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1. Review: An Ember in the Ashes

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. Razorbill. 2015. Reviewed from ARC.

An Ember in the Ashes
The Plot: It's been 500 years since the Martials defeated the Scholars. At various times Rebellion has been threatened, but the Martials always destroy it.

Laia, 17, is a Scholar. The once studious and education people are now banned from anything hinting at learning. Laia lives with her older brother, Darin, and her grandparents, until the night their home is raided by the Martials and their terrible agents, the silver-faced Masks. Her grandparents are killed, Darin is arrested, and Laia flees into the night.

She stumbles upon rebels who agree to help her free her brother, for a price. Go into the heart of the Martial training ground and spy on their Commandment. To do so, she'll have to pretend to be a slave. But for Darin, she'll do it.

Elias, twenty, is a Martial who has been trained to be a Mask since the age of six. Except he has a secret, kept hidden and deep. He hates the death and torture and violence of what he his, of what he is trained to do. He doesn't want his face to be forever silver. He dreams of escape, even though it will dishonor his Grandfather, but anyone caught running away is brutally executed. As each day goes by, he finds himself increasingly bound to the Martials and to his friends and wondering if the only escape is death.

The Good: Read this book. Now. The only down side of reading this book ASAP is that the sequel is out next summer, and you're going to have to wait that long to find out what happens next.

Read this book. It is a wonderfully complex setting, influenced by the Roman Empire and other ancient cultures. Sometimes a cultural setting such as the one in An Ember in the Ashes either downplays or ignores the consequences and reality of its setting. This book does not do that; it is a brutal, violent world and both Laia and Elias have been shaped and formed by that brutality. (For those who wonder about the violence on the page, I'll put it this way. A book can describe a death in a sentence, a paragraph, a chapter -- this book goes for the sentence or two. Does it lessen the horror of that death? No, it doesn't drag it on for pages and pages.)

Laia masquerades as a slave, but, no, that's wrong. While Laia is spying, she is actually a slave and all that implies. She is owned by the Commandment, who can do anything she wants to the slaves she owns. Laia is beaten and whipped; her name is taken from her. Other slaves have been scarred, branded, mutilated. The possibility of sexual assault and rape is real. So she has to survive both the change in status from free to slave but also figuring out how to be a spy for the rebellion.

Elias has been trained since the age of six to become a Mask, like his mother and grandfather before him. (His mother is the Commandment.) He has seen children whipped to death; he has been beaten; he has killed. He has followed orders. He has become one of the top soldiers. And he hates it. One of the things I love about An Ember in the Ashes is that while it's easy to hate the Martial class and all that Elias is and represents, the reader can't help but like Elias and root for him. To like his friends and understand his loyalties.

If you're wondering, because there is a girl and a boy and it's a young adult book, whether there is a romance -- well, yes and no. Again, complexity! While Elias may look at Laia and see a pretty girl, Laia looks at Elias and sees a dangerous soldier. Elias also is the type who sees Laia as a pretty girl who is a slave so is someone who for that reason shouldn't be touched (not a sentiment towards slaves shared by others.) There's a young man who is a rebel who Laia begins to have feelings for, and Elias has feelings towards another soldier, a young woman, and he's trying to deny them. So this is more a rectangle than anything else, and very realistically done given the different positions of power people have.

The Martial Empire is HORRIBLE. I wouldn't want to live there. But, again with reasons I like this -- when Laia learns more about the history of the Scholars, she realizes that her history and society is more complex than good/bad, vanquished/conquered. Elias looks around him and doesn't like how the Empire treats people, and he may be alone in this. It's hard to tell, because to confess such things would to betrayal, punishment, torture, death. His friends, though, are also likable, though part of this may be that we only see them in a context where they aren't arresting and killing and torturing, though we know that is what they have been trained to do. And truth be told while the ways of his training are harsh and I'm running out of words that mean "brutal," it's also realistic in terms of what is needed to create the perfect killing machine -- and that appears to be the sole aim of Elias's training and schooling.

The ending -- the ending!!! Don't worry, it's a great ending for a first book in the series in that it both works well as an ending for this book but there is also a great lead in to what will happen in the next book. I don't feel cheated or frustrated; I just feel MORE MORE MORE.

And the plot is so great that I don't want to say a word about it.

One more thing. The women in this story! Of course, there is Laia, who will do anything to save her brother but has been fairly sheltered up to this point. Poor, sometimes hungry, but always loved and protected by her family. Her strength is in her ability to survive, to love, to do what it takes.

Then there is Helene. Female soldiers are only accepted once in a generation, and so she is not just the sole female in her class, she's the sole female in her school. She has to be twice as good, ignore twice as much, as those around her. The friendship between Elias and Hel is one of equality and respect.

And Elias's mother, the Commandant. She was the female soldier of her generation. And as the head of the school that trains and forms soldiers, she is the one that every student fears. She is the one every slave fears. And with good reason: punishments, torture, and death all take place at her whim.

There is the Lioness, a legendary head of the Rebellion, brilliant but ruthless and willing to sacrifice anything for her cause.

And there are Laia's fellow slaves, Kitchen Girl and Cook, who have survived years in the Commandant's house, watching other slaves come and go. (And by "go" I mean die, whether at their own hand or the result of the Commandant's brutality.) There is more to each of them . . . .

One more thing. With this book there is always one more thing. I recognized the ancient Rome references in names and family structure; Tahir's guest post at the Perpetual Page-Turner goes into that research, as well as the research needed for everything from weaponry to the names of the other nations and groups in the book.

ARGH. I want to revisit this world, even though I was so worried about Laia that at times I could read no more than a few chapters at a time. My heart just couldn't take it.

OF COURSE this is a Favorite Book of 2015.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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2. Review: Kissing Ted Callahan

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys) by Amy Spalding. Poppy. 2015. Reviewed from ARC.

Kissing Ted Callahan (and Other Guys)The Plot: Riley and Reid walk in on our their band mates Lucy and Nathan -- to their surprise, Lucy and Nathan are together. Together-together.

Riley is stunned, especially because Lucy is her best friend and Lucy never said a word. Riley and Reid both resolve to pursue love (and kissing and maybe even sex), and to share each detail, and to help each other out.

The top of Riley's list is her crush, Ted Callahan; Reid's is Jane.

How successful is their plan? Well, there will be kissing. Of Ted Callahan, and other guys.

The Good: This is primarily Riley's story, but because Riley and Reid share notes and progress reports and suggestions in a Passenger Manifest journal, and part of that is written by Reid, it's both their stories.

