a golden fury by Samantha Cohoe blog tour-Excerpt

Hi everyone, i hope your having a great October so far can you guys believe it’s almost Halloween already. Today i have a excerpt of a golden fury for you. i hope you enjoy.

first the synopsis

Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.

But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.

Now for the excerpt

My mother was screaming at the Comte. Again.

I slammed the front doors behind me and walked down the carriageway, under the dappled shade of the pop- lars that lined it. A hundred paces away, I still heard her, though at least I could no longer hear the Comte’s frantic endearments and low, rapid pleading. He should know by now that wasn’t the way. Perhaps I should tell him. Adrien was the first of my mother’s patrons I had ever liked, and I did not want to leave Normandy just as spring was break- ing. Just as we were beginning to make progress.

Though perhaps we were not. Mother would not be screaming at the Comte if the work were going well. She would not take the time. Alchemy was a demanding sci- ence, even if some scoffed and called it charlatanry or magic. It required total concentration. If the work were going well, the Comte would scarcely exist to her, nor

would I, now that she would not let me be of use. The com- position must have broken again. This was about when it had, last round. I could not be certain, since she had taken away my key to the laboratory. She could hardly have de- vised a worse insult than that if she had tried, and lately she did seem to be trying. The laboratory was mine as much as it was hers. If she did succeed in producing the White Elixir—which turned all metals into silver—then it was only because of my help. She had found Jābir’s text languishing in a Spanish monastery, but it had been I who translated it when her Arabic wasn’t nearly up to the job. I had labored for months over the calcinary furnace to make the philosophic mercury the text took as its starting point. I had the scars on my hands and arms to prove it. And now that success might be close, she wished to shut me out and deny my part, and claim it for herself alone.

But if she was acting ill and cross, it meant she had failed. A low, smug hum of satisfaction warmed me. I didn’t want the work to fail, but I didn’t want her to suc- ceed without me, either.

A distant smashing sound rang out from the chateau. My mother shattering something against the wall, no doubt.

I sighed and shifted my letter box to the crook of my other arm.

I knew what this meant. Another move. Another man. The Comte had lasted longer than the rest. Over two years, long enough that I had begun to hope I would not have to do it all again. I hated the uncertainty of those first weeks, before I knew what was expected of me, whether Mother’s new patron had a temper and what might set it off, whether he liked children to speak or be silent. Though I was no

longer a child, and that might bring its own problems. A chill passed over me, despite the warm afternoon sunshine. God only knew what the next one would be like. My mother had already run through so many of them. And with the recent changes in France, there were fewer rich men than ever looking to give patronage to an expensive alchemist, even one as beautiful and famous as Marguerite Hope.

I veered off the carriageway, into the soft spring grass, dotted here and there with the first of the lavender anemo- nes. I sat by the stream, under the plum tree.

There was no screaming here, no pleading, no signs that my life was about to change for the worse. I inhaled the soft, sweet scent of plum blossoms and opened my letter box. If this was to be my last spring in Normandy, I wanted to re- member it like this. Springtime in Normandy was soft and sweet, sun shining brightly and so many things blossoming that the very air was perfumed with promise. Everything was coming extravagantly to life, bursting out of the dead ground and bare trees with so much energy other impos- sible things seemed likely, too. I had always been hopeful in Normandy when it was spring. Especially last spring, when Will was still here. When we sat under this very tree, drank both bottles of champagne he had stolen from the cellars, and spun tales of everything we could achieve.

I took out his last letter, dated two months ago.

Dear Bee,

This is my address nowas you see Ive left Prussia. It turns out that everything they say about the Prussians is quite true. I’ve never met a more unbending man than my patron

there. One day past the appointed date and he tried to throw me in prison for breach of contract! He thinks alchemy can be held to the same strict schedule as his serfs.

Laws against false alchemists were very harsh in Ger- many, as Will knew full well when he sought patronage there. I had begged him to go somewhere else, though he had few enough choices. He was my mother’s apprentice, with no achievements of his own to make his reputation. His training had been cut abruptly short when Mother found us together under this plum tree, watching the sun- rise with clasped hands and two empty bottles of cham- pagne. She’d seen to it that Will was gone by noon. It was no use telling her that all we’d done was talk through the night, or that the one kiss we’d shared had been our first, and had gone no further. He had behaved with perfect re- spect for me, but she wouldn’t believe it. My mother had imagined a whole path laid before my feet in that moment, and scorched it from the earth with Greek fire.

I turned to the next page.

I blame myself, of course, Bee, for not heeding your advice. I can picture your face now, wondering what I expected. It would almost be worth all the trouble I’ve caused myself if I could come to you and see your expression. You must be the only woman in the world who is never lovelier than when you’ve been proven right.

The keen thrill of pleasure those words had brought me when I first read them had faded now, and left me feeling uncertain. Should I write back knowingly, teasing him for his recklessness? I had tried this, and was sure I sounded like a scold no matter what he said about my loveliness when proven right. I took out my latest draft, which struck a more sincere tone. I read the lines over, saying how I worried for him, how I missed him. I crumpled it in my hand halfway through. Too much emotion. It didn’t do to show such dependence on a man. My mother had shown me that. I didn’t wish to emulate her in everything, but I would be a fool to deny her skill at winning masculine devotion. I tried again.

Dear Will,

I am sitting under the plum tree where we had our last picnic. I know how you feel about nostalgia, but I hope you will forgive me this one instance. I fear this will be our last spring in Normandy—perhaps even in France. Many of my mother’s friends have left already, and though you may well condemn

them as reactionaries, the fact remains that there are very few good Republicans with the ready cash to pay for our pursuits.

I sighed again and crumpled the page. Somehow I could never seem to write to him about the Revolution without a touch of irony creeping in. I didn’t want that. Will had put his hopes for a better world in the new order, and even though I was less hopeful than he, I loved him for it. At least he wanted a better world. Most alchemists simply wanted better metals.

I tried to imagine he was here. It wouldn’t be difficult then. He was so good at setting me at ease. His admira- tion was as intoxicating as wine, but unlike wine it sharp- ened my wits instead of dulling them. I was never cleverer than when Will was there to laugh with me.

My chest constricted at the memory of Will’s laugh. I didn’t know anyone who laughed like him. The Parisian aristocrats I had known all had so much consciousness of the sound they made when they did it. The Comte wasn’t like them, but he was a serious man and laughed rarely. My mother didn’t laugh at all.

But Will. He laughed like it came from the loud, bursting core of him. Like he couldn’t have kept it in if he wanted to, and why would he want to? And when he was done laughing, he would look at me like no one else ever had. Like he saw only me, not as an accessory to my mother, but as myself. And not as an odd girl whose sharp edges would need to be softened. Will liked the edges. The sharper they cut, the more they delighted him.

“Thea!”

I threw my letters into the letter box and snapped it shut. I looked around for somewhere to hide the box, and noticed too late that one of my crumpled drafts had blown toward the stream. My mother appeared on the hill above me, the late afternoon sun lighting up her golden hair like an unearned halo. She walked down the hill with measured steps and stopped a few yards above me, I assumed because she wished to enjoy the experi- ence of being taller than me again for a few moments. Her eye moved to the crumpled paper. I ran to it and stuffed it into my pocket before she could take it, though

my haste in hiding the failed letter told her all I didn’t wish her to know.

“Oh dear,” said my mother. “I do hope you haven’t been wasting your afternoon trying to find the right words to say to that boy.”

My mother was tolerant of my letter writing these days, perhaps because she was confident I would never see Will again. She had smiled when she heard of Will’s contract in Prussia. He won’t find it so easy to charm his way past the Prussian alchemy laws. In Germany, one must deliver results, not pretty smiles, or end in prison.

“I wouldn’t have an afternoon to waste if you would let me into the laboratory,” I said.

“Don’t be pitiful, Thea,” said my mother. “Surely you can think of something worthwhile to do when I don’t happen to need your assistance.”

I clenched my teeth so tight that my jaw ached. Shut- ting me out of the laboratory, our laboratory, was the great- est injustice she had ever committed against me. Worse than all the moving about, worse than sending Will away, worse than any insult she could think to level at me. Before she had done that, I believed we were together in alchemy at least, even if nothing else. That she had raised and trained me not simply to be of use to her, but to be her partner. Her equal, one day. Throwing me out of the lab- oratory just when we might achieve what we had worked for told me that Will was right. She would never let me claim credit for my part of the work. She would never ac- cept me as an alchemist in my own right.

And yet she described it as though she had simply let me off my chores. As if I were no more necessary than a

servant. There was no point in arguing with her, but even so I could not let it stand.

“I am not your assistant,” I said.

“Oh?” she asked. “Do you have news, then? Have you found a patron on your own merits? Do you intend to strike out on your own?”

“Perhaps I will,” I said, my face growing hot. “Perhaps I will stay here when you are finally finished tormenting the poor Comte.”

My mother had a perfect, deceptively sweet beauty: golden blond and blue-eyed with a round, doll-like face. It made the venom that sometimes twisted her expression hard to quite believe in. Many men simply didn’t. They preferred to ignore the evidence of their minds for the evidence of their senses. I, of course, knew her better than they did. I tensed, preparing.

But instead of lashing out, my mother turned aside, a hand to her chest. A tremor passed over her; she bowed her head against it.

Mother had been strangely unwell for weeks. At first I responded to her illness as she had taught me to, with distaste and disapproval, as though falling sick were an ill-considered pastime of those with insufficient moral for- titude. But if she noticed how unpleasant it was to receive so little sympathy when unwell, she did not show it. She had locked herself away in the laboratory every day until late at night, ignoring my silence as much as she ignored the Comte’s pleas that she rest. I had not thought much of it until this moment. Any pain great enough to turn her from chastising me for thinking I could do alchemy with- out her must be serious indeed.

“Mother?” I asked.

“You will go where I tell you.” Her voice was low and breathless, almost a gasp. “For now, that is to dinner. Wear the green taffeta.”

“The robe à la française?” I asked, perplexed. I hadn’t worn that dress since before the Estates General met. Its style was the hallmark of the ancien régime: wide pan- niered hips, structured bodice, and elaborate flounces. “But it’s out of fashion.”

“So is our guest,” said my mother.

She went up the hill again, then turned back to me at the top.

“Thea,” she said, all the sharpness gone from her voice. “I know you do not believe it any longer, but everything I do is for you.”

It was the sort of thing she always said. Before this year, I had always believed it, more or less. At least, everything she did was for the both of us. She had considered me an extension of herself, so that doing things for me was no different than doing them for herself. Why else take so much care to train me, to see to it that I had the tutors I needed to learn every language necessary—more even than she knew? To take me with her in all her travels to seek out manuscripts? She was an impatient teacher at times, but a good one. A thorough one. And in turn I was a good student. The best.

Until we were close to our goal. Then, suddenly, I was a rival. And my mother did not tolerate rivals.

“You are right, Mother,” I said. “I don’t believe that any longer.”

Author bio:

Samantha Cohoe writes historically-inspired young adult fantasy. She was raised in San Luis Obispo, California, where she enjoyed an idyllic childhood of beach trips, omnivorous reading, and writing stories brimming with adverbs. She currently lives in Denver with her family and divides her time among teaching Latin, mothering, writing, reading, and deleting adverbs. A Golden Fury is her debut novel.

BLOG TOUR LINKS

Samantha’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/smcohoe

Samantha’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/samanthacohoe/

Wednesday Books Twitter: https://twitter.com/wednesdaybooks

Wednesday Books Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wednesdaybooks/

Buy link for A GOLDEN FURY: https://read.macmillan.com/lp/a-golden-fury/

Maya and the Rising Dark by Rena Barron book Blitz

happy book birthday to Maya and the rising dark! This book sounds amazing! Not only dose it sound like the main character is into nerdy thing, see the mention of comic con in the synopsis. It also mentions werehyenas! I’m a huge fan of shapeshifters of every kind and i’m super excited to see/ read about werehyenas. I’v been waiting for this book since i first heard about it and can’t wait for my preorder to come in. Have i also mentioned that this book is ownvoic and that Rena Barron other book is kingdom of souls? There are so many reason why you should pick this one up.

now for the synopsis

In this highly anticipated contemporary fantasy, twelve-year-old Maya’s search for her missing father puts her at the center of a battle between our world, the Orishas, and the mysterious and sinister Dark world. Perfect for fans of Aru Shah and the End of Time and The Serpent’s Secret.

Twelve-year-old Maya is the only one in her South Side Chicago neighborhood who witnesses weird occurrences like werehyenas stalking the streets at night and a scary man made of shadows plaguing her dreams.

