Saturday, February 27, 2016

Book Review: Banana Sandwich

Title Banana Sandwich
Author Steve Bargdill
Release Date June 9, 2015

"These nights are very dark. I hear all the sounds. My heart beat, the blood pulsing through my wrists, it is like the hollow echo broadcast from the rings of Saturn, empty and surging and crying out for someone to listen."

Carol struggles with an inherited mental disorder. When she decides to be better, it is the city that goes insane. Then, her ex-boyfriend murders her roommate. To fight back, she must decide how she is to live her life.

AUTHOR'S NOTE:
My five minute elevator pitch for Banana Sandwich has always been that it's a book about a bi-polar pizza delivery driver who lives in her van down by the river. The line gets laughs, but the other day I met someone who is truly hurting from this condition, and the two-day conversation reminded me why I wrote this novel in the first place. Any mental disorder is a hard reality to live with. If I can bring awareness to that issue through my literature, then that is one of my goals for this book.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25711128-banana-sandwich
Review

You never really know what you're going to get when you read a book about a "crazy" person. Generally, it's either going to be spectacular or just plain awful. Banana Sandwich is of the spectacular variety.

The writing is excellent. The storytelling is extremely impressive. I was drawn into the story from the very first page. It was a bit bizarre in the beginning, but I think that only made me enjoy it even more.

My heart reaches out to Carol. She knows she's unwell, but she also knows aside from medicine, there's not much she can do about it. Besides, what else can do you do when the bananas start ringing other than answer them?

I was genuinely surprised by Banana Sandwich. It's a great novella that deserves more attention than it's received.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (#11)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event that's hosted by Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm waiting on...


Title Some Kind of Perfect
Series Addicted, book 3.5; Calloway Sisters, book 4.5
Author Krista & Becca Ritchie
Release Date TBA 2016

falling in love was just the beginning

The epilogue novel for the Addicted series and The Calloway Sisters series. Will include the POVs of all the main characters that are present at the end of Long Way Down.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26148181-some-kind-of-perfect

This is the end. After the bittersweet book that was Long Way Down, I'm not sure my heart is prepared for Some Kind of Perfect. That being said, I cannot wait to read this! These books are some of my favorites. Krista & Becca are two of my all-time favorite authors. I know it will be absolutely amazing. Unfortunately, there's no set release date for it yet, but fingers crossed that it'll be sooner rather than later.

If you haven't checked out the Addicted series yet, do it! Addicted to You (the first book) is available for free right now on Amazon and Barnes & Noble. You won't be disappointed.

What are you waiting on this Wednesday? Share your WoW and I'll be sure to check it out!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Book Review: The Forgetting Time

Title The Forgetting Time
Author Sharon Guskin
Release Date February 2, 2016

Noah wants to go home. A seemingly easy request from most four year olds. But as Noah's single-mother, Janie, knows, nothing with Noah is ever easy. One day the pre-school office calls and says Janie needs to come in to talk about Noah, and no, not later, now - and life as she knows it stops.

For Jerome Anderson, life as he knows it has stopped. A deadly diagnosis has made him realize he is approaching the end of his life. His first thought - I'm not finished yet. Once a shining young star in academia, a graduate of Yale and Harvard, a professor of psychology, he threw it all away because of an obsession. Anderson became the laughing stock of his peers, but he didn't care - something had to be going on beyond what anyone could see or comprehend. He spent his life searching for that something else. And with Noah, he thinks he's found it.

Soon Noah, Janie and Anderson will find themselves knocking on the door of a mother whose son has been missing for seven years - and when that door opens, all of their questions will be answered.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/25527908-the-forgetting-time
Review

This was a wonderful book.

When I started reading The Forgetting Time, I didn't really know what it was about. The blurb is pretty vague. Sometimes, this might bother me, but that's not the case here. Going in with minimal information seemed to enhance my enjoyment of the story.

