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Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize—one lucky winner will receive one signed book from each author on the hunt in my team!But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!
Go to the YA Scavenger Huntpage to find out all about the hunt. There are eight contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the ORANGE TEAM—but there is also a blue team, a red team, a gold team, a green team, a pink team, a purple team and a teal team for a chance to win a whole different set of signed books!
If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.
SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the blue team, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator!).
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by October 4th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
SCAVENGER HUNT POST
Today, I am hosting DEIRDRE RIORDAN HALL for the YA Scavenger Hunt! Deirdre Riordan Hall is the author of young adult and new adult fiction. When she's not writing, she's surfing or in pursuit of magic or both. She also has a healthy case of wanderlust, loves salsa, guacamole, and tortilla chips, and dreams about learning to play piano.
Not a day passes when Sugar isn't reminded that she's too much and yet not enough: from Mama who’s eating herself into an early grave, her brother Skunk whose drunken friends harass her, and everyone at school who treats her as if she’s as desirable as a piece of gum on the underside of a desk.
It's not until Even, tall, handsome, and tousle-haired, appears with a motorcycle and a dream that she begins to discover the confidence buried deep within. His plan will carry them far from the one-star town trapping them both; Sugar in a body she doesn’t want and Even in a place he doesn’t like. Bonding over loss and laughter, their growing friendship pushes out the doubt and fear, and the cookies and cake, threatening to consume her.
Just as Sugar begins to see her beauty—inside and out—, and the world beyond the forgotten corner of the state she inhabits, life becomes too heavy to bear. She must gather all her courage to fight against everything she has known to be true and refuse to settle for worthless.
[Insert whatever the content the author will send to you here. This could be a short story, or a password to a website, or a cover reveal, etc. Please check to make sure that it's formatted correctly.]
And don't forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me, hosted author's name, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 8. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the orange team and you'll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!
CONTINUE THE HUNT
To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author MERADETH HOUSTON.
In honor of Banned Books Week, I've illustrated one of my favorite Judy Blume quotes:
"Having the freedom to read and the freedom to choose is one of the best gifts my parents ever gave me."
I was lucky that way, too. My father used to take the whole family to our local public library every week, and we kids could choose whatever books we wanted. My parents never questioned my choices, and I will always be grateful to them for that trust.
Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.
Here's what's on my mind today:
YA Scavenger Hunt I'm excited to share that I'm on Team Orange for the YA Scavenger Hunt. It will run from October 1st to noon on October 4th. That means' I'll be posting on Thursday instead of Friday this week. There are tons of books to win on this hunt, so be sure to stop back on Thursday. Oh, and in case you noticed, I am on Team Orange for Our Little Secret, my new Ashelyn Drake title too. :) I'll be sharing exclusive bonus scenes told from alternate POVs, but they'll only be online during the 72-hour hunt, so don't miss out.
Editing I'll be editing for Leap this week. This is probably the fourth time I'm reading this book, which is why an editor must LOVE your book, because I'll read this at least four more times before the book is published.
Monthly Newsletter Change I've decided to release my free monthly newsletter on the first of every month instead of the first Monday of every month. The reason is that some months begin on a Tuesday and I feel like it takes to long for that first Monday to roll around. So, expect my newsletters in your inboxes on the 1st from now on. If you aren't signed up to receive my newsletter but would like to, click here.
I Wrote An Adult Novella? You know me. I say I'll never do something and then, guess what? I do it. I said I'd never write for adults. I'm a children's author. Well, I am, but I just finished a novella for a boxset last week and it's a clean adult romance. So, I guess Ashelyn Drake writes romance for teens, new adults, and adults now. ;)
Our Little Secret I want to thank everyone who has already posted a review of Our Little Secret on Amazon. Reviews are so important as far as Amazon promoting the book and placing it in the eyes of potential readers, so I really appreciate every review, whether the reader loved the book or it wasn't for them.
True confession time: I (probably) have not read your book (yet).*
Like most — hopefully all writers — I’m a big reader. I have loved books since I was a little kid, and that love for fiction compelled me to attempt writing my own. But one of the sad realities of being an author is that I can’t read as much as I want to, and not nearly as much as I should.
I say “should” because even though reading is fun and relaxing, for a long time I’ve also felt some anxiety around them. I firmly believe that to be a good writer you need to read a lot. You need to read anything and everything. And given my druthers (a phrase I’m sure I picked up from a book at a young age!), I would be reading as many books as I can. As a YA/science fiction writer, I also think I should be keeping up on what’s being published right now, participating in conversations about current books, recommending them to others.
As I become friends with other authors and/or like them from panels and their blogs and online interactions, of course I want to read their work! I especially want to help support debut authors, because those first book sales are so, so important. But, well, there are so many of you and so many books coming out every year. Every week.
Some recent estimates of the number of books being published in the United States are in the range of 300,000-400,000. What. In a busy publishing week, like last week, there are typically at least four YA books published by people I know in some capacity, and many more intriguing books that I add to my increasingly unwieldy t0-be-read list. Just keeping up with the “happy book birthday” Tweets is taking more effort than it used to! (The depressing flipside of this for authors is “Ahhh! How will my book be noticed among the 30 that are coming out on the same day? Woe is me.”)
I’m falling behind, missing out on most of the major books that people have been talking about, and I feel embarrassed. Just one example: The Martian was recommended to me repeatedly a long time ago, and it was on my list but I still haven’t read it; now the movie’s coming out, and I wish I’d gotten to it sooner. There are plenty of classics and books considered canon that I certainly should have read by now, but I’m even more ashamed about the books by good friends that I haven’t actually made time for yet. The guilt mounts when I know they’ve read my books because they’ve told me so or reviewed them. This isn’t a quid-pro-quo game, but I do want to reciprocate more when I can. Reviews are so, so important too!
There are plenty of good reasons why I haven’t been able to read everything… I waste too much time on the internet, which I’m trying to cut back on. Family life has required more of my time, what with a baby and all. Work always takes up a huge chunk of time. I’ve had some pretty tight deadlines on my books, too, and I need to do a lot of research for them to boot. I love watching movies and TV, which I make even less time for but still, that’s time I could be reading… And what about video games? I miss those!
Another “problem” is that with so many books to choose from, when I do have time to read, it’s hard to pick which to open next so I just grab the shiny new thing, and older books just get pushed further down on my list. Lately, it seems like I prioritize ARCs, because I want to read them before the real book gets published, and library books, because those come with deadlines.
Sometimes a friend or another author will apologize for not having read one of my books yet, and I wave them off.** Who am I to judge? But this only reinforces my idea that there’s some expectation that you read your friends’ books. Should I be apologizing too? Am I lying by omission? I’m more likely to simply not mention it if I haven’t read their book, but then I wonder, maybe they think I read it and didn’t like it? There’s also the hope that your friends are buying your books, and that’s where I do a little better. Chances are, I may not have read your book, but I did buy it, and that must count for something, right? Then again, with so many books coming out every week, I can’t buy or store everything, so I at least try to signal boost as much as I can.
