#MustRead: The Revelation Series by Randi Cooley Wilson

RedemptionYesterday, author Randi Cooley Wilson was featured in an USA Today article about her entertaining spin on paranormal romance.  If you have not read her books Revelation and/or Restraint, you need to fix that – and fast!  My reviews of of these books can be found here and here.  SO GOOD, Y’ALL.  SERIOUSLY.  In my opinion, it’s like discovering the Arcana Chronicles (Kresley Cole), Wicked Lovely (Melissa Marr) or Iron Fey (Julie Kagawa) series – fast paced epic adventure/romance/ drama with a remarkable cast of supernatural characters.

Book Three of Wilson’s Revelation Series is Redemption, and it is now available.  Eve’s journey continues – both physically (new realms!) and personally (now what?!).  After the events of Book Two, she has a new protector and understanding of her role in the world.  Is she a pawn or does she have free will?  Are her feelings for Asher genuine or just fated?  All the events and characters from the first two books weave together into an exciting and moving story in this installment.  And as much as I love Revelation and Restraint, Redemption is my favorite in the series… so far.   Do yourself a favor and get the books to enjoy over the holidays or give them as a gift to your favorite bookworm. – kris

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Enter to win $25 gift card to B&N or Amazon (winners choice) & a digital copy (Nook or Kindle, winners choice) of: Revelation, Restraint and Redemption by Randi Cooley Wilson

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Interviews: Verla of Last House Burning and author Katy Scott

We would like to thank YAReads for the opportunity to interview author Katy Scott and Verla, the main character in her new novel, Last House Burning.

About the Book:

Last House Burning

When you speak of the Devil, he probably won’t appear. But he may send one of his staff.

In an old house in a deserted, burned-down village, a young woman called Verla lives alone. Year after year she stays there while the world changes around her, no one else ever stepping foot in the village, the people in the nearby towns forgetting she exists. Verla is used to it. It’s the way things have to be.

Until Ben, a bored teenager visiting the area with his family, barges into her life and discovers her terrible secret. As he spirals deeper and deeper into the bureaucratic world of Heaven and Hell that Verla is part of, he realizes he has one chance to help free her from her lonely fate.

But securing Verla’s freedom is going to involve more than just an appointment at the local office of the underworld. Especially when Ben encounters a charismatic American with a suspiciously broad knowledge of Hell, a mysterious elevator with deep and terrifying powers, and a pinstripe-suited demon with an evil scheme that could shake the foundations of Heaven, Hell and Earth.

And things are about to get personal.

lily collinsInterview with main character, Verla:

What would you order if you walked in a Starbucks?

I’ve never tried coffee before but I’ve heard how good it is! I do know I like hot chocolate, so I think I’d blend the two and get a fancy mocha – that’s what they’re called, right? With some cream fresh from a cow.

 What kind of shoes are you wearing?

 Lace-up black boots made by Ernest, the village bootmaker. They’re over a hundred years old and still look new. Ernest sure knows how to make shoes.

What is your most treasured possession?

A picture book created by my little brothers. I used to cry when I opened it because I felt so bad about what happened to them, but it’s been so long now that I can smile when I read it.

What is on your nightstand right now?

Well, this is awkward. Okay, I’ll tell you. It’s a note that says “Hey Verla, I’ve gone to get some food. Back in 10.” A certain person left it at my house the other day and, well, I guess I just didn’t want to throw it out.

If you could spend the day with someone you admire (living, dead or imaginary), who would it be?

Jane Austen. I was obsessed with Mr Darcy for years. 

What would you like it to say on your tombstone? 

I think it would say “Here lies Verla. Finally.”

What impression do you make when people first meet you?

Usually they remember something else they have to do, and leave. So their biggest impression is probably that I’m very forgettable. Until a few weeks ago, I hadn’t had a proper conversation with anyone for years.

Favorite color?

Dark blue, like the sky right after dusk.

If you had a free day with no responsibilities, what would you do?

I’d go down to Sydney and visit the Sydney Harbour Bridge. I’ve heard so much about it but never seen it! I might even do the bridge climb.

Favorite place you have traveled?

I haven’t gone far at all unfortunately! But there’s a hill near my house where you can see all the stars on a clear night. One day I want to go back there. 

What do you like best about yourself?

My resilience. Back when all this first started, if you’d have asked me if I could survive like this for so long, I’d have said no. But I have survived, and I’m pretty proud of myself.

What do you like least about yourself?

My stubbornness. If only I’d just said yes when… well, there’s no use dwelling on it. What’s done is done.

Favorite genre of music?

Classical, of course! I didn’t know there were any other genres.

Favorite subject in school?

Art. I was going to be a famous artist. That didn’t turn out so well.

Righty or Lefty?

Righty. You weren’t allowed to be a lefty when I went to school! They’d tie your left hand behind your back.

Biggest Pet Peeve?

When people leave a round coffee cup stain on the newspaper! Ugh. It’s like they’re trying to make my life even more difficult. I shouldn’t really complain, though. Technically I’m stealing the newspaper from them.

What makes you laugh out loud?

When Ben makes up words in Scrabble and tries to tell me that it’s modern vernacular that I’ve never heard of. A few days ago he put the word ‘omg’ down. That is so not a word. You can’t even pronounce it. “Om-guh”? I don’t think so.

What would your last meal be if you were on Death Row?

Sashimi. It’s on my bucket list of foods to try, so that would be nice timing.

Have any pets?

No. Not even bugs are allowed to exist anywhere near my house.

Do you keep a diary or journal?

No. But when I was about sixteen I wrote a series of stories about myself, except that instead of a village girl, I was a rich young lady out in society with lots of men asking for my hand in marriage. I think the stories are still in my library somewhere. I hope no one ever finds them. How embarrassing.

Interview with author Katy Scott

Katy Scott

On Last House Burning:

What was the inspiration?

I was driving along one day and idly wondered what it would be like if Hell got too crowded, and the bosses started using buildings and houses on Earth to put people in instead. It snowballed from there.

Can you describe the process of world building?

For this book, it started off small. A character here, a location there. As the characters and locations got more extreme the more fun I had, and before I knew it I had a whole world built: a world where Heaven and Hell are run like businesses, complete with sexy secretaries and anally-retentive bosses.

