Round Trip Fare (Null City #4) by @barbtaub #UrbanFantasy #FridayReads

  • Round_Trip_Fare-Barb_Taub-500x800Author: Barb Taub
  • Released: April 2016 by Hartwood Publishing
  • Category: Urban Fantasy
  • five-stars

Is it wrong that shooting people is just so much easier than making decisions? Carey wonders—and not for the first time. But the Agency claims this will be an easy one. A quick pickup of a missing teen and she won’t even have to shoot anybody. Probably. 

Carey knows superpowers suck, her own included. From childhood she’s only had two options. She can take the Metro train to Null City and a normal life. After one day there, imps become baristas, and hellhounds become poodles. Demons settle down, join the PTA, and worry about their taxes. Or she can master the powers of her warrior gift and fight a war she can’t win, in a world where she never learned how to lose. 

The story begins in 2002 when sixteen year old twins Carey and Connor Parker are being supervised and protected by their guardian, Harry Daniels. They were entrusted to his care by their older sister, Gaby, when she left on a mission to help end the secret Nonwars between Heaven and Hell. Continue reading

Released Today! ROUND TRIP FARE by @barbtaub #NewRelease

If Urban Fantasy is your thing, you’ll love this series.

Barb Taub

I’m so excited to announce that Round Trip Fare is now live!

**Although a sequel to Book 1 (One Way Fare), this is the stand alone story of twins Carey and Connor Parker.


Round Trip Fare
by Barb Taub

Round_Trip_Fare-Barb_Taub-1563x2500 Click on image for special preview and buy links from Amazon

Is it wrong that shooting people is just so much easier than making decisions? Carey wonders— and not for the first time. But the Agency claims this will be an easy one. A quick pickup of a missing teen and she won’t even have to shoot anybody. Probably.

Carey knows superpowers suck, her own included. From childhood she’s only had two options. She can take the Metro train to Null City and a normal life. After one day there, imps become baristas, and hellhounds become poodles. Demons settle down, join the PTA, and worry about their taxes. Or she can master the…

View original post 2,844 more words

#Interview with Barb Taub @barbtaub & Excerpt from her #newrelease #TuesdayBookBlog

I’m very pleased to welcome Barb Taub, a firm favourite in the world of writing and blogging.

Barb pix 300 dpiIn halcyon days BC (before children), Barb wrote a humor column for several Midwest newspapers. With the arrival of Child #4, she veered towards the dark side and an HR career. Following a daring daytime escape to England, she’s lived in a medieval castle and a hobbit house with her prince-of-a-guy and the World’s Most Spoiled Aussie Dog. Now all her days are Saturdays, and she spends them traveling around the world, plus consulting with her daughter on Marvel heroes, Null City, and translating from British to American.

That’s some bio, Barb. Anything you can add? And you kind of answered the next part of my question which was going to be, what do you enjoy doing when you’re not writing? But maybe you could elaborate 🙂

I’ve always thought of myself as a writer. Although I was a journalist when younger, and had a syndicated humor column in several American newspapers, the financial realities of raising four kids who had unrealistic expectations — they thought they should eat EVERY day, sleep in actual beds, and wear clothes—meant that I spent many years on the Dark Side (HR professional). You can’t believe how much money employers are willing to pay you to fire people.  Continue reading

Are you owned by a rescue pet?

Barb Taub is…as am I. Please take a few minutes to read Barb’s holiday appeal and take her up on a great offer for some fantastic stories. My reviews for Barb’s stories can be found further down the post. Thank you in advance.

Krampus and St. Nicholas visit a Viennese home in 1896 [photo credit: public domain]

Christmas in Austria is not for the faint hearted. While a familiar St. Nicholas does make the rounds, in many Germanic traditions he’s accompanied by a terrifying beast called the Krampus whose job is to punish – and even take away – naughty children. With his curling horns, long red tongue, and tail, the Krampus is enough to chill any heart. [Krampus and St. Nicholas visit a Viennese home in 1896 photo credit: public domain]

As the villain of Don’t Touch, the Krampus is a monster who literally feasts on the fear and terror he inspires in children. The demon who threatens Stefan and Lette is a cornered beast, an anachronism whose ever-diminishing influence only makes him more desperately dangerous.

