Saturday, February 28, 2015

Review: Captive (Aimée Carter)

Captive (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #2)
Title: Captive
Series: The Blackcoat Rebellion trilogy, Book 2
Author: Aimée Carter
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: November 25, 2014
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Content Rating: Older Teen (some language, brutal violence, abuse, sensuality, minor sex)
Format Read: ARC (publisher)
Find It OnGoodreads
Summary:

For the past two months, Kitty Doe's life has been a lie. Forced to impersonate the Prime Minister's niece, her frustration grows as her trust in her fake fiancé cracks, her real boyfriend is forbidden and the Blackcoats keep her in the dark more than ever. 

But in the midst of discovering that her role in the Hart family may not be as coincidental as she thought, she's accused of treason and is forced to face her greatest fear: Elsewhere. A prison where no one can escape. 

As one shocking revelation leads to the next, Kitty learns the hard way that she can trust no one, not even the people she thought were on her side. With her back against the wall, Kitty wants to believe she'll do whatever it takes to support the rebellion she believes in—but is she prepared to pay the ultimate price?


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This is Book 2 in The Blackcoat Rebellion trilogy. 
You can read my review of Book 1, Pawn, here!

In a Sentence
: Another quick read in an intense dystopian trilogy!

While it did begin a bit slow for me, with the first few chapters reading more like a recap prologue, the shift to the brutal Elsewhere brought exciting new characters and twists that expanded the story with big revelations and even bigger possibilities for the final installment. The new setting also escalated the violence and intensity in this book. I cringed quite a bit as the worst was threatened at every turn, and like a game of Russian Roulette you never knew when the gun would actually go off - and it did quite a bit. This made for a tense and sometimes heart-wrenching read that is definitely not for the faint of heart.

I did have a problem with Kitty this time, though. She's an ordinary girl given constant opportunities to do extraordinary things, but in this book she rarely took them or seriously messed them up when she did by continually trusting the wrong people and not trusting the right ones enough.  I guess this made her realistic, but the girl never seemed to do much of anything right, and it got a little old. Still, her loyalty to her long-time boyfriend and even her new friends was fierce, and almost everything she did was for the good of others, which was commendable.

Conclusion: While the beginning stumbled a bit and the main character frustrated me at times, the new setting and intense story made for a violently engaging read. I look forward to the final installment in this series later this year!

Rating
4 out of 5 Scribbles


Friday, February 27, 2015

The #FridayReads Review (2/27/15)



Welcome to The Friday Reads Review, a regular Friday segment where I share what I've been reading the past week! Want to join the Friday fun? Post your own Friday Reads Review on your blog, and then leave the link in the Comments below!


>> CURRENTLY READING <<
The Murder Complex (The Murder Complex, #1)Changeless (Parasol Protectorate, #2)

The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings (ARC)
Needed an influx of violence. About 70 pages in so far and it's certainly filling the bill.

Changeless by Gail Carriger (MMP)
After DNFing two review books in a row (see below), I returned to my re-read of this favored series. Eagerly awaiting the introduction of Madame Lefoux!


>> JUST FINISHED <<
Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)
Soulless by Gail Carriger (MMP)
Always a delight no matter how many times I read it, although the sexual content never ceases to surprise me. Review to come!


>> DNF <<

I'm sad to say that, after an extended period of perseverance, I had to DNF two books. :(

The ImaginaryWild Hearts (If Only . . ., #4)

The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold (ARC)
DNF at Chapter 5. The story (and illustrations!) are WAY too disturbing and dark. DNF review to come.

Wild Hearts by Jessica Burkhart (ARC)
DNF at Page 56. The main character's personality was flat and inconsistent, the dialogue rambling and nonlinear, and the description excessive and unnecessary (especially with pointless brand names). I tried to press on but just couldn't.


>> READING NEXT <<
Blameless (Parasol Protectorate, #3)
Blameless by Gail Carriger (MMP)
My deadline for re-reading this series is sneaking up on me faster than anticipated - time to kick it into high gear!


So what are you reading this week?

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Review: Pawn (Aimée Carter)

Pawn (The Blackcoat Rebellion, #1)
Title: Pawn
Series: The Blackcoat Rebellion trilogy, Book 1
Author: Aimée Carter
Publisher: Harlequin Teen
Release Date: November 26, 2013
Genre: Young Adult Dystopian
Content Rating: Older Teen (sensuality, violence)
Format Read: ARC (EpicLibrarian)
Find It On: Goodreads

Summary:

YOU CAN BE A VII IF YOU GIVE EVERYTHING.