Does anyone else feel pressured to keep up with new books? Books by people you know? If you haven’t read your friend’s latest book, do you tell them or not?
*Oh no, I’m not referring to you. Of course I’ve read your book! Duh. Loved it.
**Really, it’s okay. But feel free to post a positive review anyway
Meet Ally Moran, a 17 year-old who also happens to be psychic. Oh, and she’s getting more psychic with every passing day, so much so that she’s been sent to Ireland to check in with the Seer Council to see what’s up with her freaky new powers.
Jack Ruiz is her 19 year-old boyfriend, a former troublemaker who’s back on track and trying desperately to graduate. His plans did not include falling in love with a psychic trouble-magnet.
Last month they worked together to save a friend in deep trouble and ended up solving a school-wide mystery. But now there’s a new guy at school, Remy Giles, and he seems just a little bit too interested in Ally for Jack’s liking. And why does Ally keep dreaming about a kidnapping? Last month seems like a cakewalk compared to this semester…
Ally's trying to solve a mystery, but Jack is just trying to keep her alive.
Ally Moran and Jack Ruiz are starting their first year in college and are looking for peace and quiet for the first time in their relationship…
However, it may be too much to hope for.
First, Ally’s long-lost father shows up, making her question everything she thought she knew about her past.
Meanwhile, Rémy Giles and the mysterious Mina have accompanied Ally home from France so they can try to figure out what the newest prophecy could possibly mean.
Is Ally the next Oracle?
And if all this weren’t enough, Ally fears she is being stalked, and she appears to have a secret admirer who is sending her creepy personal messages in the college newspaper. However, no one else has seen this “supposed” stalker, so she fears she may be going crazy.
As Jack and Remy fight to keep Ally safe against the looming danger,
Ally begins to fear for the one thing she can’t bear to lose…her sanity.
"Ally was just telling me that her young man has joined the military. I think that is very noble." Kate put her arm through Rémy's and pulled him along with us deeper into the garden. "Oh, yes. Jack is all that is noble and good," Rémy said, dripping sarcasm. "He is so good that we mere mortals must bask in his virtuosity. Oww". He rubbed the arm I punched. "Now, children. You mustn't fight. Don't make me send you to your rooms," Kate teased. "We must make good use of Ally's limited time here to try and figure out what you two have to do with the prophecy. It would be so much easier and make more sense if you were destined to fall in love with each other," she sighed. I swallowed another bite of sandwich. "I really don't think prophecies should go around telling people who to fall in love with. That's not right. I didn't choose to fall in love with Jack; my heart chose him and I had to go along with it." They both stopped in the path and stared at me. "What?" I asked. "That was very beautiful, Ally. And very profound. I can see I would be wise not to underestimate you, my dear. Now," she said as she led us briskly down the path, "why have you two been brought together, if not to unite the clans through a marriage alliance?" The mere thought of marriage to Rémy made me cringe. I mean, he was gorgeous, but we would kill each other in about an hour. "You don't think we can bring the clans together any other way than marriage? That's really limiting, you know? Not to mention medieval." Rémy snickered and Kate gave him a dirty look. "Ally is correct. And far, far in the future, when I begin to look for a wife, I will require someone a good bit more biddable than Ally," he said. "Yes," I sneered. "You'll need someone who adores you nearly as much as you adore yourself." "Remind me why I went to the trouble of bringing you a sandwich?" "Children," Kate warned. "Sorry," we both murmured. "Now, we must use what little time we have for Ally's visit to try and figure out what in the world is going on with you two. We will have to run various tests..."
ORACLE, The Seeker Series #4
- SYNOPSIS -
Spending her junior year in college in France should be the adventure of a lifetime…
Too bad Ally Morans’s only doing it to keep her family and friends safe from a killer. When Mina goes missing, the illusion of safety disappears and Rémy must finally confront his feelings for her.
Jack has been patient for a year, but he can only be pushed so far before he takes matters into his own hands and flies to France to bring back the feisty red-haired psychic he loves.
Love may conquer all, but the identity of the true Oracle is still up in the air.
I tried to relax as I watched people hurry by on the busy street. A young mother pushing a stroller stopped and sat at the table next to me, motioning to the waiter for a coffee. She wilted in her chair only to sit up again and fuss with the sleeping baby’s blanket. She noticed me watching and we exchanged smiles in that universal way of women admiring a beautiful baby. I looked away and sighed. Would that ever be me? I was twenty years old, living in a foreign country, and I was lonely. Jack and I communicated every day—text, FaceTime, email, etcetera—but it wasn’t enough any more. I needed to be with him: to hold him, kiss him, live with him, and yes, sleep with him. I was ready to move on with my life, but this unresolved situation with Luc was holding me back. As if I had conjured a response with my thoughts, my phone dinged a text notification. It was from Jack and consisted of a two word response to my email:
Come home. I smiled and reached to wipe away a tear as I prepared to text him back.
“Cherié! I thought I might find you here!”
“Rémy! You’re back early!” He kissed both my cheeks before taking the chair opposite me. I noticed he and the young woman at the next table giving each other a once-over and rolled my eyes at him.
“What?” He shrugged.
“You just can’t help it, can you?” I laughed. “Flirting is like breathing with you, isn’t it?”
He shrugged again and caught Marc’s attention to order a beer. “Where’s Mina? I tried to get her on her mobile, but it went straight to voice mail.”
I cocked an eyebrow at him and smirked. “She turns it off when she needs to concentrate. I’m sure she’s at home working. Drink your beer and then we can go see her.” Although we had all improved our mental communication abilities over the past year, we had all also agreed to respect each other’s privacy to a much greater degree, only invading each other’s thoughts in the case of a true emergency, which had not happened so far this year. In fact, this year had been mostly an exercise in boredom, filled with school, training, and waiting.
- ABOUT THE AUTHOR -
Amy Reece lives in Albuquerque, NM, with her husband and family. She loves to read and travel and has an unhealthy addiction to dogs. She loves wine and friends, in that order. Stay tuned for The Stone Chronicles, coming soon.
This is the first of a series of monthly posts that theYALSA Research Committee would like to share with the YA LIS community. These posts will reflect some of the many publications that we encounter in the process of updatingYALSA's Research Bibliography for the 2013-2015 period. The emphasis of the bibliography will be LIS research, but some of these posts will also share research from other disciplines such as Education, Media, Urban Studies etc., where teens are also protagonists. Posts will briefly summarize the article and highlight some important points for LIS practice, but each of the authors will bring a different flavor. Hopefully you will find them useful to inspire and support your work and knowledge about teens!!