The other inspiration for this story is the image of Rapunzel. But in Don’t Touch, Lette isn’t the helpless girl awaiting rescue by her prince. Instead, I go back to the origins of the folk story in sources such as Giambattista Basile’s Tale of Tales from 1616, where she is actually the hero who rescues herself and her children, and then saves her lover. Like her earliest predecessors, Lette is a tough, self-reliant young woman who tells her would-be prince, “If I need rescuing, I’ll do it myself.” 

Hope flares each morning in the tiny flash of a second before Lette touches that first thing. And destroys it. Her online journal spans a decade, beginning with the day a thirteen-year-old inherits an extreme form of the family “gift.” Every day whatever she touches converts into something new: bunnies, bubbles, bombs, and everything in between. Lette’s search for a cure leads her to Stefan, whose fairy-tale looks hide a monstrous legacy, and to Rag, an arrogant, crabby ex-angel with boundary issues. The three face an army led by St. Nicholas' legendary dark shadow, the Krampus, who feeds on children’s fear. But it’s their own inner demons they must defeat first.

Hope flares each morning in the tiny flash of a second before Lette touches that first thing. And destroys it. Her online journal spans a decade, beginning with the day a thirteen-year-old inherits an extreme form of the family “gift.” Every day whatever she touches converts into something new: bunnies, bubbles, bombs, and everything in between. Lette’s search for a cure leads her to Stefan, whose fairy-tale looks hide a monstrous legacy, and to Rag, an arrogant, crabby ex-angel with boundary issues. The three face an army led by St. Nicholas’ legendary dark shadow, the Krampus, who feeds on children’s fear. But it’s their own inner demons they must defeat first.

My final message in Don’t Touch is that we build our own towers. They can provide safety; they can even be gorgeous and appealing, but if they keep us from truly living our lives or cut us off from others, they are still our prisons. I think that’s one of the things I love the most about the holiday season. No matter how often we hear them, those messages of peace and goodwill just keep reminding us of our connections to each other. More sophisticated folk can turn up noses at the consumerism and the crowds, but I believe the reason we all come back for more every year is that basic gift of hope and belief.

It’s that belief that inspires my holiday appeal to you. In most of my stories, an animal companion plays a prominent role—from George, the grumpy cat in Don’t Touch to Bygul, the bitchy feline goddess of Payback is a Witch. My own life has been immeasurably enriched by my dog Peri who came from a shelter in eastern Washington State, and by the friends (feline, canine, and the occasional rodent) rescued by the dedicated members of many shelters.Cat and dog

In thanks, therefore, I will donate all royalties on sales between now and January 1, 2015 from Don’t Touch as well as the newly released set (Payback is a Witch and Just For The Spell Of It) to the following wonderful organizations:

  • USA: No Kill Advocacy Center. Headed up by Nathan Winograd, the No Kill Advocacy Center movement is revolutionizing shelters across America.
  • United Kingdom: DogsTrust. Active since 1891, this no-kill shelter rehomed almost 15,000 dogs last year.

As a special incentive, both Don’t Touch and the brand new release set, Tales From Null City (containing Payback is a Witch and Just For The Spell Of It), will be listed at the sale price of $0.99 in the USA, and £0.77 in the UK.

Both make wonderful holiday reads, while at the same time supporting the work of the no-kill shelter movement. Please help ensure that animals are not left unsheltered during the very difficult winter months to come. To help, please order a book by selecting one of the following links:

My review for Don’t Touch can be found here and my review for the first book in the series One Way Fare can be found here.