For Kitty Doe, it seems like an easy choice. She can either spend her life as a III in misery, looked down upon by the higher ranks and forced to leave the people she loves, or she can become a VII and join the most powerful family in the country.

If she says yes, Kitty will be Masked - surgically transformed into Lila Hart, the Prime Minister's niece, who died under mysterious circumstances. As a member of the Hart family, she will be famous. She will be adored. And for the first time, she will matter.

There's only one catch. She must also stop the rebellion that Lila secretly fostered, the same one that got her killed, and one Kitty believes in. Faced with threats, conspiracies and a life that's not her own, she must decide which path to choose and learn how to become more than a pawn in a twisted game she's only beginning to understand.


*          *          *

In a Sentence: A quick read with an interesting dystopian premise, uncomplicated political intrigue, and lots of twists!

Although this book seemed like it should've been kind of complex with its strict caste system and political aspects, the surprisingly uncomplicated story and easy writing style made it a breeze of a read. The political intrigue was even simple and engaging enough that I not only followed it but actually enjoyed it, and I'm rarely one for anything to do with politics. Kitty had a good balance of self-sacrifice and self-preservation - she was willing to die for the boy she loved (and had loved since before the book began - no instalove here!), but struggled to stay alive if she could. When given the opportunity though, she was willing to sacrifice her own happiness to do more for the lesser numbers and possibly free them - and ultimately herself - which made her someone worth rooting for.

Conclusion: An easy and entertaining read that I recommend for YA dystopian lovers. As this is Book 1 in a trilogy, I will definitely be continuing the series to find out what happens!

Rating
4 out of 5 Scribbles


Monday, February 23, 2015

Guest Review: The Forgotten Sisters (Shannon Hale)

The Forgotten Sisters (Princess Academy, #3)
Title: The Forgotten Sisters
Series: Princess Academy trilogy, Book 3
Author: Shannon Hale
Publisher: Bloomsbury USA Childrens
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Genre: Middle Grade Fantasy
Content Rating: Middle Grade (kissing, fighting)
Format Read: ARC (publisher)
Find It OnGoodreads
Summary:

After a year at the king's palace, Miri has learned all about being a proper princess. But the tables turn when the student must become the teacher!

Instead of returning to her beloved Mount Eskel, Miri is ordered to journey to a distant swamp and start a princess academy for three sisters, cousins of the royal family. Unfortunately, Astrid, Felissa, and Sus are more interested in hunting and fishing than becoming princesses.

As Miri spends more time with the sisters, she realizes the king and queen's interest in them hides a long-buried secret. She must rely on her own strength and intelligence to unravel the mystery, protect the girls, complete her assignment, and finally make her way home.


*          *          *

Guest Review by Indigo

In a Sentence: I love this book so much because it is fun, it has adventure, and it has romance - basically, all of the stuff I like.

Series: This is the last book in the Princess Academy trilogy. I love the Princess Academy books so much I wish Shannon Hale wrote ten books in the series, but there are only three.

Writing: I’ve always loved Shannon Hale’s writing. I love the way she puts the words together and knows exactly where to put this word and where to put another word, so all the words fit into the exact right place and make her books amazing. There were some times when I could not picture what was happening, but it was pretty easy to picture most things. I had a very hard time putting this book down because at the end of almost every chapter there was something new that was really exciting, and so I just kept reading more and more. I read through the whole book in about two days, which is really fast for me!

Series End: After The Princess Academy and Palace of Stone (Books 1 & 2), I was very interested in seeing how Miri’s story would end. I think Shannon Hale did a great job of ending the series, especially Miri and Peder’s story, and I liked the ending better than I thought I would. I just didn’t like how she made it look like they just forgot about King Kaspar and the princesses, because they were a very important part of the story.