When Papa goes missing, Maya is thrust into a world both strange and familiar as she uncovers the truth. Her father is the guardian of the veil between our world and the Dark—where an army led by the Lord of Shadows, the man from Maya’s nightmares, awaits. Now that the veil is failing, the Lord of Shadows is determined to destroy the human world and it’s up to Maya to stop him. She just hopes she can do it in time to attend Comic-Con before summer’s over.

Book Links:

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/39726908-maya-and-the-rising-dark

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Maya-Rising-Dark-Rena-Barron/dp/132863518X/ref=tmm_hrd_swatch_0?_encoding=UTF8&qid=1563163166&sr=8-1

Barnes and Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/maya-and-the-rising-dark-rena-barron/1132050955?ean=9781328635181

Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/Maya-Rising-Dark-Rena-Barron/9781328635181?ref=grid-view&qid=1597191776204&sr=1-1

Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/maya-and-the-rising-dark/9781328635181-item.html?ikwid=Maya+and+the+Rising+Dark&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0#algoliaQueryId=a35cb729a155062f128098dc67444475

About the Author:

Rena Barron grew up in small-town Alabama where stories of magic and adventure sparked her imagination. After penning her first awful poem in middle school, she graduated to writing short stories and novels by high school.

From a very young age she loved reading stories where kids saved the world, tamed dragons, wielded magic, flew spaceships, became the chosen one. She desperately searched for characters in books who looked like her and was always disappointed to find none, which fueled her early interest in writing.

Before HarperTeen acquired her Young Adult Epic Fantasy, Kingdom of Souls, Rena spent 10 years in the query trends–writing across multiple genres and age groups in the pursuit of publication. In 2017, she entered Pitch Wars, a popular and highly sought-after online mentorship program that included an agent showcase round. Rena’s entry (then titled “The Last Witchdoctor”) received multiple offers of representation. She signed with Suzie Townsend at New Leaf Literary shortly after, and the manuscript went on to sell in a heated auction.

In addition to the Kingdom of Souls series, Rena also has written a middle grade epic fantasy titled Maya and The Rising Dark debuting in Spring 2020, pitched as Stranger Things meets Percy Jackson, that sold in a pre-empt to Houghton Mifflin Harcourt.

On a personal note, Rena loves all things science fiction and fantasy, ghosts, and superheroes. When she’s not writing, she can be found reading or brushing up on her French.

Author Links:

Website: http://renabarron.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/renathedreamer

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/renathedreamer/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/renathedreamer1

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17797267.Rena_Barron

link to schedule

the faithless hawk by Margaret Owen blog tour-promotional post

FH

hey guys, i’m so so happy to be part of this blog tour i adored the merciful crow! If you haven’t read it yet then i highly suggest you do!  It’s so good. I haven’t been able to read the faithless hawk yet but i’m hoping i can eventually. On a side note: I’v been having such a hard time with reading lately that i just can’t seem to get back into it any suggestions would be greatly appreciated. Today i just have a promotional post for you and don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the bottom of this post.  Also if you haven’t read the merciful crow yet please do, you wont regret it.

 
the Synopsis

Kings become outcasts and lovers become foes in the thrilling sequel to Margaret Owen’s The Merciful Crow.

As the new chieftain of the Crows, Fie knows better than to expect a royal to keep his word. Still she’s hopeful that Prince Jasimir will fulfill his oath to protect her fellow Crows. But then black smoke fills the sky, signaling the death of King Surimir and the beginning of Queen Rhusana’s merciless bid for the throne.

With the witch queen using the deadly plague to unite the nation of Sabor against Crows—and add numbers to her monstrous army—Fie and her band are forced to go into hiding, leaving the country to be ravaged by the plague. However, they’re all running out of time before the Crows starve in exile and Sabor is lost forever.

A desperate Fie calls on old allies to help take Rhusana down from within her own walls. But inside the royal palace, the only difference between a conqueror and a thief is an army. To survive, Fie must unravel not only Rhusana’s plot, but ancient secrets of the Crows—secrets that could save her people, or set the world ablaze.

FH2

 

BOOK LINK:
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/41022295-the-faithless-hawk
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Faithless-Hawk-Merciful-Crow/dp/1250191947/ref=sr_1_1?crid=3E60SOF3PXZLW&dchild=1&keywords=the+faithless+hawk&qid=1595012374&sprefix=the-faithless-hawk%2Caps%2C179&sr=8-1
Book Depository: https://www.bookdepository.com/The-Faithless-Hawk/9781250191946
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/the-faithless-hawk-margaret-owen/1131993174?ean=9781250191946
Indigo: https://www.chapters.indigo.ca/en-ca/books/the-faithless-hawk/9781250191946-item.html?ikwid=The+Faithless+Hawk&ikwsec=Home&ikwidx=0#algoliaQueryId=71c16f259480aebb054589d27e22894d

 

AUTHOR INFO:

Bio:
Born and raised at the end of the Oregon Trail, Margaret Owen first encountered an author in the wild in fourth grade. Roughly twenty seconds later, she decided she too would be an author, the first of many well-thought-out life decisions.

The career plan shifted frequently as Margaret spent her childhood haunting the halls of Powell’s Books. After earning her degree in Japanese, her love of espresso called her north to Seattle, where she worked in everything from thrift stores to presidential campaigns. The common thread between every job can be summed up as: lessons were learned.

Fortunately, it turned out that fourth-grade Margaret was onto something. She now spends her days wrestling disgruntled characters onto the page, and negotiating a long-term hostage situation with her two monstrous cats. (There is surprisingly little difference between the two.) In her free time, she enjoys exploring ill-advised travel destinations, and raising money for social justice nonprofits through her illustrations.

FH1

Links:

Website: https://margaret-owen.com/
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/17272080.Margaret_Owen
Twitter: https://twitter.com/what_eats_owls
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/what_eats_owls/
Tumblr: https://terriblenerd.tumblr.com/

 

GIVEAWAY:

Prize: Finished copies of The Merciful Crow and The Faithless Hawk (US and Canada Only)

Start date: August 23rd, 2020

End date: August 29th, 2020

Direct link: http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/fc15a5953/?

 

TOUR SCHEDULE:

Please include this link in your post:
https://tbrandbeyondtours.com/2020/07/22/tour-schedule-the-faithless-hawk-the-merciful-crow-2-by-margaret-owen/

 

 

Where dreams descend blog tour- excerpt

I am beyond excited to be part of the blog tour for where dreams descend, this is one of my most anticipated books of the year. Today I have a excerpt for you. I hope you enjoy!

First the synopsis

In a city covered in ice and ruin, a group of magicians face off in a daring game of magical feats to find the next headliner of the Conquering Circus, only to find themselves under the threat of an unseen danger striking behind the scenes.

As each act becomes more and more risky and the number of missing magicians piles up, three are forced to reckon with their secrets before the darkness comes for them next.

The Star: Kallia, a powerful showgirl out to prove she’s the best no matter the cost

The Master: Jack, the enigmatic keeper of the club, and more than one lie told

The Magician: Demarco, the brooding judge with a dark past he can no longer hide

Where Dreams Descend is the startling and romantic first book in Janella Angeles’ debut Kingdom of Cards fantasy duology where magic is both celebrated and feared, and no heart is left unscathed.

Now for the excerpt

Never come to Hellfire House without wearing a mask.

It was one of the rare rules in a joint without any. The only rule the master of the club did not mind following. He blended in with the sea of suits and white masks that arrived every other night, switching appearances from crowd to crowd. A bartender one moment, a dealer at the card tables the next.

Only his face remained the same, half-masked and haunting. Like a prince who relished the bloody crown on his head, and the ghosts that came with it. A face almost hardened by beauty, though glints of youth ran deep beneath soft black eyes. It always shocked new guests, to see him. The master of the House was rumored to be a dragon of a man. A monster. A magician who had no mercy for fools.

Only those who dared slur the word boy in his face understood how true those rumors were.

To the rest, he played the devil on all shoulders, leading patrons to his bar and game tables, guiding them toward his enchanted smoke lounge to drown in curated memories. The warmth of first love, the heady rush of triumph, the immense joy of dreams come true. The master kept a selection of sensations, and one hit of the pipes delivered magic the people came crawling to his house to taste.

They had no idea the show that was in store for them.

The master of the House sipped his short glass of scarlet whiskey in peace, tapping along the wide black strip over his brass knuckles. He’d long since manipulated his attire, sitting casually at a card table and savoring the mayhem. Raucous cheers erupted from the next table as dice rolled out across the surface. Smiling Hellfire girls in black blazers and masks of lace denied patrons begging for a dance. Loudest of all, the dealer’s crisp shuffling of the black cards with teeth-white numbers before she doled out hands to players at the table.

“No, no more,” one moaned. “I can’t.”

“Sure you can, chap.” A young man in a white thorn-edged mask cheerfully pressed him back in his seat. “We can’t leave. Haven’t even finished your drink, yet.”

His drunken friend’s mouth puckered under another gulp. “Think it’s true, the drink? Magician’s Blood, the menu said.”

“Think you have power, now?” Thorn Mask laughed, leaning back to appraise the club. “Here, you take your magic where you can get it. You wear a mask. You flip a card, smoke a memory. Or you look up . . . at her.”

The master’s fingers tightened around his glass, just as the lights dimmed. Dancers cleared the floor under the hush of music, shifting from smooth, steady beats to a racing rhythm loud as thunderous applause.

Right on cue.

The band’s worth of instruments he’d charmed for the night started up a wild entry tune of drums, the thick trill of trumpets. Chatter ceased and backs straightened as a beam of light speared toward the ceiling. A panel slid open over the dance floor.

And the chandelier descended.

Strings of crystals dangled along tiered rims of rose gold, cutting sharply into a jewel-set swing where a masked showgirl sat. A throne of glittering jewels, casting luminous lace across the walls and the ground and the audience taking her in. Her brown skin glowed against her corset, red as her gem-studded mask. Arms stretched out, she crossed and extended her legs in smooth lines all the way down, until her heels touched the lacquered black dancefloor. With the hint of a smile, she rose from her throne and stalked forward, thrusting a hand up with a snap.

Darkness engulfed the room.

Hoots and hollers rang at the drop of the beat, before a glimmer of her form reappeared in the shadows. The room pulsed at her command, matching the spike of heartbeats the master sensed throughout the club.

The smirk on his lips matched the girl’s as she arched her back to the raw stretch of the melody. She thrived under the attention, like a wildflower under the sun. A star finding the night.

His star.

“I’ll be damned.” The drunk at the card table breathed in awe, as the girl’s palms began brightening with a molten glow. “Nothing like an academy girl.”

“Worth the trip, right?” His friend clapped a hand on his shoulder.

“I didn’t know they could be magicians like . . . this.”

The master smothered a dark scoff under a sip of whiskey. The girl showed off good tricks—improvised and bettered from his basic crowd-pleasers. Treating the ceiling like a sky and showering comets from it, casting an elaborate shadow show of dancing shades over the floor, shifting every candlelight in the room to different colors to the beat of the music.

But always the performer, she preferred to be front and center. Teasing her power just enough to make the audience want more of her magic, more of her.

He wet his lips as flames shot from her hands, arcing over her head and around her body. The fire’s melody bent to her every movement, and she gave everything to it. If she wasn’t careful, she’d overexert herself like she did most nights, never knowing when to stop. How to pull back.

Careful never was her strongest suit.

Sparks fell before her, sizzling on the ground. Unafraid, she sauntered down her stage of flames with slow swaying hips and a firelit smile.

“Magicians like this are best kept a secret,” Thorn Mask went on. “And besides, the work is far too scandalous for a lady. Only clubs will take them.”

“What a shame. Imagine going up against the likes of her at the competition.”

The master paused, drawing his gaze back to his glass.

“Not this again. That flyer was nothing but a joke.” Thorn Mask slapped the table with a groaning laugh. “A prank.”

The drunk sloppily patted around his coat, pulling from his breast pocket a dirty, scrunched ball of paper. “It’s real. They’re all over the academies, in Deque and New Crown and—”

“A prank,” repeated Thorn Mask, unfolding the flyer anyway. “It has to be. No one’s been to that city in ages, it would never open itself to such games.”

“That makes it all the more interesting, don’t you think?” As another roar of cheers erupted around them, the friend sipped his drink smugly. “Imagine if she entered, the city might implode.”

“Right. As if that would ever happen.” Thorn Mask leered. “Competition would eat a creature like her alive.”

“Because she’s . . . ?”

With an impish lift of his brow, the man in the thorny mask flicked the flyer off the table and returned to his forgotten spread of cards. “Let’s get on with the game, shall we?”

Before he could gesture at the dealer, the master suddenly appeared at their table, snatching the young man’s wrist in a biting grip. The man yelped as the force knocked over his drink, and sent a stream of hidden cards spilling out from his sleeves.

