Posts Tagged ‘Book Excerpt’

Teeth: Excerpt and Giveaway

We are delighted to share this excerpt from Chele Cooke‘s up coming paranormal horror novel. Don’t forget to scroll to the bottom for a chance to enter to win a copy of Teeth and Chele’s other novels.
TeethMedical intern Thomas awakes in a blood-drenched basement and the realisation that his life must change forever. After all, how can he practise medicine when the smell of blood turns him into a vicious killer?
Spencer thinks being a vampire is better than any teen movie made it out to be. Now he must train Thomas and make his mentor proud.
One mistake risks more than either are willing to lose, and a single broken law could turn them from predators to prey.

Excerpt
The door had opened as silently as breath. Thomas jumped away from the woman, tripping backwards into the wall. He slid down it and looked up into the cold blue gaze of an older man. His eyes seemed paler than they should be, like someone had extracted half the colour, leaving them almost grey. He regarded Thomas for a moment before stepping further into the room, rounding the woman and taking no care to avoid the blood. His boots sucked from the floor with a squelch. Thomas wanted to be sick.
The man wasn’t particularly tall, nor built, and Thomas’s gaze flickered to the woman, wondering how in the world he’d gotten her up there on his own. He opened his mouth, but no sound found his throat. What if there were more of them? The man trailed his fingers across the back of the woman’s bare shoulders and smiled with pale lips.

“Have you drank?”

Thomas shuffled away from him and peered up with wide, blank eyes.

“What?”

The man rolled his eyes and stepped up onto the mattress, red footprints across the material. He crouched down and took Thomas’s chin in a vice grip. The man’s pale eyes were inches from his, taking in every detail of his face.

“Have – you – drank?” he asked again. Each word dripped in disdain, and Thomas shook his head as much as the man’s grasp would allow.

“Drank what? There’s nothing in here,” he breathed.

Glancing over his shoulder at the woman, the man’s gaze returned pointedly to Thomas. Thomas froze, his gaze flickering between the man and…and her.

“You can’t…You’re…No!”

The man rolled his eyes and shoved Thomas back against the wall away from him. He was on his feet in a single motion, quicker than he could think to follow his movements and get the better of him. Thomas sat against the wall, rubbing the pain from the back of his head where he’d hit the brick. The door was barely open, but maybe he could get to it. He drew his knees up to his chest, keeping a cautious gaze on the man as he pushed himself, inch by inch, up the wall, ready to run.

The man no longer paid any attention to him. He was looking at the woman. He leaned down and grasped her by the hair, tugging her up as if she were as light as a rag doll.

“You break their rules. You make me do this to you,” he crooned in a voice that verged on loving disappointment. “And you leave me with a fucking vegetarian?”

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAPart time author and full time fantacist, Chele Cooke is a sci-fi, fantasy, and paranormal author living in London, UK.
While some know they want to write stories since childhood, Chele first started writing as a teenager writing fanfiction and roleplaying. Before long playing in other people’s worlds wasn’t enough and she started creating her own. Living in San Francisco at the time, she found a lot of inspiration in her favourite city, some of which can be found in her books.
With a degree in Creative Writing, Chele’s first novel was published in 2013. She currently has three books published: two books in a sci-fi series, Out of Orbit, and the first book of a vampire serial, Teeth. Learn more about Chele and her work by conversing with her here on twitter or by visiting her Facebook page(here), Goodreads page(here), or Website (here).

Teeth will be published on the 8th of January 2015 and will be available to buy from Amazon (here), Amazon US (here), Kobo (here), Nook (here) and Smashwords (here).

Giveaway
There is a tour wide giveaway during the tour.
The prizes include;
Three sets of all Chele Cooke’s books as e-books
Seven e-books of Teeth

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Cover Reveal: Memoirs Of A Neurotic Zombie

I am beyond delighted to be taking part in the cover reveal of Jeff Norton‘s latest novel, Memoirs Of A Neurotic Zombie. I was lucky enough to hear Jeff read an excerpt of his hilarious creation which not only won Adam a place in my heart, it positioned this middle grade book at the top of my wish list. As well as revealing the fantastic cover and synopsis with you today, those lovely people at Faber and Faber have provided us with an exclusive except!

RGB ZombiecoverFRONT‘My name is Adam Meltzer and the last thing I remember was being stung by a bee while swinging at a robot-shaped piñata on my twelfth birthday. I was dead before the candy hit the ground.’
Memoirs of a Neurotic Zombie is narrated by the hilarious Adam Meltzer – pre-teen, worrywart, and now zombie. Adam’s family gets the fright of their lives when he turns up at their door desperate for a shower . . . three months after his funeral.
When most people think zombies, they think of eating people, and unintelligent monsters.
But Adam doesn’t like germs. Or dirt. Or things being disorganised. So waking up as a zombie was definitely not in his plans, and the idea of eating people is disgusting. Getting stung by a bee doesn’t normally lead to becoming a zombie, and it seems incredibly unfair that it’s happened to Adam.
Soon Adam’s back at school trying to fit in and not draw extra attention to himself, but when he sees his neighbour Ernesto transform into a chupacubra, and the beautiful Corina (Adam’s number one mega-crush) turns out to be a (vegan) vampire, undead life is never going to be the same again.
A hilarious adventure caper – if Ferris Bueller met Shaun of the Dead – all about friendship and being yourself . . . even if you’re undead.

Excerpt:
Adam reintroduces himself to his Mum and sister upon returning home.

I was traipsing grave dirt everywhere and that carpet was not going to give up a stubborn stain easily. She looked really upset so I decided to change the subject from ruined floor coverings.

‘Um, Mom, did I die?’

Mom blinked away her tears and slowly nodded her head, twirling her curly black hair like she always did when she was anxious. Amanda cowered in the corner brandishing a rolling pin.

‘Is it really my little boy?’ Mom sobbed.

‘I’m twelve,’ I reminded her. ‘I’m not a little boy!’ It really irked me that they still treated me like the baby.

I’m only 15 months younger than Amanda, and if you include death and unnatural resurrection, I’ve had waaaay more life and death experience than her. And yet she has a mobile phone and I don’t. She was her own computer and I still have to share Mom’s.
Amanda screwed up her freckled face. She was sprorting read hair now, which was odd because yesterday I’d thought she was a blonde. ‘Are you even human?’ she asked from behind the rolling pin.

‘Jeez Amanda, what are you going to do, roll me into a pastry? And since when have you been a redhead?’

‘It’s Autumn Auburn,’ she said.

‘But it’s March,’ I reminded her.

‘Oh, Adam, cried my mother. ‘It’s..June.’

June?!

Suddenly, nothing made sense. Where did the last three months for? And why would Amanda choose an autumnal hair dye for the start of summer?

The world had gone mad.

This is excerpt five of eighteen excellent extracts provided by Faber and Faber. To read them in chronological order you will need to start with the fabulous Raimy at Readaraptor (here). After checking out our extract above you should head on over to the wonderful Daphne at Winged Reviews (here) and then visit Clover at her beautiful blog, Fluttering Butterflies (here).
Ps. The amazingly organised Jesse at Books 4 Teens (here) has compiled the full list of blogs taking part with links!

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Self Published Sunday: Glaze by Kim Curran

We are delighted to welcome author Kim Curran to Self Published Sunday. Not only has Kim taken the time to answer our questions, she has also provided us with an excerpt from Glaze and a fantastic giveaway!
GlazePetri Quinn is counting down the days till she turns 16 and can get on GLAZE – the ultimate social network that is bringing the whole world together into one global family. But when a peaceful government protest turns into a full-blown riot with Petri shouldering the blame, she’s handed a ban. Her life is over before it’s even started.
Desperate to be a part of the hooked-up society, Petri finds an underground hacker group and gets a black market chip fitted. But this chip has a problem: it has no filter and no off switch. Petri can see everything happening on GLAZE, all the time. Including things she was never meant to see.
As her life is plunged into danger, Petri is faced with a choice. Join GLAZE…or destroy it.

