Tag Archives: Paranormal YA Romance

New Blog Up and Running!

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New Blog Up and Running!

I know I have not posted anything in almost a year. I have been going through a lot and lost my way and what I love doing. But now I am back and better then ever before with a brand new blog! I would really appreciate it if y’all would give it a look and follow me! I will be posting similar reviews, updates on authors, movie-to-book adaptations, book release dates, and even cover reveals, just on my own site.

Please go visit me at http://www.crimsoncrocodilereviews.com Again, it would mean so much to me if y’all would go check me out!

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Currently Reading

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Currently Reading

This week I have decided to tackle some of the books on my seemingly never-ending TBR pile. With my first set of college classes finally out of the way, I actually have some free time to read (what is free time? lol I never have that anymore). As yall know, I just finished reading and reviewing Take Me Tomorrow by Shannon A Thompson, so now I am working on a few others. I’ve been kinda in a reading slump, so any reading suggestions would be great guys!

The Rules Regarding Gray by Elizabeth Finn

Published September 23, 2014

What first drew me to this novel was the obvious love triangle (I’m such a sucker for love triangles), but it is quickly sucking me in! 

The Rules Regarding GraySynopsis

Gracelynn is drowning in an existence that fails to fulfill her. A ballerina by trade, she’s devoted her life to the stage, sacrificing adventure for discipline. When her boyfriend gives her permission to want what she’s not supposed to want, can she walk away? Or will she leap?

Jasper isn’t a man with many boundaries, and “sharing” a woman with his best friend is hardly a new endeavor. But the moment he meets Gracelynn he realizes she’s different. She leaves him feeling alive in a way he’s not used to, and for the first time in his life, he understands what it means to be wanted… Cherished… And he needs more…

But there are rules—rules that forbid Jasper from truly having her. As forbidden desire spirals out of control, Jasper has to decide if he’s willing to fight for something that doesn’t truly belong to him. His best friend doesn’t deserve her, but is Jasper strong enough to believe he does?

Minutes Before Sunset by Shannon A. Thompson

Published May 1, 2013

Shannon A. Thompson is quickly becoming one of my favorite authors ( I say one of because….how am I supposed to limit it to just one?) She uses great detail and creates amazingly realistic stories. Definitely recommend checking out her work!

Minutes before sunsetSynopsis:

She was undoubtedly a shade, but I didn’t know her.

Eric Welborn isn’t completely human, but he isn’t the only shade in the small Midwest town of Hayworth. With one year left before his eighteenth birthday, Eric is destined to win a long-raging war for his kind. But then she happens. In the middle of the night, Eric meets a nameless shade, and she’s powerful—too powerful—and his beliefs are altered. The Dark has lied to him, and he’s determined to figure out exactly what lies were told, even if the secrets protect his survival.

He had gotten so close to me—and I couldn’t move—I couldn’t get away.

Jessica Taylor moves to Hayworth, and her only goal is to find more information on her deceased biological family. Her adoptive parents agree to help on one condition: perfect grades. And Jessica is distraught when she’s assigned as Eric’s class partner. He won’t help, let alone talk to her, but she’s determined to change him—even if it means revealing everything he’s strived to hide.

Knight by Kristen Ashley

Published on April 8, 2012

Everybody loves a bad boy right? What about a bad boy that’s secretly good? Knight is the first installment to the Unfinished Hero Series. So far there are three  books with Deacon, the latest edition, scheduled to be released October 23 of this year.

KnightSynopsis:

Anya Gage has learned that to get anything good in life, you have to work for it. She has no expectations, no dreams.

Then she finds herself at a party where she doesn’t want to be and she meets Knight.

Knight Sebring knows who he is, what he wants and what he likes. And he gets it. But he never expected something as sweet as Anya Gage to wander into his bedroom during a party he did not expect to be having to borrow his phone.

Knight tries to leave Anya to the life she deserves of white picket fences and a man who watches football on Sundays – good, normal and clean. But when Anya comes to his nightclub and finds herself in a situation, he knows someone has to look after her, he can’t fight it anymore and he decides that man will be him.

Knight teaches Anya that, just as with the bad, in life you should also expect the good. And he teaches her this by giving it to her.

But Knight has a dark past and just as he desires Anya for exactly who she is, he fears when she finds out exactly the man he has become and always intends to be, she’ll leave him for good, normal and clean.

 

Currently Reading

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Currently Reading

After finishing Opposition, the concluding novel in Jennifer L. Armentrout’s best selling Lux series (this is an amazing book and an exceptional series for those who haven’t read it. Armentrout is one of my favorite new authors), I stumbled upon a new series. It’s written by Jennifer L. Armentrout (because I’m just that addicted to her writing) and is a fairly new series, with the most current book having been released February of this year. It’s a little different (like most of Armentrout’s PA romance novels), spinning a different take on the myths of gargoyles and demons. I introduce, The Dark Elements Series:

Bitter Sweet Love (Dark Elements #0.5)

Bitter Sweet LoveThis is a prequel to the first novel

Synopsis:

Dez wasn’t just Jasmine’s crush. A gargoyle Warden like Jas, he helped her come to terms with her destiny—fending off demons and maintaining balance between good and evil. He was her everything…right until the moment he disappeared without a trace. It didn’t help that Jas’s father had just announced that she and Dez would one day be mated. Hard not to take that personally.

And now he’s back, three years older, ten times hotter, ready to pick up exactly where they left off. But Jas isn’t taking that risk again. Dez has seven days to meet all her conditions and earn back her trust. Seven days filled with terrifying danger and sweet temptation. Seven days to win her heart—or shatter it all over again…

 

 

 

 

 

White Hot Kiss (Dark Elements #1)

White Hot KissSynopsis:

One kiss could be the last.

Seventeen-year-old Layla just wants to be normal. But with a kiss that kills anything with a soul, she’s anything but normal. Half demon, half gargoyle, Layla has abilities no one else possesses.

Raised among the Wardens—a race of gargoyles tasked with hunting demons and keeping humanity safe—Layla tries to fit in, but that means hiding her own dark side from those she loves the most. Especially Zayne, the swoon-worthy, incredibly gorgeous and completely off-limits Warden she’s crushed on since forever.

Then she meets Roth—a tattooed, sinfully hot demon who claims to know all her secrets. Layla knows she should stay away, but she’s not sure she wants to—especially when that whole no-kissing thing isn’t an issue, considering Roth has no soul.

But when Layla discovers she’s the reason for the violent demon uprising, trusting Roth could not only ruin her chances with Zayne…it could brand her a traitor to her family. Worse yet, it could become a one-way ticket to the end of the world.

 

Stone Cold Touch (Dark Elements #2)

Stone Cold TouchExpected release date: October 12, 2014

Synopsis:

Every touch has its price

Layla Shaw is trying to pick up the pieces of her shattered life—no easy task for a seventeen-year-old who’s pretty sure things can’t get worse. Her impossibly gorgeous best friend, Zayne, is forever off-limits thanks to the mysterious powers of her soul-stealing kiss. The Warden clan that has always protected her is suddenly keeping dangerous secrets. And she can barely think about Roth, the wickedly hot demon prince who understood her in ways no one else could.

But sometimes rock bottom is only the beginning. Because suddenly Layla’s powers begin to evolve, and she’s offered a tantalizing taste of what has always been forbidden. Then, when she least expects it, Roth returns, bringing news that could change her world forever. She’s finally getting what she always wanted, but with hell literally breaking loose and the body count adding up, the price may be higher than Layla is willing to pay…

Series Review

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So I realize that I have been more than slacking when it comes to book reviews, but that is because I have been working on a series, and rather do individual reviews fro the books, I figured I would just do an overall series review for all the books. A couple years ago I got into this series by V. J. Chambers that I really enjoyed. It was a paranormal romance, but it took a spin that I hadn’t read before. Anyways, long story short, I discovered recently that the author had continued the series and so I bought the missing ones and re-read the whole entire series. So, with that preamble out of the way, here goes the review, I hope y’all enjoy! The series itself is broken into three trilogies that all encompass each other, so bear with me, this could be a really long post.

Trilogy 1 : The Jason and Azazel Trilogy (or the first three books)

Book One: Breathless

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Synopsis:
What if the messiah and the anti-christ fell in love? Azazel is seventeen and sexually frustrated. Her biggest issue is trying to figure out why her seemingly normal boyfriend won’t sleep with her. Then Jason races into her life. He won’t say where he came from or who’s chasing him. He’s a delicious puzzle, a boy who has no problem using his fists to solve arguments or quoting Plato to justify his actions. Azazel is drawn to him. She’s obsessed with finding out his secrets. What she doesn’t know is that Jason’s secrets are entwined with her own town’s secrets. Her friends and family have conspired to use her as a pawn in a violent scheme. Soon, she will have to choose between protecting Jason and staying loyal to everyone she’s ever trusted. A story about forbidden love, fate, and free will, Breathless is Rosemary’s Baby meets The Da Vinci Code

Review:

Okay, so I really enjoyed this book! It was innovative and different. I had never read a book with this kinda spin on demons and the messiah and secret societies that basically run the entire world? Fascinating and soo interesting!! Definitely give this book an 8 out of 10!  