Mackey, Margaret. “Finding the Next Book to Read in a Universe of Bestsellers, Blockbusters, and Spin-Offs.” Academic Quarter (Akademisk Kvarter): The Academic Journal for Research from the Humanities, 7 (2013): 216-236. http://www.akademiskkvarter.hum.aau.dk/pdf/vol7/15a_MargaretMackey_Finding%20The%20Next.pdf
Respecting mass choices but not being confined to them requires walking a fine line, but it is an important space to find. (p.133)
Margaret Mackey is a Canadian scholar who has been writing about reading and literacies in a broad sense for the past 25 years. If you are familiar or enjoyed the work of Eliza Dresang, I think you might also enjoy this. Yes, this is a blatant attempt to do reader's advisory about research.
The quote that introduces this post reflects a struggle with which many librarians must contend everyday. We would like to see that important space of reading selection not only found, but also clearly occupied by libraries and librarians. In exploring how to take over this space, Mackey examines the role that bestsellers play, especially when they are becoming increasingly adapted into diverse types of media.
Before digging in, it is important to note that her analysis is framed around an important issue: if you cannot find your next book to read, you will likely become a dormant reader or a non-reader. Mackey situates her discussion with a description of the different ways that readers might choose to tackle this adaptation issue. Some prefer to read the original first (p.318). Others would rather consume reviews, people's opinions, and other paratexts (seeGray, 2010) to the point that they can feel like they have committed to a text they have not even yet read or watched. The myriad of official and unofficial booktrailers orbooktubers makes this process manageable for books, not just movies. An important topic that is just briefly mentioned is that of the effect of technology in this ocean of paratextual works, especially in the case of blockbuster franchises (for more see Rushkoff'slast Frontline documentary). It is also important to mention that the paratextual approach is intimately related to the culture of unfinish, (p.220) a contemporary phenomenon where narratives never actually end, but are kept alive in a never-ending loop of texts, including adaptations, prequels, fanfiction etc...
But let's come back to Mackey. For her analysis, she explores two texts, one clearly for youth, Diary of a Wimpy Kid, and another one which is also popular with the YA population, Fifty Shades of Grey. As case studies, she examines their similar origins and the paratextual explosion around them to exemplify the complexity (or easiness) of choosing/committing to a text in a world where, potentially, a favorite text never ends. For example,Wimpy Wonderlandwas an on-line paratext marketing the movie version of the book that was created out of the online story (p.225). This analysis makes evident the (potential) complexity of the contemporary reading experience. The following rather lengthy quote exemplifies this complexity, especially if we situate it in a discussion that would involve teen librarians:
In part, the mind-blowing numbers associated with The Wimpy Kid and Fifty Shades of Grey are a reflection of the fact that many people do not have more subtle selection skills than to read what everyone else is reading. In making this comment, I am not saying that these novels and other number 1 titles do not have something to offer to a very wide range of readers; clearly they do. But I think it is also true that many people enjoy reading bestsellers in part because they do actually like to read and a headline hitting title that is being read by all their friends and relations provides a shortcut to finding the next book that will offer genuine reading pleasure. (p.229)
Mackey points to the impact the works emerging in this culture of unfinish might have in reading practices, such as traditional understandings of intensive and extensive readings (p.230). She wraps up with a brief comment on 4 (attention, participation, collaboration, and network awareness) of 17 items for 21st literacies from Education scholarsCathy Davidson andHoward Rheingold and how these items have potential roles in a reader’s selection process. In the end, we cannot shy away from these complexities but must instead try to understand them in order to be able to find the space where we respect mass choices while also creating tools to expand the media universes of our patrons.
To keep thinking about teen media and reading, you can browse Mackey'spublications or read the recentlypublished article about Dresang's work and Harry Potter at YALSA's Journal of Research in Libraries and Young Adults.
Lucia Cedeira Serantes, Assistant Professor at Queens College (CUNY). Recent member of the YALSA Research Committee.
We are doing a special promotion through 9/15/15 to coincide with our favorite season. We’ve teamed up with a bunch of really cool kidlit authors to offer some great free and discounted eBooks. 4EYESBOOKS has discounted The Nutt Family: An Acorny Adventure on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, iBooks & Kobo. Chess Nutt and his sister Praline are always pretending to have crazy adventures. What happens when these two acorn siblings have an unexpected real life adventure on their own? Things get a little nutty!
Other books in this great promotion will be discounted from 9/11 – 9/15. Check them out HERE.
In their final summer before graduating college, three childhood friends expect an uncomplicated transition to adulthood…but learn they all still have some growing up to do. Alex Makapulo is facing a crisis of faith. Raised a Catholic, Alex is considering becoming a member of her best friend Jack Page’s church—against her family’s wishes—but she can’t quite take the final step of baptism. Jack loves Alex and doesn’t understand her hesitation, and Alex wonders if Jack’s love is a blessing or a distraction to test her religious conviction. Lori Hanson embarks on the trip of a lifetime. For her twenty-second birthday, Lori’s grandfather presents her with a summer vacation in England. While preparing for her adventure, she meets British musician Colin Watson online and quickly falls for him. They plan to hook up when she lands in London, but her grandfather forbids it. Due to complicated family dynamics, Lori must regretfully comply with his wishes, though she vows never to forgive him. Andy Taylor is looking for love in all the wrong places. When Andy runs into an old crush, she decides she wants a more meaningful relationship with sexy Miles Webber. But when she confides in Alex, her friend warns her Miles only wants her for sex. Andy becomes angry and devises a reckless plan to distract Alex’s attention from her relationship. Things don’t go quite as she expected, though, and Andy is left facing a crushing moral dilemma. As the summer unfolds, three young women learn love and faith go hand in hand, not everything is black and white, and sometimes in a fast-paced world you have to slow down, breathe a little, and find your own definition of love.
Andy: Excerpt # 1
Alex walked in carrying groceries. “Still haven’t gotten through?” She stopped in front of her and arched an eyebrow when she saw a glass on the coffee table. It was a martini glass with an olive swimming in clear liquid. “Is that what I think it is?”
Andy stifled a groan. Alex with her rules of no-alcohol in the house was backed by the equally uptight owner, Lori. She figured that with Lori gone and Alex spending more time with Jack that she could get away with breaking a few rules.
“What do you think it is?” She asked sweetly. She lifted the glass and sipped, batting her eyelash at her.
“Alcohol,” Came the curt reply.
She lifted a shoulder before downing the rest of the drink. The warm liquid hitting her empty stomach. “It’s a martini. Want one?”
“No thanks, dear,” Alex replied with the same false saccharine tone, “I typically try not to get wasted before breakfast.” She finally ventured into the kitchen to put up her groceries. Andy followed and watched her careful put everything away.
“Alex,” she wailed, looking at the packaged sugars and processed carbs in front of her. “I told you I’m on a diet.” Her stomach lurched at the peanut butter and the jelly Alex was now putting up.
Alex frowned. “So? I’m not on your no carb, no sugar, alcohol only diet, thank you very much!” She put some goldfish crackers, Milano cookies and popcorn in the pantry. “The alcohol isn’t really helping you. It has calories, you know.”
“Beer has calories, but liquor doesn’t. What did you think of Miles?” She asked, trying to take her mind off of the foods she couldn’t have and equally cursing Alex for her genetics.
