Tag Archives: science fiction

The Sending by Jandy Salguero Book Blitz + Giveaway!

 

The SendingThe Sending

A city’s peace is shattered when two university students go missing, and only Daneel and his friends know the shocking truth of what happened. Finding themselves under attack, Daneel leads them in a race to escape the mounting violence.
Mara is willing to kill for the beliefs of the faction that raised her. But as she seeks out her mark, using a rare, mystical form of travel known as the Sending, Mara discovers a powerful connection that challenges the truth of everything she’s been taught.
While Daneel fights to protect those he cares for, Mara must choose whether to cling to the ideology of her home—or open her scarred heart to a searing attraction and the promise of a new life.

 

Praise for The Sending

The Sending reads like a dystopian Romeo and Juliet where strong, full characters from very different places inevitably collide with passion and conflict. Salguero fills a fresh, vibrant world with a nerve-tingling fast plot. Prepare to be immersed. ~Tamara Ward, author of Hidden Betrayal

The Sending is a thrilling, fast-paced, science fiction-romance that’s impossible to put down. Edge-of-your-seat action scenes, and a romantic attraction so intense that it will make you want to turn down the air conditioning, The Sending is a great read that left me hungry for more. I loved this book!
~Sterling R. Walker, author of The Orphan Ship

Purchase Your Copy

Amazon * Barnes & Noble

6edbf-grey-divider-no-background-hi

 Excerpt2

As one of the hawks flew across the tiny plane of space framed by her window, Mara closed her eyes. She envisioned herself there, experiencing the grace and the power of their movements. She imagined the control of that journey and thought that one day she might have that type of power over her own fate.
Mara felt a kinship with the graceful hunter. It knew the thrill of conquest coupled with the need for survival: opposite sides of the same implacable coin. The compound had taught Mara to use that need to a greater advantage than she had before.
Her chest tightened. Before? No, there was no before. Everything was after.
After her home had been raided, after her family had been killed, after she had been forced to fend for herself. She’d had only the passive help of a few others who had suffered the same fate, who had used her as much as she had been forced to use them.
She was a young six years when she lost her family. The memories of their life together had quickly begun to fade into the cruel background of her new life, into an icy, nearly paralyzing bath of hunger and fear.
The fear had covered everything. It had even blanketed the things that had seemed gentle and innocent to her before, so that nothing was safe. For a long time, the fear had ruled her with a cold, hard hand.

 6edbf-grey-divider-no-background-hi

About the Author

Jandy

Growing up in southern Louisiana, Jandy Salguero’s life was full of friendly smiles, good food and tall tales. She holds a BA in French from Brigham Young University, where she met her husband in the midst of the great Rocky Mountains. She now resides in a small town outside of Raleigh, NC. Her days are full of grade-school antics and underfoot toddler toys– courtesy of her two handsome boys.

She is currently working on Book 2 in the Senitha’s Light series, due out in early 2015.

 

Website * Twitter * Facebook * Pinterest

 

6edbf-grey-divider-no-background-hi

Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash

Ends 10/3/14

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway


September Sequels Giveaway Hop: Win a copy of Frozen (Taken #2) by Erin Bowman!

Welcome to the September Sequels Giveaway Hop! I am all about sequels. One book never seems like enough for me, so I strongly prefer series. Second books tend to be my favorites, because the world is already introduced, but you don’t have to say goodbye yet – you can just let yourself be fully absorbed into the world the author has created.

So anyway, what can you win? Grrr, my fluffy white beauty, has kindly consented to be our presenter.

Grrr with Frozen

Win an ARC of Frozen (Taken #2) by Erin Bowman.

A bit about the book…

9fc83-addtogoodreads

The Heists were only the beginning.

Gray Weathersby escaped from the primitive town of Claysoot expecting to find answers, but what he discovered shook him to the core: A ruthless dictator with absolute power. An army of young soldiers blinded by lies. And a growing rebellion determined to fight back.

Now Gray has joined a team of rebels on a harsh, icy journey in search of allies who can help them set things right. But in a world built on lies, Gray must constantly question whether any ally—or enemy—is truly what they seem…

Click the rafflecopter link below to enter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

This giveaway is US Only. Sorry guys, I just can’t afford the shipping. 

Click here to visit all the blogs participating in the hop to win more awesome sequels!

Thanks for visiting!

 


Flawed (Perfection #2) by J. L. Spelbring Book Blitz + Giveaway!

Title: Flawed (Perfection #2)

Author: J.L. Spelbring

Release Date: August 12, 2014

Publisher: Spencer Hill Press

In a world where Hitler won the The War, and perfection is constantly sought, Ellyssa has broken free from her austere life and has found another meaning for her existence.

Family, friendship, and love.

But her happiness is short lived. Ellyssa finds herself on the run, again. Her father’s work didn’t die with him, but lives on in her siblings, Aalexis and Xaver, and they are determined to complete his unfinished dream.

 

FLAWED TRAILER from irashiflet on Vimeo.

AVAILABLE ON

AmazonB&N † Kobo † iBooksBook Depository



Add to GoodReads

GET BOOK ONE TODAY!

AMAZONB&N 



ABOUT THE AUTHOR
 

 

J.L. Spelbring lives in Texas, where she wanders out in the middle of the night to look at the big and bright stars. Besides knocking imaginary bad guys in the head with a keyboard, she enjoys being swept away between the pages of a book, running amuck inside in her own head, pretending she is into running, and hanging out with her kids, who are way too cool for her.

Her novel, Perfection, released in July 2013 and the sequel, Flawed, releases August 2014.

 

 

 

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sunset Rising by S.M. McEachern Book Blast + Giveaway!

sunset risingSunset Rising by S.M McEachern

February 2024: Desperate to find refuge from the nuclear storm, a group of civilians discover a secret government bio-dome. Greeted by a hail of bullets and told to turn back, the frantic refugees stand their ground and are grudgingly permitted entry. But the price of admission is high.

 

283 years later… Life as a slave in the Pit had never been easy, but for seventeen-year-old Sunny O’Donnell it was quickly careening out of control. Her mother was killed in the annual spring Cull, leaving her alone with a father who decided to give up on life. It’s not that she blamed him for grieving, but if they didn’t earn enough credits to keep their place inside the Pit, they would be kicked out into a world still teeming with radiation. That left her to earn the credits for both of them. It didn’t help that her boyfriend, Reyes Crowe, was pressuring her to get married and abandon her father.

 

Sunny didn’t think life could get any worse, until she was forced upstairs to the Dome to serve and entertain the elite at a bachelor party. That’s where she met Leisel Holt, the president’s daughter, and her fiancé, Jack Kenner. Now Sunny and Jack Kenner are wanted for treason. If they catch them, they’ll be executed.

 

She thought Leisel’s betrayal was the end…but it turns out it was just the beginning.

 

Sunset Rising is Book One of a series.

 

Amazon * iBooks * Barnes & Noble * Kobo

From August 7th to 13th

Sunset Rising will be just .99 cents

Grab your copy today!

