Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Waiting on Wednesday (54)


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spines, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm insanely excited for Long Way Home by Katie McGarry. I read the Netgalley preview hoping to relieve some of my tension, but it just got me more excited. I'm reviewing it for TeenReads this month and am waiting for my copy to arrive, but it's NOT HERE YET! I am dying for this book, and it can't come out soon enough!

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving.

It’s the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it’s up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she’s known and loved her whole life.

But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she’s forced to question what she thought she knew about her father, the Reign of Terror, and what she thinks she wants. Which means re-evaluating everything: love, family, friends . . . and forgiveness.

Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she’s strong enough to be the one person to save them all.

Release: January 31, 2017

Wednesday, January 11, 2017

Chapter Reveal: Long Way Home by Katie McGarry


The highly anticipated third book in Katie McGarry’s Thunder Road Series is being released on January 31st! LONG WAY HOME is a Young Adult Contemporary Romance being published by Harlequin Teen! Pre-order your copy of the next book in this emotionally charged series, and don’t miss Violet and Chevy’s story! Check out the first chapter below and be sure to pre-order your copy for the amazing bonus scenes!

Excerpt:

CHAPTER ONE:
Chevy

The instructions of the English homework I didn’t do hang out from the top of my folder: Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both.

Story of my life.

According to my football coach, I chose wrongly on the two crap paths I had to face last week. I just ran into Coach on the way to English, and he ripped into me for my sorry decision-making skills when it came to me choosing to stand up for the Reign of Terror Motorcycle Club instead of a member of my football team.

I didn’t just get my ass chewed out, his tirade made me late for English with no tardy note. Which is great since my English teacher hates late students like I hate riding my motorcycle in forty degree weather while it rains.

I round the corner, then peek through the small window on the door of my class. Ms. Whitlock stands in front of her desk in her patented white button-down shirt, gray pencil skirt and dark-rimmed glasses. From the back row, my best friend, Razor, meets my eyes and shakes his head. Damn. That means she’s in one of her moods where she’s refusing to let anyone in.

I’m not a tail-tucked-between-my-legs type of guy, but this lady is one of the few who can reduce me to begging. If she doesn’t let me in, then she’ll mark me as absent, the front office will think I skipped, and that means I won’t be able to play at tonight’s football game.

The window rattles when I knock. The entire class turns their heads in my direction, but Ms. Whitlock doesn’t. The muscles in my neck tighten. She is one of the hardest core people I know and my grandfather is the president of a motorcycle club. That says something.

She starts for the whiteboard and I knock on the door again. This time, Ms. Whitlock does look my way and she grants me the type of glare reserved for people who kick puppies. I got it. I’m late. I’m the scum of humanity, so let my ass in so I can play football.

There’s this guy in my club, Pigpen. He’s about the same age as Ms. Whitlock, late twenties, and he’s a walking hard-on for this woman even though she would never give him the time of day. He practically runs into walls when she’s around because he’s too focused on checking her out. I don’t see gorgeous—all I see is seriously pissed off and the person standing between me and playing.

Ms. Whitlock points at the clock over her desk. She’s telling me I can wait. If I’m lucky, she’ll open the door after the quiz that I’ll receive a zero on. If I’m not so lucky, she won’t open the door at all.

Two pathetic paths and I could only travel one. Nowhere in that stupid poem did it mention there was good and bad to both paths and that sometimes it’s best not to choose, but to set up camp at the fork and do nothing at all.

I slam my hand into the nearest locker, almost relishing the sting.

“Feel better?”

A glance across the hallway and I freeze. Doesn’t matter how many times I see her in a day, she still manages to take my breath away. Violet leans against the lockers as beautiful as ever. Red silky hair flowing over her shoulders, a pair of ripped jeans that look like they were tailored for her curves and enough bracelets around her wrists that they clank together when she moves.

Do I feel better? Not really, but I nod anyway as I try to judge if being alone with Violet causes more pain than having my balls ripped off. “Didn’t hurt.”

“Yes, I can see how slamming your hand against a locker didn’t hurt at all.”

My lips tilt up because she got me, and on top of that, Violet made a joke. Since she broke up with me last spring, things between us have been tense. On her side and on mine. Some people, like me and Violet, aren’t supposed to break up. Some people, like me and Violet, don’t know how to be near each other when we do part ways. “Are we talking now?”

