ARC Review & Giveaway: Fragile Chaos by Amber R. Duell

FRAGILE CHAOSFragile Chaos_eBook Cover_Amber R Duell_1Amazon/B&N/iBooks/Indiebound/Goodreads

Release Date: July 11, 2017 

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A GOD OF WAR SEEKING RESTORATION.

AN UNWILLING SACRIFICIAL BRIDE.

BETRAYAL THAT COULD DESTROY THEM BOTH.

“Every fiber of my being is woven from the rage of mortals.”

Theodric, the young God of War, has a talent for inciting conflict and bloodshed. After being stripped of his powers by his older brother, King of Gods, he sets out to instigate a mortal war to prove himself worthy of being restored to power.

“I loved Kisk once; it was my home… But that was before. This is now.”

Sixteen-year-old Cassia, like many in the modern era, believes gods and goddesses to be just a myth. Enemy to her country and an orphan of the war, she has no time for fairy tales. That’s until religious zealots from Theo’s sect offer her up as a sacrifice.

Can Cassia and Theo end the mortal war and return balance to the earth and heavens? Or, will their game of fate lead down a path of destruction, betrayal, and romance neither of them saw coming?

Join the FRAGILE CHAOS Release Day Party on Facebook! Chat with Amber & win prizes!

review4/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review and with participation in this tour 

I didn’t realize how much I’ve been missing YA takes on mythology until I picked up this book and could not put it down. Filled with folklore, violence, epic battles, and tons of drama, Fragile Chaos is a gripping thrill ride. 

The mythology. This is a different take on traditional god and goddesses, but still fueled by rivalries, lies, intrigue, and all the competition that comes between siblings. I loved that so much depended on tributes to the gods, sacrifices, and political games. The atmosphere is fantastic. It’s gritty and dark and zealous. The danger is there full force. You’ll feel every bit of uncertainty and adrenaline. It’s awesome. 

At first, it’s a little hard to get into the story. It’s a whirlwind. The story immediately starts without any intro into what is going on. You’re thrown into the middle of the battle. But once you get into it and figure out all the complicated rivalries and the high stakes, it’s kind of addictive. 

The characters are, for the most part, complex, multidimensional, and you want to know more about them. No one is exactly who they appear to be. They have regrets. Gods make mistakes and they’re imperfect despite the immortality and powers. The weight of choice and how hard it is to decide the fate of the world has never been more on point. 

THE ROMANCE. Swoon central. The chemistry is there. It builds to this unquenchable fire. I mean, totally undeniable no matter how how they fight it. And the dueling POVs only adds to the fierce longing and chaotic emotions of the main characters. 

authorAmber (1)

Amber R. Duell was born and raised in a small town in Central New York. While it will always be home, she’s spent the last six years living in Germany, Maine, and Mississippi as a military wife where the next step is always an adventure.

When Amber isn’t writing, she’s wrangling her two young sons. She is a lover of history, a fan of snowboarding, and a travel enthusiast. In her downtime, she can be found curling up with a good book and a cat or two.

Website | Twitter  | Instagram | Facebook | Tumblr | Pinterest 

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1 winner will receive a $5 Amazon Gift Card

1 winner will receive an eBook of FRAGILE CHAOS in their preferred format.

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Tour Schedule

Week One:

7/3/2017- YA and Wine- Interview

7/4/2017- Twinning for Books- Review

7/5/2017- Literary Meanderings – Guest Post

7/6/2017- YA Book Madness- Review

7/7/2017- YABC – Interview

Week Two:

7/10/2017- Quite The Novel Idea- Review

7/11/2017- Margie’s Must Reads- Guest Post

7/12/2017- Wishful Endings- Review

7/13/2017- Two Chicks on Books- Interview

7/14/2017- Rachel’s Book Reviews- Review

Epic reading, 

Jordan

Release Blitz: The Official Gryphon Series Coloring Book by Stacey Rourke


Cover Designer: Broken Arrow Designs
Illustrators: Crystal Ord and Robert Immings
Hosted by: Lady Amber’s PR
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Journey into the fantastical world of The Gryphon Series, written by Stacey Rourke, with original artwork that brings to life pivotal moments from the beloved Young Adult series!
author

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RONE Award Winner for Best YA Paranormal Work of 2012 for Embrace, a Gryphon Series Novel
Young Adult and Teen Reader voted Author of the Year 2012
Turning Pages Magazine Winner for Best YA book of 2013 & Best Teen Book of 2013 
 
Stacey Rourke is the author of the award winning YA Gryphon Series, the chillingly suspenseful Legends Saga, and the romantic comedy Adapted for Film. She lives in Michigan with her husband, two beautiful daughters, and two giant dogs. She loves to travel, has an unhealthy shoe addiction, and considers herself blessed to make a career out of talking to the imaginary people that live in her head. 

BOOKS IN THE SERIES

#Free with #KindleUnlimited
Adventurous reading, 
Jordan

 

ARC Review: Poison’s Kiss by Breeana Shields

poisonsGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

Release Date: Jan 10, 2017

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A teenage assassin kills with a single kiss until she is ordered to kill the one boy she loves. This commercial YA fantasy is romantic and addictive like– a poison kiss– and will thrill fans of Sarah J. Maas and Victoria Aveyard.

Marinda has kissed dozens of boys. They all die afterward. It s a miserable life, but being a visha kanya a poison maiden is what she was created to do. Marinda serves the Raja by dispatching his enemies with only her lips as a weapon.

Until now, the men she was ordered to kiss have been strangers, enemies of the kingdom. Then she receives orders to kiss Deven, a boy she knows too well to be convinced he needs to die. She begins to question who she s really working for. And that is a thread that, once pulled, will unravel more than she can afford to lose.

This rich, surprising, and accessible debut is based in Indian folklore and delivers a story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

review

4/5 Stars 

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Random House Books for Young Readers

Poison’s Kiss is a sweeping and thrilling journey into rich Indian folklore. Full of mystery, intrigue, a reluctant assassin, and gods, Poison’s Kiss is an adventure that will leave you hungry for more. 

