Monday, 30 November 2015

Extract from The Sentinel by Holly Martin

The first time I read this book it consumed me! I had been in a bit of a reading slump and decided to step outside my usual genre and straight into Holly's fantasy world. Everything about this is just filled with a crazy amount of imagination. On the eve of the release of the final book of the series read on for a look at the first chapter of The Sentinel...

A horrific squealing of brakes snatched me from my dreams.  As we swerved, my friend Julia smacked her head painfully against the window.  With a deafening bang, the coach lurched heavily onto its side.  The lights went out.  Metal screeched as it buckled along the ground.  Windows popped and splintered.  The coach suddenly tipped forward over what could only have been the edge of a cliff and our driver smashed into the front window.  Silence fell over my classmates as we watched in helpless horror, somehow knowing what was going to happen next.  With a sickening cracking sound, the glass shattered.  He scrabbled frantically in the air and his grass green eyes, filled with despair, found mine as he tumbled into the dark abyss below.  I knew that moment would be permanently seared on the inside of my eyelids, when fifty six people sat and watched our coach driver die.  And then the screaming started again.  It quickly intensified as the coach wavered precariously on the knife edge between our salvation and our death. 
Standing still and unmoved amongst the chaos Mr Kennedy, my English teacher, was suddenly by my side.  He tore me easily from my seatbelt, as if it was only made from paper, and swung me up into his arms so fast it was just a blur.  Leaping through a window into the icy black night, he landed on the road in one swift, gigantic, impossible movement.  Mr Curtis, my Science teacher, was holding onto the back of the coach with one hand.  A terrifying realisation engulfed me.  He was the only thing that was stopping the coach from toppling over the sheer drop and killing all my friends inside.
Mr Kennedy put me down and gestured to the coach. ‘Let it go, they’ll be too many questions otherwise. Eve is the only one that matters.’ 
My stomach twisted violently as Mr Curtis released it.
As gravity slowly took hold of the coach, pulling it over the great precipice, I shrieked with horror.  Without thinking I flung out my hands to stop it, clinging onto the bumper.  The coach stopped tipping immediately, though the screaming inside did not.  My eyes widened in shock as I realised that I was now singlehandedly preventing the coach from falling. I looked back at my two teachers in disbelief.
‘Help me,’ I screamed.
Mr Curtis joined me at the bumper.
‘Eve, if we do this, you will have to lie to everyone.  This never happened, the coach nearly slid off the cliff but somehow stopped before it did.  You were never rescued by Guardians, we never had this conversation.’
I nodded, numbly; anything to save my friends. 
With the loud, screeching sound of metal grinding against the rocks, Mr Curtis started pulling the coach back, as easy as if he was pulling a sheet off a bed.  He pulled it back just a few feet but it was enough that the coach wouldn’t topple over the edge. 
Before I could say anything I found myself in Mr Kennedy’s arms, whooshing through the air again.  I was lying back in the darkness of the coach a second later; a darkness that was filled with screaming and fear and pain.
Mr Kennedy’s voice was calm as he whispered in my ear. ‘Remember to lie Eve; it’s more important than anything that no one knows about you or the Guardians.’ He flicked open his phone and his voice changed to one of panic. ‘Hello is that the emergency services...there’s been an accident, oh please get here quick, the children, please...we’re on the mountain road between .....’
As I lay numb in the darkness, waiting for the emergency services to come, I listened to the sounds of Mr Kennedy and the other teachers, trying to calm down the screaming teenagers.  The sticky wet feeling of blood trickling through my hair was a sure indication that I had banged my head at some point.  But I was alive and so were the other fifty five passengers.  My teachers, the Guardians, had saved us. 