This is the kind of story that can weigh heavily on your heart. While it could be categorized as a mystery, it feels like more than that to me. It's a powerful story about how far a mother will go to help her child, a tragic story about losing someone you love, and a story that leaves you pondering what exactly happens after death. These stories are woven together masterfully and the end result is riveting.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Book Review: We Are the Ants

Title We Are the Ants
Author Shaun David Hutchinson
Release Date January 19, 2016

There are a few things Henry Denton knows, and a few things he doesn’t.

Henry knows that his mom is struggling to keep the family together, and coping by chain-smoking cigarettes. He knows that his older brother is a college dropout with a pregnant girlfriend. He knows that he is slowly losing his grandmother to Alzheimer’s. And he knows that his boyfriend committed suicide last year.

What Henry doesn’t know is why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button.

But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.

The question is whether Henry thinks the world is worth saving. That is, until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23677341-we-are-the-ants
Review

Wow. Just wow. This book took any expectations I had and blew them away. Anything that I could have possibly wanted from this book pales in comparison to what it actually was. We Are the Ants is simply fantastic.

This is my first book by Shaun David Hutchinson. I'll be honest, the bar is set pretty freaking high for him now. I almost don't want to read anything else he's written for fear that it won't be as spectacular as this, but I also don't want to deprive myself of another amazing book.

I had some reservations when deciding whether or not I wanted to read this. First, aliens? Eh, while sci-fi is fine every once in a while, it's not exactly my genre of choice. Is this book supposed to be funny? Is a romance? I was just curious as to what was in store for me.

We Are the Ants is a beautiful story. I almost feel weird saying that, but that's the best way I can describe how I feel about it. It was heartbreaking and dark. It wasn't rainbows and sunshine, but it was real life. It was funny and heartwarming. It is a remarkable book.

There's aliens, but it's not sci-fi. There's some love, but it's not a romance. It's a story about how messy life is and the end of the world.

We Are the Ants... It's a story that I fell in love with.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Tuesday, February 16, 2016

Release Day Blitz: Darkly, Deeply, Beautifully


Title Darkly, Deeply, Beautifully
Series The Ceruleans, book 5
Author Megan Tayte
Release Date September 30, 2015

DARKNESS HAS FALLEN, AND SHE ALONE WILL SEE THE LIGHT.

With her mother’s life hanging in the balance, Scarlett is devastated – and done with being in the dark. She wants answers, all of them.

But when was her pursuit of the truth ever straightforward?

Pulling a single thread impels a great unravelling. And each revelation will force Scarlett to rethink what she thought she knew about the Ceruleans, the Fallen, her family – herself.

All that came before was a mere prelude to this, the last journey. From London to Twycombe to Hollythwaite to Cerulea, Scarlett will be stalked by the ghosts of what has been, what may have been and what may come to pass. Until she reaches the place where it all began, and it all must end.

But in the final reckoning, none will survive unscathed. And some will not survive at all.

In this explosive conclusion to The Ceruleans series, all must be defined by their actions: sinner, saint… or something more beautiful entirely?
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/28468307-darkly-deeply-beautifully

Links to Buy

Amazon
Amazon UK

Excerpt


I kissed Luke then. I kissed him. Like I hadn’t kissed him in more than a week – since before London, since before Hollythwaite, since Barcelona: when we’d been just a regular couple on a city break, wrapped up in each other. Through the kiss I heard his sigh, the release of emotion. And then he pulled me to him, onto his lap, and I kissed his lips, his jaw, his collarbone, his shoulder, and he kissed my lips, my earlobe, my neck, my –

‘No!’

My robe had slipped, exposing my back, and I struggled off him and wrestled with the fabric entangled at my waist.

He stood up. Put his hands on my shoulders. Said my name with so much tenderness that I had to stop. Had to look at him. The room was steamy, the glass doors occluded. No one could see. Only him.

‘Trust me,’ he said.

I did.

Slowly, he turned me. I steeled myself as he took it in, the brand I now wore. Non Serviam. I will not serve. Emblazoned on my back in the form of angry, jagged scar tissue.