Glaze is your first self-published novel, was there anything in particular that prompted you to make the decision to self-publish?

Initially, I had hoped Glaze would get your normal, traditional publishing deal. And my agent sent the book out to a handful of publishers with that intent. However, it quickly became apparent that they either had something similar in the pipeline or they had doubts about the market for YASF. Combined with this was my realisation that the topics in Glaze were (sometimes eerily) starting to happen. The social network in GLAZE is accessed via a chip in the brain that creates an optical overlay – and I’d written it before I’d heard a thing about Google Glass. The first chapter features a riot in London – and it was written long before the London riots. And I realised that I was going to have to move super fast to ensure the book stayed topical. And that’s the beauty of self publishing. I was able to move as fast as I liked.

Plus, I really loved the idea of trying a new approach to publishing. And Glaze seemed to be the perfect book to do that with. It’s about disrupting the establishment after all 🙂

Glaze is a truly scary look at social media, where did your initial inspiration come from?

The initial spark came from watching this TED video on the Filter Bubble.

http://www.ted.com/talks/eli_pariser_beware_online_filter_bubbles

In it, Eli Pariser talks about how the filter through which we experience the internet is so designed around our personal interests that, in an attempt to be totally relevant, it risks cutting us off from the wider scope of topics. This really scared me, as it’s something I do personally: if someone on Twitter tweets something I don’t agree with, I unfollow them; if someone on Facebook bangs on about topics that don’t interest me, I defriend them. I started to wonder how this might work if it was done on a social level. If all of our relationships with each other and with our society was controlled and ‘filtered’. And so the idea for Glaze was born.

Prior to the start of Glaze, Petri is already socially isolated, how important was this to the decisions she made throughout the novel?

For me it’s Petri’s desire to ‘belong’ that is the main thrust behind the whole book. She’s an outsider looking in on a world that feels out of reach. And in my teenage years (and still today) I felt that intently. Even when surrounded by friends, I felt someone how isolated. And all it would take would be one of those days when everyone seems to have ‘in’ jokes that you don’t get and that sense of isolation could become crushing. And so I wanted the network to become a metaphor for that experience. It’s the ultimate ‘in crowd’!

I liked the fact that they had a physical barrier on the use of social media in schools; do you believe that the abundance of teenagers using smart phones affects their education and social interactions?

That’s a really fascinating question. There’s a genuine fear that our ‘always on’ culture is affecting our attention span and our ability for prolonged thought. But then, people said the same thing about books! Of course, smart phones and access to social media is changing the way we consume information and how we interact. However, whether that change is negative is unclear. I think it’s just change. And that’s a neutral thing.

What I really do worry about, however, are the changes that are taking place in our education system. It feels to me that we’re moving to an old fashioned view of what it means to be educated. Which is to have your brain stuffed full of facts and figures. For me, education is so much more than this. It should be about sparking a passion for ideas and encouraging young people to question their world and what has shaped that (whether that’s history or physics). And it’s this attempt to erode that space to ask questions that I think it the real danger in our schools!

Is there one form of social media that you personally cannot live without?

I wouldn’t say live without – as I do often wish someone would save me from myself and ban me from the internet! But I love Twitter so very much. Since going freelance to focus on my writing it’s become my work chat, my social group and my source of news and gossip.

Glaze, as mentioned above, is a little bit terrifying, I admit that while reading Glaze, I felt a little bit uneasy about accessing my own social media; did you experience this while writing it?

Absolutely! I started to question the motives of everyone I interacted with online. And I got the sense that everything I was sharing online was being watched (because IT IS! ☺ )

This paranoia was combined with the fact that as I was writing it, it all seemed to be coming true! I was sitting in an office in East London when the riots broke out. And that was after having written the riot scene at the beginning of the book. Then all the news about GCHQ started to break. And finally, Google Glass was announced and I started to get seriously worried someone was hacking my brain!

Is there one message you’d like readers to take away from reading Glaze?

Question who is in control of your information.

Which five words would you use to persuade someone to read Glaze?

Argh! This is so hard.

Try a twisty, thinky, tech-thriller. 🙂

What have been the most rewarding and most challenging aspects of self-publishing?

The whole process has been incredible! I thought it was going to be so isolating but the truth is it’s been one of the most supportive and collaborative experiences I’ve ever had. I’ve been really lucky that an imprint called Jurassic London got excited about the idea of Glaze and wanted to publish limited edition hardbacks. And so I was able to work with Jared Shurin – the editor there on that. Glaze was also edited by Amy McCulloch at Puffin, plus I had amazing copyeditors and proof readers. And so I had a team of people around me to help make the book better.

And then, when I reached out to bloggers #TeamGlaze was born and I was overwhelmed by the excitement and enthusiasm. It’s been such a humbling experience and I sort of feel that Glaze belongs to everyone who’ve helped me in that journey.

It’s also been really empowering to take control over my career. Ultimately, all the choices made, have been mine. Which is terrifying, but also really rewarding.

Honestly, the only challenging thing was making the decision to do it. Which was a really tough one. I thought people would judge me and think I’d somehow failed. But the support I’ve had has blown me away.

Can you tell us anything about what you’re currently working on?

I’m just finishing up the final edits on Delete ¬– the final book in my Shifter trilogy. And I’ve started a new book for young adults that I am so exceptionally excited about I can hardly sleep. I can’t tell you much about it, beyond the fact it’s tonally very different from anything I’ve written before. It’s a series of letters between two girls and…actually, that’s all I can say without giving it all away. The working title (exclusive here) is We’ve Only Just Begun. So, watch this space! 🙂

Excerpt

I sit on the least damaged of the seats and start to swing. The rusting chains are damp from the morning’s rain but the seat is dry, which means someone has been here before me. Kiara climbs up on the warped, burnt-out seat and pushes back and forth, her long, dark hair splaying out behind her, then catching her up on the upswing.

We swing in silence for a while.

‘What’s it like?’ she says.

‘What’s what like?’

‘The blank chip. Can you feel it?’

‘Not really. At first, I could see the company logo, floating in my eyes. You know, like when you stare at the sun too long. Three faint triangles drifting around. But I don’t even notice them now.’ I look down. I was hoping that I’d feel something with the chip. Get some kind of feed. The time and date. My location. Something. Anything. But after the logo faded, there was nothing.

‘You know, you’re lucky.’

‘What?’ I look back up at Kiara flying back and forth.

‘Glaze. It’s not all that. I’m thinking of having the chip removed.’

‘What? Why?’

She leaps off mid swing and lands badly. I jump down and try to help her back to her feet. She sits in the mud and laughs.
‘Are you OK?’ I ask, meaning the ankle she’s cradling.

‘No, not really.’ Her smile fades. ‘I mean, I don’t know what’s wrong with me.’

I know she’s not talking about her ankle.

‘You remember when I was off school last month?’

‘With glandular fever?’ I say.

‘Yeah, only it wasn’t glandular fever. Unless you can get that from a stomach pump.’

‘What are you on about?’

‘I tried to kill myself.’

She says it like it’s perfectly normal. Like she’d just tried a new nail varnish. Or she has a crush on someone. I find I can’t breathe and slump to the floor next to her.