PROS: 

  • Poison’s Kiss is a blend of Northern and Southern Indian legends, with a twist. In this world, based on India, the gods of folklore are spoken of in whispers, they’re on coins, they’re known by the masses, but more of as a hazy bedtime story. As someone who knows very little of Indian lore besides the main stories related to religion, this was epic. It’s whimsical and dark. There’s a sinister and revered undercurrent that runs throughout the story that keeps you on edge for the unexpected. I loved that the culture was just present. It wasn’t knock-you-over-the-head, explanations all over the place. From the food, to the clothing, to the bustling markets and snake charmers. You become immersed fast and it will consume you. 
  • Visha kanya. Poison maidens. This takes the idea to a whole new level. The poison becomes a vicious and deadly part of the maiden’s body. A kiss that kills. The process, how the poison takes hold, the connection to snakes, everything is elaborate and terrifying and absolutely addictive. 
  • Marinda grew on me. At first, I wasn’t sold on her. She takes forever to figure things out, she is defiant, she puts herself in danger, she doesn’t think and rushes in. There’s nothing that drives me nuts worse than someone who doesn’t take a second to think. But Marinda is incredibly brave, compassionate, and will do anything for her brother, who is not even hers by blood, but he’s the only thing that helps her keep her humanity after so much death and destruction. The guilt consumes her. The toll of killing, knowing what the poison does, it breaks her despite the knowledge that she is doing something for the greater good. Marinda doesn’t want to be what she is, but she has no choice. The danger is so high and she knows the consequences of trying to escape her keeper. Marinda has a beautiful heart. She genuinely loves and gives that love to her brother, no matter how down she is. Scenes from her childhood and how she became a visha kanya are brutal and heartbreaking. 
  • Not all villains are wholly evil. The characters are complex. Their beliefs are deeply rooted and not everyone is what they seem. Gopal is a true villain. He’s sadistic, horrible, and the carnage he leaves behind, it’s the stuff of nightmares. Kadru, she’s super creepy, otherworldly, and vicious. Those snakes, chills. 
  • Devin’s charm is in how much he cares. It doesn’t matter that he’s hot, it’s his heart. The way he treats Mani is enough to make any girl fall for him. 

CONS:

  • I wish there would have been a more in-depth look at the various gods and how they featured in the culture at their height. The main character knows pretty much nothing about them because she was so sheltered, so that’s a big blank for the reader as well. A little more world building would have solidified each of these figures, their strengths, their weaknesses, and how they relate to the world as it is now. 
  • The romance was so-so. On one hand, I liked that it wasn’t so centered on the falling. On the other hand, I would have liked more build up. Near the end it feels rushed and clumsy. I mean the surge of emotion. Sure after everything they’ve been through emotions are off the charts, but it bordered on instalove because of how it’s slammed into the story at the end. There were some cute interactions before everything fell apart though.

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Epic reading, 

Jordan

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Dark Goddess by Amalie Howard

GoodReads | Amazon | B&N

EXPECTED RELEASE: JULY 4, 2017

by Sky Pony Press

synAfter an epic struggle that unseated the Asura Lord of Death and placed Serjana Caelum’s best friend, Kyle, on his throne, the Mortal Realm is peaceful and the balance between good and evil—which Sera is sworn to protect—has been restored.

But signs of a new threat to the world of men quickly begin to appear: A scourge of demons descends on the Mortal Realm, and Sera is beside herself trying to locate their source. She sends word to the gods for help, and their answer comes in the form of Kira, the living incarnation of Kali, goddess of destruction.

Stunning and dangerous, Kira plans to protect the heavens at all cost, even if it means destroying the entire Mortal Realm. Soon Sera and Kyle find themselves fighting not just the demon plague, but Kira and her twin. But when an even more sinister threat arises—putting not just the human world but all planes of existence in jeopardy—they must all learn to work together or lose everything they sacrificed so much to save.

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Without a backward glance, she closed her eyes and jumped into the midst of the blue-black pool, the sticky fluid sucking her body down to its depths like some kind of ravenous beast. As it devoured her, Sera’s mind emptied of all thought…and of all memory as she plummeted into the space where love would be nothing but weakness. She’d learned that the hard way. She stripped away all emotion, all empathy.

It was time to become the monster. 

BOOK ONE IN THE SERIES: ALPHA GODDESS
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author

 Website | Twitter | Facebook | Instagram

AMALIE HOWARD grew up in Trinidad & Tobago where she spent most of her childhood with her nose buried in a book or running around barefoot, shimmying up mango trees, and dreaming of adventure. 25 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.

An aspiring writer from a young age, Amalie’s poem “The Candle,” written at age twelve, was published by the University of Warwick press. At fifteen, she was  a recipient of a Royal Commonwealth Society Essay Award (a global youth writing competition). A Colby College graduate, she completed dual Honors Theses in both French and International Studies, and graduated Summa Cum Laude and Phi Beta Kappa. At Colby, she was cited for her research contribution to Raffael Scheck’s article, “German Conservatism and Female Political Activism in the Early Weimar Republic,” and his subsequent book, Mothers of the Nation. She also received a distinction in English Literature from the University of Cambridge (A-levels) as well as a postgraduate certificate in French Literature from the Ecole Normale Supérieure in Paris, France. Traveling the globe, she has worked as a research assistant, account executive, and global channel sales director for a Fortune 500 company.

She is the award-winning author of several young adult novels critically acclaimed by Kirkus, Publishers Weekly, SLJ, VOYA, and Booklist, including Waterfell, The Almost Girl, and Alpha Goddess, a Spring 2014 Kid’s INDIE NEXT title. Her debut novel, Bloodspell, was a #1 Amazon bestseller, and the sequel, Bloodcraft, was a national silver IPPY medalist and a silver Moonbeam award winner. She is also the co-author of the adult historical romance series, THE LORDS OF ESSEX. 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 Colorado with her husband and three children.

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Mythic reading, 

Jordan

Cover Reveal, Guest Post, and Giveaway: Choosing Eternity by K.T. Webb

Choosing Eternity promo-01.png

The Evolved (Book 1)

Thatcher Kline has a fiery personality. His life sucks and he isn’t interested in talking to anyone, let alone helping them. Despite his thoughts on the matter, fate has another plan; Thatcher has a secret but when he meets a handful of others with similar secrets he’s catapulted into a dangerous and ancient battle.

The Evolved are the final descendants of the Old Immortals. Their super powers not only make them freaks but also make them the only people who can save the world. Together with their remaining ancestors they must discover who they are, the prophecies that guide their lives, and face a terrifying enemy.

