Reading, Living and Reviewing

The Souls of Rain (Heavens Trilogy, # 1) by Diana Nixon - Chapter 1 Preview

Monday, November 25, 2013

This a copyright material. 
It's not for sale. 

Prologue

Three angels were standing in the middle of a round, crystal room. Their long, silver cloaks were swaying slowly in the wind; the rustle of their wings was the only sound breaking the intense silence. One of them, a woman with curly, strawberry-blond hair that went to her feet, raised her hand and a huge, white cloud formed in front of her.
“The girl deserves to know the truth,” she said to the others.
“This is insane,” a male angel replied, shaking his head. He ran one palm through his messy, sandy hair; his big, blue eyes seemed to be brighter than the sky itself. “What if something goes wrong?” He stared nervously at the picture appearing inside the cloud.
“We are losing control over her.”
“She’s right,” the other male angel said. “It’s not safe to keep her here.” His golden eyes shifted impatiently between his companions. “We need to send her back to the earth.”
“You will follow her,” the woman said, looking at the blue-eyed angel. He was the youngest of the three of them, and his age was the only thing that stopped him from breaking the order. He didn’t want to spy on anyone. He used to be one of the best guardian angels, until one day he made a mistake and was obliged to follow the orders of the top-ranked angels. It was the worst part of his punishment; he hated being told what to do.
“You didn’t have to say that,” he snapped, meeting the woman’s emotionless eyes. Sometimes it was really hard to believe that she was an angel, and not a demon wearing snow-white wings. “You know I would have never left her unprotected.”
“Right.” The other angel smirked.
“Albert,” the woman hissed, warningly. Her voice sounded calm, but the intonation said it all — she didn’t approve fights between her subordinates. “This meeting is over. I’ll see you two later.” And just like that she disappeared, making the air in the room crackle. Albert grimaced at the force of energy left after her disappearance. He wasn’t as strong as she was, and the powers she possessed always made him uneasy. He looked one last time at the blue-eyed angel and followed the woman.

Left alone, the angel stared at the picture of the girl he was supposed to spy on. The girl was a guardian angel. She was slim and beautiful; with long, black hair and big green eyes, shadowed by the curling lashes.
She was walking down the alley surrounded by the age-old oaks, watching her fosterling. She seemed to be relaxed, but in reality her every instinct was on alert. Her wings were outspread, and though no human could see her like that, the creatures of the heavens always knew when she was on duty.
 “I won’t let you down, Claire,” the angel swore in a whisper, making the cloud in front of him turn black. “Never again….”