I swallowed, uneasily as I accepted the unwanted truth.  No, they hadn’t saved us, they had saved me. My head was buzzing with the thoughts crashing round it.  How had I managed to hold the coach?  All laws of physics dictated that what Mr Curtis had done, what I had done, was impossible.  And who or what were the Guardians? Why had they saved me?  What did they want from me?  ‘Eve is the only one that matters’.  I tried to catch my breath, but it stalled in my throat.  This didn’t make any sense.  What was so special about me?  Why was my life so much more important than anyone else’s?  My life had been pretty unremarkable.  I hadn’t saved any lives, I hadn’t done anything that was special, certainly nothing that could rank my life over anyone else. A sick feeling of panic prickled my scalp as I tried to breathe normally.
To make matters worse, my struggling to breathe alerted my two Guardians again.  How they had heard me above the screams of my friends was beyond me.  Amongst the cries of genuine pain from my fellow students, my Guardians stood unmoving by my side.
‘Is she hurt?’ Mr Curtis asked quietly.
Mr Kennedy bent down to touch my head, a surge of electricity shot through me and he stood back up again. ‘She’s had a bang to the head, but it’s just a lot for her to take in.  She’s beginning to understand how important she is and she doesn’t want to believe it.’
I looked up at them, at their grass green eyes that glinted in the moonlight; the exact same eyes as the driver who had fallen to his death. The same eyes as my parents.
‘This was no accident,’ Mr Curtis said.  ‘There were small explosives rigged to the tyres.  They were deliberately trying to kill her.’
‘The Putarians?’
‘Probably or someone after the bounty.  We will have to intensify the guard.’
‘There are already hundreds in her servitude; Eve’s teachers, doctors, neighbours.  She’s never alone now without a Guardian.  There are four that live in her house…’
Four Guardians that lived in my house? My parents, aunt Jada and uncle Silas, they were Guardians too? My throat was dry.
Flashes of my life suddenly filled my mind, like a film played too quickly to make any sense of it.  The flashes were of tall, powerful people with grass green eyes.  They had followed me throughout my life; they had seemingly watched me as if nothing else existed.  My family?  My teachers, next door neighbours, doctors, dentists, shop keepers, flower sellers? I had never been alone.  Even in seemingly innocuous situations the Guardians had never left me.  All of them shared one thing in common, that intense look in their eyes, that single minded ferocity that I had to be kept alive, that it was their job to protect me at all costs.  
Lying there surrounded by broken glass in the debris of the coach crash, the realisation of what the Guardians were came crashing down on me.  My heart was racing, my skin humming with horror.
‘She wasn’t supposed to find out this young.  She’s only seventeen.  She’s not ready for it yet.  She certainly shouldn’t have found out like this.  But still, the secret cannot remain at the cost of her life.’
‘No, we had to save her,’ agreed Mr Kennedy.
‘Maybe we can modify her memory.’
I felt a fresh wave of panic surge through me.  Finding out about the Guardians had horrified me.  The possibility of this knowledge now being taken away from me and the bubble of unawareness being refastened over my eyes and my mind was even more terrifying.  I had to find out answers not have what little I knew removed from me.  I shivered violently.
‘I can try.’ Mr Kennedy was doubtful as he bent down again to touch my head, then leapt back as if he had been burnt. He looked at Mr Curtis and shook his head. ‘She’s becoming more aware of her powers, maybe subconsciously now, but she is defending her mind against me.’
My powers!?  My heart was roaring in my ears.
‘I must say, I was very surprised to see her holding the coach earlier.  The strength isn’t supposed to kick in for a good few years yet.  Isn’t she supposed to be around twenty before she can do that?’ Mr Curtis muttered, as he shrugged out of his jacket and placed it over me.
‘We always hoped she would be physiologically advanced, but no one could have foreseen this.’
And suddenly, as if all this wasn’t enough to deal with, a tall man with a scar down his left cheek and golden eyes appeared between them, as if the air had just spat him out.  The two Guardians didn’t even flinch, as if people appearing from the thin air was the norm.  He glared at them as if he blamed them entirely.  He knelt by my side and put a hand to my head.  With a surge of energy from him the welcome dark of unconsciousness consumed me.