“Have you ever seen a skinny alcoholic? I took a nutrition class and one gram of alcohol equals seven calories. The fact that you’re not sleeping also damages your metabolism, thus causing weight gain,” she paused and regarded Andy. “I already told you what I thought of Miles. He’s a pothead and there’s something about him I don’t like.”
Andy stood in tiptoes to open a cabinet on top of the refrigerator. She reached and pulled her vodka bottle down, immediately scrutinizing the bottle. She frowned at the nutrition label and smiled sheepishly, “I don’t know how many grams are in a drink.”
She caught a package of red and white out of the corner of her eye. “Hey, you said you’d stop drinking coke!”
Alex opened the fridge door, causing Andy to take a step back. She put the 12 pack into the fridge and closed it. She took the vodka bottle from Andy and tried to read the label.
“And he’s not a pothead,” Andy paused, “anymore. He just drinks occasionally.”
Alex widened her eyes at her and gave her back her bottle. “You know when I say these comments to you, sometimes they’re a joke. I don’t expect them to be real at all.”
She turned and finished putting up the rest of her groceries. “Are you sure you’re alright hanging out with these alcoholics who used to be druggies?”
“They are not alcoholics!” She pointed out. Andy hated these conversations. Anything she told them about, the self-righteous Alex would bombard her with insults and lecture her about hanging out with the ‘wrong crowd.’ You would think she still lived with her parents with all these rules she was supposedly breaking. She tuned out Alex who had turned back around to face her, opening and closing her mouth like a fish.
“Are you listening to me?” Alex demanded, shaking her briefly out of her thoughts. She just nodded, but didn’t reply. She was tired of explaining herself. Isn’t it a normal rite of passage for young twenty-something college girls to lose their good girl persona and just have fun, be wild and free? She blinked when Alex suddenly swung around and marched down to her room.
She turned when she reached her door. “I don’t like talking to someone who is clearly not paying attention to me!”
Andy rolled her eyes, “I’m sorry, but I’ve heard it all before, Alex. You give me the same speech practically every weekend.” And each one with more gusto than the last. “I just asked what you thought of Miles.”
“And I answered. You already know how I feel about him. You’ve been asking me for days now. No, I don’t think he’s right for you or that he’s changed. He’s still using you just like last time.”
“No, this time, it’s different.” The words sounded hollow, and she knew it. She needed to sit down and have another drink. She turned around and sat on the couch, opening the vodka bottle and pouring some into her martini glass.
“Have you two been on a date, yet?” Alex sat beside her, wrinkling her face as she watched Andy drink the contents. “And I don’t mean meeting at the bar, or his house or going to a party type of date. I mean having dinner and movie type of date.”
She shifted trying to look causal, but the hesitation already answered Alex’s question. “Well, that type of dating is out dated, anyway.” She flipped her blonde locks behind her back. “I’m already in a relationship with him and we don’t need to go on a date because we’re already dating.” I think.
Alex narrowed her eyes at her. “Do you know how delusional you sound right now?”
“We can’t all pray and have the perfect guy right there waiting for us the entire time. Most of us have to go find them on our own!” Andy managed to spat out.
“Well maybe that’s something you need, Andy.” Her voice softened. “Why don’t you pray about the perfect guy? You are worth it and this guy isn’t worthy of you.”
Alex: Excerpt # 2
“Do you think no matter what we do, we are still forgiven?” Somewhere between Francesca Battistelli's He Knows My Name and Casting Crown's I Will Praise You In The Storm, Andy finally spoke. “I mean.” Andy stopped.
The last song had reached its thunderous ascent and rolled towards the finish. Alex had barely heard her and for a second, thought that perhaps she had imagined it. Almond shaped brown eyes locked briefly in the mirror with a pair of big blue eyes and Alex waited, expecting Andy to go on.
She didn’t. Instead, Andy broke eye contact and turned her head to face the window.
“Yes.” She finally replied. Andy jerked up, and the two caught each other’s gaze again before Alex had to look back at the road again, frowning. “We can be forgiven as long as we ask for forgiveness, and repent and promise not to do it again.”
Another song began and once again replaced the gap of silence. Alex turned her head this time to see Andy’s eyes closed, headphones on, effectively dismissing her. She sighed out loud and set her sights on the horizon.
Lord, I pray this won’t be the last time she asks about forgiveness.
Skyscrapers of oil and energy giants glistened as they neared downtown Houston. After some guidance with the GPS, her car pulled up into the tightly spaced parking lot of the Women’s Clinic. The brick building was among other non-descript buildings that they could have easily passed by. A lot better than a little backroom, Alex surmised.
“How did you find this place?” Lori asked reluctantly. Alex got out of the Volkswagen and immediately wanted to retreat back inside. The thought of what took place inside started to make her stomach churn. Despite the blaring sun and Texas humidity, she shuddered.
“The internet.” Andy mumbled the answer as she was getting out of the car.
The three of them stood in the parking lot, in a small circle, looking at their surroundings, the traffic behind them, and nervously at each other.
Alex fixed her eyes on Andy. She wanted to say that ‘You have to forgive yourself and then ask for forgiveness.’But her lips couldn’t form the words. She had three hours on the drive to craft the perfect words to get through to Andy and yet, here they all were, under the Texas heat, in the middle of a parking lot, shivering with nerves and barely registering each other.
After a brief period of silence, Alex cleared her throat. “Andy, you can still change your mind.”
“I know.” Came the softest reply.
Alex’s jaw tightened, and she looked at her feet to hide her feelings once more. Again, her brain tried to tell her lips to formulate the words it wanted and she looked up to open her mouth again and frowned when no words would come. Again.
This time, Alex searched her friend’s beautiful face and prayed that somewhere in those blue eyes, she could find the one thing for her to go ‘Aha! You’re just as scared as I am. You’re just as doubtful about this thing. Let’s get out of here.’ Her heart sank when instead of those things she hoped to find in her friend’s eyes, she found a quiet and settled determination.
She swallowed the defeat, shoulders hunched down and felt there was only one more thing left to say. “You are loved, Andrea Grace Taylor, remember that. Find your courage.”
Andy just nodded with the faintest smile on her lips
“Okay, you guys.” Alex said trying to keep her voice light and tried to respond to Andy’s smile. It wasn’t working. “I’ll be at the Barnes & Noble we saw on the way here. Call me when you’re done.” She was heading for the car, when she turned around and added, “Call me if you change your mind.”
A few minutes later, she maneuvered in and out of traffic, half concentrating on finding the bookstore. The other remained back at the parking lot of the clinic. A bright green Scion cut in front of her with a slew of bumper stickers. Coexist and Got Jesus, but Alex fixed on the yellow sign with black letters that read “Headed in the wrong direction? God allows for U-Turns.” Andy.Dear God, am I doing the right thing?
Lori: Excerpt # 3
Half an hour later, Pete and Lori moved into a bigger room with a tiny balcony on the sixth floor. This time the décor wasn’t as grotesque as downstairs. Its deep crimson carpet accented the beige with crimson stripped bedspread and pillows.
