Tag Archive | Giveaway

YA Scavenger Hunt – Team Gold

Post Title:  YA Scavenger Hunt

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

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Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are SIX contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the Gold TEAM–but there is also a red team, a purple team, and a blue team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
 
Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the gold team, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
 
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by October 6th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
SCAVENGER HUNT POST
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Today, I am hosting P.J. Hoover on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt!
P. J. (Tricia) Hoover wanted to be a Jedi, but when that didn’t work out, she became an electrical engineer instead. After a fifteen year bout designing computer chips for a living, P. J. started creating worlds of her own. She’s the award-winning author of The Hidden Code, a Da Vinci Code-style young adult adventure with a kick-butt heroine, and Tut: The Story of My Immortal Life, featuring a fourteen-year-old King Tut who’s stuck in middle school. When not writing, P. J. spends time practicing kung fu, fixing things around the house, and solving Rubik’s cubes. For more information about P. J. (Tricia) Hoover, please visit her website www.pjhoover.com.
 
Find out more information by checking out the author website or find more about the author’s book here!
Purchase The Hidden Code here!
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Eleven years ago, Hannah Hawkins’ parents disappeared while traveling abroad. Presumed dead, Hannah and her uncle are shocked when a letter from her mom arrives right after Hannah’s sixteenth birthday. By piecing together cryptic hints from the note and other clues left behind, Hannah realizes her parents disappeared while trying to find the mysterious Code of Enoch. An artifact they believed could hold the key to curing disease–or creating it–Hannah’s parents had been determined to destroy the Code, no matter the cost. Now with the help of her uncle, her best friend, and another cute but not entirely trustworthy guy, Hannah sets out to discover what happened to her parents and if the Code of Enoch is real.

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The Heights of Perdition: Excerpt + Giveaway

The Heights of Perdition

updated+perdition1+cover+frontThe Heights of Perdition

Publication Date: December 20, 2019

Genre: Sci-Fi/ Fantasy/ Romance (Christian Themes)

There is nothing Aeris St. Cloud wants more than to win her father’s love and the acceptance of her family unit by joining the Military Academy at New Hope. But after she is captured by the fearsome space pirate, Captain Chainsword, Aerie is certain falling in love with her nation’s arch enemy is the last possible way to earn their coveted esteem.

Driven by vengeance, Exton Shepherd never set out to save anyone. As he circles the war-torn world in his pirated starship, the Perdition, he only sees his father’s ghost lurking around every corner and the looming darkness on the horizon. When Aerie unexpectedly tumbles into his life, he finds he cannot trust her, anymore than he can ignore her. But just like the raging war down on Earth, it’s tempting to think he can …

When the war ascends to the heights of the Perdition, Aerie’s loyalty, and Exton’s heart, are put to the test. But will love be enough to save them – and others – from certain destruction?

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Excerpt

updated+perdition1+cover+front

Etoileon smiled as he pulled out his special gift for Selene—having taken Ronal’s earlier advice, he had a tiny bouquet of deep red ekedlets, small minuscule flowers that smelled like sweet fruit. The ekedlets were tied together with a small yellow ribbon. He’d thought that the small gift would be perfect for her. It had taken him a while to get them, too. He was only allowed into the city, along with the other members of the Palace crew, only twice a month. Etoileon was lucky that he’d known the streets well enough to know where to go so he could get back in time to escort Selene down to the ballroom entrance.

The city was crowded for the opening of the reception. Etoileon had run into more than one person trying to reach his destination, Madame Flora’s Shop. Though he had meant to hurry up, Etoileon slowed down to look around, amazed to see just how the streets had changed to him in so short a time.

He’d been raised on the streets, mostly all alone.

It had been a miracle that he had survived there, let alone to manage to get a job in the Diamond City Palace, considering a job at the palace was a highly coveted position in society. Middle class children often took jobs in the palace, using their connections to be introduced into the flashy world of riches and wealth. After a number of years, they were able to use their earned capital to be educated in the way of society. Using the skills they would acquire from training and teaching of their instructors and parents, the now young adults would be able to be placed in a position where it was likely for a marriage to be arranged or sought after.

Etoileon had none of this.

He had no parents, no real family, few allies … there were plenty of untrustworthy people, enemies, and dangers around every corner. All he had were survival skills, and the good fortune to happen to be in the right place at the right time. As Etoileon leaned back on the tower wall, he thought about the night that he’d met Selene. He did not get too lost in his memories. The Palace was beginning to feel more like home to him as time went on, and his memories of the darker times of his life were beginning to fade.

It was a moment later that the door opened and Selene walked into the Tower room as well.

“Etoileon,” she greeted him, her eyes quickly losing their flicker of surprise and replacing it with an expression of warmth. “I did not think you would be up here this early.”

“You are,” he pointed out, a small smile forming on his face.

“Well,” Selene blushed, “There was something I wanted to do before later.”

“You mean before I came?” Etoileon asked. “What was it?”

“Well … ” Her face had turned even redder, and she looked away as she reached behind her and pulled out a small bag. “I wanted to give this to you later, but I have no objections to giving it to you a little early.”

Etoileon looked down at the bag she placed delicately in his hand. It had been carefully prepared for him, he could tell. The bag was all dressed up, tiny curls of ribbons surrounding the drawstrings of the sack, and made from cheerfully colored fabric.

Selene nodded. “Open it, Etoileon. It’s for you.”

Inside the bag, he found a small silver-framed photograph of Selene and him from a few years ago. It was when he had first undergone his training for the Fighter squad. Selene was sitting in front of him in the picture, while he was standing behind her. He could tell that his eyes had been focused on her; Etoileon figured that he must have missed the camera. His eyes examined the picture closely, running over Selene’s face again and again.

“I don’t remember this picture,” he said slowly.

“It’s from the time that you came storming out of the Fighter’s training room, remember? You were not too happy, I recall. My memory of the reason has faded, but I remember thinking you needed me there,” she said in a hushed voice. “I still come to watch, sometimes.”

I still need you there, he thought. But he could not say that. So instead, he looked over at her intently, and said, “Thank you.”

“So you like it?” Her smile seemed to brighten up the entire evening sky.

“Very much,” he nodded. “That must’ve been the day that Master Norio told me in front of everyone that I had been poorly trained and it would be a miracle if I amounted to anything.”

Selene’s sad smile flitted to her lips. “Poor Master Norio. That has to be the most incorrect he’s ever been.”