Barb is offering a giveaway and a random tweet will be chosen which mentions any of the following – @barbtaub @CathyRy #NullCity #Don’tTouch #Payback #Spell


Claire Danielsen is a young witch whose goddess is house cat of unusual size. Peter Oshiro is a Warden policing a delicate truce between those who are human and those who... aren't. It just would have been nice if someone told them the angels were all on the other side.

Claire Danielsen is a young witch whose goddess is house cat of unusual size. Peter Oshiro is a Warden policing a delicate truce between those who are human and those who… aren’t. It just would have been nice if someone told them the angels were all on the other side.

Liam is an ungodly soccer-playing card sharp on a mission from God. Eirie is a beautiful punk fairy princess with her own daytime radio talk show. They’ve worked cases for the Accords Agency before, but with war between realms looming and her baby sister as the bargaining chip, partnering just got personal.

Liam is an ungodly soccer-playing card sharp on a mission from God. Eirie is a beautiful punk fairy princess with her own daytime radio talk show. They’ve worked cases for the Accords Agency before, but with war between realms looming and her baby sister as the bargaining chip, partnering just got personal.

PayBack Is A Witch

Claire Danielson, the last Danielson witch, is facing a big problem. Actually, two problems. Not only has Director Jeffers from the Accords Agency given orders for a Warden to tail Claire, a man from her past who she walked away from six years ago. Now, after spending time together, she doesn’t think she’ll have the strength to resist Peter Oshiro again. But Jeffers doesn’t want to lose another of his top Wardens so Peter is on guard duty whether they like it or not. 

Bygul, the goddess who Claire has been trained from birth to protect, and who was one of the giant cats who pulled the Goddess Freya’s chariot, has alerted Claire to the dangerous barghests in the woods outside her home. They have been trying endlessly to gain possession of Bygul’s power but without success. And to make matters worse there is demon who wants to acquire control over Claire’s mind.

Claire’s spells are not yet long-lasting and she’s unable to channel Bygul directly. She will need all her skills to outwit the demon.

Just For The Spell Of It

Eirie and Liam work for the Accords Agency and when they are charged with finding a missing football player, his girlfriend and baby daughter it gets too close to home for Eirie. The girlfriend looks just like her mother. But how can that be when Eirie has believed for years that her mother was killed? And does that make the missing child her sister and the second in line to the throne of Tír na nÓg?

One of the four ancient treasures, gifts of the goddess Danu to her people, the Tuatha Dé Danann, has also gone missing. If the child and the treasure are not returned the threat of an armed force is imminent. Liam and Eirie have a weeks grace before the attack begins.

Two wonderfully entertaining and imaginative additions to the Null City series and, as with all the stories, a fun look at distinct and unusual worlds people by great characters.

About Barb

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In halcyon days BC (before children), Barb Taub wrote a humor column for several Midwest newspapers. With the arrival of Child #4, she veered toward the dark side and an HR career. Following a daring daytime escape to England, she’s lived in a medieval castle and a hobbit house with her prince-of-a-guy and the World’s Most Spoiled AussieDog. Now all her days are Saturdays, and she spends them consulting with her daughter on Marvel heroes, Null City, and translating from British to American.

Contact Barb: blog | twitter | facebook

Excerpt: Payback is a Witch

As Claire boiled water and set out two teacups, she had plenty to say to herself. There was a lot about what a bad idea it was to remember his arms around her, the taste of his kiss, that heart-stomping smile. Hell, a little over ten years ago their families were still trying to kill each other. For the last six of those years, she’d done her best to remember what she owed Nana and Bygul. And she’d done her damnedest to forget the look on his face when she turned and walked away.

Through the screen door, she could see him staring at something near the porch swing, just outside her line of sight. She had a bad feeling she knew what that something was. “Do you still take your tea without sugar?”

“You remembered.” He didn’t turn around, but she felt his smile anyway. “You live here alone?”

“Yes, unless you’ve turned into a twisted psycho stalker. In that case, I have several large homicidal brothers. And the world’s meanest cat.”

“Witches don’t have brothers. But I see what you mean about the cat.”

