Hey all! The Juniper sisters in LAST GIRLS don’t go anywhere without a backpack (what they call an EDC: Every Day Carry) and they take great pride in their artwork. Honey paints, Birdie draws comics, and Blue uses embroidery to fancy up her clothes (when she’s not spending time with her beloved falcon, Achilles). To honor the sisters’ talents, I’ll be sending one lucky winner some artistic inspiration by offering up a fabulous pre-order Grand Prize. But don’t worry, everyone who orders will receive a gift with purchase. And, as a bonus, I’m including a 2nd prize that holds a special place in my author heart.
ALL PREORDERS WILL RECEIVE: Last Girls 5×7 Glossy Art Print & Signed Bookplate
ALL PREORDERS WILL BE ENTERED FOR A CHANCE TO WIN THE GRAND AND FIRST PRIZE.
GRAND PRIZE WINNER: (chosen at random on or before 5/19) will receive a BUILT NY grey & blue camouflage backpack with thermal lunch compartment. Inside you’ll find a mini acrylic painting kit (From Honey), a sketchbook & pen (From Birdie), an adorable 10″ peregrine falcon plushie and mini sewing kit (from Blue), a flashlight (with batteries), a rosy tinted lip balm, camouflage band-aids, a 3-pack of portable tissues printed with positive messages, and a dehydrated camping meal like the one the sisters eat in the book.
FIRST PRIZE: (chosen at random on or before 5/19) A signed hardcover copy of my debut novel, DIVE SMACK, to round out your collection (Surprise! There’s a big Dive Smack Easter Egg hidden in the pages of Last Girls).
TO ENTER: email proof of purchase to firstname.lastname@example.org before May 5th. You’ll get one entry for each copy of the book you purchase.
Available wherever books are sold. Whenever possible, please support Indie Bookstores by buying through www.bookshop.org Mysterious Galaxy in San Diego will have signed copies (not bookplates) and offers Free shipping for media mail rate within the U.S. on orders over $35. https://www.mystgalaxy.com/book/9781250256522
One of my favorite genre of books are survival stories, so you best believe I love books about doomsday preppers. I just find it so interesting getting a look inside the lives of those who prep and learn survival skills. I mean, in a weird sense there’s some logic behind it! I personally could probably stand for some additional survival skills, lol. So you can imagine that I went into Last Girls with high expectations, and quite honestly I was blown away.
I want to torture her, let her puzzle it out, but there’s no time.
The first thing I really need to point out is how amazing a writer Brodsky is. I love lyrical yet strong writing (if that makes sense), which is probably why I typically prefer fantasy to contemporary books. I often find that contemporaries are written in a much more matter of fact tone, but Last Girls had such beautiful prose. It was everything that I look for in writing style and everything I usually find lacking in contemporaries. Color me impressed!
And nothing that happens going forward will ever refute the fact that for a long time we were the Juniper sisters.
And the second thing I need to point out is the timeliness of this story. I mean, this book couldn’t be coming out at a better time! I wasn’t sure if I would absolutely love a prepper story right now or find it too “much” given the current state of things, but I was happy that it fell into the adored wholeheartedly category. But, it’s also probably because I’ve been in a I need to camp and leave society mood lately. But seriously though, the characters were just so fascinating that you couldn’t help but want to read more and the plot move quickly enough to keep the story interesting, but not too quickly to give you whiplash. This was honestly one of the best books I’ve read in a while!
About the Author
DEMETRA BRODSKY writes twisty thrillers about dark family secrets. She is an award-winning graphic designer & art director turned full-time. A native of Massachusetts with a B.F.A from the Massachusetts College of Art and Design, Demetra now lives in Southern California where she’s always exploring and researching, looking for clues to things that might feed into her next book. She is a first generation Greek-American and a member of International Thriller Writers. Dive Smack, her debut YA Thriller, is a 2018 Junior Library Guild Selection, an (ALAN) Pick (The Assembly on Literature for Adolescents of NCTE), and a Publishers Marketplace Buzz Book for Young Adults for Spring/Summer 2018.
▪︎Follow @theffbc & @whatmakespatri ▪︎Follow the author @demebrodsky ▪︎Follow the publishing house publishing house @torteen ▪︎Follow me (@ya.its.lit) ▪︎Answer the QOTD and tag @theffbc to let them know you’re entering: If you had to prep for the end of the world, what five things would you take?
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T&Cs & Disclaimers:
▪︎Giveaway ends on May 13th (00:00 GMT+1). 1 winner will be chosen on @theffbc. ▪︎Open to residents of US only ▪︎This sweepstakes is not sponsored by Instagram.
The winner will be announced after May 15th 2020 on our Instagram stories. ONLY 1 WINNER. OPEN US ONLY. The winner will be contacted via Instagram.
*I received an arc in exchange for an honest review*
The Silence of Bones by June Hur Publisher: Feiwel & Friends Release Date: April 21st 2020 Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Historical, Historical Fiction
I have a mouth, but I mustn’t speak;
Ears, but I mustn’t hear;
Eyes, but I mustn’t see.
For women were not considered threats to the capital, as men were, when darkness fell.
1800, Joseon (Korea). Homesick and orphaned sixteen-year-old Seol is living out the ancient curse: “May you live in interesting times.” Indentured to the police bureau, she’s been tasked with assisting a well-respected young inspector with the investigation into the politically charged murder of a noblewoman.
As they delve deeper into the dead woman’s secrets, Seol forms an unlikely bond of friendship with the inspector. But her loyalty is tested when he becomes the prime suspect, and Seol may be the only one capable of discovering what truly happened on the night of the murder.
But in a land where silence and obedience are valued above all else, curiosity can be deadly. June Hur’s elegant and haunting debut The Silence of Bones is a bloody tale perfect for fans of Kerri Maniscalco and Renée Ahdieh.
For the first time since my brother had disappeared, I felt seen.
You really have no idea how excited I was when I found out about this book! I absolutely love anything set in Joseon. It’s just always so dark and beautiful, like the cover of The Silence of Bones. I mean, the more I look at it the more I see and pick up on. I do seriously love this time period though and I wish there were more books set in it. But this book was honestly so much more than I could have hoped for!
Loyalty. I may waiver, but I always fight to return to it.
This books is so much more dark and gritty than I had expected. I feel like stories set in Joseon either go the cheesy/cheery route or the dark/gritty route and I was pleasantly surprised that this one fell into the latter category. The mystery was so good and when I say this book goes dark, I mean it goes dark. But the writing remains beautiful throughout. It has those dark undertones, but still is very lyrical.
Be careful. Cross no one. Obey always
The characters were also really amazing. Seol (which always confuses me when Korean characters are named that) is always underestimated but she’s got pluck. She uses her ability to fly under the radar to her advantage, and I can appreciate that level of scrappiness. Seriously though, this book was just so amazing!
About the Author
JUNE HUR (‘Hur’ as in ‘her’) was born in South Korea and raised in Canada, except for the time when she moved back to Korea and attended high school there. Most of her work is inspired by her journey through life as an individual, a dreamer, and a Christian, with all its confusions, doubts, absurdities and magnificence. She studied History and Literature at the University of Toronto, and currently works for the public library. She lives in Toronto with her husband and daughter.
Her debut novel THE SILENCE OF BONES (Feiwel & Friends/Macmillan, April 2020) is a murder mystery set in Joseon Dynasty Korea (early 1800s), and also a coming-of-age tale about a girl searching for home. It was recently selected by the American Booksellers Association as one of the top debuts of Winter/Spring 2020. She is represented by Amy Bishop of Dystel, Goderich & Bourret LLC.
Fate. A shackle as solid as truth— unchangeable, unmovable. On the day of my departure, my sister had told me how long I was bound by the government to serve in the police bureau, away from home, from family. For one generation, she’d whispered.
My entire life.
That is, I would be free by the age of forty-one, as old as death itself.
A thunder of fluttering wings filled the sky in all directions, the birds overhead taken to flight. A shriek in the distance pierced the air; a terrified horse. Officer Kyŏn charged ahead, while it took me a scrambling moment to realize what was happening. I jabbed my heels into Terror’s side and followed him through the thicket, over the protruding roots, branches hitting my face.