Available on Amazon!

For a chance to win either a digital copy or audio book version of The Heights of Perdition, click the link below!

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About the Author

Author Pic

C. S. Johnson is the award-winning, genre-hopping author of several novels, including young adult sci-fi and fantasy adventures such as the Starlight Chronicles, the Once Upon a Princess saga, and the Divine Space Pirates trilogy. With a gift for sarcasm and an apologetic heart, she currently lives in Atlanta with her family. Find out more at http://www.csjohnson.me

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Exiled to Freedom: Author Interview + Excerpt + Giveaway

Exiled to Freedom
This is my stop during the blog tour for Exiled to Freedom by SGD Singh. This blog tour is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The blog tour runs from 12 till 25 August. See the tour schedule here.

Exiled to FreedomExiled to Freedom
By SGD Singh
Genre: Historical Fiction/ Contemporary
Age category: Young Adult

Blurb:
Seventeen year old Joti lives a peaceful life on her ancestral farm in Punjab, far from political turmoil, foreign wars, and the struggle for independence. Until the summer of 1947, when her country is suddenly partitioned to create two sovereign nations—Pakistan and India.

Punjab erupts into a shattered land of nightmares, torn apart by death and destruction. Before the violence subsides, millions of people will have lost their lives and Joti will find herself amongst the countless refugees fighting to survive one of the greatest tragedies of the modern era.

In the summer of 2018, seventeen year old Priya travels from her home in New York City to her great grandmother’s farm in Punjab. Searching for meaning in her materialistic and shallow existence, she becomes determined to uncover the mysteries of the past and heal her family’s wounds, left too long unattended.

Priya soon finds herself on an adventure of discovery, learning what it is to love and what it means to know true peace.

Exiled to Freedom backcover

You can find Exiled to Freedom on Goodreads

You can buy Exiled to Freedom here on Amazon

Excerpt:

Monsoon season should have begun by now.

Armies of clouds gather their forces on chariots of distant thunder, darkening the summer sky, growing more engorged each day. But still, not a single drop of water falls to the earth.

Do the clouds hear the prayers of the farmers, toiling beneath them in the dust?

Perhaps thunder is their laughter, a call to celebration. Maybe they wait for the moment when their audience is most attentive, most frantic with anxiety, before they decide to pour blessed relief onto the choking crops far below them.

Or perhaps the elements mock our faithlessness in their ability to remember the season.

I watch the clouds blend together in a happy dance of reunion and I wonder, as I have wondered countless times before: Did the sky cry for us all those years ago? Was it the earths tears that tried to wash away the rivers of our blood? Was it her grief that covered our world in mud, disguising the bodies of countless dead and smothering the cries of the dying?

I turn from the sky to look down at my wrinkled hands, and I am suddenly and for the first time filled with a certain and inescapable realization. Those of us who witnessed the flames of hate rise into a raging infernowe are vanishing.

And those who acted as embers hidden beneath the ashes, waiting to ignite horror within mens heartsthey are each and every one dead and gone.

Very soon to be forgotten.

Author Interview:

What inspired you to write Exiled to Freedom?

I always thought more people should be aware of the events of India’s Partition in 1947, but it wasn’t until I heard the stories of my friend Parnita’s grandmother’s experiences during that horrific time that I had the inspiration for Exiled to Freedom.

Who is your favorite character in Exiled to Freedom?

Rohit was my favorite character to write while working on this novel.

Why did you want to become a writer?

I think I’ve always been a writer, even as a little kid telling stories in boarding school in India, writing plays I forced my classmates to act out, or short stories even the senior girls would pass around. What makes us become writers? We are writers because we write—that’s it. Wether we’re published by big companies or not, we write because we love it. We write because we must.

What is your favorite book?

This is an impossible question. Impossible! I’ll try to answer with the first three favorites that pop into my brain for various genres:

CLASSIC: The Three Musketeers, Germinal, The Brothers Karamazov

MYSTERY: Everything Sherlock Holmes, Curtain, Everything Nero Wolfe—they could be one volume, right?

SCI-FI: The Takeshi Kovacs trilogy, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Dune

ROMANCE: Pride & Prejudice, A Tale of Two Cities, Sense & Sensibility

FANTASY: The Princess Bride, The Chronicles of Narnia, Circe

HORROR: The Shining, Swan Song, Dracula

YOUNG ADULT: Daughter of Smoke & Bone (Including Strange the Dreamer duology—it’s connected), The Scorpio Races, LIFEL1K3.

NON FICTION: Born A Crime, We Are Displaced, I Am Jackie Chan

CONTEMPORARY: I’ll Give You The Sun, Before I Fall, Call Me by Your Name

Okay, no. That didn’t work at all. What about Shakespeare? What about the rest of the COUNTLESS awesome books in the world?

What other books do you have planned?

I’m currently working on a zombie story—and trying not to think about my next trilogy!

What is your favorite color?

Blue. No, yel—aaaaaaaah!!

What is your favorite book you’ve written?

The Infernal Guard One: Emergence. The first will always hold a special place in my heart, even though the second was more fun to write.

SiriGuruDev SinghAbout the Author:
SiriGuruDev Singh lives in New Mexico and Punjab, India with her husband, two daughters, and various extended relatives and animals. She is the author of the YA urban fantasy trilogy The Infernal Guard and Exiled To Freedom, a YA historical fiction novel about India’s bloody Partition of 1947.

You can find and contact SGD Singh here:
Website
Facebook
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Goodreads
Amazon

Giveaway
There is a tour wide giveaway for the blog tour of Exiled to Freedom. There will be 5 winners who all win a signed copy of Exiled to Freedom. Open International.

For a chance to win, enter the rafflecopter below:
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Lineage: Book Blitz + Giveaway

Lineage
C. Vonzale Lewis
Publication date: July 16th 2019
Genres: Adult, Fantasy

Smart-mouthed Nicole Fontane has a way of getting herself into trouble. She’s been fired from every job she’s had but still refuses to work in her father’s apothecary shop because of his practice of Earth Magick. On Tulare Island where Nicole grew up, Magick has always been a way of life—one she’s determined to avoid at all costs.

With less than two hundred dollars in the bank and rent due, Nicole is forced to take a job at Tribec Insurance as a last resort. Little does she realize, the moment she sets foot inside the building, she becomes a pawn. A sinister force has set its sights on her and will stop at nothing to use her in a sadistic game.