“What’s this?” The master bent toward the ground and picked up a couple, entirely too calm. “Cheating in my house?”

The man froze, recognition dawning at the brass knuckles alone. “Where did you—I-I mean,” he sputtered, patting frantically at his sleeve. “That’s impossible. Those aren’t mine, I swear.”

“Then where did they come from?”

Sweat dripped from his temple, his face paler than the white of his mask. “I emptied my pockets at the door. Honest.”

Honest. That was the best he could do? The master almost laughed.

“You want to know the price cheaters pay in my joint?” His question offered no mercy. Only deliverance, served on ice. “Memories.”

“No, please!” The man’s lip trembled. “I didn’t, I-I’ll do whatever you want!”

“This is what I want.” The master rose from the table with the jerk of his wrist. The cheat flew to the ground in a gasp as he gripped at the invisible chain-like weight around his neck. Sharp, staccato breaths followed the master as he dragged his prisoner toward the smoke dens.

The man screamed, but no one heard him. No one saw, no one cared. All eyes fell on the star of the show as she searched for a dance partner to join her. The drunken friend, noticing nothing amiss, raised his half-full glass of Magician’s Blood to his lips before waving his hand high like the others. The man thrashed harder, only to feel his cries smothered and deeper in his throat. His form, invisible at the sweep of the master’s hand.

With a disdainful glance, the master chuckled. “You’re only making this more difficult for yourself. One memory won’t kill you.”

At once, he paused. The lights blinked around them, the air grown still. Dim and hazy, as though locked in a dream.

He thought nothing of it until he caught the movements of the patrons—their arms raised and waving slowly, increment by increment. Their cheers dulled and stretched into low, gravelly roars, as if the sound were wading through heavier air. Against time itself.

“Where do you think you’re going?”

The sound of her voice slithered around him, stopping the master in his tracks. The man quieted. Sweat soaked his pale face, his chest heaving. The showgirl stood in their path, every stare in the room still locked on the spotlit floor where she’d been. As though she’d never left.

Impressive.

Her red corset glinted as she cocked her hip and pointed at the man on the floor. “I choose him.”

She could never let things be easy.

“Kallia,” he growled, warning.

She smiled. “Jack.”

“Pick another. He’s a cheater.”

Her lips pursed into a dubious line. “Then let me teach him a lesson. He’ll no doubt prefer it more.” She swung a leg over the man’s prone form so she stood directly above him. Invitation dripped from the crook of her fingers. “The music calls, darling. Let’s have ourselves a grand time.”

The man’s terror turned swiftly into awe, and he looked at her as if ready to kiss the ground she walked on. As soon as he took her beckoning hand, the room resumed its lively rhythm—a song snapped back in full swing. The cheers and hollers returned to their normal speed, exploding in delight as patrons found their lovely entertainer in their midst, her chosen dance partner in tow.

She bypassed the master, pressing a casual hand on his chest to move him. It lingered, he noticed. Unafraid, unlike most. Their gazes locked for a moment, their masked faces inches apart.

No one ever dared to get this close. To him, to her.

Only each other.

At the next round of cheers and whistles, she pushed him away, smug as a cat. Tugging the man close behind her, she sent fires onto the ground that illuminated her path and warded others from trying to follow them to the stage. Never once looking back at the master, even as he watched on after her.

His fist tightened, full of the cards from his earlier trick. They disappeared into mist, having served their purpose. Along with the flyer he managed to grab.

He didn’t even bother giving it a read. It died in the fire caged by his palm. Tendrils of smoke rose between his brass knuckles, and when he opened his fingers, nothing but ash fell to the ground.


Author bio:

JANELLA ANGELES is a Filipino-American author who got her start in writing through consuming glorious amounts of fanfiction at a young age—which eventually led to penning a few of her own, and later on, creating original stories from her imagination. A lifelong lover of books, she’s lucky enough to be working in the business of publishing them on top of writing them. She currently resides in Massachusetts, where she’s most likely to be found listening to musicals on repeat and daydreaming too much for her own good. Where Dreams Descend is her first book.

Buy Link: https://read.macmillan.com/lp/where-dreams-descend/

Social Links: Twitter: @Janella_Angeles // Instagram: @Janella_Angeles

Lobizona by Romina Garber blog tour- excerpt

I’m really happy to be a part of the blog tour for lobizona when I first heard about this book I knew I had to read it on top of that I’m a big fan of Romina Garber. Today I have an excerpt for you. I hope you enjoy.

First the synopsis

Some people ARE illegal.

Lobizonas do NOT exist.

Both of these statements are false.

Manuela Azul has been crammed into an existence that feels too small for her. As an undocumented immigrant who’s on the run from her father’s Argentine crime-family, Manu is confined to a small apartment and a small life in Miami, Florida.

Until Manu’s protective bubble is shattered.

Her surrogate grandmother is attacked, lifelong lies are exposed, and her mother is arrested by ICE. Without a home, without answers, and finally without shackles, Manu investigates the only clue she has about her past–a mysterious “Z” emblem—which leads her to a secret world buried within our own. A world connected to her dead father and his criminal past. A world straight out of Argentine folklore, where the seventh consecutive daughter is born a bruja and the seventh consecutive son is a lobizón, a werewolf. A world where her unusual eyes allow her to belong.

As Manu uncovers her own story and traces her real heritage all the way back to a cursed city in Argentina, she learns it’s not just her U.S. residency that’s illegal. . . .it’s her entire existence.

Now for the excerpt

2

I awaken with a jolt.

It takes me a moment to register that I’ve been out for three days. I can tell by the well-rested feeling in my bones—I don’t sleep this well any other time of the month.

The first thing I’m aware of as I sit up  is an urgent need  to use the bathroom. My muscles are heavy from lack of use, and it takes some concentration to keep my steps light so I won’t wake Ma or Perla. I leave the lights off to avoid meeting my gaze in the mirror, and after tossing out my heavy-duty period pad and replacing it with a tampon, I tiptoe back to Ma’s and my room.

I’m always disoriented after lunaritis, so I feel separate from my waking life as I survey my teetering stacks of journals and used books, Ma’s yoga mat and collection of weights, and the posters on the wall of the planets and constellations I hope to visit one day.

After a moment, my shoulders slump in disappointment.

This month has officially peaked.

I yank the bleach-stained blue sheets off the mattress and slide out the pillows from their cases, balling up the bedding to wash later. My body feels like a crumpled piece of paper that needs to be stretched, so I plant my feet together in the tiny area between the bed and the door, and I raise my hands and arch my back, lengthening my spine disc by disc. The pull on my tendons releases stored tension, and I exhale in relief.

Something tugs at my consciousness, an unresolved riddle that must have timed out when I surfaced . . . but the harder I focus, the quicker I forget. Swinging my head forward, I reach down to touch my toes and stretch my spine the other way—

My ears pop so hard, I gasp.

I stumble back to the mattress, and I cradle my head in my hands as a rush of noise invades my mind. The buzzing of a fly in the window blinds, the gunning of a car engine on the street below, the groaning of our building’s prehistoric eleva- tor. Each sound is so crisp, it’s like a filter was just peeled back from my hearing.

My pulse picks up as I slide my hands away from my temples to trace the outlines of my ears. I think the top parts feel a little . . . pointier.

I ignore the tingling in my eardrums as I cut through the living room to the kitchen, and I fill a stained green bowl with cold water. Ma’s asleep on the turquoise couch because we don’t share our bed this time of the month. She says I thrash around too much in my drugged dreams.

I carefully shut the apartment door behind me as I step out into the building’s hallway, and I crack open our neighbor’s window to slide the bowl through. A black cat leaps over to lap up the drink.

“Hola, Mimitos,” I say, stroking his velvety head. Since we’re both confined to this building, I hear him meowing any time his owner, Fanny, forgets to feed him. I think she’s going senile.

“I’ll take you up with me later, after lunch. And I’ll bring you some turkey,” I add, shutting the window again quickly. I usually let him come with me, but I prefer to spend the morn- ings after lunaritis alone. Even if I’m no longer dreaming, I’m not awake either.

My heart is still beating unusually fast as I clamber up six flights of stairs. But I savor the burn of my sedentary muscles, and when at last I reach the highest point, I swing open the door to the rooftop.

It’s not quite morning yet, and the sky looks like blue- tinged steel. Surrounding me are balconies festooned with colorful clotheslines, broken-down properties with boarded- up windows, fuzzy-leaved palm trees reaching up from the pitted streets . . . and in the distance, the ground and sky blur where the Atlantic swallows the horizon.

El Retiro is a rundown apartment complex with all elderly residents—mostly Cuban, Colombian, Venezuelan, Nicara- guan, and Argentine immigrants. There’s just one slow, loud elevator in the building, and since I’m the youngest person here, I never use it in case someone else needs it.

I came up here hoping for a breath of fresh air, but since it’s summertime, there’s no caress of a breeze to greet me. Just the suffocating embrace of Miami’s humidity.

Smothering me.

I close my eyes and take in deep gulps of musty oxygen, trying to push the dread down to where it can’t touch me. The way Perla taught me to do whenever I get anxious.

My metamorphosis started this year. I first felt something

was different four full moons ago, when I no longer needed to squint to study the ground from up here. I simply opened my eyes to perfect vision.

The following month, my hair thickened so much that I had to buy bigger clips to pin it back. Next menstrual cycle came the growth spurt that left my jeans three inches too short, and last lunaritis I awoke with such a heightened sense of smell that I could sniff out what Ma and Perla had for dinner all three nights I was out.

It’s bad enough to feel the outside world pressing in on me, but now even my insides are spinning out of my control.

As Perla’s breathing exercises relax my thoughts, I begin  to feel the stirrings of my dreamworld calling me back. I slide onto the rooftop’s ledge and lie back along the warm cement, my body as stagnant as the stale air. A dragon-shaped cloud comes apart like cotton, and I let my gaze drift with Miami’s hypnotic sky, trying to call up the dream’s details before they fade . . .

What Ma and Perla don’t know about the Septis is they don’t simply sedate me for sixty hours—they transport me.

Every lunaritis, I visit the same nameless land of magic and mist and monsters. There’s the golden grass that ticks off time by turning silver as the day ages; the black-leafed trees that can cry up storms, their dewdrop tears rolling down their bark to form rivers; the colorful waterfalls that warn onlookers of oncoming danger; the hope-sucking Sombras that dwell in darkness and attach like parasitic shadows . . .

And the Citadel.

It’s a place I instinctively know I’m not allowed to go, yet I’m always trying to get to. Whenever I think I’m going to make it inside, I wake up with a start.

Picturing the black stone wall, I see the thorny ivy that

twines across its surface like a nest of guardian snakes, slith- ering and bunching up wherever it senses a threat.

The sharper the image, the sleepier I feel, like I’m slowly sliding back into my dream, until I reach my hand out tenta- tively. If I could just move faster than the ivy, I could finally grip the opal doorknob before the thorns—

Howling breaks my reverie.

I blink, and the dream disappears as I spring to sitting and scour the battered buildings. For a moment, I’m sure I heard a wolf.

My spine locks at the sight of a far more dangerous threat: A cop car is careening in the distance, its lights flashing and siren wailing. Even though the black-and-white is still too far away to see me, I leap down from the ledge and take cover behind it, the old mantra running through my mind.

Don’t come here, don’t come here, don’t come here.

A familiar claustrophobia claws at my skin, an affliction forged of rage and shame and powerlessness that’s been my companion as long as I’ve been in this country. Ma tells me I should let her worry about this stuff and only concern myself with studying, so when our papers come through, I can take my GED and one day make it to NASA—but it’s impossible not to worry when I’m constantly having to hide.

My muscles don’t uncoil until the siren’s howling fades and the police are gone, but the morning’s spell of stillness has broken. A door slams, and I instinctively turn toward the pink building across the street that’s tattooed with territorial graf- fiti. Where the alternate version of me lives.

I call her Other Manu.

The first thing I ever noticed about her was her Argentine fútbol jersey: #10 Lionel Messi. Then I saw her face and real- ized we look a lot alike. I was reading Borges at the time, and

it ocurred to me that she and I could be the same person in overlapping parallel universes.

But it’s an older man and not Other Manu who lopes down the street. She wouldn’t be up this early on a Sunday anyway. I arch my back again, and thankfully this time, the only pop I hear is in my joints.

The sun’s golden glare is strong enough that I almost wish I had my sunglasses. But this rooftop is sacred to me because it’s the only place where Ma doesn’t make me wear them, since no one else comes up here.

I’m reaching for the stairwell door when I hear it.

Faint footsteps are growing louder, like someone’s racing up. My heart shoots into my throat, and I leap around the corner right as the door swings open.