Growing Hope (Book 2)

Tahlia is a mystery, she has no memory of her life before she joined the Old Immortals, but they begin to remember a life before her.

The legend is that she was locked away in the golden sphere with the evils of the world. When Pandora released the Maladies on an unsuspecting world, she also released Tahlia, the spirit of hope personified, and altered the course of humanity forever.

Despite their still-healing wounds, the Evolved have embraced their mission. They’ve spent the last five years cleaning up after their battle with Absalom, but now they are discovering that new enemies are stepping out of the shadows. In order for the Maladies to drown humanity in their darkness they must first snuff out the light.

Choosing Eternity (Book 3)

Nora never asked to lead an army. She never asked to risk everything to ensure the survival of the world. But, when a bloody battle is inevitable and everyone looks to her for guidance, she realizes her decision is easy.  

As they face the return of the strongest evil ever to exist, the Evolved must expose long-held secrets and forge alliances to strengthen their cause. They quickly discover this is an enemy they are not meant to fight and have to overcome the obstacles he puts in their way to keep them from bringing back the only person who can.

The final prophecies are coming to pass, death is all around them, and they face uncertainty at every turn. 

guest

Once upon a time, there was a little girl who preferred to spend her time reading a book rather than socializing with other kids. That little girl dreamed of becoming a writer. She had so many fun ideas but never decided on a story that felt like it really needed to be told, until one morning when she was twenty-two.

A crazy dream led to multiple crazier conversations with her mother. The dream eventually began to take shape into a story…..and I’m bored now.

So, that’s me in a nutshell. I was never a social person. I actually got in trouble in high school for skipping lunch to read in the library. The first book in my series, The Evolved, was inspired by a dream I had about a guy who could control mechanical devices with his mind. Oddly enough, you won’t meet any characters in these books with that particular ability.

The characters who have been talking to me for the last eight years are a quirky bunch. Many of them share personality traits with me or people I know. One of my favorite things about these characters is that they tell me how the story is supposed to go. I know, that sounds completely nuts, but it’s the truth. I can sit down and write an outline, but when I start writing, anything goes.

My books incorporate many mythological, historical and religious stories. I had a blast weaving those things together and creating an all new take on familiar figures and legends. Many of the supporting characters are representations of the gods and goddesses of every religious or mythological tradition. I have always been fascinated by the similarities found in the stories told in very different parts of the world. There has to be a common thread that ties them all together. That’s where my story began.

The Evolved sets the stage for the rest of the series by giving just enough background information to make readers wonder what’s going on. The characters discover who they are and what they’ve been tasked with. Growing Hope dives deeper into where they came from and what they’re fighting for. Choosing Eternity pulls it all together and brings them to the ending they’ve been working towards.

I made the decision to re-brand and relaunch the first two books in the series because I didn’t feel like the covers were attracting the young readers that the books were written for. I took a look at the covers that make me want to read a book and realized how very different my covers were from the ones that attracted me. I hired a fantastic cover designer and we made covers that I think really fit the feeling I was looking for!

I can’t wait to share this wild ride with new readers!

authKT Webb

KT Webb is a big city girl living in small town South Dakota. Although she was born in Michigan, most of her younger years were spent between the suburbs of Chicago. Moving to South Dakota was a big change, and she never would have guessed she’d fall in love and decide to stay. She has been married to her wonderful husband since 2006 and they have two beautiful children ages 7 and 4.

KT has been writing for as long as she can remember and always dreamed of becoming a published author. She loves to create stories that make readers look at things differently and question reality; which is probably why she tends to write paranormal or fantasy novels.

She is a firm believer in the power of redemption, second chances, and that magic surrounds us every day if we know where to look. KT is a goofy and fun-loving person and is often described as snarky, bold and brash.

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In order to enter to win the giveaway, sign up for K.T.’s newsletter. Anyone who signs up between August 2nd and August 6th will be eligible to win. The winner will be chosen randomly.

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Magical reading, 

Jordan

Review: The Hollow Sun by D.L. Wainright

the hollow sunGoodreads/Amazon/B&N

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Lucy Kincade’s biggest concerns in life are her widowed mother, her college apps, and her grades…until she stumbles upon an insidious secret not meant for mortal eyes. When nightmares stalk the waking world and a cannibalistic serial killer is carving a path across America, Lucy and her friends decide to stand against the darkness. But with all the secrets, it’s not easy to know whom to trust.

review

3.5/5 Stars

***I received this book as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the author

PROS:

  • These are not your typical paranormal creatures despite the vampires. There’s an elaborate system of subspecies and distinct regional divisions. On top of that, there are mythical creatures I’ve never heard of before. Spanning the globe with references to cultural creatures rich in myth and diversity, the folklore is wicked cool. 
  • The creepy factor is alarmingly high in some scenes and almost like you’re looking in from the outside in others. Lucy’s dreams of the shadows are terrifying in the best way. You’ll feel that spine-tingling R.L. Stein vibe. Cue the scene with her brother about the shadows-OMG horrifying. 
  • Diversity galore. I love that these characters are unique and yet charmingly familiar. They’re the characters that don’t normally have voices. I LOVED that the author featured what could have been a clichéd, beautiful, popular girl as nerdy, LARPing, and nowhere near catty. We need more of that. We need more of all of these characters. Badass female characters reign in this story. They’re not afraid to get dirty and murderous when necessary. ❤
  • I adore Ren. He’s flirty, sexy, mysterious, occasionally brooding, and knows just how to get under Lucy’s skin. 

