Kate Daniels Giveaway Blog Tour! | Celebrate Magic Triumphs With Us

Hello everyone!

I can’t believe Kate Daniels is on its last book. I discovered this amazing series later in the game, but each of the characters now have a special place in my heart. If you don’t know, the Kate Daniels series is an Urban Fantasy series about an ass-kicking woman who deals with all kinds of supernatural entities, such as shapeshifting lions (yum) and monsters from cultures around the world. I really enjoy this series because of its humor, inclusitivity, and fast-paced action. Ilona Andrews writes lovable characters that you just want to read more and more about!

17333180Magic Triumphs
Author: Ilona Andrews
Series: Kate Daniels #10
Release Date: August 28, 2018
Publisher: Ace Books
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

Synopsis:

Mercenary Kate Daniels must risk all to protect everything she holds dear in this epic, can’t-miss entry in the thrilling #1 New York Times bestselling urban fantasy series.

Kate has come a long way from her origins as a loner taking care of paranormal problems in post-Shift Atlanta. She’s made friends and enemies. She’s found love and started a family with Curran Lennart, the former Beast Lord. But her magic is too strong for the power players of the world to let her be.

Kate and her father, Roland, currently have an uneasy truce, but when he starts testing her defenses again, she knows that sooner or later, a confrontation is inevitable. The Witch Oracle has begun seeing visions of blood, fire, and human bones. And when a mysterious box is delivered to Kate’s doorstep, a threat of war from the ancient enemy who nearly destroyed her family, she knows their time is up.

Kate Daniels sees no other choice but to combine forces with the unlikeliest of allies. She knows betrayal is inevitable. She knows she may not survive the coming battle. But she has to try.

For her child.

For Atlanta.

For the world.

Continue reading

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BookExpo/BookCon Part 1: Tell Me More About New York + Giveaway!

Hello everyone!

I’ve recently come back from a week at New York, and woww was it a fun time. I’ve never been to New York to sightsee on my own, so this was a huge, eye-opening experience. I got to meet up with a lot of friends – both old and new – and eat delicious food that you can’t find anywhere else in America. In this recap, I’ll be splitting my week up to two blog posts – one here and one on Happy Indulgence – and these will subsequently be split up between days. This will also be a fairly specific recap of my own experiences, so please skim if you don’t care about this stuff. Seriously, I won’t blame you. Without further ado, let us begin! Continue reading

Author Interview + Giveaway! Where We Discuss Dream Boyfriends, Love Charms, and Writing

lovecharmsandothers

I’m absolutely ecstatic to have Kimberly Karalius on the blog today to talk about her upcoming book, Love Charms and Other Catastrophes! When Kim wanted to set up a date where we could meet up for an interview, I was not-so-subtly freaking out. I normally don’t meet many bloggers or authors in this area of Florida, so meeting with her was like a dream come true! We’re also extremely excited about ALA being in Orlando this summer, which is only an hour away from us.

I completely fell in love with the lovely town of Grimbaud in Love Fortunes and Other Disasters, Kim’s first work. Hearing about the sequel was like:

Especially because it features Hijiri, one of my favorite characters! Look out for Love Charms and Other Catastrophes, coming out on May 17 from Swoon Reads. Continue reading

Month9Books: Fall For Fantasy Blitz

M9B-Friday-Reveal Banner

Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!

This week, we dare you to

Fall For Fantasy

featuring titles to satisfy your fantasy cravings,

presented by Month9Books!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!


Nobody's-Goddess-Cover

In a village of masked men, magic compels each man to love only one woman and to follow the commands of his “goddess” without question. A woman may reject the only man who will love her if she pleases, but she will be alone forever. And a man must stay masked until his goddess returns his love—and if she can’t or won’t, he remains masked forever.

Seventeen-year-old Noll isn’t in the mood to celebrate. Her childhood friends have paired off and her closest companion, Jurij, found his goddess in Noll’s own sister. Desperate to find a way to break this ancient spell, Noll instead discovers why no man has ever chosen her.

Thus begins a dangerous game between the choice of woman versus the magic of man. And the stakes are no less than freedom and happiness, life and death—and neither is willing to lose.

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Chapters Indigo | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | TBD | Google Play | BAM | iBooks | IndieBound

About-the-Author

Amy McNulty

Amy McNulty is a freelance writer and editor from Wisconsin with an honors degree in English. She was first published in a national scholarly journal (The Concord Review) while in high school and currently spends her days alternatively writing on business and marketing topics and primarily crafting stories with dastardly villains and antiheroes set in fantastical medieval settings.

Connect with the Author:  Website Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest


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 To Bear an Iron Key is the first in a new and exciting series from acclaimed author Jackie Morse Kessler.

Five years ago, the young witch Bromwyn refused a gift from the powerful fairy king. Tonight, on Midsummer, that decision comes back to haunt her. When her best friend Rusty picks the wrong pocket, he and Bromwyn are all that stand between their village and the rampaging fairies who have pushed through the World Door. If they cannot outwit the fairy king and queen before the World Door closes at sunrise, the friends will lose everything—their village, Bromwyn’s magic, and Rusty’s life.

From To Bear an Iron Key by Jackie Morse Kessler: “Bromwyn turned to face the burning fields. Reaching deep inside of herself, she closed her eyes and touched the core of her power, the place where her magic lived, where it connected her to all of Nature. She held onto that magic, let it fill her almost to the bursting point, and then she cast it out onto the fields. It blanketed the rows of spelt, and she felt as it rode the wind—Air—and then touched the grain—Earth—and then sizzled around the fire.”

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About-the-Author

JMK

Jackie Morse Kessler grew up in Brooklyn, NY, with a cranky cat and overflowing shelves filled with dolls and books. Now she’s in Upstate NY with another cranky cat, a loving husband, two sons, and overflowing shelves filled with dragons and books (except when her sons steal her dragons). She has a bachelor’s degree in English and American Literature, and yet she’s never read any Jane Austen (with or without zombies). She also has a master’s degree in media ecology. (The living study of technology and culture. Which is cool, but she still can’t figure out how to use Tweetdeck.)

Jackie spends a lot of time writing, reading, and getting distracted by bright and shiny new ideas. (She just came up with a new idea right now.) She has a weakness for chocolate and a tendency to let her cat take over her office chair.

Author Links:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | 


The-Emissary-Cover

For hundreds of years, dark clouds covered the skies of Adamah, and an ageless king ruled. Those who emerged with one of six extraordinary Shay powers were forced into the king’s army, an unmatched force with inhuman Strength, Speed, Accuracy, Perception, Empathy, and Healing. With the army behind him, the king—a man who wields all six abilities—was invincible and unquestioned in his rule. To most, serving the king was an honor. But for others, it was a fate worse than death.

When seventeen-year-old Nolan Trividar witnesses the transformation of his brother from kind to cruel after entering the king’s army, he vows never to follow the same path.

So when his own power—the Shay of Accuracy—comes upon him at the Tournament of Awakening, Nolan conceals his emergence instead of joining the king’s ranks. For years, he traitorously hides his power, pretending to be only a gifted scribe. But when Nolan comes face -to-face with a deserter, the man discovers his secret.

