Tuesday, September 30, 2014

#Giveaway~Everlasting (Night Watchmen #1) by Candace Knoebel ~ #Review ~ #Excerpt

Everlasting (Night Watchmen #1)
by Candace Knoebel
Publication date: February 19th 2014
Genres: Paranormal Romance, Young Adult

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What if your destiny lay on the other side of death?
The annual Culling ceremony is a day every coming-of-age novice looks forward to within the Primeval Coven. It’s the start to being initiated into the Night Watchmen, humankind’s protectors, and it’s the long-awaited day when novices discover if they’re a Hunter or a Witch.
But this day is not a happy one for Faye Middleton. Not when she’s known her whole life that she’s a Defect and is about to face banishment in front of her fellow novices. She’s forced to attend the Culling with little hope for her future, but what she discovers about herself is far worse than she could’ve imagined. And far more dangerous.
Thrown into training and separated from her friends, Faye must learn to adjust. She struggles to find her place within the Coven, and with Jaxen Gramm, the darkly handsome and extremely unnerving man assigned to watch and protect her. Emotions run high, and when she discovers a deadly secret about him, her struggles deepen. As corruption within the Coven begins to unravel, Faye pieces together her role in saving the future of her people, and within Jaxen’s life…but will the truth save her, or be her undoing?


Candace Knoebel is the award-winning author of Born in Flames-book one in a young adult fantasy trilogy. She discovered in 2009 through lunch breaks and late nights after putting her kids to bed, a world where she could escape the ever-pressing days of an eight to five Purgatory. And an outlet for all the voices residing in her head.

Published by 48fourteen in 2012, Born in Flames went on to win Turning the Pages Book of the Year award in February of 2013. In January of 2014, the last book in the trilogy, From the Embers, was released, thusly completing the trilogy. She now works on the Night Watchmen Series, while guzzling Red Bulls and pretending to be a ninja on Heelys.

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I really enjoyed this book. I liked the fresh take on the Witches and having the Hunters be a part of it, how they are made to work together. It's a unique concept that I really enjoyed.
I liked our female main character, Faye, she is  strong and not afraid to stick up for herself. She is very likeable for sure.

Jax I really liked alot, and liked how he wasn't overly cocky like alot of our men in books. He has his own insecurities too, like a real guy would. Very nice to see that in this book.
This book is really well written too. I really got to care about these characters. I loved the unexpected twist and turns. It kept me on the edge of my seat.

I also like the message that is sent in this, Basically the message is that a guy you may want to fall in love with you, needs to fall in love with the real you, not the primped up you. The natural you. This is something Faye realizes and doesn't over try to get a guys attention. This is a very important message, and love that is was part of this novel. Hats off to the author for doing this, as I am sure it wasn't an accident.

I look forward to the sequel, Evernight, its out Oct 31 last I seen. Going to be checking out Candace Knoebel's other books now, she is brilliant.

I highly recommend this book to the young and even not so young (like me, lol) 5 out of 5 stars for me.
I was provided a copy of this book for my honest review.

