Thursday, August 30, 2012

Review: Severed by Megg Jensen

(Cloud Prophet # 3)
By: Megg Jensen
Pub. Date: November 25, 2012
Publisher: Self
Pages: 265
Source: Author
Reychel knows her gift of prophecy will lead to madness and now she is at her most vulnerable. The enemy army will attempt to sever her from everything she's ever known: her homeland, her friends, Mark, and her gift. Even at her weakest, she refuses to give up on her desire to end the war between the Malborn and the Serenians. Reychel would do anything, even come back from the dead, to conquer the enemy and reunite with Mark.
I was so excited to receive a copy of Severed for review since I loved the first two books in the series so much, but then it took me forever to read it! Which was stupid, because this book was awesome. It's a great conclusion to a wonderful series!

I have loved Reychel from the very beginning and her character grows with each book. She used to be slave who had no idea that the stories she told were actual visions of the future. She is so brave and she is willing to do anything to protect those she loves and others around her. I love that she still uses her "gift" to help others, knowing that the more she uses it the crazier she will become.

There is so much action and plot twists, I had to idea where this story was going to go! The choices that Reychel had to face were bone chilling and I have no idea how she was able to get through it all.

This is an exciting series and I am sad to see it end, though I liked the direction that Megg Jensen took with the conclusion. I have already read Sleepers, the first book in her other trilogy, which I adored, and I am looking forward to reading the second book, Afterlife

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Review: Don't Mess With Texas by Christie Craig

Don't Mess With Texas
(Hotter in Texas # 1)
By: Christie Craig
Pub. Date: September 1, 2012
Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
Pages: 464
Source: Bought ebook
Nikki Hunt thought her night couldn't get worse when her no-good, cheating ex ditched her at dinner, sticking her with the bill. Then she found his body stuffed in the trunk of her car and lost her two-hundred-dollar meal all over his three-thousand-dollar suit. Now not only is Nikki nearly broke, she's a murder suspect.

Former cop turned PI, Dallas O'Connor knows what it's like to be unjustly accused. But one look at the sexy-though skittish-suspect tells him she couldn't hurt anyone. The lead detective, Dallas's own brother, has the wrong woman and Dallas hopes a little late-night "undercover" work will help him prove it . . .

Don't Mess With Texas is the first book I have read by Christie Craig, and all I can say is that I want more! This isn't simply a romance/sex book...there is an actual plot, and it's interesting! The characters were written so realistically, I wanted to be friends with all of them. The writing was so fantastic, I couldn't turn the pages fast enough.

Nikki Hunt already was having a bad night, but then she finds her ex husband dead in her trunk and she is the number one suspect. Dallas is a PI who used to be a cop, but after being framed for murder, he wanted to spend the rest of life making sure that what happened to him wouldn't happen to other innocent people.

I really liked Nikki. She was dealing with a lot, but she handled herself well. She wasn't annoying and she didn't whine. She was honest and sweet and I loved how close she was to her grandmother. Then there is Dallas, sigh. There is not enough room in this review to talk about how much I loved Dallas. I felt so bad for him, especially when he talked about having to go to his mother's funeral in handcuffs. Especially because he, and his two friends, Austin and Tyler, really were innocent. Dallas was so sweet and I loved that he wanted to dedicate the rest of his life to helping innocent people not go to prison. I absolutely loved Nikki and Dallas together. They were so cute and I couldn't help but root for them!

I loved the dynamic between Dallas and his brother Tony, the cop assigned to Nikki's case. You can tell how much they love each other, and I enjoyed the bantering back and forth between the two.

Don't Mess With Texas is a fun, cute and quick read. I can't not wait to get my hands on the second book in the series, Blame It On Texas, which will focus on Tyler, Dallas' friend! 

Other books in the series:

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Review: Kiera's Quest: Awakenings by Kristy Brown

(Kiera's Quest # 1)
By: Kristy Brown
Pub. Date: October 17, 2012
Publisher: MuseItUp Publishing
Pages: 75
Source: Author
Meet Kiera, a pretty, intelligent, and talented girl, brought up by her uncle, and abandoned by her parents. Life is as normal as she believes it to be, apart from the deep ache inside her, telling her she’s different. For years, Kiera had dreams where she ventures into a different reality. She’s not alone; a presence is always there, keeping her safe, yet she feels vulnerable, and hunted.

Zakk, Prince of Zantar, is under the Witch Queen’s spell as she tries to take over his world. He crosses paths with Kiera, and their fates are entwined.