The person who steps out is too light on their feet to be someone who lives here. No El Retiro resident could make it up the stairs that fast. I flatten myself against the wall.

“Creo que encontré algo, pero por ahora no quiero decir nada.”

Whenever Ma is upset with me, I have a habit of translat- ing her words into English without processing them. I asked Perla about it to see if it’s a common bilingual thing, and she said it’s probably my way of keeping Ma’s anger at a distance; if I can deconstruct her words into language—something de- tached that can be studied and dissected—I can strip them of their charge.

As my anxiety kicks in, my mind goes into automatic trans- lation mode: I think I found something, but I don’t want to say anything yet.

The woman or girl (it’s hard to tell her age) has a deep, throaty voice that’s sultry and soulful, yet her singsongy accent is unquestionably Argentine. Or Uruguayan. They sound similar.

My cheek is pressed to the wall as I make myself as flat as possible, in case she crosses my line of vision.

“Si tengo razón, me harán la capitana más joven en la his- toria de los Cazadores.”

If I’m right, they’ll make me the youngest captain in the history of the . . . Cazadores? That means hunters.

In my eight years living here, I’ve never seen another per- son on this rooftop. Curious, I edge closer, but I don’t dare peek around the corner. I want to see this stranger’s face, but not badly enough to let her see mine.

“¿El encuentro es ahora? Che, Nacho, ¿vos no me podrías cubrir?”

Is the meeting right now? Couldn’t you cover for me, Nacho?

The che and vos sound like Argentinespeak. What if it’s Other Manu?

The exciting possibility brings me a half step closer, and now my nose is inches from rounding the corner. Maybe I can sneak a peek without her noticing.

“Okay,” I hear her say, and her voice sounds like she’s just a few paces away.

I suck in a quick inhale, and before I can overthink it, I pop my head out—

And see the door swinging shut.

I scramble over and tug it open, desperate to spot even a hint of her hair, any clue at all to confirm it was Other Manu— but she’s already gone.

All that remains is a wisp of red smoke that vanishes with the swiftness of a morning cloud.

Author bio:

ROMINA GARBER (pen name Romina Russell) is a New York Times and international bestselling author. Originally from Argentina, she landed her first writing gig as a teen—a weekly column for the Miami Herald that was later nationally syndicated—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. Her books include Lobizona. When she’s not working on a novel, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a graduate of Harvard College and a Virgo to the core.

Buy Link: https://read.macmillan.com/lp/lobizona/

Social Links: Twitter: @RominaRussell // Instagram: @RominaGarber

A wicked magic by Sasha Laurens blog tour- interview

I’v been looking forward to a wicked magic for a few months now and when I saw that TBR and beyond tours was having sign ups for the blog tour I jumped on the chance. Today I have a interview with Sasha for you guys. I hope you enjoy it!

First the synopsis

The Chilling Adventures of Sabrina meets The Craft when modern witches must save teens stolen by an ancient demon in this YA fantasy-thriller debut.

Dan and Liss are witches. The Black Book granted them that power. Harnessing that power feels good, especially when everything in their lives makes them feel powerless.

During a spell gone wrong, Liss’s boyfriend is snatched away by an evil entity and presumed dead. Dan and Liss’s friendship dies that night, too. How can they practice magic after the darkness that they conjured?

Months later, Liss discovers that her boyfriend is alive, trapped underground in the grips of an ancient force. She must save him, and she needs Dan and the power of The Black Book to do so. Dan is quickly sucked back into Liss’s orbit and pushes away her best friend, Alexa. But Alexa has some big secrets she’s hiding and her own unique magical disaster to deal with.

When another teenager disappears, the girls know it’s no coincidence. What greedy magic have they awakened? And what does it want with these teens it has stolen?

Set in the atmospheric wilds of California’s northern coast, Sasha Laurens’s thrilling debut novel is about the complications of friendship, how to take back power, and how to embrace the darkness that lives within us all.

Now for the interview!

1. I’ve been super excited about this book since I first heard about it.  What made you want to write about witches?
I actually didn’t set out to write about witches! I wanted to tell a story about the friendship between two girls, Dan and Liss. Magic is a sort of metaphor for that friendship. Dan and Liss gain the ability to do magic when they find a mysterious black book of spells and try one to transform themselves into witches. Their magic is this secret, shared thing, that changes them in profound, and not entirely positive, ways–just like their friendship.

2. What’s the most interesting thing you researched when writing A Wicked Magic?
I did some research to nail details about the setting. I talked to friends who lived in the part of California that inspired the book and picked their brains for tidbits about life out there, read up on California’s ghost towns and abandoned mining camps, and picked up old coastal access and hiking guides from local used bookstores. I enjoyed researching the pygmy forest the girls visit. I had been to a pygmy forest on a school trip in fifth grade but I didn’t know anything about them. Pygmy forests occur in areas that have very poor soil but moist air, which stunts the growth of trees and other plants, so they look like dwarf varieties.

3. If you found the black book lying around would you use it to become a witch?
No! One of the lessons we learn in A Wicked Magic is that you just cannot go around trusting whatever enchanted books you find on the street! It’s a recipe for disaster.

4. Do you listen to music when writing if yes what is your playlist like?
I don’t listen to music when I write. I actually prefer doing almost everything in total silence, which probably sounds crazy to a lot of people. But I do have playlists that I listen to when I’m thinking about a project. I find listening to music on a plane or long bus ride really helps me explore the characters in a different way, and I often end up cracking difficult parts of the book that way. The playlist for A Wicked Magic was dominated by Grimes, but it also had songs by Sky Ferriera, Babes in Toyland and the Smiths on it. You can find it here, but I warn you in advance that it’s pretty chaotic: https://open.spotify.com/playlist/0WdXnVBwqZRsVSSwrXPnWb?si=w8bJ7VNOSXGTzo6iEzPJ5w

5. What is your writing habit like? Are you a pantser or planner?
I’m a planner, but I’m not very good at it. I definitely need to know where the story is going and how we’re getting there, because otherwise when I sit down to write I get distracted or go off on a tangent. Planning and outlining helps me use the time I have to write productively. I also find it important for making sure that the story is as good as it can be—all the character arcs are right and the plot is doing the most it can do. So I do all that but inevitably, I write something into my outline like “They solve the mystery,” which is about as helpful as having no outline at all. I usually end up re-outlining or reverse outlining (ie outlining what you’ve written already) a bunch of times. I think I outlined A Wicked Magic on index cards at least 8 times.

6. Without spoilers what was your favorite scene to write?
I really love Alexa’s scenes in the epilogue, so explaining that would definitely entail spoilers. Other than that, I really liked the scenes where Dan or Liss are overthinking something, like the scenes at the beginning where Liss is driving away from Dan’s house or where Dan goes running and tries not to think about Liss. I found it really easy to connect with those characters when their minds were racing and their emotions were turned up.

7. Describe A Wicked Magic in 5 words?
Chaotic NorCal witchbabies fight a demon.

8. What is the last 5 star read that you read?
I recently read T Kira Madden’s Long Live The Tribe of Fatherless Girls, a memoir about her experiences growing up in Florida, and it was really excellent: messy and funny and brutally honest.

9. A Wicked Magic is your first book, what’s it like debuting during a pandemic?
Well, let me tell you, it’s not ideal. Back in March when things started getting cancelled, I remember I wasn’t sure if I even counted as a debut impacted by coronavirus, because surely by June things would be cleared up? By this point, the pandemic has been going on for so long that I accepted a while ago that there won’t be an in-person launch event. I just hope people keep exploring new books, especially debuts, although they can’t go into a bookstore and browse the shelves! Internet shopping is so driven by algorithms and ads that I really worry a lot of the books released this year will be overlooked.

AUTHOR BIO

SASHA LAURENS grew up in Northern California, where she learned to drive on Highway 1’s switchback turns and got accustomed to the best weather in the world. After studying creative writing and literature at Columbia University, she lived in New York for years and, at various times, in Russia. She currently resides in Michigan, where she is pursuing a PhD in political science.

AUTHOR LINKS

Website: https://www.sashalaurens.com/

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/19707476.Sasha_Laurens

Twitter: https://twitter.com/sasha_laurens

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/sashalwrites/

BOOK LINKS

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48675479-a-wicked-magic

Amazon: https://amzn.to/3dchWC4

B&N: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-wicked-magic-sasha-laurens/1134672639?ean=9780593117255

Bookdepository:https://www.bookdepository.com/Wicked-Magic-Sasha-Laurens/9780593117255

GIVEAWAY:

Prize: Finished Copie of A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens (US/Canada Only)

Start date: July 28th, 2020

End date: August 3rd, 2020

Embed code:

Direct link:  <a class=”rcptr” href=”http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/fc15a5951/” rel=”nofollow” data-raflid=”fc15a5951″ data-theme=”classic” data-template=”” id=”rcwidget_t5fi8104″>a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>

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Tour schedule

TOUR SCHEDULE: A Wicked Magic by Sasha Laurens

My favorite comic con moments from the last 10 years.

This year because of the corona virus comic con has had to move to online like many other convention there are over 300 online panels you can enjoy from July 22- 26 along with a online exhibit hall. It’s free to all and you can even print out your own badge! I’ll leave the link here.

https://www.comic-con.org/cci/2020/athome

Comic con is an event I look forward to every year even when I don’t have a badge. I live in San Diego just a few trolley stops away and it’s always fun. There are so many things to do outside of the con. San Diego basically becomes almost like a big block party for a week. There are parties, experiences, ( last year there was a Ferris wheel and let’s not forget about the Amazon offsite which was amazing.), concerts and so much more.

I thought since comic con wasn’t happening this year in person I would give you guys some of my favorite moments from the last 10 years that I’ve been. Not in any order. i hope you enjoy! Also I didn’t really have a camra until I was out of high school so I don’t have too many pictures from when I was younger.

Let’s get started!

My first comic con.

You never really forget your first comic con. I had been begging for years to go and then my best friend (at the time.) and I checked out how much tickets were on a whim, when we saw they were only $20 for Sunday we bought them and the rest was history. I remember getting off the trolley with her and feeling so much excitement we were both shaking. We were here finally!

This is the same year I got to see my all time favorite show at a panel, supernatural was just going on season 5 I think and was in ballroom 20 at the time.

That time assassin creed brought a pirate ship.

This is one of the first offsites I really remember. Besides for assassin creed being a huge influence on my life (I wrote a story inspired by it). I also spent every Wednesday after school watching my best friend play it while I read in her living room after it first came out. I thought the ship was the coolest thing ever.

How to train your dragon art gallery at the Chuck Jones.

I’ve always been a huge art nerd, I love going to galleries and seeing peoples work and comic con is filled with this (which is one of the reasons I love it so much). When I heard that how to train your dragon was going to have a small gallery at the Chuck Jones I freaked out and immediately RSVPed. I freaked out even more when I saw that two of the artist who worked on the movie were there.

They were kind enough to sketch me a small drawing each and it’s still one of my favorite things I’ve gotten from comic con.

Nerd HQ Supernatural panel.

Before nerd HQ was no longer a thing they used to hosts conversations for a cause, which were $22 panels with limited seating to make it more intimate(if I remember correctly I think there were only like 200 seats or something like that). I got to see supernatural as a panel with them. This was my second time being able to see a panel for Supernatural ( by then supernatural had moved from ballroom 20 to hall H, which I have never been able to get into).

Geek and Sundry at  Jolt’n Joes.

The first time I ever heard about geek and sundry was when they hosted a night vale panel at Jolt’n Joes. A group of friends, my brother and I all went down to it for the panel. Night vale is one of my all time favorite podcast so I was super excited to see the panel. It was fun. We also got posters sighed by Felicia day (who plays Charlie in supernatural amongst other things.) and we did a scavenger hunt (and each won one of the limited swag boxes).

The thrilling adventures & welcome to night vale live show.

I was so excited for this show it was the first time I had ever seen them live. I had gone down the Spreckels theater a week or two before to pick up the tickets. The show was amazing.

SherlockeDCC.

I’m a big fan of the BBCs Sherlock so when I first heard about this party I definitely had to go. So far SherlockeDCC has been one of my favorite comic con parties, not only was it hosted on the 9th floor of the library (the view of the city from here is stunning and the space is great.), Steven Moffat was also there and did a Q&A. They had giveaways, a few venders, games, music and food it was a good time. I’m very happy I got to attend this party twice.

Geek and Sundry/the Nerdist at Petco Park.

One year I spent an entire day inside Petco Park watching panels and it was the best thing ever. I not only got to see Neil Gaiman for the first time, I might have been freaking out in my seat. I also got to see the cast of American Gods, Lucifer, Sherlock, The Agent of S.H.I.L.D and Misha Collins. I also got to do archery (which is always fun), laser tag and more.

