The time the earth almost swallowed me


I was young, perhaps five or six years old. I was playing outside barefoot, the cool green grass beneath my feet, the sun in my hair. I’ve forgotten what I was playing with. It doesn’t really matter. I can tell you that terror wrapped its ugly hand around my throat as the ground started to shake. I screamed and took a step for home, but my little white house with its yellow shutters and windowsill flower boxes with red geraniums, fell into the mouth of the earth.

I screamed for my mom, but she never came. I was alone. I backed up onto the sidewalk. The cracks in the ground chased me. Fires sprang up all around me. The earth rumbled and grumbled like a hungry beast,  vibrating beneath my small legs. I started to cry. A sliver of earth shifted beneath me, jutting upward a piece of carpeted dirt. I looked down as the gap between my feet grew wider, its insides tumbling into an abyss.  Wider and wider it grew until I had nowhere to go. I fell in, screaming at the top of my lungs. Falling, falling into darkness.

And then Superboy came with Krypto, the Super Dog (do you remember them?) and rescued me.

They took me to a beautiful 2 story home with a really nice yard. My mom and dad were there, along with my brother and my dog, Gypsy.  All was okay. No one was hurt, yay Superboy and Krypto, my favorite heroes of all … that is until I discovered a plastic dinosaur that lived in my home that could make himself really big whenever anyone bullied me.

But that’s a story for another time.

****

The above was a recurring dream I had as a child. I don’t know why I dreamed of Superboy except he had a dog sidekick and who doesn’t like super dogs that fly?  I also think deep down I really like Superboy with his dark hair and blue eyes, but I digress

I’m not sure where the dream came from. I’ve never been in a real earthquake, but I know the thought of one scares the beejeebies out of me.  If I felt one in real life, I would completely freak out. To this day I am terrified of being swallowed by the earth. I can’t tell you how hard I prayed that I wouldn’t experience one when I visited San Francisco many years ago. A year almost to the day after I was there, an earthquake in San Francisco claimed 63 lives, most of them when the Oakland Bridge fell in on itself.

I know a lot of people say to me, “Well, you live in Florida. Look at all the hurricanes.”  Yes, this is true, we have horrible storms and hurricanes but there is a difference between them and earthquakes …. there usually is advanced warning with a hurricane and we can evacuate. There is no warning when the earth is going to shift. It’s like trying to run from a tsunami. Where are you going to go? I have a hollow feeling in my stomach just thinking about it.

I wonder how people in earthquake prone areas deal with the ground shaking.  Please let me know. Maybe I won’t be so fearful if I understand.

As to the recurring dream, did you have any as a child that stuck with you? If so, I’d love for you to share, too.

FIFTEEN by Jen Estes – a review


Curiosity Quills recently offered me the opportunity to read FIFTEEN by Jen Estes in exchange for an honest review.  After reading the back cover blurb, I decided to take a chance on it as the premise really captured my attention.

Fiftee - Jen Estes cover

Fifteen, by Jen Estes

Genre:Contemporary Fantasy, Paranormal, Science Fiction, Urban Fantasy, Young Adult

Publisher:Curiosity Quills Press

Date of Release­­:January 15, 2015

Cover Artist:Conzpiracy Digital Arts

Goodreads

Description:

Legend has it if you die in your dreams, you die in real life. Fifteen-year-old Ashling Campbell knows that’s not true because when she closes her eyes each night, she doesn’t dream about public nudity or Prom dates. Instead, she’s catapulted to the front row of her future self’s execution – fifteen years from now – where monsters have taken control of her hometown and she, or rather, her 30-year-old counterpart, is their public enemy number one.

For three months and counting, it’s been the same dream… until an encounter with an antique dreamcatcher. Ash falls asleep to discover she’s no longer a mere spectator in these dreams – now she’s astral-projecting into the body of her future self. Each night, she goes on the run with a ragtag group of rebels – who have no idea she’s really a high school sophomore and not their noble warrior. She has to make it through each night so that she can wake up and find a way to change the future. For every action she does in the present day, she falls asleep to discover it had an equal impact fifteen years later. It’s up to her to manage her two worlds and make sure she’s still got a place in both.

My Review

I’m really torn over this book.  Part of me really, really loved it and the other part of me only liked it.