As their journey unravels, she learns that she is not the only one affected by this prince. Who is on her side? Will she find out why she has been chosen? How can someone so young, defeat such evil? Will she find the strength to save the ones closest to her? Will this be Kiera’s only Quest?
From the first page of Awakenings, I was hooked. The story went by so fast and there was never a dull moment. I didn't even realize I hit the end until I turned the last page. I did not want it to end!

Kiera is a normal girl who works at her Uncle's toy shop. When a plastic doll shows up, she swears she saw his eyes move. The next day she hears the doll talk, and of course she thinks she is going crazy! Turns out that she isn't nuts, the doll is actually the trapped Prince of Zantar, Zakk. After killing his parents, the Witch Queen decides to torture him by making him plastic forever, thus allowing her to rule Zanter.

I was very interested to see where this story was going to take us, and I can easily see it being developed more to become a full fledged novel!

Awakenings is a very short read, it's about 70 pages, so if you looking for a quick, fast paced read, then this story is for you. But if you are looking for something where you really get to know the characters and see them develop, then you won't find that here. But for what Awakenings was, I really enjoyed it and would definitely recommend it. I can't wait to read the second one, Sacrifices. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

Cover Reveal: Whisper's Edge & Cover Re-Reveal: Whisper Walker by London Cole

A few months ago I had the opportunity to read and review, Whisper Walker by London Cole. Today, I am happy to reveal the cover for the second book in the series, Whisper's Edge

Drake and Kelsie quickly discover life won't be quite the same after getting their new abilities, but they hope everything will settle into a sort of normalcy. It doesn't take long for them to realize it's not the kind of normal they were hoping for.

When Kelsie joins Drake for a routine Hunt, they end up stumbling upon an underground bunker that hasn't been opened in nearly a century. When they meet a far-too-friendly ghost, it should be their first indicator to leave things alone and get out of there. Never ones to resist the opportunity for excitement or mystery, they end up in a situation that could cost them dearly–threatening not only everything they've worked for, but their very lives!

Drake's world is turned upside down. A mysterious new girl seems intent on capturing his heart, but that's not all she's after.

Kelsie faces betrayal by the one she holds most dear, only to meet someone new who could change her entire existence; past, present, and future. If only she can stay alive long enough to find out the truth...

Whisper's Edge is set to be released in early Fall 2012!

I also have the cover re-reveal for Whisper Walker, the first book in the series. I am absolutely in love with this new cover!

After turning seventeen, orphan Drake Adair discovers he can see ghosts when he falls into a pit of human remains while running for his life. What he doesn't realize is that he's stumbled onto his destiny.

Kelsie Blake, Drake's roommate and closest friend since she fled her filicidal father, has secrets. Secrets she keeps even from Drake. Sneaking outside the Gates into the wild, she risks everything for a little excitement. Her lies now threaten everything she cares about most in her life.

Drake unearths a plot by an enemy Guild to tear apart life as he knows it. The very people closest to him may be pawns in the grisly scheme, leaving Kelsie and Drake with no one to turn to as they struggle to find answers before it's too late.

Set eighty years after World War III, Kelsie and Drake pair up to protect the only life they know in a harsh and unforgiving world. They must each come to grips with his abilities, her secrets, and their mixed feelings for each other. Will they make it? Or will the very foundations of their lives be ripped from beneath them.

About the author:

London Cole is a YA Paranormal author living in East Texas, US. When he's not writing or outlining he can be found doing laps in his pool, playing a rock concert, or any of a variety of outdoor extreme sports.
London's debut WHISPER WALKER is a Dystopian Paranormal based on the island he was raised on, Whidbey Island. Only, it's the island eighty years after the Third World War, and everything is a lot different...and a lot meaner.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Cover Reveal: The Angel Chronicles, Book 2~ Gilded Wings by Amy Lignor

A few months ago I had the opportunity to be apart of the blog tour for, Until Next Time by Amy Lignor. Today, I am happy to reveal the cover for the second book in The Angel Chronicles, Gilded Wings

How amazing is this cover?? Seriously, I love it!

The Beloved Angel/Warrior Team from Until Next Time Returns!

