Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Chasing Evil by Kristina Rienzi

Title: Choosing Evil
Series: Ensouled Trilogy #1
Author: Kristina Rienzi
Release date: November 25th 2014
Publisher: Frost Books

A Note from the Author:

Hey guys!

Thank you so much for stopping by today to check out my debut novel, Choosing Evil! This baby was a labor of love, for sure. And, its tagline, 'Embrace Your Inner Demon' has already raised some eyebrows around my small beach town (oops!).

Well, if you're into the paranormal like I am, it won't shock you to know the demons in Choosing Evil are not only sexy and bad-ass, but full of emotional baggage and human appeal.

While Choosing Evil is Serafina's story, her love interest, Damon is a giant part of it. If you like what you read, get ready for the sequel, Breaking Evil, which I'm hoping to release in 2015. Both books are part of The Ensouled Trilogy, which not only pits good against evil, but makes each character, and reader, question what evil really means to them.

I hope you have fun today getting introduced to Choosing Evil, and me! Don't forget to find me on social media and, of course, sign up for my giveaways below :)

Thank you again for helping me celebrate Choosing Evil's release!


About the Book:

Serafina Murano is no stranger to the paranormal. All of her life she’s lived harmoniously alongside demons. Damon Serpe is a conflicted demon on a mission. Unexpectedly, they collide into each other’s lives and are inexorably drawn to one another.

Dark deadly secrets, gut wrenching betrayal, and elusive questions haunt her and have her entire life. Instinctively, Serafina realizes Damon holds the key to her understanding. If she trusts him, can he help decipher her recurring nightmares and unravel the mysteries surrounding her?

On the eve of her thirtieth birthday, she must select her path and make a difficult choice. One which will change her, and perhaps the world, forever.

Will Serafina embrace the truth and face her evil?

Would you?

Buy it here: Frost Books | Author's Site

About the Author:

Kristina Rienzi was born and raised at the Jersey Shore where she still lives today. Her debut paranormal suspense novel, CHOOSING EVIL, is being published by Frost Books on November 25, 2014.

Professionally, Kristina has been active in the writing community as a member of the Mystery Writers of America, Sisters in Crime-Central Jersey, Romance Writers of America and New Jersey Romance Writers, serving as Chair of the Literary Book Fair in 2013. Kristina has her Masters Degree in Psychological Counseling and her Senior Professional in Human Resources Certificate, working in both fields throughout her business career.

Personally, Kristina is married and a doggie mommy to Pekingese and Shih Tzu pups. Although a lover of New Jersey, she dreams of one day moving to Hawaii and living the “Aloha” way. When she’s not writing, she spends her time reading, watching paranormal investigations, rooting for her West Virginia Mountaineers or relaxing with her loved ones, wine in hand.

Kristina is currently working on BREAKING EVIL, the sequel to CHOOSING EVIL, as well as another paranormal suspense novel,UNLEASH THE WICKED, about an unsuspecting witch at the Jersey Shore.
Facebook | Website | Twitter | Goodreads


There’s a tour wide giveaway with three winners…

1) $25 Amazon Gift Card plus ecopy Choosing Evil
2) $10 Amazon Gift Card plus ecopy Choosing Evil
3) ecopy Choosing Evil

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Join the Party:

Kristina will be hosting a release day FB party and everyone is invited! It’s kicking off tonight (Nov 25th) at 8PM EST. Come by and visit for a bit! There will be all kinds of giveaways and lots of fun! To join in visit THIS page!

Book Blitz, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Anomaly by Tonya Kuper!

Release Date: 11/25/14
Entangled Teen

Summary from Goodreads:
Reality is only an illusion.
Except for those who can control it…

Worst. Birthday. Ever.
My first boyfriend dumped me – happy birthday, Josie!- my dad is who knows where, I have some weird virus that makes me want to hurl, and now my ex is licking another girl’s tonsils. Oh, and I’m officially the same age as my brother was when he died. Yeah, today is about as fun-filled as the swamps of Dagobah. But then weird things start happening…

Like I make something materialize just by thinking about it.
When hot badass Reid Wentworth shows up on a motorcycle, everything changes. Like, everything. Who I am. My family. What really happened to my brother. Existence. I am Oculi, and I have the ability to change reality with my thoughts. Now Reid, in all his hotness, is charged with guiding and protecting me as I begin learning how to bend reality. And he’s the only thing standing between me and the secret organization that wants me dead…


