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Back to School Giveaway! 11 participating YA Authors… ONE WINNER. #giveaway #YALit

Back to School Giveaway –

11 YA Authors 1 Winner

I’m so excited to be part of this AH-MAZING giveaway.
11 YA authors, giving away 15 books
ONE PERSON TAKES ALL!
It’s like The Hunger Games, but nobody dies.
 
So what are we giving away and how do you enter?

 Enter here!

 So what’re you waiting for? Enter now and win some amazing books and swag to show off to all of your friends. 🙂
Happy Reading.

M9B Friday Reveal: Chapter One of Strange Country Day by Charles Curtis with Giveaway #M9BFridayReveals

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Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!

This week, we are revealing THE FIRST CHAPTER of

Strange Country Day by Charles Curtis

presented by Tantrum Books!

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

Strange-Country-Day-Cover

Alexander Graham Ptuiac, the son of an inventor, wants to play for the school’s football team. During tryouts, and under the watchful eye of the team’s coach, he suddenly manifests mysterious superhuman powers. Alexander makes the team, but not before the some ill-intended adults take notice, putting his life in danger.

Alex struggles to suppress and control his strange new abilities, worried about exposing his secret and being kicked off the football team. Then he befriends Dex, a diminutive classmate who can somehow jump as high as ten feet in the air. Seems Alex isn’t the only one at school with a secret.

As the school year unfolds, Alex will find himself the target of bullies, holding hands with his first crush and discovering the shocking truth about himself and his parents.

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CHAPTER ONE

You always hope your first day of school is uneventful. You lay low, you blend into the background, and you make it through without doing something that’ll get you tormented for an entire year.
That didn’t happen in my first few hours at Strange Country Day.
Here’s what did happen: just as I was about to be demolished by an elephant-sized bully named Flab, some superhuman power possessed me and I bloodied his nose. Another new kid named Dex escaped an ancient initiation ceremony by clambering up a bookcase like a mountain goat. That night, I played catch with a football-hurling robot.
That was Day One. A week later, I started crushing on the prettiest girl I’d ever seen.
Wait. I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s start from the beginning:
I stood at the front gates to Vance M. Strange Country Day School, staring up at the name of my new school, the letters set high above a set of iron bars that looked as if they had been there for centuries. The curlicues and script looked just as ancient.
It was Orientation Day, so I wouldn’t have to sit through any classes until tomorrow. After a tour given by an upperclassman, my new prep school brought the seventh graders to our state-of-the-art auditorium, where we listened to the headmaster lecture all 110 of us about Strange Country Day’s policies. It’s exactly what you’d expect—no gum in class, no graffiti, no lateness. But there were also some weird ones, like the ten-page booklet on “uniform violations.”
Oh, the uniforms. I couldn’t believe my parents made me go to a school with a strict dress code. I looked down at what I was wearing and winced: a button-down white shirt with a yellow tie—not a clipon, so we had to learn to tie a Double Windsor knot, whatever that was—that felt like it was choking me. I also sported tight khakis and brown, shiny loafers. The whole thing wouldn’t be complete without the navy blazer with the school emblem, a griffin—the mythological lion with wings—and words displayed below “Vance M. Strange Country Day School, est. 1904” above the front gate: In Via Incipit Hic.
I used my phone to look up the meaning: “The Road Starts Here” in Latin. My new school was some rich kids’ academy past presidents had attended, where future Wall Street barons first learned the quadratic equation and where I’d now start myself on the supposed road to greatness.
That road was real—it weaved through the gigantic campus. The school consisted of a dozen ivy-covered buildings spread out over a campus that spanned what looked like miles. Walking from the art building to where I was supposed to take history would take at least ten minutes, or so our tour guide warned us. I could see different trees planted everywhere with plaques describing them and what seemed like acres of neatly trimmed grass. My old school back home had been one small, cramped brick building with a slab of concrete out back that we played on during recess.
With the half-day orientation over, we headed for the front gate, where the buses would pick us up. I looked at the other kids in their uniforms and saw them joking around and greeting each other with complex handshakes, as if they were a basketball team after a playoff win. I heard nearly everyone entering seventh grade had graduated from Strange Lower School, so they all knew each other already. I wanted to introduce myself to someone, just so I wouldn’t feel awkward, but they passed me as if I were invisible. I turned back around to confront those iron gates, realizing that they were a jail from which I couldn’t escape.
I felt a heavy hand on my shoulder. I turned around to look up at a big kid wearing a maroon and yellow jacket with a giant version of the griffin on it. I could see a jersey with the number 77 underneath.
“Come with me—with them,” he said, pointing at a group of seventh grade boys.
We were led down a walkway, ushered inside one of the buildings and into a classroom. When the big guy opened the creaky windowless door, I saw most of my other male classmates. They all had the same fear written on their faces. We were surrounded by bigger guys—ninth graders, probably. Some of them were football players. A few more kids were squeezed in, and the “guards” shut the door. In front of the room, standing over us, was another player in a maroon and yellow jacket. He was the biggest guy in the room, hefty, but you could see it wasn’t all fat.
“Welcome to Fresh Meet Friday!” the enormous kid announced. The other ninth graders whooped and hollered. “Boys, since you’re about to join the Strange brotherhood, you can call me what everyone calls me: Flab.” That’s the worst name I’ve ever heard for someone that size.
“This is all about tradition, boys. Strange Country Day is filled with tradition. For starters, you are standing in the oldest building on campus, built in 1904. Three years later, this tradition began right here in the Roger Basil Thayer Room.” Strange alumni donated heaps of cash to have a room, a library desk, a water fountain, anything, named after them.
“Here’s how this works: you will stand in front of the room and pledge allegiance to Strange Country Day. Only then will we tell you the next step.” Flab paused for dramatic effect, and his classmates asked, almost in unison, “And what’s that?”
“ … You’ll find out soon enough,” he said, with a big grin.
We seventh graders exchanged looks but stayed silent. Flab explained the rules of the mysterious tradition: in exchange for our participation, they would agree to stay out of our way the rest of the year. Violations of this pact would result in punishment to the violator(s) and random acts against other classmates throughout the school year. We were not allowed to breathe a word of this to our parents, teachers, advisors, bus drivers, or otherwise at school. “We went through the same thing you’re about to go through, and not one of us retaliated,” he said as the mob nodded approval. One of the other ninth-graders interjected and pointed out that he’d heard of a kid decades ago who rebelled.
“And he had to transfer two months later.”
“Fight back and you’re fighting against Strange’s hundred years of tradition,” Flab finished with a grin. He picked up a book from the nearby desk and opened it. “Let’s start with … ” he trailed his chubby fingers over the pages. My heart nearly leapt through my crisp white shirt. “ … Dex Harrison.”
No one reacted. Flab looked up. “Dex. Get up here. Now,” he said.
The seventh-grader sea parted, and a kid emerged who looked to be about five feet tall. His skin was pale, an almost grayish color, and his pointy ears appeared to be higher up on the sides of his head than usual. His eyes were like slits. I never saw anyone who looked like that. There were some snickers among my classmates as he walked slowly to the front of the room. He stood there, surrounded by four ninth graders.
“Dex, do you swear to uphold the traditions, honor, and virtue that those before you have also sworn to defend?” Flab recited.
A barely audible, high-pitched “Yes” came out of Dex’s mouth. He scrunched up his eyes. “You have now joined the brotherhood of Strange Country Day,” Flab said, as he leaned back to watch the action.
As the quartet of ninth-graders began to move toward him, Dex jumped away. They tried stepping closer, but Dex kept backing away. The entire room, seventh and ninth graders alike, gasped. Some of us started laughing.
“Shut up!” Flab yelled. He slammed his fist down on the desk and marched over to Dex. “Don’t make this harder on yourself. You took the vow; you have to fulfill it.”
Flab and the others reached out to grab him, but Dex somehow eluded their grasps. He backed away as some of the seventh graders began to root him on. The others yelled for Dex to stop, knowing we would all suffer if he messed up the tradition. The noise in the classroom got louder. Dex backed into a bookcase filled with dusty volumes; he looked like he was about to be trapped. Just as Flab was ready to pounce on him, Dex darted up the bookcase with lightning speed. The roar was huge.
Dex had a weird way of celebrating his victory—he bared a set of sharp teeth and hissed at his pursuers, who grabbed books off the shelves and threw them at him. With incredible dexterity, he dodged every one of them, repeatedly displaying his spiky teeth at the ninth graders. That brought the room to a fever pitch.
The older kids began to shove some of us to stop the cheering. It was the beginning of a riot … and I was stuck in the middle of it. I tried to push my way back to the door.
There was no way that was happening—I felt shoves from behind. Sweat began pouring down my face as I saw Flab turn his attention away from Dex, who looked down at the action with a mix of horror and fascination. “Everyone stop!” Flab shouted. The seventh graders didn’t listen, pushing every kid in a football jersey they could see. I was shoved into Flab’s expansive back and stumbled back. As he turned to look at me, something, well, strange happened at Strange. Something that had never happened to me before today.
My vision got blurry, and my head began to pound. I smelled toasted marshmallows. Then it was like someone poured water through my veins, and it rushed through my arms, down to my feet and into my head, which stopped pounding. I couldn’t hear any of the noise of the chaos around me. Instead, a highpitched whistle took its place.
Squeeeeeeeee
Then it disappeared—the marshmallows, the water in my veins, the blurry vision … everything.
I watched as if detached from my body as my fist flew toward the behemoth standing before me and connected with his nose.
The entire room stopped moving. Silence. Shock. I looked down at my fist and back up at Flab, who stumbled and touched his bleeding nose. He couldn’t believe what I had done and neither could I.
“What the heck is going on in here?” The entire room turned its attention to the door, where a young man wearing a tie and a white shirt stood.
The man glared at us. “Anyone want to take a trip to visit Headmaster Hoyer?” It sounded like he was a teacher.
More than a hundred Strange students shook their heads in unison.
“Good. Then I’ll wait here while you clean up the mess you made, and maybe I’ll forget I saw anything.”
Silently, everyone started picking up books, papers, and uniform jackets. When we finished, the ninth-graders filed out, followed by my classmates.
“Thanks.”
I looked down at Dex. I was surprised to hear him talk. His voice was squeaky, like he’d swallowed a balloon full of helium.
“For what?”
“If you hadn’t hit him, they would have gotten me,”
“Now, it’s your turn to save me when they come to beat me up,” I said. I wasn’t kidding, either.
“Anytime,” he said with an odd grin. Up close, his teeth were even weirder, as if they were a little too big for his mouth.
“You did a pretty good job in there,” I replied. “Alex.” I offered my hand, and he shook it vigorously. His palm felt clammy.
“Dex.”
We figured out that we lived near each other, and that he was new, like me. But there was something else I was itching to know.
“How did you get up the bookcase so quickly? That was amazing!” Dex didn’t answer. Instead, his eyes got wide as he peered around me. I turned around to see Flab and a few other yellow and maroon jerseys headed our way.
Flab looked around to see if anyone was watching and then got close to me. I could see some dried blood near his nose.
With every word out of his mouth, he poked me in the chest. Hard. “You.” POKE. “Got.” POKE. “Lucky.” HARD POKE. He glanced down at his notebook.
“Alexander Ptuiac,” he growled, pronouncing what was supposed to be a silent “P” as he pushed his way past me, as did his fellow football teammates. I turned around to see what they would do to Dex as they brushed by him.
But Dex was gone.

