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I Belong

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Long Way Home by Katie McGarry

January 26th, 2017 Bridget Posted in Blog Tour 2 Comments »

I am so excited to be taking part in the review tour for Long Way Home by Katie McGarry! This is the third book in the Thunder Road series and it features hot guys from a motorcycle club! I am such a HUGE fan of this amazing series and I can’t tell you how much you need to read it! I adored the first two books in the series and this was wonderful as well. To check out my full review for Nowhere But Here go here and my full review of Walk the Edge here. To read my review of Long Way home just see the post below! Long Way Home will be releasing January 31, 2017 from Harlequin TEEN so do yourself a favor and pre-order it now!!!!

After the great excerpt we have there is also an awesome giveaway for a $100 amazon gift card.

About Katie:

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 the critically acclaimed Pushing the Limits series and the Thunder Road series. The first book in this series is Nowhere But Here.

You can visit Katie around the Web here:  Website | Blog | Twitter | Facebook

Want to read more from Katie McGarry?

Pushing the Limits Dare You To Crash into You Take Me OnNowhere But HereRed at Night

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Long Way Home Blog Tour Banner

Excerpt:

VIOLET

“You can do this.” I take Brandon’s hand in mine and give a reassuring squeeze. “I know you can.”

Brandon swallows hard, but nods. A combination of nervous energy and pride rushes through my veins as he grasps my hand in return and fists the cash in his other hand. He’s going to face his fears. The lift of my lips is genuine now. My brother believes in himself, and I believe in him and maybe we’re both going to be okay.

Right as Brandon takes a courageous step forward, two black leather vests slip in front of us and staring back at me is a half skull with fire blazing out of its eye sockets.

The world surrounding me turns red, and my blood begins to boil. “There’s a line and you just cut.”

Eli, one of my father’s once best friends, glances over his shoulder and winks at us as he pulls out his wallet. Like always, he has dark hair cut close to his head, plugs in his ears and a huge grin like we should be glad to see him. “I got you covered.”

Fabulous. Here comes the Reign of Terror Motorcycle Club riding in on their black Harleys determined to save the day of people who really need to learn how to save themselves.

“No really, we got this,” I insist.

Long Way Home 3

I try to muscle my way past to pay, but Eli’s right hand man, Pigpen, plants himself in front of me like the towering sack of testosterone and annoyance that he is. Then he’s on the move and I somehow find myself away from the ticket booth.

“Surprised to see you here, Violet.” Pigpen is in his late twenties and thinks he’s all handsome with his blond hair and big muscles. Because he was a Navy SEAL or Army Ranger or something outrageous like that, he also thinks he’s awesome, but he doesn’t impress me. “Surprised you’re here, but happy to see you. You haven’t been at a game all year.”

“I’ve been busy,” I say.

“Is that what you call avoiding anyone from the Terror? Busy?”

“Works for me.”

“Hi, Pigpen!” Brandon is lit up like a firefly who was convinced the rest of his species was extinct. Eli, of course, enjoying the role of savior, has his arm around Brandon’s shoulder as they join us.

“Hey, Stone.” Pigpen calls my brother by the stupid nickname the club created for him. “How’s it going?”

“Good. They bought our tickets, Vi!”

“Yep, they sure did, because little ol’ me couldn’t’ handle the big ol’ ticket booth on my own.” Heavy on the sarcasm and then a hard glare at Eli. “Brandon was going to buy his own ticket.”

Eli rolls his neck like  he’s the one who owns the right to be annoyed. “Most people say thank you.”

Long Way Home 2

“You’re missing the point.”

Eli pats my brother’s back. “Why don’t you head in with Pigpen? I’d like to catch up with Violet.”

Brandon bounces like a damn puppy dog given a treat and then rushes off into the stadium, leaving me with Thing Two. And to think my brother called me Vi. The little traitor.

“Pigpen,” I call out. “Don’t leave him.”

I forced my brother to tattle today and while the football game will make him smile, I’m also taking a calculated risk that the people he told on won’t be here. If they are here, I’m betting they won’t mess with Brandon as long as I’m around.

“You worry too much,” Pigpen answers without glancing back.

When it comes to my brother, they don’t worry enough about the right problems.

