Friday, December 9, 2016

Follow Friday

Follow Friday

Hosted by 
Parajunkee's View 
&
The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee’s View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it’ll allow us to show off more new blogs!
Recently Feature & Follow has gotten a makeover now each week we will have a prompt to respond to. 


Any other way you like.  
My email followers are low and I'm working on changing that. However, you are welcome to follow in your preferred form.  If you want to follow via GFC just in case it goes away I ask you follow a second way, email, Linky, Bloglovin'. Thanks!!!!


This Week's Prompt:
Show us your Holiday Reads! 

Answer:
First off Happy Friday!!!!
I'm the feature this week and super excited to share with you my holiday reads. This is my first time and I'm honored to be picked!!!
My holiday read's aren't very traditional this year. I typically try to go all Christmas book but this year just a couple. I'm trying to finish my to read pile before the end of the year. I really love my options for this holiday. 

What's on your list for Holiday reading? 

Book Beginnings on Friday & The Friday 56

Book Beginnings on Friday & The Friday 56
Book Beginnings on Friday is hosted by Rose City Reader
Share the first sentence of your current read and post it.
The Friday 56 is hosted by hosted by Freda's Voice 
Grab a book turn to page 56 or 56% share a sentence or a few

I'm honestly not sure about my current book. it's out of my comfort zone but has me captivated. I prefer the black over the white cover. What about you?
My Current read is: 

The SnowFang Bride
by Merry Ravenell 
Add to your (Goodreads) shelf 

Synopsis
Centuries of political games killed most of the female werewolves. Now only a few survive, and the Elders work to change the old ways of thinking.

Winter, the only daughter of the SilverPaw Alpha, finally meets the soul Gaia has chosen for her: Sterling, the cold, demanding, and entirely-too-human Alpha of the tiny SnowFang pack.

Thrust into a world of human wealth for which she was never prepared, Winter must become Sterling's flawless wife and Luna from the moment she arrives. The city is full of threats, both werewolf and human, and Sterling's past is full of secrets best left undisturbed.


When they are betrayed by those closest to them, Winter and Sterling embark on a dangerous game of brinkmanship that will change their lives, and the future of the werewolves, forever.

Share the first sentence of your current read and post it.

The werewolves lacked females. A male with a mate had the goddess Gaia’s favor.
A female without a mate was considered unlucky at best, and exiled at worst.

Grab a book turn to page 56 or 56% share a sentence or a few


“We’re sneaking out,” he confirmed.
“That’s your plan. Damn dangerous. And lousy,” Burian told Sterling.
“So you’ll come downstairs with us and make sure we’re not ambushed in the garage.”

What teasers do you have this week?

Cover Reveal: Clam Jam




Title: Clam Jam
Author: RC Boldt
Genre: Romantic Comedy/New Adult Romance
Cover Design: Letitia, RBA Designs
Release Date: January 10, 2017

Blurb
“Clam Jam”
Definition: the female equivalent of a cock block.

Example: You’re chatting with a guy you’re interested in and your friend comes along and lays claim to him. 

Maggie
That’s my life—except it’s worse. My friend who keeps “jamming” me is my gay roommate and if that isn’t a W.T.F. moment, I’m not sure what is.

Fact: He went home with three—yes, three—of the guys I had been so sure were into me.

Fact: He’s really pissing me off. I mean, hello? I’m trying to get back in the saddle, but I’ll never manage to get a boyfriend before the age of fifty if he keeps this up.

Fact: Secretly, I wonder what it would be like if he weren’t gay. Why do all the hot, sweet, tender-hearted guys have to be gay?

Fact: My gay-dar needs a serious tune-up.

Ry

The day I interviewed for the room to rent, everything changed. I knew I had met “the girl”, except there was one small problem: she didn’t want anything to do with men. I recognized a top-notch force field when I saw one. She’d been burned badly and didn’t want to deal with a heterosexual guy as a roommate. I could’ve turned around and found another place to live, but I wanted to live there—with her. 

So I had to go “undercover”. 

Fact: I’m in love with my roommate. 

Fact: I’m a likely candidate for carpal tunnel surgery since all the action I’ve had for the past year has been my hand. 

Fact: She’s going to hate me if I come clean now. 

Fact: I’m not giving up. Which means, I’ll just have to continue to run defense until I figure out a way to get Maggie to see the “real” me. 

The me that loves her. 

The me that would never do her wrong. 

Until then, I’ll keep running off every guy who shows any interest. 

