Thursday, August 29, 2013

Book Blitz and Giveaway: The Woodlands by Lauren Nicolle Taylor

Urania's Distractions are hosting a YA Mature Dystopian Romance Book Blitz today. You get to read two excerpts and take part in the rafflecopter giveaway.  So, enjoy!

Title:  The Woodlands
Author: Lauren Nicolle Taylor
Published: Clean Teen Publishing, August 30th, 2013
Word Count:  approx. 92,000
Genre:  YA Mature Dystopian Romance
Content Warning:  Non-graphic Violence
Recommend Age:  14+
Synopsis: Rosa never thought she’d make it to sixteen...

When being unique puts you in danger and speaking your mind can be punishable by death,  you might find yourself fighting to survive. Sixteen-year-old Rosa lives in one of the eight enclosed cities of The Woodlands. Where the lone survivors of a devastating race war have settled in the Russian wilderness because it’s the only scrap of land left habitable on the planet. In these circular cities, everyone must abide by the law or face harsh punishment. Rosa's inability to conform and obey the rules brands her a leper and no one wants to be within two feet of her, until she meets Joseph. He's blonde, fair-skinned, green-eyed, and the laid-back complete opposite of Rosa. She's never met anyone quite like him, and she knows that spells danger.

But differences weren't always a bad thing. People used to think being unique was one of the most treasured of traits to have. Now, the Superiors, who ruthlessly control the concrete cities with an iron fist, are obsessed with creating a 'raceless' race. They are convinced this is the only way to avoid another war. Any anomalies must be destroyed.

The Superiors are unstoppable and can do anything they want. After all, they are considered superheroes by the general public. But not everyone sees them this way. When they continue to abuse their power by collecting young girls for use in their secret, high-tech breeding program, they have no idea that one of those girls has somehow managed to make friends even she didn't know she had. And one man will stop at nothing to save her.



About the Author:
Lauren Nicolle Taylor is a 33-year-old mother living in the tiny, lush town of Bridgewater on the other side of the world in Australia. She married her high school sweetheart and has three very boisterous and individual children. She earned a Bachelors degree in Health Sciences with Honours in Obstetrics and Gynecology and majored in Psychology while minoring in Contemporary Australian Writing.

After a disastrous attempt to build her dream house that left her family homeless, She found herself inexplicably drawn to the computer. She started writing, not really knowing where it may lead but ended up, eight weeks later, with the rough draft of The Woodlands.

In 2013, Lauren Nicolle Taylor accepted a publishing contract with Clean Teen Publishing. Her first published novel, The Woodlands, was released on August 30, 2013. Currently, Lauren has finished her manuscript for the second book in the series titled: The Wall, as well as partially completed the third book in the series which at this time is unnamed.


Clean Teen Publishing Links:

The Woodlands by Lauren Nicolle Taylor Excerpt #1:
LEAVING PAU

The helicopters were stationed at the rim of Ring One, just inside the low, sandy-colored wall that surrounded the center podium. They were waiting, crouching like black angels ready to lift us from this place, this hell, into an unknown world. A Guardian in black uniform with gold trim walked to the front of the choppers and signaled for us to come forward. Another one threw the bags in the cargo hold as he read from his list. Three girls and eight boys. Joseph’s name was not on the list. I felt a flood of relief that was washed away by panic. I was barely holding myself together as it was, seeing him was liable to make me fall to pieces. But he was supposed to be here.
Paulo’s hand was on my back, pushing me towards the helicopter like I was an uncooperative apple on the conveyor belt. I was trying so hard to muster up some courage. Today I was leaving the only home I had ever known. I would never see my mother again. I felt the anxiety rising, the crushing pain of the separation I was about to suffer. Suddenly the grey-washed town didn’t look so horrible. It was home after all, I guess. I told myself it was fear that was making me feel this way. It didn’t help.
My mother, who had been quietly following us around like a dazed puppy, pulled me to her in a tight embrace. She whispered, “Sorry,” in my ear before stepping back, fists clenched, showing the appropriate restraint. Some other mothers were crying and holding their children as the Guardian wrenched them away and led them onto the aircraft.
My mother’s face was my own, the way she moved mirrored my own movements and mannerisms, but that’s where the similarities ended. Although raised by this woman, I was nothing like her. For the first time, I saw things from her perspective. Getting into trouble all the time, never showing Paulo anything other than contempt. I must have been such a frustration to her.
They called my name. Paulo put his hands firmly on my shoulders, holding me in my place. His intense stare was impossible to look away from. “Don’t shame your family,” he spat at me. And with that, he made it easy to leave. I could feel the blades starting to move, my hair whipping around my face. I stripped away the fear and anxiety, leaving a girl that was fierce, empowered by his hatred.
“Don’t worry, Paulo, I’ll stir it up, make a little noise!” I shouted through the wind. The Guardian that let me sign up was watching me, probably regretting his decision. My mother was standing rigidly, her handmade skirt billowing as the air churned around her, her hand outstretched, pleading. I could see it in her eyes—please Rosa, don’t cause more trouble. She couldn’t stop me, no one ever could. Paulo was already walking away, his back to me. Behind my mother stood a man, one blue eye, one brown, smiling. He lifted his hand to wave. I raised my hand, confused. The chopper lurched awkwardly and I was knocked back into the cargo hold.
“Sit down!” the Guardian snapped at me. I quickly found a spot and strapped myself in. The others were staring at me, eyes wide. The Guardian tapped the pilot on the shoulder. “Wait, there’s one more.”
He bounded in, bag in hand, and casually threw it on the pile and scanned the seats. There was plenty of room on the other side but he squeezed his bulky form between me and the boy I was sitting next to.
Suddenly we were in the air. When the Guardian wasn’t looking, Joseph slipped his hand over mine. Warmth calmed the agitation I felt, like pouring gold over lead, glowing. We stayed that way the entire ride. Eyes forward. Impossibly trying to anticipate what may lie ahead.
 Excerpt # 2:
THE ESCAPE