What was the most difficult thing about writing this book? 

The hardest part was transitioning Ben’s character from thinking that the world was normal, to believing that Verla was who she said she was – and bringing the reader along with it. I wrote and rewrote those scenes several times.

Last House BurningWhat was your favorite or chapter/ scene to write? 

My favourite chapter to write was Saturday Night at the Emerald Club. I’ve always been fascinated with Prohibition and the 20s in general, and I had so much fun bringing a dodgy Chicago speakeasy to life.

Is there a message you want your audience to take away from this novel?

I’d like people to question the reality that they’ve been presented with. Nothing in the book is true, and maybe other things in life aren’t necessarily what we think they are either.

What actor/ actress would you choose to play Verla and Ben?

I’d love Lily Collins to play Verla, and Xavier Samuel to play Ben. Can I cast one extra character? I’d get Lance Gross to play Jamie.

          Verla                       Ben                        Jaime

lily collins   Xavier Samuel  Lance Gross

 

On Writing:

Which authors inspire(d) you?

Terry Pratchett, Roald Dahl, John Steinbeck and Marian Keyes.

What are you currently reading?

I’ve just finished Good Omens by Terry Pratchett and Neil Gaiman, and goddamn I wish I could write like that.

Do you have a specific time of day you prefer to write? 

Yes – nighttime. If I didn’t have a day job, I’d write all night.

Plotter or Panster?

A plotter all the way. I’ve tried being a pantser, and I end up with stories that go nowhere.

Do you have advice for getting past Writer’s Block?

Yes – switch to the next scene and write down some notes for it. It doesn’t matter how rubbish they are. If you can, scribble down a few lines of dialogue as well. Then some more notes, then some more dialogue. Don’t stress about getting it right – just get something down.

What project are you working on now? 

I’m writing the second novel in a chick lit trilogy. I’ve already finished the first, and I love it. It’s a massive departure from urban fantasy, but I’m having so much fun. Watch this space!

Interview with David Estes, author of Slip

Slip_newWhat was the inspiration for Slip?

First off, thanks so much for having me on your awesome blog, Kris!

There were two major inspirations for SLIP. First, I really wanted to make this book all about family. It’s a story of one family’s struggle against great odds, regardless of whether they live today or far into the future. In this case, they live in a future where they face many challenges.

Second, I wanted the book to highlight and consider a major issue we face today: overpopulation. The world is only so big and many of our resources are of a finite nature. And yet each and every day we see the global population grow higher and higher. It’s not sustainable. But what’s the solution? SLIP highlights one potential way of dealing with the problem, but I’ll let you decide whether it’s the right one.

Can you describe the process of world building for this book? 

This world was a whole lot of fun to build. Because it’s set very far into the future, the potential for technological advancements were endless. There were some obvious ones, like automatically driving cars and retinal scans, and some less obvious ones, like floating holographic 3-d ads that tailor themselves to any pedestrians they come in contact with. All in all,  the technology and scifi aspects allowed my imagination to run wild and create a world that will come alive  on the pages and in the minds of my readers.

What was the most difficult thing about writing Slip?

Structure. My beta readers were somewhat mixed in regards to the structure of the book, which is unusual. Most of the time my team of ten betas are on exactly the same page, which makes it easy to address issues and correct them. But in this case, they were split pretty evenly on where the book should start. Half of them wanted it to start with the main character as a teenager (classic YA) and the other half liked my original idea which was to begin the story with the main character as a child, and they show how he grew up. In the end, I went with the second option, which I think is a more unique take on things and allows me to build up the world from a child’s eyes, which is cool and challenging at the same time. Then later you can see how much the character changes from childhood to teenager.

What was your favorite or chapter/ scene to write?

My favorite scene was when the main character finally leaves home to make his own way in the world. Imagine being a child who has never really left his own house, because the world is too dangerous for him. The world would feel like an alien planet to him. There was tons of emotion boiled into such a short scene that I felt myself getting overwhelmed even as I wrote it. That’s when writers are at their best.

Is there a message you want your audience to take away from Slip?

I always like there to be subtle messages in my books, and this one more than most. I want readers to see that even in the worst circumstances, a family has the chance to support each other and pull through it. Tragedies happen, but we can rise above and seek a better future.

Author Photo - David EstesWhich authors inspire(d) you?

Dean Koontz, Patrick Ness, Neal Shusterman, Veronica Roth…there are so many awesome authors I look up to. But these four in particular have inspired me to take my craft to the next level.

What are you currently reading?

I just finished The Girl of Fire and Thorns by Rae Carson, which was AMAZING! Highly recommend. And now I’m reading BZRK by Michael Grant, which is really different so far. Not sure about it yet! But I loved his GONE series, so I’m hoping to enjoy this one too.

Do you have a specific time of day you prefer to write?

Yes! I’m a morning writer, and you’ll almost always find me churning out my 3,000-words-per-day goal between 9 and 12 in the morning. That way I can spend my afternoons hanging out with my wife, Adele. We live in Hawaii, so we usually wander over to the beach to go for a swim or read a good book in the sand.

Do you have advice for getting past Writer’s Block? 

Hmm, well I’m fortunate that I rarely get writer’s block, but for me the only way I can bounce back from it is to get down to the bare bones of the emotion of whatever story I’m writing. I need to feel some of the emotion in the story so that I CARE about it as much as I hope my readers will. This usually requires me to skip ahead and write one of the more tumultuous and emotional scenes I have planned. It also helps if I listen to a song that brings out the same emotions I’m hoping to translate into words. I’m a very emotional writer, and I quickly lose interest if I’m not connecting with my characters.

What project are you working on now?

Great question! Well, my agent and I are in the process of pitching my new YA post-apocalyptic witch book, BREW, to publishers. I’ve also just finished the sequel to BREW, called BOIL, so I’m working on revising that one. And next I’ll be writing the sequel to SLIP, which is called GRIP. I expect to release GRIP later this year. So, as usual, I’m busy busy busy, loving my new career as a fulltime author. It’s a dream come true!

Thanks so much for all the great questions, Kris! I hope you and your members enjoy SLIP!