Then we reached a glade and my heart stopped. Across the stream stood Inspector Han, his sleeve blood-soaked, his hand inching toward the sword at his side. A matter of paces away prowled a tiger, a deep growl rumbling from its white- and- black- striped chest. Powerful paws with sharp claws. The beast looked as large as Inspector Han himself.
“Do not move,” the inspector said, though not to us. Past the thick cluster of leaves was a horse struggling on the ground, shaking its head as blood continued to ooze from its wounded side. And hunkered down behind the creature was Maid Soyi.
Unable to look away from the scene, I hissed to Kyŏn, “Shoot it!”
A muscle worked in Officer Kyŏn’s jaw. Clearly he was incensed at an order from a girl, but he drew out an arrow and nocked it to his bow. As he aimed, the iron point trembled. What resolve he had, I watched falter and crumble.
“I’ll do it.” I snatched the weapon from him and rode out into the glade for a better aim. My motion caught the tiger’s attention. Good. My fear had reached its climax, and another sensation flooded in, a powerful longing that churned within me: the desire to matter.
Spectacle (#1) by Jodie Lynn Zdrok Publisher: Tor Teen Release Date: February 12, 2019 Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
A YA murder mystery in which a young reporter must use her supernatural visions to help track down a killer targeting the young women of Paris.
Sixteen-year-old Nathalie Baudin writes the daily morgue column for Le Petit Journal. Her job is to summarize each day’s new arrivals, a task she finds both fascinating and routine. That is, until the day she has a vision of the newest body, a young woman, being murdered–from the perspective of the murderer himself.
When the body of another woman is retrieved from the Seine days later, Paris begins to buzz with rumors that this victim may not be the last. Nathalie’s search for answers sends her down a long, twisty road involving her mentally ill aunt, a brilliant but deluded scientist, and eventually into the Parisian Catacombs. As the killer continues to haunt the streets of Paris, it becomes clear that Nathalie’s strange new ability may make her the only one who can discover the killer’s identity–and she’ll have to do it before she becomes a target herself.
Sensational (Spectacle #2) by Jodie Lynn Zdrok Publisher: Tor Teen Release Date: February 11, 2020 Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
Jodie Lynn Zdrok’s Sensational is the thrilling follow-up to Spectacle in which a killer haunts the Paris World’s Fair of 1889.
The 1889 Exposition Universelle in Paris is full of innovations, cultural displays, and inventions. Millions of visitors attend over the course of several months…so no one would notice if a few were missing, right? Maybe—but someone is celebrating the 100th anniversary of the guillotine with a display of their own: beheaded victims in some of the Exposition’s most popular exhibits.
Nathalie Baudin’s ability to see murder scenes should help, but she’s suffering the effects of her magic more than ever before. Fortunately she has other Insightfuls to team up with—if they can be trusted.
Ah Paris, how I love it! The drama! The fashion! The culture! The food! I mean, I could go on and on, but I think you get the point. It is actually the only city I could ever see myself living in. When I visited I just instantly fell in love and felt right at home. So, as you can guess, I always love to read books set in Paris! There’s just something so magical about the city, and I love when the books add in their own sets of magic to one of my favorite places.
I have come to realize that I actually really love duologies. It’s probably because they always leave me wanting more. I like feeling like I need more over feeling like the series is dragging on and on. I also extra love when these duologies are set in one of my favorite settings AND involve magic. I also really love how well Zdrok interwove the history of the times into the story. It makes it seem more plausible and really brings to life the characters and themes.
I also loved all of the pettiness in Sensational! I’m a petty person myself so I enjoy the snark and pettiness when characters start to let it eek out. The second book takes a little bit to take off compared to the first, but once it does the story really starts to come full circle. And I love that aspect about the duology, it makes it more impactful when elements from the first book begin to affect the characters in the next one. It’s just so much more realistic to life.
Jodie Lynn Zdrok holds two MAs in European History and an MBA. She enjoys rooting for Boston sports teams, traveling, doing races (to offset being a foodie), and posting cat photos to Instagram. She works in technology and lives in North Carolina by way of Massachusetts.
Sparrow by Mary Cecilia Jackson Publisher: Tor Teen Release Date: March 17th 2020 Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
It’s soft. Like feathers.
Mary Cecilia Jackson
In the tradition of Laurie Halse Anderson’s Speak, a devastating but hopeful YA debut about a ballerina who finds the courage to confront the abuse that haunts her past and threatens her future.
There are two kinds of people on the planet. Hunters and prey
I thought I would be safe after my mother died. I thought I could stop searching for new places to hide. But you can’t escape what you are, what you’ve always been.
My name is Savannah Darcy Rose.
And I am still prey.
All the hearts around me, once so big and filled with joy. And now look.
They’re broken all to pieces.
Mary Cecilia Jackson
Though Savannah Rose―Sparrow to her friends and family―is a gifted ballerina, her real talent is keeping secrets. Schooled in silence by her long-dead mother, Sparrow has always believed that her lifelong creed―“I’m not the kind of girl who tells”―will make her just like everyone else: Normal. Happy. Safe. But in the aftermath of a brutal assault by her seemingly perfect boyfriend Tristan, Sparrow must finally find the courage to confront the ghosts of her past, or lose herself forever….
There was just something about this book that drew me to it upon just a brief first glance. As soon as I happened to get a glimpse of it I thought, yes, I’ll like this one. It is just one of those raw and terribly real stories that I seem to have grown fond of this year. You know, the ones with the broken characters that you so desperately want to pick all of the pieces of them up and put them back together.
I hear the beat and murmur of her terrible wings.
Mary Cecilia Jackson
Give me a story about a terrible and abusive relationship this year and I will be desperately clawing me way through the hordes for it. I’ve been in a *mood* with relationships ever since my crummy breakup to a crummy human being many moons ago, so now it’s apparently altered my reading interests. But I am NOT complaining, because this has been a happy side-effect. I have found some amazing new reads and I am beyond happy to have added Sparrow to that list. It is haunting and disjointed and highlights the visceral reaction many people have to abusive relationships.
Nothing hurts. I am whole.
Mary Cecilia Jackson
Now, you may have noticed me saying that this story is told in a disjointed manner. Never fear, this was a genius move from the author. The flash forwards and the instances where major moments were seemingly swept under the rug really depicted how someone in an abusive relationship tries to shrug things off and “ignore” all of the warning signs. Add in the dual POV for this story and slowly the whole story starts to come together and we see not only how Sparrow see’s her relationship, but also how her dance partner and friend Lucas sees the relationship as an “outsider.” The horror of this situation was so beautifully written that the tragedy of what Sparrow faced became even more eviscerating.
About the Author
Mary Cecilia Jackson has worked as a middle school teacher, an adjunct instructor of college freshmen, a technical writer and editor, a speechwriter, a museum docent, and a development officer for central Virginia’s PBS and NPR stations. Her first novel, Sparrow, was an honor recipient of the SCBWI Sue Alexander Award and a young-adult finalist in the Writers’ League of Texas manuscript contest. She lives with her architect husband, William, in Western North Carolina and Hawaii, where they have a farm and five ridiculously adorable goats.
Running down the hall, phone pressed to my ear, I raise my eyes to the huge clock above the library doors. It offers no hope.
“Where are you, Birdy?” Lucas says. “Levkova’s going to slaughter you! She’s already doing that thing where she’s standing near the piano with her arms crossed, looking at us like we’re a bunch of zoo animals.”
I take a corner too fast and my elbow hits the lockers. I run faster.
“Are you seriously talking to me in the studio? Put your phone away, or she’ll murder you before she even gets to me!”
“I’m not that stupid. I’m in the hall, but even out here I can see her eyes turning all frosty. You know how they get, like freaky little balls of ice.”
“Oh my God, it’s almost two forty. I’m going to have to drive like a fiend to get changed in time.”
I’m breaking the Eleventh Commandment, incised into our brains for the last three years: Thou Shalt Not Be Late for Ballet Class.
“Holy crap, Birdy, you’re still at school? You’ll never make it! You know you won’t get in if you’re late. She loves locking that door at three o’clock, hearing the cries of the damned on the other side.”
“I’m going as fast as I can! Try to stall her.”
“Oh, right. Like that’ll work. She’ll turn me to stone with her ice-ball eyes before I even get close. I’m telling you, she’s in a mood. She just told Charlotte to stand up straight, that orangutans moved with more grace. Why are you so late?”