Another bell rang. I spun wildly, searching for the source, and my foot slipped out from under me. My left foot joined my right, sliding down a rocky surface.
A scream tore past my lips.
My brain fought to figure out what was happening as my hands gripped for something—anything—because I was falling. My head swiveled.
I couldn’t comprehend the giant, gaping crack I’d fallen into. A fissure in the ground at least eight feet wide. My fingers sunk into the cracked concrete, barely holding on. Sliding.
Then I looked down.
No end in sight. An abyss.
Everything around me blurred, and all I could see was black. And in that blackness was the one thing I was terrified of: death. My stomach pitched and my chest heaved, but no air moved in or out of my lungs. I was suffocating.
Ripping my eyes away from the darkness, I focused on my hands, still grasping at the gravely terrain crumbling beneath them. My right foot slipped, and my fingers dug deeper into the ground. It was a mixture of rock, and mud, and I didn’t know what. It felt like glass shards were being shoved under my fingernails.
I dug in with my toes, using the muscles in my legs to slow my descent. I slid to a halt, but the rocks and substrate continued to crumble beneath me. I searched blindly for a sturdy foothold. My foot found a rocky lip, but as soon as I thought it was safe, it gave way. My right silver flip-flop plummeted into the darkness so eager to swallow me.
Attempting to force my gaze upward, I focused on the contrast of the dark surrounding me and the bright light above, the line where they met. Technically, I’d die in broad daylight.
“Think, Josie.” The voice was strong, demanding. It took a second for it to register. “Josie, look at me.”
Reid. Reid was here. That’s where I was. I was at Reid’s place. I’d come here to train. I’m an Oculi. It all became clear as I broke free from the terror.
I wrenched my head toward his voice, my gaze meeting his. He crouched above me at the surface, his eyes my lifeline because he didn’t offer a hand. He wasn’t about to coddle me. That wasn’t his style. He said, “Breathe. Think.”
Dragging in an uneven breath, looking into his clear eyes, something clicked in the far reaches of my mind.
I Pushed with no effort. No headache, no nausea. I blinked, and stairs carved themselves into the side of the chasm, jutted out as if they’d always been there. With great hesitancy, I climbed the stairs on all fours, close to the wall. I could see the surface, right within my reach.
The stairs were gone.
I felt myself tumbling, falling. Flailing along the wall of the abyss with nothing to stop my descent.
“React, Josie!”
I focused on the surface, on the light growing dimmer the farther I skidded. Earth. Ground beneath my feet. I Pushed. And Pushed.
Pain. Nausea. Dizziness.
Thunder sounded below, like the darkness of the chasm was rising up to swallow me whole. Something hit my feet so hard that it tossed me in the air.
Up. Up. Into the light.
My thoughts didn’t coalesce clearly, but I felt myself rising. The pain behind my eyes made my vision waver. I shot to the warehouse floor. Reid reached for me as I collapsed.
My lungs rebelled, and tears burned trails down my cheeks. Dirt covered my hands and caked beneath my fingertips. One fingernail had broken to the quick. It bled sullenly. I wasn’t about to look weak in front of him, though, so I held out my arm to ward off his offer of help. I stood tall on trembling legs.
Reid closed the gap between us, his arms extended like he would embrace me. “Josie—”
The light streaming through the warehouse windows dimmed and flickered. Darkness edged my periphery. I balled my trembling fist and slammed my knuckles into his cheek. White heat shot through my hand before everything went black.

Buy Links:

About the Author
Tonya Kuper's debut, ANOMALY, the first in the Schrodinger's Consortium young adult scifi trilogy, releases November 2014 by Entangled Teen. She lives in Omaha, NE with her two rad boys and husband, is a music junkie, and a chocolate addict. Star Wars & Sherlock fan.

Author Links:
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Monday, November 24, 2014

Book Blitz, Excerpt, & Giveaway: Beautifully Broken by Kira Adams

Genres: New Adult, Contemporary Romance
Jacqueline Blunt hasn’t had an easy life. In fact, she’s had anything but. From a drug addicted mother to being bounced around in foster care, Jacqueline longed for one thing—normalcy. Lee Bennett had everything he could ever want—girls falling all over him, a dream job, money. The one thing he was missing? Passion.

Sometimes the ones worth fighting for don’t know their worth. Sometimes being broken is beautiful. This is a story of strength, courage, hope, faith, and love. This is Beautifully Broken.
Only 99 pennies during the blitz!

I was going to kill Lee—I was going to murder him and bury the body.

It was surprisingly my first offense and I was let off with a fine. Lee was not as lucky—turns out he had a bit of a record—it only angered me more.

Lee had some kind of charm—he had somehow manipulated his way out of a short jail stint with a few choice words and his killer smile. I had to admit—he had his ways. He was slapped with a fine like me and we were sent on our way.

“So how about that for a first date?” Lee boasted as we drove away from the officer and the park.

I was seething and couldn’t even see straight from the rage. My response was a fresh and strong glare in his direction. I knew if I opened up my mouth it wouldn’t be pretty.

“Oh, I get it…you’re giving me the silent treatment,” he paused for effect. “I guess you’re entitled to that this one time.”

I glanced over at him, unable to hide my shock—then back at the road—still silent. It was the calmest I had been in days—I was proud of myself.

“Come on, at least admit it…you had fun,” Lee whispered, a hint of playfulness dancing behind his eyes.

I tried to fight my smile…but I couldn’t help it—if this was the way things were beginning, I could only imagine the rest of his trip.

“See? I knew it!” I wanted to slap the smirk right off his face. This was not what I had signed up for.

“Which hotel are you staying at?” The coolness and indifference in my voice could shatter mirrors.

“So it’s going to be like that?” Lee replied in a surprised tone.

“Like what? You almost got us arrested back there…next I’m sure my actual life will be in danger.” I didn’t bother tearing my eyes off the road that time.

“Oh, come on—Parker always made you seem like such a risk taker,” Lee said playfully.

The mention of Parker’s name had me going through a whirlwind of emotions.

“You spoke to Parker about me?” I tried to mask the nervousness in my voice. I hadn’t taken the necessary time to mourn his absence in my life and wasn’t prepared for this.

Too late. Lee’s voice sounded dejected. Suddenly, I was kicking myself mentally in the face. I hadn’t meant to hurt his feelings. But the fact that he was disappointed at all had to mean something right?

Krista Pakseresht has always been a dreamer. From the first time she opened her eyes. Creating worlds through words is one thing she is truly talented at. She specializes in Young adult/New adult romance, horror, action, fantasy, and non-fiction under the pen name Kira Adams.

She is the author of the Infinite Love series, the Foundation series, the Darkness Falls series, and the Looking Glass series.

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Sunday, November 23, 2014

Stacking the Shelves [70]

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews where we get to show off the books we've won, bought, or otherwise received in the past week. If a book catches your eye, *click* the picture to go to the Goodreads page of that book.

I'm going through a cowboy phase, y'all, it's driving me insane.

