin Thomas gives us characters that jump off the page, people we root for and who dare to reach for love. A keeper!”—Curtiss Ann Matlock, USA Today bestselling author of Love in a Small Town

“The Promise of Forgiveness takes a heartfelt look at the complexities inherent in familial relationships. It’s authentic and poignant, and will have you turning pages well past bedtime.”—Emily Liebert, author of Some Women

You can purchase The Future She Left Behind at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
Thank you Penguin Random House for making this giveaway possible.
1 Winner will receive a Copy of The Future She Left Behind by Marin Thomas.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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Banned Book Week Giveaway Hop

Book Nerd 
Banned Book Giveaway Hop
Hosted by Book Hounds


“*Fans of Speak by Laurie Halse Anderson and Speechless by Hannah Harrington will welcome first time author Mathieu, who has crafted a realistic and hard-hitting debut.” ―VOYA, STARRED REVIEW

“A tough, unapologetic look at slut-shaming from a promising new voice.” ―Booklist

“Swift pace and compact size may entice reluctant readers as well as those interested in a juicy yet thoughtful take on human dynamics.” ―BCCB

“Debut author Mathieu brings new life to a common girls' narrative through her multiple first-person narrators.” ―Kirkus Reviews

“Each narrator shares elements of culpability for the rumors and mistreatment of Alice, and teens are introduced to the potential damage that rumors and lies bring.” ―School Library Journal

“Alice gets the final word, yet Mathieu avoids reducing her story to a revenge narrative, instead offering a quietly powerful testament to perspective and personal resilience.” ―Publisher's Weekly

Everyone knows Alice slept with two guys at one party.

But did you know Alice was sexting Brandon when he crashed his car?

It's true. Ask ANYBODY.

Rumor has it that Alice Franklin is a slut. It's written all over the bathroom stall at Healy High for everyone to see. And after star quarterback Brandon Fitzsimmons dies in a car accident, the rumors start to spiral out of control.

In this remarkable debut novel, four Healy High students—the girl who has the infamous party, the car accident survivor, the former best friend, and the boy next door—tell all they know.

But exactly what is the truth about Alice? In the end there's only one person to ask: Alice herself.

You can purchase The Truth About Alice at the following Retailers:

And now, The Giveaways.
1 Winner will receive a copy of The Truth About Alice by Jennifer Mathieu.
The Truth About Alice will be purchased through Book Depository.

Click the Banner below for my Giveaways:

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*
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Wednesday, September 13, 2017

STEAL THE STARS: Power Through Episode Four

Book Nerd Spotlight


Dakota “Dak” Prentiss guards the biggest secret in the world.

They call it “Moss.” It’s your standard grey alien from innumerable abduction stories. Moss still sits at what looks like the controls of the spaceship it crash-landed twenty-five years ago. A secret military base was built around the crash site to study both Moss and the dangerous technology it brought to Earth.

The day Matt Salem joins her security team, Dak’s whole world changes.

It’s love at first sight—which is a problem, since they both signed ironclad contracts before joining the base security team, vowing not to fraternize with other military personnel. If they run away, they’ll be hunted for the secret they know. So Dak and Matt decide to escape to a better life on the wings of an incredibly dangerous plan: They’re going to steal the alien body they've been guarding and sell the secret of its existence.

And they can’t afford a single mistake.


Today, Trip Haydon—the head of Sierra and the man who holds all their fates in his hand—is visiting Quill Marine. It’s the ultimate test of Dak’s leadership. There’s no margin for even one mistake.

You can purchase Steal the Stars at the following Retailers:

Author Spotlight
Photo Content from TOR Labs

Nat Cassidy is an actor, director, musician, and playwright. He has appeared on shows such as The Following (Fox), The Affair (Showtime), Red Oaks (Amazon), High Maintenance (HBO), Law & Order: SVU (NBC), as well as on stage in numerous productions and workshops both Off- and Off-Off-Broadway. Nat’s plays have been nominated for a combined total of 17 New York Innovative Theatre Awards, including 3 times for Outstanding Full-Length Script (which he won in 2009, and in 2011 for Outstanding Solo Performance for his one man show about H.P. Lovecraft). In 2012 Nat was commissioned by The Kennedy Center to write the libretto for a world-premiere opera, and in 2014 his play Any Day Now was chosen to be part of Primary Stages’ ESPADrills (The Duke Theatre, directed by Tony-nominee Moritz von Stuelpnagel). He is also thrilled to be writing the novelization of Steal the Stars, which will be published by Tor Books in November 2017. 