I turn the last corner, backpack slipping off my shoulder, dance bag banging against my hip. I can feel my bun falling out of its knot, hear the tiny metallic pings as bobby pins hit the floor behind me.
“Ugh, Coscoroba kept me after class. He wanted to talk about my term paper. You know how you can never get away from him, right? I mean, he’s nice, but God, once he gets going you can’t get a word in. Today he had to tell me the entire story of Prometheus and his super-unfortunate liver. I swear he never took a breath the whole time.”
“Gross! Okay, look, she sees me out here,” Lucas whispers. “I don’t want to die a horrible death, so I’m going in. Good luck! If you don’t make it, I promise I’ll cry real loud at your funeral.”
“Stop it, Lucas! I’m running as fast as I can!”
Lucas hangs up, and I shove my phone into my bag. The halls are empty, echoing with the sound of my feet pounding the tile floor, the ragged gasp of my breath. I hate disappointing Madame Levkova. She is my rock star, the sun at the center of my universe. Today she’ll give me the look that tells me I’ve let her down, remind me that people who are late are lazy and inconsiderate, and I’ll feel like crap for a week. If I rush in just as she’s locking the door, she may not even let me dance today. Depends on how irritated she is.
Juggling books, bag, and backpack, I burst through the massive front doors and breathe the cold winter air into my lungs.
The student parking lot is practically deserted, which would be a little weird for a Thursday, except it’s been a tough winter. After the last bell, people scurry home, like rabbits to their burrows. A few cars are left, probably yearbook kids, or people staying late for tutoring. My car is all by itself, in the corner under a huge maple tree, now bare of leaves, empty branches silhouetted against the leaden sky. Some people hate winter in Virginia, but I like how spare it is, cold and clean and uncluttered. I raise my face to the sky. There’s snow on the wind.
A car squeals to a stop inches from my left hip. I fall to my knees, dropping everything, spilling notebooks, pens, and all my ballet stuff across the asphalt. I’m so terrified I can’t even breathe. I count to nine in my head, trying to slow the panic. When my hands stop shaking and I can breathe again, I look up and see the grille of a huge black Mustang. I smell exhaust, feel the relentless percussion of heavy metal.
I know this car.
Tristan King, white in tooth, blond in hair, rich in parents. Hollins Creek High School’s highest deity, star of the track team, lusted after by anyone with a pulse. Delaney and I have been swooning over him since middle school.
“Oh my God, did I hit you? Are you hurt?” He and all his gorgeousness come flying out of the car, wearing the dark gray suit and crimson tie all the athletes had to wear for the awards assembly this morning. He kneels down to help me collect my things.
“No, no, I’m fine,” I manage to croak. “I’ve got this, really. It’s okay.”
“I am so, so sorry! Oh no! Your knees are bleeding!”
“Really, it’s nothing, honestly.” I hold my hands out to keep him away. “They don’t even hurt.” I’ve torn huge, gaping holes in the knees of my black tights, and the skin underneath is scraped and raw. Blood trickles slowly from the cuts and soaks into the ragged edges.
My pointe shoes, tied into their nerdy mesh bag, are under his car, along with my books and notebooks. But all the truly awful stuff—deodorant, tampons, panty liners, body spray, Dr. Scholl’s blister pads and foot powder, even the dryer sheets I stuff into my dance bag so it won’t reek of sweat and BO—is right out there in the pale winter sunlight. All the embarrassing, disgusting detritus of my life. My own personal Museum of Mortification.
I pray for a sudden sinkhole to swallow me whole, a bolt of lightning to fry me to ash, an alien abduction. I’m straight up dying of embarrassment. Dying. Like I-can’t-breathe-and-my-heart-hurts dying.
Tristan looks at my knees and says, “Hang on a second. I’ll be right back, okay? Don’t go anywhere.”
I stumble around, gathering my things, surreptitiously trying to wipe away the blood. I lied. My knees hurt like a stinker. I give up and sit down on the curb to assess the damage.
Tristan comes back holding a first aid kit. Kneeling down in his perfect suit, paying no attention to the dirt and gravel, he says, “I’m so, so incredibly sorry. At least let me fix you up.”
“You actually carry a first aid kit in your car? Do you run over a lot of people?”
He laughs, and the sound is low and sweet, like soft notes rising from a cello. His teeth are dazzling up close, straight and impossibly white, probably representing a small fortune in orthodontics and bleach. Even his eyebrows are gorgeous.
“Nah,” he says. “You’re my first attempt at roadkill. If you think your knees are messed up, you should see mine. Bruises and scars like you wouldn’t believe. I run high hurdles, and sometimes I miss.”
He gently wipes the blood from my knees and brushes away stray bits of gravel. He’s so close that I can smell his hair. Lavender, I think. Or rosemary. I breathe him in as deeply and quietly as I can while he dabs Neosporin on the scrapes and covers them with Band-Aids.
When he leans forward and kisses each bandage, I have to work hard not to gasp. Once, when I was really, really small, my mother did the same thing, and for a moment I’m lost in the memory. The way her long hair fell like a dark waterfall over her shoulder as she knelt on the bathroom floor in front of me. Her polished fingernails peeling the wrapping from the bandages. The softness of her lips as she kissed my scraped knees. And though I know it’s impossible, for a few seconds I swear the fragrance of my mother’s lily of the valley perfume dances in the cold air.
“There,” Tristan says, looking up at me. “Now you’ll heal faster. Kisses always make things better, don’t you think?”
I’m not thinking at all, because my brain has stopped working. I should stand up and push him away. I should tell him he’s way out of line, and call him a presumptuous Neanderthal. But his strong hands, his lips on my skin, are making me shiver, and I feel all hot and floaty and liquid, like warm honey is flowing through my veins. I don’t want him to stop. I want him to do it again.
“Yes,” I whisper, mesmerized by the depth of his gray eyes, the color of a mourning dove’s wing. “Kisses always help.” I wonder if he can hear my heart pounding.
He stands and helps me to my feet, holding on to my hands for longer than seems necessary. Standing so close, I feel the heat of him, how alive he is. I have the completely bizarre urge to rest my head on his chest, wrap my arms around his waist, and draw that warmth, that life, into myself. I shake my head, tell myself to snap out of it. Me: Amoeba. Him: Tristan King.
Still holding my hands, he pulls me a little closer, then reaches out to tuck a stray curl behind my ear. Looking into my eyes, he smiles and says, “Better now? Will you be okay? Want me to drive you home?”
I nod, never taking my eyes from his face. “I’ll be fine, really,” I whisper.
I don’t want him to let go. With my hands in his, I feel safe, as though he’s standing between me and the entire rest of the world, like my own personal knight, complete with sword and shield, sworn to protect me. He is so impossibly beautiful.
He gathers up all my books, places them carefully in my backpack, and zips it. Then he crawls under the car for my pointe shoes.
“Your suit,” I say, as he wriggles back out. “It’s all dirty now.”
He shrugs and smiles. “Doesn’t matter. Assembly’s over, pictures are done.” Cradling my pink satin pointe shoes in both hands, he holds them out like an offering, as though he knows how precious they are to me.
“I’m glad I ran into you, Sparrow.”
“You’re hilarious.” I take my shoes from him and stuff them into my dance bag. I feel like I’m moving in slow motion, my heart, my body unwilling to let this end, my brain knowing that it will, and that when he’s gone, it will feel like none of it ever happened. I try to fix all the details in my brain, right now, so they’ll be there later. So it will be real.
“Thanks. I do what I can.”
“So, anyway,” I say. “Thanks for not killing me, but I need to run. I’m unbelievably late for ballet.”
I head toward the ancient Volvo that my dad lets me drive to school and ballet but nowhere else. Tristan runs after me and grabs my hand.
“Wait, Sparrow. Don’t go. Not yet.”
It feels like my heart has jumped straight up into my throat.
“You sure have changed a lot since we were in geography class together,” he says.
“That was fifth grade, Tristan. We’ve all changed. The last time you spoke to me, you said nobody likes ballerinas and ballet was stupid.”
His eyes widen and he puts his hand over his heart and staggers backward, like he’s had a sudden shock. “Seriously? I said that?”
“You did. I remember every word.”
“Wow, I was kind of a jackass, wasn’t I?”
“Yeah, you kind of were.”
“I was wrong. And ballet is awesome.”
I can’t help it. I laugh.
“Right. Have you actually been to any of our performances? You don’t exactly seem like the kind of person who’d be wild about ballet.”