#MustRead: Shade by Cody Stuart

Shade banner

Shade

Clendon Kiernan has always preferred the shadows. A place where he was free from the hate and fear, from the stares and ridicule of others. One night Clen discovers the shocking truth of why. He is a Shade. A thing of darkness. A creature with the ability to shred souls. When a vile whisper tells him to destroy everything around him Clen does the only thing he can.

But he cannot run from himself. The darkness growing inside Clen will soon consume him if he does not learn to control it. In his quest to do so, Clen learns that there is an entire world that exists in the shadows of Ellis, a world that has been hidden from him – secret clans with extraordinary abilities, the ghosts of a hidden past, and a war that’s been brewing for millennia. Clen must uncover the true history of Ellis, see through the generations of lies and deceit, and suffer betrayal and heartbreak if he is to save all those who hate and fear him. But when he learns the truth, will he want to?

The darkness in him could save Ellis. Or it could be what destroys it.

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$25 amazon gift card combined with a swag package.

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buy

Amazon * Midnight Frost Books * SmashwordsBookstrand

review1Shade is a very well written paranormal thriller about a teenage boy, his dysfunctional family, paranormal enemies, and ancient mysteries.  Clem is an extraordinary guy at odds with the people around him; he also struggles with his own identity.  Clem learns that he is a Shade –  a powerful force with the ability to kill and destroys souls – and he fights against this power as best he can.  While resisting his duties as a Shade, he learns that he is the best weapon to destroy

 

author

Cody StewartCody was born in Upstate New York. Eventually setting off to seek his fortune, he worked in a paper mill, a whipped cream factory, cleaned apartments, and administratively assisted several organizations before returning to the Adirondacks with a wife and child that he picked up along the way.

He approaches life as though it were a page – frequently rearranging paragraphs to make it more interesting if not wholly true, fudging with the margins to fit more in, and, sometimes, erasing entire sections altogether.

When not altering reality, he is scouring comic book shops, lying on the ground, or floor (whichever he happens to be standing on when he feels the need to go horizontal), trying to convince his wife to make french toast (she makes amazing french toast), and searching for the darkest cup of coffee in existence.

Website: http://codybstewart.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/cody_b_stewart

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/cody.stewart.3705

 