A purr, definitely amused this time, rubbed against the back of her brain. Damn it, Bygul. You stay out of sight for a thousand years, but you can’t stay off the porch for one afternoon? Sighing, she filled a small dish with tuna and placed it on a low table at the end of the kitchen. Why can’t some goddesses mind their own business? With a twist of lemon for her own tea, she set both cups onto a tray. Sniffing an open package of cookies that had been around a while, she dumped them onto the tray with a shrug. Before she reached the door, he turned and held it open, took the tray from her, and put it onto the little table between the rocking chair and the old porch swing.

“You’re a witch, right? So is she your familiar?” He pointed to the porch swing and the silver-gray feline posed regally across its sofa-length cushion. “I never knew a cat could get that big.”

“She isn’t my cat. She goes with the house and especially the woods.” Claire understood his surprise. You just don’t see a lot of house cats the size of Labradors. “I suppose you might say I’m her staff.” She took a seat next to the cat, who stretched and sat up, wrapping a tail thicker than Claire’s arm around her front paws. “Best we can tell, she’s a Norwegian Forest Cat. They get pretty big, but yeah. She’s big even for that. We call her Bygul.”

“Bee-gool?”

“In Norse mythology, Bygul was one of the giant cats who pulled the Goddess Freya’s chariot. Some said they were goddesses in their own right.” Bygul yawned and her eyes closed halfway. “Minor goddesses, of course…” The giant cat’s eyes snapped open, and she jumped off the porch with a noticeable thump.

“Didn’t the Egyptians worship cats too?”

Bygul growled.

Claire laughed. “Bygul pulled a war chariot and fought alongside Valkyries. Those Egyptian pussies couldn’t fight their way across a coffee shop.” Tail held high, Bygul waited for Claire to open the kitchen door before stalking inside to the tuna offering. As Peter lifted his tea from the tray, he smiled again. She sat back too quickly and her own tea sloshed over the rim. Dear goddess, that smile.

Excerpt: Just For The Spell Of It

“And how does an ex-fairy princess end up an Agency operative and part-time radio host?” Liam might have been amused, but his face was, as always, impassive.

“Pretty much the same way an ex-world champion soccer star becomes a teetotaler card sharp who runs errands for a former priest.” She shrugged and turned back to Dr. Tom. “What aren’t you telling us?”

Dr. Tom hesitated then seemed to reach a decision. “I think your mother did die. But we’ve discovered that when she was trying to get pregnant with you, she visited a specialized clinic in California. A clinic that froze several of her fertilized eggs. Ten months ago the last three viable eggs were supposedly stolen from the clinic. Last week a young woman who served as professional surrogate was found dead. Autopsy suggests that she had recently given birth.”

Eirie looked at him blankly.

“I think the baby is your sister. And the real problem is that not only is the baby missing, but one of the four Treasures has also disappeared.”

“Which one?”

“I’m not sure. Now your father’s advisors say if the infant and the Treasure aren’t returned to Tír na nÓg, the king will send an armed force to recover it.”

Liam sat up. “What Treasures?”

“There are four of them, the ancient gifts of the Goddess Danu to her people, the Tuatha Dé Danann.” She counted off on her fingers. “The Lia Fáil, a stone that supposedly names the King of Ireland. The Spear of Lug that guarantees you’ll win all battles, the Sword of Núadu that allows no escape once it’s been drawn, and the Cauldron of the Dagda, which is never empty.” She frowned. “But there’s not much demand these days for naming a King of Ireland, and even enchanted spears and swords aren’t going to be much use against automatic weapons.” The frown gave way to a snort. “And after the fae ‘warriors’ have been sitting on their fairy arses for a thousand years, I imagine our biggest danger is being forced to eat the prehistoric slop the Cauldron serves up.”

Dr. Tom looked at her. Folded his hands. Waited.

She sighed. “Right. Find Matias León and the baby. I’m on it. Liam?”

He nodded and picked up the folder. “I assume this has the info on the dead surrogate and the clinic?”