Kissing Ted Callahan is about Riley shaking herself into action. Oh, she's hardly passive. Her goal is rock star, so her time has been taken up with the band. And her best friend is Lucy, and she's friends with Reid and Nathan, but she's been satisfied, kind of, with that.

Riley isn't satisfied anymore. And confiding in Reid, instead of her usual Lucy, helps push her to do things like offer Ted Callahan a ride home. Or kiss Garrick. Or call the number of the cute boy she met at the CD store. Riley goes from zero love interests to three. Kissing Ted Callahan is about Riley (and Reid) navigating teen age dating, figuring out the difference between like and love and lust and love, wondering just what is right to tell someone if there isn't any real commitment yet.

Reid's story in some ways mirrors Riley's The first girl he pursues turns out to already have a boyfriend, and Riley doesn't really make the connection to her own situation. The next girl is -- well, it's a bit funny, because Reid makes a list of potential girls. Ones who talk to him, ones he likes, who has potential? Unlike Riley, he's not acting on a crush. It's more that he wants someone, and there is something very sweet and likable in how he keeps himself open to any possibility rather than requiring a crush first. It's also very honorable that he pursues a girl he likes being with, ignoring that his friends don't really like her.

At one point, rather late in the story, their Passenger Manifest goes missing and Riley and Reid have to deal with the consequences. For Riley, that ends up being the consequences of not having conversations and not talking. Kissing and sex may create a connection but it doesn't replace talking. Yes, there is a sex scene,  butwhile Riley may be kissing three boys there is only one that she really likes. No, I won't say who.

What's nice about the emphasis on communication is that it is clear from the beginning that Riley's failure at spoken honesty, and desire to not confront, isn't something that just happens with boys. Remember Lucy? Part of what drives the whole book is Riley's continuing inability to talk with her best friend, Lucy. Part of Riley's growth is realizing she has to have the tough conversations, whether it's about the status of a friendship or of a relationship.

I also like how this explores attraction and relationships (both friendship and more), and that Riley (and Tom and Garrick and Milo) is not just about who she is dating or kissing but is about creating real friendships and how those friendships are made. Lucy, Riley, and Reid have known each other since kindergarten and those types of friendships sometimes means someone has a hard time making new friends -- they don't have the skills. Riley is developing those skills, though admittedly mainly because she is seeking a boy. And mainly because she assumes that Lucy's changed relationship with Nathan means that Lucy's friendship with Riley is different.

Finally! It's also about a band, and I loved how being part of the band is used for the story, from being what ties Riley and her friends together, to her passions and interests, and also the time it takes outside of school. Their dedication is clear.

One final thing: this may be a spoiler, so stop reading if any type of spoiler bothers you. This is not the type of book where Riley looks at her good friend Reid and sees him in a different light while he has an unrequited crush. This is about two people who are friends, whose friendship grows stronger but whose friendship remains a friendship.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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3. Review: The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B by Teresa Toten

The Unlikely Hero of Room 13B is basically described in one word: INCREDIBLE. Just seriously, wow. This book takes a really honest and relatable look at mental illness (specifically OCD). I got totally sucked in and emotionally tangled within mere pages. It’s only 270-pages and WOAH does it pack a punch. Basically it’s about Adam who […]

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4. WINTER - The Lunar Chronicles Giveaway

I mean, need I say more?

Soooo... Who wants to win a WINTER prize pack? Thanks to @penwallace I have a set to give away! I'll be sharing pics of the #lunarchronicles party (mostly taken by @adobe1kinobe) once I finish clearing up my dining table which is still a huge mess from all the baking and prep I did for Monday night! #jointheresistance #marissameyer #thelunarchronicles (these gloves are probably Cress-approved, by the way... I'm typing this whole post with my own pair on just to try out the touchscreen capability.) #winterbooktour #touchscreengloves #temporarytattoos

A photo posted by Read Now Sleep Later (@readnowsleeplater) on

Read on to the end, then enter to win! Thanks to author Marianne D. Wallace for providing the prizes.

I have to confess, I *hated* Cinder when it came out. Like, throw-the-book-at-a-wall-hated-it, except the book was an ARC so it didn't really do that much damage. It even landed neatly, not a page bent out of shape. I was at one of Marissa Meyer's very first book signings and I may have even told her so, but also said I gave it 5 stars anyway because it was so well written.

Well, a combination of restraint and lack of time/energy to read led me to wait until a couple of weeks ago to start Scarlet. I had volunteered to host (i.e. decorate and cater) Marissa's Los Angeles book signing for Winter for Once Upon a Time, and needed buffet ideas which I usually draw right out of the book. And because I was pressed for time, I chose the audiobook format so I could do work (like prepping tons of candy for the dessert bar and baking piles of sugar cookies in the shape of shoes and apples) while "reading".


LOVED IT. The writing was like, *facemelt*.

HOOKED. The audiobook reader? My new girl crush.

giphy (3).gif

TOTALLY ADDICTED. The characters! The girl power! Aaaaaahhhh!!!

I went straight from Scarlet into Cress, which I adored even more. Rebecca Soler really brought it to life. Alyson from Kid Lit Frenzy and I were in my kitchen baking cookies and laughing like crazy people for the first part of the audio. Later on when I was icing the cookies (red, of course, or as red an icing as I could make having totally botched my proportions and run out of food coloring) I got to the later part of the audio which I refer to as the "I'm not crying, you're crying!" part of the book. 

I ended up doing a Benoit Farms and Gardens salad bar (with tomatoes front and center, of course), pizza (from Domino's in Tujunga, which was excellent for feeding a crowd, btw!) and a crazy dessert bar with red and purple candy, cupcakes, lemon cakes (thanks, Danielle!) apple-shaped pretzels (thanks, Cathy!). I could not have pulled it off without a crack team of book enthusiasts helping: Nicole from The Reader's Antidote, our very own Thuy, Alyson, Carolyn, DJ, Kim, Katie, Cathy, Sam, Janet, Kate, David, and especially Jen and Marianne who helped with the candy bar signs and containers! Danielle also had the honor of introducing Marissa (in verse, no less!). 

Here's what she said:

Tonight we welcome
An exceptional guest,
Who wrote Cinder, Scarlet,
Cress, and Fairest.
She’s a bestselling author,
By any guideline.
Just ask USA Today
Or the New York Times.
She blogs about writing,
She tweets with aplomb,
And you can learn more about her
At marissameyer.com.
She takes stories we know,
Placing them forward in time,
Adding a space colony
And characters that shine.
There’s a cyborg, an emperor,
And an android who swoons,
A soldier, a farm girl,
And the queen of the moon.
Then a hacker held hostage,
A criminal mastermind,
A troubled princess,
And the guard by her side.
The Lunar Chronicles gave us
Trysts and laughter, heartbreak and fights,
And now finally with Winter
We’ll explore some new heights.
Though it’s not quite the end,
as I’ve recently been told.
With Stars Above coming in February,
The story will continue to unfold.
Tacoma, Washington is where
She and her husband reside,
Though tonight we’re lucky to have her
In Montrose, by our side.
Please join me in welcoming
A fabulous author,
The talented, the indomitable
Marissa Meyer.

