If you've nothing to do over the holidays, why not give Gemini Rising a try before the second book in the series comes out. Called The Light and the Flame you will discover what happens to Kate after she's abducted from Earth.
by Louann Carroll
Genre: Science Fiction
Publication Date: February 2010
Cover art by Ash Arcenaux
Over 5,000 years ago, Sumerian cuneiform tablets warned future civilizations of the planet Nibiru. Every six thousand years the tenth planet crosses Earth's solar system spreading death and destruction. During its latest crossing Kate and Ryan Kelly learn to survive a post-apocalyptic Earth.
Sent to help sustain Earth, Noah, a member of the intergalactic counsel, joins with Kate, the chosen recorder of the end of days. One woman, and one offworlder collide with the ambiguous Light becoming humanities salvation. Out of tragedy is born a love that forever changes mankind.
Excerpt Copyright © 2010 Louann Carroll
All rights reserved — a Crescent Moon Press publication
The tunnel opening grew wider, the rushing louder, until it became impossible for them to hear each other. After passing beneath a low overhang, she was able to stand without bending. As she straightened, she drew back in amazement. A vast underground river coursed beneath Thunder Mountain. Ryan beamed his flashlight toward the ceiling then flashed the light across the river. Bits of debris meandered through its depths, some of it thrown up along thin sandy banks as it danced its way into the blackened interior.
Excited, Kate motioned him to follow as she stepped out. The flashlight he carried gave life to several embedded crystals that brightened the way. Treading lightly on the beach, careful of quicksand and other hidden dangers, she searched for the spot that caught her eye. Finding it, she knelt and began digging, flinging the sand behind her.
"What is it?" he shouted over the din of the river.
She waved him back and dug at the object. At first, she thought it was a shell of some type. Then, upon closer examination, she decided it was a fossil. Looking up, she checked the status of the river. The water rose and fell like the breath of a living mammal. On the walls, recorded in wet stone, were the inhalations and exhalations of the body of water. Those rocks closest to the river's head still contained the dark etching of dampness from the previous rise, and she didn't have any idea when the next might occur.
"There." She yanked the fossil from the ground.
Ryan's mouth dropped open. "What is it?"
The football-sized stone, covered with gray wiggly lines, looked like a brain. "Fossilized brain corral. Probably from one of the inland seas."
"That is gross." He moved closer for a better look.
As he bent down, she felt the rushing river echo in her head. Then the ground produced a bizarre vibration. A burble of liquid popped where Ryan stood and the ground began to liquefy. The earth trembled as a splattering of rock fell from the wall. "Shit!"
Shaking, Ryan seemed unable to maintain his balance. She dropped the stone, grabbed his arm, and steadied him. The water moved faster than she anticipated. "C'mon!" she yelled after spying a crevice in the distance. The rising liquid pulled at her shoes. It was like running in quicksand. The gushing water sucked at her, threatening to pull her into its depths. She fought back, fear lending her strength. Several meters distant lay the opening. Water lapped at her shins then rose to her knees. She slogged through mud, water, and sand, holding fast to her son's arm.
Struggling forward, her eyes never left the portal back to safety. The freezing water chilled her to the bone. She struggled with numbing weakness and her hands cramped into frozen claws. Fighting against the roaring river, each leg weighed a ton. When the water hit her waist, the opening was upon her. She put out her hand and tested the intensity of the river flowing into the chasm. The great push of swollen water pulsated through with frenetic speed. Terrified, she had no idea what to do. Ryan waved one arm in the water to keep himself afloat. Gasping, she realized it was either duck and swim, or drown. She looked at him then toward the opening.
He nodded in understanding.
Kate took a huge gulp of air, then did the unthinkable. She threw herself into the current. Tumbling, she fell head over heels in the water. She struggled for air and fought the urge to take a breath of cold clear water. She prayed for strength, and prayed for her son. Her empty chest heaved and just as she opened her mouth, she crested the water. Taking a huge gulp of air, she opened her eyes. She saw the rock just before she hit.
