Covet Tour – Review, Favorite Quotes, & Giveaway

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About the Book

Book Title: Covet
Author: Tracy Wolff
Publisher: Entangled Teen
Release Date: March 2, 2021
Genres: Young Adult, Romance, Paranormal, Fantasy

“I choose you.”

— Tracy Wolff

I may have reached my breaking point. As if trying to graduate from a school for supernaturals isn’t stressful enough, my relationship status has gone from complicated to a straight-up dumpster fire.

Oh, and the Bloodletter has decided to drop a bomb of epic proportions on us all…

Then again, when has anything at Katmere Academy not been intense?

And the hits just keep coming. Jaxon’s turned colder than an Alaskan winter. The Circle is splintered over my upcoming coronation. As if things couldn’t get worse, now there’s an arrest warrant for Hudson’s and my supposed crimes—which apparently means a lifetime prison sentence with a deadly unbreakable curse.

Choices will have to be made…and I fear not everyone will survive.

“Everything’s a secret, Grace, whether we know it or not.”

— Tracy Wolff

The Crave series is best enjoyed in order.

Reading Order:
Book #1 Crave
Book #2 Crush
Book #3 Covet
Book #4 Court

Romeo and Juliet, here I come.”

— Tracy Wolff

Review

You know, when Crave first came out my middle school Twilight obsessed self squealed in anticipation. And I had still been squealing in anticipation for Covet as well. This series just never disappoints and I can legitimately blame it on many sleepless nights. Plus there’s just so many twists and turns that continue to make the series interesting instead of one of those series where you know what’s going to happen throughout the entire series just after the first book.

“There’s just him and me and everything remembered and forgotten that stretches between us.”

— Tracy Wolff

You know what I think sets this series apart from other YA series? It’s the fact that everything is just so well set up and then all your hopes and dreams are Crushed (heh heh, see what I did there? Yes, I know I need sleep). And it’s not even that you wind up hating the characters like in some other 180-degree ya/fantasy books (you know which ones), which makes this even more wild because it’s reflective of life in a way. And I guess what I’m trying to say is that I really appreciate that. Things change. People change. And our relationships change. Which is something you don’t often see portrayed after our character finds their *true one.* But yeah, this review got off the rails but I also don’t want to spoil anything. But just expect the same top tier storytelling, lots of Drama WITH a capital D, and So. Much. Happening.

“Because of who you really are.”

— Tracy Wolff

So you know how we’ve all been *im*patiently waiting for Covet? Well, I still want more. And I would still do some . . . unseemly . . . things to get my hand on Court. It’s just I kind of need to know what’s going to happen and how this will all turn out. But it’s ok. We don’t have THAT long to wait. Right? Yep. Just gotta keep telling myself that. And in the meantime I hope you all read this and join me in feeling this way.

About the Author

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Tracy Wolff is a lover of vampires, dragons, and all things that go bump in the night. A onetime English professor, she now devotes all her time to writing dark and romantic stories with tortured heroes and kick-butt heroines. She has written all her sixty-plus novels from her home in Austin, Texas, which she shares with her family. tracywolffbooks.com.

Blog Tour Schedule

March 2

Turn the Page Tours – Welcome Post/Author Interview
Momma Leighellen’s Book Nook – Book Review, Favorite Things About Covet
Ashweereads – Spotlight
Lore of the Books – Spotlight

March 3

Books Are Magic Too – Spotlight
Avni Reads – Book Review, Favorite Quotes
Tralyn’s Bookbag – Book Review, Favorite Things About CovetBookWifeReviews – Book Review
The Writer’s Alley – Book Spotlight

March 4

A Bronx Latina Reads – Book Review
The Clever Reader – Book Review
Kait Plus Books – Author Interview
Carolibrary Books – Spotlight
Jena Brown Writes – Highlight on Crave and Crush, predictions for Covet
Wishful Endings – Author Interview

March 5

We Write at Dawn – Book Review, Favorite Quotes
Kayla’s Book Nook – Book Review
The Open Books – Book Review, Favorite Things About Covet
Book Briefs – Book Review
Bookish Heidi – Book Review
The Momma Spot – Book Review