“Okay, totally busted. But my mother’s on the conservatory board, and she’s always talking about you. She showed me that article that was in the paper last year. She says you’re mad talented.”
That article is still taped to the refrigerator. My father refuses to take it down. He even highlighted the line about me being “the rising star of the Appalachian Conservatory Ballet” and called me “Superstar” for a week. It was mortifying.
I feel myself blushing, the red stain creeping all the way up my neck and into my cheeks. Now my freckles will look awesome. “You should come see a performance with your mom sometime.”
“Maybe I will,” he says softly. He reaches out and cups my face in the palm of his hand, stroking my cheek with his thumb. “You’re blushing.” He’s so close I can feel his warm breath on my skin.
My knees go all rubbery, and I picture myself falling down right where I’m standing, fainting like a Victorian maiden in one of my aunt Sophie’s romance novels.
When I speak, my voice comes out all shaky and whispery.
“Listen, really, thanks for the Band-Aids and everything. But I’ve got to go. We get fined five dollars every time we’re late for class. I’m sorry I ran out in front of you. Hope I didn’t give you a heart attack or anything.”
He smiles and pushes his sun-streaked hair out of his eyes. He has deep dimples on both sides of his mouth. “Have dinner with me on Saturday. Please. Let me make up for almost killing you.”
Approximately five thousand thoughts rush through my head. Me at dinner with Tristan King, holding his hand at a candlelit table, sharing a dessert. Kissing him at my front door. Wondering why he’s bothering with me, when he’s had tons of girlfriends, some of them even college girls. How tightly Sophie will hug me, how she’ll whisper that she’s happy I’m finally getting out of the house and, even better, going on an actual date. Best of all, telling Delaney. She’ll completely lose her mind and scream the scream she reserves for all miraculous occurrences.
“Ummm, that would be great, but I can’t. I have rehearsal most of the day on Saturdays, and then—”
“And then what? You’ll go home and sit by your window, crying sad little ballerina tears and wishing you’d said yes. You have to eat. I’ll take you wherever you want to go, even if you want, I don’t know, a gluten-free, vegan, pizza-free pizza. Come on, say yes. Please. Otherwise I’ll never get over the guilt.”
I hesitate. This will require all kinds of explaining and promising to my father. I’ll have to get Sophie to run interference. If we start tonight, it’s possible that we can get my dad to cave. My heart beats a little faster. This could actually work.
“Sparrow, come on. I’m sorry I was a jerk in fifth grade. I’m sorry I almost ran you over. Let me make things right. It’s just dinner, some pasta and bread, maybe a glass of sparkling water if you’re feeling fancy. It’s not like I’m asking you to donate a kidney.”
I melt, fast and gooey, like a marshmallow in a campfire. “Okay, yes. But I eat like a normal person, just so you know. It’s a total myth that ballerinas live on celery sticks and bee pollen.”
He laughs. “Point taken. We’ll have cheesecake and ice cream, too. I’ll pick you up at seven.”
“Just be prepared for my dad. No way he’ll let me walk out the door without grilling you. He’s a trial attorney, and he almost always wins.”
“Got it. Beware of kick-ass lawyers. I heard about his big murder case.”
“Yeah, everybody says he’s ferocious in court. And he’s going to treat you like a hostile witness, so gird your loins.”
“I’ll suck up hard-core. Maybe he’ll let me off easy.”
“I wouldn’t count on it.”
Laughing, he walks to his car and gets in, gunning the engine and waving as he peels out of the parking lot.
Levkova has definitely locked the door by now. I may as well go straight home and scrape up five bucks to put in the Jar of Shame she keeps on the piano. I’ll do an adagio barre in my room and give myself corrections. I’ll be alone, but maybe it won’t suck so much today.
I throw my dance bag on the passenger seat and sit for a minute while the heater groans. My knees hurt, and my hands are so cold I can’t even feel them, but I can’t stop smiling. I resist the urge to text Delaney about what just happened, because I want to hear her laugh when I tell her how my tampons were scattered all over the parking lot like candy from a piñata. I want to see the look of utter disbelief on her face when I tell her I have an actual date. With Tristan King.
It always surprises me, how life can change in an instant, how everything can turn upside down on an ordinary winter afternoon. In my heart, I feel the cautious flutter of hope.
▪︎Tag a friend (each friend will be an extra entry). ▪︎Share on your stories about the giveaway (remember to tag me @whatmakespatri and @theffbc) ▪︎Follow @michellesulk ▪︎Follow any other FFBC team member participating in the tour & let us know on the comment section who did you follow! Other participants: @TheReadingCornerforAll @bookishconnoisseur @popthebutterfly @belleeeey_ @_bookishaestha_ @fictitiouswonderland @confessionsofayareader @musingsofagirl @sometimesleelynnreads @amysbooketlist @bookriot_anjedah @trappedinsidestories @books_andpoetrii @esperdenoire
T&Cs & Disclaimers (TO INCLUDE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION): ▪︎Giveaway ends on March 31st (00:00 GMT+1). 1 winner will be chosen on @theffbc. ▪︎Open to residents of US only ▪︎This sweepstakes is not sponsored by Instagram.
The winner will be announced after APRIL 2ND 2020 on our Instagram stories. ONLY 1 WINNER. OPEN US ONLY. The winner will be contacted via Instagram.
*I received a copy of an arc in exchange for an honest review*
Ember Queen (Ash Princess Trilogy #3) by Laura Sebastian Publisher: Delacorte Books For Young Readers Release Date: February 4th 2020 Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Romance, Fiction, High Fantasy, Science Fiction, Magic, Epic Fantasy
It strikes me suddenly that we are all together again, in a way I never imagined we would be.
The thrilling conclusion to the series that began with the instant New York Times bestseller “made for fans of Victoria Aveyard and Sabaa Tahir” (Bustle), Ember Queen is an epic fantasy about a throne cruelly stolen and a girl who must fight to take it back for her people.
Princess Theodosia was a prisoner in her own country for a decade. Renamed the Ash Princess, she endured relentless abuse and ridicule from the Kaiser and his court. But though she wore a crown of ashes, there is fire in Theo’s blood. As the rightful heir to the Astrean crown, it runs in her veins. And if she learned nothing else from her mother, she learned that a Queen never cowers.
It barged into my world unprovoked, and all I’ve done is try to put an end to it.
Now free, with a misfit army of rebels to back her, Theo must liberate her enslaved people and face a terrifying new enemy: the new Kaiserin. Imbued with a magic no one understands, the Kaiserin is determined to burn down anyone and everything in her way.
The Kaiserin’s strange power is growing stronger, and with Prinz Søren as her hostage, there is more at stake than ever. Theo must learn to embrace her own power if she has any hope of standing against the girl she once called her heart’s sister.
Raise your hand if you’ve ever felt personally victimized by trilogies! Trilogies are like the perfect length for books, but also the worst. They’re just long enough to where you never feel like the story is dragging, but then they also pull you so deeply into the story that at the same time you have to suffer through the withdrawals of knowing no more books are coming.
And it seems you have all of the oafishness of an ogre.
It’s always so bitter sweet to get to the end of a series, but Ember Queen was such an amazing finish! It’s just got all of the action, magic, and bits of romance that I love and desire to see in a book! And it has also finally made me excited to get back into kingdom/queendom types of books! As with many YA books there were some predictable moments, but that’s something that I actually look forward to when reading young adult. I don’t know, I just feel as if it comes with the genre.
You had better not kick.
But this series is just one of those pure and simply enjoyable stories to read! It’s got everything you expect and then some! It covered some really important topics surrounding rebuilding stolen kingdoms and I loved seeing how the characters and people in the world were able to regroup, recover, and just live. I really look forward to seeing what Sebastian comes up with next.
About the Author
Laura Sebastian was born and raised in South Florida (the Redlands and Key Largo) and has always loved telling stories–many apologies to her little brother who often got in trouble because of them. No copies of her first book, a Cinderella retelling about angels circa 2nd grade, remain. Thankfully.
After getting her BFA from Savannah College of Art and Design, she moved to New York City thinking that she would stay for a couple of years before going somewhere better suited for a small-town, sun-loving girl. Five years later, she’s still here and madly in love with it.
When Laura isn’t writing, she’s probably reading, baking cookies or cupcakes, buying more clothes than her overstuffed closet can fit, or forcing her lazy dog Neville to take a walk.
