Madly Blog Tour: Excerpt

Friday, 31 August 2012.

Madly (Madly, #1) Madly & Wolfhardt by M. Leighton

Madly series books 1 and 2 by M. Leighton

Madly is your average nearly-eighteen year old girl—for a princess, that is.

Madly James is thoroughly enjoying her internship in the small town of Slumber when the unthinkable happens—there’s a prison break in Atlas, the magically-protected home of Madly’s race. A traitor has set free eight Lore, the spirits of what humans know as fairy tales, and they are making their way to Slumber to awaken their descendants.

The first spirit to arrive is that of Ulrich Wolfhardt, a man that was once obsessed with wolves and a young maiden he would follow through the woods. After a bite from a wolf, Wolfhardt’s obsession with the girl became an unnatural hunger and the young maiden’s grandmother cursed him with a fate worse than death. And now he’s back…with a vengeance and a bite that can infect others as well.

Madly must learn the identity of Wolfhardt’s descendant and stop him before he kills again and spreads his curse across the earth. But the only person strong enough to help Madly is Jackson, the Sentinel who vowed to protect her and the one person capable of breaking her heart. Can Madly resist forbidden love long enough to save the world from Wolfhardt? Or will she have to sacrifice her heart and her destiny to save the ones she loves?


Do you remember when I almost dismembered Collin DeSpirito because he tried to kiss you against your will after your third-level graduation?”

Jackson’s voice was light and happy, and his question took me so off guard, I had to look up at him to make sure someone else hadn’t taken his place.

He was smiling, his face relaxed and gorgeous. He glanced down at me, a teasing and flirtatious gleam in his eyes. I was instantly confused.


His brow wrinkled slightly, his smile widening enough to bring out the single dimple in his right cheek.

“You mean you don’t remember that?”

“Of course I remember that. I just- I’m just—”

Jackson chuckled, a sound that resonated in my chest and tugged at my heart.

“Who could blame the poor guy? The way you flirted with him—touching his arm and laughing up at him—he was overcome by your extraordinary beauty. I’m sure if I had killed him, he’d have died happy.”

“I wasn’t flirting with him. I was just—”

“Oh, come on! You had the attention of every guy at the ceremony. It’s almost as if you were trying to make someone jealous,” he said, winking down at me.

My heart fluttered behind my sternum. I felt like I’d had a mini-stroke or something. What happened to the surly Sentinel that I’d been walking with two minutes ago? Where had this Jackson—the one I’d known forever, the one I’d thought I’d loved—been all this time?

Before I could comment, the prolonged creak of a door opening reached our ears. Jackson stopped and turned toward me. Although I couldn’t take my eyes off him, I saw movement in my peripheral vision.

“Admit it. You were trying to make me jealous,” he said, grinning down at me. “Sell it, Madly,” he whispered, barely moving his lips, his eyes looking meaningfully into mine.

It was then that I figured out what he’d been doing. And it made me furious. He’d been pretending, merely playing a part with his friendly repartee. Meanwhile, I’d been falling under the spell of the Jackson that I used to know. Fortunately, two could play that game.

Turning on my brightest smile, I stretched up on my toes and wrapped my arms around Jackson’s neck. “Of course I was trying to make you jealous. How else was I going to get you to kiss me?”

I stared into the powdery blue of Jackson’s eyes, daring him to back down now. I saw the gleam of challenge light the shimmering pools, but behind it was something else—something warm and dark and forbidden.

“Is that what you wanted? For me to kiss you?” Jackson asked quietly, his hands drifting lazily up and down my sides.

As I watched, his pupils swelled to eclipse the azure of his eyes and his gaze flickered to my mouth and back.

“Mmm,” I murmured, unable to speak past the lump of excitement in my throat.

“You asked for it,” he whispered, tilting his head to one side and lowering his lips to mine.

Enticing? Leave me a comment letting me know what you think?

Madly (Book 1) is free at the moment on Amazon

Buy Madly and Wolfhardt (Book 2) on Amazon

You can check out the rest of the tour schedule here.

Fated by Sarah Alderson

Wednesday, 29 August 2012.
Fated (Fated, #1)
Fated by Sarah Alderson
Published: 5th January 2012
By: Simon & Schuster UK
Source: Library copy

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

Having read so many great reviews of Sarah Alderson's books, I knew I had to give them a go, so I started with Fated. And I loved it. Sarah reeled me in from the get go and I didn't want to stop.

Evie is a hunter, and no. 1 on the hitlist of the unknowns, (demons, thirsters etc.) because she is the last pure blood Hunter, and they think she is the White Light from a prophecy, meant to sever the realms and rid the world of unknowns. But, until Evie is attacked one night after work, by a group of unknowns, she has no idea who or what she is. After being saved by Victor, another hunter, he takes charge of training her to fight and defend herself, and teaching her the history of the hunters.

Lucas is a half shadow demon, half human. He is less detectable to the hunters so the plan is for him to get close to Evie, infiltrate the hunters and then be in a position to kill her. But little does he realise, just how close he's going to get to her.

Evie is tough and smart. But having lost her best friends six months previously, when she was in a car accident with Tom, Evie's boyfriend at the time, and subsequently discovering they were cheating on her, she is a bit of a loner with people constantly whispering behind her back. She is a great character, who I really enjoyed.

This story is told from the POV of Evie and Lucas, I always love the get the guys POV too. Lucas is trying to understand the feelings he is having for Evie. He wants to protect her, from both the unknowns and the Hunters. Luke is a great guy, he's really sweet and I enjoyed the relationship that they shared.

I loved the ending too, it was just the way I wanted it to go :) A great read overall.


Silver (Bandia #1) by Talia Vance

Monday, 27 August 2012.
Silver (Bandia, #1)
Silver by Talia Vance
Expected Publication: 8th September 2012
By: Flux Publishing
Source: Netgalley

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I really enjoyed this book and feel sad to be leaving this world behind for a while. I can't wait for the next book in this series.

Brianna doesn't stand out in a crowd. Well, that's an understatement, it's like she's not even there. Especially with guys, they can't even make eye contact with her. She's been introduced to her crush for the last two years, Blake, so many times and he still doesn't know she's alive. She thinks she must have some kind of problem with her pheromones.

Until the night she's at a party and her charm bracelet breaks. Blake looks at her, and sees her, really sees her, and her life will never be the same again.

Brianna thinks she's just an ordinary girl until she accidentally bonds her soul with Blakes, and he tells her about her heritage. His one sided version anyway, she learns more as time goes on. But her heritage means that she and Blake are mortal enemies, and one of them must kill the other to survive.

