Monday, May 21, 2018

"Monsterland Reanimated" by Michael Okon


GUEST POST and EXCERPT
Monsterland Reanimated
(Monsterland Book 2)
by Michael Okon

Monsterland Reanimated (Monsterland Book 2) by Michael Okon

Monsterland Reanimated is the second book in the Monsterland series by Michael Okon. Also available: Monsterland (read my blog post).

Monsterland by Michael Okon

Monsterland Reanimated is currently on tour with Bewitching Book Tours. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author and an excerpt. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.


Description
After Monsterland has imploded, the entire world is thrown into chaos. World leadership is gone, economies have collapsed, and communications are non-existent. Wyatt must go beyond the boundaries of his small town to reestablish contact with the outside world and alert the government about a traitor-in-chief.
During his journey he discovers a new threat released from the bowels of the defunct theme park.
When an army of relentless mummies, a life-sucking ooze called The Glob, and a hybrid reanimated Behemoth rise from the depths of Monsterland, who will survive?


Book Video


Excerpt
Chapter 1
The Night After the Monsterland Catastrophe
A bright moon painted the desert’s surface pewter. Here and there, dark spots soiled the landscape like oil spills. Most of the bodies had been taken before the troops were ordered to leave. They carted away the corpses, bulldozing the zombies into mass graves, until radios chirped with urgent orders deploying the soldiers to the bigger threats that erupted in the main cities like a chain of angry volcanos.
Monsterland was extinguished, its carcass left for the vultures to pick, the exhibits silent as a tomb.
The dead president and his equally dead entourage were whisked away on Air Force One, along with the dark-clad special operatives that came and left like the brisk desert wind that now howled through the empty streets.
A gate screamed in the silence, slamming with a reverberating smash. The uneven gait of someone with a physical challenge filled the void. The scrape and plod of his limp echoed against the wall of mountains framing the theme park. His labored breathing huffed as he made his way down the streets.
A door creaked loudly as it was blown by the wind. He stopped, his distorted figure silhouetted in the pale moonlight, his body turning silver. He looked at the broken glass littering the pavement like diamonds, then up to the still, pre-dawn sky. He considered the sun peeking over the jagged horizon in the east, its golden light painting the dips and hollows of the hills. Soon the coming day would chase the darkness away.
Time was the enemy now. He had to move faster, or it would be too late. He picked up his pace, lurching along the winding road. A keening howl ricocheted through the streets, bouncing off the walls. It sounded like a ... no, he thought, it couldn’t be. The werewolves were all dead. Destroyed by Vincent Konrad when he made their heads explode.
The old man paused, listening for it again, and was not disappointed when the animal whimpered. He gauged it to be inside the defunct vampire exhibit. He moved toward the entrance. The storefronts had been destroyed. A few body parts lay on the pavement, as if people had discarded them in a rush. He heard the scraping of paws on the street and a shiver went down his crooked spine.
He knew the werewolves were dead; he had seen it with his own eyes. A figure detached from the shadows. Igor flattened himself against the wall. He watched it move stealthily down the street, stopping when it scavenged a morsel of rotting flesh. It looked up to stare at Igor, its eyes glowing in the darkness.
A coyote? He waved a hand, dismissing it. It had to be a coyote; it was too small to be a wolf, too big to be a dog. The beast twitched its ears, then resumed its meal.
Igor knew the coyote was not a threat, and he continued his mission. His lame foot hit a can, sending a cacophony of sound like an explosion in the deserted park. The beast dropped the bone it was gnawing on, sniffing the area. Its iridescent eyes searched the streets.
It could be a baby wolf, Igor thought, keeping himself as still as possible. He felt it watching him, even from this distance. It was not a threat, yet.
Igor skittered away, hugging the walls of Monsterland, putting as much distance as he could between them. Not an easy feat, considering his distorted hips. He muttered to himself about carrion and the wind. His eyes darted nervously, scouring the hills, not exactly sure what he was looking for. Adrenaline coursed through his veins. His heart pounded so loudly he was certain that the creature watching him could hear it too.
His feet stumbling to a halt, he bent over, gasping for air, cursing Vincent and those meddlesome teenagers, as well as the rest of the world.
The beast gave another mournful howl that went right through him. Igor glanced at his empty hands, berating himself for not bringing a weapon. He searched his surroundings for anything to protect himself.
Then he saw it, one of the axes they had on almost every corner. All of them had been pulled from their protective cases. One was lying in a pool of coagulating blood, the blade long gone. He picked up the broken axe handle, turning in a semicircle. He was ready for an attacker.
A new, larger outline made his heart quiver with fear. It crouched in a corner, its snout covered with blood. This one was bigger, not a coyote, a wild wolf. Wait, he thought. Weren’t the gray wolves of California all but extinct?
Igor narrowed his eyes. The beast was a light reddish brown and not the silver gray of a wolf’s pelt. A chain hung from its neck, the pendant of a werewolf’s head dangling, emerald eyes flashing. What was it? Was it a mutant coyote? A wolf? Some weird hybrid, he wondered for a minute, his breath harsh in his ears. They watched each other soundlessly.
A hybrid then. He’d heard about them, a rare mixture of wolf and coyote. What did they call them? Coywolves ...? or was it Woyotes? He shrugged indifferently. Perhaps someone’s pet, he decided. Igor’s mirthless laugh came out like a snort.
The coywolf stood still, its ears alert, its head cocked as if it was observing him.
Igor dropped the makeshift weapon, calling out, “Eat the rest of your meal, you dumb beast.”
The animal continued to watch him, its two front paws on the remains of a zombie’s chest.
Igor wiped his forehead, waiting, his eyes coming back to search the village, confirming it was empty, except for the carrion eaters like the coyotes and vultures. He looked up, noting the circling predators waiting for him to move on.
