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?
 auth
       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.
unnamed
giveaway
Enter for your chance to win a signed paperback of Trial By Charm, bookmark, and an evil eye necklace
Magical reading, 
Jordan
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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
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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

Cover Reveals: Inspire & Inflict-Cora Carmack

We are absolutely thrilled to bring you the dual cover reveal for Cora Carmack’s Muse Series! INSPIRE and INFLICT are New Adult Paranormal Romance novels and are book 1 and 2 in the Muse Series. INFLICT is due to be released in January 2016! These beautiful covers were designed by Regina Wamba of Mae I Design. Be sure to grab your copy of INSPIRE today!

Inspire - coverAmazon/Goodreads

synKalliope lives with one purpose.

To inspire.

As an immortal muse, she doesn’t have any other choice. It’s part of how she was made. Musicians, artists, actors—they use her to advance their art, and she uses them to survive. She moves from one artist to the next, never staying long enough to get attached. But all she wants is a different life— a normal one. She’s spent thousands of years living lie after lie, and now she’s ready for something real.

Sweet, sexy, and steady, Wilder Bell feels more real than anything else in her long existence. And most importantly… he’s not an artist. He doesn’t want her for her ability. But she can’t turn off the way she influences people, not even to save a man she might love. Because in small doses, she can help make something beautiful, but her ability has just as much capacity to destroy as it does to create. The longer she stays, the more obsessed Wilder will become. It’s happened before, and it never turns out well for the mortal.

Her presence may inspire genius.

But it breeds madness, too.

And check out the gorgeous cover for INFLICT, coming January 2016!Inflict -coverGoodreadssynWilder Bell made a dangerous bargain…

For a chance at love, he gave up his life.

History knew Kalliope as an ancient Greek muse, but to Wilder, she was simply the woman he wanted to fall asleep with every night and wake up next to every morning. He made a deal with Hades, but the only thing the Lord of the Underworld deals in is death. Now Wilder is wasting away in a cold and wretched afterlife, waiting for Kalli to come for him. She will come. He has to believe that. Because the alternative is worse than death.

Kalliope lived her entire existence knowing that she was both a blessing and a curse to anyone she encountered. Wilder was no different. She loved him, and she got him killed. Now to get him back, she’ll have to face a scheming god, a perilous task, and death itself. But before it’s done, the Underworld will take more from her than she ever thought possible.

To be made whole, all must first be lost.

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Cora Carmack - author pic

Cora Carmack is a twenty-something writer who likes to write about twenty-something characters. She’s done a multitude of things in her life– boring jobs (like working retail), fun jobs (like working in a theatre), stressful jobs (like teaching), and dream jobs (like writing). Raised in a small Texas town, she now lives in New York City and spends her time writing, traveling, and marathoning various television shows on Netflix. In her books, you can expect to find humor, heart, and a whole lot of awkward. Because let’s face it . . . awkward people need love, too. Her first book, LOSING IT, was a New York Times and USA Today bestseller.

Website/Twitter/Facebook/Newsletter/Author Goodreads

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Keep reading,

Jordan

Release Day Blitz & ARC Review Preview: Omega-Lizzy Ford

Omega_fb“Omega,” a young adult dystopia with Greek gods by Lizzy Ford, is now available! Grab it today! All proceeds from release day sales are being donated to charity!OmegaAmazon/Amazon UK/Barnes and NobleiBooks/Kobo/Smashwords/Goodreads

synIn a modern world ruled by territorial Greek gods, the human race has been oppressed, exploited and now, nearly destroyed by the constant infighting of gods.

However, a human girl with the power of a goddess is coming of age. Alessandra is the Oracle of Delphi – the last prophesized – and bears the mark of the double omega. Soon after she turns eighteen, Alessandra is told her destiny: to step between the warring gods and the human race and save her world from certain ruin.

For the gods, her appearance marks the beginning of the end – their end. They and the Triumvirate – leaders of the human elite – who serve them will stop at nothing to preserve their power.

Alessandra emerges from the forest where she spent her life hidden from gods and men and immediately plummets into a race against time, gods, and herself to discover who and what she is in a world where everyone she meets has a hidden agenda, and those pulling the strings remain in the shadows.

Before she can determine exactly what kind of savior her world needs, she must first master her power by completing three trials devised by the Triumvirate to enslave her.

One lone girl stands between warring gods and the people she’s destined to protect, but it’s the battle to understand who she is that she must win first.

review4/5 Stars

***I was fortunate enough to receive an ARC of Omega in exchange for an honest review via the author

Omega is an enchanting spin on mythology meets dystopia. Magical, captivating, and all sorts of awesome, Omega is an unforgettable and intoxicating read. Get ready to fall in love with the sweet ambrosia that is Alessandra’s story. 

For the full review, check back on November 4 for a special look at teasers, fav quotes, and an indepth pros and cons list 🙂 

Magical reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: The Dead House-Dawn Kurtagich

tumblr_ni6zlkEcvt1rkciaro1_1280Goodreads/Amazon/B&N

synOver two decades have passed since the fire at Elmbridge High, an inferno that took the lives of three teenagers. Not much was known about the events leading up to the tragedy – only that one student, Carly Johnson, vanished without a trace…

…until a diary is found hidden in the ruins.

But the diary, badly scorched, does not belong to Carly Johnson. It belongs to Kaitlyn Johnson, a girl who shouldn’t exist Who was Kaitlyn? Why did she come out only at night? What is her connection to Carly?

The case has been reopened. Police records are being reexamined: psychiatric reports, video footage, text messages, e-mails. And the diary.

The diary that paints a much more sinister version of events than was ever made publicly known.

review4/5 Stars

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

The Dead House is weird, bizarre, and disturbing in the best way. Full of police reports, diary entries, and interviews, The Dead House is a chilling, mixed media mystery that will leave you guessing until the bitter end. 

