Tuesday, 26 November 2013

Evernight Teen Feature: Prevailing Life by Amaris Chapman

Prevailing Life by Amaris Chapman is my feature today (and yes I know it's Tuesday - cut me some slack!).

Angels Mercy, 1
Maggie is a teenager with a secret. The strangest part of her life isn’t that she works in a graveyard—it’s the fact that her best friend is an Angel named Dina. They have lived thousands of years together, but as a mortal, Maggie must die, leaving Dina to find her in each new life and start again.

Someone has been setting fires, and the town is ablaze—literally. Someone or something is fueling the flames, and one of the suspects is the devilishly handsome Justin. With the memories of past lives coming back to her and Justin vying for her attention, Maggie may get more than she bargained for.
14+ for adult language and situations
 Where to buy:      Evernight Teen             Amazon

My Review

This is a unique story and I'm impressed with the creativity. It's got themes of friendship, reincarnation, soul mates, and finding oneself, all woven together. I haven't read a lot of angel stories before and I wasn't sure what to expect. The idea of an angel being friends with a mortal who she has to keep finding in all her incarnations was intriguing.

Maggie is a very likeable character who is trying to figure out who she is, and was, and how those around her fit into her present life and her past. There are a lot of suprises along the way, some of them absolutely heartbreaking, and I found myself getting very emotional. I'm pretty emotional anyway, but Amaris does a fabulous job of bringing out those feelings.

Keeping all of Maggie's past lives straight was a bit difficult for me, and I found that this was a book I had to reread in order to fully appreciate everything that was going on, but it was well worth it! Amaris is hard at work on book two in the series and I look forward to reading more!

Monday, 18 November 2013

Evernight Teen Feature: Incarnation by Susan Nolan

In the world of ebooks, where everything is done by email, you can be a member of a publishing house with authors from around the world, and Evernight is no exception. I have many author friends on Facebook who I've never met personally, so it's exciting when you can say you actually know an author! And that's the case with Susan Nolan!

Susan and I were classmates in a course offered by Brian Henry, a writer, editor, and teacher. For more information click here. I was hard at work on revisions for X5 and Susan was in the process of writing Incarnation. Wish I could say I told her to submit to Evernight Teen, but she discovered how to do so all on her own and we were so excited when it was accepted! And it was so neat to finally read the book that I'd only seen in bits and pieces come together as a whole story!

Today I'm featuring her book, but I also did an interview with Susan.

Why did you decide to write a book?
I have always had stories inside me, just bursting to come out.  I actually started my first novel when I was 12 years old!  When characters and plots come alive inside my head, they arrive with an overwhelming insistence on being shared.

How did you come up with the ideas for Incarnation?
Incarnation came from my enjoyment of and fascination for YA Fantasy.  When I look around me, I see magical elements everywhere.

What was your biggest challenge with this book?
Just finding the time to sit down and write.  I found that once I joined a writers’ group, my priorities changed and I began to put writing ahead of some of the other activities that had been getting in the way.

What do you like to read?
I love mysteries…. especially ones that get psychological and deep.  I also enjoy Fantasy, and finding a place inside a magical world is addictive.  Like most avid readers, I feel completely lost if I don’t have a really good “read” on the go. I couldn’t possibly go a whole day without getting into a book. Historical fiction is another genre that can consume me.

Who are your favorite authors? Have any of them influenced your own writing?
I have lots of favourite authors.  Minette Walters, Martha Grimes, Philip Pullman, Cornelia Funk,  George R.R. Martin,  J.R.R. Tolkien, P.D. James, just  to name a few of the more prolific ones.  For me, finding an author who writes a series is huge, because I become really fascinated with the characters I enjoy and love to follow their adventures. Other authors whose works I couldn’t put down are Carlos Ruis Zafon, Diane Setterfield, Timothy Findley and Sarah Waters.  I could actually go on and on and I am sure they have all had their influence on my own writing.  That is one lesson I have learned… write what you love to read!

Fun Stuff
Coffee or Tea?
Tea…. for sure, and I love the exotic ones.  Having said that,  I never say no to a Pumpkin Spice Latte.

