Tuesday, June 21, 2016

Summer Dreaming $250 Cash Giveaway!

Summer Dreaming Cash

Summer Dreaming

$250 Cash Giveaway

June 21st to July 15th

An awesome group of bloggers and authors have joined with me to bring you one fabulous prize! One lucky winner will receive… $250 Amazon.com Gift Code or $250 in Paypal Cash   Thanks to these fabulous Sponsors!!
 I Am A Reader
Suzi Love
Kimber Leigh Wheaton
Glistering Bs Blog
Lori's Reading Corner
Bonnie Blythe Faith Based Romance
Bella Street Time Travel Romance
Laurie Here - Cont Fiction and More
KellysLuckyYou
Deb Atwood Author
Kindle and Me
Melanie McFarlane, YA Author
Heather Gray, Author
Everly Frost, YA Author
Author Pauline Creeden
Subtitled Books
The Page Unbound
LeahSay's Views
Joshua David Bellin
Crystal Marcos
The Candid Cover
LOVE. WITHOUT YOU
Here We Go Again...Ready?
Helen Smith Jennifer Faye ~ Romance Author B. Kristin McMichael
Cool Cat Mysteries
The Lovely Books
Author Elisa Dane
Simple Wyrdings
D.E. Haggerty, author Why Not? Because I Said So! (Sheila Staley)
Diana's Book Reviews
Stones of Gilgal Novels
AuggieTalk
Author Dorothy Dreyer  

Giveaway Details $250 in Paypal Cash or a $250 Amazon.com eGift Card Ends 7/15/16 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use money sent via Paypal. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning.

Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the authors, bloggers and publishers on the sponsor list. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, June 7, 2016

Hot YA Summer Reads and a Giveaway!



Summer is here! With the heat comes long days spent at the beach and pool with yummy snacks, a drink, and a great book. Sounds like the makings for a perfect day, right?

With the multitude of awesome YA books out there, it's hard to know what to read first. Hopefully, this post will help you make your decision! I've read some incredible books over the past couple of weeks and have a number of recommendations for you. I read most of these books in one sitting, and rated them all 5 stars.

Make sure to take part in the giveaway below. Author Melanie McFarlane has graciously offered up three ebook copies to give away. Woohoo!

Let's get to the books!






Genesis Girl by Jennifer Bardsley

Eighteen-year-old Blanca has lived a sheltered life. Her entire childhood has been spent at Tabula Rasa School where she’s been protected from the Internet.

Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint makes her extremely valuable, and upon graduation, Blanca and those like her are sold to the highest bidders.

Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeals are soon horrified by just how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those mind-numbing years locked away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable.

By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only chance of escape is to go online.

I was lucky to read an ARC of this book. It releases June 14th. You can preorder your copy below!

Kindle 







There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane

Peace. Love. Order. Dome. That’s the motto that the Order has given the residents of Dome 1618 to live by. Natalia Greyes is a resident of Dome 1618, a covered city protected from the deadly radiation that has poisoned the world outside for four generations. Nat never questioned the Order, until one day she sees a stranger on the outside of her dome. Now Nat wants answers. What else might her government be hiding from the good and loyal people of Dome 1618?






New World Rising by Jennifer Wilson

Since witnessing her parents' murders at the age of eleven, Phoenix's only purpose in life has been to uphold her mother's dying words- to be strong and survive. But surviving outside of The Walls- outside of The Sanctuary- is more like a drawn-out death sentence. A cruel and ruthless city, Tartarus is run by the Tribes whose motto is simple, "Join or die."

Refusing to join and determined to live, Phoenix fights to survive in this savage world. But who can she trust, when no one can be trusted? Not even herself.


Kindle






The Bird and the Sword by Amy Harmon

Swallow, Daughter, pull them in, those words that sit upon your lips. Lock them deep inside your soul, hide them ‘til they’ve time to grow. Close your mouth upon the power, curse not, cure not, ‘til the hour. You won’t speak and you won’t tell, you won’t call on heav’n or hell. You will learn and you will thrive. Silence, Daughter. Stay alive.
The day my mother was killed, she told my father I wouldn’t speak again, and she told him if I died, he would die too. Then she predicted the king would trade his soul and lose his son to the sky.