Book 2: Trembling

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Synopsis:
Lilith’s back, and she’s got her eye on Jason. Jason doesn’t think Azazel’s new best friend Jude is really gay. Someone put a bell, engraved with a picture of the sun rising over water, in Azazel’s purse. Azazel’s worried, but Jason thinks she’s paranoid. Jason and Azazel might be at the beach, but the clouds are rolling in. . .

Review:
This novel is all about how Jason and Azazel react to an environment where they aren’t on the run. Azazel starts having these “dreams” and drinks herself blind, yet the whole time being paranoid and refusing to believe that  they’re safe. Jason tries to forget that anything has ever been anything but normal, and while he’s worried about his girlfriend, he thinks nothing of her paranoia. This is the first book where Jason and Azazel both have to deal with jealousy and their relationship outside of danger. Overall, it was pretty good. It kept me on my toes, and you never really knew who to trust and who to believe. 8 out of 10.

Book 3: Tortured

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Synopsis:
Since she arrived in Italy, Azazel hasn’t been able to stop having nightmares. Sometimes her boyfriend Jason is covered in blood, grinning at her like a demon. Sometimes there is a gun in her hand, and she’s shooting the people she loves the most. The only way to stop the dreams is to drown them in liquor. Azazel can hardly concentrate on anything else. Not the library located in the Sol Solis School. Not the secrets about Jason’s origins they need to discover there. Not the prom. Not the fact that she can’t have orgasms. Azazel feels like black water is closing over her head. And she doesn’t know if she can breathe anymore.

Review:
So Jason and Azazel are on the run from the bad guys again, can you see the beginning of the pattern for the rest of the books? They go to this school, where they are supposed to be safe (there are a lot of places like this I discovered) but weird things are happening. Suddenly, all the ‘cool’ kids that hated them before are looking up to them, and waiting on their opinion to decide their own. Characters you thought to be dead make an appearance and broken off members of the Sons of the Rising Sun pledge to keep them safe with their life. Again, Jason doesn’t really seemed concerned, only Azazel is, when she is sober that is. It was a decent book, a little boring and drug out but an overall good story line. 7 out of 10.

Trilogy 2: The Jason and Azazel Apocalypse (books 4-6)

Book 4: The Stillness in the Air

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Synopsis:
The electricity went out months ago, all over the east coast. Due to her special powers, Azazel is employed by the government to help keep the peace as civilization crumbles around them.

Azazel, Hallam, and Marlena lead a rag tag group on a mission to get west and get help, but there’s someone in the way.

Jason.

He says he still loves Azazel.
But she can’t ever love him again.

Review:
So the novel starts out with the readers not really knowing what had happened, but it is soon explained. Azazel and Jason are no longer together, and it has slowly been driving Jason crazy. Now he will stop at nothing to get her back, even hurting those who are trying to help her get across to where the electricity is. Azazel sees Jason again after years and tries (but mostly fails) to deny her feelings for him. Can she ever forgive him for what he’s done? Can their love survive this? I found this book a little random. I thought this series was originally just a trilogy and didn’t really like the suddenness of it (if that makes any sense). It was an okay book, just mostly jealousy and the readers get to see exactly what Jason and Azazel can do with their powers when on opposing sides. 7 out 10.

Book 5: Between the Heaves of the Storm

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Synopsis:
Azazel arrives at Jason’s community calling herself Joan, with no memory of who she is or what they’ve shared together. But Jason recognizes her, and once he realizes his powers of persuasion work on her now, he’s willing to do anything to keep her with him, no matter how macabre or immoral.

Kieran wanted to use the grimoire to purge Azazel’s powers, but instead he’s transferred them to himself, along with her memories. When he discovers the Order of the Fly wants to use him to control the world, he sets off to find Azazel, determined to return her powers and memory so that she can stop the OF’s attempt at world domination.

Review:
So this book really gets into the magic side of things. Azazel’s power has been stolen, along with her memories. She finds herself again with Jason, but this time, she has no idea who she is or what happened between them. Jason runs a compound now and is acting as his people’s ‘spiritual’ leader. He controls everything and uses his power to make the people want to please him (he now has his own harem) and work together. When Azazel shows up, he uses his powers to make her happy and love him (eventually he stops and she still loves him). But not all is sunshine and rainbows (that would be a really boring book). Kieran and his recently acquired lover are on a mission to make sure the power is placed in the hands of the right people. This book focused on Jason’s desperation to keep Azazel happy and in love with him, no matter how violent and crazy it makes him. 8 out of 10.

Book 6: The Last Onset

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Synopsis:
Jason wants to punish himself for all the horrible things he’s done, and so he’s been lying low and wallowing in his guilt. When he discovers that Kieran and Eve are threatening his son, Chance, he finds Azazel so that the two of them can stop Kieran and Eve.

Kieran and Eve, now in possession of Jason and Azazel’s powers, have the world in a chokehold. They see everything, know everything, and control everything. The only way to stop them is for Jason and Azazel to take back their powers.

But in order to do so, they must go through a series of tests, each pushing them deeper into their own darkness. If they get their power back, they run the risk of becoming the very evil they want to fight. But if they don’t get the power, Kieran and Eve win and Chance is lost.

Review:
This novel was actually going to be V. J. Chamber’s last novel for Jason and Azazel, but due to her reader’s demands, she continued writing a whole other trilogy. I personally really wished she had stopped with this book. She had everything nicely tied up and what I thought was a really good ending to everything. Loose ends were resolved, issues put to rest and everything as it should have been. This book could be a little hard to follow if you didn’t remember the little details from the other books. Was really disappointed when the other books came out. 7 out of 10.

Trilogy 3: Ambrosia

Book 7: Shudder

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Synopsis:
Jason and Azazel wake abruptly from their coma, their powers gone. But they are healing quickly, to the confusion of everyone in the hospital. A team of specialists comes in the middle of the night to whisk them away. When Jason and Azazel offer resistance, they are sedated.

They awake in a strange, institutional place that seems to have no exit. They are prisoners there, being filmed by an unseen presence. Others are trapped with them as well. Some have been there for years. No one knows how to get out.

Jason and Azazel may not have the ability to control minds anymore, but they’re still a force to be reckoned with. And if anyone can find a way out of this bewildering prison, it’s them.

Review:
This is where I think the series gets a little weird. Suddenly Jason is a half god and Jude survived by being kidnapped by the Sons of the Rising Sun (yea, I thought they were dead too). I just didn’t really get into this book. It was too random and inconsistent with the other books for me to really enjoy it They should have never continued this series. In this book, Jason and Azazel get captured and have to work with other nephilim to escape. They escape, Jason and Azazel fight, and we are back to the beginning of the cycle. 5 out of 10

Book 8: Falter

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Synopsis:
Azazel relishes the chance to be on the offensive for once. Chased all her life, fighting one enemy or another who intended to kill her, it’s nice to be pursuing the bad guys instead of running from them.

Of course, Jason doesn’t agree that they’re bad guys. He doesn’t think they have the right to make moral judgments like that. Not after all the horrible things they’ve done. He chooses to stay home and get to know his son, Chance.

Jason spends his days playing with Chance and going to parent-teacher conferences. Azazel spends hers hunting down and killing people who sell Nephilim blood. Jason tries to pretend he doesn’t long for a life of action, but deep down, he misses violence. He craves it.

The strain of domestic life is getting to Jason.

It won’t be long until he snaps.

Review:
So Azazel wants to fight what she believes are the bad guys and Jason just wants to try to live a normal life. This plot remind you of anything? It’s basically the second book but with a few add-ons. Jason thinks they are out of danger and wants nothing to do with Azazel’s mission to purge the world of the evil vampires. When Jason refuses to help, its back to her and Jude being BFFs and partners in crime. It’s a good book, its just predictable and redundant. 5 out of 10.

Book 9: Gasp

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Synopsis:
Azazel vowed never to tell Jason that she and Jude accidentally ingested the aphrodisiac and had sex, but now she’s pregnant with Jude’s child, and she can’t keep the secret from him anymore.

Jason never intended to harm any other redheaded girls, but he finds himself compelled to stalk them and capture them. He can’t let anyone find out.