Cats or dogs?
Dogs…. I grew up always having a dog in the house and continue to do so to this day.  You will probably always see a dog in my books.

Flats or heels?
LOL…. I can’t balance in heels.

Cruise or resort?
I have never been on a cruise but would LOVE to change that.

Half empty or half full?

Absolutely half full.  Every day is a gift and there is wonder in the universe. You just have to be able to see it (and then write about it) !

Katherine Blair has no idea she possesses supernatural abilities. Not until Richard St. James, an intriguing and mysterious classmate with powerful skills of his own, initiates her into his world. Wanting to explore her newfound shape-shifting powers, she spends time getting to know Richard, only to find herself increasingly drawn to him as time goes by.
Haunted by dreams of ancient times, she is caught in a desperate struggle against past injustice. The link to this unknown past experience sends her own life plummeting into the dark realms of revenge and murder, as she attempts to reconcile her feelings for the young man she’s come to rely on to protect her and keep their shared secret.
Will Katherine and Richard be able to break the spell that has held her captive through the years, before it consumes her? Can their budding young love survive tragedy, or will they be torn apart?
14+ for brief violence

My Review
I have to say that I'm completely biased here, not only because I saw the work in progress, but because Susan is a friend, so bear that in mind!

Incarnation has all those elements that make for a great YA book: isolation, romance, rejection, friendship, mean girls, bad boys, tragedy. Mix that up with a supernatural story-line and this book is a real winner. Readers will be able to identify with Katherine as she struggles to find her place in a strange school and while strange things happen to her. She is a strong heroine who tries to hide her vulnerability. Richard is a typical alpha male. He wants to be in charge, he's overprotective, and just a bit dangerous. But Katherine gives him a run for his money. 

One of the things I like best about Susan's writing is her beautiful descriptions. She paints a picture with words and it draws you deep into the setting, perfectly capturing the visual details and the mood. And, as usual, I wish the book had been longer! I got so into the story that I was sad when it ended because I could have spent a lot more time in that world. However, Susan tells me that she's planning a sequel and I can't wait to read it!

Monday, 14 October 2013

Happy Thanksgiving and Happy Teen Reading Week!

Today is Thanksgiving here in Canada, and I'm thankful for so many things!

  • a wonderful family
  • shelter, food, and a good job
  • good friends
  • people who bought my book (LOL!)
That's not the entire list of course, but I think I got the most important things. So for my Canadian friends, Happy Thanksgiving! And for all you Americans, I hope you had a great Columbus Day! 

In other news, it's Teen Read Week!

Teen Read Week™ is a national adolescent literacy initiative created by the Young Adult Library ServicesAssociation (YALSA). It began in 1998 and is held annually during the third week of October. Its purpose is to encourage teens to be regular readers and library users.

Seek the Unknown @ Your Library is Teen Read Week’s theme this year. Explore and learn about the unknown through mystery, adventure, sci-fi, and fantasy books!

Evernight Teen authors are playing a game of hide and seek this week with a fun Scavenger Hunt you can even play in your pajamas!

What’s up for grabs? Evernight is giving away an All-New Kindle Paperwhite eReader randomly chosen from all correct entries!

Plus, three lucky commenters will be randomly chosen to receive $10 Evernight gift certificates!

Ready to play? Click here!
Visit participating authors:

Monday, 7 October 2013

Evernight Teen Feature: The Dating Tutor by Melissa Frost

Today I'm telling you about one of Evernight Teen's newest books, The Dating Tutor by Melissa Frost. It's the story of Ellie, an inexperienced girl who needs help when the most popular boy in school asks her on a date. She turns to her best friend, Alec, for dating "lessons" and quickly discovers that her feelings for Alec may be more than friendly.

I loved this story! It's a quick, fun read with an interesting take on the "falling for my best friend" trope. Ellie is an entertaining character who finds herself plunged into the mysterious world of relationships when Jake, the handsome, popular soon-to-be-prom-king asks her out. But the dating lessons she gets from best friend Alec leave her feeling more confused than ever.

Melissa's writing style is light, but man is the sexual tension heavy! She does a superb job with the romantic scenes without dragging the pace of the story. As with any story I enjoy, I thought it was too short, but it's perfect if you want something fast. This book would be a fantastic addition to any bookshelf.