To evade detection and a death sentence, Nolan escapes with the deserter and flees into a night filled with dark creatures who steal both powers and souls. He joins a resistance, a village hidden deep in the forest, filled with others who secretly wield a Shay. But his peace is short-lived when they discover that the dark clouds, undead creatures, their own decreasing powers, and even the king, are all connected.

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About-the-Author

Kristal Shaff

Kristal Shaff grew up with books (and used to drive her mom crazy when she wouldn’t leave the library); her first job was even shelving books at the library. She loves anything creative, and you can often find her exploring strange and fantastical worlds in her choices of movies and fantasy fiction. Kristal resides in Iowa with her farmer husband, numerous pets, and 3 awesome  kids (plus one more on the way though the journey of adoption). When she isn’t writing, she is a professional face painter who enjoys making children smile.

 Author Links:  Website  | Twitter Facebook | Goodreads 


Crown-of-ice-Cover

Thyra Winther’s seventeen, the Snow Queen, and immortal, but if she can’t reassemble a shattered enchanted mirror by her eighteenth birthday she’s doomed to spend eternity as a wraith. Armed with magic granted by a ruthless wizard, Thyra schemes to survive with her mind and body intact.

Unencumbered by kindness, she kidnaps local boy Kai Thorsen, whose mathematical skills rival her own. Two logical minds, Thyra calculates, are better than one. With time rapidly melting away she needs all the help she can steal. A cruel lie ensnares Kai in her plan, but three missing mirror shards and Kai’s childhood friend, Gerda, present more formidable obstacles. Thyra’s willing to do anything – venture into uncharted lands, outwit sorcerers, or battle enchanted beasts – to reconstruct the mirror, yet her most dangerous adversary lies within her breast.

Touched by the warmth of a wolf pup’s devotion and the fire of a young man’s desire, the thawing of Thyra’s frozen heart could be her ultimate undoing.

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About-the-Author

Vicki Weavil 11

Vicki Lemp Weavil was raised in a farming community in Virginia, where her life was shaped by a wonderful family, the culture of the Blue Ridge Mountains, and an obsession with reading. Since obtaining her undergraduate degree in Theatre from the University of Virginia, she’s gone on to acquire two masters degrees, living in places as diverse as New York City and rural North Carolina. She’s currently the library director for a performing an visual arts university.  Vicki loves good writing in any genre, and has been known to read seven books in as many days. She enjoys travel, gardening, and the arts. Vicki lives in North Carolina with her husband, son, and some very spoiled cats.

 Author Links:  Website | Twitter Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr


Serpentine-Cover

SERPENTINE is a sweeping fantasy set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology.

Lush with details from Chinese folklore, SERPENTINE tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns sixteen, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell.

When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.

“Vivid worldbuilding, incendiary romance, heart-pounding action, and characters that will win you over–I highly recommend Serpentine.” Cinda Williams Chima, best-selling author of the Seven Realms and Heir Chronicles fantasy novels

“Serpentine is unique and surprising, with a beautifully-drawn fantasy world that sucked me right in! I love Skybright’s transformative power, and how she learns to take charge of it.” ~Kristin Cashore, NYT Bestseller of the Graceling Realm Series

“Serpentine’s world oozes with lush details and rich lore, and the characters crackle with life. This is one story that you’ll want to lose yourself in.” ~ Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of Legend and The Young Elites

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Amazon | B&N | BAM | Chapters | Indiebound | Kobo | TBD | Google Play | iBooks

About-the-Author

Displaying cindyponauthorcolor2.jpg

Cindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix (Greenwillow, 2009), which was named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association’s Booklist, and one of 2009′s best Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA. The sequel to Silver Phoenix, titled Fury of the Phoenix, was released in April 2011. Serpentine, the first title in her next Xia duology, will be published by Month9Books in September 2015. She is the co-founder of Diversity in YA with Malinda Lo and on the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. Cindy is also a Chinese brush painting student of over a decade. Visit her website at http://www.cindypon.com.

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads • Tumblr


Nameless-cover

Four clans have been at war for centuries: the Kodiak, the Raven, the Wolf and the Ram. Through brutal war tactics, the Ram have dominated the region, inflicting death and destruction on their neighbors.

Seventeen-year-old Zo is a Wolf and a Healer who volunteers to infiltrate the Ram as a spy on behalf of the allied clans. She offers herself as a Ram slave, joining the people who are called the “nameless.” Hers is a suicide mission – Zo’s despair after losing her parents in a Ram raid has left her seeking both revenge and an end to her own misery. But after her younger sister follows her into Rams Gate, Zo must find a way to survive her dangerous mission and keep her sister safe.

What she doesn’t expect to find is the friendship of a young Ram whose life she saves, the confusing feelings she develops for a Ram soldier, and an underground nameless insurrection. Zo learns that revenge, loyalty and love are more complicated than she ever imagined in the first installment of this two-book series.

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About-the-Author

Jennifer Jenkins

With her degree in History and Secondary Education, Jennifer had every intention of teaching teens to love George Washington and appreciate the finer points of ancient battle stratagem. (Seriously, she’s obsessed with ancient warfare.) However, life had different plans in store when the writing began. As a proud member of Writers Cubed, and a co-founder of the Teen Author Boot Camp, she feels blessed to be able to fulfill both her ambition to work with teens as well as write Young Adult fiction.

Jennifer has three children who are experts at naming her characters, one loving, supportive husband, a dog with little-man syndrome, and three chickens (of whom she is secretly afraid).

Visit her online at jajenkins.com

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest |Instagram


Giveaway

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[M9B Friday Reveal] Serpentine by Cindy Pon + Giveaway!

I recently signed up for this charming little feature that showcases Month9Books! They’re a publishing company that caters to the Young Adult audience, and I’ve enjoyed a couple of books from there. This week is a chapter excerpt of a book I’m eagerly anticipating!

Stay tuned for news on special brush painting card by Cindy with
Serpentine pre-order through Mysterious Galaxy in June!

22095547Serpentine
Author: Cindy Pon
Release Date: September 18, 2015
Publisher: Month 9 Books, LLC
Preorder it here: Amazon | B&N
Add it on Goodreads!

Synopsis:
SERPENTINE is a sweeping fantasy set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology.Lush with details from Chinese folklore, SERPENTINE tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns sixteen, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell.

When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.

~PRAISE FOR SERPENTINE~

Vivid worldbuilding, incendiary romance, heart-pounding action, and characters that will win you over–I highly recommend Serpentine.
Cinda Williams Chima, best-selling author of the Seven Realms and Heir Chronicles fantasy novels

Serpentine is unique and surprising, with a beautifully-drawn fantasy world that sucked me right in! I love Skybright’s transformative power, and how she learns to take charge of it.
~Kristin Cashore, NYT Bestseller of the Graceling Realm Series

Serpentine’s world oozes with lush details and rich lore, and the characters crackle with life. This is one story that you’ll want to lose yourself in.
~ Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of Legend and The Young Elites

Displaying Cindy Pon.jpgCindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix (Greenwillow, 2009), which was named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association’s Booklist, and one of 2009′s best Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA. The sequel to Silver Phoenix, titled Fury of the Phoenix, was released in April 2011. Serpentine, the first title in her next Xia duology, will be published by Month9Books in September 2015. She is the co-founder of Diversity in YA with Malinda Lo and on the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. Cindy is also a Chinese brush painting student of over a decade. Visit her website at www.cindypon.com.