“I’m locked out of class. You’re locked out of class. I could ignore you if that’s what you want.”

It’s not. Her ignoring me is never what I wanted. “Why are you late?”

Violet presses her lips together and looks away. A sixth sense within me stirs. Something’s wrong. I’ve known her my entire life. We were born only a few weeks apart and we learned to crawl on the sticky floor of the Reign of Terror clubhouse. We were friends, always friends, until one day, we weren’t just friends anymore. We became more until we lost it all.

“Late’s not your thing,” I say. Violet’s unconventional. Marches to her own drummer, but she’s not the type to be late to class. It’s a respect thing for her, something her dad taught her and Violet may never listen to another living soul, but she listened to her father. “What’s going on?”

She’s silent and frustration rumbles through me. Violet used to tell me everything. Used to see me as someone who could help solve her problems. She doesn’t see me like that anymore and it pisses me off. I’m angry at her for making us this way. Angry at myself for not figuring out how to fix us.

“You being late wouldn’t have anything to do with Stone, would it?” Stone’s her brother and the question’s a shot in the dark, but I don’t want to miss the chance to keep conversation with her going.

“Why are you late?” she replies as a nonanswer and my head snaps up. Guess sometimes blind shots do hit their mark. Violet was late because of Stone.

“What happened?” I push.

“I’m not talking about it.”

“Vi—”

She cuts me off. “I told you how to help me and my brother six months ago and you told me no.”

By running away? No again to that insane solution.

“Tell me why you’re late,” she says. “If you don’t, then you need to stop talking, because the last thing either of us needs right now beyond missing a quiz or possibly being marked as absent is detention for getting into a shouting match. At least it’s the last thing I need, okay?”

I back up to the lockers across from her and lightly hit my head against the metal. Yeah, I don’t want to talk about why I’m late either. I shove a hand into my pocket and try to think of a change in subject. Telling Violet I’m late because my football coach tore into me for hitting a guy who was causing problems for the Terror, a guy who had been causing problems for her, won’t help me and Violet stay civil. She’s mad at the club, which makes her mad at me.

Violet’s watching me, and her expression is a lot like someone trying to figure out a word problem for math. Unfortunately, she knows me as well as I know her.

“Being late is going to cost you, isn’t it?” she asks. “You can’t play tonight if she marks you absent, can you?”

I meet her blue eyes, and my chest hurts at the sympathy I find there. I’d willingly miss tonight’s game if I could rewind back to a time where I could talk to Violet with ease and that’s not the type of trade I’d normally make.

Football is my life. So is the motorcycle club. The Reign of Terror are my family—the blood kind and the bonds of brotherhood kind. I don’t know who I am without the Terror, but to be honest, I don’t know who I am without football either.

Lately, I’ve been torn between the two, just like that poem, and everyone in my life has chosen a side. Violet used to be the person I could talk to, but then she walked.

Six months ago, Violet asked me to run away with her. She was driven by grief, driven by something she wouldn’t tell me about. When I told her no, that we needed to stay home, to be near our family, to be near the club, Violet returned the next night and announced I was choosing the club over her and that we were done.

Being a running back, I’ve taken more than my fair share of hits over the years, but I’ve never been as blindsided as I was that night. Never experienced the type of pain her leaving me created.

The door to the classroom opens and a sense of relief washes over me. I’ll have to bust my ass to bring up my grade thanks to that zero on the quiz, but at least I’ll be able to play tonight.

Ms. Whitlock steps out and sizes me up, then Violet. “I’m only letting you in if you have a note, otherwise you can head to the office and hope they give you one.”

Screw me. There’s no way I’ll make it to the office, get a note and return in time. Right as I’m about to kick the hell out of the locker, Violet glides past me and hands in her note. “This is Chevy’s.”

My head whips in her direction. “It’s what?”

“Yours.” Violet meets my eyes. “Thanks for offering it to me, but it’s not right for me to take it. I’m the one who didn’t have a note, and I’m the one who needs to make it right.”

She begins walking backward, and my short-circuited brain sparks back to life. I can’t let her do this. “Violet—”

“Have a good game tonight,” she says, then disappears down the stairs.