Neil Gaiman and the cast of American gods
Cast of Lucifer
Cast of Lucifer
Cast of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
Cast of agents of S.H.I.E.L.D
Steven moffat and the cast of Sherlock
Misha Collins

Meeting Laini Taylor.

For those who know me the Daughter of Smoke and Bone books are one of my all time favorite series (so much so that I have decided to collect all the different editions). When I found out Laini Taylor was going to be at the con and I had tickets for that day I freaked out. I made sure that I was there early, (I was the first one in line) and I had all my books. Sadly I did not get a picture with her.

meeting Neil Gaiman.

Okay so I am a HUGE fan of Neil Gaiman, he is one of my favorite authors and had been on my authors bucket list for forever. When I saw that he was going to be doing an outside signing at comic con I knew I had to be there. I got up super early hopped on the trolley and stood in line for 5 hours to meet him. I was lucky enough to make some amazing friends while waiting to meet him.

The LAIKA live experience.

I love LAIKA they have made some of my favorite movies so I knew that I couldn’t miss this experience. It did not disappoint. It was amazing seeing all the props and sets that they used to make the movies.

That time they burned a viking ship.

When I first heard that they were going to burn a ship on the bay, I knew I had to see it when was the next chance I would get to see something like that? Probably never. After running around trying to find out where it was going to happen, I finally found the place and a pretty decent spot.

 Conan.

The first time I saw Conan it was on a whim. I hadn’t signed up for tickets but in the morning I randomly decided that I wanted to see the show, I stood in the standby line for wrist bands and then was told to come back later. I came back in the afternoon with my numbered wristband and waited for them to call my number. Eventually they did and I was in!  I got to see the cast of the hunger games!

The second time a friend of mine had extra tickets and asked if I would like one, I said yes. I got to see the game of thrones cast that time!

Both times were amazing.

That time Jodi Whittaker walked on stage.

I love the Her Universe Fashion show it’s one of my favorite events during comic con. Fashion is a big hobby for me and I love seeing all the geeky designs the designers come up with. I’m also a huge fan of doctor who. So when Jodi walked on stage during one of the fashion shows I freaked out in my seat. It has to be one of my favorite moments. She was just announced as the new doctor and I was so excited to see her on stage.

Axe throwing.

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to do this one or not at first, I didn’t know if I would be able to do It I had been walking around with a cane all day because the heat had gotten to me and my muscles were a little weak from the MS. I honestly got in line just so I could take pictures of the inside and one of the girls I was in line with who agreed to let me take picture of her for my blog. I took my pictures and was asked if I wanted to try. I told them that I did but I had open toe shoes (which is something you can’t have when axe throwing) one of the workers there let me borrow his shoes so I could do it. There is nothing more satisfying then throwing A axe at a wall. I still want to go back and do this again.

I might be missing some but these are the ones that stick out the most to me when I think about comic con.

Runner ups

Netflix stranger things, defenders, bright offsite

I loved seeing all the props that Netflix brought to comic con.

Sleepy hallow panel

This one I got into on a whim, I was trying to rest because I had just been walking on the floor most of the day and my shoulder had popped out of place from the bag I had on it, (my joints pop in and out of place it’s normal for me.) and was told I couldn’t sit where I was. So I stood back up and looked though the event guide, I saw that the sleepy hallow panel was going to start soon and decided to go stand in line, even if I didn’t get in at least I could sit while I was in line without being yelled at to move. I waited the half hour I think and the line started moving and I got in. I was really surprised actually. I really enjoy sleepy hallow so I was pretty happy that I was able to see this panel.

Pictures from past comic cons.

See you next year comic con!

Here are Some of the panels I’m excited to see during comic-con@home. Which ones are you guys most excited to see?

Thursday

Shannon Messenger Keeper of Lost Cities Spotlight Panel 11AM

His Dark Materials 1PM

Brandon Sanderson Spotlight 3PM

Twenty Years of Harry Dresden 4PM

Friday

 Infinity Train 12PM

Saturday

 Gillermon Del Toro & Scott Cooper on antlers and filmmakers 1PM

the Order season 2 3PM

Lovercraft country 4PM

What we do in the shadows 5PM

AMC’s NOS3A2 6PM

Scary Good TV:A conversation with horror’s top showrunners 6PM

Sunday

Motherland: fort Salem: A world of magic, Action and Intrigue 10 AM

V.E Schwab shades of magic comics panel 11AM

A conversation with Nathan Fillion2PM

Of course there are others I’m planning on watching to.

Lost City by Amanda Hocking blog tour-excerpt and Q&A

I’m so excited to be a part of the blog tour for Amanda Hocking new book the lost city! I haven’t had the chance to read this one yet hopefully soon but I have loved her books in the past (especially between the blade and the heart). I have a excerpt and Q&A for you today! I hope you enjoy!

First the synopsis

Nestled along the bluffs of the forested coast lays the secret kingdom of the Omte—a realm filled with wonder…and as many secrets. 

Ulla Tulin was left abandoned in an isolated Kanin city as a baby, taken in by strangers and raised hidden away like many of the trolls of mixed blood. Even knowing this truth, she’s never stopped wondering about her family.

When Ulla is offered an internship working alongside the handsome Pan Soriano at the Mimirin, a prestigious institution, she jumps at the chance to use this opportunity to hopefully find her parents. All she wants is to focus on her job and the search for her parents, but all of her attempts to find them are blocked when she learns her mother may be connected to the Omte royal family.

With little progress made, Ulla and Pan soon find themselves wrapped up in helping Eliana, an amnestic girl with abilities unlike any they have ever seen before—a girl who seems to be running from something. To figure out who she is they must leave the city, and possibly, along the way, they may learn more about Ulla’s parents.

Now for the Excerpt and Q&A

Prologue

Ten Years Ago

“Tell me about it again,” I entreated—begged, really, in a small voice, small especially for a girl like me. 

Mr. Tulin, on the nights he had a little too much hot tea and brandy, would tell me stories of other, less fortunate babies. One had been left out for the wolves, another drowned in the icy river. Still another was killed by an angakkuq, this time to be mashed into a paste for one of her potions.

On the other nights, he’d try to convince me there wasn’t any time for a story. But I’d beg and plead, and his eyes would glimmer—already milky with cataracts, lighting up when he spoke about monsters. I would pull the covers up to my chin, and his normally crackled baritone would go even lower, rumbling with the threat of the monsters he impersonated.

I was never sure how much he’d made up or what had been passed down to him, as he’d weave through all sorts of patchwork folklore—the monsters and heroes pieced together from the neighboring Inuit, our Norse ancestry, and especially from the troll tribe that Mr. and Mrs. Tulin belonged to—the Kanin.

But I had a favorite story, one that I asked for over and over again.

This one I loved because it was about me, and because it was true.

“Which one?” Mr. Tulin asked, feigning ignorance as he lingered at my bedroom door.

It was dark in my room, except for the cast-iron woodstove in the corner. My room had been a pantry before I was here, before Mr. Tulin had converted it into a tiny bedroom. Outside, the wind howled, and if I hadn’t been buried underneath the blankets and furs, I would’ve felt the icy drafts that went along with all that howling.

“The day you met me,” I replied with unbridled glee. 

“Well, you turned out to be a big one, didn’t ya?” That’s what Mr. Tulin liked to say, particularly when I was scooping another helping of potatoes on my plate at the supper table, and

then I would sheepishly put half a portion back, under the sharp gaze of Mrs. Tulin.

But he wasn’t wrong. I was tall, thick, and pale. By the age of nine I was nearly five feet tall, towering over the kids in the little schoolhouse.

Once, I’d overheard Mrs. Tulin complaining aloud to a neighbor, saying, “I don’t know why they chose our doorstep to leave ’er on. By the size of her, her da’ must be an ogre, and her ma’ must be a nanuq. She’ll eat us out of house and home before she’s eighteen.”

After that, I tried to make myself smaller, invisible, and I made sure that I mended all my clothing and cleaned up after myself. Mrs. Tulin didn’t complain too much about me after that, but every once in a while I would hear her muttering about how they really ought to set up a proper orphanage in Iskyla, so the townsfolk weren’t stuck taking in all the abandoned strays.

I didn’t complain either, and not only because there was nobody to listen. There were a few kids at my school who served as a reminder of how much worse it could be for me. They were sketches of children, really—thin lines, stark shadows, sad eyes, just the silhouettes of orphans.

“You sure you wanna hear that one again, ayuh?” Mr. Tulin said in response to my pleas.

“Yes, please!”

“If that’s the one the lil’ miss wants, then that be the one I tell.” He walked back over to the bed, limping slightly, the way he did every time the temperatures dipped this low.

Once he’d settled on the edge of the bed, his bones cracked and creaked almost as loudly as the bed itself.

“It was a night much like this—” he began.

“But darker and colder, right?” I interjected.

His bushy silver eyebrows pinched together. “Are you telling it this time?”

“No, no, you tell it.”

“Ayuh.” He nodded once. “So I will, then.”

It was a night much like this. The sun hadn’t been seen for days, hiding behind dark clouds that left even the daylight murky blue. When the wind came up, blowing fresh snow so

heavy and thick, you couldn’t hardly see an inch in front of your nose. All over, the town was battened down and quiet, waiting out the dark storm. Now, the folks in Iskyla had survived

many a winter storm, persisting through even the harshest of winters. This wasn’t the worst of the storms we’d faced, but there was something different about this one. Along with the cold and the dark, it brought with it a strange feeling in the air.

“And a stranger,” I interjected again, unable to help myself.

Mr. Tulin didn’t chastise me this time. He just winked and said, “Ayuh, and a stranger.”

The old missus, Hilde, and I were hunkered down in front of the fireplace, listening to the wind rattling the house, when a knock came at the door. 

Hilde—who scoffed whenever Tapeesa the angakkuq spoke of the spirits and monsters—shrieked at me when I got up to answer the door. “Whaddya think you’re doing, Oskar?”

“We’re still an inn, aren’t we?” I paused before I reached the door to look back at my wife, who sat in her old rocker, clutching her knitting to her chest.

Well, of course we were. Her father had opened the inn years ago, back when the mines first opened and we had a brief bout of tourism from humans who got lost on their way to the mines.

But that had long dried up by the time Hilde inherited it. We only had a dozen or so customers every year, mostly Inuit or visiting trolls, but whenever I suggested we close up and move south, Hilde would pitch a fit, reminding me that her family settled Iskyla, and she was settled here until she died.

“Course we’re an inn, but we’re closed,” Hilde said. “The storm’s too bad to open.”

Again the knocking came at the door, pounding harder this time.

“We got all our rooms empty, Hilde!” I argued. “Anyone out in this storm needs a place to stay, and we won’t have to do much for ’em.”

“But you don’t know who—or what—is at the door,”

Hilde stammered, lowering her voice as if it would carry over the howling wind and out the door to whoever waited on our stoop. “No human or troll has any sense being out in a storm like this.”

“Well, someone has, and I aim to find out who it is.”

I headed toward the door, Hilde still spouting her hushed protests, but my mind had been made up. I wasn’t about to let anyone freeze to death outside our house, not when we had ample firewood and room to keep them warm.

When I opened the door, there she stood. The tallest woman I ever saw. She was buried under layers of fabric and fur, looking so much like a giant grizzly bear that Hilde let out a scream.

Then the woman pushed back her hood, letting us see her face. Ice and snow had frozen to her eyebrows and eyelashes, and her short wild hair nearly matched the grizzly fur. She wasn’t much to look at, with a broad face and a jagged scar across her ruddy cheeks, but she made up for it with her size.

She had to duck to come inside, ever mindful of the large bag she carried on her back.

“Don’t bother coming in,” Hilde called at the woman from where she sat angrily rocking. “We’re closed.”

“Please,” the giant woman begged, and then she quickly slipped off her gloves and fumbled in her pockets. “Please, I have money. I’ll give you all I have. I only need a place to stay for the night.”

When she went for her money, she’d pushed back her cloaks enough that I could see the dagger holstered on her hip. The fire glinted off the amber stone in the hilt, the dark

bronze handle carved into a trio of vultures.

It was the symbol of the Omte, and that was a weapon for a warrior. Here was this giant troll woman, with supernatural strength and a soldier’s training. She could’ve killed me and Hilde right there, taken everything we had, but instead she pleaded and offered us all she had.

“Since we’re closed, I won’t be taking any of your money.” I waved it away. “You need sanctuary from the storm, and I’m happy to give it to you.”

“Thank you.” The woman smiled, with tears in her eyes, and they sparkled in the light like the amber gemstone on her dagger.

Hilde huffed, but she didn’t say anything more. The woman herself didn’t say much either, not as I showed her up to her room and where the extra blankets were.