Her debut ASH PRINCESS, the start of a YA fantasy trilogy, will be out April 24th, 2018 from Delacorte (Random House).
The sun is blinding when I step out of the mouth of the cave on weak legs. I lift a heavy, aching arm to shield my eyes, but the effort of even that small gesture makes the world around me spin. My knees buckle and the ground comes up to meet me, hard and sharp with rocks. It hurts, but oh, it feels so good to lie down, to have fresh air in my lungs, to have light, even if it is too much all at once.
My throat is so dry, it hurts to even breathe. There is caked blood on my fingers, on my arms, in my hair. Distantly I realize that it’s mine, but I can’t say where it came from. My memories are a desert–I remember stepping into the cave, remember hearing my friends’ voices begging me to come back. And then . . . nothing.
“Theo,” a voice calls, familiar but so far away. A thousand footsteps beat against the ground, each one making my head throb. I flinch away from the sound, curling tighter into myself.
Hands touch my skin–my wrists, the pulse point behind my ear. They are so cold, they raise goose bumps on my skin.
“Is she . . . ,” a voice says. Blaise. I try to say his name, but nothing comes out.
“She’s alive, but her pulse is faint and her skin is hot,” another voice says. Heron. “We have to get her inside.”
Arms scoop me up and carry me–Heron’s, I think. Again, I try to speak, but I can’t make so much as a sound.
“Art, your cloak,” Heron says, his chest rumbling against my cheek with each word. “Cover her head with it. Her eyes are oversensitive.”
“Yes, I remember,” Art says. Fabric rustles and her cloak falls over my eyes, wrapping my world in darkness once more.
I let myself fall into it now. My friends have me, and so I am safe.
The next time I open my eyes, I’m on a cot inside a tent, the bright sun filtered through thick white cotton so that it is bearable. The pounding in my head is still there, but it’s dull and faraway now. My throat is no longer dry and raw, and if I focus, I have a hazy memory of Artemisia pouring water into my open mouth. The pillow beneath my head is still damp from where she missed.
Now, though, I’m alone.
I force myself to sit up even though it intensifies the pain echoing through my every nerve. The Kalovaxians will return sooner or later, and who knows how long Cress will keep Søren alive? There is so much to be done and not nearly enough time to do it.
Placing my bare feet on the dirt floor, I push myself to stand. As I do, the tent flap pulls open and Heron steps inside, ducking his tall frame in order to fit through the small opening. When he sees me awake and standing, he falters, blinking a few times to ensure he isn’t imagining me.
“Theo,” he says slowly, testing out the sound of my name.
“How long has it been?” I ask him quietly. “Since I entered the mine?”
Heron surveys me for a moment. “Two weeks,” he says.
The words knock me backward, and I sit down on the cot again. “Two weeks,” I echo. “It felt like hours, maybe days.”
Heron doesn’t look surprised by that. Why would he? He’s gone through the same thing.
“Do you remember sleeping?” he asks me. “Eating? Drinking? You must have, at some point, or you would be in much worse shape.”
I shake my head, trying to grasp what I do remember, but very little of it solidifies enough for me to hold on to. Scraps of details, ghosts that could not have been real, fire flooding my veins. But nothing more than that.
“You should have left me,” I tell him. “Two weeks . . . Cress’s army could be back any day now, and Søren–”
“Is alive, according to reports,” Heron interrupts. “And the Kalovaxians have received no orders to return here.”
I stare at him. “How can you possibly know that?” I ask.
He lifts a shoulder in a lopsided shrug. “Spies,” he says, as if the answer should be obvious.
“We don’t have spies,” I say slowly.
“We didn’t have spies. But we got word that the new Theyn was at his country home, two days’ ride from here. We were able to turn several of his slaves before they returned to the capital. We just received our first missive. The Theyn hasn’t ordered troops back yet. Besides, the vast majority of the army has left. It’s only Blaise, Artemisia, Erik, Dragonsbane, and me, plus a group of those still recovering from the battle. But even they’ll be going to safety with Dragonsbane in a day or two.”
I barely hear him, still trying to wrap my mind around the idea of spies. All I can think of is Elpis, of what happened the last time I made a spy of someone.
“I didn’t approve the use of spies,” I tell him.
“You’d walked into the mine the day before the plan was hatched,” Heron says, his voice level. “You weren’t around to approve much of anything, and there was no time to wait for you to come back. If you came back at all.”
A retort dies in my throat, and I swallow it. “If they die–”
“It will have been a necessary risk,” Heron says. “They knew as much when they volunteered. Besides, the Kaiserin is not as paranoid as the Kaiser, from what we’ve heard. She thinks you’re dead, she thinks we aren’t a threat, she has Søren. She thinks she’s won, and so she’s getting sloppy.”
The Kaiserin. Will there ever come a day when I hear that title and think first of Cress and not Kaiserin Anke?
“You said the army had left,” I say. “Where to?”
Heron lets out a long exhale. “You missed quite a lot of squabbling while you were gone–I almost envy you. The Vecturian chief sent his daughter Maile to assist us, along with his troops. With Søren gone, she and Erik have the most battle experience, but they don’t agree on anything. Erik wants to march straight to the capital to take the city and rescue Søren.”
“That’s foolish,” I say, shaking my head. “It’s exactly what they’ll expect, and even if it weren’t, we don’t have the numbers for that kind of siege.”
“That’s exactly what Maile said,” Heron says, shaking his head. “She said we should continue to the Earth Mine.”
“But we can’t do that without marching past the most populous cities, without even the cover of forests or mountains,” I say. “It’ll be impossible to avoid detection, and then Cress will have an army waiting to greet us at the Earth Mine.”
“Which is exactly what Erik said,” Heron says. “See, you’re all caught up.”
“So who won?” I ask.
“No one,” Heron says. “It was decided that we should send the troops to the cities along the Savria River. None of them is heavily populated, but we’ll be able to contain the Kalovaxians, free their slaves, add to our numbers, and collect weapons and food as well. And most importantly, our troops aren’t just waiting here like sitting ducks.”
“Like we are, you mean,” I say, rubbing my temples. The headache blossoming has nothing to do with the mine this time. “And now I’m here to break the tie, I suppose.”
“Later,” he says. “Once you can actually walk on your own.”
“I’m fine,” I tell him, more forcefully than necessary.
Heron watches me warily. He opens his mouth, but closes it again quickly, shaking his head.
“If there’s something you want to ask me about the mines, I don’t remember anything,” I tell him. “The last thing I remember is going in–after that, it’s a blur.”
“You will remember, in time,” he says. “For better or worse. But I know I never want to speak of my experience. I assumed you would feel the same way.”
I swallow, pushing the thought aside. A problem for another day–and I have too many problems before me as it is. “But something is on your mind,” I say to Heron. “What is it?”
He weighs the question in his mind for an instant. “Did it work?” he asks.
For a second, I don’t know what he means, but I suddenly remember–the reason I went into the mines in the first place, the weak power I had over fire before, the side effect from Cress’s poison. I went into the mine to claim my power, in hopes that I will have enough to stand against Cress when the time comes.
Did it work? There is only one way to find out.
I hold my left palm up and summon fire. Even before I uncurl my fingers, I feel heat thrumming beneath them, stronger than I’ve ever felt it before. It comes easily when I summon it, like it’s a part of me, always lurking just below the surface. It burns brighter, feels hotter, but it’s more than that. To show him, I toss it into the air, hold it there, suspended but still alive, still bright. Heron’s eyes grow wide, but he says nothing as I lift my hand and flex it. The ball of fire mimics me, becoming a hand of its own. When I move my fingers, it matches each movement. I make a fist, and it does that as well.
“Theo,” he says, his voice a hoarse whisper. “I saw the extent of Ampelio’s power when he trained me. He couldn’t do that.”
I swallow and take hold of the flame again, smothering it in my grip and turning it to ash in my hand.
“If you don’t mind, Heron,” I say, my gaze fixed on the dark pigment that smears over my skin just as the ash crown had, “is Mina still here? She’s–”
“The healer,” he supplies, nodding. “Yes, she’s still here. She’s been helping with the wounded. I’ll find her.”
When he’s gone, I dust ash from my hands and let it settle into the dirt floor.