This review is also at Amazon and Goodreads
Chapter One
No one in my family has ever been to college. There’s never been a need for it. When you’re born from a powerful bloodline that serves a higher calling, a calling that maintains protection over humankind, college becomes trivial. To my people, only the Defected go to college alongside the humans we protect. It’s a disgrace, a sign of weakness in the bloodline.
So when the metal clink of the mailbox sounds from across the lawn, I jump. I jump because what rests inside that box is my death sentence to shame. It’s the end of my life as a Primeval and the beginning of a life as a human. A life where my people will forever turn their backs on me. A life of unadulterated banishment.
All because I am the very first Defect in my bloodline.
I know my parents are watching me from the window. I can feel their gazes like dripping ice trickling down my back and chilling my blood. They’ve dreaded this day just as much as I have. My mother’s the one who helped me fill out the applications to colleges last year. She wants to see me happy and successful, even if it has to be outside of the Coven. My father, on the other hand, never speaks of it. I think deep down it disappoints him, even though he never shows it.
I shut my eyes against the glaring, orbed sun and try to steady my breathing. It should be raining. Thunderstorms and winds should be ripping through the air the way they rip through my insides, but they’re not. Nature’s mocking me, perching the golden sun in the middle of the sky for all to see like a trophy. Birds sing and kids play in the street, laughing and enjoying the warmth of the sun.
But not me. My bare feet slap against the concrete, carrying me with dreaded steps toward a truth I’ve yet to come to terms with. I know the number of steps it takes to get me there. I’ve practiced this walk a thousand times, each time training myself to do so with pride, the way my people are expected to walk, but all of my careful preparation leaves me the moment the mailman walks away.
Grab the letter. It’s just a piece of paper, Faye. It can’t hurt you, I tell myself as my fingers hesitate over the mailbox. But I know better. It can hurt me; it’s about to hurt me in all the worst ways. I blink, and a million, stifling emotions turn my knees to jelly. A fist of deprecation forms around my throat, and I can’t breathe.
But my father’s watching me with the stern eyes of a Hunter. I can’t let him down. Not again.
With a deep breath, I harden myself, tucking the crushing pain down as far as it will go, and open the box, making sure to smile up at my parents. A swipe of the hand later, and I hold the letter, staring down at the word Columbia on the top left of the envelope. I already know my fate. I made it in. My exceedingly high grades and parents made sure of this, but I don’t feel any relief. All I feel is unyielding shame. Shame that I can’t find even the slightest bit of happiness in knowing I at least excel in something.
I find my footing and trudge back over to the blanket I’d set out on the lawn in front of my parents’ house. I lay down, still clutching the letter against my chest, and stare up at the afternoon sky. It’s a cloudless sort of day; the kind where the vibrant sun feels warm against the fall New York air. I stretch my fingers out from under my navy green jacket, framing what would be the perfect photo. There’s a surety I get when gazing at the sky, a sense of stability that everything is exactly as it should be. No matter what, night is night, and day is day. Clouds are clouds and rain is rain. When the sun sets, the moon will rise. Nothing can change that, not even the most powerful person in the world. The photos I keep pinned on the walls of my room remind me of that day after day. They remind me of exactly who I am.
I am Faye Hadley Middleton, and not a single person can say otherwise.
But when I look away from the sky and over to my best friend Katie, the truth comes crashing down around me. It’s because I’m Faye Middleton that there is a person in this world that can say otherwise. An Elder, to be exact. And that Elder is waiting to deliver my fate tomorrow.
I stare blindly as Katie’s fingers type text messages. She’s probably trying to enjoy her last bit of freedom before it’s all taken away, before she’s wiped off the grid and accepted into the Night Watchmen Academy like our parents and their parents have before us, before she goes from being Katie to just another Watchman. Her phone beeps with another message, probably from a guy who unknowingly doesn’t stand a chance with her. We don’t marry outside of the Coven. It keeps our bloodlines pure.
My hands fall back to the ground as a tide of resentment creeps up the shore of my mind. Katie’s the Thelma to my Louise. You won’t find one of us without the other, and when you mess with one, you get both, but, just like in Thelma and Louise, there is a cliff we’re about to approach, and I’m not sure we’ll survive.
“You’re doing it again,” Katie says, never looking away from her phone.
“Doing what?”
“That squinchy face you make when you’re upset. You’re thinking about it, aren’t you?” She pauses to look at me, raising one insightful brow.
I huff and roll back to stare at the sky. When am I not thinking about it? Tomorrow’s the day of the Culling, the day we’ll be given the quartz that will determine which side of the affinity bond we stand on inside the Primeval Coven; Hunter or Witch, fighter or magic caster. After that, we’ll be inducted into the Night Watchmen Academy for four years where we’ll learn to harness the magic on our side of the bond. We’ll each meet our partner who will be forever linked to us.
But there will be no partner for me. And knowing this has turned me into an empty shell filled with cobwebs of predetermined embarrassment.
She nudges me, loosening the truth stashed in my throat.
“How can I not think about it, Kat? I’m about to shame my parents and the Coven. You don’t know what that feels like. You’ll probably be told you’re a Witch and then be on your merry way to meet your hunky Hunter. But for me, I’ll be told I’m a Defect and then everyone will know. And they’ll laugh. This is proof.” I hold up the letter from Columbia, shutting my eyes to silence the haunting echoes of laughter dwelling on the edges of my mind.
Sadness fills her eyes because she knows I’m right. I’ve known from as far back as I can remember. My mom’s a Witch, and one of her many specialties is in clairvoyance. She saw my future the moment she first held me. She’s known forever that I’d never be a Watchman. The genes cruelly skipped me. No one except for my parents and Katie know. I’ll be neither Witch nor Hunter, while Katie travels down a path I can’t follow. A path that’ll most likely be the death of our friendship, because, like everyone else in our Coven, she’ll be expected to turn her back on me.