Then it started, very slowly. At first.
It began with restlessness—girls moving, shaking their heads, and touching their stomachs. Then we heard a girl shout out, then another, and then soon there was an immense chorus of wailing girls. I realized then that the purple smoke was some kind of quick working antidote to the fog. Some of them were screaming, “What have you done to me?” Some were crying, some were calling out for help. One thing was clear—these girls had woken up. The drugs were wearing off. The people in white were exchanging glances, nervously. What they had said before was true. There was only one of them to ten girls. One man was bracing himself, his fists clenched, his chest puffed out, as if ready for a charging stampede. I saw one, with a face as white as her coat, drop her gear and run for the trees. Action was necessary but they all stalled. Then the decision was made for them, as girls started to stand and run. Some pushed through, parting the bodies like they were swimming through a fleshy sea. Some just ran right over the top of the others. Most of them were trying pull themselves out of the fog still, and they were the first ones that received the needle to the arm.
It was pandemonium—girls dropping to the ground unconscious, girls fighting, girls screaming hysterically. One girl was louder than most, yelling, “It’s coming, it’s coming.” I stood up to help, but Clara was holding my arm, not allowing me to step forward. For someone so small, she seemed immensely strong, her iron grip making an imprint on my forearm.
Soon the needles were too time-consuming and the bigger men started walking through the crowd, knocking girls out with large, rubber batons. Swiping and chocking them in the temples like they were knocking posts into the ground. There was blood and pain all around me. I felt my nerves about to fray and spark into a thousand tiny threads, each one pulling at me, hurting me—burying hundreds of shocking, violent images in my memory.
A few girls who were not far along, their stomachs showing little or no bulge, turned on one of the men. He was hitting out at them desperately as they scrambled and scratched at his face, their eyes feral. They took him down and grabbed his satchel, needles falling to the sodden ground. One of the girls picked up a needle and plunged it into the man’s eye. Her reddish hair swung around her face as she whipped it from side to side quickly. She crouched over him like a deranged, wild creature protecting its prey. I have never heard a noise like that in all my life—a gurgling, strangled scream like a stuck animal. Just for good measure, the girl elbowed the man in the face, ceasing the screaming. She then sprung from her crouched position into a full sprint, her long legs carrying her gracefully to the edge of the woods and beyond.
Then I was dragged into the play. A man, badly bleeding from his leg, was limping towards me. At first, thinking he needed help, I moved towards him, not noticing the baton in his hand until it was too late. He raised it above his head, his eyes showing no mercy. He was as delirious as those girls, caught up in the craziness. I put my arm over my head and shut my eyes. Not even thinking to run or fight back, just sitting there, an easy target. I heard the deadening thwack of wood against flesh and opened my eyes to see him fall to the ground. Clara stood above me with a blood-stained branch in her hand.
“We have to go,” she said as she jerked me to my feet. Where she was pulling this strength from I’ll never know, but I followed her into the forest, leaving behind me a mess of panicked souls on both sides. To my left and right there were girls running, tripping, falling. Some were being chased. Someone must be chasing us, I thought.
Clara kept charging through, never letting go of my hand, never looking back. I, on the other hand, was fervently looking backwards, forwards, and sideways, wondering how long it would be before someone caught up with us. Anticipating rough arms grabbing my shoulders and pulling me down. Suddenly Clara stopped dead and listened, her head cocked sideways like a wolf.
“What are you doing?” I shivered as a breeze blew through my thin, cotton gown.
“Shh!” she said, pressing her tiny, dark finger to my lips.
I didn’t want to stop. I could barely hear the girls anymore. I didn’t want to think about why that was. I was hoping against hope that if we kept going, maybe we wouldn’t get caught, that we could escape this nightmare. I started tugging on Clara’s arm, figuring the horror had just hit her and she was temporarily incapacitated.
“Get down,” she hissed. But it was too late. I felt the sting, and then warmth coursing through me, before I dropped to the ground.