My father has a claim to the throne, and he is waiting in the shadows for all of my mother’s words to come to pass. He wants desperately to be king, and I just want to be free.

But freedom will require escape, and I’m a prisoner of my mother’s curse and my father’s greed. I can’t speak or make a sound, and I can’t wield a sword or beguile a king. In a land purged of enchantment, love might be the only magic left, and who could ever love . . . a bird?






A Thousand Boy Kisses by Tillie Cole

One kiss lasts a moment.
But a thousand kisses can last a lifetime.

One boy.
One girl.
A bond that is forged in an instant and cherished for a decade.
A bond that neither time nor distance can break.
A bond that will last forever.
Or so they believe.
When seventeen-year-old Rune Kristiansen returns from his native Norway to the sleepy town of Blossom Grove, Georgia, where he befriended Poppy Litchfield as a child, he has just one thing on his mind. Why did the girl who was one half of his soul, who promised to wait faithfully for his return, cut him off without a word of explanation?
Rune’s heart was broken two years ago when Poppy fell silent. When he discovers the truth, he finds that the greatest heartache is yet to come.

Standalone Young Adult Tearjerker Romance.
For ages 14 and up.

Paperback



Collared by Nicole Williams

When a seventeen-year-old girl vanishes,
A community is shaken.
Parents turn desperate.
Friends hold vigils.
And the boy who loves her searches.

When a year goes by,
The community is recovering.
Parents feel hopeless.
Friends feel helpless.
And the boy who loves her continues his search.

When ten years go by,
The community has forgotten.
Parents cling to the past.
Friends move toward the future.
And the boy who loves her . . .
Brings her home.

Jade Childs spent ten years in captivity, but now that she’s back, the real battle for survival begins. The media shadows her. Flashbacks haunt her. Her old life evades her. Her so-called new life rejects her. She spent too many years in the dark to recognize the light. She spent too long repressing her feelings to remember how to express them. She spent a decade abandoning hope and cannot dare letting it back into her life. Jade’s not just defined by what happened to her—she’s collared to it.

When the twenty-seven-year-old woman is found,
A community wants to know the story,
Parents want to forget the story,
Friends want to be a part of the story,
And the man who still loves her faces the greatest challenge yet: letting her go.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, May 27, 2016

Drive By Review- There Once Were Stars by Melanie McFarlane





Blurb:



Peace. Love. Order. Dome. That’s the motto that the Order has given the residents of Dome 1618 to live by. Natalia Greyes is a resident of Dome 1618, a covered city protected from the deadly radiation that has poisoned the world outside for four generations. Nat never questioned the Order, until one day she sees a stranger on the outside of her dome. Now Nat wants answers. What else might her government be hiding from the good and loyal people of Dome 1618?

My quick review:

Fabulous! I was intrigued the moment I read the blurb and realized the story centered around a city enclosed by a dome. I'm a fan of dystopian novels, and this story satisfied.

Nat was a likeable character. I was drawn to her from the start. The romantic elements weaved into her storyline were perfect and left me with a smile on my face. Loved the intrigue and adventure. This was a well written novel I highly recommend!