“Interrupted your meal,” he chuckled. Just the local scavengers looking for food. That was all; the shadows revealed nothing else. Satisfied he was alone, he moved on. He had work to do.
A paper flew past him, hitting a kiosk as the wind plastered it against its surface. It flapped like a dying bird. Igor reached over, taking the fluttering paper, peering at the map of the park, the one they gave people as they entered Monsterland. A bark of laughter escaped his mouth.
He looked up at the giant monolith that was once the Werewolf River Run, its hulking shape obscuring the horizon. “You are here,” he giggled, pointing a grimy finger on the paper’s surface. He dragged his deformed body further down the pavement. The storefronts that used to be Monsterland’s Main Street yawned vacantly, the wind whistling through the narrow alleyways. “Now, you are here,” he laughed. Shouting, he listened to the sound of his voice bouncing off the blood-splattered walls.
He made his way to the back end of the zombie village, feeling like the last man on earth. He glanced around at the desolate landscape. His home, the beautiful theme park, was little more than ruins destroyed by the army.
His nose twitched from the fetid smell of rot. The US Army had massacred the zombies. The troops came like a force of nature wiping out everything in its path, every last one of them blown away by the troops.
They were black ops, special forces, he knew from their uniforms. He wondered if things were indeed going as planned. He shrugged, knowing right now nothing mattered except for what he had to do. The irony that he was just about the most important man on earth brought more amusement to his smile.
The local police force was gone, as were the leaders of most countries in the world. He knew all was chaos outside, perhaps even war, each nation blaming the next for the loss of their leadership. Not to worry, he thought. Vincent left America in capable hands.
Dreams do come true, he snickered. Nightmares too, he finished the thought. A long line of drool pulled at his lower lip. He paused at a pothole in the road, decomposing body parts glistening, the disappearing moon turning the bits of bone and brains pearly.
Anxiety bloomed in his chest as he passed the opaque windows of Vincent’s derelict Monsterland hotel, the Copper Valley Inn. He hated that place. Abandoned construction vehicles were frozen in their spots, testimony to the hotel’s unfinished business.
Despite the pastel colors of its exterior, it sat like an ominous crypt to the part of the theme park that Vincent could never control. Told Vincent it was a money pit. Crews couldn’t work because ... well, it didn’t matter anymore. The help was all dead. He thought he saw a light flicker in the window, but when he turned, he realized it was nothing more than a sputtering gas lamp that had never been disconnected.
He stood for a while, staring for more activity, and then jerked with the realization that he waited too long and wasted precious time. Surely no one expected him to go searching during the heat of battle.
Vincent said it was enough time to set up the timetable. Vincent knew everything, and Igor felt his panic ebb. It had been barely twenty-four hours since the attack. For all he knew, he could be on a fool’s errand.
He pressed his hand on his hip, his back screaming with resentment at so much movement. He was not used to any exercise. He sighed, wiping his brow with the ragged end of his costume, the lace scratching his skin. He caught the cuff, snagging the material with his teeth, tugging it free from his velvet jacket. He loathed the show and was glad he’d never have to endure the humiliation of performing again, especially with the vamps. Those condescending, blood-sucking parasites. He wouldn’t have to worry about them anymore, he thought with satisfaction. Vincent had promised he’d not have to endure them for long, living up to his part of the bargain quite nicely. They were gone, torn apart by the werewolves or transformed into a tasty dinner by the zombies. Either way, they wouldn’t be bullying him with their nasty insults. Something buzzed around him, and he swiped at it.
It felt as though he walked to the other side of the earth. Why Vincent had to pick Zombieville to make his last stand, he’d never know. The Werewolf River Run would have been much more convenient. It was getting lighter now, and he could easily make out the smoking devastation.
He searched the horizon, his eyes resting on the burnt wreckage of a golf cart, the torched skeleton listing at an odd angle.
Pulling his lame foot, he pushed himself as fast as his body could travel, his breath hitching with the effort.
The corpse was gone. He knew they would have taken that for DNA testing, proof that the enemy was vanquished. The only things left were the putrid carcasses from Monsterland, the decaying zombies, massacred vampires, and what was left of the werewolves after Vincent had exterminated them.
He climbed a small hill, his bad leg screaming with pain. Igor crowed with triumph when he saw it, the discarded lump of flesh, lying forgotten in a ditch, face down. He shivered as the desert wind stirred and eddied around him. Damn, but it was desolate here.
He hunkered down, forcing himself to skitter on the hard-packed earth. He wondered what his son, the vice president—no, he corrected himself, the new president of the United States, Mr. Nate Owens—would think of his father now, scrambling like a dung beetle in the dirt.
He cursed. The drool was back, dripping from his mouth like a sparkling spider web. Instead of rising—it was beyond him at this point—he shimmied over to the severed head, reaching forward, reverently, grabbing it by the matted hair, and grasping it to his chest.
The black eyes stared back dully, the dark depths reflecting the hunchback’s twisted smile.
Vincent Konrad’s lifeless face lay in his hands, the pale lips open in a soundless scream.
“I’m so happy I could kiss you, Vincent!” he told the decapitated head. He cradled the face of his friend. “We’ll get you fixed up in no time.”
The moon bathed the face a pale blue. The hunchback jiggled the dead weight, cackling with delight as the one papery eyelid drooped as if it were winking.
In the distance, that coywolf howled, making Igor suck in his breath with fear. He tucked the head under his arm as he struggled back up the small hill, mumbling something about Plan B.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