Mac Rogers is an award-winning audio dramatist and playwright. His audio/podcasts dramas The Message and LifeAfter have been downloaded over eight million times. His stageplays include The Honeycomb Trilogy (winner of the New York Innovative Theatre Award for Outstanding Premiere Production), Frankenstein Upstairs, God of Obsidian, Ligature Marks, Asymmetric, Viral, Universal Robots, Hail Satan (Outstanding Playwriting Winner at FringeNYC 2007), and Fleet Week: The Musical (co-written with Sean Williams and Jordana Williams; winner of Outstanding Musical at FringeNYC 2005). He has earned acclaim from The New York Times, The Guardian, Backstage, The Wall Street Journal, Time Out New York, New York Post, Flavorpill, io9, Fangoria,, Show Business Weekly, New York Press, and many others.



{Nerd Blast} Better Off Undead by James Preller

Age Range: 9 - 13 years
Grade Level: 4 - 8
Hardcover: 288 pages
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends (October 31, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1250066484
ISBN-13: 978-1250066480


"Adrian Lazarus is a middle school zombie, the result of an accident that left him “as undead as a toenail and not really thrilled about it.” ...This cautionary tale is more than just a brain-eating gross-out. Set in the not-too-distant future when humanity is suffering from numerous self-inflicted woes, this story’s villains are the Bork Brothers, owners of K & K Industries, “the richest, most powerful corporation on the planet” and also the source of much of the planet’s environmental troubles. ...This uproarious middle grade call to action has considerable kid appeal and a timely message.School Library Journal


"Preller stirs doses of American history into a first-rate road trip that does traditional double-duty as plot device and coming-of-age metaphor. . . . Despite the many plot threads, the story never seems overstuffed or weighed down by agendas. . . . Additionally, not only does the author slip cogent historical facts and insights into his simply told narrative without disturbing its flow, he offers more detail, plus sources of information, in an afterword." Booklist, starred review

Official Nerd Blast for Better Off Undead by James Preller

This is a Nerd Blast, you will post the promotional info we provide you with, including the giveaway. No reviews required. Please mark your Calendar.


Liz Szabla at Feiwel and Friends has acquired James Preller's Dead (But Cautiously Optimistic), pitched as The Walking Dead meets The Mysterious Benedict Society. In the “not-too-distant future,” a seventh-grade undead boy has to adjust to middle-school life as a zombie, and with three unlikely friends, he navigates a mystery involving global warming, disappearing bees, and billionaire developers... and more zombies.

It's slated for fall 2016; Rosemary Stimola at Stimola Literary Studio brokered the deal for North American rights.

You can purchase Better Off Undead at the following Retailers:

Book Nerd Spotlight
Photo Content from James Preller

James Preller (born 1961) is the children's book author of the Jigsaw Jones Mysteries, which are published by Scholastic Corporation. He grew up in Wantagh, New York and went to college in Oneonta, New York. After graduating from college in 1983, James Preller was employed as a waiter for one year before being hired as a copywriter by Scholastic Corporation, where he was introduced (through their books) to many noatable children's authors. This inspired James Preller to try writing his own books. James Preller published his first book, entitled MAXX TRAX: Avalanche Rescue, in 1986. Since that time, James Preller has written a variety of books, and has written under a number of pen names, including Mitzy Kafka, James Patrick, and Izzy Bonkers. James Preller lives in Delmar, New York with his wife Lisa and their three children.
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Tuesday, September 12, 2017

Guest Post with Sarah Porter

Book Nerd Guest Post
Photo Content from Sarah Porter

SARAH PORTER is the author of the Lost Voices Trilogy (Lost Voices, Waking Storms, The Twice Lost) in addition to Vassa in the Night—all for the teen audience. For over ten years she has taught creative writing workshops in New York City public schools to students in grades K-10. Porter also works as a VJ, both solo and with the art collective Fort/Da; she has played venues including Roseland, Galapagos, Tonic, Joe’s Pub, The Hammerstein Ballroom, The Nokia Theater, and the Burning Man festival. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and two cats.