When Matt and Emily are sent on their second mission they have no idea how truly dark human nature can become…

Emily never wanted to face humans again. With the heartache that went on down below, she’s still trying to figure out how to save souls that don’t deserve saving. The only one she wants to see again is Jason - the young man she fell in love with who became the soulmate she simply can’t forget…

Matt was trained to protect and defend the souls down below. Longing to feel the heartfelt emotions that come from being human, Matt wants nothing more than to have just one life - one chance - to live and love the girl of his dreams…

The powerful team find themselves in a brand new century, living in the Gilded Age of New York City. Emily takes over the body of Anya, a young Russian girl who arrives on Ellis Island after a hideous tragedy. There she meets up with a strangely familiar young man by the name of Drew Parrish, who helps Anya survive in an unknown world of luxury, snobbery and…obsession.

What Anya’s inner angel doesn’t know is that the soul she loves is also back. This time around Jason goes by the name of Max Carrow. Once a quiet and kind boy, he’s now part of the ‘Four Hundred Club,’ and wants nothing more than to be among the most admired as he climbs the shaky ladder of society’s elite.

As two worlds merge, Emily and Matt struggle under the weight of their “Gilded Wings.” Not only will they have to figure out who they should fight to save, but they must also face a romantic choice that could destroy them both.

Click here to add to your Goodreads to-read list.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Review & Giveaway: Embrace by Cherie Colyer

By: Cherie Colyer
Pub. Date: December 20, 2011
Publisher: Omnific Publishing
Pages: 190
Source: Author 
How far would you go to save the people you love?

Madison is familiar enough with change, and she hates everything about it. Change took her long-term boyfriend away from her. It caused one of her friends to suddenly hate her. It’s responsible for the death of a local along with a host of other mysterious happenings. But when Madison meets a hot new guy, she thinks her luck is about to improve.

Madison is instantly drawn to the handsome and intriguing Isaac Addington. She quickly realizes he’s a guy harboring a secret, but she’s willing to risk the unknown to be with him.

Her world really spins out of control, however, when her best friend becomes delusional, seeing things that aren’t there and desperately trying to escape their evil. When the doctors can’t find the answers, Madison seeks her own.

Nothing can prepare her for what she is about to discover.

Dangerous, intoxicating, and darkly romantic, Embrace is a thriller that will leave you spellbound.
I don't really know what I was expecting when I agreed to review Embrace, but I have to say I was not expecting this! I love, love, love books about witchcraft and since I had no idea that was going to be the direction, I was pleasantly surprised!

Madison hates changes (she's a lot like me in that aspect). Change can only mean one thing...something bad. So when Madison's best friend, Kaylee tells her that her life is about to change, she knows it's going to be bad. Turns out it's not as bad as she feared, when she meets the new boy in town, gorgeous, sweet Isaac, and feels instantly connected to him.

At first, I didn't really understand the insta-connection between the two of them, but it makes more sense when you find out what's really going on. I ended up really liking the two of them together. I also loved the dynamic between Isaac and Josh, Kaylee's boyfriend and Kaylee and Madison. The friendships felt real, which I enjoyed.

I really liked Madison because she is so realistic. She is the girl next door, nice and friendly, but I loved how willing she was to do anything to help her friends. I liked watching her grow as a character. She is also extremely loyal, which I respect.

Embrace has a little bit of everything. There's mystery, romance, and plot twists that I did not see coming. It will be interesting to see where Cherie Colyer takes us next! 

To win an e-copy of Embrace, just fill out the form below! Good luck! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

ReAwakened Excerpt!!

I am so excited to share with all of you an excerpt from the highly anticipated ReAwakened, the second book in the Angel Creek Chronicle series by Ada Adams. I for one can not wait to get my hands on this book, and this excerpt made me even more excited to meet the new characters!

