Friday, February 12, 2016

Promo Post and Giveaway: Marked by Laura Williams McCaffrey

by Laura Williams McCaffrey
Publisher: Clarion Books
Release Date: February 16th 2016
Genre: Young Adult, Dystopia

Sixteen-year-old Lyla lives in a bleak, controlling society where only the brightest and most favored students succeed. When she is caught buying cheats in an underground shadow market, she is tattooed—marked—as a criminal. Then she is offered redemption and she jumps at the chance . . . but it comes at a cost. Doing what is right means betraying the boy she has come to love, and, perhaps, losing even more than she thought possible. Graphic novel–style vignettes revealing the history of this world provide Lyla with guidance and clues to a possible way out of the double bind she finds herself in.

 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

Follow the Marked by Laura Williams McCaffrey Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

I read, I write, I teach. I've published short stories in Cicada, YA Review Network, Solstice Literary Magazine, and Soundings Review. Clarion Books will release Marked, my YA dystopian fantasy, in February 2016. My other fantasy novels are WATER SHAPER and ALIA WAKING (both published by Clarion Books). For more information, it's best to visit my website:

  • PRIZE: Win (1) of (2) finished copies of MARKED by Laura Williams McCaffrey (US Only)
a Rafflecopter giveaway


Thursday, February 11, 2016

Audiobook Review: Invaded (Alienated #2) by Melissa Landers

Another great audiobook borrowed from the library once again.  And I have to say I now understand what all the fuss I've seen people make about this book series is about.  I loved the first one, Alienated, so much.  Obviously if you haven't read the first one yet, you probably shouldn't read my review of the 2nd one, as it will have spoilers for the first book.  You should go click the link for the first book above, and read up on that one.  But here goes my review for the second book!

As we left off in the first one, Cara is on her way to participate in the exchange on the planet L'eihr.  Unfortunately she won't get to have Aelyx with her, as it should have been, because of how they still have to try to convince the people of earth to accept an alliance with the L'eihr.  If they don't, in about 10  years, everyone on Earth will die.  Horrible deaths of dehydration, as the water is now ruined from a government experiment that went wrong.  An Earth government, not the aliens.  But the L'eihr have the way to fix it. And the only way they will share the fix is if the alliance works out.  And part of that means they have to stop trying to kill the L'eihr. And in this book, it seems as if Aelyx is the lucky recipient of all the assassination attempts.  He and Syrine are traveling the world to try to gather the support needed.  They are set up with a personal bodyguard, David, who soon becomes like a best friend to Aelyx, and after averting a bomb explosion from killing Syrine, she develops feelings for him.

Things aren't going so great on L'eihr for Cara either.  It seems this advanced race that doesn't have the emotions that humans do, is just as petty and mean as the people on Earth were to the L'eihr students when they were there.  Not only are the other students mean, the classes are extremely advanced for Cara for the most part.  Especially the physical education ones.  For awhile Cara's brother Troy is there, which gives her at least one friend, along with Aelyx's sister, Elle, Cara's roommate.   Of course there is Jackson, one of the members of The Way.  But there is something about Jackson that creeps Cara out.  There are other issues, soon Cara starts getting framed for things that would get her punished, in some cases the punishment is as severe as death.  When she gets to go see the colony, there is much still to be done.  And there are a lot of other things going on, Cara learns of a theory that says humans came before the L'eihr.  And then there are all these little probes that keep landing, starting with one that falls in the middle of Cara's Sh'ovah ceremony, which makes her a L'eihr citizen.

But things begin to come to a head, Cara can't imagine staying on L'eihr forever, especially when even after she's given a spot on the community that is planning the colony.  The others on the committee won't give an inch towards any suggestions that Cara brings up.  When Cara and Aelyx meet up again, these are things that will need to be discussed.  There will be some heartache as they try to decide what they will do next.  And all of it will be a part of a bigger plan, one that will lead to the death of characters we have grown to love, as well as making other characters out to be something that wasn't even imagined at the beginning of the story.