 

About-the-Author

Charles Curtis

Charles Curtis is a writer and journalist based in New York City. He has reported and written for publications including NJ.com (where he is currently the site’s sports buzz reporter), The Daily, ESPN.com, ESPN the Magazine, Bleacher Report, TV Guide and Entertainment Weekly. Charles has covered the NFL, MLB, NHL, NBA, golf, tennis and NASCAR. He has also written about television, film and pop culture.
In addition, Curtis has also written, produced and was featured in videos for ESPN.com and The Daily. He has made radio appearances on stations including 92.9 The Ticket in Bangor, Maine, WLIE 540 AM in Long Island and on morning shows across Canada via the CBC.
He can be reached on Twitter: @charlescurtis82.

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

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M9B Two for Thursday Book Blitz – Shannon Duffy’s Gabriel Stone Series with Giveaway #T4T @chapterxchapter @shannonduffylit @tantrumbooks @Month9Books

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Welcome to this week’s Two for Thursday Book Blitz #T4T
presented by Month9books/Tantrum Books!

Today, we will be showcasing two titles that may tickle your fancy,
and we’ll share what readers have to say about these titles!

You just might find your next read!

This week, #T4T presents to you:

The Gabriel Stone Series by Shannon Duffy!

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

Gabriel-Stone-1

Gabriel Stone is a twelve-year-old boy still reeling from the unsolved disappearance of his mother. With a dad who’s hard to relate to, and mounting pressures at school, Gabriel lets off steam by hiking in the place where his mother was last seen. There, Gabe and friends find a crystal that proves not only beautiful, but magical beyond their wildest dreams. Only, magic and beauty come with a price: in order to return home, they must save the dying world of Valta.


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WHAT READER’S ARE SAYING:


“Gabriel Stone and the Divinity of Valta is a fun-filled adventure filled with talking monkeys, flying tigers, magical powers, and three best friends who are smart, funny, loyal, and above all, authentic.”
Rachel Harris, New York Times bestselling author.