Eli watches as Brandon and Pigpen go into the stadium. Instead of taking a left for the bleachers, they go right for the concession stand, and I’m contemplating how to stab Pigpen in the jugular. Concession food brings my brother into a near state of euphoria, and because of the crappy day my brother and I had, I wanted to be the one that made him happy with a hot dog, nachos and a slushy.

Motorcycle men around the world, as far as I’m concerned, can just plain suck it.

Long Way Home 1

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contest

This contest is provided by InkSlinger & Katie McGarry!

One lucky winner will receive a $100 Amazon Gift Card!

Long Way Home

Available  January 31, 2017 by Harlequin TEEN

About this Book:

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.

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Blog Tour: The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett

January 17th, 2017 Kristie Posted in Blog Tour Comments Off on Blog Tour: The Last Harvest by Kim Liggett

Kim LiggettPlease welcome author Kim Liggett here today! If you are a fan of horror then you will want to check out her newest novel, The Last Harvest! It is a story about a boy trying to learn the strange circumstances around his fathers death and why an old pact made by his ancestors could lead to the birth of Lucifer on earth. Kim is here today to talk about the top five influential movie/books that you need to watch/read before picking up The Last Harvest. Want to know my thoughts? Check out my review here.

About Kim:

At sixteen, Kim Liggett left her rural midwestern town for New York City, where she pursued a career in music and acting. While attending the American Academy of Dramatic Arts, Kim sang backup for some of the biggest rock bands of the 80s. After settling down to have a family, she became an entrepreneur, creating a children’s art education program and a travel company specializing in tours for musicians. She’s married to jazz musician Ken Peplowski, and has two beautiful teenagers.

You can visit Kim around the Web: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest

Want to read more from Kim Liggett?

Blood and Salt (Blood and S...The Last Harvest

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Five Influential horror books/films you need to experience before reading THE LAST HARVEST

1. Rosemary’s Baby by Ira Levin

I love this book. The low level tension is excruciating. And it has this strange hallucinogenic quality that makes every thing feel a little off kilter in the best way.

2. The Lottery by Shirley Jackson

I go back to this short story, time and time again. It captures the creepy underscore of rural America with chilling perfection.

3. The Exorcist

One of my all-time favorite scary movies. I still can’t watch this one by myself. The score alone is absolutely terrifying.

4. Children of the Corn by Stephen King

Another short story from the heartland that burrowed its way deep into my psyche. Try reading this and then walking through a corn maze at night. I dare you.

5. The Omen

The 1976 version is my favorite. The antichrist reborn. What’s not to love?

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The Last Harvest HC

Available January 10, 2017 from Tor/Macmillan

About this Book:

“I plead the blood.”

Those were the last words seventeen-year-old golden boy quarterback Clay Tate heard rattling from his dad’s throat when he discovered him dying on the barn floor of the Neely Cattle Ranch, clutching a crucifix to his chest.

Now, on the first anniversary of the Midland, Oklahoma slaughter, the whole town’s looking at Clay like he might be next to go over the edge. Clay wants to forget the past, but the sons and daughters of the Preservation Society—a group of prominent farmers his dad accused of devil worship—won’t leave him alone. Including Ali, his longtime crush, who suddenly wants to reignite their romance after a year of silence, and hated rival Tyler Neely, who’s behaving like they’re old friends.

Even as Clay tries to reassure himself, creepy glances turn to sinister stares and strange coincidences build to gruesome rituals—but when he can never prove that any of it happened, Clay worries he might be following his dad down the path to insanity…or that something far more terrifying lies in wait around the corner.

Click HERE to read an excerpt

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Freeks by Amanda Hocking

January 10th, 2017 Kristie Posted in Blog Tour 8 Comments »

amanda-hocking-new-credit-mariah-paaverud-with-chimera-photographyPlease welcome author Amanda Hocking to Dark Faerie Tales! She’s here today to talk about her new novel Freeks. If you are a fan of the 1980s, paranormal and carnivals than this is one novel you should definitely check out! Freeks was released on January 3, 2017 from St. Martin’s Griffin.

A huge thank you to St. Martin’s Griffin for today’s giveaway! One lucky reader will win a copy of Freeks! This contest is open to U.S. addresses only.

About Amanda:

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 visit Amanda around the Web: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Blog | Pinterest

Want to read more from Amanda Hocking?

Switched Torn AscendMy Blood Approves Fate Flutter Wisdom SwearWake Lullaby Tidal ElegyHollowland HollowmenThe King's Games Frostfire Ice Kissed Crystal Kingdom

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freeks-blog-tour-banner

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.

