22 October 2012

Blog Tour : Shadows (Ashes Trilogy, #2) by Ilsa J. Bick. (Excerpt + Giveaway - US Only)

Shadows (Ashes Trilogy, #2) by Ilsa J. Bick.
Audience/Genre : Young Adult/Dystopia, Apocalyptic, Post-Apocalyptic.
Publication : September 25th 2012 by Egmont USA.
The Apocalypse does not end. The Changed will grow in numbers. The Spared may not survive.

Even before the EMPs brought down the world, Alex was on the run from the demons of her past and the monster living in her head. After the world was gone, she believed Rule could be a sanctuary for her and those she’d come to love.
But she was wrong.

Now Alex is in the fight of her life against the adults, who would use her, the survivors, who don’t trust her, and the Changed, who would eat her alive.

Welcome to Shadows, the second book in the haunting apocalyptic Ashes Trilogy: where no one is safe and humans may be the worst of the monsters.

Thanks to Egmont USA for letting me be a part of this awesome tour! I've an excerpt for you guys followed by a giveaway :)


“You should leave the dog,” Mellie said as Tom hefted Raleigh
onto the swayback’s saddle. Catching the dog’s scent, Mellie’s
horse, a mild tobiano paint, nickered. Mellie gave its poll a reassuring
scratch. “An extra horse only slows us down.”

“I don’t care,” Tom said, briefly. Turning aside, he began laboriously
tying off the ropes securing the bulky blue tarp with its
sad bundle. His right hand complained, but he forced the muscles
to obey. Dixie’s wound had healed enough that he felt comfortable
riding her, but he worried that Raleigh’s body would upset
her, so he’d settled on the Kings’ horse. As he worked, a solitary
crow perched on the flagpole let out a mournful cry that sounded
like a person hurt bad: Oh. Oh. Or maybe it only sounded that way
to him.

“But the ground’s frozen.” Weller was astride a big, very muscular
blood bay. “You won’t be able to bury him.”

“Then I’ll burn him. Or I’ll pile rocks. That dog saved my life. He
belonged to people I care about, and I am not leaving him here to
rot.” Tom gave the last rope a grim tug. Even with the bandage and
salve, his hand bawled. Be a while until it healed. “What about the
other animals?”

Weller looked impatient. “I told you. I know a farm we can stop
at on the way. Three old guys. Brothers. They’ll care for them.”

“You sure they’ll come if there are hunters on the way?”

“As sure as we can be,” Mellie said. “Tom, we can only do our

“But the animals didn’t hurt anyone,” Tom said, stubbornly.
“They don’t deserve to die for this.”

“And they won’t,” Weller said. “But we have to leave now. You
want to save that girl? You make the bombs and we blow that mine,
and then we march in there and you get Alex out of that prison

He looked up at Weller. “It’s never that simple. We have to get
in without getting caught. I have to position the explosives just
right, and they have to go off in the right order. I’m not even sure
it can be done. A building with good concrete support columns
would take at least a couple hundred pounds of explosives.”

“Look, we’ve been over this too,” Weller said.

“All we’ve been over is that there’s a mine you want me to help
you blow up. What I want to know is why I should. How will
blowing a mine full of Chuckies help Alex? How do you even
know they’re in the mine to begin with?”

From the way Weller’s whiskered jaw jutted, he could tell the
old man was impatient. “Because I’ve seen ’em,” Weller grated,
“and we’ve tracked groups. Way before all this happened, kids
were always hanging around there. Had their parties, explored the
tunnels. It was a meeting place. I know my grandkids, especially
Mandy, she . . .” Weller looked away, his mouth working, then
hawked and spat. “Anyway, that’s where a lot of Changed—”


Weller moved one shoulder in a half-shrug. “It’s the name Rule’s
given the little bastards. I prefer Chuckies, tell the truth. Changed
makes it sound too much like a Hand of God thing.”

“How many are there at any given time? Do they live there?”

Weller’s face folded in a thoughtful frown. “No, it’s like they
rotate in and out in these packs and gangs, just like kids in a high
school cafeteria. I’d say, maybe, two hundred, two fifty? Sometimes
more or less, depending.”

“That’s a lot of kids.” Yet what Weller said echoed what Jed
had mentioned on more than one occasion: Chuckies orbited the
familiar.What better place to hang than where there’d been great
parties and good times? “And they don’t get cold?”

“It’s like I said, Tom. Once you’re deep enough, mines stay
pretty warm, and they get hotter the further down you go. Hell,
there were days I wasn’t wearing but skivvies, boots, a hard hat,
goggles, and gloves. There’s a lot of space to spread out in that
mine, too: cut rock rooms for machine shops and storage areas.
Places to rest, stretch out a while, even have lunch. There’s this one
big stope—”

“Stope?” Anything Tom knew about mines came from movies.
“You mean a mine shaft?”