The characters were good, though I felt that some of them could have been fleshed out a little more. Especially her parents, who seem too naive as to what their daughter is. Brianna is a likable protag and I enjoyed her relationship and interactions with Blake. The friendship that she has with Haley and Christy felt very realistic to me, girls can be bitchy when it comes to guys. Having to keep her magic secret does cause some sticky situations for Brie with her friends. And Austin, an appealing, love to hate bad boy who made this story interesting.

This book is a fast paced, fairly quick read with the mystery of Brianna's heritage and powers being gradually revealed. I think fans of paranormal romance will definitely enjoy this one.

Buy the book: Amazon/The Book Depository


Stacking the Shelves #16

Saturday, 25 August 2012.

Stacking The Shelves is all about the books we are adding to our shelves each week, (and filling our kindle) sharing with you our excitement for our newest titles and maybe have you discover a new book in the process! Hosted by Tynga over at Tynga's Reviews

Hi guys, I haven't done a STS post for a few weeks so I have a fair amount of books to share. And I'm really happy because I've been approved for the first time on Netgalley by MacMillan, yay!

Click on the book title for more info.

Physical books

Breathe (Breathe, #1) Carnival of Souls What's Left of Me (The Hybrid Chronicles, #1)

Breathe by Sarah Crossan (Bloomsbury)
Carnival of Souls by Melissa Marr (Harper Collins)
What's Left of Me by Kat Zhang (Harper Collins)


Stitch (Stitch Trilogy, #1) Tangled Tides (The Sea Monster Memoirs, #1) Nerve The Mayfair Moon (The Darkwoods Trilogy, #1)

Stitch by Samantha Durante (From Author)
Tangled Tides by Karen Amanda Hooper (Won)
Nerve by Jeanne Ryan (Atomr blog tours)
The Mayfair Moon by J. A. Redmerski (Free on Amazon)

No Mercy (Cambion, #2.5) Doppelganger The Shadow Society 

No Mercy by Shannon Dermott (Bought)
Doppelganger by Milda Harris (From Author)
The Shadow Society by Marie Rutkoski (Netgalley)

Crewel (Crewel World, #1) Eve and Adam

Crewel by Gennifer Albin (Netgalley)
Eve and Adam by Michael Grant and Katherine Applegate (Netgalley)

That's it. I can't wait to read them. Leave me your links so I can check out what came into your home this week. 

Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Thursday, 23 August 2012.

Beautiful Disaster (Beautiful, #1)
Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire
Published: 14th August 2012
By: Simon & Schuster UK
Source: Netgalley

My Rating: 3 of 5 stars

This book mainly centres around the relationship between Travis and Abby. It was enjoyable enough, and I can really see why it would be right up some people's street, but it just wasn't really my type of thing. I'm usually more a fan of the paranormal but as I liked the sound of this one, and some of the reviews I read intrigued me, I wanted to give this one a try. 

Travis and Abby have a spectacularly drama filled relationship. So much goes on between them before they even get together, and when they finally do, it's just one combustion after another. They are both carrying some baggage that is preventing them from settling down into the relationship and this causes a lot of the problems that they face. But I found myself getting bored with it. I disliked Abby from early on and this didn't improve as the book went on. 

I was surprised that Travis was able to get into so many fights and yet there was no comeback whatsoever. Especially the ones in the college cafeteria. This was just a tad unbelievable. Other than that, this book was well paced and I liked the writing style. It was a fairly quick read as it wasn't too deep with very little for me to dwell on. 

I can't say with any certainty that I will read the next book from Travis' point of view. While I would be interested to know what was going through his head during Beautiful Disaster, I don't think I would have the patience to read almost the same story again. But, we'll see after I've read some reviews. 



Friday, 17 August 2012.
Hi guys, just want to let you know that I will be missing from the blogosphere for a few days as I'm heading away and will have little or no internet connection. I hope you will all enter my giveaway below (I loved this book), and I look forward to catching up with you all on my return.

Excerpt and Giveaway: The Vampire of Highgate by Asa Bailey

The Vampire of Highgate - Asa Bailey

I'm delighted to have this excerpt and giveaway on my blog today. I read this book recently and I loved it! You can read my review here.

The Vampire of Highgate
by Asa Bailey
Published: 7th July 2012

By: Hodder Children's Books

Kathy is an innocent, an outsider who longs to belong somewhere. Anywhere. Dreams of her half-sister Amber and of the centuries old Highgate Vampire are taking her to places she doesn't want to go. Kathy can't stop the sequence of events. If her nightmares and reality collide, the Highgate Vampire will come to take her soul...

First Chapter Excerpt
Sunday 16th June 1963
It was late when Betty and Jill left Peter’s flat. Betty had been wanting to leave for over an hour, the thought of school looming as dark as the hazy fog which had been cloaking London all that week. But Peter had ignored her and kept putting on records which they’d had to listen to.

It was clear that Peter fancied Jill, and not Betty. She wasn't surprised by that. It wasn’t that Jill was so much prettier than her, just that Jill was the more adventurous of the two. Jill was the rebel, the one who talked back to the nuns and had the red welts on her hands to show it. Jill was the one who sneaked a bottle of whiskey into the dorm one night, Jill who smoked Russian cigarettes and kissed boys outside the cinema. Jill did other things too. Around ten-thirty, Jill had given Betty a clear-off look and Betty went and sat in the tiny bathroom while Jill and Peter made noises. Betty, familiar with this situation, blocked her ears. Jill could be so noisy. She wished she were back in her little bed at the top of the convent school in Highgate Village. She wasn’t jealous of Jill, she was concerned about her. Betty had always been the sort to look after other people, and Jill certainly needed looking after. They’d run into each other on their first day at school, and each recognized something they needed from the other. Jill needed a sensible friend, Betty needed someone to outrage her. Twenty minutes later Jill popped her tousled head around the door. 

‘C’mon, you,’ she said. ‘He’s asleep.’ Jill took a packet of Pall Mall cigarettes and a half-full bottle of wine and they headed out into the thick fog. The legendary pea-soupers were a thing of the past since Clean Air Act in the Fifties, but grimy London was still capable of coughing up a lungful of fog from time to time, particularly around Highgate, where the grand houses largely ignored the restrictions on open fires. Tonight the fog looked thick enough to trap in a teacup and the gaslights offered only the vaguest guide to the way home. The girls crossed Highgate Road and turned up Swain’s Lane, up the long hill, the East Cemetery railings to their right. On the other side of the street, almost invisible, stretched a terraced row of Georgian houses, keeping watch over their dead neighbours across the way. Jill slowed as they climbed the long hill, tired now, and puffing grumpy like a toddler. A couple of dim street lights, high above the pavement offered a little light, but shadows lurked everywhere. Within the cemetery itself the only thing obscured by the fog was an inky blackness. 

