Today is my stop on PR By the Book’s Tour for the thrilling new release Prodigy Quest by Verlin Darrow. This tale of the esoteric and unknown is a wonderful blend of YA speculative fiction and mystery at its most complex.
A flood of two-hundred-year-old memories from a past life knocks boy-genius Tris right off his stool at the TV quiz show he was winning. Then a letter arrives from a fifty-year-old time capsule that sends him on a quest to find a book of wisdom his karmic ancestors have been compiling for centuries.
Really? Sure, he’s smarter than all the adults around him, but how’s he supposed to navigate an interstate scavenger hunt and elude a group of fanatic lowlifes?
Tris has to grow into someone beyond his years to get the job done. He learns the hard way that the smartest boy in the world…isn’t.
A minute later, I spied Chat and Marc sprinting toward me. Chet sported an oversized pistol in his hand, while Marc held a bundle of white fur—Mildred, I presumed. Just before they got to the car, a burly man in overalls emerged from the building behind them and fired a handgun into the air. Sitting up now, I jumped in my seat, adrenaline surging through me.
“Stop!” he shouted. “Stop in the name of the law!”
Chet and Marc piled in the car, and if it hadn’t been an elderly Prius, we would’ve screamed away from the curb, leaving rubber in our wake. As it was, we could only hope our head start would keep us safe.
My heart pounded the hardest it ever had, and energy shot down my limbs. It was hard to sit still, so I didn’t. I swiveled to watch the gunman sprint away from us toward a black van. Then I rocked back and forth, wishing there was something I could do to influence how the next few minutes would turn out.
“That was a police officer?” I asked after we turned the first corner.
“Hell, no,” Chet said. “That’s just what he wants us to believe. How’s Mildred doing?”
Marc replied, “Not great. I think her canine epilepsy kicked in.”
I turned around to face the front seat, where Marc cradled her gently in his arms as Chet built up a head of steam. Hot air rushed through the open windows, along with the tang of barbecue.
“Hell, she’s better off if she doesn’t have to be here for a car chase,” our driver replied. He veered onto a side street, almost going up on two wheels. We passed a sad-looking cemetery with no visible grass or landscaping, a strip mall with a gaudily decorated massage parlor and a chain convenience store, and then turned again down a long alley between a row of board and batten homes.
I watched through the rear window again and didn’t see anyone following us, which made it easier to calm down, even as adrenaline continued to flood my system. “At least we’re likely to be getting better gas mileage than our pursuer,” I pointed out.
Chet laughed out loud. “You’ve got balls, Tris. You’re all right. You don’t see anyone chasing us, do you? I don’t.”
“No, I don’t either.”
Marc turned and glanced at me. “Humor in the midst of crisis, Tris. Good for you.”
We never saw whomever we’d escaped from. On the way back to Chet’s house, Mildred regained awareness, and Marc passed her back to me. Then he filled me in on what had happened back at the synagogue while I stroked her incredibly soft, white fur. I liked her right away, and I think she liked me too. My parents kept me away from animals. They said animals had diseases.
The top five things you didn’t know about Prodigy Quest
Before bowing to the need for higher education, a much younger Verlin ran a punch press in a sheetmetal factory, drove a taxi, worked as a night janitor, shoveled asphalt on a road crew, and installed wood floors. He barely missed being blown up by Mt. St. Helens, survived the 1985 Mexico City earthquake, and (so far) he’s successfully weathered his own internal disasters.
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I’m so happy and honored to be a part of the Algonquin Young Readers blog tour celebrating the release of Laura Silverman’s YA Anthology UP ALL NIGHT! Happy Book Birthday to this sweet, well-written and wonderfully inclusive collection of stories, that were all highly entertaining, yet all very different, and all with added depths or twists and with a wonderful flow!
When everyone else goes to bed, the ones who stay up feel like they’re the only people in the world. As the hours tick by deeper into the night, the familiar drops away and the unfamiliar beckons. Adults are asleep, and a hush falls over the hum of daily life. Anything is possible.
It’s a time for romance and adventure. For prom night and ghost hunts. It’s a time for breaking up, for falling in love—for finding yourself.
Stay up all night with these thirteen short stories from bestselling and award-winning YA authors like Karen McManus, Tiffany D. Jackson, Nina LaCour, and Brandy Colbert, as they take readers deep into these rarely seen, magical hours.
Up All Night epitomizes teenage reckless abandon, unmasking that awe-inspiring moment of hope and fear when transformation feels inevitable, while unflinchingly facing the issues teens think about every day.
In “Old Rifts and Snowdrifts” by Kayla Whaley, a blizzard leaves Eleanor, a wheelchair user, stranded in the flower shop where she works overnight. It’s dark and cold and Eleanor is all alone—except for her ex-best friend and current crush who she hasn’t spoken to in nearly a year.