“Meeting Razor” - “ReAwakened”
Ada Adams

            My two-story fall was cushioned by the intruder’s body. He—a vampire, I realized—groaned as I landed on top of him, forcing his body into the muddy ground. I reached for my dagger, but he was quicker. Before I had a chance to pull it out, he slipped out from underneath me, flipping me over so that he was on top. His firm, muscular body pressed tightly against mine as his hands pinned my wrists to either side of my head. His face was covered by shadows, but I could make out a mischievous smirk dancing across perfectly-shaped full lips.
            “You’re quite feisty, aren’t you?” he chuckled, bending forward to examine me. Deep, charcoal eyes overflowed with amusement.
            He was actually enjoying this.
            “I don’t wanna hurt you,” he whispered in a deep, throaty voice. “I’m gonna release you now. Don’t do anything stupid.”
            He lifted his arm, removing his right hand from my left wrist. The moment I felt some freedom, I leaped forward, attempting a left hook at his jaw. He blocked my hand, once again pushing it toward the ground.
            “I said I wasn’t going to hurt you!” he growled, pinning me even further into the soft, wet earth.
            “Yes, but I never said I wouldn’t hurt you,” I snapped.
            He brought his face toward mine. “I’d like to see you try,” he whispered.
            Challenge accepted.
            I raised my head—the only part of my body that wasn't restrained by the stranger’s body—inching my lips closer to his. He tensed for a moment, his eyes searching mine, as if surprised by my sudden change in behavior. Drops of rainwater slid down his chiseled jaw, pausing briefly on his lips before they plummeted onto mine. Then, a slow, smug smile spread across his face. I felt his body relax and he leaned even closer. His breath caressed my skin as his lips drew near.
It was exactly what I needed. Summoning all my strength, I twisted my hips to the side, shooting them up and out, then launching my legs from the ground. Thrown off-balance, my captor groaned and released one of my arms to brace for the fall, giving me the perfect opportunity to reach for my dagger. In one smooth move I darted behind him, placing him in a secure headlock—the blade of my weapon aimed directly at his heart.
            “Who are you?” I demanded when I was certain he couldn’t escape my grip.
            “I’m a twenty-four-year-old Taurus who enjoys long walks on the beach.” Even though I couldn’t see his face, I could feel his arrogant grin.
            “You have ten seconds to explain yourself,” I ordered. “And then I’m really going to hurt you.”
            “Oh, come on! Can’t we get back to kissing? You can’t tease a guy like that.”
            “Ten, nine…” I pressed the dagger deeper into him, nicking the leather of his jacket.
            “Hey! Watch it!”
            “Oh, alright. You’re no fun,” he sighed. “My name is Razor.”
            “What kind of a name is that?”
            “It’s a nickname.”
            “What kind of a nickname is that?”
            “Spike, Blade, Fang—all the good, pointy objects were already taken by fictional characters. It was the best I could do.”

I love him already!!  

ReAwakened will be out this fall!

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Review: Struck by Jennifer Bosworth

By: Jennifer Bosworth
Pub. Date: May 8, 2012
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Pages: 384
Source: ARC
Mia Price is a lightning addict. She’s survived countless strikes, but her craving to connect to the energy in storms endangers her life and the lives of those around her.

Los Angeles, where lightning rarely strikes, is one of the few places Mia feels safe from her addiction. But when an earthquake devastates the city, her haven is transformed into a minefield of chaos and danger. The beaches become massive tent cities. Downtown is a crumbling wasteland, where a traveling party moves to a different empty building each night, the revelers drawn to the destruction by a force they cannot deny. Two warring cults rise to power, and both see Mia as the key to their opposing doomsday prophecies. They believe she has a connection to the freak electrical storm that caused the quake, and to the far more devastating storm that is yet to come.

Mia wants to trust the enigmatic and alluring Jeremy when he promises to protect her, but she fears he isn’t who he claims to be. In the end, the passion and power that brought them together could be their downfall. When the final disaster strikes, Mia must risk unleashing the full horror of her strength to save the people she loves, or lose everything.

When I first heard about the premise of this book I was excited for it. A girl addicted to lighting? I could not wait to read it! Struck did not disappoint. It was exciting and fast paced, and I could not wait to see how it was all going to turn out.

Mia has been struck by lightening more times then she can count. She feels when a storm is coming and it takes everything she has to not go into the heart of the storm. Her addiction puts everyone around her in danger, so she feels it is best to stay away from relationships. The only two people she is close to is her mom and her younger brother, Parker. But even those relationships have changed because of a 8.6 magnitude earthquake that hit LA and lasted over 3 minutes. Everything in Mia's life has changed, and it's about to get worse.

Mia was actually the only thing I really couldn't stand about Struck. I just didn't like her. I admired that she would do anything to protect her family, but at the same time I thought she was very weak and dishonest. I hated that she was never honest Parker. She just tried to control him and then wondered why he went behind her back to do what she wanted.

Mia's love interest was Jeremy. From the minute we met him, I knew there was something good about him. I couldn't wait to find out his secrets. I couldn't help but feel bad for him though because of all the guilt he carries within himself. I liked the connection between Mia and Jeremy, and I thought Jeremy was so cute and sweet with her.