Connect with the Author:  Website | Twitter | Facebook | TumblrGoodreads

Chapter 1

The mountain was still shrouded in mist.
Skybright felt its cold tendrils against her nape as she climbed the giant cypress tree. She could almost believe she was in the heavens and the immortals themselves lived beyond the high monastery walls. A strange quiet had settled over Tian Kuan mountain, as if the mist had turned into something solid, blanketing their surroundings in silence. Skybright loved mornings like these. She scooted further up the thick gnarled branch, clinging with her legs, not daring to look down. Rough bark scraped her palms, and she held her breath as she grabbed a branch above her with both hands and eased herself onto her feet, crouching low, like a cat about to spring. She glimpsed the far edge of a square; dense fog hovered just above the green stone tiles of curved rooflines.
Zhen Ni gasped from below.
Skybright glanced down at her mistress. Zhen Ni’s pale face was turned upward, her eyes wide. Skybright quickly looked away and gulped. She had never been this high up before–if she fell she’d surely break her neck.
“Take care,” her mistress said.
Take care! Zhen Ni was the one who had concocted this mad plan to begin with, convincing Skybright the monastery wall truly wasn’t that high, and that she could climb the cypress tree with ease. Curiosity was her mistress’s weakness, and she simply had to know what went on within the monastery, behind its grand facade. Of course, Skybright would have to do the climbing. She couldn’t glare at her mistress, as it meant risking a glance downward again. Instead, Skybright rose slowly, willing her legs to keep steady, until she finally stood, her cloth shoes digging into the wood. She hugged the higher branch to her chest and murmured a prayer to the Goddess of Mercy.
Standing, she had a full view of the immense square hidden behind the walls, flanked by two red rectangular temples. A pair of fierce stone lions guarded each temple, and tall cypress trees dotted the edges of the square. Hundreds of monks, dressed in slate blue sleeveless tunics and trousers, sat cross-legged on the gray stone floor. While Zhen Ni and Skybright had been ascending the mountain, the monks’ strong voices had reverberated across the tall peak, counting as they practiced their forms. Now, they were so still and silent that Skybright blinked, wondering if they were statues as well—or an illusion. Each monk’s head was closely shaved, and they sat with their elbows resting against their knees, exact replicas of one another.
Not even the wind stirred.
“What can you see?” Zhen Ni asked, her impatient voice too loud to be a whisper.
Skybright ignored her. She scanned the endless rows of monks, each offering a three-quarter profile, when her eyes rested on one that did not appear like the rest. His hair wasn’t shorn, but shoulder length, and tied back. His tunic and trousers were tan. He sat in the very back, near the edge. As if he sensed her watching, he tilted his chin until their eyes met across the great distance.
She froze, feeling caught. And in those few quick moments, his gaze swept across her, seeming to take in every detail, before he turned his head back toward the magnificent temples, his expression never changing. Heart thudding, Skybright maneuvered until she was straddling the branch again, then scrambled as fast as she could down the giant cypress.
Her legs trembled when she finally reached the ground.
“Well, what did you see?” Zhen Ni tugged at her sleeve, her face shining with curiosity.
“Monks. So many of them.” She began walking back toward town, not waiting for her mistress as proper decorum dictated.
Surprised, Zhen Ni picked up her skirt so she wouldn’t trip on the embroidered hem and followed. “Could you see their faces?”
She shook her head, even as she recalled the slender eyes of the boy who had seen her. “They were meditating.”
The two girls hurried now through the trees. The fog had begun to lift, allowing glimmers of sunlight, and the earth was soft and damp beneath their feet. Skybright and Zhen Ni clasped hands and ran—they would be in trouble if their absence were noticed.