Until then, I’ll continue to Clam Jam.




Pre-order Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU

Excerpt

“Ryland James!” I bang on his bathroom door, hollering loudly. “Did you eat the last—” 

The door swings open, drawing my speech to a sudden halt because … ooooh, sweet, dripping wet abs. 

My eyes are riveted. 

He’s got a towel wrapped around his waist, and I don’t even realize I’m moving until Ry releases a sharp hiss at my touch. Because my finger is tracing over the slight indentations in his abdominal muscles. 

“Um …” He clears his throat, his voice husky and deep. “Mags?” 

“Uh-huh,” I murmur absently, my fingertip stopping one of the trickling droplets of water on his skin, tracing it down over his belly button, and— 

His fingers grasp my wrist, drawing my hand to a halt, and my eyes dart up to his in alarm because crap. That was like an out-of-body experience. 

“Oh, crap. I’m sorry. I just really, um … crap.” That’s all I can utter. Nonsense. No one would believe I have my graduate degree if they heard me right now. 

If my tongue had a voice of its own, it would probably say something like, “Just the tip. That’s all I want.” The tip of my tongue tracing over Ry’s abs, that is. You know, just to prove someone Photoshopped him. Or not. 

Because I’ll take one for the team. I’m a giver like that. People might even think of canonizing me as a saint after all this. Really. 

Oh, and then … Abracadabra! Poof! He’d no longer be gay, profess his undying love for me, and wouldn’t ever leave me for another guy. 

Or woman. 

Wow. That scenario even sounds crazy in my head. 

Shaking off my thoughts, I take one more glance down at his abs—just one more glance—and that’s when I see it. 

“Oh, boy,” I breathe out. Ry is hard, tenting the towel, and I really want it to drop. Accidentally, of course. Like an “oops” moment. Totally harmless and innocent. 

Oh. My. God. I’m a horrible person. I’m thinking of my roommate’s penis! My roommate who has quickly become one of my best friends. 

Oh, the shame!

Where did this inner slut come from? It’s like she’s been lying in wait—for him, apparently.

But, really. I can take a little peek, right?

Author Bio
RC Boldt is the wife of Mr. Boldt, a retired Navy Chief, mother of Little Miss Boldt, and former teacher of many students. She currently lives on the southeastern coast of North Carolina, enjoys long walks on the beach, running, reading, people watching, and singing karaoke. If you're in the mood for some killer homemade mojitos, can't recall the lyrics to a particular 80's song, or just need to hang around a nonconformist who will do almost anything for a laugh, she's your girl.

Author Links

Release Blitz: The Curse of the Blue Scarab




Title: The Curse of the Blue Scarab
Author: Josh Lanyon
Genre: Historical Romance & Mystery Suspense
Release Date: December 9, 2016

Blurb
Who or what is responsible for the gruesome deaths of members of the secret society known as the Order of Osiris?

Dr. Armiston, an irascible, confirmed bachelor who believes in medicine not mysticism, is certain the deaths are only tragic accidents.

The members of the Order of Osiris suspect something more sinister is at work. They profess to believe an ancient curse has been visited upon their society. Handsome and mysterious Captain Maxwell requests Armiston’s help.

Tarot cards? Egyptology? Spiritualism? Armiston has little patience with the superficial and silly pastimes of the rich, but he does love a good puzzle. Or could it be that he is more drawn to young Captain Maxwell than he wishes to admit?

Either way, Armiston must solve the secret of the cursed sarcophagus very soon, for Captain Maxwell is the next slated to die…

Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU
B&N / KOBO / iBOOKS

Excerpt
I found the place in a quiet back street some three minutes’ walk east from Piccadilly Circus. A gilded sign in the shape of a banyan leaf hung over first-floor windows.


The Banyan was not a club, but an eating-house, with rather a special clientele. It was run by a retired quartermaster, who somehow made his little pile in India. The man spoke Persian and Burmese and worked the house with Indian servants. He catered to Anglo-Indian tastes. It was the first place I was given a spoon for my curry. 

According to Maxwell, men had been known to come home cursing India and all its ways—and yet turn up at the Banyan within a month. He said he went there principally to keep up his Indian vocabulary, but the fowl-curry, the chutney, and the fruit were all excellent and well worth the visit. 

Though Maxwell was not a sophisticated raconteur like Maundeville, he was good company and sincerely charming. In fact, he was disconcertingly attentive. It was quite a heady thing to have his complete and unadulterated concentration. I could see no reason for it. 

