14 May 2015

Book Blitz & Giveaway: Pandemic by Yvonne Ventresca

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by Yvonne Ventresca.
Audience/Genre: Young Adult, Dystopian.
Publication: May 6th 2014 by Sky Pony Press.
Even under the most normal circumstances, high school can be a painful and confusing time. Unfortunately, Lilianna's circumstances are anything but normal. Only a few people know what caused her sudden change from model student to the withdrawn pessimist she has become, but her situation isn't about to get any better. When people begin coming down with a quick-spreading illness that doctors are unable to treat, Lil's worst fears are realized. With her parents called away on business before the contagious outbreak-her father in Delaware covering the early stages of the disease and her mother in Hong Kong and unable to get a flight back to New Jersey-Lil's town is hit by what soon becomes a widespread illness and fatal disaster. Now, she's more alone than she's been since the "incident" at her school months ago.

With friends and neighbors dying all around her, Lil does everything she can just to survive. But as the disease rages on, so does an unexpected tension as Lil is torn between an old ex and a new romantic interest. Just when it all seems too much, the cause of her original trauma shows up at her door. In this thrilling debut from author Yvonne Ventresca, Lil must find a way to survive not only the outbreak and its real-life consequences, but also her own personal demons.

This scene from Pandemic takes place after both of Lil’s parents are away and unable to return home. She is isolated in the midst of the widespread disease and has to handle some bad news on her own. At an emotional low point, she decides to leave her house for the first time in days. This is the section I chose to read at my launch party.

Pages 125-128 (677 words) (FYI–I cut one spoiler sentence out.)

As I walked down the street, all the normal spring noises were missing. No lawn mowers buzzed. No cars passed me. No neighbors walked their dogs. Nature still prevailed: sparrows twittered, squirrels chattered, and breezes fluttered through the trees. But without the usual human sounds, Portico transformed into a ghost town.
Four houses away from mine, the Goodwins’ baby cried loudly, interrupting the silence and ending my what-if spiral. It wasn’t a normal cry, but a continuous high-pitched wail. Mrs. Goodwin and my mom were do-you-have-a-cup-of-sugar neighbors, but I didn’t know her well.
I continued passed the house, not seeing a single soul. Was it safe to be out alone? It was daylight but I couldn’t help thinking that if someone wanted to hurt me, there would be no one around to help. That realization was as worrisome as the flu. Freaked out, I turned around a few blocks from home and hurried back.
The baby still cried as I passed by the Goodwins’ house. The glass storm door was closed, but the wooden one behind it was wide open. I crept to the front and peeked inside. Most of the lights were off, giving the entranceway a gloomy air. I doubted anyone would hear the doorbell over the baby, but I rang it anyway, then jiggled the door handle. It was unlocked. A striped tabby cat ran to the door, staring at me with yellow-green eyes. Its plaintive meows combined with the baby’s bawling.
Something was wrong. But if the flu had infected the Goodwins, I didn’t want to risk being exposed. Using my cell phone, I called information for their number, then listened as it rang inside the house. The answering machine kicked in. “We can’t take your call right now . . .”
At the sound of the voice, the baby quieted for a moment. Then the sobbing began again, louder and more distressed.
Standing by the front door, I shifted my weight from one foot to the other. I considered dialing 911. But what would I report? A cranky baby?
“Mrs. Goodwin?” I called.
Still no answer. I turned, then took a few steps away from the house. This is none of my business. The wailing rang in my ears. It is not my problem. I counted to thirty, willing the frantic cries to stop. They didn’t.
Taking a deep breath, I returned to the door, opening it slowly. A flash of tabby stripes ran out past me, making me jump.
“Mrs. Goodwin?” I called. “Mr. Goodwin?”
The kitchen was empty. I waited for someone to come out, to ask me what I was doing. No one did.
I moved stealthily down the hallway, feeling like an intruder. But I couldn’t leave the baby now. The howling guided me into a bedroom on the right. The baby stood in the crib, his face mottled and red, his jumper damp. Behind his crib hung a sign with animal-shaped letters that spelled out his name: Tobias Kutchner.
“Hi, Tobias Kutchner. I sure hope you’re not sick. The flu doesn’t affect many babies, right?” I didn’t want to hold him, to come into contact with him, but I couldn’t exactly leave him alone again.
“We have to find your mommy. This room smells like you need a diaper change.” Summoning my nerve, I put my hands under his arms to lift him. Something squished under my fingers as I reached his back.
Poop. And lots of it.
Disgusted by the grossness, I put him back down. His screams reached a new decibel.
“It’s OK, it’s OK,” I said, more to myself than the baby. Grabbing a blanket from the crib, I created a barrier between his dirty body and my own. “We need to find a bathroom to clean you up, TK. Do you mind if I call you TK, little buddy?”
I started to carry him out. Two steps toward the door, I stopped babbling and froze.
Oh dear God.
In the corner of the room, Mrs. Goodwin sat slumped over in a rocking chair.


Winner will receive a signed hard cover of PANDEMIC, a $75 VISA gift card, and a limited edition necklace
(mentioned in the story!). 
***Any entrants using fake or contest only social profiles to enter will be disqualified.***

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Yvonne Ventresca is the author of PANDEMIC (Sky Pony Press, 2014), a young adult novel about an emotionally traumatized teenager struggling to survive a deadly bird flu outbreak. School Library Journal called PANDEMIC “an engrossing apocalyptic story” and Kirkus Reviews said “this realistic page-turner will keep most readers enthralled.” Yvonne’s other writing credits include two nonfiction books for teens, AVRIL LAVIGNE (a biography of the singer) and PUBLISHING (about careers in the field).

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