March 6

Trapped Inside Stories – Author Interview
Moonlight Rendezvous – Book Review
Curly Book Owls – Book Review, Favorite Things About Covet
Scrappy Rat Reviews – Book Review
The Momma Spot – Book Review
Ya Its Lit – Book Review, Favorite Quotes
Lala’s Book Reviews – Book Review, Favorite Quotes

March 7

Book Lover’s Book Reviews – Book Review
Magically Katie – Book Quiz
Stuck in the Stacks – Book Review, Favorite Quotes
Books We Love – Book Review, Mood Board
Whimsical Blessings Blog – Author Interview
The Bookish Raven – Book Review, Favorite Things About Covet

Instagram Tour Schedule

March 2

Turn the Page Tours – Welcome/Blogger’s Choice
Reading_with_Nicole – Spotlight
Mommaleighellensbooknook – Blogger’s Choice
Ashlieholecekwriter – Blogger’s Choice
Shreshtha_reads – Book Review
Piecesofourlife – Book Review
Loreofthebooks – Blogger’s Choice
Frantic4romantic – Book Review
Ricki_reads – Book Review

March 3

Booksaremagictoo – Blogger’s Choice
Avnireads – Blogger’s Choice
Jrundy85 – Blogger’s Choice
Tralynsbookbag – Blogger’s Choice
Queenofagoodread – Spotlight
Modernbookmom – Mood Board
Gwenecunningham – Spotlight
Bookwifereviews – Blogger’s Choice
Bgs.books – Book Review

March 4

Thecleverreader – Blogger’s Choice
Jypsylynn – Book Review
Laurenmariereads – Blogger’s Choice
Caro.library – Blogger’s Choice
Jenabrownwrites – Blogger’s Choice
Annareadswithcats – Book Review
Violet_starlightbooks11 – Book Review
Wishfulendings – Blogger’s Choice
Thereadingroom444 – Book Review

March 5

We.Write.At.Dawn – Blogger’s Choice
The_heeler_booklife – Blogger’s Choice
Kymsopenbooks – Blogger’s Choice
Bookbriefs – Blogger’s Choice
Yourlocalbookreader – Blogger’s Choice
Hagerfamilyreads – Book Review
By_the_bookcase – Book Review
Erins_adventures_in_the_pages – Book Art/Cover Art
Reckless.reader – Book Review
Bookish.heidi – Blogger’s Choice
Ricki_reads – Book Review

March 6

Moonlight_Rendezvous – Blogger’s Choice
Featherboundbooks – Book Review
Stacialovestoread – Blogger’s Choice
Mycornerforbooksand – Book Review
Scrappyratreviews – Blogger’s Choice
Graces_waffles – Book Review
The.openbook – Book Review
Emmesbooks – Spotlight
Themommaspot – Blogger’s Choice
Ya.its.lit – Bloggers’ Choice
Lauren.Bodiford – Blogger’s Choice
The_Clavicule_of_ac – Book Review
Turningpageswithmorgan – Book Review

March 7

Bookloversbookreviews – Blogger’s Choice
Magically_Katie_ – Blogger’s Choice
Stuck.in.the.stacks – Blogger’s Choice
Bookswelovee – Blogger’s Choice
Stp_reads – Book Review
Boundedandbookmarked – Book Review
Imreadingthenightaway – Book Review
Fireheartreads – Book Review
The_bookish_raven – Blogger’s Choice
Celiamcmahonreads – Book Review
This_book_girl – Book Review
Whimsicalblessingsblog – Blogger’s Choice

Tik Tok Tour Schedule

March 4

Thereadingroom444 – TikTok Post

March 5

By_the_bookcase – TikTok Post
Katiec_readss – TikTok Post

March 6

Graces_waffles – TikTok Post

Giveaway

Enter to win one (1) finished copy of Covet by Tracy Wolff! Open USA only. There will be 1 winner.

Giveaway starts: Tuesday, March 2, 2021

Giveaway ends: Monday, March 8, 2021 at 12:00 a.m. CST

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*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review*

Shadow Crusade Review

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About the Book

Centuries ago, against the will of the mages, the humans hunted and killed the Primordials.

All except one.