Weller shook his head. “You ever seen one of those ant farms
they got in schools? All those hollowed-out chambers? That’s a
mine right there, in miniature: nothing more than a big anthill
with tunnels that lead to rooms, only the rooms are called stopes
and they’re carved out of rock instead of sand. Some are real
small, only big enough for a man. Others are huge. In this particular
mine, there’s one room about five hundred and fifty feet down
that’s nothing more than a big, hollow ball of rotten rock with
only these spindly pillar supports holding up the ceiling. There
are stress fractures so wide in some of the walls you could drive a

“Five hundred and fifty feet?” That was just about the height of
the Washington Monument. “How deep does this mine go?”

“Just a little over two thousand feet, not that the little bastards
can get that far down. Mine’s been flooded below a thousand
feet for years. I wouldn’t be surprised if the water’s crept up even
higher. In mines as old as this, you can have water on the level
above or in the next chamber over and not know it, so long as the
rock holds. People who go exploring in abandoned mines around
these parts drown all the time.”

“So what, exactly, are you thinking about blowing up? The
entrance? That room?”

“Not exactly. We want to take out the room underneath. It’s
not as big, but it’s just as unstable. There’s only sixty feet of rock
between the two of them.”

Meaning anyone planting bombs would have to drop down
even deeper. “Sixty feet’s still a lot of rock,” Tom observed.

Weller snorted. “In a mine like this, sixty feet is nothing, and
like I said, the rock is rotten, like bad ice, all cracked and broken-up
with stress fractures.” Weller cupped air with his left hand. “So you
got this great big room, and sitting right beneath it”—he slotted his
right hand beneath the left—“you got this other smaller chamber.
Both of them are under a tremendous amount of stress. So you
make the bombs, you blow out the pillars in the room beneath this
larger room—”

“And you knock out the legs.” He now understood where this
was going: blow out the supports and everything would come
crashing down.

“Exactly. You do it right,” Weller said, “we bury those sons of

“It’s a nice theory,” Tom said, “but there are a lot of variables,
and you still need a high explosive, time fuses, igniters, blasting
caps—not to mention a way in and out of the mine.”

Mellie stirred. “We’ve got that covered, Tom.”

“Really?” He squinted from her to Weller. “If you guys are so
covered, why haven’t you blown the mine already?”

“Don’t think we haven’t considered it.” Leaning forward, Weller
straight-armed his saddle’s pommel, the aw-shucks cowpoke coming
on strong. “But it’s like this. You can give a little kid a broken-down
pistol and bullets. If he’s smart and given enough time, he might
eventually put it together so it works. But the chances are also
excellent that little tyke’s gonna peek down the barrel and pull
the damn trigger just to see what happens. Understand what I’m
saying? We got components; we have all the fixings. But none of
us is an expert. Takes a long time to learn how to build a bomb
without blowing your head off. That’s time we don’t have.”

We got components. Of course they would. There had to be lots
of weapons lying around nowadays. Easy pickings if you knew
what you were looking for—and Mellie had said that they were
covered. That meant they’d been amassing matériel and planning
this for some time. He was their lucky accident, a piece of fortuitous
serendipity. If he hadn’t fallen into their laps, what then?

“But what’s the point?” he asked. “What will killing them
accomplish? You said yourself, they don’t all stay there at one time;
they move in and out.”

“Yeah, but it’s efficient; more bang for the buck. Sure, we won’t
kill all the little bastards. They’re like rats. There’ve got to be hundreds
out in these woods. But that mine is familiar territory and a
meeting place. We chop off the head of this snake, and we accomplish
two things.” Weller held up one gloved finger. “First off, we
disorganize the little shits and kill a bunch of them in the process.
A lot may scatter and that’s good. Second and more important,
this helps clear one path to Rule. Not entirely, of course. Rule’s got
a pretty strong defensive perimeter set up.”

“So how does destroying the mine clear a path?”

The old man cracked a nasty grin. “Because the Chuckies are
part of the perimeter. Think about it. When you bait game, you
can be pretty sure whatever you’re drawing in will stick even
closer. There’s no incentive for that game to wander off. Now,
who in their right mind is going to want to take on both the
Chuckies and Rule’s guns? See what I’m saying? It’s like Rule’s
built up this guerilla force, this buffer, which leaves them free
to concentrate their firepower in other areas.” Weller let go of
a disgusted grunt, but Tom thought he heard admiration there,
too. “You got to admit, Peter and Chris had one hell of a brilliant
idea there.”

Brilliant—and pretty sick, too. Talk about lions at the gate. “Even
if this works, we won’t just march into Rule. You said this kid,
Chris, is pretty tough, right?”