Jennifer Bosworth created a very realistic world that scared the crap out of me! An earthquake of that magnitude and the destruction it caused could definitely happen, which is what made it so scary to read about. In times of natural disasters, I could definitely see fanatic, god-obsessed cults coming into power as well.

Overall, I really enjoyed Struck! I met the author at the Fierce Reads tour in Houston, TX and she was so nice and sweet and I can not wait to see what she has in store for us next!

I also read Bosworth's prequel story, Prophet, about 13 year old Rance Ridley, who later becomes the evil Prophet in Struck. His story was very interesting and I recommend reading it as well.

Books in the series:

Monday, August 20, 2012

Review: Spark By Brigid Kemmerer

(Elemental # 2)
By: Brigid Kemmerer
Pub. Date: August 28, 2012
Publisher: K-Teen
Pages: 345
Source: Netgalley

Gabriel Merrick plays with fire. Literally.

Sometimes he can even control it. And sometimes he can’t. Like the fire that killed his parents.

Gabriel has always had his brothers to rely on, especially his twin, Nick. But when an arsonist starts wreaking havoc on their town, all the signs point to Gabriel. Only he’s not doing it.

More than Gabriel’s pride is at stake -- this could cost him his family, maybe his life. And no one seems to hear him. Except a shy sophomore named Layne, a brainiac who dresses in turtlenecks and jeans and keeps him totally off balance. Layne understands family problems, and she understands secrets. She has a few of her own.

Gabriel can’t let her guess about his brothers, about his abilities, about the danger that’s right at his heels. But there are some risks he can’t help taking.

The fuse is lit…
I was so happy to receive an e-ARC copy of Spark! I really enjoyed Storm and it's characters and I could not wait to hang out with these characters again. I loved Gabriel so much in Storm, so I could not wait to get to know him better in Spark, and let me start by saying that Gabriel is perfection. I loved every minute that I spent with him.

Gabriel is the brother that can control fire. He's the younger brother of Michael, the older brother of Chris, and the twin brother of Nick. He is so damaged and broken, and unlike his brothers, has a much harder time controlling his element. He started the fire (by accident) that killed his parents 5 years ago, and has never forgiven himself. On the outside he acts like he doesn't care about anything, but inside he is falling apart. He keeps his pain locked inside, and doesn't let anybody in, and then he lashes out in anger. I really felt bad for him, and I so wanted to give him a hug. When Gabriel's new math teacher starts to catch on that Gabriel is not the one taking his tests, that it's actually his twin, he learns that he won't be able to play sports if he fails. His classmate Layne offers to tutor him.

I really liked Layne. She was so sweet. Sometimes Gabriel treated her like such crap, but only because she understood him so well. They had a wonderful connection. Gabriel's sweet side definitely came out more when it came to her and her younger, deaf brother. I loved how protective Gabriel was of him. It really showed that there was more to Gabriel then meets the eye.

The other brothers were also around, but not as much as I would have liked. It makes sense that they weren't there though. Gabriel spends more time alone then the rest of them do. In Spark , Gabriel was fighting with Nick for most of the time, and this just broke my heart. Gabriel was lost without his twin, and I just felt so bad for him. We did get to see another side of Michael which I enjoyed. Sometimes you forget that he is only 23 because he acts like such an adult, so I enjoyed seeing the more laidback side of him.

Spark was very enjoyable. The plot kept me interested and the writing was terrific. The characters are just so well done and they are all so realistic. I am loving this series, and I am going to have to get myself copies of this series for my shelf. I can not wait for the next book, Spirit!


Sunday, August 19, 2012

Stacking the Shelves (3)

Stacking the Shelves is a weekly meme hosted by Tynga's Reviews.

Onyx - Jennifer L. Armentrout
Easy - Tammara Webber

Who I Kissed - Janet Gurtler (via netgalley)
Confessions of an Angry Girl - Louise Rozett (via netgalley)
Eve & Adam - Katherine Applegate (via netgalley)
Time Between Us - Tamara Island Stone (via netgalley) Read this one on Saturday and absolutely loved it!!

What books did you guys get this week? Leave me a link to your page in the comments so I can check it out!

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Review & Guest Post: The Color of Snow by Brenda Stanley

The Color of Snow
By: Brenda Stanley
Pub. Date: June 1, 2012
Publisher: Tribute Books
Source: Publisher

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

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

The Color of Snow is an interesting story about a girl that has spent the first 16 years of her life isolated from the rest of the world. Books about kidnapping have always intrigued me, but The Color of Snow fell a little flat for me. I think it could have been so much more then it was, and I was a little disappointed with the end result.