Now the creature has blighted the lands. It cast a spreading net of darkness over dozens of villages where now only demons can dwell. All of Arcathain is in danger unless the spread can be contained.

It’s up to the Shadow Crusade to slay the last Primordial, destroy the Shadowthorn, and return their homeland to the light of day.

And who better to carry the title of savior than the recently orphaned, vengeful, and reckless, Halira Devonshire?

Shadow Crusade is the first in a NA, gothic, epic fantasy series with badass demon huntresses, immortal creatures, epic world-building, and a budding romance. If you enjoyed books by Cassandra Clare, Jay Kristoff, Shannon Mayer, and KF Breene, then Shadow Crusade will keep you reading long into the night!

Review

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I was introduced to Jessaca Willis last year with her Reapers of Veltuur series and I absolutely fell in love with her dark style. So, as you could guess, I jumped at the chance to read this one. And it did not disappoint. There was just so much to love and just so many characters you couldn’t help but to love to hate.

So, like I said there are a lot of characters that you might not love so much, but… you know… still love. And that’s because these characters are beautifully morally grey and imperfectly perfect. Which you know I absolutely live for in books. And characters aside the plot is crazy so buckle up for some mysteries and twists and just a whole bunch of…. yeah, well, I’m not gonna actually tell you. So read it to find out.

But yeah, this was one heck of a read and I definitely might have found myself losing some sleep to binge it. So don’t start this one late at night if you aspire to go to sleep at some point in the night. But make sure you don’t miss out on this one! And also check out her other works while you’re at it.

About the Author

JESSACA WILLIS is a fantasy writer, with an inclination toward the dark, the horrifying, and the paranormal.

She studied social work for both her undergrad and graduate degrees, and incorporates themes from her education (family dynamics, mental health, oppression) into her writing.

Jessaca is a self-proclaimed nerd who loves to cosplay at conventions, play video games or read comics in her downtime, and to binge-watch the latest fantasy and sci-fi television series. Along with a bunch of other self-proclaimed nerds, she lives in Portland, Oregon with her partner and their human- and fur-babies.

Her debut series, The Awakened is an apocalyptic fantasy series about four people from across the world, trying to learn to live with their powers after society has collapsed.

*I received an earc in exchange for an honest review*

Extraordinary Lies Tour – Review, Audio Excerpt, Music Playlist, & Narrator Interview

Author: Jennifer Alsever

Narrator: Moira Todd

Length: 11 hours 9 minutes

Publisher: Jennifer Alsever

Released: Sep. 8, 2020

Genre: YA Paranormal

Continue reading “Extraordinary Lies Tour – Review, Audio Excerpt, Music Playlist, & Narrator Interview”

Hemlock Tour – Review & Giveaway

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About the Book

Every five hundred years humanity bears a child who has unlimited power over life and death.

And now she’s a teenager.
Rook Dagger spent the first fifteen years of her life safely tucked away in a beautiful cottage on the lake, enjoying home-cooked meals and homeschooling far away from the rest of the world.
But her power couldn’t be hidden forever.
The time has come for her to be enrolled in Hemlock Academy, a centuries-old institution designed to cultivate and create the greatest necromancers in the world.
The children who attend will one day be placed among the seven kingdoms of magic, serving Kings and country for as long as they’re needed.
To harness the power surging through her veins, Rook will need guidance in the art of giving of life… and taking it away.
This power makes her unique.
Dangerous.
Different.
Her abilities could make her an unstoppable force of nature, if she wasn’t hung up on a boy.
G Gianni–a beautiful distraction with pouty lips, pale skin, and a sharp tongue.
His attention consumes her. His scent entices her. His words infuriate her.
She loves to hate him.
He hates to love her.
And together? Well, together, they could destroy the world.

Review

This book gave me all the dark ephemeral fantastical feels. Yeah, I’m feeling the descriptors right now. I love a solid character that has some awesome necromancer(y?) powers. I dunno, maybe I’m morbid, but being able to raise the dead is just really intriguing! There’s just something so inherently wrong about it that I love the question of, but is it right? Plus you could do a lot of damage with an army of the living dead. But anyways, I’m getting off track! Hemlock takes all the fun of magic schooling and makes it dark and twisted!