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contest

This contest is provided by St. Martin’s Griffin!

One lucky reader will win a copy of Freeks by Amanda Hocking
(US only)

freeks-cover

Available January 3, 2017 from St. Martin’s Griffin

About this Book:

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.

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Black Moon by Romina Russell

December 20th, 2016 Kristie Posted in Blog Tour Comments Off on Blog Tour & Giveaway: Black Moon by Romina Russell

romina-russellWelcome to Dark Faerie Tales! We have an awesome giveaway today for Black Moon by Romina Russell! It is the third novel in the Zodiac series. If you didn’t know already, this series is set in space with each sign of the Zodiac ruling a different planet. The series begins with Zodiac and then continues with Wandering Star, Black Moon is the third is this fantastic series! Black Moon was released on December 6, 2016 from Razorbill/Penguin. We are also hosting the Zodiac sign for Pisces! Romina has supplied us with what Pisces means and we were tasked with coming up with a mood board with what that interpretation meant to us. Check out the awesome pictures that Bridget came up with below!

Enter for a chance to win the Grand Prize of a set of the Zodiac books by Romina Russell, including one paperback copy each of Zodiac and Wandering Star, and a hardcover copy of Black Moon (Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”): $41.00).  Plus, four (4) runner-up winners will each receive a paperback copy of Zodiac (ARV: $11.00 each). This contest is provided by Razorbill/Penguin!

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:01 AM (EST) on December 5, 2016 and 11:59 PM (EST) on December 20, 2016.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about December 23, 2016. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

About Romina:

Romina Russell is a Los Angeles based author who originally hails from Buenos Aires, Argentina. As a teen, Romina landed her first writing gig—College She Wrote, a weekly Sunday column for the Miami Herald that was later picked up for national syndication—and she hasn’t stopped writing since. When she’s not working on the ZODIAC series, Romina can be found producing movie trailers, taking photographs, or daydreaming about buying a new drum set. She is a Virgo to the core.

You can visit Romina around the Web here:  Website | FacebookTwitter | Google+
Instagram | Tumblr

Want to read more from Romina Russell?

Zodiac Wandering Star Black Moon Thirteen Rising

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black-moon-blog-tour

Pisces

The Disciples of Pisces are pacifists who don’t believe in violence, so they go to battle clad in a Gowen: A special silver suit of fluid fabric that gives its wearer a degree of protection from most elements and identifies them on the battlefield. Yet historically, there have been times when Pisces has felt neutrality wasn’t an option. On those occasions, Disciples don a somber gray uniform and gloves infused with the special ice of planet Icthys: When they touch a target—even over clothing—the person’s blood temperature instantly drops, forcing the body into hibernation. ~ Romina

black-moon-1black-moon-2black-moon-3black-moon-4black-moon-5black-moon-6black-moon-7black-moon-8black-moon-9black-moon-10black-moon-11

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Black Moon Zodiac Schedule

12/5: A Perfection Called Books (Aries)
12/6: Eater of Books (Taurus)
12/7: ButterMyBooks (Gemini)
12/8: The Book Nut (Cancer)
12/9: The Hardcover Lover (Leo)
12/12: Oh the Book Feels (Virgo)
12/13: Book Briefs (Libra)
12/14: Mundie Moms (Scorpio)
12/15: Two Chicks on Books (Sagittarius)
12/16: Swoony Boys Podcast (Capricorn)
12/19: Twinning for Books (Aquarius)
12/20: The Dark Faerie Tales (Pisces)

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contest

This contest is provided by Razorbill/Penguin!

Enter for a chance to win the Grand Prize of a set of the Zodiac books by Romina Russell, including one paperback copy each of Zodiac and Wandering Star, and a hardcover copy of Black Moon (Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”): $41.00).  Plus, four (4) runner-up winners will each receive a paperback copy of Zodiac (ARV: $11.00 each).

black-moon

Available December 6, 2016 from Razorbill/Penguin

About this Book:

Book 3 in the breathtaking sci-fi space saga inspired by astrology that will stun fans of the Illuminae Files and Starbound series.

One final secret stands between Rho and the enemy. But will the devastating truth be enough to destroy her first?

