Sunday 9 November 2014

Blog Tour Excerpt & Giveaway - Unstrung by Kendra C. Highley

by Kendra C. Highley
Genre: Young Adult Sci Fi/Dystopian
Date Published: October 17, 2014
Book One: Unstrung Series

Book Description:
Lexa Pate, seventeen-year-old thief extraordinaire, has burned a bridge or two in her life. You don't make a career out of stealing other people's property without making enemies.

When a risky job goes from bad to worse, Lexa and her adopted family find themselves on Precipice Corporation's hit list because they've accidentally stolen the wrong thing--plans for a new model of genetically-engineered super humans. Now every bounty hunter, cop on the take, and snitch in the city is after them.

Lexa's world crumbles around her as she fights to keep her family safe even as someone strolls out of her forgotten past. Quinn claims to know who Lexa really is, but can she trust a stranger she met while robbing his boss?

More importantly, does she really want to know what Quinn has to tell her?

Based on the fairy tale Pinocchio, UNSTRUNG takes you into a near future world where the lines between fake and real are blurred, all that's pristine isn't always innocent, and being a criminal isn't always wrong.

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Excerpt from Unstrung

Chapter One: Chips and Crackers

The safe unlocks with a quiet click. Moving slowly, just in case there’s a tripwire I haven’t disabled, I open the door and reach inside. The chip rests in a foam-lined box. I ease it free and slip it into a small pocket inside the gear pouch strapped around my waist.
Robbery number sixty-three: success.
I close the safe, then start a cautious trek back to the window. I’m careful to retrace my steps, traveling the exact path I used to come in. So far I’ve bypassed a laser tripwire net, a few pressure plates, and a motion sensor. Kind of disappointing. I thought one of Precipice’s labs would be more heavily secured, and I like a challenge. This room is too easy—just four wide lab tables with thick, black tops, some data equipment on the counters and the wall safe. A few terminals even provide a soft blue glow to work by. Nothing to get in my way or force me into the motion sensor’s path. Much, much too easy.
Which means something’s wrong.
I take a deep breath, trying to refocus. C’mon, Lexa. Time to concentrate, girl.
It’s no good; the nagging feeling I’m in trouble won’t shake loose. The Quad’s businesses aren’t usually lax on security. Their systems are top-notch and with the cops in their pockets, it takes an audacious thief to break into a Precipice Industries building. Honestly, I’m the only one crazy enough to take this job, but being seventeen means I’m allowed to do stupid things, especially for a good paycheck.
I’m almost back to the window when a cool breeze ripples across my skin, like the climate control system has started. Immediately, a blue light clicks on in the ceiling and my whole body goes numb. The beam has me flash frozen in place. Skies, what is this? Why can’t I move? My mind’s screaming for me to get out of here, to run, but it’s like my legs don’t understand the commands.
I push against whatever is holding me still, willing it to leave me alone. As if it hears my thoughts, the blue light turns off and I can move again. It’s too late, though—the alarm starts shrieking. I dash for the window and slide onto the ledge. My heart slams in my chest, almost like it’s trying to reboot, which is bad since I’m on the eighth floor and the ground is far below. There’s no time to catch my breath, no time to calm down. I pat my gear pack, feeling for the data chip in the little pocket deep inside. At least I got what I came for. Making it home with my prize in hand will be a different story altogether.
It takes thirty seconds to test my climbing anchors, clip onto my cat-line and swing off the ledge. It takes another thirty seconds to rappel down the side of the brick building. The alarm is still shrieking overhead. From the dark of the alley, each light that comes on in the windows makes me move faster. At one point, a member of the night watch peeks outside. I flatten against the wall. This is going to be a close one. Maybe the closest yet.
A bead of sweat runs down my chest, trickling its way into my navel. It’s torture, but I stay pressed against the wall. Another bead follows the first, then another. I want to wipe them away so badly I have to grit my teeth to stay my hand. If I get caught…no, I can’t think about that right now. I won’t get caught.
After the guard moves away from the window, I punch the release on my climbing anchors, jumping clear as they fall to the ground from the roof. My cat-line comes down in a tangled wad. No time to fix it. I shove the whole kit—anchors, line and descent vest—into the saddlebag compartment on the back of my hover bike. She comes to life with a gentle hum and the propulsions on the bottom glow a faint purple. I special ordered that color because I like a little flash. If I’m going to get caught, I’ll do it with style.
I’d rather not get caught, though.
Sirens wail in the distance, closing fast. Hunched over the handle bars, I ease the bike onto the street behind the lab, then kick it into glide mode. The shadows of giant skyscrapers bear silent witness to my flight. In the clean order of Triarch City, I’m the one bit of chaos those buildings and their perfect little occupants might experience in the next week. Maren—the Quad’s leader—sees to that. Square pegs like me don’t fit into her world order.
Which is why the sirens are getting closer.
I kick the throttle into flight mode as I enter the ramp to the highway. The hover bike runs like molten glass and I streak down the dark street in a burst of orange light. Streetlamps become laser beams, their flashes the only indicator of just how fast I’m going. This time of night, there isn’t much traffic; good thing, because this run is dicey enough. Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like endangering innocent people in the name of a job.
I hazard a look in my side mirrors. Flashing lights give chase. Stars, they’ve sent a hover tank after me. I have a jamming signal built into the bike’s computer, which keeps them from seeing me on their scanner. They have to rely on a visual search. Not easy to do—the tanks have to fly much higher than my bike, and they aren’t as fast. I have to hope speed’s enough to keep them at bay. My capture would make the cops’ night, what with the reward and all. I shiver, thinking about what awaits me in jail, especially since my boss wouldn’t bail me out. I’d be on my own.

About the Author
Kendra C. Highley lives in north Texas with her husband and two children. She also serves as staff to four self-important cats. This, according to the cats, is her most crucial job. She believes chocolate is a basic human right, running a 10k is harder than it sounds, and that everyone should learn to drive a stick shift. She loves monsters, vacations, baking and listening to bad electronica. If she's not writing, she's reading. If she's not writing or reading, she's likely a little cranky.

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