By the time Mina enters the tent, I’ve gotten used to standing again, though my body still doesn’t feel entirely like mine. Every move–every breath–feels like a labor, and every muscle aches. Mina must notice, because she takes one look at me and gives a knowing smile.
“It’s normal,” she says. “When I came out of the mine, the priestesses said that the gods had broken me and remade me anew. It seemed to sum up how I felt.”
I nod, easing myself back to sit on my cot once more. “How long does it last?” I ask her.
She shrugs. “My pain lasted a couple of days, but it varies.” She pauses, looking me over. “What you did was incredibly foolish. Going into the mine when you already possessed a measure of power–when you were already a vessel half-full–you were asking for mine madness. You realize that, don’t you?”
I look at the ground. It’s been some time since I’ve been chastised like this, by someone concerned about my well-being. I rack my mind for the last person; it very well may have been my mother. I suppose Hoa did as well, in her wordless way.
“I understood the risks,” I tell her.
“You’re the Queen of Astrea,” she continues, as if I haven’t spoken. “What would we have done without you?
“You would have persisted,” I say, louder this time. “I am one person. We lost far more in the war, far more in the siege itself, including my mother. We have always persisted. I wouldn’t have made a difference.”
Mina fixes me with a level look. “It was still foolish,” she insists. “But I suppose it was also brave.”
I shrug again. “Whatever it might have been, it worked,” I say.
I show her the same thing I showed Heron, how I can not just summon fire but turn it into an extension of my own self. Mina watches me all the while with her lips pursed, not saying a word until I’ve finished and am scattering the ash to the ground once more.
“And you slept,” she says, more to herself than me.
“Quite heavily, as I understand it,” I say dryly.
She steps toward me. “May I feel your forehead?” she asks.
I nod, and she presses the back of her hand to my brow. “You aren’t warm,” she says before reaching out to touch the single tendril of white in my auburn hair.
“It was there before,” I tell her. “After the poison.”
She nods. “I remember. Not like the Kaiserin’s hair, is it? But I suppose you have Artemisia to thank for that–if she hadn’t used her own gift on you so quickly to negate the poison, it would have affected you far more. If it hadn’t killed you on the spot, the mine certainly would have.”
“You didn’t see Cress–the Kaiserin–yourself,” I say, changing the subject. “But you must have heard stories of her power by now.”
Mina considers this. “I’ve heard stories,” she says carefully. “Though I find stories are often exaggerated.”
I remember Cress killing the Kaiser with just her scalding hands around his throat, the way she trailed ash over the desk with her fingertips. She radiated power in a way that I have never seen equaled. I’m not sure how anyone could exaggerate what I saw with my own eyes.
“It’s as if . . . she doesn’t even have to call on her gift. She killed the Kaiser in a few seconds with just her hands,” I say.
“And you still don’t feel strong enough to stand against her,” Mina guesses.
“I don’t think anyone is,” I admit. “Did you ever hear of Guardians killing with that little effort?”
She shakes her head. “I didn’t hear anything about Guardians killing at all,” she says. “It wasn’t their way. If a person’s crimes ever warranted execution, it was carried out by more mundane means. Guardians never did the deed with the gifts given to them by the gods. It would have been its own kind of sacrilege, a perversion of something holy.”
I think about Blaise going out into the battlefield, knowing he could have died but determined to kill as many Kalovaxians as possible before he did. Was that a perversion of his gift? Or are the standards different now, in times of war?
“The children I saw before, the ones you were testing,” I say, remembering the boy and girl with the same unstable power as Blaise. “How are they?”
“Laius and Griselda,” she supplies. “They are as well as can be expected, I suppose. Frightened and traumatized by the horrific experiments the Kalovaxians did on them, but they’re strong in more ways than one.” She pauses for a second. “Your hypothetical friend has been helpful. They like him, standoffish though he might be. It truly is something, to discover you aren’t as alone in the world as you thought.”
▪︎Tag a friend (each friend will be an extra entry). ▪︎Share on your stories about the giveaway (remember to tag me @whatmakespatri and @theffbc) ▪︎Follow @michellesulk & @artsyreadergirl ▪︎Follow any other FFBC team member participating in the tour (let us know on the comment section who did you follow). Check everyone’s Instagram handles below tomorrow: @jessicabeckett, @confessionsofayareader, @discoverelysian, @laurensboookshelf and @bookishzelda
T&Cs & Disclaimers (TO INCLUDE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION):
▪︎Giveaway ends on March 30th (00:00 GMT+1). 1 winner will be chosen on @theffbc. ▪︎Open to residents of US only ▪︎This sweepstakes is not sponsored by Instagram.
The winner will be announced after April 2nd 2020 on our Instagram stories. ONLY 1 WINNER. OPEN US ONLY. The winner will be contacted via Instagram.
*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review*
The Degenerates by J. Albert Mann Publisher: Atheneum Books for Young Readers Release Date: March 17th 2020 Genre: Young Adult, Historical Fiction
These two weren’t wild, but Thelma kept them.
J. Albert Mann
In the tradition of Girl, Interrupted, this fiery historical novel follows four young women in the early 20th century whose lives intersect when they are locked up by a world that took the poor, the disabled, the marginalized—and institutionalized them for life.
She loved the soft weight of the babies in her arms, even if they did reek worse than the scummy sewage bubbling in the harbor channel.
J. Albert Mann
The Massachusetts School for the Feeble-Minded is not a happy place. The young women who are already there certainly don’t think so. Not Maxine, who is doing everything she can to protect her younger sister Rose in an institution where vicious attendants and bullying older girls treat them as the morons, imbeciles, and idiots the doctors have deemed them to be. Not Alice, either, who was left there when her brother couldn’t bring himself to support a sister with a club foot. And not London, who has just been dragged there from the best foster situation she’s ever had, thanks to one unexpected, life altering moment. Each girl is determined to change her fate, no matter what it takes.
This book is one of those devastatingly beautiful difficult books to read. I mean it’s covering a time where women were just locked away if they served no purpose. Out of sight out of mind, it was easier to tell them that they were feeble minded and would never amount to something. You know, the frustratingly not too long ago time where women were deemed lesser than.
Rose knew a lot of things people thought she didn’t.
J. Albert Mann
This book, just wow. Not only is it taking a look at such an amazingly important sliver of our history, but the cast is utterly amazingly diverse. None of these girls are feeble minded, they were just dealt a rather sad hand. I’m rarely a fan of multiple perspectives, but this book I was so excited to switch up the perspectives and learn more about each of the girls. They were just such a wonderful mix of feisty, inquisitive, and tough to the bones.
‘Run!’ the old lady growled, before she was knocked from her chair by an angry silver-haired cop looming over her.
J. Albert Mann
While this may be a difficult book to read because of the subject, it is most definitely not a difficult book to read because of the writing. I was immediately swept away into the story and couldn’t put the book down. To say I stayed up a smidge too late is probably an understatement
About the Author
J. Albert Mann is the author of six novels for children, with S&S Atheneum Books for Young Readers set to publish her next work of historical fiction about the Eugenics Movement and the rise of institutionalism in the United States. She is also the author of short stories and poems for children featured in Highlights for Children, where she won the Highlights Fiction Award, as well as the Highlights Editors’ Choice Award. She has an MFA from Vermont College of Fine Arts in Writing for Children and Young Adults, and is the Director of the WNDB Internship Grant Committee.
Jennifer is represented by Kerry Sparks at Levine Greenberg Rostan Literary Agency.
Win 1 copy of THE DEGENERATES by J. Albert Mann (US Only).
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Extra entries: ▪︎Tag a friend (each friend will be an extra entry). ▪︎Share on your stories about the giveaway (remember to tag me @whatmakespatri and @theffbc) ▪︎Follow @michellesulk & @artsyreadergirl ▪︎Follow any other FFBC team member participating in the tour (let us know on the comment section who did you follow). Check everyone’s Instagram handles below: @popthebutterfly @kaitplusbooks @booking_belle @kagunderman @storyeyedreview @bookish_rantings @sometimesleelynnreads @inkymoments @esperdenoire @mahkjchi_books @books_andpoetrii @TheReadingCornerforAll @fourmoonreviews @a_bookish_dream @poisonbooknerd @l.m.durand @adreamindream @allisawhitebooks @_bookishaestha_ @bookishgeekig @paigebradish @iamlitandwit @fictitiouswonderland
T&Cs & Disclaimers (TO INCLUDE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION): ▪︎Giveaway ends on March 25th (00:00 GMT+1). 1 winner will be chosen on @theffbc. ▪︎Open to residents of US only ▪︎This sweepstakes is not sponsored by Instagram.