Garrett by Sawyer Bennett
The Pandas and Their Chopsticks: And Other Animals Stories by Demi
Below the Belt by Sidney Halston
Edge, Episode One: Season One by Jamie Magee
City of Eternal Night by Kristen Painter

Reforming the Cowboy by Marisa Cleveland
Summer Wine by Jess Dee
Come by J.A. Huss
Cowboy Town by Kasey Millstead
Slumber Party by Christopher Pike Courtesy of the SI Steampunk Society
Ghosts of Rosewood Asylum by Stephen Prosapio
Claimed by the Elven King: Part One by Cristina Rayne

Clybourne Park by Bruce Norris

In My Email Inbox:
Last House Burning by Katy Scott
The Lady Smut Book of Dark Desires by Various Authors Thanks Rachel and Madeline!

In My Mailbox:

Momnesia by Lori Verni-Fogarsi Thanks The Book Bag!
Hugs and Misses by Wilhelm Staehle Thanks Quirk Books!
Stars and Swipes by Wilhelm Staehle Thanks Quirk Books!
Of Scars and Stardust by Andrea Hannah

It's signed and came with swag! Thanks so much to Andrea and Nikki over at Fiction Freak!

Friday, November 21, 2014

Review: Melt by Selene Castrovilla

Title: Melt
Author: Selene Castrovilla
Format: egalley
Pub. Date: November 6th 2014
Source: Netgalley & Last Syllable Books

Description via Goodreads:

Based on true events, MELT is both a chilling tale of abuse, and a timeless romance. MELT will hit you like a punch in the face, and also seep through the cracks in your soul.

MELT is a brutal love story set against the metaphorical backdrop of The Wizard of Oz (not a retelling). When sixteen year old Dorothy moves to the small town of Highland Park, she meets, and falls for Joey – a “bad boy” who tells no one about the catastrophic domestic violence he witnesses at home. Can these two lovers survive peer pressure, Joey’s reputation, and his alcoholism?

Told in dual first person, Joey’s words are scattered on the page – reflecting his broken state. Dorothy is the voice of reason – until something so shattering happens that she, too, may lose her grip. Can their love endure, or will it melt away?


This book left me really torn on how to rate it. There were some things I absolutely loved and other things I hated just as much. I guess it evens out to about a three/three and a half star rating.

Let me first start off by saying this isn't a book I'll soon forget. It's gritty and real and addresses some pretty tough stuff. It has a haunting tone throughout that lingers even after you're done with it.

I loved Joey's perspective. That is, I found it the most unique and captivating. It's written in broken thoughts, in verse so his chapters are read like shaky poems. I really liked this reflection of how the abuse has left him broken and struggling. I liked seeing why he did what he did, and as horrific as his home life is, it was fascinating to read about in a morbid curiosity type of way. I liked watching his emotions and struggles with himself as he grows more attached to Dorothy even though he wants to keep her away. For me, Joey is what made this book worth reading.

Dorothy, on the other hand, I didn't care for. She is a rich girl who moves from the city to a small town and falls into instant connection with the attractive boy literally from the other side of the tracks. Her chapters are largely written in prose, which reads fine but a bit boring. I didn't really get why she victimizes pot so much. I'm not a smoker, and granted Joey does a lot of bad things, fighting, drinking, and drugs among them. But it was always brought back to pot which really just doesn't seem like that big of a deal to me. Personal irritation, I suppose. I also found it was weird that though both of her parents are acclaimed psychiatrists and have met Joey, they trash talk him and refuse to let her speak about him and what's really happening at home. It's kind of abuse 101, isn't it? Not being snarky at all, just genuinely concerned. If you know he's skittish and a trouble maker and you see his scars... Wouldn't you just assume.....?

There were allusions/parallels to the Wizard of Oz though not as many as I was expecting, but it still made for an interesting addition or slant to the idea of the story.

At the end of it all, I wasn't sure how I felt. I know that it's not how I was intended to feel (at least I hope not) but I kind of got the vibe that "hey if a boy drinks and pushes you and acts like his abusive alcoholic father, go hunt him down and he'll be changed because he really loves you." I get why Joey did what he did, but she doesn't at first. And I get why he's so attached to her from the beginning, abuse is a bitch that way. Once someone pays you the time of day, you get that connection. Speaking from experience. But the ending... I don't know. It didn't sit right with me. Especially since the story ended before the story ended. I won't call it a cliffhanger, because to my knowledge there isn't another book, but I was left going what?

This book deals with some heavy stuff: sex, drugs, drinking, abuse, violence. I recommend reading it despite my issues with it. It really is a weird book, but I mean that in a good way. It stands out and leaves an impression, at least it did for me. I finished it about a week before writing this review and I'm still not sure how I feel, and I'm still thinking about it.

Thanks to Netgalley & Last Syllable Books for my copy in exchange for my honest thoughts.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Blog Tour Review & Giveaway: Kissing Frogs by Alisha Sevigny

Title: Kissing Frogs
Author: Alisha Sevigny
Release date: 11/18/14
Publisher: Swoon Romance

Book Description via Goodreads:

Popular party girl and high school senior Jessica Scott has a secret: she used to be a nerd — a big one; a goody two-shoes, grade-skipping, all-state spelling bee champ. But she lost the braces, put on some contacts, and applied all her academic genius to studying and imitating the social elite. Now she rules the school from the upper echelon of the high school realm. With her cool new friends and hottest-guy-in-school boyfriend, life’s a beach — and that’s where she’s headed for Spring Break. That is, until her teacher breaks the bad news that she’s failing Biology — and her only chance to make up the grade is to throw away the culminating trip of her hard-earned popularity and join the Conservation Club in Panama to save the Golden Frog.