Such a great read.  Again, parts where I cried.  Parts that I laughed, and all in all, I just loved the story.  I still want my own Aelyx.  And this is another book that I think I would love to see as either a movie, or a tv series.  But if it was a series, I'd want them to do so much better about staying close to the story than they seem to do.  A great sequel, and now, now I can't wait to read the final book!

Also, right now I've got a giveaway going on where  you can pick one of the books in this series, just go HERE to enter by February 14th!

Promo Post - Thirst: Blood of my Blood by RP Channing

240+ Pages

~ Kira Sutherland ~

After a near fatal accident (and getting cheated on by her 'boyfriend'), and beating up the lead cheerleader (with whom the boyfriend cheated...), and being labeled as having 'issues' in her school because she, uhm, sees ghosts, Kira is left with two choices:

1. Continue her 'therapy' (where she's told the ghost is a hallucination and also gets her legs ogled too often...)


2. Go to Starkfield Academy, a boarding school for "Crazies and Convicts" (as the social media sites call them.)

She chooses the latter...

~ Cory Rand ~

Cory Rand has not had an easy life. His mother died in a car accident when he was twelve, and so did his mother's best friend...sort of. You see, Janice made a promise to take care of Cory just before she died, and so she lingers. Undead. A ghost that watches out for him.

Brought up in an abusive home, Cory quickly falls into a life of disreputable behavior. After his third offense (which was prompted by a girl, as usual - he has a weakness) he's left with two choices:

1. Be tried as an adult and share a cell with a guy named Bubba (he thinks...)


2. Go to Starkfield Academy, which Cory is pretty sure is run by vampires. But, hey, at least he'll get an education.

He chooses the latter...

It's at Starkfield that Kira meets Cory Rand, a boy with an insatiable Rage who sees ghosts, too. As well as other things, other things from his past, things that confuse him, things like fire and witches and demons.

Things he's always ignored.

Until now.


Young Adult Romance
Paranormal Romance
High School
Vampires, Demons, Witches
Dark Fantasy

Buy Links:

Kindle Unlimited 

Author Bio

R P Channing started writing three years ago, but never published anything even after churning out over a million words of fiction. Thirst: Blood of my Blood is the first book he dared to publish. When asked why, he said, “Because it’s the first thing I wrote that my wife actually enjoyed reading.” When not hammering away (most literally) at his keyboard, he can be found buried in a book, reading anything from romance to horror to young adult to non-fiction to comedy.

Author Links



The Puppy Eyes

My life was perfect.
I had the perfect shoes and the perfect friends and I lived in the perfect house. My nails were perfect and my hair was perfect (except on Sundays, it was always windy on Sundays) and I had the perfect clothes. My lips were a perfect red and my hair perfectly straight. My eyeshadow was perfect, my hips were...okay, and my waist...well...also okay. Nothing was wrong in my life.
But then there was Jack.
Jack was a problem.
He needed to go. I mean, when you’re dead, you’re dead! I had told him this endlessly. Somehow, Jack didn’t get it. I mean, I felt sorry for the guy. Sure. Being stuck between this life and the next. But just because I found him, does that mean I needed to keep him?
I think not!
Sadly, when Jack got that look in his eyes, that weary, almost teary (if his tear-ducts worked) look, I melted. I just couldn’t send him away. Not even Jack knew where he would go after he died.
Would he, like, die? As in — dead, nada, kaput, finito, gone, no more? Bye bye, sayonara, ciao, hasta la vista baby and all that?
I couldn’t have that on my conscience. No way.
I lay on my bed, wondering what to do about him. “Jaaaaaaack,” I hollered.
Still no answer.
His eyes rolled down to the ground. He was making those puppy eyes again. “Jack, I told you not to do that. I told you not to play on my sympathies.”
His puppy eyes became worse.
His skin was gray and, well, dead.
“Oh, brother,” I said. “I have to do something about you. If mom finds out I have another ‘imaginary friend’ — at my age — well, I’d die of embarrassment. But, like, really die. Not like you.” I wondered about this. Would I die? Was Jack a freak accident, or did all people live on like him? Think of the cemeteries...
The idea excited me somewhat.
What would you have me do, Miss Kira?
“Knock off the Miss Kira crap. I told you it’s just Kira.”
Yes, Miss Kira.
The dead. There’s just no reasoning.
“Fine, Miss Kira it is then.” Rover barked like a lunatic in the garden. No one else might be able to see Jack, but I was sure my dog could.
“I have to do something about this,” I mumbled.