“Is there anything more you’ll be needing?” I asked before I left her alone. 

“Quiet rest,” she replied with a weak smile. 

“Well, you can always holler at me if you need anything. I’m Oskar.”

She hesitated a second before saying, “Call me Orra.”

“It’s nice to meet you, Orra, and I hope you enjoy your stay with us.”

She smiled again, then she shut the door. That was the last I ever saw of her.

All through the night, she made not a peep, which upset Hilde even more, since it gave her nothing to complain about. I slept soundly, but Hilde tossed and turned, certain that Orra would hurt us.

By the time morning came, the wind had stopped and the sun had broken through the clouds for the first time in days. I went up to check on Orra and see if she needed anything, and

I discovered her gone. 

She rode in on the back of the dark storm, and she left before the sun.

Her room had been left empty—except for a little tiny baby, wrapped in a blanket, sleeping in the middle of the bed. The babe couldn’t be more than a few weeks old, but already had a thick head of wild blond hair. When I picked her up, the baby mewled, but didn’t open her eyes.

Not until I said, “Ullaakuut,”—a good-morning greeting.

Then her big amber eyes opened. She smiled up at me, and it was like the sun after the storm.

“That’s how we met.” I beamed, and he smiled back down at me. Mrs. Tulin wasn’t sure if they would keep me, so she wouldn’t let him name me yet, but then they called me Ullaakuut

until it stuck.

“It was quite the introduction,” he agreed with a chuckle. “Oskar!” Mrs. Tulin shouted from the other room. “The fire’s gone cold!”

“I’ll be right down!” he yelled over his shoulder before turning back to me. “Well, you’ve had your story now, and Hilde needs me. You best be getting to sleep now. Good night, Ulla.”

“Good night.” I settled back into the bed, and it wasn’t until he was at the door that I mustered the courage to ask him the question that burned on the tip of my tongue. “How come my mom left me here?”

“I can’t say that I understand it,” he said with a heavy sigh. “But she’d have to have got a mighty good reason to be traveling in that kinda storm, especially with a newborn. She was an Omte warrior, and I don’t know what kind of monsters she had to face down on her way to our doorstep. But she musta known that here you’d be safe.”

“Do you think she’ll come back?” I asked.

His lips pressed into a thin line. “I can’t say, lil’ miss. But it’s not the kind of thing I would hang my hat on. And it’s nothing that you should concern yourself with. You have a home here as long as you need it, and now it’s time for bed.”

Chapter 1

Home

Emma sprinted into my room first, clutching her older brother’s slingshot in her pudgy hands, and down the hall Liam was already yelling for me.

“Ulla! Emma keeps taking my stuff!” Liam rushed into my room in a huff, little Niko toddling behind him.

My bedroom was a maze of cardboard boxes—all of my worldly possessions carefully packed and labeled for my move in six weeks—and Emma darted between them to escape Liam’s grasp.

“He said he was going to shoot fairies in the garden!” Emma insisted vehemently.

Liam rolled his eyes and brushed his thick tangles of curls off his forehead. “Don’t be such a dumb baby. You know there’s no such things as fairies.”

“Don’t call your sister dumb,” I admonished him, which only caused him to huff even louder. For only being seven years old, Liam already had quite the flair for the dramatic. “You know, you’re going to have to learn how to get along with your sister on your own. I’m not going to be around to get in the middle of your squabbles.”

“You don’t have to tell me that,” Liam replied sourly. He stared down at the wood floor, letting his hair fall into his eyes. “She’s the one that always starts it.”

“I did not!” Emma shouted back. “I only wanted to protect the fairies!”

“Emma, will you give Liam back his slingshot if he promises not to kill anything with it?” I asked her. She seemed to consider this for a moment, wrinkling up her little freckled nose, but finally she nodded yes.

“I was never really going to kill anything anyway,” he said.

“Promise!” Emma insisted.

“Fine. I promise I won’t kill anything with my slingshot.”

He held his hand out to her, and she reluctantly handed it back to him. With that, he dashed out of the room, and Emma raced after him.

Niko, meanwhile, had no interest in the argument, and instead made his way over to me. I pulled him into my arms, relishing the way his soft curls felt tickling my chin as I held him, and breathing in his little-boy scent—the summer sun on his skin and sugared milk from his breakfast. 

“How are you doing this morning, my sweet boy?” I asked him softly. He didn’t answer, but Niko rarely did. Instead, he curled up more into me and began sucking his thumb.

I know I shouldn’t pick favorites, but Niko would be the one I missed the most. Sandwiched between Emma and the twins, he was quiet and easily overlooked. Whenever I was having a bad day or feeling lonely, I could always count on him for cuddles and hugs that somehow managed to erase all the bad—at least for a few moments.

But now I could only smile at him and swallow down the lump in my throat.

This—all the scraped knees and runny noses, the giggles and tantrums, all the love and chaos and constant noise of a house full of children—had been my life for the past five years. Which was quite the contrast to the frozen isolation of the first fourteen and a half years of my life.

Five years ago, a Kanin tracker named Bryn Aven had been on an investigation that brought her to Iskyla in central Canada, and when I met her, I knew it was my chance out of that town. Maybe it was because of the way she came in, on the back of a storm, or because she was a half-breed. She was also blond like me, and that wasn’t something I saw often in a town populated by trolls and a handful of the native humans of the area, the Inuit.

Most trolls, especially from the three more populous tribes—the Kanin, Trylle, and Vittra—were

of a darker complexion. Their skin ran the gamut of medium brown shades, and their hair was dark brown and black, with eyes that matched. The Kanin and the Trylle looked like attractive

humans, and the Vittra often did as well. 

The Omte had a slightly lighter complexion than that, and they were also more prone to gigantism and physical deformities, most notably in their large population of ogres. With

wild blond hair and blue eyes, the Skojare were the fairest, and they had a tendency to be born with gills, attuned to their aquatic lifestyle.

Each of the tribes even had different skill sets and extraordinary abilities. All of the kingdoms had some mild psychokinetic talents, with the Trylle being the most powerful. The Vittra and the Omte were known for their physical strength and ability to heal, while the Kanin had the skin-color- changing ability to blend in with their surroundings, much like intense chameleons.

Iskyla was officially a Kanin town, and the Inuit coloring wasn’t much different from that of the Kanin. Most everyone around me had a shock of dark hair and symmetrical features. My noticeable differences had always made me an easy target growing up, and seeing the blond-haired tracker Bryn, I recognized a kindred spirit.

Or maybe it was because I could tell she was running from something, and I had been itching to run since as soon as I could walk. The Tulins had been good to me—or as good as an elderly couple who had never wanted kids could be when a baby is dropped on them. But Mrs. Tulin had always made it clear that I would be on my own as soon as I was ready, and when I was fourteen I was sure I was ready.

Fortunately, Bryn had been smart enough—and kind enough—not to leave me to fend for myself. She brought me to Förening, the Trylle capital in Minnesota, and found me a job and a place to stay with friends of hers. 

When I had started as a live-in nanny working for Finn and Mia Holmes, they’d only had two children with another on the way, but already their cottage was rather cramped. Shortly after I moved in, Emma came along—followed by a promotion for Finn to the head of the Trylle royal guard—and Mia insisted a house upgrade was long overdue.

This grand little house, nestled in the bluffs along the Mississippi River—cozy but clean and bright—had enough room for us all—Finn, Mia, Hanna, Liam, Emma, Niko, Lissa, Luna, and me. As of a few months ago, we’d even managed to fit in Finn’s mother, Annali, who had decided to move in with them after her husband passed away last fall.

This home had been my home for years, and really, this family had been my family too. They welcomed me with open arms. I grew to love them, and they loved me. Here, I felt like I belonged and mattered in a way that I had never been able to in Iskyla.

I was happy with them. But now I was leaving all of this behind.

Q&A with Amanda Hocking, author of THE LOST CITY: The Omte Origins, Volume 1

1. There’s been so much excitement and anticipation for more books in the world of the Trylle and Kanin.  What made you decide to revisit those worlds now in The Omte Origins trilogy?

I knew as soon as I wrote Ulla as a small character in Crystal Kingdom (the final book of the Kanin Chronicles) that I was going to write a trilogy about her, but it was just a matter of when. After the Kanin Chronicles, I wanted to take a little break from that world and visit others – which I did with Freeks and the Valkyrie duology. By then, I was so ready to dive back into the world and answer some lingering questions I had left for the Trylle and Kanin.  

2. Why make this the final trilogy?

With the Omte Origins, I feel like I’ve been able to say everything I want to about the worlds. Through the three trilogies, I spent time with all five tribes. Wendy’s mother is Trylle and her father is Vittra, and her story has her visiting both kingdoms. Bryn’s mother is Skojare and her father is Kanin, and her trilogy shows life in the Kanin and Skojare cities, as well as travelling to others beyond that. I won’t say who exactly Ulla’s parents are (that would be spoiling the story) but her journey takes her through the troll kingdoms, with interesting detours through the Omte, Trylle, and Kanin tribes.

3. What are the most challenging aspects of writing a new trilogy that can be read independently, but is set in a world–the Trylle and Kanin–that you’ve written about before?  

The hardest challenge is getting new readers caught up with the world and the lingo without feeling repetitive and boring to longtime fans of the series. I try use this an opportunity to show characters and situations from different angles. The Wendy the audience meets at the beginning of Switched is vastly different Wendy than the that Ulla knows in the Omte Origins. So for new readers, they get introduced Wendy as she currently is, and for repeat readers, they can see who Wendy has become and who she appears to be through the eyes of an average citizen with Ulla.

4. What’s the most fascinating thing you researched while writing The Lost City?

With the Omte Origins, I really looked back at the course of troll history, and their past has dovetailed with the Vikings and other artic peoples. So I did a lot research on early Vikings and indigenous arctic people, primarily the Inuit and the Sami. My favorite parts were reading their folklore. I even got an Inuit cookbook, and I attempted to make Bannock (a traditional Inuit bread). It did not turn out well, but I blame that entirely on my cooking skills (or lack thereof) and not the recipe.

5. The “Glossary” and “Tribal Facts” sections at the end of the book are fascinating and really help create a layered, fleshed out world.  Was putting those together as much fun as writing the novel?  

It was so much fun. It’s been over ten years and nine books (and several short stories), so I have spent a lot time of thinking and doing world-building. I honestly have enough information for a history book about the worlds of the Trylle, but I don’t know there’s a demand for fictional textbooks. The Tribal Facts were actually one of the first things I wrote for the Omte series, because I went through and get myself reacquainted and made sure I had all my important facts straight.

6. Was your writing routine affected by the stay-at-home orders due to the pandemic?  

My routine itself hasn’t been too affected, since I write from home, but I would say that the stress has a negative impact on me, the way it has for many of us that work in creative fields – or any field at all, honestly. My husband has been working from home, and my stepson had been doing long distance learning before summer break, but that hasn’t really changed too much for me. I usually work after they go to bed and stay up late into the early morning hours.

7. Were there any favorite songs or music you listened to while writing this book?  

Yes, definitely! I listen to so much music when I write, and I even have curated playlists to go along with my books on Spotify. open.spotify.com/user/127756215 Some of my favorite songs to write to were “Ella” by Myrkur, “Wild World” by Cat Stevens, and “Delicate” by Taylor Swift. I also listened to a lot of Wardruna, who are this Norwegian band who make traditional Nordic music with historically accurate instruments. For the soundtrack to the Omte Origins, I wanted it be a blend of traditional Nordic music, mellow seventies folk to go with the trolls delayed pop culture tastes, and pop music that gets through with the trendier younger generations of trolls.

8. Do you think the music you listen to has an influence on the stories?  Or do the stories influence the music you choose?

I think it’s both, honestly. When I’m picking songs for the playlist, I definitely choose them based on the kind of emotions I want to feel and the tone I want to set for whatever I’m writing. Sometimes I’ll put particularly romantic songs on repeat when writing a love scene or an angry fast-paced instrumental for a fight scene.

9. What books or authors are you reading or excited to read lately?

I’m super excited about Faith: Taking Flight by Julie Murphy. It comes out the same day as The Lost City, and it’s about a plus-size teenage girl who discovers that she can fly. I recently read A Song of Wraiths and Ruin by Rosanne Brown, and I’m counting down the days until The Gilded Ones by Namina Forna and The Project by Courtney Summers.

10.  Any hints you can share about what’s coming next after The Omte Origins Trilogy?

I’m currently working on a stand-alone fantasy inspired by Greek mythology, but I don’t know when it will be out yet. I’ve got ideas for dozens of projects after that, and I’m working hard (and having fun) getting through them all.