I lay in bed, in my home, thinking of the night of the crash and what it all meant.  Five days I had been back in England now.  Five nights of restless dreams, filled with super strength beings following my every move.  Five days where I couldn’t talk to anyone and no one in the know would talk to me. 
When I had woken in hospital from the relief of the empty unconsciousness, my Dad had been impossibly by my side.  How he had got to the French hospital in such a short time was a mystery.  I tried to talk to him about the Guardians, about what it all meant, but he had denied all knowledge of such things.  He tried to convince me that it was the bang to the head that had caused these hallucinations. 
Even Mr Curtis and Mr Kennedy denied what had happened that night.  And there was no one else I could talk to about it, because who would believe it.  What would any of my friends say if I started talking about Guardians and how supposedly important I was.  I can imagine the reaction actually; I’d imagine it would end with me sitting in a padded cell.  I couldn’t even tell Seth, my best friend, which hurt me the most, as I told him everything.  But it just sounded so unbelievable; I was having a hard time believing any of it myself.  Why would anyone else believe me?  Every time I started forming the words to tell him, my mouth would go dry with embarrassment. 
The annoying thing was Seth should have been there on the coach with me.  Seth had come on the school skiing holiday with us, but had seemingly broken his ankle a few days before the end of the trip and was flown home.  Though once back home he’d text me to say it was nothing more than a bad sprain.  I was so grateful in one way that he wasn’t there, so he didn’t get hurt in the crash.  But if he had been with me, he might have seen what had happened with Mr Curtis and Mr Kennedy and I wouldn’t be doubting my own sanity right now. 
I got up and felt Quinn, my golden retriever, stir next to me on the bed.  My throat was dry and the air was thick with heat.  The last few days had been warm despite the lateness of the year but the top of the house was always hot at night.
I took a long sip of water, opened the window and climbed out onto the roof.  My Dad hated me sitting on the roof and he’d nearly beat me once when he caught me out here.  But Uncle Silas had thrown him against a wall when he raised his hand to hit me.
Uncle Silas had been weird towards me since I came back from France.  Whenever we had been alone he would mutter things like, ‘trust no one’, or ‘just because they have green eyes it doesn’t make them safe’. 
The ‘secret passage’ was the strangest thing at the back of the garden.  He had showed me this hidden gate, with some special release button two days before. The alley, that must have cut across the backs of many of our neighbours’ gardens, led to a small side road.  Parked immediately outside the second gate was a black Range Rover, the keys to which were hanging on the back of the gate.  It was all very cloak and dagger.  I wouldn’t be surprised if the car had some kind of laser gun attached to it like something from James Bond.  It was almost laughable.
‘If you need to run, you run.  No one knows about this, no one.  Don’t look back, don’t take anyone with you, just run if you have to.’ That’s all he said and despite me badgering him for more information, he never said anything else.  Had Silas gone delusional?  What would I need to run from?  But then Mr Curtis had said that someone had tried to kill me by rigging explosives to the coach tyres.  But who would want to kill me and why were hundreds of Guardians in charge of my protection?  Was any of that even real?  The doctors at the hospital, the ones with the grass green eyes, had said a bang on the head could cause hallucinations.  It was easier to believe in hallucinations than super strength beings and murderers.
Quinn stirring inside caught my attention through the window but he slept on.  I sighed as my eyes shifted to my reflection in the glass. 
I was quite unremarkable in many ways.  My hair was a rather boring shade of brown, my nose, I always felt, was a bit too big for my face.  I was thin, but not in a willowy and graceful way, in fact I was quite short.  I had a strange birthmark on the inside of my left elbow; it looked like a small pair of wings. I always wore long sleeved tops to cover it up as much as I could.  The only part of my body I liked was my eyes.  They were big but what I liked best about them was I could never put a colour to them.  Where other people would say they had blue eyes or brown, I could never decide.  Some days they looked grey, some they definitely looked blue, some days I’d say with absolute conviction they were green, but the next I was leaning towards hazel, or maybe a bluey green.  I loved the uniqueness of my eyes, but that was definitely the only unique thing about me. Which just made what happened that night of the crash even more unbelievable.
Although certainly not unique, I’ve always thought of myself as a bit of a freak, a bit of an outcast.  I have never been one of the really cool kids, or really clever or really sporty.  I am distinctly average.   I think my friends, well my classmates, will look at our class photo, years from now, when they find it covered in dust at the back of the cupboard, and after laughing at their younger selves, they might pick out their friends and laugh at them too.  And then their eyes might drift to me, standing second from the left on the third row and they’d say, ‘who was that, what was her name, was it Eve something, Eve Jones that was it.’  Then their eyes would slide away from mine to find a much more interesting memory.  As far as my class mates are concerned, I’m just Eve, nice, plain old Eve.  But that’s what I want them to think.  I would hate them to know any different.
It had become glaringly obvious to me very early on that I was different to the other children.  I hated it.  I had stopped talking to my friends about my weekends many years ago, when my experiences stood stark apart from theirs.  Now I have to pretend that my weekends are normal. I make up tales of shopping, going to the cinema, going to London to the theatre.  How I long for those tales to be true.
I go to school, get good grades, run for the school cross country team, and read my books and play on my computer whenever I have any spare time.  But that is where the similarities end.  Where my friends spend the warmer weekends and school holidays, camping with family and riding their bikes through the woods, I have spent most of my spare time learning to shoot a multitude of frightening weapons, to fence with swords so sharp that the slightest slip would be fatal for me or my opponent.  I can speak three different languages, fluently.  Where my friends are learning how to play the flute or piano after school, I have learnt hand to hand combat and have become a black belt in three different martial art disciplines.  Where my friends have just started to learn to drive, I had already accomplished this by the time I was thirteen.  Now looking back, it kind of feels to me that I was perhaps in training for something, though I’ve never figured out what.
The only saving grace in my training was Seth was present for all of it, his Dad apparently as keen for him to learn how to kill someone as much as my Dad was for me to learn it.  Seth took to the training like a duck to water, like he had been born to fight.  The bruises on my body and the way I spent most of my younger years aching, were a clear indication, at least to me, that I wasn’t really built for such brutality. 