“How did you happen to become a physician?” he asked curiously as I finished a long, involved story that even I could see no point to. 

“My father was a doctor,” I said. “One of those good old-fashioned country doctors who shepherded his flock in and out of this life for nearly the length of his own. He was greatly loved by everyone who knew him, and I thought that would be a wonderful thing. To be able to take away pain and suffering. And to be greatly loved.” 

It was the truth, but it was more than I had meant to say. 

“It is a wonderful thing to be able to take away pain and suffering,” Maxwell said after a moment. 

“Yes. What I failed to understand was how difficult it would be when, no matter how hard you try, you can’t manage it. Or when your best effort fails to save a life. It’s a dreadful thing to have a child die in your arms.” 

Maxwell’s somber expression no doubt matched my own. I said hastily, “Happily, most of my practice amounts to lancing boils and handing out headache powders.” 

He laughed. “I doubt it.” 

“Oh, it’s quite true. I’m not complaining. The grand career I imagined for myself would have been contrary to my own nature. I like a quiet, comfortable life.” 

He stared at the ale in his glass. “You never married?” 

“No, no,” I said too heartily. “No woman would have me. Congenital bachelor, I’m afraid.” 

Maxwell’s eyes flicked up. He met my gaze and offered a faint, enigmatic smile. 

It was not easy—in fact, it was impossible—to get him to speak of himself. Nor did he broach the subject that had inspired this tête-à-tête until at length we settled in a quiet corner of the smoking-room. 

“Now,” he said with a sort of grim cheerfulness, “we’re fortified and steadied by an excellent dinner. We shall take a common-sense view of the matter before us.” 

“The matter before us?” 

“Your continuing involvement in this case.” 

“I’m…not sure I follow.” 

“It’s quite simple. To begin with we have poor Scrymgeour and D’Aurelle. Both died suddenly, and apparently alone. You knew neither of them, but you certified one death and countenanced the certifying of the other although I believe you thought both those deaths were suspicious.” 

I stared at him, unable to believe my ears. 

“I believe you feel you’re partly responsible—since you certified those deaths—for the fact that there has been no further inquiry. I think, too, that you joined the Society of Osiris because of those deaths, and that you have those certificates on your conscience.” 

“What the devil are you talking about?” I exclaimed. “I certified what I believed to be true.” 

“Would you sign them now?” he retorted. “I know you acted honestly at the time.” 

“Of what exactly are you accusing me?” I asked very coldly, very quietly. 

Maxwell met my stare without flinching. “It’s the truth, isn’t it? Your interest in this matter, your involvement—” 

I said, “My involvement is simply one of academic interest. You and your friend have presented me with a mystery, and I mean to solve it. That is all.” 

He nodded as though satisfied, though his expression remained uncharacteristically austere. I thought his eyes held an unnatural glitter, and I prepared myself for more unpleasantness. Even so, his next words were startling. 

“In thinking over those two deaths, we must consider points of difference and of similarity. Both these poor fellows were bachelors, and both had independent means.” 

“You believe their deaths are connected by something other than the Mummy?” 

“I do. Perhaps you don’t know where their property went?” 

“Well?” 

“Miss Hennessey.” 

I think I gaped at him. Not at the information itself, but the fact he had essentially accused the poor girl of murder. 

I said as much, though I tried to keep my tone neutral. “Then you suspect Miss Hennessey of somehow engineering their deaths?” 

It was Maxwell’s turn to look astonished. “Nora? Of course not. I bring up the matter only because you’re a bachelor too, though not so well provided as they were with this world’s goods. You’re an older man also.” 

I laughed. He was rude and ridiculous, but I don’t suppose he realized that—or cared. “True on all counts, I’m afraid. Furthermore, I’m an observer, not a participant in this little misadventure of yours. So if your concern is for my safety, you may rest easy. I don’t believe either Miss Hennessey or the Mummy are after me.” 

“I think you should retire from the case, all the same.” 

I stared. He appeared to be quite serious. 

“What’s brought about this change of heart?” I inquired. “You weren’t concerned for my safety five days ago.” 

“Five days ago you weren’t taking tea with Miss Hennessey or having dinner with Maundeville. I—we—didn’t then appreciate the fact that there might be risk to you.” His throat jumped as he swallowed. He looked genuinely worried. “Enough people have died, Armiston. I wouldn’t like something to happen to you on our account.” 