“I’ll never turn my back on you. Ever. You can’t think like that,” she says, picking up on my inner thoughts. It’s a sign of being blessed by the Goddess and walking a Witch’s path. She’s been psychically sensitive for over a year now. Signs always begin a year before the Culling; a year before we graduate human high school.
Because our powers don’t progress until after we turn eighteen, we’re expected to follow human traditions and go to school with them. It’s a means to teach us how to blend in with them, to accustom ourselves to their world. We’re simply here to protect them, but they can never know this. Once a year, a Culling ceremony occurs to bring the of-age novices in. Touching the Culling quartz awakens the remaining bits of power and solidifies a place within the Coven.
Even though I hold faith that maybe my mother’s vision was wrong, that maybe the Culling will prove her wrong, I’ve yet to show any signs.
“Don’t ignore me,” she says, putting her phone down.
“You sound like my mom,” I say, trying not to sound upset and failing. “I’m going to be stuck in college, trying to make a normal life for myself amongst humans, all while dreaming about what you’ll be doing at the Academy while learning your craft. It just sucks.” I blow out a deep breath that does nothing to ease the tightness building in my chest. I know I’m being selfish by speaking out about it, because I know it hurts her just as much as it hurts me, but I can’t stop myself.
“I know,” she says quietly, drawing circles with her finger on the blanket.
I roll back to face her, tucking my hands under the side of my face. “I really am happy for you though. No matter what, okay? I don’t want you to worry about me when you go away. I won’t hold it against you.”
A tear forms in the corner of her eye, thickening the lump in my throat. She looks away from me. Just like me, she doesn’t cry. Crying isn’t what our kind does.
She clears her throat. “Why don’t we just think about it as if we’re going off to separate colleges? We’ll find a way to talk to each other, even if it can’t be all the time.” It sounds nice, but we both know better. The affinity partner usually becomes your world. There’s no way around it. Once you bond after the Culling and are given your shared mark that links your powers, there’s no escaping the connection.
“Okay,” I agree for the sake of being a good friend. I wonder what her partner will look like, how he’ll act, if they’ll fall in love the way most affinity partners do.
She rolls back to face me, a glint of mischief forming a smile on her face. She’s picked up on my thoughts again. “And while you’re away at your college, you’re going to find yourself a boyfriend, a human boyfriend who doesn’t come with all the baggage like the affinity bond creates. At least this way, you can choose who you’re with, rather than it already being fated for you.”
The thing about the affinity bond is every partner is predetermined by the power within the Culling quartz, the power imbibed by the Divine. You just don’t meet them and receive your mark until after the Culling. Katie and I always compare it to the way marriages were predetermined in the medieval times. There’s never a choice of who you’ll be bound to for the rest of your life, and our kind lives well past the human age, so the rest of our lives is a long time.
I roll my eyes, laughing despite the fact that I’m not in the mood to laugh. She’s always been able to make a bad day look good. “The opposite sex doesn’t get me,” I say, smiling at her. She’s seen one too many failed attempts throughout our years in grade school. The closest I’ve ever been to an actual relationship was my junior year, and it ended just as quickly as it had started because the guy wanted more than I was willing to give.
“Or maybe it’s the reverse,” she says with one perfectly groomed auburn eyebrow arched.
“Maybe,” I say. “I just haven’t met the right guy yet.”
“You will,” she says surely. “And when you do, wife him up and make a life for yourself, a happy one.” She rolls back to face the sky, and I follow after, trying not to dwell on what’s to come. It won’t change it. Nothing can.
I don’t know how long we lay here watching the sparse clouds pass by, but it feels longer than a lifetime and shorter than a second all in the same. The crisp air whips around us, chilling me to the bones. When her phone beeps again, I know it’s her parents. The sun is quickly setting. The Culling is just around the corner.
“Faye,” she says quietly.
“I’m going to miss you.”
I bite my bottom lip. A fist clenches and jams inside my throat. Don’t break, I command myself. “Me too,” I rush out, blinking back tears. I hear her shuffling and know she has to go. Her parents are waiting for her down the street with dinner spread out in ritualistic fashion. It’s tradition to have a feast the night before the Culling.
Without a goodbye, her feet crunch along the grass, carrying her away from me. She doesn’t believe in goodbyes, and neither do I. Every step feels like another rip in my heart, another tear that will never mend. I’m sure this will be the last time I ever see her. She will be with her parents tomorrow and separated from the other novices until after the Culling is over. If I’m in fact a Defect, I won’t be there to congratulate her, to celebrate with her.
Against my better judgment, I jump up and run after her, meeting her halfway down the street.
She hears me coming and spins around with her arms open, ready for me. I hug her as if my life depends on it, uncaring of the heated wetness that trails down my cheeks. When I let go, I look at her one last time, remembering her features; the bronze of her skin, the clearness of her amber eyes, the way her hair always falls in perfect waves all the way down her back. She’s the sister I never had and the friend I’ll never forget.
She presses her face against my ear. “Be strong,” she says, her voice faltering.
Always the stronger one.
“You too,” I say, wiping away the stream of silent tears. With a final smile, I turn and make my way back down the street to my house. No going back now. All I can think about is what lies ahead of me. They say that, in life, you can only have one destiny, one chosen path to walk. But what happens if the path destined for you is removed, leaving nothing before you? That’s what my life will become.
I never had a choice.