“It matches,” she groaned happily hugging the pillows to her chest before walking over with her luggage to a small closet to unpack. She took out a chrome folding luggage rack and lifted her suitcase on top of it, to have better access to her clothes and keep her clothes off the carpet. She was a bit of a germaphobe and had a thing about setting suitcases on hotel floors. Images of roaches, bed bugs or whatever else might crawl into the dark crevice of her luggage that would become new roommates when she got home made her shiver. She pulled two different pairs of flip-flops; one to walk around the hotel room in and the other to shower with.
“Where’s the adapter?” Pete asked, rummaging through his luggage. She shrugged and took out her phone and camera from her backpack that was on the bed. From her suitcase, she took out bath supplies and a change of clothes.
“When are we meeting your friend?” She looked up and saw him regarding her, curiously.
“I told him to meet us in an hour and a half.” She tried to find the accessories for her wardrobe that were key pieces in her first impression outfit date. She and Alex tried all sorts of outfits, but that seemed so long ago and she couldn’t remember what went with what. She ended up choosing a pale blue floral print romper and paired it chunky cobalt necklace with matching studs that brought out the color in her eyes. She laid the accessories next to her phone and camera.
“I forgot, where did you say you two met again?” He stopped looking for his adapter and settled in a small chair by the window.
For a moment, Lori thought about telling him the truth and confessing that she met Colin online, but the chances of him agreeing to meet the guy was slim to none. “He was an exchange student I met in high school.” She figured that was a borderline truth as she met a lot of exchange students in high school. It stands to reason that someone there could have been named Colin or be British. I mean, who really keeps track of these things? She thought, rifling to the bottom of the suitcase to find flats.
“What does he do?”
“Grandpa, I told you all about him a few months ago.” She was starting to get annoyed and a little worried that her story might have gotten mixed up since then. “You’ll meet him later and you can ask him yourself.” And before he could start again, she grabbed her clothes and went to the bathroom.
Fully refreshed minutes later, Lori started to feel confident about her trip. She looked around the room for an outlet to plug her curling iron in. “Grandpa, do we have any extra outlets or what?”
He was by the vanity sink brushing his teeth and washing his face. “No, just unplug my video camera. It’s over there by the desk.” He started humming a song she didn’t recognize. She went to a small desk that was flushed against the wall.
There was a mirror that was hanging over the desk that she was thankful for. She sat down on the leather desk chair and looked at the outlets just below and to the right of the mirror. A tall lamp by the desk illuminated the two used outlets. One was being occupied by the lamp, and the other, by Pete’s video camera. The video camera had been charging for a few minutes and she noticed that the battery level was at its peak. She quickly unplugged the camera and replaced it with her curling iron. The second she turned it on, she was astonished by the spark that instantly came alive in her hands. Without warning, the room went dark and the hum of the air conditioner stopped altogether.
“Christ!” she heard Pete cry in the dark. “What happened?”
Lori still had her curling iron in her hand and it dawned on her that she might have blown a fuse. She stood up slowly and everything about the past two days washed over. Without any care or thought about what it might look like, a twenty two year old woman, curling iron in one hand; Lori Hanson, who rarely cried, wept for the second time in just a thirty six hour period.
“I think I blew a fuse,” she cried between sobs. She was becoming increasingly aware of the noises outside their door. That must be the other guests wondering what happened. “This is a sign!”
Pete groped his way in the darkness and patted her shoulder. “Now, now, Lori, honey. You don’t believe in signs, remember?”
If that was an attempt to make her feel better, then he didn’t know his own granddaughter very well. She wiped her tears and tried to coherently ask, “What are you going to tell them downstairs?”
Pete thought a minute. “Well, the truth, I guess. They have lousy outlets and a cheap wiring system. I don’t know, but just calm down.” He made his way to the door and opened it. She was treated to a chorus of several foreign languages mixed with English that belonged to at least twenty people down their hall. They didn’t sound very friendly at all and Lori could only hope that Pete would tell them lies so they wouldn’t be the most hated people in London.
Lori wiped her tears. If she thought this afternoon was a sign, then she didn’t think about what her grandfather would really think about seeing London with a stranger. She tried not to think about it. You don’t believe in signs, she told herself, this is just a weird coincidence. She breathed deeply and reached over to unplug her curling iron. More sparks came her way; causing her to groan and sit back on the chair with a thud.
How can you help? Read to children in your life and give them the gift of books–including letting them choose some of their own books. Volunteer your time at your library or school after-school reading program. Create a Free Little Library. Donate to your local library or library of your choice, and to literacy organizations:
After Hadley’s best friend moves away and she gets on the bad side of some girls at school, she goes to spend the summer with her grandparents in the Lake Michigan resort town of Grand Haven. Her next door neighbor is none other than teen TV star Simone Hendrickson, who is everything Hadley longs to be—pretty, popular, and famous—and she’s thrilled when Simone treats her like a friend.
Being popular is a lot harder than it looks.
It’s fun and flattering when Simone includes her in her circle, though Hadley is puzzled about why her new friend refuses to discuss her former Hollywood life. Caught up with Simone, Hadley finds herself ignoring her quiet, steadfast friend, Charlotte.
To make things even more complicated, along comes Nick Jenkins…
He’s sweet, good-looking, and Hadley can be herself around him without all the fake drama. However, the mean girls have other ideas and they fill Nick’s head with lies about Hadley, sending him running back to his ex-girlfriend and leaving Hadley heartbroken.
So when her parents decide to relocate to Grand Haven, Hadley hopes things will change when school starts…only to be disappointed once again.
Cliques. Back-stabbing. Love gone bad.
Is this really what it’s like to live…Next Door To A Star?
The school year should end right after spring break, because all anyone can focus on is summer vacation. You can’t learn anything new, because all you can think about is all the fun stuff you’re going to do once you don’t have to get up at the butt crack of dawn. Summer always seems full of possibilities.
Nothing exciting ever happens during the school year, but maybe, during summer vacation, you could run into a hot celebrity and he’d decide to put you in his next music video. Okay, it wasn’t like I knew anybody that happened to, but my grandparents did live next door to a former TV star, Simone Hendrickson, and Simone was discovered in an ice cream parlor one summer. Of course, she lived in L.A. at the time and was already doing plays and commercials, so the guy who discovered her had already seen her perform. But hey, it was summer, she got discovered, and that was all that mattered.
Amazing stuff didn’t happen to me. You know what happened to me last summer? I stepped on a bee and had to go to the emergency room. They’re not going to make an E! True Hollywood Story out of my life. I didn’t go on exotic vacations—like today, I was being dragged along with my parents to my cousin’s graduation party. Most people waited until at least the end of May before having a grad party, but Charisma was having hers early because she was leaving on a trip to Spain. I was dreading this party because I didn’t want to listen to everybody talk about how smart and talented Charisma was—making me feel like a blob in comparison—but my mom RSVP’d even though I said I’d rather die than go. My death threats meant nothing. But still, for some strange reason, I had a feeling this summer was going to be different.