Praise for the Book
“I had not read the first Monsterland novel, but really it is not necessary to have done so before reading Monsterland Reanimated. Author Michael Okon gives us the backstory very well as events unfold in the new story. I would never have believed a novel about zombies, shape-shifters, and monsters in general would captivate me quite the way this one did and that is a real credit to the author. I found his writing style and dark humour, with some subtle and not so subtle pop culture references, to be immensely enjoyable to read.” ~ Grant Leishman for Readers’ Favorite
Monsterland Reanimated: Monsterland Series Volume 2 by Michael Okon is a gritty and raw horror novel that does the genre justice. Fast-paced, intense and actually giving me goosebumps, Monsterland Reanimated works with elements that may seem to be too much, but the author somehow makes them work brilliantly together. Superbly crafted, Monsterland Reanimated is a nail biter that I just didn't want to put down.” ~ Rabia Tanveer for Readers' Favorite
Monsterland Reanimated features a riveting plot and an arresting narrative voice that combines with the exciting dialogues to create a reading experience that is perfect for fans of horror. This is an engrossing read with conflict and suspense that will keep readers turning the pages. An electrifying read!” ~ Romuald Dzemo for Readers' Favorite
“Careful thought and consideration have gone into each character and their own individual history and plot, adding to their depth and believability. There are some great action scenes which only serve to enhance a well-executed and conceived plot. The stakes have been raised and, as a reader, I find myself eagerly awaiting the next book in this imaginative and thrilling series.” ~ K.J. Simmill for Readers' Favorite
Monsterland Reanimated is not simply a fast paced action novel, but an experience. It is as if the reader is immersed into an entirely new world, not simply a story about a monster themed theme park, but rather transported into an alternate reality of a post apocalyptic world. Okon's detailed account is authentic, and told in a matter of fact narrative, that makes the reader almost believe this is a true account of events that could possibly happen, given the right circumstances.” ~ Patricia “Lemon Bee” Dompieri, RN
“This fast-paced thriller will keep readers in suspense as the action dramatically unfolds. Sure to delight fans of dystopian fiction, science fiction and horror, Monsterland Reanimated is a worthy second installment in the Monsterland series.” ~ The Children's Book Review