“You and Perceval have decided this between you?” 

“Er…yes.” It was such an obvious lie, I almost laughed. I was too offended to find the situation humorous, however. 

“I see.” 

“It’s not that we’re unappreciative.” 

“No. You’ve expressed your appreciation most originally.” 

His brows drew together. “We should never have dragged you into this matter. That’s the truth.” 

“Possibly not. But you did—I won’t say dragged me because I joined the expedition willingly enough—invite me, and there’s no going back now.” 

“Of course there is.” 

I shook my head. “I told you both before that I did not need your permission to continue my investigations. Such as they are.” 

He leaned forward, saying with quiet intensity, “You must stop, Quentin.” 

I was so surprised he knew my Christian name it took me a moment to collect my thoughts. “Shall I tell you what I think this is?” 

“I’m telling you what it is!” 

I shook my head. “I believe you’ve recently learned the cards are about to be drawn again. I believe you’re convinced that this time you’ll receive the Priestess. And I believe that you’re afraid that because of my…” I didn’t quite know how to phrase it without making matters more awkward than they were. I settled on, “…respect for you, I may act rashly and come to harm.” 

Even in the muted light I could see he flushed and then paled. “I don’t think any such thing.” 

“I hope not. I hope you don’t think I’m such a fool.” 

“I don’t. Of course I don’t.” He looked stricken. 

“However great my…respect for you, I’m not a man prone to rash or incautious action. I’m not the dashing hero of a romance novel. Frankly, you would be better suited to such a role than I.” 

He opened his mouth, closed it, and swallowed. “I wasn’t suggesting—” 

“Let’s consider the matter closed. You’ve said what you needed to say, and I’ve given you my answer.” 

“Very well,” he said stiffly.

Shortly after, Maxwell and I parted. I think he couldn’t escape fast enough.


Author Bio
Bestselling author of over sixty titles of classic Male/Male fiction featuring twisty mystery, kickass adventure and unapologetic man-on-man romance, JOSH LANYON has been called "arguably the single most influential voice in m/m romance today."

Her work has been translated into nine languages. The FBI thriller Fair Game was the first male/male title to be published by Harlequin Mondadori, the largest romance publisher in Italy. Stranger on the Shore (Harper Collins Italia) was the first M/M title to be published in print. The Adrien English series was awarded the 2nd Annual All Time Favorite Male Male Couple by the Goodreads M/M Group. Josh is an Eppie Award winner, a four-time Lambda Literary Award finalist for Gay Mystery, and the first ever recipient of the Goodreads Favorite M/M Author Lifetime Achievement award.

Josh is married and lives in Southern California.

Author Links

Release Blitz: Like a Boss




Title: Like A Boss: A Motivational Coloring Book
Author: Jennifer Ryder
Genre: Art Therapy/Self-Help/Coloring Books
Cover & Illustrations: Jessica Hildreth, Love N. Books
Release Date: December 9, 2016

Blurb
Like A Boss: A Motivational Coloring Book by Jennifer Ryder
Mantras to live and color by for women and girls.


A collection of 22 motivational mantras and a mix of designs to inspire the boss in each of us. 

Let the positive messages sink in and the stress melt away as you unwind and bring each page to life.


LIKE A BOSS comes with a test page and each design has space at the spine, is blank on the reverse side, making it perfect for easy removal and framing of your favorite designs.

Purchase Links
AMAZON US / UK / CA

Author Bio
Jennifer Ryder is a bestselling contemporary romance author based on a rural property outside of Canberra. Jennifer is all about spreading positivity and finding that inner calm.

Check out www.jenniferryder.com for information on her Aussie based romance novels and upcoming adult colouring books.

Author Links

Giveaway

Cover Reveal: Ocean of Stars



Ocean of Stars
Belle Malory
(Twelfth Keeper #3)
Publication date: January 7th 2017
Genres: Fantasy, Science Fiction, Young Adult

One keeper down. Eleven to go.
Kennedy Mitchell has just survived an alien attack, but at what cost? The world still isn’t safe. The keepers still aren’t strong enough to defend it. The people still have no idea how much is at stake.
The Department of Extraterrestrials is planning an important mission, one that means seeking the help of another planet in order to save theirs. Kennedy is reluctant to leave at such a critical time, but her role in the mission is essential to its success. With everyone she loves still at risk, she’s willing to do anything to find the key to survival.
Even if that means crossing the universe.
Previous books in the series:
27777215 28171320

Author Bio:
I don't consider myself a writer. I'm a storyteller.
My two great loves are books and coffee. If it weren't for books, my heart wouldn't feel as full. And if it weren't for coffee, I wouldn't know what mornings are. That being said, the guy at Starbucks knows me well. He sings to me sometimes.
I live in Orlando, Florida with my family and two rescue mutts. Their personalities are like night and day. One is gold. The other is black. The gold one doesn't like to sleep in. Before I've had my coffee, we are enemies.
You can visit me at http://www.bellemalory.blogspot.com. I love hearing from readers!