As I looked out into the dark garden, my heart started pounding angrily.  With the coach crash, the training, in trying to make sense of my life, ‘freak’ didn’t even come close to describing me.  The Guardians had made me an outcast.  With the training they had forced me apart from my friends.  But what was worse was I’ve never been told what it was all for.  Knowing I was different was one thing, but not knowing why was the ultimate insult. 
In the last few days I had seen the Guardians everywhere, parked outside my house, following me to the shops, over the park when I walked Quinn and so many of them at school, all silently watching me, or watching over me.  Their very presence was a painful reminder of this other world that I wasn’t allowed to know about, but somehow integral to. It annoyed me so much that they think I’m stupid enough not to notice them.  Though I was more annoyed with myself that for the last seventeen years I hadn’t.  It struck me now that the grass green eyes was the marker of these Guardians, but there had been so many of them surrounding me, that it had long since become the norm, though clearly not just for me, for everyone. 
It angered me that they held me in such reverence. How could they be so callous to let nearly sixty people die, just to preserve this stupid secret, to preserve me?  Their continual watch was oppressive, almost claustrophobic. 
I heard Quinn bark inside and I cursed inwardly that the bark would draw the attention of my Dad again.  I scrabbled back inside glaring at him treacherously but he was standing near the door, his heckles raised.  He growled then barked again.
I coughed.  The air was so dry in here.
Quinn barked again and I felt my blood turn to ice in my veins.  Something was wrong.  Was someone here?
I grabbed my baseball bat and stood in the darkness behind the door.  Running was not an option from the third floor.
Quinn was pacing in front of the door whimpering, as I coughed again.  Why was it so hard to breathe?
Suddenly I noticed the tendrils of smoke trickling through the crack at the bottom of the door and realised what Quinn had been so upset about. 
I opened the door and ran out onto the landing.  The roaring sound that filled my ears was almost deafening. Flames covered the stairs, licking up the walls in a frenzy to consume the whole house.  As I looked on in horror, at the photos that were bubbling and curling up in the heat and the carpet melting just a few feet from where I stood, Quinn tugged on my pyjama top, gently but forcibly pulling me back into the bedroom.  I was too shocked to even put up a fight.  Our only escape route had been cut off. 
I closed the door behind me and silence descended on the room. The door was thick and heavy, but it would only stop the fire for a few minutes and the smoke was already consuming me, making it difficult to breathe.  Quinn whimpered as he paced the room.  I ran to the window, but as I looked out I knew that jumping from the loft window, three storeys up, would be almost certainly fatal. 
But at least standing next to the window, I could breathe cool, clean air, though the heat of the room was intense.  I knew I only had minutes left before me and my beloved pet was burnt alive.  What of my parents, my aunt and uncle, had they managed to escape but couldn’t get to me?  I turned to get Quinn to the window so he could breathe too, but through the smoke I couldn’t see him. His whimpering was coming from the far side of the room.
‘Quinn!  Come on, here boy.’  I knelt trying to see his shadow in the gloom.
Quinn’s whimpering suddenly stopped and I wondered if this was the end, if the smoke had already consumed my dog and I would soon succumb too.  I suddenly decided that I wasn’t going to sit here and die, I would try to escape, and if I died trying that was going to be better than dying whilst doing nothing. 
I stood and as I cast desperately around for Quinn one last time, a shape appeared from the haze and I realised with a new sick horror, that I wasn’t alone. 
There was a man in the room with me, a young man I had never seen before.  The bedroom door was still closed so where the hell had he come from?  He moved towards me.  I backed away from him, willing to take on the fire rather than comprehend where this man had come from and for what reason.  He grabbed my arm to stop me from running back out the bedroom and I instinctively fought him off.  I had spent my life learning martial arts and when it mattered most, my body reacted without thinking.  He clearly knew martial arts too, as he easily deflected my first few punches.  I didn’t have time to get into a proper fight.  Desperately I kicked him in the shins and as he staggered back I flew out onto the landing. 
The fire had reached the top of the stairs now.
‘Eve, please, I’m trying to help,’ said the man from my room, approaching me slowly like you might approach a wild animal.  ‘Don’t be afraid.’  His voice was croaky, like he hadn’t spoken for some time.  His eyes were so familiar, deep pools of melted chocolate.  I’d never seen him before, I would have remembered someone so beautiful, but somehow I knew that face.  A distant memory clawed at my mind, but it was gone a second later.
I backed against the wall as he came closer and he reached out tentatively to take my arm.  The stench of petrol hit my nose and I knew with horrifying clarity that this was no accident.
‘Quinn!’ yelled a voice from below and the man with me looked down through the flames. 
‘Eli, I’ve got her.  What the hell’s going on?’
I stared at the man in shock.  Quinn.  This was Quinn?
‘Quinn?’ He looked back at me. ‘You’re…my dog?’ Even with the heat almost burning my skin, with mere minutes left before I died, I was still embarrassed about voicing my insanity out loud.  He was tall, with shaggy blond hair, the exact colour of my dog’s fur.  The brown eyes were so familiar because I had stared into them for the last seventeen years.
The man nodded, reluctantly.  ‘Yes, I’ll explain everything later, but now we need to get you out of here.’
I shrunk back against the wall.  ‘You’re my dog?!’
Suddenly the air spat out another man at our side.  He was huge and towered over Quinn, ferociously.  Muscles seemingly screamed from every part of him.  He had the grass green eyes of the Guardians but they were fiercely angry filled with hate.  Uncle Silas’s warning came back to haunt me, ‘not everyone with green eyes is safe’.  For reasons I didn’t know, I didn’t trust this man.
‘Eli, thank god!’ muttered Quinn. ‘Where’s David and Marie?’
My parents.  Eli didn’t say anything but the look that he gave Quinn sent ice to my heart.  Something was very wrong. 
Had Eli started the fire?  Was he here to kill me? There was a smell of petrol about him too.
‘My parents, are they here, we need to help them,’ I said.
‘There’s no one here Eve, only you and Quinn.’
Without another word Eli grabbed me up into his arms and marched back into the bedroom.
‘I’ll come back for you in a second,’ he said to Quinn as he walked purposefully to the window.
‘Don’t worry about me, I can just fly down.’
‘I think seeing you naked once you’ve shifted is one shock too many for her tonight.’
Eli knelt and gracefully stepped out onto the roof and without hesitating he leapt off into the darkness.