Rho, the courageous visionary from House Cancer, lost nearly everything when she exposed and fought against the Marad, a mysterious terrorist group bent on destroying balance in the Zodiac Galaxy. Now, the Marad has disappeared without a trace, and an uneasy peace has been declared in the Zodiac Galaxy.

But Rho is suspicious. She believes the Master is still out there in some other form. And looming over all are the eerie visions of her mother, who died many years ago, but is now appearing to Rho in the stars.

When news of a stylish new political party supported by her best friend, Nishi, sends Rho on another journey across the galaxy, she uses it as an opportunity to hunt the hidden master and seek out information about her mother. And what she uncovers sheds light on the truth–but casts darkness upon the entire Zodiac world.

Click HERE to read an excerpt

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Blog Tour & Giveaway: Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes

December 13th, 2016 Kristie Posted in Blog Tour Comments Off on Blog Tour & Giveaway: Crystal Storm by Morgan Rhodes

Morgan Rhodes - credit Shanon FujiokaThe fifth novel in the Falling Kingdoms series, Crystal Storm, is out today from Razorbill/Penguin! Morgan Rhodes’ newest novel continues the epic adventure of Magnus, Cleo, Lucia, Jonas and Amara! We have an excerpt from Crystal Storm below. Then don’t forget to enter the giveaway at the end of the post.

Enter for a chance to win a set of the Falling Kingdom books by Morgan Rhodes, which includes paperback editions of Falling Kingdoms, Rebel Spring, Gathering Darkness and Frozen Tides and a hardcover edition of Crystal Storm (Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”): $63.00). In addition, four (4) Runner-up Winners will each receive a paperback edition of Falling Kingdoms ($11.00 each).

NO PURCHASE NECESSARY. Enter between 12:01 AM (EST) on December 5, 2016 and 11:59 PM (EST) on December 16, 2016.  Open to residents of the fifty United States and the District of Columbia who are 13 and older. Winners will be selected at random on or about December 19, 2016. Odds of winning depend on number of eligible entries received. Void where prohibited or restricted by law.

About Morgan:

Morgan Rhodes lives in Ontario, Canada. As a child, she always wanted to be a princess—the kind that knows how to wield a sharp sword to help save both kingdoms and princes from fire-breathing dragons and dark wizards. Instead, she became a writer, which is just as good and much less dangerous. Along with writing, Morgan enjoys photography, travel, and reality TV, and is an extremely picky yet voracious reader of all kinds of books. Under another pen name, she’s a nationally bestselling author of many paranormal novels. Falling Kingdoms is her first high fantasy.

You can visit Morgan around the Web here:  Website | Facebook | Twitter | Tumblr 

Want to read more from Morgan Rhodes?

Falling Kingdoms Rebel Spring Gathering Darkness Frozen Tides Crystal StormA Book of Spirits and Thieves The Darkest MagicObsidian Blade

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Chapter 1
JONAS—KRAESHIA

crystal-storm

Far across the sea in Mytica, there was a golden princess Jonas wanted to save.

And a god of fire he needed to destroy.

However, an obstacle now stood in Jonas’s path on the Kraeshian docks, eating into time he didn’t have to waste.

“I thought you said his sister killed him,” Jonas said to Nic under his breath.

“She did.” Nic’s voice came out as barely more than a rasp as he raked both his hands through his messy, bright red hair. “I saw it with my own eyes.”

“Then how is this possible?”

“I . . . I don’t know.”

Prince Ashur Cortas drew to a stop only a few paces away. He eyed both Jonas and Nic through narrowed, silvery-blue eyes that stood out against his dark tan complexion like the glinting edge of a blade at dusk.

The only sounds to be heard for a few long moments were the squawk of a nearby seabird as it plunged downward to catch a fish and the gentle, steady splash of the water against the waiting Limerian ship with its black and red sails.

“Nicolo,” the raven-haired prince said with a nod. “I know you must be very confused to see me again.”

“I . . . I . . . what . . . ?” was Nic’s only reply. The scattering of freckles over his nose and cheeks contrasted boldly with his blanched complexion. He drew in a shaky breath. “This is impossible.”

Ashur raised a dark brow at the boy, hesitating only briefly before he spoke. “In my twenty-one years of life I’ve come to realize that very little in this world is impossible.”

“I watched you die.” The last word sounded as if it had been dragged painfully from Nic’s throat. “What was that? Just another lie? Another scheme? Another plan that you didn’t feel the need to tell me about?”