excerpt

Chapter 1
It lives in the cramped spaces between shadows in the rear-right side of my brain, just
behind my ear. It wanders relentlessly, scratching along the pink, fleshy walls of my mind with
its unkempt fingernails, shouting obscenities at other thoughts as they travel across lobes and
cortices. It vomits poison and corrupts my mind with whispers of death. It reminds me how his
blood felt running down the back of my hands. How my knuckles tore as they raked across his
cheekbones. How his tooth cracked loose from his gums, and the muffled gargle as he choked on
it. It laughs and calls me a coward for running away.
The wind rustles through the pines, dances into my ears, and carries the vile voice away.
It’s quiet here. My thoughts are my own.
The fire pops, and a fleet of sparks takes flight, dancing across the night sky. Fireflies
follow suit, taking the initiative to investigate the imposters. I readjust a log when the fire dims.
It roars to life again and illuminates the decayed insides of the cabin around me. The wooden
frame has long since rotted. The stone floor and sections of the wall are the only signs that this
was once a structure of some sort.
Muren, my Norwegian Elkhound, refuses to step through the threshold of these ruins,
insisting instead on patrolling the perimeter.
I lie back, using my sweatshirt as a pillow, and watch for hours as the flames dance like
springtime wildflowers until their petals wilt and fall and all burns to ash. The sun peeks over the
treetops and reaches through the canopy with pale fingers of morning light just as the last ember
dwindles.
Time to go home.
Birds chime in the new day like church bells, but I still feel heavy with the burdens of
yesterday. The walk back is a habit now, following the trail worn by my feet alone. This is a
thick part of the mountain, made thicker with countless stories and a dark reputation. Few dare
walk it.
Dad sits on the front porch sipping his coffee when I step out of the forest and into the
yard. He doesn’t look up from the ground as I come near, doesn’t shift or show any signs of
surprise or anger. “Get inside and get washed up. You’ve got an appointment with Dr. Hague
before school.”My parents think I’m crazy. Everyone thinks I’m crazy. It’s hard to blame them, though.
I kind of am.
***
The chemical stink of artificial lavender burns my sinuses. It’s meant to foster calm and
encourage me to share openly, but I can’t get the taste of it off my tongue.
“What makes you say that, Clen?” Dr. Hague’s voice has padded walls. “What makes
you think people fear you?”
The quiver in their lips as they ask me stupid questions. “I don’t know. Just a feeling, I
guess.”
“Is that why you run away?”
“I don’t run away. I just need to take breaks sometimes.”
“Breaks from what?”
I stare out the window at the passing school buses and laughing kids with books tucked
under their arms. Packs of them, like roving bands of scavenging coyotes.
Dr. Hague, the school psychologist, observes me like an anthropologist studying apes in
the jungle. He wants to ask me about the fight with Jefferson Hewlett, but he doesn’t bother. I’ve
been seeing him long enough that he knows I won’t talk about it so soon.
“How are things at home?” Dr. Hague attempts a change in direction. He’s trying to
throw me off guard.
“Fine.” But I have an impeccable defense.
“How did your parents react this time?”
“The same.”
“How does that make you feel? That you can run into the woods, disappear for days, and
your parents welcome you back as if nothing happened?” His stare is forceful and constant. I
sink under the weight of it.
“I need to get to class.”
I wash my face as soon as the session is over, trying to scrub away the smell of therapy
before school.
***I stand still and invisible in the dull, gray hallways as the horde of apes and coyotes
bustles past. They pick fleas out of each other’s hair and nip at each other’s heels. I stand on the
periphery, hoping they all just pass me by.
One of them veers off course, working his way through the packs straight toward me. He
towers above the rest, the tallest sophomore in school. He’s broad and blond and has a permanent
glint of mischief in his grayish-blue eyes.
“You’re going, right? I know you have this mysterious loner persona that you love to
project, but this party is going to be epic.”
Oliver Niels seems to be the only one who’s never felt the need to run from me or throw
things at the back of my head. He’s been my sole friend since second grade.
“I’m not feeling it tonight, Ollie.”
“You’re never feeling it, Clen. I think you were born without whatever part of your brain
actually feels it. Or maybe, I saw this special on the Discovery Channel once about a guy who
got in this serious accident, banged his head real bad, and all of sudden spoke in a British accent.
You ever experience any head trauma? Seriously, if I wasn’t your friend, you’d never come off
the mountain. You’d be a hermit, grow a huge, gross beard and eat squirrel stew. There’d be
legends about you. The Hermit of Mount Bannir – died sad and alone with squirrel on his
breath.”
Ollie’s voice fades away like a passing echo when I have to venture into the horde to get
to class. Cologne and scented body lotions coat my nostrils, and my throat closes from the
olfactory assault. The chatter grows to an indecipherable roar of voices that crashes down around
me like a relentless wave. Ollie’s voice sounds far away, like he’s yelling at me from the beach
as I’m dragged out to sea.
A thick mane of black hair slaps me in the face as it passes. The sweet, natural smell of it
lingers. I meet one set of eyes among the hundreds swarming like bees around me. As pure and
green as the first leaves of spring. The deafening roar dulls to gentle whisper.
Temporarily blinded by the rare shimmer of beauty among the streaked linoleum and
concrete walls, I crash into Silas Conroy, my forehead bloodying his lower lip.
“The hell, Kiernan! You looking to get dead?” Silas snarls like a rabid dog, tagging the
wall with red graffiti. His black hair is shaved on the sides, giving him a short Mohawk. His left
ear is mostly missing, just bits of jagged scar tissue. His eyes are dark and shallow.Something hisses in the base of my skull. It’s a cold tickle, a drop of ice water that flows
down the length of my spine. But it’s still quiet enough that I can ignore it.
“Easy, Silas.” Ollie steps forward to shield me as I pick up my books. “It was an
accident.”
“Protecting him is an accident, Niels. You should side with your own people.”
“You aren’t any kind of people I would claim as my own.”
“I still owe you big for what you did to Jefferson,” Silas snarls at me. “Your bodyguard
won’t always be around to protect you, Kiernan.” He cackles like a hyena as he saunters off.
Ollie lifts me off the floor like he always does.
The beautiful green eyes disappear among the horde.
***
Lunch is a wretched ordeal as usual. I slide my tray along the counter, the lunch ladies
looking on like hair-netted prison guards. They heap scorn on my plate, piled high atop a
mountain of gritty mashed potatoes.
Kids stack their books in empty seats as I pass. I know I’m not welcome at any of their
tables. They all know I’d never dare attempt to be in their company, but they do it anyway, every
day, just to make it painfully clear. There’s a small table in the back corner, by the garbage cans
and emergency exit. It smells and the bitter wind howls through the doors in the winter. That’s
where I sit.
I eat fast so I can leave before the rest. If I’m here when they scrape their plates, I’m
likely to end up with creamed corn all over the front of me. The lunch monitors herd us out the
side doors to the athletic field to mill about for a mandatory twenty five minutes of fresh air. I
shove my hands in my sweatshirt pockets and head straight for the tree by the road. I sit in its