Jill peered into the darkness, gripping the railing as she swigged from the bottle. Betty stopped to watch her, tired and barely able to raise a tut. ‘Come on,’ Betty said. ‘We have exams in three weeks.’ ‘Three weeks,’ Jill replied, ‘not tonight.’ She belched – a low rumble that Betty thought loud enough to raise the residents on both sides of the road. Footsteps. ‘Shh,’ Betty said, and pulled her friend along.
A tall man, black in the gloom, slowed to peer at the girls as they slunk past, even Jill shamed into hiding the bottle. He made as if to speak but Betty hurried them along. ‘He had a good old look,’ Jill snorted. ‘He was probably worried about you.’‘Me? Why would he be worried?’ Jill asked, mystified. ‘Because you’re staggering about and it’s late, come on,’ Betty repeated. ‘I’m not ready to go back,’ Jill said, pulling away from Betty. ‘Where can we go?’ Betty stared at her friend, exasperated. ‘We have to go back to school, now!’ ‘You go back,’ Jill said, not even looking at her. Instead she was gazing through the railings into the cemetery. ‘What are you looking at?’ Betty asked. Jill turned to her, a wicked look on her face. ‘Come on, Bets, let’s climb over.’‘In there?’ Betty replied, incredulous. ‘Are you mad?’ ‘A little,’ Jill said. She put the bottle down on a low wall before the railings and clambered up, showing her knickers. ‘Give us a leg up,’ she said. ‘No,’ Betty said.’ No way.’ ‘Fine, I’ll do it myself,’ Jill said. 

And with the uncanny ability of the drunk rebel, she pulled herself up and picked her way carefully over the blunt spikes at the top. She grunted as she dropped down into the grass on the other side. Already half concealed by darkness and fog, Jill’s grinning face appeared at the railings, a thin white hand slid through and grabbed hold of the bottle, then she retreated and disappeared. Betty sighed. She didn’t want to go over the railings, but she knew that over the railings was where she would be going. That was her role. She took much longer over the ascent, being sober and careful. Even so, she managed to graze a knee and tear her tights, her only good pair. ‘Damn you, Jill!’ she hissed quietly, not wanting to wake the dead. ‘Where are you?’But there was no answer. Betty walked slowly in through the graves, visible as great white blobs. 

The clouded gaslights on the street outside did not penetrate more than a few feet in, but once her eyes had adjusted somewhat, she could pick out pale smears of broken gravestones and the black grass between them. At least Jill hadn't climbed into the West Cemetery, with its dank forest of oaks and cracked stone. ‘Jill! It’s getting cold. Come on.’ Betty shivered and stepped slowly through the grass. If she squinted she could just make out hulking stone tombs
on either side. Terraces of the dead. Creepers clutched at the graves as if trying to stop them moving. ‘Jill?’ She stopped and listened but there was no response. Betty carried on along a leaf-strewn half-path, with each step her constant low-level worry gradually increasing even as the air grew colder. 

Rounding a corner in the lane of tombs she froze and clapped a hand across her mouth to hold in the scream.
A dull yellow glow, seemingly without source, lit a terrifying tableau. Jill knelt on a low slab between the terraces, open-mouthed tombs gaping dumbly at her and at the dark, cowled figure which towered above
her, face obscured. As the terrified Betty watched, the figure signalled to Jill to stand, which she did slowly,
still clutching the bottle of wine. Jill stared up into the dark maw of the creature’s hood, apparently transfixed.
She tilted her head slightly, exposing her pale throat. Warm breath misted the narrow gap between her and the tall figure.

Suddenly the temperature dropped even further as the figure shifted and bent towards the girl. Betty began to
shiver uncontrollably, partly through the intense cold but also through the flooding fear. Perhaps sensing her
presence, the figure stopped and slowly turned its head towards her. ‘No . . . no . . .’ Betty heard herself whisper as she finally saw into the hood. Two piercing eyes of bright yellow glared back at her. They stayed, staring at one another for what seemed like minutes, Betty willed herself to turn and run but could no
more have done so than could the occupants of the surrounding tombs.

Then the figure plunged its head and tore Jill’s throat out. The bottle dropped to the slab and smashed, dark wine staining the stone. Released, Betty shrank back and ducked around the corner. Legs like rubber, she slumped down against the cold, cold tomb and sobbed in fear. The noise was hideous, a crunching, slavering frenzy that echoed around the tombs. Underneath, almost lost, was a soft gurgling from Jill as her lifeblood was drained. Betty blocked her ears again.

Kathy woke with a start and twisted to grab the notepad by her bed, knocking over the half-full water glass on the night stand. Ignoring the spill, she scribbled furiously on the pad for a half minute before coming to a frowning stop. Again the dream, so vivid in the last few moments before she woke had drained out of her memory and seeped away like the water now soaking its way into the rug. Only one thing remained: the image of a tall man in a dark suit with wide lapels stepping towards her, leering horribly and carrying a cane. She struggled to escape but found herself bound as the man’s twisted features came ever closer. But just under the surface, she was aware there was so much more to this dream.

She looked at the scribbling, half of it was illegible, the rest may have been words but made little sense. London Church. Swaingate. Bishop. Amber. She stared so hard her eyes lost focus, there was nothing to grip on to here. She’d hoped a couple of phrases, locked into the paper, might provide a key to a fuller memory of the dream. Another dumb idea of yours, Kathy.

She got up and stumbled through into her bathroom. A slim, pale brunette stared back at her from the mirror,
long hair tangled from a restless sleep. She stuck out her tongue. Grey and lumpy. She’d read a magazine article the other day which told you what sort of person you were according to your tongue type. Grey and lumpy hadn’t featured. Stop reading stupid magazines, Kathy. Downstairs her mom had made toast and coffee. They grunted at each other, neither were morning people. Kathy’s father was different, before he had gone into hospital he’d wake early every morning, make porridge and fruit shakes and talk non-stop as Kathy and her mom shuffled around, ignoring him. He had never got the hint. But neither had he ever seemed annoyed that he was talking to himself. They’d loved him for it. And now he was in hospital and with the prognosis changing for the worse every other day, they missed his irritating chatter more than anything.