But Imri knows Jason’s secret, and he also knows that Azazel’s unborn child is powerful–too powerful to be allowed to live. He will do everything he can to get at that child, no matter what he exposes, no matter who he destroys.

And despite their pain and confusion, Jason and Azazel must rally together to protect this child. Because no matter what, two things are true about them.

Their love cannot be broken.

And they will always survive.

Review:
This book was like all the other book plots crammed in one. Azazel is in danger and Jason will stop at nothing to protect her. There is a baby to keep safe from a man who wants it dead, and their friends are dying left and right. Jason is holding on to his sanity by a thread for Azazel and Azazel is trying to once and for all purge him of his guilt. Was actually a pretty good book. While the plot was familiar it was ended nicely and I’m glad that the series is over. They are complex conflicts and the struggle between what is right and what Jason will do to save the one thing he loves above all; Azazel. 7 out of 10.

New Releases!

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2014 is starting off with a bang in the literature world with the release of J. L. Weil’s newest novel, Chasing Angel, the third installment to the Divisa series. Chasing Angel was released on January 1, 2014 in paperback as well as ebook. I have read all the other books in this series, and I can’t wait to read this, unfortunately, my TBR pile is so long it may take a week or three (which really depresses me).

 

chasing angel Synopsis:

Chase Winters is one of a kind.

That doesn’t mean he still doesn’t get on my nerves more days than not, but his arrogance is starting to be sexy. Together our bond grows stronger, and so do we.

Just as we hurdle one obstacle, two or three more pop up. Go figure. It isn’t enough that Emma once again hates our guts, now Travis has decided to go all demon-zoid on us. I could hardly blame him though; he had lost the girl of his dreams—again.

After everything that we have endured, I am not the same girl anymore. Not since the day I met Chase. The icing on the cake—there is a new player in town, and he is not human. Hell has decided to pay Spring Valley a visit, and Chase and I are their first stop. Our quiet little town was about to shatter.

Of course there is also our rare bond to factor into all of this, and the pesky last piece. Or maybe it isn’t as pesky as it is combustible.

Soul. Heart. Body.

Oh dear God…

Awesome Author Monday!

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Actually, there are two AMAZING authors I want to put in the spot light this week. Let’s give it up for Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl!

 

Kami GarciaKami Garcia is the #1 New York Times, USA Today, Publishers Weekly, LA Times, Wall Street Journal, Indie bound & international bestselling co-author of the Caster Chronicles and the author of Unbreakable, the first book in the Legion Series which was released on October 1, 2013. Garcia is a teacher and reading specialist with an MA in education, and leads book groups for children and teenagers. Garcia currently resides in sunny Los Angeles, California with her family. Beautiful Creatures was her debut novel.

 

 

Books by Kami Garcia:

1. Beautiful Creatures

2. Beautiful Darkness

3. Beautiful Chaos

4. Beautiful Redemption

6.Dangerous Creatures

7.Dream Dark

8.Unbreakable

9. Red Run

 

 

Margaret StohlMargaret Stohl is the author of the Icons series which were published in the spring of 2013 as well as a co-author to the Caster Chronicles along with Kami Garcia. Stohl has an MA in English and studied creative writing under poet George MacBeth at the University of East Anglia, Norwich. Stohl currently lives in Los Angeles with her family. Beautiful Creatures was her debut novel as well as Garcia’s.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Books by Margaret Stohl:

1. Beautiful Creatures

2. Beautiful Darkness

3. Beautiful Chaos

4. Beautiful Redemption

5. Dangerous Creatures

6. Dream Dark

7. Icons

8. Idols (to be released on June 8, 2014!)

Sunday Spoilers!

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This week’s Sunday Spoilers is an excerpt from The Host (mainly because I just watched the movie today…its really good). The book is amazing as well as the movie, and I hope y’all enjoy the sneak peek!

Excerpt:

The_Host_PosterI knew it would begin with the end, and the end would look like death to these eyes. I had been warned.

Not these eyes. My eyes. Mine. This was me now. The language I found myself using was odd, but it made sense. Choppy, boxy, blind, and linear. Impossibly crippled in comparison to many I’d used, yet still it managed to find fluidity and expression. Sometimes beauty. My language now. My native tongue.

With the truest instinct of my kind, I’d bound myself securely into the body’s center of thought, twined myself inescapably into its every breath and reflex until it was no longer a separate entity. It was me.

Not the body, my body.

I felt the sedation wearing off and lucidity taking its place. I braced myself for the onslaught of the first memory, which would really be the last memory—the last moments this body had experienced, the memory of the end. I had been warned thoroughly of what would happen now. These human emotions would be stronger, more vital than the feelings of any other species I had been. I had tried to prepare myself.

The memory came. And, as I’d been warned, it was not something that could ever be prepared for.

It seared with sharp color and ringing sound. Cold on her skin, pain gripping her limbs, burning them. The taste was fiercely metallic in her mouth. And there was the new sense, the fifth sense I’d never had, that took the particles from the air and transformed them into strange messages and pleasures and warnings in her brain—scents. They were distracting, confusing to me, but not to her memory. The memory had no time for the novelties of smell. The memory was only fear.

Fear locked her in a vise, goading the blunt, clumsy limbs forward but hampering them at the same time. To flee, to run—it was all she could do.

I’ve failed.

The memory that was not mine was so frighteningly strong and clear that it sliced through my control—overwhelmed the detachment, the knowledge that this was just a memory and not me. Sucked into the hell that was the last minute of her life, I was she, and we were running.

It’s so dark. I can’t see. I can’t see the floor. I can’t see my hands stretched out in front of me. I run blind and try to hear the pursuit I can feel behind me, but the pulse is so loud behind my ears it drowns everything else out.

It’s cold. It shouldn’t matter now, but it hurts. I’m so cold.

The air in her nose was uncomfortable. Bad. A bad smell. For one second, that discomfort pulled me free of the memory. But it was only a second, and then I was dragged in again, and my eyes filled with horrified tears.

I’m lost, we’re lost. It’s over.

They’re right behind me now, loud and close. There are so many footsteps! I am alone. I’ve failed. The Seekers are calling. The sound of their voices twists my stomach. I’m going to be sick.

“It’s fine, it’s fine,” one lies, trying to calm me, to slow me. Her voice is disturbed by the effort of her breathing.

“Be careful!” another shouts in warning.

“Don’t hurt yourself,” one of them pleads. A deep voice, full of concern.

Concern!

Heat shot through my veins, and a violent hatred nearly choked me.

I had never felt such an emotion as this in all my lives. For another second, my revulsion pulled me away from the memory. A high, shrill keening pierced my ears and pulsed in my head. The sound scraped through my airways. There was a weak pain in my throat.

Screaming, my body explained. You’re screaming.

I froze in shock, and the sound broke off abruptly.

This was not a memory.

My body—she was thinking! Speaking to me!

But the memory was stronger, in that moment, than my astonishment.

“Please!” they cry. “There is danger ahead!”

The danger is behind! I scream back in my mind. But I see what they mean. A feeble stream of light, coming from who knows where, shines on the end of the hall. It is not the flat wall or the locked door, the dead end I feared and expected. It is a black hole.

An elevator shaft. Abandoned, empty, and condemned, like this building. Once a hiding place, now a tomb.

A surge of relief floods through me as I race forward. There is a way. No way to survive, but perhaps a way to win.

No, no, no! This thought was all mine, and I fought to pull myself away from her, but we were together. And we sprinted for the edge of death.

“Please!” The shouts are more desperate.

I feel like laughing when I know that I am fast enough. I imagine their hands clutching for me just inches behind my back. But I am as fast as I need to be. I don’t even pause at the end of the floor. The hole rises up to meet me midstride.

The emptiness swallows me. My legs flail, useless. My hands grip the air, claw through it, searching for anything solid. Cold blows past me like tornado winds.

I hear the thud before I feel it. . . . The wind is gone. . . .

And then pain is everywhere. . . . Pain is everything.

Make it stop.

Not high enough, I whisper to myself through the pain.

When will the pain end? When . . . ?

The blackness swallowed up the agony, and I was weak with gratitude that the memory had come to this most final of conclusions. The blackness took all, and I was free. I took a breath to steady myself, as was this body’s habit. My body.

But then the color rushed back, the memory reared up and engulfed me again.

No! I panicked, fearing the cold and the pain and the very fear itself.

But this was not the same memory. This was a memory within a memory—a final memory, like a last gasp of air—yet, somehow, even stronger than the first.

The blackness took all but this: a face.