 Giveaway Details:
There is an international tour wide giveaway. Prize includes the following:
GRAND PRIZE: A digital copy of The Woodlands, a Woodlands bookmark, a surprise Clean Teen Publishing swag gift and a Clean Teen Publishing digital book of the reader’s choosing.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep being distracted by reading,
Urania

Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Follow my blog giveaway!

Hi there!

During my summer holidays and away from the classroom, even taking a break from my university studying I was able to spend more time on my blog (my third favorite distraction after reading and writing!)
So my views increased and I thank you all so much for that. To celebrate this, I have decided to offer a giveaway:
Two lucky winners will get a print copy of my books Gate Deadlock and Beguiled or an Amazon gift card of $10!
All you have to do is 
-follow my blog (if you follow by mail you double your entries!!!)
-like my  Beguiled page on fb
If you are already following Urania's Distractions or have liked my fb page let me know and I'll add you to the giveaway.

To make sure I don't miss any entries either send me a message on fb or leave a comment on this post.
 I will let you know when I decide to end the Giveaway.
Thank you all for your support! I could never have been distracted for so long without you!

Good luck!
Urania

Monday, August 26, 2013

Book Review and Giveaway: Black Jack By Rani Manicka

Hi there my paranormally distracted readers! 
My second distraction today comes from a mind-blowing story by Rani Manicka. Black Jack was all I needed for the hot summer nights on the porch last week and it made me contemplate for several nights  looking at the stars after I was done with it.
 I was honored to provide a review for this book and you can read all about what I think of it at the end of this post. First, let's get to know Black Jack and its author. Don't forget to earn your entries in the Giveaway! Enjoy!


Title: Black Jack
Author:  Rani Manicka
Published:  June 7th, 2013
Word Count:  80,000
Genre:  Paranormal Fantasy

Synopsis: A story about suffering, betrayal, love and hope.
At seven she became another missing child statistic. Seven years later her life is a strange, lonely existence. Her memories are not her own and her special powers have been harnessed for the sole use of her owners. To the people who guard her 24 hours a day she is known as Dakota, but they also know she is dangerous, so dangerous that she must never think for herself.
Fourteen-year-old Black dreams of another life. Hidden away in his bedroom with only his mother and a television for stimulation, each day mirrors the last.
When Black is visited by an inter-dimensional being it becomes a pivotal moment. A door to another world opens and changes Blacks life forever. Soon Black is propelled on a collision course with a powerful ancient secret society.
To save mankind, he must play… the Devil’s game…

But what are they really after and how far will they go to get what they want.  With deceit and betrayal all around… JUST WHO CAN HE TRUST?

Rani Manicka is an International best-selling novelist and the author of three previous books. Her works have been translated in 26 languages. Black Jack is her fourth and latest novel. A provocative, unforgettable tale that questions the beliefs that lie at the very heart of humankind.



About the Author:


Rani Manicka was born in Malaysia and spent her childhood on a long white, beach in the company of natural storytellers. But when she was six, she was stuffed into a uniform and banished to school. In protest, she quickly mastered the art of reading novels during class. Though, she had never dreamed of writing herself, a chance encounter with a woman scorned in an Italian restaurant inspired her first plot.

Her first novel The Rice Mother, Infused with her own Sri Lankan family history, is a vividly imaginative story about the frailties of human nature and the terrible consequences of war. It won a Commonwealth Writers Prize in 2003. Her subsequent novel, Touching Earth is a dark and compelling tale of love, betrayal and addiction. The Japanese Lover, set in Malaya during the Japanese occupation is an absorbing tale of the intense passion between captor and captured. Rani's books have been translated into 26 languages. She lives with the two great loves of her life; Rick and their beautiful son/dog, Ty.

Rani Manicka's latest novel BLACK JACK is out NOW.