After shutting the front door, I check myself in the mirror hanging on the light blue walls. The flush on my high-boned cheeks can be passed off as the chill from the October evening air, at least to my father. My mother will know better. She always does. Frayed pieces of pale blonde hair stick out of my high bun. I drag my hands over my face, taking in the breath I hope will calm me, but I’m not calm. I’m empty. Broken.
I’m a mess of anorexic wishes starving for the light of shooting stars.
There’s no avoiding my emotions, no matter how hard I try shutting them off. It’s what my father wants. It’s what Hunters do, and so I must. I have to be strong, at least until I have no reason to be any longer.
I quickly re-do my hair just as my mother comes around the corner of the foyer. “Hey, sweetie,” she says, opening her arms. I walk into them and press my face against her shoulder, listening to the quiet beating of her heart. It’s in moments like these that I don’t feel so hopeless. Her smile, so proud, so loving; it can’t be for a Defect. Her arms, so strong and supportive; they can’t hold a disappointment.
“It’ll be okay. I promise,” my mother says.
She draws back, running a smooth hand over my hair, and smiles. Everyone always tells me I’m the spitting image of my mother, even down to the blue-gray of our eyes that are like the color of tranquil river stones, but my mother is naturally beautiful. Cinnamon hair falls out of the pencil holding it half back, tumbling down past her shoulders. Her full lips always offer words of encouragement and love. She’s wearing brown trousers, a soft white blouse that has tiny pearl buttons, and a cropped brown vest. She looks whole, healthy, and kind.
“No matter what, you’ll always have your father and me.”
Her eyes always give her away. We both know this isn’t true. This isn’t possible. Once banished, when I enter the human world as a human, I can never look back, and neither can they. It’s another way of keeping the Coven hidden from human eyes, which is all a part of the deal made with the United Nations.
“Right?” she says, nudging me with her hip.
“Faye,” she says softly, “this isn’t easy for any of us.” There’s a note of guilt in her voice and it wraps around my stomach and squeezes like a noose.
“I know,” I relent, letting her go. I breathe, blink a few times, and then force out somewhat of a smile. “I’m sorry. I don’t mean to be a downer. I just… I want to get this over with.” I don’t add how waiting for the embarrassment sure to come turns my stomach on its axis. She hurts enough for the both of us.
She lets out a relieved breath, seeming to accept my words, and rubs my back. Her hand extends out, and she guides me out of the foyer toward the tantalizing smells coming from the kitchen.
“It has to be this way, you know,” she says at the end of the hall. “It’s our way. You have to be strong for your father and me, and for yourself.”
“I know, mom,” I say, swatting at the potted plants lining the hallway. They swing just at my height. She insists it keeps the air pure.
“Mary, do you know where my whetstone is?” my dad’s deep, baritone voice shouts. He doesn’t realize we’re standing right in front of him. He’s shuffling around, searching frantically for it amongst the clutter of books and papers. The stone is as much his lifeline as his flux is-the dagger he uses to kill with.
Hunters are the opposite end of the affinity bond. They’re the enforcers, the strength behind the mission, whereas the Witch is the power, the magic, the healing they need to remain intact when fighting against paranormal beings. It’s a perfect balance that was set in place by the proclamation after the falling out of the Divine and the uprising from the Demons in the Underground.
My mother’s delicate chin lifts. “Did you check in between the couch cushions?”
He smiles at her and spins around, flipping the cushion over. There it sits, just like she has predicted. Part of me wonders if her magic helped her do that, or if it’s from the years and years of marriage they’ve shared.
He flips the gray stone in his hand, and then looks over at me. He doesn’t look a day over 30 with a strong, square jaw. His nose is a little offset from a break he received in a fight when he was 12. Squared glasses hide the beauty of his hazel eyes with specks of blue in them. Sandy blonde hair is parted to the left. He’s dressed in the Night Watchmen’s uniform; a black, long sleeved t-shirt with the Coven symbol and black jeans.
Watchmen are supposed to blend into the night, to hide within the shadows.
“You okay, kiddo?”
“Yeah,” I say, adding a smile along with it. For him, I’ll always be strong.
“Good,” he says, winking at me. He runs his other hand down the front leg of his pants, wiping the grease off, and then leaves the room, muttering to himself about something he left on in the garage. He’s always tinkering with something.
My mother spins on her heel and makes an attempt to pick up the scattered books that have taken over the tables and floor space, a nervous habit she’s always had. After filling her hands, she sets them down on a shelf with a sigh large enough to blow the brown strands of hair out of her face. Books are everywhere, the way it’s always been. No matter what she picks up, there’s still nowhere to put them.
I reach for her wrist, pulling just enough to make her look at me, when I notice the frown on her face. “Mom, the books are fine. The feast will be perfect.” I raise my brow in expectation, waiting for my words to sink in and calm her.
She hesitates, her eyes wearily roaming over our eclectic home, and then gives in with a sigh. “Still, this night should be perfect. It has to be.” Her arms fall gracefully to her sides.
On the outside, I’m a billboard of confidence, of certainty, but on the inside, I’m a broken down palace left to rot with the decayed dreams of what could have been. It bothers me that she’s more worried about the traditional pre-Culling feast than what is about to tear our family apart and make me the laughing stock of the Coven.
“That’s not true,” she says, giving me the eye. She’s been able to pick up on my thoughts for as long as I can remember. It’s a gift Witches have, a gift I sometimes forget about. “You know exactly how this makes me feel, how much it pains me that you have to go through this. If I could change it, I would. If I could spare you this…”
“But you can’t,” I say, the finality in my voice striking her like a gavel. I look away from her, searching for a safe change of subject, something that will erase the hurt from her eyes, even if just for a moment. A familiar scent catches my nose. “You’re making a roast?”
“It’s your favorite,” she boasts quietly, her hands folding neatly at her waist. My mother makes the best comfort food. I think it’s from the magical touch of herbs she uses from her garden.
“Thanks,” I say, grateful for the small act of kindness.
She shrugs dismissively and looks off in thought. Her hand slides up her other arm, resting at her elbow.
“Are you all right?” I ask.
She looks back at me with a strange expression, one that I’ve never seen on her before. Fear. “I’m just… I hope tomorrow you find everything you need to make you happy. Your father and I…well…that’s all we want for you, to be happy. I know you’re worried about my vision. I am too, but that’s the thing about life…sometimes, no matter how hard we try to pave the path we want for ourselves and for our loved ones, destiny steps in and adds a twist we didn’t prepare for.” She sighs heavily. “I just hope that whatever happens tomorrow, it will be exactly what you need, no matter what your father and I want, and no matter what the Coven wants.”
A weird twisting settles in my stomach. She’s never said anything like this before, and it makes me wonder. It makes me worry. It makes me doubt. “Okay,” I say hesitantly, studying her face.
She inhales, straightens her shoulders, and says, “Now go on and freshen up,” before turning and disappearing into the kitchen.