When I felt his lips on the nape of my neck, I jerked in shock. But his hands on my hips held me stillas he traced the path of the scar, one kiss at a time, from its very top to its termination just above my bikini bottoms.

‘Beautiful,’ he said.

I turned to him. He smiled up at me.

Sinking down so that we were both kneeling, I said, ‘How could you…?’

‘How could I not?’ was his answer. ‘I was there, Scarlett. I saw what you did for your mother. That scar: it’s beautiful.’

‘But it’s a punishment, Luke. Because I sinned. That’s not beautiful. It’s dark. Wrong.’

‘No! Don’t you say that. Trying to save your mother – that could never be wrong. If I’d had the chance, I’d have done it. My mum, my dad, Cara… I’d have saved them all. And you. I would always save you.’

His eyes were glistening, and I lunged for him and hugged him hard.

‘So stop hiding it from me,’ he finished, his voice muffled in my hair. ‘Please. Because I love that scar on you so goddam much.’

I nodded into his shoulder and he squeezed me.

It was calm in our little haven. Still. Warm. Nothing existed but Luke and me. We held each other for a long time, drifting in the haze.And then Luke sat back and said, ‘So, you and me. We’re good?’

‘We’re good,’ I told him. Then I frowned and added: ‘For now. You know, Gabe, the Fallen: I have no idea what we’re getting into.’

‘Me either.’ He reached out a finger and drew, in the condensation on the glass door, a little lightbulb. ‘But whatever lies ahead,’ he said, ‘it has to be better than living in the dark.’

Author Bio

Once upon a time a little girl told her grandmother that when she grew up she wanted to be a writer. Or a lollipop lady. Or a fairy princess fireman. ‘Write, Megan,’ her grandmother advised. So that’s what she did.

Thirty-odd years later, Megan is a professional writer and published author by day, and an indie novelist by night. Her fiction – young adult romance with soul – recently earned her the SPR’s Independent Woman Author of the Year award.

Megan grew up in the Royal County, a hop, skip and a (very long) jump from Windsor Castle, but these days she makes her home in Robin Hood's county, Nottinghamshire. She lives with her husband, a proud Scot who occasionally kicks back in a kilt; her son, a budding artist with the soul of a palaeontologist; and her baby daughter, a keen pan-and-spoon drummer who sings in her sleep. When she's not writing, you'll find her walking someplace green, reading by the fire, or creating carnage in the kitchen as she pursues her impossible dream: of baking something edible.

Author Links 

Website
Goodreads
Facebook
Twitter
Instagram

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sunday, February 14, 2016

Book Review: Symptoms of Being Human

Title Symptoms of Being Human
Author Jeff Garvin
Release Date February 2, 2016

The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?

Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is…Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.

On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/22692740-symptoms-of-being-human
Review

Squee! I loved this book so very much. This is definitely my favorite book of 2016 so far (hey, it's still really early).

Like other readers, I also speculated whether Riley was a girl or a boy. Yes, it's human nature to be curious. Maybe society has tried to ingrain in me that a person is either a boy or a girl and there is no in between. I didn't need Symptoms of Being Human to know that a binary system for gender doesn't work. Humans aren't that easy. My point here is: what difference does it make? Whether Riley is a boy or girl is irrelevant to the story... actually, it's pretty irrelevant to anything at all. A person is who they are no matter their gender.

I appreciate that Jeff Garvin didn't reveal Riley's birth gender. I feel like it was a subtle way to deliver the powerful message that being a girl or boy doesn't define you.

Symptoms of Being Human was a fantastic book. I feel like there's so much more I could say, but other reviewers have said it better. I know this isn't much of a review at all, but I wanted to bring just a little more attention to this book. So many people need it and it deserves all the attention it can get.

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

Thursday, February 11, 2016

Spotlight/Giveaway: Breaking Sky

Title: Breaking Sky
Author: Cori McCarthy
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Publishers: Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN: 9781492621126

She lives for speed. She’ll die for love.