Characters:  Miri is one of my favorite characters because she goes places where the King tells her to go, even when she doesn’t want to, because she loves adventures. Peder is also one of my favorite characters because he’s always romantic and always energetic. He’s always pretending to be clueless around Miri, and yet Miri knows he’s not really clueless and sees right through him. He saves as many people as he can, but mostly he tries as hard as he can to protect Miri by going with her. Sometimes Miri will tell Peder that he can’t protect her, and he will listen, but he can’t help wondering if she is safe. Peder is just totally awesome. As for the princesses, Astrid is not at all tame but usually she’s pretty calm and I loved how she is always taking care of her sisters. Felissa is very emotional but she is almost always smiling which I love, and Susana is always hyper and I am sort of hyper myself, so I really liked her. When she meets a kid with a sword, she wants to swing it around like he does. I liked the princesses because they always work together to get stuff done. They don’t wait around for someone else to do it, because nobody would. They have to do stuff themselves.

Romance: There is a lot of romance throughout the book, but it is a happy romance, and after two books already it’s good to see Miri and Peder happy. When they are together, they sometimes forget that people are around them, and when they do that, sometimes they kiss right in front of people. Or they might be in their daze and not notice they are talking so quietly that they have to have their foreheads almost touching so they can hear each other. It’s really cute.

Conclusion: This book is probably my favorite Shannon Hale book ever, even though so far, all of her books that I have read are amazing. I’d really hoped that there would be more Princess Academy books, and I was really sad to hear that this was the last one. But it’s okay, because I still have other Shannon Hale books to read!

For fans of: romance, adventure, tutoring, swamps, princess, bandits

Scribble Rating
4 1/2 out of 5 Scribbles



Indigo is nine years old and lives on her family’s farm with her seven siblings, making goat milk soap and shipping it around the world. When she’s not running the retail store, making bracelets to sell, or doing her schoolwork, you can find her curled up on the couch reading her latest favorite book. It will most likely involve princesses, magic, or dragons, and will always have a kick-butt girl in it.

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Release Spotlight: FISH OUT OF WATER (Natalie Whipple)


Although shamefully over a week late, I'm excited to spotlight the release of Natalie Whipple's latest, Fish Out of Water!!

Fish Out of WaterFish Out of Water

Title: Fish Out of Water
Author: Natalie Whipple
Publisher: Whipple House (US), Hot Key Books (UK)
Release Date: 2/10/15 (US), 2/5/15 (UK)

Mika Arlington was supposed to spend the summer after her junior year shadowing her marine biologist parents at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, but when her estranged grandmother randomly shows up on the doorstep one day, those plans are derailed. Because Grandma Betty isn't here to play nice—she is cranky, intolerant of Mika's mixed-race-couple parents, and oh yeah she has Alzheimer's and is out of money.  While Mika's family would rather not deal with Grandma Betty, they don't have much choice. And despite Mika's protests, she is roped into caring for a person that seems impossible to have compassion for. And if that wasn't hard enough, Mika must train the new guy at her pet shop job who wants to be anywhere else, and help a friend through her own family crisis. Something's gotta a give, but whichever ball Mika drops means losing someone she loves. Not exactly a recipe for Best Summer Ever—or is it?

Add to Goodreads

PURCHASE:
Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository | IndieBound


This book is available in both a US hardcover (first cover) and a UK paperback (second cover), as well as various ebook formats, so purchase your preference or collect them all!

Even though Natalie Whipple is one of my favorite authors, I'm ashamed to say that I have not read this yet (the egregious error will soon be rectified, though!), but you can check out all the glowing reviews on Goodreads if you need convincing!


So what are you waiting for?
Get Fish Out of Water today!


Friday, February 20, 2015

M9B Friday Reveal: Nobody's Goddess (Amy McNulty) Prologue + Giveaway



Welcome to this week's M9B Friday Reveal!

This week, we're unveiling the prologue for:

Nobody's Goddess (The Never Veil #1)
by Amy McNulty

presented by Month9Books!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

Nobody's Goddess
Title: Nobody's Goddess (The Never Veil #1) 
Publication date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC
Author: Amy McNulty 
In a village of masked men, each loves only one woman and must follow the commands of his “goddess” without question. A woman may reject the only man who will love her if she pleases, but she will be alone forever. And a man must stay masked until his goddess returns his love—and if she can’t or won’t, he remains masked forever. 
Where the rest of her village celebrates this mystery that binds men and women together, seventeen year old Noll is just done with it. She’s lost all her childhood friends as they’ve paired off, but the worst blow was when her closest companion, Jurij, finds his goddess in Noll’s own sister. Desperate to find a way to break this ancient spell, Noll instead discovers why no man has ever loved her: she is in fact the goddess of the mysterious lord of the village, a Byronic man who refuses to let Noll have her right as a woman to spurn him and who has the power to fight the curse. Thus begins a dangerous game between the two: the choice of woman versus the magic of man. And the stakes are no less than freedom and happiness, life and death—and neither Noll nor the veiled man is willing to lose.