You can see more pics and details on Thuy's recap post, here! Plus tons more great photos from Jose Valencia, here

Thanks again to Once Upon a Time and Macmillan for letting me help out for the big event, and I hope everyone had lots of fun!

Don't forget to pre-order the short story collection Stars Above (out in Feb 2016, more info in Thuy's recap post) and remember to check thelunarchronicles.com on Nov 30, 2015 for #CyborgMonday! I don't know what it means, but I love it already.

The Giveaway

  1. Open to the US only, ends 12/05/2015.
  2. No purchase is necessary to enter a giveaway. Void where prohibited.
  3. We and the publisher are not responsible for lost, stolen, or damaged items.
  4. One set of entries per household please.
  5. If you are under 13, please get a parent or guardian's permission to enter, as you will be sharing personal info such as an email address.
  6. Winner will be chosen randomly via Rafflecopter widget a day or two after the contest ends.
  7. Winner will have 48 hours to respond to to the email, otherwise we will pick a new winner.
  8. If you have any questions, feel free to email us at readnowsleeplater@gmail.com
  9. PLEASE DO NOT LEAVE ANY PERSONAL INFO IN THE COMMENTS. Sorry for the caps, but we always get people leaving their email in the comments. Rafflecopter will collect all that without having personal info in the comments for all the world (and spambots) to find.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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5. Reconciliation and Friendship in the Face of Fear and Distrust in Children’s and YA Books

Mirrors Windows Doors article: Reconciliation and Friendship in the Face of Fear and Distrust in Children's and YA BooksA few weeks ago, amidst the deepening refugee crisis from the war in Syria, many people and organisations around the world came together for the Continue reading ...

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6. Escaping Conflict, Seeking Peace: Picture books that relate refugee stories, and their importance

This article was a presentation given at the 2012 IBBY Congress in London, first posted here and developed from a PaperTigers.org Personal View, “Caught up in Conflict: Refugee stories about and for young people“.
A bibliography with links to relevant websites is listed by title can be … Continue reading ...

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7. Friday Feature: House of the Lost Girls

by Carissa Ann Lynch 
Series: Flocksdale Files Book #2
Publisher: Limitless Publishing
Seventeen year old Marianna Bertagnoli is miserable…
Not only did her father abandon her five years ago, now she’s being uprooted and forced to move with her mother and new stepdad to a creepy Victorian house they inherited in the even creepier town of Flocksdale.
Flocksdale has an evil, ugly past—and history has a way of repeating itself…
Marianna notices some strange qualities about her new home, and soon realizes she’s living in none other than the infamous House of Horrors. That’s right, the very house where the demented Garrett family ran a drug ring, leading to the kidnappings and murders of forty young girls.
The dark energy of the town begins to rise again…
Within a week of moving in, Marianna’s mother disappears, one of her small group of new friends is found murdered, and she’s attacked by a man wearing a hideous clown mask. As she searches for answers, Marianna wonders if the malevolence still lingers, somehow alive…and how her stepdad came to own the House of Horrors.
Unsure who to trust, Marianna turns to Wendi Wise, a survivor of the Garretts’ crimes…
Caught up in twisted family ties and surrounded by deceit, Marianna is targeted by a new generation of evil. Doubly imprisoned—in her own body and in the real house of the lost girls—Marianna needs Wendi’s help to unravel the bizarre history of Flocksdale.
But will Marianna survive long enough to bring the evil to light…or will she be trapped in the house of the lost girls forever?