CONS:

  • You’re kind of punched in the face with all of the politics, the creatures, the ways they’re monitored, the sheer variety. It feels like a lot at one time, almost overwhelming. Lucy and co. jumped right on into the fold of policing wily paranormal creatures with hardly any hesitation and Lucy accepted their existence so quickly it was shocking and felt off. It’s like she shrugged it off. That and her mad axing skills. It felt borderline psychotic at points in the story. It made me skeptical of Lucy. 
  • Some twists weren’t exactly clear. Especially in terms of the serial killer. It took me a little to fully grasp what it meant. I think if it were a but more blatant, it would have helped the shock factor hit harder. The serial killer aspect got lost in the other complexities of the story. There is SO MUCH going on. The story pulls you in 10 directions at once. 
  • Lucy’s obsession with Kyle. I don’t get it. It makes zero sense and makes her seem foolish that she can’t see what a tool he is and how self-absorbed. For someone who really sees people and generally reads the situation and subtle clues really well, she’s oblivious to this. As a love interest, it put me off. The same with Venny. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Keep reading, 

Jordan

Cover Reveal: Hypnos by Eva Pohler

Release Date: August 9th, 2016

synHypnos and Jen aren’t married long when they realize something’s missing: they both want to have a child, especially when they see how happy Therese and Than are with their twins. But the creation of new gods is against the rules, and they aren’t willing to give up their immortality. So Hypnos goes to Mount Olympus to offer Zeus a deal. He’ll make it his mission to find out the source of the recent attacks on Gaia–horrible earthquakes that have already released one monster from the Titan Pit–if Zeus will agree to let him and Jen have one immortal child.
 
Because the attacks are getting humans killed and none of the other gods have been able to discover a lead, Zeus, in his desperation, agrees. But this new quest just might get Hypnos swallowed and trapped for all eternity.
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Eva Pohler recently retired from a twenty-year position teaching writing and literature at a university in San Antonio, where she lives with her husband and three kids. Now a full-time writer, she’s the author of The Mystery Book Collection and three series for young adults: The Gatekeeper’s Saga, The Purgatorium Series, and The Vampires of Athens. Her books have been described as “thrilling” and “addictive.” A Kirkus reviewer said of The Gatekeeper’s Sons that it was “sure to thrill Hunger Games fans.”
A reader herself, Eva writes in multiple genres, but all of her stories blur the line between reality and fantasy, truth and delusion, and draw from Eva’s personal philosophy that a reader must be lured and abducted into complete captivity in order to enjoy the reading experience.
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Magical reading, 
Jordan

Guest Post & Giveaway: Trial by Charm by Jolene Buchheit

syn       Seventeen-year-old Julia Wright doesn’t understand her friends’ obsession with boys. She proudly maintains her composure no matter who is in her presence – though some annoying and rude boys still manage to grate her last nerve. Then she is blackmailed into being the manager of the men’s
swim team, and finds herself face to face with the worst of them all.
       Team Captain Vander Thelxinoe is the typical self-assured jock. He has the ability to change people’s minds at will, only his charms don’t work on Julia. Now he’s anxious to figure out why, and the closer he tries to get, the more desperate she is to stay away-especially when he somehow awakens a side of her she never knew existed.
       Their unexpected friendship puts Julia in the middle of a quest she doesn’t quite understand. As her familiar world begins to unravel around her, Julia must partner with the one person who knows how to push her buttons-and, in doing so, discovers the unbelievable truth about who she really is.
       Can Julia and Vander survive the trial set before them, or will they face the extreme consequences of failure?
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       As a substitute teacher, Jolene spends her days in high school classrooms harvesting material for her Young Adult novels. She also uses it as an outlet for fangirling by showing upcoming book-to-movie trailers at the end of class, or discussing vital issues like whether Katniss should have picked Gale or Peeta.
       She is committed to helping Special Education teenagers become independent adults and helping them find a way to focus on the positive especially when life gets hard. At home, Jolene loves to cuddle with her husband, two kids, and three cats-sometimes all at once-while reading Young Adult books or repeatedly watching movies based on them.

Excerpt
       I study his profile. His chiseled jaw and dark, floppy hair are like something out of a magazine advertisement. His eyes, too—they aren’t dark to match his hair, like mine—they are parts of green and blue, much like the painting of the sea in the other room.
       “Who painted that piece above the couch in there?”
        He shrugs, not answering me in any concrete way. Then he shifts his weight from one foot to the other and his awkwardness makes it clear to me.
       “You did it, didn’t you? You’re a painter.”
        He shrugs again. I hop down from my stool to go take another look at the painting. The artist must have signed it, and I will get my answer that way.
        I go down the hall, past the bathroom, the stairs, and the front door until I’m standing in the parlor, looking at Vander, who is blocking the painting from my view. He must have gone through the dining room next to the kitchen to end up in here before me. He’s staring at me and chewing on his lip while flexing and balling his hands. He’s more nervous than I have ever seen him—not before a swim meet, not in class when he didn’t know an answer, not when he told me how he felt in the bathroom a little bit ago. This is where his heart lies, in this painting of this island.
        I try to look around him, and he leans over.
        “Don’t.” He is stern, but gentle. He clears his throat. “Please don’t touch it. You will want to, but don’t.”
        He’s right. I do want to touch it; I want to climb inside of it. I’m seeing it, and somehow it’s seeing me, and it’s making me feel pulled apart. I want to dive into the waters, to swim to that far-off land, and I also want to turn the boat around and sail as far and as quickly as I can in the opposite direction. Meanwhile, the light from the sun is dimming, laughing at me for thinking I can have any control here.
I want in!
        Vander grabs both of my arms, which are currently outstretched toward the painting. My knees are on the seat of the couch, and I don’t even remember moving forward. His voice startles me. “You can’t.”
        I blink hard and turn to look him fully in the face. “I can’t what?”
        “You can’t go there, and you can’t go away from there. It’s just a painting.” Was I talking out loud, or can he read my mind? How does he know what I was thinking? I let him lead me through the dining room, back into the kitchen, where the timer is going off. I shake my head to let loose the feelings that painting stirred in me.
        “It’s more than that, and you know it. How?” I don’t even have to finish the sentence. He knows exactly what I’m asking.
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Enter for your chance to win a signed paperback of Trial By Charm, bookmark, and an evil eye necklace
Magical reading, 
Jordan

ARC Review: The Killing Jar-Jennifer Bosworth

killing jarGoodreads/Amazon/B&N/iBooks

syn“I try not to think about it, what I did to that boy.”

Seventeen-year-old Kenna Marsden has a secret.

She’s haunted by a violent tragedy she can’t explain. Kenna’s past has kept people—even her own mother—at a distance for years. Just when she finds a friend who loves her and life begins to improve, she’s plunged into a new nightmare. Her mom and twin sister are attacked, and the dark powers Kenna has struggled to suppress awaken with a vengeance.