Unable to let go of her faded college dreams, Jess finds herself in a foreign country with a new social crew, and one handsome face that stands out as a blast from the past, threatening to ruin her queen bee reputation. Travis Henley may have grown up, but he still likes to play childish games and as payment for retrieving Jess’ lost ring from the bottom of a jungle pool, he wants three dates. While Jess does battle with spiders, snakes, wildfires and smart mean girls, she desperately tries to hang on to the last vestiges of her popular existence like the Golden Frog from its webbed toe. But as she starts to care about something more than tanning and texting – a species on the verge of disappearing forever – she may realize the worth of her inner nerd, and the one frog in particular that could be her prince in disguise.

Set in the lush and tropical El Valle de Anton, this modern fairytale re-imagining of “The Frog Prince” is toe-curling contemporary romance with an environmentalist heartbeat, in the tradition of Stephanie Perkins.

Buy it here: Amazon

About the Author:

Alisha Sevigny holds a degree in Sociology and Professional Writing from the University of Victoria, is a film school graduate, former literary agent and current Social Media and Communications Director for an award-winning English school. A shameless romantic, Alisha and her husband have travelled the world together. On a recent trip to Panama with their new daughter, Alisha fell in love with the country, culture, and their national emblem, the Golden Frog. She was inspired to write her first Young Adult novel, Kissing Frogs. Born and raised in Kitimat, British Columbia, Alisha has always had a strong connection to the environment and conservationist spirit. She now lives in Toronto with her family.
Facebook | Website | Twitter | Goodreads



Four and a half stars.

I'll let you all in on a little secret: I was suckered in by the cover. I mean, just look at it. Look at how cute it is! I want a physical copy for my shelves, because it is absolutely darling. And I'm very happy to announce, that the story inside is just as lovely. This book is charming, well-written, and will hook you in from the start.

At first I didn't like the main character, Jessica. I really, really dislike girls who pretend to be stupid for popularity reasons. I knew people like this growing up and it just made me sad. Jessica was snarky and judgmental and I wasn't sure how I was going to like this book. And then I "got" it. Jessica didn't like having to pretend to be that way either, she just didn't know it yet. I loved watching her shape and grow throughout the trip to Panama, I liked seeing how she started to care about the project instead of just seeing it as a way to pass a class. And I loved watching her sort out her feelings, especially when it comes to Travis.

I adored Travis. He's smart and attractive and funny and passionate. It's easy to see why any girl would be smitten with him. I felt that all of the characters had unique voices that were brought to the table, and I got attached to most of them for different reasons. Jessica's new "nerd" friend Harp, for instance, is absolutely adorable and I wish I had a friend that sweet.

The setting and background of this story also add to its charm. Like Jessica, I fell in love with Panama and the allure/mythologies of the Gold Frog. The way that Sevigny describes every detail, from the gorgeous landscapes to the native animals, to the specific places and even the smells of local foods, it felt like I was actually in Panama. I have never been there. I have never wanted to be there. But I'll be damned if Sevigny didn't stir up an interest. There's also a lot of fun facts in this book. Because they're members of the conservation club, the whole group is well-versed in their studies, and chime in with information and tidbits about various things. I found these really interesting, and most importantly, it was done well-enough where it didn't feel like facts were being shoved down my throat.

My only real annoyance with this book was the fact that while Jessica is in Panama for her conservation report, her boyfriend and "best friends" are partying it up in Florida. I grew up in a pretty average town, neither rich nor poor. And no one, not even the popular clique, in high school would have gotten away with going to party unsupervised across the country. It made the book feel a bit more collegiate level in nature at time, when the characters are all still in high school. This didn't detract too much from the overall story, but it was something that bothered me.

I loved the sweet, clean, and admittedly cheesy romance (the characters comment on how cheesy it is too) that is Kissing Frogs. To the best of my knowledge this is a standalone, but I really, really hope to read more from these characters in the future. I recommend it for fans of YA contemporary romances.

I received this book via YA Bound Book Tours in exchange for my honest reviews. Thank you!

Follow the rest of the tour here!


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Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Blog Tour, Excerpt, and Giveaway: Shade by Cody Stewart!

Shade banner


About the Book:

Shade by Cody Stewart

Genre: Ya Paranormal



Midnight Frost Books:




Clendon Kiernan has always preferred the shadows. A place where he was free from the hate and fear, from the stares and ridicule of others. One night Clen discovers the shocking truth of why. He is a Shade. A thing of darkness. A creature with the ability to shred souls. When a vile whisper tells him to destroy everything around him Clen does the only thing he can.


But he cannot run from himself. The darkness growing inside Clen will soon consume him if he does not learn to control it. In his quest to do so, Clen learns that there is an entire world that exists in the shadows of Ellis, a world that has been hidden from him – secret clans with extraordinary abilities, the ghosts of a hidden past, and a war that’s been brewing for millennia. Clen must uncover the true history of Ellis, see through the generations of lies and deceit, and suffer betrayal and heartbreak if he is to save all those who hate and fear him. But when he learns the truth, will he want to?


The darkness in him could save Ellis. Or it could be what destroys it.


About the Author:

Cody Stewart
Cody was born in Upstate New York. Eventually setting off to seek his fortune, he worked in a paper mill, a whipped cream factory, cleaned apartments, and administratively assisted several organizations before returning to the Adirondacks with a wife and child that he picked up along the way.

He approaches life as though it were a page – frequently rearranging paragraphs to make it more interesting if not wholly true, fudging with the margins to fit more in, and, sometimes, erasing entire sections altogether.

When not altering reality, he is scouring comic book shops, lying on the ground, or floor (whichever he happens to be standing on when he feels the need to go horizontal), trying to convince his wife to make french toast (she makes amazing french toast), and searching for the darkest cup of coffee in existence.