There’s something so campy and nostalgic about books set in magic schools. It’s probably because of the time I grew up, but I always enjoy a good read with this setting. Plus there’s always going to be a lot of DRAMA when you put a ton of teenagers together. And isn’t some good drama what you live for in life? Because it’s definitely what I live for, especially when I can sit on the sidelines, eat some popcorn, and read about it. And this book definitely had that throughout, so buckle up.

Given the gorgeous cover I expected this book to be on the upper age range of YA, but it’s actually on the lower. And I’m definitely not mad about that! I feel as if this particular area is often overlooked and I think a cover like this might bring some attention to the fact that YA doesn’t automatically mean 17/18 year olds. So in a sense this was actually kind of a refreshing chance to get away from what I always see and read about slightly younger characters.

About the Author

*Voted OUAB Author of the Year of 2018*

Rue Volley is a USA Today Bestselling Author and award-winning screenwriter who is best known for creating compelling storylines with a multitude of twists and turns that leave her readers virtually speechless.

She specializes in paranormal romances that include otherworldly characters who, regardless of their supernatural abilities, feel oddly familiar, or in other words, human. This, coupled with her easy reading style, wicked sense of humor, and excellent world building skills, has garnered her a fiercely loyal fan base over the past decade who support her regardless of what genre she chooses to write in.

Some of her best works include 13 Ways to Midnight, Hellhound, The Devil’s Gate, and A Vampires Tale of Blood and Light. All of which utilize her skill at piecing together compelling dramas that highlight her love for vampires, witches, angels, and demons across many genres including young adult, new adult, urban fantasy, and erotic romance.

Rue Volley’s work seems to be synonymous with one phrase in the publishing world.
Thoroughly addictive.

She is accredited with two award-winning screenplays for film, Hellhound (original script, 2014) and Awakening (contributing screenwriter, 2015). IMDb: imdb.com/name/nm7043310/

Rue is represented by Gladys Gonzales Atwell, Publicist, and Sarah Davis Brandon, Publisher.
Business inquiries, please contact ruevolley@gmail.com

Instagram Giveaway

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🍁 b o o k t o u r & g i v e a w a y 🍁 To harness the power surging through her veins, Rook will need guidance in the art of giving of life… and taking it away. 🍁 This book gave me all the dark ephemeral fantastical feels. Yeah, I'm feeling the descriptors right now. I love a solid character that has some awesome necromancer(y?) powers. I dunno, maybe I'm morbid, but being able to raise the dead is just really intriguing! There's just something so inherently wrong about it that I love the question of, but is it right? Plus you could do a lot of damage with an army of the living dead. But anyways, I'm getting off track! Hemlock takes all the fun of magic schooling and makes it dark and twisted! (Full review on my blog, link in bio!) 🍁 QOTD What would you do if you had power over death? 🍁 Fifteen-year-old Rook Dagger’s power over death emerged when she was just a child. Now enrolled at the Hemlock Academy of the Dark Arts, she wants nothing more than to escape her troubled home life, and excel, but a boy who never follows any of the rules has other plans. 🍁 ENTER TO WIN AN ECOPY TODAY -Must be following me (@ya.its.lit), @RueVolley, & @TheNextStepPR 
-Comment Below or answer the QOTD
-Tag 2 Friends
🍁 BONUS ENTRIES: – We would love to see this in your story and tag @RueVolley and @TheNextStepPR – In the IG search bar, look up #TNSBookstagram & enter all the participant's posts over the next WEEK 🍁 THE FINE PRINT PLEASE READ – Open internationally & US – Giveaway ends on SEPTEMBER 7 – This giveaway is not endorsed, sponsored, or affiliated with Instagram – Must be 14+ or have parental permission – No Spam or Giveaway accounts – Must follow all hosts above – Must be a public account – Do not follow to unfollow later, we will not tolerate these actions and you will be X from all future giveaways with @TheNextStepPR 🍁 #RueVolley #Necromancer #PNR #SuspenseNovel #MysteryBooks #MysterySchool #EnemiesToMore #TNSBookstagramTour #TheNextStepPR #yabooks #yalit #yabookstagram #yaitslit #yareads #bookreviewer #yafantasy #bookreviewblog #yacommunity #hereforthebooks #readingislife #fortheloveofreading #bookphotography #newreads #bookishmerch #bookpic #bookishphoto

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*I received an e-arc in exchange for an honest review*

Winter’s Wolf Tour – Review

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About the Book

The impact of the sucker punch sent Louvette to the ground hard. Pain flared across her cheek as it split. The effects of her adrenaline paused as her mother’s words of warning replayed in her mind: Make this school last until graduation. She knew this would break her mother’s heart.