XBTBanner1

Cover Reveal: The Bartender




Title: The Bartender
Series: Modern Love #1
Author: Piper Rayne
Genre: New Adult Romance
Cover Design: Djordje Grbic
Release Date: February 1, 2017

Blurb

Who knew sleeping with the enemy could be this fun? 

Was the one night stand a good idea?
Well, no. Probably not in retrospect.

In my defense I had just moved back into my grandparent’s house, I’d lost my dream job, and a guy on Tinder had stood me up. It was like life had suddenly stamped ‘LOSER’ on my forehead.

So when the guy behind the bar started giving me THE look…you know, the one that promised I’d be screaming his name into the wee hours of the morning? When that guy also has the perfect amount of scruff on his chiseled chin, biceps bulging out of his t-shirt, and a cocky grin you knew he’d earned in the sack…when he gives you that look, you don’t bother to figure out what your six degrees of separation are. You jump on that horse and ride it!

Pun fully and completely intended. And accurate by the way.

I fully admit to feeling sorry for myself and acting impulsively, but by the time I’d figured out WHO the bartender was, I was already falling for him.


Author Bio
Piper Rayne, or Piper and Rayne, whichever you prefer because we’re not one author, we’re two. Yep, you get two established authors for the price of one. You might be wondering if you know us? Maybe you’ll read our books and figure it out. Maybe you won’t. Does it really matter?


We aren’t trying to stamp ourselves with a top-secret label. We wanted to write without apology. We wanted to not be pigeon holed into a specific outline. We wanted to give readers a story without them assuming how the story will flow. Everyone has their favorite authors, right? And when you pick up their books, you expect something from them. Whether it’s an alpha male, heavy angst, a happily ever after, there’s something you are absolutely certain the book will contain. Heck, we’re readers, too, we get it. 

What can we tell you about ourselves? We both have kindle’s full of one-clickable books. We're both married to husbands who drive us to drink. We're both chauffeurs to our kids. Most of all, we love hot heroes and quirky heroines that make us laugh, and we hope you do, too.

Author Links


Giveaway

M9B Friday Reveal Assets: SUMMONER RISING by Melanie McFarlane


Today Melanie McFarlane and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for SUMMONER RISING, which releases March 28, 2017! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to receive a eGalley!!

A quick note from the author:
After writing my YA debut, There Once Were Stars, I never imagined that another full story idea would come to me so quick. But sure enough, in Spring of 2015 I finished playing a round of Final Fantasy (old school) and the thought came to me of creating a character who could summon demons, like the characters in FF can do in battles. From there I created my main character, an indie-outcast kind of girl, who listened to bands like Nirvana and Small Brown Bike (like I did in college), and always want to fit in but never really felt like part of the gang. I made her broken and dark, not naive and protected like Natalia from There Once Were Stars to ensure they were nothing alike and so they would face different challenges. From here, Dacie was born - a complicated girl who wants to be normal but doesn't want to conform. A girl with ghosts in her closet, demons under her bed, and an inner power so strong she's going to have to learn to control it or suffer the consequences. Dacie is a combination of who I was and who I wanted to be when I was a teenager. And we all have to deal with our demons at some point.

On to the reveal!


Title: SUMMONER RISING
Author: Melanie McFarlane
Pub. Date: March 28, 2017
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 300
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | TBD

Excerpt from, The Book of Summoning:
Law One: A summoner is responsible for all creatures it lets through from the netherworld.

Dacie Cantar wishes someone had explained the Laws of Summoning to her before she watched a shadowy creature crawl out of a painting at the local arcade. At least it explains the strange things she's witnessed since moving in with her great-aunt, after her mother’s untimely death. But who wants to be followed by shadows the rest of their life? Add that to being stalked by a strange boy at school, who just might be her Tovaros (aka soulmate), it’s about all Dacie can handle in her new life.