Krysten Lindsay Hager is an obsessive reader and has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and humor essayist, and writes for teens, tweens, and adults. She is the author of the Landry’s True Colors Series and her work has been featured in USA Today and named as Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values and Virtues Fiction and Amazon’s #1 Hot New Releases in Children’s Books on Values. She’s originally from Michigan and has lived in South Dakota, Portugal, and southwestern Ohio. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.
Welcome to Weekend Links! As one of the co-founders of Multicultural Children’s Book Day and I pleased to share that planning for the 2016 event is well under way! We are working like busy little bees to update the MCCBD website, add new book-inspired events like our upcoming Classroom Reading Challenge (more details later on that).
Reading is always an important part of our children’s lives no matter what time of year it is and so is helping our young readers learn about other cultures, religions and traditions through the pages of these books. Here are some great booklists and resources that I have discovered during my www travels this week:
Waiting for the right one can be torture. Too bad for Hailey, impatience got the best of her. Finding Mr. Right in time for a destination wedding couldn’t happen fast enough. Instead of listening to reason, or rather her friends, she’s stuck in paradise alone, again. Nothing ruins a tropical paradise faster than catching your date with another woman. Justin’s ready for a change. He’s been caught up in his own success for too long and is looking to finally settle down. Timing is everything and his cousins wedding is the perfect start of his new life. His luck is changing with the captivating mystery woman on the beach. Now all he has to do is find her, before he agrees to his family’s match making plot.
Excerpt: “This is paradise, though, or so the brochure said. I’m fairly certain a woman like you could find someone better in the matter of a few hours.” He glanced back to her. His gaze sent heat coursing through her in a way she’d never experienced, let alone expected. She couldn’t be certain the sudden wriggling in her stomach was something she’d eaten, or a good thing invoked by Mr. Beach-God. A hot burn seemed to claim her neck and kiss her cheeks. There was no suppressing the grin that spread ear to ear. No one had ever made her feel like she was an object of desire. Tossing her head, she took it in. Feminism aside, it was nice to be wanted. He smiled back at her, a full smile that reached his eyes. “Then again, it isn’t exactly bad to have morals. I respect the fact you didn’t head straight for a bar to try and pick up on someone new. I know my roommate certainly could use a few morals for the love of my sanity.” Is he hitting on me? “This is Mexico. Are you implying there are a lot of desperate men here?” She leaned into him, bumping his shoulder with hers. The bit of contact sent a new sizzling flash racing over her. The stranger’s brow knit together. “What? No. That’s not at all what I meant. I suppose it’s true though, unless there are a lot of cold showers to be had around here. Men are pretty useless around woman in bathing suits.” About the Author: Michelle’s imagination started spilling out onto paper the second she could scribble. Her drawing never improved, but her love affair with words continued and evolved as she became infatuated with one story after another. If life could be written, Michelle would write everyone’s ending as a happily ever after. Michelle grew up in Chicago and later moved to Colorado. Her husband still makes fun of her Midwest accent. By day, she is an engineer, wife, and mother to two kids and two dogs. Her sanity survives on the pages she writes, even if her toddler is trying to drive her to the edge one temper tantrum at a time. Website:http://www.michellezieglerauthor.com Facebook:https://www.facebook.com/MichelleZieglerAuthor Twitter:http://twitter.com/MZiegler_Writer
Check out Michelle's story and the others in this anthology.
It's that time of the year again!
Voting has opened up for Teens' Top Ten nominees! Get the vote out to teens!
Voting will close at the end of Teen Read Week, which is October 24th, so there's still time to catch up on the titles you haven't read yet.
Teens can vote here.
This year's nominees are:
Alsaid, Adi. Let’s Get Lost. Harlequin Teen.
Armentrout, Jennifer L. Don’t Look Back.
Release Date: August 19, 2015 Ebook Purchase from Prizm, Amazon (vendor links will be updated on the author's site) Asma Bashir wants two things: a summer fling and her favorite '80s songs. During a trip to New York City to stay with relatives, she messes up in her pursuit of both. She loses track of the hunk she met on her airplane ride, and she does the most terrible thing she could possibly do to her strict uncle... ruin his most prized possession, a rare cassette tape. A wild goose chase around Manhattan and Brooklyn to find a replacement tape yields many adventures -- blackmail, theft, a chance to be a TV star, and so much more. Amid all this turmoil, Asma just might be able to find her crush in the busiest, most exciting city in the world. Find Medeia – YA and MG Author
Do you ever get frustrated that you can’t read faster? I don’t usually. Most of the time I putter along happy as can be and only get frustrated that I don’t have more time to read. I don’t often wish I could read faster, there is a real pleasure in reading at the speed a book asks me to and for many of the books I like best, that is generally slow.
Lately I am in the midst of so many good books and I want to be reading all of them at the same time and it is hard to decide what one to pick up. So I end up doing the sampler thing. If you are of the one-book-at-a-time ilk, you do not have this problem. I, however, have wandering eyes and book monogamy is next to impossible. Then I get myself in a situation like I am now where I have about six books in progress, all of them really good, all of them I want to be reading. But while my eyes wander, I still only have two of them and can read just one book at a time. Thus, the sampler happens and I pick up book A, read a few pages and put it down for book B. I read a few pages and book B is replaced by book C. You get the idea. I get to read them all but it is completely unsatisfactory.
I can hear you one book people say, Stef you know there is a simple solution to your problem, right? Yes, yes, I know, just choose a book and stick with it. But when I am reading book D, book A begins calling to me, singing a Siren song, don’t you want to know what happens next? Forget book D, you want me. I do! I want you so bad! Except book now book E is singing to me and I can’t concentrate. Sorry book A, gotta go.
A couple days ago it struck me that if I could read faster then at least it would be a partial solution. Except you can’t read poetry fast. Or thoughtful essays. Or weird short stories. Or Nathaniel Hawthorne. I get nowhere. Oh how I suffer! But what’s a girl to do? Why start another book of course!
Things have been quiet in the print versus digital debate lately for which I am glad, what’s the saying about beating a dead horse? I do understand that there is still much we don’t know about our brains and how reading online and reading in print affects how we read, what we read and how well we read it and I am grateful that the debate is heading down that river and away from the techno-evangelist’s books are dead digital utopia. But because it has been awhile since there has been anything “out there” about it, someone had to write an update about where we stand just in case we forget. And like a moth to the flame I had to fly right for it.
Everythig Science Knows about Reading on Screens is pretty much a summary to-date. You won’t find anything new or revelatory in the article unless you are one of the few readers in the world who have somehow managed to be disconnected from it all (and if you are that sort of reader, you have my admiration!).