READ THIS BOOK IF:

  • You like crime fiction and horror.
  • You’re obsessed with films like Paranormal Activity, Insidious, and Sinister.
  • You can handle seriously disturbing images.

PROS:

  • There’s a twisted, Scottish form of voodoo mixed with paganism that is totally invented but so detailed it seems real. Creepy beyond measure, filled with ritual and magic, you’ll question whether demons truly exist or insanity is the true culprit. Some sections left me starring, shocked and nauseated, absolutely terrified of the events that occurred. Ouija boards (no matter what variation on them) are ALWAYS a poor choice. 
  • The style is unique. Kaitlyn’s diary entries read like poetry. The beautifully emotional and occasionally detached way she describes her situation is addictive and mesmerizing. Look at this: “We were superior creatures, up there in the darkness while everyone else slept, so when he put his hand on mine, I felt our purposes-our existences-united in that moment. That contact.”
  • Kaitlyn’s desolation and fear is heady. You can feel every bit of her panic and desperation. She wants to fit, tooth and nail for her sister, for herself but the darkness is overwhelming and all consuming. There’s a cloud of evil that hovers over the story, you feel it like a chill, like it’s alive and watching from a shadowed corner. 
  • The Dead House is TERRIFYING. The oozing blood, the decaying bodies, that horrific girl in the dress, holy hellfire and brimstone, get ready for nightmares. 
  • Some scenes are sharp, unexpected explosions of chaos. You won’t see it coming and not everyone makes it out unscathed. 
  • The relationship between Kaitlyn and Carly is not only unhealthy but catastrophic. You have to guess Carly’s feelings, inferring from post it notes and word of mouth. You won’t know whose side she’s on. 
  • Kaitlyn and Ari. They just fit. They’re perfect together. They’re quirky and weird but he gets her and the way she sees them is…SWOON.

CONS:

  • Carly is boring and it’s hard to feel a connection even close to the one shared with Kaitlyn. Her importance is significant, she functions and plays a huge role in the story and yet, her involvement and any semblance of a personality is barely mentioned or trumped by Kaitlyn.
  • Some secondary relationships were kind of typical, the scorned boy, the unhinged mystery guy, the jealousy. 

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

We'll Never Be Apart_hres51xvQS37eCL._SY344_BO1,204,203,200_blood saltAsylum

 

 

 

 

Creepy reading,

Jordan

Blog Tour, Review & Giveaway: Brazen-Christina Farley

BRAZEN cover

Today we’re celebrating the release of BRAZEN by Christina Farley! BRAZEN is the third and final book in the Gilded series about a sixteen-year old girl who must use her martial art skills and wits to save her family, friends, and country from an evil Korean god.

To learn more about this series, visit the Gilded Series website. Watch GILDED’s book trailer here!

Be sure to pick up the letter for this stop at the end of this post to earn extra points in the Kindle Fire or $50 Amazon gift card giveaway! Collect all the letters during the blog tour to spell out the secret message to earn more points.

review
*** I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the author 🙂 
From the beginning of this series, I fell in love with the rich Korean culture and myths that leapt off the pages and made reading magical again. The balance of light and dark, the lies, the danger, and suspense all culminate in an explosive and unexpected finale. 
PROS:
  • Jae has come so far from the sort of timid girl we were  introduced to. The fate of the world rests in her hands, her love for her heritage, her culture, and the legacy of her family propel her through dark and harrowing times. Jae is faced with horrific decisions, she’s incredibly real, she makes mistakes, and at her heart is a fierce young woman with her heart on the line asking to be loved. 
  • A dizzying combination of suspense, matrial arts, legend and Korean gods, the beautiful, structured portrait of South Korea interwines with the etheral, whimiscal worlds of the “good” gods and the sadistic, twisted one of Kud. 
  • Some parts are edge-of-you-seat thrill rides mixed with BA fight scenes and epic magical battles. Others are moments of heartache and loss. As Jae collides with her past, her sacrifices become more raw, more painful. She starts to wonder if what she gave up was worth it? Jae is resourceful and courageous, she butts heads with the gods and refuses to back down, and while she can’t be sure of her choices, she questions and I love tha about her, she won’t go down without a fight.
  • The tension between Jae and Kud is suprising and a little horrifying. Humanity is at odds with knowledge. Their antagonistic, playful, and yes, sometimes violent interactions were a twist that had me questioning what would happen next.
  • Marc and the other warriors are full of awesome traditions and the keepers of history. As if that’s not cool enough, their marital arts skills are on point. Marc is at war with himself. His history with Jae, the wounds that are still fresh, and feelings that never melted away make him choose a side in an impossible situation. Moments between Jae and Marc are complex BUT SWOONY. 
 CONS:
  • Parts were action after action in style and it felt a bit robotic. Especially the first few chapters but as the story progressed, things flowed much better. 
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CHRISTINA FARLEY is the author of the Gilded series, a YA contemporary fantasy series set in Korea. GILDED was nominated for Korea’s 2014 Morning Calm, Ohio’s 2015 Buckeye award, and the Tome’s It List. As a child, she loved to explore, which later inspired her to jump on a plane and travel the world. Christina’s adventures sparked her to write stories, infusing the real world with fantasy. Currently she writes from home in Clermont, FL with her husband and two sons—that is until the travel itch whisks her off to a new unknown.


To celebrate the release of BRAZEN, Christina is giving away a Kindle Fire (US only) and a $50 Amazon gift card (international). The letter for this stop is _E__Collect all the letters from the blog tour to earn more points!

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

INK_cover_Amanda Sunan-ember-in-the-ashes-by-sabaa-tahir81JbgVO-5sL20911450

Jordan