Amazon * iBooks * Barnes & Noble * Kobo

 

Praise for “Sunset Rising”

“Sunset Rising is thrilling; there is no better word for it. Romance, intrigue and action all come together beautifully here to create an experience that will leave anyone asking for more.” – Molly Burkemper for Readers Favorite

 

“Sorry to all the Hunger Games fans but Sunset Rising surpasses my expectation. Sunset Rising is a rollercoaster ride with a terrifying drop at the end. A beautiful love story filled with danger and horror.
The Greatest Book I’ve Ever Read.” – Selena Liaw, reviewer for Books and Sweet Epiphany.

 

“FABULOUS!!! I fricken loved this story! I have to agree with another reviewer who said this is 7 star book not a 5 star ~~seriously it is THAT good! How is this not on every bestseller list yet? Listen to me now, please… if you love Dystopian YA novels ~~~ READ THIS BOOK!” – Paula Fetty King, Goodreads Reviewer.

 

add to goodreads

 17772-grey-divider-no-background-hi

Excerpt2

I had decided I didn’t want to give up on my plan to help change things. After all the hardship I had brought on my father and Summer, I owed it to them to try to make things right. I didn’t want to fail.

Jack stood up and went into his T’ai Chi stance. I followed. He began the fluid movements and I tried to keep up, but he seemed to be going a lot faster tonight.

“So you want to start stopping people in the hall and ask them if they want to join the rebellion?” Jack asked, his tone light.

“Well, it sounds stupid when you say it like that.”

“Alright, we’re all warmed up now.” Jack faced me in a defensive stance. “Take your best shot.”

“I don’t feel like it anymore.”

“Come on.” He flicked a hand out at me, stopping inches from my face. “Pretend I’m Reyes. You must be mad at him.”

I threw the heel of my hand toward his face, which he blocked easily. I followed with a roundhouse kick at his stomach. He pushed me away.

“That’s weak, Sunny,” he said. “Come on. The other night you just about ripped my head off when you were mad about Summer.”

I had been really mad about Summer. Even the thought of her now in the clutches of that crazy president was making me angry. He had my father, too. My anger snuck out of the place where I thought I’d had it tucked safely away and gripped me again.

I threw a punch as hard as I could at Jack, then another. He blocked them both, but I kept coming at him. First with my right leg followed swiftly by my left. He threw a right punch at me, but I pulled my head back and he missed. I instinctively knew he was going to follow with his left fist, and I ducked. He missed again. He was smiling at me. I came at him to wipe the smile off his face, but he turned, and I missed. He grabbed me from behind.

“I see the boyfriend isn’t the key to getting you mad. Your best friend is,” he whispered in my ear.

I drove my elbow as hard as I could into his stomach. As soon as I made contact, I heard his breath forced out of him. I realized I might have hit him too hard.

“I’m sorry!” I turned around to see if he was okay. He was bent over, holding his stomach. “Jack, are you hurt?”

“I’ll be fine,” he choked out.

I felt a little helpless watching him struggle to get his breath back. He finally straightened up and gently touched a couple of his ribs.

“Nothing broken.” He limped off to sit in a chair. “Maybe I should have told you the first rule of sparring before I started teaching you. You don’t actually hurt your partner.”

“Sorry. I guess I let my frustrations get the better of me.”

“I don’t suppose there’s a hot shower in here?” he asked, even though he must have known the answer.

“No.” I laughed at the thought. “But I can take you to the common bath.”

He got up from the chair. “Take me.”

I found a couple of towels and a bar of soap in a cupboard. “We only have about forty-five minutes left before lights out. We need to be back by then.”

We left the apartment and headed toward the bathroom. I wouldn’t be surprised if Jack changed his mind when he saw where he had to bathe. It wasn’t anything like the private hot shower in his apartment. When we reached the common bath, I was silently relieved to see that the water had been changed recently. It wasn’t bad at all.

“It’s freezing!” Jack exclaimed when he put his hand in the water. “I’m not getting in there.”

“You don’t actually get in. Soak your towel in the water and wash off that way. You can dry with mine. You go first.” I started toward the door.

“Wait. We’re supposed to be married. Isn’t it going to look weird if we’re taking turns in here?”

“I’m not watching you have a bath. I’m only prepared to take the pretend marriage thing so far.”

He gave me a wry look. “We’ll just turn our backs on each other. It will save time, and we can get back before lights out.”

“I don’t know. It seems a little…intimate.” But there was a guard on duty within view of the bathroom, and he might wonder why we were taking turns.

“I promise I won’t peek,” Jack said, but I wasn’t convinced. “Hey, I’m taking a big risk here, too. You know how many girls would love to see the Jack Kenner naked?”

That made me smile. A week ago, that was probably true. “I can’t believe I’m going to do this. Turn around.”

We both turned our backs on each other. I stripped as fast as I could so I wouldn’t have time to change my mind. I heard his clothes drop to the floor. An image of my hands on his naked chest came back to me, and a feeling of excitement began to grow in the pit of my stomach. If I turned around right now we would both be naked and only inches apart. A warm sensation spread through me at the thought, and my chest tightened, making it difficult to breathe. I wanted to banish the thoughts from my mind. I didn’t want to think of Jack in that way.

I dunked one of the towels into the water and scrubbed my arms. The water was freezing and made me shiver, but at least now I could blame my heavy breathing on that. And I was grateful it was helping to douse the heat that seemed to be consuming me. When I was done, I rinsed the towel and stuck it out behind my back to pass it to him.

“That was quick,” he said. I heard the water splashing behind me then Jack sucked his breath in. “Oh my god, it’s cold!”

I dried off, put on my clothes and waited for him to finish and get dressed before I knelt down to wash my hair.

“Not so bad,” Jack said, but I could tell he was lying.

He dipped his head in the water, ran the bar of soap through his hair, and then rinsed. I was still working on my long hair. A lot of coal was coming out, darkening the water and I felt a little guilty considering it had just been changed.

I wrapped the towel around my head to hide my red hair until I could reapply the coal. “We better get back before lights out,” I said.

Jack opened the door for me. “Even though it was freezing, it feels good to be clean,” he said.

“I like the cold. It’s refreshing.” Maybe I would have to have a bath every night if my body was going to continue to respond to Jack like that, I thought.

Back at our apartment, I busied myself hanging up the towels and brushing out my wet hair. I was feeling a little vulnerable without the coal, but knew I would have to wait until my hair dried before I could reapply it. The lights would go out any minute now. I put the brush away and turned around to find Jack flopped in a chair observing me.

“What?” I asked.

“Nothing.” He looked away. But there was something about the way he was looking at me…

“Did you peek?” I asked.

“Sunny,” Jack shook his head, but a smile tugged at the corners of his mouth and his cheeks turned pink. “Of course I peeked. I’m a guy.”