Sophie's dad has kept her away from the world for entire life. She doesn't fight it, she just thinks that that is the way life is supposed to be. She loves her father, and she knows that he loves her. When I first read the synopsis, I immediately hated her dad, but I came to realize he wasn't that bad. He just carried so much guilt from his past, that he really did think he was protecting Sophie from everything negative in the world. I really felt bad for the guy. The flashbacks scenes, starting from when her father was a teenager ended up being my favorite part of the entire book. I know that the synopsis makes it seem like Sophie has been living in a cage. But the cage on her door locked from the inside. Sophie was the only one with the key. It was for her protection. It was hard to hate someone whose judgment was so clouded from guilt.

Sophie was told that she wasn't allowed to interact with the outside world. But when a young Sophie meets brothers, Donny and Damien, she plays with them when her father is at work. Years later, Damien tries to help her escape and the dad catches them and shoots Damien. As more of the secrets and stories come to light, you realize there is a lot more then meets the eye. When police show up in response to the shooting, Sophie is sent to her maternal grandparents, whom she has never met. It is here that she learns that her life was far from normal.

While I liked Sophie, I thought her life was very unrealistic. Too many crazy, horrible things have happened. Not just when she was living with her dad, but when she moved in with her grandparents. Could all of these things really happen to one person?

There was a hell out of a lot going on in The Color of Snow, and I found myself not being able to follow. The more the author added to the story, the more turned off I became. I contemplated not finishing it, but decided to pull on through anyway.

Don't decide to read The Color of Snow because on this review though. Many people seem to really be enjoying it. The plot was suspenseful at times, and I did find myself wanting to know more about the characters and their secrets. The Color of Snow just wasn't the book for me, but I could definitely see it being enjoyed by others.

Brenda Stanley also stopped by the blog today to share an excerpt of The Color of Snow! 

Malad, Idaho, early spring 2009

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

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

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

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

“I don’t know how,” I answered.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“You were going to kill yourself. Why?”

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

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

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

“I’ve had friends,” I protested.

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

I nodded.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

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

I stayed silent.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“What?” she asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Stephanie lowered an eyebrow. “What?”

“A curse.”

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

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

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

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

Stephanie reeled back. “They died? How?”

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

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

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

“How did they die?”

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

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

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

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

I shook my head. “No!”

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

I lowered my eyes. “Yes.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

“I think I know why.”

“Tell me.”

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

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

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

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

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

I was still uneasy.

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


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

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

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

I didn’t like the idea and was apprehensive.

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

I felt funny having her tempt fate for me.

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


She giggled with delight.

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

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

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

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

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review: Beautiful Disaster by Jamie McGuire

Beautiful Disaster
(Beautiful # 1)
By: Jamie McGuire
Pub. Date: August 14, 2012
Publisher: Atria
Pages: 361
Sources: Netgalley
The new Abby Abernathy is a good girl. She doesn’t drink or swear, and she has the appropriate percentage of cardigans in her wardrobe. Abby believes she has enough distance between her and the darkness of her past, but when she arrives at college with her best friend, her path to a new beginning is quickly challenged by Eastern University's Walking One-Night Stand.

Travis Maddox, lean, cut, and covered in tattoos, is exactly what Abby needs—and wants—to avoid. He spends his nights winning money in a floating fight ring, and his days as the ultimate college campus charmer. Intrigued by Abby’s resistance to his appeal, Travis tricks her into his daily life with a simple bet. If he loses, he must remain abstinent for a month. If Abby loses, she must live in Travis’s apartment for the same amount of time. Either way, Travis has no idea that he has met his match.

I have heard mixed reviews about Beautiful Disaster since I first heard about this book. I was so excited to get my hands on an egalley so I can form my own opinions on it. Boy, was I not disappointed. I loved it! I was physically unable to put the book down. I was even reading it on my cell phone at an amusement park!