Dr. Tom nodded. “The Tuatha Dé gave us one week before their force arrives.” He stood and moved to the door. “Good luck.” As the door swung behind him, Eirie thought she saw him shaking his head.

Liam waited until the door closed. “Eirie?”

She stared at her teacup. “A sister.” With her hood again covering her bright hair and her “work-clothes”—strategically ripped gray hoodie, tulle-puffed skirt, bright striped leggings stuffed into chunky blue Doc Martens—she seemed little more than a child herself. Then she lifted exotically tilted lavender eyes to his, and something ancient, not-quite-human looked out. “She’ll need someone to tell her about our family…and make sure she has toys…and how to use her magic…and put on makeup…and hear about her first boyfriend who will, of course, be all wrong for her…and…someone to keep her safe.” Carefully, precisely, she placed both hands on the table in front of her. “Well, she has a sister for that.”

There were things he could have said. The teasing, mischievous Liam who found a way to call into her show each week could have said something to make her smile. The self-assured soccer-star Liam could have made a charming, romantic overture. The Liam who had been her partner for the past year said, “We should start with the clinic. Ready?”

She nodded.

Don’t Touch (Null City #2)

  • Don'tTouchAuthor: Barb Taub
  • Published: December 2013 by Hartwood Publishing Group
  • Category: Urban Fantasy, Steampunk
  • five-stars

Hope flares each morning in the tiny flash of a second before Lette touches that first thing. And destroys it. 

Her online journal spans a decade, beginning with the day a thirteen-year-old inherits an extreme form of the family “gift.” Every day whatever she touches converts into something new: bunnies, bubbles, bombs, and everything in between.

Lette’s search for a cure leads her to Stefan, whose fairy-tale looks hide a monstrous legacy, and to Rag, an arrogant, crabby ex-angel with boundary issues. The three face an army led by a monster who feeds on children’s fear. But it’s their own inner demons they must defeat first.

The morning after Lette Simoneau turns thirteen she awakens to find she can feel colours. Weird? Lette thinks so. Not quite the superpowers she might have dreamed of.  It was so bizarre to be able to tell what colour an object is just by touching it. Lette couldn’t see the point of such a lame power, but she didn’t realise this was just the beginning.

As the summer weeks and months pass, the touch as Lette calls it, manifests in different ways and on an ever-increasing number of occasions. Each day’s manifestation is different, Lette could be turning objects into gold one day, or cupcakes or sandwiches another day, and sometimes into much more dangerous things. 

I love the interaction between Lette and George, her mother’s evil cat. Eventually the inevitable happens and Lette inadvertently touches George with hilarious consequences. 

The book is written in journal entries and through this we get to know, like and sympathise with Lette and, as one disaster follows another, she decides living alone is her only option. Despite this less than satisfactory way of life Lette copes with her situation very well. She’s a strong protagonist with a great character. 

Some days I can’t believe I’m almost twenty-three, or that I’ve spent the past five years living in my parents’ little mountain cabin. Luckily, it’s close enough that my parents visit most weekends. And money is never a problem because Mom’s friend Eric, who runs a pawn shop off Pioneer Square in Seattle, is always able to take the melted down gold or other valuables I’ve touched and change them to cash with no questions asked.

Sure, there were bad days, but lots of good ones too. I discovered I love working in my garden. But even with heavy gloves over my surgical gloves, gardening is hell on latex. Still, most of the craters from that landline-touch day are now filled with dirt, and it looks like a really good year for my tomatoes. That is, if I can just get them to stay tomatoes and not turn them into small pink bunnies or straw hats or whatever that day’s touch is.

Lette isn’t destined for this kind of life much longer though, as she learns of a place where she could live normally. There’s much more to life than living as a virtual prisoner and when the opportunity to travel to Null City arises Lette doesn’t think twice. What follows is an amazingly imaginative and innovative adventure with Stefan and Rag, two great central characters. Lette has to make some hard decisions and, at the same time, learns some valuable lessons, on her journey, not least of which is making the best of a sometimes challenging situation.