I screamed, knowing we were both plummeting to our deaths, and braced myself for the impact that never came. 
Seconds later I felt the man’s hold lessen and I was placed on the floor.  I stood in horror as he leapt back up in the air, landing easily on the roof.  He ducked back through the window again to get Quinn.
Blood tearing through my veins I eyed the secret gate at the back of the garden.  Eli couldn’t be trusted.  My dog that had spent every night since I was little lying on my bed was actually a man.  I felt sick and I knew it was time to run. 
Without looking back I fled.  I hit the button behind the bird house and tore through the gate that flew open.  Silas had seen this coming and I thanked him silently for the precautions he had put in place.
‘NO!’ I heard Eli roar behind me. 
I hit the other button to release the second gate, grabbed the keys and was out on the street a second later.  I jumped into the car, started the engine, slammed it into first and flooring the accelerator I shot up the road. 
To my immense surprise, by the time I had reached the end of the road, a silver Land Rover was closing the gap between us.  I looked in my rear view mirror and saw Eli leap onto the side of the Land Rover like he was windsurfing.  The silver car didn’t even slow down as Eli opened the door and climbed into the passenger seat.
I pushed the car to go faster.  As I approached the traffic lights at the end of the road, the red light threatened me to stop, but I shifted the car into fifth gear and sped through them.  The car behind me didn’t stop either, easily keeping up with my renewed speed.  I turned left into a smaller side road and then turned right and right again to head back onto the main road, in an attempt to shake them off, but they were so close they didn’t lose sight of me for a second.  Speeding along the dark and empty streets, the silver car was suddenly joined by a police car, blue lights flashing furiously as it drew level with me. 
How could I explain this to the police?  ‘Hi officer.  The man chasing me in the car behind has super strength, I think he started the fire in my house to kill me and for reasons I don’t understand, this is the second attempt on my life in the last week.  There’s also a shape shifter in on this madness and he’s slept on my bed for the last seventeen years.  If you can find them there are Guardians somewhere who are here to protect me.  I’m sure they’ll explain everything to you, or maybe not as they certainly won’t tell me anything.’ 
I hesitated for a moment.  Was Eli one of my Guardians?  He had rescued me from the fire.  But his eyes had been filled with so much anger.  And then there was Quinn, my dog, definitely not a Guardian, he wasn’t big enough nor did he have the grass green eyes.  Eli knew him, were they in on this together?  Silas had always looked at Quinn with hatred and suspicion.  Had he known that he wasn’t really a dog at all?  I looked across at the policeman who was waving at me to pull over, but as we drove the street lights lit up the grass green eyes of the officer and I knew he was one of them too.   I slowed a bit; if he was a Guardian he was here to protect me, to save me from Eli. I looked back towards the policeman and was thrown by the look of furious hatred from him. The police were with Eli, they wanted me dead.
I put my foot back down on the accelerator again and took off through the town.  The cars followed, only inches from me.  Soon the town was left behind and I was speeding through the quiet country lanes.  A third car, a large red Audi, pulled out in front of me, slowing down, forcing me to do the same.  The patrol car drew level with me, boxing me in and the sense of claustrophobia added to my fear.  There was no escape. 
The police car slammed into my car, causing me to wobble dangerously as I fought to gain control.  The occupants of the red car were clearly not happy with this and swerved in front of the police car, taking out half of its bonnet as it did so.  The police car didn’t show any signs of slowing down.
Taking advantage of this distraction I veered violently to the left, I swerved off the road and ploughed across a field.  The car responded beautifully, it was built to be off road.  Unfortunately so was the silver car that was still following me.  The two other cars chased me too.  I’d lost their immediate proximity but they were soon catching me up.  I tore down the hill, flooring the accelerator.  There was another road at the bottom and I aimed for it. 
As the hill flattened out and I neared the road, the moonlight glinted off the surface and my heart crashed into my stomach as I realised it was actually a river that I was about to drive into.  There was no time to stop, and as the car hit a small bank and took off, I had time to pray that my uncle had fitted the car with some kind of wings.  The river was easily six or seven metres wide and I held my breath as I waited for the car to crash into the icy water.  To my upmost surprise the car landed slickly on the other side and I swerved quickly to avoid the approaching trees.  I sped along the river, my three car entourage keeping level with me on the opposite side; clearly none of them were stupid or brave enough to try jumping it like I had done. 
Suddenly realising the river had given me the advantage, I slammed on the brakes.  The other cars were travelling so fast that when they all did the same they stopped a few hundred yards up the field from where I had come to a stop.  The policeman was already out the car and in an impossible move leapt high in the air and landed on my side of the river.
I made to get out the car but Eli was already by my side, appearing from the air.  He slammed the door shut, his weight buckling the car door and breaking the glass.  Other men leapt across the river as easily as if they had stepped across a small puddle. But instead of running for me, they ran for the policeman.  My Guardians?  But was Eli one of them? Not waiting to find out, I scrambled to the other side.  I leapt out the car and burst into the woods, running as fast as I could through the darkness.  I was a fast runner; this much I knew, and with the adrenaline coursing through me, I pushed myself faster than I had ever ran before.
I wove through the trees and jumped over bushes.  The trees whipped against my face, the fingers of the branches grabbing my clothes and pulling me back, but I ran on.  I leapt over a small stream and scrambled up the bank on the other side.  I paused for a moment, listening to see if I had anyone following me and despite the speed I had torn through the woods I could distinctly hear at least two different people fast approaching my location.  This was hopeless.  There was never going to be any escape from them.   
I could feel the anger, the shock, the fear boiling inside my chest, a burning ball of rage that seemed to suddenly consume me.  My fingers twitched and for a second a flash of blue light seemed to flicker in my hand.  But I was distracted from this as the next second two men broke the trees on the opposite bank of the stream, Eli was one of them.
‘NO!’ I screamed in fury, instinctively putting my hand up.  A blue bolt of lightning shot from my hand and exploded in a sphere across the stream.  The men were blown back from the force of the explosion and I staggered away from what I had done, not sure how I’d even done it.  I ran on into the darkness, but running for a different reason now, running to get away from the shock of what had just happened. 