Chapter One:
Fuck Flocksdale. Not my words—someone else’s. The flat black spray paint obliterated the real words—Welcome to—on the shiny metal sign greeting us on our way into Flocksdale. Our new town. Not my choice of towns—someone else’s.
In the backseat of my parents’ SUV, I was slumped down in the seat with yellow earbuds shoved as far into the openings of my ears as they would go. The ornery words aroused me from my black mood, and I leaned forward, pressing my face to the glass as we passed.
I tried not to smile. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one who hated this town.
“Wow. That’s just great,” my mother said, also noticing the nasty words scrawled on the sign as we passed by. “Who would do something like that?” she asked.
“Oh, honey. You know who. Rotten teenagers,” my stepdad uttered disgustedly, staring back at me in the rearview mirror. I may as well have written the words myself based on his nasty look. It was so obvious that he hated me. Why couldn’t my mother see that? Or maybe she sees it and just doesn’t care, I thought bitterly.
I narrowed my eyes at my stepdad darkly, sliding back down in my seat. I turned up the volume on my iPod, switched the song to Boulevard of Broken Dreams by Green Day. I mouthed words to the song, lonely lyrics about walking alone, as we entered my new town of Flocksdale.
I hated him…not my stepdad, but my real dad. For leaving my mom and I five years ago, and ultimately, bequeathing me to this asshole. Everything between my mom and dad was fine, and then one day it wasn’t. He left a note, saying he was going to live with his new girlfriend.
A note. If I ever got to see him again, I had a few notes of my own to give him.
My mom and George got married only a year ago, but George had been wrecking my life ever since.
Like right now, for instance.
He had accepted a job in Flocksdale, and even though my mom had her own job in Ohio, and I had my school and friends, here we were—starting over. Our lives didn’t matter to him. It was all about him, furthering his career goals. He didn’t care that I had to leave my old school. The school I’d attended my entire life…
Despite the explicit greeting on the way in, the part of town we drove into seemed quiet and quaint. It was nearly ten o’clock at night, but the main street was free of motorists and the sidewalks held no pedestrians. Rows of brick buildings, apparently small businesses, lined the street on both sides, “We’re Closed” signs firmly displayed in their windows.
“Well, this definitely looks like a peaceful town, Georgie,” my mother said, using that stupid pet name I hated for ‘George.’ She patted my stepdad’s arm, her attempt to let him know she was fine with moving here. That she’d forgiven him. Her eyes fluttered back to meet mine, encouraging me to do the same, but I closed them, refusing to cater to Georgie’s sensitivity. Well, I haven’t…I mouthed sulkily.
I was never going to be okay with moving here. Technically, I was almost eighteen and soon to be free to go anywhere I wanted. But even after I finished my senior year of high school, at my new school, there was supposed to be college and all that…
In other words, I was stuck with my mother and surrogate daddy for at least a few more years. And now I was stuck serving out my time in this lame-ass town called Flocksdale.
“Are you sure anyone really lives here?” I asked, yanking my earbuds out. My mother shot me a death glare and my stepdad ignored my comment. He’d grown up here in this dump, and I knew insulting his alma mater would get under his skin.
But getting under his skin was turning out to be one of my favorite pastimes.
I twisted my hair in a tight bun and started packing up my book and iPod into my messenger bag. It was all I’d brought, besides my duffel bag containing a few outfits. Everything else was coming by U-Haul. I didn’t care about my stuff. It was my friends and school I worried about leaving behind.
I was relieved to see lights up ahead, illuminating a McDonald’s and CVS as we entered the heart of town. So, there is civilization here, I thought wearily.
More businesses—a grocery store, diner, coffee shop, and a badass-looking used book store. Then the stores faded away and we entered a cluster of residential houses and neighborhoods. The houses were small and close together, mostly shotguns, but then they got larger and grander as we got further from town.
“We’re getting close. It’s on the river,” George said, his voice taking on an excited, boyish tone. I knew we were getting close to the water because the houses were taking on a strange quality. Some of them were sitting up high on stilts. I’d never seen anything like it.
“I guess they’re worried about floods here,” I remarked softly. I had to admit, the houses looked pretty cool, sitting up high on solid, wooden beams. Like they were too cool to hang out on the ground with the rest of the houses.
“Yeah, sometimes the river gets high around here. But there hasn’t been a major flood in forty years,” my mom said, answering for George.
But then he said, “Nearly thirty houses and businesses were torn down and rebuilt. They built smarter the second time around, preparing for floods. But we won’t have to worry about that…”
Rolling down the window, I leaned my head out, sucking in deep breaths of damp July air. Why did they tear them down? And who were “they”? I wanted to ask, but then I could almost hear…water.
There it was—rolling, murky water with steaming pipes from a nuclear plant on the other side of the river. A huge sea of nothing but water, and more nothingness beyond it. An old, metal walking bridge glittered in the distance. “It’s down here,” George nearly whispered, taking a turn onto Clemmons Street.
There were nearly six houses on both sides of the street, all built on stilts . But at the end was a gigantic Victorian home, its own flood wall behind it, sitting right on the river. It towered in the black night sky, moonlight dancing crazily on the rough waters in the background.
It was beautiful in an eerie sort of way and as we pulled up in front of it, I felt the hairs on the back of my neck stand upright. Could it be…? The House of Horrors…?
That’s right. I did my research on this place. The town of Flocksdale had a history. A nasty, evil sort of history.
Nearly twenty years ago, a deranged family ran some sort of trafficking/drug ring. The bodies of nearly forty young girls were found buried in the crawlspaces, basements, and backyards of the townspeople involved in the operation. The townspeople of Flocksdale.
All of the perpetrators were either apprehended or dead, but it still gave me the creeps. I’d read everything I could find on the internet about the murders. In some of the write-ups, I’d read about the description of the main house used in the kidnappings and subsequent killings—an old, creepy Victorian. A description that seemed to fit this one. Surely, there were other Victorian homes in this town? Right…?
I’d tried to tell my mom, and even George, about it. But George ignored me, and my mom said, “Every town has history and crime is everywhere, Marianna. George grew up there, so it must be all right.” Yeah…that made me feel a whole hell of a lot better.
George parked the SUV in a concrete driveway out front of the house. I made no attempt to get out. I stared up at this beautiful monster of a house, wondering what was in store for me in this creepy little town with its even creepier history. I shivered involuntarily. Two words came to mind: Fuck Flocksdale.

★ Paperback: http://amzn.to/1Q6FAhr

Besides my family, my greatest love in life is books. Reading them, writing them, holding them, smelling them…well, you get the idea. I've always loved to read and never considered myself a "writer" until a few years ago when I couldn't find a book to read and decided to try writing my own story. I'm the author of Have You Seen This Girl? (Flocksdale Files Book #1), Grayson's Ridge, and This Is Not About Love. I reside in Floyds Knobs, Indiana with my husband, children, and massive collection of books.

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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8. Revisited: Home and Away by John Marsden and Matt ottley

Home and Away, written by John Marsden, illustrated by Matt Ottley (Lothian Children’s Books, 2008)


Home and Away
written by John Marsden, illustrated by Matt Ottley
(Lothian Children’s Books, 2008)

The definite scribbling out of the word “Home” in … Continue reading ...

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9. Review: Infandous

Infandousby Elana K. Arnold. Carolrhoda LAB. 2015. Review from ARC.

The Plot: It's the summer before senior year, and Sephora Golding is 17. She lives in a one bedroom apartment with her mother, still model beautiful, and young -- only 35.

Seph is figuring out her way to adulthood. She's going to summer school because she failed geometry. She's considering her well off aunt's offer to move across the country for her final year of school. She's working on her art, and has a few pieces around Venice Beach. She's resisting her mother's suggestion that she get a part time job. And she's trying not to think about Felix, the older man she met earlier this year --

Felix. Who she is trying not to think about. Older, handsome, and it was her choice to spend the night with him....

The Good: A terrific book, with so much packed into it.

Sephora is telling us her story, but is also telling us fairy tales and myths, stories of lost girls and terrible things. She is telling us her own story, warning us that in real life fairy tales don't have happy-ever-after endings. She is telling us her own story  . . . . eventually.

Seph's story is of a girl born to a beautiful, single, teen mother who has made her own way in the world. Her own way is this rundown one bedroom apartment, going to night school. But here is one of the great things about Infandous: yes, it's the story of a girl with a beautiful mother. And a family that is living paycheck to paycheck. And it's also the story of a parent and child who love each other very much. There is no jealousy or hatred. And Seph doesn't complain, isn't bitter about where they live or how they make do.

But Seph is trying to figure out herself, her sexuality, her desire, and the person she has to measure herself against is a beautiful mother who still turns heads. And while she loves her aunt and her cousins, she sees what they have and thinks about how, when her mother was pregnant and unwed and disowned by her parents, her aunt picked her parents and didn't fight for her sister or her sister's child.

And meeting Felix -- meeting Felix was a chance for Seph to try out a different persona. So she said her name was Annie and that she was nineteen and a college student, adding years to her age. And she went to bed with him, willing and eager. "No one held a knife to my rib cage," she assures us. "I put myself in that room." And at the time, she thinks how different it is with Felix than with the other boys she'd been with, that there was warmth, that "I was a flower and I opened, I softened, and I ripened and warmed. I felt, I thought, like a woman rather than a girl, and as he found his way inside me, I wondered -- fleetingly -- if this was what sex was like for my mother." But now, with distance and knowledge, she is cold. And wonders about fault.