 17772-grey-divider-no-background-hi

6e11b-abouttheauthor

SM McEachernS.M. McEachern

S.M. McEachern (also known as Susan) currently resides in Ottawa, Canada’s capital city. With a background in international development and resource management (Dalhousie University), as well as being the wife of a military officer, Susan has had first hand experience in international affairs and policies. She attributes Elizabeth Mann Borgese—daughter of Nobel prize winner, Thomas Mann—as one of the greatest influences on her view of world politics. Susan had the privilege to work and study under Mann Borgese, an author, teacher and political activist for world peace. The first book of a series, Sunset Rising combines Susan’s knowledge of politics and resource management with her love for romance, action and adventure. In March 2014 she published Worlds Collide, the second book in the series. She is currently writing the third book.

Website * Facebook * Gooogle+ * Twitter

 17772-grey-divider-no-background-hi

Giveaway

book blast button

Book Blast Giveaway

$50 iTunes Gift Certificate (US) or Paypal Cash (International)

2 signed copies of Sunset Rising (Internationally)

Ends 8/28/14

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

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Anthem’s Fall by S.L. Dunn Book Blast + Giveaway!

Anthems_Fall_Tour_Bannere9591-scroll-hi252812529Anthems Fall

e9591-scroll-hi2528125299fc83-addtogoodreads

Anthem’s Fall
by S.L. Dunn
Publisher: Prospect Hill Press
Published: 16 June 2014
Genre: Graphic Novel, Adventure, Science Fiction

Above a horrified New York City, genetics and ethics collide as the fallen emperor and a banished exile of the same herculean race ignite into battle over the city’s rooftops. In the streets below, a brilliant young scientist has discovered a technology that can defeat them both, yet might be more terrible than either.
Set both in modern New York City and in the technologically sophisticated yet politically savage world of Anthem, Anthem’s Fall unfurls into a plot where larger than life characters born with the prowess of gods are pitted against the shrewd brilliance of a familiar and unlikely heroine.

You can purchase Anthem’s Fall at the following Retailers:
98b79-scroll-hi1
About the Author
Giveaway Banner

S.L. Dunn is the debut author of Anthem’s Fall, a novel he wrote amid the wanderings of his mid twenties. He has written while living intermittently in St. John USVI, Boston, Maine and Seattle. Raised on big screen superheroes and pop science fiction, he sought to create a novel that bridged a near-sci-fi thriller with a grand new fantasy. He currently resides in Seattle with his girlfriend Liz and their dog Lucy, and is hard at work completing the next book of the Anthem’s Fall series.

Social Media

   
98b79-scroll-hi1
c6c62-giveaway
 3 Winners will receive an E-Copy of Anthem’s Fall by S.L. Dunn.
1 Winner will receive a $10.00 Amazon Gift Card.

*JBN is not responsible for Lost or Damaged Books in your Nerdy Mail Box*

Must be 13+ to Enter
International Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


GET BRANDED with Branded (Sinners #1) by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki: Excerpt + Giveaway

Get-Branded-banner

Welcome to the GET BRANDED promo for

Branded (Sinners #1)
by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki

presented by Month9Books!

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

Branded-Cover

Fifty years ago The Commander came into power and murdered all who opposed him. In his warped mind, the seven deadly sins were the downfall of society.

To punish the guilty, he created the Hole, a place where sinners are branded according to their sins. Sinners are forced to live a less than human existence in deplorable conditions, under the watchful eye of guards who are ready to kill anyone who steps out of line.

Now, LUST wraps around my neck like thick, blue fingers, threatening to choke the life out of me. I’ve been accused of a crime I didn’t commit, and the Hole is my new home.

Constant darkness.

Brutal and savage violence.

Excruciating pain.

Every day is a fight for survival.

But I won’t let them win. I will not die in the Hole.

I am more than my brand. I’m a fighter. My name is Lexi Hamilton, and this is my story.