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Hardcover: 384 pages
Publisher: Tor Teen (September 12, 2017)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 0765380560
ISBN-13: 978-0765380562


"Tragic and engrossing, filled with nightmarish dreamscapes and menacing villains, it also treads the tender terrain of family, and the strange and sometimes dysfunctional ties between siblings. Highly recommended!" ―Kendare Blake, New York Times bestselling author of Three Dark Crowns

"You'll never think of your nightmares the same way again. Darkly seductive. Sarah Porter’s writing glitters and her storytelling stuns in this twisted tale of siblings, love, and death." ―Stephanie Garber, New York Times bestselling author of Caraval

"Porter offers a poignant consideration of how far we will go for the people we love." ―School Library Journal, starred review

"A wildly innovative, whip-smart, and utterly spellbinding testament to family, memory, and love―and the messes and miracles of each―poised to possess legions of readers." ―Booklist, starred review

"A haunting tale of possession that explores the ghostly landscape of dreams and nightmares―but more importantly, the particular dynamics among siblings, both oppressive and redemptive." ―Kirkus Reviews


I decided to become a writer not once, but twice. The first time was during fifth grade, when I was mesmerized by everything Tolkien and by THE SECRET GARDEN. I tried to write a fantasy novel called THE RAVEN; every day during recess I’d sit leaning against the school’s brick wall and scribble away, notebook propped on my knees. It was about a girl who works as a maid in an endless mansion, and then one night a sorcerer comes to her in the form of a raven to tell her that her father is trapped, so she has to go save him. It fizzled out around page fifty, mostly because I had no idea how to structure a story. I probably spent as much time fantasizing about its future shiny foil cover as I did writing it, so imagine my delight on seeing the extremely shiny, embossed foil cover of WHEN I CAST YOUR SHADOW! It was literally a childhood dream come to life.

For a while after that I gave up on being a novelist. I thought I’d be a linguist, or an artist. I still love drawing! But I spent my teens reading obsessively, so it was like the old dream was still with me, just biding its time.

When I was seventeen, and in college, I took a creative writing class, and wrote a story called “Damian and the Sun.” It was about a little boy who loves the fish in a particular river. Then a bunch of demons knock the sun out of the sky and it splashes down right in front of him. All his fish surround the sun and stare at it, and he knows they’ll cook to death if he can’t persuade them to swim away. They won’t listen. Eventually he drags the sun out of the river with a net, but by then it’s too late; the fish are dead and the world is frozen.

So I handed this in, and a few days later my professor told me she’d had a dream about my story. She said no student had ever affected her mind that way. And I thought, Oh! I guess I should write a novel! But it took several years, and a lot of struggle, before I finished my first novel, and it wasn’t until my fourth novel that I finally got published.


1) “Dash, I think you don’t understand? This is a really unusual opportunity for you. I mean, people don’t just get chances to come back to life? And if you keep taking so many risks, it might seem like you don’t appreciate it.”

2) I don’t know if he’ll hear me. I don’t know if I have a voice anymore, or a face, or a heart. The girl I was is bobbing below the surface. Dashiell jiggles me up and down experimentally, checking to make sure I’m dead.

“How could I do this? Ah, Ru, what kind of a question is that?” Dashiell tips his head and smiles, thinking it over. “I did it because there’s no place like home.”

3) People almost never believe things because they’re objectively true. They just believe in whatever made-up reality hurts them the least.

4) “Never-Ever,” Ruby says, but the voice is not her voice. It’s dropped by at least an octave and she’s doing such a perfect imitation of Dashiell’s sly sassing tone that my flesh crawls like massed worms.