Excerpt:
Last night was fuzzy in his memory. He remembered going to a club, a special place where they played kings and queens in the back rooms. He didn’t know why he still felt the need to frequent such seedy places, but it was only there amongst the most degenerate of humans that he felt he could be himself. In places like that there was no need to pretend and hide. All was filth, and so was he.

He walked silently into their bathroom. When they had been on their honeymoon his wife had seen this design in a ladies’ toilet in Richmond, England. And she had never forgotten it. Ten years ago when they had moved into this house she had recreated it. An English design. Blue patterns on white, like china. Pretty. He switched on the lights and stepped up to the mirror and blinked, his eyes still unused to the sudden brightness. Someone had written on his bathroom mirror with pink lipstick.

His jaw dropped as he read the message that was scrawled across the mirror in bold handwriting. His first reaction was one of fear. That someone had entered his bedroom while he had slept and written on his mirror. Then the expression in his eyes changed to one of disbelief. Below the mirror, lying without its lid, was the lipstick used. He picked it up slowly and looked at the blunted edge. And tried to remember. How? When? He looked again at the words.

FOR HEAVEN’S SAKE CATCH ME BEFORE I KILL AGAIN. I AM PURE EVIL.
No doubt about it. The handwriting was his. He sat on the broad, wooden toilet seat
an English antique specially flown in. He turned toward the mirror and looked at his own shocked face behind the writing. He had no memory of writing the words. He closed his eyes and thought hard about the night before. But it remained elusive. Shadows. And it occurred to him that this was not the first time there were gaps in his memory.

There was only one explanation and that one was totally unacceptable.


Review
Black Jack is a book I will never regret having read, spotlighted and, of course, reviewed. A fan of metaphysical and conspiracy theories myself, I found in Rani Manicka’s book a literary version of various major considerations reflecting elements and approaches in the layman’s effort to provide answers to the big questions about our world.
 But let me be more precise:

What I liked about Black Jack:

  • The beginning of the story is strong which, for me, is always one of the most important assets in a good story.
  • The story. It is original with just as many science fiction and metaphysical elements as needed and with tension building page by page in a way that the reader becomes hooked chapter by chapter.     
  •         The way Rani included information from the research she has obviously done on many different theories regarding extraterrestrial beings, manipulation of the public opinion and conspiracy theories to create the background of her story. The references in the back pages intrigue the readers into starting their own research on the topics the writer has touched ever so smoothly. She succeeded in making it more realistic and might make you wonder: what if....?
  •  The rich vocabulary and the way she skillfully altered her style according to the POV she chose to speak through.
  •    The use of surprisingly short but meaningful quotations as chapter headings; I was drawn into reading those wonderful words again and again and try to decipher them before going on with the chapter.

What I would change:
There is nothing I would really change in Black Jack but if I should find a" weak" point I’d go like this: perhaps I would limit the metaphysical/spiritual elements that might confuse the novice readers of the genre as too much information and from many different fields is already included in this story. That being said, I should also mention that the book stands as a metaphysical story at its heart according to the writer.

The strongest point:
In the first chapters I was shocked by the intensity of the scenes that, for people who are really sensitive when it comes to children, may touch the border of revulsion. It was not long before I realized that this was exactly the feeling the writer was aiming at in order to adeptly involve the reader into her story. I have to admit that the effect of the description of events and characters was totally successful.

I would recommend it to those who love paranormal, metaphysical and science fiction stories as well as to fans of conspiracy theories.


My rating: 5/5 hearts!



Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
·         5 ebook copies of Black Jack.
Giveaway is International.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep being distracted by reading,
Urania

Book Blitz: His Saving Grace by Heather Gray

Hello my distracted book-lovers! Full day today for this blog, too many distractions for us!
Let's start with something romantic, shall we? 

Here's the wonderful cover for this inspirational romance.
Title: His Saving Grace
Author: Heather Gray
Published: Astraea Press, July 30th, 2013
Word Count: approx. 32,400
Genre: Regency Inspirational Romance

Synopsis 
Will she be able to save him from himself?

Grace finds herself wed to a man who loathes her. She is shunned and exiled to the farthest corner of the land. It wouldn't hurt so much if he hadn't once been her best friend.

Thomas became a duke long before he was ready. Now he can't go anywhere without women trying to entrap him into marriage. He expected better from his childhood friend.

How can friendship, let alone marriage, thrive in the face of bitterness, suspicion, and misunderstanding? 

What's to be done when the hurtful choices made in anger have lasting consequences?