Seph is figuring out her life, and her friendships, and her own needs and feelings. Things happen, in life, like in fairy tales -- and you can decide what to do with that, with what happens to you. A person can be damaged, but a person can remain whole. And this perhaps is what I liked best about Infandous: that love cannot save one. And that bad things happen, or people do bad things, but one can still have that love that while it doesn't save, it keeps one whole.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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10. Writing Conflict: How to Ruin (Fictional) Lives

Sometimes, terrible things happen to characters. It’s just a fact of fiction.

But as authors, sometimes we want pull back before things get too awful for our sweet, precious characters. Sometimes we want to make things easy because we love them.

My dear writer friends, that is not how our characters grow. Like mama birds shoving their chicks out of the nest to make them fly, we must make everything just awful so their true potential can shine.

Here are a few ways I like to shove my character birdies out of the nest:

  1. Take away something they love.
  2. Give them something they want. Take it away.
  3. Make it impossible for them to have something they want because of their own action/inaction.
  4. Do the opposite of what they want. If they want to go right, force them left.
  5. Make someone else want the thing your character wants so they have to race for it.
  6. Give someone else the thing your character wants.
  7. Use one goal against another in a battle of What’s Most Important?
  8. Destroy the thing they want so that no one can have it. (Cackling encouraged.)

Okay, lots of my ways to ruin lives involve waving what they want in front of them—then snatching it away. That sounds really, really mean, but believe me, properly motivated characters are characters willing to take action. And the closer they get to what they want, the harder they work.

And if the thing they want is gone/impossible to get, the character might have to reach higher for a new goal— something they didn’t know they wanted until everything else was stripped away. Maybe they couldn’t see it before. Maybe their focus was divided.

Don’t limit their goals to one thing, though! Give them a few things to desire, even if they mostly take action toward one thing. Keeping loved ones safe is always a good goal. Going after their personal dreams is another good one. Family and dreams can be good at conflicting with one another. (Sometimes families want characters to be a blacksmith, but the character wants to be a candlemaker! And sometimes characters have to choose between saving the blacksmith family from a tragic goat stampede . . . and going to the chandler convention in the next town over.)

And heck, definitely use combinations of the above list. Don’t limit yourself to one trick. Push until those little character birdies fly.

How else do you like to ruin your characters’ lives motivate your characters to take action?

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11. What We Left Behind – Diversity Reading Challenge, 2015

Title: What We Left Behind Author: Robin Talley Publisher: Harlequin Teen, 2015 Themes: Gender, binary identity, lesbianism, transgender, genderqueer, pronouns, starting college, relationships, romance Genre: Contemporary YA/NA Ages: 14+ Source: ARC received from publisher in exchange for an unbiased review. (Quotes from the ARC therefor subject to change.) Opening: October           … Continue reading

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12. Monday Mishmash 11/16/15

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:
  1. New Deal For Seek  Last Monday I told you I signed a new author to Leap Books Seek. Well, the announcement ran in Publisher's Weekly last Tuesday so I can share it now. I'm so excited to work with Sheri Larsen on Motley Education.
  2. The Haunted Realm  Emilyann Girdner has a new book out. Check out The Haunted RealmIn this riveting continuation of the story, Araina again faces a series of seemingly impossible magical obstacles. As Araina and her friends search for answers about their Creators and their magical labyrinth world, their journey becomes rife with peril when Araina falls victim to illness. Despite heart-pricking losses in the labyrinth swamps, vengeful ghostly attackers in the Blinking Willows, and many other dangerous obstacles, Araina is determined to succeed. If Araina can’t solve the mysteries of the haunted realm and find a cure for her sickness, she and her friends may never escape the labyrinth, or even live to try.
  3. Editing  I have two client edits and an edit for Leap on my plate this week. Eek!
  4. Eye Strain  I've apparently been editing too much lately. My eyes are starting to really hurt from all the computer time. Sadly, I may need to scale back on all this editing. My eyes have always been an issue and I'm starting to worry that I'm doing damage to them.
  5. Into the Fire  I've been hard at work editing Into the Fire. The book is so different now, and I love it. I can't wait to share it with you all.
That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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13. 6 Young Adult Books That Use Illustrations

Is it possible to grow out of picture books? Because I HAVEN’T YET. The highlight of my week is taking my pre-schooling niece and nephew to the library and getting to reread all my favourite childhood picture books. Young Adult books are totally missing out. Seriously. But there are some YA books that make use of art and […]

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14. Review: How to Love

How to Love by Katie Cotugno. Balzer & Bray. 2013. Review copy from publisher.

The Plot: Three years ago, Sawyer LeGrande ran away, leaving behind family and friends. Leaving Serena Montero, his girlfriend.

His pregnant girlfriend.

Reena has put the pieces of her life back together, including making peace with her disapproving father. Instead of her dreams of college, she's raising a two year old, going to the local college, working. She has a new boyfriend, she has good friends.

And Sawyer comes back to town.

The Good: A romance with a lot of appeal.

The story flips back and forth between Sawyer and Reena's intense, high school love three years ago and the present reality of betrayal, hurt, and attraction. So the reader gets two stories, one of first love and one of second chances.

I liked Reena because, well, she was in a tough place and she did what she had to do. When she got pregnant, and decided to have and keep the baby, she reorganized and adjusted her dreams. Though I kept thinking, if she had had more support from the families, if there was less judging and more compassion -- but there wasn't. And she's at a good place when Sawyer returns.

Sawyer, who by leaving town managed to escape the consequences Reena had to face and had to live with, is back. As I said, this is also a second chances love story, with Sawyer and Reena working through their feelings and family complications, as well as learning about who each other is now, not who they were. Not who they remember them as.

With the ages of the main characters, and the two stories at two time periods, this has appeal for both teen readers and New Adult readers.

Amazon Affiliate. If you click from here to Amazon and buy something, I receive a percentage of the purchase price.

© Elizabeth Burns of A Chair, A Fireplace & A Tea Cozy

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15. Writer Wednesday: Teaming Up With Other Authors

It's no secret that I'm a huge proponent of authors supporting other authors, but today I want to take that one step further and talk about authors teaming up with other authors. This is such a great way to help each other promote and to reach a new audience. This week, I'm teaming up with 11 other YA authors to bring readers a huge giveaway. It's great for the readers, and it's great for the authors too because we are reaching new potential fans and sharing our fan bases with each other. If you haven't yet teamed up with other authors like this, I'd encourage you to try it. And before you go, check out the giveaway and be sure to enter. There are so many prizes to win!