Jonas was surprised that Nic dared to speak to a member of royalty with such insolence. Not that Jonas himself had much respect for royals, but Nic had spent enough time in the Auranian palace, side by side with its princess, to know it wasn’t wise to be this openly rude.

“It was no lie. What happened at the temple was not a scheme.” Ashur swept his gaze over the Limerian ship, which was ready for imminent departure from the Jewel of the Empire’s crowded, busy docks. “I’ll explain more once we’re at sea.”

Jonas’s brows went up at the prince’s commanding and confident tone. “Oncewe’re at sea,” he repeated.

“Yes. I’m coming with you.”

“If that’s what you’re planning to do,” Jonas said, crossing his arms. “Then you’ll explain more now.”

Ashur eyed him. “Who are you?”

Jonas eyed him back. “I’m the one who decides who gets on this ship—and who doesn’t.”

“Do you know who I am?” Ashur asked.

“Well aware. You’re the brother of Amara Cortas, who just recently seems to have made herself the bloodthirsty empress of most of the damn world. And according to Nic, you’re supposed to be dead.”

A familiar form appeared behind Ashur, catching Jonas’s eye.

Taran Ranus had left the docks only a few moments ago, so that he might quickly prepare for an unplanned journey to Mytica. But he was already back. As the rebel drew closer, he swiftly pulled out a sword from the sheath at his waist.

“Well, well,” Taran said as he raised the tip of the sword to Ashur’s throat. “Prince Ashur. What a pleasant surprise to see that you’ve strolled into our midst this morning, just as my friends are working to topple your family’s reign.”

“The general chaos around the Jewel did give that much away,” Ashur said, his tone and demeanor surprisingly serene.

“Why have you come back? Why not stay abroad, chasing after meaningless treasure as everyone says you’re fond of doing?”

Chasing after treasure? Jonas shared an anxious look with Nic. It seemed that very few were aware that the prince had been presumed dead.

“The circumstances of my return are none of your business.”

“Are you in Kraeshia because of . . .” Nic began, then hesitated. “Of . . . what happened to your family? You must know, don’t you?”

“Yes, I know.” Ashur’s expression darkened. “But that’s not why I’m here.”

Taran smirked. “As the true heir to the throne, perhaps you’ll make an excellent tool for negotiations with your grandmother now that your sister’s married the enemy and sailed away.”

Ashur scoffed. “If that’s what you think, then you know nothing about her desire for power—or my sister’s. It’s easy to see that your rebels are vastly outnumbered. This current uprising will be as effective as the chirp of a baby bird in the shadow of a hungry wildcat. What you really need to do is get on this ship and leave while you still have the chance.”

Taran’s smirk disappeared. His brown eyes flashed with outrage. “You don’t get to tell me what to do.”

Jonas felt uneasy about Ashur’s attitude. He seemed to be taking the recent news of most of his family’s massacre in stride. He couldn’t tell if Ashur grieved their loss or celebrated it. Or did he feel nothing at all?

“Lower your weapon, Taran,” Jonas growled, then hissed out a breath. “Why are you back so soon anyway? Didn’t you have belongings to gather?”

Taran didn’t budge. He kept the sharp tip of his sword pressed to Ashur’s throat, his biceps flexing. “The roads are blocked. Granny Cortas has decided that all rebels are to be slain on sight. Since we blew up the city dungeon yesterday, there’s nowhere to put any prisoners.”

“All the more reason for us to go now,” Nic urged.

“I agree with Nicolo,” Ashur said.

The angry squawk of a bird caught Jonas’s attention. He shielded his eyes from the sun and looked up at the golden hawk swooping above the ship.

Olivia was getting impatient. That made two of them.

He willed himself to remain calm. He couldn’t afford to make any rash decisions.

Just then, an image of Lysandra slid into his mind, along with the sound of her laughter. “No rash decisions? Since when?” she would have said.

Since you died and I couldn’t save you.

Pushing his grief away, Jonas forced himself to focus on the prince.

“If you want any chance to board this ship,” he said, “then explain how you’ve managed to rise from the dead only to walk right up to a group of rebels like you’ve only been out for a tankard of ale.”

“Rise from the dead?” Taran repeated, his furious expression giving way to confusion.

Ignoring Taran, Jonas searched for any sign of intimidation in the prince’s demeanor. A signal that he feared for his life, that he was desperate to escape his homeland. But only serenity filled his pale eyes.