add to goodreads

Branded (Sinners #1) by Abi Ketner and Missy Kalicicki
Publisher: Month9Books

Amazon | Barnes & Noble

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

I’m buried six feet under, and no one hears my screams. The rope chafes as I loop it around my neck. I pull down, making sure the knot is secure. It seems sturdy enough. My legs shake. My heart beats heavy in my throat. Sweat pours down my back. Death and I glare at each other through my tears. I take one last look at the crystal chandelier, the foyer outlined with mirrors, and the flawless decorations. No photographs adorn the walls. No happy memories here. I’m ready to go. On the count of three. I inhale, preparing myself for the finality of it all. Dropping my hands, a glimmer catches my eye. It’s my ring, the last precious gift my father gave me. I twist it around to read the inscription. Picturing his face forces me to reconsider my choice. He’d be heartbroken if he could see me now. A door slams in the hallway, almost causing me to lose my balance. My thoughts already muddled, I stand waiting with the rope hanging around my neck. Voices I don’t recognize creep through the walls. Curiosity overshadows my current thoughts. It’s late at night, and this is a secure building in High Society. No one disturbs the peace here—ever. I tug on the noose and pull it back over my head. Peering through the eyehole in our doorway, I see a large group of armed guards banging on my neighbors’ door. A heated conversation ensues, and my neighbors point toward my family’s home. It hits me. I’ve been accused and they’re here to arrest me. My father would want me to run, and in that split second, I decide to listen to his voice within me. Flinging myself forward in fear, I scramble up the marble staircase and into my brother’s old bedroom. The door is partially covered, but it exists. Pushing his dresser aside, my fingers claw at the opening. Breathing hard, I lodge myself against it. Nothing. I step back and kick it with all my strength. The wood splinters open, and my foot gets caught. I wrench it backward, scraping my calf, but adrenaline pushes me forward. The voices at the front door shout my name. On hands and knees, I squeeze through the jagged opening. My brother left through this passage, and now it’s my escape too. Cobwebs entangle my face, hands, and hair. At the end, I feel for the knob, twisting it clockwise. It swings open, creaking from disuse. I sprint into the hallway and smash through the large fire escape doors at the end. A burst of cool air strikes me in the face as I jump down the ladder. Reaching the fifth floor, I knock on a friend’s window. The lights flicker on, and I see the curtains move, but no one answers. I bang on the window harder. “Let me in! Please!” I say, but the lights darken. They know I’ve been accused and refuse to help me. Fear and adrenaline rush through my veins as I keep running, knocking on more windows along the way. No one has mercy. They all know what happens to sinners. Another flight of stairs passes in a blur when I hear the guards’ heavy footfalls from above. I can’t hide, but I don’t want to go without trying. Help me, Daddy. I need your strength now. My previous desolation evolves into a will to survive. I have to keep running, but I tremble and gasp for air. I steel my nerves and force my body to keep moving. In a matter of minutes, my legs cramp and my chest burns. I plunge to the ground, scraping my knee and elbow. A moan escapes from my chest. Gotta keep going. “Stop!” Their voices bounce off the buildings. “Lexi Hamilton, surrender yourself,” they command. They’re gaining on me. I resist the urge to glance back, running into what I assume is an alley. I’m far from our high-rise in High Society as I plunge into a poorer section of the city where the streets all look the same and the darkness prevents me from recognizing anything. I’m lost. My first instinct is to leap into a dumpster, but I retain enough sense to stay still. I crouch and peek around it, watching them dash by. The abhorrent smell leaves me vomiting until nothing remains in my stomach. Desperation overtakes me, as I know my retching was anything but silent. My last few seconds tick away before they find me. Everyone knows about their special means of tracking sinners. I push myself to my feet and look left, right, and left again. Their batons click against their black leather belts, and their boots stomp the cement on both sides of me. I shrink into myself. Their heavy steps mock my fear, growing closer and closer until I know I’m trapped. Never did I imagine they’d come for me. Never did I imagine all those nights I heard them dragging someone else away that I’d join them. “You’re a sinner,” they say. “Time to leave.” I stand defiant. I refuse to bend or break before them, even as I shiver with fear. “There’s no reason to make this difficult. The more you cooperate, the smoother this will be for everyone,” a guard says. I cringe into the blackness along the wall. I’m innocent, but they won’t believe me or care. The next instant, my face slams into the pavement as one guard plants a knee in my back and another handcuffs me. A warm liquid trails into my mouth. Blood. Their fingers grip my arms like steel traps as they peel me off the cement. The tops of my shoes scrape along the ground as I’m dragged behind them until they discard me into the back of a black vehicle. The doors slam in unison with one guard stationed on each side of me, my shoulders digging into their arms. Swallowing hard, I stare ahead to avoid their eyes. My dignity is all I have left. The handcuffs dig into my wrists, so I clasp them together hard behind me and press my back into the seat, unwilling to admit how much it hurts. Did they need so many guards to capture me? I’m not carrying any weapons, nor do I own any. I don’t even know self-defense. High Society frowns on activities like that. The driver jerks the vehicle around and I try to keep my bearings, but it’s dark and the scenery changes too fast. Hours pass, and the air grows warmer, more humid the farther we drive. The landscape mutates from city to rolling hills. They don’t bother blindfolding me because they escort all the sinners to the same place—the Hole. Twenty-foot cement walls encase the chaos within. There’s no way out and no way in unless they transport you. They say the Hole is a prison with no rules. We learned about it last year in twelfth grade. To the outside, I’m filth now. I’ll never be allowed to return to the life I knew. No one ever does. “All sinners go through a transformation,” one of the guards says to me. His smirk infuriates me. “I’m sure you’ve heard all kinds of stories.” I don’t respond. I don’t want to think about the things I’ve been told. “You won’t last too long, though. Young girls like you get eaten alive.” He pulls a strand of my hair up to his face. Get your hands off me, you pig. I want to lash out, but resist. The punishment for disobeying authority is severe, and I’m not positioned to defy him. They’re the Guards of the Commander. They’re chosen from a young age and trained in combat. They keep the order of society by using violent methods of intimidation. No one befriends a guard. Relationships with them are forbidden inside the Hole. Few have seen the Commander. His identity stays under lock and key. His own paranoia and desire to stay pure drove him to live this way. He controls our depraved society and believes sinners make the human race unforgivable. His power is a crushing fist, rendering all beneath him helpless. So much so, even family members turn on each other when an accusation surfaces. Just an accusation. No trial, no evidence, nothing but an accusation. I lose myself in thoughts of my father. “Never show fear, Lexi,” my father said to me before he was taken. “They’ll use it against you.” His compassionate eyes filled with warning as he commanded me to be strong. That was many years ago, but I remember it clearly. My father. My rock. The one person in my life who provided unconditional love. “Get out,” the guard says while pulling me to my feet. The vehicle stops, and I’m jerked back to reality. The doors slide open and the two guards lift me up and out into the night. A windowless cement building looms in front of us, looking barren in the darkness. The coolness of the air sends a shiver up my spine. This is really happening. I’ve been labeled a sinner. My lip starts to quiver, but I bite it before anyone sees. They shove me in line, and I realize I’m not alone. Women and men stand with faces frozen white with fear. Some are hardened criminals; others, like me, are innocent. A guard grabs my finger, pricks it, and dabs my blood on a tiny microchip. I follow the man in front of me into the next room where we’re lined up facing the wall. Glancing right, I see one of the men crying. “I didn’t mean to hit the guard. I swear it!” he pleads. I turn my head when I see a guard whip out his baton. The thumping sounds of his beating unnerve me. “Spread your legs,” one of the guards says icily. They remove my outer layers and their hands roam up and down my body. What do they think I can possibly be hiding? I press my head into the wall, trying to block out what they’re doing to me. “MOVE!” a guard commands. So I shuffle across the room, trying to cover up. One.

Two.

Three.

Four.

Five of us sit in the holding room. A woman clings to a man sitting next to her. She grips his arm and I can see the whitening of her knuckles. Her eyes meet mine and then she quickly turns away. He’s bent over his hands, defeated. “I’m not the criminal they say I am,” he whispers. His voice breaks. One by one, they pull people into the next room, forcing the rest of us to wonder what torture we’ll endure. I hear screaming from somewhere inside. An agonizing amount of time passes. I lean my head back and try to imagine a place far away. The door opens. “Lexi Hamilton.” A guard escorts me out of the room, and I don’t have time to look back. The first thing I see is a large photo of a regal-looking man on the wall. His frame is wide and he has cobalt blue eyes and a shock of black hair. He’s handsome, middle-aged, and wears the uniform of the Commander. My jaw drops open. It can’t be… Then the door slams closed. I feel their strong arms pick me up and place me on a table. It’s cold and my skin sticks to it slightly, like wet fingers on an ice cube. They exit in procession, and I lie on the table with a doctor standing over me. His hands are busy as he speaks. “Don’t move. This will only take a few minutes. It’s time for you to be branded.” A wet cloth that smells like rubbing alcohol is used to clean my skin. Then he places a metal collar around my neck. Click. Click. Click. The collar locks into place, and I struggle to breathe. The doctor loosens it some as I focus on the painted black words above me.

The Seven Deadly Sins:

Lust — Blue Gluttony — Orange Greed — Yellow Sloth — Black Wrath — Red Envy — Green Pride — Purple

“Memorize it. Might keep you alive longer if you know who to stay away from.” He opens my mouth, placing a bit inside. “Bite this.” Within seconds, the collar heats from hot to scorching. The smell of flesh sizzling makes my head spin. I bite down so hard a tooth cracks. “GRRRRRRRRR,” escapes from deep within my chest. Just when I’m about to pass out, the temperature drops, and the doctor loosens the collar. He removes it and sits me up. Excruciating pain rips through me, and I’m on the verge of a mental and physical breakdown. Focus. Don’t pass out. Stainless steel counters and boring white walls press in on me. And that large, gilded photo stares at me like it’s watching. A guard laughs at me from an observation room above and yells, “Blue. It’s a great color for a pretty young thing like yourself.” His eyes dance with suggestion. The others meander around like it’s business as usual. I finally find my voice and turn to the doctor. “Are you going to give me clothes?” A burning pain spreads like fire up from my neck to my jaw, making me wince. He shrugs and points to a set of folded grey scrubs on a chair. I cover myself as much as I can and scurry sideways. Grabbing my clothes and pulling the shirt over my head, I try to avoid the raw meat around my throat. I quickly knot the cord of my pants around my waist and slide my feet into the hospital-issue slippers as the doctor observes. He hands me a bag labeled with my name. “Nothing is allowed through the door but what we’ve given you,” he says. I hide my right hand behind me, hoping no one notices. A guard scans my body and opens his fist. “Give it to me.” His eyes turn to slits. “Don’t make me rip off your finger.” He crouches down and I turn to stone. I don’t know what to do, so I beg. “My father gave this to me. Please, let me keep it.” I smash my eyes shut and think of the moment my father handed the golden ring to me. “It was my mother’s ring,” he’d said. “She’s the strongest woman I ever knew.” With tears in his eyes, he reached for my hand and said, “Lexi, you’re exactly like her. She’d want you to wear this. No matter how this world changes, you can survive.” I turned the gold band over in my palm and read the engraving.