“…this is a book that triggers the love for reading books.”Alexander – Book Reviewer

“A truly magical and entertaining read!” Lauren Hammond – Author

Gabriel-Stone-2

Gabriel Stone is back from Valta, but the adventure is just beginning! His friend Tahlita is trapped in Willow Creek with no memory of Valta. Gabe, Piper, and Brent are determined to reunite Tahlita with her father. Yet even as they do, Prince Oliver arrives asking for their help. Menacing forces known as the Solarians have kidnapped the Empress and Princess and are threatening the lives of humans everywhere. Along with talking tracker monkey, Finley, the friends battle vampire mermaids and a living, blood-filled lake in their quest to save the Empress and Princess. Even with cool new powers, Gabe discovers their strongest weapon is their friendship as they battle the Solarians and rescue a cursed white witch—who may be the only one who can save Valta.


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WHAT READER’S ARE SAYING:

 


“Reading this book brought me back to a time when magic and zero worries filled my life.”
Reviewer from A Leisure Moment

 

 

about-the-author

Shannon Duffy

Shannon Duffy grew up on the beautiful east coast of Canada, and now lives in Ontario, Canada with her husband and son, Gabriel. She’s mom to one boy, and several pets. Shannon loves writing, reading, working out, soccer, and the sport of champions: shopping.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

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M9B Friday Reveal: Chapter Three of Serpentine by Cindy Pon with Giveaway #M9BFridayReveals

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Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!

This week, we are revealing CHAPTER THREE of

Serpentine by Cindy Pon

presented byMonth9Books!

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

 

SerpentineEbook

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

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Title: Serpentine
Publication date: September 8, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Cindy Pon

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excerpt

 

Chapter 3

Skybright sneaked back into the Yuan manor through the unguarded side entrance, relieved that no one saw her along the way in the dim alley. Like all matriarchs, Lady Yuan was unconcerned with the goings on of her servants—as long as they performed their duties and kept out of trouble. Skybright always had, until today. The door panels to her small quarters were wide open, but the room was empty. She quickly changed into a silk tunic and trousers in sky blue, beaded at the collar and along the sleeve edges in silver, a mark of her mistress’s favor. She plaited her thick hair into two braids and wound them tight against her neck. She hadn’t even realized that Kai Sen had seen her hair unbound until now—something saved only for a husband. Skybright snorted, and had to suppress the hysterical laughter that was rising within her. What did it matter if he had seen her hair unbound when he had already seen her unclothed? She pressed a hand to her mouth and bit the flesh of her index finger to calm herself.
Hurried footsteps and excited conversation carried to her from across the courtyard, and she ran to Zhen Ni’s quarters, pushing the panel aside without knocking. Stepping through the reception hall, she found her mistress hunched over on the platform bed, her hair in disarray. Lan had her arm wrapped around Zhen Ni and dabbed at her wet cheeks with an emerald handkerchief, a gesture both intimate and tender. Whispering soft words into Zhen Ni’s ear, Lan leaned closer till their faces were nearly touching.
“Mistress!” Skybright threw herself at Zhen Ni’s feet and knocked her forehead against the floor. “Forgive me, I didn’t mean to worry you.”
Her mistress uttered a strangled cry.
“Worry me!” Zhen Ni pressed her hands beneath Skybright’s chin and lifted it. Her mistress’s hair had been haphazardly arranged that morning, and most of it had escaped in wild wisps around her face. She hadn’t bothered with any cosmetics or accessories.
“I thought you’d been kidnapped, or ran away, or were murdered—”
“None of those.” Skybright squeezed Zhen Ni’s wrists. “I’m here. I’m well.”
Zhen Ni allowed herself one more sob and snatched the handkerchief from Lan, blowing her nose noisily. The other girl folded her hands in her lap, eyes downcast. She sat with her thigh pressed against Zhen Ni’s, and Skybright felt a sharp pang of jealousy, that Lan felt so close and comfortable with her mistress in the short time they’d known each other. Distracted, she didn’t sense Zhen Ni’s wrath until she shook Skybright hard by the shoulders.
“Where were you?” Her mistress’s porcelain complexion was mottled. “Where did you go?”
“I—” Skybright had never lied to her mistress before. “I must have wandered away in my sleep.”
Zhen Ni wrung the silk handkerchief, twisting it mercilessly. “You sleep walked? But you’ve never done that before. You don’t even talk in your sleep.”
Skybright bowed her head. It still ached, and she couldn’t bear seeing her mistress’s face any longer. She had to lie. A rush of dizziness seized her, and she crouched low again. The bedchamber spun in lazy circles. “I don’t feel well.”
“Skybright!” Zhen Ni slid from the edge of the bed, folding her arm around Skybright’s shoulders. “Lan, could you ask my mother to fetch Nanny Bai? Please hurry.”
She heard Lan’s retreating footsteps. Zhen Ni stroked Skybright’s hair and held her. Skybright clutched at her own tunic and leaned into her mistress, refusing to cry. Zhen Ni hadn’t put on any perfume that morning, she noticed. The jasmine would do for today, Skybright thought, once she had the chance to rearrange her mistress’s hair and pin the kingfisher hair sticks into her locks.
Yes.
The jasmine perfume would be perfect.

 