Wednesday, May 25, 2016

Blast- Heart Of The Billionaire

Heart of the Billionaire

 The scrumptiously romantic series continues with the second book in the Almost an Angel Series by Bestselling Authors Jenifer Youngblood and Sandra Poole Gracie, an angel-in-training, has completed her first assignment, reuniting Alex and Dawson after their tumultuous breakup. Her elation is cut short when she receives her next assignment: Brooke Matthews—the snotty, entitled, princess, who did everything in her power to snatch Dawson away from Alex. Where in the world will Gracie find a man to put up with this beauty of a beast? Nash Rigby is a bull rider. Used to taking life by the horns, he’s willing to enter into an arrangement—a dubious arrangement—to save his father’s ranch. He’s trained to hang on for all he’s worth for eight seconds, but can this cowboy hang on to Brooke long enough to win the prize? Or, will he be able to see Brooke’s inner beauty and find the love of a lifetime? Maybe … with a little help from an almost angel. Faced with the insurmountable task of helping the cowboy and the billionaire’s daughter fall in love, Gracie digs in, determined to do things her way. When Sheldon, a dark angel with killer looks, floats back into her life, err … afterlife, Gracie must fight against her growing attraction to heaven’s bad boy. Heart of the Billionaire is a stand-alone novel. But to get the full effect of how things work in the realm of angels, check out Candlelight Kisses (Book 1 in the Almost an Angel Series) amazon Praise for the Series: "I did not see that ending coming! Gracie is not what I expected either...she doesn't fit the mold of what you think an "angel-in-training" is supposed to be like, and it will be fun to see her continue to learn and change. I love her mentor, Gertrude! It is a fun, clean romance that keeps you interested and entertained. Eagerly anticipating the next one in the series!” by Verified Amazon Customer "Love this series! Nash's desire to save his father's ranch touched me. And it helped he's hot and swoon worthy! And Gracie's love story with the 'bad boy' makes it even more interesting! Love this! Don't miss it!” Always Reading add to goodreads   Excerpt From Heart of the Billionaire (Book 2 in The Almost an Angel Series) Stewart Matthews sat poised on the edge of his seat, his body taut—his face wearing the laser-beam focus of a General preparing for battle. In many ways, he was fighting the greatest battle of his life, for it involved the heart of the one he loved the most. He could only see one way to help Brooke, but she wouldn’t like it. In fact, she would be so angry that she might never speak to him again. That was the price he would have to pay for attempting to save her. Better to be a parent than a friend. Even though he dreaded what was to come, he knew there was no other option. His money had been the thing that sent Brooke down her path of self-destruction. He could only hope that it would also be the catalyst that would save her A feeling of resignation settled over him as he looked down at the blank page. Then he picked up the pen and began to write … My Darling Brooke, From the moment you were born and I held you in my arms, I knew that my life would never again be the same. Never before had I experienced such pure and complete love. And that love has only grown and multiplied over the years. You are my heart, my primary responsibility, and I will take any measures necessary to protect you, even if that means protecting you from yourself. Sweetheart, my only desire is that you find joy and contentment—the kind that can only come from within. You need to learn to love unconditionally and to love someone so completely that you are willing to put his needs before your own. Please know that I have spent many a night, walking the floors, trying to determine the best course of action to set you back on the right path. A way has been opened up, and I intend to take full advantage of it. My only hope is that you will one day find it in your heart to forgive me, for what I’m about to do. A knock sounded. He looked up as his assistant stuck her head in the door. “I’m sorry to disturb you, but the attorney is here and waiting in the conference room. It’s time.” The moment of truth was here. Once he signed the documents, there would be no going back. He blew out a breath, a rigid look of determination on his lined face.


“Tell them I’ll be there in five minutes.”     Youngblood Poole

Jennifer Youngblood & Sandra Poole Jennifer and Sandra—daughter and mother writing duo—have been writing together for many years and have over a dozen published novels, a collection of short stories, and a children’s book (released under the pen name of Periwinkle Blue). They feel it’s a great privilege to be able to collaborate with each other as it adds a depth and spice to their work that neither of them could get independently. For them, writing is a continual journey of discovery. They have so many ideas for books that it’s hard to focus on one at a time. Both of them have a penchant for chocolate, seafood, and movies. Jennifer has a B.A. in English and Social Sciences from BYU Hawaii, and Sandra has a Masters in Business Administration. Jennifer and Sandra now live in the Rocky Mountains with their families.