The face was as alien to me as the faceless serpentine tentacles of my last host body would be to this new body. I’d seen this kind of face in the images I had been given to prepare for this world. It was hard to tell them apart, to see the tiny variations in color and shape that were the only markers of the individual. So much the same, all of them. Noses centered in the middle of the sphere, eyes above and mouths below, ears around the sides. A collection of senses, all but touch, concentrated in one place. Skin over bones, hair growing on the crown and in strange furry lines above the eyes. Some had more fur lower down on the jaw; those were always males. The colors ranged through the brown scale from pale cream to a deep almost-black. Aside from that, how to know one from the other?

This face I would have known among millions.

This face was a hard rectangle, the shape of the bones strong under the skin. In color it was a light golden brown. The hair was just a few shades darker than the skin, except where flaxen streaks lightened it, and it covered only the head and the odd fur stripes above the eyes. The circular irises in the white eyeballs were darker than the hair but, like the hair, flecked with light. There were small lines around the eyes, and her memories told me the lines were from smiling and squinting into sunlight.

I knew nothing of what passed for beauty among these strangers, and yet I knew that this face was beautiful. I wanted to keep looking at it. As soon as I realized this, it disappeared.

Mine, spoke the alien thought that should not have existed.

Again, I was frozen, stunned. There should have been no one here but me. And yet this thought was so strong and so aware!

Impossible. How was she still here? This was me now.

Mine, I rebuked her, the power and authority that belonged to me alone flowing through the word. Everything is mine.

So why am I talking back to her? I wondered as the voices interrupted my thoughts.

Sunday Spoilers!

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Sorry about the week and a half of silence, I have midterm exams coming up and apparently that also included every teacher giving essays and projects (super fun, yea? yea no) so I promise to be on here posting more often now that I’ve gotten most of the work out of the way. So sorry again.

 

So for today’s Sunday Spoilers, I’ve decided to do City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare, its not a new book by any means, but its a good one. So I hope you enjoy.

 

Excerpt:

untitledThe Hunter’s Moon

Maia had never trusted beautiful boys, which was why she hated Jace Wayland the first time she ever laid eyes on him.

Her twin brother, Daniel, had been   born with her mother’s honey-colored hair and huge dark eyes, and he’d   turned out to be the sort of person who lit the wings of butterflies on   fire to watch them burn and die as they flew. He’d tormented her as   well, in small and petty ways at first, pinching her where the bruises   wouldn’t show, switching the shampoo in her bottle for bleach. She’d   gone to her parents but they hadn’t believed her. No one did, looking at   Daniel; they confused beauty with innocence and harmlessness. When he   broke her arm in ninth grade she’d run away from home, but her parents   had brought her back. In tenth grade, Daniel had been knocked down in   the street by a hit and run driver and killed instantly. Standing next   to her parents at the graveside, Maia had been ashamed by her own   overwhelming sense of relief. God, she thought, would surely punish her   for being glad that her brother was dead.

The next year, He did. She’d met   Jordan. Long dark hair, slim hips in worn jeans, indie-boy rocker shirts   and lashes like a girl’s. She never thought he’d go for her — his type   usually preferred skinny, pale girls in hipster glasses — but he seemed   to like her rounded shape and soft, coffee-colored skin. He told her she   was beautiful in between kisses. The first few months were like a   dream; the last few months like a nightmare. He became possessive,   controlling. When he was angry with her, he’d snarl, whip the back of   his hand across her cheek leaving a mark like too much blusher. When she   tried to break up with him, he’d pushed her, knocked her down in her   own front yard until she ran inside and slammed the door.

Later, she’d let him see her kissing   another boy, just to get the point across that it was over. She didn’t   even remember that boy’s name any more. What she did remember was   walking home that night, the rain misting her hair in fine droplets, mud   splattering up the legs of her jeans as she took a shortcut through the   park near her house. She remembered the dark shape exploding out from   behind the metal merry-go-round, the huge wet wolf body knocking her   into the mud, the savage pain as its jaws clamped down on her arm. She’d   screamed and thrashed, tasting her own hot blood in her mouth, her   brain screaming: This is impossible. Impossible. There weren’t wolves in   New Jersey, not in her ordinary suburban neighborhood, not in the   twenty-first century.

Her cries had brought lights on in   the nearby houses, one after another of the windows lighting up like   struck matches. The wolf let her go, her arm trailing ribbons of blood   and torn flesh.

Twenty-four stitches in the arm   later, she was back in her pink bedroom, her mother hovering anxiously.   The emergency room doctor had said the bite looked like a large dog’s,   but Maia knew better. As the wolf had turned to race away, she’d heard a   hot, familiar, whispered voice in her ear, You’re mine now. You’ll   always be mine.

She never saw Jordan again — he and   his parents packed up their apartment and moved and none of his friends   knew where he’d gone, or would admit they did. She was only half   surprised the next full moon when the pains started: tearing pains that   ripped up and down her legs, forcing her to the ground, bending her   spine the way a fortuneteller might bend a spoon. When her teeth burst   out of her gums and rattled to the floor like spilled Chiclets, she   fainted. Or though she did. She woke up miles away from her house, naked   and covered in blood, the scar on her arm pulsing like a heartbeat.   That night she hopped the train to Manhattan. It wasn’t a hard decision.   There was no home to go back to, after all.

It hadn’t been that hard to find a   pack to fall in with. There were several of them just in Manhattan. She   wound up with the downtown pack, the ones who slept in the old police   station in Chinatown.

Pack leaders were mutable. There’d   been Kito first, then Véronique, then Anton, and now Luke. She’d liked   Anton all right, but Luke was better. He had a trustworthy look and kind   blue eyes and wasn’t too handsome, so she didn’t dislike him on the   spot. She was comfortable enough here with the pack, sleeping in the old   police station, playing cards and eating Chinese food on nights when   the moon wasn’t full, hunting through the park when it was, and the next   day drinking off the hangover of the Change at the Hunter’s Moon, one   of the city’s better underground werewolf bars. There was ale by the   yard, and nobody ever carded you to see if you were under twenty-one.   Being a lycanthrope made you grow up fast, and as long as you sprouted   hair and fangs once a month you were good to drink at the Moon, no   matter how old you were in mundane years.            These days she hardly thought of her family at all, but when the   blond boy in the long black coat stalked his way into the bar, Maia   stiffened all over. He didn’t look like Daniel, not exactly — Daniel had   had dark hair that curled close to the nape of his neck and coffee   skin, and this boy was all white and gold. But they had the same lean   bodies, the same way of walking, like a panther on the lookout for prey,   and the same total confidence in their own attraction. Her hand   tightened convulsively around the stem of her glass and she had to   remind herself: He’s dead. Daniel’s dead.

A rush of murmurs swept through the   bar on the heels of the boy’s arrival, like the froth of a wave   spreading out from the stern of a boat. The boy acted as if he didn’t   notice anything, hooking a barstool towards himself with a booted foot   and settling onto it with his elbows on the bar. Maia heard him order a   shot of single malt in the quiet that followed the murmurs. He downed   half the drink with a neat flip of his wrist. The liquor was the same   dark gold color as his hair. When he lifted his hand to set the glass   back down on the bar, Maia saw the thick coiling black marks on his   wrists and the backs of his hands.

Bat, the guy sitting next to her —   she’d dated him once, but they were just friends now — muttered   something under his breath that sounded like Nephilim.

So that’s it, Maia thought. The boy   wasn’t a werewolf at all. He was a Shadowhunter, a member of the arcane   world’s secret police force. They upheld the Law, backed by the   Covenant, and you couldn’t become one of them: you had to be born into   it. Blood made them what they were. There were a lot of rumors about   them, most unflattering: they were haughty, proud, cruel; they looked   down on and despised Downworlders. There were few things a lycanthrope   liked less than a Shadowhunter — except maybe a vampire.

People also said that the   Shadowhunters killed demons. Maia remembered when she’d first heard that   demons existed and been told about what they did. It had given her a   headache. Vampires and werewolves were just people with a disease, that   much she understood, but expecting her to believe in all that Heaven and   Hell crap, demons and angels, and still nobody could tell her for sure   if there was a God or not, or where you went after you died? It wasn’t   fair. She believed in them now — she’d seen enough of what they did not   to be able to deny it — but she wished she didn’t have to.

“I take it,” the boy said, leaning his elbows on the bar, “that you don’t serve Silver Bullet here. Too many bad associations?”

The bartender, Freaky Pete, just   looked at the boy and shook his head in disgust. If the boy hadn’t been a   Shadowhunter, Maia guessed, Pete would have tossed him out of the Moon,   but instead he just walked to the other end of the bar and busied   himself polishing glasses.

The boy’s eyes gleamed, narrow and shining, like the moon at a quarter full.