Abby Abernathy acts like the sweet, innocent girl, but she has a secret past that involves a crappy father and gambling. She moved from Kansas with her best friend America to start fresh and to get away from all the negatives in her life. But one night she meets Travis Maddox, the undefeated champion of cage fighting. Travis is a tattooed, one night stand kind of guy. The opposite of what Abby needs. The two form an unlikely friendship which leads to a roller coaster relationship. Shepley, Travis' cousin and best friend described their relationship perfectly:

"I wish you and Travis would just get your shit together! You're a goddamn tornado! When you're happy, it's love and peace and butterflies. When you're pissed, you take the whole fucking world down with you!" (pg 334-uncorrected egalley proof)

The two of them definitely had what you would call a dependent relationship. Especially on Travis' part. He needed Abby like he needs oxygen. This is definitely unhealthy, but for some reason it worked for them. I couldn't get enough of their up and down moments.

I had a love/hate relationship with Abby. While she was headstrong and would not put up with Travis' crap, she was also incredibly dumb in many instances. I just wanted to slap her sometimes. I felt so bad for Travis many times because Abby was never honest with him. I think they could have saved themselves a lot of emotional pain if she just told him how she was feeling. Travis was able to be honest with her, and he never got close to anyone before her! Travis was an interesting guy. He could be amazingly sweet and kind, and other times he was so jealous and crazy that I couldn't stand it. I loved the connection between the two and I thought that the nickname Travis gave Abby (Pigeon) was adorable. Even with all the craziness, I was rooting for the two of them to stay together and be happy; they deserved it!

I thought the secondary characters, especially America and Shepley were extremely well written. The two of them were the voice of reason in this book, and I loved the moments when they were featured!

Overall, Beautiful Disaster is definitely a book that you have to read for yourself. I think many will love it, while others would be put off by their relationship. I think if you can see past that, Beautiful Disaster is a very enjoyable read! 

I can't not wait for the companion novel, Walking Disaster which is in Travis' POV!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Blog Tour-Review, Guest Post & Giveaway: Anastasia Forever by Joy Preble

I am so excited to be able to participate in this awesome blog tour for Anastasia Forever! Not only am I posting a review and have a guest post from Joy herself, but the cool people from Sourebooks Fire are allowing me to do a giveaway to win hard copies of all three books in the series!

Anastasia Forever
(Dreaming Anastasia # 3)
By: Joy Preble
Pub. Date: August 1, 2012
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Pages: 304
Source: ARC

Stories within stories. Secrets within secrets. In accepting powers from the legendary witch Baba Yaga, Anne must tackle a complex set of missions: Discover the secret of their enemy's newfound immortality; decide whether she can kill him to free her family from a vicious curse; come to terms with the magic that now resides inside her; and finally find true love with Ethan. The riveting conclusion to the trilogy that began with Dreaming Anastasia.

I am always a little afraid when I know I am going to be reading the last book of a series. I  am so worried that the author won't give the characters the ending that I want for them! But I was pleasantly surprised with the direction that Anastasia Forever took, and I am happy to say that I loved the ending!

My heart really does go out for Anne and Ethan. Only a little while ago, Anne was a normal girl, and in a split second her entire life has changed. She learned that she is a witch, and a powerful one at that, Baba Yaga keeps showing up at the worst times, and she keeps getting transported to the past. Seriously, can this girl catch a break! Ethan is still so broken and he is just trying to protect Anne and find his way. Also, he thinks he is turning evil, and finds out his ex-girlfriend wasn't exactly who she said she was. I honestly just want to give each of them a cupcake and tell them that it's going to be ok.

As with the other two stories in the series, the plot is entertaining and it kept me turning the pages faster and faster! I needed to know how it all was going to turn out! The writing was a bit slow at times, but overall it was a very enjoyable read.

I'm sad to see this series end, but I am excited to see what Joy Preble has in store for us next! 

Guest Post

Top Ten Things to Know About Baba Yaga the Witch
Joy Preble
Author of the DREAMING ANASTASIA series, Sourcebooks

1.      She is the most famous witch in Russian fairy tales/folklore.  In most (maybe all) Slavic languages, ‘Baba’ means ‘old woman.’ The ‘Yaga’ is also from Slavic roots, but it’s a bit more varied in the stories of its etymology. But the easiest way to think of her name is Grandma Yaga. In the DREAMING series, I have Anastasia refer to her as Auntie Yaga, which I thought an interesting little twist. I imagined the witch as asking her captive Anastasia to call her this, perhaps as a joke, perhaps to give Anastasia the sense that the Baba Yaga is gentle, perhaps even benign, which couldn’t be farther from the truth!

2.      Many authors have used her in their stories—from picture books like Babushka Baba Yaga by Patricia Polacco to genre fiction by Orson Scott Card and Neil Gaiman. There’s even a Buffy the Vampire Slayer novelization with Baba Yaga in it! She’s in movies, cartoons, anime… you name it and the old girl has appeared in it! My books are in very good company.