Kathy forgot her earlier resolution and began leafing through one of her mom’s magazines. Clothes she had
neither the courage to wear, nor the money to buy. Perfumes that made her allergies flare, celebrities she
found vacuous. She flicked the pages quickly, yawning, her cereal forgotten. ‘Bad night again?’ her mom, Susan, asked, sitting down opposite with a black coffee. Kathy nodded. ‘The dream? The same one?’
Kathy nodded again. ‘You could talk to Doctor Gelion about it.’ Kathy sighed. ‘I don’t know, Mom, I’ve been thinking about this and I’m not sure I should carry on with the sessions.’ ‘Really?’ her mom said. ‘Are you sure that’s a good idea?’

Kathy looked down at her magazine, to escape her mom’s searching gaze. A full page picture of a red London bus looked back at her. Come to London, the caption read. Kathy studied the picture more closely, something catching her eye. A young girl, maybe six or seven, sat on the top deck of the bus, staring towards the camera, towards Kathy. She looked familiar, like . . .
‘Kathy?’ Susan said. ‘Sorry,’ she replied, looking up. ‘Look, I haven’t had a panic attack for months now.’
‘No, but these dreams . . . And I can tell you’re not happy.’ ‘Neither of us are happy, Mom. How can we be, with Dad in hospital?’ ‘It’s more than that, It’s that college, are you being bullied?’ ‘No,’ Kathy said. It was sort of the truth. Being ignored by the entire student body wasn’t technically bullying. ‘Go and see him today,’ her mom said. ‘If you don’t feel he has anything useful to say about the dreams, then sure, stop. But give it one more try, okay?’ Kathy nodded. ‘Oh, and a package came for you today, I left it by the door.’
Ten minutes later Kathy slammed the door behind her and scanned up the street for signs of the bus she
needed. Then suddenly remembering, she rummaged through her handbag and pulled out her keys. Opening
the door again she reached through and grabbed the parcel. The bus was coming – she slammed the door a
second time and ran to the stop. The bus was around half full; she found a double seat and slid in next to the window as the driver hit the gas and they pulled away from the stop. Kathy yawned again as she inspected the parcel. It was maybe A4 sized and felt like a book or a picture frame. Wrapped in brown paper and stamped with half a dozen portraits of the Queen of England. It was postmarked Highgate, UK.
London again, Kathy thought. She began to unwrap the package but stopped as she became conscious of
someone sitting behind her and to her left. Turning her head slightly, she saw a long-haired man, craggy-faced, maybe in his mid-fifties, maybe older. He was watching her intently. Kathy sighed to herself, how had she become such a weirdo-magnet? She stuffed the unopened parcel into her bag and stared out the window, trying to shrink into herself.

Lockers slammed up and down the hall, each firing a tiny bolt of panic through Kathy’s jangled nerves. She left her bag, containing the unopened parcel, in the locker, taking just a notepad and her foxed copy of Vanity Fair, the book they were studying in Eng Lit class. She closed her locker quietly and slipped off down the corridor, keeping to one side as the louder, more popular students thronged past, laughing and chatting.
‘Hey, Kath,’ someone said. ‘Hi Scarlet,’ Kathy said, spinning to see one of the few girls who knew her name, even if she did get it a little wrong. ‘How you doing?’ Scarlet asked. A few weeks earlier, Scarlet had been one of the unfortunate girls who’d found Kathy curled up in the girl’s bathroom, heaving with fearful sobs after a panic attack. As a way to begin a friendship, it wasn’t exactly ideal, but Kathy appreciated the kindness. ‘I’m good,’ Kathy said, smiling shyly. ‘I feel a lot stronger lately.’ ‘Good to hear,’ Scarlet said. ‘You going to Marshall’s party on Saturday?’ Kathy forced herself to look up into Scarlet’s eyes, the way Dr Gelion had told her to do in a role play. ‘They’re people just like you,’ the doctor had said. ‘There’s
nothing to be frightened of.’ ‘I haven’t been invited,’ Kathy said. Scarlet snorted. ‘You don’t need an invite to Marshall’s party, everyone’s going.’ Kathy’s skin crawled at the thought of a heaving room of unknown people who’d just brush past her. She’d stand by the wall for a couple of hours, nursing one drink, chat
awkwardly with the three people who knew her name and then slip away, unnoticed. But she knew she should try, and she was glad to be asked. Dr Gelion would tell her she must go, so would her mother. She nodded. ‘Great,’ Scarlet said. ‘I’ll text you, okay?’ Kathy watched her go, almost smiling, then leaped a
mile as a locker slammed behind her.

‘And how’s college?’ Doctor Gelion asked gently, the way he did everything. He opened doors gently, he typed on his laptop gently, he picked up his pen gently, he put it down again just as gently. Kathy yearned for him, just once, to lose it and slam a filing cabinet door shut and scream ‘Fucking prick!’ ‘College sucks,’ Kathy replied. There was no point coming to a shrink and downplaying things. You had to give him something to work with. ‘Everyone ignores me. I get Cs for all my grades, however hard I try. As an experiment I stopped studying one term, guess what I got?’ ‘C?’ ‘Bingo.’ ‘Have you made any new friends?’ Kathy hesitated for a moment. ‘I’ve been invited to a party.’ ‘That’s excellent news,’ Dr Gelion replied. ‘Are you going?’ ‘Yes,’ Kathy said. ‘I don’t have to stay long, right?’ ‘That’s up to you. But it’s terrific that you decided to attend. What do I always say to you?’ Kathy rolled her eyes, then grinned. ‘One step at a time.’ ‘That’s right, one step at a time. Now what about your sleeping?’ ‘Still bad,’ she said, suddenly cold in the air conditioning. ‘I have terrible dreams, but I can never remember them, except for one part . . . I’ve been trying to write it all down as soon as I wake up, but the memories of the dream just sort of disappear as I pick up the pen.’ ‘You say there’s one part you remember?’ Kathy told him about the man with the cane and being bound. ‘Feeling trapped in your dream is a common motif and you shouldn’t take it literally,’ Dr Gelion said. ‘What about suits with wide lapels and Gothic dandies carrying canes? Are they common motifs?’ Dr Gelion laughed gently. ‘Not so much.’ ‘Dr Gelion?’ ‘Yes, Kathy?’ ‘Can you hypnotize me? So I can remember the dream?’
Dr Gelion was silent for a while. Kathy expected him to tell her, gently, that he didn’t believe in  hypnotherapy.
‘Okay,’ he said. ‘We can give it a try.’ Usually Kathy sat in a high-backed leather chair facing Gelion, but he asked her to lie down for the hypnosis. ‘Do you swing a watch?’ Kathy asked, laughing nervously.
‘No watch necessary,’ Gelion asked, his voice descending to an even greater level of gentleness, like down pillows wrapped in cotton wool. He sat at the foot of the couch. ‘Close your eyes.’ Kathy did as he asked.
‘I want you to relax, Kathy,’ Gelion cooed. ‘Just for a while, forget everything and listen to my voice. I’m going to count backwards from five, then you’ll be in a state of extreme relaxation. Five, four, three, two and one. Kathy, how do you feel?’
Kathy took a while to answer. ‘Fine. I feel fine,’ she said.
‘Tell me about the man with the cane,’ Gelion said. Kathy was in a burlesque nightclub. She could feel the pounding of music but could hear nothing. She was surrounded by dancers, skins shining in the thudding lights. They heaved and thrashed in time with the beat. 

