4 Jan 2016

BLOG TOUR: Ascenders by C.L. Gaber

Synopsis

THE ASCENDERS Takes You To the In-between Where Teens Who Died Young Go On the Epic Adventure of an After-Lifetime.

Walker Callaghan doesn't know what happened to her. One minute she was living her teenage life in suburban Chicago...and the next minute, she was in a strange place and in a brand new school with absolutely no homework, no rules, and no consequences.

Walker Callaghan, 17, is dead.

She doesn't go to Heaven or Hell. She lands at The Academy, a middle realm where teenagers have one thing in common: They were that morning announcement at their high schools because they died young.

These high school kids are now caught in a strange “in-between” zone where life hasn’t changed very much. In fact, this special teen limbo looks a lot like life in a quaint Michigan town complete with jocks, popular girls and cliques. "There are even cheerleaders in death," Walker observes. It's not a coincidence that the music teacher is a guy named Kurt who "used to have this band." The drama teacher, Heath, is crush worthy because back in his life, he starred in some superhero movie as the Joker.

Principal King explains the rules -- there are none. Why? You can't die twice.

There is no homework.
No tests.
No SATS.
You're just there to learn because the human brain isn't fully formed until you're 24.

By the way, you can't get hurt physically, so race your Harley off that hillside. But falling in love is the most dangerous thing you can do ...because no one knows how long you'll stay in this realm or what's next. Walker falls hard for tat-covered, bad boy Daniel Reid who is about to break the only sacred rule of this place. He's looking for a portal to return back to the living realm.
Ascenders....An epic adventure of an after-life time.



Excerpt

I quickly made it upstairs where she directed me to room 710, an intimate classroom where ten students sat in twos at highly polished, long mahogany tables. The cheerleaders were there, including Demanda and her posse, whispering to each other while looking everywhere but at each other. Glancing at their bright green-and-blue manicures was also a major obsession and made them look like mermaid rejects.

I walked past some nerd-type who had a full head of Brillo-pad red curls, plus arms and legs that went on for miles and about zero-percent body fat or muscle. He had his head in a book, but I could feel him glance up as I passed him and he flashed me a genuine smile, which I returned with a quick sincere one of my own.

“Hi, I’m Arnie. Enter at your own risk,” he said, extending one of those mile-long arms.

“Hi Arnie, Walker,” I replied.

“Walker . . . odd, but appealing. Your name, not you, ” he replied, returning his nose to the book. I guess that’s what passed for flirting at this school.

The other kids looked pretty normal and around my age including one fine-boned ballerina type with supermodel glossy blonde hair and lipstick that was red-black. She wore what looked like a pale-pink leotard with matching leggings and covered herself with an additional layer of a thin sweater and one of those dusky-pink skater skirts. I heard someone call her Tosh, and she even smiled up at me sort of warmly before saying, “There’s only one table left in the back. You’ll have to share it with Mr. Personality. God speed, newbie. Don’t hold him against the rest of us.”

I had no idea what she meant, but wandered to the back of the classroom and plopped down at the table in the corner, which was empty. Eventually, I reached into my brand-new leather backpack that had appeared during the move and was filled with every school supply anyone would ever want, from paper to a slim laptop and an iPad. Again, I wondered when my mom had time to get all these school supplies, including a backpack that looked like it cost some serious change because it smelled like real cow flesh. There was about two thousand dollars of electronics in my possession. I was trying to figure out how much Mom spent in total in my head when I was jolted out of my self-imposed mental shopping trip by the class bell.

The same moment the sound echoed, a broad-shouldered student in a black leather jacket blasted into the class, which caused the cool girls to start whispering. Looking around the room, he obviously noticed that his formerly empty table in the back now had another occupant. “Damn,” I heard him whisper under his breath as he walked closer. “Just what I needed—a squatter.”

Tossing his book onto the wood, he didn’t miss the new dark-haired girl jumping half out of her skin, but trying to look bored at the same time. Although I tried to calm myself down, he had to know that I was petrified—by the fact that my hazel eyes were as wide as saucers. I didn’t know then that he had been in my shoes several years earlier when he had arrived with his brother and sisters.

“Walker,” I said, cutting to the chase and trying to look into his eyes, which were cast downward so my gaze met the middle of his chest. Extending my hand felt foolish now and I allowed it to plop to my side in defeat.

For a few long seconds, he said absolutely nothing and stayed in the same position of epic rudeness. Then he slowly forced himself to look at me. The impact of it had me backing up a few centimeters. He was much more rugged than I would expect from any private school student, with a thin scar that ran across his chin to his lower lip and several light-green tattoos sneaking out of sleeves that were haphazardly pushed aside. This wasn’t your average high-school senior. He looked too weary and too wise. If you told me that he was a senior in college, I might have believed it.

“Daniel Reid,” he finally said with freezing calm, running a hand through jet-black hair that was shorter on the sides than on the top. That hair looked recklessly hand-combed off a masculine, square face that was marked by about a day’s growth of facial stubble; you could barely see it, but the shadow was there and made him look older and dangerous. I figured he was about six three or four with serious arms but a lean frame that fit nicely into snug, faded Levis.

Obviously, he worked out. I could imagine the six-pack and the sinewy muscles than ran from his thighs down the sides of his muscular legs. Almost blushing because I was a little too deep into the detail of a total stranger, I decided to focus on the fact that he dumped his leather jacket in a heap on the floor, slammed down his stool, and once seated, stared straight ahead.

“So how long have you been going to this school?” I whispered loudly, shifting nervously on my stool as if I wanted to dig a hole out of there. Obviously, I wasn’t such an expert when it came to small talk and I could tell that he preferred we didn’t talk at all.

“Forever,” he said in a harsh tone as I  stared at the side of his sculpted face.