First, here are the participating authors:

Now for the prizes. There will be a winner for each prize. Yes, that means there are a ton of chances to win!


2 $40 gift cards
eBook of PERFECT FOR YOU by Ashelyn Drake
eBook of FINE ART OF PRETENDING by Rachel Harris
eBook of SOMETHING ABOUT LOVE by Elana Johnson
eBook of ELEVATED by Elana Johnson
eBook of PLAYING WITH FIRE by Sherry Ficklin
One of the GUARDIANS OF GALAXY books by Ednah Walters
RITE OF REJECTION by Sarah Negovetich
4 copies of THE TROUBLE WITH DESTINY by Lauren Morrill
eBook set of THE DARK BETRAYAL Trilogy by Nichole Chase

eBook of TOUCHING SMOKE by Airicka Phoenix
eBook of DAUGHTER OF CHAOS by Jen McConnel

You can enter on my Facebook page or on the Rafflecopter form below. The giveaway is international and will run from November 9th to November 15th. Good luck!

Giveaway hosted by Ashelyn Drake. 

More info about Ashelyn can be found below: 

Ashelyn is a pen name for Kelly Hashway. Kelly grew up reading R.L. Stein’s Fear Street novels and writing stories of her own, so it was no surprise to her family when she majored in English and later obtained a masters degree in English Secondary Education from East Stroudsburg University. After teaching middle school language arts for seven years, Hashway went back to school and focused specifically on writing. She is now the author of three young adult series, one middle grade series, and several picture books. She also writes contemporary romance under the pen name Ashelyn Drake. When she isn’t writing, Hashway works as a freelance editor for small presses as well as for her own list of clients. In her spare time, she enjoys running, traveling, and volunteering with the PTO. Hashway currently resides in Pennsylvania with her husband, daughter, and two pets.

*Sign up for Ashelyn's newsletter to stay current on her new releases: http://bit.ly/1tRQqzg

Join her street team, Kelly’s Coven, for exclusive giveaways, ARCs, and to chat with her: https://www.facebook.com/groups/KellysCoven/

*If you have a question you'd like me to answer from the other side of the editor's desk, feel free to leave it in the comments and I'll schedule it for a future post.

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16. Review: The Wordkeepers by Jash Sen

Book one in YA trilogy, The Wordkeepers, by Jash Sen (Duckbill Books, 2013)


The Wordkeepers
written by Jash Sen
(Duckbill Books, 2013)

Epic in its scope, The Wordkeepers begins with a prologue set five thousand years ago, … Continue reading ...

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17. The Best YA First Lines

Deciding which book to read next can be a minor nightmare. (There are so many! They must all be read! How do we make the decision! Help!) But my mind can quickly be made up if the book has an epic first line. That first mouthful of words is so important. It sets the tone of the book […]

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18. Monday Mishmash 11/9/15

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:
  1. Leap News  I've signed another author to Leap Books Seek. I'm so excited about this book and can't wait to share the news. I'm just waiting on the Publisher's Weekly announcement. :)
  2. Editing  This week I'll be editing the new book I acquired. 
  3. Drafting  I'm a little jealous of all the people writing away for NaNoWriMo, so I may attempt to get some words in on my adult thriller this week. I had to put it aside to edit for clients. And yes, you read that correctly. I'm writing an adult thriller.
  4. Review Opportunity  I'm looking for a few more readers to review Our Little Secret. If you're willing to read the book and review it on Amazon, let me know in the comments, or email me at khashway(at)hotmail(dot)com and I'll send you a review copy.
  5. Huge Multi-Author YA Giveaway  I'm teaming up with a bunch of amazing YA authors to bring you a huge giveaway. There are tons of prizes and tons of chances to win! Here's what's up for grab: 

2 $40 gift cards
eBook of PERFECT FOR YOU by Ashelyn Drake
eBook of FINE ART OF PRETENDING by Rachel Harris
eBook of SOMETHING ABOUT LOVE by Elana Johnson
eBook of ELAVATED by Elana Johnson
eBook of PLAYING WITH FIRE by Sherry Ficklin
One of the GUARDIANS OF GALAXY books by Ednah Walters
RITE OF REJECTION by Sarah Negovetich
4 copies of THE TROUBLE WITH DESTINY by Lauren Morrill
eBook set of THE DARK BETRAYAL Trilogy by Nichole Chase
eBook of TOUCHING SMOKE by Airicka Phoenix 

The giveaway is international and will run from November 9th through November 15th. Enter on my Ashelyn FB page or on the rafflecopter form below. Good luck!

a Rafflecop-ter giveaway

That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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19. Thirteen Scary YA Books: Diverse Edition



Thirteen Scary YA Books (diverse edition) This post was originally posted October 14, 2014.

Halloween is right around the corner. There’s no better way to celebrate than by reading books that will scare you to pieces! Here’s a lucky thirteen list of our favorites (all featuring diverse characters or by diverse authors):

  1. Half WorldHalf World by Hiromi Goto – Melanie Tamaki lives with her mother in abject poverty. Then, her mother disappears. Melanie must journey to the mysterious Half World to save her.
  2. Vodnik by Bryce Moore – Sixteen-year-old Tomas moves back to Slovakia with his family and discovers the folktales of his childhood were more than just stories.
  3. The Immortal Rules by Julie Kagawa – Allie Sekemoto survives by scavenging for food by day. She hates the vampires who keep humans like cattle for their food. Until the day she dies and wakes up as a vampire.
  4. Liar by Justine Larbalestier – Micah is a liar; it’s the only thing she’ll tell you the truth about. But when her boyfriend Zach is murdered, the whole truth has to come out.
  5. Battle Royale by Koushan Takami – A group of junior high school students are sent to an island and forced to fight to the death until only one of them survives.
  6. Summer of the Mariposas by Guadalupe Garcia McCall – Odilia and her sisters discover a Wolf Mark coverdead man’s body while swimming in the Rio Grande. They journey across Mexico to return his body in this Odyssey-inspired tale.
  7. Devil’s Kiss by Sarwat Chadda – Zombies, ghouls, and vampires all make appearances in the story of Bilquis SanGreal, the youngest and only female member of the Knights Templar.
  8. Panic by Sharon Draper – Diamond knows better than to get into a car with a stranger. But when the stranger offers her the chance to dance in a movie, Diamond makes a very wrong decision.
  9. Ten by Gretchen McNeil – Ten teens head to a secluded island for an exclusive party…until people start to die. A modern YA retelling of Agatha Christie’s And Then There Were None.
  10. Wolf Mark by Joseph Bruchac – Inspired by the Abenaki skinwalker legend, this YA thriller is Burn Notice with werewolves.
  11. The Girl From The WellThe Girl from the Well by Rin Chupeco – A dead girl roams the streets, hunting murders. A strange tattooed boy moves to the neighborhood with a deadly secret.
  12. 172 Hours on the Moon by Johan Harstad –  Three teenagers win the vacation of a lifetime: a week-long trip to the moon. But something sinister is waiting for them in the black vacuum of space.
  13. Anna Dressed in Blood by Kendare Blake – Cas Lowood is a ghost hunter, called to Thunder Bay, Ontario to get rid of a ghost the locals call Anna Dressed in Blood, who has killed every person who has stepped foot in the house she haunts.