A shout that did not come from her mother took her back to present reality. She hadn’t started this fight, but she knew she wasn’t going to let her butt get stomped, either.

She jumped up. Her fist balled as a blonde pixie of a girl came at her. Louvette dodged her this time and swung her fist straight into the girl’s nose. A solid crunch sounded as her attack landed. Her momentary satisfaction was thrown off along with her balance as the girls fell to the ground.

A large arm separated them apart as the coach finally arrived to do his job. They continued to kick at each other, looking like barrel monkeys hanging off a barrel.

“Break it up! Lynskey and Mallory, report to the principal’s office immediately,” snapped Coach No Clue. No clue what his name was because she hadn’t been in his class or let alone the whole school of Farwell long enough to learn it.

She was more dragged down the hallway toward the principal’s office than reported to it.

The Queen B, otherwise known as Tiffany Mallory, began to beg immediately, spawning an eye roll from Louvette. She was a whiny beggar. Just one of many B words that could describe her to a T, but it was the nicest one that Louvette could think of.

Her pleading stopped as they arrived at the door of the principal’s office. They locked eyes for a second, hatred flaring toward each other.

“I’m first. I’m on my third offense and I’m not waiting all day for you to get a slap on the wrist,” Louvette said to Tiffany as she darted past her into the office. The only thing that stopped her from slamming the door in the B’s face was the creature on the other side of the door.

Review

I’ve been reading a lot of paranormal books lately and it’s made me realize that I’m not really sure why I stopped reading them for so long. There’s just something about a great paranormal book, especially if there are werewolves involved. I particularly loved how Winter’s Wolf had a lot of romance but still managed to also fit in a bunch of action and even a hint of some thriller thrown in.

I think the thing I liked best about this book was that it reminded me a lot of old ya. And while I love all of the recent new ya releases, sometimes I miss that easy reading feel that I always felt from ya books years back. I mean, there was still all of the drama and angst as anything revolving around teenagers entails but the stories were just that, stories. And Winter’s Wolf took me back to that and I was able to just sit down and enjoy the story. And honestly, given everything going on in the world right now, that’s kind of what I want in my books. A great story that I can fall into and want to binge because it takes my mind off of everything.

I really enjoyed the characters and the romance. It was very typical of what you expect from ya books and I love that! One thing I didn’t expect from this story, given that it is a paranormal book, was the world building. And I’m definitely not complaining, I mean it’s my favorite thing in books honestly. And it’s also something that I’ve found seriously lacking in the past few books I’ve read. So it was such a nice surprise to find it done so well in this book!

About the Author

Lou Grimes was born and raised in Texas. She writes in the comfort of her own home. When she is not writing or working part-time, she is outside gardening, swimming, and hiking. Another favorite past time of hers is anything that involves creating art and traveling as much as possible.

When she was growing up, her nose was either stuck in a book or stuck in her own daydreams. Her main objective as an author is to create a world that people want to get lost in.

*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review*

Brambles Review

Booksta post to come!

About the Book

Nineteen-year-old Sidney Philips lives in the shadow of her grandmother, a wealthy socialite with towering expectations and a controlling hand. She’s expected to either find a respectable career and marry well, or to simply marry well. Believing she has no choice, Sidney walks the path laid out for her—that is until a destined meeting with a terrifying ghost turns her world upside down. All at once, Sidney is at the center of a curse that has nothing (and everything) to do with her. She’s faced with a terrible choice, and no matter what she chooses, someone will suffer.

Brambles is a coming-of-age story that’s a mash-up of paranormal romance and Sleeping Beauty lore; a delicious blend of drama, action, and humor perfect for both YA and NA (New Adult) readers.