With disbelief I heard the men still running after me.  I looked back over my shoulder to see how close they were, when suddenly I slammed into a body so hard I would have fallen over if a pair of strong hands hadn’t held me.  I screamed and struggled against my captor but the grip only tightened.  A hand pressed over my mouth…

If you enjoyed this first chapter check out the links below for your chance to get The Sentinel for FREE this week only!

Sunday, 29 November 2015

Archive Author Interview - Holly Martin

So excited about this post! Today I have the fantastic author lady Holly Martin to welcome to the blog. I read Holly’s fantastic YA Fantasy novel The Sentinel, first in The Sentinel series, at the end of last year and I had a whole bunch of questions that I was desperate to ask Holly about the characters, the story and her freakin’ awesome imagination! Here is the interview!!

Q1 – Tell us about your novel The Sentinel

It's a fast paced, action packed, fantasy adventure with great twists and superpowered beings.  It's a story about Eve and her destiny to save the world, a story of friendship, loyalty and love.

Q2 – Why fantasy, what inspired you to write in this genre?

I love writing fantasy because anything and everything can happen.  The only limits are your imagination. The Sentinel is filled with super powered and super strength beings, amazing stunts and shape shifters and I love that when writing fantasy the impossible becomes possible.

Q3 – Eve is the main character from The Sentinel. Was it natural that your hero would be a female character, did you ever contemplate having a male lead?

Great question.  When I wanted to write a book like this, I looked around at the other teenage fiction books in this genre and realised that most of the leads were men or boys.  Alex Rider, Young James Bond, Harry Potter, Percy Jackson, there seemed to be a distinct lack of strong female characters.  The girls I taught all loved these books, the action, stunts, the fantasy as much as the boys did and I wanted to write a book that had a good role model for girls.  I started writing this book about five years ago.  Thankfully there are a lot more books with female leads now and I think this is a great thing.  Also, as far as I was concerned, there had to be a love story, one of those love lasts for eternity type loves and I felt this could only really be portrayed properly from the girl's point of view.

Q4 – Eve has super strengths that she wasn’t even fully aware of. How did you come up with all of her powers, did anything inspire them?

I used to watch Charmed when I was younger; I loved that show, so I was inspired by that.  I did some research into super powers and super heroes and found out there was a huge range out there to choose from. I wanted Eve to have them all.

Q5 – The thing that marks Eve out as different is that she has little bits of every other character’s powers. Did you decide that you would create her character like this at the start of the process, or did she get more powers as the writing process progressed?

She was always going to be really powerful, that was important.  She had been created to be more powerful than any other living thing.  The Oraculum, the council of nine that created her, had foreseen the end of the world and they knew that they themselves, the nine most powerful beings on this planet, would not be enough to stop it so they created Eve.  So she had to have some incredible strength and powers.  She does get more powerful as the books progress and she becomes more adept at using them

Q6 – Eve has the weight of the world, almost literally, on her shoulders. That’s a lot for someone of 17 years of age to deal with! How did you make sure she was strong enough to cope with that?

I just ensured she was surrounded by people that loved and cared about her.  Her relationship with Seth is very important here, she knows she has to fight for a world with him in.  Having Quinn and Persia and her Guardians around her to support her and cheer her on helps with the huge transition that she goes through.

Q7 – Which character do you identify most with?

I'd like to say Eve as I always thought that I was destined for great things when I was a child, saving the world type things, not just winning the 100m relay or getting ten out of ten on a spelling test.  I always thought that there was some big secret and that one day my destiny would be revealed to me.  I'm still waiting.

Q8 – If you could chose a favourite part of the story, what would it be?

The end of book 1 between Seth and Eve made me cry, I love the part with Edward and the part with the cat.  Can't say more than that, it would spoil it for those that haven't read it yet.

Q9 – Do you have a favourite character?

Seth, definitely Seth, I just love him so much. I want my own Seth.  The love he has for her, that 'I would die for you' type of love, I love that.

Q10 – We’ve already discussed a dream cast for Eli (Chris Hemsworth), Seth (Liam Hemsworth) and Quinn (Jesse Spencer). What about the girls? You have some kick ass characters to cast there, is there anyone that comes to mind?

Oh that's so hard, Eve would be very hard to cast.  I like Saoirse Ronan, but the actress that plays Eve would have to have some serious balls, the tricky part is Eve being so young too, she's 17. Persia could be played by the same actress who played Ginny Weasley; she's sweet but fiery too.

Q11 – At the end of the story you let us have a look at what’s next for the characters – talk about a tease! Can you tell us anything about the second in the series?

Eve becomes stronger in her power and can achieve some amazing things but her new gifts draws the attention of The Oraculum, the council that created her and they're not particularly happy about the way she uses her powers.  When she is summoned to their castle to answer for her actions she becomes aware of a rift between them that could not only endanger her life but the whole planet too.  Her love for Seth grows too and we see their relationship blossom.  But the book is also full of darkness.  Not everyone Eve loves will survive.

Q12 – Did you always know that this was going to be a series or did it start to take form when you were writing The Sentinel?

Initially when I started writing it, it was going to be a trilogy, but there was so much going on that I couldn't possibly finish it in three books, so it is now a four book series.

Q13 – When can we expect the second book to be released?

April I hope.

Q14 - You already know I absolutely loved this story, what would you say to other readers thinking about reading this story?

I’d say what are you waiting for!
So many people have said to me that fantasy or Young Adult books are not their sort of thing at all but how much they loved The Sentinel anyway.  People are put off by the Teen label but if you enjoyed Harry Potter then I think you will love this.  Read the first few chapters which is free on Amazon, if you like what you see, then read the rest.

Q16 – You have a chick-lit novel coming out, The Guestbook – can you tell us a little about that?

I love The Guestbook because it’s a very different way of telling a story.  The story unfolds solely through the messages left in the guestbook of a holiday cottage.  Annie Butterworth owns the cottage and lives next door, it is her story told through her interactions with the guests, plus we get a snapshot into the unique and unusual lives of the guests too.

Q17 – How has the writing process differed, if at all, between The Sentinel and The Guestbook? 