Blast Giveaway $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 6/13/16 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.   a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, May 24, 2016

Genesis Girl Drive By Review



Happy Tuesday, my friends! Anyone else excited about tonight's season finale of The Flash? I'm hopelessly addicted to that show!

Okay, now that I got my excitement out of the way, I want to chat with you about an awesome book that is debuting in short order: Genesis Girl by Jennifer Bardsley.


Blurb:

Eighteen-year-old Blanca has lived a sheltered life. Her entire childhood has been spent at Tabula Rasa School where she’s been protected from the Internet.

Blanca has never been online and doesn’t even know how to text. Her lack of a virtual footprint makes her extremely valuable, and upon graduation, Blanca and those like her are sold to the highest bidders.

Blanca is purchased by Cal McNeal, who uses her to achieve personal gain. But the McNeals are soon horrified by just how obedient and non-defiant Blanca is. All those mind-numbing years locked away from society have made her mind almost impenetrable.

By the time Blanca is ready to think for herself, she is trapped. Her only chance of escape is to go online.

Amazon Buy links:


My quick review: 

Excellent read. The story grabbed my attention from the first page and never let me go. I read the book in one sitting, which is something I haven't done in quite a while. I could not put it down. Really loved Blanca's strength and courage. I love a bad boy, so of course I fell for Seth right away. I mean, c'mon. Tech savvy, swoony, and tatted? Totally my type. Highly recommend!

Friday, March 4, 2016

Cover Reveal: Life In The Lucky Zone by Patricia Tighe

Cover Reveal: Life in the Lucky Zone (The Zone, #2) by Patricia B. Tighe with Giveaway
SR-Cover-Reveal-BannerNEW
 
Welcome to the cover reveal for
Life in the Lucky Zone (The Zone, #2) by Patricia B. Tighe
presented by Swoon Romance!
Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!
 
Life in the Lucky Zone
Seventeen-year-old Lindsey Taylor has been living a charmed life—always the lead in school plays, possessor of a healthy entourage and a hot boyfriend. But halfway through her junior year, the unthinkable happens. Her boyfriend dumps her. She screws up her audition for the spring play. And to top it all off, her theater teacher wants her to run lines with Trey Berger, a gamer guy who irritates her practically every time he opens his mouth. Lindsey needs to find some better luck and quick.
Trey Berger can barely tolerate Lindsey Taylor. It’s bad enough that their best friends are dating and he has to see Lindsey at group hangouts. Now they have to rehearse together. Berger would rather do just about anything else, even chill with his grandmother, whose dementia has forced her to move in with his family. But as the semester continues, Berger discovers there’s more to Lindsey than the drama queen persona she puts on for everyone else’s benefit. And the person behind the mask might be someone he cares about. A lot. So what exactly is he going to do about it? And while Lindsey desperately tries to change her luck and heal from the breakup, she slowly realizes Berger has become her best friend. This video-game-playing boy makes her laugh. And holds her when she cries. Could he possibly become something more?
add to goodreads
Life in the Lucky Zone (The Zone #2) by Patricia B. Tighe Publication Date: April 5, 2016 Publisher: Swoon Romance
Available for Pre-Order: Amazon
 
About-the-Author2
Patricia B. Tighe
The mother of two grown sons, Patricia B. Tighe lives in El Paso, Texas, with her husband and two dogs. Her love of the written word caused her to get a journalism degree from Texas A&M University in 1980 and an MA in Writing Popular Fiction from Seton Hill University in 2008. When not writing or reading, she can be found walking the dogs or yelling at the TV during an NFL game. She's also a fan of British TV shows. Downton Abbey, anyone?
 
giveaway2
Complete the Rafflecopter below for a chance to win!
 