The club looked to have a Gothic theme, vampires and Goths, virgins and grotesques. A young man of exquisite beauty passed her, brushing against her shoulder, staring deep inside her as though looking for her soul. Kathy looked down and realized she was wearing a simple black dress, tight so that the tops of her breasts threatened to escape. She felt excited and aroused, a fluttering, warming sensation deep within. On the stage, a beautiful young woman danced, alone,
performing a show. She seemed familiar. Kathy moved towards her but was distracted by someone tugging her dress. Turning, Kathy saw a young girl, perhaps seven. ‘Who are you?’ Kathy asked. ‘I’m Amber,’ the girl replied, smiling.
Then Kathy was in a different room, strapped to a wall and the man with the cane was there; she noticed his shoes for the first time, pointed and shiny. Under the black jacket he wore a cream shirt, with ruffles and long cuffs. He twirled the cane and grinned at her madly. ‘She needs you, Kathy,’ he hissed. ‘Amber needs you.’ 

‘Wake up, Kathy.’ And then Kathy sat up, her heart pounding.
Gelion looked at her, concerned. ‘You were becoming agitated,’ he said. ‘So I brought you out.’ Kathy nodded, trying to remember, wishing he’d stop talking. Something fluttered briefly within her and then was gone. ‘Do you remember?’ he asked. She shook her head. ‘Just the same as before, the man
with the cane.’ ‘Who’s Amber?’ Kathy looked up at him, surprised. ‘I had – have – a sister called Amber. I haven’t seen her since we were tiny.’ ‘You mentioned her a couple of times,’ Gelion said. 

He tapped his notebook gently and looked down at his own
scrawled shorthand. ‘Like you thought she was in trouble?’
Kathy frowned, the memories still not there. ‘Where is she now?’ Gelion asked. Kathy shrugged. ‘I don’t know, it’s complicated. In London maybe?’ Gelion stood and walked to the window, staring out down into the swarming city.
‘I think maybe you need to find her,’ he said. 

Kathy stepped out of the office. Yellow cabs rolled by and
the familiar smell of Manhattan swamped her senses. She set off towards the subway but on a whim decided to take the bus instead. She felt good and wanted to hold on to the  feeling – staying overground would help, she liked resting her head against the window of the bus and watching the suburbs crawl by. As she spun on her heels, she saw a familiar man walking towards her. Is that the creepy bus guy? Kathy couldn't help but stare as he passed, his long greasy hair flopping in time with his jerky gait. Is he following me? Kathy wondered with a shudder. She quickened her step and hurried down to the bus stop, turning to look, but the man was nowhere to be seen. If it had been him and he had been following, he’d now disappeared.
Kathy found herself scanning the street as the bus crawled up Second Avenue, heading towards the bridge. Great, she told herself. Now you've got something else to get worked up about. Remembering the bus journey earlier, she looked
around. There was no one close by. She pulled out the parcel and ripped open the thick brown paper. Inside lay a leather-bound book, a little bigger than A4, with ridges on the spine. At first she thought it was fake leather. A fancy ‘olde-fashioned’ notebook like they sold in Bloomingdales to wannabe writers who had more money than words. But the smell alone told her this book was genuinely old, and well-used. The leather was red, cracked and the spine creaked with age as she opened the cover. The recto page was filled with words in a language she didn’t even recognize. The letters didn't look like anything she’d seen before. More like squiggles. Was this shorthand? On the verso, what was really the lining of the book, was a scrawled message.

Dear Kathy,
Bring this to Oliver Samson – British Museum. Trust
him but no one else.
Stay safe.
With all my love

Kathy looked up and out the window as the black pylons
of Brooklyn Bridge flickered past, clouding her view of
the dull grey Hudson.

So, what do you think? Feel free to leave me a comment and let me know.

Enter the giveaway for a paperback copy of this amazing book. And it's international, yay!

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Blood Debt by Nancy Straight

Thursday, 16 August 2012.
Blood Debt
Blood Debt by Nancy Straight
Published: July 15th 2012
Source: Received copy from Author

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I'm often hesitant to pick up books by self published authors, having had some bad experience with great stories being ruined due to bad editing and research. But I know Nancy is good friends with one of my favourite indie authors, Shannon Dermott, so when I seen it on R2R, I grabbed a copy.

This is my first time reading one of Nancy's books and, I'm impressed. The editing was exemplary, the characters were well defined, it was well paced and imaginative. I look forward to reading more books from Nancy.

Camille has never met her dad because her mom would never tell her who he was, until she was on her death bed. When Camille calls him, she is surprised to be welcomed into his family completely by his wife and five sons. She thinks she has landed in a dream world until she learns that her life is in danger.

She is a centaur, and has been kept hidden by magic for the last twenty two years, but the magic died with her mother, so she is now on the radar of her enemies. Her mother never told her about her heritage so she has to try to learn the centaur way of life and how to use the magic she has been gifted with. She owes a blood debt to the man her mother refused to marry by running away and she is wanted by the lost herd.

This was refreshingly different. Centaurs are something completely new to me, and I loved the world that Nancy built around them. Camille is a very likable character and there's a great bunch of secondary characters which really add to this story.

This has something for the romantics too, though I don't think Camille's choice would have been mine. There's no love triangle or insta love.

The next installment is this book is based in Dublin, Ireland, so I couldn't not pick it up. There are some loose ends in this book too that I'm really looking forward to tying up.

Anyone interested in a review copy of this book can request one on the Making Connections group here. They just ask that you post your review within four weeks of receipt of the book.

Buy the book: Amazon/Barnes & Noble

Teaser Tuesday

Tuesday, 14 August 2012.

Teaser Tuesday is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. You know the rules: grab your current read, open to a random page and share a two sentence teaser with us (no spoilers!). Be sure to tell us about the book, so we can add it to our TBR list!