Author bio:

AMANDA HOCKING is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

Buy Links:

Macmillan

Books-A-Million

Barnes & Noble

Amazon

Social Links:

Author website

Twitter @Amanda_Hocking

Facebook

Author Blog

Pinterest

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Mayhem by Estella laure blog tour-excerpt

Today I have a excerpt of mayhem for you. I’m a little more then halfway though this book and I am really enjoying it. It a little slow but the atmosphere that Estelle has created make you want to keep reading. It’s gritty and dark and mysterious.

I’v seen it pitched as the craft meets lost boys but I feel practical magic meets lost boys is a little more accurate.

I’m going to put a content warning on here there is domestic abuse in this book and mention of rape.

When I’m done Reading this book I will have my review up (I know you guys are waiting on a few of them. It just taking me a little longer to read at the moment).

First the synopsis

It’s 1987 and unfortunately it’s not all Madonna and cherry lip balm. Mayhem Brayburn has always known there was something off about her and her mother, Roxy. Maybe it has to do with Roxy’s constant physical pain, or maybe with Mayhem’s own irresistible pull to water. Either way, she knows they aren’t like everyone else. But when May’s stepfather finally goes too far, Roxy and Mayhem flee to Santa Maria, California, the coastal beach town that holds the answers to all of Mayhem’s questions about who her mother is, her estranged family, and the mysteries of her own self. There she meets the kids who live with her aunt, and it opens the door to the magic that runs through the female lineage in her family, the very magic Mayhem is next in line to inherit and which will change her life for good. But when she gets wrapped up in the search for the man who has been kidnapping girls from the beach, her life takes another dangerous turn and she is forced to face the price of vigilante justice and to ask herself whether revenge is worth the cost. 

From the acclaimed author of This Raging Lightand But Then I Came Back, Estelle Laure offers a riveting and complex story with magical elements about a family of women contending with what appears to be an irreversible destiny, taking control and saying when enough is enough.

Now for the excerpt

Dear Reader,

Like Mayhem, I experienced a period of time when my life was extremelyunstable. I can still remember what itwas like to be shaken so hard I thoughtmy head would come off, to watch the room vibrate, to feel unsafe in my own home, to never know what was comingaround the next corner. I wanted to run. I always wanted to run.

I ran to friends, but also movies andbooks, and although girls were morepassively portrayed in movies like TheLost Boys back then, that feeling ofteenagers prowling the night, taking out bad people, being unbeatable . . . that got me through it.

I guess that’s what I tried to do here. Iwanted girls who feel powerless to be able to imagine themselves invincible.And yes, I used a rape as the seed forthat fierce lineage, not without thought. For me, there is nothing worse, and I like to think great power can rise up as aresult of a devastating trespass.

Please know I took none of thislightly. Writing this now, my heart isbeating hard and my throat is dry. Thisis the first time I not only really lookedat my own past, the pain of loss, thepain of the loss of trust that comes whensomeone puts hands on you withoutpermission, the pain of people dying,the shock of suicide, and put all of it topaper in a way that made me feelvictorious, strong, and warrior-like. It isalso terrifying. I know I’m not the onlyone who had a scary childhood, and

I know I’m not the only one who clingsto stories as salve to smooth over burntskin. I am so sick of girls and womenbeing hurt. This was my way of takingmy own vengeance and trying to accessforgiveness.

Thank you for reading and for those ofyou who can relate, I see you and you are not alone.

Estelle Laure

three Santa Maria

“Trouble,” Roxy says. She arches a brow at the kids by the van through the bug-spattered windshield, the ghost of a half-smile rippling across her face.

“You would know,” I shoot. “So would you,” she snaps.

Maybe we’re a little on edge. We’ve been in the car so long the pattern on the vinyl seats is tattooed on the back of my thighs.

The kids my mother is talking about, the ones sitting on the white picket fence, look like they slithered up the hill out of the ocean, covered in seaweed, like the carnival music we heard coming from the boardwalk as we were driving into town plays in the air around them at all times. Two crows are on the posts beside them like they’re standing guard, and they caw at each other loudly as we come to a stop. I love every- thing about this place immediately and I think, ridiculously, that I am no longer alone.

The older girl, white but tan, curvaceous, and lean, has her arms around the boy and is lovely with her smudged eye makeup and her ripped clothes. The younger one pops some- thing made of bright colors into her mouth and watches us come up the drive. She is in a military-style jacket with a ton of buttons, her frizzy blond hair reaching in all directions, freckles slapped across her cheeks. And the boy? Thin, brown,

hungry-looking. Not hungry in his stomach. Hungry with his eyes. He has a green bandana tied across his forehead and holes in the knees of his jeans. There’s an A in a circle drawn in marker across the front of his T-shirt.

Anarchy.

“Look!” Roxy points to the gas gauge. It’s just above the E. “You owe me five bucks, Cookie. I told you to trust we would make it, and see what happened? You should listen to your mama every once in a while.”

“Yeah, well, can I borrow the five bucks to pay you for the bet? I’m fresh out of cash at the moment.”

“Very funny.”

Roxy cranes out the window and wipes the sweat off her upper lip, careful not to smudge her red lipstick. She’s been having real bad aches the last two days, even aside from her bruises, and her appetite’s been worse than ever. The only thing she ever wants is sugar. After having been in the car for so long, you’d think we’d be falling all over each other to get out, but we’re still sitting in the car. In here we’re still us.

She sighs for the thousandth time and clutches at her belly. “I don’t know about this, May.”

California can’t be that different from West Texas.

I watch TV. I know how to say gag me with a spoon and

grody to the max.

I fling open the door.

Roxy gathers her cigarettes and lighter, and drops them in- side her purse with a snap.

“Goddammit, Elle,” she mutters to herself, eyes flickering toward the kids again. Roxy looks at me over the rims of her sunglasses before shoving them back on her nose. “Mayhem, I’m counting on you to keep your head together here. Those kids are not the usual—”

“I know! You told me they’re foster kids.”

“No, not that,” she says, but doesn’t clarify. “Okay, I guess.”

“I mean it. No more of that wild-child business.”

“I will keep my head together!” I’m so tired of her saying this. I never had any friends, never a boyfriend—all I have is what Grandmother calls my nasty mouth and the hair Lyle always said was ugly and whorish. And once or twice I might’ve got drunk on the roof, but it’s not like I ever did anything. Besides, no kid my age has ever liked me even once. I’m not the wild child in the family.

“Well, all right then.” Roxy messes with her hair in the rear- view mirror, then sprays herself with a cloud of Chanel No. 5 and runs her fingers over her gold necklace. It’s of a bird, not unlike the ones making a fuss by the house. She’s had it as long as I can remember, and over time it’s been worn smooth by her worrying fingers. It’s like she uses it to calm herself when she’s upset about something, and she’s been upset the whole way here, practically. Usually, she’d be good and buzzed by this time of day, but since she’s had to drive some, she’s only nipped from the tiny bottle of wine in her purse a few times and only taken a couple pills since we left Taylor. The with- drawal has turned her into a bit of a she-demon.

I try to look through her eyes, to see what she sees. Roxy hasn’t been back here since I was three years old, and in that time, her mother has died, her father has died, and like she said when she got the card with the picture enclosed that her twin sister, Elle, sent last Christmas, Everybody got old. After that, she spent a lot of time staring in the mirror, pinching at her neck skin. When I was younger, she passed long nights telling me about Santa Maria and the Brayburn Farm, about how it was good and evil in equal measure, about how it had desires that had to be satisfied.

Brayburns, she would say. In my town, we were the legends.

These were the mumbled stories of my childhood, and they made everything about this place loom large. Now that we’re here, I realize I expected the house to have a gaping maw filled with spitty, frothy teeth, as much as I figured there would be fairies flitting around with wands granting wishes. I don’t want to take her vision away from her, but this place looks pretty normal to me, if run-down compared to our new house in Taylor, where there’s no dust anywhere, ever, and Lyle prac- tically keeps the cans of soup in alphabetical order. Maybe what’s not so normal is that this place was built by Brayburns, and here Brayburns matter. I know because the whole road is named after us and because flowers and ribbons and baskets of fruit sat at the entrance, gifts from the people in town, Roxy said. They leave offerings. She said it like it’s normal to be treated like some kind of low-rent goddess.

Other than the van and the kids, there are trees here, rose- bushes, an old black Mercedes, and some bikes leaning against the porch that’s attached to the house. It’s splashed with fresh white paint that doesn’t quite cover up its wrinkles and scars. It’s three stories, so it cuts the sunset when I look up, and plants drape down to touch the dirt.

The front door swings open and a woman in bare feet races past the rosebushes toward us. It is those feet and the reckless way they pound against the earth that tells me this is my aunt Elle before her face does. My stomach gallops and there are bumps all over my arms, and I am more awake than I’ve been since.

I thought Roxy might do a lot of things when she saw her twin sister. Like she might get super quiet or chain-smoke, or maybe even get biting like she can when she’s feeling wrong about something. The last thing I would have ever imagined was them running toward each other and colliding in the driveway, Roxy wrapping her legs around Elle’s waist, and them twirling like that.

This seems like something I shouldn’t be seeing, some- thing wounded and private that fills up my throat. I flip my- self around in my seat and start picking through the things we brought and chide myself yet again for the miserable packing job I did. Since I was basically out of my mind trying to get out of the house, I took a whole package of toothbrushes, an armful of books, my River Phoenix poster, plus I emptied out my underwear drawer, but totally forgot to pack any shoes, so all I have are some flip-flops I bought at the truck stop outside of Las Cruces after that man came to the window, slurring, You got nice legs. Tap, tap tap. You got such nice legs.

My flip-flops are covered in Cheeto dust from a bag that got upended. I slip them on anyway, watching Roxy take her sunglasses off and prop them on her head.

“Son of a bitch!” my aunt says, her voice tinny as she catches sight of Roxy’s eye. “Oh my God, that’s really bad, Rox. You made it sound like nothing. That’s not nothing.”

“Ellie,” Roxy says, trying to put laughter in her voice. “I’m here now. We’re here now.”

There’s a pause.

“You look the same,” Elle says. “Except the hair. You went full Marilyn Monroe.”

“What about you?” Roxy says, fussing at her platinum waves with her palm. “You go full granola warrior? When’s the last time you ate a burger?”

“You know I don’t do that. It’s no good for us. Definitely no good for the poor cows.”

“It’s fine for me.” Roxy lifts Elle’s arm and puckers her nose. “What’s going on with your armpits? May not eat meat but you got animals under there, looks like.”

“Shaving is subjugation.”

“Shaving is a mercy for all mankind.”

They erupt into laughter and hug each other again.

“Well, where is she, my little baby niece?” Elle swings the car door open. “Oh, Mayhem.” She scoops me out with two strong arms. Right then I realize just how truly tired I am. She seems to know, squeezes extra hard for a second before letting me go. She smells like the sandalwood soap Roxy buys sometimes. “My baby girl,” Elle says, “you have no idea how long I’ve been waiting to see you. How much I’ve missed you.”

Roxy circles her ear with a finger where Elle can’t see her.

Crazy, she mouths. I almost giggle.

Short author bio:

Estelle Laure, the author of This Raging Light and But Then I Came Back believes in

love, magic, and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theatre Arts and an

MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults,

and she lives in Taos, New Mexico, with her family. Her work is translated widely

around the world.

Author’s social handles
o Twitter: @starlaure
Instagram : @estellelaurebooks

Link to a buy-this-book page:

https://wednesdaybooks.com/galaxies-and-kingdom/mayhem/

WHAT UNBREAKABLE LOOKS blog tour- excerpt

I’m actually a day late posting this because i got my days mixed. I’m also in the middle of reading this book right now so my review will be up when I’m done reading it. For those who don’t know I’v been in and out of the hospital the last few weeks so everything has been kinda crazy for me. Now on to the blog tour.

I have an excerpt of the book for you today! I hope you enjoy it.

I also want to put a trigger warning at the start of this. This book deals with sexual assault and sex trafficking.

Fist the synopsis

Lex was taken – trafficked – and now she’s Poppy. Kept in a hotel with other girls, her old life is a distant memory. But when the girls are rescued, she doesn’t quite know how to be Lex again. 

After she moves in with her aunt and uncle, for the first time in a long time, she knows what it is to feel truly safe. Except, she doesn’t trust it. Doesn’t trust her new home. Doesn’t trust her new friend. Doesn’t trust her new life. Instead she trusts what she shouldn’t because that’s what feels right. She doesn’t deserve good things. 

But when she is sexually assaulted by her so-called boyfriend and his friends, Lex is forced to reckon with what happened to her and that just because she is used to it, doesn’t mean it is okay. She’s thrust into the limelight and realizes she has the power to help others. But first she’ll have to confront the monsters of her past with the help of her family, friends, and a new love.

