Post originally published on July 30, 2015
The Ringer’s Masquerade The box set of the Ringer’s Masquerade Series by Sarah J. Pepper
RELEASE DATE Thursday, July 30
ONE LINER Secrets can kill. I know theirs.
They created us. But they can’t control him.
The Ringer’s Masquerade features all three full length novels in the series. Devil’s Lullaby, Death’s Melody and Angel’s Requiem. Sebastian’s world is laced with inconvenient truths; mine is saturated with sweet, beautiful lies. He promises me nothing of a happy ending. Even so, the demonic spawn with an angelic voice derails my only reason for existence, but still I can’t tear my gaze away from him. His haunting stare penetrates my very being, revealing my secrets, fears, and desires. My name rolls off his tongue, tempting me to take exactly what I hungered for. Him. My curiosity will certainly be my undoing—but then again, death is inevitable….For he reveals the Ringer’s most guarded secrets—secrets they kill to keep.
Ringer’s Masquerade http://bit.ly/1HIPHXT
Devil’s Lullaby (#1) http://bit.ly/1fKUZHo
Death’s Melody (#2) http://bit.ly/1MW2NkI
Angel’s Requiem (#3) http://bit.ly/1LZsi7y
Chapter One: Progenitors vs. Spawns
I was told I wouldn’t live past my fifth birthday. I’d known this all my life—all four years of it. Don’t get me wrong, I wasn’t upset about the circumstances that brought about my existence, nor the reason why my body would be disassembled on my next birthday. Rather, I was curious…but then again that’s exactly what killed the cat.
An endless array of health screens: sugar levels, cardiac rhythms, skin palpations, oxygen capacity, and whatever else my doctors thought up robbed me of all of my days. They were a bit obsessed with procedures to make sure my physical health was optimal, and that my lungs were in “tiptop shape” as my night nurse, Darius phrased it. Whenever the Ringers performed a lung analysis I knew my day would be spent under their microscope. I didn’t know why the organ that breathed life into my body was of such concern for them, but it didn’t really matter anyway. If they wanted any more information about that particular body part they would literally have to cut it out of my chest—and, I wouldn’t have put it past them.
The procedure to complete an updated health physical ended in yet another drab, gray, windowless room. Like all the other test rooms filled with computer monitors or other hospital equipment, that one was just about the size of my bedroom—which was anything but colorless. However, there was a comfort in the rooms that I couldn’t deny. The gray walls kept me safe; they were the constant markers in my life.
“Five feet and one inch, Catherine,” Brianna said after scanning my thirteen-year-old body. Over the next year I would mature enough to look like any other seventeen or eighteen-year- old. This meant I’d have one—maybe two—more growth spurts.
She scrutinized the results of my physical on the flat computerized pod she insisted was always by her side. No doubt she slept with it. Not that anyone would want to pry it from her grip. Even though Brianna was a petite woman, the nurse was “as intimidating as an enraged football player souped up on steroids,” another quote from Darius. He once told me that people used to measure height with wooden sticks and weight with a scale—whatever that meant.
“You should be ready,” Brianna stated. She never mumbled; in fact, she radiated confidence. ‘Confidence keeps others clueless of your true emotions,’ she used to say.
Statements about my growth were not meant to be commented on. Thus, I couldn’t just ask what I was supposed to be ready for. If anything, it was the nurse’s private conversation with herself. I was a nobody—a spawn—nothing but excess body scraps.
“Am I almost done?” I asked. The desperation leaked out while I sprinted across a treadmill’s mat. Brianna didn’t need to open her mouth. Her glare said it all: Stress tests measure heart efficiency as well as oxygen absorption. Utter one word about quitting again—I dare you.
of what she felt was beyond me. Dropping my gaze—my bona fide way to apologize—I tucked a lock of hair behind my ear. I hoped my nurse didn’t notice my struggle to keep a grin off my face when the belt slowed a few moments later. She glanced down to my pod and waited for the analysis of my stress test to pop on the screen. She had about as much patience as someone would have after chugging a laxative only to discover the bathroom was out of order.