“Oh yeah, he’s a sick son of a bitch; real smart, real sneaky.
There’s almost no one there knows him well. You ask people,
they’ll tell you how wonderful he is. He’s got them all brainwashed,
but they haven’t seen the stuff I have. That prison house is where
he really cuts loose, no pun intended. You should’ve seen the last
girl when he was done with her. I’m just glad the poor little thing
didn’t make it. Turned my stomach, and I saw a thing or two in
’Nam. I did Tet; us Rangers was at Da Lat and Phu Cuong and . . .”

“Yeah, yeah, and I’ve been at Ma’sum Ghar and Korengal and
Paktika. So what?” As much respect as he had for vets like Jed,
he was getting a little tired of Weller always playing the Vietnam
card. “This isn’t a contest about which of us has seen worse. But
you, of all people, ought to know that killing our way in—”

“Is the only way,” Weller said. His skin had gone chalk-white
with rage. “Or haven’t you got the stomach for it, soldier?”

“You know, that soldier jazz is getting really old really fast,” he
snapped. “Don’t bait me. All I’m saying is that you got out of Rule.”

Weller stiffened. “I see where you’re going, but getting out
wasn’t that easy. I had to arrange a . . . a search, then figure a bogus
excuse for splitting off from the men who can’t be trusted, and
cover my tracks.”

“But you’re not doing this out of the goodness of your heart.
This is about some beef you’ve got with Rule.”

“What do you care what my reasons are? I’m offering you a
way in.”

“But only if I do what you want,” Tom countered. “Regardless
of whatever grudge you’ve got going, there has to be a way of
getting to Alex that doesn’t involve murdering innocent people.”

“Chuckies ain’t people.”

Tom shook his head. “I’m not talking about them. You’re condemning
an entire village, Weller. Not all the people there are

“They’re complicit in their silence,” Mellie put in. “The survivors
who have bowed to Rule’s conditions, who have decided
upon survival at any cost, are as much to blame as the monsters
on that Council. You think about girls and boys passed around. You
think about Alex and some perverted, twisted man old enough to
be her grandfather taking her into his bed.”

Her words set his teeth. “All I’m saying is that you need to
think very, very hard about what you’re asking. There’s got to be
another way.”

“There isn’t and we’re wasting time,” Weller snapped. He gave
his reins an angry twist. The blood bay let out a startled snort,
then pranced and stamped as Weller brought the animal around.
“From where I’m sitting, it’s pretty damned simple, Tom: you’re
either in or you’re out. You’re for us or against us. So, what’s it
gonna be?”

And if I’m out? He doubted that Mellie and Weller would simply
let him refuse and go on his merry way. Refusing might even be
a death sentence. Weller hadn’t revealed everything, and Tom
trusted neither him nor Mellie. By his own admission, Weller was
a traitor. Once you’d betrayed a friend, it was like a part of your
soul crossed this invisible point of no return.

Yet the math was clear. Alex was in trouble and he needed a
way into Rule. These people were his best shot. Once he found
Alex, they would both go somewhere far away, where no one
could touch them—or hurt her—ever again.

“Tell me what to do,” he said.

Giveaway Terms and Conditions :

  • Giveaway is USA Only.
  • The author/publisher is responsible to ensure the winner gets the book.
  • Winner has 36 hours to respond or a new one will be picked.
  • Giveaway ends on November 2nd, 2012.

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Among other things, I was an English major in college and so I know that I'm supposed to write things like, "Ilsa J. Bick is ." Except I hate writing about myself in the third person like I'm not in the room. Helloooo, I'm right here . . . So let's just say that I'm a child psychiatrist (yeah, you read that right)as well as a film scholar, surgeon wannabe (meaning I did an internship in surgery and LOVED it and maybe shoulda stuck), former Air Force major—and an award-winning, best-selling author of short stories, e-books, and novels. Believe me, no one is more shocked about this than I . . . unless you talk to my mother.

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  1. That excerpt makes me want to read the whole book right now! Thanks for sharing :)

    - Ellie @ The Selkie Reads Stories

  2. I would have to keep my iphone. I don't think I'd be able to survive without it!

  3. I don't think very much of what I use today would be very useful after an apocalypse. Maybe my GPS would come in handy if the satellites were still flying.

  4. My weapon of choice would be a katana - deadly silent and effective!


  5. I would want to bring a big book to read :) and I would want either Kama's or my Rattan sticks! There the only weapons I know how to use effectivly. :D

  6. I would love to have a really big shotgun, but we all know that ammunition would not be unlimited. Therefore I would have to choose a very big and sharp ax, this is a multipurpose tool - kill zombies and still have something to cut firewood and break into abandoned buildings for shelter ;=D

  7. I think maybe a machette would be handy.

  8. I would pick a sword as my weapon since it should work on anything.

  9. I think my weapon of choice would be a taser because I don't want to hurt them, just stun them enough so I can get away safely! Thanks for this amazing giveaway - I would love to win!

    Suz Reads