Tribec’s proprietors, the Stewart family, are curiously preoccupied with the Naqada, the mysterious pre-dynastic Egyptian society. Nicole finds it creepy, but on the bright side, the job reconnects her with her estranged friend, Marta. Yet the eerie atmosphere, disappearing Magick wards, and the smell of blood inside Tribec bring Nicole to a startling conclusion—the Stewarts are practicing Blood Magick, the deadliest of the Five Principles. By the time Nicole uncovers the truth, Marta and her four children have gone missing, and all signs implicate the Stewarts and an archaic blood ritual to an Old One, a Naqada god imprisoned on Tulare Island.

Battling the evil of Blood Magick will demand Nicole to confront a hidden past and unlock the Magick buried within. But can she set aside her deep-rooted fears to work with a team of vigilante Mages? Or will the clock run out on Marta and her children—and on Nicole?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo

CHAPTER ONE:

Looking for bright, responsible, career-oriented, self-motivated individuals who have excellent people skills and are able to take high volumes of calls while maintaining a positive attitude. Ability to work with others is a must.

I glanced down at the advertisement in my hand. I had none of those qualifications according to my last employer—and pretty much all my other previous ones as well. I was, however, a “foul-mouthed, bad-tempered, under-performing”—still didn’t understand that one—“sarcastic, waste of space.” Although, to be fair, only one of the previous employers actually called me a waste of space, and that was because I had stopped sleeping with him.

This unfortunate lack of options was the reason I stood in the parking lot of Tribec Insurance, smoking the last of my apple-flavored cigars—a habit I learned from my father—wearing a cream-colored dress suit and a pair of matching pumps. I couldn’t afford either of them, and I really hated pumps. But I needed the job, so I dressed the part of the career-oriented, self-motivated candidate the ad was searching for.

Most of the jobs in the area required a college degree, or at least several years of experience. I had no college degree, and the longest I’d ever been employed at one job was six months. Thankfully, Tribec Insurance was always hiring and had no such requirements—a rarity in the uptight community of Alice where Tribec was located.

Through a ring of cigar smoke, I took in the phallic structure that was Tribec Insurance. My eyes landed on the small, stone, pyramid-like shape at the top of the building. It reminded me of an Egyptian Obelisk—a symbol to the god Ra. The Egyptian word for it, “Tejen,” meant “protection” or “defense.”

Why would the occupants of Tribec Insurance erect a symbol of protection or defense on top of the building?

A slight breeze blew over my bare arms, carrying the salty scent of the ocean and stirring the beads of sweat that had formed on them. My new blouse had molded to my back, and my feet had started to sweat. I was generally used to Tulare Island’s oppressive heat, but the anxious jitters in my stomach had caused my skin to flush.

I tried to dispel the nervousness in my stomach. Despite the obvious, I didn’t want to show that I was desperate. My best friend Kara spent most of last night trying to prep me for the interview. She advised me to not ask annoying questions, make sarcastic comments, or let my disgruntled attitude show.

Essentially, she advised me to not be myself. There was a message in there somewhere, but I was choosing to ignore it.

Out of our original group in high school, Kara was the only one who was still in my life. The only one who actually gave a damn about me. Marta and I hadn’t spoken in years, and as for Steve… Well, it was a long time ago.

I glanced at my watch. Damn. I guess I had procrastinated long enough. I put out my cigar, grabbed my blazer from the front seat of my car, shoved the advertisement back in my overly large purse, and headed for the building. As I walked, I attempted to wrap my head around the fact that I was essentially asking Tribec Insurance to let me spend my days chained to a desk, listening to complaints from strangers.

Maybe I should look into prostitution. At least I’d enjoy the job.

Kara also told me to smile a lot, so I pasted one on, pulled open the glass door, and stepped inside. Only to stop dead in my tracks at the entrance.

The walls—painted a burnt gold color that reminded me of the sunset—were lined with Egyptian art. Four glass displays, filled with half-head replicas of deities and artifacts, sat in each corner of the room. Green foliage hung from black ceramic pots near the entrance and the elevator. Something was off about the elevator. It wasn’t stainless-steel. No, more like marble. Black marble with gold striations that, at first glance, appeared to be moving. Odd.

And everything, including the guard station—which sat sunken into the foundation in the middle of the floor—was set up in a spherical configuration. Directly behind the guard station was a set of mahogany double doors, with gold Egyptian hieroglyphs carved around the frame. They were also etched around the guard station.

Most people on Tulare Island either practiced one of the four principles of magick or knew someone who did. There was, however, a small group of people who, despite the evidence, still refused to believe in magick. They usually carried picket signs outside of herbal and occult shops, telling people they were going to burn in hell, not realizing they were actually practicing faith magick every time they went to church.

Judging from the set-up of the room, and even the obelisk on the top of the building outside, I could hazard a guess—more like an assumption—that the occupants of Tribec Insurance practiced magick.

Despite my assumption, I couldn’t figure out which of the four principles—earth, elemental, mind, or faith—the people at Tribec used. There was, however, a fifth principle—blood—that to my knowledge, no one practiced anymore. And sadly, I didn’t know enough about it to recognize any symbols associated with its practice. Yet, symbols from the other four were etched all over the walls. Odd. Especially since people only had the ability to practice one. Not all four.

If it was a job requirement for me to use magick, I was running the hell out of here. I would live in a cardboard box before I got involved with magick. And if I didn’t get a job soon, that was exactly where I’d be living. Especially since I refused to move back in with my parents. I had to grow the hell up sometime.

I moved farther into the lobby; the scent of desert sand wafted around me. It had that baked-on smell that emanated off the ground when the sun was at its peak. It was unusual, but the décor could explain the smell. Especially if they added sand to some of the displays for authenticity. The odor that was definitely out of place was the one directly underneath it.

Blood. It was faint. I could almost chalk it up to imagination. Almost. If it wasn’t so overpowering.

I moved forward cautiously, my heels clicking on the white-tiled floor, as I tried to pinpoint where the scent was coming from. But the farther away from the door I got, the less I smelled it. I turned and started back toward where I’d first detected the smell. A chair creaked, stopping me in my tracks. The space between my shoulder blades started to itch. I turned.

The guard behind the desk was watching me.

I stood there, debating whether or not I should just leave. Yes, I was desperate, but the smell of blood? Was I imagining it? I pulled in a deep breath, trying to find the scent again. Nothing.