“Are you joining us, Mr. McKinley, or not?” Ms. Whitlock demands. Never met a person I hate as much as this lady and it takes everything I have to force one foot in front of the other.

Everyone watches me as I stalk down the aisle then drop into the last seat in the row, the one next to Razor. He’s calm, cool, blond hair, blue eyes, and he’s watching me like an owl who’s considering whether it wants that unsuspecting mouse for a snack now or later.

Ms. Whitlock is lost in her own world as she continues babbling about poem interpretations and people who died too long ago. I can do little more than open my folder and stare at the top of my homework.

“Chevy,” Razor whispers, and I glance over at him. He points to the paper on his desk and in his messy handwriting is You okay?

Yes, because I get to play football tonight. No, because Violet sacrificed herself for it to happen. Hell no, because the world’s messed up and I don’t know how to fix it. Worse no, because I don’t know if I should read more into what Violet did—if it means somewhere deep inside she still thinks we have a chance.

I shake my head, Razor nods and the two of us stare at the whiteboard. Two roads. One path. Can’t take both. The guy who wrote it acts like the choice should be easy. It’s not. And he also didn’t mention what happens when people like Violet shove you onto a path regardless of your thoughts.

“So how many of you liked the poem?” Ms. Whitlock asks.

The entire class raises their hands. Almost everyone, except for me and Razor.

And don’t miss the next chapters of LONG WAY HOME! January 12: YA Books Central January 13: Vilma’s Book Blog

Synopsis:

Synopsis:

Seventeen-year-old Violet has always been expected to sit back and let the boys do all the saving.

It’s the code her father, a member of the Reign of Terror motorcycle club, raised her to live by. Yet when her dad is killed carrying out Terror business, Violet knows it’s up to her to do the saving. To protect herself, and her vulnerable younger brother, she needs to cut all ties with the club—including Chevy, the boy she’s known and loved her whole life.

But when a rival club comes after Violet, exposing old secrets and making new threats, she’s forced to question what she thought she knew about her father, the Reign of Terror, and what she thinks she wants. Which means re-evaluating everything: love, family, friends . . . and forgiveness.

Caught in the crosshairs between loyalty and freedom, Violet must decide whether old friends can be trusted—and if she’s strong enough to be the one person to save them all.

You Can Find it At:
Amazon
IndieBound
Goodreads

"An intoxicating and unforgettable story that kept me glued to the page."
—Kami Garcia, #1 New York Times bestselling author, on Walk the Edge


Don’t Miss the First Two Titles in the Thunder Road Series! And WALK THE EDGE is just $1.99 in eBook for a limited time only! Grab your copies today!
NOWHERE BUT HERE
WALK THE EDGE


Pre-order LONG WAY HOME by Katie McGarry, and fill out THIS FORM, to receive three previously unreleased bonus scenes featuring important “firsts” in the lives of your favorite characters from the world of Katie McGarry! Complete the form to register your pre-order at https://wyng.com/campaign/820152.

Author Bio:

Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan.

Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON, BREAKING THE RULES, NOWHERE BUT HERE and WALK THE EDGE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine's 2012 Reviewer's Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.

You Can Find Her At:
Website
Goodreads

Giveaway:

Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Book Blitz: RoseBlood by A.G. Howard


I am so excited that ROSEBLOOD by A.G. Howard releases today and that I get to share the news!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author A.G. Howard, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a signed ROSEBLOOD poster and a mask courtesy of A.G. and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

Title: ROSEBLOOD
Author: A.G. Howard
Pub. Date: January 10, 2016
Publisher: Amulet Books
Pages: 432
Formats: Hardcover, paperback, eBook

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera.

At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

You Can Find it At:
Amazon
B&N
iBooks
Audible
Goodreads

Trailer:


Author Bio:

A.G. Howard was inspired to write SPLINTERED while working at a school library. She always wondered what would've happened had the subtle creepiness of Alice's Adventures in Wonderland taken center stage, and she hopes her darker and funkier tribute to Carroll will inspire readers to seek out the stories that won her heart as a child.