“Actually,” said Bat, who was unable to stay out of anything, “we don’t serve it because it’s really crappy beer.”

The boy turned his narrow, shining   gaze on Bat, and smiled delightedly. Most people didn’t smile   delightedly when Bat looked at them funny: Bat was six and a half feet   tall, his narrow features saved from handsomeness by the thick scar that   disfigured half his face, where silver powder had burned his skin. Bat   wasn’t one of the overnighters, the Pack who lived in the police   station, sleeping in the old cells. He had his own apartment, even a   job. He’d been a pretty good boyfriend, right up until he dumped Maia   for a red-headed witch named Eve who lived in Yonkers and ran a   palmistry shop out of her garage.

“And what are you drinking?” the boy   inquired, leaning so close to Bat that it was like an insult. “A little   hair of the dog that bit — well, everyone?”

“You really think you’re pretty   funny,” said Bat. By this point the rest of the Pack was leaning in to   hear them, ready to back up Bat if he decided to knock this obnoxious   brat into the middle of next week. “Don’t you?”   “Bat,” Maia said. She wondered if she were the only Pack member in the   bar who doubted Bat’s ability to knock the boy into next week. It   wasn’t that she doubted Bat. It was something about the boy’s eyes.   “Don’t.” Bat ignored her. “Don’t you?” he said, again.

“Who am I to deny the obvious?” the   boy inquired. His eyes slid over Maia like water, as if she were   invisible, and went back to Bat. “I don’t suppose you’d like to tell me   what happened to your face? It looks like —” and here he leaned forward   and said something to Bat so quietly that Maia didn’t hear it. The next   thing she knew, Bat was swinging a blow at the boy that should have   shattered his jaw, only the boy was no longer there. He was standing a   good five feet away, laughing, as Bat’s fist connected with the boy’s   glass and sent it soaring across the bar to strike the opposite wall in a   shower of shattering glass.

Freaky Pete was around the side of   the bar, his big fist knotted in Bat’s shirt, before Maia could blink an   eye. “That’s enough,” he said. “Bat, why don’t you take a walk and cool   down.”

Bat twisted in Pete’s grasp. “Take a walk? Did you hear —“

“I heard.” Pete’s voice was low. “He’s a Shadowhunter. Walk it off, Bat.”

Bat swore and pulled away from the   bartender. He stalked toward the exit, his shoulders stiff with rage.   The door banged shut behind him.

The boy had stopped smiling and was   looking at Freaky Pete with a sort of dark resentment, as if the   bartender had taken away a toy he’d intended to play with. “That wasn’t   necessary,” he said. “I can handle myself.”

Pete regarded the Shadowhunter with   opaque eyes. “It’s my bar I’m worried about,” he said, finally. “You   might want to take your business elsewhere, Shadowhunter, if you don’t   want any trouble.”

“I didn’t say I didn’t want trouble.” The boy sat back down on his stool. “Besides, I didn’t get to finish my drink.”

Maia glanced behind her, where the wall of the bar was soaked with alcohol. “Looks like you finished it to me.”

For a second, the boy just looked   blank; then a curious spark of amusement lit in his golden eyes. He   looked so much like Daniel in that moment that Maia wanted to back away.

Pete slid another glass of amber   liquid across the bar before the boy could reply to her. “Here you go,”   he said. His eyes drifted to Maya. She thought she saw some admonishment   in them.

“Pete—“ she began. She didn’t get to   finish. The door to the bar flew open. Bat was standing there in the   doorway. It took a moment for Maia to realize that the front of his   shirt and his sleeves were soaked with blood.

She slid off her stool and ran to him. “Bat! Are you hurt?”

His face was gray, his silvery scar   standing out on his cheek like a piece of twisted wire. “An attack,” he   said. “There’s a body in the alley. A dead kid. Blood — everywhere.” He   shook his head, looked down at himself. “Not my blood. I’m fine.”

“A body? But who —”

Bat’s reply was swallowed in the   commotion. Seats were abandoned as the pack rushed to the door. Pete   came out from behind his counter and pushed his way through the mob.   Only the Shadowhunter boy stayed where he was, his head bent over his   drink.

Through gaps in the crowd around the   door, Maia caught a glimpse of the gray paving of the alley, splashed   with blood. It was still wet and it had run between the cracks in the   paving like the tendrils of a red plant. “His throat cut?” Pete was   saying to Bat, whose color had come back.

“There was someone in the alley.   Someone kneeling over him,” Bat said. His voice was tight. “Not like a   person — like a shadow. They ran off when they saw me.  He was still   alive. A little. I bent down over him, but —” Bat shrugged. It was a   casual movement, but the cords in his neck were standing out like thick   roots wrapping a tree trunk. “He died without saying anything.”

“Vampires,” said a buxom female   lycanthrope — her name was Amabel, Maia thought — who was standing by   the door. “The Night Children. It can’t have been anything else.”

Bat looked at her, then turned and   stalked across the room toward the bar. He grabbed the Shadowhunter by   the back of the jacket — or reached out as if he meant to, but the boy   was already on his feet, turning fluidly. “What’s your problem,   werewolf?”

Bat’s hand was still outstretched. “Are you deaf, Nephilim?” he snarled. “There’s a dead boy in the alley. One of ours.”

“Do you mean a lycanthrope or some   other sort of Downworlder?”  The boy arched his light eyebrows. “You all   blend together to me.”

There was a low growl — from Freaky   Pete, Maia noticed with some surprise. He had come back into the bar and   was surrounded by the rest of the Pack, their eyes fixed on the   Shadowhunter. “He was only a cub,” said Pete. “His name was Joseph.”

The name didn’t ring any bells for   Maia, but she saw the tight set of Pete’s jaw and felt a flutter in her   stomach. The Pack was on the warpath now and if the Shadowhunter had any   sense he’d be backpedaling like crazy. He wasn’t, though, he was just   standing there looking at them with those goid eyes and that funny smile   on his face. “A lycanthrope boy?” he said.

“He was one of the Pack,” said Pete. “He was only fifteen.”

“And what exactly do you expect me to do about it?” said the boy.

Pete was staring. “You’re Nephilim,” he said. “The Clave owes us protection in these circumstances.” The boy looked around the bar, slowly and with such a look of insolence that a flush spread over Pete’s face.

“I don’t see anything you need   protecting from here,” said the boy. “Except some bad décor and a   possible mold problem. But you can usually clear that up with bleach.”

“There’s a dead body outside this bar’s front door,” said Bat, enunciating carefully. “Don’t you think —”

“I think it’s a little too late for him to need protection,” said the boy, “if he’s already dead.”

Pete was still staring. His ears had   grown pointed, and when he spoke his voice was muffled by his   thickening canine teeth. “You want to be careful, Nephilim,” he said.   “You want to be very careful.”

The boy looked at him with opaque eyes. “Do I?”

“So you’re going to do nothing?” Bat said. “Is that it?”

”    I’m going to finish my drink,” said the boy, eyeing his half-empty glass, still on the counter, “if you’ll let me.”   “So that’s the attitude of the Clave, a week after the Accords?” said   Pete with disgust. “The death of Downworlders is still worth nothing to   you?”

The boy smiled, and Maia’s spine   prickled. He looked exactly like Daniel just before Daniel reached out   and yanked the wings off a ladybug. “You Downworlders,” he said,   “expecting the Clave to clean your mess up for you. As if we could be   bothered just because some stupid cub decided to splatterpaint himself   all over your alley —”

And he used a word, a word for weres   that they never used themselves, a filthily unpleasant word that   implied an improper relationship between wolves and human women.

Before anyone else could move, Bat   flung himself at the Shadowhunter – but the boy was gone. Bat stumbled   and whirled around, staring. The Pack gasped. Amabel cried, “There, on   the bar!”

Maia looked up and her mouth dropped   open. The Shadowhunter boy stood on the bar, feet planted wide apart,   and he really did look like an avenging angel getting ready to dispatch   divine justice from on high, as the Shadowhunters were meant to do. Then   he reached out a hand and curled his fingers towards himself, quickly, a   gesture familiar to her from the playground as Come and get me—and the   pack rushed at him.

Bat and Amabel swarmed up onto the   bar; the boy spun, so quickly that his reflection in the mirror behind   the bar seemed to blur. Maia saw him kick out, and then the two were   groaning on the floor in a flurry of smashed glass. She could hear the   boy laughing even as someone else reached up and pulled him down; he   sank into the crowd with an ease that spoke of willingness, and then she   couldn’t see him at all, just a welter of flailing arms and legs.   Still, she thought she could hear him laughing, even as metal flashed —   the edge of a knife — and she heard herself suck in her breath. “That’s enough.”