I head for the bathroom and turn the faucet on, splashing cool water on my face. After toweling off, I grab the small tin with my mother’s lip stain and rub some on. A familiar tingle from the mint she adds to her homemade tincture prickles along my lips. I stare at myself until I begin to fade in the mirror and the life I had so longed for surfaces. What if my mom had read the vision wrong? What if the Culling quartz tells me I’m a part of the Coven? Is that what she was trying to say? I know I’m kidding myself with such wishful thinking, but I don’t want to lose hope.
She has to be wrong.
I tug on the bottom of my yellow, long sleeved v-neck, straightening it out. When I’m satisfied I look decent enough, at least to meet my mother’s standards, I leave the bathroom in search for her. She’s carrying the roast on a teal ceramic platter out to the table.
“It smells amazing,” I say. Hunger waters my mouth.
“That’s because it is amazing,” she admits with no shame, setting the platter in the center of the table. “It’s a mother’s job to fill up the stomachs of their loved ones.” There’s no sign of her earlier distress, not even a glimmer of it.
I don’t like the off feeling that settles over me as I place the silverware around the plates. There’s still something in the air between us, something that smells a lot like deception, but my mother would never lie to me. She wouldn’t.
“Did you know it takes approximately 12 hours for food to digest properly?” I ask, pushing away any thought of deceit.
I have a thing for random facts. It takes the awkwardness out of any situation. Well, sometimes.
She shakes her head, laughing as she waves me off. “You and your facts,” she says. “You’re as bad as your father.”
“No, father likes to spout off random song lyrics that apply to our daily life. I like to use random facts and statistics. That way, not only do I make you laugh, but I teach you something as well,” I say, my finger dotting the end of her pointed nose. For a moment, a small blink in time, nothing else matters but seeing my mother smile.
“Whatever you say, kiddo,” she says, still laughing as she walks back to the kitchen.
After I finish helping her with the finishing touches on the dinner table, my dad walks in and sits at the head of the table. My mother walks out with the last of the sides and takes her seat next to my father. We bow our heads, and she states the prayer to the Divine before we dig in. The food’s exceptional, as expected, and leaves us feeling full and sated. We spend dinner like we do any other night, talking about the hunt the night before. I listen to every single detail as if it’s water and I’m dehydrated.
“And then the Vampire stepped out of the shadows, grabbed the woman, and tried to literally rip her head off,” my father says spiritedly.
“Russell,” my mother scolds. A look passes between them, and I know they’re sharing thoughts; a perk of being bonded with the affinity bond. I can only imagine the warning she’s giving him. She hates when he speaks this way at the dinner table, but he doesn’t care. And neither do I.
“So what did you do?”
“Your father did what he always does. He threw the stake from the opposite end of the alley before the Vampire’s teeth could even get close to the woman’s neck. She screamed, he vanished into ash, and then I worked a spell to clear her memory of it all.”
“You make it sound so dull,” my dad says, smirking at her before taking a long swig of his dark amber beer. He turns to me. “It’s really more exciting than that. I swear. You’re going to love it.”
My mother tenses. I hate that I notice this, and I hate that my dad does too, because his smile vanishes, as does the interesting story and mood. He coughs, finishes off his beer, and excuses himself out to the backyard without another word.
My mother’s eyes drift over the table, and a small frown tugs at her lips. I help her clear the table, and then meet my father in the backyard, leaving her writing a new spell in the family Grimoire. It’s a ritual of his to throw daggers at a target dummy every night before they patrol, and it’s the only time he ever lets me into the world I’m about to be shoved out of.
“Hey,” I say, drying my hands on the front of my jeans.
He’s in mid-throw, crouched down with his hand lifted up to his ear. My eyes trail over his affinity mark, which looks more like an odd-shaped birthmark, that he shares with my mother. It’s what binds their powers to each other, and each paired mark is as unique as a fingerprint. I’ve always wondered what it feels like to not only have powers, but to have them removed if my partner isn’t close enough. I imagine it would feel like being suffocated, at least, that’s how my parents have described it.
He exhales and then releases the blade. It sinks straight through the heart of the dummy, just like it always does. He turns and smiles at me, opening his arms for me to come over. I walk into them.
“Ready for tomorrow?” he asks, resting his chin on the top of my head. Despite what my mother has seen, he refuses to believe I’ll be anything less than a Hunter. I guess denial is his way of dealing with things.
“Yeah,” I lie, hugging him tight.
He pulls out three daggers from one of the many integrated sheaths on his pants and hands them to me. “How about, since it’s the night before the big day, you go all out and hit each dummy in their customary weak spots?”
“Sure, dad,” I say, taking the daggers from him. Usually, we warm up first, but not tonight. Tonight the air is alive with electricity. It’s alive with the anticipation of every parent and novice. I close my eyes and let everything drift away from me, just as my father has instructed time and time again. I don’t need to see to know where the dummies are. I just need to feel, to be fully aware.
With the daggers in my hand, I grab one, position myself, and exhale, preparing myself. As fast as a blink, I throw the three daggers, never once looking at my targets. My heart is a bass drum pounding in my ears. Everything feels right, centered, balanced.
My dad slaps me on the back, nearly knocking me over. “You did it!” he shouts, pulling me over to the dummies.
I did. The daggers hit their mark perfectly; one in the head, one in the heart, and one in the thigh.
“See! You’re going to be a Hunter! The best one yet.”
I can’t help but smile with him as I stare at the daggers. Maybe I will be. Maybe this is my sign. I look up at him, my smile widening, and then pull the daggers out before handing them back to him.
“You make me proud. You’re going to make me proud,” he says, running a hand over my cheek. In a blink, seriousness washes over his features, dimming the smile on my lips. “I want you to remember something…something my father told me the night before my Culling. He said that it isn’t one’s destiny that defines a man, it’s how they choose to walk the path they’ve been given. You’re going to walk your path with pride and make the best of it. Nothing can take that away from you, not even a vision.”
I stare at him, absorbing every word. He never says anything without reason. That means…
“Now, go get some rest. You’re going to need it. You might meet the man of your dreams tomorrow, someone awesome and hip like your old dad.” He slaps me on the back again, and then walks back to the starting point and re-positions himself. “Your mother and I’ll be back before dawn. The Elders have given us a light hunt tonight.”
“Good luck,” I say, knowing they don’t need it. My parents are one of the best at what they do. They have the second highest filled quota of paranormal take-downs in the state of New York, the Gramm brothers having the highest.
“Thanks, kiddo,” he says, and then throws his dagger.
I walk back inside and kiss my mom goodnight, then head up to bed where I fall face first onto my pillow. My brain feels like it’s been through a meat grinder. I don’t want to think anymore. Thinking is exhausting, but three words pulse through my mind, refusing to disappear.
Tomorrow is it.
I repeat this until my eyes grow heavy and my breathing slows, and then drift off to sleep.