What is most striking about this article is how it proves a number of things about reading on screens that it discusses. Like skimming. The presentation of the article invites it with blurry moving things on the header and cutting up the text of the article. I almost didn’t finish reading the article because all of the moving blurs were giving me a headache! The article quotes Ziming Liu, a researcher at San Jose State University:
Liu noted in his study that sustained attention seems to decline when people read onscreen rather than on paper, and that people also spend less time on in-depth reading. ‘In digital, we can link in different media, images, sound, and other text, and people can get overwhelmed,” explains Andrew Dillon, a professor at the School of Information at the University of Texas, Austin, “These are disruptive activities that can carry a cost in terms of attention.’
Ironically, this falls immediately below one of the big, moving blurry blocks! Distracting, check! Overwhelming, check!
We’ve been trained by internet articles like this one. It isn’t necessarily that I want to skim or that I purposely interrupt my reading with distractions, it’s the way words have been presented on the internet since websites were invented that has made me read this way on a screen. So is it any surprise then when given an article or story to read on a screen even without all of the attendant internet bling that I might read it just as though all that bling were there?
The article concludes:
Despite the apparent benefits of paper, Mangen and other reading researchers caution the screen-reading vs. traditional reading question has nuances that scientists have yet to fully understand. Which method works better may depend on the individual (for example, there’s evidence that for some people with dyslexia, e-readers improve reading speed and comprehension). Ultimately, it may be that both print and screen have unique advantages, and we’ll need to be able to read equally well on both—which means keeping our distracted habits onscreen from bleeding into what we read on an e-book or paperback. And reading researchers have some advice for how to prevent this: forget your smartphone and computer, sit down, and read a book.
Common sense. But I have to stop myself decrying the painfully obvious conclusion because common sense isn’t always a strong point for a good many people I have found, especially those getting grants to study the things that avid readers already know and could have told them without any trouble. Should it ever happen that researchers ask us one of these days about print and digital reading, someone is going to have to pick me up off the floor because I will have fainted.
After a year of training to become a dragonrider, Jaevid Broadfeather has been sent home to rest during a three-month interlude. But when he returns to find the king drake has chosen Beckah Derrick as his new rider, Jaevid realizes something big is about to happen. Every fiber of his being is pushed to the breaking point as Jaevid battles through his avian year, preparing for the final graduation test of the battle scenario. But there is more standing in his way than a few pushups and fancy sword moves.
Jaevid must face a new fear as he is tormented by a gruesome nightmare of a mysterious gray elf warrior murdering the royal family of Maldobar. It seems obvious to him that this is some kind of message about how the war started long ago—until Felix assures him the king is very much alive. With his strange powers growing stronger by the day, and that violent dream replaying in his mind every night, Jaevid no longer wonders if he will pass his avian year or not . . . he wonders if he will even survive it.
Nicole is sharing her playlist for book three in the series with us all today, so please welcome her.
My TRAITOR Playlist
I have to have music when I write. It is a must. It’s not that I necessarily am listening to it, but rather that it blocks out everything else going on around me. It drives my husband bonkers because I will listen to the same song on repeat for hours without even realizing it. Although, there are some songs that inspire me more than others, so here is a list of the songs I listened to while working on the next installment of the Dragonrider Chronicles, TRAITOR:
I Will Show You by From Ashes to New
Shadows by Red
Shatter Me (feat. Lzzy Hale) by Lindsey Stirling
Shut Up and Dance by Walk the Moon
Soldiers by Otherwise
Bad Company by Five Finger Death Punch
Good Feeling by Flo Rida
Panama by Van Halen
Who I Am by Blanca
Juke Box Hero by Foreigner
Centuries by Fallout Boy
… and pretty much every track on the Pacific Rim and Tron Soundtrack.
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Summer is here and so is summer reading. I actually have a stack of books sitting here by my side. All great potential beach reads. Some are new, books I've begged editors for, and some are older books that I've pulled from my shelves. I'm embarrassed to admit that some are galleys for books that were published a few years ago.
I was just updating my Goodreads account and realized I hadn't updated the blog in a few books.
At #BEA I picked up The Killing Kind by Chris Holm. I devoured this book. This is exactly the kind of book I love and would love to see. How can you go wrong with a hit man who targets hit men? The way the story plays out is really the true magic though, the twists are perfect and the end leaves you satisfied, but still desperate for the next in the series, which is really disappointing since this book doesn't even officially publish until September. Put it on your pre-order list.
Two great things happened to me at #CCWC. I had a terrific conference experience and I was given a copy of Charlaine Harris's Midnight Crossroad, the first book in her new Midnight Texas series. Charlaine has such a great style, one that's truly all her own and I love the mix of the paranormal with a true mystery. This was a fun read and one I know Jessica Alvarez has been chomping at the bit to get her hands on so I'll be passing it along to her.
Now to go through my stack and decide what's next.
Everywhere I turn people are talking about Go Tell a Watchman. And I don't blame them. This is probably one of the most exciting things to happen in publishing since Harry Potter. But unlike Harry Potter, I'm not sure I'm going to read this one.
To read this book I'd have to read To Kill a Mockingbird first. I've read it, and I've seen the movie, I believe as an assignment sometime back in my teen years. I have incredibly fond memories of the characters. They live on in my head in the same way an old friend lives on. I don't remember all the details, but I do remember them with a fondness that I hope never to lose.
It's because of those memories that I might never read Go Tell a Watchman. I've been saddened by the controversy surrounding the book and even further saddened by some of the reviews I've read. Everyone is entitled to an opinion of course and I think many will find they need to read the book to see what people are talking about and, possibly, prove reviewers wrong. For me though, I'd like to hide my head in the sand on this one and remember Scout as she was in my childhood.
When Claire Mallory's father leaves, her mom moves them to a new town and into a dilapidated Victorian house.
The old house creaks and whistles, and smells well -- like it's been abandoned for years. But as the nights grow longer and the shadows take on substance, Claire wonders if the strange sounds and occurrences might be more than the house showing its age.
Just as things start to pick up in Claire's love life, her mother becomes possessed. In an attempt to save her mother and their new home, Claire enlists the help of two boys, each of whom is interested in Claire for different reasons. As she chooses one boy over the other, something dangerous is unleashed, and the spirits make their move.
They aren’t content to moan and scream inside Claire’s house, or even control her mom. They want a taste of freedom, and she’s their key to getting it. But is Claire strong enough to fight off the evil spirits, or will they claim her and her mom before it's all over?
Today I'm featuring three great books by KR Yaddof. I can vouch for this series. It's amazing. And one lucky commenter will win ebooks of ALL 3 books!