Chapter 1

I was staring at the file in my hands. It was thick and heavy, and I didn’t have the slightest desire to read it.
“What’s this?” I asked Bert, my trainer.
“Your new assignment,” he said, walking down the hall that led to the training rooms.  
I raised my eyebrows in surprise. “My new assignment? Seriously?”
“Yes. Why?” He opened the door to one of the rooms and led me to the wall with crystal daggers.
“I was reassigned just a few days ago, remember? No angel changes humans so often!”
“It’s not your call, Claire. They give commands, you execute them. Period.” He gave me one of the daggers to replace the one I broke last night, trying to kill a demon following my fosterling. “Be careful with the weapons. You are the only guardian angel who breaks them so often.”
“I’m also the only guardian angel who destroys the biggest number of demons.”
“True.” Bert smiled briefly, and looked at the wound on my right wing. “Close your eyes, I will heal it.”
I sighed and obeyed, waiting for Bert’s powers to deal with the wound. It didn’t hurt much, but the feeling wasn’t pleasant either. Guardian angels couldn’t heal themselves. We always needed the help of other angels, whose powers were different from ours.
My thoughts switched back to my new assignment, and I sighed again. Bert was right, I couldn’t help matters. And neither could he. He was just a messenger in this case. I answered to him for my every step, but when it came to the orders of Santunary, he was as helpless as I was. 
No one could ignore the words of Ledons — top-ranked angels. They formed the Santunary: the highest and the cruelest governmental authority, and the most respectful body of the heavens (except for God, of course). There were no ‘ifs’ for Ledons. They accepted only ‘yes’ or ‘no’. The last word was better not to pronounce if you cared about your life.
Ledons were followed by Deerons, our trainers. They guarded the gates of the heavens. No one could come or go without their permission, even the souls.
Then there was us, the guardian angels, followed by our loyal servants, the Pastreens. I didn’t know what exactly their duties consisted of, but they were a real pain in our necks; always watching us and laughing at our mistakes. Though sometimes they were really helpful, especially when it came to doing my hair or cleaning my wings.
“So who’s my new baby?” I asked the trainer. We called humans our babies, because we felt like their nannies that were always there for them, no matter how bad or good they really were.
“Why don’t you open the file?” Bert winked at me. Oh, no…it was a sign of bad news.
Alan Rosenford,” I read the name, written on the file’s cover. “Who is he?”
“Just don’t tell me you’ve never heard about him! How long have you been working in New York…for two years? And you’ve never heard about Alan Rosenford?”
“I’m sorry to disappoint you, but I haven’t.”
“Well, this is probably for the best.” Bert smirked and vanished. Literally.
Angels always appeared out of nowhere and disappeared as abruptly. But I hated when Bert did that. He never answered my questions, and he always left without saying good-bye. Not that it was the only unpleasant thing about my life. Nothing about it was normal actually.
Sometimes it felt like my life was an endless cascade of ups and downs. I could fly and I could walk; I could save and I could destroy. Heaven was my home, and the days I spent there couldn’t be compared with anything else; they were special.
But there were also days that I had to spend walking down the roads of sinful earth. Everything about them was even and painfully predictable.
Unlike those humans I guard, I don’t need to count seconds; I have a whole eternity to live. I don’t need sleep or food, though cakes and ice-cream are my weaknesses and the best things about my perfect life.
I don’t have a family, and I never had one. I was created by the heavens. I don’t have friends, but I do have enemies. And all of them are demons — soulless, cruel creatures that make people do things they will have to spend forever in hell for.
My job is to protect humans from demons, making their lives better and happier. Funny enough, I’m the unhappiest creature in the world. It feels like my happiness is always near, and too far away at the same time.
There are things that I will probably never be able to understand. I don’t know what love means. It always felt like something mysterious and too unreal. But unlike humans, I can live perfectly well without it. As well as without boys, parties and other essential attributes of every girl’s life.
But there is one thing that I can’t live a single day without. My wings. They are my faith and an essential part of me. I can’t show them to humans, and every time I let them see me, they think I’m just a girl in my early twenties. Too bad no human girl knows how to cross the distance between two places in seconds.

I closed my eyes and imagined myself standing in the middle of my sky-blue living room. I liked the color. It reminded me of my true home and the sky that I liked gazing at so much.
I had a two-bedroom apartment not far away from Central Park. I didn’t have much time to spend there, but there were times, like today, when I wasn’t on duty. My last assignment, a five-year-old Annabel Walders left for a few days to visit her grandparents, but I couldn’t leave New York, so she was guarded by one of the local angels of Washington.
It was supposed to be a free weekend: no work, no demons; only freedom and me. Yeah, too good to be true….

I looked back at the files I was still holding in my hands. I never read people’s files. I liked making my own opinion about them. No matter how bad or perfect they were, the only thing I cared about were their souls. And even a criminal’s soul can be pure. Because when people kill or lie it means that demons win. It also means that angels lose. And we lose only if we don’t take our duties seriously. Usually it leads to becoming Pastreens. Or fallen. Both variants close the doors to the heavens and leave us wandering around the earth forever. And no matter how heavy the sin we commit is, we always want to be forgiven and returned to the heavens.
Speaking of sins….
“Nolan, what are you doing here?” I asked the fallen angel, standing behind me.
“Good to see you too, Claire.” He smiled, taking a seat on my couch. The guy didn’t need my permission to make himself at home.
Nolan was the only fallen who never wanted to be forgiven. At least that was what he was saying every time I asked him about his life. He liked living among humans. Though I never asked him about the rule he broke to be kicked out of the heavens.
“I heard about your new assignment,” he said, turning on the TV set.
“Why do you even care?” I crossed my arms, watching him curiously. I didn’t understand why Nolan liked spending time with me. My life was a picture of everything he couldn’t have.
“Because we are best friends. And friends always care about each other.”
I rolled my eyes. “We are far from being friends, Nolan. Let alone best friends. You are stalking me. This is how it calls.”
“Whatever you call it, the fact remains — I’m here, and I want to know how you feel about being Alan’s new babysitter.” He smiled again, and I desperately wanted to slap him in the face. God, forgive me.
“What is wrong with the guy that everyone is so worried about me guarding him?”
“Nothing’s wrong. He’s a good guy actually. He likes drinking, smoking, girls, and car racing.”
“Sounds like a typical description of a good guy.”
“Sarcasm doesn’t fit your pretty face, my angel. And Alan is a good guy. You will see.”
“Can’t wait,” I muttered, heading for the kitchen to get a piece of a strawberry pie I made earlier today.
“How can you think about food when your human is dying?” Nolan shouted after me.
I stopped and turned around, barely breathing. “What did you say?”
“Alan Rosenford was taken to the St. Mary’s hospital about an hour ago. He kissed a tree with a bumper of his new car.”
No more details were needed. I closed my eyes and sank into the red vortex of a bittersweet smoke that took me straight to the hospital ward.

The moment I opened my eyes the smell of drugs hit my nostrils. I hated hospitals. To me they always looked overcrowded. Hundreds of lost souls, whose physical bodies died and were not allowed to ascend to the heavens, were flying everywhere, making people shiver and shrink from the pure cold they consisted of. Humans didn’t see them, but I did.  And they did see me.
“He doesn’t look good,” Nolan said, coming closer to the bed where a guy in his mid twenties was sleeping. He was on a drip; about a dozen multicolored cables went from his body to the monitors on his left.
“I’m sure you wouldn’t look any better being him,” I said, examining the numerous bruises and scratches on the guy’s body. “How bad was the crash?”
“The boy will need a new car. But I don’t think he cares about a few more scars. It’s not his first accident.”
“You said he’s a car racer, right? How often does he get into accidents?”
“Every week or so.”
“Does he even care about his life?” I didn’t like people who risked their lives just to get an adrenaline rush. It meant their souls were hurt. And they didn’t want to do anything to heal them. Stupid humans…they didn’t know that losing a soul meant becoming demons.
“You didn’t read his file, did you?” Nolan chuckled at his own words. He knew I didn’t. “You should probably start reading files, Claire. It would save you plenty of time.”
“Thanks for the advice, Nolan. Maybe one day I will follow it.”
I took Alan’s hand in mine and tried to feel his soul. I was good at feeling souls. Not every angel could do that. It was one of my angelic powers that I had been trying to perfect every day, for the last seven centuries of my existence. And with every passing day I could tell more and more about the souls I was guarding.
“He is a good person,” I said, knowing that Nolan was still there with us. Every time I tried to feel someone’s soul, it felt like sinking into the depths of multicolored oceans, where every single word, action and thought had its own shade.
“I told you,” he said, and I smiled; my best friend liked being right.
I let go of Alan’s hand and breathed a sigh of relief. Guarding good people was always easier. Demons couldn’t get to their souls, and fighting them was as simple as anything.
I was good at fighting demons. They didn’t stand a chance with me. Especially when I was guarding children. They were like little angels to me, and I always felt sorry for the couples that couldn’t have them. It felt like the worst curse ever.
My new assignment wasn’t a child anymore, but something about him wasn’t right. His soul was too fragile and sensitive. Not a regular picture of a man’s soul. Maybe I should have read his file after all?…
“Hey…Claire, you okay?” Nolan asked.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I replied absently, still watching the guy on the bed. “How old is he?”
“Will turn twenty-five next week.”
Even with the dark-purple bruises all over his face and a swollen lip Alan looked much younger than his real age. I couldn’t say the same about his soul. If I didn’t know it belonged to him, I would say it was a soul of an eighty-year-old man. Suddenly I wanted to know what happened to make him get old too soon.
“Read the file, Claire,” Nolan said, as if reading my mind. “I need to go now, but if you need anything, call me, okay?”
I nodded and the fallen angel disappeared. He was always saying the same thing, “Call me, if you need me.” And we both knew that he would never be able to help me if I actually needed help. We played for different teams.