Prologue

When I had real friends, I was the long-lost queen of the elves.

A warrior queen who hitched up her skirt and wielded a blade. Who held her retainers in thrall. Until they left me for their goddesses.

Love. A curse that snatches friends away.

One day, when only two of my retainers remained, the old crone who lived on the northern outskirts of the village was our prey. It was twenty points if you spotted her. Fifty points if you got her to look at you. A hundred points if she started screaming at you.

You won for life if you got close enough to touch her.

“Noll, please don’t do this,” whispered Jurij from behind the wooden kitten mask covering his face. Really, his mother still put him in kitten masks, even though eleven was too old for a boy to be wearing kittens and bunnies. Especially ones that looked likely to get eaten for breakfast by as much as a weasel.

“Shut up, I want to see this!” cried Darwyn. Never a kitten, Darwyn always wore a wolf mask. Yet behind the nasty tooth-bearing wolf grin—one of my father’s better masks—he was very much a fraidycat.

Darwyn shoved Jurij aside so he could crouch behind the bush that was our threadbare cover. Jurij nearly toppled over, but I caught him and set him gently upright. Sometimes I didn’t know if Jurij realized who was supposed to be serving whom. Queens shouldn’t have to keep retainers from falling.

“Quiet, both of you.” I scanned the horizon. Nothing. All was still against the northern mountains save for the old crone’s musty shack with its weakly smoking chimney. The edges of my skirt had grazed the dusty road behind us, and I hitched it up some more so my mother wouldn’t notice later. If she didn’t want me to get the blasted thing dirty, she should have let me wear Jurij’s trousers, like I had been that morning. That got me a rap on the back of the head with a wooden spoon, a common occurrence when I was queen. It made me look too much like a boy, she scolded, and that would cause a panic.

“Are you going or not?” Darwyn was not one for patience.

“If you’re so eager, why don’t you go?” I snapped back.

Darwyn shook his wolf-head. “Oh, no, not me.”

I grinned. “That’s because you’re scared.”

Darwyn’s muffled voice grew louder. He stood beside me and puffed out his chest. “I am not! I’ve been in the commune.”

I poked toward his chest with Elgar, my trusty elf-blade. “Liar! You have not.”

Darwyn jumped back, evading my blow. “I have too! My uncle lives there!” He swatted his hand at Elgar. “Get that stick away from me.”

“It’s not a stick!” Darwyn never believed me when I said that Elgar was the blade of a warrior. It just happened to resemble a tree branch.

Jurij’s quiet voice entered the fray. “Your uncle lives there? That’s awful.” I was afraid he might cry and the tears would get caught up in the black material that covered his eyes. I didn’t want him to drown behind the wooden kitty face. He’d vanish into thin air like everyone else did when they died, and then we’d be staring down at Jurij’s clothes and the little kitten mask on the ground, and I was afraid I wouldn’t be able to stop myself from giggling. Some death for a warrior.

Darwyn shrugged and ran a hand over his elbow. “He moved in there before I was born. I think a weaver lady was his goddess. It’s not so strange. Didn’t your aunt send her man there, Jurij?”

Jurij was sniffling. Sniffling. He tried to rub at his nose, but every time he moved the back of his hand up to his face, it just clunked against the button that represented the kitten’s nose.

I sighed and patted Jurij on the back. “A queen’s retainer must never cry, Jurij.”

Darwyn laughed. “Are you still playing that? You’re no queen, Noll!”

I stopped patting Jurij and balled my hands into fists. “Be quiet, Darwyn! You used to play it, too!”

Darwyn put two fingers over his wolf-mask mouth, a gesture we had long ago decided would stand for the boys sticking out their tongues. Although Darwyn was the only one who ever did it as of late. “Like I’d want to do what some girl tells me! Girls aren’t even blessed by love!”

“Of course they are!” It was my turn to put the two fingers over my mouth. I had a tongue, but a traitorous retainer like Darwyn wasn’t worthy of the effort it took to stick it out. “Just wait until you find your goddess, and then we’ll see! If she turns out to be me, I’ll make sure you rot away in the commune with the rest of the unloved men.”