Skybright drifted in and out of consciousness after Zhen Ni helped her into her own bed, plumping the cushions behind her as if she were the handmaid and Skybright her mistress. Unused to being fussed over, she tried to wave her mistress away and rise, only to be pushed back against the cushions.
“Don’t be a fool, Sky. I command that you lie back and rest!”
Skybright smiled weakly at that. Zhen Ni was used to getting her way. She leaned back and closed her eyes while her mistress sat beside her.
“You like Lan,” Skybright said after a while.
There was such a long pause, she opened her eyes, wondering if Zhen Ni had not heard her. Her mistress was studying her with an unreadable expression, and Skybright had always been able to read her mistress as easily as a deck of cards. “She makes a good friend. I enjoy her company.” Zhen Ni arched her graceful neck and examined a lotus painting, avoiding eye contact in that way she did when she was being evasive. “Don’t you like her?”
“She’s nice,” Skybright said. But in truth, Skybright wasn’t used to sharing Zhen Ni’s attentions, not used to seeing her laugh and chatter so easily with another girl their age. They sat without looking at each other, and listened to the soft trickle of the waterfall from the courtyard. “I can never be a true friend to you,” Skybright whispered after a long silence. “I can only ever be your handmaid.”
“Sky!” Zhen Ni grabbed her hand. “You’re my sister, my better and kinder half.” She gripped her fingers. “How can you say such a thing? You’re delirious!”
Lady Yuan swished in with a bustle of flowing silk panels on her beautiful dress, followed by Nanny Bai and Lan. “Skybright! You’ve sent the household in an uproar. We’ve had servants scouring the entire village and had others going into town to search for you, twice.”
“Three times,” Zhen Ni said.
“I’m sorry, Lady Yuan. I must have wandered off in my sleep.” Skybright stared at the silk sheet embroidered with chrysanthemums.
Lady Yuan stood beside the bed and touched the back of her hand to Skybright’s brow. “Zhen Ni said you weren’t feeling well?”
“I think … I’m just overtired, Lady.”
“It isn’t—?”
“No, Lady. It isn’t that.” Skybright had a feeling that her monthly letting would never come.
Lady Yuan nodded and smoothed the stray strands of hair from Skybright’s brow. It was such an intimate, maternal gesture, one that they had never shared before, that Skybright almost cringed. Lady Yuan clapped her hands. “Come girls, let’s leave Skybright with Nanny Bai.”
Zhen Ni gave her a hug before following her mother and Lan out into the courtyard.
Skybright breathed a sigh of relief and sank into the cushions.
“What happened, child?” Nanny Bai asked. What had once been a husky voice was now coarse with age. The same voice that used to sing her to sleep on rare occasions. Nanny Bai was the closest thing she ever had to a mother.
“It’s as I said. I think I wandered off in my sleep.”
The older woman felt the pulse at her wrist and her throat, leaned closer to listen to her breathing. “You never sleep walked as a child. It’s … unusual to start so late in age.”
“Am I that old?” Skybright asked without thinking.
Nanny Bai laughed, the sound like the wind stirring brittle leaves. “Where did you go?”
“Into the forest.”
The older woman made a strange noise in her throat, catching Skybright’s attention. The lines around her old nursemaid’s eyes and along her mouth had deepened in these passing years, but her brown eyes were still as sharp as ever. She smelled of pungent herbs, as she always did—a rich, earthy bitterness.
“What is it?” Skybright whispered.
“I’ve never told anyone this, because it was your story.” Nanny Bai glanced down at her strong, able hands, though the knuckles were beginning to thicken with age. “I was the one to find you, yes. But it wasn’t at our front doorstep.”
Skybright pushed herself up. “What do you mean?”
“I found you abandoned in the forest, child.”
She shook her head in disbelief, and her old nursemaid clucked her tongue in sympathy. “It was the beginning of summer, and the weather was fine that day. I decided to go into town to pick up some medicinal herbs—Lady Yuan was so near to giving birth to our Zhen Ni. For some reason, I was drawn to the forest, and taking my way through there.” Nanny Bai paused, lost in the past. “It was unusual, as I never walked through the forest. Not alone.”
Skybright knew it was true. Her old nursemaid seemed to avoid it, often sending Skybright into the thickets to gather wild mushrooms and plants for her, never saying why she disliked entering its cool depths.
“But that morning, something drew me.” She said again, nodding for emphasis. “And I followed the creek, not wanting to lose my way, but I heard something deep within the forest. A baby’s cry.” She closed her eyes. “I thought it was some sort of trickery—strange things can lurk among the trees—or that I had imagined it. But it didn’t cease. I tracked the sound, until I was lost in the thickets. And there you were.”
Abandoned in the forest … left to die.
“You weren’t a day old, child. And it was as if your mother had given birth to you in the wild and left you there, with your cord still attached. You weren’t covered or swaddled. It’s a wonder some wild animal didn’t come along—”
Skybright’s tears finally came, held in since the previous night, when she had slithered her way back into the forest as a monstrosity—the same forest where she had been cast aside by a mother who didn’t care if she lived.
“Dear.” Nanny Bai touched her arm. “I’m sorry to be so blunt. But I thought you should know. You understand now why I never before spoke the truth? I feared that Lady Yuan would not have wanted you if I did.” She smiled a gentle smile. “I took you home wrapped in the cloth I had intended for my herbs, and bathed you, then presented you swaddled in red satin in a pretty woven basket to the Lady.”
Skybright rubbed her face, furious with herself for crying. What was the point of wasted tears?
“You know how Lady Yuan always loves a gift well presented,” Nanny Bai said.
She laughed, even though it sounded bitter to her ears. “Thank you, dear nanny. You saved my life.”
“Look at the lovely, capable young woman you’ve grown into, Skybright.” She patted her arm again. “You would have made any mother proud. It’s a pity you can never wed, but Zhen Ni loves you as her own sister. Your lot in life could have been much worse.”
The older woman rose, still agile despite her age. “You’re weak from exhaustion and overexcitement. I’ll bring something to help you sleep.”
Skybright nodded. “Thank you again, Nanny Bai. And—and my mother left nothing behind at all? No memento for me?”
Her old nursemaid shook her head in regret. “Nothing. It was clear you were a newborn babe. Although … ” Hesitant, Nanny Bai tugged at her tunic edge.
“What?” Skybright’s hands tingled, as if in warning or anticipation.
“When I washed you that first time, there were flakes stuck to you. Like scales from a fish. They were quite beautiful but … strange.”
“Like scales from a fish,” Skybright repeated dumbly. “What color were they?”
“Crimson,” Nanny Bai said. “They glittered like jewels in the light.”

 