The Brambles Series has the romance of Vampire Diaries and the humor of Gilmore Girls. The heroine of this tale, Sidney Philips, is a sarcastic young adult with a fiery wit and a semi-serious mocha obsession.

Do you want to hear a ghost story?

Review

What do you get when you combine The Vampire Diaries, Sleeping Beauty, and ghosts? Brambles. And, just as a side note, those are three of my favorite things. So, as you can probably guess, I thoroughly enjoyed this book. It’s just one of those highly enjoyable books that you can read rain or shine, slump or no slump. It’ll just pull you in and make you want to find out what’s going to happen.

So, did I mention there are ghosts in this story? Because there are two very important very British very victorian ghosts in this story. Just saying. They kind of steal the show and I looked forward to some ghostly scenes throughout the book. I also love that the females run the show in this book, from Sidney’s crotchety old (and very wealthy) grandmother who’s a rich boss to Sidney taking control of her own life and decisions.

One thing I must say is make sure you have book two ready when you start this! You’ll thank me because the ending of Brambles just warrants you to immediately continue the story. Like, wow, what a cliff hanger! And towards the end I found a new favorite character that I wasn’t expecting to love, but more details on that coming in my review of book two. So, in conclusion, keep an eye out tomorrow for my review on book two in the Brambles Series: Thorns.

About the Author

A little about me: I’m an author, lover of creepy-cute things (you know sparkly skulls and black unicorns and candles that melt and show skeletons), and an all around weirdo. I’m the happiest when playing with my kitties or exploring a haunted cemetery. I love YA books. If I could, I would live in one. Just not The Hunger Games. I want to live!! 

I’ve just finished the Brambles Series and am working on a dystopian series that will release late 2020/early 2021. It’s super dark and I’m super excited.

*I received a copy in exchange for an honest review*

Beast Heart Tour – Review & Giveaway

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About the Book

BEAST HEART by Kyle Richardson
RELEASE DATE: 3/31/20
GENRE: YA / Paranormal / Steampunk
BOOK PAGE:  https://www.meerkatpress.com/books/beast-heart/

When the girl with the clockwork hand meets the boy with the beast heart, sparks fly in this poignant, adventure-filled debut.

Book 1 of the Steambound Trilogy. When Gabby’s hand turns to steam, her mom hires an engineer to build her a clockwork glove. It’s the last thing Gabby wants—if only she could be normal. But when her mom is attacked by something monstrous, normal is no longer an option. Now the only person she can turn to is a grizzled detective, who promises to help her become something … more.

Meanwhile, Kemple’s foster dad treats him like a slave. And the beatings are getting worse. So when a rebellious girl named Josephyn arrives—with a plan to escape to the city—he doesn’t hesitate. But there are creatures in Iron Bay whose slashes are worse than skin-deep. And as Kemple evolves into something inhuman, his search for a cure begins. They are strangers in a city where carriages rattle, airships rumble, and where their own dark pasts continue to haunt them. Soon their paths will collide, and the girl who slays monsters will come face to face with the boy who is becoming a beast.

Review

You know, I can’t for the life of me remember the last steampunk book I read! Maybe it was never! Which is actually really a shock to me because I think the genre is so cool! WAIT! Does The Infernal Devices count? Anyways, this book was such a refreshing take on the paranormal genre and I was so enthralled with the story!

I love how the two parallel stories blended and morphed into one. I am kind of a snob when it comes to dual perspectives (*insert me turning my nose up*), so it really takes amazing characters for me to love books that are set up like this. So I was REALLY happy when I found myself totally in love with each of the MCs. I mean, it probably helped that I’m a glutton for characters with dark and gloomy backgrounds.

Which leads me to saying that this book isn’t just sunshine and daisies. These characters have been through the ringer yet they keep thriving and doing the unthinkable: living. The only downside was how short this book was! I know that it’s going to be a trilogy, but that means I have to wait to continue and find out what happens next! But anyways, this book is utterly unique and I need more stories like this! I feel like a lot of times lately I am let down because I just feel like I’m rereading the same stories over and over again, so this was a little gem to find amongst all of those!