Darwyn lunged forward and tackled me. My head dragged against the bush before it hit the ground, but it still hurt; I could feel the swelling underneath the tangled knots in my hair. Elgar snapped as I tried to get a grip on my attacker. I kicked and shoved him, and for a moment, I won the upper hand and rolled on top of him, almost punching him in the face. Remembering the mask, I settled for giving him a good smack in the side, but then he kicked upward and caught me in the chest, sending me backward.

“Stop!” pleaded Jurij. He was standing between us now, the little timid kitten watching first one friend and then the other, like we were a dangling string in motion.

“Stay out of this!” Darwyn jumped to his feet and pointed at me. “She thinks she’s so high and mighty, and she’s not even someone’s goddess yet!”

“I’m only twelve, idiot! How many goddesses are younger than thirteen?” A few, but not many. I scrambled to my feet and sent my tongue out at him. It felt good knowing he couldn’t do the same to me, after all. My head ached. I didn’t want him to see the tears forming in my eyes, though, so I ground my teeth once I drew my tongue inward.

“Yeah, well, it’ll be horrible for whoever finds the goddess in you!” Darwyn made to lunge at me again, but this time Jurij shoved both his hands at Darwyn’s chest to stop him.

“Just stop,” commanded Jurij. Finally. That was a good retainer.

My eyes wandered to the old crone’s cottage. No sign of her. How could she fail to hear the epic struggle outside her door? Maybe she wasn’t real. Maybe just seeing her was worth twenty points after all.

“Get out of my way, you baby!” shouted Darwyn. “So what happens if I pull off your mask when your queen is looking, huh? Will you die?”

His greedy fingers reached toward Jurij’s wooden animal face. Even from behind, I could see the mask tip dangerously to one side, the strap holding it tightly against Jurij’s dark curls shifting. The strap broke free, flying up over his head.

My mouth opened to scream. My hands reached up to cover my eyes. My eyelids strained to close, but it felt as if the moment had slowed and I could never save him in time. Such simple things. Close your eyes. Cover your eyes. Scream.

“DO NOT FOOL WITH SUCH THINGS, CHILD!”

A dark, dirty shawl went flying onto the bush that we had ruined during our fight.

I came back to life. My head and Darwyn’s wolf mask spun toward the source of the sound. As my head turned, I saw—even though I knew better than to look—Jurij crumple to the ground, clinging both arms across his face desperately because his life depended on it.

“Your eyes better be closed, girl!” The old crone bellowed. Her own eyes were squeezed together.

I jumped and shut my eyes tightly.

“Hold that shawl tightly over your face, boy, until you can wear your mask properly!” screamed the old crone. “Off with you both, boys! Now! Off with you!”

I heard Jurij and Darwyn scrambling, the rustle of the bush and the stomps of their boots as they fled, panting. I thought I heard a scream—not from Jurij, but from Darwyn. He was the real fraidycat. An old crone was no match for the elf queen’s retainers. But the queen herself was far braver. So I told myself over and over in my head.

When the last of their footsteps faded away, and I was sure that Jurij was safe from my stare, I looked.

Eyes. Huge, bulbous, dark brown eyes. Staring directly into mine.

The crone’s face was so close I could smell the shriveled decay from her mouth. She grabbed me by the shoulders, shaking me. “What were you thinking? You held that boy’s life in your hands! Yet you stood there like a fool, just starin’ as his mask came off.”

My heart beat faster, and I gasped for more air, but I wanted to avoid inhaling her stench. “I’m sorry, Ingrith,” I mumbled. I thought if I used her real name, if I let her lecture me like all the other adults, it would help me break free from her grasp. I twisted and pulled, but I couldn’t bring myself to touch her. I had this notion that if I touched her, my fingers would decay.

“Sorry is just a word. Sorry changes nothing.”

“Let me go.” I could still feel her dirty nails on my skin.

“You watch yourself, girl.”

“Let me go!”

The crone’s lips grew tight and puckered. Her fingers relaxed ever so slightly. “You children don’t realize. The lord is watching. Always watching—”

I knew what she was going to say, the words so familiar to me that I knew them as well as if they were my own. “And he will not abide villagers who forget the first goddess’s teachings.” The sentence seemed to loosen the crone’s fingers. She opened her mouth to speak, but I broke free and ran.