I love that the villain of the piece is a horrific beast-like creature of folklore, said to be the son of Hel, and is part of a tradition which is centuries old. You just know when you read something written by Barb Taub it’s going to be vividly imaginative and full of humour, fun and excellent writing. This intriguing and engaging story is no exception. 

One Way Fare (Book 1, Null City)

  • OneWayFareAuthors: Barb Taub/Hannah Taub
  • Published: September 2013 by Taliesin Publishing
  • Category: Urban Fantasy/Paranormal
  • four-stars

Superpowers suck. If you just want to live a normal life, Null City is only a Metro ride away. After one day there, imps become baristas, and hellhounds become poodles. Demons settle down, become parents, join the PTA, and worry about their taxes.

Null City is the only sanctuary for Gaby Parker and Leila Rice, two young women confronting cataclysmic forces waging an unseen war between Heaven and Hell. Gaby and her younger brother and sister are already targets in the war that cost their parents’ lives. Should they forsake the powers that complete their souls and flee to Null City? Meanwhile, Leila has inherited a French Chateau, a mysterious legacy, and a prophecy that she will end the world. Gaby and Leila become catalysts for the founding and survival of Null City.

I received a copy from the authors as part of Rosie Amber’s book review challenge.

This is an amazing story of fantasy, time and dimension travel and strong heroines with superpowers.
Gaby Parker lives with her younger twin brother and sister, who she is looking after and taking care of after the murder of their parents, in 1970’s Seattle. She is a Harmonia, which gives her the ability to see patterns in mostly everything…
Leila Rice, living with her adoptive parents, unaware she is a Nephilim, born of the union between a human and an angel. In 2012 she travels to France to claim the inheritance
left by her birth parents…

A very fast-moving plot told in several timelines with compelling and well-defined characters. Gaby and Leila are strong protagonists, both fun and feisty.

The two girls are unknown to each other initially but they are both caught up, in one way or another, in the war between Heaven and Hell and the story hops between the two of them, each trying to avoid, or deal with, the danger lurking round every corner. Only by visiting the past will they find the answers they need and the only way to get there is by riding the Metro.

“The train is arriving at 1890.” A loudspeaker sounded overhead. “There may be turbulence as we approach the Gap between Null City and the 1890 station, so we ask you to remain seated until the train has come to a full stop. Please make sure you remove all personal possessions. Mind the Gap and thank you for travelling Metro.”

They had barely resumed their seats when the train plunged straight down. Leila’s stomach dropped and she screamed as she looked at Thomas. His pale face had taken on a distinctly greenish tint. So that’s what the Mind the Gap bags were for, she realised, handing him one.

Eventually, via their ability to time travel, they meet and journey to the Court of the Fallen, or Hell as it’s better known, peopled by fallen Angels, imps and demons. Gaby and Leila along with Thomas and Luic join forces in the terrible fight to save Null City, their only sanctuary, humanity and the world as they know it.

The detailed historical and place depictions are vivid and made easily imaginable and I love all the pop culture references and the humour running throughout. A very complex and imaginative story told with plot twists a-plenty. The narrative I thought was very good, if a little complicated at times with family dynamics in the past, present and future.

Definitely worth reading if Urban Fantasy/Paranormal is your thing.

tt10407952flttAmazon US Amazon UK

 

BarbTaubIn a former life before children in need of luxuries like food and college, Barb Taub wrote a humor column for several Midwest newspapers. When Child #4 joined her research staff, she veered toward the dark side and a career in human resources. Now an expat living in one corner of a castle with her prince-of-a-guy and the world’s most spoiled AussieDog, she enjoys travel, translating from British to American, and collaborating with her daughter Hannah on the Null City series.

For more info, see: http://wp.me/p2SHpT-1

Co-author Hannah Taub started writing fantasy in kindergarten and never stopped. Computer science is the other great love of her life, and she writes and runs murder mystery parties in her spare time. She lives, creates, and studies in Scotland.