Skybright brought a late morning meal of rice porridge to Zhen Ni’s spacious reception hall and dined with her mistress. The two girls were now draped across Zhen Ni’s expansive bed, playing a game of Go. Her mistress was the better player, yet Skybright still had to keep an eye on the game, to be sure she never won by chance or from carelessness on Zhen Ni’s part. The last time she had won, Zhen Ni had pounded the bed so hard with her fists, the black and white stones scattered and bounced to the floor. Skybright never did find all of the pieces.
Morning light filled the bedchamber through lattice windows cast wide open. The walls were papered in the palest green, and Zhen Ni had decorated them with several magnificent lotus paintings—her favorite flower. Despite the open windows, the bedchamber was warm, and Skybright felt her chin dip, her lids growing heavy. Zhen Ni gave a languid yawn and stretched like a cat onto her side, leaning her head against her arm. A sharp tap on the reception hall’s door startled both girls. Skybright jumped from the tall platform bed as Zhen Ni swung her legs down the side, patting the gold ornaments woven in her hair.
“Your mother’s bringing a guest to visit, mistress,” Rose, another handmaid, said from outside.
“Now?” Zhen Ni asked as Skybright smoothed her mistress’s peach tunic and skirt.
“She’s on her way, mistress,” replied Rose’s muffled voice.
Zhen Ni sighed and gave Skybright an exasperated look before saying, “Thank you, Rose.”
Lady Yuan entered the quarters soon after, trailed by a woman in her forties, but dressed much more plainly, with her hair pulled into a tight bun. If Lady Yuan was an iridescent king fisher, then this woman clad in brown and gray was a dull hen. Yet there was a keen sharpness to the woman’s eyes as she took in the opulent reception hall, decorated in pale gold and pink, before her gaze glided to Zhen Ni’s face.
“I’ve brought a special surprise for you today, Daughter. Madame Lo is the best-regarded seer of our time. We’re fortunate to have her visiting so far from the Capital.” Lady Yuan smiled at both girls, her excitement obvious. She had grown plumper in these past few years; it had softened her features and rounded her chin.
Madame Lo inclined her head. “You honor me, Lady Yuan. It’s been too long since I’ve visited the mountains. I consider it a retreat.”
Zhen Ni bowed to the woman. “The honor is mine.” A flush colored her cheeks as she turned to her mother. “Why didn’t you tell me?”
“I wasn’t certain if Madame Lo could make it until she actually arrived at our door,” Lady Yuan said.
Zhen Ni swept an arm toward the curved-back chairs. “Please sit.”
“You’ve not yet started your monthly letting,” the seer stated, and everyone froze as if she had picked up a vase and smashed it to the floor.
“Mother?” Zhen Ni’s voice was barely a whisper.
Lady Yuan sat down, arranging her silk skirt with nervous fingers.
“Dear girl, the fact that you’ve not reached womanhood shines as bright on your face as the moon in full bloom. I’m a seer, after all.” Instead of following her hostess’ lead and sitting, Madame Lo stood before them and scrutinized Zhen Ni. Despite her plain dress, two stunning jade bracelets encircled the fortuneteller’s fine-boned wrist. One in a clear crisp green, and the other a deep lavender, both wrought with delicate gold details. They flashed and gleamed under the bright lantern lights, mesmerizing Skybright. Madame Lo lifted a hand to her chin, and her dark, piercing eyes slid to Skybright’s own face for a breath before she said, “But don’t fret, Mistress Yuan, your monthly letting will start soon enough.”
A chill slithered down Skybright’s spine when her eyes had met the seer’s, and she retreated a step to leave when Zhen Ni grabbed her hand and pulled her to the plush chair beside her own. “So, Madame Lo, how do you tell your fortunes?” Her mistress wore a faint smile, but Skybright heard the hesitancy in her voice.
The seer gathered her brown skirt and finally seated herself. “I use your birth date and time, and study your facial features as well.”
Zhen Ni ducked her head, staring at her folded hands. “I see,” she murmured.
“Tell us what you’ve divined,” Lady Yuan said, turning to the other woman across the enameled table. “Will she have a good husband? And many children?”
Zhen Ni caught her lower lip between her teeth, something she did when she was anxious. The familiar clatter of china against lacquered trays, a pleasant sound, carried from the covered corridor outside, along with the barely perceptible whisper of slippered feet. Rose entered, followed by another handmaid, Oriole, who set small dishes of lychees and sweets on the tables beside them. The delicate aroma of jasmine tea filled the reception hall. Pouring the brew into celadon cups, Rose then offered one to each of the women with both hands. Her dark eyes flickered to Lady Yuan, and the lady gave the barest nod before Rose gave a steaming cup to Skybright as well.
The two handmaids then slipped out, after bowing their heads.
They took time to sip their tea, quiet for a long moment, before Zhen Ni, with a raised chin, finally met Madame Lo’s knowing eyes and asked, “Will I fall in love?”
“Love!” Lady Yuan cut in. “Love comes later, Daughter.”
“When did you fall in love with Father?” Zhen Ni plucked at the delicate beading on her sleeve edge.
“Not until ten years after we were wed,” Lady Yuan said. “Love takes time.” She nodded at Zhen Ni, as if in encouragement. But Zhen Ni wouldn’t look at her mother.
“I’ve composed and read her star chart according to her birth date and time. And what they tell me confirms what I see in your features, Mistress Yuan.”
They all leaned forward while the seer pressed the tips of her long fingers together, her wide mouth drawn tense. Skybright wondered if the pause was for theatrics. But when Madame Lo spoke, it was with such care and authority that the thought disappeared from her mind.
“You’re a willful girl.”
Zhen Ni crossed her arms and reclined into the cushion. Skybright struggled to keep her face straight.
“This will pose challenges for you. Cause grief for you and your family. The shape and set of your chin only emphasize what your star chart indicates. You will love. Truly and deeply. The slight tilt of your eyes, the sheen to them, say as much. You’re a romantic, and sensual—see the shape of your upper lip, and the curve of your lower. You will suffer heartache.”
Zhen Ni’s dark brows had drawn together, and she gripped her hands so tightly that the nails bit into her skin.
Madame Lo rose from her seat. She was a slight woman and moved with an assurance that lent her grace. Her brown tunic and skirt were loose and edged with gray, worn only for function. Skybright tried to imagine the woman in turquoise or lavender—any bright color—but was unable. The seer didn’t need any extravagance but the glittering bracelets at her wrist, and the sharp light of her dark eyes. Madame Lo kneeled beside Zhen Ni’s chair and extended a hand to her face. Her mistress shrank from the older woman, as if her fingertips were barbed.
“Her ears are beautifully shaped. See how thick the lobes are? This coupled with the wideness of her nose all point to her fortune in having been born into such an illustrious family. You’ll find a very wealthy husband for her to marry, Lady Yuan.” Madame Lo stood and returned to her chair, before taking another sip of tea. “She’ll have at least two children. More, I cannot say.”
“Will she marry an eldest son?” Lady Yuan asked. “Will she bear a boy herself?”
“I fear I have nothing more specific, Lady Yuan.”
Zhen Ni had not relaxed beside her, but was still sitting rigid as a bamboo stalk, and leaning toward Skybright as if for shelter. “How can I marry well yet suffer heartache?” asked Zhen Ni.
“One does not exclude the other,” said the seer.
“We all suffer from the pangs of love at least once in our lives, Daughter. It’s nothing to worry over. The important thing is that you’ll marry well and have children!” Lady Yuan smiled, her face glowing with pleasure.
“I think I’ve heard enough, Madame Lo,” Zhen Ni said briskly, and her mother cleared her throat before taking a sip of tea. Zhen Ni blushed. “You honor me with a personal reading.”
“It was a pleasure,” Madame Lo replied. “I hope it has helped to ease your mother’s mind.”
“My gratitude, Madame Lo,” said Lady Yuan.
Skybright eyed the ginger candy on a plate beside her. It was Zhen Ni’s favorite, but she hadn’t touched any of the sweets since they had been brought. Skybright would have liked some lychees, but decorum didn’t allow her to eat until everyone else had taken something for herself first. Instead, she stood and refilled the teacups. The fragrant scent of jasmine rose with the steam.
“What about a reading for Skybright?” Zhen Ni asked after a long pause.
Skybright almost exclaimed aloud, but bit her tongue.
“Skybright? Of course.” Lady Yuan said. “But what’s there to tell?”
Madame Lo turned her attention to Skybright fully for the first time, and Skybright sank deeper into her seat, feeling exposed. “I would need her birth date and time. A star chart takes at least three days to prepare.”
“We don’t know when Skybright was born, exactly,” Zhen Ni said.
Madame Lo studied her face as if she were a painting. Skybright willed herself to keep her head raised. “You’re Zhen Ni’s handmaid?”
“Yes. And my companion since we were babes.”
“Let the girl speak for herself,” the seer said.
All three looked to Skybright, and she swallowed, feeling the heat rise to her cheeks. She wasn’t used to being noticed, much less being the center of attention. “I’m an orphan.”
“I see,” Madame Lo replied. “And you were taken in by the Yuans?”
“She was left on our doorstep in a basket–”
“She wasn’t more than a few days’ old–”
Lady Yuan and Zhen Ni spoke over each other but both stopped abruptly when Madame Lo slapped her palm against the carved armrest. Lady Yuan jolted in her chair and Zhen Ni attempted to appear contrite.
“It’s as they say, Madame Lo,” Skybright said. “I know nothing more beyond that.”
The seer beckoned with a curl of her fingers. “Come here, girl.”
Skybright rose and stood before Madame Lo, feeling the damp of her palms. She had spent very little time wondering about her past, her parents, where she came from. It seemed pointless and impractical. Her life was full with daily responsibilities and rituals, with being a handmaid and companion to Zhen Ni. Now, this stranger might tell her more about her future or her past—probably useless or false knowledge, as far as Skybright was concerned. If she had a family, if her parents were still alive and wanted her, wouldn’t they have come back for her by now?
“Kneel,” Madame Lo said.
Skybright lowered herself onto the cold stone floor. The seer took her chin in one hand, turning her face this way and that, as a merchant would study cattle before purchasing. Skybright held her arms still at her sides, her hands fisted.
“There’s an unusual symmetry to your face.” Madame Lo tilted Skybright’s head to examine her ears. “Your features reveal little to me.” Skybright wanted to jerk away, but steadied herself. “She’s no classic beauty,” Madame Lo went on, speaking to Zhen Ni and Lady Yuan directly. “See how the mouth is too full, the eyes set slightly far apart. The nose is narrow, the bridge too tall—there is no wealth there. No fortune. Yet the face as a whole—”
“I’ve always thought Skybright quite pretty,” Zhen Ni said.
“Yes. Not a classic beauty, but the features come together to create something quite alluring. Almost unearthly.”
“But this tells us so little, Madame Lo,” Lady Yuan said, choosing a candied persimmon from the tray.
“Will she meet a good man?” Zhen Ni asked.
“Daughter!” Lady Yuan reprimanded.
Because they all knew Skybright would be a handmaid to Zhen Ni for life, and never marry.
“She could take a lover,” Zhen Ni retorted.
Skybright bowed her head, and Madame Lo patted her hot cheek, as if in sympathy. Then the seer’s grip tightened, her long nails digging into Skybright’s face, and Skybright gasped in surprise and pain. Grimacing, Madame Lo dropped her hand, then pressed her knuckles against her eyes. “I’m sorry, Skybright,” she murmured. “This has never happened to me before.”
The seer’s complexion had turned ashen, and Skybright could see she was unsettled. Alarmed, she sensed that Madame Lo was rarely fazed, much less showing it as she did now. She jumped to her feet, lifting the ceramic pot so she could pour the seer more tea.
“What’s the matter?” Lady Yuan exclaimed.
“When I touched Skybright, her image changed. It was as if her true self was veiled, and I was unable to see her clearly. I’ve never encountered the like before in any of my readings, and I’ve done hundreds.” Madame Lo reached for her teacup and took a long sip. Her hand trembled. The seer drew a breath before saying, “But she’s strong. That much comes across.”
Zhen Ni nibbled on a ginger candy and watched Skybright with interest. “Have you ever thought of yourself as alluring, Sky? As strong?”
“Never, mistress,” Skybright replied. Madame Lo’s revelations meant little to her—they were only frivolous nonsense.
“I can see it,” Zhen Ni said, her dark eyes gleaming as she nodded to the seer. “I never noticed before, but now I can see it.”