Skybright dozed through to the next morning after taking the bitter draught Nanny Bai offered her. Zhen Ni had refused to let her return to her own quarters. In the evening, Skybright was vaguely aware of her mistress slipping into the large bed beside her. She woke with a start before dawn, her forehead covered in sweat. Terrified, she kicked her legs beneath the thin sheet, feeling her toes and her knees. What would happen if she changed with her mistress beside her? Skybright’s throat closed at the thought. She heard Zhen Ni’s steady breathing, and slipped out of bed and into a courtyard dimly lit by starlight.
When she had shifted, it was always at nighttime—she only wished she knew what triggered it, so she could anticipate it. Could she control it somehow? Will it away when it happened? Skybright sat on the stone bench beneath a peach tree, digging her toes into the earth and enjoying its coolness.
Miiisssstress …
The hairs on Skybright’s neck rose and sharp needles danced across her scalp. The word was carried on a soft summer breeze, barely audible. Her imagination, after the past week, was getting the better of her.
Huuuuungry!
Skybright leaped from the bench and whirled, turning in a circle, heart in her throat. That word had been as loud as a stone falling from the sky.
“Who is it?” she said into the night.
Another breeze rustled the leaves overhead, seeming to hold and then disperse a multitude of pleading voices.
Pleeeease…
Coooome…
A single firefly materialized in front of her, hovering before her nose. It looped three times and flew a few steps ahead. She followed the insect, past the dark quarters, along winding stone paths. If she concentrated enough, Skybright thought she could hear the murmur of a hundred voices upon the wind.
Finally, the firefly paused in front of the main gate into the manor, with its grand double doors. She unlatched the lock and pulled one door open. It groaned like a dragon disturbed in its sleep, and Skybright stepped across the threshold. The heavy door slammed shut by itself; an empty street greeted her. Their manor was not near the main road, but their street was broad enough for horses and carriages to travel through. Plum trees dotted the wide path, and she could see the neighbor’s red gate and main entrance across the way.
The firefly had vanished, and Skybright stood with her head tilted, listening.
Miiiiistress Skkkky …
Shadows darted around her, an icy wind. She clutched her bare arms with her hands. “Who are you?” she whispered into the night. The air stilled, then wavered. Images coalesced, and a group of people suddenly surrounded her. There were men and women, girls and boys, dressed in shabby clothing with dirt-smudged faces. She knew she should have been afraid, but instead, she was only curious.
They gaped at her with mournful faces, but when she tried to look at one straight on, the spirit would melt into shadow again, absorbed by moonlight. So she observed them from the corners of her eyes. At least a hundred ghosts surrounded her, and they pressed closer as one, chilling the air. Beyond them, she sensed more spirits, too tired or weak to manifest their human forms.
A man in his thirties floated forward from the rest of the pack. His cheeks were rough with facial hair, but the flesh was gone from the upper left side of his face, exposing an empty eye socket. “Mistress Skybright. We were but humble servants, as you are—”
A chorus of voices echoed.
I served Lady Pan for thirty years.
I took care of the horses and dogs for the Jins.
I was a cook for the Wang family until the kitchen fire took my life.
I’m an orphan but kept my master company!
The last voice was high-pitched and cheery, and Skybright glimpsed the shadow of a boy no more than eleven years near the front of the crowd.
“What do you want from me?” she whispered.
Their response was an uproar, lifting the loose hair from her head. She staggered back from the force of their sheer need.
Love.
Vengeance.
My wife.
Retribution.
Peace.
Rest.
My Son.
Life.
Tears sprang in her eyes because, inexplicably, she knew their loss, felt their wants and desires as if they were her own.
The man who had spoken to her raised a blurry fist and snarled. The silence that followed was immediate and eerie, and her ears rang with it.
“Please, Mistress Skybright,” the man said. It seemed to take great effort for him to speak so clearly to her. Each of his sentences was followed by the restless echo of hundreds of others. “Feed us. We have no relatives left to do so. And those who remain are too poor.”
“But the Ghost Festival hasn’t started yet,” she said. They were a few days from the middle of the seventh moon, when the gates of the underworld were supposed to open for the ghosts to visit the living. The Yuan manor was already beginning to prepare elaborate feasts in remembrance of ancestors, to pay respect and symbolically feed the dead.
We escaped, followed, pushed through. Wanting. Hunger.
“There was a breach between the realms,” the man said. “We escaped the underworld early.”
Skybright’s skin crawled, fearful for the first time in this exchange with the dead.
“But why did you seek me out?”
Us. See you. Are us.
Their crackling chants shivered across her.
“Because you’re the only one who can see us,” he said, his voice almost gentle. “Hear us.”
“The only one … ” she repeated.
He paused. “The other one is too well protected.”
“I will. I’ll feed you and burn incense in your memory. I promise.” Skybright’s eyes swept past the hundreds of glimmering ghosts floating before her in the empty road, to the indistinct forms crouched beneath the shadows of the plum trees. “But who’s the other one?”
The man grinned, though the flesh dissolved from his mouth and chin, exposing yellow, jagged teeth. He didn’t answer her question. Instead, the spirits hissed in delight, as if in acknowledgement of who she was—what she was. One of us, they had said. Could they see the monstrous side of her so easily? As easily as she could see them, she realized. They whirled until the pins fell from her hair, freeing her locks.
Then, the air stilled, as sudden as when it erupted.
A cat yowled in terror in the distance.
She was alone.
Something bounced against the cobblestone and rolled into her bare foot. Skybright stooped to pick it up. A copper coin, hundreds of years old, tinged green with age.
A token of gratitude.

 

Skybright hurried toward Zhen Ni’s quarters with the small coin clenched in her hand, and made it back right as the roosters began to crow. She almost bumped into her mistress when she entered the reception hall. The tall girl had a lavender silk robe drawn about her.
“I was just coming to find you.” It was clear Zhen Ni was concerned, but she withheld her reprimand.
“I needed fresh air, mistress.”
“Look at you, wandering like a wild animal in your bare feet. Really, Sky! Do you not want to get better?”
Skybright smiled, glad that her mistress had reprimanded her after all. It meant things were returning to normal between them. “I didn’t want to wake you.”
Zhen Ni pulled her into her bedchamber, and Skybright lit the giant pearl lanterns in each corner. Skybright’s arms shook, and she did her best to steady them.
“Are you feeling better?” Zhen Ni asked.
In truth, she felt drained and wanted more than anything to crawl back into bed. Too much was happening to her at once, all inexplicable and strange. Instead she said, “I am. And you?” She had been a poor handmaid these past few days, and it was the only normal aspect of her life now, reassuring in its rituals and cadence.
Her mistress unconsciously pressed a palm to her abdomen. “The worst of it is over now … until the next moon.”
“How long do you plan on keeping this from your mother?”
“Forever,” Zhen Ni said vehemently.
Skybright’s mouth dropped, but she clamped it shut when her mistress shot her a challenging glare.
“My parents already have two grandsons and a granddaughter! And another on the way. Why must I be married off as well? It’s not fair!”
Skybright stared at her fists. Her mistress sounded like a petulant child. There was nothing fair or unfair in the way things were. Was there any point in challenging them, when in the end, a girl such as Zhen Ni must accept her fate, no matter what? Just as Skybright must accept her own? Memories of herself in serpent form filled her mind—how alive she had felt. She shoved them aside. There was no place for that here.
“You’ll help me, Sky? Hide the truth from Mama?”
She led Zhen Ni to the vanity to prepare her for the coming day. “Of course, mistress. I’ll help you for as long as you want.”
Zhen Ni grinned, her relief plain. “I’ll wear the turquoise tunic today, what do you think?”
Skybright retrieved the tunic and matching skirt from her mistress’s giant rosewood wardrobe. The color especially complemented Zhen Ni’s ivory skin and set off her warm brown eyes. The tunic was embroidered with golden chrysanthemums. “Is it a special occasion? Are we receiving a visitor?”
Zhen Ni’s cheeks colored, surprising Skybright.
“Not at all.” Zhen Ni brushed her own hair in long strokes. “I just wanted to dress especially nice today, after all that’s happened this past week.”
Skybright took the brush from her and smiled. “I’ll do something fancy for your hair then, to match the outfit.”
Zhen Ni folded her hands in her lap and Skybright saw how the flush in her cheeks enhanced her natural beauty. Her face was more rounded, like she’d gained some weight in these past weeks, softening her features. Her eyes shone as she watched Skybright plait her hair, and a faint smile lifted the corners of her generous mouth. Skybright ran a cursory glance of her own reflection, noted how her dark eyes appeared too large in her pale face, before concentrating on her mistress’s locks once more, Zhen Ni had turned into a woman as well, seemingly overnight.
The realization struck Skybright with a pang of fear and regret. How long could they cling to their childhoods, ignoring the fact that they had become young women? She twisted tiny braids near the top of Zhen Ni’s head, weaving ruby flowers in them, before winding the small braids to join her single, thicker braid.
The color of the dazzling stones reminded her of her serpent scales, and Skybright’s hands trembled as she clipped the final hairpin into her mistress’s hair. What would Zhen Ni think if she ever discovered the truth? How could she possibly care for her the same? Skybright would be cast out as the cursed monster that she was.
Zhen Ni turned her head this way and that, admiring Skybright’s handiwork. She paused when she caught Skybright’s reflection in the mirror.
“What’s wrong?” she asked.
“Nothing, mistress.” She rubbed gardenia musk against her mistress’s wrists and behind her ears. “You look beautiful. And you haven’t even put the tunic on yet.”
Skybright helped Zhen Ni into her thin chemise and silk shorts, then dressed her in the luxurious turquoise tunic and skirt. She drew back when she was done, and her mistress stood in front of the mirror, smoothing the silk, making certain everything was in place and perfect.
“I need to change, too, mistress. I’ll meet you in the main hall?”
Zhen Ni turned, and her smile was warm. “Yes. I’ll fetch Lan on my way.”
Skybright stopped by the kitchen before returning to her own quarters. Cook was busy preparing the morning meal and ignored her as she collected the items she needed in a woven basket. She changed quickly in her own bedchamber before pulling her small rosewood table outside. A narrow unused alley ran behind her bedchamber, along the perimeter of the manor’s high stone wall. Skybright pushed the table against it, then placed oranges and apples on a blue porcelain plate. Beside the fruit, she set down three bowls of rice and a bamboo and bean curd dish. Cook’s famous nut cakes were her last offering. She lit an incense stick and set a woven cover over the table.
It was a humble offering, food that servants would be used to, except the fruit and nut cakes. Skybright bowed her head and said a prayer, wondering how this could possibly be enough for the hundreds of lost souls she had seen.