The Rat

Mike knocked on the door before I had time to leave the house. Mike was the guy I thought (at the time) was perfect.
“Who is it?”
“It’s me, baby.”
Baby, urgh — I wasn’t his baby. I dated Mike because he was the quarterback, because girls are supposed to like the quarterback, because it’s just so darn perfect to be seen with the quarterback, like we’re brainwashed into thinking these things from the first romantic doll set mom buys us.
This was my previous life.
“Uh-huh. Gonna let me in?”
So you can try rub me up and then complain when I don’t let you? This, dear reader, was the big problem with Mike. The second we first kissed, his hand went way too far south for me to be comfortable — and I pulled back.
Mike suddenly wasn’t so perfect.
“Uhm, I was just on my way out,” I said.
“Kira? C’mon, open the door.” He sounded upset. “Is there someone in there with you?”
Boys. As if.
I didn’t know much about love (nothing, actually) but I knew this wasn’t it.
“Uhm, now’s not the time, Mike.”
“C’mon, Kira, what’s going on?” He banged harder.
When in doubt...lie. I opened the door a crack. “There’s a dead rat in the house, Mike. Been here for days. I gotta go get some detergent and stuff to handle the stench.”
Mike stepped back. He peered through the crack of the door.
“It’s really bad,” I said.
“I’ll drive you.”
“I’m afraid the smell” — I stuck my armpit to my nose — “has found its way all over me. I’ll drive myself.”
“O — okay. Fine.” And then he grinned like he wanted something. “Later? My place?”
Urgh. “Uhm, Not sure when though.”
I fought the urge to roll my eyes. According to girls at school, he was apparently so damn good looking — theoretically. But for me personally, he did nothing. Moved nothing. Twisted nothing. “Look, I gotta go, Mike. I gotta — ”
“Kira.” His eyes grew stern. “You’ve been avoiding me...”
Bingo! Well done contestant number one! And what have you won? A brain!
I tilted my head. “Mike, look, this...rat — I need to deal with it. We’ll talk later, okay? Bye.” I closed the door, not waiting for an answer, and peered out the peep hole. Mike hung around for a second, shoulders wide and eyes glaring straight at me through the door. Could he see me? Did he know I was looking at him?
He kicked something off the ground, and I had the distinct impression he mouthed the word Bitch before leaving. But I wasn’t sure...

The Mack

“Roll down the window, Jack.” Jack was recently dead, so he still had a smell about him. (Which only I could smell...)
I had purposely skipped breakfast. Maybe Jack would help me lose weight. I was (still am) a little wide, although it had never stopped guys flirting with me. I know how to dress.
But I could be skinnier.
Lucy Rogers was skinny. All bones and no boobs.
Charlene Carverton was a babe. Cheerleader. Big chest (which she pushed out generously with a push-up — if only guys knew). Toned thighs. Charlene only dated college boys (back then), which I still think is pretty gross for a girl her age.
He’s not for you,” Jack said out the blue.
This...Mike — he’s wrong for you, Miss Kira.” For all Jack’s faults (mainly, being dead), he has a good heart. Factually, probably it’s why I kept him around at first.
“You think I don’t know that?”
Then why don’t you dump him?
I braked at a stop sign. Looked left and right. “Because I’d look like an idiot. I flirted with him and showed interest, and one kiss later I can’t stand the sight of him.”
So dump him.
“It’s not that simple. Kids at school — they can be vicious. I have to let it fade slowly. If I drop the bomb on him, I’ll never hear the end of it through senior year.”
“And you care?”
Yes, I did. Forget Guantanamo, schools are rough. “You don’t understand, Jack. Maybe school was different in your day. But in mine, well, we walk through metal detectors.”
Schools weren’t too different in my day.” I noted the sadness in his voice.
“You okay?”
I’m dead.
Right. “You miss...your life?”
Jack shrugged. “I like being with you, Miss Kira. And I don’t remember much of my life. I think I’m in limbo.
Yes, like I have some unfinished business. If only I could is...” He scratched his head.
“Any ideas?”
Well, it can’t be love. If it were love, I’d be a vampire. That’s who teenage girls fall in love with these days.”
“A vampire? That’s just what I need — two undead beings stalking me.”
I feel I have something to do around you, Miss Kira. I don’t know what, but something. Something important.
I looked over at him. “Me?”
I was still looking at him when I missed the stop sign.
The Mack truck drove straight into us.  