“I’m already liking this idea of just learning what you want,” I blurted.

“Yeah,” he muttered and nodded numbly.

“What about SAT prep?” I asked. “It’s hard to believe that we really don’t need to take the college prep tests. Whose leg are they pulling here? Not your leg. You’re too tall.” My thin attempt at a joke seemed to annoy him.

“We don’t do that here,” Daniel snapped, pretending to be suddenly engrossed in the pen he was tapping loudly on the table.

“What don’t we do here? Joke around—or take tests?” I demanded and heard him swear under his breath.

I wasn’t done.

“College applications?” I blurted again. When he looked up again and stared hard into my eyes, I was rendered speechless. It was almost as if he put one of those large hands gently across my mouth, but that wasn’t the case because the wide palms and long fingers were planted firmly on his knees. I couldn’t contain the rush I felt. It continued to sizzle under my skin for several impossibly long minutes. His eyes weren’t just blue; they were gray-blue, a surprisingly soft, inviting, gauzy color that you only find on the most perfect cloudy day on the beach before a good rain.

But there was nothing else inviting about Daniel Reid.

“Do I look like the welcome wagon?” he practically hissed. I saw his eyes go from soft to almost metallic. When I looked honestly hurt, he shook his head, swore again, and continued to speak under his breath.

“Screw college,” Daniel said with a sigh. With those words, he had exceeded his friendliness quotient for the day. Maybe the year. “If you need to know any more go talk to a counselor. You know. For guidance. Or whatever girls like you need.”

Girls like me? Asswipe.

“So, wait a second. No homework. No SATs. No college applications?” I said, ignoring his obvious lack of social graces and that grim, hard mouth. In that moment, I knew his game. He wanted me to brand him as one big douche and get on with it so I’d leave him alone. So, I decided to have a little bit of fun with him.

“I can’t get over no homework,” I repeated with a slight upturn of my bottom lip, trying to kill him with unwanted kindness. “Is this heaven?” I asked, tossing him my most dazzling grin. I sealed it with a wink. What was with the flirt? I had little success with the opposite sex in Chicago, so I was sure it wasn’t that dazzling or dazzling at all. But I had to do it.

Those broad, muscular shoulders pivoted in my direction and those steel-gray eyes seemed to drill through me. I’m not sure why, but in that moment I glanced over at the cheerleaders who were giving me stabbing looks for talking to the hands down most gorgeous man any of them had probably ever seen in their entire lives. He made David Beckham look like the ugly older brother.

Obviously, the cheerleaders had their own dibs . . . and they weren’t about to share, although he totally ignored the fact that they even existed.

“Is this hell, Danny?” I said, looking ahead at the rah-rah brigade, rolling my eyes and catching their disgusted looks. No way did they miss my eye roll. Pleased with myself, I turned my full attention to his annoyed gaze and those full lips.

“No, this isn’t heaven. It isn’t hell. It’s high school,” Daniel said. He was frowning again in a way that made it seem like he wanted to toss me out the nearby window. But I wasn’t giving up, which was a trick I learned in my short career as a newspaper reporter. If at first you don’t succeed, just stay relentless.

“By the way, it’s not Danny.  It’s Daniel. And do you have a last name?” he asked, but without any passion.

“Walker Callaghan,” I said with a genuine smile, offering my hand to him again. He ignored it for the second time.

“Pay attention, Callaghan. Learn something,” Daniel said, pointing to the front blackboard. I tried to tear my eyes away from him, but somehow I was frozen in place. He took it upon himself to rectify the situation, gently grabbing my chin with those big hands and slowly moving it in the direction of the front of the room like he was guiding the big hand of a watch into place.

“Don’t move. It will be worth it,” he said.

At that moment, the teacher finally arrived, but he wasn’t any educator that would have worked at Kennedy High. For starters, he had longish, dirty-brown unwashed hair that matched his ripped jeans and faded brown flannel shirt.

“Music theory one-oh-one,” the teacher scoffed. “What bullshit.”

“You really want to know about music?” he continued. Even I perked up and stared at him because he looked so familiar, especially when he turned his back to us and started writing notes on the blackboard. When my hand flew to my mouth, Daniel turned his head ever so slightly and I felt his stare down to my bone marrow. It was . . . no, it couldn’t be. How could it be?

“So, I’m Kurt,” he said. “I used to have this band.”

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Praise for Ascenders

Resch Reads: One word to describe this book is EPIC. Sheer writing brilliance.”

Amazon: “A new ‘Twilight Zone’ of a world. Speaking of Uncle Stevie, otherwise known as Stephen King, ‘Ascenders’ reads like something he might have written back in the Twilight Zone of his own youth. I love Koontz and King and haven’t been this excited about an author in a long time.”

Author Groupies: “If you’re a fan of dystopian epics, this bring a whole new element to the genre: the afterlife. I loved this book. What an original concept! Constantly changing, riveting and thought-provoking.”

Amazon: “The next big book series. Powerful and beautiful. I was so moved by this book that I actually cried, tears streaming down my face. Five minutes later, I was cheering. I felt like I had just seen a movie.”

Mugglenet, The #1 Harry Potter Site: "Ascenders is one of those books that stays on your mind for days after reading it. Though you continue your days, your mind keeps wandering back to the main characters, the overarching theme, and of course, the scenarios of what could possibly happen next. I finished this novel within the span of two days, and I wish that I could start over and read the whole thing again."

Author Information


C.L. GABER is the author of ASCENDERS, the first book in Ascenders SAGA. She is also the co-author of "Jex Malone." A lifelong entertainment journalist, she interviews A list film and TV stars for the New York Times wire and various other publications. C.L. lives in Nevada with her husband Ron, bonus daughter Sabrina and two unruly dogs. You can reach her at CLGaber@yahoo.com


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