Reviewer: Merrylee from Two Lips Reviews (Reviewers Choice Award AND Recommended Read)
The last thing Kathryn, children’s book author turned magazine and short story writer, wanted was to move away from her beloved San Francisco. Nevertheless, she and her 13-year-old son Ryan have little choice in the matter when her husband, famous archeologist Jason Kelly, receives a grant to excavate a newly discovered Anasazi village in the Arizona desert. Missing the salt air and misty mornings of the Bay area, Kate hates the dusty heat of Arizona. Morose over the move, she’s resentful when Jason chooses to spend more time at the dig than at home in Sedona.
After the comet Eros appears overhead, clouding the skies with red dust, Kate begins having strange, frightening nightmares. Then a gigantic UFO appears in the night sky and the repeating message — PREPARE FOR THE CROSSING — mysteriously appears on her computer screen. When she waves to a Native American woman at the dig, a testy Jason tells her that she must be seeing things because there are no women associated with the dig. What most upsets her, however, is the pure sexual arousal she experiences when Jason introduces her to Noah, a young dig worker just out of university.
Similarly attracted to Kate, Noah is more than the sexy green-eyed hunk he appears to be. A thousand years old, he’s been assigned to help Kate and Ryan through the Crossing of Nibiru, the planet humanity has mistaken for a comet. He commands the Nektosha, one of the Galactic Counsel spaceships preparing to rescue the Chosen — the animals and humans picked to reseed Earth following the destruction wrought by Nibiru’s passing. Unbeknownst to Kate, she has been chosen to record the crumbling of Earth’s latest and most advanced civilization. Ryan as well has a calling. Gifted by the aliens with the ability to heal, he will be charged with saving the handful of people who survive the violent earthquakes, floods and shifting of poles on the Earth’s surface.
Once Noah announces his true purpose on Earth, Jason refuses to believe in either aliens or the catastrophic end of time. When Noah removes Kate and Ryan to the safety of his ship, Jason’s inability to believe leaves him stranded on earth, launching him on a separate journey that will change not only his narrow outlook of the universe, but the man he grew up to become. Meanwhile, Kate and Noah discover a love so deep that humanity is reborn through their bond, newer and better than it was before. But what will it mean to an Earth recovering from destruction in an intergalactic age?
Louann Carroll’s fundamental idea for Gemini Rising came to her in a dream, but the plot is loosely based on actual archeological discoveries relating to Sumerian history and the famous Mayan Calendar. Nibiru actually exists! According to a small group of current conspiracy theorists, the rogue tenth planet will pass through our solar system on its 3,600-year orbit around the sun, dooming Earth to cataclysmic destruction, sometime in December 2012. They contend that NASA is currently tracking Nibiru, but that the information is being kept from the public as part of a worldwide conspiracy. We'll see...
Packed with prophesy, pain and passion; with love, devastation and renewal, Gemini Rising is the memorable introduction to what promises to be an epic intergalactic/interdimensional series that will rock sci-fi readers to the core. This first book is set in the near future in the United Socialist States. America is plagued with many of the consequences that today’s conservatives believe we will face if our government continues down its current liberal path. Yet, as frightening as this future world becomes, it didn’t once occur to me to put this book down. Simply put, it's one of the most amazing, yet unsettling books I’ve ever read. For Ms. Carroll, it’s a crowning achievement, so masterfully written it can do nothing but win every award for which it’s certain to be nominated.
The mystical love story of Noah and Kate is both sweet and awe-inspiring. It drew so many tears from me in spots that I had to stop reading to mop up the flood. Otherwise, I was completely lost in this book. The ceiling could have fallen in on me and I wouldn’t have noticed. Kate, despite all her initial wailing, resentfulness and depression over each and every danger, adversity and harsh condition she had to face, always rises to the occasion. She is probably a more authentic heroine than we sometimes see in romance novels. Accustomed to Jason’s overbearing and demeaning attitude toward her, she’s a typical woman forced to face adversities so monumental that she’s ill equipped to handle them. Noah, on the other hand, is a complete rock, solid and enduring in his devotion to Kate and to his mission to save humanity.
Gemini Rising is a truly superb book, arguably the best futuristic novel to come down the pike in quite sometime. Don't miss it. Its anticlimactic ending will leave you with what Ms. Carroll calls a “haunting echo” of what is to come sometime in 2013 with the release of The Light and the Flame, the first of several highly anticipated sequels.