 

The next two days, before Skybright would see Kai Sen again, passed agonizingly slow. She accompanied Zhen Ni and Lan throughout the day, sewing and embroidering, feeding the song birds in their gilded cages in the courtyards as well as the wild ones fluttering among the trees. On occasion, Skybright would hear the distant gong from the monastery, and she’d always turn her head in its direction, wondering what Kai Sen was doing in that moment.
The girls lounged now on the covered balcony of the fish pond room. Skybright leaned over the wooden railing carved with ducks, contemplating the clear water below. The square pond was enclosed by high walls open to the sky, giving the young ladies sunlight yet allowing them their privacy. She couldn’t quite reach to trail her fingers through the water as she would have liked—it was a hot day in the seventh moon. Silver and gold fish darted below, and Skybright sang under her breath about lovers separated in the springtime. The lattice woodwork framing the top of the balcony threw sunlit geometric patterns against the walls, adding to the serene, dreamlike quality.
“Sing louder, Skybright,” said Zhen Ni. “Your voice is so lovely.”
Skybright turned her head toward the two girls, and froze. Zhen Ni was nestled at Lan’s feet, her legs tucked beneath her, leaning into Lan’s legs like a contented cat. Lan had unraveled Zhen Ni’s thick hair, and it fell across her shoulders past her waist, its jasmine perfume scenting the air. The girl ran a brush through her mistress’s locks, a dreamy look in her eyes. Skybright tried to choke down the knot that had risen in her throat. No one was allowed to arrange Zhen Ni’s hair except herself, not unless Skybright was ill.
Zhen Ni lifted her face and smiled at Skybright. “Doesn’t she have the prettiest voice, Lan?”
Lan inclined her head, the movement like a sparrow’s, then nodded. “She does. But she’s stopped singing.”
“Do go on, Sky. But sing something happy. About lovers who are together, not apart and missing each other.” Zhen Ni draped an arm over Lan’s knees, a gesture that was both familiar and affectionate.
Skybright felt as if she were missing something. As if Zhen Ni and Lan were playing a game that she hadn’t been invited to join. Lan was a shy and demure girl, the exact opposite of Zhen Ni. But her mistress seemed to coax Lan out, as only Zhen Ni could, eliciting rich bursts of laughter from her. As high in station as Skybright was and as close as she was to her mistress, she was still only a handmaid and didn’t feel comfortable chatting with Lan, befriending her. It wasn’t her place.
Skybright lowered her chin and cleared her throat before singing again. This song was about lovers reunited, and the endurance of their love, as certain as the changing seasons. Her voice rose, sweet and strong, as she sang for the two girls. Skybright closed her eyes, and also sang for herself, to try and ease the inexplicable ache in her chest. So much had changed in so few days—Skybright wasn’t certain who she was any more. And Zhen Ni, the person who had always known her best, now knew Skybright very little at all.
Zhen Ni and Lan clapped when Skybright finished her song, but she kept her head bowed. Soon after, Rose and Pearl swept in bearing trays laden with tea, fruit and sweets. Zhen Ni and Lan stood as one with identical smiles. Skybright hurried to set the plates for them and pour the chilled jasmine tea. Her mistress winked and patted the enameled stool beside her. “You sang so beautifully, Sky. Are you feeling back to normal?”
Nibbling on a taro rice ball without tasting it, she forced a smile for her mistress.
Would she ever be normal again?

 