‘Oh, don’t worry,’ she says, leaning back on her hands and looking up at the clouds. ‘I did a really crappy job of it. Apparently it’s really hard to OD on ibuprofen. Who knew?’

‘Kiara, I… I… Why?’

She closes her eyes and tilts her head back further, as if she were sunbathing. Only there’s no sun out today. ‘The doctors say I’m depressed.’

‘Well, duh!’ I say. ‘Award for stating the obvious goes to the doctors.’

‘I guess. But I always thought being depressed meant feeling sad all the time and not being able to get out of bed. But I don’t feel sad. I just don’t… feel. Anything.’ She sits up again and rubs her muddy hands on her skirt. ‘I used to care about things so much, you know? My art. Music. But now, it’s all noise. And without it I feel empty. And I didn’t want to go on feeling empty.’

‘I wish I knew what to say.’

‘Don’t worry. No one knows really. Mum says I’ll get better soon. That it’s a phase. Dad’s ignoring it, pretty much, trying to carry on as normal. He can’t cope with the fact I’m not his happy little Kiki any more. My doctor wants me to take some pills. “Happy pills”. He actually called them that. Literally. Happy pills. Can you believe that?’

‘And you don’t want to take them?’

‘I don’t know. I don’t really know anything any more.’

‘Has this got anything to do with Pippa?’

Kiara laughs. ‘No. Poor Pippa. Can you imagine her dealing with this?’

I laugh too. But it comes out as more of a groan. ‘Yeah, she’d make a right drama out of it.’

‘No, it’s not her. I can’t even remember why we were friends in the first place. No, it’s just… life, I guess. My life. It really does suck.’

I turn away and sigh. ‘Tell me about it.’

‘I’m sorry I’ve been such a bitch to you lately, Pet. I wanted to tell you, I really did. But…’

‘It’s fine. I get it.’ I hate to admit it, but I’m kind of relived.

We both sit and watch the clouds float past overhead.

‘So, what’s that got to do with having your chip out. I mean, can you even do that?’

‘Apparently there’s a clinic you can go to. It’s not as easy as having it put in. But nothing ever is, right?
‘And you’re going to?’

‘Maybe. It’s weird. Since I got chipped I’ve felt shrunk, somehow. Lost among all those voices. I don’t know what I really think, about anything. You know, what my opinions are.’ She presses her hand to her chest. ‘I’m stretched out in all directions spread too thin. Like a pancake person.’ She laughs again, and this time, it sounds a little more like her real laugh. ‘But it could just be me. Mum did always say I was contrary.’

‘Why don’t you turn it off? Then when you feel better you can go back.’ I can’t get my head around the idea of someone choosing not to be on Glaze. Especially when I know I can’t. Like Ethan.

‘Yeah, but I’d only turn it back on again. I have no willpower.’ She shivers and wraps her arms around herself.

‘You want to come back to mine?’ I say, standing up. ‘Zizi will be there, though. She’s working on some big project.’
‘Won’t she go totally Metro for you bunking off?’

‘Nah, I’ll tell her I’m taking a stand against patriarchal institutions or something.’

‘Your mum’s cool.’

‘Hmm. Too cool.’

‘I have to be home normal time or Mum will call the police.’

‘We still have a couple of hours. And I’ve had enough of the police for a lifetime.’

She takes my hand to get to her feet then tucks it under her arm, linking us together. ‘What was it like? Being arrested?’ Her eyes light up and I realise now it’s the first time I’ve seen them like that in too long.

Kim PicDublin-born Kim Curran is the award-nominated author of books for young adults, including Shift, Control and Delete.
She studied Philosophy & Literature at university with the plan of being paid big bucks to think deep thoughts. While that never quite worked out, she did land a job as a junior copywriter with an ad agency a week after graduating. She’s worked in advertising ever since and is obsessed with the power of the media on young minds.
She is a mentor at the Ministry of Stories and for the WoMentoring Project. And lives in London with her husband and too many books.
To find out more about Kim and her work visit www.kimcurran.co.uk
To view the full tour schedule visit A Daydreamers thoughts here

There is a tour wide giveaway during the tour.
The prizes include;
Hardback copy of GLAZE signed by the author and cover designer
Signed copies of Shift & Control
Glaze Bookmarks
Glaze badges
Meet with Kim Curran or Skype chat if not able to come to London.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Blog Tour: Harvester

Today with have an excerpt from Rachel Russell‘s debut novel, Harvester.
Harvester coverSixteen-year-old Catalina has never seen the sky. As a mage, it’s illegal for her to leave the underground city she lives in. The sun and moon are only fantastical stories of a land far away. So when Catalina stumbles upon a tunnel leading to the surface, she can’t resist the temptation to see the surface world.
But instead of enjoying a night beneath the stars for the first time, Catalina emerges upon the scene of a savage murderer harvesting faery body parts. She’s nearly his next victim, but is rescued by a grim boy named Will who has a troubling connection to the killer.
Even more disquieting is Catalina’s criminal status upon returning home. Someone with political clout has framed her for the vicious slayings. Now on the run from the law, Catalina must uncover Will’s tie to the serial killing of faeries, as well as stop a bloodthirsty murderer to prove her innocence, or face a death sentence.

Excerpt
The last person caught smuggling medicine had disappeared, never to be heard from again, after Marshals whisked him away for interrogation. It wasn’t a reassuring thought to have as Catalina stood in line and gnawed on the inside of her cheek. With each step she took toward the Arch, the glass vial hidden within the inside pocket of her vest grew heavier. She’d trafficked medicine into the city before, but it always felt like the first time. She supposed there were just some things you never got used to. Knowing the Arch wasn’t designed to detect her precious cargo didn’t stop her palms from sweating or her stomach from flip-flopping.

“Next.” A scowling guard dressed in a black trench coat with a stiff, upturned collar waved her through with an exaggerated wave of his arm, as if she’d been dawdling.

Catalina sucked in a breath and stepped beneath the Arch. It wailed, shrill and loud, like a cat in pain. She startled, her eyes widening.

“Hands in the air!”

Oh no. No, no, no, Catalina thought. She held up shaking hands. My luck cannot be this crappy. She’d passed through the Arch dozens of times with the medicine on her and the alarm had never gone off before. Maybe it was a malfunction.
Another guard stepped over and passed a plain, black rod over her, starting at her head and traveling down. It glowed white when it neared her vest pocket.

Catalina’s stomach bottomed out. They’d updated their equipment. For once, the law was a step ahead of her.
The guard flipped open her vest and reached into the inside pocket, plucking out the vial. He held it up before his face, arching an eyebrow. Within the glass vial swirled clear liquid filled with glittering particles. The guard pulled out the stopper and sniffed.

Catalina caught a faint waft of honeysuckle flowers.

“It’s faery elixir, all right.” The guard put the stopper back on. “Take her to the interrogation room. The Marshal will want to speak with her.”

The other guard stepped behind Catalina and twisted her arms behind her back. She needed to get out of there. If she could buck her head back hard enough to break the guard’s nose, maybe—

Then metal pinched the tender skin of her wrists. She tried to wriggle her fingers. Her knuckles hit cool iron. He’d encased her hands in mitten handcuffs, the only sure way to keep a mage from weaving a spell. Catalina sighed. Now it really was too late.
“Come on.” The guard grabbed Catalina by the elbow and led her through a blue door off to the right.

Their booted steps echoed down a hallway with overhead lights so bright they whitewashed the walls and floor. Catalina squinted beneath the harsh glare. The guard led her to the end of the hallway and stopped in front of a dull door with black paint curling at the edges. Again, she was struck with the near-overpowering drive to bolt. She’d heard horror stories of Marshals using magic to strangle hearts near to bursting point till they got what information they wanted.