5) Life is wasted on the living, I always say.

6) People like to talk about the cruelty of children, ah, but it’s nothing compared to the cruelty the dead get up to, in our dreary, everlasting after-school.

7) Okay, I tell myself, this is obviously not our kitchen anymore. Our kitchen isn’t made of weird shuffling clockwork, gears shining blood red in the darkness. Its floor doesn’t twitch and jolt sideways. Therefore this is not real. It’s a hallucination.

But actually I know it’s something worse than that.

It’s a dream.

8) Where do they come from, I used to wonder, those strangers we glimpse in the deepest alleys of our sleep? Now I know.

9) My heart now belongs to the impossible, to everything that is luminous and ascendant and free of everyday tedium. Whatever cannot, absolutely cannot be is the new center of the universe for me, and everything that used to matter is far away, orbiting so slowly and dimly that I can barely remember what it looked like.

10) A thousand years could go by, New York could be under the ocean and wasted by nuclear bombs and cratered by a meteor, and Dashiell would still be jabbering on from some splintered TV in the ruins.

A teenage girl calls her beloved older brother back from the grave with disastrous consequences.

Dashiell Bohnacker was hell on his family while he was alive. But it's even worse now that he's dead....

After her troubled older brother, Dashiell, dies of an overdose, sixteen-year-old Ruby is overcome by grief and longing. What she doesn't know is that Dashiell's ghost is using her nightly dreams of him as a way to possess her body and to persuade her twin brother, Everett, to submit to possession as well.

Dashiell tells Everett that he's returned from the Land of the Dead to tie up loose ends, but he's actually on the run from forces crueler and more powerful than anything the Bohnacker twins have ever imagined....


“Our family,” Dash corrects me. “You don’t break those connections simply by dying, Never. The dead have every right to demand their due. Recognition, basically. Of all the ways we’re still with you.”

And then I’m up there, hoisting myself onto the wide plank where Dash is sitting—he’s already got hold of my shoulder—and dream or no dream I’m gasping for breath and I don’t have my inhaler.

Not that it’s going to matter. His left hand is sort of cradling the back of my neck and his right hand is holding the knife. If it wasn’t for the psycho-killer accessory, he could be posing in an ad for jeans—since that’s what he’s wearing. And nothing else.

“So what’ll it be, Never?” Dash asks. “The throat is foolproof, but a bit ugly. Going for your heart would be more dignified, for both of us, but then there’s the risk I’ll miss on the first try. You’ll suffer. So the question is, is dignity worth it?”

“I don’t care,” I tell him; it comes out broken-up and wheezing. Even though I know it’s just a dream my heart is trying to spit itself out of my throat. “I don’t care about any of it.”

“Oh, pah. You care immensely. Or you wouldn’t be here.”

Red and green lights spin through the distance, but I can’t decipher much of where we are. “You know we aren’t alone here, right, Dash? There are definitely people out there. I mean, we’re being watched.”

For a flash his eyes go wide and he stares around; I could almost swear he’s afraid. Something in his face sharpens, and it makes me think he’s looking for somebody in particular. Leave it to Dash to make enemies wherever he goes. “Random passersby, maybe. Anyone could stumble in here. This is a slippery place.”

They’re not passing by, and he knows it, but it’s not worth arguing about. “Dashiell? I want you to admit something first, that’s all. Admit I’m not a coward.”

“No,” he agrees, and again there’s that eerie tenderness that could totally pass for sincere if I didn’t know better. I see the flash of his rising knife and a spasm runs through me. “No, Never-Ever, you’re proving to be remarkably brave, in fact. And I’ve given you the opportunity to learn that about yourself, haven’t I?”

And then there’s a moment when I’m launched out of myself—because hey, that happens in dreams—and I’m watching the whole thing from above: the golden-haired jeans model cradling the fat loser. The silver streak of his knife sailing up. I’m kind of proud of my expression, though. I’m absolutely giving him attitude, and I look way more defiant than scared.

Out of my body or not, I still feel it when he slits my throat.

Copyright © 2017 by Sarah Porter

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