$20 Amazon Gift Voucher Giveaway

At the back of the book there is a giveaway link. Once the book hits fifty reviews on Amazon, one of those reviewers will win a $20 (US Dollars) Amazon Gift Voucher!

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday: Map of Fates (The Conspiracy of Us #2) by Maggie Hall

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight upcoming releases that we're eagerly awaiting.  This week I chose a book that is a sequel to another book that I really enjoyed.  This is the sequel to an audiobook I listened to just recently, The Conspiracy of Us.  I will definitely listen to the sequel, or read it.  Not sure, whichever comes first?  But I loved the first one, I went and bought a copy to keep on my shelf.  You can click on the title link in this paragraph to go read my review of it.  Now, here is the blurb for the sequel from Goodreads:

Two weeks. 

That’s how long it took for Avery West’s ordinary life to change forever: In two weeks, she discovered she was heiress to a powerful secret society known as the Circle, learned her mother was taken hostage by the Circle’s enemies, and fell for a boy she’s not allowed to love, just as she found out another was her unwelcome destiny. 

Now, Avery crosses oceans in private jets to hunt for clues that will uncover the truth about the Circle, setting her mom and herself free before it’s too late. By her side are both the boys: Jack—steady, loyal, and determined to help her even at the expense of his own duty—and Stellan, whose connection to Avery grows stronger by the day despite her best intentions, making her question what she believes at every turn.

But at the end of a desperate hunt from the islands of Greece to the red carpet at Cannes comes a discovery that not only changes everything, but could bring the whole world to its knees. And now Avery is forced to face the truth: in the world of the Circle, no one is what they seem.

So, have you read the first book yet?  Does it sound like something you'd enjoy?  What book are you anxiously awaiting this week?

While you're here, I've got a couple giveaways you should go check out:

Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Review: Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto

First, thanks to Edelweiss and Balzer and Bray for allowing me to read an egalley of this one.  In the end I'd kind of classify this as a bit of a steampunk type of story, as well as western and fantasy.  And while I'm not normally a fan of steampunk, the way it was done in this story, well it just fit perfectly for the whole tale.  This was really quite an original story, can't quite compare most of it to anything I can think of.  All in all it was a good book, and I really enjoyed it, can't wait to bring it to my students at school to read!

The main character is Westie.  Westie lost her family to cannibals when she was little.  Not only did they take her family, they also took her arm.  She was found by one of the native tribes, who took her to a man in town, Nigel Butler, who was able to save her arm. Well, he saved it by giving her a mechanical/robotic arm.  Nigel is an inventor.  I believe this is where I felt the steampunk bit came into the story.  But Westie isn't the only orphan that Nigel took in, there is also Alistair, who also had a run-in with cannibals.  Only it is his face that is scarred. And so he either wears a mask with a robotic voice that Nigel created, or else he wears a scarf to cover his lower face, and uses sign language.  Westie has been a bit of a wild child, she is not lady-like in any way, no matter how hard her adoptive father tries to get her to be.  She used to be best friends with Alistair, but something happened that made him start distancing himself from her.  And really, Westie is now on a one-track plan to find the cannibals who killed her family and bring them to justice. 

But when Nigel invents a great machine, and he tries to bring in sponsors to help him get it up and going, these strangers throw a bit of a wrench into Westie's plans.  First there is their young nephew, James, who she first meets when he is getting into a fight outside a saloon in town, with a troll I think.  He kind of flirts with Westie, and seems so much different from the rest of the family of investors.  The biggest issue here though, is that Westie is sure the investors are the same people who killed her family.  Now she is on a mission to prove they are who she thinks they are.  When weird things start happening in town, a prostitute gets bitten by a women, and not just love bites, but take a bite out of her! 

This story did have a little bit of everything.  I mentioned trolls already, but there were vampires, one named Costain who seemed to have a bit of a thing for Westie, something I do kind of wish maybe there had been more about that in the story.  So many different kinds of characters.  But not in a bad way.  Although I'd have liked maybe some more with some of them, it worked fine for me.

A very unique tale as I mentioned.  There is a lot of action and mystery and wondering how will Westie prove what she thinks.  And then, the twist at the end, whoa, I didn't see that coming!  I definitely think it is worth a read.  While I can see how it might seem slow at the beginning, Westie's foul-mouthed, sarcastic character  really grabbed me and drew me in.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Cover Characteristic: Statues

The Cover Characteristic meme is hosted at  Sugar and Snark.   Here are the guidelines:

Each week we will post a characteristic and choose 5 of our favorite covers with that characteristic. If you want to join in and share your 5 favorite covers with the weeks particular characteristic, then just make a post, grab the meme picture (or make your own) and leave your URL in Linky (so we can visit).
You don’t even need to participate, just stopping by and saying hi would be great! Don’t forget to stop by the other participants!

It was a little easier this week to stick to just 5 choices, not sure if I have a favorite really.  So I'll just post them all and let you guys tell me what you like best!

Which one do you like best?  For the most part the statues are all kind of the same on my covers.  Guess maybe I need to branch out on what I read.  :-) 

While you're here, make sure to go enter my giveaways!


Promo Post: Scarred by Joanne Macgregor

Blurb / Synopsis:

"Life leaves you scarred. Love can make you beautiful." 

Seventeen year-old Sloane Munster is trying to reboot her life after a serious car accident left her badly scarred and emotionally traumatized. 

Starting her senior year at a new school, she’s delighted to see Luke Naughton, a swimmer whom she once had a crush on, in the class in front of her. But when he glares back at her with disgust and revulsion, she’s shocked and hurt, and assumes it’s because of her appearance. Despite misunderstandings, the chemistry between them sparks and love grows against a background of guilt, secrets, and mounting tensions at a school where bullying is rife and Sloane is not the most deeply scarred person. 

Sharp with bittersweet humor, Scarred is an intense, beautiful, compelling story of life, death and fighting for love against all the odds. 

Scarred is a great read for fans of Sarah Dessen, Stephanie Perkins and Abbi Glines.

Origin of the story:
Scarred is a young adult contemporary romance that seems to be finding significant crossover appeal.

Scars - internal and external, literal and figurative - often find their way into my books. Perhaps because I'm also a psychologist, I'm fascinated by how we are all scarred by our lives. There is simply no way to go through life without being physically and emotionally scarred. But these wounds are not only the trace evidence and reminders of what we have already endured, they also too often influence how we think, feel and behave, and therefore determine who we become.

The protagonist of this story, Sloane Munster, endures a terrible ordeal and is left horribly scarred. It changes the way she sees herself and she is too ready to believe the worst of the world. Preoccupied by the striking scar on her face, she perhaps doesn't see how we are all scarred, and she needs to learn that sometimes the most deeply scarred people carry no external marks.

The idea for this book came to me one night when I was jetlagged and sleepless. What if, I thought, a scarred teen assumes the boy who looks at her with loathing does so because he's repulsed by her appearance. But what if there's a whole other reason for his disgust and dislike? What if these two characters, each scarred in their own way, are uniquely able to heal each other?

That's the crux of this novel. Life leaves you scarred. Love can make you beautiful.

Buy Links:

Author Bio:
When not writing books, Joanne Macgregor is a Counselling Psychologist in private practice and deals mainly with victims of crime and trauma. It’s tough work and to combat creeping burnout, she started writing fiction several years ago. Now she consults and writes on alternate days, and in completely different head-spaces and physical environments. Although she lives in the frenetic adrenaline-rush of the big city, Joanne has always been in love with nature, and escapes into the wilds whenever she can. She’s a a Harry Potter fanatic, bakes the best choc-chip cookies on the planet, and is addicted to chilies and bulletproof coffee. She is the author of two other books for Young Adults - Turtle Walk (2011) and Rock Steady (2013), and loves writing about, and for, teens.

My social media links:

GoodReads Link

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Review: Banished (Forbidden #2) by Kimberley Griffiths Little

First thanks to Harper Collins and Edelweiss for allowing me to read an e-galley of this title.  I loved the first book, Forbidden, so much, that as soon as I saw this was available, I downloaded it to read.  Once again I'm participating in a tour with Dena from Batch of Books for this series.  If you haven't read the first book,  you need to go click on my link above to read that review, because there is a very good chance that this review of the 2nd book will have spoilers for the first book.  I am glad to say that other than one or two tiny details, I was able to dive right back into the story without forgetting what had happened before. And honestly, those details were very vague already in my head, and I soon remembered them as soon as there was a mention of those things in this story.

We join in with Jayden alone in the desert.  She has escaped Horeb and knows that she must look for Kadesh, even though as far as she knows, Horeb killed him.  But it's obvious that since the story goes on, she will find him.  But he's really injured, Horeb has done so much to him in that fight where he said he'd killed him.  But Jayden doesn't care, she loves Kadesh, and she tells him so.  The tribe that has rescued him accepts Jayden as his future wife, and promise to protect her as well.  However there is at least one man in the tribe that Jayden remembers from when her family's tribe had been attacked in the last story.  But supposedly he has sworn to help with the rest of his tribe.  And the prince of this new tribe, not only does Jayden see him meet with this tribe member, but he seems to be developing a romantic interest in Jayden as well. 

The tribe must move on as they soon find out that Horeb is on their tail, he wants to take back his betrothed, Jayden, any way that he has to.  First Jayden will want to save her family.  Going back to her own tribe, Jayden finds them turned against her, thanks to Horeb's mother, and they threaten to stone her.  Only Jayden's grandmother is there, her father has gone back to the city to look for her sister.  Kadesh's friends in the tribe will do their best to help Jayden get as many of her family members back as she can, and then take them all to Kadesh's kingdom, Sariba.  But things won't be the perfect ending and happily ever after once they reach Sariba.  Kadesh hasn't told Jayden everything, and there will be obstacles to face in order for things to go the way they should. 

The end of the book leaves us wondering how Kadesh's tribes will fight off Horeb.  After having dealt with some betrayal, soon they will have to fight members of their own kingdom who have their own sights set on the kingdom.

Once again I fell back in love with Jayden and Kadesh, although the bit in the kingdom, when we learn of Kadesh's secrets, it was emotional.  I did cry.  Such great emotion in this story.  I love all the historical parts especially.  The stoning, the worship of different gods, and even the locations are so fascinating.  Once again I love how the author gives some insight into the history at the end of the book.  We just finally got our copy of the first book in the library for my students to read.  I can't wait to get this second book ordered and added to the shelves for my students when they finish the first book. 

Friday, February 5, 2016

Promo Post with Giveaway: These Vicious Masks by Kelly Zekas and Tarun Shanker

Book Details:
These Vicious Masks by Kelly Zekas and Tarun Shanker
Published by: Swoon Romance
Publication date: February 9th 2016
Genres: Fantasy, Paranormal, 
Young Adult

Evelyn has no interest in marriage and even the dashing Mr. Kent can’t make her want to live up to society’s expectations. She’d much rather assist her beloved sister Rose in becoming the world’s first female doctor. But everything changes the night she meets Sebastian Braddock – not only is the reclusive lord both vexing and surprisingly attractive, he’s also quite possibly mad, and his interest in Rose is galling. So when Evelyn wakes up to discover that Rose has disappeared, she immediately suspects Sebastian.

But then she discovers that Sebastian’s strange tales of special powers are actually true, and that Rose’s kidnappers have worse in mind for her than simply ruining her reputation. Surrounded by secrets, lies, and unprecedented danger, Evelyn has no choice but to trust Sebastian, yet she can’t help but worry that Sebastian’s secrets are the most dangerous of all…

I have Powers Moment

Set up: Mr. Braddock has revealed that Evelyn’s missing sister has been seen in a dancing hall with a rather unsavory reputation. Evelyn insists on going to see for herself.

      “I have no care for your concerns,” I said. “This is the only way I will be convinced it’s her. I came to London against my parents’ wishes, and I am perfectly capable of doing this alone, as well.”

      He crumpled the paper in his hands, registering how futile it was to argue. He returned to pacing the length of the small garden, shaking his head, and fussing with the seams of his cuffs.

      “Very well,” he said. “Then I will be here this evening at seven.”

      “Unnecessary. I shall be fine myself.”

      “You will be eaten alive.” His voice rasped with scorn. “If you are going to be so foolhardy as to go through with this plan, then I will accompany you.”

      “I don’t need a chap—” I automatically snapped, but the memory of the drunken men in the alley was too fresh. I stood up, unable to resist the wine any longer. I poured it into a teacup and ignored the snort behind me.

      “Ah, so you know what to do when a man takes you for a doxy?”

      Mortified, I felt my face flush, but somehow kept myself from spitting out the wine. “When a man takes me for a . . . doxy? So you see it as an inevitability—why, thank you.”

      He prowled uneasily close to me, and I fumbled and dropped the cup. I only heard it shatter, unable to look away from the advancing oaf.

      “Forgive me for sullying your innocent ears, but if you go to a dancing room unaccompanied, you will hear much worse. And you will inevitably be taken for that kind of woman even if you’re wearing a nun’s habit.”

      “Ah, and you know this with all your infinite brothel experience.”

      “Yes,” he said firmly, not acknowledging the insult. “Now, seven o’clock—I will be here. It’s no longer a question. Be ready and wear a plain, unadorned mask—the sort you might wear to a masquerade ball.”

      Insufferable. I had nothing left to say to the obstinate man. “Fine,” I muttered. “Now if you’ll excuse me, I have better places to search this morning.”

      “Very well. But let me help—” he said, leaning forward to assist with the cup’s sad remains.

      I blocked his way. “I will be quite fine.”

      He nodded and drew back gracefully. “Do try to stay out of trouble today.” I could hear the smirk in his voice. He buttoned up his coat and opened the door while I knelt to pick up the shards of porcelain with as much dignity as I could muster.

      “You too. Try not to pick a fight with Tuffins as he lets you ou—!” But the final word became a yelp as a sharp ceramic edge drew a ragged cut over my palm, blood pooling up over the torn flesh.

      Mr. Braddock was gone. I stared down at the glassy red coloring my hand, both nauseated and abstractly intrigued by the sight of my own blood. It welled into a small pool and dripped onto the wine-stained dirt below.

      I carefully wrapped a handkerchief around my palm and headed upstairs to wash the cut clean. But when I took it off mere minutes later, only smooth, unbroken skin stared back up at me. I began to wonder exactly how much wine I had drunk. It could not have been enough for me to hallucinate, could it?

      I hastened to my reticule, wildly grabbing a card—Mr. Kent’s, actually—and sliced at my finger, causing a stinging paper cut. Though the graze still smarted, I watched closely as my skin knit itself back together in a matter of seconds.

      The room spun. The blood on the handkerchief was all I could see, mocking me. I could no longer ignore the evidence.

      I truly had the ability to heal.

Author Details:

Tarun and Kelly met in a freshman year writing class at NYU and started writing These Vicious Masks a few years later.

Tarun is a writer living in Los Angeles whose idea of paradise consists of kung-fu movies, David Bowie and chai tea. Since completing his first horrible screenplay in high school, he’s written everything from one-act plays and film criticism to humor pieces and strongly-worded emails. He’s also magnetized, crushed and burned the hard drive where that first screenplay can be found.

Kelly is a writer and actor living in NYC. YA is her absolute favorite thing on earth other than cupcakes and she has spent many hours crying over fictional deaths. She also started reading Harlequin romances at a possibly too early age (12?), and still loves a good paperback romance.

Links (Kelly):

  • One (1) finished physical copy of These Vicious Masks. Open to US and Canada only.
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