Then there is A Shadow of Time. Grab your copy before the prequel comes out called Shadowland.
A Shadow of Time
by Louann Carroll
Publication Date: July 2, 2012
Cover art by Taria Reed
Kellyn O'Brien strives to create the perfect family. Then, disaster strikes. Her husband is dead. Three weeks later, she discovers her son is heir to Shadow Ley, a nineteenth century estate nestled in the Sierra Nevada foothills.
Reeling from Michael's death, Kellyn moves to Shadow Ley. Soon, the ordinary becomes the extraordinary: broken drinking glasses repair themselves, stair rails that were once old are now new, and suddenly the estate of Shadow Ley is not what it seems.
She turns to the local historian and learns of Sha' na ho bet, the angry fire god, bound forever to Earth. Native Americans tell her about Coyote, the Trickster who creates chaos out of order. Then the dreams begin with windows into past lives, hints of multidimensionality, and the promise of life beyond death.
Legends abound and so Shadow Ley, the home Kellyn had hoped would bring peace to herself and her children, becomes mired first in doubt, then in terror, and finally in love eternal.
A dry wind caressed the meadow, rustling golden rye grass. A pool of brackish water reflected the sun, and a darting bird caused the liquid to move sluggishly. Thirst gnawed, creating scratchy tracks of pain in Kellyn’s throat. However, the thought of drinking from the pond turned her stomach. Her pace picked up. She knew she had been here before. She started running because in this place realities converged, and she wanted no part of it.
A man appeared on a hillock dressed in a golden tunic that shined under the sun and glimmered in the heat. He waved and started toward her.
“Kellyn!” he cried. “Wait!”
She gasped, the air searing her lungs. Sweat paraded down her face and neck, soaking her hair. Once again, the man called her name. She slowed, glancing over her shoulder, the voice familiar. Is he one of them? she wondered. Yes, she answered as his face came into view.
He was Matka, one of the five who were one. She thought to warn him of the dark waters, but she desperately needed to conserve her strength. As soon as she recognized where she was, fear had set fire to her feet, and she’d ran as fast as they could carry her, terrified of the living djinn of the water.
If she didn’t warn him, the circle of life would demand a repeat of her actions, until she got it right. Such was a soul’s fate. But what was right? She had no way of knowing. She could only do. She was not omnipotent. A river of sweat scalded her eyes. She had to find shelter before she withered up and blew away in the desert heat.
In the mountain’s shadow, a cave nestled behind several large boulders, giving sanctuary. She ran inside then leaned against a far wall, grateful for the coolness of the cavern. Glancing around, she searched for water. Nothing but a pallet lay within the rocky compound. She leaned in for a closer look, immediately repelled by the stench that emanated from the bedding.
Guilt rose. She should have warned the man, but perhaps he would follow her here. She had met each of them in other lives and different times. The names shot through her head: Matka, Michael, John, Tonah, and the over soul who had created them all. She too was one of many, and although she understood the concept here, she never could carry it back to her waking life. A veil had been drawn between this Kellyn and the one that walked the earth.
Tired, she crept toward the pallet. Unable to overcome her aversion to the smell, she knelt on shaking legs. After a time, she realized Matka had not followed. Exhaustion overwhelmed her. She crept onto the skins. Laying her head down amongst fleas and dirt, she slept.
Icy wind slithered through the bedding, waking her. Shivering, Kellyn sat up, fingering animal hide. She shuddered, the cold attacking her skin like tiny knives. Night lifted and sunrise illuminated the cave, bringing it into view.
A loud rustle and snore startled her. A man lay next to her. Tonah? The name popped into her mind. Warm breath clouded an unshaven face in fine mist. Strong features accentuated a rough visage. His nose, long and straight, sat above a full mouth, cracked with the winter’s wind. His eyes rolled beneath closed eyelids, partially veiled by locks of blue-black hair.
Suddenly, another bump and softer snore sounded to her right. Bundled close by, a young girl slept wrapped in rough hide. Her angular face nestled deep within animal fur, eyes closed tight against the cold. Overcome with emotion, a tear slipped down Kellyn’s cheek. She knew this child, had loved her dearly. The man moved, and she glanced at him. He opened his eyes.