On the heels of the assault, Kenna is exiled to a nearby commune, known as Eclipse, to live with a relative she never knew she had. There, she discovers an extraordinary new way of life as she learns who she really is, and the wonders she’s capable of. For the first time, she starts to feel like she belongs somewhere. That her terrible secret makes her beautiful and strong, not dangerous. But the longer she stays at Eclipse, the more she senses there is something malignant lurking underneath it all. And she begins to suspect that her new family has sinister plans for her…

review3.5/5 Stars

***I received that eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group

Content warning: disturbing images, animal abuse, and violence.

The Killing Jar is an unexpected, creepy and fantastically bizarre thrill ride. From the first page, it’s a hypnotic and addictive story that will have you gunning for more.

PROS:

  • That opening is one of the most twisted, sickening, disturbing things I’ve ever read and it only got better as it went. Be forewarned, some of these images might be too much for some. 
  • Mythology meets cult mentality meets paranormal. It’s insanity how well everything fits together. Wonderful plotting. Twists around every corner and a sinister sense of doom underneath all the pretty rainbows and soul-sucking highs. The truth, when it surfaces, is CRAZY. 
  • Kenna is a relatable protagonist. She’s always felt like she never belonged, she’s dissatisfied, unhappy, and melancholy and yet, she is precisely herself. She dyed her hair gray, wears muted colors, and writes folk songs. She loves her twin more than anything and will do everything within her power to save her from suffering. 
  • Eclipse is an episode of the X-Files meets The Twilight Zone. It’s looks like a utopia but reeks of evil beneath the surface. The tense, expectation that something is really wrong will fester and the intensity will have you gripping the pages, waiting for the inevitable disaster. You’ll never look at moths the same again.
  • Diversity GALORE.

CONS:

  • The scenes of anima-induced euphoria read like a trippy drug haze. The first time it was okay but then it became a pattern that had me skimming and flipping through to get to the next section. 
  • Emotions other than desire were muted and it was hard to feel any sort of connection. Kenna’s kinship with anyone was tentative and loose at best, there needed to be more-more shared experiences, confessions, something to solidify the emotional legitimacy.
  • The romance felt like filler. Random, thrown in without much function. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

marablood saltsuspicion51xvQS37eCL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_

 

 

 

 

 

NOTE: I’m using this to check off my book featuring twins on the 2016 YA Reading Challenge

 

Read on,

Jordan

Release Blitz & Giveaway: Mayan Blood-Theresa Delayne

Their empires have fallen, but their mythology lives on…
Zanya Coreandero is a seventeen-year-old orphan with only a single friend and no hope for a normal life. Diagnosed with anxiety and night terrors, no one believes her cuts and bruises are a result of an evil entity, and not a brutal case of self-harm.
 
With the only home she’s ever known being the isolated institution—where breakfast is a handful of medications, the psychiatry sessions are mandatory, and her every move is watched—the only relief is her red-haired roommate named Tara, who’s more like a little sister than her best friend.
 
Free will is strong, but destiny is stronger.

When Zanya is kidnapped, she meets a group of gifted Mayan descendants, each with a unique ability. Gone from a nameless castaway to the only hope of mankind, Zanya is forced to make a grueling decision: bond with an enchanted stone and save humanity from rising underworld forces, or watch helplessly as Earth falls victim to a familiar dark deity from her dreams. This time, he’s playing for keeps.

A wicked secret hides behind a handsome face…
 
 
When Arwan, a dark-eyed timebender, takes interest in Zanya’s mission, it’s unclear if his intention is to help, or if he’s on a hell-bent mission for revenge. Wary of falling for another guy with major secrets and a tainted past, Zanya fights to keep her distance. If only her heart gave her a choice.
Excerpt 

Chapter OneZanya

“Let’s get the formalities over with before we begin.” Dean Nelson shifted through paperwork scattered across the table. “Patient identification number A692. Age, seventeen. Mother, unknown. Father, unknown. No living relatives.” He rubbed his bearded chin. “Hmm, that’s unfortunate. Name, Zzz…” He flipped back through the case file.

Zanya watched everything from her special spot—center stage in the nearly vacant evaluation room, in a single wooden chair—as he butchered her name, yet again. She should have been used to it, considering every dean who had come and gone did exactly the same thing. “Zan-yuh,” she said, “with a short a.”

“Ah.” He nodded. “Right. Well, now that we’ve been introduced, let’s continue. Nice to meet you, Zanya. I’m Dean Nelson.” He smiled, though the deepening creases in his forehead made it seem painful. “How are you feeling today?”

She glanced at him between layers of chestnut brown hair draped along her high-set cheekbones. Squinting, she and blinked under the burning lights, then turned her gaze to the floor. “I’m okay.”

“Just okay?”

She shrugged. Why the hell was he acting like he cared, anyway? He was just one in a long line of interim administrators. The stress of working with a school full of insane teenagers every day ran most of them off pretty quick. This one had that eager zeal—all too happy to pick her brain—and he probably wouldn’t last long either.

Dean Nelson set down the papers. “I know I’m new here, but in order to conduct your evaluation, you need to answer my questions.”

The two board members flanking him shifted in their seats. Zanya’s breath sped up. Damn it. If she didn’t want to be sedated again, she’d have to keep the panic attack at bay.

She shut her eyes and played a classical melody in her mind. Ludwig van Beethoven’s violin concert in D major, Op. 61—Larghetto. That piece always slowed her heart rate. She imagined the sounds pouring out of her violin as she caressed imaginary strings.

Dean Nelson cleared his throat, jarring her out of the moment. Annoyance tugged at her, but at least she could breathe again.

She lifted her chin. “I said I’m fine.”

“How are you managing the panic attacks? Have you had any recently?”

“Yeah. I had one last night…and the night before.”

“They’re becoming more frequent?”

If he had bothered to actually read her case file instead of just skimming through it, he’d already know the answer. “Not really. Pretty much the same.”

“And how are you sleeping?”

“Like usual.”

“It says in your case file you suffer from night terrors. Are you still experiencing them?”

Zanya shrugged.

Dean Nelson frowned. “Okay. Let’s talk a little about The Man. Is he still hurting you?”

The mention of him made the hairs on Zanya’s arms twitch. She pulled her sleeve over the blue and yellow bruise that encompassed her wrist. This team of board-certified, renowned medical professionals didn’t know the first thing about what could be found in her dreams.