It takes a special kind of person to see past the pain to the beauty that lies beyond…


Excerpt:
Grace soaked in Thomas's warmth. She sighed into his waistcoat and said, "I appreciate the kind words, Thomas, but you shouldn't be in here alone with me. We both know that."

Thomas, his voice light, said, "It was in here with you or out there with the barracudas. I think I'm safer right where I am."

Grace didn't pull out of his comforting hug as she knew she ought to. Instead she said, "I've spent my whole life in Stafford Shire and have never even been to London before. All I'm asking for is one season. If I wait much longer, I'll be completely on the shelf, and no decent man will even consider marrying me. My father has doomed me to the life of being some man's courtesan!"

"You've been reading the newspaper again, haven't you?" She felt the warm rumble of his chuckle against her cheek. "You shouldn't even know words like that. If your parents knew you were reading those rags, they'd have your hide."

Grace's tears had quieted and were slowly being replaced by hiccups. Just as Thomas began to release her from his friendly hold, the library door opened with a loud bang.

"What the devil is going on in here?" demanded Lady Appleton.

Grace jumped out of Thomas's arms and said, "It's not what you th—ink." The hiccups were gaining momentum. "I was up—set. Thomas found me, and I was—crying. He was simply be—ing kind."

The skin on Lady Appleton's florid face jiggled as she shouted, "Not only are you in a room with a man unchaperoned, but you were in an embrace!" Her gown truly was the most awful color. It was somewhere between green and brown, like a plant that had withered and died. To make the ensemble worse, she looked as if she were wearing an entire peacock atop her piled hair.

Seeming to thrive on spectacle, Lady Appleton continued to bombast them with accusation, her voice growing toward a crescendo. "You've been ruined, young lady! There will have to be a wedding at once!" If volume were the stick by which such things were measured, Lady Appleton's screeching voice ensured that Grace would feel maximum shame.

"Th—at wasn't an embrace!"

By this time, several people had gathered in the hallway outside the library door. When Grace's father came on the scene, Thomas spoke directly to him, ignoring Lady Appleton. "I apologize for any misunderstanding. Gracie was crying. She was upset, might I add, by the cruel things you said to her. I'm nothing more than a childhood friend offering a bit of encouragement and reassuring her that her father is not the ogre he appears to be at present."

Grace had never heard Thomas's voice quite like this. The sharp edge of strong metal in it was unmistakable. This voice belonged to the Duke of Stafford, not her childhood friend Thomas.

About the Author

Aside from her long-standing love affair with coffee, Heather’s greatest joys in life are her relationship with her Savior, her family, and writing.  Years ago, she decided it would be better to laugh than yell. Heather carries that theme over into her writing where she strives to create characters that experience both the highs and lows of life and, through it all, find a way to love God, embrace each day, and laugh out loud right along with her.




Until my next post,
Keep being distracted by reading, 
Urania

Wednesday, August 21, 2013

Moonflower, by E.D.C. Johnson: Guest post and Giveaway!

Hello my paranormal book-lovers!
My distraction today is caused by an awesome writer and her book: 

So let's learn more about Moonflower and its author. Read to the end of this post. I don't want you to miss the Giveaway!



Title: Moonflower
Author: E. D. C. Johnson
Published: March 29th, 2013
Word Count: approx. 73,500
Genre: YA Paranormal Fantasy
Recommended Age:  12+

Synopsis: After Josephine Wood’s father dies of cancer, her mother up-roots the two of them and moves to the city. Josie hates her city life, but her teenage issues are of little consequence when they have a car accident and she wakes up in a strange land (reminiscent of Victorian Europe) alone. Lost, with her school backpack as the only connection to her world, Josie struggles to find her way home. She is found by Lucius Conrí, the son of a Marquess, who possesses royal blood and the gift to shift into a wolf’s form at will. Can the kind-hearted Lucius help her find her way while winning her love, or will she fall for Donovan Conrí his older, more serious brother and heir to the Conrí wealth?

Guess what! Moonflower is on sale!

Grab your copy of Moonflower today!
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GoodReads

For a live excerpt, check out this video.

http://youtu.be/yk3YXAQ8_04



About the Author:

EDC Johnson grew up in the Midwest, graduating from Michigan State University with her BFA in Art Education and her MA in Art Education from Western Michigan University. She currently lives with her husband and daughter in Palm Harbor, Florida. Her decade of experience as a public school art teacher has inspired her to write fiction novels that will entice young readers. You may see some of her illustrations in Renee Mallet's: Fairies, Mermaids, and Other Mystical Creatures.