Zhen Ni fiddled with the jars and bottles on her vanity as Skybright brushed her black hair then plaited it, weaving luminous pearls into the single braid. Her mistress had been quiet since Madame Lo’s visit earlier in the day, her usually animated face appearing pensive for much of the afternoon. In an attempt to coax her into a better mood, Skybright had suggested a new hairstyle and outfit in time for Zhen Ni’s evening meal with her mother in the main hall. Her mistress had agreed with a distracted wave of her hand.
“Mama said a family friend’s daughter will be staying with us through the summer,” Zhen Ni said and began chewing on her nail. “She’s our age.”
Skybright swatted at her mistress’s hand.
The smile Zhen Ni gave her lacked its usual mischievousness. “I hate waiting. I wish it would never happen.” Their eyes met in the bronzed mirror, and Skybright took the opportunity to adjust the jade lotus pendant encircling her mistress’s neck.
Skybright knew she wasn’t talking about the girl who would be visiting.
“I know Mama’s eager to show me that book as soon as my monthly letting begins.”
Zhen Ni’s older sister, Min, had sneaked The Book of Making to share with them when they were just fourteen years. All three had gawked at the dozens of illustrations depicted, teaching a bride how to best pleasure her future husband in the bedchamber and become with child quickly. Now, two years later, Min was wed and living with her husband’s family, already expecting her first babe.
“To think Mama’s so desperate to marry me off, she hired that seer!” Zhen Ni said. “You’re so fortunate not to have to … suffer through any of it.”
Skybright began making Zhen Ni’s expansive platform bed, straightening the silk sheets and plumping the brocaded cushions. Her mistress had lain in it for much of the afternoon, without ever falling asleep. “I’ll go with you when you marry, and have to leave the Yuan manor too.”
“You would come with me, Sky?” Zhen Ni grabbed her hand and smiled coyly, knowing Skybright had no choice.
Skybright rolled her eyes. “Of course.”
“It would be a great comfort to me to have you by my side.” Zhen Ni sighed, her shoulders drooping.
Skybright laughed and, because she looked so pitiful, gripped her mistress’s hand. Zhen Ni’s most beautiful feature was her eyes, almond shaped and a deep honeyed brown. They often appeared to have sheen to them, as if she were on the verge of uproarious laughter or dramatic tears. She was half a head taller than Skybright, and more slender of build.
And as Zhen Ni considered her, her mouth twisted into a scheming smile, one that Skybright knew all too well. Wary, she dropped her mistress’s hand.
“You know you’re supposed to help me. Teach me to be a better wife to my future husband.”
“Teach you?”
Zhen Ni nodded. “A good handmaid … practices with her mistress.”
Skybright blushed, finally realizing what she was implying. The illustrations from The Book of Making had always featured a man and a woman. It had never crossed her mind that … Skybright swallowed, before saying, “I’ve never heard of such a thing.”
“You wouldn’t have. But Min told me some households require it of their daughters before they marry, to make them better wives. It’s called mirroring.” Zhen Ni grinned wider, the same wicked grin as when she had plucked the eyeballs from the steamed fish when they were eight years and convinced Skybright to eat one, telling her it was a delicacy and would make her smarter. She would never forget the wet, gristly texture of it, the hard marble in the middle. How it had burst in her mouth. Zhen Ni had cackled when she spat it out, almost retching.
“Don’t worry, Sky.” Zhen Ni drew closer, then leaned forward and pressed her mouth against Skybright’s.
Skybright startled but didn’t pull back. Her mistress’s eyes were closed, and the delicate scent of peach cream enveloped her senses—the cream she had rubbed into Zhen Ni’s face and throat earlier. Her lips were soft, supple, making Skybright suddenly aware of how rough her own were.
Zhen Ni put her hand on one shoulder and squeezed, before she spun away and collapsed onto the bed, giggling. “Oh!” She rolled, quite unladylike, twisting the sheets. “Oh,” she snorted, “We just had our first kiss!”
After a few moments, she sat up and rubbed the tears from her eyes. “How was it?”
Skybright hadn’t moved, not knowing how to respond, afraid of what her mistress might suggest next. “Your lips … were soft.”
Zhen Ni covered her mouth with both hands and began laughing uncontrollably again. “Dear darling Skybright.” She shook her head. “There is no guile to you. It’s why I adore you.”
“How did it feel to you?” Skybright was too curious not to ask.
Zhen Ni scrubbed at her mouth with the back of her hand with exaggerated disgust. “It was like kissing my own sister!”
Skybright pitched a fat cushion at her, and Zhen Ni squealed, barely dodging it in time. She then fell into bed and laughed with her.

Skybright couldn’t fall asleep that night.
It was near the end of the sixth moon, and the summer air was heavy and hot. She kicked the thin sheet aside and wound her thick hair away from her damp neck, trying to find a cool spot on the narrow bed. Her mind kept returning to the kiss she had exchanged with Zhen Ni. The kiss itself had been chaste, like she had shared with Zhen Ni before on the cheek. But there was an undercurrent there, an expectation, a bated breath. It seemed to have stoked something deep inside of her, as if touching her mouth to someone else’s had kindled a hidden desire, dormant until now.
She let out a long sigh, feeling the back of her arms stick to the bamboo mat. The face of the young monk who had glimpsed her clinging to a branch bloomed beneath her eyelids, how his expression never changed as he assessed her, as if they stood in front of each other at arm’s length. Who was he? And why wasn’t his hair cut like all the others?
Her dreams, when she finally fell asleep, were scattered and warm.
Then insistent.