When she's not writing, A.G.'s pastimes are reading, rollerblading, gardening, and family vacations which often include impromptu side trips to 18th century graveyards or condemned schoolhouses to appease her overactive muse.

You Can Find Her At:
Website
Blog
Twitter
Facebook
Tumblr
Pinterest
Goodreads

Giveaway:

1 winner will receive a signed ROSEBLOOD poster and a Mask. US Only.

Ends on January 17th at Midnight EST!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 4, 2017

Blog Tour: Freeks by Amanda Hocking


I am an Amanda Hocking fiend! I haven't read all of her books yet, but the ones I have, I can't help but gobble up! So when I got a chance to be part of the Freeks blog tour, I hopped on board!

Title: Freeks
Author: Amanda Hocking
Publisher: St. Martin's Griffin
Pages: 400
Review: 5 Stars

Synopsis:

Welcome to Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, where necromancy, magical visions, and pyrokinesis are more than just part of the act…

Mara has always longed for a normal life in a normal town where no one has the ability to levitate or predict the future. Instead, she roams from place to place, cleaning the tiger cage while her friends perform supernatural feats every night.

When the struggling sideshow is miraculously offered the money they need if they set up camp in Caudry, Louisiana, Mara meets local-boy Gabe…and a normal life has never been more appealing.

But before long, performers begin disappearing and bodies are found mauled by an invisible beast. Mara realizes that there’s a sinister presence lurking in the town with its sights set on getting rid of the sideshow freeks. In order to unravel the truth before the attacker kills everyone Mara holds dear, she has seven days to take control of a power she didn’t know she was capable of—one that could change her future forever.

Bestselling author Amanda Hocking draws readers inside the dark and mysterious world of Freeks.

You Can Find it At:
Macmillan
Books-A-Million
Barnes & Noble
Amazon

First Impressions

As I mentioned above, I will read anything Amanda Hocking writes. So I was overjoyed when I got to read a review copy of Freeks for the tour. I was a little worried I wouldn't like it, as carnival books aren't my thing, as well as the fact that it takes place in 1987. I'm not a huge fan of historical books, but the time setting didn't really add or subtract from the story. I devoured the book in one day and wasn't ready for it to be over when I finished.

Characters

I really liked Mara. She was an interesting head to be in. Mara knew all about the world of the occult, so the book wasn't some new awakening for her. I always enjoy books where the characters already know about the mystery/world of the supernatural. Mara was 18, so a little on the older side for YA, which showed at times. You could definitely tell that she wasn't a teen anymore, but she does still live with her mother in the circus, so it's not as big a deal that she's older.

I loved her romance with Gabe! I will read romance anywhere, anytime. That's often what makes or breaks a story for me. Gabe was mysterious and charming, and Mara and I both loved him for it. I liked how Mara both let herself like him, but also listened to her instincts that there was something dangerous about him.

I loved all the characters that were part of the sideshow. By introducing them to the reader one at a time, over the course of the first third of the book, it was easier to keep all the characters straight. There were the more typical oddities, the bearded lady and three-legged man, as well as some of the more special ones, with everything from healing to pyro-kenesis.

World-Building

This was quite a world that Hocking constructed. While there were no overt signs that it took place in 1987, there was always something. Characters would mention tapes and cassette players. And there was a distinct lack of cell phones. At the same time, Hocking developed the small town of Caudry, Louisiana. The town had a very distinct feel, with it's swamps, backroads, and the occasional mansion. I loved the little details Hocking added in as well, which you will see when you read the book!

Interview:

Today I have a special Q&A with the author of Freeks herself! Please welcome Amanda Hocking!

1. Your characters are sent into the Hunger Games. Who wins?

If it’s just the characters from FREEKS, and only one could win, I would put my money on Luka or maybe Roxie. Luka because he can heal from injuries, which gives him a crazy advantage, but Roxie is smart and she’s a survivor. Plus, she has the power of pyrokinesis, which I think I would come in handy in a battle to the death.

2. What do you listen to while you write? Or do you prefer silence?

I almost always listen to music when I write, unless I’m writing a really difficult scene. Sometimes the silence helps me focus, but most of the time, I prefer music. For FREEKS, I got to make a really fun 80s playlist, so I especially enjoyed working to that.