They claimed she suffered from severe anxiety and night terrors. They had no idea. The knots in her stomach tightened. She balled her fists, but stayed quiet.

After all, what could she say? If she told them the man in her dreams hurt her almost every night, they would continue to believe she was delusional. If she lied and told them she hurt herself, it would only confirm their misdiagnosis. She’d just tell the truth and prove both theories correct.

“He’s always in my dreams.” Bits and pieces of her nightmares reeled in her head. “He’s always waiting for me.”

“But you do understand that a dream cannot hurt you? Dreams are simply images, feelings, and sensations that collect and pool involuntarily in your mind during sleep. They can seem very real, but once you wake up, they’re gone. A simple figment of your imagination.”

Zanya fidgeted nervously with the sleeve of her uniform, twisting a seam that had come undone.

“And dreams certainly don’t leave bruises or any of the other alarming wounds Nurse Faber has found on you over the years.” He flashed photos taken during Zanya’s countless visits to the hospital.

“I guess.” She tucked a lock of hair behind her ear, forgetting about the fresh gash on the back of her hand—evidence of last night’s brawl with a demon of some sort.

Nurse Faber leaned forward in her seat and peered at the swollen wound. “Where did you get that cut? I haven’t seen that, and it needs to be treated—maybe with stitches.”

Dean Nelson scribbled a note on her evaluation paper. “Perhaps we should continue this patient’s assessment once we get an updated report of her physical condition.”

The nurse stood and waved Zanya to her feet. “Come on, honey. Let’s get that taken care of.”

* * *

The stone sat high on the altar’s peak, as it always did, glowing like a beacon in the darkness. Its whispers echoed in Zanya’s mind, guiding her blind footsteps. It drew her in with some invisible tether—a connection she couldn’t explain.

She never understood why she searched for it.

Longed for it.

Needed it.

With each careful step, her bare feet padded up the cool, smooth steps. Then another source of light flickered on, casting a soft glow around her.

The light churned out from her chest, pulsing with hues of blue and white—colors of recognition. The stone and the illumination in her chest seemed to be connected; only flickering to life when they were close.

At the temple’s base, she steadily ascended the narrow steps until she reached the peak. Zanya cupped the stone in both hands and lifted it from its perch. Orbs of light twinkled over its smooth surface.

Searing pain tore through her belly. She gasped and jolted forward, then wrapped shaky fingers around a blade protruding from her gut. Scarlet liquid slowly seeped through her shirt. The stone dropped from her hand and thudded to the altar, rolling down one step at a time until it reached the bottom. The blade was yanked out of her, though she couldn’t see by whom. No matter. It was always the same person who watched her die.

Zanya stumbled down the steps while gripping her belly. When she reached the bottom of the temple, she fell to her knees and curled into a fetal position, the pain more than she could bear. The edges of her vision became fuzzy. Darkness closed in while she stared helplessly at the stone lying just feet away.

Warmth cradled her body. Death was warm. She’d always heard passing would be peaceful, like slipping into a pool of serenity. With her cheek rested against the cold ground, hot liquid saturated the dry, cracked dirt.

A slithering creature slinked toward her, its eyes as black as onyx. Thousands of legs stuck into the hard soil, pushing its armored body forward.

It was not a creature Zanya would soon forget, as the last time she encountered it, it had killed her—again.

The Man had to be lingering somewhere nearby. His bitter scent whirled through the air. His footsteps grew louder as he approached.

Not again. She lay like a suffocating fish, gulping in her final breaths.

Zanya jerked awake and shot up in bed, gasping for air. She clawed at her chest where a thin mark etched her skin. It burned, as if someone had pressed a cattle brand to the delicate curve between her breasts. She moaned, willing away the pain. It never took longer than a half hour, but it hurt, and this time, it nearly made her cry.

Zanya glanced at a clock mounted on the far wall. It read three thirty. She wouldn’t be able to sleep for the rest of the night. She lay back down in bed and rolled onto her side, searching for a hint that Tara was awake. Only a few feet separated their beds. Tara was the only person in the world who understood her.

Tara shifted under the covers, and Zanya caught a glimpse of her face—her angelic, freckled cheeks, rosy and flawless, under dark auburn lashes. Tara yanked the thin blanket over her shoulders and under her chin.

Zanya whispered, “Are you awake?” After a moment of silence, she sighed and exercised her only option—to stare at the ceiling and wait for the morning community alarm.

At six o’clock sharp, the bell sounded. Tara blinked open her eyes. With a sleepy stare, her lips tightened and she let out a deep sigh. “Another nightmare?”

“What else is new? That’s the third one this week.” Zanya rolled on her side to face her. “At least it wasn’t accompanied by a midnight panic attack this time.” Zanya touched the now faded mark on her chest. “They’re getting worse.”

“Any real-life damage?”

Zanya shook her head. “Not this time.”

The day unwound as usual. Secular studies followed by a mid-day group therapy session, journal entry writing, and their afternoon dose of medications.

Zanya found her last class of the day and ascended to the fourth row in the music room. Miss Lippard must have been sick. A sub had written his name on the stand-alone chalkboard in the front of the class: Dr. Fitzgerald.

Zanya slouched in her chair, pinching her violin case between her feet.

Great, another doctor. He’d be watching the students during class, assessing, and trying to pick out which students needed more psych work. “Patient B843 has the beginning symptoms of early onset Diogenes Syndrome, and patient A119 seems to be suffering from clinical depression, brought on by early childhood trauma, abuse, or neglect.” Blah, blah, blah. Ugh, she hated doctors.

Tara skipped in, holding her clarinet; an instrument she wasn’t particularly good at. All students were required to take up an instrument. Apparently, music helped to express emotion and heal physiological damage.

Tara sat beside her. “Hey.” She tucked a curl behind her ear. “New teacher?”

“Just a sub. Miss Lippard is out sick. I needed to ask her a question about our sheet music.” Zanya leaned forward and propped her elbows on her knees. “I guess I’ll have to wait.”

“Yeah. The sub probably doesn’t know a thing about music, anyway.”

“Well, just try not to be,” she waved her hand in the air, “yourself. I don’t want him picking your brain.”

Tara grinned. “Afraid he’ll discover what a genius I am?”

“More like what a—”

“Don’t you dare finish that sentence.” Tara puckered her lips, then smiled.