shadow, hidden from the late spring sun and the spiteful sneers of my peers.
The crowd immediately divides in two. Half of the field is black hoodies, gauged ears,
and work boots – kids from the Pines. The other half is skinny jeans, nice watches, and gelled
hair – kids from the Village. They’ve hated each other for as long as I can remember. Not just
the kids either. Everyone. I don’t live in either neighborhood, which only means I’m equally
hated by both.
Dr. Hague is on monitoring duty today. He wanders down the center of the field,
scratching his chin and nodding. He starts for me, knowing I spend this time under my tree and not among my peers as he prescribed, but thankfully, thinks better of it. Being seen with the
school shrink would do nothing to improve matters. Instead he makes for a tight circle of kids on
the Pines side of the field emanating the faint smell of cigarette smoke.
As I watch him scold and lecture, a rock hits my shoe. I don’t need to look up to know
who it is.
“What do you want, Silas?”
“You’ve got debts, Kiernan. First, you lose it on Jefferson. The kid damn near choked on
his own tooth. Then you bloody my lip because you’re too stupid to watch where you’re going.
Time to settle. And Ollie ain’t here to save you.”
“Leave me alone.”
“No, I don’t think I’m gonna do that.” Silas grabs me by the collar and rips me from the
pleasant shadow.
The whisper in my head becomes a harsh cry, demanding that I retaliate. I try to take
steady, even breaths, to keep my heart beating a normal rhythm. Dr. Hague said that will keep
me calm. Then my feet leave the ground, and I’m weightless for half a second before crashing
back to earth. All my calming breath is forced from my lungs. The harsh cry becomes a vicious
growl.
A circle quickly forms around us. Kids from the Pines and the Village alike gather to
watch my humiliation. I’m the great unifier.
Pressure builds behind my eyes. Dr. Hague says I just need to concentrate. I can’t let it
control me.
“What? You aren’t gonna go all ape nuts on me like you did Jefferson?”
“You’ve got anger issues, Silas. I know a good shrink who could help you out with that.”
Silas cocks his arm back, ready to split my skull with a wicked punch.
“Enough,” a commanding voice orders. Dr. Hague pushes his way through the circle.
“Everyone inside now! Silas, to the principal’s office. Clen.” He shakes his head, sad and
disappointed. “Get to class.”
***
I’m the only passenger on my bus. The school repurposed a utility van specifically for
me. Kids point and chuckle when I get on, but their voices die when the door closes. The drive is
quiet.I stare mindlessly out the window as we drive through town. Ellis is a boring, little hole
in the world carved out of mountain and forest. It’s bordered in the north by the Tear of Heaven,
a massive glacial lake, and surrounded on the other three sides by the Moreau Mountains. Town
is divided in half by the River Skye, which flows from the Tear of Heaven all the way down to
Hudson City – Lakeside Village on the east, everything else on the west.
The engine groans and sputters as we climb Mount Bannir. Sal, the bulbous driver who
smells of beef jerky, curses his misfortune at drawing the short straw of school bus routes. He
pulls to a stop at the end of my driveway, a dirt road that seems to have no end. It twists and
turns until it is swallowed by the dark of the dense forest. Sal won’t drive in there. He dismisses
me with a guttural grunt.
I’m thankful for the walk. The forest swallows the light and, with it, all the anxiety that’s
built up in the back of my mind over the course of the day.
“How was therapy?” Mom asks as she slides dinner in the oven. Dad suddenly shifts
uncomfortably and hides his head in the fridge.
“Fine.”
Mom stiffens. Her hands become tightly clenched fists inside her oven mitts. “That’s all
I’m ever going to get from you, isn’t it?”
“I need to take a shower.”
“Safe to say you’re grounded,” Mom calls as I walk away.
“Fine.” I set my bag in my room, gather some clean clothes and make for the bathroom. I
stop at the top of the stairs when I hear the hushed whispers.
“We can’t keep doing this, Clark.” Mom’s frantic, on the verge of either yelling or
crying. “He was gone for two days. Sleeping out in the woods somewhere. We had no way of
knowing whether he was even alive or not.”
“Muren was with him. He was fine, Sarah.”
“He is not fine. He attacked somebody. And we just send him off to that doctor like it’s
going to fix something. This is not a problem Dr. Hague can fix.”
“We don’t have any other choice.”
“Yes, we do,” Mom snaps. “If you would just talk to him, tell him…”
“No,” Dad declares curtly. “We made a decision. We need to stick to it.”
Mom’s feet pound angrily on the floor as she storms off. Dad curses under his breath.***
My parents are in bed early. The tense night of passive-aggressive scowling and openly
aggressive yelling must have tired them out.
I cautiously open my bedroom window and scale down the pine tree next to the house.
Ollie is waiting for me at the end of my driveway.
“Well, look at you,” he says as I climb in the passenger seat. “You showered and even
brushed your hair. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were looking forward to this.”
“You don’t know any better. I couldn’t be looking forward to this any less.”
“Don’t be such a sad, old man. You might as well slip on some loafers and a sweater
vest, talking like that. Read a romance novel. Eat a sleeve of saltines. I know deep down
somewhere in that dark pit of despair you call a soul there is a tiny flickering light. And do you
know what that light is?”
I immediately regret getting in Ollie’s car. “No, nor do I care.”
“Youthful exuberance. Passion. A desire to grab life by its delicates and howl at the
moon.”
“I’m not grabbing anything by its delicates.”
“I’m talking about living!” Ollie throws his arms toward the sky in an exaggerated,
theatrical gesture. “Tonight you’re going to do some living. You’re going to talk to pretty girls,
maybe tip some things over. You’re going to act reckless and swear and yell and at no point in
the night will you use the word nor. You’re going to act like a real sixteen year old, not the
angst-ridden, chiseled jaws you see on the CW. We’re going to the Raveyard.”
The Raveyard is a local legend. One of the original settlers of Ellis, Abigail Moreau,
lived alone, in the mountains. One year, crops failed, livestock disappeared, houses burned
down, and people dropped dead for no apparent reason. The townspeople accused her of
witchcraft. They marched up there in true angry-mob fashion, pitchforks and torches in hand,
and killed her. They named the mountain range after her. It was the least they could do, I
suppose. Now she’s said to haunt Ellis, looking to exact her ghostly revenge. The Raveyard is a
large clearing in the woods where Abigail was said to bury her victims. Now it’s a place to party.
“Whatever.” I hunch down in my seat and pull my hood over my head. Let’s just get this
night over with.”
“That’s the spirit.”The Raveyard is only a few minutes away from my house, in the foothills of Mount
Bannir. Ollie turns down an old logging trail that empties into the large clearing, slowing to a
crawl as his car jostles over roots and rocks and holes in the ground. I take one long, deep breath,
like it’s my last taste of air before diving deep to the ocean floor, and get out of the car. The
infinite weight of the sea presses down on me. I cling close to Ollie. He’s my only lifeline, my
only source of oxygen while navigating the dark trenches so far below.
The heat of their stares pales that of the raging bonfire. The salty sea water is like acid on
the burns. I’m so distracted by the pain that I don’t notice the riptide until I’m already caught up