What else would you add to the list?

0 Comments on Thirteen Scary YA Books: Diverse Edition as of 10/22/2015 10:13:00 AM
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20. Friday Feature: Keeper Witches by Kristy Centeno

Keeper of the Innocents 
Genre: YA/Paranormal
Series: Keeper Witches # 2
Length: 276 pages
Publisher: Limitless Publishing LLC
Date Published: July 6, 2014

Book Blurb: 
Demi Redding has used her powers to vanquish demons for years, but when one shows up next door she will be forced to set both her experience and instincts aside to battle a war that has nothing to do with magic, and everything to do with matters of the heart.

As a Keeper of the Innocents, Demi’s load as a guardian reduces with only one charge to take on at a time. However, when her new foe proves to be a force she can neither see nor find, she has no choice but to doubt the so-called good intentions of the stranger one door down.

Rhyzel Connor is not your average neighbor by any means. The red specks of color in his green eyes alone sets him apart and his demonic heritage makes him an easy target. Because of who he is he can’t afford a mistake that will result in his demise, but the fact that he knows way too much about Demi quickly raises the suspicion veil over him.

There is a mission he must complete, and secrets he must fight hard to keep, but the biggest hardship he must face will be forfeiting his life in order to save Demi’s.

Short Description:
Demi is a witch on a mission.
Rhyzel is a half demon on the run.
When their worlds collide, Demi must come to terms with the fact that he might not be as dangerous as she thought. Or as innocent as she wants him to be.

Book Link:
Buy Links:
Book Trailer:

Teaser Excerpt:
Everything happened so fast I couldn’t even react. Stunned, I just stood there for a moment trying to size up my attacker. Before I even glanced up to look at his face I could tell something was off with him, but because of my nervousness, it was hard to tell for sure. He’d come out of nowhere, and if he intended to kill me, I was easy prey.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” a deeply masculine voice growled at me. Fortunately, that same voice helped break me out of my stupor. 

I was prepared to see some form of evil glaring down at me, but what I found when I glanced up was definitely not what I was expecting. The handsome stranger staring at me was hot. Not just your average Joe kind of hot. No. This was like the kind of hot that makes a girl want to sin in ways she’d never done before.

His pale skin, tousled, bronze colored hair, and full lips were striking to look at, but his eyes left me completely speechless.

Perfectly round green eyes stared back at me and though they were gorgeous all on their own, it was the few specks of red in his irises that I found beautiful and so unusual. I was left with my mouth hanging open. I’d never seen eyes that color before and no matter how many times my brain yelled at me to look away, I just couldn’t. I was drawn to him. To his unique eyes. To the mystery that shrouded him.

“Are you deaf?” the tone of his voice rose a little more.

“No…no. I-I…was just—” My speech was impaired by his handsomeness and I felt stupid. It wasn’t like he was the first cute guy I’d ever seen. As a matter of fact, I’d broken up with my boyfriend two months ago and he’d been the cutest guy I’d ever seen. Now that this stranger was standing in front of me, I wasn’t so sure anymore. 

About the author:
Kristy Centeno is the author of the Secrets of the Moon saga and Keeper Witches series.
She has always had a passion for books and after years of being an avid reader, she decided to transform her desire to write into a reality and thus, her first novel was born. When shes not busy taking care of her five children or holding down the fort, she finds time to sit and do what she loves the most: writing.

Linked In: HYPERLINK "http://www.linkedin.com/in/kristycenteno/" www.linkedin.com/in/kristycenteno/

~~~~ * ~~~~ Book one is available for free at Amazon ~~~~ * ~~~~

Book Blurb:
Bryn McCaskey is young, naïve, and can talk to ghosts…

Like her mother and grandmother, Bryn comes from a breed of witches called The Keepers of the Lost Souls. Their main purpose is to guard those spirits who are permanently or temporarily grounded in the world of the living. Handling supernatural creatures is something which comes naturally to Bryn, however, dealing with people is a whole different story.

As her 18th birthday approaches it's time for her to take on her first assignment. Bryn is forced to confront her inability to communicate with others in an effort to save the one soul that can mean the difference between life and death for mankind.

Johnny Shaw is a lost soul with a personal vendetta against witches...

A vendetta he has carried on even after death. As much as he hate's them he must join forces with a keeper witch, in order to stop a century old threat. When fate brings them together, not only will they be forced to learn how to work as a team, but they will have to depend on each other to stop an evil witch carrying a six hundred year grudge!

Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up.

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21. Review: Fans of the Impossible Life by Kate Scelsa

Fans of the Impossible Life is an exceptionally magnificent YA contemporary and I AM SO HAPPY! I felt totally caught up in this book. I wanted to laugh and cry and maybe howl (because heartbreak) and I definitely ended up craving pizza. I am a fan of this book. (Get it?! Fan…because…okay, never mind.)   ABOUT THE BOOK: Fans […]

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22. Review: Where I Belong by Tara White

Where I Belong by Tara White (Tradewind Books, 2014 (Canada)/2015 (UK and US))
Where I Belong

by Tara White
(Tradewind Books, 2014 (Canada)/2015 (US & UK))


Sixteen-year-old Carrie tells her story of what happened in the summer of 1990, when she … Continue reading ...

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23. Review: My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick

My Life Next Door by Huntley Fitzpatrick absolutely wrapped around my heart and turned me into a snowcone of happiness and sprinkles. It successfully kidnapped my attention and held it! And I am so impressed right now, because usually I’m a contemporary snob, but My Life Next Door ticked all the boxes of awesome. It had a checklist of my […]

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24. Monday Mishmash 11/2/15

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:
  1. I Signed a Three-Book Deal! I'm really excited to say that my young adult series, Into the Fire, has a new home. You may remember Into the Fire was released last year as an Ashelyn Drake title. Well, I've added to the book and decided it is most definitely a Kelly Hashway title. All three books in the series will release through Limitless Publishing. And yes, you read that correctly. Into the Fire will have NEW content, never before seen! Here's the Publisher's Marketplace announcement: 
  2. Editing  I've been on an editing role lately. I'm even booking clients for 2016 already.
  3. FREE Monthly Newsletter  My free monthly newsletter went out yesterday. If you didn't get a copy but would like one, you can sign up here.
  4. Creepy Short Story on Lightning Quick Reads  Last week, the lovely bloggers over at Lightning Quick Reads posted my short story "House of Horrors." You can read it here.
  5. Halloween Fun  I never post pictures of my daughter online. (Yes, I'm one of those paranoid mothers.) I do, however, post pictures of my dog, Hadley, and this was too cute not to share. I hope everyone had a safe and happy Halloween!

    That's it for me. What's on your mind today?

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25. Friday Feature: The Innocent by Michelle K. Pickett

 photo The-Innocent.png
Title:  The Innocent
Series:  The Milayna Series, Book 3
Author:  Michelle K. Pickett
Published:  November 3, 2015  
Publisher:  Clean Teen Publishing
Genre:  YAm Paranormal Romance
Content Warning:  Violence and Language
Recommended Age:  16+
Synopsis:  A year ago, eighteen year-old Milayna fought Azazel, Hell’s angel, for her soul. She thought she’d seen the last of him, but he’s back, and he’s brought his friends with him. The Four Brothers want Milayna’s life, and they have wicked powers to use to take it.
While Milayna struggles against the Four Brothers, she also has to fight Azazel for her younger brother’s soul. Ben is at a crucial point in his life—a time when he is weakest to Azazel and his powers. Milayna has to shield her brother from Azazel until Ben reaches the age of accountability and enters a period of safety from Azazel and his soul-sucking demons.
As if having four demon brothers out to end her life and Hell’s angel out to steal her brother’s soul wasn’t enough, Milayna is still reeling from the disappearance of Chay. Can she find him in time to save their relationship? Or will the constant struggle with Hell and all its evil send her seeking comfort in the arms of Xavier?

Amazon | Barnes & Noble | GoodReads

Xavier floored the engine and took off in the direction of mile marker 122.
“There it is.” I pointed at the bridge I saw in my vision. A knife sank into my side, and I stifled a scream. I squeezed my side with one hand and massaged my pounding head with the other.
Broken windows… mangled steel… smashed cars. I look down. Not a knife. A piece of metal protrudes from my side. Blood. Lots of blood. Screaming.
I smell… sulfur. Rotting flesh… charred meat. Hell.
“You didn’t say anything about a bridge,” Drew said.
“I saw one. It’s just before it.” I nodded toward the window. “See?
There’s the mile marker. This is definitely the place,” I gasp around the pain.
“What do we do now?” Muriel asked quietly.
“Xavier, turn the SUV sideways and start driving back and forth in front of the cars to make them back up. The farther back they get from the mile marker, the better.” My breathing was labored and my voice barely a whisper.
“And if some don’t move?”
“I don’t know.” I met his gaze. “We tried. That’s all we can do.”
Xavier turned on the shoulder and drove across the lanes of the highway, earning a lot of honks and quite a few fingers along the way. When he reached the median, he’d back up until he reached the other side.
Then he’d throw it in drive and start again. It worked. Some cars started backing up, away from the lunatic driver. Others held their ground. Too bad they wouldn’t be able to hold it much longer. I could already hear the pavement cracking. Xavier had time for one, maybe two passes. That was it. Whoever was left had to fend for themselves.
A large crack sounded, and I looked at Xavier. It was time to get out of there. He threw the SUV in reverse and flew across the highway until he reached the shoulder. Swinging around, going toward traffic, he drove on the shoulder away from the impending sinkhole.
“How’s the vision?” Xavier asked, looking over at me.
“It’s still there, but not as bad.” The pain in my head had lessened.
The sharp icepick had been replaced with a rubber mallet, and the piece of scrap metal in my side had disappeared.
His eyes darted in front of him for a second before his gaze fell back on me. “I thought when the situation was corrected, the vision would go away?”
“It will.”
“Well? How come it hasn’t?” Drew leaned forward, sticking his head in the space between the two front seats.
“People are still going to die. I didn’t fulfill everything I was supposed to. And Jord is still out there somewhere. Until he’s caught and killed, along with the other three Brothers, I don’t think my visions will go away completely.”
“So… you… you’ll see those people—”
“Die?” I interrupted Drew. “No. I don’t see it. I just kinda know. It sounds awful, but I’ve gotten used to it.”
I don’t see it—I feel it. Too much. Stuff I don’t want to feel. And I’m lying. I haven’t gotten used to it. I won’t ever get used to it.
“That’s not horrible, Milayna. That’s just your coping mechanism kicking in. You have to have one or you’d go insane from the things you’ve seen and gone through in the last year,” Xavier said softly.
“Who said I haven’t gone insane already?” I said with a chuckle.
“That’s true, Xavier. Some of us are taking bets on when her first nervous breakdown will be. Want to wager?” Muriel chewed on the end of the straw in her Coke and grinned.
“No!” He sounded indignant.
“Don’t worry; she’s only joking,” I said and rolled my eyes at Muriel.
Xavier was an angel. He’d only lived on earth a few months. He hadn’t gotten used to how humans joked and teased yet, which made him the perfect person to play tricks on. It could be hilarious.
I jumped when a sharp stab bit into the side of my neck. Warmth spread across my skin. I felt my neck, but I knew nothing was there. Just a sensation of the vision. Another pain radiated up my leg. My leg vibrated with it. The warmth in my neck disappeared, leaving it cold. The person was gone.

Grab your copy of book 1, Milayna, for FREE on Amazon!

 photo Michelle-K-Pickett.jpg
About the Author:
Michelle is the bestselling author of the young adult novel “PODs.” She was born and raised in Flint, Michigan, but now lives in a sleepy suburb outside Houston with her extremely supportive husband, three school-aged children, a 125 pound “lap dog,” and a very snooty cat.
Red Bull or Monster Khaos are her coffee of choice, and she can’t write without peanut butter M&Ms and a hoodie. A hopeful romantic; she loves a swoon-worthy ending that will give her butterflies for days. She writes across genres in the young adult and new adult age groups. She loves to hear from her readers.
Michelle signed her new young adult contemporary novel— Unspeakable, with Clean Teen Publishing in 2014.

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Clean Teen Publishing Links:
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Giveaway Details:
There is a tour wide giveaway. Prizes include the following:
  • If US, the winner will receive a mystery box from Clean Teen Publishing
  • If International, the winner will receive a $25 Amazon gift card.
Ends November 9th at Midnight (EST)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

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