Read an excerpt from the book:
Chapter 1

It lives in the cramped spaces between shadows in the rear-right side of my brain, just
behind my ear. It wanders relentlessly, scratching along the pink, fleshy walls of my mind with
its unkempt fingernails, shouting obscenities at other thoughts as they travel across lobes and
cortices. It vomits poison and corrupts my mind with whispers of death. It reminds me how his
blood felt running down the back of my hands. How my knuckles tore as they raked across his
cheekbones. How his tooth cracked loose from his gums, and the muffled gargle as he choked on
it. It laughs and calls me a coward for running away.
The wind rustles through the pines, dances into my ears, and carries the vile voice away.
It’s quiet here. My thoughts are my own.
The fire pops, and a fleet of sparks takes flight, dancing across the night sky. Fireflies
follow suit, taking the initiative to investigate the imposters. I readjust a log when the fire dims.
It roars to life again and illuminates the decayed insides of the cabin around me. The wooden
frame has long since rotted. The stone floor and sections of the wall are the only signs that this
was once a structure of some sort.
Muren, my Norwegian Elkhound, refuses to step through the threshold of these ruins,
insisting instead on patrolling the perimeter.
I lie back, using my sweatshirt as a pillow, and watch for hours as the flames dance like
springtime wildflowers until their petals wilt and fall and all burns to ash. The sun peeks over the
treetops and reaches through the canopy with pale fingers of morning light just as the last ember
Time to go home.
Birds chime in the new day like church bells, but I still feel heavy with the burdens of
yesterday. The walk back is a habit now, following the trail worn by my feet alone. This is a
thick part of the mountain, made thicker with countless stories and a dark reputation. Few dare
walk it.
Dad sits on the front porch sipping his coffee when I step out of the forest and into the
yard. He doesn’t look up from the ground as I come near, doesn’t shift or show any signs of
surprise or anger. “Get inside and get washed up. You’ve got an appointment with Dr. Hague
before school.”My parents think I’m crazy. Everyone thinks I’m crazy. It’s hard to blame them, though.
I kind of am.
The chemical stink of artificial lavender burns my sinuses. It’s meant to foster calm and
encourage me to share openly, but I can’t get the taste of it off my tongue.
“What makes you say that, Clen?” Dr. Hague’s voice has padded walls. “What makes
you think people fear you?”
The quiver in their lips as they ask me stupid questions. “I don’t know. Just a feeling, I
“Is that why you run away?”
“I don’t run away. I just need to take breaks sometimes.”
“Breaks from what?”
I stare out the window at the passing school buses and laughing kids with books tucked
under their arms. Packs of them, like roving bands of scavenging coyotes.
Dr. Hague, the school psychologist, observes me like an anthropologist studying apes in
the jungle. He wants to ask me about the fight with Jefferson Hewlett, but he doesn’t bother. I’ve
been seeing him long enough that he knows I won’t talk about it so soon.
“How are things at home?” Dr. Hague attempts a change in direction. He’s trying to
throw me off guard.
“Fine.” But I have an impeccable defense.
“How did your parents react this time?”
“The same.”
“How does that make you feel? That you can run into the woods, disappear for days, and
your parents welcome you back as if nothing happened?” His stare is forceful and constant. I
sink under the weight of it.
“I need to get to class.”
I wash my face as soon as the session is over, trying to scrub away the smell of therapy
before school.
***I stand still and invisible in the dull, gray hallways as the horde of apes and coyotes
bustles past. They pick fleas out of each other’s hair and nip at each other’s heels. I stand on the
periphery, hoping they all just pass me by.
One of them veers off course, working his way through the packs straight toward me. He
towers above the rest, the tallest sophomore in school. He’s broad and blond and has a permanent
glint of mischief in his grayish-blue eyes.
“You’re going, right? I know you have this mysterious loner persona that you love to
project, but this party is going to be epic.”
Oliver Niels seems to be the only one who’s never felt the need to run from me or throw
things at the back of my head. He’s been my sole friend since second grade.
“I’m not feeling it tonight, Ollie.”
“You’re never feeling it, Clen. I think you were born without whatever part of your brain
actually feels it. Or maybe, I saw this special on the Discovery Channel once about a guy who
got in this serious accident, banged his head real bad, and all of sudden spoke in a British accent.
You ever experience any head trauma? Seriously, if I wasn’t your friend, you’d never come off
the mountain. You’d be a hermit, grow a huge, gross beard and eat squirrel stew. There’d be
legends about you. The Hermit of Mount Bannir – died sad and alone with squirrel on his
Ollie’s voice fades away like a passing echo when I have to venture into the horde to get
to class. Cologne and scented body lotions coat my nostrils, and my throat closes from the
olfactory assault. The chatter grows to an indecipherable roar of voices that crashes down around
me like a relentless wave. Ollie’s voice sounds far away, like he’s yelling at me from the beach
as I’m dragged out to sea.
A thick mane of black hair slaps me in the face as it passes. The sweet, natural smell of it
lingers. I meet one set of eyes among the hundreds swarming like bees around me. As pure and
green as the first leaves of spring. The deafening roar dulls to gentle whisper.
Temporarily blinded by the rare shimmer of beauty among the streaked linoleum and
concrete walls, I crash into Silas Conroy, my forehead bloodying his lower lip.
“The hell, Kiernan! You looking to get dead?” Silas snarls like a rabid dog, tagging the
wall with red graffiti. His black hair is shaved on the sides, giving him a short Mohawk. His left
ear is mostly missing, just bits of jagged scar tissue. His eyes are dark and shallow.Something hisses in the base of my skull. It’s a cold tickle, a drop of ice water that flows
down the length of my spine. But it’s still quiet enough that I can ignore it.
“Easy, Silas.” Ollie steps forward to shield me as I pick up my books. “It was an
“Protecting him is an accident, Niels. You should side with your own people.”
“You aren’t any kind of people I would claim as my own.”
“I still owe you big for what you did to Jefferson,” Silas snarls at me. “Your bodyguard
won’t always be around to protect you, Kiernan.” He cackles like a hyena as he saunters off.
Ollie lifts me off the floor like he always does.
The beautiful green eyes disappear among the horde.
Lunch is a wretched ordeal as usual. I slide my tray along the counter, the lunch ladies
looking on like hair-netted prison guards. They heap scorn on my plate, piled high atop a
mountain of gritty mashed potatoes.
Kids stack their books in empty seats as I pass. I know I’m not welcome at any of their
tables. They all know I’d never dare attempt to be in their company, but they do it anyway, every
day, just to make it painfully clear. There’s a small table in the back corner, by the garbage cans
and emergency exit. It smells and the bitter wind howls through the doors in the winter. That’s
where I sit.
I eat fast so I can leave before the rest. If I’m here when they scrape their plates, I’m
likely to end up with creamed corn all over the front of me. The lunch monitors herd us out the
side doors to the athletic field to mill about for a mandatory twenty five minutes of fresh air. I
shove my hands in my sweatshirt pockets and head straight for the tree by the road. I sit in its
shadow, hidden from the late spring sun and the spiteful sneers of my peers.
The crowd immediately divides in two. Half of the field is black hoodies, gauged ears,
and work boots – kids from the Pines. The other half is skinny jeans, nice watches, and gelled
hair – kids from the Village. They’ve hated each other for as long as I can remember. Not just
the kids either. Everyone. I don’t live in either neighborhood, which only means I’m equally
hated by both.
Dr. Hague is on monitoring duty today. He wanders down the center of the field,
scratching his chin and nodding. He starts for me, knowing I spend this time under my tree and not among my peers as he prescribed, but thankfully, thinks better of it. Being seen with the
school shrink would do nothing to improve matters. Instead he makes for a tight circle of kids on
the Pines side of the field emanating the faint smell of cigarette smoke.
As I watch him scold and lecture, a rock hits my shoe. I don’t need to look up to know
who it is.
“What do you want, Silas?”
“You’ve got debts, Kiernan. First, you lose it on Jefferson. The kid damn near choked on
his own tooth. Then you bloody my lip because you’re too stupid to watch where you’re going.
Time to settle. And Ollie ain’t here to save you.”
“Leave me alone.”
“No, I don’t think I’m gonna do that.” Silas grabs me by the collar and rips me from the
pleasant shadow.
The whisper in my head becomes a harsh cry, demanding that I retaliate. I try to take
steady, even breaths, to keep my heart beating a normal rhythm. Dr. Hague said that will keep
me calm. Then my feet leave the ground, and I’m weightless for half a second before crashing
back to earth. All my calming breath is forced from my lungs. The harsh cry becomes a vicious
A circle quickly forms around us. Kids from the Pines and the Village alike gather to
watch my humiliation. I’m the great unifier.
Pressure builds behind my eyes. Dr. Hague says I just need to concentrate. I can’t let it
control me.
“What? You aren’t gonna go all ape nuts on me like you did Jefferson?”
“You’ve got anger issues, Silas. I know a good shrink who could help you out with that.”
Silas cocks his arm back, ready to split my skull with a wicked punch.
“Enough,” a commanding voice orders. Dr. Hague pushes his way through the circle.
“Everyone inside now! Silas, to the principal’s office. Clen.” He shakes his head, sad and
disappointed. “Get to class.”
I’m the only passenger on my bus. The school repurposed a utility van specifically for
me. Kids point and chuckle when I get on, but their voices die when the door closes. The drive is
quiet.I stare mindlessly out the window as we drive through town. Ellis is a boring, little hole
in the world carved out of mountain and forest. It’s bordered in the north by the Tear of Heaven,
a massive glacial lake, and surrounded on the other three sides by the Moreau Mountains. Town
is divided in half by the River Skye, which flows from the Tear of Heaven all the way down to
Hudson City – Lakeside Village on the east, everything else on the west.
The engine groans and sputters as we climb Mount Bannir. Sal, the bulbous driver who
smells of beef jerky, curses his misfortune at drawing the short straw of school bus routes. He
pulls to a stop at the end of my driveway, a dirt road that seems to have no end. It twists and
turns until it is swallowed by the dark of the dense forest. Sal won’t drive in there. He dismisses
me with a guttural grunt.
I’m thankful for the walk. The forest swallows the light and, with it, all the anxiety that’s
built up in the back of my mind over the course of the day.
“How was therapy?” Mom asks as she slides dinner in the oven. Dad suddenly shifts
uncomfortably and hides his head in the fridge.
Mom stiffens. Her hands become tightly clenched fists inside her oven mitts. “That’s all
I’m ever going to get from you, isn’t it?”
“I need to take a shower.”
“Safe to say you’re grounded,” Mom calls as I walk away.
“Fine.” I set my bag in my room, gather some clean clothes and make for the bathroom. I
stop at the top of the stairs when I hear the hushed whispers.
“We can’t keep doing this, Clark.” Mom’s frantic, on the verge of either yelling or
crying. “He was gone for two days. Sleeping out in the woods somewhere. We had no way of
knowing whether he was even alive or not.”
“Muren was with him. He was fine, Sarah.”
“He is not fine. He attacked somebody. And we just send him off to that doctor like it’s
going to fix something. This is not a problem Dr. Hague can fix.”
“We don’t have any other choice.”
“Yes, we do,” Mom snaps. “If you would just talk to him, tell him…”
“No,” Dad declares curtly. “We made a decision. We need to stick to it.”
Mom’s feet pound angrily on the floor as she storms off. Dad curses under his breath.***
My parents are in bed early. The tense night of passive-aggressive scowling and openly
aggressive yelling must have tired them out.
I cautiously open my bedroom window and scale down the pine tree next to the house.
Ollie is waiting for me at the end of my driveway.
“Well, look at you,” he says as I climb in the passenger seat. “You showered and even
brushed your hair. If I didn’t know any better, I’d say you were looking forward to this.”
“You don’t know any better. I couldn’t be looking forward to this any less.”
“Don’t be such a sad, old man. You might as well slip on some loafers and a sweater
vest, talking like that. Read a romance novel. Eat a sleeve of saltines. I know deep down
somewhere in that dark pit of despair you call a soul there is a tiny flickering light. And do you
know what that light is?”
I immediately regret getting in Ollie’s car. “No, nor do I care.”
“Youthful exuberance. Passion. A desire to grab life by its delicates and howl at the
“I’m not grabbing anything by its delicates.”
“I’m talking about living!” Ollie throws his arms toward the sky in an exaggerated,
theatrical gesture. “Tonight you’re going to do some living. You’re going to talk to pretty girls,
maybe tip some things over. You’re going to act reckless and swear and yell and at no point in
the night will you use the word nor. You’re going to act like a real sixteen year old, not the
angst-ridden, chiseled jaws you see on the CW. We’re going to the Raveyard.”
The Raveyard is a local legend. One of the original settlers of Ellis, Abigail Moreau,
lived alone, in the mountains. One year, crops failed, livestock disappeared, houses burned
down, and people dropped dead for no apparent reason. The townspeople accused her of
witchcraft. They marched up there in true angry-mob fashion, pitchforks and torches in hand,
and killed her. They named the mountain range after her. It was the least they could do, I
suppose. Now she’s said to haunt Ellis, looking to exact her ghostly revenge. The Raveyard is a
large clearing in the woods where Abigail was said to bury her victims. Now it’s a place to party.
“Whatever.” I hunch down in my seat and pull my hood over my head. Let’s just get this
night over with.”
“That’s the spirit.”The Raveyard is only a few minutes away from my house, in the foothills of Mount
Bannir. Ollie turns down an old logging trail that empties into the large clearing, slowing to a
crawl as his car jostles over roots and rocks and holes in the ground. I take one long, deep breath,
like it’s my last taste of air before diving deep to the ocean floor, and get out of the car. The
infinite weight of the sea presses down on me. I cling close to Ollie. He’s my only lifeline, my
only source of oxygen while navigating the dark trenches so far below.
The heat of their stares pales that of the raging bonfire. The salty sea water is like acid on
the burns. I’m so distracted by the pain that I don’t notice the riptide until I’m already caught up
in it. I reach back for Ollie, but he’s pulled in a different direction, one with straight black hair,
eyes that smile and skin like the failing light of morning. I’m churned and battered against a/the
craggy shore as the sharks circle round. My lungs burn and scream. My head fills with plankton
and algae that feed off the soft tissue of my brain. I’m spit out the other side, gasping and broken.
I collapse against a tree and cling to it, desperate for a new lifeline. The smell of the
smoke, pine, and birch fill my nose. The crackle of the kindling as it splits and burns rings like a
song in my ears. I run my hands across the rough bark, tracing each crack with my fingers. Its
sap sticks in the hair on my knuckles. I picture the perfect green eyes that passed too quickly.
Eventually, the sound of voices fades away. The stink of cologne and anxiety disappears. The
world disappears.
“Are you sleeping? We’ve been here, like, ten minutes and you’re sleeping against a tree.
Have you even tipped anything over yet?”
“Ollie, can we just…” As I slowly open my eyes, reluctant to let the world back in, I see
that he isn’t alone. The girl that pulled him to a different shore smiles kindly, her soft, dark eyes
beaming from behind her raven bangs.
“This is Suzume Akamura,” Ollie declares with an oafish smile. “Su, this is Clendon
“Hey,” I choke out, recognizing her from school. She’s a freshman.
“Hi.” Her voice is smooth and steady. “How’s it going?”
“Umm, good?” I reply, cautious and confused. Ollie glares at me, silently demanding I be
cool.Su fidgets with her hands. “I’ll be right back. I need to let my friends know where I am.”
She disappears around the other side of the fire, her steps gaining more confidence the further
away from me she gets.
Ollie pinches the bridge of his nose and shakes his head in exasperation. “Could you be
any more awkward? It only takes you two words to send someone scurrying away. You’ve talked
to other people beside me before, right?”
“She’s from the Village. I thought you kids from the Pines weren’t allowed to talk to
“I can talk to whoever I want.”
“Hey, it’s your feud. I just don’t want to go out like Mercutio.”
“Romeo’s best friend. Got killed because of the Capulet-Montague feud? We read it last
year in English.”
Ollie shrugs.
“How do you pass classes?”
A familiar raven-haired boy marches toward us from the edge of the Raveyard. He’s thin
and wiry. He’s a junior, I think. His dark eyes are like empty holes in his head.
“Where is she?” he demands. “Where is Su?”
I lean in close to Ollie’s ear so only he can hear me. “See? This is what I’m talking about.
I’m not dueling anyone.”
“Hey, Yori. Su is around somewhere.” Ollie scans the crowd with his hand to his brow,
like a sailor taking stock of the sea.
“Stay away from my sister, Niels.” Yori doesn’t seem to mind that he barely comes up to
Ollie’s shoulder. He puffs out his chest and huffs authoritatively.
Ollie leans back casually with his hands tucked in his pockets, impressively letting Yori’s
obnoxious commands roll off him. Others aren’t so passive.
“Problem?” Brian Till, a boy from the Pines, steps forward. Till rivals Ollie in size, but
has none of his restraint.
“None of your business,” Yori spits.“I think it is,” Till growls and crosses his arms, threateningly flexing every muscle he
Others gather around, anticipating bloodied knuckles and broken faces. The crowd erupts,
hurling curses and insults like monkeys with their own feces.
The capillaries in my eyes pulse with steadily building intensity. The pressure pushes
outward on the fissures in my skull. The rumbling voices bleed together and fade away. The
hateful whisper in my head is the only sound in the world.
I hum a song to drown it out, but it devours the music like a rabid dog. I try to push it out
my ears, scrape it off my tongue, swallow and digest it. But it won’t quiet. I step back from the
crowd and dissolve in the darkness at the edge of the forest. It wraps around me like a snug
blanket. I run and let my feet take me where they want to go.
The whisper soon quiets, and I hear the crickets and cicadas and the crunch of the ground
beneath me. The soft plodding of my feet on dirt and leaves turns to the course grinding of
crushed stone. I’ve stepped into another clearing. My stomach tightens and twists in knots, and
the hairs stand up on the back of my neck as a cold shiver runs down my spine. A haunting and
familiar feeling creeps over me, like a wave of spiders. The core of me goes cold. Every breeze
is a whisper telling me to leave. Every little noise is the ground telling me it doesn’t want me
The moon creeps out from behind some clouds, illuminating the jagged tree line at the far
end of the clearing to show that it’s not trees at all. It is the charred husk of an old house. The
roof has collapsed. Only small sections of the walls are still standing. Everything inside is cinder
and ash.
“Clen? Where’d you go?” Ollie calls from behind me. “Sorry about this,” he says quietly
to someone else. “I think he’s got a touch of Social Anxiety Disorder or something.”
“Sorry about my brother,” Su replies. “He’s a jerk.”
They stumble out of the forest. Yori follows close after, still making demands.
There’s something strange about this place – something both comforting and terrifying at
once. My brain is adrift in a pool of déjà vu. It feels like I exist in two worlds at the same time,
and, with each blink of my eyes, I am transported from one to the other. I am standing in an eerie
clearing in the middle of the woods, terrified out of my mind. Blink. I’m playing at a home I
know well, comfortable and safe. Blink. I exchange unpleasant, untrusting looks with people I’ve just met. Blink. I’m surrounded by friends as close as family. Blink. Darkness. Everything is
covered in darkness and fear. Blink. The fear swims in their eyes, now just black, empty orbs.
Blink. Emptiness.
I flash from one world to the other so fast that I lose track of which one is real, which one
is mine.
Like there’s a rope tied around my insides, I’m pulled toward the house. The icy feeling
in the center of my chest spreads throughout the rest of my body, chilling my blood and bones to
the marrow. I stumble a few yards from the wreckage, tripping over an unseen object. A
Nintendo DS. I pick it up, and a current of electricity shoots up my arm. My muscles spasm, and
a vivid scene of anguish flashes through my mind like a bolt of lightning.
The world around me changes. The house is whole again. A young boy stands in front of
it. Veins pulse violently in his neck as he screams from the very pit of his soul. Tears stream
down his cheeks, but evaporate before they reach his chin. Then the world erupts in fire, and ash
blots out the sun. The boy disappears, swallowed in flame. As the world I know returns, I find
myself screaming for the boy, reaching out for him.
Ollie rushes to my side, again offering a hand to lift me off the ground. “He’s freaking
out. We need to get out of here.”
The fires burn hotter behind my eyes.
“No,” Yori says. “We need to get out of here. You two need to stay away from us. He’s
clearly insane, and I don’t trust you.”
Hot flames dance on my skin and smoke fills my lungs. The smell of blistering flesh sets
acid churning in my stomach.
I feel death in the air. Cold. Absolute. It’s inside me, scratching at the lining of my
stomach, clawing its way out. The beating inside my skull grows faster and stronger, like a dozen
horses racing around a track, feet and hearts pounding. They round the last turn. Their muscles
explode like gunfire. Pound, pound, pound. The animal sounds mix in a chaotic symphony of
noise and agony that crescendos as they reach the finish line. Pound, pound, pound.
It whispers in my head. A vile hiss from a wretched little snake.
Kill them.

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The Tour Schedule:

October 31st
SleepsOnTables – Review
November 1st
Suzy Turner, YA Author – Interview
Hope To Read – Promo Post
November 2nd
Archaeolibrarian – I dig good books! – Guest Post
November 3rd
Bella Harte Books – Promo Post
November 4th
YaReads – Interview
November 5th
NaYa Books and More – Promo Post
Fictional Thoughts – Guest Post
November 6th
M&EM Read YA – Review
Diane’s Book Blog – Interview
November 7th
Mythical Books – Guest Post
Becoming Books – Promo Post
November 8th
Cassandra M’s Place – Promo Post
November 9th
Bookworm In Barrie – Promo Post
November 10th
Lisa Loves Literature – Review
November 11th
Mystical Lit Lounge – Review
November 12th
Reading Over Sleeping – Interview
November 13th
WTF Are You Reading? – Promo Post
Reading is My Treasure – Guest Post
November 14th
My Book Chatter – Guest Post
November 15th
Adventures in Writing – Promo Post
November 16th
I Feel the Need, the Need to Read – Review
November 17th
The Caffeinated Booknerd – Promo Post
November 18th
Sleeps on Tables – Interview
All My Book Finds – Review
November 19th
ReadWriteLove28 – Guest Post
Bitches n Prose – Promo Post
November 20th
Imaginative Dreams – Review
A Little Bit of R&R – Interview
November 21st
Blissful Book Reviews – Review
Never Ending Stories – Promo Post
November 22nd
Book Lovers Life – Guest Post
Pandora’s Books – Promo Post
November 23rd
Mindjacked – Review
Fly to Fiction – Guest Post
November 24th
For the Love – Promo Post
November 25th
Just One More Chapter – Review
November 26th
The Book Beacon – Review
November 27th
Mercurial Musings – Review
The Book Cellar - Promo Post