In Tiffany D. Jackson’s “Shark Bait,” a young girl falls in love on Martha’s Vineyard, where she and her mother settled to escape her father’s adultery. Only, her perfect summer romance is turned on its head by the casual racism and microaggressions perpetrated by her new boyfriend’s friends.
In “Like Before” by Maureen Goo, Pepper misses the closeness she shared with her two best friends before they drifted apart during their last year of high school. In a Hail Mary effort to restore their relationship before graduation, she invites her besties to “The Baddest Mother-Effing Sleepover to End All Sleepovers.”
In “Missing” by Kathleen Glasgow, four friends visit an abandoned women’s hospital in search of a ghost. The night takes an unexpected turn when Lissy, the strange little sister who had to tag along, gets a little too friendly with the paranormal.
Praise for Up All Night
“This collection of stories, all set in the nighttime, seamlessly brings together some of the biggest names in YA fiction. … The mix of genres and diverse casts allows the collection to address many issues plaguing teens … High-interest stories by popular authors make this a first purchase for high school libraries and teen collections.”
—School Library Journal
“Editor Silverman compiles an impressive collection that explores coming-of-age themes, including the thrill of teenage crushes, the whirlwind of preparing for prom, and the adjustments needed to create a blended family, while also featuring a mix of characters diverse in race, sexuality, and gender identity. … A thoughtful volume that will appeal to a broad range of readers. … all of the stories are worth reading and savoring. … A thoughtful volume that will appeal to a broad range of readers.”
This lovely YA anthology holds thirteen stories all taking place during the magical hours between dusk and dawn when just about everything can happen. It was such a sweet, well-written and wonderfully inclusive collection of stories, with characters that were non-binary, bi, gay and lesbian, disabled or dealing with mental health issues and problems like how to come out when you are a superhero. It was a very solid collection with stories that were all highly entertaining, yet all very different, and all with added depths or twists and with a wonderful flow.
Read my full review here: Up All Night
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I’m so happy and honored to be a part of Xpresso Book Tours’ reveal of the cover for An Unexpected Kind of Love by Hayden Stone!
Bookstore owner Aubrey Barnes likes his quiet, orderly London life, thank you very much. His shop may be struggling, his only employee is a menace, and his plumbing is one creaky pipe away from disaster, but he can handle it. Maybe. He cannot, however, handle the film company that’s thrown his Soho street into chaos.
And he definitely can’t handle the charismatic American actor Blake Sinclair.
Which is why he’s extremely reluctant to lease out his shop as a set for Blake’s film, but it’s his one opportunity to save his business. Now he can’t get away from the distractingly hot actor.
Then Aubrey finds himself alone with Blake in a trailer, and what happens next turns London’s heat wave into an inferno that leaves him breathless.
Aubrey is not cut out for the high-profile life of dating a celebrity, especially an American actor who’s not even out yet. Good thing their tryst is absolutely not going anywhere.
Of course, when you expect nothing, that’s exactly when it starts to mean everything.
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An Unexpected Kind of Love will be released on August 9th!
Today is my stop on Xpresso Book Tours’ blitz for Undiagnosed Love by Jacqueline Lee. Enter the Rafflecopter Giveaway for chance to win a $20 Amazon gift card and 5 eBook copies of Undiagnosed Love!
What happens when you fall for the one person you can’t have?
Anna has always tried to do everything right, working hard through medical school, and now in her career as a doctor. She’s worked hard at her eight-year relationship with her fiancé Phil too, and can’t wait to get married and become part of Phil’s extended family. Then the unthinkable happens. Phil breaks up with her three months before their wedding.
Luckily, Phil’s younger brother Seth works at the same hospital and is there to help her through the aftermath.
Seth’s always been the laid-back, jokey one in contrast to his more serious brother. He’s always secretly envied Phil’s relationship with Anna because she’s his epitome of the perfect girl. When he sees how devastated Anna is after his idiot brother dumps her, he does everything he can to get her smiling again. But the more time they spend together, the more their connection grows.
Your brother’s ex-fiancée is off-limits. Everyone knows that.
The problem is when you accidentally cross that line, the repercussions can be immense.
The intercom buzzed. Sure enough, it was Seth: Mr. Dependable. Right on time. That was one trait he shared with his brother. Their mother had drilled punctuality into them.
When Seth and I started hanging out, there had always been those first few moments when I saw him, before his height or the unruly hair registered, when my imagination could fool itself into thinking he was Philip. Funny how I’d stopped doing that in recent weeks. I no longer wanted it to be Philip; I was more than happy it was Seth.
“Happy Birthday.” Freshly shaven, he enveloped me in a quick one-armed hug at the door while holding a bag of groceries in his other hand. I caught a whiff of his aftershave.
“You smell nice,” I said as I pulled away.
“Yeah, I’m trying out this new thing. It’s called showering.”
“Oh, trust me, it is.” Seth strolled into the apartment and set the grocery bag on the counter. “So, I know we talked about doing those mini quiche things that Mum makes as a starter, but I thought some hearty pumpkin and bacon soup might be better given the weather.”