3. What is the most embarrassing thing you’ve looked up in the name of research – or what do you think the government has maybe flagged you for?

There are sooo many things. For FREEKS, I had to do fun stuff like, “What does a dead body smell like?” and “How much blood can a human lose?” And then after those macabre questions, I did a bunch of googling on fireflies and tarot cards. My search history when I’m working can be pretty exciting like that.

4. What was your favorite part of writing FREEKS?

I love Southern Gothics and I love pulpy 80s horror movies, so I was excited to be able incorporate those things in FREEKS. But my favorite part was actually Mara and Gabe. I think they complement each other well, and it was fun writing their banter and flirtations.

5. Which actor/actress would you like to see playing your main characters from FREEKS?

For Mara, I envisioned Cassie Steele from the start. I used to be a hardcore Degrassi fan, and I loved Cassie Steele on that. For Gabe, I like Ryan Guzman. I saw him in a Jennifer Lopez movie, and I was like, “Yep. That could be Gabe.”

6. Do you have a special time to write or how is your day structured?

I usually write between 11 am and 7 pm. I’ve tried to write earlier in the day and have more of a 8-5 type schedule, but I am not a morning person. My brain just doesn’t want to work much before noon.

7. Do you aim for a set amount of words/pages per day?

I usually have a goal in mind before I start writing, but it varies. Some days, it’s slow going and I hope to get at least 500 words out. Other days, I fly through with thousands of words. So it depends on where I’m at in the book, when it’s due, and how I’m feeling about the whole thing.

8. When you develop your characters, do you already have an idea of who they are before you write or do you let them develop as you go?

With all my main characters, I have a really good idea of who they are, and it’s just a matter of showing that to the readers. With the side characters, they tend to be rather one-dimensional, and they grow into the story as they’re needed.

9. How did writing Freeks differ from your writing your previous novels?

FREEKS was the first thing I had written in awhile that was started out just for me. For most of the past ten years, I have been writing my books with the intention of publishing them, with the audience and readers and trends in mind. I think I had gotten a little burnt out on trying to make everyone happy (mostly because it is impossible to please all readers all the time), and I just wanted to write something that for the sake of writing it.

And that turned out to be a gothic love story about a teenage girl travelling with a band of misfits in the 1980s. It was a very cathartic writing experience for me, and it reminded me of exactly why I loved writing in the first place – I love getting lost in the world, with the characters.

10. If Freeks had a theme song what would it be?

Either “Hush” by Limousines or “Head Over Heels” by Tears For Fears.

11. Can you please tell us a little bit about Freeks and where you got the inspiration to write it?

I was going through a rough patch, creatively speaking, and so I just sat back and tried to think of my favorite and what I loved most that I would want to write about.

When I was a kid, I used to get old books at garage sales all the time, and I distinctly remember getting Cycle of the Werewolf by Stephen King and a few old V. C. Andrews novels, which are pulpy Southern Gothic-esque novels. I also watched The Lost Boys and Pretty in Pink over and over again (I think I literally ruined the old VHS of The Lost Boys from watching it too much).

So I basically threw all those things together in a soup, and I picked apart the things I liked and wanted to explore more. That became a travelling sideshow in the 80s stopping Louisiana, where a supernatural monster is afoot, and a girl from the wrong side of the tracks who is smith with a local boy with secrets of his own.

12. Freeks is full of many amazingly talented characters and I imagine it was really fun to create some of them, but which one was your favorite and why?

Mara and Gabe are my obvious favorites, since they’re the main characters because I was drawn to them and their story the most. Both of them of them have complex feelings about family and personal identity, and their instant chemistry was fun to write.

But I think Gideon – the namesake and head of sideshow – was actually the biggest surprise, which made him fun in a different way. In the original outlines of the story, he was much a different character – very one-note and cruel – but he completely changed and evolved as I was writing.

13. The book is based off of a type of traveling circus that is full of many mysterious acts. If you were to attend a Freekshow, which act would you want to see most?

My favorites are usually the acrobatics, but I think if I attended Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow, I would be most excited to see Gideon’s magic act. With his skills and knowledge, I think it would be a really amazing show.