Blood Debt
This week my teaser comes from Blood Debt by Nancy Straight.

"It's the way of our people, Camille. By the time I'm thirty, I will be either married, or betrothed, or I will have to marry a human. If I were willing to settle, I could date. But Centaur women get to choose, and none will choose a man who has shared a bond with another."


COVER REVEAL: Iridescent (Ember #2) by Carol Oates

Monday, 13 August 2012.
Today, I'm happy to reveal to you, the cover for Iridescent, the second book in the Ember series by Carol Oates. So without further ado......

Expected Release: October 2012
By: Omnific Publishing

Candra Ember used to dream of saving the world one person at a time. She never expected to become an angelic weapon and the last hope in the battle against ultimate darkness.

Falling for a Nephilim wasn’t part of Sebastian’s plan. Distraction is something he can’t afford when his rival, Draven, wants what Sebastian has.

Lies, manipulation and corruption are twisting the lives of the citizens in Acheron. The Arch is missing from Heaven and a demon is intent on claiming the city. At a time they should be growing closer, grief and paranoia is driving Candra and Sebastian apart.

If the price of restoring the Watchers to Heaven is a human soul, who deserves to be saved?

So, let me know what you think. I love this cover, the detail to the butterfly is just beautiful. Can't wait for your opinions.

Blog Tour: The Color of Snow by Brenda Stanley

Saturday, 11 August 2012.

The Color of Snow

The Color of Snow by Brenda Stanley
Published: 1st June 2012
By: Tribute Books
Target Audience: YA

Can a troubled young girl reenter society after living in isolation?

When a beautiful 16-year-old girl named Sophie is found sequestered in a cage-like room in a rundown house in the desolate hills of Arbon Valley, Idaho, the entire community is shocked to learn she is the legendary Callidora--a baby girl who was kidnapped from her crib almost seventeen years ago and canonized in missing posters with portraits of what the fabled girl might resemble. Authorities soon learn that the cage was there to protect people from Sophie, because her biological father believes she is cursed.

Sophie is discovered after the man she knows as Papa, shoots and injures Damien, a young man who is trying to rescue her. Now, unsocialized and thrust into the world, and into a family she has never met, Sophie must decide whether she should accept her Papa’s claims that she is cursed and he was only trying to protect others, or trust the new people in her life who have their own agendas. Guided by a wise cousin, Sophie realizes that her most heartbreaking challenge is to decide if her love for Damien will destroy him like her Papa claims, or free her from past demons that haunt her mind.

Read an extract

Malad, Idaho, early spring 2009

Spring had spread across the fields and pastures. Cottonwood trees fluttered their newly sprouted greenery, and purple asters covered the rolling hills. The snow had melted and Stephanie and I started taking the horses on rides up the valley. It was incredibly liberating to roam and wander without fear.

There was a trail leading from the foothills up into the forest, and once we were in the midst of the wild spruce and lofty pines, the noises of cars and life around the ranch disappeared. The sound of hooves on early spring dirt was solid and steady. The breeze was still crisp, but the sun reached down and warmed our shoulders. For almost an hour we rode in silence. We both were in awe of the day and the splendor that was ours alone to enjoy.

At the top of the hill, the trail opened up to a small plateau and a blue mountain lake. I gasped at the incredible beauty of it. I smiled at Stephanie and she nodded in acknowledgement. Her eyes were bright and her freckles seemed to glow in the sunshine. The horse she rode was a black mare my grandfather was going to sell. Stephanie loved the white diamond-shaped patch on her forehead, and scolded him for even thinking about selling Black Bean. My horse was an old buckskin gelding named Clyde. He lumbered along and rarely went faster than a slow trot, but for a beginner like me he was perfect.

Stephanie turned her horse down the hill and toward the lake. “Do you want to go swimming?” she called back.

“I don’t know how,” I answered.

She giggled as she reached the water’s edge. “You don’t need to. The horses do it all.” Her hair was pulled into two short pigtails and they bounced with each step of her horse.

I waited and watched as she urged Black Bean into the water and out into the lake. As the water got deeper, the splashes became larger around its legs as it pushed forward, and soon they were floating along smoothly.

“Come on!” she yelled, waving me in. She had her legs pulled up on the sides, trying to avoid getting completely soaked. They were pale and freckled like her face, and seemed to make up most of her body. Stephanie wasn’t much taller than I, but her legs and arms were long and made her look gangly and even thinner than she was. She waved so hard she almost fell off the horse, and started laughing as she steadied herself.

It looked like fun, but I was terrified. The water was immense and dark. The largest amount of water I had ever been in was my own bathtub. I wondered what would happen if I fell off in the middle. Stephanie and Black Bean were in the center of the lake and they looked like a serene harmonious duo.

I gave Clyde a slight nudge and he walked to the shoreline. The water lapped as I waited and watched Stephanie continue to beckon. She looked like she was having a marvelous time and wasn’t worried in the least. I patted Clyde and prodded him with the heels of my sneakers. He seemed unconcerned as he clopped loudly into the water. I took a deep breath and told myself to keep looking forward and it would be okay. Clyde had no hesitation, which helped ease my fear.

The sun beat down on us and made splashes of water light up as Clyde moved forward into the water. The splatters that hit my exposed skin were freezing and made me realize how cold it would be if I did fall in. I fixed my eyes on the opposite shoreline and put my faith in Clyde. The horse had a wide back, and as we got deeper into the lake, I curled my legs back the way Stephanie did and clung to his mane. We were riding bareback that day, because Stephanie didn’t want to spend time putting on saddles.

I held my breath as we got further away from the shore and closer to the very center of the lake. At one point I looked down, staring deep into the abyss. There was no bottom, and I felt my stomach turn, knowing I would surely die if I left Clyde’s back.

As the horse rhythmically propelled us along, I began to feel a sense of buoyancy and freedom. When we crossed the center point and were on our way to the other shore, my confidence turned to elation. I started to breathe again and smiled at what I had accomplished. I sat up straight, closed my eyes and imagined I was flying, gliding along on my winged unicorn, soaring through clouds and racing the wind. When I opened my eyes, I giggled at my foolish imagination, but couldn’t help beaming at what an amazing adventure it was.

When the horse’s hooves made contact with the lake bottom and we started to emerge from the water, I wanted to burst from relief and joy. “That was the most wonderful thing ever!”

Stephanie was sitting on a large tree limb that had fallen while her horse munched on fresh new grass beside her. “I didn’t think you’d do it. I’m proud of you.”

“It was so scary, but then it was so amazing.”

“I’m glad you liked it, because that’s how we’re getting back.”