Chapter-by-Chapter-blog-tour-button
 

Friday, February 19, 2016

Cover Reveal: The Lingering Grace


Today Jessica Arnold and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for THE LINGERING GRACE, which releases March 15, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a eGalley!!
A quick note from the author:

In The Lingering Grace, Alice is glad to find her life returning to normal after a near-death experience. When a young girl drowns in a freak accident similar to the one that nearly killed her, she suspects that something deeper might be going on. This incredible cover is a reference both to the drowning girl at the heart of the story, and to Alice—who is also in over her head. It’s hard to tell whether the girl under water is sinking deeper or rising to the surface. This story centers on Alice making that very choice.

On to the reveal! 



Title: THE LINGERING GRACE
Author: Jessica Arnold
Pub. Date: March 15, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook
Pages: 320
Find it: Amazon | Goodreads

All magic comes with a price.

The new school year brings with it a welcome return to normalcy after Alice’s narrow escape from a cursed hotel while on summer vacation. But when a young girl drowns in a freak accident that seems eerily similar to her own near-death experience, Alice suspects there might be something going on that not even the police can uncover.


The girl’s older sister, Eva attends Alice’s school, and Alice immediately befriends her. But things change when when Alice learns that Eva is determined to use magic to bring her sister back. She must decide whether to help Eva work the highly dangerous magic or stop her at all costs. After all, no one knows better than Alice the true price of magic.




Excerpt


CHAPTER ONE

“I’m so sorry.”

Tony turned on his left blinker. “Didn’t your dad say something about getting you a car soon?”

Alice gave a single, grating laugh. “He’s been saying that ever since I got a license.” Tony knew this as well as she did; if he was teasing, she wasn’t in the mood. She slouched down in the passenger seat as they pulled into the library parking lot. It was almost empty; the library was closing in twenty-five minutes. She rapped her fingers against the car door, gripping a notebook and a pen tightly in her other hand.

“Hey.” Tony parked. He grabbed her arm before she could jump out of the car. “Everyone forgets an assignment sometimes.”

She tried to smile, but her mouth ended up in a lopsided grimace. “You’re right. I’ve just been so . . . you know.”

Concern flashed across Tony’s face, and his grip on her arm tightened for a second before he let go. Alice clicked her pen as they hurried into the library. She’d had this assignment for weeks—how could she have left it until now? This wasn’t like her. Tony grabbed her hand as they walked and she looked down at their entwined fingers, glad that this at least was surviving, despite her half-present brain.

It wasn’t sudden, this relationship, so it baffled her why it still felt fragile—why she was still relieved every time he wanted to spend time with her. They’d been officially dating for two months now, and they’d known each other for three. She was certain she had gotten the better end of the deal; Tony had been helping her keep her head above water ever since last summer. Meeting him had been one of the only good things to come out of that vacation from hell. He’d helped save her life when she had nearly died, the victim of a witch’s curse on a creepy old hotel.

Physically, her recovery had only taken a few weeks. But everything else … well, it was still an uphill battle. Daily life was mundane and mind-numbingly routine—more meaningless than it had ever seemed before. Alice zoned out on a regular basis. The world would fall away and she would stare into space, not thinking anything, not feeling anything but the empty space inside her where everything was quiet. That empty space had never been there before, and it was only with Tony that she felt it close up for a few precious hours at a time. Only with Tony was she herself again.

Tony noticed her looking at him and smiled.

“We’ll find something here. I know it.”

“We’d better.”

It was hard to be hopeful after spending three hours driving around to all the libraries in the area with no luck at all, courtesy of this supremely dumb assignment. They’d been talking about primary and secondary sources in English class and Mr. Segal was requiring them to find one primary source (not on the Internet either—at the library) to include in their research paper. Alice knew she shouldn’t have put it off. She just hadn’t known it would be this hard. Now, with the paper due tomorrow, she had absolutely nothing to show but a blank computer screen and mounting panic.

“I think I chose the wrong topic,” she said as they walked by the front desk. A librarian looked up and scowled at them.

“We’re closing in twenty minutes,” she said. Her expression made it clear that if they made her stay a moment later, they would regret it.

Alice squeezed Tony’s hand and spoke through clenched teeth. “I’m gonna fail this project. And the class. And I’ll become a high school dropout. And I’ll never get into college. Will you still like me when I’m living under an overpass?”