14. What do you hope readers will take away from FREEKS after reading it?

With some of my other novels, I deal with heavy themes like life and death, identity, honor, mortality, classism, and family. And while I do definitely touch on those themes in FREEKS, I mostly wrote it as an escape for myself, and that’s what I hope it is for other readers. Life can be hard and frustrating, and I just wanted to write a fun book that readers could get lost in for awhile.

15. What is something people would be surprised to know about you?

Probably how chronically shy I am. Writing is a weird profession, because a good 90% of it is perfect for introverts – you sit alone by yourself and make up imaginary friends to go on adventures. But the last 10% – which involves introducing the whole word to your imaginary friends – is the most exciting and rewarding part, but it’s also the most difficult when you’re as shy as I am.

Excerpt:

1. premonitions

My feet rested against the dashboard of the Winnebago as we lumbered down the road, the second vehicle in a small caravan of beat-up trailers and motorhomes.

The sun hadn’t completely risen yet, but it was light enough that I could see outside. Not that there was much to see. The bridge stretched on for miles across Lake Tristeaux, and I could see nothing but the water around us, looking gray in the early morning light.

The AC had gone out sometime in Texas, and we wouldn’t have the money to fix it until after this stint in Caudry, if we were lucky. I’d cracked the window, and despite the chill, the air felt thick with humidity. That’s why I never liked traveling to the southeastern part of the country—too humid and too many bugs.

But we took the work that we got, and after a long dry spell waiting in Oklahoma for something to come up, I was grateful for this. We all were. If we hadn’t gotten the recommendation to Caudry, I’m not sure what we would’ve done, but we were spending our last dimes and nickels just to make it down here.

I stared ahead at Gideon’s motorhome in front of us. The whole thing had been painted black with brightly colored designs swirling around it, meant to invoke images of mystery and magic. The name “Gideon Davorin’s Traveling Sideshow” was painted across the back and both the sides. Once sparkles had outlined it, but they’d long since worn off.

My eyelids began to feel heavy, but I tried to ward off sleep. The radio in the car was playing old Pink Floyd songs that my mom hummed along to, and that wasn’t helping anything.

“You can go lay down in the back,” Mom suggested.

She did look awake, her dark gray eyes wide and a little frantic, and both her hands gripped the wheel. Rings made of painted gold and cheap stones adorned her fingers, glinting as the sun began to rise over the lake, and black vine tattoos wrapped around her hands and down her arms.

For a while, people had mistaken us for sisters since we looked so much alike. The rich caramel skin we both shared helped keep her looking young, but the strain of recent years had begun to wear on her, causing crow’s feet to sprout around her eyes and worried creases to deepen in her brow.

I’d been slouching low in the seat but I sat up straighter. “No, I’m okay.”

“We’re almost there. I’ll be fine,” she insisted.

“You say we’re almost there, but it feels like we’re driving across the Gulf of Mexico,” I said, and she laughed. “We’ve probably reached the Atlantic by now.”

She’d been driving the night shift, which was why I was hesitant to leave her. We normally would’ve switched spots about an hour or two ago, with me driving while she lay down. But since we were so close to our destination, she didn’t see the point in it.

On the worn padded bench beside the dining table, Blossom Mandelbaum snored loudly, as if to remind us we both should be sleeping. I glanced back at her. Her head lay at a weird angle, propped up on a cushion, and her brown curls fell around her face.

Ordinarily, Blossom would be in the Airstream she shared with Carrie Lu, but since Carrie and the Strongman had started dating (and he had begun staying over in their trailer), Blossom had taken to crashing in our trailer sometimes to give them privacy.

It wasn’t much of a bother when she slept here, and in fact, my mom kind of liked it. As one of the oldest members of the carnival—both in age and the length of time she’d been working here—my mom had become a surrogate mother to many of the runaways and lost souls that found us.

Blossom was two years younger than me, on the run from a group home that didn’t understand her or what she could do, and my mom had been more than happy to take her under her wing. The only downside was her snoring.

Well, that and the telekinesis.

“Mara,” Mom said, her eyes on the rearview mirror. “She’s doing it again.”

“What?” I asked, but I’d already turned around to look back over the seat.

At first, I didn’t know what had caught my mom’s eye, but then I saw it—the old toaster we’d left out on the counter was now floating in the air, hovering precariously above Blossom’s head.