in it. I reach back for Ollie, but he’s pulled in a different direction, one with straight black hair,
eyes that smile and skin like the failing light of morning. I’m churned and battered against a/the
craggy shore as the sharks circle round. My lungs burn and scream. My head fills with plankton
and algae that feed off the soft tissue of my brain. I’m spit out the other side, gasping and broken.
I collapse against a tree and cling to it, desperate for a new lifeline. The smell of the
smoke, pine, and birch fill my nose. The crackle of the kindling as it splits and burns rings like a
song in my ears. I run my hands across the rough bark, tracing each crack with my fingers. Its
sap sticks in the hair on my knuckles. I picture the perfect green eyes that passed too quickly.
Eventually, the sound of voices fades away. The stink of cologne and anxiety disappears. The
world disappears.
“Are you sleeping? We’ve been here, like, ten minutes and you’re sleeping against a tree.
Have you even tipped anything over yet?”
“Ollie, can we just…” As I slowly open my eyes, reluctant to let the world back in, I see
that he isn’t alone. The girl that pulled him to a different shore smiles kindly, her soft, dark eyes
beaming from behind her raven bangs.
“This is Suzume Akamura,” Ollie declares with an oafish smile. “Su, this is Clendon
Kiernan.”
“Hey,” I choke out, recognizing her from school. She’s a freshman.
“Hi.” Her voice is smooth and steady. “How’s it going?”
“Umm, good?” I reply, cautious and confused. Ollie glares at me, silently demanding I be
cool.Su fidgets with her hands. “I’ll be right back. I need to let my friends know where I am.”
She disappears around the other side of the fire, her steps gaining more confidence the further
away from me she gets.
Ollie pinches the bridge of his nose and shakes his head in exasperation. “Could you be
any more awkward? It only takes you two words to send someone scurrying away. You’ve talked
to other people beside me before, right?”
“She’s from the Village. I thought you kids from the Pines weren’t allowed to talk to
them.”
“I can talk to whoever I want.”
“Hey, it’s your feud. I just don’t want to go out like Mercutio.”
“Who?”
“Romeo’s best friend. Got killed because of the Capulet-Montague feud? We read it last
year in English.”
Ollie shrugs.
“How do you pass classes?”
“Charm.”
A familiar raven-haired boy marches toward us from the edge of the Raveyard. He’s thin
and wiry. He’s a junior, I think. His dark eyes are like empty holes in his head.
“Where is she?” he demands. “Where is Su?”
I lean in close to Ollie’s ear so only he can hear me. “See? This is what I’m talking about.
I’m not dueling anyone.”
“Hey, Yori. Su is around somewhere.” Ollie scans the crowd with his hand to his brow,
like a sailor taking stock of the sea.
“Stay away from my sister, Niels.” Yori doesn’t seem to mind that he barely comes up to
Ollie’s shoulder. He puffs out his chest and huffs authoritatively.
Ollie leans back casually with his hands tucked in his pockets, impressively letting Yori’s
obnoxious commands roll off him. Others aren’t so passive.
“Problem?” Brian Till, a boy from the Pines, steps forward. Till rivals Ollie in size, but
has none of his restraint.
“None of your business,” Yori spits.“I think it is,” Till growls and crosses his arms, threateningly flexing every muscle he
can.
Others gather around, anticipating bloodied knuckles and broken faces. The crowd erupts,
hurling curses and insults like monkeys with their own feces.
The capillaries in my eyes pulse with steadily building intensity. The pressure pushes
outward on the fissures in my skull. The rumbling voices bleed together and fade away. The
hateful whisper in my head is the only sound in the world.
I hum a song to drown it out, but it devours the music like a rabid dog. I try to push it out
my ears, scrape it off my tongue, swallow and digest it. But it won’t quiet. I step back from the
crowd and dissolve in the darkness at the edge of the forest. It wraps around me like a snug
blanket. I run and let my feet take me where they want to go.
The whisper soon quiets, and I hear the crickets and cicadas and the crunch of the ground
beneath me. The soft plodding of my feet on dirt and leaves turns to the course grinding of
crushed stone. I’ve stepped into another clearing. My stomach tightens and twists in knots, and
the hairs stand up on the back of my neck as a cold shiver runs down my spine. A haunting and
familiar feeling creeps over me, like a wave of spiders. The core of me goes cold. Every breeze
is a whisper telling me to leave. Every little noise is the ground telling me it doesn’t want me
here.
The moon creeps out from behind some clouds, illuminating the jagged tree line at the far
end of the clearing to show that it’s not trees at all. It is the charred husk of an old house. The
roof has collapsed. Only small sections of the walls are still standing. Everything inside is cinder
and ash.
“Clen? Where’d you go?” Ollie calls from behind me. “Sorry about this,” he says quietly
to someone else. “I think he’s got a touch of Social Anxiety Disorder or something.”
“Sorry about my brother,” Su replies. “He’s a jerk.”
They stumble out of the forest. Yori follows close after, still making demands.
There’s something strange about this place – something both comforting and terrifying at
once. My brain is adrift in a pool of déjà vu. It feels like I exist in two worlds at the same time,
and, with each blink of my eyes, I am transported from one to the other. I am standing in an eerie
clearing in the middle of the woods, terrified out of my mind. Blink. I’m playing at a home I
know well, comfortable and safe. Blink. I exchange unpleasant, untrusting looks with people I’ve just met. Blink. I’m surrounded by friends as close as family. Blink. Darkness. Everything is
covered in darkness and fear. Blink. The fear swims in their eyes, now just black, empty orbs.
Blink. Emptiness.
I flash from one world to the other so fast that I lose track of which one is real, which one
is mine.
Like there’s a rope tied around my insides, I’m pulled toward the house. The icy feeling
in the center of my chest spreads throughout the rest of my body, chilling my blood and bones to
the marrow. I stumble a few yards from the wreckage, tripping over an unseen object. A
Nintendo DS. I pick it up, and a current of electricity shoots up my arm. My muscles spasm, and
a vivid scene of anguish flashes through my mind like a bolt of lightning.
The world around me changes. The house is whole again. A young boy stands in front of
it. Veins pulse violently in his neck as he screams from the very pit of his soul. Tears stream
down his cheeks, but evaporate before they reach his chin. Then the world erupts in fire, and ash
blots out the sun. The boy disappears, swallowed in flame. As the world I know returns, I find
myself screaming for the boy, reaching out for him.
Ollie rushes to my side, again offering a hand to lift me off the ground. “He’s freaking
out. We need to get out of here.”
The fires burn hotter behind my eyes.
“No,” Yori says. “We need to get out of here. You two need to stay away from us. He’s
clearly insane, and I don’t trust you.”
Hot flames dance on my skin and smoke fills my lungs. The smell of blistering flesh sets
acid churning in my stomach.
I feel death in the air. Cold. Absolute. It’s inside me, scratching at the lining of my
stomach, clawing its way out. The beating inside my skull grows faster and stronger, like a dozen
horses racing around a track, feet and hearts pounding. They round the last turn. Their muscles
explode like gunfire. Pound, pound, pound. The animal sounds mix in a chaotic symphony of
noise and agony that crescendos as they reach the finish line. Pound, pound, pound.
It whispers in my head. A vile hiss from a wretched little snake.
Kill them.

The Ruby Rose Series by Jessie Humphries

Today I’m featuring an amazing series from Skyscape/Amazon author, Jessie Humphries. The Ruby Rose series is a young adult thriller/mystery, and has two titles: KILLING RUBY ROSE (May, 2014) and RESISTING RUBY ROSE, which just released on October 28.

About KILLING RUBY ROSE: In sunny southern California, Ruby Rose is known for her killer looks and her killer SAT scores. But ever since her dad, an LAPD SWAT sergeant, died six months ago, she’s also got a few killer secrets.

To cope with her father’s death, Ruby has been trying to stay focused on school (the top spot in her class is on the line) and spending time with friends (her Jimmy Choos and Mahnolo Blahniks are nothing if not loyal), but after months of therapy and more than a few months of pathetic parenting by her mom, District Attorney Jane Rose, Ruby decides to pick up where her dad left off and starts going after the bad guys herself.

But when Ruby ends up killing a murderer in defense of another, she discovers that she’s gone from being the huntress to the hunted. There’s a sick mastermind at play, and he has Ruby in his sights. Ruby must discover who’s using her to implement twisted justice before she ends up changing Valentino red for prison orange.

With a gun named Smith, a talent for martial arts, and a boyfriend with eyes to die for, Ruby is ready to face the worst. And if a girl’s forced to kill, won’t the guilt sit more easily in a pair of Prada peep-toe pumps?

About RESISTING RUBY ROSE: Still reeling from the heartbreaking events that unfolded on Grissom Island, Ruby Rose is trying to come to terms with the fact that she’s gone from a vigilante in killer shoes to a stone-cold killer. Everyone from her therapist to her smoking-hot boyfriend keeps trying to convince her that she hasn’t crossed over to the dark side, but Ruby isn’t so sure. It doesn’t help that her nemesis, Detective “Mastermind” Martinez, is still out there, waiting for another chance to take her down.

When an alleged CIA agent named Skryker shows up and asks for a meeting, Ruby figures it just means more questions about her case. But he has information of an entirely different nature and a job offer: join an elite force of young assassins, including Skryker’s right-hand guy, Quinn Donovan. Quinn is distractingly charming, handsome—and deadly. Ruby resists becoming a killer again, but as she becomes more ensnared in a web of deceit, no one around her is safe.

About Jessie Humphries: Jessie Humphries was born and raised in Las Vegas, NV. She received a BA from San Diego State University, where she cultivated her love of the beach, then lived in France, where she cultivated her weakness for shoes, and finally earned a law degree from UNLV, where she cultivated her interest in justice. After practicing law for several years she began writing, and, appropriately, her debut novel Killing Ruby Rose is a thriller about vigilante justice set in sunny southern California with a shoe-obsessed protagonist. Jessie currently writes and practices law in Las Vegas, where she lives with her husband and children.

Find Jessie Online!
Website | Blog | Twitter | YouTube | Facebook | Tumblr | Goodreads

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Fiction: A Radicle Idea

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I recently shared that I am trying my new Writer hat on for size.  There is a certain story I want to tell, but I don’t quite know how it goes just yet.  It has taken me a while to realize that not only is this okay, it’s expected.  The vast majority of novels begin as a hazy image that swells into a specific idea – much like how an ordinary seed becomes a magnificent plant.
When you plant a seed, the very first part of the plant to emerge is called the radicle.  It’s what makes a seed a seedling, because it is proof that water absorption was successful.  The radicle is the plant’s first root, and it grows downward in the soil to gather more water for the the plant-to-be.  The very existence of the plant depends on the radicle’s journey.  Botanists classify this root as an organ because it anchors the entire seedling and all future roots grow from it.
The radicle of my story idea is a one sentence summary of the book – 15 words or less.  Right now, my sentence is between 11 and 14 words,  and I find myself at a crossroads: should one of the words be “magical” or not.  The inclusion or omission of this word seriously alters the DNA of the story – is it based in real life or is it other worldly?  If I’m being honest, I am unsure if the parameters of reality will be more helpful than the paranormal “anything is possible” on my first time crafting a story.  As my book’s radicle lengthens and brings nutrients back to home base/ mission control, I am confident the genre of book I will write will reveal itself… as always, prayers are welcome!  =)

 

The Empress Chronicles by Suzy Vitello

The Empress Chronicles

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In this dazzling first book in the EMPRESS CHRONICLES series by the author of THE MOMENT BEFORE, one courageous girl seeks keys to the past to unlock the future…

When city girl Liz is banished to a
rural goat farm on the outskirts of Portland, the 15-year-old feels her life spiraling out of control. She can’t connect to her father or his young girlfriend, and past trauma adds to her sense of upheaval. The only person who seems to keep her sane is a troubled boy who is fighting his own demons. But all of this changes in one historical instant.

*

One-hundred fifty years earlier, Elisabeth of Bavaria has troubles of her own. Her childhood is coming to a crashing end, and her destiny is written in the form of a soothsaying locket that has the ability to predict true love. But evil is afoot in the form of a wicked enchantress who connives to wield the power of the locket for her own destructive ends.

*

When Liz finds a timeworn diary, and within it a locket, she discovers the secrets and desires of the young Bavarian princess who will one day grow up to be the legendary Empress of Austria. It is in the pages of the diary that these two heroines will meet, and it is through their interwoven story that Liz will discover she has the power to rewrite history—including her own…

Readers of books like Rachel Harris’s MY SUPER SWEET SIXTEENTH CENTURY will love THE EMPRESS CHRONICLES

About The Author

Suzy Vitello is a proud founding member of a critique group recently dubbed The Hottest Writing Group in Portland, and her short stories have won fellowships and prizes (including the Atlantic Monthly Student Writing Award, and an Oregon Literary Arts Fellowship).

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/suzyvitello

website: http://www.suzyvitello.com/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/SuzyVitelloBooks

Twitter: @suzy_vitello

Putting on My Writer Hat

writer_hat-rf51ee7016db941f989a33eaf9e1332c0_v9wfy_8byvr_324Like most humans (especially the female ones), I wear many hats in life. Wife. Mother. Daughter. Friend,  Employee. Volunteer. Blogger.  For about a year, I have flirted with the idea of putting on the Writer hat – I have always wanted one, actually.

A tiny book idea is being coaxed into the open where it can mature.   I have incredible friends and family in my corner, and I sincerely appreciate what they have done to encourage me to date.  I can only imagine the gratitude I will express when I sit to write the Acknowledgements part of this book. If all goes well, others beyond my team of supporters will read it.

As this project unfolds, I will be dialing back the number of reviews on this blog… one of the reasons I have not put on my writer hat sooner was because of previous commitments.  I have been a reading fool all year, and  I LOVE getting books from friends, agents and publishers in exchange for honest reviews.  I look forward to getting back to that in the new year.  Until then, I will continue to participate in promo posts, excerpts, guest posts, interviews and author spotlights when possible. From time to time, I will post my thoughts on this writing journey as I make my way from here to there.

I would also like to take this opportunity to thank you for following this blog.  As of today, I have 1,480 subscribers via email, 877 likes on Facebook and 472 followers on Twitter.  I have been wearing this Blogger hat for a year and a half, and it is truly humbling to know that friends, fellow book lovers & kindred spirits  have supported this labor of love.  – kris

New Release: Queen of Someday by Sherry D. Ficklin

TOUR PIC

Before she can become Catherine The Great, fifteen-year-old Sophie will have to survive her social-climbing mother’s quest to put her on the throne of Russia—at any cost.