You can overcome anything… short of death.

“You’re going to take the one thing that matters the most to me?” I say, glaring into the guard’s emotionless eyes. “Isn’t it enough taking my life, dignity, and respect?” A hard blow falls upon my back. As I fall, my hands shoot out to stop me from smashing into the wall in front of me. The guard bends down and grabs my chin with his meaty fist. “Look at me,” he commands. I look up and he smiles with arrogance. “What the hell?” He staggers a step backward. “What’s wrong with you? What’s wrong with your eyes?” “Nothing,” I respond, confused. “What color are they?” “Turquoise.” I glower at him. “Interesting,” he says, regaining his composure. “Now those’ll get you in trouble.” Reality slaps me across the face. I have my father’s eyes. They can’t take them from me. I twist the ring off my finger and drop it in his hand. “Take the damn ring,” I say. I walk to the door. He swipes a card and the massive door slides open to the outside. “You have to wear your hair back at all times, so everyone knows what you are.” He hands me a tie, so I pull my frizzy hair away from my face and secure it into a ponytail. My neck burns and itches as my hand traces the scabs that have already begun to form. Squinting ahead in the darkness, I almost run into a guard standing on the sidewalk. “Watch where you’re going,” he says, shoving me backward. His stiff figure stands tall and I cringe at the sharpness of his voice. “Cole, this is your new assignment, Lexi Hamilton. See to it she feels welcome in her new home.” The guard departs with a salute. “Let’s move,” Cole says. I take two steps and collapse, my knees giving out. The unforgiving pavement reopens the scrapes from earlier and I struggle to stand. A powerful arm snatches me up, and I see his face for the first time.

 

 

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author

Courtesy of authors' website

Courtesy of authors’ website

Abi and Missy met in the summer of 1999 at college orientation and have been best friends ever since. After college, they added jobs, husbands and kids to their lives, but they still found time for their friendship. Instead of hanging out on weekends, they went to dinner once a month and reviewed books. What started out as an enjoyable hobby has now become an incredible adventure.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumbler

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway

Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Oceanborn by Amalie Howard Release Blitz + Giveaway!

Check out the blog tour HERE
HAPPY RELEASE DAY OCEANBORN!

Author Amalie Howard has a message for you… 

 


ABOUT THE BOOK

 

The coronation is over.

But the battle has just begun.

Nerissa Marin has won her crown. But can she keep it? Already, her ties to the human realm are driving a wedge between Nerissa and her people. When word arrives that her part-human prince consort, Lo, has been poisoned, she makes the difficult choice to leave Waterfell and return landside. As the royal courts debate her decision, even more disturbing rumors surface: a plot is rising against her, led by someone she least expects.

On land, Nerissa learns another shocking truth: Lo does not remember who she is. As her choice to try to save him threatens her hold on her crown, changing loyalties and uncertainty test her courage in ways she could never have imagined. Nerissa will have one last chance to prove herself as a queen …and save the undersea kingdom she loves.

 

Add to GoodReads


Order your copy of book one, WATERFELL
AmazonB&NiBooksKobo
Get your copy of OCEANBORN TODAY!
AmazonB&NiBooksKobo

SEAMONSTER by Amalie Howard (Aquarathi #1.5)

Available on AMAZON for only $.99

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

AMALIE HOWARD grew up on a small Caribbean island where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or being a tomboy running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees and dreaming of adventure. 22 countries, surfing with sharks and several tattoos later, she has traded in bungee jumping in China for writing the adventures she imagines instead. She isn’t entirely convinced which takes more guts.

She is the author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, PW, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was an Amazon bestseller and a Seventeen Magazine Summer Read. As an author of color and a proud supporter of diversity in fiction, her articles on multicultural fiction have appeared in The Portland Book Review and on the popular Diversity in YA blog. She currently resides in New York with her husband and three children. Visit her at www.amaliehoward.com.

 

Website † Twitter † Facebook † GoodReads

Friday Cover Reveal: Fire in the Woods by Jennifer M. Eaton + Giveaway!

M9B-Friday-Reveal

Welcome to the Cover Reveal for

Fire in the Woods by Jennifer M. Eaton

presented by Month9Books!

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

FireInTheWoods.v6-Book1-Final

When a plane crashes in the woods near Jess’s home, the boy of her dreams falls out of the sky—literally. But David’s not here to find a girlfriend. He’s from another planet, and if Jess can’t help him get back to his ship, he’ll be stuck on Earth with nothing to look forward to but the pointy end of a dissection scalpel.

But her father runs their house like an army barracks, and with an alien on the loose, Major Dad isn’t too keen on the idea of Jess going anywhere. Ever. So how the heck is she supposed to help the sweetest, strangest, and cutest guy she’s ever met?

Hiding him in her room probably isn’t the best idea. Especially since her Dad is in charge of the squadron searching for David. That doesn’t mean she won’t do it. It just means she can’t get caught.

Helping David get home while protecting her heart—that’s gonna be the hard part. After all, she can’t really fall for a guy who’s not exactly from here.

As they race through the woods with Major Dad and most of the U.S. military one breath behind them, Jess and David grow closer than either of them anticipated. But all is not what it seems. David has a genocide-sized secret, and one betrayal later, they are both in handcuffs as alien warships are positioning themselves around the globe. Time is ticking down to Armageddon, and Jess must think fast if she’s to save the boy she cares about without sacrificing Earth—and everyone on it.

add to goodreads

Title: Fire in the Woods
Publication date: September 2014
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Jennifer M. Eaton

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author

Jennifer M. Eaton

Corporate Team Leader by day, and Ranting Writer by night. Jennifer M. Eaton calls the East Coast of the USA home, where she lives with her husband, three energetic boys, and a pepped up poodle.

Jennifer hosts an informational blog “A Reference of Writing Rants for Writers (or Learn from My Mistakes)” aimed at helping all writers be the best they can be.

Beyond writing and motivating others, she also enjoys teaching her dog to jump through hoops—literally.