The hinges on the door whined as the guard opened it. An empty room with a table and two chairs lay beyond. A cold chill rushed down Catalina’s spine. Odd how such a sparse room could feel so menacing.

The guard shoved her into the room. “A Marshal will be with you shortly.”

Catalina stumbled into the room and whirled to face the guard, only to be met by the door slamming shut. A click came from the other side of the door as he locked it.

She turned and strode to the table. “Great. What the hell am I supposed to do now?”

Rachel Russel PictureRachel is a YA author who likes dirty martinis and pickles on her pizza. Her stories tend to be either horror or fantasy, or a strange amalgamation of both genres. She works at Month9Books, LLC as both the Submissions Coordinator and an Editorial Assistant. When not reading or writing, Rachel is marathoning anime, becoming one with Twitter (@RachelxRussell), or playing make-believe with her two daughters.
You can find and contact Rachel via her website (here), Facebook (here), Twitter (here) or Goodreads (here)

You can find more about Harvester on the Entranced site (here),where you will also be able to purchase Harvester following publication.

There is a tour wide giveaway for the chance to win One white leather infinity bracelet and One e-copy of Harvester check out the Rafflecopter form below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Cover Reveal: Face Time

Today is the cover reveal for Face Time (Love in the Digital Age #1) by SJ Pajonas. This cover reveal is organized by Lola’s Blog Tours. The cover is designed by Forward Authority.

Face TimeAfter the best first date ever, Lee thought Laura was funny, intelligent, and impulsive; a whirlwind of bright laughter and happiness. Laura loved Lee’s sweet smile and the way he expertly filled in every awkward pause. He held her hand and then pulled her in for the most perfect kiss she’s had in years. What could possibly be wrong? Just the 7000 miles that separates them the next day.
Even though Lee has gone home to Seoul, Laura can’t stop thinking about him. What starts as an innocent text thanking him for their dinner date becomes something much more: someone either of them can’t live without. But Laura’s got a live-in mother going through a midlife crisis, and Lee’s stressful traveling schedule means they’ll be apart for some time. Life, family, and a complicated past also get in the way, and they’re both going to need actual face time to figure it out.
Told from both Lee and Laura’s point of view, FACE TIME is a funny, romantic, modern-day story about two people who connect across the world.

Excerpt

Lee’s eyes are bloodshot and tired, his rounded cheeks sunken in with fatigue, but it looks like he won’t leave unless someone comes along and peels him off the couch.
I hate to do it, but I lean forward and squeeze his knee. “Lee, you look so tired, and I know you have to be up early. We should call it a night.”

Disappointment falls over his face and he sighs, putting his hands on his knees and forcing himself to stand up. Once my coat is buttoned-up, he reaches out his hand and helps me up with a smile.

Outside, I direct him north on Broadway to Third Street where I can get a cab going west towards Chelsea and be home in ten minutes. I used to walk this area all the time when I went to NYU, and the corner of Third is as good a place as any to say goodbye. An NYU building towers over this corner, fenced in by greenery and a large tree arcs out overhead. In a few weeks, the branches will be filled with buds and trees will explode with leaves all over the city. I can’t wait for spring.

“You live on Fifteenth Street, right? I saw the address you sent me,” Lee says, his hand clutching mine. “Over by Chelsea Market?”

“Yeah. I go there all the time. The neighborhood has grown in the last few years especially. It doesn’t look anything like it did when I moved in.”

“Seoul is always changing. After the war, it just grew and grew and now there are new buildings up every year there.”
Our conversation dies as we near the corner, and I slow down to a stop. I… I really don’t know what to do. I know this can’t go anywhere.

“I can get a cab going crosstown from here,” I say, looking down at my shoes. “If you walk back over to Lafayette, you can get a cab going uptown.”

“Okay. Laura…” He turns to face me, so very close. He withdraws his warm hand from his pocket and softly strokes the length of my chin, pushing my eyes up to his. I guess I’m not the impulsive one tonight. “I’d like to see you again. Somehow. I don’t know when I’ll be back in New York, though.”

“I understand.” I clench my legs together because a fire is burning right in the middle of them, and I haven’t had sex in so long I don’t know what to do with the feeling. My vibrator doesn’t count. “Maybe we can keep in touch, if you’re up for it.” I smile at his eager face, only three inches from mine.

“I think I’m up for almost anything when it comes to you. In fact…” He steps in even closer, letting go of my hand and pulling me in by the small of my back. “I’m going to kiss you, and I’m not going to regret it for a second.”
Pulling my face to his, our lips meet hesitantly at first, warmth growing between us as a breeze curls around my legs and up my jacket. His lips brush against mine, feathery light and playful, soft and sweet, the test kiss when you put your toes in the water and see if the bath is hot enough. Then I lean in and bind my lips to his. This kiss goes all in, a deep inhale followed by the kind of release that makes my eyes roll back in my head. If I were paying closer attention, I’d notice the curry, the beer, and the coffee, but instead all I sense is the seed he’s planting in my soul, the one that takes root and convinces me I’m a worthy person again, worthy of love and affection, worthy of attention.

I set my hands free from their safe haven between us and wrap them around his waist, sighing and enjoying this regret-free kiss. It just pushes Lee even closer, both of his hands on my cheeks, guiding my mouth into his, and his relief is evident in the release of his muscles along his waist and back.

Earlier, I wanted to pause time in several instances — when he took my photo, when he held my hand, when he smiled at me over the top of the coffee bar — but, now, this is what I want to remember. This is the moment when he likes me for all the right reasons, and I want to capture that blissful ignorance and never live without it.

The moment unsticks, our lips pulling away at the same time, and he kisses me along my left cheek to my ear. I hug him close and rest my forehead on his shoulder.

“Thank you for tonight, Laura,” he whispers in my ear, and I nod into his sweater, letting myself feel happy for this instead of sad he won’t be here tomorrow. We dislodge our arms from each other and do our best to smile at one another before he takes my hand, leads me to the curb, hails a cab, and puts me in it.

“Don’t be a stranger, Lee,” I say, before raising my eyebrows at him and closing the door.
My last glimpse is the smile on his face, his hand raised in goodbye, as my cab speeds away down Third Street.

sj pajonasS. J. Pajonas loves all things Asian and has been in love with Japan for as long as she can remember. Writing about Asia and Japan came naturally after studying the culture and language for over fifteen years. She studied film and screenwriting first and eventually segued into fiction once she was no longer working a full-time job.
Released is S. J. Pajonas’s second work, book two of four in the Nogiku Series. The first book in the series, Removed, is described as “a wonderful story” with “engaging characters, seamless world building, and an action packed plot.” It’s an “up-til-3am-because-I-read-it-in-one-sitting book.” She also writes contemporary romance and her upcoming first book in the Love in the Digital Age series will be published in 2014.
S. J. lives with her husband and two children just outside of New York City. She loves reading, writing, film, J- and K-dramas, knitting, and astrology. Her favorite author is Haruki Murakami and favorite book is The Wind-up Bird Chronicle.
You can find and contact her at her her website, on Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, Pintrest, Filicker, Instagram and on Tumblr.

You can find Face Time (Love in the Digital Age #1) on Goodreads (here).

Are you a Wattpad user? S. J. Pajonas will be posting the first chapters of FACE TIME to Wattpad (here) starting March 9, 2014. Follow her to get a new chapter each week, six in total, leading up to the publication of FACE TIME.