Amazon Author Page | Facebook | Twitter | GoodReads | Website



Guest Post for Moonflower by EDC Johnson responding to my question:

What do paranormal fantasy books mean to you and how did you decide to follow that genre?


            Paranormal and Fantasy, whether it is in television, movies or books truly defines who I am as a person throughout my life.  As a child I had a vivid imagination and very elaborate dreams.  I despised being told what to read in school—the stories seemed rather mundane pertaining to children, puppies and bicycles.  I yearned for creativity.
            I can remember still the first time I saw The Chronicles of Narnia on PBS...and I’m referring to the old school people in animal costumes version, not the CGI awesomeness that children are spoiled with today...I was completely enthralled.  I had no idea it was from a book until years later.  When I discovered it, I simply had to read it.
            The first video I ever owned, a gift from my mother, was Labyrinth in VHS, which ignited my love for David Bowie and all things Jim Henson.
            My passion for art and drama grew during middle school with the new found freedom to choose academic electives.  During this time Henson created The Storyteller, a television series incorporating muppets and live actors to retell somewhat dark European folk tales.  To me, it was everything TV was supposed to be:  creative, artistic, scary, humorous and romantic.  Needless to say, I was devastated when Henson passed away in 1990.
            There was never a better time for Tim Burton’s Edward ScissorhandsBurton filled the theatrical void in my heart.
            Mom and dad enjoyed watching Unsolved Mysteries and other ghost stories which may have sprouted my love of nonfiction ghost stories and Edgar Allan Poe alike.
            My wonderful mother would take me to Walden's Book Store at the mall fairly frequently.  Each time I was allowed to pick out one brand new book to purchase.  In fact, I read most of R.L. Stein and X-Men comics this way. 
            As I grew older still, I would make a beeline for the adult Science Fiction Section.  I read various books, but primarily looked for female authors with a female protagonist.  Many of the titles had an undertone, or not so undertone, of romance.  Some included vampires or shapeshifter while others were in fantastical or historical places.
            What began as a summer activity as a small child, sneaking extra chapters of reading with a flashlight under the sheet, developed into an obsession as a young adult.  I read until I fell asleep with the book upon my chest.  Heck, I even read in the bathtub, curling the pages from clutching the novel with damp pruned fingers.

            Paranormal and fantasy books are a part of who I am.  I see them as a beautiful escape from our everyday lives; fibrous vessels that shuttle us on whimsical adventures.  At the risk of being cliche, with a good book you can go anywhere and be anyone.  It was only natural for me, as a writer, to want to share this wonderful gift a book can give.  Allowing the readers to illustrate the story I try to convey, as they wish to see it, in their own mind’s eye.

Excerpt from Moonflower by E. D. C. Johnson:

“Ok, puppy. What do you want?”
She spoke so abruptly and directly that Lucius wasn’t sure what to think. Was she expecting him to respond? The girl grabbed her bag and opened a small front pocket to produce a shiny silver rectangle.
“This is all I have but I’ll give you some if you don’t eat me,” a tone of sarcasm in her voice.
Lucius emerged from the darkness so the two of them could look at each other clearly face-to-face. Her eyes were deep brown. She placed the corner of the silver wrapped rectangle in her mouth as she let down her hair. Beautiful!
Lucius stared wide-eyed in amazement as her surprisingly long hair fell about her face, past her shoulders, and down to the small of her back. It was dark but not black like his and it softened her features. She was lovely now that he had a chance to see her closely.
He watched as she put away her hair jewelry and opened the silver wrapper to reveal some sort of cookie. She took a bite and then tore off a piece, throwing it.
“Here you go, Boy.”
Lucius tilted his head and raised his eyebrow at the idea of her throwing him table scraps. This girl was treating him like a common house dog!
“Don’t you want it?”
He stepped cautiously toward the cookie piece on the ground. It had landed on some grass and leaves. Lord knows I’ve eaten worse, he conceded. Gingerly, he picked it up with his teeth and chewed. It was surprisingly good. He tasted sweet honey, nuts, oats and berries. He lay down, resting his head on his paws.
“Did you like that?”
He raised his head again as she reached out her hand holding the rest of the delicious oat bar. He crawled forward not only to avoid scaring the girl but also in hopes that she would not throw the cookie on the ground again. Delicately, Lucius took the cookie from her hand and sat up to eat it.
The girl waited for him to finish and held out her empty hand this time. She IS treating me like a common dog, Lucius thought exasperated. He bypassed the pleasantry of sniffing the girl before allowing her to pet him. He licked her hand instead. She gasped in surprise and disgust which made him grin and pant with enjoyment.
The girl wiped the saliva off her hand and reached out cautiously with her other one. This time Lucius allowed her to touch him without reproach. He could see her relax instantly when she ran her hand along his head and shoulders. He hadn’t realized that he was leaning into her touch until she stopped.
“All right, Puppy, we’re friends now, right?” she said reaching for her bag. This time she opened the largest section of the pack and rummaged to the bottom to produce some clothing. He now noticed that her trousers and boots were wet. She must have crossed the river.
“It’s getting cold, time to change.” The girl unlaced her boots and pulled off her socks which she draped on a nearby bush. “No peeking, Puppy,” she giggled as she pulled down her trousers.
Lucius was astonished. He didn’t know where to look first. He fixated on her slender, cream white legs until he realized she was removing her undergarments as well. He quickly turned his head back toward the tree to give her privacy. When finished, she stood before him in loose fitting night clothes consisting of grey pants and a long-sleeved green shirt with white lettering.
“There. Hopefully that stuff will dry before morning.” Lucius turned to look at the bush again to see her clothing, including black undergarments, strewn upon it. Embarrassed at his behavior, he quickly looked away again. A gentleman would not intrude on a woman’s privacy.
The girl situated her boots beside her and laced up a pair of even more peculiar white shoes. She lay her bag flat upon the ground to use as a pillow and reclined.
“Too bad my jacket is still wet. It’s getting pretty chilly, isn’t it? Better than snow, I guess.” The girl spoke to Lucius as if not expecting a reply.
He grew concerned when she shuttered from a chilly gust of wind. He wondered what he could do for her. Lucius had nothing to give her here and he did not dare leave her unguarded. Shivering the girl turned onto her side trying to get more comfortable.
Lucius decided to do away with proper decorum and crawled toward her back. He didn’t stop until his body touched hers. He shared his own warmth which was plentiful in all of his fur. Lying very still he listened to her breathing while it slowed from quick shivers through chattering teeth to soft and airy through her nose.
He relaxed as well until he felt her arm reach out across his body. She started petting him, scratching his back. All of the hairs on his body came alive. It was the most exquisite feeling Lucius had ever experienced, energy running from the girl’s fingertips to his skin. He closed his eyes in his own private ecstasy lying there until she fell asleep and her hand went limp.
Sleeping next to this girl was not likely. He was all too aware of her presence, her breathing, her smell, and her touch. Lucius lay there, awake, keeping her warm until just before dawn. I must meet her, he thought as he carefully crawled away so as not to wake her.
His supplies sat only a couple of miles away now. I can be back before she wakes…and the dawn is breaking. There is little danger if I go now. He looked upon her, lingering for a moment and then hurried in the direction of his own camp.
Lucius would come back to the girl, but this time as a man.



Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
$25 Amazon Gift Card

Giveaway is International.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Keep being distracted by reading,
Urania

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Meet the world in Greece! Part 2

As promised in my last post, here's how you can find outer space landscapes in Greece!

I got you really distracted, didn't  I?

Friday, August 16, 2013

Meet the world in Greece! Part 1

Today I intend to distract you with something different to what I usually post here. A greek photographer, Aris Kalogeropoulos, has started a campaign on FB to prove that in Greece you can find the whole planet in a small but beautiful country. The message is clear: You don't have to go to the Alps, England, Bahamas or even the Sahara to enjoy such beauty. Just come to Greece (it's much cheaper too, and the people here need your support, allow me to add!)
So are you ready? here we go! Just read the smaller words under the huge titles to see where the picture was really taken. Enjoy!










 And before you ask, yes. These are all images from Greek landscapes. Find out more about the campaign on https://www.facebook.com/MeetTheWorldInGreece and http://www.thessalonikiartsandculture.gr/kosmos/art-salad/meet-the-world-in-greece
Tomorrow I will show you how you can find images from outer space in Greece.
Until then,
Keep being distracted by reading (while travelling!)
Urania

Monday, August 12, 2013

Beyond Earth by Arlene Lagos: Giveaway and Guest Post about life beyond Earth.

Hello my paranormally distracted friends!
My distractions today involve an otherworldly story that will take you Beyond Earth!
Alrlene Lagos' book is on tour and on its stop at Urania's Distractions Arlene has shared with us her own perceptions about the possibility of life Beyond Earth.
So, read the book details, learn about its awesome author, read Arlene's guest post and the book excerpt, watch the amazing trailer and, of course, take part in the giveaway! 
Don't forget to leave a comment!
Enjoy!