“Yes. But you’re not going to fail. And I wouldn’t let you be homeless.”

“My hero,” she grumbled and he laughed.

They hurried through the nonfiction sections, passing row after row of packed shelves. The farther into the library they went, the more overwhelming the smell of old paper became. Alice wasn’t sure if the musty library air was thanks to rotting books or the persistent mold problem that had shut the library down for months a while back. The city said everything was under control; Alice’s nose told her otherwise.

“Ugh, I was hoping we wouldn’t have to come here.” She ran her fingers along the book spines as they hurried down a row. “This place creeps me out.”

Tony looked up at the dim rectangles of fluorescent lights scattered across the ceiling. “Not exactly cozy, is it?”

Alice shook her head and then stopped, squinting at the books to her left. “804 . . . 804.01 . . . here we go.”

She traced the call numbers with her fingers. Tony knelt down next to her, scanning books as he spoke.

“Excellent. Let’s hope Mr. Librarian Number Two was right.”

They’d been hunting down a copy of Literary Criticism of the 1800s for three hours now. Alice had discovered it while digging through the online library catalog—it was the only thing she could find that fulfilled the “contemporary criticism” requirement for her paper. The only problem was that the full text wasn’t online and, thanks to an interlibrary loan snafu, the only copy had slipped under the radar almost completely. The librarian at the last library they’d visited had been ninety-nine percent sure it was at the downtown branch, and so they had braved the rush-hour traffic and hurried over.

“What a nightmare,” she groaned. “I don’t see it.”

Tony grabbed her notebook and squinted at the call number she’d written. “Are you sure that’s a four? Looks like it could be a nine to me.”

“Let’s hope it’s a nine, then.” She jumped to her feet and grabbed his hand, pulling him up as well. They hurried to the next aisle.

He squeezed her hand. “Hey—we’ll find it. Don’t worry.”

She squeezed back but said nothing. Don’t worry. If only it were that easy. Unfortunately, her blank moments didn’t bring Zen into the rest of her life. They were more like blackouts than meditations—moments when fatigue got the better of her. The rest of the time, she was sprinting to keep up with the mindless churn of to-do lists that filled her days. How did people live like this? Every day stuffed with pointless urgency. It was exhausting. Sometimes Alice found herself longing for just a taste of magic again. Magic was a glimmer of something beyond logic and reason and sunrise and sunset. Without it, life melted into a meaningless churn of waking and sleeping.

Tony was patient with her—in more ways than one. She wasn’t sure how he managed to put up with her frequent mental lapses and her total lack of girlfriend know-how. Frankly, she was mortified by her own awkwardness. In her more positive moments, she told herself it wasn’t her fault. He was her first boyfriend. No one had warned her about these things.

If only someone had warned her about these things. Holding hands, kissing, it all looked so easy when other people did it. At first, for her, it had been a humiliating disaster. She didn’t know what to do with her body, how to move. She would press her lips into Tony’s without aim or direction, as haphazardly as she kissed her dad’s cheek. For Tony, on the other hand, finesse seemed to come naturally. His kisses were caresses. He was artistic. When they held hands, while her arm went stiff as a board, he would stroke the back of her hand with his thumb, making little circles—or hearts. She liked to think of them as hearts.

Her heart was pounding from half-jogging to the end of a row.

“Do you see it?” Alice asked, trying to read the call numbers on both sides of the row simultaneously.

Tony shook his head. “Not yet.”

“I don’t believe this,” Alice grumbled, sinking to her knees. “It’s got to be here. I can’t rewrite this whole paper—I don’t have time!” She ran her hands across the books on the bottom shelf, vainly hoping that the right one would just jump out and grab her by the throat. Tony scratched his forehead. Alice was starting to recognize these things he did. She knew now that when he scratched his chin, he was thinking deeply; when he scratched right below his hairline, he was worried.