Skybright woke in a fevered haze, feeling as if she were drunk. It was still night, so dark that she couldn’t see. Heat radiated from her groin downward, pulsing through her legs, tingling her feet, then ricocheting back again. Her thighs and calves ached of it, of melding and severing.
She gasped, trying to rise. She clutched at her legs, and her hands sprang back as she cried out. No sound came and she whimpered, rubbing her ears. Had she gone deaf as well? Skybright touched her legs again, but they were no longer there, replaced by something sleek and supple that wasn’t her skin, wasn’t her flesh.
This must be a dream.
A nightmare.
She tried to swing her lower half off the bedside, but instead thrashed and thumped to the stone floor below. Its rough coldness scraped her torso and elbows. Unable to stand, she dragged herself across the ground toward the lantern resting on her small cherry wood dresser. Something knocked over and hit her back. She hissed. Pulling herself up, she grabbed the lantern and a match. Her hands shook as she lit the wick.
The light’s warmth was familiar, comforting. Skybright twisted, held the lantern over her lower half, and nearly dropped it. A thick serpent coil snaked behind her, where her legs should have been, the ruby red scales glittering even in the wan light. She glided her hand along its smooth length, and felt it as her own flesh. The serpent length began at her waist, but the scales covered her abdomen, rising to just beneath her breasts. She was naked. Where had her sleep clothes gone?
The lantern jangled in her grasp, and she set it on the ground, running her hands over her face, now in a panic. Her features felt the same. She pushed herself, slid back to the dresser, and grabbed the pearl hand mirror that had been a birthday gift from Zhen Ni. Her familiar face reflected back at her, although her eyes were dark and wild, and her long hair seemed alive, floating about her shoulders.
A silent sob shook her, tremored from her chest through to the tip of her grotesque tail. Then she glimpsed something that caused her heartbeat to stutter. Slowly, she opened her mouth, and a long forked tongue escaped from it, waggling, as if taunting her.
The hand mirror crashed to the ground, and Skybright clawed at her neck with both hands, unable to speak, to scream. Her serpent coil jerked, swept the lantern on its side, and the flame was doused, casting her into darkness.

Quiet knocking stirred her awake.
The door panel slid aside and Zhen Ni poked her head through, then tiptoed inside, closing the panel behind her.
“You’re late. Of all the days!”
Sunshine flooded the small chamber when Zhen Ni opened the lattice window and Skybright struggled to rise, hysteria smothering her chest.
“What happened in here?” Her mistress stared at the toppled stool and broken lantern with oil seeping out beneath, then looked at her and gaped. “Why are you naked?”
Skybright glanced down and saw her legs, stuck her tongue to the roof of her mouth. “I’m—” She choked with relief when she could speak, “I was hot. Last night.” It must have been a nightmare. She had a fever and was hallucinating.
Zhen Ni drew to her bedside and waved her hands at her torso. “When did you get those?” she exclaimed.
Skybright peered down again, momentarily terrified, to realize that Zhen Ni had been pointing at her breasts. She crossed her arms, flushing.
“You’ve become a woman,” her mistress said in a quiet voice, her expression serious and thoughtful.
She wrapped the thin sheet around herself, laughing from a mixture of embarrassment and disorientation. “We’re the same age!”
“I certainly don’t look like that.”
Skybright was familiar with her mistress’s physique, being the one to help her bathe, and Zhen Ni was willowy, lacking the curves that Skybright had. Curves hidden beneath loose tunics that, until now, Skybright had never given a second thought.
Zhen Ni stooped down so that they were eye level. “It’s happened, Sky,” she whispered. “My monthly letting came.”
Skybright clapped her hand over her mouth. “Mistress—” But something in Zhen Ni’s measured gaze stopped her short.
“I’ve bled onto the sheet. You must strip and wash them. Hide the evidence.” Zhen Ni paused. Skybright had known her a lifetime and had never seen this look of fierce determination in her mistress’s eyes. “Mama can never know.”

Giveaway Info:

  • One (1) digital copy of Serpentine by Cindy Pon
  • Open internationally
  • Winner will be drawn June 5, 2015

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Spelled by Betsy Schow Spotlight Tour + Gift Basket Giveaway!

24380140Spelled
Author: Betsy Schow
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Get it here: Amazon | B&N | BAM | !ndigo | IndieBound | Kindle |  Nook

Synopsis:
Talk about unhappily ever after. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks—like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the not-so-charming prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving Dorthea with hair made up of emerald flames and the kingdom in chaos. Her parents and everyone she loves are stuck in some place called “Kansas.” Now it’s up to Dorthea and her pixed-off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse…before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spellsThe End for the world of Story.

Advance Praise for Spelled

“A cute adventure with romance set in a world full of fairy-tale mash-ups. Readers will love Dorthea’s evolution from spoiled princess to strong, confident heroine… For Oz fans, this work is a great clean-read alternative to Danielle Paige’s Dorothy Must Die.” –School Library Journal

“This wickedly funny, fast-paced adventure has it all: brains, courage, and heart. (Plus a kickin’ pair of heels.) .” –Jen Calonita, author of The Secrets of My Hollywood Life and Fairy Tale Reform Schoolseries

“Fairy tale survival rule #1, do NOT read this book late at night. You will wake up your entire family with loud laughter. Fairy tale survival rule #2, if you love the Wizard of Oz, clever fairy tale mash-ups, and enough twists and turns to keep you guessing what will happen until the very end, you MUST read Spelled.” –J Scott Savage, award winning author of Farworld, Case File 13, and the Mysteries of Cove series.

A hilarious and snarky reimagining of the world of Oz, along with many other fairy tales injected throughout, “Spelled” is one fabulous read…Kick off those silver slippers and tuck in with this wonderful tale!” —Senator Sipes, Lil Book Bug (Palmdale, CA)

Betsy Schow is the author of the memoir Finished Being Fat, and has been featured on The Today Showand in The Wall Street Journal. She lives in Utah, but travels the country with Color Me Rad 5k, and partners with nonprofits to teach kids creative thinking and how to reach their goals.

Website| Twitter

In this excerpt, our princess shows her spoiled brat side when dealing with a new character. But behind that prickly exterior may just be the kind of loneliness that a princess who gets whatever she wants has…

Most of the crowd had dispersed. The final few stragglers looked at me with the all­too-common look of fear mixed with trepidation. Pix ’em. They were just servants. It wasn’t like their opinion mattered.

Only one remained, watching me with open curiosity. He looked to be in his late teens or was magically enhanced to appear so. He could have been a hundred for all I knew. I’d never seen him before in my life. He was handsome enough, for a commoner, even in his worn leather pants and cracked work boots. A foreigner, his hair was unruly and dark auburn, which complemented his tanned but dirt-smudged complexion, though the tall, dark stranger vibe was ruined by his piercing pale blue eyes.