It was unsettling, really.

“Have you ever heard of the legend of the phoenix?” Ashur asked smoothly.

“Of course,” Nic replied. “It’s a mythical bird that rose from the ashes of the flames that originally killed it. It’s the symbol for Kraeshia, to show the empire’s strength and ability to defy death itself.”

Ashur nodded. “Yes.”

Jonas raised his eyebrows. “Really?” he said.

Nic shrugged. “I took a class with Cleo on foreign myths once. I paid more attention than she did.” He flicked a wary look at Ashur. “What about this legend?”

“There is also a legend of a mortal fated to one day do the same—return from death to unite the world. Grandmother always believed that my sister would be this phoenix. When Amara was a baby, she died for a brief moment but came back to life, thanks to a resurrection potion our mother gave her. When I recently learned of this, I had the same potion created for me. I’m not sure I truly believed it would work, but it did. And as I rose at dawn in the temple where I’d died the night before at my sister’s hand, I realized the truth.”

“What truth?” Jonas demanded after Ashur fell silent.

Ashur met his gaze. “That am the phoenix. And it’s my destiny to save this world from its current fate, beginning with stopping my sister from her dark need to blindly follow in my father’s footsteps.”

The prince fell silent again as his audience of three stared at him. Taran was the first to laugh.

“Royals always think so damn highly of themselves,” he sneered. “Legends of heroes who defy certain death are as old as legends about the Watchers themselves.” Taran glanced at Jonas. “I’m going to cut off his head. If he gets up after that, consider me a believer.”

Jonas didn’t think Taran was being serious, but he didn’t want to take any chances.

“Lower your weapon,” Jonas growled. “I’m not going to tell you again.”

Taran cocked his head. “I don’t take orders from you.”

“Do you want passage on this ship? Then yes, you do take orders from me.”

But still Taran didn’t budge, and his gaze grew only more challenging.

“You giving Jonas a problem, Ranus?” Felix’s voice boomed out, just before he came to stand at Jonas’s side.

Jonas was grateful that Felix Gaebras—with all his height and muscles—was on his side. A former member of the Clan of the Cobra, a group of assassins who worked for King Gaius, Felix’s ability to cast a deadly and intimidating shadow was no accident.

But Taran was just as deadly and just as intimidating.

“You want to know about my problems?” Taran finally lowered his blade to his side, then nodded at the resurrected royal. “This is Prince Ashur Cortas.”

Felix peered skeptically at the prince with his good eye. After spending the last week imprisoned and being mercilessly tortured for poisoning the Kraeshian royal family—a crime Amara had blamed on him—it was his only eye; the other was covered by a black eye patch. “Aren’t you supposed to be dead?”

“He is.” Nic had stayed very quiet, never taking his attention off of the prince, wearing an expression that was equal parts stunned and confused.

“I’m not.” Ashur spoke patiently to Nic.

“It could be a trick.” Nic’s brow furrowed in concentration as he studied the prince carefully. “Perhaps you’re a witch who possesses enough air magic to change your appearance.”

Ashur raised a dark eyebrow, as if amused. “Hardly.”

“Witches are female,” Taran reasoned.

“Not always,” Ashur replied. “There have been a few notable exceptions over the centuries.”

“Are you trying to help your case or not?” Jonas asked sharply.

“He’s Amara’s brother,” Felix growled. “Let’s just go ahead and kill him and be done with it.”

“Yes,” Taran seconded. “On that, we agree.”

Ashur sighed, and for the first time, there was an edge of impatience in the sound. Despite any threats, he kept his attention firmly on Nic. “I understand your hesitation in believing me, Nicolo. It reminds me of your hesitation that night in the City of Gold, when you left the tavern . . . the Beast, I believe it was called. You were drunk, lost, and you looked at me in that alleyway as if I might kill you with the two blades I carried. But I didn’t, did I? Do you remember what I did instead?”

Nic’s pale face flushed in an instant, and he cleared his throat. “It’s him,” he said quickly. “I don’t know how, but . . . it’s him. Let’s go.”

Jonas studied Nic’s face, unsure whether to believe such a promise, even from someone he’d very recently begun to trust. His gut told him Nic wasn’t lying.