Kate McLaughlin’s What Unbreakable Looks Like is a gritty, ultimately hopeful novel about human trafficking through the lens of a girl who has escaped the life and learned to trust, not only others, but in herself.

Now to the except

chapter one


Clean sheets. That’s what I’m dreaming about when some- thing wakes me up. I groan, swearing. Sleep is the only time I have to myself—the only time I’m free from the motel and the other girls in it. The sound grows louder, people coming up the stairs outside the room.


I force my eyes open. It’s still dark, but there’s always a sliver of light that comes through the window—neon blue from the vacancy sign, and yellow floodlights. Shadows pass, strobing the light. It’s too late for business. If Mitch let us go to bed, it has to be not much before dawn. We’re his nighttime girls.

I took some pills earlier, after the last john left, so maybe I’m imagining things. Mitch came by and gave us all a little “treat.” I’d been greedy. I’m always greedy when it comes to my medicine, and Mitch spoils me. I’m his favorite—he told me.
There are six of us on the second floor of the motel. The manager gave Mitch a deal on the rooms for a cut of his

take—and a piece of each of us. I wonder if that’s what this is, the slimy piece of shit coming to get a little somethin’ somethin’ before work.


There’s a crash, followed by a scream. I sit up, head swimming. Fear takes hold, sobering me. I crawl out of bed, stagger to the other one. Ivy is out cold. I shake her shoulder—it’s bony. Too bony. “Wake up. Ivy, wake the fuck up.” How can she sleep with all the screaming?


“Poppy?” She clutches at my hand. “What’s going on?”
“I don’t know, but you need to get up and put some clothes on.” She’s naked. I’m in a tank top and my under- wear. I stumble to the dresser we share and pull out a pair of jeans that should have been washed days ago. I tug them on, fastening them low on my hips. I grab a sweater and shove my feet into a pair of sneakers. Behind me, I hear Ivy getting out of bed, the sheets rasping against each other.


More screams. I run—lurch—to the door and try to open it, but the manager locks us in after the johns leave. Most of us have nowhere to go even if we were straight enough to run, but every once in a while a girl tries to take off. They never get far before they turn around and come back on their own. Mitch has that effect on us.


“What is it?” Ivy asks as she stumbles into a pair of jeans. Her voice is slurred, her eyelids barely open.
“I think it’s the cops,” I say. Either that, or it’s a rival of Mitch’s. I don’t want to think about what’s going to happen to us if that’s the case.


The door to our room flies open. I jump backward, put- ting myself between whoever it is and Ivy. The cops. We stand there watching them like cornered dogs, beaten and meek. We know the drill. Don’t say nothin’.

“Are you girls okay?” a woman cop asks. She’s tall with long, curly hair and dark skin. Beyoncé wishes she were this beautiful.


“We ain’t done nothing wrong,” I tell her. “You can’t arrest us.”


She gives me a funny look. “Honey, we’re not here to arrest you. We’re here to get you out of here.”


“Yeah? Where you gonna take us?”


“The hospital, then home, if we can.”
I snort. Home. Yeah right.
She holds out her hand. “Come on. You can’t stay here.” Ivy clings to me as we inch toward the door. As soon
as I cross the threshold, I start to run. Ivy’s feet tangle with mine and we go down, hitting the cement walkway hard.


Ivy grunts. There’s blood on her lips. A male cop hauls her up, carries her away.


“Hey!” I cry.


“Da fuck?” someone yells. I smile at the sound of Dai- sy’s voice. She’s gonna fuck somebody up. “Get off the floor, you stupid bitch.”


I push up onto my hands. The female cop takes my arm and pulls me up.


“Ow!” My left ankle doesn’t want me to stand on it.


“Lean on me,” the cop says, putting her arm around me. Her hand is on my ribs. I wait for it to creep higher, but it doesn’t.


My foot really hurts. I should have grabbed my pills. What am I going to do when these wear off?


“What’s your name?” the woman asks as we begin walking. She’s taking a lot of my weight, but she doesn’t seem bothered by it.

“Poppy.”


She smiles a little. “Your real name, sweetie. So we can let your parents know you’re okay.”


I’m not sure my mother would even care. “Alexa,” I tell her. “Alexa Marie.” It doesn’t feel like mine anymore—it belongs to someone else.

“You’re safe now, Alexa. You’re going to be okay.


I laugh. Who does she think she’s talking to? She don’t know shit. “Bitch,” I say. “We ain’t never going to be okay. Never.”


They say I’m safe. I don’t feel safe. My skin itches and twitches like bugs are crawling underneath it. I’ve left fin- gernail scratches on my arms from trying to get to them— long, raw furrows in my skin that felt so good at the time, but burn like hell.


I’m in the hospital. Why doesn’t Mitch rescue me? Why doesn’t he come take me home? He’s a bad guy, they tell me. I know, but he’s my bad guy. He’s all I got.


“How long have I been here?” I ask the nurse, but she doesn’t seem to hear me, because she doesn’t answer. It has to have been a while. I don’t feel right. I need my medicine.


My clothes are gone. I’m wearing a thin cotton gown that smells weird. I’ve been photographed, poked, and prodded. They swabbed my mouth and got me into stir- rups so they could swab down there too. They said they were going to check me for STIs, and would I consent to a pregnancy test? Sure. If I am pregnant, I want it out of me.


So many tests. So many questions. “You okay, baby?” the nurse asks.

I want to ask her if I fucking look okay. “No,” I say in- stead, scratching.


Her lips form a thin line and she nods, like she under- stands. “I’ll see what we can do to take the edge off.” She leaves the room, but she’s back in a few minutes. She gives me a cup of water and a little paper cup with pills in it. I don’t even ask what they are, I just flush them down my throat and start counting the seconds.


“Give me your arm, honey,” she commands. She has a tube of lotion that she rubs into the scratches and dry patches. It feels good, takes away the sting and itch.


“You’re pale as milk,” she comments. “Skin that delicate needs to be protected.”


I don’t know what to say, so I stay quiet.


“I’ll be back later to put some more on, okay?”
She smiles at me, and tears burn in my eyes. I blink—
hard. No one is going to see me weak.

I’m watching cartoons on TV a little while later when
another woman comes in. This one’s wearing pants and a blouse and carrying a bag big enough to hold a small child. She has curly blond hair and blue eyes.


“Hello, Alexa,” she says. “My name is Jill. I’m with DCF. Do you know what that is?”


“Yeah,” I reply. They came by to talk to Mom once when I went to school wearing the same clothes three days in a row and didn’t have lunch.


“Good. I work specifically with cases involving human trafficking. Are you aware of what that is?”


Does she think I’m a fucking idiot? Brain damaged, maybe? “It’s when you’re forced into being a ho.”


She inclines her head. “That’s part of it. I’m here

because you’ve been identified as a victim of human trafficking.”


I stare at her. She doesn’t seem bothered by my silence.
She walks over and sits in the chair by my bed. I push myself farther up on the pillows.


“Would you be okay if we talk about what happened to you?” she asks me.

“Ain’t nothin’ happened to me,” I respond.


“Mitch Anderson didn’t force you to have sex with strangers for money?”


“I didn’t charge anyone money.”


“No. Mitch did that, didn’t he?”


“I don’t know what you’re talking about. Mitch is my
boyfriend.”


“That’s what the other girls from the motel called him as
well. You don’t mind sharing your boyfriend with them?”

I’m silent. I want to tell her I’m his favorite, but I’ve already said too much. I forgot how much trouble Mitch
could be in for having sex with young girls.


“Your mother’s boyfriend, Frank, is a friend of Mitch’s,
isn’t he?”


“I don’t want to talk about him.” What I want is my pills.
I don’t like the things I’m starting to feel. To think.
Jill gives me a sympathetic look.

“Alexa—”


“Poppy,” I correct her. “My name is Poppy.”


“Do you really want to be called that?” she asks me.

Yes, but I give her the answer she wants to hear. “No.” I’ll
tell her whatever she wants if it makes her go the fuck away.

I have to get out of here, but how far will I get in a hos- pital gown with my bare ass sticking out? I want to scream, but when I tried last night, nothing came out. Jill’s still
watching me. I want to punch her in the face.

“I want to see Ivy,” I say.


Jill nods. “I’ll see if we can make that happen.”


“You don’t have to see shit. She right down the damn
hall.” To prove it, I yell her name at the top of my lungs. “Ivy! Ivy!”


“Poppy!” comes the answering shout. “Pop-py!”


I grin, so fucking happy to hear her voice.


There’s a knock on the open door. I turn my head and
see the woman cop who found me at the motel.

“Detective Willis,” Jill says, giving her a look I recognize from adults I’ve known my whole life. It brands me as “dif-
ficult,” an asshole.


The cop smiles at me. A small real one that tells me she’s
known too many girls like me.


She ain’t known anyone like me.


“Can I come in?” she asks.
Like I can stop her. I nod. I can’t help but stare at her.
She’s probably one of the most beautiful women I’ve ever seen. And she’s got this attitude—like she knows how to kill somebody with only two fingers, y’know? She’s strong.


I hate her for it.


She stands beside my bed, watching me like she thinks I might bite—and she’s prepared to take the risk. “How are you feeling?” she asks.


“Like a junkie,” I rasp. I hold up my hand; it trembles.


Detective Willis looks sympathetic, but I wonder if she’s ever felt like this before. “We’re going to get you into a re- hab program for girls who have been trafficked.”


I startle. “I’m not going home?” I don’t care if I see my mother, or Frank, but Mitch won’t know where to find me if I don’t go home.


She looks at Jill, who shakes her head.

“What the fuck are y’all not tellin’ me?” I demand. “I’m right fucking here.”


Jill sighs. “Alexa, your mother has given up her parental rights. You can’t go home.”


I look from her to Detective Willis. “She doesn’t want me?”
The cop tries to take my hand. I pull it away. “She knows home is not a good environment for you.”


“Bullshit,” I say. “She just doesn’t want her fucked-up kid back.”


I am not going to cry.


“So, I’m going to be sent to prison, then, huh?” I ask. I won’t be eighteen for almost a year. That makes me a ward of the state. “Where all unwanted kids go?”


“No,” Jill says. “We found someone who very much wants to take you.”


“Who?” I demand.


“Your aunt Krys,” she replies.
I remember Krys—vaguely. We used to spend a lot of
time with her when my grandmother was alive, back when I was little and Mom’s drinking wasn’t so bad. I liked her.


I frown.


“She’d like to visit with you, and if you want, you could maybe live with her and her husband in Middletown when you get out of the program.”


“What does she want in return?” I ask. “She get paid to take me?”


Detective Willis doesn’t look surprised at the question. “She doesn’t want anything.”


I snort.


“She told me your mother wouldn’t let her see you when they broke ties. She says she’s missed you.”


My throat is tight. I swallow hard. I’m not the kid Krys knew. I’m not a kid at all.

“She’s not going to want me when she sees what a mess I am.”


“Maybe you should let me decide that,” comes a voice from the door. My head whips around so fast, it hurts.
Standing just inside the room is a woman who looks like a younger, sober version of my mother. Softer. She’s tall and slim with bright red hair and blue eyes. She’s wearing a long sweater over leggings with tall boots. She looks like she stepped out of a catalog.


“Aunt Krys?” My voice sounds thin, stupid.


She’s pale, her mouth tight and eyes watery as she nods. “Hi, Lexi-bug.”


I burst into tears.


“Wake up.”


Something pokes me in the face. I groan and push at it,
grabbing a skinny finger. My eyes open, blinking against the corridor light shining into my otherwise darkened room.


A familiar face looms over mine.


“What time is it?” I ask.


“Time for you to get a Altoid or somethin’,” Ivy replies.
“Girl, whadafuck died in your mouth?”


I laugh. “You don’t like my breath, get your face out of
it,” I tell her. “What are you doing up? It’s late.”

“Somethin’s goin’ on. The nurses ain’t watching the
station. Let’s go.”


Suddenly, I’m wide awake, throwing back the covers.
They took my IV out earlier, so I’m not connected to any- thing anymore. I’m not 100 percent, but I’m better than I was, and I’m ready to get the fuck out of this place.

Author Bio:


KATE McLAUGHLIN likes people, so much so that she spends her days making up her own. She likes writing about characters who are bent, but not broken – people who find their internal strength through friends, strife and sometimes humor. When she’s not writing, she likes studying people, both real and fictional. She also likes playing board games with friends, talking and discovering new music. A proud Nova Scotian, she’ll gladly tell you all about the highest tides in the world, the magical creation known as a donair, and people who have sofas in their kitchens. Currently, she lives in Connecticut with her husband and four cats. She’s the author of What Unbreakable Looks Like.

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