The Sentinel is fantasy so anything can happen, people can fly or shoot flames from their hands.  The Guestbook is set in the real world, so no super powers unfortunately.  The writing process was very different in The Guestbook, because its not a traditional story, so I had to think carefully about the type of information that could be portrayed in the book.  It was quite liberating because all the stuff that normally makes up a book like the setting or the descriptions of people or what they were wearing didn't really appear in this story.

Now for some Holly questions!
Q18 – What do you get up to when you’re not busy writing?

I work long hours, sometimes I'm out the house 14 hours a day so anytime I have, that's not taken up with work is normally dedicated to writing.  I'm on Twitter way too much.  Seeing friends at the weekends. I love going to the cinema, that's probably my favourite thing to do, meals out with friends.  I used to scuba dive a lot but unfortunately a terrible seasickness put a stop to that.
Q19 – Do you have a favourite book?

That's way too hard, one book, just one.  I loved The Host and Twilight series by Stephanie Meyer, loved Shadow Forest by Matt Haig, love Winter Wonderland by Belinda Jones, Twenties Girl by Sophie Kinsella and On the Edge , Richard Hammond's autobiography after his car accident was so honest and raw.

Q20 – What authors/genres do you typically enjoy?

Chicklit, but the Happy Ever After type, the light hearted, rose tinted type, not the miserable sort that makes you cry buckets. I love fantasy, dystopian YA too.

Q21 – What are you most excited for in 2014?

Sherlock Holmes, can't wait for that.  Oh and the publication of The Guestbook that's very exciting eeek!!!

Thanks again to the wonderful Holly. You can read my review of The Sentinel here.

Saturday, 28 November 2015

Archive Review: The Sentinel by Holly Martin

The bit on the back…


When Eve is rescued from a horrific coach crash by her teachers, she is shocked to discover they possess super strength and speed. But what happens next is even more harrowing.

In the aftermath of the crash she discovers that everyone in her life from neighbours, doctors, dentists, teachers, shop keepers and even her family and friends are actually super strength Guardians sent to protect her. They all have one thing in common, a single minded ferocity that she must be kept alive at all costs.

However, she is surrounded by secrets and lies. Those in the know deny all knowledge of what happened that fateful night. Everyone else carries on as normal, seemingly unaware of the new strange world that she has stumbled against. With the help of Seth, her best friend, Eve discovers the prophecies surrounding her true identity and the super strength she too holds. With her Guardians pledged to protect her, her closest friends ready to die for her, her own hopes and dreams are put on hold whilst she battles to control the amazing powers she has been bestowed with.

But those that seek to destroy her move ever closer. Will the Guardians be enough to protect her when so many are prepared to stop at nothing to see her dead? And will she be strong enough to fulfil her destiny when the time comes?

This is unlike anything I have ever read before.

Firstly, thank you to Holly for sending me a copy of her book The Sentinel to review. I was having a bit of a slump with reading and I ended up putting the book I was reading down, and looking for something else. I had a scroll down my kindle library and when I saw this again I thought I would start it and see if I could get my reading mojo back.

The Sentinel is about main character Eve. Eve lives in our world; she is just a normal girl. Except she isn’t and although she lives in our world, it’s not planet Earth as we know it. Eve has secretly been in training all her life, although she didn’t know it at the time. Eve is living in a world where everyone around her has a secret identity and a binding promise that ties them to her. They are her guardians, her super human guardians who surround her to protect her from those who seek to destroy her.

I don’t even know where to begin to write this review to ensure that I do it the justice that it deserves. The story starts with Eve getting a first glimpse into the world that she truly belongs. She possess a strength which marks her out as superhuman but the first talk of guardians alert her to the fact that she is not along in this strength. She is confused by the whole accident and what it could potentially mean for her. You get to go on this mad journey with her as she finds out everyone around her is someone else, with the help of her best friend Seth (Liam Hemsworth plays him in my head) she gets to grip with her new powers and starts to see a new purpose for her life.

Holly has given each character their own remarkable abilities, but Eve is like a hybrid of these abilities. The interwoven traits in her genetic make-up are so fantastically thought out that even reading this in a world without super powers you can visualise Eve and you feel like you’re experiencing the story with her, as her. Which is completely different to just reading a story.

The story is filled with action as the young adults, wise beyond their years, teach Eve to use her abilities and try to protect her. It allows you to completely escape to a new reality, Eve’s. On top of the fact it’s bursting with action it’s also filled with love. A love for family, but also love between Eve and Seth which is so deep seated that it really does feel like they were made for each other. I’ve chosen to schedule this review for Christmas day as there is a significance with the story, which you will either know or find out about – exciting!

Holly is planning to release the 2nd novel in the series in April 2014 but has included a sneak peak at the end of the story, which is the epitome of all teasers.

The imagination employed in the writing and creation of this story is extraordinary.

Erin x

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Review of Surviving Ice by KA Tucker

The bit on the back…

Ivy Lee, a talented tattoo artist who spent the early part of her twenties on the move, is looking for a place to call home. She thinks she might have finally found it working in her uncle’s tattoo shop in San Francisco. But all that changes when a robbery turns deadly, compelling her to pack up her things yet again.

When they need the best, they call him. That’s why Sebastian Riker is back in California, cleaning up the mess made after a tattoo shop owner who resorted to blackmail and got himself shot. But it’s impossible to get the answers he needs from a dead body, leaving him to look elsewhere. Namely, to the twenty-something-year-old niece who believes this was a random attack. Who needs to keep believing that until Sebastian finds what he’s searching for.