I thought the beginning started out kind of slow and I was wondering when the story would pick up. It didn’t take long before the first ‘dream’ sequence, and boy, did it catch my attention.  The monster in Ash’s dreams is wicked beyond wicked, and what happens to her during the dream is just too freaking weird and unsettling.

I’m really trying hard not to give spoilers away here but it’s difficult to talk about this book without giving something away.  Hmm, let’s talk characters.

There is this doctor in the book that is an oddly placed character.  Ash and her friend, Nadette’s, reaction to him seemed  too quick. They just went with him unknowing, unthinking, and it’s not like he was a young college kid, either. He’s an old guy, well, old to a couple of teen girls.  I thought this entire scene just unfolded way to easy. They were too trusting. Personally, I was kind of creeped out by the guy, the way he stood under a tree staring at the two girls, and yet they’re like “hey, baby.” It felt ‘off’ to me. It through my creep groove off.  However, I liked the character and I really enjoyed watching the way he helped Ash come to terms with her dreams.

Anyway, Ash’s relationships with Tate, Nadette and Skylar are all very typical teenager, and there is a strong YA voice when the three of them get together. I would have liked to have seen deeper characters, a little bit deeper POV with Ash and her feelings toward Tate. Don’t get me wrong. We know her relationship with him. We know how she feels about him. I just would have liked to have seen a bit deeper connection.

The settings are pretty typical – high school and college campuses. The scenes are easy to picture in my mind. The prose is fairly quick overall and engaging. The storyline and plot are easy to follow, but there are some twists and turns that are really quite nice.

There is a scene where Ash falls asleep in class that I would have liked to have seen developed a bit more. I think there would have been more reaction among the students. I really liked this first introduction into carrying things over from sleep to reality – one dimension to another. Very nicely done.

Bad thing is, I found myself wanting to get to the dreams instead of reading the story. At one point I found myself skimming because I thought it was taking too long to get to the dream scenes, which were becoming more and more intense and vivid. Ms. Estes knows how to write these villains and monsters, and even better, she knows how to weave them into reality. I can’t really say it’s the author’s fault I wanted to jump ahead. Then again, a slow enticement is much better than a WHAM! Know what I mean?

As for the end of the novel, Jen Estes knows how to end a book. I loved the twists and turns in the end and the last line was most excellent. It made me go “ooooo”. All I could think of is if I were Fifteen, everything she’d just been through would completely freak me out.

Overall, I wish there had been a tad more deep character development. Sometimes they felt flat to me and then in other spots, they were bopping all over the page. I didn’t like the ending with Tate and Nadette.  That really sucked and I would have liked to have seen a different ‘ending’ for them and Ash. Again, my preference and nothing the author did wrong.

Try as I might, it is really difficult to peg down score for this one.  It would be between a 3.75 and a 4.0. I think I’ll give a 4.0 because the creepy, wraithy kind of villain was just written so damn well. I could see him in all his ghoulishness.  At times, it was if he were standing right in front of me. *Shiver* And then to find out he’s really …

Nope, not going to tell you. You’re going to have to read the book to find out.

I give FIFTEEN 4 stars. It really does have a menacing, hair-raising storyline and I think most people who like edgy YA horror without going overboard, will love this novel. It is pretty intense for the most part, with a very interesting plot line.  I am happy to say this is the first book I’ve read in 2015.  Thank you Curiosity Quills Press and Jen Estes with starting out my year with a really enjoyable read.

About the Author

Jen

Jen Estes is the author of the Cat McDaniel Mystery Series and the forthcoming FIFTEEN (The Dreamwalker Diaries).

Born and raised in the Midwest, Jen had to choose between staring at corn or reading books. Corn husks just didn’t have the appeal of the Baby-Sitters Club, and so a bookworm was born. Reading later turned into writing and in 2011, Jen published her first novel. After releasing four books in the mystery genre, Jen finally gave in to the literary demands of her inner teenager with her YA debut, FIFTEEN (The Dreamwalker Diaries) with Curiosity Quills.  Jen lives in Illinois with her husband Nathan under the tyranny of their three cats: Wrigley, Ivy and Captain Moo.

She is an active member of the National Writers Union. When she isn’t writing, Jen enjoys sci-fi in all its mediums, attempting yoga, using her passport, watching baseball, and reading a good book. You can find Jen on the web at http://www.jenestes.com, on Tumblr as AuthorJenEstes and tweeting under @jenestesdotcom

Find Jen Estes Online:

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