Chase Harcourt, call sign “Nyx”, isn’t one to play it safe. America is locked in a cold war – and the country’s best hope is the elite teen fighter pilots of the United Star Academy. Chase is one of only two daredevil pilots chosen to fly an experimental “Streaker” jet. But few know the pain and loneliness of her past. All anyone cares about is that Chase aces the upcoming Streaker trials, proving the prototype jet can knock the enemy out of the sky.

But as the world tilts toward war, Chase cracks open a military secret. There’s a third Streaker, whose young hotshot pilot, Tristan, can match her on the ground and in the clouds. Chase doesn’t play well with others. But to save her country, she may just have to put her life in the hands of the competition.

Breaking Sky is a gritty coming of age tale with tons of action, a fascinating dystopian society, humor, friendship, romance and heart-stopping, high-stakes flying that will leave you on the edge of your seat. Breaking Sky has also been optioned for film by Sony Pictures.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26762521-breaking-sky

An Excerpt:


Speed turned her on.

The other cadets talked about the thrill of flying, but Chase didn’t relate. Her love was more specific. She flew for the high-g press of ten times the weight of gravity. For the throttle thrust forward, the roar-rev of the engines, and then, the mach rush.

Chase was in the atmosphere—flying so fast she felt like solid muscle. Her thoughts were a dance of impulse as she backed off the speed and looked through the tempered glass canopy. The earth knelt before her like she was holding court over the whole damn planet.

She smiled.

“I don’t suppose you see a gas station.” Pippin sat a few feet behind her, but his voice was closer, a direct link from his mask to her helmet’s headphones. “Nearing bingo fuel, Nyx.”

“Give me two minutes.” Chase smelled a challenge. Or she imagined one. Anything to prolong the hop and do something fun.

She pulled back on the stick, pointing the nose of her jet straight at the midday sun.

Brilliance charged the crystal dome.

“Tower to Nyx. Come in, Nyx,” Pippin mocked. “My sense of mortality insists I ask if we’re coming down anytime soon. As much as I wanted to be an astronaut when I was five, Dragon isn’t a star- ship. Where are we going exactly?”

“Somewhere. Anywhere.” The sun blinded through her smoky visor, but she kept her eyes ahead. “Up.”

“Yes, I was going to point out that somewhere feels like up today. Sylph is already halfway home.”

“Good.” Chase gripped the throttle, and the leather of her gloves gripped back. “We don’t need Sylph sniffing around for this.”

Moments scratched by, and Pippin cleared his throat. Twice. “We got to get high, Pip. Real high. Otherwise, we’ll smash into the ground before we can break the sound barrier in a down- ward spiral.”

“WHAT? WHY?”

Her reasons stacked. Because the training runs were tedious. Because Sylph, the pilot of the other experimental Streaker jet, had never and would never try such a stunt. And because Chase was Nyx, and with that title came certain wild expectations.

And the cherry on top? Because Chase needed to prove she could do it.

When they were nearly thirty miles up, about to leave the strato- sphere, she turned the jet toward the curve of the earth’s surface and let them freefall. Gravity took hold, and she steeled herself to punch through it.

“Wait, Nyx. I’m all for fun, but this is—”

The engine howl took over. They blazed at the blue-on-blue planet, the green smatterings coming into focus. She felt the mach tuck, the air trying to slow her down, just as the sound barrier broke.

The sonic boom was lost behind them, but a pearly halo erupted in their wake.