We led the horses to a shaded area and tied them loosely to a tree so they could rest and graze. Stephanie leaned back against a tree and looked out at the incredible view of mountain-lined lake and clear blue sky.

“This is where I go when I can’t stand life anymore. The first time I came here, I tried to kill myself. I stole my dad’s gun and had it all planned out. Then I sat here and looked around at all this and thought...who would care? I’m nothing and no one would miss me, so why do it? That’s when I decided to live for me. I do what makes me happy now and screw the rest of them.”

“You were going to kill yourself. Why?”

Stephanie took a deep, labored sigh. “I didn’t see the point in living. My mom was dead and my dad married that crazy bitch.” She shrugged. “I don’t really fit in anywhere. Even at school, the kids hate me.”

I shook my head. “I don’t believe that. There is no reason to hate you.”

Stephanie scoffed. “You say that because you don’t know any better. You don’t know what normal is. That’s why we get along. I’m a freak, but you’ve never had any friends, so you don’t know how weird I am.” She smiled.

“I’ve had friends,” I protested.

“Really? I thought you were kept alone at that house all the time.”

I nodded.

Stephanie raised an eyebrow. “So, did your dad kidnap kids and bring them home for you play with?”

My eyes went large, but then Stephanie laughed and I realized she was joking. I paused for a moment, trying to pick my words carefully.

“Don’t worry about me telling anyone. Remember, we’re best friends, so you should be able to tell me anything. I’ve never told anyone that I was going to kill myself.”

I looked at her with a mixture of love and concern. “I had two friends. I met them when I was eleven. Their mother worked with my father and they came to our house one day. That’s how they knew I lived there. They lived over the hill from us and they came over while Papa was at work and we played in my yard.” I stopped and smiled at the memory.

“You had to hide them from your father. Why?”

“He was afraid that if people knew I was home alone all day, they would come and take me away.”

“Didn’t it drive you crazy to be alone all the time?”

I shrugged. “Not really. When I met Donny and Damien I was much happier. I didn’t know what it was like to have friends before I met them, so I didn’t realize what I was missing.”

She studied me. “Isn’t Damien the kid your dad shot? Why’d he shoot him? Did he catch him with you?”


“Why didn’t you just tell him that you two were friends and that it was no big deal?"

“I tried to convince him, but...there is a lot you don’t understand.”

Stephanie gave me a disappointed curl of her lip. “And I won’t be able to understand if you keep everything a secret.”

I stayed silent.

“Sophie, I’ve already told you something that I never told anyone. I trust you because we’re friends. That is what friends do. They trust each other and they tell each other things. Do you think I won’t believe you?”

“No, it’s not that. And I do trust you, but there are things that will sound strange, and I don’t want you to think I’m a monster.”

She laughed. “You are the opposite of a monster. You’re friendly and kind. People would love to be near you.”

I ran the word through my head several times. I wondered if the statement had validity, because if it did, it explained some of the things Papa told me that seemed unimaginable.

“So, what is this big dark secret? You say your father didn’t kidnap you or treat you badly, so why did he keep you locked up in that house hidden away from the world?”

I thought it was inconceivable that the two of us were best friends. Stephanie had just confessed that she had almost ended her life and now I was about to tell her how I had ended my mother’s and one of my friends. My fears of being ostracized and treated like a disease were still at the surface, but the thought of releasing some of the weight with a person I trusted was like having a balloon inflating inside me ready to burst. I felt my secret was slowly killing me, and the only way I could get relief was to talk about it. I was still scared that once it was out, it would sprout wings and fly out of control.

“I’ll tell you, but you have to swear you’ll never tell anyone else.”

“I swear. I swear on my stepmother’s grave,” she giggled.

I looked at her, worried that she wasn’t in the right mind frame to hear what I had to say. My face must have showed it, because Stephanie quickly lost her smile and leaned forward. She put her hand on my shoulder. “God, Soph, I was just kidding. You look like I just cursed her dead.”

I gasped and put my hand to my mouth. I felt an icy chill go down my back and my heart jumped.

“What?” she asked.

“It’s what you said. That is why I had to hide all those years.”

“What I said? How could that be? I wasn’t even around.”

I was speechless and stunned. Just hearing the word made me dizzy. I put my face in my hands and rocked back and forth, trying to steady my nerves and my thoughts.

“Sophie, what’s wrong with you? You’re not making any sense. I can’t help you if you don’t talk to me.”

I stopped rocking, and looked up at her. “I’m so afraid to say anything.”

“You have no reason to be afraid. I’m not going to tell anyone. You’re my only friend!” She smiled. “You’ll go crazy if you keep it all inside.”

“But what if you don’t want to be friends after I tell you?”

“That’s crazy.” She sat up on her knees and squared her body to mine. She held my shoulders and made me look at her. “Here, think about this. Imagine I’m the one telling you this big secret. If that were the case, would we still be friends? Sophie?”

I realized I had drifted off. I blinked as I came back and smiled. I had no reservations about how I would react if she were the one telling it. Stephanie would be my friend regardless of her secrets and I knew that she felt the same. So with the same strength I had mustered to lead my horse into a deep dark lake, I pushed forward and decided to reveal what had shaped my entire life. It would either knock me into a cold, deep abyss, or I would cross it and end up gaining the confidence I needed to take even more risks in my life. I was willing to take that chance. I suddenly realized that I had no idea where to start. It struck me as funny, and I stopped and smiled to myself.

“You’re a tease!” she yelled. “Come on, out with it.”

“I don’t know where to start. There is so much to tell.”

She leaned back against the tree and put her arms behind her head. “We have all day. They don’t expect us until dinner and I brought food in my backpack. Spill it!”

I took a deep breath. “There is something terrible that happened a long time ago and it’s the reason Papa and I had to hide all those years.”

“Did he kill someone?” she asked, both horrified and intrigued.

“No,” I said firmly. “It’s not something we did, but something that was done to us.”

Stephanie lowered an eyebrow. “What?”

“A curse.”

Her eyes shot wide open, but she gave me a sideways grin. “A curse?”

“Yes. We had to hide away because Papa says we are a threat to the people who love us.”

She cocked her head to the side. “How?”

I looked at the ground and felt my face flush. “I’m not sure, but some of them have died.”

Stephanie reeled back. “They died? How?”

I shrugged. “Papa says it’s the reason my mother died and Donny. He says we’re the reason.”

Stephanie shook her head. “You said he didn’t kill anyone.”

“It’s not us. It’s the curse that kills them.”

“How did they die?”