Startled, she scooted closer to the girl. His gaze settled on her, setting off a rush of love that was at once exquisite and unsettling. She yearned for him, until an icy clamp of fear formed around her heart.
The man sensed her terror and reached up, pulling her against him. He said, “Ahyokoochettooa, Ayana.” I will not lead you wrong.
Her mind dipped precariously. Michael? John? Tonah? Oh, God, she thought. Joy filled her, pushing away all thoughts of a world beyond this one. She answered with gratitude the name he called.
Tonah’s arms were strong, his skin cracked and reddened, and he was warm, oh so warm. Not cold, like the body that lay in the mortuary for three days. Not waxy, like the face she had seen covered in make-up, his cheeks pushing against his ears in a way she had never before seen. He curled toward her, his mouth open—the tiny stitches of thread that had held his lips forever closed were gone. In their place the warm breath of the living descended upon her.
His muscles flexed as he held her, and she luxuriated in the oiliness of their bodies. The scent of cured animal hide filled her nostrils. The icy walls of the cave provided shelter from mother Earth and security from father Wind. She took refuge in his arms giving thanks for the man who loved her so fiercely.
“Oh, Ayana,” he whispered. “You are my life—my love.”
Salty tears tracked down her face as she lifted her mouth. His lips were warm and he smelled of the earth. She clasped him closer, never wanting to let go. He straddled her and she welcomed him, lifting her arms in surrender.
Always gentle, always sweet, he stroked her arms, her legs, and then her thighs. He stood, sweeping her off the ground and holding her close as if her body and his were the same. Wrapping her legs around him, she buried her face into his neck, sucking in the rich odor of life and love. Never had she been so close to a human being, experienced such passion, and reached such heights of ecstasy.
After the sweetness of love was finished, he laid her down, rose from the skins, and walked naked to the mouth of the cave. He grasped a thin curtain of hide and pulled it away from the opening. He shouted, “Come. We must greet the sun and be on our way.”
Ayana pulled back the covers, shivering in the chill morning air. She reached for her daughter. “Awake, Kayi. It is time to go.”
The child looked up. A smile started at her lips that soon reached her eyes. She yawned, showing even white teeth.
Ayana grinned at her sleepy offspring then stepped out of bed and threw on a Caribou hide robe. Striding over to the fire she’d bedded down the previous evening, she blew on it gently, feeding the flames dried dog dung until the fire rose into a body-warming blaze. “Come and warm yourself.”
The girl rose, running with dainty steps over to the fire.
From a sickly infant, Kayi had grown into a healthy young woman more than able to carry her weight in camp. Born half alive, Ayana’s womb had become a tomb of death instead of a well of life. Before the babe could take her last breath, Tonah had called the ancient shaman who arrived with bold paint and staff. He danced his prayer to the White Mammoth asking that the child live, and she had.
Ayana lightly touched her belly. Her womb was too small for a maturing fetus. Instead of enlarging, it bent and twisted the infant so that the child’s legs were malformed. After Kayi’s birth, she followed the shaman’s wishes, starving herself for three days while allowing another to nurse the baby. In return, she expected and received the life of her child. Kayi’s limbs had taken time to grow and straighten. Now she was as lithe on her feet as any youth her age. She had a slight limp and was sometimes in pain, but it only showed in her eyes and never in her voice.
Ayana opened the carrying pouch, thinking she had at best one more day of food. Together they warmed a bit of sinew then, in a round bowl made of stiffened Caribou hide, they heated snow to drink. In the manner to which she was accustomed, the child carried the first of the day’s offering to the man that stared out over the canyon.
Her father, now arrayed in furs and skins that protected him from the cold, smiled. The sun’s rays burned the snow-laden mountains a brilliant pink, and she squinted as she handed him the meat and water.
“Thank you,” he said, accepting her gift.
She crept back to the fire.
“Come,” Ayana said, smiling. “It is time.”
She was pleased with Tonah’s response to Kayi. Where most men would have decried the birth of a daughter, he had welcomed her and her disabilities. It was Tonah who strapped the sticks to Kayi’s legs to help them grow straight, and it was Tonah who helped Ayana accept the fact she would bear no more children. She sighed, remembering how lucky she was to have him as her mate.
The wind whistled as she packed what was left of their utensils and blankets. Wrapping extra skins around her daughter, she made sure her ears and hands were well covered. She stepped onto the sled as her mate readied the dogs for the long trek down the mountain.
With longing, she gazed back at the cave, wishing she didn’t have to leave its warmth. Tonah hooked up the dogs to the main sled and attached the smaller emergency carrier to the back of the basket sled. She and Kayi hunkered next to him, their bodies wrapped in bear hide.
He whipped the dogs. “Haw!”
Icy wind blew through her hair. Frost formed on her eyebrows and eyelashes as the sled sprinted across the ice field. She squinted, protecting her eyes from the sun and the blowing snow. Kayi huddled next to her father, taking great care not to interfere with his driving. She had curled into a ball, covering her ears with her hands as the hide rug had fallen away.
Ayana attended to her daughter’s exposed flesh. She took her hands into her own and rubbed the skin fiercely. Already they were blue from the cold. Three days ago, in a moment of negligence, Kayi had dropped her gloves over the rim of a ledge. Although hunger was fierce, the girl still had the energy of youth and played with the dogs using her gloves as a toy. A quick reprimand sent the stricken child to the rocks to hide. Moments later, the gloves went over the edge.
Ayana was forever grateful that it was Caribou hide and not her child that lay at the bottom of the cliff. Since then, she worried that her daughter’s hands would freeze and she would have to watch her fingers fall to the ground, black and shriveled, as had her grandmother’s.
As Kayi’s hands warmed from her frantic ministrations, Ayana looked to her husband for strength. Her heart blossomed with love. Strong and capable, he handled the dogs with ease as they shot across the snow. She had great confidence in his tracking skills and his ability to lead them to the new land beyond the white ice mountains. She just wished they had never decided to leave the camp of her birth to follow the Caribou. She missed her mother, her cousins, the security of the main camp, and the great hunts and celebrations that followed.
She pulled her robe tighter.
Exposed skin grew numb. She knew it was dangerous to follow the way of the herd. Her father, Kirta, had tried to persuade her not to follow her mate. Who would touch hands with Kayi in the land of the sun, he demanded to know. The child deserved to have a place at her own hearth. However, the stories of others who had gone before pacified her, giving the assurance of numerous camps far ahead.
Stinging ice and wind bit her face. The basket sled flew down the face of the mountain, the cold slithering in between the cracks and crevices of her fingers, the lines at the corners of her mouth, nose, and eyes. She held tight and they continued onward.
A Shadow of Time by Louann Carroll was a little different story from my usual read. I seldom have dreams about novels I’m reading, but this one must have hit a nerve. It scared me. Of course, I like someone to try to scare me.
Kellyn O’Brien has just been widowed, has a young son, and is four months pregnant. Not a position most young women would want to find themselves in. On top of that, she learns her husband lied to her from the start about his family. He told Kellyn he’d been adopted, the same as she had been. After he dies, Kellyn is left pretty much penniless, but she soon learns her son has inherited her husband’s family home. After the shock wears off she learns she could be set up pretty much for life with both children, all she has to do is move into Shadow Ley, a large home located in the California foothills, with her children. Doesn’t seem like much of a hardship, until she gets there.
Shadow Ley is not what it first appears. There is strange goings on there, such as rooms that magically clean themselves, furniture and floors repaired right in front of them. And there could be a djinn living beneath the enormous home named Shenahobet, a guardian of sorts, and he might have evil in mind where Kellyn, her kids, and her new friends, are concerned. Kellyn and her friends soon learn they have more in common than they thought even. All of them have experienced strange dreams about past lives, but after Kellyn’s arrival what were once only strange dreams become realistic visions during the daylight hours. Everyone is at a loss as to the meaning behind them.
A Shadow of Time is a novel one has to pay close attention to because of all the different twists and turns we take, not only in the present, but with lives they may have lived in the past. How much of their past lives are connected to the present, or even the future? Shadow Ley and Shenahobet are the connection Kellyn needs to figure out before one or all of them ends up hurt or killed. Somewhere in the past a wrong was done and if they don’t find a way to correct it, these friends are destined to keep reliving it over and over again. I enjoyed this story and the twists and turns involved as it escalates toward a surprise ending.