“Maybe it was just shelved wrong,” he suggested. He turned around and started scanning the bookshelf behind him.

Though Alice worried it was useless, she re-scanned the spines on the shelf in front of her. Maybe Tony was right—maybe they had missed something. But she had that sinking feeling in her gut and her eyes were burning; she was frustrated almost to tears. Her sight grew blurry as she stared at book after book.

“The library will be closing in five minutes,” said a voice over the intercom.

Five minutes.

She blinked very quickly, trying to clear her vision. Her eyes stopped on a particularly tattered old book without a visible call number, and she reached out to grab it, glancing behind her at Tony, who still had his back to her.

Her fingers touched the binding and she gasped. It was the strangest feeling—a tingling in her fingers, a warmth that traveled up her arm and into her shoulder. Alice pulled the book from the shelf and felt as if all the hair on her body were standing on end. She shivered and stroked the cover, which was brown leather and plain. It was blind-stamped with three concentric circles, like a rounded eye.

Peeling the cover back, she scanned through a few pages at random and knew immediately what she was holding. There was a sharp tug in her abdomen, and she almost put the book back then and there. It wasn’t the first spellbook she had seen. She had discovered several while fighting for her life in the hotel last summer. They’d belonged to the witch who set the curse. One of them had been covered in scrawls and notes—an inconsistent, impossible mess.

This little volume was an entirely different story. It was printed; the old monospaced type left odd gaps between letters. Someone had carefully underlined a few sentences throughout, but overall, it looked nearly untouched. If it hadn’t been for the yellowed pages and the smell of rotting paper, she might have called it pristine.

Each page was laid out in the same way: a heading in large, capitalized type followed by an ingredient list and several paragraphs of instructions. To the left of each title were one to three small triangles. Some were colored in with solid black ink while others were empty. They were presented without explanation, but Alice felt sure they must be a scale of sorts: a rating to indicate how long a particular spell took to prepare or its difficulty or something like that. There were small sketches throughout. On one page, a tiny flower was drawn to the right of the ingredient list. On the bottom of another, a tiny frog, splayed out, cut open, its ink-drawn limbs hanging limply at its sides.

Her stomach turned; quickly, she shut the book. A shiver tickled her spine—the familiar sensation of being watched. Was it a coincidence that she had come across this book? Or could it be that the curse had left a magical stamp on her, a kind of otherworldly magnetism? Had she found the book, or had the book found her?

“I don’t believe it.”

Alice jumped, clutching the book to her.

“Hey—I found it!”

Tony was holding the book out for her to see, smiling widely. She took it from him with one hand; with the other, she slipped the leather book behind her back. The movement was instinctual. All she knew was that she didn’t want to return the book and leave so many questions unanswered. Nor did she want to explain to Tony why she had to know more.

“Thank God,” she said, grinning back. “You are a hero!” Maybe she could pass the book off as another ancient volume of literary criticism? Not a chance. Tony was too curious; he would want to look at it himself.

“See?” He helped her up and put his arm around her shoulders. “Told you it would be okay.”

“I guess you were right.”

He took the book back from her and examined it. Alice’s grip on the spellbook tightened. No, she definitely could not let Tony near this book if she didn’t want him to panic and light it on fire or something. “It’s kind of like finding buried treasure.”

“Except the treasure is a book and the only thing it was buried in was the library’s glitchy loan system.”

“Still—it feels good.”

“The library is closing. Please check out all books at the front desk,” the intercom blared.

Alice and Tony jogged past row after row of dimly lit bookshelves. As they did, Alice slipped the leather-bound book into her bag before she could talk herself out of it. It wasn’t stealing, she told herself. Not really. She would take it home, glance through it, and return it to the shelf within a few days. It was just a quick investigation—albeit a secret one. But really, it had to be secret. Ever since the hotel, Tony couldn’t even watch a card trick without freaking out. If she told him a spellbook might have found her … maybe magically … well, she was doing him a favor by not mentioning it.