My eyes fell to the grass below my feet as I cut across the fields to get away from the monster. On the borders of the eastern woods was a lone cottage, home of Gideon the woodcarver, a warm and comfortable place so much fuller of life than the shack I left behind me. When I was near the woods, I could look up freely since the trees blocked the eastern mountains from view. But until I got closer …

“Noll! Wait up!”

My eyes snapped upward on instinct. I saw the upper boughs of the trees and almost screamed, my gaze falling back to the grass beneath my feet. I stopped running and let the gentle rustlings of footsteps behind me catch up.

“Jurij, please.” I sighed and turned around to face him, my eyes still on the grass and the pair of small dark boots that covered his feet. Somehow he managed to step delicately through the grass, not disturbing a single one of the lilies that covered the hilltops. “Don’t scare me like that. I almost looked at the castle.”

The toe of Jurij’s boot dug a little into the dirt. “Oh. Sorry.”

“Is your mask on?”

The boot stopped moving, and the tip of a black shawl dropped into my view. “Oh. Yeah.”

I shook my head and raised my eyes. There was no need to fear looking up to the west. In the distance, the mountains that encircled our village soared far beyond the western fields of crops. I liked the mountains. From the north, the south, and the west, they embraced our village with their jagged peaks. In the south, they watched over our fields of livestock. In the north, they towered above a quarry for copper and stone. And in the east, they led home and to the woods. But no girl or woman could ever look up when facing the east. Like the faces of men and boys before their Returnings, just a glance at the castle that lay beyond the woods against the eastern mountains spelled doom. The earth would shake and threaten to consume whoever broke the commandment not to look.

It made walking home a bit of a pain, to say the least.

“Tell me something important like that before you sneak up on me.”

Jurij’s kitten mask was once again tight against his face, if askew. The strap was a bit tangled in his dark curls and the pointed tip of one of his ears. “Right. Sorry.”

He held out the broken pieces of Elgar wrapped in the dirty black shawl. He seemed very retainer-like. I liked that. “I went to give this back to the—the lady. She wasn’t there, but you left Elgar.”

I snatched the pieces from Jurij’s hands. “You went back to the shack? What were you going to say? ‘Sorry we were spying on you pretending you were a monster, thanks for the dirty old rag?’”

“No.” Jurij crumpled up the shawl and tucked it under his belt. A long trail of black cloth tumbled out immediately, making Jurij look like he had on half a skirt.

I laughed. “Where’s Darwyn?”

“Home.”

Of course. I found out later that Darwyn had whined straight to his mother that “nasty old Noll” almost knocked his mask off. It was a great way to get noticed when you had countless brothers and a smitten mother and father standing between you and any form of attention. But it didn’t have the intended effect on me. I was used to lectures, and besides, there was something more important bothering me by then.

I picked up my feet to carry me back home.

Jurij skipped forward to join me. One of his boots stumbled as we left the grasses behind and hit the dirt path. “What happened with you and the crone?”

I gripped the pieces of Elgar tighter in my fist. “Nothing.” I stopped, relieved that we’d finally gotten close enough to the woods that I could face forward. I put an arm on Jurij’s shoulder to stop him. “But I touched her.” Or she touched me. “That means I win forever.”

The kitten face cocked a little sideways. “You always win.”

“Of course. I’m the queen.” I tucked the broken pieces of Elgar into my apron sash. Elgar was more of a title, bestowed on an endless number of worthy sticks, but in those days I wouldn’t have admitted that to Jurij. “Come on. I’ll give you a head start. Race you to the cavern!”

“The cavern? But it’s—”

“Too late! Your head start’s over!” I kicked my feet up and ran as if that was all my legs knew how to do. The cool breeze slapping across my face felt lovely as it flew inside my nostrils and mouth. I rushed past my home, not bothering to look inside the open door.

“Stop! Stop! Noll, you stop this instant!”

The words were something that could easily come out of a mother’s mouth, but Mother had a little more patience than that. And her voice didn’t sound like a fragile little bird chirping at the sun’s rising. “Noll!”

I was just an arm’s length from the start of the trees, but I stopped, clutching the sharp pain that kicked me in the side.

“Oh dear!” Elfriede walked out of our house, the needle and thread she was no doubt using to embroider some useless pattern on one of the aprons still pinched between two fingers. My sister was a little less than a year older than me, but to my parents’ delight (and disappointment with me), she was a hundred times more responsible.