It was Luke’s voice, quiet, steady   as a heartbeat. It was strange how you always knew your pack leader’s   voice, part of the weird alchemy of the pack mentality. Maia turned and   saw him standing just at the entrance to the bar, one hand against the   wall. He looked not just tired, but ravaged, as if something were   tearing him down from the inside; still, his voice was calm as he said,   again, “That’s enough. Leave the Nephilim alone.” The pack melted away from the Shadowhunter, leaving just Bat still   standing there, defiant, one hand still gripping the back of the   Shadowhunter’s shirt, the other holding a short-bladed knife. The boy   himself was bloody-faced but hardly looked like someone who needed   saving; he was grinning a grin as dangerous-looking as the broken glass   that littered the floor. “He’s not a boy,” Bat said, defensively. “He’s a   Shadowhunter.”

“They’re welcome enough here,” said Luke, his tone neutral. “They are our allies.”

“He said it didn’t matter,” said Bat, angrily. “About Joseph —”

“I know,” Luke said quietly. His eyes shifted to the blond boy. “Did you come in here just to pick a fight, Jace Wayland?”

The boy —Jace — smiled, stretching his split lip so that a thin trickle of blood ran down his chin. “Luke.” Bat, startled to hear their pack leader’s first name come out of the   Shadowhunter’s mouth, let go of the back of Jace’s shirt. “I didn’t   know —”

“There’s nothing to know,” said Luke, the tiredness in his eyes creeping into his voice.

Freaky Pete spoke, his voice a bass   rumble. “He said the Clave wouldn’t care about the death of a single   lyncathrope, even a child. And it’s a week after the Accords, Luke.”

“Jace doesn’t speak for the Clave,’”   said Luke, “and there’s nothing he could have done even if he wanted   to. Isn’t that right?”

He looked at Jace, who was very pale. “How do you —”

“I know what happened,” said Luke. “With the Lightwoods.”

Jace stiffened, and for a moment   Maia saw through the Daniel-like savage amusement to what was   underneath, and it was dark and agonized and reminded her more of her   own eyes in the mirror than of her brother’s. “Who told you? Clary?”

“Not Clary.” Maia had never heard   Luke speak that name before, but he said it with a tone that implied   that this was someone special to him, and to the Shadowhunter boy as   well. Luke held a hand out. “I’m the Pack leader, Jace, I hear things.   Now come on. Let’s go to Pete’s office and talk.”

Jace hesitated for a moment before shrugging. “Fine,” he said, “but you owe me for the scotch I didn’t drink.”

***

“That was my last guess,” Clary said   with a defeated sigh, sinking down onto the steps outside the   Metropolitan Museum of Art and staring disconsolately down Fifth Avenue.

“It was a good one.” Simon sat down   beside her, long legs sprawled out in front of him. “I mean, he’s a guy   who likes weapons and killing, so why not the biggest collection of   weapons in the whole city? And I’m always up for a visit to Arms and   Armor anyway. Gives me ideas for my campaign.”

She looked at him in surprise. “You still gaming with Eric and Kirk and them?”

“Sure. Why wouldn’t I be?”

“I thought gaming might have lost   some of its appeal for you since…” Since our real lives started to   resemble one of your campaigns, she thought. Complete with good guys,   bad guys, really nasty magic, and important enchanted objects you had to   find if you wanted to win the game.

Except in a game, the good guys   always won, defeated the bad guys and came home with the treasure.   Whereas in real life, they’d lost the treasure, and sometimes Clary   still wasn’t clear on who the bad and good guys actually were.

She looked at Simon and felt a wave   of sadness. If he did give up gaming, it would be her fault, just like   everything that had happened to him in the past weeks had been her   fault. She remembered his white face at the sink that morning, just   before he’d kissed her.

“Simon —” she began.

“Right now I’m playing a half-troll cleric who wants revenge on the Orcs who killed his family,” he said cheerfully.

She glanced down, hiding her smile. “What’s your character’s name?”

“Hotshaft von Hugenstein.”

“Simon!”

He grinned. “Who says I can’t steal Jace’s jokes? It’s not like he’s paying attention.”

She laughed just as her cell phone   rang. She dug it out of her pocket and flipped it open; it was Luke. “We   didn’t find him,” she said, before he could say hello.

“No.  But I did.”

She sat up straight. “You’re   kidding. Is he there? Can I talk to him?” She caught sight of Simon   looking at her sharply and dropped her voice. “Is he all right?”

“Mostly,” Luke said cautiously.

“What do you mean, mostly?”

“He picked a fight with a werewolf pack. He’s got some cuts and bruises.”

Clary half-closed her eyes. Why, oh   why, had Jace picked a fight with a pack of wolves? What had possessed   him? Then again, it was Jace. He’d pick a fight with a Mack truck if the   urge took him.

“I think you should come down here,” Luke said. “Someone has to reason with him and I’m not having much luck.”   “Where are you?” Clary asked, and he told her. A bar called the   Hunter’s Moon on Hester Street. She wondered if it was glamoured.   Flipping her phone shut, she turned to Simon, who was staring at her   with raised eyebrows.

“The prodigal returns?” he inquired.

“Sort of.” She scrambled to her feet   and stretched her tired legs, mentally calculating how long it would   take them to get to Chinatown on the train and whether it was worth   shelling out the pocket money Luke had given her for a cab. Probably   not, she decided — if they got stuck in traffic it would take longer   than the subway.

“…come with you?” Simon finished,   standing up. He was on the step below her, which made them almost the   same height. “What do you think?”

She opened her mouth, then closed it again quickly. “Er…”

He sounded resigned. “You haven’t heard a word I said these past two minutes, have you?”

“No,” she admitted. “I was thinking about Jace. It sounded like he was in bad shape. Sorry.”

“His brown eyes darkened. “I take it you’re rushing off to bind up his wounds?”

“Luke asked me to come down,” she said. “I was hoping you’d come with me.”

Simon kicked at the step above his   with a booted foot. “I will, but — why? Can’t Luke return Jace to the   Institute without your help?”

“Probably. But he thinks Jace might be willing to talk to me about what’s going on first.”   “I thought maybe we could do something tonight,” Simon said. “Something fun. See a movie. Get dinner downtown.”

imagesCAPUQSYNShe looked at him. In the distance,   she could hear water splashing into a museum fountain. She thought of   the kitchen at his house, the water running in the sink, his wet hands   in her hair, but it all seemed very far away, even though she could   picture it — the way you might remember the photograph of an incident   without really remembering the incident itself any longer.

“He’s my —” Clary broke off, and tried again. “It’s Jace. I have to go.”

Simon looked as if he were too weary to even sigh. “Then I’ll go with you.”

Sunday Spoilers

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This week’s Sunday Spoilers is from one of my favorite series,

The-Iron-King-the-iron-fey-series-20913389-1280-1024Excerpt:

The Ghost in the Computer

Ten years ago, on my sixth birthday  my father disappeared.

No, he didn’t leave. Leaving would imply  suitcases and empty drawers, and late birthday cards with ten-dollar  bills stuffed inside. Leaving would imply he was unhappy with Mom and  me, or that he found a new love elsewhere. None of that was true. He  also did not die, because we would’ve heard about it. There was no car  crash, no body, no police mingling about the scene of a brutal murder.  It all happened very quietly.

On my sixth birthday, my father took  me to the park, one of my favorite places to go at that time. It was a  lonely little park in the middle of nowhere, with a running trail and a  misty green pond surrounded by pine trees. We were at the edge of the  pond, feeding the ducks, when I heard the jingle of an ice cream truck  in the parking lot over the hill. When I begged my dad to get me a  Creamsicle, he laughed, handed me a few bills, and sent me after the  truck.

That was the last time I saw him.

Later, when the  police searched the area, they discovered his shoes at the edge of the  water, but nothing else. They sent divers into the pond, but it was  barely ten feet down, and they found nothing but branches and mud at the  bottom. My father had disappeared without a trace.

For months  afterward, I had a recurring nightmare about standing at the top of that  hill, looking down and seeing my father walk into the pond. As the  water closed over his head, I could hear the ice cream truck singing in  the background, a slow, eerie song with words I could almost understand.  Every time I tried to listen to them, however, I’d wake up.

Not  long after my father’s disappearance, Mom moved us far away, to a tiny  little hick town in the middle of the Louisiana bayou. Mom said she  wanted to “start over,” but I always knew, deep down, that she was  running from something.

It would be another ten years before I  discovered what.

My name is M.eghan Chase.

In less than  twenty-four hours, I’ll be sixteen years old.