Copyright @ 2013, Diana Nixon



Synopsis:

The secrets of the heavens had always been carefully guarded. Until one day when the angels realized that what they used to believe in was nothing but a cruel game between heaven and hell.
And Claire’s life is a part of that game too. She is a guardian angel.
She always thought that her existence was perfect. But perfection is a very relative term, and no one is protected from making mistakes.

Everything changes the moment Claire gets a new assignment. Guarding humans has never been easy, and this time won’t be an exception.

Alan Rosenford is a spoilt party-boy, whose life is a hurricane of risk and adrenaline rush. His soul is damaged, his heart is bleeding, and there are so many things he prefers to keep private….

The words they have never said before …
The sins they have never committed….

How much does forgiveness of the heavens cost?
Or maybe even the heavens make mistakes?....

About the author: 
Diana Nixon is a poet and the author of fantasy and contemporary romances. She was born in Minsk, Belarus, where she currently lives. In 2008 she graduated from Belorussian state University. She has a Master of Law degree and speaks several foreign languages, including English, Polish and Spanish.
Twitter: https://twitter.com/DianaNixon9

Guest Post: Books and Booze

Sunday, November 24, 2013

There’s not much fresh to be said about the relationship between writer and booze, reader and booze, book and booze. Both alcohol and writing have long histories and purposes rooted in fostering a connection from person to person—however confused, convoluted, and inebriated that connection may be. In this post I’ll be writing to you about some books that I love, hopefully ones you might have passed by (though if you’ve read them, good on you) and pairing them with thematically, though sometimes facetiously, related cocktails or pure spirits, just to marry two of my favorite things even more intricately. I should probably go get myself a dram or two.

Image From Pipesmagazine.com
Bruce Machart’s The Wake of Forgiveness & George Dickel Superior No. 12 Tennessee Whisky: Machart writes a ropy, muscular, sometimes effulgent story of brothers in Texas raised by a mule-driver of a father who literally makes his sons pull the plow across their fields. (Their father saves his horses for racing.) Dickel Whisky, on a night around a bonfire, within stumbling distance of the barn and a little drunk already, tastes precisely like horses smell.

Grace Krilanovich’s The Orange Eats Creeps & Lucid Absinthe: Honestly, you probably need to mix in some other substances to get the true marriage of intoxication and elocution that Krilanovich achieves in The Orange Eats Creeps, which is about slutty teenage hobo vampire junkies in the Pacific Northwest. It is exactly as crazy as it sounds, but, much like an absinthe drunk, also floatily, intangibly sad.

Willy Vlautin’s The Motel Life & lots of well drinks at various dives in Nevada: Willy Vlautin is a favorite of mine more because of his genuine, sorrowful lyrics heading Richmond Fontaine than for his prose, but his prose carries these same precepts into a character-driven book about two brothers getting beat by life at every turn. Reading The Motel Life, you’ll need at least a case of beer and a bottle of Old Crow, and you’ll be feeling just as bad as the protagonists in the morning. Seriously, Old Crow will ruin you.