She was just being responsible. Really.

***

Tony dropped her off at home half an hour later. Still immensely pleased with his book-finding success, he’d suggested a celebratory dinner, but Alice insisted that she really did need to work on her paper. This was true.

She didn’t mention that she was far more anxious to crack open the book she hadn’t checked out than read the one she had.

The house was so quiet when she walked in that for a second she thought she was the only one home. Usually, the ruckus of her brother’s video games in the living room would be drowned out by the drone of her dad listening to NPR in his office. But the living room was empty and her dad must have stayed late at work because the doors to his office were open and the room was dark. Just the light in the kitchen was on, and it was only on second glance that Alice saw her mother sitting on a barstool, staring blankly at the faucet. Someone hadn’t turned it off completely and water was leaking out one drop at a time.

“Mom?”

Her mom jumped up.

“Oh, hi, honey. I didn’t hear you come in.” She walked around the counter and turned off the faucet. “Were you with Tony tonight?”

“Yeah, we were at the library.”

“Good … that’s good … ” she said absently before lapsing into silence again.

“Um … how was your doctor’s appointment?” Alice asked to alleviate the uncomfortable quiet.

Her mother’s lips twitched upward, then tightened. She abruptly turned her back to Alice and opened the fridge.

“Fine, fine … ” she said, her voice drowned out by the crinkling of plastic bags.

Alice’s worries about her paper were immediately replaced by deeper, more insistent fears. “What’s wrong?” she demanded.

“I can’t hear you, sweetie.”

“What happened?” she repeated. “Is something wrong?”

Her mom emerged from the fridge, holding some celery sticks and a jar of almond butter—her “guilty” snack. Normally she wouldn’t have had the almond butter. (She liked to remind Alice that too many nuts would make a person chub up like a squirrel before hibernation.) Her eyes briefly met Alice’s as she turned to the sink and started to rinse off the celery.

“Oh, just a sad story in the news today.”

Alice’s heart immediately slowed. “See, this is why I never read the news.”

Her mom scrubbed the hollow of the celery stalk with one thin finger. “A single mom just moved into a new house with her two young girls. The girls went swimming unsupervised. The six-year-old drowned.”

Alice’s chest constricted, but she tried to brush it off. “They didn’t know how to swim? Why did they get in the pool?”

“Really, Alice.” Her mom’s voice went snappish. “You of all people should know—these things can happen to anyone.” She grabbed the celery stalks and the jar of almond butter and walked out of the room without another word. Alice heard the bedroom door close.

Alice sat still on the bar stool for a moment. A weak trickle of water was leaking from the faucet; she got up and turned it off.

You of all people.

A final drop of water hit the sink like the tiniest of hammers. Last summer, at the cursed hotel, she had nearly drowned in a swimming pool. Tony had pulled her out just in time.

She could remember all too clearly the press of water in her lungs. Not everyone knew the craving for air—the feeling that your head was being squeezed and squeezed until finally, in the last moments, when you thought you were going to explode … an arm around your waist pulling you up. A hand clapping you on the back, a voice telling you the coughing was okay, telling you to breathe when that was all you wanted to do until the end of time … just breathe.

Tony had saved her life. But the little girl would have felt the tightness, the void in her chest that nothing could fill, until the darkness came slowly in—not a stranger knocking down the door, but a cool-headed thief waiting for the window to fall open. Rushing into the opening, filling the lungs with cold black water … and then darker and darker until there was nothing—no space left.

“It’s okay. I’m okay.” Alice refused to turn into her mother, having panic attacks every time she heard a bit of disturbing news. She took a deep breath, shook her head, and walked slowly up the stairs to her room, pretending she was empty as a balloon floating higher and higher … out of her body, out of everything.






About Jessica:

Jessica Arnold lives (in an apartment) and works (in a cubicle) in Boston, Massachusetts. She has a master‘s degree in publishing and writing from Emerson College.


Where you can find Jessica: Website | Twitter | FacebookGoodreads








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