About the books:
BLOOD MAGE (Book #1)
All Alexis Richmond wants is for life to be somewhat normal again. What she gets is trapped in the girls' restroom by a knife-wielding classmate, who blames her for being forced to go to school in a lovely prison-like setting for national security reasons. But Alexis can't help that her father was catapulted into the presidency when the U.S. Capitol was annihilated during the State of the Union Address. Or that he still hasn't found the terrorists responsible for blowing every major city on the planet into a post-apocalyptic state. All Alexis can do is to try to defend herself from this crazy girl. Then her late mother's locket starts glowing and sending waves of energy coursing down her arms, and she nearly launches her attacker through the puke pink wall of the school bathroom. Fantasy becomes alarmingly real in Alexis's already shattered world when she learns from her aunt that she is descended from a family of powerful mages and warned to trust no one. Thrust into Alexis's life through school and for those annoying security reasons, the vice president's playboy son, Zachary Godard, claims to have the answers about the magical legacies their families don't want them to know. Alexis tries to fight her dangerous attraction to Zachary but knows that he understands her as only another mage can. Leaping down the rabbit hole hand in hand, together they overhear a secret society of sorcerers, the Blood Mage Order, plotting to take over the globe. As the two young mages struggle to stop the Order and save their country, they discover just how deep the world domination conspiracy goes. And Alexis will realize that nothing is black and white. Especially not magic.
DYNASTY MAGE (Book #2)
Zachary Godard’s life isn’t lacking in beautiful women, fast cars, and unlimited wealth. Or in people with reasons to kill him. As the recently inherited owner of the largest oil company in the world and the sole financier of the newly formed United Countries of America, militant political activist groups and regimes bent on world domination alike would benefit from his demise. Then there is his four-minute younger brother, who fell victim to their deceased father’s old world mentality that a second son is merely the spare. And finally his mother, vice president of the United Countries of America, second only to the man who blew the world into its current post-apocalyptic state to give rise to his Blood Mage Order, destroying Zachary’s life in the process.
With bullets whizzing by at any given moment as he tries to secretly fund a rebellion against this new supernatural world order, Zachary knows his magic isn’t enough to defend himself and is forced to hire protection. Her name is Lauren Trinidad, and she hates everything for which he stands. But he doesn’t have time to prove her wrong before he must trust her to help him find out who is trying to kill him. All he can do is hope that either his charm or the fat paycheck will convince her he’s worth saving.
MAGE ASSASSIN (Book #3) Coming Tuesday, August 11th, 2015!
Lauren Trinidad is the best private security money in the League of European Nations can buy. She's been trained by her father for her entire life to protect the good guys from the bad. But when the good guys seem to be working for the mad man responsible for blowing the world into chaos and her family is suddenly the bad, she is forced to choose between what she is taught to do and what she thinks is right. Captain David Trinidad is the best soldier the New Republic of Texas can find to pull off a secret mission that will decide the fate of the small country. He’s been raised in his military family to do anything to help his homeland. But when he discovers he is the only chance at saving someone he loves, he has to choose between the only two things in his life that he's never doubted. Meagan Trinidad is the best assassin the United Countries of America has for hire. She has walked the tightrope between making her father proud and protecting those she cares about for a while. But when her work threatens to destroy her friends, she must choose between the familial loyalty that has guided her whole life and the promise of being loved for who she is and not what she does.
“I told you I was working.” Lauren tried not to snap. Zachary obviously wanted to forget their earlier fight about whether or not it was too dangerous for her to protect the new prime minister. But Zachary didn’t give up that easily. “I was doing my job.”
“I thought you only had to stay through the prime minister’s speech.”
“I did, but I saw a few suspicious characters before I left, so I stopped them from killing everyone.”
“Oh, you did, huh?” He smiled that charming grin that made her forgive him for anything.
“Yeah, because I’m smooth like that.” She couldn’t help but smile back.
“Sure you are.” He laughed and crossed the room to her. “You’re hurt.”
“It’s nothing,” she lied. Even her teeth hurt.
“Here.” He gently took her face in his hand. He blew a thick lock of her chestnut hair back. He ran his finger over the bruise and whispered, “Curatio.”
White-hot magic radiated from his thumb into the center of the pain and slowly flowed over her face, leaving cool relief in its wake. Her hand joined his as she felt her healed face. Her skin was smooth and no longer sore.
“Thanks.” She kissed him softly. His lips felt warm, soft, and familiar. His hands immediately pulled her to him. She stopped him by putting her hands on his chest. “I need a shower.”
“Shall I join you?” He cocked a platinum eyebrow.
“I could never be cold when I’m near you, Abigail.” David wanted to kiss her right then. He wanted to take her in his arms and not let her go. To carry her off into the night and never have to worry about anyone coming between them again. “You are my fire. You are my reason for livin’. You are my life.”
“Oh, David.” She blushed and looked down. “I love you, too.”
“It is more than love.” He knelt down and looked up into her surprised face. He reached into his pocket and pulled out the box. Enveloping her left hand in his, he said, “Abigail Evelyn Lattimore, will you marry me?”
“Oh, my God, David!” Her hands flew to her mouth, eyes wide. She stared down at him, tears forming in her eyes. She glanced at the ring and exclaimed, “Yes! Yes, of course, I will!”
And then she was in his arms. He spun her around in elation, only stopping to kiss her. Her hands went to his face as he held her against him, and he kissed her harder than he ever had in his life. Pure joy surrounded them, and he could feel the aquamarine in the necklace she wore warming against his chest. He pulled away only to slip the diamond ring on her finger. She admired it as it also started to glow.
“Your magic approves,” he said, kissing her again. She was a white mage and had fantastical healing powers. He could feel her happiness vibrating between them and even lighting the coral in his own boar’s head ring his father had given him when he joined the service. He sighed and added, “Even if your father doesn’t.”
“We both know you’re not going to college.” Jacob moved his mouth closer to her ear. “Why are you going to New Haven? To kill my sister?”
“What?” Meagan jerked back to see his face, but he held her too tightly.
“I know what you are, darling.” His voice was so quiet she barely could hear him. “An assassin.”
“That’s not true!” She swallowed, her head spinning. How had he figured it out? Her father was going to be pissed. “I would never hurt Kayla.”
“That may be true, but you have been hunting my brother for years.” Jacob’s hands crept up her body. They stopped on either side of her throat. He pressed harder against her. “Why do you think I’ve been keeping you so close?”
Meagan didn’t say anything. Sliding a hand behind her back, she glared at him. She went for the knife hidden in her waistband.
“I don’t think so, darling.” He grabbed her wrist and twisted it along with the other one above her head, pinning them against the door. She refused to cry out in pain. She wouldn’t give him the satisfaction. “I kept you so close I know all of your little tricks. Didn’t you wonder why I cared? You should know by now that I don’t fuck the same girl more than once. I was keeping an eye on you instead of ending you.”
She brought up her knee in a swift movement and hit him in the crotch. He grunted and doubled over in pain. She punched him in the face and pushed him off her. Spinning, she kicked him in the head and knocked him to the floor. She drove her boot into his stomach for good measure.
“Don’t ever threaten me, Jacob Godard,” she whispered in his ear, kneeling over him. “Next time I’ll slit your arrogant throat.”
KR Yaddof was lucky enough to take a few writing classes at the University of Iowa Writer's Workshop when she was there as an undergrad getting her degree in cinema. Now she lives in Denver, CO with her husband, two kids, and one fat cat. KR is currently finds time to write while staying home with her two small children. If you want more MAGES, cross your fingers for her children to start sleeping through the night!
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