The ability to move things with her mind served Blossom well when she worked as the Magician’s Assistant in Gideon’s act, but it could be real problematic sometimes. She had this awful habit of unintentionally pulling things toward her when she was dreaming. At least a dozen times, she’d woken up to books and tapes dropping on her. Once my mom’s favorite coffee mug had smacked her right in the head.

“Got it,” I told my mom, and I unbuckled my seat belt and went over to get it.

The toaster floated in front of me, as if suspended by a string, and when I grabbed it, Blossom made a snorting sound and shifted in her sleep. I turned around with the toaster under my arm, and I looked in front of us just in time to see Gideon’s trailer skid to the side of the road and nearly smash into the guardrail.

“Mom! Look out!” I shouted.

Mom slammed on the brakes, causing most of our possessions in the trailer to go hurtling toward the floor, and I slammed into the seat in front of me before falling to the ground. The toaster had slipped free from my grasp and clattered into the dashboard.

Fortunately, there was no oncoming traffic, but I could hear the sound of squealing tires and honking behind us as the rest of the caravan came to an abrupt stop.

“What happened?” Blossom asked, waking up in a daze from where she’d landed on the floor beneath the dining table.

“Mara!” Mom had already leapt from her seat and crouched in front of where I still lay on the worn carpet. “Are you okay?”

“Yeah, I’m fine,” I assured her.

“What about you?” Mom reached out, brushing back Blossom’s frizzy curls from her face. “Are you all right?”

Blossom nodded. “I think so.”

“Good.” That was all the reassurance my mom needed, and then she was on her feet and jumping out of the Winnebago. “Gideon!”

“What happened?” Blossom asked again, blinking the sleep out of her dark brown eyes.

“I don’t know. Gideon slammed on his brakes for some reason.” I stood up, moving much slower than my mother.

We had very narrowly avoided crashing into Gideon. He’d overcorrected and jerked to the other side of the road, so his motorhome was parked at an angle across both lanes of the highway.

“Is everyone okay?” Blossom had sat up, rubbing her head, and a dark splotch of a bruise was already forming on her forehead. That explained why she seemed even foggier than normal—she’d hit her head pretty good.

“I hope so. I’ll go check it out,” I said. “Stay here.”

By the time I’d gotten out, Seth Holden had already gotten out of the motorhome behind us. Since he was the Strongman, he was usually the first to rush into an accident. He wanted to help if he could, and he usually could.

“Lyanka, I’m fine,” Gideon was saying to my mother, his British accent sounding firm and annoyed.

“You are not fine, albi,” Mom said, using a term of affection despite the irritation in her voice.

I rounded the back of his motorhome to find Gideon leaning against it with my mom hovering at his side. Seth reached them first, his t-shirt pulled taut against his muscular torso.

“What’s going on? What happened?” Seth asked.

“Nothing. I just dozed off for a second.” Gideon waved it off. “Go tell everyone I’m fine. I just need a second, and we’ll be on our way again.”

“Do you want me to drive for you?” Seth asked. “Carrie can handle the Airstream.”

Gideon shook his head and stood up straighter. “I’ve got it. We’re almost there.”

“All right.” Seth looked uncertainly at my mom, and she nodded at him. “I’ll leave you in Lyanka’s care and get everyone settled down.”

As soon as Seth disappeared back around the motorhome, loudly announcing that everything was fine to everyone else, Gideon slumped against the trailer. His black hair had fallen over his forehead. The sleeves of his shirt were rolled up, revealing the thick black tattoos that covered both his arms.

“Gideon, what’s really going on?” Mom demanded with a worried tremor.

He swallowed and rubbed his forehead. “I don’t know.”

Even though the sun was up now, the air seemed to have gotten chillier. I pulled my sweater tighter around me and walked closer to them. Gideon leaned forward, his head bowed down, and Mom rubbed his back.

“You didn’t fall asleep, did you?” I asked.

Gideon lifted his eyes, looking as though he didn’t know I was there. And guessing by how pained he was allowing himself to look, he probably hadn’t. Gideon was only in his early thirties, but right now, he appeared much older than that.