Jennifer’s perfect day includes long hikes in the woods, bicycling, swimming, snorkeling, and snuggling up by the fire with a great book; but her greatest joy is using her over-active imagination constructively… creating new worlds for everyone to enjoy.

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

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway

Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!

(Winners will receive their book on release day)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

 

Button


The Last King by A. Yamina Collins Blog Tour + Giveaway!

tmp-NEW-210614-MosXeZHcSDfr2S91

 
 
 
Presented by:
Sparkle Blog Button

info

covergifTitle: The Last King by A. Yamina Collins

Series: The Last King: Book I

Vol #: 1-3

Author: A. Yamina Collins

Audience: Adult Fiction

Genre: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Romance, Suspense

Formats: E-Book

Publisher: DeeBooks Publishing, LLC

Pages: 230 pages per episode

ASIN: B00IC0M8HS

Date Published: February 8, 2014

blurb

The Last King, Book I by A. Yamina Collins is an 11-part serial novel. A modern-day fantasy romance about a young woman innocently caught in a war between two age-old nemesis: God, and immortal beings whose ancestors ate from the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden.

Twenty-eight year Emmy Hughes has never quite fit in—she’s six feet tall, dark-skinned, and daydreams of being Galadriel from Lord of the Rings. But when she is badly injured in a car accident that kills her mother, Emmy does not dream of fantastical worlds anymore—she just wants her shattered life to be normal again.

Unfortunately, normalcy is the last thing in store for her once she meets Lake George’s newest arrival, Dr. Gilead Knightly. Granted immortality from a line of people whose Great Ancestor marched into the Garden of Eden and ate from the Tree of Life, Gilead has been alive for centuries and has met everyone from Nubian kings to Napoleon.

But Gilead and his eccentric family are also hunted beings because God considers the Edenites’ possession of immortality to be theft. And for thousands of years He has dealt with their transgression by sending each of them a “Glitch” —an unsuspecting human meant to retrieve this stolen “property” of immortality and kill them off.

When Emmy discovers that she is Gilead’s Glitch, she is not only thrown into a world of immortals who eat bone marrow, panthers who read minds, and a family whose blood is made of pulsing gold, but she finds herself the target of Gilead’s vengeance: he must get rid of her before she gets rid of him.

Easier said than done. Because Glitches are not only an Edenite’s greatest threat—they’re also their greatest love.

links

amazon-black-icon

Book Review from Black Pearls Magazine Online
The Last King by A.Yamina Collins, a Science Fiction Romance, is a marvelously layered story filled with drama, suspense and memorable characters. The author, a masterful storyteller, brings to life a story about a line of people who cannot die because their ancestors marched into the Garden of Eden and ate from the tree of life. God, however, considers this act, and the subsequent immortality that came with it, to be theft. God wants their immortality returned and he deals with their transgression by playing a cosmic sort of chess game with the Edenites!
The Last King is part fantasy, romance, religion and history. What an interesting mix for an 11 part series. This was my first time reading a serial novel and I have to say this one was excellent! I can’t wait to read the other chapters to this phenomenal storyline. I highly recommend this serial novel to the readers.
—Reviewed by Ella Curry, publisher of Black Pearls Magazine Online
 
 

excerpt

EXCERPT FROM THE LAST KING, EPISODE # 2
CHAPTER 8 – Her

Kill her, a voice in his head tells him.

Yes, of course, he responds. That’s what I have to do. And how should he do it? Should he follow her home when the lecture is over, come up behind her in her driveway, or wherever she lives, and snap her neck like a twig? Whatever he does, he needs to be cruel. He needs to teach her and the One who sent her a lesson. Yes, that’s it. He will do to her what his brother Micau did to his own Glitch: something so physically twisted that it would make the ears of any human who hears about it and finds her remains, shutter.

Slowly he starts to straighten up and just in time. The door to the auditorium swings open suddenly, and out it walks. He cannot make out her whole face because her hands are covering her mouth and nose, but he can see her big eyes, and the alarm in her face. Two other people are following it – following her, and making a commotion behind her.

“Hold your head back,” one of them is saying, trying to still the bleeding woman’s franticness.

But blood has already seeped onto her white dress, and Gilead can hear her saying, “Not again, not again,” as she rushes past him. Not again. So it’s happened before. Gilead thinks. Of course it has It happened the other day, while Gilead was standing outside the restaurant, didn’t it? She was somewhere around the vicinity that night, near the boardwalk, wasn’t she?

In a moment, the woman, looking a bit disoriented no, disappears into the bathroom and Gilead closes his eyes and bites his lower lip.

Now he knows why he missed the fine print on the flier, and why he had a desire to come to this lecture in the first place.

It’s Him.

Gilead curses under his breath; curses Him with everything he’s got.

Her? He thinks, in disgust. Against the greatness of me? That simple-looking thing?

It’s insulting.

Opening his eyes, he takes the opportunity to move toward the exit as a few more new comers enter the building. It’s all Gilead can do to appear as normal as possible—he stands up straight and forces himself not to clutch his stomach.

Outside, he takes in several quick breaths of air, and doubles over again.

Why should he fear her?

“I will break her,” he mutters to himself. “If I have to rip off her whole face, I will break her.”

Something about him saying this brings him a feeling of relief. He is clear-eyed and focused for a moment, even self-assured, for he knows that once he makes up his mind about reaching a goal, it’s as good as done.

He will kill her tonight, somehow.

But before he can contemplate how to execute his plans, he cups a hand over his mouth, rushes toward a nearby bush, and vomits onto the leaves and branches.

( Continued… )

© 2014 All rights reserved. Book excerpt reprinted by permission of the author, A. Yamina Collins.

trailer

 

giveaway
1 x $25 Amazon Gift Card
author

clip_image004A. Yamina Collins is the author of the quirky short story collection The Blueberry Miller Files. She has written for publications such as New York Resident magazine, Our Town and the Manhattan Spirit. A graduate of New York University, she lives in Manhattan. The Last King is her first novel. Check out her blog at Yaminatoday.com.
media

Website / Blog / Facebook / Twitter / Goodreads / Amazon / Pinterest / Google + / Audio Reading

clip_image005clip_image006clip_image008clip_image009clip_image010clip_image011clip_image012

follow the tour

Tour Schedule – One Week Blog Tour for The Last King by A. Yamina Collins from July 6 to 12, 2014.
July 6
Rose Shadow Ink – Promo & Author Interview
For the Love of Books – Promo
Our New Generation for Reading – Promo
A Cauldron of Books – Promo
July 7
Book Hostage – Promo
Angels with Attitude Book Reviews – Promo
The Avid Reader – Promo
July 8
Book Talk Reviews – Promo
Tammy’s Tea Time – Promo & Review – Episode1 to 3
The Idle Musings of a Writer’s Mind – Promo
Night Owl Reviews – Promo
July 9
iHeart Books by MiLo18 – Promo
The Phantom Paragrapher – Promo
Bajgajka Loves Books And Giveaways – Promo
July 10
Crazy Beautiful Reviews – Promo
Patricia D. Eddy- Promo
Booky Ramblings of a Neurotic Mom – Promo
July 11
Sweet Treat Reading Reviews – Promo
Indy Book Fairy – Promo
Fiction Dreams – Promo
July 12
Girlygirlbookreviews – Review – Episode1 to 3
Bound 2 Escape – Promo
Eclipse Reviews – Promo
Portals to New Worlds – Promo