Buy Links:

Indiebound

Praise for Breaking Sky

“Breaking Sky is an action-packed thrill ride that smashes through all kinds of barriers at a Mach 5 pace.” -- Carrie Jones, New York Times bestselling author of the Need series

“Breaking Sky had me in its grip from take off to landing. Chase is kick-butt female and the swoon-worthy flyboys kept me up way past my bedtime.” -- Joy N. Hensley, author of Rites of Passage

“Breaking Sky ticks all the boxes: Love, war, friendship, action and danger - I was left wanting more, more, more!” -- Jessica Shirvington, author of One Past Midnight

“Strong characterizations, action, adventure, and emotion combine to produce a sci-fi novel that is more than just the sum of its parts.” -- School Library Journal, starred review

“This taut, well-crafted novel should have broad appeal, for fans of everything from Roth’s Divergent to Wein’s Code Name Verity.” -- Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books, starred review

“McCarthy deploys breath-stopping depictions of high-stakes piloting with enviable ease, and the in-your-face personal confrontations are nearly as taut.” -- Publishers Weekly

“Smart, exciting, confident—and quite possibly the next Big Thing.” -- Kirkus

 

About the Author

Cori McCarthy studied poetry and screenwriting before falling in love with writing for teens at Vermont College of Fine Arts. From a military family, Cori was born on Guam and lived a little bit of everywhere before she landed in Michigan. Learn more about her books at CoriMcCarthy.com.

 

Links

 

 

Coming Soon

You Were Here
March 1, 2016
Jaycee is about to accomplish what her older brother Jake couldn’t: live past graduation.

Jaycee is dealing with her brother’s death the only way she can – by re-creating Jake’s daredevil stunts. The ones that got him killed. She’s not crazy, okay? She just doesn’t have a whole lot of respect for staying alive.

Jaycee doesn’t expect to have help on her insane quest to remember Jake. But she’s joined by a group of unlikely friends – all with their own reasons for completing the dares and their own brand of dysfunction: the uptight, ex-best friend, the heartbroken poet, the slacker with Peter Pan syndrome, and… Mik. He doesn’t talk, but somehow still challenges Jayce to do the unthinkable—reveal the parts of herself that she buried with her brother.

Cori McCarthy’s gripping narrative defies expectation, moving seamlessly from prose to graphic novel panels and word art poetry, perfect for fans of E. Lockhart, Jennier Niven, and Jandy Nelson. From the petrifying ruins of an insane asylum to the skeletal remains of the world’s largest amusement park, You Were Here takes you on an unforgettable journey of friendship, heartbreak and inevitable change.

“You Were Here is wrenchingly beautiful in its honest and achingly accurate portrayal of grief and how it breaks us—and the way unconditional friendship puts us back together.”—Jo Knowles, award-winning author of See You At Harry’s and Read Between the Lines

"The urban explorers of You Were Here dive deep into the forgotten man-made spaces all around them--and their own feelings of loss, love, and fear. McCarthy deftly intertwines the characters' stories, filling them with authentic pain and heartache as well as soaring moments of grace and humor. I dare you to read it!" --Maggie Lehrman, author of The Cost of All Things

Pre-Order Links

 

Giveaway

Open to US & Canada Only

Saturday, February 6, 2016

Book Review: He Will Be My Ruin

Title He Will Be My Ruin
Author K. A. Tucker
Release Date February 2, 2016

Twenty-eight-year-old Maggie Sparkes arrives in New York City to pack up what’s left of her best friend’s belongings after a suicide that has left everyone stunned. The police have deemed the evidence conclusive: Celine got into bed, downed a bottle of Xanax and a handle of vodka, and never woke up. But when Maggie discovers secrets in the childhood lock box hidden in Celine’s apartment, she begins asking questions. Questions about the man Celine fell in love with. The man she never told anyone about, not even Maggie. The man who Celine herself claimed would be her ruin.

On the hunt for answers that will force the police to reopen the case, Maggie uncovers more than she bargained for about Celine’s private life—and inadvertently puts herself on the radar of a killer who will stop at nothing to keep his crimes undiscovered.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26056591-he-will-be-my-ruin
Review

Have I mentioned before that I love K. A. Tucker's books? Yes, I have, but I'll say it again. I love her books! He Will Be My Ruin isn't like anything else that I've read from her before, but I love it just as much. In fact, this is my favorite book from her.