That wasn’t what scared me, though. It was how dark his blue eyes were. Normally, they were light, almost like the sky. But whenever he’d had a vision or some kind of premonition, his eyes turned so dark they were nearly black.

“It was a headache,” Gideon said finally.

“There’s something off here,” Mom said. “I felt it as soon as we got on the bridge. I knew we should turn back, but I hoped that maybe I was imagining things. Now that I look at you, I know.”

That explained that frantic look in her eyes I’d seen earlier in the Winnebago, and how alert she’d been even though she’d been awake and driving for nearly twenty hours straight. Mom didn’t see things in the way Gideon did, but she had her own senses.

“It’s fine, Lyanka,” Gideon insisted. He straightened up again, and his eyes had begun to lighten. “It was only a migraine, but it passed. I am capable of having pain without supernatural reasons, too.”
Mom crossed her arms over her chest, and her lips were pressed into a thin line. “We should go back.”

“We’re almost there.” Gideon gestured to the end of the road, and I looked ahead for the first time and realized that we could see land. The town was nestled right up to the lake, and we couldn’t be more than ten minutes outside the city limits.

“We could still turn around,” Mom suggested.

“We can’t.” He put his hands on her arms to ease her worries. “We don’t have any money, love. The only way we can go is forward.”

“Gideon.” She sighed and stared up at the sky, the violet fabric of her dress billowing out around her as the wind blew over us, then she looked back at him. “Are you sure you’re okay to drive?”

“Yes, I’m sure. Whatever pain I had, it’s passed.” He smiled to reassure her. “We should go before the others get restless.”

She lowered her eyes, but when he leaned in to kiss her, she let him. She turned to go back to our motorhome, and as she walked past me, she muttered, “I knew we should never travel on Friday the thirteenth. No good ever comes of it.”

I’d waited until she’d gone around the corner to turn back to Gideon, who attempted to give me the same reassuring smile he’d given my mom.

“We could go back,” I said. “There’s always a way. We’ve made it on less before.”

“Not this time, darling.” He shook his head. “And there’s no reason to. Leonid assured me there’d be a big payday here, and I’ve got no reason to doubt him. We can make a go of it here.”

“As long as you’re sure we’ll be okay.”

“I haven’t steered you all wrong yet.” Gideon winked at me then, but he was telling the truth. In the ten years that my mom and I had been following him around the country, he’d always done the best he could by us.

I went back and got into the Winnebago with my mom and Blossom. Within a couple minutes, Gideon had straightened his motorhome out, and the caravan was heading back down the road. At the end of the bridge was a large sign that read WELCOME TO CAUDRY, POPULATION 13,665.

As soon as we crossed the line into town, the air seemed even colder than before. That’s when I realized the chill wasn’t coming from outside—it was coming from within me.

Copyright © 2016 by Amanda Hocking and reprinted by permission of St. Martin’s Griffin.

Author Bio:

Amanda Hocking is the USA Today bestselling author of the Trylle trilogy and six additional self-published novels. After selling over a million copies of her books, primarily in eBook format, she is widely considered the exemplar of self-publishing success in the digital age.

You Can Find Her At:
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Waiting on Wednesday (53)


"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted at Breaking the Spines, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week I'm super excited for RoseBlood by A.G. Howard! A Phantom of the Opera retelling? Count me in! I will also read anything that she writes. Seriously, if you haven't read her Splintered series yet, do it RIGHT NOW!

Synopsis:

In this modern day spin on Leroux’s gothic tale of unrequited love turned to madness, seventeen-year-old Rune Germain has a mysterious affliction linked to her operatic talent, and a horrifying mistake she’s trying to hide. Hoping creative direction will help her, Rune’s mother sends her to a French arts conservatory for her senior year, located in an opera house rumored to have ties to The Phantom of the Opera. 


At RoseBlood, Rune secretly befriends the masked Thorn—an elusive violinist who not only guides her musical transformation through dreams that seem more real than reality itself, but somehow knows who she is behind her own masks. As the two discover an otherworldly connection and a soul-deep romance blossoms, Thorn’s dark agenda comes to light and he’s forced to make a deadly choice: lead Rune to her destruction, or face the wrath of the phantom who has haunted the opera house for a century, and is the only father he’s ever known.

Release: January 10, 2017
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