When the bell rang, Dr. Fitzgerald made his way to the center of the room. A tailed sports coat hugged his tall, lean frame. His skin—like toasted caramel—complemented his dark brown eyes. He was handsome for a middle-aged man, and she tried to imagine what he might have looked like twenty years ago.

He locked his hands behind his back and cleared his throat. Zanya sat up straight as the room fell silent.

“Good morning.” He had a charming Spanish accent. “As I’m sure you have already noticed, your teacher is out for the day. Everyone please get your books and arrange into groups.” He pointed to several areas of the large music room as he spoke. “Strings in the upper right corner, percussion in the lower left, and winds in the center. I understand from Miss Lippard’s instructions the advanced strings students are working on a piece, Canon Pachelbel in D Major. Those students, please break off to the lower right corner. Everyone else, practice your sheet music.”

Violin in hand, Zanya descended the stairs, the soles of her shoes catching on the Berber carpet along the way. Canon. She rolled her eyes. If the other advanced students practiced more often, they’d be on to something more challenging by now.

She reached the right corner of the room and took her place at first chair. With the rest of her group ready, she tucked the chinrest in place.

Her fingers relaxed, and she held the bow with balance rather than tension. Her pinkie pinched against the frog, loosely cradling it in her hand, her index finger draped over the top.

Just holding the sleek wooden tool made her breath rhythmic. It was a rare feeling—peace. But with her violin cradled against her and the familiar strings calling out, all her fears melted away.

She drew in a cleansing breath and began to play. The notes pulsed through her body, feeding life to parts of her soul that lay dormant, hiding from the realities of life.

She became lost in the melody while each note stirred her heart and awoke her senses. The darkness, the pain, it all stepped back, overpowered by the light and energy of the notes. Music was always there to fill the space in her heart that she had locked away.

With one final pass over the strings, the vibrato left her with a feeling of drunken satisfaction. Her muscles relaxed as she exhaled and opened her eyes, then lowered her bow to her lap.

Dr. Fitzgerald watched her intently. His gaze did not waver as she sat motionless, returning his stare. He peered into her. Through her.

The bell rang, and she slinked out of the room, avoiding eye contact with the sub.

* * *

Weekends weren’t much fun at the institution. To kill time, Zanya sometimes listened to Tara’s stories about what normal kids did on Friday nights. Parties, bonfires, sleepovers. Teenage girls painting each other’s toenails, their polished feet later dressed in fuzzy slippers, and blushed cheeks that accompanied stories about a boy and a kiss.

None of that happened here. And although religion was only taught for educational purposes in their institution, Zanya often felt like she was stuck in purgatory. Long, terrifying nights. Tedious, drawn-out days that always ended in the same way with lights-out in her assigned bed.

Someday it would be different. Someday, things would change.

“Lights out in fifteen minutes,” the dorm mother announced, shuffling through the sleeping quarters. Her shoes squeaked against the tile with every step. “Let’s go, ladies.” She clapped to gain everyone’s attention. “Get changed and into bed.”

Zanya snatched her pajamas and slipped into the bathroom. When she came out, all but the backlights were switched off. The soft glow cast over the room painted tall shadows of headboards on the walls.

After settling in bed, she braced herself on the edge and leaned over to inspect the dark space beneath her mattress.

“There’s nothing under there,” Tara whispered.

Zanya glanced up. “I know.”

“No, you don’t, or you wouldn’t be checking.”

Zanya’s attention returned to the dark space. If Tara only knew what could be hiding in the darkness, though it was best she didn’t. Zanya was glad her friend wasn’t taunted by the same horrifying images she was every night. It gave her someone to talk to—someone who wasn’t equally paranoid, and who made her feel normal.

A shudder crawled up her arms and down her spine. “There’s no harm in checking.”

“There’s plenty of harm, Zanya.” Tara played with the corner of her pillow. “The board will never place you with a foster family if you don’t show them you’re getting better.”

“Who said I want a foster family? Besides, I have you. You’re all the family I need.” Zanya slipped under the over-starched sheets.

The lights shut off and the room fell silent. Zanya closed her eyes, wishing, praying, that just for one night she would sleep peacefully.

The fire alarm sounded. Bright red-and-white emergency lights cast color over the room. The screaming sirens sent every student shooting out of bed. Staff members flooded the sleeping quarters. They rounded up the children and shouted instructions to form a line and exit the building.

Zanya jumped up and followed Tara to the back door and down a ramp, which lead them outside into the bitterly cold night. She hugged herself as breath flowed from her lips in clouds of white.

Emergency vehicles sped down the gravel driveway. They skidded to a halt, and a team of firemen loaded with gear poured out of the trucks.

While Zanya watched the men in uniform, a strange sensation tugged at the back of her mind. Her eyes narrowed. Shivers quaked her muscles. She blinked and huddled against Tara as a stretcher was unfolded from an ambulance.

“Oh, crap!” Tara’s eyes grew wide. “Do you think someone got hurt? I hope it’s not another suicide attempt. I swear to God…”

As Tara rambled on, Zanya couldn’t shake the feeling someone was watching her. She glanced over her shoulder at the tree line of the forest—aspen and beech trees sprinkled between a thick blanket of fallen leaves. But there was nothing. No one.

She turned back around, the freezing temperatures biting at her toes. She hadn’t thought to put on her slippers, and the soles of her feet were paying a heavy price. She balanced on one foot, then the other.

“I mean, if every kid here who hated their lives tried to kill themselves, we’d have nobody left,” Tara continued to rant. “Just two more years and I’m so outta here.”

A whisper, from what seemed like far away, caressed Zanya’s ears. She glanced over her shoulder at the tops of frail trees swaying under the moonlight. Leaves danced across the soggy ground, blown by gusts of chilled wind. She rubbed her arms.

Maybe it was just the breeze. Through the branches, it could sound like a whisper. Just as she prepared to chalk it up to fatigue and chaos, she spotted a tiny shadow lurking between the trees.

Zanya gripped her arms tighter. She blinked once, twice… Her eyes watered from the cold. When she blinked again, the shadow was gone. She spun back around, determined to ignore any more noises.

The image of the tiny shadow pulsed in her mind. Another whisper. Zanya’s heart raced. The urge to look again grew stronger, and when she finally collected the nerve, she turned around one last time.

The figure stood motionless just beyond the first row of trees.