*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review*
She wished she could see them fly, though all the different houses, because she longed for something new.
Four fates collide in this avian-inspired, epic fantasy retelling of Tristan and Isolde perfect for fans of Sarah J. Maas, Sabaa Tahir, and Leigh Bardugo!
A princess longing to be free…
On the dawn of her courtship trials, Princess Lyana Aethionus knows she should be focused on winning her perfect mate, yet her thoughts wander to the open sky waiting at the edge of her floating kingdom. One final adventure calls. Upon fleeing the palace, the last thing she expects to find is a raven prince locked in a death match with a dragon.
A bastard aching to belong…
Reviled son of a dead king, Rafe would do anything for his beloved half-brother, Prince Lysander Taetanus, including posing as him in the upcoming courtship trials. When a dragon interrupts their secret exchange, he orders his studious sibling to run. After suffering a fatal blow, Rafe is saved by a beautiful dove who possesses forbidden magic, just like him.
Fate brought them together, now destiny will tear them apart…
Unknown to the world above, on the foggy sea ten thousand feet below, a young king fights a forgotten war. He believes Lyana is the queen prophesied to save the world, and with the help of his favored spy, hidden deep in the highest ranks of the dove royal house, he will stop at nothing to have her.
Three shocking betrayals. Two star-crossed lovers. One unforgettable journey. If you like fierce heroines, brooding heroes, forbidden romance, and action-packed magical adventures with twists you’ll never see coming, don’t miss The Raven and the Dove!
There would be no forgiveness. There would be no forgiving herself. But she’d come too far to turn back now.
So, the cover on this book. Can we just talk about that for a moment? Because it it just sooo pretty and needs some limelight! Soak it in! Ogle it! Ok, now I’m ready to do my review. This book was AMAZING! I had been feeling like I was getting into the reading slumps, so I was sad that this book was next on my reading list because I was afraid that was going to impact my read of it. NOPE! Within minutes of reading it I said, good, yes, smirky boy, I’m set and ready to read!
‘So, this is the infamous sky bridge?’ Rafe asked, crossing his arms. ‘I have to admit, I expected more.’
Let me also start off my review with: FLYING HUMANS! I have been missing (and in love) with books that combine wings and people since Maximum Ride. So, I was so excited when I found this book and realized my craving for this would be satiated. I also love how Davis seamlessly gave the characters heightened (or in some cases lessened) abilities based off of what their respective bird would be like. I mean you have doves, ravens, owls, and more! It’s so cool and unique!
Together they walked into the unknown.
As you can probably guess there’s some really awesome world building in this book! The story also starts with a bang and just keeps going! I never found myself bored and I am ready to continue this series and continue to learn more about our characters! Like, gimme book two asap please!
The pre-order price is $2.99 for the first week of on sale, and after that the price will increase to $3.99
“Game?” she asked. Her hands had stopped moving. They rested warmly in the hollow groove between his wings, palms half against his feathers and half against his back.
Rafe stole another glance over his shoulder. She was too entranced to see anything but the visions dancing through her head, the visions he’d spun. An almost childlike wonder was alive in her innocent, yearning gaze, igniting a spark in his own chest that he hadn’t felt in a very long time. Not since his parents had died. Not since he’d grown up too soon.
“We like to think of Taetanos as the god of fate, not of death,” Rafe said softly. The glaze in the girl’s eyes disappeared as she looked into his. “We call life a game, because we each have our own wants, our own desires—but he sees everything, he knows everything, and he leads us down our destined path. We fight back sometimes, we make moves, and so does he. On and on it goes until, in the end, he wins, like he always does. But still, we keep playing. What other choice do we have?”
Again, her fingers brushed his feathers, but she didn’t look away.
He couldn’t, even if he’d wanted to.
“What do you think this is?” She paused to swallow. “His move or yours?”
His, he silently answered. Definitely his.
Because Rafe ached to fly, to soar, to get out of the darkness and back to his brother, back to the role he was comfortable playing, back to the sidelines. But there was a weight in his chest keeping him there, keeping him still, keeping him so lost in the fire reflected in her eyes that he couldn’t find his way out even if he tried.
For a moment, he thought he could hear his god laughing.
Then he realized it wasn’t laughter, but the soft whistle of a bird call—a signal he recognized. His move. His life. His brother calling him back.
His head whipped to the side, pulled by the noise growing louder, coming not from his imagination but from the other side of the darkness. He opened his mouth to call out in response, when a hand covered his lips and an arm slid around his throat, stronger and more ferocious than he’d expected. Rafe froze as the icy edge of a blade pressed into his skin, instantly recognizing the kiss of steel. “Be silent,” the girl ordered. “Don’t say a word.”
About the Author
Kaitlyn Davis, a bestselling author with over a quarter of a million books sold, writes young adult fantasy novels under the name Kaitlyn Davis and contemporary romance novels under the name Kay Marie. Publisher’s Weekly has said, “Davis writes with confidence and poise,” while USA Today has recommended her work as “must-read romance.”
Always blessed with an overactive imagination, Kaitlyn has been writing ever since she picked up her first crayon and is overjoyed to share her work with the world. When she’s not daydreaming, typing stories, or getting lost in fictional worlds, Kaitlyn can be found playing fetch with her puppy, watching a little too much television, or spending time with her family. If you have any questions for her–about her books, about scheduling an event, or just in general–you may contact her at: KaitlynDavisBooks@gmail.com Sign up for Kaitlyn’s newsletter to stay up-to-date with all of her new releases and more!
The June Boys by Courtney C. Stevens Publisher: Thomas Nelson Release Date: March 3, 2020 Genre: Young Adult, Mystery, Thriller
The Gemini Thief could be anyone. Your father, your mother, your best friend’s crazy uncle. Some country music star’s deranged sister. Anyone.
The Gemini Thief is a serial kidnapper, who takes three boys and holds them captive from June 1st to June 30th of the following year. The June Boys endure thirteen months of being stolen, hidden, observed, and fed before they are released, unharmed, by their masked captor. The Thief is a pro, having eluded authorities for nearly a decade and taken at least twelve boys.
Now Thea Delacroix has reason to believe the Gemini Thief took a thirteenth victim: her cousin, Aulus McClaghen.
But the game changes when one of the kidnapped boys turns up dead. Together with her boyfriend Nick and her best friends, Thea is determined to find the Gemini Thief and the remaining boys before it’s too late. Only she’s beginning to wonder something sinister, something repulsive, something unbelievable, and yet, not impossible:
Ahhhhh! This book was so good! I’m a sucker for a classic styled mystery, so of course I was immediately interested in this one. Add in some of the dark and broody elements and I’m sold! I mean, the writing is just so delicious and elevates the story.
The bulk of this story is about Thea trying to figure out who the Gemini Thief is after her cousin becomes one of his yearly victims. Basically, the Gemini Thief operates under this weird yearly schedule where he steals three boys and holds them captive for thirteen months before letting them go alive. The only problem is that one of the kidnapped boys suddenly turns up dead.
I think that this book is coming out at the perfect timing too. This truly sounds like something you would hear about on a true crime podcast. Which also helps add to the eerie feel of the story. The realness of the horror these characters are facing is palpable, allowing you to descend into the madness of what is occuring.
About the Author
Courtney “Court” Stevens grew up among rivers, cornfields, churches, and gossip in the small town south. She is a former adjunct professor, youth minister, Olympic torchbearer and bookseller at Parnassus Books. These days she writes coming-of-truth fiction and is the Community Outreach Manager for Warren County Public Library. She has a pet whale named Herman, a bandsaw named Rex, and several novels with her name on the spine.
Iphigenia Murphy by Sara Hosey Publisher: Blackstone Publishing Release Date: March 10th 2020 Genre: Young Adult
Running away from home hasn’t solved Iphigenia Murphy’s problems. In fact, it’s only a matter of time before they’ll catch up with her. Iffy is desperate to find her long-lost mother, and, so far, in spite of the need to forage for food and shelter and fend off an unending number of creeps, living in Queens’ Forest Park has felt safer than living at home. But as the summer days get shorter, it all threatens to fall apart.