“It’s your show. I’m merely the hired help,” I said.
We chatted about work and life as we sliced and diced the pumpkin. Soon the soup was bubbling away, and Seth turned his attention to seasoning the lamb rack while I put the finishing touches to the cheesecake. As I returned it to the fridge, I realized there was one topic Seth hadn’t touched on.
“Have you hung out with Imogen this week?”
“Um…no, actually…Imogen and I broke up.” Seth scratched his nose, looking uncomfortable.
“Oh, I’m sorry. I thought things were going well between you guys.”
“Yeah…they were. But it was one of those situations where things looked good on the surface, but we didn’t really connect at a deeper level.”
I felt a surge of anger at her. Seth was such a great guy; she must be some kind of fool to let him get away.
Seth glanced at me. “I know what you’re thinking. You’re surprised to hear I have a deeper level, right?”
“A bit. I had you pegged as someone with about as much depth as a puddle.”
Seth grinned. “I like that. Bradley’s writing a song about the things people say to each other when they break up. I might give him that line.”
“Make sure he doesn’t forget ‘It’s not you, it’s me.’” I could hear the bitterness in my voice. “That’s the one Philip used on me.”
Seth picked up a spoon to stir the soup. “That’s probably the first time in Phil’s life that he got something in the emotional domain correct.” He held out the spoon. “Want a taste?”
I opened the drawer and took out a clean spoon. “We’re doctors, remember? We should probably observe the basic rules of hygiene.”
“I’m also a guy,” Seth pointed out. “I can cook an entire meal using one spoon and one pot.”
“That’s something everyone should aspire to.”
“It sure saves a lot of time washing up.”
I helped myself to a spoonful of soup. The flavor exploded on my tongue: the perfect balance of sweet pumpkin and salty bacon. “It’s delicious. You’re a culinary genius.”
Seth gave me a wink. “I need to pad out my resume somehow, make myself more attractive to the ladies. With a face like this, I need all the help I can get.”
I snorted. “Whatever.” Both Johnson boys were far too handsome for their own good. I couldn’t imagine Seth having any trouble attracting women, and Philip had even managed to attract one while engaged to another.
Not that Seth would ever do that. Funny how I knew that instinctively. I couldn’t imagine a scenario where Seth would cheat on the person he was with.
Then again, before he’d done it, had I ever imagined Philip would?
Why was I thinking about Philip so much tonight? Maybe it was due to the fact this was my first birthday in nine years without him. And, if everything had gone as planned, he would have been at my side, helping me instead of his younger brother.
Seth grabbed the oven mitt and pulled out the lamb rack. As I watched him make a delicate slice, testing whether it was cooked through, I couldn’t help rewinding the evening, imagining if it had been Philip cooking alongside me.
Philip always cooked in an “Aren’t I amazing? Make sure you admire me as I’m such a fantastic guy for helping you out” kind of way. He would have instructed me while we cooked, trying to make sure everything was perfect.
And it would have been tense because for Philip, it was always about making an impression. He could even turn a casual birthday dinner with friends competitive. He’d have found some obscure wine and made a big deal of opening it. We’d have cooked complicated dishes well outside our comfort zone, as it was important to Philip that everyone gushed over the dinner.
And I would have gone along with him because that’s what I did.
I could almost see myself—that alternative Anna—face flushed, trying to think of ways to destress Philip before our guests arrived, inwardly cursing that I’d ever suggested doing the cooking when a restaurant would have been so much simpler.
In contrast to this reality, where I’d spent the past few hours laughing and joking with Seth as we prepared a perfectly edible meal. Okay, it might not be haute cuisine, but my guests wouldn’t care. Nor would they care when I served them cheap bottles of wine.
I was so much happier than alternative Anna would have been.
That thought startled me out of my daze.
Seth was talking. I blinked, trying to focus on what he was saying.
He was telling me about the musical aspirations of his roommate Bradley.
“Anyway, his band’s scored a gig at that new club on Victoria Street in a few weeks, so I said I’d go along to support them. Do you want to come too?”
“Don’t you think I’m a bit old to go clubbing?”
“I’m reasonably confident your arthritic limbs can handle it.”
“Okay, sounds like fun.”
“Based on the noises coming from his room when he’s practicing, fun isn’t quite the word I’d use. More like painful.”
“You’re really not selling it to me now.”
Seth flashed me a grin. “I’ll be there. What more of a sales pitch do you need?”
“So true,” I deadpanned. I met Seth’s eyes, clocking their deep hazel color before regaining my senses. What was I doing? Making meaningful eye contact with Seth? That’s the kind of thing one did when having a flirty conversation, not our typical jokey exchanges. I looked away, acutely aware of the blush creeping up my neck, hoping he’d put it down to the heat in the kitchen.
Fortunately, the buzzer rang.
“I’ll get it.” I wiped my hands on a towel and headed over to buzz the first of my guests in.
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