Charles Bowden’s Murder City: Ciudad Juarez and the Global Economy’s New Killing Fields & Booker’s Bourbon and several drops of Cholula Hot Sauce: This book, if you’re unfamiliar with the goings-on in Mexico in the past ten years or so, is a paradigm-changer. There is little to say here about the book that will properly convey what it contains. Rather, the cocktail pairing does a better job. Booker’s is a high-proof bourbon (125+) that is a bit pricey and so powerful to taste it’s almost strictly medicinal. Round that out with some high-heat hot sauce and you’ve got a drink meant more to burn something out of you than get you pleasantly drunk, much like the book is not a pleasant thing, but a necessary one.

Eric Shonkwiler’s (that’s me, you don’t need to scroll up or down to confirm) Above All Men & a dusty bottle of Old Grand-Dad: I was drinking a lot of Old Grand-Dad while writing Above All Men. It’s a solid lower-shelf bourbon, leaving behind most of that peanut-y finish cheap bourbon tends to carry, and perfect for drinking alongside my book for its unassuming, blue-collar drunk that’ll come back and get you in the end. The book features a shellshocked war-vet farmer battling Steinbeckian dust storms, a slick mine owner, and the economic collapse of America (clearly light reading, good for sunny afternoons or vacations to the Outer Banks). There isn’t a whole lot of drinking in the book, but I like to think that the bottles that go unnamed are my dear Old Grand-Dad.

Author Bio:
Eric Shonkwiler’s writing has appeared in The Los Angeles Review of Books, The Millions, Fiddleblack, [PANK] Magazine, and Midwestern Gothic. He was born and raised in Ohio, received his MFA from The University of California Riverside, and has lived and worked in every contiguous U.S. time zone.

Review: Shadows by Jennifer L. Armentrout

Friday, November 22, 2013
Love of sugar had to mean true love. It just had to. 

Synopsis:

The last thing Dawson Black expected was Bethany Williams. As a Luxen, an alien life form on Earth, human girls are…well, fun. But since the Luxen have to keep their true identities a secret, falling for one would be insane.

Dangerous. Tempting. Undeniable.

Bethany can’t deny the immediate connection between her and Dawson. And even though boys aren’t a complication she wants, she can’t stay away from him. Still, whenever they lock eyes, she’s drawn in.

Captivated. Lured. Loved.

Dawson is keeping a secret that will change her existence...and put her life in jeopardy. But even he can’t stop risking everything for one human girl. Or from a fate that is as unavoidable as love itself.
 
My Review:


          I’m not a huge fan of prequels, I usually find them repetitive and a little bit boring, but in this case I am happy that the author decided to write Shadows. I had my fears when I started it; I guess that’s why it took me so long to actually read it. I was afraid that Dawson will be just another Daemon and that Bethany another Katy and that I will find myself re-reading Katy and Daemon’s story.

          Well, the good news is that Dawson was definitely not Daemon. Physically were of course the same, but their personalities are completely different and the moment I realized that I decided that I like the book. Dawson is more of a dreamer and a perfect gentleman, unlike his brother, the realist and let’s face it, a total douchebag. Yes he had his reasons to act like he did with Kat. After he lost his brother he tried not to trust humans as much, but his personality doesn’t change that much even after he decides to trust Kat. I guess that that is him.

          The same goes for Bethany. She is shy and modest, she loves staying alone and painting. You cannot see how kick ass she can be just from this book, because if I remember correctly she is also a little bit of kick ass in Onyx. In Shadows Bethany is just a fragile human in need of protection.

What I loved about this book?
          I loved the different personalities of the characters and the fact that we got to have a peek at Dawson’s life before he disappeared. But most of all I liked to see a boy in a YA book that did not acted like an ass. See? Nice boys can have girlfriends as well.

          The fact that Daemon kept repeating that he will never do what his brother did and that their community comes first. Betraying his kind just to be with a human it’s not worth it. I can’t be the only one that wanted to mock him. 