Skybright rearranged the thin sheet on her bed numerous times then opened the lattice window to air out her stuffy bedchamber. She was supposed to meet Kai Sen tomorrow morning and had to think of an excuse to give to Zhen Ni so she could sneak away. Her heart beat faster at the thought of him, and she chided herself over such a pointless crush.
A shadow obscured the moonlight that had filtered into her bedchamber, and a gust of wind stirred the crabapple trees outside. The night whispered to her. She stepped into the courtyard, not bothering to pull a robe on over her sleep clothes. Excited murmurs drifted from the back alley behind her chamber, and she padded toward the sound, barefoot.
Skybright rounded the sharp corner and stopped abruptly. The narrow alley was jammed with spirits crowding close to the makeshift altar she had made for them. They glowed, some wavering like candle flames. She could push through their insubstantial forms if she wanted, but she stood there, stunned that so many ghosts had filled this confined space.
The scent of sandalwood drifted to her. She had lit another incense stick before she had gone to bed. The tall ghost who had spoken to her hovered in front of the small table, directing each spirit as it took its turn. He saw her and nodded with a smile, his broad face morphing into a leering skull. The other spirits seemed to sense her with their leader’s acknowledgment.
Thank you, miiiiistress some rice wine next time are there lychees lychees were my favorite. I miss them so.
The voice rose and melded together with others until they were unintelligible to her.
Their leader thrust his fist in the air, and the spirits ceased speaking as one. “Quiet. He comes.”
Who comes?
“He can force us back to the underworld if he chooses,” the leader told the other spirits. “We must go.”
The spirits shimmered, then extinguished into darkness. Just then, a shape rose over the manor wall, crouched at the top. The person dangled, then dropped without sound to the ground below.
The moon was still bright, even as it cast the back alley in shadows. Skybright dared not move, afraid this would catch the intruder’s attention. He was dressed in black and blended with the darkness. She caught a quick glimpse of a brow and cheekbone touched by moonlight. The intruder paused in front of the altar, examining it.
Skybright held still, then made the smallest shift to her right, hoping to escape back around the corner. The hidden face whipped in her direction, and within two breaths, he had shoved his hands against her shoulders and pinned her to the wall. She opened her mouth to scream. He clamped a palm over her lips and they stared at each other, eye to eye. Recognition dawned at the same time.
“Goddess. Is it you, Skybright?” Kai Sen asked, dropping his hands from her.
Her knees wobbled, and he caught her by the elbow. “I’m sorry,” he said. “I wasn’t expecting to see anyone.” She shivered from the feel of his palm against the back of her arm. “What’re you doing here?” he whispered.
“Me?” She replied too loudly. “I live here! What’re you doing here?”
She could sense his surprise despite the darkness. He released her and she leaned backward, propping herself against the wall, her heart racing.
“I was following—” He stopped abruptly. “I thought I heard something.”
The spirits. Kai Sen had heard the ghosts.
“But why are you so far from the monastery?” He still stood close enough that she could feel the heat of his skin. “In the dead of night?”
He grinned sheepishly. “You wouldn’t believe me.”
She glared at him, hoping he got the full effect, even in the shadowed alley.
“All right. I’ve been hearing strange … noises these past few nights. Voices. They would come and go with the wind.” Kai Sen tilted his head and studied her. His features were half hidden, making him seem like a complete stranger. She could not make out the color of his eyes, though she felt his gaze on her face. “I followed the voices tonight. I needed to be sure I wasn’t going mad.”
Kai Sen was the other one, she realized.
“There were hundreds of shimmering shapes, flitting through the trees of the forest,” he said. “I thought it was a trick of the light, but the whispers sounded like words at times. I could understand them.”
“What did they say?”
“They were … needy. Hungry.” He paused. “You can hear them too?”
“Yes … ”
Kai Sen leaned toward her, but seemed to catch himself, then straightened. “But how?”
Because she could turn into a serpent demon. Because she was something of the underworld—like them. She shook her head, not able to lie to him out loud. “What about you?”
He bowed his head and his black hair fell across his brow. Skybright wanted to reach over and brush it back. “I wasn’t completely truthful with you when I spoke of my parents giving me away. I’ve had a … strong intuition since I could talk. The abbot calls it clairvoyance. My parents and the village folk thought I had been marked,” he touched his birthmark, “because of this.” He paused, and even in the near darkness, she could see his throat work. Without thinking, she put her hand on his arm, and she felt the tension seep from him, saw it in the way his stance softened. “I always saw lost spirits and didn’t realize no one else could until I talked too often about people who weren’t there. Until everyone I knew was afraid of me, including my own parents. And every misfortune that happened, every illness, every misplaced jar or broken bowl was blamed on me. I didn’t know. I was only six years.”
Her fingers glided down his arm and she slipped her hand into his, gripping it. “Kai Sen. I’m so sorry.”
“Skybright … ” He tugged her gently to him. “I never feel as if I can speak of my past with the other monks. Because of my birthmark. Because I’m different. But with you, I … ” He didn’t finish the thought, but instead leaned in and kissed her.
It was like a jolt, quickening her pulse. His mouth was full, firm against her own. He smelled of camphor wood and sweat. Of boy. His tongue flicked across her lips and instinctively she opened her mouth to him. She gasped when their tongues met. Warmth pooled in her stomach and spread, till her entire body was roused.
Lit.
His hands had wound around her waist, sneaked under her sleep tunic so she could feel his rough palms against her midriff. They met at the small of her back and slid upward, till his fingers caressed her shoulder blades, and they were crushed against each other.
They kissed until the blood roared in her ears and she felt drunk with desire. Then something ignited inside of her, that now familiar heat, writhing through and pulsing down her legs. Terrified, she shoved his shoulders hard, and he stumbled back, dazed.
Skybright clutched her head between tight fists, willing the blazing heat away. Willing herself not to change. No. Not now. Not in front of Kai Sen. Her body shook with the effort, still trembling from the kiss they had shared. Terror constricted her chest.
His thumb stroked her cheek, and she jerked away from him.
“What was that?” She tried to catch her breath, and the words came unevenly.
“I’ve always wondered what it was like, to kiss.” His voice sounded low and thick.
“So you decided to experiment on the first handmaid you came across?”
The first handmaid he came across naked in the forest.
Humiliation and anger wound tight within her, and she welcomed the emotions. Anything to smother the heat that threatened to rise below.
Kai Sen made a choking noise. “No. Of course not. I wanted to kiss you.” He lifted his hand to touch her again and she slapped it aside. “I like you,” he said quietly. “I’ve seen plenty of servant girls in town, wandering the markets. But you were the only I ever knew brave enough to climb a giant cypress to spy on monks.” He smiled. “You’re the only one I’ve felt I could share my past with–”
“You don’t even know me,” she said. And it felt as if her heart was shattering like brittle porcelain, because Kai Sen could never truly know her. Not ever. “Please go.”
He took a step back, and she hated him for obeying her. “Will you still meet me in the morning by the creek?” he asked.
She almost laughed. “Have you found something?”
“Come and I’ll tell you.” He climbed up the manor wall with ease, although she didn’t know how he was able to find any purchase. Crouching low at the top, his dark eyes sought hers, before he said, “Don’t be angry, Skybright.” Kai Sen dropped noiselessly down onto the other side of the wall. “I like you.” She heard him say again.
Then there was nothing more except for the soft murmurs of the evening.

About-the-Author

Cindy Pon

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

 

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M9B Two for Thursday Book Blitz – Of Breakable Things by @AmyRolland and Praefatio by @georgia_mcbride Giveaway #T4T @tantrumbooks @chapterxchapter

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Welcome to this week’s Two for Thursday Book Blitz #T4T
presented by Month9books/Tantrum Books!

Today, we will be showcasing two titles that may tickle your fancy,
and we’ll share what readers have to say about these titles!

You just might find your next read!

This week, #T4T presents to you:

Of Breakable Things by A. Lynden Rolland and
Praefatio by Georgia McBride

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

cover_V1

A captivating debut about the fragility of life, love, and perspective.

When Chase dies tragically, Alex embraces her own mortality. What she didn’t expect was that she’d have to make a choice: forget the years of pain and suffering once and for all, or linger as a spirit and get another chance at life and love.

Alex doesn’t hesitate to choose; she’d follow Chase anywhere. But the spirit world is nothing like she expected, and Alex finds she’s forced to fight for her life once more. For even in a world where secrets are buried much deeper than six feet under, a legacy can continue to haunt you—and in a place this dangerous, no one is resting in peace.

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WHAT READER’S ARE SAYING:

“The final chapters had me at the edge of my seat!”Victoria – Goodreads Reviewer


“Of Breakable Things is a story of hurt, raw emotions, love, and incredible strength of mind and soul.”
Bèbè – Spiced Latte Reads


“The ending itself was so intense and action packed I really wish there was more of that throughout the book!”
Ang – Ang is Good with Books

About-the-Author

A. Lynden Rolland

A. Lynden Rolland was born and raised in a picturesque town obsessed with boats and blue crabs. She has always been intrigued by the dramatic and the broken, compiling her eccentric tales of tragic characters in a weathered notebook she began to carry in grade school. She is a sports fanatic, a coffee addict, and a lover of Sauvignon Blanc and thunderstorms. When she isn’t hunched behind a laptop at her local bookstore, she can be found chasing her two vivacious children. She resides in Maryland with her husband and young sons.

Author Links: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Tumblr | Pinterest | Instagram | YouTube

Praefatio-Cover

Seventeen-year-old Grace Ann Miller is no ordinary runaway…

After having been missing for weeks, Grace is found on the estate of international rock star Gavin Vault, half-dressed and yelling for help. Over the course of twenty-four hours Grace holds an entire police force captive with incredulous tales of angels, demons, and war; intent on saving Gavin from lockup and her family from worry over her safety.

Authorities believe that Grace is ill, suffering from Stockholm Syndrome, the victim of assault and a severely fractured mind. Undeterred, Grace reveals the secret existence of dark angels on earth, an ancient prophecy and a wretched curse steeped in Biblical myth. Grace’s claims set into motion an ages-old war, resulting in blood, death and the loss of everything that matters. But are these the delusions of an immensely sick girl, or could Grace’s story actually be true?

Praefatio is Grace’s account of weeks on the run, falling in love and losing everything but her faith. When it’s sister against brother, light versus darkness, corrupt police officers, eager doctors and accusing journalists, against one girl with nothing but her word as proof: who do you believe?

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WHAT READER’S ARE SAYING:

“With Praefatio, Georgia McBride proves that you can take any genre to a higher level. This is teen fantasy at its most entertaining, most heartbreaking, most compelling. Highly recommended.”Jonathan Maberry, New York Times bestselling author.


“This story kicks ass. No joke, all nepotism aside, I’m an angel convert after having read Praefatio. This proves my theory, by the way, that if a story is written well it can reach across the aisle and grab even the most cynical or perhaps reluctant reader.”
Caroline – Author


“An intense, but powerful young adult fantasy that you utterly become immersed in from the moment you start reading it.”
– Grace – Books of Love

About-the-Author

Georgia McBride

Georgia loves a good story. Whether it’s writing her own, or publishing someone else’s, story is at the heart of everything Georgia does. Founder of Month9Books, YALITCHAT.ORG and the weekly #yalitchat on Twitter, Georgia spends most of her days writing, editing, or talking about books. That is, of course, when she is not blasting really loud music or reading. She lives in North Carolina with four dogs, a frog, a parrot, 2 kids, parents and a husband. PRAEFATIO is her first novel.


Author Links:
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Cover Reveal: The Story’s End, seventh and final Wilderhark Tale by @DEShipley

And here it is!

Story's End Cover, front

Genre = fairytale novella

Release date = October 13, 2015Available to add to your Goodreads shelf = https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25958863-the-story-s-end

Future availability = Paperback (Amazon and CreateSpace) and e-Book (Kindle and Nook)

Back of the Book:

For Gant-o’-the-Lute, “ever after” has been less than happy. With the last of Carillon’s charm over him gone, the minstrel-king puts royalty behind him in pursuit of the music he once knew and the lifelong dream he let slip through his fingers. But dark whispers on the wind warn that time is running out – not only for Lute and the apprentice in his shadow, but the whole of earth and Sky.

The Story’s End

Book Seven of The Wilderhark Tales

An enchantress’s curse turns a spoiled royal into a beast; a princess’s pricked finger places her under a hundred-year spell; bales of straw are spun as golden as the singing harp whisked down a giant beanstalk – all within sight of Wilderhark, the forest that’s seen it all.

 

About this author

Danielle E. Shipley’s first novelettes told the everyday misadventures of wacky kids like herself. …Or so she thought. Unbeknownst to them all, half of her characters were actually closeted elves, dwarves, fairies, or some combination thereof. When it all came to light, Danielle did the sensible thing: Packed up and moved to Fantasy Land, where daily rent is the low, low price of her heart, soul, blood, sweat, tears, firstborn child, sanity, and words; lots of them. She’s also been known to spend short bursts of time in the real-life Chicago area with the parents who home schooled her and the two little sisters who keep her humble. When she’s not living the highs and lows of writing, publishing, and all that authorial jazz, she’s probably blogging about it at www.EverOnWord.wordpress.com.

Picture

You’ve heard the stories – of young men scaling rope-like braids to assist the tower-bound damsel; of gorgeous gowns appearing just in time for a midnight ball; of frog princes, and swan princes, and princes saved from drowning by maidens of the sea. Tales of magic. Tales of adventure. Most of all, tales of true love.

Once upon a time, you knew them as fairytales. Know them now as Wilderhark’s.


Book Blast: Jack Templar and the Lord of the Demons by @Jeffgunhus

Jack Templar 5

 

Jack Templar and the Lord of the Demons (The Templar Chronicles #5).

With two of the Jerusalem Stones in hand, Jack and his friends must race the clock to find the remaining Stones as Ren Lucre’s Creach forces gather strength. With two of their group now with Creach blood flowing in their veins, the team will be tested as never before. They must unite together if they have any hope of surviving their journey to the Underworld and their battle with the vicious Lord of the Demons. The fate of the entire world hangs in the balance.

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jeffAuthor Jeff Gunhus

Jeff Gunhus is the author of the Amazon bestselling supernatural thriller, Night Chill, and the Middle Grade/YA series, The Templar Chronicles. The first book of the series, Jack Templar Monster Hunter, was written in an effort to get his reluctant reader eleven-year old son excited about reading. It worked and a new series was born. His book Reaching Your Reluctant Reader has helped hundreds of parents create avid readers. Killer Within is his second novel for adults. As a father of five, he and his wife Nicole spend most of their time chasing kids and taking advantage of living in the great state of Maryland. In rare moments of quiet, he can be found in the back of the City Dock Cafe in Annapolis working on his next novel. If you see him there, sit down and have a cup of coffee with him. You just might end up in his next novel.

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Jack Templar awards

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$50 Book Blast Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 8/28/15

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

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