“Boy, your mask!” Elfriede never did learn any of my friends’ names. Not that I could tell her Roslyn from her Marden, either. One giggling, delicate bird was much like another.

She walked up to Jurij, who had just caught up behind me. She covered her eyes with her needle-less hand, but I could see her peeking between her fingers. I didn’t think that would actually protect him if the situation were as dire as she seemed to think.

“It’s crooked.” Elfriede’s voice was hoarse, almost trembling. I rolled my eyes.

Jurij patted his head with both hands until he found the bit of the strap stuck on one of his ears. He pulled it down and twisted the mask until it lined up evenly.

I could hear Elfriede’s sigh of relief from where I was standing. She let her fingers fall from her face. “Thank the goddess.” She considered Jurij for a moment. “There’s a little tear in your strap.”

Without asking, she closed the distance between them and began sewing the small tear even as the mask sat on his head. From how tall she stood above him, she might have been ten years older instead of only two.

I walked back toward them, letting my hands fall. “Don’t you think that’s a little stupid? What if the mask slips while you’re doing that?”

Elfriede’s cheeks darkened and she yanked the needle up, pulling her instrument free of the thread and tucking the extra bit into the mask strap. She stood back and glared at me. “Don’t you talk to me about being stupid, Noll. All that running isn’t safe when you’re with boys. Look how his mask was moving.”

His mask had moved for even more dangerous reasons than a little run, but I knew better than to tell tattletale Elfriede that. “How would you know what’s safe when you’re with boys? You’re already thirteen, and no one has found the goddess in you!” Darwyn’s taunt was worth reusing, especially since I knew my sister would be more upset about it than I ever was.

Elfriede bit her lip. “Go ahead and kill your friends, then, for all I care!” The bird wasn’t so beautiful and fragile where I was concerned.

She retreated into the house and slammed the door behind her. I wrapped my hand around Jurij’s arm, pulling him eastward. “Come on. Let’s go. There’re bound to be more monsters in the cavern.”

Jurij didn’t give beneath my pull. He wouldn’t move.

“Jurij?”

I knew right then, somewhere in my mind, what had happened. But I was twelve. And Jurij was my last real friend. I knew he’d leave me one day like the others, but on some level, I didn’t really believe it yet.

Jurij stood stock still, even as I wrenched my arm harder and harder to get him to move.

“Oh for—Jurij!” I yelled, dropping my hands from his arm in frustration. “Ugh. I wish I was your goddess just so I could get you to obey me. Even if that means I’d have to put up with all that—yuck—smooching.” I shivered at the thought.

At last Jurij moved, if only to lift his other arm, to run his fingers across the strap that Elfriede had mended. She was gone from my sight, but Jurij would never see another.

It struck them all. Sometime around Jurij’s age, the boys’ voices cracked, shifting from high to deep and back again in a matter of a few words. They went from little wooden-faced animals always shorter than you to young men on their way to towering over you. And one day, at one moment, at some age, earlier for some and later for others, they looked at a girl they’d probably seen thousands of times before and simply ceased to be. At least, they weren’t who I knew them to be ever again.

And as with so many of my friends before Jurij, in that moment all other girls ceased to matter. I was nothing to him now, an afterthought, a shadow, a memory.

No.

Not him.

My dearest, my most special friend of all, now doomed to live or die by the choice of the fragile little bird who’d stopped to mend his strap.

Chapter-by-Chapter-header---About-the-Author
Amy McNulty
Amy McNulty is a freelance writer and editor from Wisconsin with an honors degree in English. She was first published in a national scholarly journal (The Concord Review) while in high school and currently spends her days alternatively writing on business and marketing topics and primarily crafting stories with dastardly villains and antiheroes set in fantastical medieval settings.
Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads


Chapter-by-Chapter-header---Giveaway

GIVEAWAY INFORMATION:

Three (3) digital copy of Nobody's Goddess (The Never Veil #1) by Amy McNulty
Open Internationally
Winner will be drawn February 27, 2015
Winners will receive their book on release day

a Rafflecopter giveaway

The #FridayReads Review (2/20/15)



Welcome to The Friday Reads Review, a regular Friday segment where I share what I've been reading the past week! Want to join the Friday fun? Post your own Friday Reads Review on your blog, and then leave the link in the Comments below!