As she nears her seventeenth birthday, will she be ready for her new responsibilities, or will the shadows that stalked her mother until her death, finally consume Dacie, too? And then there’s Law Two…


Excerpt


Chapter One

Broken. That’s how I feel inside. It’s as if something ripped out part of me and won’t give it back. That’s what death does to you when it touches those you love; it’s not rocket science, but it’s definitely not what I thought it would be like. In movies it is cold, pale, and filled with sadness and longing, or sometimes so predictable and eye roll worthy with its Hollywood special effects. But the death I’ve experienced has been more horrifyingly real; filled with personal loss, haunting dreams, and shadows that run around in the night.

The therapist they assigned me back in California said I needed to move forward. Keep on, keeping on. As clichéd as it was, I agreed. I’d spent most my life fighting to thrive, practically raising myself. Now wasn’t the time to give up. Death was inevitable; if I let the fear of it hold me back, I might as well roll over and die right now. Survival meant I had to push those feelings deep down inside and forget they were there.

“Daciana!”

Great Aunt Katya’s voice calls from the hallway while I stand in front of the bathroom mirror, playing with concealer to cover the dark circles under my eyes. Sleep doesn’t come easy when you’re trying to be someone new.

She appears behind me in the mirror, her long white hair a contrast to my dark locks. “Are you sure you won’t change your mind?” Her thick accent is still a novelty to me.

Katya has spent the entire summer trying to convince me that I’d be better off stuck here with her, getting homeschooled like everyone else does in our family, back in Romania. I’m not against it; I’d just like to try to fit in first.

I shake my head and mimic a cheer. “Go Greystone High!” My knotted bracelets slip from my wrist, bumping against the rolled up sleeve of my plaid button-up shirt, and my chipped black nail polish is the opposite of anything bright and cheery. I’m not about to give up my first chance to have a different life.

Katya throws her head back, letting her multi-hooped earrings clink against each other, mingling in the air along with her laugh. She dresses like a bohemian, but flashes way too much cleavage. She wears more bracelets than I do, and a lot more rings. All her jewelry looks like it was forged by hand in one way or another, and I’m sure if I ask there’s a story behind it all. She looks back down and shakes her head at me with a smirk across her burgundy painted lips. She looks amazing for sixty-five.

“Don’t be late your first day.” She pats my shoulder before leaving. In her reflection I see a shadow chasing after her, along the cracks of the old wooden floor. My heart jumps and I spin around, but both of them are gone. I run to the door and peek around the corner, but Katya is alone as she disappears down the creaky old stairs.

I sigh and return to the bathroom to grab my backpack, glancing in the mirror one last time. My dark brown eyes stare back at me; when will they stop playing tricks on me? This isn’t the first shadow I’ve seen dashing about, but every time I try to chase after them, there’s nothing there. I’m obviously losing my mind.

Downstairs, I pop a waffle in the toaster and stare out the patio doors at the trees that line the back of our yard; but I’m not really watching the trees; I’m trying to convince my nerves that this school will be like every other new school I’ve attended my entire life. Only this time I don’t have my mother to send me off in the morning.

I snap out of my thoughts as the toaster pops.

Outside, my little four door hatchback sits in wait. Katya found it for sale at the side of the road and bought it for me my first day here. Its navy blue paint is peeling, and there’s a bumper sticker that says My Kid is a Greystone Grad, but now that I’m going to be a student there I may as well leave it. Plus I’ve never had my own car before; the freedom is exhilarating.

As I pull up to Greystone High I realize the concept of being normal is harder to carry out in person. The stone exterior of the school is as old as the rest of this coastal town; its interior was modern twenty years ago with its classic cement block walls and color themed lockers. The students are familiar with one another, as if they all grew up here in Greystone, Maine.

Most of them turn their heads as I walk down the hall, not even hiding their curiosity. As soon as I find my locker I duck my head inside and finally breathe. I expected things to be different. I should’ve known a new location wouldn’t change anything; being different is always the same, no matter where you go.

“You're new,” a boy’s voice comes from the locker next to mine.

I take a deep breath and grab my sketchbook with trembling hands, from my bag. "Sure am," I say turning, and walking away.

I hear his footsteps run after me. “Hey, I’m Brennan. Where'd you move from?”

“Hey,” I mimic him. “That's pretty personal when you don't even know my name.”

His eyes grow wide and a twinge of guilt pokes me in the gut. “I—,” Brennan stammers.

“California.”

He looks confused. “That’s your name?”