Sweet sixteen. It  has a magical ring to it. Sixteen is supposed to be the age when girls  become princesses and fall in love and go to dances and proms and such.  Countless stories, songs, and poems have been written about this  wonderful age, when a girl finds true love and the stars shine for her  and the handsome prince carries her off into the sunset.

I didn’t  think it would be that way for me.

The morning before my birthday,  I woke up, showered, and rummaged through my dresser for something to  wear. Normally, I’d just grab whatever clean-ish thing is on the floor,  but today was special. Today was the day Scott Waldron would finally  notice me. I wanted to look perfect. Of course, my wardrobe is sadly  lacking in the popular-attire department. While other girls spend hours  in front of their closets crying,

“What should I wear?” my drawers  basically hold three things: clothes from Goodwill, hand-me-downs, and  overalls.

I wish we weren’t so poor. I know pig farming isn’t  the most glamorous of jobs, but you’d think Mom could afford to buy me  at least one pair of nice jeans. I glared at my scanty wardrobe in  disgust. Oh, well, I guess Scott will have to be wowed with my  natural grace and charm, if I don’t make an idiot of myself in front of  him.

I finally slipped into cargo pants, a neutral green  T-shirt, and my only pair of ratty sneakers, before dragging a brush  through my white-blond hair. My hair is straight and very fine, and was  doing that stupid floating thing again, where it looked like I’d jammed  my finger up an electrical outlet. Yanking it into a ponytail, I went  downstairs.

Luke, my stepfather, sat at the table, drinking coffee  and leafing through the town’s tiny newspaper, which reads more like  our high school gossip column than a real news source. “Five-legged calf  born on Patterson’s farm,” the front page screamed; you get the idea.  Ethan, my four-year-old half brother, sat on his father’s lap, eating a  Pop-Tart and getting crumbs all over Luke’s overalls. He clutched  Floppy, his favorite stuffed rabbit, in one arm and occasionally tried  to feed it his breakfast; the rabbit’s face was full of crumbs and fruit  filling.

Ethan is a good kid. He has his father’s curly brown  hair, but like me, inherited Mom’s big blue eyes. He’s the type of kid  old ladies stop to coo at, and total strangers smile and wave at him  from across the street. Mom and Luke dote on their baby, but it doesn’t  seem to spoil him, thank goodness.

“Where’s Mom?” I asked as I  entered the kitchen. Opening the cabinet doors, I scoured the boxes of  cereal for the one I liked, wondering if Mom remembered to pick it up.  Of course she hadn’t. Nothing but fiber squares and disgusting  marshmallow cereals for Ethan. Was it so hard to remember Cheerios?

Luke  ignored me and sipped his coffee. Ethan chewed his Pop-Tart and sneezed  on his father’s arm. I slammed the cabinet doors with a satisfying  bang.

“Where’s Mom?” I asked, a bit louder this time. Luke jerked  his head up and finally looked at me. His lazy brown eyes, like those of  a cow, registered mild surprise.

“Oh, hello, Meg,” he said  calmly. “I didn’t hear you come in. What did you say?”

I sighed  and repeated my question for the third time.

“She had a meeting  with some of the ladies at church,” Luke murmured, turning back to his  paper. “She won’t be back for a few hours, so you’ll have to take the  bus.”

I always took the bus. I just wanted to remind Mom that she  was supposed to take me to get a learner’s permit this weekend. With  Luke, it was hopeless. I could tell him something fourteen different  times, and he’d forget it the moment I left the room. It wasn’t that  Luke was mean or malicious, or even stupid. He adored Ethan, and Mom  seemed truly happy with him. But, every time I spoke to my stepdad, he  would look at me with genuine surprise, as if he’d forgotten I lived  here, too.

I grabbed a bagel from the top of the fridge and chewed  it sullenly, keeping an eye on the clock. Beau, our German shepherd,  wandered in and put his big head on my knee. I scratched him behind the  ears and he groaned. At least the dog appreciated me.

Luke  stood, gently placing Ethan back in his seat. “All right, big guy,” he  said, kissing the top of Ethan’s head. “Dad has to fix the bathroom  sink, so you sit there and be good. When I’m done, we’ll go feed the  pigs, okay?”

“‘Kay,” Ethan chirped, swinging his chubby legs.  “Floppy wants to see if Ms. Daisy had her babies yet.”

Luke’s  smile was so disgustingly proud, I felt nauseous.

“Hey, Luke,” I  said as he turned to go, “bet you can’t guess what tomorrow is.”

“Mmm?”  He didn’t even turn around. “I don’t know, Meg. If you have plans for  tomorrow, talk to your mother.” He snapped his fingers, and Beau  immediately left me to follow him. Their footsteps faded up the stairs,  and I was alone with my half brother.

Ethan kicked his feet,  regarding me in that solemn way of his. “I know,” he announced softly,  putting his Pop-Tart on the table. “Tomorrow’s your birthday, isn’t it?  Floppy told me, and I remembered.”

“Yeah,” I muttered, turning and  lobbing the bagel into the trash can. It hit the wall with a thump and  dropped inside, leaving a greasy smear on the paint. I smirked and  decided to leave it.

“Floppy says to tell you happy early  birthday.”

“Tell Floppy thanks.” I ruffled Ethan’s hair as I left  the kitchen, my mood completely soured. I knew it. Mom and Luke would  completely forget my birthday tomorrow. I wouldn’t get a card, or a  cake, or even a “happy birthday” from anyone. Except my kid brother’s  stupid stuffed rabbit. How pathetic was that?

Back in my room, I  grabbed books, homework, gym clothes, and the iPod I’d spent a year  saving for, despite Luke’s disdain of those “useless, brain-numbing  gadgets.” In true hick fashion, my stepfather dislikes and distrusts  anything that could make life easier. Cell phones? No way, we’ve got a  perfectly good landline. Video games? They’re the devil’s tools, turning  kids into delinquents and serial killers. I’ve begged Mom over and over  to buy me a laptop for school, but Luke insists that if his ancient,  clunky PC is good enough for him, it’s good enough for the family. Never  mind that dial-up takes flipping forever. I mean, who uses  dial-up anymore?

I checked my watch and swore. The bus would  arrive shortly, and I had a good ten-minute walk to the main road.  Looking out the window, I saw the sky was gray and heavy with rain, so I  grabbed a jacket, as well. And, not for the first time, I wished we  lived closer to town.

I swear, when I get a license and a car, I  am never coming back to this place.

“Meggie?” Ethan hovered  in the doorway, clutching his rabbit under his chin. His blue eyes  regarded me somberly. “Can I go with you today?”

“What?” Shrugging  into my jacket, I gazed around for my backpack. “No, Ethan. I’m going  to school now. Big-kids school, no rug rats allowed.”

I turned  away, only to feel two small arms wrap around my leg. Putting my hand  against the wall to avoid falling, I glared down at my half brother.  Ethan clung to me doggedly, his face tilted up to mine, his jaw set.  “Please?” he begged. “I’ll be good, I promise. Take me with you? Just  for today?”

With a sigh, I bent down and picked him up.

“What’s  up, squirt?” I asked, brushing his hair out of his eyes. Mom would need  to cut it soon; it was starting to look like a bird’s nest. “You’re  awfully clingy this morning. What’s going on?”

“Scared,” Ethan  muttered, burying his face in my neck.

“You’re scared?”

He  shook his head. “Floppy’s scared.”

“What’s Floppy scared of?”

“The  man in the closet.”

I felt a small chill slide up my back.  Sometimes, Ethan was so quiet and serious, it was hard to remember he  was only four. He still had childish fears of monsters under his bed and  bogeymen in his closet. In Ethan’s world, stuffed animals spoke to him,  invisible men waved to him from the bushes, and scary creatures tapped  long nails against his bedroom window. He rarely went to Mom or Luke  with stories of monsters and bogeymen; from the time he was old enough  to walk, he always came to me.

I sighed, knowing he wanted me to  go upstairs and check, to reassure him that nothing lurked in his closet  or under his bed. I kept a flashlight on his dresser for that very  reason.

Outside, lightning flickered, and thunder rumbled in the  distance. I winced. My walk to the bus was not going to be pleasant.

Dammit,  I don’t have time for this.

Ethan pulled back and looked at  me, eyes pleading. I sighed again. “Fine,” I muttered, putting him down.  “Let’s go check for monsters.”

He followed me silently up the  stairs, watching anxiously as I grabbed the flashlight and got down on  my knees, shining it under the bed. “No monsters there,” I announced,  standing up. I walked to the closet door and flung it open as Ethan  peeked out from behind my legs. “No monsters here, either. Think you’ll  be all right now?”

He nodded and gave me a faint smile. I started  to close the door when I noticed a strange gray hat in the corner. It  was domed on top, with a circular rim and a red band around the base: a  bowler hat.