Well, I’d had enough of being a sideshow for the day. “If you’re the new gardener, the hedges are overgrown and in need of a trim.” I pointed in the direction of my father. “While you’re there, you can help the king with the wisps.”

The young man’s expression clouded over, but he didn’t move.

I stamped my foot and pointed more forcefully. “Off with you. Courtyard’s that way. Be sure to clean those awful boots before coming back in.”

“Someone told me I’d find a princess of great worth here. One with the strength to be the hero this realm needs.” He stared at me with those unsettling blue eyes. They were cold, like ice water—made me shiver from head to toe. Then his gaze seemed to search even deeper. Finally, he looked through me, like I was nothing.

In brisk steps, he strode across the marble to the courtyard. But before crossing the threshold, he turned back to glare at me with his lip curled ever so slightly. “It seems she was mistaken.”

Just like that, I had been sifted, weighed, and found wanting.

I felt my own lip curl in response. How rude! Who the Grimm was this peasant to judge me? I was wearing a Glenda original. Original! Not some fairy-godmother knockoff worn by those servant girls turned royal. I was a crown princess, for the love of fairy, and no one dismissed me.

Before I could put the boy in his place—down in the dirt, where he belonged—a clatter came from behind, making me nearly jump out of my shoes. I checked and was relieved that Sterling had simply dropped his sword. By the time I looked back, the gardener was gone.

After stowing his blade, Sterling held up his shield, not in defense of the entrance but so he could look at his reflection. “Clearly he’s blind and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”

I didn’t ask for Sterling’s opinion, but it made me feel better.

Until he opened his mouth again.

“Worth, pffft. I mean, look around at all the jewels. Your palace has everything you could ever want. Honestly, I don’t know what you’re fussing about. Why would anyone want to leave?”

Because a cage is still a cage, no matter how big or glittering the bars are.

And I would find a way free, no matter the cost.

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Blog Hop: Crow’s Rest by Angelica R. Jackson

22573426Crow’s Rest
Author: Angelica R. Jackson
Publisher: Spencer Hill Press:
Release Date: May 12, 2015
Get it here: BN |  Amazon | BookDepository

Synopsis:
Avery Flynn arrives for a visit at her Uncle Tam’s, eager to rekindle her summertime romance with her crush-next-door, Daniel.But Daniel’s not the sweet, neurotic guy she remembers—and she wonders if this is her Daniel at all. Or if someone—some thing—has taken his place.Her quest to find the real Daniel—and get him back—plunges Avery into a world of Fae and changelings, where creatures swap bodies like humans change their socks, and magic lives much closer to home than she ever imagined.

Okay so in this blog hop I’ll be sharing a ghost story from my experience. In all honesty, I can’t wait to read other people’s stories more because I lead a pretty mundane life. The story I have is probably the only time I’ve ever been freaked out, other then when I was little I used to think a stranger was living in my house without my family knowing. (There must be a phobia name for that.) Anyway, the story is fairly short and simple, but there’s some background information to add before the main part. Without further ado, I’ll get to it.

Last year, I went to Savannah, Georgia with some family friends to do a little sightseeing. I live in Florida, so we drove a little up there for a weekend. Now, Savannah is a ghost hub apparently, and it’s pretty famous for its ghost tours. Obviously we wouldn’t want to miss out on that.

The first day was pretty awesome, because the fam and I got to eat out all the time, the hotel was really quaint (it’s called The Marshall House, and has the cutest layout!), and just the getting away from dreary Florida had us all in good spirits.

So evening comes and we’re getting ready for the ghost tour. The fam and I, along with other tourists, stack up in one of those open buses (trolleys? I’m not sure what they’re called) and head out to different monuments and sites. In all honesty, I don’t remember any of the buildings we passed or any of the stories, but I did remember that we all had a jolly good time. And one other thing: when passing one of the buildings, the tour guide convinced us to download a ghost radar on our phones. Now, I love participating in these kinds of activities so obviously I downloaded it. Then the guide told us to pull it up, and whaddya know? There’s two ghosts in the left hand side. Where a building stood. So she (the guide) said some boring story of how two people died (sisters I think? I’m really not good at details), and how they haunt the house.

Yeah so I’m a totally skeptic. These activities are fun and all, but I never let it get to me. I’m not sure how the electromagnetic field works (my only experience is that supposed app and Supernatural), but obviously this tour guide company found those dots and concoted a convenient story about it. We move on to the next attraction, and I continue on having fun.

When I get home from Savannah, the adrenaline high from the trip is wearing off as it usually does. I’m in my bed, and I’m prepared to delete the EMF ghost detecting app. I’m a curious person by nature, so I check out the radar before deleting it. And HOLY SHIT – there’s a freaking red dot to the lower left of my location… right next to me bed. Above, I said that these kind of things don’t really get to me. But come on, even the worst skeptics would get at least a little creeped out by that, right? It wasn’t moving or anything, but the fact that it was RIGHT NEXT TO MY BED just got me off-balanced.

Suffice it to say, I immediately deleted the app, watched some episodes of Supernatural to remind myself how dumb demons/ghosts can be, and slept in the guest room that night.

I think this kind of shows that every one of us, no matter how much we don’t believe in ghosts, have a fear of the unknown. Since none of us really know if they exist or not, right? I’ve always thought I’m fearless about these things and joke around about them a lot, but that didn’t stop me from being hella creeped out by a simple little ghost detector app. This is one of the reasons why I love fantasy books so much. I’ll never stop believing, even if it’s against all logic, that there’s a world out there with vampires, or fairies, or ghosts, or demons and angels. And this is one of the reasons why I can’t wait to read Crow’s Rest. Who knows what kind of world Avery – and the readers – will explore in the book?

Displaying Angelica R Jackson photo.jpgIn keeping with her scattered Gemini nature, Angelica R. Jackson has far too many interests to list here.

She has an obsession with creating more writing nooks in the home she shares with her husband and two corpulent cats in California’s Gold Country. Fortunately, the writing nooks serve for reading and cat cuddling too.

Other pastimes include cooking for food allergies (not necessarily by choice, but she’s come to terms with it), photography, and volunteering at a local no-kill cat sanctuary.

Twitter  |   Facebook  |   Goodreads  |   Photo Galleries  |   Blog  |   Website

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Blog Tour: Lola Carlyle’s 12-Step Romance by Danielle Younge-Ullman

Lola Carlyle’s 12-Step Romance
Author: Danielle Younge-Ullman
Release Date: May 5, 2015
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Get it here: AmazonBarnes & NobleKobo Books

Synopsis:
Lola Carlyle is lonely, out of sorts, and in for a boring summer. So when her best friend, Sydney, calls to rave about her stay at a posh Malibu rehab and reveals that the love of Lola’s life, Wade Miller, is being admitted, she knows what she has to do. Never mind that her worst addiction is decaf cappuccino; Lola is going to rehab.

Lola arrives at Sunrise Rehab intent solely on finding Wade, saving him from himself, and—naturally—making him fall in love with her…only to discover she’s actually expected to be an addict. And get treatment. And talk about her issues with her parents, and with herself. Plus she has insane roommates, and an irritatingly attractive mentor, Adam, who’s determined to thwart her at every turn.