Mysteries are hit and miss. Sometimes, you'll figure them out super easy and spend the entire book waiting for the main character to catch up. Other times, those truly special times, you're kept guessing right up until the very end. This book happens to fall into the latter category. Just when I thought I had it figured out, something happened and I second guessed myself. Who can you possibly trust when everything you thought you knew about your best friend was only part of the story?

I hope to read more mystery/thrillers from K. A. Tucker in the future. She definitely hit this one out of the park!

Rating

5 out of 5 stars

* This book was received from Atria Books via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review. *

Thursday, February 4, 2016

Spotlight/Giveaway: The Truth

Title The Truth
Author Jeffry W. Johnston
Release Date February 2, 2016
Publishers Sourcebooks Fire
ISBN 9781492623205

“I tied you up because I need you to listen,” Derek says. “Focus.”

“Please… W-what do you want from me?”

“The truth,” he says. “About what happened the night my brother died.” He reaches for my left hand. “If I think you’re lying…” With his other hand, he flourishes a pair of flower cutters. Curved. Sharp.

And he smiles.

When Chris wakes up in a dark basement tied to a chair, he knows that he’s trapped—and why. Eight nights ago a burglar broke into Chris’ home. Eight nights ago Chris did what he had to do to protect his family. And eight nights ago a 13-year-old runaway bled to death on his kitchen floor.

Now Derek wants the truth about what happened that night. He wants proof his little brother didn’t deserve to die. For every lie Chris tells, he will lose a finger. But telling the truth is far more dangerous…

A riveting, edge-of-your-seat thriller from Edgar Award-nominated author Jeffry W. Johnston that explores the gray area between what is right and what we’ll do to protect the people we love.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/26595315-the-truth

An Excerpt


I wake up to find I can’t move, my arms and legs duct-taped tight to a wooden chair. Duct tape is also wrapped around my chest and the chair’s hard, unyielding back.

The only thing not bound is my head, but I can only turn it left and right. I can’t look behind me because of the chair’s high back.

Christ, what is this!

My head hurts. I feel nauseous, dizzy. Can’t focus. What happened? How did I get here? My memory’s a blur.

“Hey!” I shout. “Hey! Anybody here?”

I wait a few seconds. Nothing.

I see unfinished walls, but I could be in a room anywhere. The only furniture I can see is a metal folding chair leaning against the wall opposite.

Wait a minute! What about Devon! The last thing I remember was calling on my cell phone to make sure he got to the field OK. What time is it? Is he in the middle of his game, wondering where I am? Is Mom there, wondering the same thing?

I can tell my cell is not in my pocket, not that I’d be able to reach it anyway. Where is it? How long have I been out? A couple hours? A whole day? Is it still … what, Saturday? Are people looking for me? The police?

Hey!” I shout again. “Heeeyyyy!” I try harder to break free. “Is somebody here? Can somebody help me? Please! Please…!”

Who could have done this to me? Why?

“Help! Help me! Heeelllp…”

This isn’t working. I need to calm down and try to think. Come on; breathe. That’s it. Again. OK, now another breath. My heart is starting to slow a bit. That’s good. Maybe closing my eyes will help.

Two more deep breaths. Okay. Now, think.

I remember dialing my cell. But before that. I had knocked on Rita’s front door. We were going to go to Devon’s game together. I was waiting for her to open the door. Wait, the door did start to open. Then … nothing. Or … something. Something made me pass out. Something with a sweet smell. Held against my face. Making me gag. Feel sick. I couldn’t push it away. Something very strong was holding it in place.

Not some thing. Some one.

I hear movement. Behind me. A door opening. I try to look back; can’t.

The door closes. A quiet click.

Then footsteps. Steady, determined.

I recognize the guy who appears in front of me. Derek Brannick. Only a year older than me, which makes him seventeen, but with the broken front teeth and scar on his throat he looks much older.

He’s holding something in his hand, which he slips into his pants pocket before I can see it. Then he picks up the metal chair from against the wall and opens it before straddling it and leaning over the back, facing me. He lowers his head. Does nothing for a couple minutes. My heart slams against my chest. I wait. So scared I can’t think straight.