“Donny died when a dirt cave collapsed on him.” I felt a heavy lump in my stomach. “I don’t know how my mother died. Papa never talks about it.”

“Sounds to me like your father gave you a line to keep you in line. There is no such thing as a curse.”

I felt rejected and embarrassed. It had taken every ounce of trust I could muster to tell her and now she brushed it off. “Yes there is.”

She furrowed her brows. “Did you push that kid into the cave?”

I shook my head. “No!”

Stephanie sat up straight. “Do you think that other kid was shot because of this curse, too?”

I lowered my eyes. “Yes.”

She sat in silence, looking as if she was deep in thought. Several times she began to talk and then stopped. She stood up and walked in a circle. “That doesn’t make sense. If you say the curse kills people who love you, then why am I still alive? And what about your grandparents? Why aren’t we all dead?”

“I’m not sure. Sometimes it scares me. I don’t want to hurt people, but I don’t want to be alone. Papa was trying to explain it, but then we got caught. I’ve tried to figure it out, but without Papa, I can’t. There’s more to it, and he’s the only one who knows.”

“Who put the curse on you?” I shrugged.

“Papa said it was done a long time ago, before I was born.”

Stephanie lowered her brow. “If you weren’t even born, why would anyone want to curse you?”

“It was placed on our family for something Papa did. He said it was done out of anger. He said he didn’t believe it at first, but when my mother was killed, he knew we had to hide or more bad things would happen. He said if anyone found out about the curse, I would be taken away. He hid us away for our own good. He didn’t want the curse to hurt anyone else. I didn’t know about it until after Donny died. Papa felt it was his fault for not warning me sooner.”

Stephanie looked at me in awe. She hadn’t moved a muscle or changed her facial expression in the slightest, as though my story had struck her dumb. I started feeling awkward and worried that I had said too much, but before regret set in, she took a seat beside me and put an arm around my shoulder. “So, what are you going to do? If you think you’re cursed and you’re putting other people at risk, how are you going to live?”

I thought for a moment. “I don’t know.”

“That’s crazy, Sophie. There is no such thing. I think he told you that just to keep you from running off. He knew that if people saw you they’d find out who you were. That would threaten him.” She scratched her head; pulling at the hair in one of her pigtails, making it crooked. “He makes it sound very convincing.” She sat back with a start. “He must have seen the newspaper article that ran the sketch. That’s why he took all the mirrors out of your house. He didn’t want you to discover who you really are. On the other hand, this is so strange, because if he really thought you were cursed, a lot of this stuff he did makes sense. That’s totally wild.”

I thought about the mirrors. I remembered the expression on Damien’s face when he realized all the mirrors in my house had been taken down or destroyed. I still had aversions to them, and rarely gave in to the temptation. They were everywhere at my grandparents’ home, but I did my best to avoid them, knowing that God watched and judged what I did.

“When I tell you that I love you, does it scare you?” she asked.

I contemplated her question, knowing I had thought about it many times before. “It used to, but for some reason I’m not worried anymore.”

“I think I know why.”

“Tell me.”

“Sophie, I don’t believe in curses or superstitions. I think the more you’re out in the normal world, you’ll realize all the stuff you’ve been told is not real. There is no such thing. All this stuff you father told you isn’t the truth. You’re not cursed.”

What she said completely deflated me. I had trusted her with my deepest, darkest realities and now she said that what I harbored and lived with my entire life was just a lie.

“You’ll never be happy if you live in fear like this. You’ll have an awful life if you never let anyone love you. I think it’s terrible what he did. He’s the one that’s cursed you with stupid superstitions. It’s not real. There is no such thing as a curse.”

I was shocked at what she said and felt the need to scoot away, fearing God would strike her down with a bolt of lightning. “You don’t believe in God?”

“No. And I don’t believe that how I live my life will determine how I spend my death. I believe that you do the right things for this life, not for some afterlife. Everyone around here is so worried about what’s going to happen to them when they die. It’s stupid. When my mom died, people actually told me that God needed her in heaven and that’s why he took her home.” She gave a disgusted smirk. “Why would God take someone’s mother away? My mom died because cancer cells overtook her body. It had nothing to do with God, and it had nothing to do with curses or prayers or any other hocus-pocus that everyone tries to fill your head with.”

I was still uneasy.

“You were worried about telling me your secret because you thought I would be afraid of you. And it turns out, you should be afraid of me.”


“Because I am a bad influence. That’s why I’m not allowed at the school. I asked questions and talked about things that made everyone nervous. The other kids told their parents that I didn’t believe in God and that I attacked their precious religion. That’s the reason I no longer go to school.” She smiled and pulled me close. “I’m worse than you. You may lure them in with your beauty and then kill them off, but I threaten their beliefs and their chances at eternal life. We make quite a pair.”

Being close to her was a comfort, even though I was still concerned about what she said. I cared about her and felt her statements against God would come back to haunt her.

“I know you aren’t just going to believe everything I say. It’s all been drilled into your head for so long, it will be hard to change what you believe, but I want to show you something that will hopefully help you get over all this. We’re going to do an experiment so I can prove that there is no such thing as a curse.”

I didn’t like the idea and was apprehensive.

“You don’t have a choice,” she said, with a defiant lift of her eyebrow. “You are my best friend, my only friend in this world. I love you as if you were my sister. Nothing fatal has happened to me yet and nothing will. I’ll prove to you that you are not cursed.”

I felt funny having her tempt fate for me.

“I was planning on killing myself anyway, so this isn’t a big sacrifice. Quit looking like that,” she chided. Stephanie put her finger to her mouth and feigned deep deliberation. “Hmm. If you have the power to kill people, then let’s work on how we can use it to bump off my stepmother!” She fell back against the soft forest floor in wicked laughter.


She giggled with delight.

I couldn’t help but smile, even though she had made me out as toxic. She had heard what had kept me hidden and silent for years and was still my best friend. She had accepted what I said. She made light of it in a way that made me feel like nothing I told her would scare her away. Stephanie was intriguing and confusing, but I had no reservations that she was loyal and trustworthy. I had given her the secret of what I feared and what had formed my life. She had the power to destroy my world by exposing my enigma, yet I felt assured she would guard it, regardless of her own doubts about its truth.

She stopped laughing and leaned over to her backpack. She pulled out a bag of chips and a bottle of soda, and offered them to me. I took a handful of chips and we sat in silence for a while as we passed the bottle back and forth. “I think you saved me.”

I looked at her strangely, smiled, and shook my head.

She smiled back. “You did. Now the hard part is going to be saving you.”

Buy the book: Amazon/Smashwords

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