A novel that explores the sustaining love of friendship, the kindness of strangers, and the indelible bond of family, Iphigenia Murphy captures the gritty side of 1992 Queens, the most diverse borough in New York City. Just like Iffy, the friends she makes in the park–Angel, a stray dog with the most ridiculous tail; Corinne, a young trans woman who is escaping her own abusive situation; and Anthony, a former foster kid from upstate whose parents are addicts–each seek a place where they feel at home. Whether fate or coincidence has brought them together, within this community of misfits Iffy can finally be herself, but she still has to face the effects of abandonment and abuse–and the possibility that she may be pregnant. During what turns out to be a remarkable journey to find her mother, will Iffy ultimately discover herself?
There are some girls that nobody looks for. Turns out, I was one of those girls. Just like my mother.
You have no idea how excited I have been about this 90s revival. You know, I say as I sit here typing under a brightly colored quilt in 90s baggy jeans and a graphic tee-shirt. There’s just something about revisiting my childhood that makes me happy. So OF COURSE I immediately HAD to read Iphigenia Murphy when I found out about it! I mean, a run away living in a tent in Queens? It’s just like this story was made from me (you know, I say again as I impatiently wait for more backpacking supplies to come in the mail).
Let me start off by saying I love the writing in this book! It’s brutally honest, which makes it so much more realistic. It truly feels like you’re reading about a teenager compared to all of those teenage characters who sound like mid-century poets. My only real complaint is that it took me like 30 tries before I (think) I got Iphigenia pronounced correctly. It’s a genius name, but boy what a mouthful!
This book covers some brutal topics, but they are very real issues in society. This takes me back to the honesty part I mentioned before. I find that I really love books that don’t skim around topics or try to sugar coat all of the nuances of life. This book features a diverse cast of characters that all miraculously seem to come together and show that life isn’t always the dream that you see in movies,.
About the Author
Sara Hosey holds a PhD in American literature from the University of Wisconsin–Madison and is an associate professor of English and women and gender studies at Nassau Community College. Her book, Home Is Where the Hurt Is: Media Depictions of Wives and Mothers (McFarland, 2019), looks at representations of the domestic in popular culture. Sara grew up in Queens and now lives in Sea Cliff, New York, with her partner and their children. She is working on a second novel.
For this particular giveaway, we have an exclusive Instagram. We are giving away an IPHIGENIA MURPHY bundle including: a hardcover of IPHIGENIA MURPHY by Sara Hosey, a bookmark, a button and a skateboard keychain (US Only). The giveaway will start on MARCH 4th 2020 and will finish on MARCH 18th 2020 (00:00 GMT+1).
▪︎Tag a friend (each friend will be an extra entry). ▪︎Share on your stories about the giveaway (remember to tag me @whatmakespatri and @theffbc) ▪︎Follow @michellesulk ▪︎Follow any other FFBC team member participating in the tour (let us know on the comment section who did you follow). Check everyone’s Instagram handles below: @l.m.durand @mybookishbliss @popthebutterfly @kaitplusbooks @love2dazzle @_.sleepydoe._ @_bookishaestha_ @gotgratitude5 @savingsinseconds
T&Cs & Disclaimers (TO INCLUDE IN THE COMMENTS SECTION): ▪︎Giveaway ends on MARCH 18th (00:00 GMT+1). 1 winner will be chosen on @theffbc. ▪︎Open to residents of US only
The winner will be announced after MARCH 20TH 2020 on our Instagram stories. ONLY 1 WINNER. OPEN US ONLY. The winner will be contacted via Instagram.
*I received an arc in exchange for an honest review*
The Winter Duke by Claire Eliza Bartlett Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers Release Date: March 3rd 2020
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, LGBT, Queer, Magic, Retellings, Romance
My favorite tutor said that other people’s siblings were noisy, argumentative talltales. My siblings tried to murder one another.
Claire Eliza Bartlett
An enchanted tale of intrigue where a duke’s daughter is the only survivor of a magical curse.
When Ekata’s brother is finally named heir, there will be nothing to keep her at home in Kylma Above with her murderous family. Not her books or science experiments, not her family’s icy castle atop a frozen lake, not even the tantalizingly close Kylma Below, a mesmerizing underwater kingdom that provides her family with magic. But just as escape is within reach, her parents and twelve siblings fall under a strange sleeping sickness.
I had to go Below.
Claire Eliza Bartlett
In the space of a single night, Ekata inherits the title of duke, her brother’s warrior bride, and ever-encroaching challengers from without—and within—her own ministry. Nothing has prepared Ekata for diplomacy, for war, for love…or for a crown she has never wanted. If Kylma Above is to survive, Ekata must seize her family’s power. And if Ekata is to survive, she must quickly decide how she will wield it.
Part Sleeping Beauty, part Anastasia, with a thrilling political mystery, The Winter Duke is a spellbinding story about choosing what’s right in the face of danger.
He stormed out, slamming the door behind him. We all jumped. I resisted the urge to giggle in hysterical relief.
I always say I am not a fan of retellings, yet I often find myself drawn to them. And, surprise surprise, enjoying them! What I’ve come to realize is that I really like retellings that are more Eastern European based. You know, the dark, dreary, and cold ones. So, of course I absolutely loved The Winter Duke!
But not this night. Tonight we had a strict no-murder policy.
Claire Eliza Bartlett
Let me just say that Barlett writes so gorgeously. I was just sucked in immediately and I was loving every moment of my read. This is definitely an atmospheric read, so everything is very visceral in it’s descriptions. But because of this a lot of stuff is left not fully described. Yet, it worked in this story! I feel like this helped certain important elements remain at the forefront while the writing style made up for why some other elements were only partially developed.
I preferred the study of bones and trees and the denizens. Below to the study of politics.
Claire Eliza Bartlett
Now, the other amazing part of this book is that it is gay. We’ve got an amazing queer mc romance and there was nothing strange about it. Oftentimes when you have LGBTQ+ representation in this setting there are some sort of hurdles the MCs need to overcome, but not in this world. In this book there were no gender norms and people were free to be who they were. I am definitely looking forward to reading some more Bartlett (I’m already eyeing The Good Girls).
I am a writer and tour guide in Copenhagen, Denmark. Though I originally come from Colorado, I left the US when I was eighteen and I haven’t lived there since.
More permanent stops on my travels have included Switzerland, Wales and Denmark. The arrival of a Danish husband has somewhat cemented my living situation, but I get my travel in smaller doses these days.
I like to write fantasy, mostly, though I dabble in soft sci-fi. My short stories are more adult, my novels more YA.
I’ve studied history, archaeology, and writing. I like to take my inspiration from historical events, and the more unknown and inspiring the event, the better.
I am represented by Kurestin Armada of P.S. Literary.
To keep up with what strange things I’m researching and writing, you can sign up for my newsletter here. I send out a short newsletter once a month.
Prize: Win (1) finished copy of THE WINTER DUKE by Claire Eliza Bartlett (US Only)
On Instagram: ▪︎Follow @theffbc & @whatmakespatri ▪︎Follow the author @bartlebett ▪︎Follow the publishing house @thenovl ▪︎Follow @ya.its.lit! ▪︎Comment – Create the cover in emojis & tag @theffbc to let them know you’re entering!
Extra entries, on Instagram: ▪︎Tag a friend (each friend will be an extra entry). ▪︎Share on your stories about the giveaway (remember to tag @whatmakespatri and @theffbc) ▪︎Follow @michellesulk ▪︎Follow any of the FFBC tours team members below (comment who did you follow): @l.m.durand @utopia.state.of.mind @libri_draconis @booking_belle @everlasting.library @bibliobibuliya @whispersandwonder @The.magicalpages @caitsbooks @onemused @novelknight @jessicabeckett @thereadingchemist @love2dazzle @womanon @inkymoments @magicalreads7 @moonlight_rendezvous @sometimesleelynnreads @inkandmyths @morganvegawrite @obscure.pages @ kaitplusbooks @thereadingcornerforall @frayedbooks @confessionsofayareader @yourwordsmyink
Terms & Conditions: ▪︎Giveaway ends on March 18th (00:00 GMT+1). 1 winner will be chosen on @whatmakespatri. ▪︎Open to residents of US only ▪︎This sweepstakes is not sponsored by Instagram
*I received an earc in exchange for an honest review*