Finally, he raises his head and looks at me. His eyes… It’s as if there’s no light in them. Nothing. Dead eyes.

“You want some water?” His voice is raspy. He stands and moves out of my field of vision. I hear a faucet turning on and off. Then he’s back with a paper cup. “Tilt your head back,” he says. I do the best I can. Some of the water runs down my chin but enough makes it into my mouth. The water’s lukewarm, but I welcome it.

“Feel better? Can you talk? ’Cause you’re gonna need to be able to talk. ” He crumples the cup and throws it on the floor.

“Yes,” I croak. “Th … thank you.” My voice is trembling. I can’t help it.

Derek nods, lets out another long breath as if he has the weight of the world on his shoulders, and sit back down in his chair, pulling it closer to me.

“I’m … I’m sorry,” I try. “I’m really—”

“Shh,” he says sharply, pointing a finger at me. “I told you before, Chris… I’m not looking for that.”

“I should have showed up at the—”

“Shhh!”

He begins to cough. It sounds painful. He starts to talk again, then stops. Maybe it’s painful to talk too. The way his voice is all rough and raspy, it wouldn’t surprise me.

Derek tries again. “I tied you up because I need you to listen,” he says. “Focus. Think you can do that?”

“Please… Wh … what do you want from me?”

“The truth,” he says. “That’s all.”

He reaches for my left hand. Tied the way I am, I can’t resist. “I don’t want to hurt you if I don’t have to,” Derek says. “But you need to know that I’m serious. If I think you’re lying…” With his other hand, he pulls out what he had shoved into his pants pocket and shows it to me.

A pair of flower cutters. Curved. Sharp.

Slowly, even gently, he opens them and slides the little finger of my left hand in between the razor edges.

“One finger for each lie,” he says again, “Do you understand?”

Oh God! Oh Jesus! All at once, I’m sweating, my eyes stinging.

“Do you understand?” he asks again, voice unchanging, low key.

“Yes,” I croak. My eyes remain riveted to the cutters, expecting them to move, to squeeze.

“Chris. Look at me.”

I look up into those dead eyes.

“I meant what I said.” He stops to cough again; continues. “I need to understand everything. This,” he says, indicating the cutters lightly caressing my finger, “will help you to tell the truth. That’s all I want. Don’t tell me what you think I want to hear. There’s no right or wrong answer. There’s only the truth. Do you understand?”

But I can’t tell him the truth. Not the whole truth.

My eyes dart back to the cutters.

Abruptly, he squeezes them. “Do you understand?”

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About the Author

Jeffry W. Johnston has published about thirty-five short stories and more than two hundred articles. His first young adult novel, Fragments, was an Edgar Award nominee for Best Young Adult Mystery and a Quick Pick for Reluctant Readers selection by YALSA. He lives in the Philadelphia area with his wife and their teenage son. Visit him at jeffrywjohnston.com.

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Wednesday, February 3, 2016

Waiting on Wednesday (#10)

"Waiting on Wednesday" is a weekly event that's hosted by Breaking the Spine. It spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week, I'm waiting on...

Title If I Was Your Girl
Author Meredith Russo
Release Date May 3, 2016

A big-hearted novel about being seen for who you really are.

Amanda Hardy is the new girl in school. Like anyone else, all she wants is to make friends and fit in. But Amanda is keeping a secret. She's determined not to get too close to anyone.

But when she meets sweet, easygoing Grant, Amanda can't help but start to let him in. As they spend more time together, she realizes just how much she is losing by guarding her heart. She finds herself yearning to share with Grant everything about herself--including her past. But Amanda's terrified that once she tells him the truth, he won't be able to see past it.

Because the secret that Amanda's been keeping? It's that she used to be Andrew.

Will the truth cost Amanda her new life--and her new love?

If I Was Your Girl is a universal story about feeling different--and a love story that everyone will root for.
https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23947922-if-i-was-your-girl

What are *you* waiting on this week? Leave a link to your WoW and I’ll be sure to visit!