You can find the other blogs on this tour, here.
Xpresso Book Tours

Thursday, September 25, 2014

#Giveaway ~ Violet Storm by Anna Soliveres (Modi #1) ~Book Tour ~ Review

Violet Storm  (Modi #1) 
by Anna Soliveres
Publication date: March 28th 2014
Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

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Several hundred years into the future, The Cleansing, known to some as the End of Days, forced the government to create Arks to shelter its people. When Earth became habitable again, new territories rose up from the ashes: Agria, the City of Light, and the Outer Boundaries. For a while, they lived in peace.
A brilliant surgeon known for his invention of Modi’s—the only cure for the deadly disease, vaincre—has gone rogue with his experiments, and the Monarchy is desperate to shut him down. That’s where Aeva Storm comes in, a champion athlete with an ego to match. Aeva is the surgeon’s secret weapon against the Monarchy. And they’ll never know what hit them. After reconstructing her body to become a Modi unlike any he’s ever created, Aeva is forced into a fight against all odds. She’ll have to break loyalties, hurt family, and turn her back on newly awakened love. Thousands of lives hang in the balance in a battle that will set forth a new era.
Join Aeva on her quest to see whether she’s got what it takes to go up against the most powerful humans ever created.

My Review

This book is very different than any i had read in awhile. It's a great blend of dystopian and scifi. I really enjoyed it.

I like the strong character that is Aeva, she has a tough type personality. I found her a great main character. I had a hard time putting it down, that is for sure.

In this book we get detailed descriptions of a world in a crisis. There are decaying woods, desperate cannibals, with unique cities and towns with lots of descriptive details, I felt like I was there experiencing it right along with her.

The whole concept for the Modi's is pretty unique and very interesting. This is a very unique concept that I really enjoyed.

I really need book 2 now, I didn't want to leave this unique world that the author created.

Great read that I highly recommend. I give it 5 out of 5 stars.

The cover is awesome, and is what drew me to read about the book. As I have said before, the cover is one of the most important parts of the book. At least for me anyway,

I was given this book for my honest review.

This review is also at Goodreads and Amazon (likes are always welcome)

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Anna Soliveres has always been a storyteller but it wasn’t until her early twenties when she began writing novel length works. The result was an enthusiasm to get better at the craft until her work could be shared with the world. Releasing in March 2014, VIOLET STORM is her debut novel. Anna is currently working on another young adult sci-fi series, titled SNOW DOLLS, set to release in late 2014. To learn more, please visit her at www.annasoliveres.com.

Author links:

1: Lightning

I can barely see through the steely curtain of rain. My opponents aren’t far and neither are the goals—ten colored rings rising above the ground at the end zone. 
I sprint, flying across the wide-open field as I’ve done a thousand times. My long, dark hair whips behind me, sticking to my frozen cheeks. Mud cakes my shoes, makes them heavy. It doesn’t slow me down. Nothing can slow me down. Not even the icy rain soaking through my clothes, clinging to my skin. It’s so cold I can’t remember the last time my feet felt anything but numb. 
It’s the final quarter of the Championship Fila game and thousands of people are watching. We’ve trained all year for this. A mere ten points behind the City-bloods and everyone’s got it out for me. Of course they would. I’m the farm girl with unrivaled skill—the best arm in the league. It’s all up to me now. 
Thunder booms as lightning illuminates the black sky. The clouds above bulge with violent, unleashed power. Dirt fills my nose and the air thickens with the musty smell of wet earth. The fans are going wild. Their roars are lost in the growing storm that promises a bloody final quarter. They’ll get their money’s worth. 
Someone rushes from my right. Lightening flashes, illuminating a pair of white, clenched fists. It’s Maer, the tall blocker with an off-center nose and torn lips. His massive arms are spread wide, head tucked in, gunning for me like a mad bull. 
I race to meet him. He leaps for a rib-breaking tackle, his mutilated lips pulled back into a gnarled smile. I feign to the left. His eyes go wide, the force of his mass unable to change course. He makes a desperate grab, catching the edge of my tunic. I spin and rip free from his grip. Maer only captures a mouthful of sludge. 
The crowd erupts, feverish and manic. Their ear-blistering cheers rise like frenzied banshees from the stands. They cheer my name. Aeva Storm! Hellstorm!
I’m close to the end zone now. My lungs are on fire, my legs screaming with pain I’ve been conditioned to ignore.
Thunder crackles, drowning out the pounding in my ears. Jagged white veins rip through the sky, lighting the field. Guttural sounds come from behind. A defender barrels toward me, the wrath of the storm gathering in his wintry-blue eyes. He grasps a bat in one hand, something else clenched in his fist. I smile, daring him to catch me. 
Several goal rings come into view, each held up by a rod in the end zone, glistening like beacons of glory. I lock in on the smallest ring—the one that will win us another championship. Unlike the others, it's made of glass—nearly invisible in the rain. 
Power surges through me, flowing through my arm in a rush of tingles and flame. This is it. I slow, take a long stride, swing my arm, and release. The nameless defender springs for me, raising the bat above his head. 
Too late. 
The cold Fila ball slips from my fingertips, cutting through the wall of rain, and straight through the center of the game-winning ring. One hundred points. The buzzer shrieks. Chaos explodes from the stands, adding to the wild chorus of the roaring storm. The video cams zoom in, surely capturing every second of the victorious goal—and of me—broadcasting to the two rival cities an unforgettable moment in Fila history.
A scream of joy rips free from my lungs. I’ve done it!
For Agria! I cry silently.
Earth-shaking booms fire in rapid succession and the air practically trembles. The power of the tremors split the earth beneath my feet. I look up, shielding my eyes from the onslaught of rain. For a brief instant, the stadium and the crowd disappear in blinding white light. A bolt of lightning tears the sky, desperate in its rush to pierce the earth. But not before it strikes me first.