Title:  Beyond Earth
Author:  Arlene Lagos
Published:  June 24th, 2013
Word Count:  45,700
Genre:  YA Science Fiction Fantasy
Recommended Age:  13+

Synopsis:
Hidden in the fabric of our own galaxy are five planets, anchored to Earth and thriving with life. When young Adaminia walks through a doorway and onto another planet, she learns the truth about her destiny. She must locate the other six warriors and unite their shared power in order to fight off the growing darkness set to destroy their existence.


About the Author:
Lagos has written poetry, stage plays, screenplays and short stories for over 20 years. In addition to writing the Beyond Earth Series she also has twelve award-winning short stories published in the Giant Tales anthology. "Beyond Earth" is Book one of the series. "Beyond Planets" and "Beyond Time" will be coming out later this summer. Lagos currently resides in Massachusetts with her husband and their daughter.


What is Beyond Earth?
To think that we are alone in this world and that there isn’t life on other planets is absurd. It’s no more ridiculous then when they thought the Earth was flat. Just last month, NASA astronomers reported the discovery of three more Earth-sized worlds orbiting nearby stars in ocean-friendly orbits.  Much like Christopher Columbus sailing across the ocean to discover new land, we still have so much space to explore before we find new life.  I think the biggest breakthrough will come if and when we ever learn how to manipulate dark matter/dark energy. Understanding how space itself works and being able to use it as a type of fuel to move through the universe will be the first step in being able to go far enough and for longer periods of time in order to discover what’s beyond what we can see.

The reason I chose to write the Beyond Earth Series is because I wanted to write about what I thought life would be like on other planets and how a young girl with a legacy to fulfill would react to finding out that everything she’s ever known to be true is suddenly, not. I think women would react differently to the introduction of alien life then men would and I wanted to reflect that in my story.

Book after book and movie after movie depicts men going in all guns blazing and it just makes me wonder if that’s the reason why nobody has reached out to us yet. I just don’t think we are evolved enough yet as a species to handle something so different. We can’t even put aside our differences on our own planet; imagine how we would treat aliens?


In the meantime, being able to write about distant planets, good and evil, legacy’s, prophecy’s, myths and magic are what keep me hopeful that someday, hopefully in my lifetime, we will find out what really lies Beyond Earth.


Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
·         5 eBook copies of Beyond Earth (INT)
·         3 Beyond Earth mouse pads (US)
·         10 Beyond Earth swag packs containing a pen and keychain (US)
Rafflecopter Widget Link:


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Excerpt from Beyond Earth by Arlene Lagos:

Day two at my first job ever and I already have a hit list of co-workers I want to torture. My aunt convinced me to take a summer internship at a marketing firm outside of Boston. It was less about convincing and more of an ultimatum if you ask me. I immediately regret agreeing to this insanity. I’d much rather be at the beach right now.
Blindly I thumb through the new employee manual while some really loud German guy a few cubicles down from me makes telesales calls. He says the same thing to everyone, "Oh what a beautiful name you have." If I hear it one more time I might have to invest in duct tape.
I never understood the appeal of working in a cubicle. It’s very sad when I walk down the hallway and have to count the rows so I know which row is mine because there are no distinguishing markers. At least these ones have sliding glass doors so nobody will notice me listening to Aerosmith on my iPod instead of actually doing my job.
It’s eleven in the morning and I've already gone to the bathroom twice, eaten my mid-morning snack and am secretly hoping someone will pull the fire alarm, when all of a sudden I hear a sound rattling in the hallway.
It’s getting louder and louder and now drowns out even the loud, wacky German dude. At one point I stand up because the sound is so alarming that I am passed curious and moving closer to concern. Nobody else seems to be bothered by it, which intrigues me. Way-too-tall guy is on a dating website; annoying girl is trying to fix the copier; and I’m pretty sure my irritating boss is asleep. I sit back down. Perhaps the noise is nothing, since it doesn't seem to alarm anyone else.
There it is again, the same sound. It’s five times louder than before and the vibration of it causes my phone to fall off the receiver. I couldn’t have imagined it. I stand up quickly this time sure that others have noticed. Nobody seems to care. Am I going crazy? I have to find out where it’s coming from.
Sneaking out of my cube and down the first stairwell, I walk towards the vibrating sound. This old brick building is massive, with endless winding hallways, elevators, secret halls and hidden floors with adjoining catwalks that lead to four other buildings. I was lost for over two hours yesterday trying to climb my way back from lunch, but at this point I hope I get lost again. I need to know what that sound is, if only to ensure that I am not hearing things or going crazy.
The sound is likened to that of a wounded animal mixed with a throbbing pulse that penetrates my eardrums as I claw my way closer.


Keep being distracted by reading,
Urania