Excerpt

Brielle has been trying to sleep for the past hour or so—trying being the key word. Mostly, her mind has been stuck in that foggy realm between asleep and awake, that space where pain and pleasure blend, where sounds seem to warble from an unimaginable distance and the tears welling in her eyes feel like they’ve been set on fire, as if at any moment one might slip loose and scorch a trail down the side of her face, igniting her starchy sheets and her lumpy mattress and her cramped little apartment, and even the garbage-strewn streets themselves, until the whole city is nothing but a towering inferno and—

The door thuds hard, once, twice, the sound echoing through her dusty apartment, and Brielle bolts upright with her hair matted over her face, her clockwork glove tangled in her sheets. She was dreaming about . . . something. Something involving . . . fire? She rubs at her face with her good hand and tries to pull the dream back into place, but it just slips away even more. Eventually it’s gone completely, leaving nothing but a faint quiver in her gut and a vague sense of regret.

“Gone,” she whispers with a frown. It’s the story of her life—she’s become such an expert at losing things.

The door thuds again. This time, the knock comes with a voice. “Gabrielle,” says a man. His tone is dry, impatient, and all-too familiar. “Get up. We got problems.”

Brielle sighs, uses her wrist to rub the dampness from her eyes, and yanks her glove free from the sheet. It’s too early for problems. Too early for anything, really. “Shaw,” she groans, “I’m trying to sleep.” She squints at the violet sky through her grimy living room window and says, “Come back later. You know, when the sun is up? When normal people interact?”

Shaw grunts through the door. “You don’t sleep. Said so yourself. And since when do you think of either of us as normal?”

Brielle grits her teeth and brushes her hair behind her ears. As always, the man has a point. “Just give me a minute, will you?”

The door stays quiet for a brief, merciful moment, and Brielle lets the silence wash over her until the tightness in her chest eases, the ripples in her mind going flat. Soon, she’s back in that clear and level place. Calm as a windless lake.

“Still alive in there?” Shaw barks. “I’m dying of old age, standing here.”

Brielle rolls her eyes behind her smudged lenses and swings her legs off the mattress. Her bare feet scuff against the dusty wood floor. “I’m not dressed,” she calls out, looking down at her pale nightshirt. She stands and tugs at her gray cotton pants. They’re fitting loose today. All these years of climbing up rusted ladders and sprinting across crumbling rooftops, and she still has sticks for legs.

“So get dressed,” Shaw says through the door. “But make it quick. Like I said: we got problems.”

She listens for that telltale hitch in Shaw’s voice—that tiny warble between his words whenever something has truly upset him. Today, it isn’t there. His voice is steady. His words are flat. Whatever the problem is, it’s clearly something minor. “Why’re you rushing me?” she calls out.

Shaw says nothing back, so she trudges over to her doorless wardrobe and peers at the stretched-out shirts hanging from the rod. The selection is dreary: all blacks and browns and muted grays, the necklines tattered and thin. She plucks the nearest one off its hanger, yanks it down over her nightshirt, and pulls the torn sleeve over her bulky glove. Then she steps to the side and blinks at her reflection in the cracked wall mirror. Her goggled-eyed gaze roams all over her dirt-colored top, as if she’s searching for . . . well, she doesn’t know what she’s looking for, honestly. An answer, perhaps? A question? Something out of the norm? Whatever it is, she doesn’t find it, so she gives herself a nod. Her shirt is a decent choice. Today feels like a brown day, if there ever was such a thing.

“Okay,” Shaw calls out, “now I’m definitely dead. Message the coroner. Tell him some poor old man passed away while waiting for a girl to choose an outfit.”

Brielle sighs, marches to the door, and wrenches the deadbolt loose. “You’re the one who woke me up,” she says, dragging the door open. “I’m perfectly entitled to make you wait.”

Shaw stands in the narrow hallway, looking even more haggard than usual. His hair juts up on one side of his head and lies ridiculously flat on the other. He hasn’t shaved in days. And his outfit looks like it was slapped together in the dark—a wrinkled green coat atop a coffee-stained pair of blue trousers. He’s even tried to knot himself a necktie. It looks more like a narrow, lopsided scarf. To top it all off, the man is holding one arm mysteriously—no, suspiciously—behind his back.