Xpresso Book Tours

Thursday, September 18, 2014

#Giveaway ~ Worlds Collide (Sunset Rising #2) by S.M. McEachern ~ Blitz ~ Excerpt

Worlds Collide 
(Sunset Rising #2) 

by S.M. McEachern
Publication date: March 3rd 2014
Genres: Dystopia, Young Adult

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In a desperate attempt to escape execution, Sunny O’Donnell and Jack Kenner find a way out of the Pit and into a world still believed to be toxic with radiation. Under the brilliant sun for the first time in their lives, they not only discover that the earth has healed from nuclear war, but there are people outside the Dome.
In Worlds Collide, the second book of the Sunset Rising trilogy, Sunny and Jack must continue a life of subterfuge in order to stay alive and find a way to free the Pit. But in their attempt to save the urchins, they uncover the horrifying truth about President Holt and the evil he could unleash on the world.

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Worlds Collide:

Only .99 for the first book, limited time.
Buy Links
Sunset Rising:

S.M. McEachern was born in Nova Scotia, Canada. She attended Dalhousie University in the 1990s where she earned an Honours Degree in International Development Studies. She worked in the field of International Development for several years, specializing in ocean development.

"Sunset Rising" is S.M. McEachern's first novel. She says the idea for the story first came to her in the 1990s when she researched a Bio-Dome experiment in Arizona for an academic paper. The thought that the world might one day need a Bio-Dome to escape a global catastrophe set her imagination into overdrive. And the ethics behind such an idea formed the backdrop for Sunset Rising.

Her goal in writing the novel is to entertain the reader with an interesting plot and colourful characters.

Author links:

$50 itunes Gift Card
5 ebook copies Worlds Collide

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Excerpt #2
Excerpt from “Worlds Collide” (Book 2 “Sunset Rising” series) by S.M. McEachern

The drops soon gathered speed and turned into a downpour, as if someone had turned on a showerhead. It made a drumming noise against the hard-packed earth, which came as a surprise. I had no idea rain made a sound.
Everyone on the training field carried on as though there wasn’t a storm in progress. Dena continued with her tour. It wasn’t until a flash of light lit up the sky that Dena said it was time to go inside. The unexpected flash was blinding, but it was the booming noise that followed that sent me careening into Jack’s side. For just an instant I wondered if it was an attack.
Jack’s shoulders shook with barely concealed laughter. I shot him a look. “As if you’ve ever been in a storm,” I said.
The trek back up to the courtyard was a little trickier on wet ground. As we went, the lightning became brighter and the thunder louder. Jack’s sunglasses weren’t much protection. I never thought I’d be relieved to go back inside a mountain again, but I was. 
Pausing inside the entranceway to shake the water off, I took in the big empty room—what was once the lobby of the hotel. The grotto was made entirely of stone tile with high arched ceilings. The ghostly outlines of bygone furniture hinted that the hotel was once quite grand, but now crumbling tiles and dark stains ground into the stone had robbed it of its beauty. I rubbed the toe of my boot against one of the dark spots, wondering what it was.
“Human misery is a stubborn stain,” Dena said. “A lot of skeletons were found here, the floor darkened by their decay.”
A shiver went down my spine when her meaning registered. How many people had sought refuge here after the war, only to die a slow horrible death? Were they from the valley? Were they the same people who had been turned away from the Dome by the bourge? The stains of decay were everywhere. For a moment I closed my eyes against the mental image of what they must have had to clear out of here in order to reclaim this building.
Behind me the door opened and a few people entered the lobby. They glanced in our direction and continued to the far side of the room.
“The entire hotel is built inside the mountain, hidden to the outside world,” Dena said.
I watched the small group open the bags they carried and spread out blankets on the floor. 
Jack pointed to the artificial lighting. “You’ve made your own light?”
Dena smiled. “It’s not nuclear science. It’s just a filament.”
Jack looked a little embarrassed by his question. I had thought the same thing until Jin-Sook had corrected me. As much as I professed that these people weren’t heathens, I still made assumptions about them, as though they wouldn’t be as smart as we were. But as we walked through the reclaimed ruins, I was reminded of the ingenuity of the human spirit. As someone who came from the Pit, this was not something I should’ve forgotten.
Excerpt #3
Excerpt from “Worlds Collide” (Book 2 “Sunset Rising” series) by S.M. McEachern