Perfected by Kate Jarvik Birch Release Day Book Blitz: Excerpt + Giveaway!

black-divider-no-background-hi
Perfected
Release Date: 07/01/14
Entangled TeenSummary from Goodreads:
Perfection comes at a price.
As soon as the government passed legislation allowing humans to be genetically engineered and sold as pets, the rich and powerful rushed to own beautiful girls like Ella. Trained from birth to be graceful, demure, and above all, perfect, these “family companions” enter their masters’ homes prepared to live a life of idle luxury.
Ella is happy with her new role as playmate for a congressman’s bubbly young daughter, but she doesn’t expect Penn, the congressman’s handsome and rebellious son. He’s the only person who sees beyond the perfect exterior to the girl within. Falling for him goes against every rule she knows…and the freedom she finds with him is intoxicating.
But when Ella is kidnapped and thrust into the dark underworld lurking beneath her pampered life, she’s faced with an unthinkable choice. Because the only thing more dangerous than staying with Penn’s family is leaving…and if she’s unsuccessful, she’ll face a fate far worse than death.
For fans of Keira Cass’s Selection series and Lauren DeStefano’s Chemical Garden series, Perfected is a chilling look at what it means to be human, and a stunning celebration of the power of love to set us free, wrapped in a glamorous—and dangerous—bow.

Praise for Perfected:
“Compelling, imaginative, and unique. I couldn’t turn the pages fast enough!”— Mary Lindsey, author of Shattered Souls

Available from:

Amazon * Barnes & Noble * Kobo Books

black-divider-no-background-hi

65c59-excerpt

“Remember… You’ll never be one of them,” Miss Gellner said, repositioning each of us on our divans in the sitting room so our gowns draped elegantly around our crossed ankles.

She stepped back and gazed at the group of us, her face pinched and stern like always, but I spotted a tiny glimmer of pride behind her rheumy eyes. Twenty girls: lovely, demure, quiet. She was pleased with us, even if she wouldn’t say it out loud.

Miss Gellner blinked, as if bringing herself back to the moment. “Things won’t change once you leave here,” she went on. “Simply because you’ll be pampered and spoiled, your life’s mission won’t suddenly be any different. Remember that. Your sole purpose is to enrich the lives of your new owners.”

As she said this, she lightly tapped her bamboo training stick against my back, not a hard whack the way she had done relentlessly when we first transferred from the Greenwich Kennel to the training center, where she and her staff could cultivate us into the sort of girls we were bred to be. This was just a warning tap, reminding me to sit so that my spine was a stem, and I was the flower resting atop it.

It was a pose we’d practiced daily for the past four years; during music and etiquette and dining, even during our nightly baths. But the fluttering in my stomach distracted me, drawing me down into myself. My whole body felt fluttery: my hands, my feet, even my eyes. I worried that the moment the two grand doors leading to the reception room swung open, I might flap away; a feather caught on the wind.

Next to me, Seven bit nervously at her bottom lip. It was weird to think that by tonight she’d have a new name, a real one. The breeders at Greenwich assigned us numbers as names at conception: One through Twenty, since twenty was the maximum number of girls they were allowed to have each year. I was Eight, but not for much longer. By tonight, I could be anything.

Across the room, Miss Gellner took a few steps towards the grand wooden doors, resting her hand lightly on the knob before she turned to face us one last time.

“I want you to keep your composure when they come in. I’ve spent four years preparing you for this moment.” She thumped her training stick on the ground for emphasis. “Four years. Don’t waste them. Each move that you make, every turn of your head and pout of your lip speaks to my effectiveness as a trainer and I won’t have that work tarnished. When I open these doors, I expect you to remember all the things I’ve taught you.”

The stiff lining of my dress rubbed against my rib cage and I ached to shift to a more comfortable position, but I held still, staring straight ahead at Miss Gellner with a soft smile placed carefully on my lips.

“Be sure to hold your tongues,” she went on. “You are not doing the selecting. Do not ask questions. Speak if spoken to, but keep your answers brief. We don’t want to scare away a potential buyer with a girl who has too forward a notion of who’s in charge.”

Beside me, the other girls were sitting silently. We were perfectly trained, all of us. And lovely, too. In our new dresses, we looked like royalty. Miss Gellner had picked out a different shade of gown for each of us, our first piece of clothing that was distinctly ours. She’d deliberated long and hard on the color choices. She wanted us each to look different. It wouldn’t do for the customers to think they were getting cloned girls even though there were plenty of differences between us to set us apart. Yes, we all had large eyes, spaced perfectly on our heart shaped faces. We all had small noses, long, thin necks, and rose petal lips. But we each had distinct coloring. Seven’s hair was nearly black. Sixteen’s eyes were green, the color of fresh summer grass, and Twenty’s skin was the same warm brown of the toasted bread that we were rewarded with on Sunday mornings. We were unique. One of a kind.

I was happy with the dress Miss Gellner had chosen for me. It was the palest shade of blue, hardly a color at all. These dresses would be the only item that would accompany us to our new homes. Our new owners would provide everything else.

“We’re lucky to have a number of congressmen and senators here today,” Miss Gellner went on. “Power, prestige, wealth, you’ll be surrounded by the best, which is why it is important that you be the best.” Miss Gellner sighed, nodding her head once. “All right girls. It’s time.”

She turned and threw open the doors. “Ladies… Gentlemen…” her voice boomed as she glided into the next room. “If you’ll kindly follow me, I’ll show you to the sitting room. You’ll have a chance to look over each of the girls before you make your decision. As I told each of you over the phone, the number on your tag will determine the order of selection.”

A moment later a stream of bodies and voices flowed into the room. I drew a breath and held it, trying to compose myself, but the fluttering inside me only grew worse. My vision blurred as the men and women pressed closer, talking loudly to one another.

“Oh my! They’re so little,” a woman cooed “They look like twelve-year-olds.”

“I can assure you, they’re sixteen,” Miss Gellner said. “They’re fully grown; all measuring in at exactly five feet.”

An older man grabbed a lock of my hair and rubbed it between his fingers. “Like corn silk,” he said to the woman next to him. “Did you say you were hoping for a blond or a red head? This one almost seems like a mix of the two.”

“And it does have beautiful eyes. Look, they’re practically turquoise,” she crooned. “But, I was hoping for a real red head. There’s an auburn one over there we should look at.”

I didn’t dare turn my head to watch them walk across the room to look at Ten.