Get it together, Nicole.

After a short pause, I shook myself mentally, and continued toward the guard station with the guard’s black eyes boring into me. Sizing me up.

“Can I help you, miss?” He rose to his feet and crossed his arms across his chest.

I placed him in his late twenties. He had a solid frame, close-cropped black hair, deep set black eyes, and no facial hair. The dark brown suit he wore looked as if it had been poured onto him. Had to be ex-military.

The gold tag on his shirt read “Oliver Strong.” It suited him.

“Yes, my name is Nicole Fontane, and I’m here for an interview with…” I set my purse on the counter, ignoring his pointed glare, and pulled out my tattered notebook. “…a Francine Delaporte at eleven.”

“Have a seat. I will call someone down to escort you.” He inclined his head in the direction of the red leather couch on the right.

“Okay, thanks,” I said as I mentally extended my middle finger. Everything about him rubbed me the wrong damn way.

I sat and placed my purse beside me on the couch—the damn thing weighed a ton—and picked up one of the brochures for Tribec Insurance. While I sat there leafing through it, another security guard walked up and blocked my view of the sun. Well, he would have if there had been one inside the building. This burly bastard had tree trunks for arms and a head that resembled a boulder. Did they chisel him from a mountain?

“Ms. Fontane?” the guard grumbled. It sounded as if his voice came from a gut full of rocks.

I stood, which put me at eye level to his massive chest and the name tag pinned to his shirt that read “Duncan Glass.”

Maybe when they hired their guards, they assigned them names as well.

“Yes.” I tried to push myself up a few inches more. I was already wearing three-inch heels, bringing my total height to five nine, yet this massive behemoth still towered over me.

“Follow me.” He spun around abruptly and led the way to the elevator.

I was tempted to salute him, or give him the finger—the damn bossy bastard.

Calm down, Nicole. You need this job.

Duncan pulled a card from his pocket and inserted it into a slot located on the right side. I guess that answered my question about the oddity of the elevator. Besides the strange composition, they didn’t have a call button. They sure did have a high level of security for an insurance company. Maybe they denied more claims than they approved. Greedy bastards.

When the doors slid open, Duncan extended his arm out. “Ms. Fontane.”

I stepped inside.

Once the doors were closed, he inserted his card into another slot, and a display lit up with a list of floors.

The number thirteen was among them.

I had once read somewhere that all older buildings either omitted the thirteenth floor or renamed it. It all stemmed from a superstition that the thirteenth floor was unlucky. I wasn’t superstitious, but I did find it interesting they chose to include it.

“They have a thirteenth floor,” I said.

“It comes after twelve.”

While I was no stranger to snide comments I really didn’t like others using them on me. Bastard.

A few moments later, the elevator doors opened and, thankfully, deposited us on the seventeenth floor. I followed Duncan to a set of offices in the center of the floor. He stopped at the first door in a row of three that faced the elevators. The silver name plate affixed to it read: Francine Delaporte. After he rapped on it three times, he planted his feet a few inches apart and placed his hands behind his back.

Maybe Duncan thought he was still in the military.

I took in the room while I waited. Cameras inside small black orbs dotted the ceiling. A hazy gray tint covered the windows, allowing minimal light to filter into the room. Industrial gray walls sported a few framed “inspirational” quotes that referred to “teamwork” and “having a positive attitude.” They even had the stupid “Hang in There” poster with a cat hanging off a wire.

Even the partitions that divided the employees’ desks were gray. The only break up in the ashen color were the fake wood desks.

It reminded me of a mental asylum.

The majority of the people in the office were women, with a few men thrown in here and there. Did they believe women were more suited to talking on the phone? Either way, everyone in the room was pasty, their eyes sunken in, wearing expressions that suggested they had given up on life. I wouldn’t have been surprised if they were all former tenants of the asylum, dressed up in over-sized clothes and forced into the role of “employee.”

The fact that no one looked up when Duncan and I got off the elevator supported my theory. They just sat there in their little black chairs, talking into their headsets, all repeating what sounded like the same practiced spiel in monotonous tones, a few minutes behind one another. Like a rolling set of waves crashing against the most boring shore imaginable.

I turned back to Duncan. He still stood at ease in front of Francine Delaporte’s door. What the hell was taking this woman so long? My feet were killing me. Like an idiot, instead of breaking the shoes in after Kara left last night, I had curled up on the couch with a bottle of Samuel Adams, contemplating my limited options. My little pity party of one ended at midnight when I realized my only option was one I wasn’t willing to entertain.

As I switched my purse from my right shoulder to my left, I caught sight of a faint circular line drawn around the cubicles. I stared at the ground, unsure if I was seeing things, or if there really was a line drawn on the floor. I straightened and moved to the left, trying to follow it. As I stood there transfixed, someone brushed their frigid hand across my exposed neck.

Coldness raced down my spine, and the scent of sand filled my nostrils.

I whipped around.

Duncan was gone.

In his place stood a woman wearing a red paint suit. Given that she was at least five feet away from me with her hands down at her sides… Who the hell had touched my neck?

Francine extended her hand and smiled. “Hello. Ms. Fontane?”

I stepped forward, my legs suddenly weak, and took her hand. “Hi.” I cleared my throat. “Yes, I’m Nicole Fontane.”

“I’m Francine Delaporte. Let’s get started.” She let go of my hand and walked into her office.

I rubbed the back of my neck, trying to warm the sudden chill that had settled there. I glanced around the room. The employees remained at their desks, staring rapt at their computer screens.

A cool breeze circled the room, pulling my gaze toward the ceiling. An air vent sat directly above me.

Before I entered Francine’s office, I glanced down at the floor. The markings were gone. Maybe I had imagined them. And maybe the air-conditioning explained the feeling of someone brushing their fingers across my neck.

Yes—for sanity’s sake, I was going to go with that.

Just my overactive imagination.


Author Bio:

My name is Carla Vonzale Lewis and I like my martini’s shaken…never stirred. I was born in Georgia but please don’t mistaken me for a Georgia peach. I’m more like a prickly pear. Speaking of being born, someone asked me recently if I remember my birth. And I have to say, yes, I do remember that handsy doctor pulling me out into the cold. Right Bastard!!!

Despite being born in the South, I grew up in the North. California to be exact. Every once in a great while we get to experience all four seasons. But mostly, it’s just heat. You should see our electric bill in the summer! I like the beaches, but not the sand. I enjoy being outside, but the sun gets on my nerves. Does it really need to send its death ray to a single spot on my skin! (I told you I was a prickly pear) And don’t get me started on the traffic.

The first part of my life, I worked in customer service. This line of work led to the discovery of my favorite drink, or, rather, several favorite drinks. I could list the many concoction but that would go on forever!

Needless to say, it wasn’t an easy job. But I did enjoy talking with people. And when it came time to develop my characters, I drew on those experiences.

I have a degree in Fashion Design. Don’t ask. The only thing I gained from those wasted two years of my life, is being introduced to the love of my life, Bobby. He is truly my rock.

Why do I write? Well my first book, LINEAGE, answered the question, “What does the big boss actually do all day?” I might have gone a little dark with my answer, but it was fun answering the question. But mainly, I love writing because it gives me power to create. And it also gives me the power to fix this broken world.

Truthfully, I’ve always loved the written word and the way a good book could take you to another place and time. Instead of hanging out in the lunchroom, I would go to the library and create stories or bury my head in a really good book.

I started writing my first novel in 2014 and 30 days later I had a collection of scenes that needed some serious revision. And that was where the fun came in. Over the course of several years my novel went through final draft after final draft until I finally came to…you guessed it, the final draft.

When I’m not writing, I enjoy reading, binge watching shows on Netflix, and trying to convince my husband that getting a dog is a wonderful idea.

And one day, I will discover how many licks it actually takes to get to the center of a tootsie pop.

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YA Scavenger Hunt: Team Red

YA Scavenger Hunt

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors…and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! But play fast: this contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will only be online for 72 hours!

Red Team

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are Five contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the RED TEAM–but there is also a blue team, a green team, a gold team, and a purple team, for a chance to win a whole different set of books!

If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page.

SCAVENGER HUNT PUZZLE
 
Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the RED TEAM, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
 
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by April 7th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
SCAVENGER HUNT POST
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Today, I am hosting T.A. MACLAGAN on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt!
T.A. Maclagan is a born and bred Kansas girl. With a bachelor’s degree in biology and a Ph.D. in anthropology, she’s studied poison dart frogs in the rainforests of Costa Rica, howler monkeys in Panama and the very exotic and always elusive American farmer. It was as she was writing her ‘just the facts’ dissertation that T.A. felt the call to pursue something more imaginative and discovered a passion for creative writing.
 
Find out more information by checking out the author website or find more about the author’s book here!
EXCLUSIVE CONTENT
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“An intricate, debut spy thriller…readers will keep turning pages, and the surprise ending will have them anxiously awaiting a sequel.” ―Booklist 
 
“…the intersection of action, espionage, and drama makes for solid…entertainment: readers will gladly sit back and watch Alexandra navigate the obstacle course that comes with playing her role too well. It’s a strong debut for New Zealand author Maclagan.” ―Publisher’s Weekly
Alexandra Gastone has a simple plan: graduate high school, get into Princeton, work for the CIA, and serve her great nation. She was told the plan back when her name was Milena Rokva, back before the real Alexandra and her family were killed in a car crash. Milena was trained to be a sleeper agent by Perun, a clandestine organization from her true homeland of Olissa. There, Milena learned everything she needed to infiltrate the life of CIA analyst Albert Gastone, Alexandra’s grandfather, and the ranks of America’s top intelligence agency.

For seven years, “Alexandra” has been on standby and life’s been good. Grandpa Albert loves her, and her strategically chosen boyfriend, Grant, is amazing. But things are about to change. Perun no longer needs her at the CIA in five years’ time. They need her active now.

**In honor of YASH, ALEXANDRA GASTONE IS FREE on Amazon from April 2 to April 6**

Exclusive Content:

 

Prologue

Seven Years Ago

I stared at the video screen. At the girl with my eyes—one blue and one gray/green. I’d seen this video hundreds of times so I knew it by heart. It was of Alexandra Gastone walking home from school with a friend. I knew every laugh, smile and eye-roll. I knew when she would play with the locket around her neck and when she would swipe a piece of hair behind her ear, twisting it at the end of the motion. I swiped my own newly shorn hair behind my ear, once, twice, three times, always taking care to twist at the end. The action felt natural now. After months of watching the video it was ingrained. I smiled into the mirror at my side. Alexandra’s smile was crooked and mine now echoed hers, the left-side dipping down. I had to strain to keep the smile in place. Seeing a face in the mirror that was not my own jarred me every time. I let the smile fade and brought a hand up to trace my new jaw, studying the stronger angle. I ran a finger down my new nose. It was smaller now and more refined. The changes might have made me prettier, but I missed my old face. A part of me had been stolen.

I jerked as a cold hand came to rest on my shoulder.

“What is your name?” asked Mistress.

“Alexandra Gastone,” I replied, dropping my voice to match Alexandra’s deeper alto.

“What is your age? Who were your parents? Where are you from?”

Unlike many kids who liked to mumble, Alexandra spoke with great elocution, the movements of her mouth a lip reader’s dream. “I’m eleven years old,” I said, molding my mouth to each word.  At Compound Perun, Oline, my native language, had been forbidden within a few months of my arrival. I now spoke with a perfect American accent.  “My parents were Gregory and Tabitha Gastone. I live in Topeka, Kansas.”

“Who is your guardian?”

The video screen before me went black for a second and then a different face appeared. It was a new video I hadn’t seen although I recognized the silver hair, weathered face, and intelligent blue eyes. I glanced at my friend Varos who was controlling the feed. He offered me a smile, his chubby face pinched. I could tell that Varos was equally as nervous. I wasn’t the only one about to embark on a new assignment.

“My grandfather, Albert Gastone,” I said, turning back to the video. Back to the man whose life I was about to infiltrate.

“Where does Gastone work? What are his hobbies?”

“He works at the CIA. He’s one of the CIA’s public liaisons and is an analyst specializing in the Southern Caucasus. Albert likes to read, travel, and play strategic games like Chess. He has a gun collection.”

“When was the last time you saw your grandfather?”

“I was five years old. He was at my birthday party and gave me a chess set.”

Mistress squeezed my shoulder. I stifled a shiver as she kissed the top of my head. “Very good, my little silver fox,” said Mistress, bringing her icy hands to my cheeks. She turned me to the mirror, her face coming to within millimeters of my own. I could feel the wetness of her breath, smell the vodka. My skin crawled, but I remained still. We gazed at the mirror’s reflection. “You must think strategically at all times. Gastone has lived alone for years. It may be hard for him to accept you. Show an interest in his hobbies and do not disturb his quiet lifestyle. Position yourself as a protégé. Outside of your life with Gastone, you are to assess the strategic value of all those you meet. Befriend those of worth and discard the rest.”

“Yes, Mistress.”

“Milena Rokva is dead. You are now Alexandra Gastone. Remember that, every second of every day. Albert Gastone may not have seen Alexandra in years but he will inherit all the photos and videos that have ever been taken of her.”

I studied Mistress’s cold blue eyes. They were daring me to prove myself. I smiled Alexandra’s crooked smile. From deep within I pulled out a laugh, letting my breath catch almost immediately on it as Alexandra always did, as if shocked by her own amusement.     “I’m Alexandra Gastone, the girl next door. I like to play soccer, swim and read. I like school and my favorite subject is math.” I brushed my hair behind my ear, twisting it at the end of the motion. “I have a crush on a boy named Peter.”

Mistress nodded at me while flicking a hand toward Varos. In response, new images flooded the screen. They were a visual torrent, a deluge to which I’d become well accustomed. The American flag, mansions, fancy cars, fat people living fat lives, money, money, money…the inundation continued driving deep into my psyche… American soldiers in Olissa, their tanks on our streets, their army base on our land. The images flew by…a reel of horrors…and then… without warning, they stopped. The image that remained would echo in my bones, forever and always. My mother—dead, a shot to the head.

In the photo, she lies on ground muddy with blood and I’m next to her, streaked in crimson, hugging a body that life left long ago. My eyes are hollow. Haunted.

I can feel it rush back to me, the crack of the gun, the sound of my mother’s body dropping, the warmth of her life seeping away as night fell. One bullet, less than a second, and everything changed. I was broken and she was gone. A week later, I was at Perun.

The image was a knife carving my insides, but I couldn’t look away. It slowly began to dissolve into the next slide, and I wished the memory of that day would fade as easily. A map of Olissa replaced the shattering photo of my mother.

A small country of ten million, Olissa had suffered centuries of oppression because it was nestled in between world titans. On the animated screen, the great country of Olissa began to shrink as it was devoured by powerful neighbors.  The video said it all. I served so that Olissa would not disappear. So that it would not be forgotten. Entranced, I actually flinched when the image vanished, replaced again by the picture of Albert Gastone.

I glanced at Mistress.

“A reminder,” said Mistress. “Of why you serve. What you are about to do won’t be without its trials. Everyday you must remember why you do this. Why you fight. It is for Olissa and her people.”

“I will remember. For Olissa. Always.”

For my mother. Always.

Mistress kissed my cheek and stepped away. “Very good. Now it’s time to prepare you for the accident.”

Despite my anxiety, I wanted to laugh at Mistress’s words. They sounded so casual. Like I was simply going to take a bath or pack a bag. I wanted, with all my heart, to serve and honor my mother, but was still frozen with fear. I’d only just healed from the plastic surgery and now there would be far more pain. I had to look like a girl who barely survived a car crash. Two men waited outside the door for Mistress’s orders. Trying to see past the pain that was looming, I glanced at the video screen and the man named Albert who would soon believe he was my grandfather. He looked like a good man. His face was gentle and his smile warm. I wondered briefly if he would come to love me, but then pushed the idea from my thoughts. His love didn’t matter, only his name. It was a name that would get me into a good college and then into the CIA, the very agency where he worked. One day, I would be positioned to pass strategic intel back to Perun.

Varos stood and cleared his throat, drawing our attention. “May I have a word in private with—” Varos looked to me. “With Alexandra. As I am her handler, I have a few final things to discuss.”

“Of course,” said Mistress, her words of agreement not matching the scowl on her face. Mistress liked Varos as much as she liked me, which was to say not at all. Seven years my senior, Varos was a chubby asthmatic. Mistress despised physical weakness and given the opportunity, would have loved to crush Varos into shape or watch him perish in the attempt. Fortunately for Varos, he was exceedingly smart and had high-ranking parents within the movement. Because of this, he was groomed for an advisory role at Perun instead of an operative position and was kept out of Mistress’s clutches. Only eighteen years old, he was about to become the youngest handler and operations leader in the field.

Mistress turned to me before leaving, “For the blood of the fallen, for the blood of the living. For Olissa we fight.”

I stood, bringing my hand up in a salute. “For Olissa we fight.”

Mistress left without further word, her hard-soled boots tapping out a steady rhythm on the floor.

I turned to Varos as he began to walk over and our eyes locked. I could feel myself shaking and was trying to regain control. All I wanted to do was race across the room and throw myself into his arms for one last moment of comfort, but I made myself stay rooted in place. I thought of Varos as my friend and would have once shared my fears with him. Now that he was my handler, however, that relationship had to end. Varos had told me so himself. He would have to keep his distance in order to remain objective about my performance.

Varos reached me after what seemed an eternity, time moving slowly but also coming too quickly. Behind the door, a beating awaited. I ran my fingers over the bell-shaped burn on my wrist—one of Mistress’s punishments. At Perun, I was no stranger to pain, but I knew those instances were nothing compared to what was only moments away.

Varos put a hand on my shoulder. Unlike Mistress’s, his hand was warm. Inviting. He pulled me to him and wrapped me in a hug. I felt a surge of relief that he could be my friend for just a few more seconds. “Albert Gastone is a kind man, Little O,” said Varos, using my nickname. “And I’ll be there to guide you. You were made for this. You have all the skills you’ll need.”

The door hinges whined as two of Perun’s enforcers entered the room—Negar and Raykom. Raykom had been one of my Sambo instructors, Negar weaponry. They carried several props with them to aid in their work—straps, a glass window, a two-by-four. My injuries needed to mirror those of a car accident. There were no shortcuts.

Varos pulled away after kissing my forehead.  “For Olissa we fight. For your mother,” he said, offering his own salute.

Unable to speak or coordinate my actions, I only nodded in response. The pain was for a greater cause and because of that I would bear it with pride and dignity. I would do anything for the cause and for my country. It was an honor. Varos smiled weakly. “See you on the other side, Little O.”

I watched each step Varos took in leaving the room. Fifteen in all.

It took Raykom ten steps to reach me. Negar only eight.

dfgsdg



And don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of books by me, Candace Robinson, and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 13. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the RED TEAM and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!

CONTINUE THE HUNT
To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author! AUSTIN ASLAN
Note: some authors will offer an additional, individual giveaway. If you want to do this, please feel free to do so.
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The Onyx Crown: Excerpt + Giveaway

The OnyxCrownBlitz

To celebrate the release of Alan Hurst’s debut novel, The Onyx Crown, we are having a week-long book blitz! There will be an exclusive excerpt reveal, and a chance to win a digital copy of the book at the bottom!

Front CoverThe Onyx Crown #1

Publication Date: January 27th, 2019

Genre: Fantasy/ Adventure

The Onyx Crown is an exciting foray into the world of African fantasy. From the searing heat of the desert to the vastness of the savannah, it tells the story of three children–Sania, Gesi, and Jorann who grow up in a pre-medieval era of wars and successions, not fifteen years after the greatest king in the history of the continent has been deposed and assassinated. They must overcome the traumatic circumstances of their birth as well as many dangerous trials to fulfill the destiny bestowed upon them as infants. Can mere children use their courage, wits, and uncanny abilities to defeat legendary warriors, entire tribes, provinces, and kingdoms–allowing them to lead the worthy to the greatest prize of all, the Onyx Crown?

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Excerpt

For the next few days, the three of them did virtually everything together, including games, horse riding, and spear training with the First Knight, who seemed to be getting sterner and tougher on them with every lesson. The First Knight, whose given name was Jorell Boro, was famed throughout the fourteen provinces as one of the best living warriors of all time. He’d made his name fighting for the upstart Regent Okon in his war of usurpation against the High King Toloron.

After Toloron was defeated, the regent rewarded Boro with the titles of First Knight of the Crown, Protector of the House of the First Prince, and the moniker “the Bloodless Death,” because supposedly his bladed spear could kill a person so quickly and with such precision that they would be dead before any blood was even visible.

Okon, along with the ruling conclave, also granted a treaty to Pala Jorell’s home kingdom of East Rhydor, including a guarantee that no Numerian troops would invade as long as the East Rhydor king or his son, the prince, were in power.

The First Prince had asked Pala Jorell to begin instructing Zadeemo in the ways of knighthood, and also Gesemni himself, most likely reasoning that Zadeemo would need a sparring partner when the First Prince was absent.

The First Knight had been reluctant to train a “commoner” in the higher arts of warfare but, at the insistence of both the First Prince and Zadeemo, had relented. Still, one could tell he took The Onyx Crown -26- great pains to make sure that Zadeemo understood some of the finer points of the moves he instructed, while not deigning to help Gesi.

Luckily for Gesi, he had tremendous aptitude and seemingly a womb-borne comprehension of instinctual combat. As such, he rarely needed the extra tutoring that Zadeemo couldn’t seem to do without. On this day, the two of them were instructed for quite some time on hand-spear counters, an ancient method of grappling that involved an unarmed warrior wresting the control of spears and other long objects away from their adversary. It was an extremely rough and unpolished method of fighting, and the First Knight took the better part of the morning explaining it to them.

Finally, the paladin suggested they work the puzzling elements out with a few rounds of sparring. Boro handed him a bladed spear and marked out a circle four en-yawo in diameter with his carving knife. Zadeemo was given a pair of lyocell gloves, which felt like silk but were made from the toughest fibers in existence. These were to be used to protect his hands from blade cuts.

Gesi shifted nervously. Always when they’d fought before they’d both been armed. Oddly, there’s a certain amount of safety involved when two weapons compete against each other. But with Zadeemo being unarmed, Gesi felt he’d have to be very careful. He was also very conscious of Zoe sitting on her tilbury, watching them both amusedly.

“Engage!” The First Knight’s voice rang out through the square as the boys stepped into the circle. Zadeemo immediately lowered his stance, thrusting the heel of his boot inside Gesi’s left calf to disrupt his balance, simultaneously snatching at the bladed spear handle.

Shuffle-stepping to counter, Gesi twisted the blade ninety degrees, forcing Zadeemo to withdraw his hands. He knew he was supposed to be nothing more than a punching target for Zadeemo, but in situations like this, his stubborn, competitive imoya always got in the way of things, and yes…he also wanted to show off a bit in front of Zoe.

Surprisingly, Zadeemo must’ve anticipated his counter because he nimbly moved to his left, crashing his knee into Gesi’s right thigh and causing him to grimace. Ducking underneath the spear, Zadeemo swung his right elbow fiercely into Gesi’s solar plexus. The few servants and townspeople who were looking on cheered loudly, including Zoe.

At that second, he felt like he was going to black out. Zadeemo may have been slower than a stuck rhino, but he had strength far beyond what most twelve-year-olds could muster.

Instinctively, he twisted his bladed spear to block the next grasping move he felt was coming, slid his left knee under Zadeemo’s right, and reverse-swung the spear in a sweeping arc toward Zadeemo’s chest. The cheering stopped, followed by a deathly silence as Zadeemo crashed down to the dirt awkwardly. Everyone was staring at Gesi. Some looked angry, some fearful, some puzzled. Even he didn’t know how he’d won.

*Available Now*

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About the Author

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Alan Hurst is an author and entrepeneur. Hurst who spent most of his childhood reading Asian wuxia fiction, Marvel comics and encyclopedias is delving into trilogy territory with THE ONYX CROWN. He briefly studied religion at Harvard. Later, he settled in Washington, DC where he founded a software consulting firm, hosted the Urban Nation Radio podcast, and occasionally played the World Series of Poker. When not writing or enjoying time with his family, he prefers to take his Ducati motorcycle out for the occasional spin!

Alan Hurst | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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Clouded by Envy: Excerpt + Giveaway

I am so excited that CLOUDED BY ENVY by Candace Robinson is available now and that I get
to share the news!
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful
book by Author Candace Robinson, be sure to check out all the details below.
This blitz also includes a giveaway for a $10
Amazon GC courtesy of Candace, The Parliament House Press, and Rockstar Book
Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the
bottom of this post.
Title: CLOUDED BY ENVY
Author: Candace Robinson
Pub. Date: February 19, 2019
Publisher: The Parliament House
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 215
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NiBooks
Brenik has always been
envious of his twin sister, Bray. Growing up as fairy-like creatures, known as
bats, everything came easier to Bray. While Brenik spent his time in her
shadows, never feeling he was enough. After escaping their world of Laith, and
living on Earth for ten years, Brenik attempts to strike a deal with the Stone
of Desire to become human. Though true humanity is not an option, he will
accept the curse that will alter him to get as close as he can.
Living in a tree trunk
for the past year hasn’t been easy for Bray, more so after her brother
disappears again. When a human boy and his brother, Wes, find her, a new
friendship is struck. Through Wes, Bray learns there can be more to life than
waiting within a tree. But worrying over where Brenik has vanished to always
remains in the back of her mind.
When Bray reunites
with Brenik, she realizes she must help him break the curse after she discovers
the need for blood is beginning to overpower him. The curse not only damages
those who get close to Brenik, but it could also destroy whatever is blooming
between Bray and Wes.