Oh, and Sydney? She’s gone.

Turns out, once her pride, her defenses, and her best friend are stripped away, Lola realizes she’s actually got a lot to overcome…if she can open her heart long enough to let it happen.

This is definitely a cute and light contemporary read that will make you sigh, giggle, and laugh out loud as you read the antics of Lola Carlyle. Albeit a tad unrealistic with a celebrity child faking her way into rehab (I guess stranger things have happened!), overall it leaves readers with some messages that Lola learned herself throughout the book.

“Maybe I’m crazy, but sometimes you get a gut feeling, a sense of a path opening up in front of you and the certainty that you need to take that path.
I have that sense now, and I see the path.

The path leads to rehab.”

I was thoroughly annoyed with Lola in the beginning of the book. She was pretty selfish, snobbish, and naive. However, as the book goes on, Lola realizes some things she didn’t know about herself. She might have been faking her alcoholism (which is how she got into rehab), but some therapy she went through really helped her in the end. Hey, nothing like a good time in rehab to find some self-discovery, am I right? Towards the end of the novel, my opinion of Lola definitely changed – for the better. She learns, she listens, and she changes into someone that I would have liked to be friends with.

The romance in the book is so sweet and definitely has swoony moments. Although Lola sets out in the beginning of the book to ensnare Wade (some teen celebrity), she starts wondering if it’s Wade she wants, or the Wade that she used to know… Meanwhile, some other guy is more compatible with her in every way. Their build-up from frenemies to grudging respect to something more was done really nicely and I really enjoyed it.

Although the beginning of the book made me a little irritated with Lola’s silly (and dumb) antics, the end made it up by showing a girl who discovers where she is in the scope of her life, and with her friends and family. Looking for a light, amusing, and in the end coming-of-age book that will leave you satisfied? Lola’s 12-Step Romance can fix that.

Danielle Younge-Ullman is a novelist, playwright and freelance writer. She studied English and Theater at  McGill University, then returned to her hometown of Toronto to work as professional actor for ten  years. Danielle’s short story, Reconciliation, was published in MODERN MORSELS—a McGraw-Hill  Anthology for young adults—in 2012, her one-act play, 7 Acts of Intercourse, debuted at Toronto’s SummerWorks Festival in 2005, and her adult novel, FALLING UNDER, was published by Penguin in 2008.  Danielle lives in Toronto with her husband and two daughters.
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YA Bound Book Tours

May Release Preorder Giveaway! + Updates On Life

Aloha, my lovely followers who have been patiently prevailing and strangers setting foot on this unknown blog for the first time,

So as you all know, late April/pretty much all of May is exam season for students. Especially as I have End of Course exams, AP exams, and finally, normal semester exams. (Yeah teachers don’t like giving us breaks.)

Me studying.

Thus, I’ve made a pledge that I will not be reading ANY book for these couple of weeks unless they’re AP review books or textbooks. Unfair, right? But, that doesn’t mean that I’m not buying books teehee. I preordered so many books with May releases that are coming in (most likely while I’m studying). It’s incentive for me to do well on the tests so I can binge read afterwards!

(BTW, you’ll probably see book reviews being posted, but those are just scheduled. I’m seriously doing this guys.)

Now, while preordering, I’ve noticed SO many awesome books coming out that I want to share the love with other people! In an effort to make my blog more… tasteful, I’m hosting a giveaway. (You can see my trying with the book blitz and tours haha.) As much as I wish I had an ARC to give away (or 5), a signed copy of a book, or awesome swag, I’m too basic for those. But hey, I’m throwing ~$15 out the wind for this giveaway, so that’s something!

(Plus it’s INTERNATIONAL. Woooo.)

Okay so below are some titles that have caught MY eye (eyy), as well as some I’ve read and reviewed. Of course, you don’t have to choose one of these.

Details: 

  • You can win (1) copy of any May release!
  • Open to INTERNATIONAL, as long as Book Depository ships to you. 🙂
  • No cheating! If you do, I will be very sad 😥 and invalidate your entry. Cheating won’t get you anywhere in life son, so why start now?
  • Winners have up to 48 hours to reply! If not, I’ll choose another winner 😥 and be sad.

Without further ado:

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Book Blitz: In A World Just Right by Jen Brooks + Giveaway!

In a World Just Right
by Jen Brooks
Release Date: 04/28/15
Simon & Schuster Book for Young Readers
432 pages

Summary from Goodreads:
Imagination takes on new meaning for a
uniquely talented teen in this debut novel that is a breathtaking blend of
contemporary, fantasy, and romance.
Sometimes Jonathan Aubrey wishes he could just disappear. And as luck—or
fate—would have it, he can. Ever since coming out of a coma as a kid, he has
been able to create alternate worlds. Worlds where he is a superhero, or a
ladies’ man, or simply a better version of himself. That’s the world he’s been
escaping to most since sophomore year, a world where he has everything he
doesn’t have in real life: friends, a place of honor on the track team, passing
grades, and most importantly, Kylie Simms as his girlfriend.But when Jonathan confuses his worlds senior year and tries to kiss the real
Kylie Simms, everything unravels. The real Kylie actually notices Jonathan…and
begins obsessing over him. The fantasy version of Kylie struggles to love
Jonathan as she was created to do, and the consequences are disastrous. As his
worlds collide, Jonathan must confront the truth of his power and figure out
where he actually belongs—before he loses both Kylies forever.

But wait! There’s more! Here’s an EXCERPT from the beginning of the book, and is a backstory segment about Jonathan’s world-making ability:

Here’s a story for you. Once upon a time there was this kid named Jonathan Aubrey. He was eight years old. He had a mom and a dad and a six-year-old sister, Tess, and an Auntie Carrie and Uncle Joey. One day they all got on a plane to Disney World. Except for Uncle Joey, who was on some business trip or other. It was going to be the funnest, most perfect trip of a lifetime. The airplane took off . . . and fell out of the sky into Boston Harbor. (Yes, the Tragedy-in-the-Harbor, the famous crash they contrasted with the Miracle-on-the-Hudson.)

Little Jonathan was one of three people who survived. He spent three months at Massachusetts General Hospital in a coma, and when he woke up, they sent him home. Except there wasn’t anyone at home anymore. They were in the ground at Pine Street Cemetery, and he had missed all the funerals and everything.

He went to live at Uncle Joey’s house instead. Uncle Joey tried to be good to Jonathan, but there was that business thing that often kept him away, and Uncle Joey was grieving just as bad because he’d lost Auntie Carrie.

Jonathan didn’t come out of that coma the same way he went in. He had a little lag in his speech. He limped. He had burns and scars on parts of his body. Most of the ugly skin he kept covered with long sleeves and pants, even on days when it got to be almost a hundred degrees.

Jen has a habit of being deeply moved by profound ideas, and her writing reflects her interest in exploring human goodness, relationships, and the feeling of being a part of something greater than oneself. She loves the science fiction and fantasy genres because of their dazzling possibilities for portraying characters and ideas. She credits her undergraduate experience at Dartmouth College, her MFA at Seton Hill University, and her fourteen years of English teaching with shaping her writing.  She is grateful to her family, friends, and students for inspiring her to write.

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You can check out my review of this book here!