As much as I detested the tests the Ringer put me through I swallowed my complaints; I knew it was all for my progenitor’s welfare. I would do anything for her—anything. It might have been the effect of some drug Brianna gave me, but I loved my progenitor—even though I’d been told I would never meet her. I saw her face in the mirror; her jade colored eyes blinked back at me. I saw her soul—her life—through my eyes. I felt her impulses beat in my blood; I knew the buried rage in her heart; and her desire for a new life—a life where choices weren’t made for her; and decisions weren’t based on tests, physicals, and medication. My progenitor waited for a life in which she could do whatever she wanted. For that very reason—I couldn’t wait to die.
Facebook Review Party:
Review: Devil’s Lullaby has absolutely hypnotized me! This book is so heartfelt and quite frankly, nothing like I have ever read before. I was provided a copy in exchange for an honest review and it certainly passed with flying colors. At the beginning of the story, Cat starts by explaining the world that she lives in and what information she knows. She was grown from a petri dish as a complete clone of the original Catherine. Her progenitor is the only one who she lives for. One day, she will give her life so that the real Catherine will have her second chance at life. Catherine is the one who waits for her just on the opposite side of those black doors which haunts her with nightmares during her sleep…that and those awful purple pills that her Ringers literally force her to swallow to keep her body from having poor health experiences. While she understands that she only has five years to live, her growth spurts are rapid and extensively self-altering within each year. Her mind also evolves along with her perception of the life that she yearns for, but knows that she can never have. James is the best thing that has ever happened to her and she savors her time with him while she knows that it is slightly breaking the rules. But, he is only a friend and will always be that way. When Sebastian starts to take an interest, she tries everything in her power to evade him and even calls him the devil, playing his music and singing his lullabies to lure her to him. He is the complete opposite of who she should be spending her time with, but his antics and his liveliness succeed in consuming her entirely. Cat quickly learns that those who were supposed to be holding her life in their hands, have secrets; however, she doesn’t understand whether they are to hurt her or protect her from the truth. Who can she trust and will the truth be too much for her to take? What will this mean for her life or her progenitor’s life if she fails to see between the lines?
My favorite characters are Cat, Sebastian and Jenny. I loved being able to walk through life and the learning process with Cat while she experienced everything that was new to her. I laughed at most of the names that she called everything; but, I was mostly intrigued with her paintings which captured her progenitor’s memories and her nightmares. She also began to paint what she felt when she was experiencing different emotions; those scenes were difficult for me to read because they were so emotional and choked me up. Sebastian’s love for music was inspirational. While Cat conveyed her soul with painting, Sebastian conveyed his with music. Jenny’s energy is exceptional. She brings everyone in the room together with her joy and her trusting nature. My least favorite character was James because his character always seemed full of false emotion and soulless.
Overall, I really loved this story because it made me truly feel so many emotions. I laughed at the simple things that we take for granted while the author explained descriptions from Cat’s point of view. I cried when her desires and dreams stole her mind away from her sole purpose of life. My heart even leapt at some of the experiences that Cat was able to have. Through loneliness, love, loss, friendship and pain, I compliment this story and the author with high praise and five stars, deserving of more. The creativity and complexity of the characters, situations and depth of life truly captivated me and literally blew my mind. I recommend Devil’s Lullaby to anyone who enjoys science fiction and young adult fiction. I look forward to reading the second book this series.
Sarah J. Pepper Bio
Sarah J. Pepper specializes in dark, paranormal romance – think “happy ever after” but with a twisted, dark chocolate center. Real-life romance isn’t only filled with hugs, kisses, bunnies, and rainbows. True-love can be more thoroughly described in times of darkness and tribulation. It’s in those harsh moments where you see what a person is truly capable of – both the good and bad. Sometimes prince-charming isn’t always on time, and the glass slipper is a little snug. However, it doesn’t mean Charming is not Mr. Right, and who says every shoe is the perfect fit? Get a glimpse inside her head atwww.sarahjpepper.com
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