          I loved Dee as much as I did in the other books, but I think that now she was more daring. Also it was fun to see all three siblings together and their relationship towards each other, how Dee knew no boundaries and her brothers were never ready to hear things coming from their her mouth.

What I didn’t like about the book?
          While reading I felt like parts of the story were on repeat: new girl to a new town meets boy and falls in love with him. Much like in the case of Daemon and Kat all the other aliens were against their love story, but both Dawson and Bethany were ready to break the rules even though none of them did so until then.

          Bethany acted like her mother was the worst, that she did not allow her to do anything and I expected for her mother or at least her uncle to do something big for them not to see each other. Except for a few times when her mother told her not to do something I felt that her family was not there.  

The ending.
          It would be stupid to say I did not expect it, because I read Obsidian and I already knew their faith, but it happened too fast. I read it on my phone and I couldn’t see the progress of the book, but when I reached the ending I wanted more.

Now I am ready for Opal. Bring it on!

 

Guest Post: Get into the holiday spirit watching these Christmas movies

Wednesday, November 20, 2013
Image from Staticflickr.com

          A burning fireplace, a beautifully decorated Christmas tree, all family members sitting on the sofa after the delicious dinner, enjoying the lovely Christmas atmosphere – oh, what harmony! And what could be a better ending to the perfect  evening than watching an interesting movie that will get you and your whole family into the best Christmas spirit. There is a number of great Christmas movies that you just have to watch. Or even if you already have, you will surely not mind at all to watch them again (and again, and again).

Home Alone (1990)
          We can't talk about Christmas movies and not remember of Home Alone. It's perhaps the first one to occur to our minds when discussing movies to give us the Christmas vibe. It's such a lovely and loved sequel movie that makes us think that there is hardly anyone who hasn't seen it. It tells the story of a cute 10-year-old boy whose parents forget him at home and leave on holiday. The boy goes through a lot of funny moments while defending his home from two clumsy thieves.

The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
          This is an animated fantasy about the consequences of Halloween taking over Christmas. It's an old but interesting movie that is fun to see, especially if you want an extraordinary story, in which lovely Christmas and dark Halloween are tangled up.

Elf (2003)
          This is a funny story about a good-hearted and lovable elf, who is also quite misguided, and his struggles in New York where he goes to track his father down. It's a great comedy that is perfect to watch by the whole family.

The Polar Express (2004)
          This is a movie that can definitely rise your Christmas spirit. It's a lovely animated film based on a great children's book that tells the story of kids on a train to the North Pole to meet Santa Claus and their great adventures during the trip.

The Santa Claus (1994)
          This is a funny story about a man who has to turn from Scrooge to Santa because he accidentally kills the real Santa.

It's a Wonderful Life (1946)
          If we talk about Christmas movie classics, this is surely the one to come to our minds first. It's an old film that is considered one of the most inspiring movies of all times and is still loved by both kids and adults. It's definitely on the list of top Christmas movies and it's also a good way to entertain your children and at the same time give them a lesson about family and life.

Miracle on 34th Street
          This movie is a great story about Santa Claus. It welcomes children into the magic world of Christmas, making them think if there really is a Santa Claus. Preferred by many families, this film has influenced a lot on setting the tradition to watch it on Christmas eve. It's a perfect movie to see with your whole family.

A Christmas Carol (2009)
          This movie is based on the classic novel of Charles Dickens about a miser who is taken on a self-redemption trip by a few Christmas ghosts. It's a lovely inspirational story that makes you laugh and cry at the same time.

There are plenty of great films to watch with your whole family at Christmas and get the perfect holiday vibe. Check out this list of must-watch movies and enjoy the Christmas eve on the comfy sofa next to your beloved people.
 

Author Bio: Paula loves to write about movies and entertainment. She works as a manager of http://www.perfectcleaning.org.uk/house-cleaning-camden-town-nw1   but her real dream is to be an actress.

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