“You asked where I moved from. It's California. I’m Dacie.”

A smile jumps across his face showing small dimples on either side of his mouth. He’s kind of cute with his short brown hair and sparkly blue eyes, that match his jersey with the Greystone High logo; that is if you like that sort of jock look. It’s never been my thing, not like I’m an expert or anything. I’ve never dated anyone before. Not a hand held, first kiss, or grope. But hey, nothing screams normal like Mr. Football standing in front of me.

“Why would you move here?” he asks, still flashing that all-American smile.

There’s a question I’m not ready to answer. “Sorry, I-uh, have to go. I’m going to be late for Art class.”

“Come find me and my friends at lunch!” Brennan calls out as he backs into a group of girls who start squealing and hitting him with their books. I can’t help but smile.

I turn toward my classroom, but I’m just as clumsy as Brennan. As I turn around I run smack into someone. My sketchbook falls to the floor, scattering my drawings everywhere. I look up and see I’m leaning against the chest of a tall boy.

“Sorry,” he mumbles.

He kneels down to pick up my papers and I drop to the floor, grabbing them away from him. One of my bracelets falls off on the floor and he picks it up.

“It was my fault,” I say, stuffing them back in my book.

We both stand up at the same time, only inches apart, and so close I can see his chest move with every breath. I don’t think I’ve ever had this much contact with a boy before.

“No harm done.” He gives me a crooked smile and, is that an accent I hear? What is it? European? He holds the bracelet out to me, rousing me from my thoughts.

I stare at him for a moment. His hair is a little longer than I like, but it suits him as it falls into his eyes. What are they: green with flecks of brown and yellow like a starburst from his pupil? His jaw line has a slight shade of stubble on top of his tanned skin. He’s practically poetic; I finally exhale and can feel my face warm up from thinking about him.

“Thanks.” I grab the bracelet diverting all attention from my face.

“Shall we enter class?” Shall? Who says shall?

“Yes, please,” I say raising an eyebrow. The green hues in his eyes flicker for a moment with a hint of amusement. Is he laughing at me?

I put my head down and scoot past him, brushing my arm against his. My body tingles at the sensation of his skin. Enough, Dacie! I hurry to the first empty desk I see, which is close to the back; usually I chose a seat in the front row but right now my face is so flushed I need to hide.

But the boy follows and takes a seat behind me. I shift in my plastic seat and focus on the front of the room, but the hair on my neck raises, as if someone’s watching me.

My teacher is an older woman with curls so tight they create the impression of dreads around her freckled face. Her clothes are an odd assembly of ballet flats with gaucho slacks, topped with a frilly apron splattered in paint. She gives us a short lecture then has us begin working on pointillism. I check out some Escher and decide to sketch my hand. It’s not copying if I draw my own, right?

I struggle to make my fingers look real. They come out more sausage-like than human, which makes me frown. No matter how hard I try, I can’t get it right, and I’m not about to reference my Escher print again or I might as well just copy it. Half way through class I give up and look around; everyone else is working diligently on their pictures.

I peek over my shoulder to see what the boy is doing. I should have asked him his name. He’s sitting against the back of his chair with his arms crossed, staring at me. I spin back around, reaching for my pencil in an attempt to look busy and knock it off my desk. I scramble to grab it before it falls, but it hits the floor and rolls to the back of the class.

I turn my head after the pencil, and hang half way out of my desk to catch it. My fingers brush against the floor and a dark black boot stops it in the middle of the aisle. I follow the boot all the way up to the boy’s face. He lets a small smirk spread across his mouth. Wow, he’s fast.

I force a smile. “Thank you.” I sit up straight in my desk and spin around.

He leans over and grabs the pencil. “Anytime.” He sweeps his hair from his eyes and holds it out to me.

I get out of my desk and walk over to him. “Are you already done the project?” He nods. I look down at his drawing. What the—he’s drawn a picture of me as I was drawing. Even worse, it’s good, really good. My cheeks flash hot with irritation; I’m not sure if it’s from the invasion of privacy or pure jealousy. I manage to twist my face from a glower to a frown: “We were supposed to do pointillism.”

He keeps staring at me. “I saw something I liked more.”

A sharp pain stabs my gut and my face feels even hotter than it did a second ago. “Whatever,” I say as I grab my pencil and hurry to my desk.

Thankfully he does not attempt to talk to me the rest of class. When the bell rings he pauses at my desk still holding the drawing in his hand. I grab my things and leave as quickly as I can. I’m not interested in any explanations. Who does he think he is?

