Sunday, July 29, 2012

{Review} Rapture by Lauren Kate

Title: Rapture
Series: Fallen
Publisher:
Author: Lauren Kate
Synopsis:

The sky is dark with wings . . . .

Like sand in an hourglass, time is running out for Luce and Daniel. To stop Lucifer from erasing the past they must find the place where the angels fell to earth. Dark forces are after them, and Daniel doesn’t know if he can do this—live only to lose Luce again and again.

Yet together they will face an epic battle that will end with lifeless bodies . . . and angel dust. Great sacrifices are made. Hearts are destroyed. And suddenly Luce knows what must happen.

For she was meant to be with someone other than Daniel. The curse they’ve borne has always and only been about her—and the love she cast aside. The choice she makes now will be the only one that truly matters.

In the fight for Luce, who will win?

The astonishing conclusion to the FALLEN series. Heaven can’t wait any longer.


When I first started with this series it was purely because I fell in love with the cover of Fallen. It was the most beautiful thing I have ever seen. I didn’t even read the blurb at the back. Normally that’s never a good thing to do, but this time being impulsive actually paid off. The Fallen series has become part of my life. I am immensely happy that I started this. Now on to the actual book I am reviewing, Rapture. I know Kristin already reviewed this but we decided that different points of views would be great as well!
Rapture was undoubtedly the best of the series so far. It made everything in the series worth it. My reaction after I finished this was simply just wow. It was all I could say. I was rendered speechless. The beauty of the story and the personal growth that Luce experiences in finding her true self was so beautiful I actually started crying. This is the first book that has ever shocked me so deeply. The events that enfolded in this story was something I never expected, best twist ever. My jaw literally dropped, this has never happened to me. It rocked me down to my core.
Luce is one of my favourite female leads of all time. The torture and sadness and punishment she had to endure every time, even though she as a person doesn’t remember it all, her soul does and it has made her a stronger person in the end and I find that so inspiring. Throughout Rapture she has to make a string of difficult decisions and she has to face so many hardships that would crumble the spirit of a regular person. This shows the length of how far her strength and determination goes.
She does get help from Daniel though. Daniel is an enigma all on his own. He is the first good guy in a book that I actually love. Normally I love the bad boy, like Cam, even though I do love Cam; Daniel is the one who stole my heart. I mean who actually knows a guy who will go through absolute heartbreak and the pain of losing you over and over again and never regret a single moment of it? Who will endure it time and time again just to see you again? That is what screams love to me. The depth of their love for each other just touches my soul, it is something that I hope to have one day
Lauren Kate just became the queen of love stories for me. She wrote the most perfect, most enthralling love story of all time! It is the stuff of legends; this will be my favourite love story. This series has touched my soul; let it touch yours as well.


Wednesday, July 25, 2012

{Review} Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers

Title: Grave Mercy
Series: His Fair Assassin #1
Publisher: Anders Press
Author: Robin LaFevers
Synopsis:
Why be the sheep, when you can be the wolf?

Seventeen-year-old Ismae escapes from the brutality of an arranged marriage into the sanctuary of the convent of St. Mortain, where the sisters still serve the gods of old. Here she learns that the god of Death Himself has blessed her with dangerous gifts—and a violent destiny. If she chooses to stay at the convent, she will be trained as an assassin and serve as a handmaiden to Death. To claim her new life, she must destroy the lives of others.

Ismae’s most important assignment takes her straight into the high court of Brittany—where she finds herself woefully under prepared—not only for the deadly games of intrigue and treason, but for the impossible choices she must make. For how can she deliver Death’s vengeance upon a target who, against her will, has stolen her heart

When I first saw this book, it just called to me so I knew I had to have it!! It has a beautiful cover and one of the best series names I have ever seen! What made it even greater for me was that it is set in 1487 France, when I saw that, I was hooked. Even though it is set so far back in time you do end up feeling a connection with the characters and the female lead, Ismae, is strong and fierce and she doesn’t let herself get pushed around by men, as most women were at those times. She stood her ground and made sure she was included in everything, the fact that she is one of the daughters (assassin) of St Mortain (god of Death) helped even more. She held her own in a fight just like any man could. She is also very protective of those she loves and cares for. She was taken in by the convent of St. Mortain when she was 14 and was raised, with all the other novices, by some seriously badass nuns. They taught them how to fight, who to kill a man in every possible way and they make various deadly poisons. I know what you’re thinking, what if the nuns in our world really are kick ass assassins??? That’s what I wondered. Although i do have an imagination that runs away with me a few times.
Now about the wonderful, Gavriel Duval. He is the male lead in this story and he is just swoon-worthy. At first he is a little cold towards Ismae, but aren’t they all? At least he does have a valid reason for disliking her, since she gets in the way of his plans all the time with  all the, you know, assassinations. With time they start to tolerate each other so that they can work together on finding out who wants to take the Duchy from the Duchess. Duval develops a fierce protectiveness over Ismae and gets all iffy when other guys touch her, what I thought was kind of cute.
I am so glad that Robin LaFevers created a female lead that didn’t fold into herself in difficult situations. Especially in those times women needed to be assertive or the men would’ve walked all over them and I am all for the power of womenJ. The world she created was very interesting and intellectual and she kept you guessing throughout the whole book. That said, the English is a bit different since it was in a different time, but it isn’t difficult to understand. Even though it is in historical time it doesn’t have much history in it so those who do not like history novels do not have to worry.
This is a book I highly recommend. It is one of my favourites of this year, i was enthralled from the start. Now for one of my favourite quotes!!!!
“‘Not all men are the same, you know. With someone such as Gavriel, I would suggest appearing aloof, not chasing too much. He might see that as suffocating rather than charming.’ Her words are sharp, but her voice is sweet, like honey on the edge of a blade, and meant to be cutting. I comforted myself with the knowledge that if Duval ever felt smothered by me, it will be because I am holding a pillow over his face and commending his soul to Mortain.”

{Waiting On Wednesday} Double Edition


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine, it spotlilghts upcoming releases that we are dying to read.

Title: Finale
Series: Hush Hush 4 (Last book)
Author: Becca Fitzpatric
Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Publisher: Simon and Schuster
Release Date: October 20, 2012
Goodreads

Synopsis:

Fates unfurl in the gripping conclusion to the "New York Times" bestselling Hush, Hush saga. Nora is more certain than ever that she is in love with Patch. Fallen Angel or no, he is the one for her. Her heritage and destiny may mean that they will always be enemies, but there is no turning her back on him. And yet their biggest challenge lies ahead. Can their love survive a seemingly insurmountable divide? The lines are drawn, but it's unclear which sides have been taken. And in the end, will there be enough trust left to rebuild what has been broken?



Title: The Rise of Nine
Series: Lorein Legacies 3
Author: Pittacus Lore
Publisher: HarperCollins
Date: August 21, 2012
Goodreads

Synopsis:

Until the day I met John Smith, Number Four, I'd been on the run alone, hiding and fighting to stay alive.

Together, we are much more powerful. But it could only last so long before we had to separate to find the others. . . .

I went to Spain to find Seven, and I found even more, including a tenth member of the Garde who escaped from Lorien alive. Ella is younger than the rest of us, but just as brave. Now we're looking for the others--including John.

But so are they.

They caught Number One in Malaysia.
Number Two in England.
And Number Three in Kenya.
They caught me in New York--but I escaped.
I am Number Six.
They want to finish what they started.
But they'll have to fight us first.



{ARC Review} Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry

Title: Pushing the Limits
Author: Katie McGarry
Genre: YA Contemporary
Publisher: HarlequinTeen
Publication Date: July 31, 2012
Source: NetGalley


Synopsis:


"I won't tell anyone, Echo. I promise." Noah tucked a curl behind my ear. It had been so long since someone touched me like he did. Why did it have to be Noah Hutchins? His dark brown eyes shifted to my covered arms. "You didn't do that-did you? It was done to you?" No one ever asked that question. They stared. They whispered. They laughed. But they never asked.

So wrong for each other...and yet so right.

No one knows what happened the night Echo Emerson went from popular girl with jock boyfriend to gossiped-about outsider with "freaky" scars on her arms. Even Echo can't remember the whole truth of that horrible night. All she knows is that she wants everything to go back to normal. But when Noah Hutchins, the smoking-hot, girl-using loner in the black leather jacket, explodes into her life with his tough attitude and surprising understanding, Echo's world shifts in ways she could never have imagined. They should have nothing in common. And with the secrets they both keep, being together is pretty much impossible.Yet the crazy attraction between them refuses to go away. And Echo has to ask herself just how far they can push the limits and what she'll risk for the one guy who might teach her how to love again.

"An edgy romance that pulls you in and never lets go. I was hooked!"-Gena Showalter,  New York Times bestselling author of the Intertwined series.

It's been a long long time since I've given any book 5 Stars but Pushing the Limits pulled me in from the first page and held my attention to the very last! Dark, edgy, and perfect. Need I say more? Okay, probably...so I will.

Honestly, I was going to wait and write this review in a couple of days but I was discussing it with my girls over at Starbooks and I became inspired. I've never been much of a contemporary fan, but I'm finding myself reading more and more of them lately. I think it's because I love the darkness of paranormal romance and contemporary tends to be light-hearted and a little too happily-ever-after for me. Not a problem with Katie McGarry's debut Pushing the Limits.

Two teens who have been through traumatic and horrifying life-altering events. One withdraws into herself and the other becomes the bad boy you can't help but love. If Noah and Echo could be summed up as "withdrawn" and "typical bad boy" then 5 stars wouldn't be called for. Fortunately, Ms. McGarry has created deep and complex characters who embodied so many emotions I sometimes felt a little overwhelmed. But...people, especially hormonal teenagers, are never as clearly cut and simple as some writers would have you believe.

"My father is a control freak, I hate my stepmother, my brother is dead and my mother has...well...issues. How do you think I'm doing?" - Echo

So many times when an author writes about tragedies I feel like I am standing on the outside looking in. I connected with Echo instantly. Because Echo has suppressed her "incident," the reader discovers what happened to her as Echo remembers the bits and pieces. Watching her put the puzzle together created a perfect amount of suspense. Gosh...I really don't want to write any spoilers, but I can't really avoid this one. Spoiler Warning: Even though I knew Echo should avoid her mother at all costs, I completely understood her need to seek her out. Partially because Echo needed to understand why her mom did what she did and partially just because her mom is her mom...you know? Spoiler over!

"I wrote about the person I love the most, my older brother, Noah. We don't live together so I wrote what I imagine he does when we're not together."

"And what is that?" prodded the stout man.
"He's a superhero who saves people in danger, because he saved me and my brother from dying in a fire a couple of years ago. Noah is better than Batman." The crowd chuckled.
"I love you, too, lil' bro." - Noah and his brother Jacob.

And Noah...well, let's just say WOW! Talk about a young man with issues who has handled them horribly, but I understood every broken piece of him and could imagine myself reacting in the same ways. There's so much depth to his character. Yes, he is the pot-smoking, gave up on life, who gives a damn guy...at least on the outside. Internally, he has two younger brothers he loves and wants nothing more than to assure they are safe. Victims of a horrible house fire that took their parents, these three boys got thrown into the "system" and separated. Noah's innate instinct to protect all children earns him the reputation of being unstable and violent, so his visitation rights with his brothers range from monthly supervised to nonexistent. But Noah doesn't give up easily. Noah's love for his brothers and their family bond brought a whole other level of emotional attachment to his story.

We'd read about sirens in English this fall; Greek mythology bullshit about women so beautiful, their voices so enchanting, that men did anything for them. Turned out that mythology crap was real, because every time I saw her, I lost my mind. - Noah

Noah earned my love and devotion not only because of his blood family devotion but his devotion to foster siblings too. Anybody who is as protective and supportive as Noah is innately good, no matter how much they wish otherwise. I actually think Noah reminds me a bit of my oldest daughter who has told me on more than one occasion that she's tired of "always being the good girl." I simply remind her that she knows who she is deep inside, no matter what she does or doesn't do. 

"Do I need to contact your social worker?"
I headed for the door. "Go ahead. What is she going to do? Rip my family apart? Put me in the foster care system? Continue to dig and you'll see you're too late."
"When was the last time you saw your brothers, Noah?"
My hand froze on the doorknob.
"What if I could offer you increased supervised visitation?"
I let go of the doorknob and sat back down. - Noah and Mrs. Collins

Mrs. Collins may be my favorite adult character in a YA book ever. She's new to the school system but a completely awesome clinical social worker. Whether she meant for the outcome to be what it was or not, she understood both Echo and Noah on a level no one else ever could. Pairing them accomplished much more than I expected and their characters complimented each other perfectly.

"Baby, no one would ever make the mistake of using the word ugly with you. Especially with me around. He pushed the curls off my face, his fingers leaving a burning trail. "Everything about you is beautiful and sexy as hell." - Noah

Both Noah and Echo have so much to overcome and Noah has so much to fight for, including Echo. Their emotional roller-coaster caused the deepest parts of my soul to ache. I wanted to jump in the book and fix everything for them, as impossible as it would be. I think that's where my attachment to Mrs. Collins came from. She always had Noah's and Echo's best interests in mind, even when they didn't like or trust her. And...Mrs. Collins doesn't dwell on making them like her, she gains their trust with actions as opposed to words. Nothing comes easy for any of them, but eventually, things do come together.

I kissed her lips. Soft, full, warm--everything I'd fantasized it would be and more, so much more. Echo hesitantly pressed back, a curious question for which I had a response. I parted my lips and teased her bottom one, begging, praying, for permission...She opened her mouth, her tongue seductively touching mine, almost bringing me to my knees. Flames licked through me as our kiss deepened. Her hands massaged my scalp and neck, only stoking the heat of the fire. - Noah

The book is written in first person from both Echo's and Noah's perspectives. Since I had an egalley from NetGalley, the POV's bled into each other. I'm certain the finished product will be better defined. I loved getting inside Noah's head and seeing his heart-ache. I know some people don't like dual POV's and for so long, it was a huge No-No, but I love seeing more than one side of the story. I'm one of those nosy people who want to know what the other main characters are thinking and third person omniscient sometimes seems a step or two removed for me. 

My final thoughts:

Pushing the Limits by Katie McGarry is a book filled with warring emotions. Pain and numbness. Loss and gain. Heart-ache and love. Dark intermingled with moments of light. Brutality and gentleness. Two teenagers who lose everything separately and then find their way together. There is nothing I didn't love about this book. The emotions are raw and gripping, the friendships real and imperfect, and the romance is slow burning, building into a heated flame of passion.

Side note: If there were any problems with the writing, I was too absorbed in the story-line to notice. Ms. McGarry's world-building and story-telling skills rocked my world!

*This book was obtained via NetGalley and HarlequinTeen Publishing in exchange for my honest review. No money exchanged hands. Both the cover-art and the synopsis were obtained from Goodreads for the soul purpose of this review.

Tuesday, July 24, 2012

{FYI} Go Vote for Your Favorite Novels - NPR

Hey guys! Go vote for your favorite novels at the NPR site. They have a great collection of books, many deserve more than my single vote...so I'm hoping you'll run over and vote for the novels that moved you to tears or laughter or made you think long and hard, or possibly appeared in your dreams.

Maybe while you are there, you'll find a few books you need to pick up and read. This list is full of greatness.

WARNING: You are only allowed to choose 10 books, so look at the entire list before you choose. Here's the link to a MASTER LIST arranged alphabetically. I warn you, 10 votes was not enough for me. And...I also thought a few books were missing from the list but oh well. Go HERE to vote.

When you get done voting, come back and tell me what books you voted for or what books you felt should have been added for your chance to win a book of your choice. Open internationally as long as the Book Depository ships to you.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

{Teaser Tuesday} Along for the Ride by Sarah Dessen


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
• BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!



Title: Along for the Ride
Author: Sarah Dessen
Publisher: Penguin
Imprint: Viking Juvenile
Release Date: June 1, 2009'

Synopsis:

It’s been so long since Auden slept at night. Ever since her parents’ divorce—or since the fighting started. Now she has the chance to spend a carefree summer with her dad and his new family in the charming beach town where they live.

A job in a clothes boutique introduces Auden to the world of girls: their talk, their friendship, their crushes. She missed out on all that, too busy being the perfect daughter to her demanding mother. Then she meets Eli, an intriguing loner and a fellow insomniac who becomes her guide to the nocturnal world of the town. Together they embark on parallel quests: for Auden, to experience the carefree teenage life she’s been denied; for Eli, to come to terms with the guilt he feels for the death of a friend.

In her signature pitch-perfect style, Sarah Dessen explores the hearts of two lonely people learning to connect

This is the first Sarah Dessen I have read and I love it so so so much! Thank you April David for such an awesome suggestion. And I'm going to have so much gushing about this book when I'm done, the review is going to take pages. LOL.

My Teaser #1: It was a split second decision, the kind you hear about people making in the most dangerous or serious of situations. This was really neither, but I still was not thinking, just doing, as I reached my hand into the beans, scooping out a big gob with my fingers. Then, before I could reconsider, I turned and launched it at Eli.

My Teaser #2: I smiled, and then, in the middle of Tallyho, in the middle of the night, in the middle of everything, Eli kissed me. It was not at all how I'd imagined it happening, and yet totally perfect anyway.

Monday, July 23, 2012

{Cover Reveal} Shadow of the Blood Moon by Robin P Waldrop


A simply awesome cover reveal today. I've been blessed enough to have this author in my life as a friend, confidant, and mentor. Shadow of the Blood Moon is the second book in this amazing series by Robin P. Waldrop. She's asked me to help with the cover reveal today, and since I had been privy to seeing the cover beforehand, I couldn't wait to show it to the world. I love ominous covers! Everything you see here, ties directly to this novel. Look close...

Blurb:

Genevieve Labreck is back with a score to settle. Her mom has been kidnapped by Zane, hybrid and all-around monster.  Rumors fly that Gen’s mom is holed away in Prague, a city recognized by humans for its serene beauty and intense culture, but Gen and Will know something humans don’t. Prague is haunted by dark, evil forces.

Can Gen and Will save her mom, or will they be too late? 

Some will live, others will fall. At what price do you walk away from those you love?

*****************************************************************************

If you haven't read the first book, Ties to the Blood Moon, it's free on Amazon right now! 

Sunday, July 22, 2012

{Review} Cutting Edge by Robert W. Walker

Title: Cutting Edge
Author: Robert W. Walker
Genre: Criminal Suspense
Series: Lucas Stonecoat #1

Synopsis:

Robert W. Walker, author of the phenomenally successful Instinct thrillers returns to his acclaimed Edge series -- featuring Native American police detective Lucas Stonecoat and police psychiatrist Meredyth Sanger. Stonecoat must track the Scalper -- a insatiable killer whose grisly calling card cuts deep into the heart of Stonecoat's Native American heritage.



This book starts out a little slow for me but by chapter 12 I started getting antsy to know what Stonecoat and Dr. Sanger would do with the case. Walker had me reeled in with the way he made me think that Stonecoat didn’t want to take the chance but with Sanger’s pursuit, he was all in. It was like she was just pulling him along. Both characters had a love-hate persona for each other. Throughout the book Walker puts in all kinds of twist and turns making it a true suspense novel. After reading this, I have found a new suspense author to add to my favorites.

Shalena C. Douthit

{Review} Breaking Free by Beth Moore

Breaking Free by Beth Moore

As reviewed by: Shalena Douthit

Title: Breaking Free
Author: Beth Moore
Genre: Christian/Inspirational
B & H Publishing
Synopsis:

A best-selling book now available in paperback for the first time!

Do you want to know God and really believe Him?

Do you want to find satisfaction in God, experience His peace, and enjoy His presence? Do you want to make the freedom Christ promised a reality in your daily life?



In Breaking Free , Beth Moore embarks on a study of selected passages from the book of Isaiah, drawing several parallels between the captive Israelites and today’s Christians, in order to show how to make freedom in Christ a daily reality. Moore teaches readers to remove obstacles that hinder freedom by identifying spiritual strongholds in their lives and overcoming them through the truth of God’s Word—truth that will set us free.

Moore starts the book off with a challenge….memorizing the word of God. That in its self gets my mind rolling with a slight tinge of anxiousness. Moore emphasizes verses from Isaiah which help one’s mind to “break free” from the stronghold of idols, pride, legalism, prayerlessness, and unbelief and to make “Him to become God alone to you with a powerful story to tell."  Many self examples are used to paint the picture of overcoming these strongholds.

The use of Hebrew/Greek words and definitions made the book a little boring to me. To say that I became closer to God after reading the book is an understatement. There were some great points made but I just didn’t get the “Aha” moments I was expecting to get. This book was written to be read along with taking the Bible study and I feel like I would have received more from it if I had been in a study with other women. This was a first book by Moore I have read and I pray that I can read others and get a chance to have a better opinion of her work.

{Introduction} Shalena Douthit - New reviewer

Hello blog world! I’m Shalena Douthit and I'm very thankful to have the chance to share my reviews with each of you!

A little about me: I’m a wife to a commercial diver, mother to 2 boys and one girl and when not busy with the family, I’m volunteering my time at church as an administrator of the Food Bank, chair of Women’s ministry, director of VBS and anything else that needs to be organized.

I love reading and reviewing books!! Some of my favorite genres are crime fiction, romance/tragedy, contemporary women’s fiction, and Christian living/romance but I’m always open to broadening my spectrum.   

I have been dabbling in beta reading for the awesome Robin P. Waldrop and absolutely love the opportunity to work along side her!

You will find me on Goodreads and many of my first reviews. I also have posted the beginnings of a short story/book.

My current read……….



                                                                                                                 ……..and I’ll be back soon.

Thursday, July 19, 2012

{Follow Friday} July 20, 2012


Wow! Haven't participated in a Follow Friday since February! Where does the time go? First I'd like to thank Parajunkee's View and Alison Can Read for being such wonderful hosts and helping keep everybody together so we can make new blogger friends!

*****************************************************************************

Gain new followers and make new friends with the Book Blogger Feature & Follow! If this is your first time here, welcome! You are about to make some new friends and gain new followers -- but you have to know -- the point of this hop is to follow other bloggers also. I follow you, you follow me.

The Feature & Follow is hosted by TWO hosts, Parajunkee of Parajunkee's View and Alison of Alison Can Read. Each host will have their own Feature Blog and this way it'll allow us to show off more new blogs!

*******************************************************************************


Q: Christmas in July! Someone gives you a gift card for two books (whatever that costs). What two books will you buy?

Well, I have so many books on my lists it would be so very hard to choose, but for now, I'll say The Golden Lily by Richelle Mead - I'm jonesing for some Adrian, badly! And next, I've been dying to read The Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin. I'm a huge Edgar Allen Poe fan, and I keep picking the book up, and setting it back down. Eventually, I'm just going to have to give in and buy the dang thing. LOL.

What two books would you choose?

{Review} Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Title: Sweet Evil
Series: Sweet Trilogy #1
Author: Wendy Higgins
Publisher: HarperTeen

Synopsis:


Embrace the Forbidden

What if there were teens whose lives literally depended on being bad influences?

This is the reality for sons and daughters of fallen angels.

Tenderhearted Southern girl Anna Whitt was born with the sixth sense to see and feel emotions of other people. She’s aware of a struggle within herself, an inexplicable pull toward danger, but Anna, the ultimate good girl, has always had the advantage of her angel side to balance the darkness within. It isn’t until she turns sixteen and meets the alluring Kaidan Rowe that she discovers her terrifying heritage and her willpower is put to the test. He’s the boy your daddy warned you about. If only someone had warned Anna.

Forced to face her destiny, will Anna embrace her halo or her horns?
 

I came across this book because my friend just couldn’t stop talking about it. She went on and on about it so I decided to read it. I was a bit nervous though because normally when people rant and rave about a book I get high expectations and then I don’t want to be disappointed. But this wasn’t the case this time

I absolutely loved Sweet Evil from the start. Although I had to get used to Anna’s goody-goodiness, I came to understand why she was like that (she is half angel half demon) and then I also started to accept her for who and what she is. In the end it made her a very strong character who knew what she believed in and to not get influenced by the corrupted world she found herself in. I have so much respect for this girl. Wendy Higgins is a phenomenal writer and she created a world where you can get lost in. She also gave the most accurate description of what the Nephalim really are. The spawn of demons.

Now enough about the good and all about the bad, bad , bad. Kaidan is the male lead in this story and he is the ULTIMATE bad boy. He is the son of the Demon of Lust. He is exactly the type of guy girls get warned about to stay far away from, like if you see him and he takes notice of you, you move to Ethiopia!!! Of course that doesn’t happen, not even a nun could refuse this boy. He is tall dark and everything and I am totally fangirling and receding back into my Kai Obsession while writing this post. To make him even more sexier he is the DRUMMER in a very sexy rock band. Even though Kaidan is the embodiment of hotness and that he is half evil demon, the dude is actually a good guy. He becomes fiercely protective of Anna, even though he wants to kiss every freckle on her body ;) (I know, swoon right) he goes against everything he is to protect her virtue when they go on a road trip to meet Anna’s father who is in jail and also to go see an important nun who was there at the day of her birth.

Sweet Evil is a book that you need to read if you want to be completely consumed by the story and the characters. A bit of a warning though, the ending is brutal, it’s not a cliffhanger exactly but I literally screamed noooooooooo at the end and threw the book across the room and sent various curses to the author (just kidding ;)).

All in all, it is very easy to form a connection with the characters, I won’t say you can relate to them because I honestly can’t say: Oh yeah, I remember that time where I found out I was half angel and half demon and I fell in love with a demon of lust, like really. So a connection is all you need for a book to be part of your soul. And yeah I kind of drivelled a bit there...

THIS IS A DEFINITE MUST READ.

With love

Kelly M

{Indrocdutions} Kelly McGeer

Hey everyone! I just wanted to update everyone on a few things changing here at Better Read Than Dead. I've been staying incredibly busy with a side project or two but don't want to give up my blogging, so I've tricked (shh...don't tell them) into writing some reviews.

You've been introduced to Kelly Coffee. She's written a review and a Series Sunday post for us so far. I look forward to reading more of her reviews soon.

Today, I'm introducing another Kelly. This time we have Kelly McGeer. If you get confused on who is who, just check out the signatures at the bottom of their reviews. Kelly M is fixing to post a review on Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins. It is a must read! I let her take this review because she is so attached to the characters, I felt she was the best person for the job. I've read the review and she had me rolling on the floor. She definitely has a way with words.

So...let's see if I can find a picture of her! 


Kelly hales from Johannesburg, Gauteng and is attending University studying Psychology, so we're all being very careful around here, or she may find out we are all insane. Actually, she knows that already. 

I met Kelly about a year ago in my favorite book group ever. Starbooks. We've drooled over crush-worthy guys together (seriously, the pics posted on this group are enough to make you blush), debated books, and squealed over our newest book crush. It changes day to day. Just don't mention Zach from the Shade series, because she is a hater. LOL. Just kidding Kelly, you know I love you! 

I hope you guys love all my new reviewers as much as I do. We all have our own style and tastes, and I think adding new reviewers to the blog will be tons of fun. 

Be sure to drop Kelly M a welcome note. I'm excited to have her here!

You can find her on Twitter! @kellymcgeer

{Blog Tour - Book Spotlight} Witness by Jamie Magee


Title: See
Series: See #1
Author: Jamie Magee

Synopsis:


Forgetting who you are, your ambitions, your passions is crippling….but remembering – embracing your purpose with a new sense of determination is more than empowering….it's life altering. Charlie Myers is on a life altering path that will cause the dammed to humble in silence.

One night…just a few friends, how could it go so wrong? That was the question seventeen year old Charlie Myers was asking when she found herself in the ER. Outwardly nothing was wrong with Charlie, she was a vision of perfect heath, internally she was battling a raging headache…one the doctor told her she would overcome shortly, but Charlie knew something else was wrong …very wrong.

Part of her had been stolen…she was missing memories. Those memories were sacred. They held the key to her sanity. They told her that the sinister whispers, the shadows that came to life before her were not as ominous as she felt they were. They held the bond with her late father, a famed musician. They caused her to forget the one talent that allowed her to face the darkness that haunted her every waking hour. They also masked a much deeper bond, the face of the one that had stolen her heart, long before the age of seventeen.

Sitting in the ER with her angry mother she couldn’t figure out what she was missing, or even how. Her thoughts told her that she needed to protect Britain, a friend of hers, but that didn’t make any sense – Britain didn’t need to be protected from anyone, he was strong, young, and absurdly wealthy. Charlie also knew that even though her friend Bianca called Charlie her best friend, she didn’t trust her …she was almost sure she despised her, but she couldn’t figure out why, or understand how random thoughts were telling her that she adored both Britain and Bianca – that they were her saviors – that they brought silence to the unstoppable whispers, but the silence scared Charlie. In her mind anyone or anything that could bring silence to something that dark could not be good.

Charlie wanted to stay in NY, figure out what she was missing, why, and who was behind it all, but her mother had other plans. Against her will, Charlie was sent to Salem to live with her sister, within that small town Charlie found her memories and so much more.

Her story begins now.

Title: Witness
Series: See #2
Author: Jamie Magee

Synopsis:


Forgetting who you are is hard, but not as hard as remembering. Remembering that you have no idea how to face your demons, how to save the lost.

Charlie is at a sacred threshold.The ‘glass box’, as she calls it, is slowly falling. Her childhood has ended. The moment she has yearned for, the moment where she can go and do anything, anything at all without seeking permission is now. She’d dreamed of this time, all of her friends had, but now that it’s here, she doesn't know which way to run, or if she should even run at all.

Charlie knew that running would be a goodbye forever, and she didn’t want that, she wanted to freeze the time she was in, to stay in the calm before the storm, the illusion that she could out wit the ones who seek her, hold the one she loves, and play the music that gives her passion. She’ll soon discover no one can hide from their fate, that time does not stop in place, and that whether she chooses to perceive it or not, the darkness has come.

What Charlie feared most, losing him, is a threat now more than ever. A realm, a dark and twisted dream world has called him, and now she must fight to save him, and others like him. Standing in her way is a soul from another life, a boy that promises that he will destroy her world, to save her life. With this threat in hand, with the dark path that her friends are on, Charlie must fight to find a way to leave, to trust that beyond her dimension there are souls that can help her, help all of them. The only question is, will she find them before it's to late, and if she can't, how is she going to use her gift, the gifts they all share to save them.




*************************************************************************

Want to win an ebook of See and/or Witness?

What makes this awesome is that each stop will be able to give away an ebook of SEE and Witness - the stops before the 19th will be giving away an ebook that is not yet published!! How fun is that?

Jamie also has bookmarks and guitar picks to giveaway along with the ebooks!

One name will be drawn from all the comments on the tour to win printed copies of both SEE and Witness - along with 25$ gift card to Amazon (bookmarks and picks will go with this as well). For the sake of fairness all prizes are international.

All I need you to do is leave a comment telling me what you would do if you suddenly found out it is your job to save the world?

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

{Review} Silent Song by Ron C Nieto

Title: Silent Song
Author: Ron C Nieto
Self-Published 2012

Synopsis:


The princess of the school, Alice, is keeping a secret that could strip her of her high school fame. She is obsessed with the school’s outcast, Keith, but not just him – his music.

Since the inspiration for the song hit, Keith can’t get it out of his mind. The song must be played; it demands to be played. He knows the music is changing him, but he is unable to stop it.

Music has the ability to move you, enlighten you, and take you to places you have never dreamed of. And this particular piece? It has a life of its own and makes you forget who you really are.

As Keith and Alice learn of one another to the notes of that one perfect tune, they can overlook their roles and discover who they could be together. But they also discover someone else is listening and intends on keeping Keith to herself, possibly for an eternity.


I'm not going to lie, when asked by a friend to review a book, I get a little nervous. What if I hate the entire book? Or worse, their writing style? What if I can't connect to the characters (a must for me)? I mean, it would be kind of obvious if I said, "Hey! How 'bout we do a guest post or interview instead of a review?" They would immediately think I hated the book. And I don't enjoy hurting anyone's feelings, especially not my friends. All I'm saying is ... thank goodness I adored everything about Silent Song.

Ron has a unique writing style that it took me a bit to get used to, but as soon as I did, I fell in love.  And, what started out as a type of love story quickly took some much unexpected twists and turns transforming the novel into something completely different. A thriller, maybe? A ghost story? Definitely. A mutual friend wrote something about reading the book and her many OMGs and WTFs. She did not lie. Just when I thought I knew where the story was headed, Ron added something completely off the beaten path.

While I was never the "popular" or "princess" girl in high school, I had tons of friends from all walks of life. I think this is why I was able to connect with Alice so well. She was a strong female protagonist who began the story attempting to keep her group of petty and self-absorbed friends. However, it did not take her long to decide the ones who were worth it would stick by her no matter what. Luckily for her, she had a couple of them. 

Keith, the misunderstood guitar playing emo guy, captivated Alice's attention for more than one reason. She loved his music and often found herself hiding under his window just to hear him play his guitar. When one of her frenemies decided to ask him to join the school play, Alice couldn't fathom what was up because most of the school treated him like a leper. Once she discovered the reason, she became more determined than ever to stand by Keith's side and protect him the best she could. Thing is, Keith really didn't need her protection from the students but he did need her for a completely different reasons. Reasons I can't tell.

I really enjoyed the interaction between Keith and Alice and loved the way Ron integrated their relationship into the story, never giving too much away. There is a paranormal aspect to the story but I don't want to go into much detail so nothing gets spoiled because in all honesty, this book is a suspense. Everything circles around Lady Windermere's Fan, an Oscar Wilde story. This is the play the school theater troop will be performing with antique props donated by a mysterious family.

Ron's story is very unique and intriguing. Each page will leave you wondering and guessing. I loved the overall feeling of the story, even when it became a tad bit creepy. After I finished, I kind of wondered what possessed me to read it so late into the night, but I loved it that much. I couldn't put it down. When you are looking for something mysterious and different, don't hesitate to pick up Silent Song. Oh, and did I mention, the cover is phenomenal and very foretelling.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

{Waiting on Wednesday} Onyx by Jennifer L Armentrout


Waiting On Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking The Spine, it spotlilghts upcoming releases that we are dying to read.

I haven't done one of these in a super long time, but since I read the first two chapters online today, I'm super excited about this book!

Title: Onyx
Series: Lux #2
Author: Jennifer L Armentrout

Synopsis:

Being connected to Daemon Black sucks…

Daemon’s determined to prove what he feels for me is more than a product of our bizarre connection. I’ve sworn him off even though he’s running more hot than cold these days. But against all common sense, I’m falling for him. Hard.

Our relationship issues aren’t out biggest problem…

The Department of Defense is here. If they ever find out what Daemon can do and that we’re linked, I’m a goner. So is he. And when a new boy shows up a school with a secret of his own, things get complicated fast. I need to choose between my own instincts and Daemon’s.

But then everything changes…

I’ve seen someone who shouldn’t be alive. Daemon’s never going to stop searching until gets the truth. What happened to his brother? Who betrayed him? And what does the DOD want from them—from me?

No one is who they seem. And not everyone will survive the lies.

Where you can find the first two chapters: HERE!!!

{Teaser Tuesday} Deity by Jennifer L. Armentrout


Teaser Tuesdays is a weekly bookish meme, hosted by MizB of Should Be Reading. Anyone can play along! Just do the following:

• Grab your current read
• Open to a random page
• Share two (2) “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS! (make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
• Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!


Title: Deity
Author: Jennifer L. Armentrout
Series: The Covenant Series #3
Add it to you TBR on Goodreads
Teaser:

"Because I love you we share each other's problems. When we fight, we fight together. I'm going to be by your side no matter what, whether you like it or not."

*This is an arc so some phrases may change.

Sunday, July 15, 2012

{Series Sunday} Anita Blake by Laurell K. Hamilton

"Murphy's law is the only true dependable in my life most of the time."
- Anita Blake, Guilty Pleasures

The Series: Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter
Author: Laurell K. Hamilton
Publisher: Jove Fiction
21 volumes, ongoing.



Synopsis:
Anita Blake is set in a world that's pretty much ours--if we were to wake up tomorrow and all of the things that go bump in the night were to be real. And, in America, the court case of Addison v. Clark passed two years ago redefining what qualifies as life and what doesn't. In the United States, being a vampire is now legal. But you can't exactly just lock up any vampires who don't. 

"There was no such thing as a life sentence for a vamp. Death or nothing. No prison can hold a vampire. California tried, but one master vampire got loose. He killed twenty-five people in a one-night blood bath. ... Crosses don't work unless you believe in them. And they certainly don't work once a master vampire has convinced you to take them off. "
-Anita Blake, The Laughing Corpse


Enter Anita Blake--an animator (read: necromancer) with an innate partial immunity to vampires. Her "day job" is raising the dead for a living, for final good-byes, court case resolutions, and questions of inheritance. But she's also a legal vampire executioner. However, she's not quite what you'd expect. At a petite 5'3", she's not exactly what you would expect from a vampire executioner. play by the rules. 



"A very ex-boyfriend once described me as a little china doll. He meant it as a compliment. I didn't take it that way."
-Anita Blake, Guilty Pleasures



She's also a preternatural consultant with RPIT, the police unit dedicated to crimes involving magic, vampires and lycanthropes. But working in the male-dominated arena, Anita has a definite chip on her shoulder and an attitude which allows her to stand toe-to-toe with the big boys. Part mystery, part horror, definitely supernatural, with a little (and later a lot) of romance thrown in, Anita Blake has something for every vampire-lover.

 
The Review: Anita Blake was my first foray into vampires in literature while I was in high school. I read the first four books in four days (yup, one a day each). Anita is very relatable for me--she's a girl who doesn't really do "girl" very well and recognizes it. She's snarky, super-sarcastic, but she's also very competent. 

"If you keep a gun in your purse, you get killed, because no woman can find anything in her purse in under twelve minutes. It's a rule."
-Anita Blake, Guilty Pleasures



Verses a lot of recent female characters who seem to have chips on their shoulders and being b***hes for the sake of being b***hes, Anita is a b***h because she's a pretty, petite woman trying to pull her weight in an arena typically dominated by men. She's a tough broad (and I mean that as a compliment). She's also realistic about what she is and isn't capable of. 

"I don't care how many times you've seen women carry guns on a thigh holster on television, it is damn awkward. You walk like a duck with a wet diaper on."
-Anita Blake, Guilty Pleasures


When a friend first recommended these books to me, I was a little hesitant because Anita is an animator, which means zombies. And despite my plethora of friends who think zombies are awesome, I'm rather anti-zombie. However, the world and the characters created by Laurell K. Hamilton are so strong that I really had no issue with the zombies, even when they're prominent. 

 
Now, if you read reviews for recent books (and by that, I mean books 11-21), you're probably going to see a lot of mixed reviews. For some reason, around book 10 the flavor and focus of the novels takes a pretty dramatic turn towards sex, violence and pure vampire politics. For a lot of early fans, this is a problem. They miss the more mystery and plot-centered early books, feel the cast of characters has grown too large, the books focus too much on sex and they don't like the character changes Anita goes through. I, however, adore well-done characters and although I'll admit she has a *lot* of them, I enjoy them enough to continue reading every one that comes out (and there are now 21). 

That being said, the first ten books are more than worth reading, even if you don't care for the later novels. I've given them to more than half a dozen friends who have raced through the first ten and thoroughly enjoyed them (I've actually had to replace my copy of the second book--the spine broke so badly there are pages falling out). 

And because all the things that go bump in the night live in Anita's world, later books include and even focus heavily on the lycanthropes, so if you love your shape-shifters, you'll also enjoy these books. As a matter of fact, I love her take on them so much that they are the standard I tend to hold lycanthropes to (and why I tend to be rather picky about them). 

Anyone who is a devotee of vampires should totally have Laurell K. Hamilton's Anita Blake, Vampire Hunter series under their belt. 

Did I mention that Anita is now in comics?




 
"You're The Executioner?"
"Yes." 
He laughed [...] "You're not big enough to be The Executioner."
I shrugged. "It disappoints me, too, sometimes."
-Anita Blake, Guilty Pleasures










The books (in reading order): 
1) Guilty Pleasures
2) The Laughing Corpse
3) Circus of the Damned
4) The Lunatic Cafe
5) Bloody Bones
6) The Killing Dance
7) Burnt Offerings
8) Blue Moon
9) Obsidian Butterfly
10) Narcissus in Chains
11) Cerulean Sins
12) Incubus Dreams 
13) Micah
14) Danse Macabre
15) The Harlequinn
16) Blood Noir
17) Skin Trade
18) Flirt
19) Bullet
20) Hit List
21) Kiss the Dead 



---Kelly Coffee
"A Toast to a Story Greater than the One Before"

All of the Anita Blake images used in this post were sourced from google and belong to their owners, no copyright infringement intended.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Vote for Kaiden - Sweet Evil by Wendy Higgins

Well, everyone knows it's that time of year again, right? The YA Sisterhood is hosting their annual Crush Tourney. And today, Kaiden from Sweet Evil is up against Finnick from the Hungar Games.

I know you maybe asking who the heck is Kaiden? So...



Now, what about this boy isn't to love? I've read Sweet Evil, though I haven't had time to review it, let me just say...I absolutely loved this book. Amazing won't even begin to describe it. 

For detailed reason's on why you should vote for Kaiden check out the YA Sisterhood's post and VOTE KAIDEN. Today!!!

Thursday, July 12, 2012

{Excerpt & Guest Post} The Color of Snow by Brenda Stanley


The Color of Snow Summary
Can a troubled young girl reenter society after living in isolation?

When a beautiful 16-year-old girl named Sophie is found sequestered in a cage-like room in a rundown house in the desolate hills of Arbon Valley, Idaho, the entire community is shocked to learn she is the legendary Callidora--a baby girl who was kidnapped from her crib almost seventeen years ago and canonized in missing posters with portraits of what the fabled girl might resemble. Authorities soon learn that the cage was there to protect people from Sophie, because her biological father believes she is cursed.

Sophie is discovered after the man she knows as Papa, shoots and injures Damien, a young man who is trying to rescue her. Now, unsocialized and thrust into the world, and into a family she has never met, Sophie must decide whether she should accept her Papa’s claims that she is cursed and he was only trying to protect others, or trust the new people in her life who have their own agendas. Guided by a wise cousin, Sophie realizes that her most heartbreaking challenge is to decide if her love for Damien will destroy him like her Papa claims, or free her from past demons that haunt her mind.

Brenda Stanley's Bio:

Brenda Stanley is the former news anchor at her NBC affiliate KPVI in Eastern Iadho. Her writing has been recognized by the Scripps Howard Foundation, the Hearst Journalism Awards, the Idaho Press Club and the Society for Professional Journalists. She is a graduate of Dixie College in St. George, Utah, and the University of Utah in Salt Lake City. Brenda lived for two years in Ballard, Utah, within the Fort Duchesne reservation where the novel is set. She and her husband live on a small ranch near the Snake River with their horses and dogs.

eBook
ISBN: 9780983741893
ISBN: 9781476172309
Pages: 413
Release: June 1, 2012

Kindle buy link - $2.99

Nook buy link - $4.95

iBookstore buy link - $4.99

Google buy link - $3.79

Smashwords buy link - $4.99

PDF buy link - $4.95


Guest Post by Brenda Stanley

The Color of Snow has been described as dark or mysterious.  I feel most of my writing fits this description because I enjoy looking at the strange and unusual things in life.  My novel will definitely make some people uncomfortable.  I like to look at situations and issues and try to figure out how people will react.  For years I was a crime reporter, so I enjoy investigating stories and learning about the parts of life most people try to hide.  When I wrote The Color of Snow, I was working on a story about a young girl who went missing years ago and has never been found.  I started thinking about what would happen if she were to suddenly show up now.  I loved putting myself in Sophie’s shoes and seeing things for the first time.

Sophie’s relationship with Damien is both intense and tempered.  Her father has raised her to believe that she will destroy anyone who truly loves her, so she is torn between her love for Damien and her fear of causing him harm.

The story changes between what is going on with Sophie and what happened in her parent’s past that brought her to where she is.  I wanted readers to experience the often isolated feeling of living in a vast rural area, but also the mental confinement of a small town.

Mental illness, teen pregnancy, religious intolerance, and racism are all big parts of The Color of Snow.  I like my characters to face challenges and see them grow from them.  It is not only the conflicts with the other characters that keeps the story going, but also those within the person’s own mind.

I wanted Sophie to be unusually beautiful so that people treated her strangely and therefore made her feel even more alien when she is first discovered.  She has transformed from a tragic kidnapping victim to a mythical ghost from the past and this makes her transition into her new life even more difficult.

My ties to the Mormon Church go back to my great-great grandparents.  I was raised in the teachings of the Mormon religion and even though I am no longer a member, I have many friends and family who are still very active in the church.  My descriptions of the Mormon culture are how I view it and how I feel someone who has never been exposed to it might see it.  I think there are a lot of people who are curious about the Mormon religion and have misconceptions.  I feel I’ve been both candid and fair in my portrayal.



The Color of Snow Excerpt 

Malad, Idaho, early spring 2009

Spring had spread across the fields and pastures. Cottonwood trees fluttered their newly sprouted greenery, and purple asters covered the rolling hills. The snow had melted and Stephanie and I started taking the horses on rides up the valley. It was incredibly liberating to roam and wander without fear.

There was a trail leading from the foothills up into the forest, and once we were in the midst of the wild spruce and lofty pines, the noises of cars and life around the ranch disappeared. The sound of hooves on early spring dirt was solid and steady. The breeze was still crisp, but the sun reached down and warmed our shoulders. For almost an hour we rode in silence. We both were in awe of the day and the splendor that was ours alone to enjoy.

At the top of the hill, the trail opened up to a small plateau and a blue mountain lake. I gasped at the incredible beauty of it. I smiled at Stephanie and she nodded in acknowledgement. Her eyes were bright and her freckles seemed to glow in the sunshine. The horse she rode was a black mare my grandfather was going to sell. Stephanie loved the white diamond-shaped patch on her forehead, and scolded him for even thinking about selling Black Bean. My horse was an old buckskin gelding named Clyde. He lumbered along and rarely went faster than a slow trot, but for a beginner like me he was perfect.

Stephanie turned her horse down the hill and toward the lake. “Do you want to go swimming?” she called back.

“I don’t know how,” I answered.

She giggled as she reached the water’s edge. “You don’t need to. The horses do it all.” Her hair was pulled into two short pigtails and they bounced with each step of her horse.

I waited and watched as she urged Black Bean into the water and out into the lake. As the water got deeper, the splashes became larger around its legs as it pushed forward, and soon they were floating along smoothly.

“Come on!” she yelled, waving me in. She had her legs pulled up on the sides, trying to avoid getting completely soaked. They were pale and freckled like her face, and seemed to make up most of her body. Stephanie wasn’t much taller than I, but her legs and arms were long and made her look gangly and even thinner than she was. She waved so hard she almost fell off the horse, and started laughing as she steadied herself.

It looked like fun, but I was terrified. The water was immense and dark. The largest amount of water I had ever been in was my own bathtub. I wondered what would happen if I fell off in the middle. Stephanie and Black Bean were in the center of the lake and they looked like a serene harmonious duo.

I gave Clyde a slight nudge and he walked to the shoreline. The water lapped as I waited and watched Stephanie continue to beckon. She looked like she was having a marvelous time and wasn’t worried in the least. I patted Clyde and prodded him with the heels of my sneakers. He seemed unconcerned as he clopped loudly into the water. I took a deep breath and told myself to keep looking forward and it would be okay. Clyde had no hesitation, which helped ease my fear.

The sun beat down on us and made splashes of water light up as Clyde moved forward into the water. The splatters that hit my exposed skin were freezing and made me realize how cold it would be if I did fall in. I fixed my eyes on the opposite shoreline and put my faith in Clyde. The horse had a wide back, and as we got deeper into the lake, I curled my legs back the way Stephanie did and clung to his mane. We were riding bareback that day, because Stephanie didn’t want to spend time putting on saddles.

I held my breath as we got further away from the shore and closer to the very center of the lake. At one point I looked down, staring deep into the abyss. There was no bottom, and I felt my stomach turn, knowing I would surely die if I left Clyde’s back.

As the horse rhythmically propelled us along, I began to feel a sense of buoyancy and freedom. When we crossed the center point and were on our way to the other shore, my confidence turned to elation. I started to breathe again and smiled at what I had accomplished. I sat up straight, closed my eyes and imagined I was flying, gliding along on my winged unicorn, soaring through clouds and racing the wind. When I opened my eyes, I giggled at my foolish imagination, but couldn’t help beaming at what an amazing adventure it was.

When the horse’s hooves made contact with the lake bottom and we started to emerge from the water, I wanted to burst from relief and joy. “That was the most wonderful thing ever!”

Stephanie was sitting on a large tree limb that had fallen while her horse munched on fresh new grass beside her. “I didn’t think you’d do it. I’m proud of you.”

“It was so scary, but then it was so amazing.”

“I’m glad you liked it, because that’s how we’re getting back.”

We led the horses to a shaded area and tied them loosely to a tree so they could rest and graze. Stephanie leaned back against a tree and looked out at the incredible view of mountain-lined lake and clear blue sky.

“This is where I go when I can’t stand life anymore. The first time I came here, I tried to kill myself. I stole my dad’s gun and had it all planned out. Then I sat here and looked around at all this and thought...who would care? I’m nothing and no one would miss me, so why do it? That’s when I decided to live for me. I do what makes me happy now and screw the rest of them.”

“You were going to kill yourself. Why?”

Stephanie took a deep, labored sigh. “I didn’t see the point in living. My mom was dead and my dad married that crazy bitch.” She shrugged. “I don’t really fit in anywhere. Even at school, the kids hate me.”

I shook my head. “I don’t believe that. There is no reason to hate you.”

Stephanie scoffed. “You say that because you don’t know any better. You don’t know what normal is. That’s why we get along. I’m a freak, but you’ve never had any friends, so you don’t know how weird I am.” She smiled.

“I’ve had friends,” I protested.

“Really? I thought you were kept alone at that house all the time.”

I nodded.

Stephanie raised an eyebrow. “So, did your dad kidnap kids and bring them home for you play with?”

My eyes went large, but then Stephanie laughed and I realized she was joking. I paused for a moment, trying to pick my words carefully.

“Don’t worry about me telling anyone. Remember, we’re best friends, so you should be able to tell me anything. I’ve never told anyone that I was going to kill myself.”

I looked at her with a mixture of love and concern. “I had two friends. I met them when I was eleven. Their mother worked with my father and they came to our house one day. That’s how they knew I lived there. They lived over the hill from us and they came over while Papa was at work and we played in my yard.” I stopped and smiled at the memory.

“You had to hide them from your father. Why?”

“He was afraid that if people knew I was home alone all day, they would come and take me away.”

“Didn’t it drive you crazy to be alone all the time?”

I shrugged. “Not really. When I met Donny and Damien I was much happier. I didn’t know what it was like to have friends before I met them, so I didn’t realize what I was missing.”

She studied me. “Isn’t Damien the kid your dad shot? Why’d he shoot him? Did he catch him with you?”

“Yes.”

“Why didn’t you just tell him that you two were friends and that it was no big deal?"

“I tried to convince him, but...there is a lot you don’t understand.”

Stephanie gave me a disappointed curl of her lip. “And I won’t be able to understand if you keep everything a secret.”

I stayed silent.

“Sophie, I’ve already told you something that I never told anyone. I trust you because we’re friends. That is what friends do. They trust each other and they tell each other things. Do you think I won’t believe you?”

“No, it’s not that. And I do trust you, but there are things that will sound strange, and I don’t want you to think I’m a monster.”

She laughed. “You are the opposite of a monster. You’re friendly and kind. People would love to be near you.”

I ran the word through my head several times. I wondered if the statement had validity, because if it did, it explained some of the things Papa told me that seemed unimaginable.

“So, what is this big dark secret? You say your father didn’t kidnap you or treat you badly, so why did he keep you locked up in that house hidden away from the world?”

I thought it was inconceivable that the two of us were best friends. Stephanie had just confessed that she had almost ended her life and now I was about to tell her how I had ended my mother’s and one of my friends. My fears of being ostracized and treated like a disease were still at the surface, but the thought of releasing some of the weight with a person I trusted was like having a balloon inflating inside me ready to burst. I felt my secret was slowly killing me, and the only way I could get relief was to talk about it. I was still scared that once it was out, it would sprout wings and fly out of control.

“I’ll tell you, but you have to swear you’ll never tell anyone else.”

“I swear. I swear on my stepmother’s grave,” she giggled.

I looked at her, worried that she wasn’t in the right mind frame to hear what I had to say. My face must have showed it, because Stephanie quickly lost her smile and leaned forward. She put her hand on my shoulder. “God, Soph, I was just kidding. You look like I just cursed her dead.”

I gasped and put my hand to my mouth. I felt an icy chill go down my back and my heart jumped.

“What?” she asked.

“It’s what you said. That is why I had to hide all those years.”

“What I said? How could that be? I wasn’t even around.”

I was speechless and stunned. Just hearing the word made me dizzy. I put my face in my hands and rocked back and forth, trying to steady my nerves and my thoughts.

“Sophie, what’s wrong with you? You’re not making any sense. I can’t help you if you don’t talk to me.”

I stopped rocking, and looked up at her. “I’m so afraid to say anything.”

“You have no reason to be afraid. I’m not going to tell anyone. You’re my only friend!” She smiled. “You’ll go crazy if you keep it all inside.”

“But what if you don’t want to be friends after I tell you?”

“That’s crazy.” She sat up on her knees and squared her body to mine. She held my shoulders and made me look at her. “Here, think about this. Imagine I’m the one telling you this big secret. If that were the case, would we still be friends? Sophie?”

I realized I had drifted off. I blinked as I came back and smiled. I had no reservations about how I would react if she were the one telling it. Stephanie would be my friend regardless of her secrets and I knew that she felt the same. So with the same strength I had mustered to lead my horse into a deep dark lake, I pushed forward and decided to reveal what had shaped my entire life. It would either knock me into a cold, deep abyss, or I would cross it and end up gaining the confidence I needed to take even more risks in my life. I was willing to take that chance. I suddenly realized that I had no idea where to start. It struck me as funny, and I stopped and smiled to myself.

“You’re a tease!” she yelled. “Come on, out with it.”

“I don’t know where to start. There is so much to tell.”

She leaned back against the tree and put her arms behind her head. “We have all day. They don’t expect us until dinner and I brought food in my backpack. Spill it!”

I took a deep breath. “There is something terrible that happened a long time ago and it’s the reason Papa and I had to hide all those years.”

“Did he kill someone?” she asked, both horrified and intrigued.

“No,” I said firmly. “It’s not something we did, but something that was done to us.”

Stephanie lowered an eyebrow. “What?”

“A curse.”

Her eyes shot wide open, but she gave me a sideways grin. “A curse?”

“Yes. We had to hide away because Papa says we are a threat to the people who love us.”

She cocked her head to the side. “How?”

I looked at the ground and felt my face flush. “I’m not sure, but some of them have died.”

Stephanie reeled back. “They died? How?”

I shrugged. “Papa says it’s the reason my mother died and Donny. He says we’re the reason.”

Stephanie shook her head. “You said he didn’t kill anyone.”

“It’s not us. It’s the curse that kills them.”

“How did they die?”

“Donny died when a dirt cave collapsed on him.” I felt a heavy lump in my stomach. “I don’t know how my mother died. Papa never talks about it.”

“Sounds to me like your father gave you a line to keep you in line. There is no such thing as a curse.”

I felt rejected and embarrassed. It had taken every ounce of trust I could muster to tell her and now she brushed it off. “Yes there is.”

She furrowed her brows. “Did you push that kid into the cave?”

I shook my head. “No!”

Stephanie sat up straight. “Do you think that other kid was shot because of this curse, too?”

I lowered my eyes. “Yes.”

She sat in silence, looking as if she was deep in thought. Several times she began to talk and then stopped. She stood up and walked in a circle. “That doesn’t make sense. If you say the curse kills people who love you, then why am I still alive? And what about your grandparents? Why aren’t we all dead?”

“I’m not sure. Sometimes it scares me. I don’t want to hurt people, but I don’t want to be alone. Papa was trying to explain it, but then we got caught. I’ve tried to figure it out, but without Papa, I can’t. There’s more to it, and he’s the only one who knows.”

“Who put the curse on you?” I shrugged.

“Papa said it was done a long time ago, before I was born.”

Stephanie lowered her brow. “If you weren’t even born, why would anyone want to curse you?”

“It was placed on our family for something Papa did. He said it was done out of anger. He said he didn’t believe it at first, but when my mother was killed, he knew we had to hide or more bad things would happen. He said if anyone found out about the curse, I would be taken away. He hid us away for our own good. He didn’t want the curse to hurt anyone else. I didn’t know about it until after Donny died. Papa felt it was his fault for not warning me sooner.”

Stephanie looked at me in awe. She hadn’t moved a muscle or changed her facial expression in the slightest, as though my story had struck her dumb. I started feeling awkward and worried that I had said too much, but before regret set in, she took a seat beside me and put an arm around my shoulder. “So, what are you going to do? If you think you’re cursed and you’re putting other people at risk, how are you going to live?”

I thought for a moment. “I don’t know.”

“That’s crazy, Sophie. There is no such thing. I think he told you that just to keep you from running off. He knew that if people saw you they’d find out who you were. That would threaten him.” She scratched her head; pulling at the hair in one of her pigtails, making it crooked. “He makes it sound very convincing.” She sat back with a start. “He must have seen the newspaper article that ran the sketch. That’s why he took all the mirrors out of your house. He didn’t want you to discover who you really are. On the other hand, this is so strange, because if he really thought you were cursed, a lot of this stuff he did makes sense. That’s totally wild.”

I thought about the mirrors. I remembered the expression on Damien’s face when he realized all the mirrors in my house had been taken down or destroyed. I still had aversions to them, and rarely gave in to the temptation. They were everywhere at my grandparents’ home, but I did my best to avoid them, knowing that God watched and judged what I did.

“When I tell you that I love you, does it scare you?” she asked.

I contemplated her question, knowing I had thought about it many times before. “It used to, but for some reason I’m not worried anymore.”

“I think I know why.”

“Tell me.”

“Sophie, I don’t believe in curses or superstitions. I think the more you’re out in the normal world, you’ll realize all the stuff you’ve been told is not real. There is no such thing. All this stuff you father told you isn’t the truth. You’re not cursed.”

What she said completely deflated me. I had trusted her with my deepest, darkest realities and now she said that what I harbored and lived with my entire life was just a lie.

“You’ll never be happy if you live in fear like this. You’ll have an awful life if you never let anyone love you. I think it’s terrible what he did. He’s the one that’s cursed you with stupid superstitions. It’s not real. There is no such thing as a curse.”

I was shocked at what she said and felt the need to scoot away, fearing God would strike her down with a bolt of lightning. “You don’t believe in God?”

“No. And I don’t believe that how I live my life will determine how I spend my death. I believe that you do the right things for this life, not for some afterlife. Everyone around here is so worried about what’s going to happen to them when they die. It’s stupid. When my mom died, people actually told me that God needed her in heaven and that’s why he took her home.” She gave a disgusted smirk. “Why would God take someone’s mother away? My mom died because cancer cells overtook her body. It had nothing to do with God, and it had nothing to do with curses or prayers or any other hocus-pocus that everyone tries to fill your head with.”

I was still uneasy.

“You were worried about telling me your secret because you thought I would be afraid of you. And it turns out, you should be afraid of me.”

“Why?”

“Because I am a bad influence. That’s why I’m not allowed at the school. I asked questions and talked about things that made everyone nervous. The other kids told their parents that I didn’t believe in God and that I attacked their precious religion. That’s the reason I no longer go to school.” She smiled and pulled me close. “I’m worse than you. You may lure them in with your beauty and then kill them off, but I threaten their beliefs and their chances at eternal life. We make quite a pair.”

Being close to her was a comfort, even though I was still concerned about what she said. I cared about her and felt her statements against God would come back to haunt her.

“I know you aren’t just going to believe everything I say. It’s all been drilled into your head for so long, it will be hard to change what you believe, but I want to show you something that will hopefully help you get over all this. We’re going to do an experiment so I can prove that there is no such thing as a curse.”

I didn’t like the idea and was apprehensive.

“You don’t have a choice,” she said, with a defiant lift of her eyebrow. “You are my best friend, my only friend in this world. I love you as if you were my sister. Nothing fatal has happened to me yet and nothing will. I’ll prove to you that you are not cursed.”

I felt funny having her tempt fate for me.

“I was planning on killing myself anyway, so this isn’t a big sacrifice. Quit looking like that,” she chided. Stephanie put her finger to her mouth and feigned deep deliberation. “Hmm. If you have the power to kill people, then let’s work on how we can use it to bump off my stepmother!” She fell back against the soft forest floor in wicked laughter.

“Stephanie!”

She giggled with delight.

I couldn’t help but smile, even though she had made me out as toxic. She had heard what had kept me hidden and silent for years and was still my best friend. She had accepted what I said. She made light of it in a way that made me feel like nothing I told her would scare her away. Stephanie was intriguing and confusing, but I had no reservations that she was loyal and trustworthy. I had given her the secret of what I feared and what had formed my life. She had the power to destroy my world by exposing my enigma, yet I felt assured she would guard it, regardless of her own doubts about its truth.

She stopped laughing and leaned over to her backpack. She pulled out a bag of chips and a bottle of soda, and offered them to me. I took a handful of chips and we sat in silence for a while as we passed the bottle back and forth. “I think you saved me.”

I looked at her strangely, smiled, and shook my head.

She smiled back. “You did. Now the hard part is going to be saving you.”

LinkWithin

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...