Thursday, November 6, 2014

eARC Review & Excerpt: Bait by Courtney Farrell

Courtney Farrell is a biologist who turned her love of books into a career as an author. She has published fourteen nonfiction books, and three exciting novels for young people. Courtney lives with her husband and sons on a Colorado ranch where they enjoy a menagerie of horses, dogs, cats, and chickens. Contact her at

Published June 17th 2014 by Fiction Foundry Press
An epidemic strikes. Pox hit women the hardest, so females are rare. Healthy girls are worth a fortune. Most live in squalid basement harems. Jackie is the last free girl, chief of a gang of teen boys. To them, she’s the prize, infinitely desirable, the last woman on earth. Competition threatens to tear the crew apart. To make things worse, the boys are starting to think she’s crazy. Jackie is convinced that the same soul shines from the eyes of every infected person, slipping like a demon from one body to the next, stalking her. Is she losing her mind, or could an unseen enemy control the infected?
Pox could be the least of her worries. When rival gangs discover that their little band has one of the last surviving girls, Jackie must make a decision. Will she give herself up to save her crew, or take off alone through the streets?


My Rating: 5 out of 5 Stars

What honestly made me want to read Bait was Courtney Farrell's bio. She's a scientist, a biologist, to boot! That reassured me this novel would not only be well-researched but have a strong sense of realism accompanying it, especially with it talking about a possible apocalyptic future. 

After reaching the end much too quickly, I decided I wanted to see this in movie form. I don't think there will be much editing or rewriting needed to do so, it's written that well. Says something when despite the rather massive book, it took me about half a day to get through it, and would have been much quicker if I didn't have other stuff to do. Fantastic would be a mild word. 

Jackie is sixteen, yet she's no child. The pox has forced her to grow up and lead a group of boys, protect, them, feed them, guide them. It's only Joe, an elderly man, who helps her along the way. Otherwise, she provides for everyone or they all die. 

It seems strange to Jackie that she doesn't get sick. Stranger still that she can look at people or animals and see who is infected or not. Worse yet, the pox seems to be chasing her, like preferred prey. Is there some sort of intelligence behind it? She seems to think so. 

While holed up in their territory, she discovers one of her younger crew has an infected wound and is dying. She feels she has no choice but to risk finding him antibiotics and in doing so, stumbles on the biggest secret about the pox. And it's something that will affect all the lives of any living organisms left on earth. 

Science is, as it often is, at the center of this plague on humanity. It's when morality is forgotten and sentient beings are just organisms roaming the earth that man's experimentation goes wild and becomes unconscionable. It's not science per se that's at fault. That's like saying guns or drugs kill while not acknowledging that there are people behind these weapons who just wield them more proficiently or inhumanely than others, causing more destruction. People without morals cause the pain. 

But can man win in a war like this? Is the capacity and will to survive enough? Looking at real life, a good guess is yes. With Jackie, her back against the wall, she has no choice to fight or lose the only family she has left. I hope she has the strength in the next few installments to come as well!

Bait is a book I soooo don't regret reading and I'm very glad that Courtney Farrell has created such a story. What comes next for Jackie, Dakota, and Keenan is something I'm very much looking forward to. 


He pressed his body hard against mine, and I forgot my worries over Flint, or the pox, or anything. I tipped my head back, lips parted, my hands wrapped around the outsides of his thighs. Dakota’s fingers traced the low-cut neckline of my dress. He kissed the soft hollow between my neck and shoulder. “I love you, Jackie.”
A thrill went through me. “I guess I accidentally told you, the night we thought the pox got me, but . . .” I couldn’t say it. Even though it was true. I couldn’t tell him I loved him. I didn’t know why. Maybe it was all tangled up in my mind with begging him to shoot me.
If I succumbed, and gave him my heart, would I become a girlie-girl, giggling and flipping my hair? I doubted it. I’d rather be a mythical outlaw, going into combat by my lover’s side. Sadly, I suspected that my future would be a lot less epic, and a lot more about diapers and dirty dishes. Was I ready for that? Was he?
Dakota gently turned me to face him. I couldn’t even speak. He was everything I ever wanted. My doubts faded. I stood on tiptoe and kissed him, his dark, wavy hair soft between my fingers.
 “That night, when you stole the Jeep, and I thought you’d been infected,” Dakota whispered. “That’s when I knew I loved you. That could have been the worst day of my life, but it turned out all right.”
He reached out and opened our ragged curtains a little. Only a few scattered lights dotted the dark city. On the other side of the diner, Keenan rolled over in his booth. I hoped he was asleep. It wouldn’t be past him to come out and make trouble, especially if he saw me and Dakota kissing.
“So, I’ve been thinking about you and me, pretty much nonstop.” Dakota laughed softly. “And I had this idea. Can I show you?”
I smiled. “Sure.”
Dakota took me over to the bar.  “See how there’s already kind of an enclosed space here? With a little work, we could build ourselves a room. I know it smells like stale beer in there now, but…”
“I don’t mind, as long as you’re in there with me,” I whispered.
We moved behind the bar and kissed until I thought we’d both lose control. Dakota slid his hands under my dress and touched me in places no boy ever had. His whole body felt tight with pent-up tension. “Oh, Jackie, I want you so bad,” he whispered.
I twined my arms around his neck, stood on tiptoe, and touched his ear lightly with the tip of my tongue, enjoying the shiver it sent through him.  I whispered one word. “Yes.”
Dakota took a quick breath. He pulled back a little to look at me. “Are you sure?”
 “Completely.” I looked down in case he saw the truth in my eyes. I did want Dakota, more than anything, and I couldn’t wait. Not just because I loved him. Not just because he drove me out of my mind with desire. I couldn’t afford to wait. Flint’s Army was right outside, and I wanted my first time to be with Dakota. That gift was for him. Not for Flint, or one of Rico’s men.
After a while, I sat on the bar, legs dangling. Dakota stood in front of me, and I cradled his ribs between my thighs. His head rested on my chest. Joy radiated off him. So much love filled me that I thought it could fly out and heal the whole world. Then Flint’s drums pounded from outside. Our sentries howled their defiance.
“Build this room soon, Dakota,” I whispered, stroking his dark hair. “Really soon.”

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