His hand gently wrapped around my arm and I resisted the urge to yank away from his touch. I was angry, but I was conscious of the fact that we promised each other before setting out for dinner that we were just playing our roles. It was necessary for our survival. I wasn’t a stranger to being a slave. I was born one. Yet being Jack’s slave had been humiliating. He was my partner, my almost-lover and my friend. It made hearing his role in the sterilization program that much harder to take. I thought I knew him, but he was still a stranger.
He turned me around to face him, his expression sad and apologetic. “Sunny…I’m sorry.”
I could tell he was struggling and a part of me was grateful that he might be feeling some remorse. “The sterilization program?” 
My voice broke around the lump in my throat. For once I was glad my emotions had stolen my ability to speak. I didn’t want to talk. I just wanted to shut down.
“I was a little kid when my parents campaigned for that program,” Jack said, his voice cracking with emotion. “They pushed it through as an alternative to lowering the age of the Cull. They saved thousands in the Pit from being rounded up and killed.”
I opened my mouth to speak, challenging that lump, but my tears decided it was a good time to show up. I jerked my arm out of his grasp and started toward the bedroom.
Don’t walk away from me.” 
I stopped and turned to look at him. “Was that an order, sir?”
We glared at each other from across the room. Jack was the first to look away. “No, it wasn’t,” he said. He rubbed a hand across his eyes.
I continued to glare at him. “Is that why you were acting so jumpy earlier tonight? You were afraid I’d find out what you’re really like?”
“I’ll admit it was one of the reasons.”
My eyes widened in shock at his honesty.
“Don’t look so surprised, Sunny. I was the presidential heir! You think I didn’t do anything to earn that title?” He stared at me, waiting for my reply.
I didn’t have one. Maybe because at some point during our association I had convinced myself that the presidential heir I had seen on TV so many times didn’t actually exist. That man was just an image and not the same person I had lived with in the Pit. 
“I told you before we left the Dome, you changed me,” he said, breaking the silence that had grown between us. “I had my eyes opened during my time down there.”
Author Interview: S.M. McEachern (“Sunset Rising” series)
Xpresso Book Blitz for “Worlds Collide” (Book 2)

2014 has been a big year for your writing career. Can you tell us a bit about that?

Yes, it has been big a year for me. For one thing, I published the second book of the “Sunset Rising” series, entitled “Worlds Collide”, last March. I was happily surprised when it rocketed up the Amazon ranking chart and maintained a spot in the top ten Amazon action and adventure romance bestseller list for months. That in turn attracted new hybrid-publisher Vook to ask me about acquiring the Sunset Rising series. After a few phone calls, many emails, and a lot of deliberation, I signed with Vook. I’m very happy I did. 

I’m also working on the third book of my series, tentatively titled “New World Order”, which I plan to release in January 2015.

In the past, you’ve blogged about enjoying being an indie author, but you signed with Vook?

I have to admit, I do like having control over my books. When I want to do a promotion, or put the books on sale, or give the books away if I want to, I don’t have to ask permission from a publisher. I can just do it. So yes, when Vook first approached me I was hesitant to sign with them. However, Vook is a different kind of publisher; they are a “hybrid publisher.” They provide an enhanced publishing platform with ongoing marketing support via proprietary software that tracks ebook sales so authors can make better and more informed marketing decisions, and authors retain all copyrights and control over their books.

I officially joined them in July and I have received so much more than they promised. Vook is a dynamic, enthusiastic team of individuals that have partnered with me to bring my series to readers through all ebook retailers at affordable prices. Good for authors and good for readers! And as a company, they’re growing and constantly investing in themselves and their authors. For instance, they recently acquired their first publishing imprint, Byliner. I’m really excited to be a part of Vook, because I truly believe they are the future of publishing.

Your third book of the “Sunset Rising” series, tentatively titled “New World Order”, will be released in January?

That’s the plan. I’m madly writing everyday and no longer take weekends off! Not that I mind. Writing a book is like reading a good book; I don’t want to put it down. And this third book has a LOT going on. It’s definitely the most action-packed of the series, with minor characters from the first two books sharing Sunny’s spotlight.

You do a lot of world-building in the series. What’s your process for creating a post apocalyptic world?

In a nutshell, research and imagination. I love research because not only does it give me a good, solid foundation to begin my stories, but it also ignites my imagination.  It’s kind of like taking what is and projecting what can or could be. So I read a lot of non-fiction articles and I also reach out to experts, most of whom have been really happy to help me. Dr. Bergren of the National Institute of Nanotechnology and Chris Kratt of the Wild Kratts have been two super helpful resources. I’ll be doing an interview with Chris this weekend, talking about what a post apocalyptic creature world might look like, and will have it up on my blog by September 18th if you’re interested in checking it out. 

Is your third book the last one of the “Sunset Rising” series?

The series was named for the heroine, Sunset O’Donnell (Sunny), and the first three books are told from her point of view (spoiler alert: there’s another person sharing the story in book 3!). But as I said above, I’ve gone to great lengths to create a new world. I can definitely see more books told from other characters points of view as they reinvent their civilization and explore a post nuclear earth. And with recruiters, scorchlanders, and northerners out there, who knows what they’ll find…

Note from author:

Thank you so much for inviting me to your blog and giving me the opportunity to talk about all the exciting things happening with the “Sunset Rising” series. For anyone who hasn’t read the series, the first book “Sunset Rising” is on sale everywhere for just 99 cents from September 16-24, 2014. I also have seven satellite stories (short stories based on the series) posted on my blog you can check out here:  http://smmceachern.com/category/satellite-stories/ The first six stories were written in between books one and two; the seventh story is more recent and picks up between books two and three. I always love to hear from readers, so if you do check out the series, please feel free to get in touch and let me know what you think!

Cheers – Susan (aka S.M. McEachern)