Weird. Why would that be there?

As I  straightened and started to turn around, something moved out of the  corner of my eye. I caught a glimpse of a figure hiding behind Ethan’s  bedroom door, its pale eyes watching me through the crack. I jerked my  head around, but of course there was nothing there.

Jeez, now  Ethan’s got me seeing imaginary monsters. I need to stop watching  those late-night horror flicks.

A thunderous boom directly  overhead made me jump, and fat drops plinked against the windowpanes.  Rushing past Ethan, I burst out of the house and sprinted down the  driveway.

I was soaked when I reached the bus stop. The late  spring rain wasn’t frigid, but it was cold enough to be uncomfortable. I  crossed my arms and huddled under a mossy cypress, waiting for the bus  to arrive.

Wonder where Robbie is? I mused, gazing down the  road. He’s usually here by now. Maybe he didn’t fleel like getting  drenched and stayed home. I snorted and rolled my eyes. Skipping  class again, huh? Slacker. Wish I could do that.

If only I had  a car. I knew kids whose parents gave them cars for their  sixteenth birthday. Me, I’d be lucky if I got a cake. Most of my  classmates already had licenses and could drive themselves to clubs and  parties and anywhere they wanted. I was always left behind, the backward  hick girl nobody wanted to invite.

Except Robbie, I  amended with a small mental shrug. At least Robbie will remember.  Wonder what kooky thing he has planned flor my birthday tomorrow? I  could almost guarantee it would be something strange or crazy. Last  year, he snuck me out of the house for a midnight picnic in the woods.  It was weird; I remembered the glen and the little pond with the  fireflies drifting over it, but though I explored the woods behind my  house countless times since then, I never found it again.

Something  rustled in the bushes behind me. A possum or a deer, or even a fox,  seeking shelter from the rain. The wildlife out here was stupidly bold  and had little fear of humans. If it wasn’t for Beau, Mom’s vegetable  garden would be a buffet for rabbits and deer, and the local raccoon  family would help themselves to everything in our cupboards.

A  branch snapped in the trees, closer this time. I shifted uncomfortably,  determined not to turn around for some stupid squirrel or raccoon. I’m  not like “inflate-a-boob” Angie, Ms. Perfect Cheerleader, who’d flip out  if she saw a caged gerbil or a speck of dirt on her Hollister jeans.  I’ve pitched hay and killed rats and driven pigs through knee-deep mud.  Wild animals don’t scare me.

Still, I stared down the road, hoping  to see the bus turn the corner. Maybe it was the rain and my own sick  imagination, but the woods felt like the set for The Blair Witch  Project.

There are no wolves or serial killers out here, I  told myself. Stop being paranoid

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Sunday Excerpts!

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Here’s a little Sunday sneak peak at the novel Shade of Vampire by Bella Forrest! Now, I haven’t personally read any from this series or author, but just from doing some research I’ve learned that its a really popular series. Right now there are five books in the series, with the fifth book having been released not too long ago and the sixth in the process of being released (not sure when, but I’ll find out). It looks like a good series though and I will be definitely checking it out! Enjoy!!

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Synopsis:

On the evening of Sofia Claremont’s seventeenth birthday, she is sucked into a nightmare from which she cannot wake.
A quiet evening walk along a beach brings her face to face with a dangerous pale creature that craves much more than her blood.

She is kidnapped to an island where the sun is eternally forbidden to shine.
An island uncharted by any map and ruled by the most powerful vampire coven on the planet. She wakes here as a slave, a captive in chains.Sofia’s life takes a thrilling and terrifying turn when she is the one selected out of hundreds of girls to join the harem of Derek Novak, the dark royal Prince.
Despite his addiction to power and obsessive thirst for her blood, Sofia soon realizes that the safest place on the island is within his quarters, and she must do all within her power to win him over if she is to survive even one more night.

Will she succeed? …or is she destined to the same fate that all other girls have met at the hands of the Novaks?

 

Excerpt:

I was taking an evening stroll along the beach, feeling the smooth sand under my bare feet with every step. The rhythmic crashing of heavy waves against the shore soothed my ears. My skin was tingling with every blow of the gentle summer breeze, the distinct scent of ocean salt filling my nostrils. As I dabbed cherry-flavored Chapstick over my parched lips, they formed a bitter smile. The balm only served to add its sweet taste to the numerous sensations engulfing me at that particular moment.

I’ve always found myself completely attuned to all five of my senses, but that night, I was to all but one. My sight was blurred by the tears I was fighting to hold back. I couldn’t appreciate the exotic scene around me. All I could think about was the disappointed expression on my best friend’s handsome face.               Benjamin Hudson was the only person in the world who could make me feel the way I did that night.               Perhaps the sorrow I felt was mostly due to the fact that I still held expectations – expectations I knew would only ever cause me pain.

I reasoned to myself that I had the right to be hurt. It was my birthday. He was my best friend. He shouldn’t have forgotten.

But he did. Again.

I knew the disappointment in his chiseled face was more toward himself than me. I knew he could beat himself up endlessly over his careless slip-ups, and do believe me when I say that he had many of those. So, that night, I was wondering to myself whether I had just over-reacted.

I would find myself deciding that I did, in fact, over-react and that it was time to stop wallowing. I’d turn back toward the villa the Hudsons rented for their family vacation, determined to just start having fun again with the most important person in my life, but then I’d remember…

I’d remember what it felt like to see him with his arms around Tanya Wilson, the gorgeous blonde he’d had the hots for all summer.

The image quickly threw all thoughts of kissing and making up with Ben out the window. “Gosh, Sofia… I’m so sorry… I’m an awful best friend…” were the words that came out of his mouth when he realized his mistake. I walked out on him and ended up at the beach, wanting to hit myself over the head for being so sensitive.

I was being unfair. After all, it wasn’t Ben’s fault that I fell for the biggest cliché of all time when I decided to grow non-best-friend-like feelings for my best friend. That was why seeing him with Tanya hurt so much, especially realizing that I could never be like Tanya. I simply wasn’t the type of girl a guy like Ben would go for. I knew that and yet I still allowed myself to fall for his charms. I hated myself for it, but it was what it was. At that time, I was so sure that he was indeed the “love of my life”. But could anyone really blame me for how I felt around him?

Ben was as dreamy as dreamy gets. He was tall, well-built, smart and had that dashing smile that would put to shame those of the models gracing the covers of any magazine. He was fun, confident and popular. He was also sweet and kind whenever he wanted to be. More than any of that, he saw me. He gave me the time of day when no one else – not even my own parents – would. It was with Ben that I never felt invisible…except when Tanya was around.

As I took that evening stroll, I knew I was fooling myself. There was no way I could stay mad at Ben for long. I liked to think of myself as strong and independent, but truth be told, I couldn’t imagine a life without Ben in it. My dependence on him scared me. It was frightening realizing that I needed another person as much as I needed him.

I’d been meandering along the shore for about an hour when I suddenly sensed that I wasn’t alone. Someone was approaching me from behind. My heart leapt. I was so sure it was Ben, that when a stranger showed up beside me, I couldn’t hide my disappointment.

He must have noticed, because a smirk formed on his lips. “Were you expecting someone else, love?” I eyed him suspiciously, remembering how many times my father had told me not to talk to strangers. I looked him over, taking in his appearance. My eyes widened. I couldn’t find words to describe how fine a man he was. He was almost beautiful. The first thing I took notice of was how his blue eyes were about three shades brighter than any I’d ever seen before. It was such a stark contrast to his pale – almost white – skin and dark hair. Standing beside me, he was easily more than half a foot taller. His height, broad shoulders and lean build reminded me of Ben, but he had a presence that was far more imposing than my best friend’s.

My gaze settled on his face.

I realized that he was inspecting me just as closely as I was him. His eyes on me suddenly made me feel uncomfortably vulnerable. I gave my father’s advice a second thought, but quickly canceled out all notions of heeding to his counsel when I reminded myself that he stopped caring a long time ago.

I straightened to my full height and mustered all the courage I had to keep myself from running away from this stranger.

Big mistake.

The confident smirk didn’t leave his face for even a moment.

“Like what you see?”

“A bit full of yourself, aren’t you?” I scoffed, annoyed by his audacity.

He stepped forward, closer to me, and leaned his head toward mine.

“Don’t I have the right to be?”

He knew he looked good and wasn’t about to act like he didn’t.

“Whatever,” was my oh-so-brilliant comeback.

My shoulders sagged with defeat as I took a step back, unsettled by how close he was now. I rolled my eyes and did a one-eighty, not quite in the mood to play whatever game this stranger was proposing.

I would soon realize that I was about to play his game whether I liked it or not.