International Giveaway
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– 10$ amazon gift card
– e-copies of both Removed (Nogiku #1) and Released (Nogiku #2) –mobi or epub file
– e-ARC of Face Time (available March 2014) – mobi or epub file

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Blog Tour: Echoes In The Glass

We are delighted to welcome Cheri Lasota as she shares some of her favourite quotes from her newly released contemporary romance, Echoes In The Glass.

echoesFinnian bears the scar of an unspeakable crime.
McKenna hides the pain of a terrible betrayal. 
When all their secrets are laid bare, will the truth rip them apart or forever silence the echoes of the past?


Seventeen-year-old Finnian Bell has been on the run for years, but he finally has a chance to rebuild his life while restoring an abandoned lighthouse on the Oregon Coast.  

McKenna Lucas, the lightkeeper’s daughter, is still reeling from the pain of an event that has shattered her innocence. Fear and bitterness have turned her heart from Finnian, but he is determined not to let her go.

The lighthouse harbors dark secrets of its own…When Finnian and McKenna uncover the story of two teens hidden in the tower back in 1934, they discover a shocking connection that bridges time and death.

Favorite Quotes.

Quote 3: They stayed that way.
Still.
Quiet.
Without moving or breathing. A moment when there was no world outside the space between them. He felt wrapped around and within her in a place of beginning and forgetting.

To me, this is what love feels like. The whole world can just fade away and all you see is the one who loves you. With this line, I desperately wanted to capture just a glimpse of what that feels like for my main character, Finnian Bell. He has come through so much to get to this moment in his journey. Most of my beta readers have shed some tears at this point in the story, knowing everything these two characters have been through.

Quote 4: He let go and rubbed his chest, where the gaping hole of grief that had filled his waking hours was both filling and emptying at the same time.

This is probably not the most eloquent of lines, but it was my feeble attempt to capture what was going through Finnian’s mind at the most heartbreaking moment in this novel. I had tears streaming down my face as I wrote it because, at the time, I knew exactly what he feels like as he learns the truth about the two people he loves most: one was an answer to his prayers and the other the revelation of a terrible crime. At this moment, I wasn’t writing Finnian, I was him, and my heart broke alongside his.

To read more favourite quotes and see the other stops on the tour for reviews, guest posts, and excerpts visit the full Echoes In The Glass tour schedule (here)

Posted by Cheri

cheri lCheri Lasota has written poetry and fiction for sixteen years, edited fiction for nine years and recently jumped headlong into design work for enhanced e-books. She has a great love for all things techy, so she finds herself pushing the boundaries of e-book marketing and design at every turn. Her passion for fiction and helping other novelists achieve their goals is without limits.

Her bestselling debut novel, ARTEMIS RISING, is a 2013 Cygnus Awards First Place Winner and a 2012 finalist in the Next Generation Indie Books Awards. Cheri just released her how-to e-book DESIGN AND UPLOAD YOUR EPUB and is currently finishing up her second YA novel, ECHOES IN THE GLASS, set on the Oregon Coast.

Echoes In The Glass is published by Ever-Sea Press and is available to buy now from Amazon (here).

Our thanks to AToMR Tours ( Visit here for more information) for organising this tour and allowing us to be a part of it.

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Book Excerpt: Breaking The Reins

Today we are delighted to share an excerpt from Juliana Haygert‘s Breaking The Reins.

breaking the reinsHorses, mansions, tea parties, and lies are twenty-year-old Hannah Taylor’s life. To others, her family and her relationship with Eric is perfect. But she knows the truth. She lives it.
After a fire takes her grandma’s life and kills her horse, Hannah’s immaculate life spirals out of control. Her father disapproves of her decision to run her grandma’s ranch instead of focusing solely on learning the family business; Animal Control brings her Argus, a mistreated horse that she can’t turn away even though she’s not ready for another horse; and her boyfriend, Eric Bennett, a world famous polo player, becomes possessive and authoritarian. Despite her best efforts to disguise it, Hannah grows wary of him.
Then, Leonardo Fernandes struts onto the polo scene. A cocky rookie with a messy life of his own, he’s drawn to Hannah and isn’t afraid of showing it, even when Eric makes it clear she is his and he’ll do whatever it takes to keep it that way. Hannah suffers for Eric’s jealousy. The abuse only gets worse when Leo steals the title of best polo player in the world from Eric.
But the title isn’t enough for Leo. He wants Hannah too, and she can’t deny her attraction to him either. Somehow, she must find a way to break free from abusive Eric before he breaks every bone in her body.
**New Adult Contemporary Romance Novel**

I stepped toward the big French doors when I heard a shout and stopped. I looked around, trying to find the source, but didn’t see anyone. Letting my curiosity win, I descended the porch steps and followed the short stone path around a tall wall. Perhaps I shouldn’t spy, but I was concerned it could be someone who’d been riding and fell or something.

What I didn’t expect was to find Leo arguing with his father. In Portuguese.

I should have left. I should have retreated, pretended I never saw anything, and went back inside the main house and back to my mother and her friends.

But I caught a few words and sentences whispered in fast, harsh tones. Disappointment. Make me proud. Grow up. Work hard and stop playing.

My curiosity piqued, making me stay glued to my spot in the corner.

“Me deixa em paz, tche!” Leo shouted, turning his back to his father and stalking away.

I stepped back and hid behind the wall, hoping for all that was holy that he hadn’t seen me. My hopes went down the drain when he stepped around the corner three seconds later, his hard eyes on mine.

“I’m sorry,” I whispered. “I didn’t mean to.”

His jaw tightened, and he crossed his arms over his blue T-shirt. The color emphasized his bright eyes, and the fabric clung to him, especially over his stomach, where a dark blotch of sweat showed off his hard abs. His goddamn white practice pants and the sweat-damp hair didn’t help either.

“How much did you hear?” he asked.

I swallowed, forcing my mind to push back images of his god-like body. “Not much. But I only understood a couple of words here and there.” I shifted my weight, uncomfortable under his gaze, not only because I’d seen and heard something I wasn’t supposed to. Keep your mouth shut, Hannah. Keep your damned mouth sh… “Want to talk about it?”

The shine in his eyes changed, and the tension in his neck seemed to lessen. He shook his head. “Don’t worry. It’s just the usual banter.”

Usual? I didn’t like the sound of that. His family seemed so perfect, so warm, so close, so happy. His sister had said he rarely smiled, which seemed odd since I had seen him smiling before. I was dying to know why he and his father usually argued.
Instead, I started a new subject. “I heard you’re staying.”

He nodded. “It was the plan all along.”

“Really?”

“Sim. Polo in Brazil isn’t that strong. Here, though, is another story.”

“I see.” I looked from side to side. “Do you and your brothers plan on staying for … long?” I pressed my lips together, chiding myself for almost saying forever.

“We don’t know. Perhaps, if all goes well.” He took a step closer, his eyes still on mine, making me slightly breathless. His body loomed closer, the difference in our heights and widths almost hilarious, if it wasn’t for the fact it turned me on.

Crap.

“I hope we do.”

A shiver rolled down my spine.

juliana haygertAbout the Author:
New Adult author and contributor at NA Alley blog (visit here)
While Juliana Haygert dreams of being Wonder Woman, Buffy, or a blood elf shadow priest, she settles for the less exciting—but equally gratifying—life of a wife, mother, and author. Thousands of miles away from her former home in Brazil, she now resides in Connecticut and spends her days writing about kick-ass heroines and the heroes who drive them crazy.
To learn more about Juliana and her work visit her at her website (here),her blog (here), Facebook page (here) and Goodread’s authors page (here). Alternatively you can converse with her on twitter (here).

Breaking the Reins was published on the 19th of August and is available to buy from Amazon.com (here), Amazon.co.uk (here) and Kobo Books (here).

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Book Excerpt: All In by Marta Brown

Marta Brown

All In CoverOn the picturesque island of Martha’s Vineyard, there are two kinds of residents. Locals and Stays.
Local boy, Lane McCarthy, plans on spending his summer working at the country club to save money for college in the fall, while summer stay, Ashley Whitmore, and her elite group of friends are only there to play.
As the summer heat goes up on the island, so does the ante, when both Lane and Ashley must decide what they’re willing to wager in order to follow their dreams… and their hearts.
With stakes as high as the surf, and hopes as high as the midday sun, will they risk everything and go all in?

Ashley

His head is down as he crosses the private section of the beach, staying close to the water’s edge but avoiding the moving tide.
“Lane,” I call out over the noise of the party and the waves, but he doesn’t seem to hear me, so I call his name again, this time louder. “Hey, Lane.” He glances up and scans the party, squinting before finally seeing me. A smile flashes across his face. I smile back as I approach him, my flip flops kicking up sand behind me.

“Hi,” I say. My drink, mostly untouched, sloshes and spills over the lip of the cup when I stop in front of him.
“Looks like you’re having fun.” He nods at my drink and then up at the party.

“I actually just got here. I’m glad you came.” I feel my cheeks heat up, and I’m relieved it’s dark enough that he can’t see. “I think Andrew’s around here somewhere.” I look over my shoulder to point Lane in the right direction.

“Ah, no thanks. I think I’ll steer clear of your kind of parties,” he says, shoving his hands in the pockets of his cargo shorts.
“What do you mean my kind of parties?”

“Nothing, never mind.” He kicks at the sand and looks uncomfortable.

“Oh no.” I cover my mouth with my hand. “Did you get in trouble last night when the cops showed up?”

“Yeah, thanks to your boyfriend,” he says with a sneer that makes me take a step back.

My boyfriend?

“I’m not sure what his deal is, but he’s a serious dick.” Lane’s jaw is tight, and there’s not a hint of joking in his tone.
“Gregory?” I ask wide eyed. Why would he think Gregory is my boyfriend? I have a flash of Greg and I at lunch together looking very much like a couple and then again at the bluffs when he gave me his coat, something a boyfriend would do. Oh.

“He is definitely not my boyfriend,” I say seriously. “He’s my ex, if you can even call it that. We dated for like a second, but it was never very serious.” Why am I telling him all this? Stop rambling, Ashley. I dig my toes into the sand. “But you’re right about one thing. He is a dick.” I give Lane a playful grin and watch the light from the bonfire bounce off his features as his jaw loosens and a tentative smile spreads across his face.

From a distance, I hear Gregory’s voice, and when I glance over my shoulder, he’s stumbling our direction, obviously drunk and completely uninvited.

“Speak of the devil.” I roll my eyes and that makes Lane smile bigger.

“The rest of the staff is over there,” Gregory slurs, pointing to the tent where the cater waiters are busy putting out more hors d’oeuvres. Lane ignores his snide remark, never taking his eyes off of me.

“It was nice seeing you again, but I gotta go,” Lane says, and I’m immediately disappointed that he’s leaving.

“Are you sure?” I look down at my feet and try to garner enough nerve to ask him not to go. “Stay,” I say so softly it comes out as more of a whisper when I look back up at him.

He peers over his shoulder across the small peninsula to the lighthouse then back at me. “I’m sorry, I can’t…I…I have to work.” He looks genuinely disappointed, and I wonder if he knows I am too. “But hopefully I’ll see you around, okay?” He gives me a smile that makes my knees go weak before taking off down the beach. In the faint light coming off of the fire, I see him glance back at me before he cuts across the sandy peninsula and disappears into the shadows of tall sea grass.

Lane
He’s not her boyfriend.

I shake my head to clear my mind before I steal one last glance over my shoulder at her as I walk away, but it’s on a loop, and it’s all I can think. He’s not her boyfriend.

I shake my head again, this time to snap myself out of it. There’s no way a girl like that would go for a guy like me anyway. Would she? I shut my eyes and replay the way she looked at me through her long dark lashes, softly asking me to stay, causing my stomach to knot.

“He’s not her boyfriend,” I say out loud at the door of the lighthouse. I pull my keys from my pocket as the sounds of the party float through the otherwise quiet night, and I feel a stupid grin spread across my face despite the rude remarks I just got from that ass-hat Gregory. Seriously, when will the ‘help’ jokes get old?

“Let go. You’re hurting me,” a girl yelps from down the beach. I spin around and from the light coming off the bonfire I can see Gregory’s hand is wrapped around Ashley’s arm, and she’s wincing in pain.

Without a thought, I drop my keys to the ground and take off running, reaching them in seconds. “Let her go,” I yell. My fists ball tight, ready to make him if I have to.

“Mind your own business, loser,” Gregory snarls back as he jerks Ashley by the arm eliciting another cry.

“Lane,” Ashley says, struggling against his grip, fear on her face.

I lunge forward and grab Gregory’s arm, yanking him away from her with a force that surprises even me. “I said Let. Her. Go.”
Ashley falls to the ground when Gregory releases his hold, rubbing her arm in pain. I kneel down and brush the hair from her face, searching for any other signs of injury as adrenaline pounds in my veins.

“Are you okay?”

“I’m fine. I promise,” she says, our eyes locked with one another. “Thank you.”

“Come to save the damsel in distress,” Gregory says in a patronizing tone, looking down his nose at me. Convinced Ashley’s alright; I jump up and face him. He’s poised and ready for a fight, and that makes two of us. “You do know the peasant doesn’t get the girl, right? The prince does.”

I can’t stop the laugh that comes out of me. “Are you serious right now?” Who does this guy think he is? “Dude, when a girl’s screaming to be let go, it’s a pretty good indicator that she doesn’t want you, prince or not.”

I hear a light snickering from behind me before I see that a small crowd has gathered around and is watching us intently. I’m surprised they haven’t all started chanting ‘fight’ by the way they look on like we’re simply the entertainment for the evening.

“You know what? She can slum it all she wants with you. She’s nothing but an uptight frigid tease anyway. Good luck getting into her pants,” Gregory says, wearing an arrogant smirk, his arms crossed leisurely across his chest like he’s just landed a fatal blow.

My vision goes red. He’s about to find out exactly how a real blow feels. To the face.

marta brownMarta Brown grew up in the Pacific Northwest and was a teenager when Doc Martens, Pearl Jam and flannel were the norm and Dylan loved Kelly forever. (Beverly Hills 90210 shout out)
She still lives just outside Seattle, now with her husband and cat, and loves the rain.
When she’s not writing about cute boys, first kisses and the magic and wonder of being seventeen, she’s watching The CW. And she sleeps in. Late.
Learn more about Marta by visiting herWebsite (click here to visit), on her Goodreads authors page(here) or Tumbler (here). Alternatively you can converse with Marta on Twitter (here)

All In is available to buy from Amazon.com(here),Barnes and Noble (here) and Kobo Books (here)

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The Dead Girls Detective Agency: Book Extract

Thanks to those lovely people at Much-In-Little, we are able to share a significant look at Suzy Cox‘s Debut novel; The Dead Girls Detective agency.

dead girls detectiveBeing told you’re dead is one thing. But having to solve your own murder? It’s a lot for a girl to take in. Solving the mystery behind your death can be murder.
Charlotte wakes up at Hotel Atessa, home to murdered New York teenagers and HQ of The Dead Girls Detective Agency. Before she has time to adjust to her new, erm, dead self, she’s thrust into the arms of her new afterlife companions, Lorna, Nancy and the cute – if slightly hostile – dead boy, Eddison.
But where does this leave Charlotte and her boyfriend David? Is it possible to have a long-distance relationship from beyond the grave? The only way out of this limbo is to figure out who killed her, or she’ll have to spend eternity here. But who could hate her enough to want her dead?

I looked down at my body. Nope, it was the same as always. I hadn’t imagined myself with train-track marks or anything. Instead I was sitting, all nice and comfortable, on this big, black, squishy leather couch in this hotel lobby.

‘This is a very confusing time. I know that. Which is why I’m here to help you all I can. I’m Nancy, by the way. Nancy Radley. I’m dead too.’

The girl held out her hand. And because I had no better plan of action right then, I smiled and took it. She was super-polite for a figment of my imagination.

‘Now, I think the best way to get you acclimated to the situation is to just throw you in at the deep end. Tell you everything you need to know in one go, then you can absorb it at your own rate.’

Acclimated? Absorb? Dead Girl Nancy must have been working her way through the SAT word list before she
‘died.’

‘Sure.’ I smiled serenely and stood up to follow. I just hoped I’d remember all this when I woke up. David would get a total kick out of my imaginary friend.

‘Come on then, let’s get you up to your room. I’ll fill you in on the way.’

Ha! Here we go. This was totally not right.

‘Room?’ I asked. In what underworld would a ghost actually need a room? This was so dumb. I just wanted to wake up, call David, and dry out Mom’s boots before she realized they were missing. Nancy looked at me with a little smile.

‘Well, to be honest you don’t need a room,’ she said. ‘After all, ghosts don’t sleep. But we figured, seeing as we’ve got this hotel, and there are rooms here, why not give them to people when they arrive? You had a room while you were alive, right? So we give you one when you’re newly dead. We think it makes the transition from that life to this one feel a little less weird. Well, we hope it does.’

‘We? So you’re not alone?’ Jeez, my imagination must be doing overtime. I’d not just dream-invented one ghost but a whole bunch of them.

‘Yes, of course. You’ll meet the others later.’ She opened a door and led me into an elevator. Which also seemed a little stupid. If I were a ghost, surely I’d be able to walk through walls? I tried pinching my arm.

‘Right now you are in the Hotel Attesa, just off Washington Square in New York City,’ Nancy explained. ‘It’s right next to a regular old human hotel. Of course, the Living can’t see the Hotel Attesa, only we can. Otherwise you’d get all these ghost hunters popping in with their electromagnetic detectors or PKE meters or whatever other crap they saw in Ghostbusters trying to prove we exist. Which is the last thing we want – especially when we’ve got such important work to do.’ I pinched again. And again. Nope, still not awake.

Ping! The elevator stopped and Nancy led me down a red-carpeted corridor. I couldn’t help but think that, if I were conscious and this hotel didn’t just exist in my dream, it was exactly the kind of place I’d love to stay in. If my parents didn’t think hotels were ‘a complete waste of our money,’ that is. It was super-classy, old yet pristine.

Nancy opened the door and the room inside was even more gorgeous than the lobby – white walls, antique lights, prints of old Hollywood movie stars in sleek black frames, a sink-into-me bed and floor-to-ceiling windows on one wall. I walked over to the windows, which looked out on Fifth Avenue and the Empire State Building. Wow. Nice imaginary view.

‘Don’t get too excited by the location,’ a high-pitched voice said. I turned around to see a blonde girl standing über-close to me. Another ghost? Awesome. This one was like something from an Abercrombie ad, all glowing skin, Mac-counter makeup, and perfect hair. She wouldn’t look out of place in one of those frames on the wall.

‘Want to know the suckiest thing about the afterlife?’ she asked. ‘It’s all look, look, look, but don’t touch. Like,
there’s all this on our doorstep . . .’ She motioned to the streets below. ‘And us? We can’t even enjoy it.’ She leaned on the window so closely she would have left abreath mark. If she was still breathing, that is. ‘I’m Lorna
by the way.’

This was getting ridiculous. ‘What are you talking about?’ I asked. ‘Oh, Nancy didn’t tell you that little Rule yet? It’s a bummer. Totally and utterly hideous. I mean, there are some great things about being dead: no eating equals no dieting. No more split ends or breakouts. Of course, style-wise, death sucks. The rule is that we ghosts have to spend all our time in whatever outfit we died in. Which as you can see, for me, is a baby-blue Marc Jacobs Spring/Summer ’06 dress. Not a bad choice. I mean, I’d totally be seen dead in it. It’s just that I’ll never get to wear anything else. Ever.’

I looked down at my outfit and saw my gross school uniform: a blue-and-yellow plaid skirt, white shirt, my navy blazer . . . and Mom’s DVF heels. Wouldn’t my favorite Seven jeans and Converse have been more eternity appropriate?

I smiled politely, all the while pinching my arm like a crazy person. Like the worst thing about being dead would be the limited clothing decisions. What about missing your family or your friends or, I don’t know, being alive? Then, on the eighteenth pinch, something in my brain clicked. A memory broke through. When I was on the platform, right before I opened my eyes here in the hotel, I felt something. What was it? A push. In my lower back. So hard I lost my balance. Then there was that scream. And the heat. And then I was here. What if this wasn’t a dream? What if I had been pushed? Right onto the tracks and under the F train. What if . . . what if, like Nancy said, I was dead?

Shut up, Charlotte, I told myself, stepping backward and landing awkwardly on the bed. I mean, come on. There was no tunnel with bright lights at the end, no big pearly gate, no old bearded guy welcoming me in. I held up my hand to the light – I couldn’t suddenly see through it. I hadn’t turned into Casper or anything. ‘So what else do I need to know?’ I asked, trying to play along and make sense of whatever was happening. Maybe this was some elaborate practical joke. ‘I mean, this whole hotel thing is nice and all, but I always thought heaven would be more sitting on a cloud with unlimited Ben and Jerry’s and less downtown fancy hotel.’

‘Sorry, sorry,’ Nancy said, turning her attention back to me. ‘I was getting to that. So here’s the deal.’ She sat on the bed beside me and gave me another of her re – assuring smiles. Worrying, I realized that she had the air of someone who had done this before. A lot.

‘When teenagers die in mysterious circumstances – like you being pushed under that train – they don’t pass straight over to the Other Side, as people do when it’s their natural time to go. Instead, in New York, they come here, to Hotel Attesa—’

‘It’s kinda like a waiting room,’ Lorna interrupted.

‘But adults, they go to this other hotel uptown. It’s, like, way nicer because it’s more modern and it’s nearer the park and whoever decorated it did this thing with pink paint and . . .’

‘Lorna! Be quiet?’ Nancy glared at her friend. Note to self, do not cut Nancy off mid-sentence. ‘While you’re here, you’re stuck. You can’t go over to the Other Side until you’ve worked out who killed you and why. Basically, you need to set things straight before you can move on. And we – me, Lorna, and Tess —’

‘Yes, you so need to meet Tess,’ said Lorna.

‘And Tess.’ Nancy ignored her this time. ‘We’re here too, trying to help out those who come in because, you know, then they might get to the Other Side faster.’

‘Nancy calls us the Dead Girls Detective Agency,’ Lorna said, smoothing down her skirt. ‘And she’s actually proud of it.’

I tried to focus. Maybe, just maybe, if this actually was some big, stupid, fainty dream, if I solved my murder, I’d wake up. Like, it was a coma and not a dream. Ohmigod, if I was in a coma my mom was going to freak. And she was going to know I stole her boots.