 

Book Trailer:
Exclusive Excerpt!
                Bray
wasn’t sure how long she had drifted off for, but there was a puddle of wetness
against her cheek when she woke up—okay, so it was only drool from herself.
Lifting a hand up toward her cheek, she swiped the saliva away and rubbed it on
to the hammock. Classy, she thought, but there was already some gathered there
anyway.
                Remembering
the events from earlier, Bray headed straight to the hole and peeked out. She
shifted her head from left to right. Nothing. Bray looked up and down—she could
see a few bushes had already been planted in the dirt.
                Then
she saw it: a circular stone bowl filled with water sitting on top of a long
thick stem, attached to a circular bottom. A birdbath! Almost giddily, Bray
stepped on the ledge of the hole and leaped off, flapping her wings hurriedly
to the nearest pink and yellow peach. Opening her jaw wide, she bit into the
thin skin. A juicy one. The fruit filled her mouth with delicious pleasure, and
she took one more long bite before diving down to the birdbath.
                The top
of her newfound treasure was a perfect circle with tiny mounds around it
resembling hills. Bray landed on the ceramic and bent down to take a seat,
before placing her bare feet into the warm water that had been perfectly heated
from the shining sun.
                Peering
down at the clear water, Bray saw no sign of intrusion from other creatures
yet. She rotated her head in every direction, as if she would be caught just by
thinking about slipping into the water—still no sign of life.
                Flicking
her braid over her shoulder, Bray pursed her lips together to hide the smile
aching to shine against her face and jumped into the water. The splash echoed.
Her bare feet scraped the rough bottom, while her dress inflated and then clung
to her body as she shot to the surface. She let out a small giggle to herself.
It was sad that the only highlight of the past year was hopping into a shallow
pool of water with no one around except for her.
                She
leaned back into the liquid, letting herself float and moving her arms slowly
up and down, while swimming in figure-eight circles.
                Bray
closed her eyes and let the water cover her ears, so it felt like nothing in
the world existed, except for the muffled vibrations from the liquid.
                A loud
booming sounded from above, and her eyelids thrust open, meeting dark brown
eyes, light brown skin, and that black bowl hair. Tiny human. Luca.
                Freeze,
Bray thought to herself, not even blinking her eyes. She held them wide open, thinking
he wouldn’t notice her, or maybe he would just assume she was a bird. Even
though he was staring at her and had spoken something she didn’t hear clearly.
                Nope.
That isn’t going to work. He hovered closer, his eyes scrunched halfway closed
to examine her more thoroughly. Unable to hold her eyes open any longer, Bray
blinked several times.
                “What
are you?” he asked, genuine amazement creeping into his words, lips slightly
parted.
                “A
bat!” Bray yelled, and she jumped up from the warmth of the water, darting
straight for the tree hole.
                Breathing
heavily, Bray landed inside and collided with the floor. She rolled to her
back, running both hands down her face. “Why did I come out without paying
attention? I know not to!” Ruth had always told her this.
                A quake
trembled through the tree, causing shivers to run up and down her spine. What
is the little beast doing? Oh no, what if he is trying to chop down the tree?
My home—the peaches! Bray didn’t know why she was thinking about stupid peaches
when there was another fruit tree directly next door.
                Despite
the thunderous rumbling, Bray grabbed the needle from underneath her hammock
and dodged toward the window. If the little beast thought he could take her
down, then he had another thing coming. She would prick his eye—actually, she
would poke both of his eyes to protect her and Brenik’s home.
                When
Bray reached the edge of the window, the sound stopped. She peeped her head out
of the hole, right as a face met hers, his black hair falling forward over a hazel
eye—an eye she was going to poke. Startled, she jumped back instead of toward
him.
                A broad
smile crossed the little beast’s face. “Hello.”
                Freezing
once again, until she remembered that the staying-still-as-a-statue strategy
didn’t work in the birdbath, she meekly said, “Hi.”
                Bray
brought the needle up toward his smiling face, just in case.
                “Are
you planning on sewing something?” He tilted his head at the needle.
                “Yeah,
your eyeball.” She gave him a hard glare.
                “What?”
he asked while laughing hysterically.
                He was
laughing? Not scared? Bray brought the needle closer. “Yeah, you need to leave
and never come back. This is my home.”
                “No.
Technically, it’s my brother’s home,” he said, still smiling.
                “What
brother? You mean your dad out there who was planting this morning?”
                Luca
shook his head, and she didn’t miss the wince before he spoke. “No, that’s my
brother, Wes. I don’t have a mom or dad.”
                Crestfallen,
Bray lowered the needle. “Oh. Me neither. I only have a brother, but he will be
gone for a while.” She paused and glanced at the note Brenik had left behind,
her chest tightening. Then she shrugged it off and shifted her gaze back to the
boy. “By the way, my name is Brayora, but you can call me Bray.” For some
reason, she wasn’t worried anymore about the human.
                “I’m
Luca Duran.” He plopped his thin fingers on the edge of the hole.
                “Yeah,
I heard your name this morning, little beast. I mean, Luca.” She thought little
beast suited him better than Luca.
About Candace:

 

My name is
Candace Robinson. I’m just your average hemiplegic migraine sufferer. My days
are spent writing, book reviewing and traveling through books for my blog,
Literary Dust. I live just outside of Houston, Texas, where it feels like the
hottest place on Earth with the crazy weather. No, seriously, one day it’s 30
degrees and the next it’s 70 degrees! I live with my husband and awesome
daughter!
 
You can also
follow me on my review blog Literary Dust
 
 
 
 
Giveaway Details:
All International
1 winner will
receive an 10 Amazon Gift Card, International.
Ends on February
28th at Midnight EST!
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