Imperial Court holds dangers like nothing Sophie has ever faced before. In the heart of St. Petersburg, surviving means navigating the political, romantic, and religious demands of the bitter Empress Elizabeth and her handsome, but sadistic nephew, Peter. Determined to save her impoverished family—and herself—Sophie vows to do whatever is necessary to thrive in her new surroundings. But an attempt on her life and an unexpected attraction threatens to derail her plans.

Alone in a new and dangerous world, learning who to trust and who to charm may mean the difference between becoming queen and being sent home in shame to marry her lecherous uncle. With traitors and murderers lurking around every corner, her very life hangs in the balance. Betrothed to one man but falling in love with another, Sophie will need to decide how much she’s willing to sacrifice in order to become the empress she is destined to be.

In a battle for the soul of a nation, will love or destiny reign supreme?

Queen of Someday by Sherry D. Ficklin won’t be your average young adult book. No, this book will have something extra special within it. Queen of Someday will be enhanced with embedded videos throughout the story. These videos will give you behind the scenes looks into the life of Catherine the Great, as well as author commentary. Enhance your reading experience with this new enhanced young adult book! Enhanced e-books are fairly new, and Clean Teen Publishing is excited to be able to offer one to you!
*Please note that on many reading devices may not be able to show enhanced content. In this case, you will be able to follow a digital link that is embedded within the e-book to view each video online. Currently the best reading platform for enhanced e-books is iBooks. However, most Kindle and Nook devices will allow you to follow the link to our external secure website to view the bonus content. An internet connection is required for viewing.
GRAB YOUR COPY OF QUEEN OF SOMEDAY TODAY!


Release Day: October 7, 2014

Published by: Clean Teen Publishing

Genre: YA Historical Fiction

Series: A Stolen Empire Series


Praise for Queen of Someday:

“UGH. This book was just too perfect. How will I ever come down from this book high?”

~Kalla (Goodreads reviewer)

“If I could rate this book more than five stars, I would. It was INCREDIBLE.”

~Kelli from Beautiful Book Chaos

“Woah. This book kicked ass.”

~Leanne Bell (Goodreads reviewer)

“I don’t when the next book will be out but I can guarantee it will be too long.”

~Michelle (Goodreads reviewer)

“(This) book is utterly brilliant.”

~Pearl from Bibliopearl Reviews

“Ficklin’s writing is a marvel to read.”

~Sara from Smitten Over Books

“Queen of Someday is a bright new addition to the YA scene…”

~Bobbi (Goodreads Reviewer)

“…holy crap I loved that ending. It was perfect!”

~Eileen Lee of Book Captain Reviews

 

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A NOTE FROM THE AUTHOR:

The true story of Catherine the Great is one fraught with betrayal, intrigue, and romance. While a good deal of my story is drawn from actual people and events, I have been very liberal in the rearrangement of dates, events, and places. Whenever possible I took my cues from her own words, intermixing my own thoughts and ideas. My thought upon the creation of the book was simple. I looked at the woman she was when she claimed the crown and then wondered, how did an innocent girl from Germany become such a force of nature? Most people aren’t born cold or ambitious, but have circumstances that forge them into those people. And that was the story I wanted to tell in this book. I wanted to see the events in her early life that would have changed her into the person she became, and not knowing the truth of that story, I simply made something up. That is what we, as writers, do best.
If you are curious about the real history behind Catherine, I suggest heading to your local library and doing a bit of research. This is not meant to be a historically accurate representation, but a flight of fancy, one that I hope you, dear reader, will enjoy as much as I have.


WATCH THE OFFICIAL BOOK TRAILER:


ABOUT SHERRY D. FICKLIN


Sherry D. Ficklin is a full time writer from Colorado where she lives with her husband, four kids, two dogs, and a fluctuating number of chickens and house guests. A former military brat, she loves to travel and meet new people. She can often be found browsing her local bookstore with a large white hot chocolate in one hand and a towering stack of books in the other. That is, unless she’s on deadline at which time she, like the Loch Ness monster, is only seen in blurry photographs.
She is the author of The Gods of Fate Trilogy now available from Dragonfly Publishing. Her previously self-published novel After Burn: Military Brats has been acquired by Harlequin and will be released in 2015 with a second book in that series to follow. Her newest YA steampunk novel, EXTRACTED: The Lost Imperials book 1, co-written with Tyler H. Jolley is now available everywhere books are sold and her newest YA novel, Losing Logan, is due for release in 2014 from Clean Teen Publishing.



 

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#MustRead: The PSS Chronicles by Ripley Patton

PSS cover triptic

 

I LOVE THIS SERIES!!!  This blog is only 1.5 years old, but some of my favorite books I have shared on this site are Ghost Hand and Ghost Hold.  If you are looking for an original, action-packed, well-written paranormal adventure – this is the series for you!  Do yourself a favor and read the first two (Book 1 is FREE HERE!) & then dive into Book Three – Ghost Heart!

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There is a tour wide giveaway for the book blitz of Ghost Heart. These are the prizes you can win:
– a set of signed cover posters (US only)
– a $10 Amazon gift card (international)

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review1

Ghost Heart coverBook Three picks up where Book Two left off, and the mysteries continue as well.  Passion. Olivia and Marcus take turns telling the story, but one of my favorite chapters is the first one, where a Magic Eight Ball is swept up in a swift river current and it reports on its journey.  Awesome way to open set the scene.  Kudos to the author!

I really liked getting inside Passion’s head – she is one of my favorite characters, and her storytelling did not disappoint!  The triple POV was a great way to move the plot along while giving insight to past and current actions of all the players.  As always, I would rather be vague than risk spoilers – just know that if you enjoyed the unique world of Olivia crafted by Ms. Patton-  and all the surprises that come with it.

If you read the first two books and found them to be thrilling and addictive, you will equally enjoy this installment.  I had assumed the series was a trilogy, and it was a bittersweet surprise to know there is a Book 4 in my future.  Only bitter because I had hoped for a different ending – very sweet because I get to read more before I get there.  – kris