‘So this Other Side,’ I said, trying to stay calm. ‘If we figure out who killed me, how do I get there?’

‘Through the Big Red Door,’ said a new voice behind me. I spun around to see a brunette standing in the doorway. She was not channeling Nancy’s reassuring smile or the kindness in Lorna’s eyes. Instead she looked bored. As if she’d been here a million times before and couldn’t care less. I wondered how long she’d been standing there, just listening.

‘That’s Tess,’ Lorna said, checking out her cuticles.

‘She’s been here the longest of all of us girls. Tess is the best, but she can be kind of . . .’

Nancy shot Lorna another look and gave me an eye roll. ‘Subtle, Lorna.’

‘I can be kind of what?’ Tess asked. ‘Honest? Harsh? A mega-bitch?’

When Lorna shrugged vacantly, Tess turned to me. ‘Well, seeing as I appear to have a rep, I may as well live up to it. All those little fantasies you’re currently having? The ones where you’re trying to convince yourself that this isn’t real and any second now, Mommy dearest will come into your bedroom and wake you up? Forget them. They’re all lies.’

She carried on talking before I could tell her I’d already worked out I was in a coma.

‘These two’ – she paused to gesture toward Lorna and Nancy – ‘they’re all, “Let’s make it easy for newbies, let them come to terms with it in their own time.” Well, that tactic didn’t help me. In fact, nothing helped me.So here’s the truth: you’re dead. End of story. The only thing you can do is deal with it and hope you’re lucky enough to move on.’

Tess gave me a look that practically screamed capisce? and walked out of the room, leaving Lorna and Nancy gaping after her. Outside a cab horn honked.

‘Got to say it,’ Lorna said eventually. ‘That girl has a way with words. You’re totally dead, Charlotte.’ And that’s when I tried to throw up. Except I couldn’t throw up anymore. I couldn’t do much of anything anymore.

I, Charlotte Louise Feldman, of Twenty-One West Seventy-First Street, was, apparently, no more. My head was swimming. I wasn’t sure if it was the having-just-died part or the it’s-impossible-to-take-inall- this-information bit of the situation that was freaking me out the most; but on reflection, I guess it was probably the part where I was dead. That morning all I had to worry about was where to meet David for lunch, whether I’d get tickets for the portrait exhibit at the Met, and what Dad was going to say when he heard I’d flunked chemistry. Again. Now? Now I had to deal with the fact that (a) I was dead, (b) OMG, I was dead, and (c)
someone really didn’t like me. As in, didn’t like me so much that they had decided to murder me.

What about my poor parents, did they even know yet? And David? Did this mean we’d broken up? Tears welled at the corners of my eyes. I tried my hardest not to think about the ‘Living,’ as Nancy had called them. Come on, Charlotte, I told myself, biting down on my lip and waiting for it to hurt. But it didn’t. Hold it together. There must be a way to fix this.

‘I better show you the Door,’ Nancy said, all businesslike again, desperately trying to distract me. ‘I know it’s
a lot to take in, but we have to get moving. Every second we waste could mean we miss out on a vital clue to what happened to you and we can’t have that, or we’ll never find your Key.’

‘My what?’ I asked, pressing my finger to my lip. No blood.

‘Your Key,’ Lorna said. ‘Don’t worry, it’s taken me four years to understand all this stuff. It’s more complicated than applying a streak-free fake tan!’

I followed Lorna and Nancy out of the room. My new room. For that moment, at least. One thing was for sure: dead or not, I wasn’t ready to leave my life behind just yet.

Suzy Cox is deputy editor of Cosmopolitan UK. She lives in London, but she loves New York.

The Dead Girls Detective Agency was published on the 18th of July by Much-In-Little

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Ink Blog Tour: Book Excerpt

We are delighted to share an excerpt from Amanda Sun‘s Ink.

inkOn the heels of a family tragedy, Katie Greene must move halfway across the world. Stuck with her aunt in Shizuoka, Japan, Katie feels lost. Alone. She doesn’t know the language, she can barely hold a pair of chopsticks, and she can’t seem to get the hang of taking her shoes off whenever she enters a building.
When Katie meets aloof but gorgeous Tomohiro, the star of the school’s kendo team, she is intrigued by him… and a little scared. His tough attitude seems meant to keep her at a distance, and when they’re near each other, strange things happen. Pens explode. Ink drips from nowhere. And unless Katie is seeing things, drawings
come to life.
Somehow Tomo is connected to the kami, powerful ancient beings who once ruled Japan—and as feelings develop between Katie and Tomo, things begin to spiral out of control. The wrong people are starting to ask questions, and if they discover the truth, no one will be safe.

Then I heard the chimes.

There were at least forty of them hanging in the tree above me, little Japanese wind chimes tinkling in the hot gasp of wind, their papers floating and rippling as they twisted back and forth. Most furin chimes in Japan were bright summer colors, but these were black-and-white with jagged edges, so I knew Tomohiro had drawn them into existence. Some of the chimes sounded mournful, likely the drawings that had gone wrong, but the sound of them all jingling together was one of the most beautiful things I’d ever heard.

He was sitting in the grass, his notebook balanced on his lap. I watched him for a moment before he realized I’d arrived. He looked up at the sky, the clouds drifting lazily above. He’d loosened the tie around his neck and rolled his sleeves up to his elbows. The top buttons of his shirt were unbuttoned, exposing the defined edges of his collarbone. He seemed lost in the sound of the chimes, and I hesitated, listening to them, too.

Then the pollen of the flowers caught in my nose and I sneezed. He whirled around, his eyes wide until he realized it was me.

“Okaeri,” he said, and as much as I’d felt awkward when Diane said it to me, when Tomohiro said it I got goose bumps.

“I’m a bit late,” I apologized.

“I’ll say,” he said with a laugh. “Come see what I’m drawing for you today.”

I walked forward and sat beside him in the grass. He opened his notebook, and a half-finished sketch draped across the page. I stared with wide eyes.

“You’re serious.”

He just grinned and pulled the cap from his pen. I rested my hand on his arm.

“Don’t you think people will notice that?”

“In Toro Iseki?” he said. I just stared at him. “Katie, this is our last chance to try this. We won’t have another opportunity like this for who knows how long. I want to try.”

“You’re totally crazy,” I said. “It could trample us.”

But he placed the nib of his pen on the paper and started filling in the sketch. He drew in the eye, a dark pool of ink on the page. He filled out the ear and the mane, the muzzle and the long, strong flanks that whizzed across the page as he drew them. The sketch tossed its head and turned to bite a fly off its withers.

There was a gentle thud in the grass, and another, and then the horse stepped out from behind a Yayoi hut. There was a ghostly, vacant look in its eyes, and its mane was as jagged as Tomohiro’s hurried pen strokes.

Tomohiro drew faster and faster, his own eyes growing vacant and strange like the horse’s. He was scribbling in details, fetlocks above the hooves and muscles trailing down the horse’s legs.

“I think that’s enough,” I said.

“Huh?” He broke away like I’d snapped him out of a dream. I pointed to the horse sniffling at the grass with his scribbled black muzzle.

He whispered, “I did it.”

Our thanks to Mira Ink for allowing us to share this excerpt with you today.

Still undecided? Check out Pruedence’s review of Ink here.

Ink is available to buy now from Amazon (here).

Amanda Sun was born in Deep River, a small town where she could escape into the surrounding forest to read. Ink is her first novel and The Paper Gods series is inspired by her time living in Osaka and travelling throughout Japan.
Visit her at www.AmandaSunBooks.com and on Twitter at @Amanda_Sun.

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