Brielle narrows her eyes to slits. “What’s going on? You look like . . .” She tilts her head and looks him up and down a little closer. It’s hard to tell what he looks like right now. Certainly not like his usual self. “. . . like a carnival spat you out, I suppose.”

Shaw smirks at his jacket and smooths a wrinkle from one of the lapels. “That’s the look I was going for,” he says. He glances back at her and winks. “Carnival spit.” Before she even has a chance to roll her eyes, he lifts his hidden arm, revealing a wrinkled paper bag. He gives it a dramatic shake. “Didn’t have anything nice to wrap with,” he grumbles, “so you’ll just have to tear through this.”

Brielle blinks dumbly at the bag for a moment. Then she understands. Her face droops and she turns her back to Shaw, as if she can somehow avoid what’s coming next by simply walking away. “Let’s not do this, okay?”

Shaw clears his throat and shakes the bag harder. “If you don’t open it,” he says, “I will. Paid good money for this. I’m not letting it go to waste.”

She’s tempted to say, Open it, then. See if I care. But that wouldn’t be fair at all. Shaw has been nothing but kind to her. And if he really did pay good money for whatever’s inside that bag, then she practically has to open it. She lived with him long enough to know just how little the city pays him. Long enough to see just how much of a struggle it’s been for him to make ends meet. So she groans her way to her lumpy sofa, flops down onto it, and grudgingly says, “Okay. I’ll open it. But that’s all. No cake. No wishes. And absolutely no singing.”

Shaw steps into her apartment and gently pulls the door shut behind him. Then he takes a moment to glance around with that detective stare of his. His eyes touch everything: the windows that she never bothers to wipe, the grimy floorboards that’ve moved so far past dusty that they practically feel carpeted, the furniture that’s so battered it’s a wonder any of it is still standing at all. And of course, her. Finally he reaches for the lantern on the wall and twists it on. A dull yellow glow floods the room. “There,” he says, blinking in the light, “that’s . . . slightly better.”

Brielle clamps her jaw and braces for another one of his grating lectures on cleanliness. Instead he merely says, “I’ve never met anyone who hates celebrating their birthday as much as you.”

Birthday. The word puts a sour taste in her mouth and an even worse feeling in her gut. Birthdays are for people who like remembering how far they’ve come. For those who don’t want to forget. “It’s just a dumb tradition,” she says, waving her clockwork hand in the air. Dust particles swirl around her brass knuckles and stick to the leather straps around her wrist. “Why would anyone be happy about getting older? It just means you’re one year closer to dying.”

And one year farther away from Mom.

Shaw barks out a laugh and turns to look at the window. His profile flickers from the lights down in the harbor. “You’re sixteen, Gabrielle,” he says teasingly. “Not ninety.” He rests his forehead against the glass and studies the view like he’s examining a crime scene. “Take a break. Lighten up. Enjoy the scenery.”

Brielle lets her glove plop down on the cushion beside her. More dust plumes into the air. She’s been living here for years now, her sixth-floor apartment towering over the dark waters of the bay, yet she can’t remember the last time she glanced out the window like that. Just to . . . look. Perhaps this is proof that something truly is wrong with her.

Maybe staring blankly through dingy panes of glass is the kind of thing that only normal people do.

“Have you ever known me to lighten up?” she asks.

Shaw turns away from the window and shakes his head. “No,” he admits. “Can’t say that I have.”

She cracks a challenging smile. “So why should I start now?”

The detective raises his arms defensively, as if she’s got him at gunpoint. “I can list over a dozen reasons,” he says, “but then you’ll just kick me out.”

Her grin widens. “You know me best.”

About the Author

Kyle Richardson lives in the suburban wilds of Canada with his adorable wife, their rambunctious son, and their adventurous daughter. He writes about shapeshifters, superheroes, and the occasional clockwork beast, moonlights as an editor at Meerkat Press, and has a terrible habit of saying the wrong thing at the most inopportune moments. His short fiction has appeared in places such as Love Hurts: A Speculative Fiction Anthology and Daily Science Fiction.

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