Ivy has one foot out of San Francisco when a chance encounter with a stranger stalls her departure. She’s always been drawn to intense men, so it’s no wonder that she now finds a reason to stay after all, quickly intoxicated by his dark smile, his intimidating strength, and his quiet control.
That is, until Ivy discovers that their encounter was no accident—and that their attraction could be her undoing.

This is the 4th book in KA Tucker’s Burying Water series. I have never been sure of which book in this series has been my favourite – because I’ve loved them all – and this has not made it any clearer!

Each book in the series focuses on two different main characters and is told from both the male and female perspectives. This is just one of the things I love about this series because KA Tucker nails dual POV every single time. Each character’s own story is completely individual and different to the other main character in their book although there is always one thing that ties them together. The uniqueness of each story line is especially shown in Surviving Ice. It is emphasised by the secretive natures of both characters.

Ivy is a character we have already been introduced to as she was Amber Welles’ enemy turned friend in Chasing River – book 3. Ivy came across as highly independent, fierce and more than able to hold her own. That comes across again in Surviving Ice but we also get to see a softer, needier and almost vulnerable side to her as Sebastian breaks down her barriers. Sebastian is the strong, contemplative and brooding type. Having just watched the film American Sniper I have a whole new appreciation for his personality, his protectiveness and his well-honed and much admired physique.

In the beginning and for the majority of the story Sebastian doesn’t fully disclose who he really is, or why he has all of a sudden entered Ivy’s life. I kept waiting, turning page after page for the proverbial to hit the fan but it was well concealed until the last gasp. If it were any other main character things might have been different, however, Ivy wasn’t oblivious to the fact that Sebastian was hiding something although she didn’t know what. I’m glad because there is nothing about Ivy that is na├»ve or stupid. Their attraction is obvious and the two characters being around one another seemed effortless, I really believed their story.

I could have reread this book straight away it was just that good and it had me hooked from the start. I would recommend this series for fans of Samantha Young and Colleen Hoover.

Tuesday, 24 November 2015

Blog Tour: Promo Victoria James and Ophelia London!!

Enter to Win a 
$25.00 Gift Card to the HERSHEY'S Store

Still Harbor #2
Victoria James
Releasing Nov 9th, 2015
Entangled: Bliss

She’s falling for the one man who could destroy everything…

Alex McAllister always dreamed of a life filled with the laughter and love of a family, but being abandoned at a young age left her wary of letting anyone in. Now that she’s settled in Still Harbor, Alex struggles between keeping her distance and the magnetic pull of the handsome stranger who claims he’s the biological father of her adopted daughter.

Hayden Brooks never wanted to be a father. Long hours spent building his family’s real estate empire suits him just fine. But when he discovers an ex put the baby he unknowingly fathered up for adoption, his world crumbles. He tracks the child to Still Harbor with the intention of bringing her home—and comes face to face with his daughter’s stunning adoptive mother.

The paternity test is in. And Hayden’s about to make the most shocking decision of his life, just in time for Christmas…

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Sugar City #2
Ophelia London
Releasing Nov 9th, 2015
Entangled: Bliss

He’s sweet trouble...

Natalie Holden wants three things: To be the best chocolate chemist in Hershey, Pennsylvania, to prove her chocolate recipe can help teenage depression, and to get over gorgeous Luke Elliott, the guy she’s had a crush on since birth. Unfortunately, he’s the microbiologist set to debunk her chocolate study. And, of course, he looks more delicious than ever!

Luke Elliott is still bitter over his divorce. Work is his passion now, and landing a huge promotion is just what he needs. What he doesn’t need is a crackpot trying to prove that chocolate cures depression. The last thing he expects is for the crackpot to be Natalie Holden—his “what if” girl from high school—or that she’d still tempt the hell out of him.

They may not see eye-to-eye on her project, but they can’t deny the explosive chemistry that keeps pulling them together. Even when it risks their jobs and the very different futures they both want…

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Victoria James is a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of contemporary romance.
Victoria always knew she wanted to be a writer and in grade five, she penned her first story, bound it (with staples and a cardboard cover) and did all the illustrations herself. Luckily, this book will never see the light of day again.

In high school she fell in love with historical romance and then contemporary romance. After graduating University with an English Literature degree, Victoria pursued a degree in Interior Design and then opened her own business. After her first child, Victoria knew it was time to fulfill her dream of writing romantic fiction.

Victoria is a hopeless romantic who is living her dream, penning happily-ever-after's for her characters in between managing kids and the family business. Writing on a laptop in the middle of the country in a rambling old Victorian house would be ideal, but she's quite content living in suburbia with her husband, their two young children, and very bad cat.

Sign up for Victoria's Newsletter to stay up to date on upcoming releases and exclusive giveaways, follow her blog for daily antics and insight into her daily life, and get to know her on twitter and Facebook. She loves hearing from readers!

USA Today bestselling author Ophelia London was born and raised among the redwood trees in beautiful northern California. Once she was fully educated, she decided to settle in Florida, but her car broke down in Texas and she’s lived in Dallas ever since. A cupcake and treadmill aficionado (obviously those things are connected), she spends her time watching arthouse movies and impossibly trashy TV, while living vicariously through the characters she writes. Ophelia is the author of AIMEE & THE HEARTTHROB; DEFINITELY, MAYBE IN LOVE; the Abby Road series; Perfect Kisses series; Sugar City series; and the brand new cozy mystery CHALK LINES & LIPSTICK. Visit all her books HERE, but don’t call when The Vampire Diaries (or Dawson’s Creek) is on. #paceylove