A middle-aged couple finished looking at Seven and circled around me. I blinked a few times, finally bringing my eyes back into focus as the man’s dark eyes skated over me. He was obviously quite a bit older than me, but his jaw was much stronger than the other men I’d seen so far and his eyes were bright. A sprinkling of gray hairs dusted the dark hair at his temples. The woman beside him had probably been a beauty when she was younger, but now she was a different sort of beautiful: regal and refined. She was tall, even taller than Miss Gellner, with high cheekbones, a strong jaw, and long arched brows perched overtop piercing blue eyes. Even though she had lines around her eyes and mouth, her hair was almost as dark as Seven’s, without a hint of gray. Everything about her intimidated me.

“Now this has some promise,” the man said, looking into my eyes. “Do you like this one?”

“Oh, John, do we really need to do this?” The woman sighed, her eyes drifting around the room.

“Do what, Darling?”

“You can cut it with the ‘Darling’, too. It’s not like anyone’s listening. They’re busy choosing their own pets,” she said, gesturing towards the rest of the people in the room with an elegant sweep of her arm. “And you can stop pretending I have any say in your precious little project. You know I couldn’t care less about getting her.”

Her husband stepped forward, so close their bodies almost touched. “You know how it looks for us not to have one, don’t you? After all the time I spent getting this bill to pass. People are saying things. You don’t want them to think—”

She took a step away from him, eyeing an old man who had turned his attention to their conversation. “Whatever you say, Dear,” she interrupted. “I’m merely along for the ride.”

“You can’t argue that Ruby needs this,” the man said. “We agreed.”

Her face softened. “I know.”

He took a deep breath, and when he turned back to me, it was as if he’d flipped a switch, changing his face back to the same well-groomed look of prominence and stature I’d seen on it to begin with.

“Stand up and give us a little whirl, Love,” he said to me.

I hadn’t anticipated the weakness in my legs, but I stood and turned slowly, the way I learned in my Poise lessons. I kept my chin up, neck elongated, my arms held out ever so slightly from my sides as if my hands were brushing the skirt of a tutu.

The man smiled once I faced him again. “And what are your talents? The Kennel Trainer said that you each specialized in two.”

“My talents are piano, dance, and singing. Although my vocal range is not as diverse as some.”

His forehead creased, his eyes narrowing, and my stomach flipped. If Miss Gellner had been standing next to me, she would have lashed me with her stick. We’d practiced our lines over and over and still I said it wrong. There hadn’t been any need for me to point out my faults so blatantly. I should have only mentioned the piano and dance and not said anything about the singing. I was trying too hard to impress.

“Three talents?” he asked. “Marvelous. I suppose We’d be getting a little bit more bang for the buck if we go with you then, isn’t that right?”

The man’s phrasing confused me and I lowered my eyes to the ground and smiled softly the way we’d been taught to do if we ever didn’t know how to answer a question.

“So which is your favorite?”

“Favorite?” I asked.

“Which one do you like the most?”

“I’m quite good at all three as long as the song I’m singing is written for a mezzo soprano.”

“But certainly you have a favorite?”

My mind raced, trying to think over all the scenarios we’d spoken about like this one in our Conversation class, but I drew a blank. Those classes were meant to help us understand our new owner better, not to help them understand us. I couldn’t come right out and tell him that I had a favorite. Miss Gellner would be outraged. Maybe I could try to change the subject? But then he might realize I was doing it to avoid his question, and he would know that I really did have a favorite.

It was too complicated an interaction.

The woman smiled slyly. “Maybe she doesn’t understand your question John. Sure, she’s pretty, but they weren’t bred for brains.”

“I thought you said you wanted to stay out of this.”

She raised her hands and took a step back without saying another word.

The man tried again. “What I mean to say is: which one of your talents do you prefer? Is there one that makes you particularly happy?”

I swallowed, hoping to push down the rock that had lodged itself in my throat. “Well sir, if there’s one that you prefer, I’m sure I’d be delighted to perform for you.”

The man sighed and shook his head. “Never mind. Why don’t you sit back down?”

I smiled once more and sank back onto the divan, trying to hold my head high even though my eyes burned.

For the next hour, the groups of men and women circled around the room. They were all so much bigger than I’d imagined they’d be, not only in their physical stature, but their presence, as if the room couldn’t contain them. They gobbled up the air.

Finally Miss Gellner moved us into the concert room. We’d each been assigned one talent to demonstrate to give the clients a better taste of what they’d be buying. Four and Five would each be performing an adagio en pointe, a few girls were playing the flute and the cello, but the majority of us would be playing the piano or singing.

Maybe it should have bothered me that I wouldn’t stand out, but all I could think about as we sat down in the velvet seats arranged along the edges of the room was Debussy’s First Arabesque in E major, the song Miss Gellner had chosen for me to play. It wasn’t an elaborate song. I could play solos that were so much more difficult like the piece by Prokofiev that I learned last year, but I was glad she hadn’t chosen that one. Sure, I wouldn’t be able to show off my finger work playing the First Arabesque, but that didn’t matter. I could already feel the notes of the song moving up through my fingers and arms, a soft vibration that settled somewhere at the base of my neck like the warm hand of a friend.

We moved in order: One, Two, Three, Four, on and on until finally it was my turn. As I climbed the stairs to the small stage at the front of the room and sat on the tufted cushion of the piano bench, it was as if a white curtain had been drawn down between the crowd and me. I took a deep breath, savoring the moment before I placed my hands on the keys and started to play.

My fingers floated over the ivories for only a short four minutes, but my heart and mind quieted. I didn’t know if the other girls felt this way when they were playing, as if they were all alone and the rest of the world melted away leaving the air awash in soft color. I’d always been too embarrassed to ask. What if it meant that I had something wrong with me?

Those four minutes didn’t last long enough and before I knew it my fingers had stopped, hovering over the keys as the last notes died away. A polite spattering of applause brought me back to the room full of strangers. As I stood, I glanced out into the audience, allowing myself to imagine which of these people might be my future owner. Toward the back of the room I spotted the man with the salt and pepper hair and his wife. Neither of them was clapping, but for just a second he held my gaze and nodded ever so slightly.

That small gesture made my face burn with shame. He knew that I lied to him before when he’d asked me which one of my talents was my favorite. Of course it was piano, but I could never say it out loud. I was supposed to bring pleasure to my new masters, not to find pleasure for myself.

A cold sweat broke out across my back and I shivered, sitting back down on my chair to watch the remainder of the performances. If he could read me so easily, maybe everyone else could, too.

black-divider-no-background-hi

About the Author

Kate Jarvik Birch is a visual artist, author, playwright, daydreamer, and professional procrastinator. As a child, she wanted to grow up to be either a unicorn or mermaid. Luckily, being a writer turned out to be just as magical. Her essays and short stories have been published in literary journals including Indiana Review and Saint Ann’s Review. She lives in Salt Lake City, Utah with her husband and three kids. To learn more visit www.katejarvikbirch.com
 
Author Links:
 photo iconwebsite-32x32_zps1f477f69.png  photo icongoodreads32_zps60f83491.png  photo icontwitter-32x32_zpsae13e2b2.png  photo iconfacebook-32x32_zps64a79d4a.png
black-divider-no-background-hi

c6c62-giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Blitz Organized by: