Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Nocturnal Meetings of the Misplaced by R.J. Garcia Release Blitz & Giveaway!

I am so excited that NOCTURNAL MEETINGS OF THE MISPLACED by R.J. Garcia is available now and that I get to share the news!

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

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a finished copy of the book courtesy of R.J. and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.

Author: R.J. Garcia
Pub. Date: May 1, 2018
Publisher: The Parliament House
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Find it: AmazonGoodreads

Mystery surrounds the town of Summertime, Indiana, where fifteen-year-old Tommy Walker and his little sister are sent to live with relatives they’ve never met. Tommy soon makes friends with Finn Wilds, a rebellious local who lives with his volatile and abusive stepfather, who also happens to be the town’s sheriff. 

Finn invites Tommy to late night meetings in the woods, where Tommy gets to know two girls. He forms a special and unique connection with both girls. The meetings become a place where the kids, who don’t fit in at school, or home can finally belong. As the group of friends begin to unravel clues to a cold case murder and kidnapping— they learn the truth is darker and closer than they ever imagined. Even if they live to tell, will anyone believe them? 

A tense look flashed across her face, and she briefly grimaced. “This is going to sound crazy, but—” Silence sat down and wrung her hands together. “When my mom was young, this man took her. He kept her for years, a lifetime.” She told me the story without any emotion like she was detached from it. “She named me Silence because that way he would know she’d keep the secret.”
It did sound crazy, but I knew she was telling the truth. Never had a name been more beautiful, or tragic. “Did the guy ever get arrested?”
She shook her head “no.” “My mom hadn’t told anyone, but me and my grandmother. And she doesn’t even know where the house is or the man’s name. Or if she does, she won’t say. He just left her in the woods one day. Not far from our house.” Her voice sounded dreary but removed, even numb. She dropped her head down and looked exhausted.
I blinked to clear my head of fog. “Wow.” I was at a loss. “I’m sorry. Is there anything I can do?” I wanted to help her, but I didn’t know how.  
She leaned forward. “I found this letter. My mom must have taken it while she was     kidnapped.” Silence dug into her jeans pocket. She presented me with a simple piece of folded notebook paper. “I’ve only shown this to Finn and Annie. They didn’t know what to do. I thought you seemed really smart.”
I moaned a little in disagreement, chewing the corner of my thumbnail, admitting, “I’m a straight-C student.”
She pushed the letter at me.
The handwriting was shaky. The paper had yellowed and aged with time. It read:
If you find this paper, my name is Laney Serel. A man has kidnapped me and has taken my baby. He kept me in a basement and has moved me to a log cabin in the woods. I think he’s going to kill me. If he does, I at least want someone to help my daughter and   
The letter was torn and stopped in midsentence.

About the Author

I’m a writer, avid reader, and HufflePuff, who wants a re-do at the sorting hat. I am a wife and proud mom, too.

I’ve earned my MSW and have worked with foster kids. Writing has been my other great love.

I have published several non-fiction pieces about teen issues and wrote short stories since I was a kid. A longer story began keeping me up at night, and I finished my first novel! I am now thrilled to announce that this story, Nocturnal Meetings of the Misplaced has found a home at 
The Parliament House!

Giveaway Details

1 winner will receive a finished copy of NOCTURNAL MEETINGS OF THE MISPLACED, US Only.

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Saturday, April 21, 2018

Ruthless Magic by Megan Crewe Cover Reveal & Giveaway!

Today Megan Crewe and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover and an exclusive content for RUTHLESS MAGIC, her new YA Fantasy which releases May 30, 2018! Check out the awesome cover and enter to win an ARC!

On to the reveal! 

Author: Megan Crewe
Pub. Date: May 30, 2018
Publisher: Megan Crewe
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: ?
Find it: Goodreads, Pre-Order  
In the contest to keep their magic, the only options may be die... or kill.
Each year, the North American Confederation of Mages assesses every sixteen-year-old novice. Some will be chosen. The rest must undergo a procedure to destroy their magical ability unless they prove themselves in the mysterious and brutal Mages' Exam.
Disadvantaged by her parents' low standing, Rocío Lopez has dedicated herself to expanding her considerable talent to earn a place in the Confederation. Their rejection leaves her reeling—and determined to fight to keep her magic.
Long ashamed of his mediocre abilities, Finn Lockwood knows the Confederation accepted him only because of his prominent family. Declaring for the Exam instead means a chance to confirm his true worth.
Thrown into the testing with little preparation, Rocío and Finn find themselves becoming unlikely allies—and possibly more. But the Exam holds secrets more horrifying than either could have imagined. What are the examiners really testing them for? And as the trials become increasingly vicious, how much are they willing to sacrifice to win?
The start of a new series by USA Today bestselling author Megan Crewe, Ruthless Magic combines the magic of Harry Potter with the ferocity of The Hunger Games alongside a poignant romance. Fans of Cassandra Clare and Holly Black, look no further for your next urban fantasy fix!
 Grab the prequel MAGIC UNMASKED for FREE!

Exclusive Excerpt!

Hail pelted us, and the wind lashed at us from all sides. I could hardly breathe. The only solid thing was Finn. I curled my fingers into the damp fabric of his shirt and sang into the stiller space between us. “Como veían que resistía.”

Magic hummed from the vicious air into me. An image swam up of the grate I’d come across in the courtyard, between the buildings. A grate that led to something below.

I knelt down, pulling Finn with me, and pressed my free hand to the spongy ground. The wind tried to steal my next lyrics from my lips, but the magic raced through me all the same—through me and down, down, into an open space I sensed below us like a gasp of fresh air.

I did gasp then, and forced out a verse. I’d never magically transported another person with me before, but I had to. I had to.

The magic rushed up around us with the thrust of my words. I clung to Finn, singing the energy around him as tightly as I could. Then I propelled us downward with a lurch.

We surged through rough blackness that rasped over my skin and landed with a feet-jarring thump. I exhaled in a rush, dizzy in the sudden quiet. My eardrums ached from the pounding of the storm we’d escaped and the effort of the conjuring.

We crouched in total darkness. The surface beneath me felt like concrete. Cold dank air hovered around us with a faintly salty flavor that reminded me of the ocean.

My fingers were tangled in Finn’s shirt. His arm was still around me. In the dark, I was abruptly aware of the rise and fall of his rasping breath, the warmth of his chest, and the answering warmth it sent through me.

He was alive—we were alive—and in that moment, it felt like a miracle.

About Megan: 
Photo credit: Chris Blanchenot
Jeff Sweat has made a living from words his entire career, starting out as an award-winning tech journalist for InformationWeek magazine and moving into marketing.

He led the content marketing team for Yahoo and pioneered its use of social media. He directed PR for two of the top advertising agencies in the country, Deutsch LA and 72andSunny. He now runs his own Los Angeles–based PR and marketing agency, Mister Sweat.

He grew up in Idaho as the middle of eight children—seven boys and one girl—and attended Columbia University in New York. Jeff lives in a big blue house in Los Angeles with his wife Sunny and their three kids, two cats, and a racing greyhound.

He loves to travel and writes everywhere he goes, even when there's not a desk. He likes karaoke, motorcycles and carpentry. He was once shot in the head with a nail gun, which was not a big of a deal as it sounds. But it still hurt like crazy.

Giveaway Details:
One lucky winner will receive a $10 Amazon gift card and a pack of Ruthless Magic swag featuring the cover and character art.

Ruthless Magic cover reveal giveaway

Tuesday, April 17, 2018

From the Earth to the Shadows by Amanda Hocking Blog Tour & Giveaway

From the Earth to the Shadows
Series: Valkyrie #2
Author: Amanda Hocking
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: April 24, 2018

The epic conclusion to the thrilling Valkyrie duology by New York Times bestselling YA author Amanda Hocking, From the Earth to the Shadows.

While dealing with dark revelations about her life and her world, Malin finds herself with new allies--and new enemies. Her quest for the truth leads her to places she never thought possible, and she's never been one to shy away from a fight. But for all her strength and determination, will it be enough to save the world before it's too late?


The air that fogged around me was thick enough that I could taste it—earthy and wet, with a trace of salt. It stuck to my skin, which was already slick with sweat, and that only seemed to attract more insects. They buzzed around me, leaving burning little bites in my flesh. I wanted to swat them off, but I couldn’t. I had to stay perfectly still, or the Kalanoro would spot me too soon.

The oversaturation of green in the jungles of Panama had been a strange adjustment from the smog and bright lights of the city. Out here, it was an endless emerald sea: the plants and trees, the rivers, were all varying shades of green—even the sky was blotted out by a thick canopy of leaves.

This wasn’t where I wanted to be, crouched motionless in the mud with a giant millipede crawling over my foot. Not when Asher was still gone, held captive in Kurnugia by the underworld goddess Ereshkigal and her mad centaur boyfriend, Gugalanna. Not when the fate of the world felt heavy on my shoulders, with Ereshkigal attempting an uprising that would unleash the underworld on earth.

It had only been three days since I’d gone to the Gates of Kurnugia, along with Oona, Quinn, Asher, and Atlas to aid me. I’d wanted to avenge my mother—and I had killed the draugr that had killed her—but all of that may have set off a chain of events that would bring about the end of days.

And I had lost the guy I … well, not loved. Not yet. But I cared about him. All I wanted to do was rescue him. But I couldn’t. There was too much at stake. I couldn’t let my heart get the best of me. I had to hold it together, and follow my orders.

After Gugalanna had pulled Asher down into the underworld where I could not follow, the rest of us had gone to Caana City in Belize. It was the safest city near the Gates of Kurnugia, and Oona needed medical intervention to survive. She was on the mend now, and that’s why I had left her behind, with Quinn and Atlas.

I didn’t want to risk losing them the way I had Asher, and I was on a special assignment, coming directly from the Valkyries’ highest authority—Odin.

Odin had found me outside of the hospital where Oona was being treated. I had never met him before, and, like most of the Vanir gods, he changed his appearance to suit his needs, so I hadn’t recognized him.

He towered over me in his tailored suit, with his left eyelid withered shut. He had a deep rumble of a voice, with a softly lilting accent, and a grim expression. His large raven, Muninn, had been watching over me, but when I tried to press him for a reason why, he had told me that there wasn’t time to explain.

“I need you to go deep into the heart of the jungle, where no man dares to live,” Odin explained, as we had stood in the eerily silent parking lot in Caana City. “You must retrieve something for me.”

“Why can’t you retrieve it yourself?” I asked bluntly. I wasn’t being rude, but the reality was that Odin was a powerful god, and I was just a young mortal Valkyrie-in-training. He had far more knowledge and power than I could ever hope to have.

“I’m not allowed to meddle in the affairs of humans or any of the other earthly beings,” Odin clarified.

“But…” I trailed off, gathering the courage to ask, “What is this you’re doing now, then? Isn’t directing me to get something for you the same as meddling?”

A sly smile played on his lips, and he replied, “There are a few loopholes, and I think it’s best if I take advantage of one now. If you want to save your friend, and everyone else that matters to you, you need to act quickly.”

“What is it that you need me to get?” I asked, since I didn’t seem to have a choice.

“The Valhallan cloak,” he explained. “It was stolen centuries ago by a trickster god—I honestly can’t remember which one anymore—and he hid it with the Kalanoro of Panama.”

“The Kalanoro?” I groaned reflexively. Having dealt with them before, I already knew how horrible they were.

If piranhas lived on land, they would behave a lot like the Kalanoro. They were small primate-like creatures, standing no more than two feet tall, and they vaguely resembled the aye-aye lemur. The biggest differences were that the Kalanoro were tailless, since they lived mostly on the ground, and they had razor-sharp claws on their elongated fingers and a mouth of jagged teeth they used to tear apart the flesh of their prey.

“What is the Valhallan cloak, and how will I find it?” I asked Odin.

“You’ll know when you see it. It’s an oversized cloak, but the fabric looks like the heavens. The rumors are that the Kalanoro were attracted to the magic of the cloak, though they didn’t understand it, so they took it back to their cave,” Odin elaborated. “They apparently have been guarding it like a treasure.”

“So I have to go into the treacherous jungle, find the man-eating Kalanoro, and steal their favorite possession?” I asked dryly. “No problem.”

Which was how I ended up in the jungle, alone, in the heart of Kalanoro country—at least, that’s what the nearest locals had purported. In front of me, on the other side of a very shallow but rapidly moving stream, was the mouth of a cave. The cave I hoped was the home of the Kalanoro, but I was waiting to see one for official confirmation.

Sweat slid down my temples, and a large dragonfly flew overhead. The trees around me were a cacophony of sounds—monkeys and frogs and birds and insects of all kinds, talking to one another, warning of danger, and shouting out mating calls.

Back in the city, beings and creatures of all kinds lived among each other, but there were rules. The jungle was not bound by any laws. I was not welcome, and I was not safe here.

I heard the crunch of a branch—too loud and too close to be another insect. I turned my head slowly toward the sound, and I saw movement in the bushes right beside me. Tall dark quills, poking out above the leaves, and I tried to remember if the Kalanoro had any quill-like fur.

I didn’t have to wonder for very long because a head poked out of the bushes, appearing to grin at me through a mouthful of jagged fangs and a face like an alien hyena. The leathery green skin, mottled with darker speckles, blended in perfectly with the surroundings, with a mohawk-like row of sharp quills running down its back.

It wasn’t a Kalanoro—it was something much worse. I found myself face-to-face with a Chupacabra.

Copyright © 2018 by Amanda Hocking in From the Earth to the Shadows and reprinted with permission from Wednesday Books.

Amanda Hocking is the author of over twenty young adult novels, including the New York Times bestselling Trylle Trilogy and Kanin Chronicles. Her love of pop culture and all things paranormal influence her writing. She spends her time in Minnesota, taking care of her menagerie of pets and working on her next book.

Social Links:
Twitter: @Amanda_Hocking

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Monday, April 16, 2018

Notes of Magic by Jessica Butcher Blog Tour & Giveaway

Notes of Magic (The Bohemians #1) 
Author: Jessica Bucher
Publication Date: February 24, 2018

Enchanted city. Old magic. New threat.
Taq, a young fiddler, comes to Prague with dreams of joining the Bohemians—a band of immortal, magic-wielding street performers. With a mission to right past wrongs, things don’t go as planned when he meets the beautiful performer, Katia. Now, he must decide if revealing his secret is worth losing her heart.
Katia has spent one hundred years chained to the city, broken-hearted and silent,
waiting for her chance to be free. But with an impending threat on Bohemia itself and a mysterious newcomer, peace is starting look farther than ever. Now she must decide if she should trust Taq or put her faith in the one who broke her heart—the tyrannical Magistrate of Bohemia.
Curses can be broken, but at what cost?
BAM | Indies | Amazon | B&N | TBD
This is a deleted “prologue” and a sneak peek at what is in store for book two.
Budapest, 1934

Eight-year-old Yuri Stovanovich had never seen someone play music on the street before.  He watched the old man play, with his face wrinkled from the pinnacle of his bald head to the gap-tooth smile under his thick glasses. Yuri did not wonder why someone would play alone on a street when people shuffled by uncaring, and he did not care that his mother would worry about his absence from the store where they had been shopping. His mind could not get past the sound that filled the streets.

For the first time in young Yuri's life, he had heard the sweet, melodic sound of music, pure and organic straight from the fingers of the musician who created it.  He had heard records played and listened to the messy sound of bands in the pubs and inns his mother and he had ventured through. But Yuri had never heard anything like this.

The song was light and young.  It reminded him of a beautiful girl or sunshine on iron-clad
balconies.  The center of his chest felt as if the music were pulling his heart out through the buttons of his uniform. Yuri floated away on the notes that came from the keys and pipes in the hands of a poor old man.

So gently, without a soul knowing, Yuri reached out to touch the instrument. Not with his hand, but with that invisible reach that belonged only to him. It was his mind's reach, and it was stronger than any man's. He reserved this inconspicuous gift to moving things about the house for his mother or dangling flowers over her head while she cried, hoping it might cheer her up.

Suddenly, a gentle hand grasped his shoulder through the thickness of his tweed jacket. The soft features of his mother's face interrupted his view of the accordion player.

"Yuri, what do you think you are doing?  You cannot run off like that, my love. Do you understand?"
Sweat beaded on her forehead and upper lip.  Her cheeks were pink but the skin around her eyes was almost gray with pale.  She wrangled in the terror she felt and hid it from Yuri, but he could see it through the weakness of her voice and the state of her complexion.

Yuri felt guilt for worrying his mother, but worrying his mother was not difficult to do.  She gasped if he stepped too far away from her in the marketplace. She woke with a start every night if a single piece of his body was not touching hers in their small bed.  She often stared at him too long while his thoughts preoccupied him. His mother's love was a blessing he knew not how to be grateful for. He wondered if there would come a day when he would love someone to the point of burden.
It was difficult to blame his mother for her abundance of concern, because Yuri understood that he was not like other children.  In fact, he was so incredibly unique and extraordinary that his existence alone was a threat to society. At least, that is what he came to believe.  His mother warned him, since the day he could understand words, that if anyone were to know of his gift, his little magic trick, they would kill him.

Suddenly, a crew of black-suited, baton-wielding street guards clucking their weapons against their hands, cornered the old man and his accordion.  Yuri watched in terror as the music stopped and in silence, the old man packed up his instrument, shuffling off the street corner. They continued their jabbing as the old musician left Yuri with one last gummy smile and a queer wink.

Yuri wanted to ask why the musicians were not allowed on the street anymore, when it filled the air with such beauty.  Before the question could form itself on his lips, his body felt drained of blood. Cold flashed through his skin, like jumping into a pond of frigid water.  His skin, he knew, was paler than his mother's. Paler than the surface of the moon on a clear night in Budapest. And as quickly as it came, Yuri was a lump of barely living flesh on the cobblestone.  Darkness would keep him, like a long nap, until the blood returned to his body where it belonged.

There was one more infamously special thing about little Yuri.

He had a hole in his heart the size of a flea's brain.  But that little hole, completely irreparable and life-threatening, kept his mother's nerves on edge more than anything.

Poor Mrs. Stovanovich had no way of knowing that her sickly son would someday grow to be the immortal patriarch of outcasts. A pinhole was nothing against the Magistrate of Bohemia.

About the Author
Jessica Bucher is a Young Adult author living in Texas with her husband and children. Her first book, The Hereafter, was published in 2016. When she’s not writing, editing, or chasing her kids, she can be found scrolling through Facebook or planning her next travel adventure.

Website • Twitter • Facebook • Goodreads

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Saturday, April 7, 2018

Cold Hard Truth by Anne Greenwood Brown Blog Tour & Giveaway!

Cold Hard Truth
Author: Anne Greenwood Brown
Pub. Date: April 3, 2018
Publisher: Albert Whitman Company
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Pages: 256
Find it: Amazon, B&N, iBooks, TBD, Goodreads

Emmie O’Brien is a former good girl now on the fringe. She spent a crazy year involved with Nick, her mom’s drug dealer; after her arrest she was lucky to go back to her old life. But she’s haunted by the choices she made—first, to be with Nick, and then later, to testify against him. Max Shepherd is a senior varsity hockey player with serious anger issues. His grief over the death of his girlfriend causes him to see injustice wherever he looks. When they meet in community service, Max is drawn to Emmie’s calm energy, but Emmie knows better than to get too close to anyone. When friends of Nick show up seeking revenge, Emmie is forced to come to terms with her past, while Max has to control his protective instincts. They must trust one another, especially when Emmie’s situation takes a dangerous turn.

About the Author

Anne Greenwood Brown lives in Minnesota with her patient husband and three hilarious children. She is the author of the following Young Adult novels: COLD HARD TRUTH (contemporary/romance); GIRL LAST SEEN (contemporary/suspense); and the paranormal mermaid trilogy: LIES BENEATH, DEEP BETRAYAL, PROMISE BOUND. She also writes adult romance under the name A.S. Green.

Friday, March 30, 2018

Warcross by Marie Lu

Author: Marie Lu
Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: September 12, 2017


The topics Marie Lu writes about aren't really my thing. It took a couple months to pick this book up because I usually don't read books about video games. If this sounds like you too, don't worry. Although this book is about video games, and augmented reality, it also has amazing characters and a blindingly fast-paced storyline that will suck you in. I don't know how Lu does it but, she makes topics I don't really like amazingly interesting!

Warcross initially had a very Hunger Games vibe. A lowly street urchin has an amazing skill set, some rich benefactor gives her lavish clothes and a gorgeous place to live before she has to train and fight in an epic tournament. Sounds familiar, doesn't it? I agree. Lu does a good job making this trope her own and injecting some personality into the story.

The personality comes almost entirely from Emiko Chen. She is wonderfully dynamic and her inner monologue felt unique and fresh. Emiko's father racked up some serious gambling debts before passing away leaving Emiko an orphan. At the beginning of the story, she is barely scraping by. This all changes when she hacks the opening ceremony of the Warcross tournament and everyone sees her. This little error leads her right to the founder of Warcross, Hideo Tanaka.

I really enjoyed the chemistry between Emiko and Hideo. It was a lot of subtle signs and sly smiles. My favorite kind of romance is the slow burn and this definitely simmered.

My main qualm with this story was that it was a bit tropey and I called the "big twist" at the end about halfway through the book. Don't get me wrong, I still enjoyed the story I just would have enjoyed it more had something genuinely surprised me.

Overall, this was a truly fun read. If you want something action-packed with memorable characters this is for you. Honestly, had I not called the ending I would easily be giving this 5 stars. If you aren't a Marie Lu fan yet, this may just be the book that converts you.

Monday, March 26, 2018

Daughter of the Siren Queen by Tricia Levenseller

Daughter of the Siren Queen
Author: Tricia Levenseller
Publisher: Feiwel & Friends
Publication Date: February 27, 2018


I had very high expectations coming into this book. I LOVED Daughter of the Pirate King, even if that title naming scheme is played out the story inside was amazing. It was the exact amount of pirate adventure, sass, and romance I needed in my life. I'm happy to say Daughter of the Siren Queen was good. Was it as great as the first book? I don't think so. But it was still enjoyable, funny, and at times tremendously heartfelt.

Alosa was by far the best part of the first book. I expected to immediately love her and be wrapped up in her world. Unfortunately, I wasn't. It took a while for me to get to know Alosa again. The "captured" pirate from the last book was nowhere to be seen in this novel. Alosa was confident and a true captain to her crew. The problem was I didn't know this person, so the choices she was making annoyed and frustrated me, rather than leading me to root for her. This different person also affected the romance between Alosa and Riden.

Alosa and Riden are my ship and if they didn't sail I was going to lose my mind!! Their witty banter was another highlight from the first book that got pushed to the side for this sequel. I missed this aspect of the story. It felt like the author kept pushing off the romance so everything could unfold at the last second, it wasn't natural to the story so it detracted from my reading experience.

The other problem I had with this sequel was that much of Alosa's crew consisted of one-dimensional characters with nothing but names. Alosa's crew members were dying and it didn't have any emotional resonance because I wasn't familiar with the character.

I did enjoy the increased depth of the relationship between Alosa and her father. That is really the driving force behind this story and it added another layer of drama to the worldbuilding. I also, once again, enjoyed the adventure on the high seas! I'm a sucker for pirate stories and honestly, this series is some of the best.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

In Her Skin by Kim Savage Blog Tour + Giveaway!

Author: Kim Savage
Pub. Date: April 17, 2018
Publisher: FSG
Pages: 304
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook


Sixteen-year-old con artist Jo Chastain is about to take on the biggest heist of her life: impersonating a missing girl. Life on the streets of Boston these past few years hasn’t been easy, and Jo is hoping to cash in on a little safety, a little security. She finds her opportunity in the Lovecrafts, a wealthy family with ties to the unsolved disappearance of Vivienne Weir, who vanished when she was nine.

When Jo takes on Vivi's identity and stages the girl’s miraculous return, the Lovecrafts welcome her back with open arms. They give her everything she could want: love, money, and proximity to their intoxicating and unpredictable daughter, Temple. But nothing is as it seems in the Lovecraft household—and some secrets refuse to stay buried. As hidden crimes come to the surface, and lines of deception begin to blur, Jo must choose to either hold onto an illusion of safety, or escape the danger around her before it’s too late.


     You release your knees, unfold your long body, and walk down the stairs slow, slower than I know you have energy for, because I watched you before you knew I was watching. Your feet are bare and white, and bones rise under your camisole straps forming diamond caves. You stand in your pale cami and your hair braided at the temples (Temple!) and tucked behind your ears, so close I can see the pin-dot holes where the diamonds were and smell the black licorice you just ate on your breath. Your eyes start at the top of my head and work their way down: the crown of my forehead, eyes. A flick between both ears, down the nose and settling on my mouth. I twitch. To my chin and down my neck: chest, hands, waist, and knees, every part examined. I am not safe under plastic and your eyes are not my clumsy thumb. Years with Momma’s boyfriends have hardened me to stares, but by the time you get to my feet, my heart is pounding so loud I am sure you can hear it.
            Do you know me?
            In an instant, your mother is at my side. “You’re thinking it’s a miracle, aren’t you?” she says, hugging your shoulder.
            You only look at me.
            Temple,” Mr. Lovecraft says. “Your mother asked you a question.”
            Mrs. Lovecraft waves it off. “Vivi’s been through so much. We have time to catch up. For now, sleep.”
            Your eyes wash over me one last time. I tell myself it’s not that my eyes are blue where Vivi’s were gray. It’s not that my left front tooth crosses over my right, where Vivi’s teeth were strong and straight. It’s that you don’t want Vivi back. And I don’t blame you. Vivi was your friend from third grade. You had third-grade things in common: boy bands and glitter nail polish and diaries. I’m going to have to win you over as Vivi, when Jolene Chastain would talk to you about Emily Dickinson and books with coffee rings on their covers and in a book, this is called irony. Of course you’re iffy about me. You’re Miss Number One Everything. Vivi’s return takes the spotlight off you. Where I spent half my life trying to become invisible from Momma’s boyfriends and the cops, you’ve spent sixteen years as the center of boot-licking admiration. You and Vivi may have history, but Vivi’s reappearance could make your whole life go sideways. So yes, it is to be expected that you won’t embrace me.
About Kim
I was born and raised in Massachusetts, on the South Shore, which sounds beachy, even luxe. Think Winnebagos and chicken coops. My three brothers, 16, 10, and 8 years older, were teens by the time I became a person. Happiest around adults, who often forgot I was there, I spent days eavesdropping on gossipy moms in lawn chairs and nights listening under the table during tipsy Scrabble parties.

My dad read to me nightly. Eventually and early, I read to myself, everywhere. On top of an enormous freezer chest stuffed with meat. On drives until I grew nauseous. In bed until my eyes gave out. I read anything I could get my hands on. V.C. Andrews and Dickens. Black Beauty and the Bible. The Economist. Madeline L’Engle and Margaret Atwood. National Geographic.

I got a bachelor’s degree in English from Stonehill College and a Master’s in Journalism from Northeastern University. For a while, I worked as a business journalist. Instead of waiting for the Federal Reserve to release the Beige Book, I pitched story ideas along the lines of “Stigmatized Properties: When Murder Kills Property Values”. You see where things were headed.

Today, I live with my family northwest of Boston in a town a lot like Shiverton, near the real Fells reservation of AFTER THE WOODS. Born with dysgeographica—I’m directionally challenged—the fear of getting lost in that lovely, dark forest lives close to my skin.


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