Not just a figure—a girl in a thin, white nightgown with her hands hanging at her sides.

Zanya tugged on Tara’s sleeve. “Turn around.”

Tara’s attention was solely focused on the broad-chested firemen. Zanya tugged harder. “Turn around and look at this.”

Tara finally obeyed and followed Zanya’s attention toward the trees. She gasped. “What the hell is she doing out there?”

Zanya shook her head. Without saying another word, Tara stalked toward the woods.

“Wha… Where are you going?” Zanya’s voice cracked, her gaze flickering between Tara and the child.

“To get her.” When Zanya didn’t reply, Tara stopped and spun to face her. “Well? Are you coming?”

“Am I coming?” The eerie night suddenly consumed her. “I can’t. You know I hate the dark. And there could be…” She frantically searched her mind for some epic excuse to keep Tara from trekking forward. “Wolves.”

Wolves? That was the best she could come up with?

Tara snorted. “It’s fine, Zanya. I’ll go alone. It’ll only take a sec.”

Zanya shifted her weight as Tara walked toward the shadowed figure standing unnervingly motionless in the woods.

“I…I…” Zanya forced her feet to uproot from the ground and rushed to catch up. “I’ll come with you.”

Tara grinned. “You have to admit, being eaten by a hungry pack of wolves is still better than being stuck in this loony bin by yourself.”

Zanya’s eyes widened. She’d made the wolf thing up, but what if…

Tara rested her hand on her hip and cocked her head. “Oh, come on. I’m just kidding.”

“Definitely not funny.”

“Sorry.” She grabbed Zanya’s hand. “Now come on. The longer we wait, the more likely it is she’ll catch frostbite. Poor thing is out here in nothing but that dress.”

Zanya walked over the damp leaves, pushing muddy water through the moss, between the cracks of her toes.

Now just yards away, Tara reached out to the young girl. “Hey. Come here. We’ll take you back.”

A gust of wind blew, carrying the child’s blonde waves off her shoulders. Her bright green eyes seemed to glow in the silky moonlight.

Tara dropped her arms and sighed. “I guess she likes freezing her ass off in the middle of the night.” When Tara stepped closer, the child darted into the woods. Tara scoffed. “I never want to have kids.”

Zanya blinked at the maze of shuddering trees. “Let’s get out of here.” She stepped back. “Now.”

“We have to get that girl. If she stays out here overnight, she’ll freeze to death.”

Zanya couldn’t feel the cold anymore. Whether that was good or bad, she wasn’t sure.

The little girl carved a deeper path into the forest.

Tara shook her head. “Something’s not right. It’s like she’s running away from us.”

“Maybe she’s one of the more critical psych patients.”

“I don’t know, maybe.” Tara cupped her fingers over her nose and mouth to keep them warm while she searched their surroundings. “You’re right. We shouldn’t have come out here alone. Let’s go back.”

A tiny girl, no older than eight or nine years old, stepped into sight. Her nightgown was damp and smeared with mud.

Tara’s eyebrows crooked downward. “There you are. Now we can get out of here.” Tara held out her hand to the child, who only stared at her reaching fingers.

The child stepped to the side and slid her small hand into Zanya’s. The little girl’s bare feet was covered in pine needles.

“Come on,” Zanya said. “I’ll carry you back. You must be freezing out here with no shoes.” She would know, being in the exact same situation. She lifted the small-framed child to her hip, and the girl wound her legs around Zanya’s body. “What’s your name, sweetie?”

She didn’t reply.

“She’s probably too freaked out to talk,” Tara said. “Let’s just get back.”

Zanya did her best to shield the child from the wind as she followed Tara back toward the orphanage. She hummed the tune to Romance softly in the little girl’s ear. The melody had always calmed her. Maybe it would do the same for the kid.

The girl’s cheek pressed against hers. “Thank you for rescuing me,” she whispered in a tiny, angelic voice.

Her humming must have worked. “You’re welcome, sweetie.”

The girl’s blonde hair bobbed up and down with a subtle nod. “Everything will be fine, Zanya. Do not be afraid.”

Zanya smiled softly. “I’m not scared. Are you?”

“No.” The little girl hugged her tighter. The stars twinkled above them blurred into streaks. Her head spun and her knees buckled. She collapsed onto the damp forest floor.

Trapped in a thick mental fog, she fought to break through. Her eyes fluttered open and closed. Snapshots of what was happening around her filtered through the cerebral haze.

The girl stood over her, staring down with a sweet face and bright eyes. A tiny smile curled the corners of her delicate lips.

Another voice. It was stronger. Deeper. Who… God, she was so tired. She would give anything to be able to just relax her mind and drift off.

A mixture of voices and a shout from Tara sprouted a renewed resolve, and Zanya pushed against the desire to sleep with all her might. When she managed to force open her eyes, a dark-haired man leaned over her. Tara crept toward him with a small log clenched in her hand.

Heavy lids drew over her eyes.

A loud thud followed by scrambling movements forced Zanya’s eyes open one last time.

The man struggled to hold a flailing Tara under his arm like a bag of potatoes while rubbing the back of his head. Was he talking to himself? The child seemed to be paying attention, but didn’t reply. Still, while Tara kicked and punched, he continued to hold what seemed like a one-sided conversation.

A second later he dropped Tara to the ground with a shout, and lifted his shirt to find a crescent bite wound over his ribs.

The young girl loomed over Tara; then, silence.

teaser
auth
A long-time enthusiast of things that go bump in the night, Theresa began her writing career as a journalism intern—possibly the least creative writing field out there. After her first semester at a local newspaper, she washed her hands of press releases and feature articles to delve into the whimsical world of fiction.
Since then, Theresa has been married, had three terrific kids, moved to central Ohio, and has been repeatedly guilt-tripped into adopting a menagerie of animals that are now members of the family. But don’t be fooled by her domesticated appearance. Her greatest love is travel. Having traveled to over a dozen countries—not to mention an extended seven-year stay in Kodiak, Alaska—she is anything but settled down. Wherever life brings her, Theresa will continue to weave tales of adventure and love with the hope her stories will bring joy and inspiration to her readers.
giveawayEnter for your chance to win a $10 Amazon Gift Card or silver Mayan inspired necklace pendant (US ONLY)
Keep reading, 
Jordan