Guest Post by the Author
Writing a Sequel
Someone just told me recently that sequels are poison. They said that you never capture the magic of the first story. I only agree with half of this. Yes, most sequels, I will put it bluntly, suck. The gelling you had in the first story never gets it right in the sequel. I just watched Kung Fu Panda 1, 2, and 3 with my kids – not by myself. The first one was a masterpiece. I was so invested in the characters and story. It was truly a brilliant film. Then we continued in parts 2 and 3, and I just couldn’t take it. They continued the story of Po the Kung Fu Panda, but the story simply fell flat, and tiresome. I didn’t care about the characters. The stories were boring, unlike the first film.
But then, on the flip side, let’s take Lord of the Rings. My all-time favorite trilogy of book and movie. I was invested in the characters throughout. This was not the case at all about the first story being amazing and the other two being terrible. All three stories were flawless and gelled together beautifully. There were setbacks. There was resolution. There was catharsis. It was flawless. When you’re writing a sequel, you want to continue the magic of the first, but set the characters in a new environment and give them bigger and worse obstacles to overcome. The battle in The Fellowship of the Ring was pretty intense. But set the same characters and put them in Helm’s Deep in The Two Towers, and BAM! You elevated the storytelling.
I did this in my Monsterland series. In the first book, Monsterland, we have Wyatt, Howard Drucker, and Melvin navigating a theme park gone haywire with real werewolves, vampires, and zombies. However, in the sequel Monsterland Reanimated, the teens have to defeat an army of mummies during a speeding car chase, a life-sucking ooze called The Glob in a desolate town, and a reanimated behemoth in a hedge maze (thank you for the inspiration, Stanley Kubrick). Sequels are all about elevation and making the enemies bigger and badder. The bigger the obstacle, the bigger the reward for your characters. They have to come out changed in a sequel. They cannot come out unscathed. Frodo lost a finger trying to throw the ring into Mount Doom. Characters must get hurt so they can change.
I’m currently working on Monsterland 3, and I’m going even bigger. I will not succumb to the notion that writing a sequel is poison. From the words of Tony Robbins, success leaves clues. I am following in the footsteps of the master storytellers who can weave a story together in a sequel … that doesn’t suck.

About the Author
Michael Okon
Michael Okon is an award-winning and best-selling author of multiple genres including paranormal, thriller, horror, action/adventure and self-help. He graduated from Long Island University with a degree in English, and then later received his MBA in business and finance. Coming from a family of writers, he has storytelling in his DNA. Michael has been writing from as far back as he can remember, his inspiration being his love for films and their impact on his life. From the time he saw The Goonies, he was hooked on the idea of entertaining people through unforgettable characters.
Michael is a lifelong movie buff, a music playlist aficionado, and a sucker for self-help books. He lives on the North Shore of Long Island with his wife and children.

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Saturday, May 19, 2018

This Week on Books Direct - 19 May 2018


This Week on Books Direct -
19 May 2018

This Week on Books Direct - 19 May 2018

Here's a list of some great articles you may have missed this week. Enjoy!


Common Writing Problems Part 2 by Joanne Ellis for Joanne Writes

Part 2 of the common struggles writers come across when producing art. You can read the previous post here.


Common Writing Problems Part 2 by Joanne Ellis for Joanne Writes




Bookseller under fire for opening unbranded Edinburgh store in competition with existing shop.


Waterstones Accused Of Breaking Pledge Not To Take On Independents by Ben Quinn for The Guardian



Toolbox 10: To Hook Is To Engage by Anna Simpson for emaginette

As writers, we’ve all read about hooking our readers. It starts by grabbing their attention with cover art, and book blurbs. Then piquing their interest with the first sentence and sealing the deal with each following chapter.


Toolbox 10: To Hook Is To Engage by Anna Simpson for emaginette




BookCon is a celebration of all things bookish. There are author signings, panel discussions, giveaways, free books, and so much more. For book lovers, attending BookCon is like winning the Hogwarts House Cup. The excitement can be overwhelming, which is why we’ve put together a list of all of BookCon’s can’t-miss events. If you’re wondering what to do at BookCon, Bookish has got you covered.


Bookish’s Guide To BookCon 2018: The Can’t-Miss Panels, Galleys, And More by The Bookish Editors for Bookish



Why You Shouldn’t Share Your Goals by Aytekin Tank for Medium

Some experts argue that early praise can leave the individual receiving the praise feeling like he or she has already won … in turn causing them to be less likely to follow through with their goals.


Why You Shouldn’t Share Your Goals by Aytekin Tank for Medium




Anne Frank wrote a number of dirty jokes about prostitution and told of her thoughts on sex in hidden pages of her diary, researchers have revealed.


Anne Frank Wrote “Dirty” Jokes About Sex And Prostitution, Researchers Discover In Hidden Pages Of Her Diary by Sean Morrison for Evening Standard




None of the 62 novels submitted for the 2018 award generated “unanimous laughter” among the jury, so the honour will roll over this year.


Wodehouse Prize For Comic Fiction Withheld After Judges Fail To Laugh by Alison Flood for The Guardian




Bonfire of the Vanities author helped pioneer highly personalized style of pop journalism, covering everything from acid tests to astronauts.


Tom Wolfe, Right Stuff Author And New Journalism Legend, Dead At 88 by Tim Grierson for Rolling Stone



3 Tips For Writers by Kory M. Shrum

Author Kory M. Shrum gives us three of her best writing tips.


3 Tips For Writers by Kory M. Shrum



Want To Stop Procrastinating And Get Stuff Done? Here’s How by Alice E. M. Underwood for Grammarly Blog

These actionable strategies and digital tools can help to kick your procrastination habit. Some are specific to writing, but most of these tips will make a difference for professionals in any career.


Want To Stop Procrastinating And Get Stuff Done? Here’s How by Alice E. M. Underwood for Grammarly Blog




But what happens when you've got a serious case of “megalobibliophobia” - or fear of big books?


Big Books Have Always Intimidated Me - And Now That I've Figured Out Why, It's Totally Changing The Way I Read by Kerri Jarema for Bustle



If you enjoyed this blog post, please visit the other This Week posts for links to more great articles.

Friday, May 18, 2018

"Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over" by Shani Petroff


REVIEW and GIVEAWAY
Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over
by Shani Petroff

Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over by Shani Petroff

Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over by Shani Petroff is currently on tour with Xpresso Book Tours. The tour stops here today for my review, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.


For more books by this author, please check out my blog post on Romeo and What's Her Name and my blog post on My New Crush Gave to Me.

Description
A bad storm, two canceled flights, stuck in an airport with a hot stranger and the guy who broke her heart … what could go wrong?
After Sari caught her boyfriend Zev cheating on her, their romantic Florida vacation was ruined. She can’t get back to NYC soon enough. Unfortunately, mother nature may have different plans. A huge storm is brewing in the Northeast, and flights all over the country are getting canceled - including Sari’s. She winds up stuck at the airport for hours. With Zev!
When another stranded passenger (a hot NYU guy) suggests a connecting flight to Boston, Sari jumps at the chance. But when her mom freaks out about her traveling alone, she has no choice - she has to include Zev, and somehow survive being trapped with the guy who broke her heart!

Excerpt
We laughed and told embarrassing stories the rest of the way to the terminal. Maybe things weren't so bad, after all.
Or maybe they were.
Right as we neared the end of the moving walkway, I saw a familiar figure looming by the first gate in the terminal.
Zev.
Not again. Why was he here? It was way too early. He wasn't supposed to be at the airport for hours.
He caught my eye, and everything that could go wrong did.
I was so focused on him, that I didn't realize I had made it to the end of the walkway. I lost my footing and lunged forward. I caught myself. Sort of. I didn't fall. But my smoothie did. Cold, bright-pink liquefied fruit was all over my feet, my sweats, and the floor.
Yep. That good airport karma I used to have?
It was long, long gone.
[Want more? Click below to read a longer excerpt.]


Praise for the Book
“This love story is a well-written, breezy read with a happy conclusion and a diverse cast of characters.” ~ School Library Journal
“If you're in the mood for a light-hearted, travel, teen contemporary romance, get this book.” ~ Starlie Cruz
“This was a feels book, and emotions that I wasn't expecting just kept sneaking up on me. There were so many feel good talks in the book from people that really cared about Sari that I could not help but get sniffly about it. I got completely lost in the story, ended up staying up way too late so I could finish it and see what choices Sari made. It did not hurt that there was so much extra going on to keep me guessing what would happen next. With this read alone, Shani has now become one of my favorite YA contemporary authors. I can't wait to read more from her and I highly recommend this adventure of love!” ~ KRLGA
“I really enjoyed this and couldn't put it down! It was funny with a relatable plot. I couldn't believe how much I saw myself through her eyes.” ~ Susannie W.
“Funny and sweet and so relatable. haven't we all gotten in our own way sometimes? A fun and quick read. A great present for a teen!” ~ cecilia

My Review
I received this book in return for an honest review.


By Lynda Dickson
Sari catches her boyfriend Zev kissing his ex-girlfriend on the night before their planned spring break in Florida. She goes on her own and meets Fitz, a handsome college junior. Zev follows her there in an attempt to win her back, but she’s having none of it. When Sari heads home for her dream music gig, her flight gets canceled, and she’s stuck in the airport with Fitz and Zev. Things aren't looking too good for Sari. Will she forgive Zev or will she move on with Fitz?
The plot is a bit contrived, as Sari and Zev obviously have a great connection, and all Sari has to do is let Zev explain himself. Still, this is a cute story, and it’s interesting finding out how things work out for them. I was rooting for them to get back together. The story reminds me a bit of the movie Planes, Trains and Automobiles, with bad weather, accommodation troubles, and unwanted company conspiring to prevent Sari from reaching her destination.
A light and funny read.

About the Author
Shani Petroff
Shani Petroff is a writer living in New York City. She's the author of the Bedeviled series, which includes Daddy’s Little Angel, The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly Dress, Careful What You Wish For, and Love Struck, and is the co-author of the Destined series, which includes Ash and Ultraviolet. She also writes for television news programs and several other venues. When she’s not locked in her apartment typing away, she spends a whole lot of time on books, boys, TV, daydreaming, and shopping online.

Giveaway
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a print copy of Airports, Exes, and Other Things I’m Over by Shani Petroff (US/Canada only).

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