3.      Baba Yaga lives in a hut that stands on chicken legs so that it can help her evade her enemies. (This is such a great visual that it’s been taken over in other stories too. If you’ve seen the anime film, Howl’s Moving Castle, Howl’s house also runs around on chicken legs! This is the folklore that image comes from) In some stories, including mine, pikes with the skulls of her enemies surround her house like a fence. Cool, huh?  And when she travels, she rides in a huge mortar (that big black that you use to grind spices… those big black bowls they put guacamole in sometimes look like it, too!) and she stirs the air with a huge pestle. (That’s the grinding tool)

4.      The idea of ‘grinding’ from that pestle in #3 connects to another fact about Baba Yaga: her forest is a place of change and transformation. Once you enter her forest, you will not come out the same… even if you survive. Baba Yaga is all about duality both in appearance and behavior.  Like all strong women, she’s complex. She may use her considerable power for good. Or she may grind your bones and stick your head on her fence. She’s mercurial and powerful and she can’t quite be defined. I found this particularly fascinating in terms of women and power, which is definitely a motif that runs throughout the series. Societies tend to marginalize old women, to define them by beauty lost, to de-sexualize them. But Baba Yaga won’t stand for that and I love that about her. I thought about this a lot in building her backstory, which continues in ANASTASIA FOREVER. I wanted to know exactly how she became who she is when Anne meets her. Exactly why she agreed to protect Anastasia for the Brotherhood. And I loved the complexity of what developed from that!

5.     Lots of people have written amazing articles about Baba Yaga! A good place to start if you want to read more is here:

6.      Physically, Baba Yaga is very tall. She has iron teeth and a huge nose and these enormous removable hands that detach from her body to do her bidding. I use all of these physical factors in my series.

7.      In many Baba Yaga tales, she has three horsemen who serve and protect her. Each rides a different color horse – one black, one red, and one white, reflecting different times of the day.

8.      In most of the folktales, Baba Yaga has boundaries that she cannot cross. Although I do have her appearing in Anne’s real world, this is still a factor in the DREAMING series, both literally with a river that runs through her forest as well as metaphorically in terms of Anne. There is only so much Baba Yaga can tell Anne. The rest Anne must figure out on her own terms.

9.       In her stories, she is never defeated. Ever. She always comes back!

10.  And here is how I envisioned Anastasia first talking about Baba Yaga, my version of the Vasilisa story that used in DREAMING ANASTASIA:

"In the story, there was a girl. Her name was Vasilisa, and she was very beautiful. Her parents loved her. Her life was good. But things changed. Her mother died. Her father remarried. And the new wife - well, she wasn't so fond of Vasilisa. So she sent her to the hut of the fearsome witch Baba Yaga to fetch some light for their cabin. And that was supposed to be that. For no one returned from Baba Yaga's. But Vasilisa had the doll her dying mother gave her. And the doll- because this was a fairy tale and so dolls could talk - told her what to do. Helped her get that light she came for and escape. And when Vasilisa returned home, that same light burned so brightly that it killed the wicked stepmother who sent Vasilisa to that horrible place. Vasilisa remained unharmed. She married a handsome prince. And lived happily ever after.

When I listened to my mother tell the story, I would pretend I was Vasilisa the Brave. In my imagination, I heeded the advice of the doll. I outwitted the evil Baba Yaga, the fearsome witch who kept her enemies' heads on pikes outside her hut. Who rode the skies in her mortar and howled to the heavens and skittered about on bony legs. Who ate up lost little girls with her iron teeth.

But the story was not as I imagined...."

About the Author

A former English teacher, Joy is the author of the DREAMING ANASTASIA series (Sourcebooks), which blends paranormal romance with historical fiction. The second in that series, HAUNTED, is out now, and the final book of the trilogy, title TBA, but currently ANASTASIA FOREVER, is due in Fall 2012. Another paranormal – about a sixteen-year-old stoner turned guardian angel – THE SWEET DEAD LIFE – is set in Houston and slated for May 2013, from Soho Press. Joy grew up in Chicago but now lives with her family in Houston where she writes full time and frequently gets into wild rumpuses and other mischief. She is not a fan of the Houston summer but does love cowboy boots, going to the rodeo, and the coffee drinks at Empire CafĂ©. 


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