>> CURRENTLY READING <<
Soulless (Parasol Protectorate, #1)
Soulless by Gail Carriger (MMP)
No matter how many times I read this (I believe this is my 4th or 5th read), it never fails to delight me. Re-examining the characters in this series to see if I should have recognized them in the other two. So far no new surprises, but I'm suspicious of everyone.  


>> JUST FINISHED <<
Roadmap: The Get-It-Together Guide for Figuring Out What to Do with Your LifeBroken Hearts, Fences, and Other Things to Mend (Broken Hearts & Revenge, #1)

Roadmap by Roadtrip Nation (ARC)
If you feel as if you're not pursuing your purpose in life (and perhaps don't even know what exactly it is), then you need to read this book! It's changing my life for the better. Review to come.

Broken Hearts, Fences, & Other Things to Mend by Katie Finn (ARC)
The author will be coming in May so I finally decided to give this a try. Unfortunately, I found it a light but irksome contemporary romance with a sympathetic but naive girl that made me cringe way too much. 2.5 Stars. Review to come.


>> READING NEXT <<
The Imaginary
The Imaginary by A.F. Harrold (ARC)
I am so behind on review books thanks to my fiction slump - time to get back on track!


So what are you reading this week?

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

WoW: The Orphan Queen (Jodi Meadows)

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly blogging event hosted by Breaking the Spine, in which one spotlights an upcoming release they are eagerly anticipating.

This week's pre-publication "can't-wait-to-read" selection is:


The Orphan Queen (The Orphan Queen, #1)
Title: The Orphan Queen
Author: Jodi Meadows
Release Date: March 10, 2015
Publisher: Katherine Tegen Books
Summary:
Wilhelmina has a hundred identities.

She is a princess. When the Indigo Kingdom conquered her homeland, Wilhelmina and other orphaned children of nobility were taken to Skyvale, the Indigo Kingdom’s capital. Ten years later, they are the Ospreys, experts at stealth and theft. With them, Wilhelmina means to take back her throne.

She is a spy. Wil and her best friend, Melanie, infiltrate Skyvale Palace to study their foes. They assume the identities of nobles from a wraith-fallen kingdom, but enemies fill the palace, and Melanie’s behavior grows suspicious. With Osprey missions becoming increasingly dangerous and their leader more unstable, Wil can’t trust anyone.

She is a threat. Wraith is the toxic by-product of magic, and for a century using magic has been forbidden. Still the wraith pours across the continent, reshaping the land and animals into fresh horrors. Soon it will reach the Indigo Kingdom. Wilhelmina’s magic might be the key to stopping the wraith, but if the vigilante Black Knife discovers Wil’s magic, she will vanish like all the others

Jodi Meadows introduces a vivid new fantasy full of intrigue, romance, dangerous magic, and one girl’s battle to reclaim her place in the world.

Why I'm Looking Forward To ItI need more fantasy in my reading this year, and this sounds like an amazing one!!




So what book are you waiting on?

Friday, February 13, 2015

The #FridayReads Review (2/13/15)



Welcome to The Friday Reads Review, a regular Friday segment where I share what I've been reading the past week! Want to join the Friday fun? Post your own Friday Reads Review on your blog, and then leave the link in the Comments below!


>> CURRENTLY READING <<

Another fictionless week! Well, mostly. I started a few fiction reads but just couldn't get into them. Starting to think of this time more as a "fiction cleanse" now. (Manga? Oh no, manga doesn't count as "fiction." ;)

Roadmap: The Get-It-Together Guide for Figuring Out What to Do with Your Life
Roadmap by Roadtrip Nation (ARC)
Almost finished and this book is seriously changing my life.


>> ON HOLD <<
The Story of Libraries: From the Invention of Writing to the Computer Age
The Story of Libraries by Fred Lerner (PBK)
On hold until I finish Roadmap.


>> JUST FINISHED <<
Inu x Boku SS, Vol. 2Inu x Boku SS, Vol. 3
Inu x Boku Vol. 2 & Vol. 3 by Cocoa Fujiwara (PBK)
These have been better than I'd thought they would be. However, given some of the hints about what's to come, I may not be reading the series in its entirety. Getting the next two volumes from the library tomorrow.


>> READING NEXT <<
Inu x Boku SS, Vol. 4
Inu x Boku SS Vol. 4 by Cocoa Fujiwara (PBK)
Let's see where this is going...


So what are you reading this week?