My next class is History, where I get a long-winded account of the colonization of Maine starting back in the 1600s. Lucky me, we’re going to move through the centuries. After that it’s Math and then finally lunch.

I throw my books in my locker and head for the cafeteria. I manage to find a sandwich and an apple that look edible but when I turn to look for a seat, I see Brennan standing up waving at me. I force a smile and wave back; pretending to be normal can’t be that hard, right? He’s sitting with another boy and two girls. The boy smiles at me and the girls just stare.

“Hey everyone, this is Dacie,” Brennan says.

I meet Zack, Sophie, and Chantal. Everyone has their perfectly normal names and is coupled up, in the order they are seated. They all wear smiles except for Chantal, who stares me down. I’m pretty sure she’s interested in Brennan, the way she keeps her eyes glued to him, but he seems oblivious as he sits next to her.

“Dacie moved here from California,” Brennan says, flashing me another one of his full face smiles.

Sophie flicks her long blond hair over her shoulder and laughs. “Ewww, why would you move here? It’s always so cloudy.”

“Long story,” I say, taking a bite of my sandwich.

Chantal rolls her eyes. “It’s so boring here, but you’re too new to know.”

I swallow my ham and cheese and shrug. “I’ve been here all summer.”

Brennan’s eyes light up. “Really? Where’ve you been hiding?”

“I live with my aunt up at the end of Marlborough Lane.”

“Oh my god,” Chantal says. Her mouth hangs open with a smile playing at the edge. “You’re her.”

Sophie shoots her a dirty look. “Shhh.” Chantal stares down at her lunch.

I raise an eyebrow. “What do you mean ‘her’?”

Sophie’s cheeks turn red. “We heard, you know, about your mom.”

My throat is suddenly dry and I have to force down my next swallow. “So everyone knows?”

“It is a small town,” Chantal says, staring at me.

“Okay, hold on everyone. Dacie, we just mean we didn’t know you’ve been here all this time. I would have come by to meet you.” He flashes me one of his full face smiles.

Right. Come meet the freak. I put my half eaten sandwich down on my tray and stand up. My chair scrapes against the floor, echoing in the cafeteria. It seems everyone around us has gone silent to listen in on our conversation.

“Don’t go,” Brennan says. The rest of the table looks away, except for Chantal.

“Sorry.” She doesn’t seem sincere.

“It’s fine. I just need some air.”

I take my tray and deposit it near the exit as I leave the cafeteria. As I go to push the doors open a black streak flies out of the corner of my eye. I know better, but still run after it. Nothing is there—argh!

The double doors to the cafeteria bang closed behind me as my frustration builds. I walk to a quiet corner and lean my back against the wall as I exhale. I hadn’t realized I was holding my breath, again. Some girls giggle as they pass by. This normal thing sucks.

I close my eyes and think about my mom. Six months wasn’t long enough to numb the pain. The mention of her, and the fact everyone knows the story, stings like it did when I left the west coast. Now I want nothing more than to go back there. What’s the point of being here now if I can’t escape the past?

“You alright?” a familiar, accented voice comes from next to me.

I startle, opening my eyes and see the boy from art class. “I’m fine.”

I push myself from the wall and continue down the hallway to the doors outside. As I reach the exit, I turn and see him staring at me as I walk away. My body shivers from the cool fall air.

When the bell rings, I go back inside, making a b-line for my locker. A slip of white paper hangs halfway out of it. I pull it out and right away recognize it: it’s the picture of me from art class, but the boy who drew it is gone.

I stomp through the hallway, determined to find him but he’s nowhere to be seen. Brennan sees me and waves, but lowers his hand when I shoot him a glare. I ignore him and continue down the hallway. The second bell rings for classes and the hallway empties but I am too worked up to stay. I crumple up the paper and throw it in my backpack. Again I catch a black streak in the corner of my eye. I really need to get more sleep.




Melanie McFarlane is a passionate writer of other-wordly adventures, a little excitable, and a little quirky. Whether it’s uncovering the corruption of the future, or traveling to other worlds to save the universe, she jumps in with both hands on her keyboard. Though she can be found obsessing over zombies and orcs from time to time, Melanie has focused her powers on her YA debut There Once Were Stars, and her YA urban fantasy Summoner Rising.


She lives with her husband and two daughters in the Land of Living Skies.




3 winners will receive and eGalley of SUMMONER RISING, International.