And if Ashur wanted to bring a halt to his sister’s evil machinations, believing himself to be this legendary phoenix who’d risen from death, true or not, then he could possibly be an asset to their group.

He wondered what Lys would have to say about this situation.

No, he already knew. She very likely would have put an arrow through the prince the moment he’d appeared.

The glint of Taran’s sword again caught his attention. “If you don’t lower that weapon, I’m going to have Felix chop off your arm.”

Taran laughed, an unpleasant crack of a sound that cut through the cool morning air. “I’d like to see him try.”

“Would you?” Felix asked. “My eyesight’s not as good as it was, but I think—actually, I know—I could do it real fast. It might not even hurt.” He chuckled darkly as he drew his sword. “No, what am I thinking? It’s going to hurt very badly. I’m no ally to any Cortas, but if Jonas wants the prince to keep breathing, he’s going to keep breathing. Got it?”

The two young men glared at each other for several tense moments. Finally Taran sheathed his weapon.

“Fine,” he said through clenched teeth. The tight smile on his face didn’t match the cold fury in his eyes.

Without a word, he shoved past Felix and boarded the ship.

“Thanks,” Jonas said to Felix under his breath.

Felix watched Taran’s departure with a grim look. “You know he’s going to be a problem, right?

“I do.”

“Great.” Felix glanced at the Limerian ship. “By the way, have I mentioned that I get really seasick, especially with the thought of Amara’s undead brother on board? So if our new friend Taran tries to cut my throat while I’m vomiting off the side of the ship, you’re the one I blame.”

“Understood.” Jonas eyed Nic and Ashur warily. “Very well, whatever fate awaits us on the other side, let’s set sail for Mytica. All of us.”

“Thought you didn’t believe in fate?” Nic muttered as they made their way up the gangplank.

“I don’t,” Jonas said.

But, to be honest, only a small part of him believed that anymore.

_________________________________________________________________________________

WEEK ONE:

12/5: Steph in Wonderland (Book Look)

12/5: Young Adult Hollywood (Book Playlist)

12/6: Live to Read (Review)

12/6: Adventures of a Book Junkie (Reasons to Read Falling Kingdoms)

12/7: Take Me Away to a Great Read (Falling Kingdoms Mood Board)

12/7: Fiction Adventure (Character Fancast)

12/8: A Page with a View (Favorite Fictional Princes)

12/8: Star Crossed (Review)

12/9: Seeing Double in Neverland (Guest Post)

12/9: Bibliophile Gathering (The Series So Far)

WEEK TWO:

12/12: Once Upon a Twilight (Quotes + Review)

12/13: Dark Faerie Tales (Excerpt)

12/13: Mundie Moms (Review)

12/14: The Book Nut (Reasons to Read Falling Kingdoms)

12/15: Scifi Chick (Spotlight)

12/15: Tales of the Ravenous Reader (Guest Post)

12/16: Two Chicks on Books (Q&A)

_________________________________________________________________________________

contest

This contest is provided by Razorbill/Penguin!

Enter for a chance to win a set of the Falling Kingdom books by Morgan Rhodes, which includes paperback editions of Falling Kingdoms, Rebel Spring, Gathering Darkness and Frozen Tides and a hardcover edition of Crystal Storm (Approximate Retail Value (“ARV”): $63.00). In addition, four (4) Runner-up Winners will each receive a paperback edition of Falling Kingdoms ($11.00 each).

crystal-storm-prize

Available December 13, 2016 from Razorbill/Penguin!

About this Book:

An epic clash between gods and mortals threatens to tear Mytica apart . . . and prove that not even the purest of love stands a chance against the strongest of magic.

MAGNUS and CLEO are forced to test the strength of their love when Gaius returns to Mytica claiming he’s no longer the King of Blood but a changed man seeking redemption.

LUCIA, pregnant with the child of a Watcher, has escaped the clutches of the unhinged fire god. Her powers are dwindling as she goes forth to fulfill a prophecy that will keep her baby safe . . . but could mean her demise.

JONAS treks back to Mytica with a plan to overtake Amara, but fate takes hold when he runs into the beautiful Princess Lucia and joins her on her perilous journey.

AMARA has taken the Mytican throne, but with no way to unleash the water magic trapped within her stolen crystal, she’ll never be able to seize glory and get sweet revenge.

And what kind of darkness will descend–and who will be safe–after Prince Ashur reveals the dangerous price he paid to cheat death?

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