Ellie is hardly the most sought after girl at Noble High, so she is completely surprised when the boy most likely to become prom king asks her out. Her short-lived glee quickly turns to panic as she admits to herself that she doesn’t know the first thing about dating. 
After a fair amount of wheedling, she convinces her best friend and hockey star, Alec, totutor her in the ways of love. Only once things start, she finds she knows even less than first suspected. Dating is full of more codes and unspoken rules than she ever imagined. 
Even more difficult is the effort not to cross lines with Alec. Every lesson brings her closer and closer to the boy next door whom she’s never had a romantic thought about before in her life. Each caress and playful scenario has Ellie wishing more for her best friend’s affection than the boy he’s teaching her to woo.
14+ due to sexuality and adult situations

Buy Links:        Evernight Teen            Amazon

Monday, 30 September 2013

Evernight Teen Feature: Shrapnel by Stephanie Lawton

Shrapnel by Stephanie Lawton is my feature today. This is a cool concept for a book - a reality show about teenagers who have psychic abilities and are thrown together in a haunted house for the weekend. Stephanie writes with a fresh, funny voice that had me laughing. Her characters are complex and interesting, and the story is original.

While the story seems to be mostly about Dylan, the book is written in the first person alternating between Dylan, Jake, and Ashley. For me personally, I found that a bit difficult to follow, though Stephanie did a great job of giving each character their own unique voice, and the story was so good that it didn't really slow me down much. This is definitely a book that you'll enjoy!

It’s been six years since Dylanie and her family visited a Civil War site and the place came alive with cannon fire. Problem was, no one could hear it but her. 
Now she’s sixteen, her dad’s moved out, her mom’s come out of the closet and Dylan’s got a spot on Paranormal Teen, a reality TV show filming at historic Oakleigh Mansion. She’ll spend a weekend with two other psychic teens—Jake and Ashley—learning how to control her abilities. 
None of them realized how much their emotional baggage would put them at the mercy of Oakleigh’s resident spirits, or that they’d find themselves pawns in the 150-year-old battle for the South’s legendary Confederate gold. Each must conquer their personal ghosts to face down Jackson, a seductive spirit who will do anything to protect the gold’s current location and avenge a heinous attack that destroyed his family.
14+ for brief violence and sexuality

Buy Links:  Evernight Teen        Amazon

Monday, 23 September 2013

Evernight Teen Feature: Unraveled by S.X. Bradley

I can't say enough about Unraveled by S.X. Bradley! The book opens with our main character Autumn, finding her sister murdered in their home. Absolutely heart breaking. I think I started bawling before I finished reading the first page, and didn't really stop throughout much of the book. But that's not a bad thing! it's a mark of a great writer that she can move her readers to tears. Bradley writes emotion extremely well and the the book is as much about Autumn's journey of emotional healing as it is about her desperate search for her sister's killer.

This book is a fabulous mystery that will keep you guessing to the end, and Autumn's abilities as a sleuth are admirable. Throw in a touch of romance, and the whole thing is a winner. This is one you won't want to miss!

Sixteen year old math whiz, Autumn, spends her days reading about serial killers and dreaming of becoming an FBI Profiler. She never dreams her first case will be so personal. Her world is shattered when she comes home from school and discovers her murdered sister’s body on the living room floor. When the initial evidence points to a burglary gone wrong, Autumn challenges the police’s theory because of the personal nature of the crime. Thinking that finding the killer will bring her family back together, she conducts her own investigation using her affinity for math and forensics, but her plan backfires and her obsession with the case further splinters her family.

When her investigation reveals the killer is someone she knows, Autumn offers herself up as bait and sets a dangerous trap to unmask his true nature and to obtain a confession for her sister’s murder.
14+ for brief violence

Buy links:  Evernight Teen     Amazon

Sunday, 22 September 2013

Going on a Blog Tour!

The lovely folks at Sizzling PR have coordinated a blog tour for me from September 23 - September 30. At each stop you'll find information about my book, plus interviews, guest posts, reviews and more!

And to bribe you to check it out, I'm offering a prize! One lucky winner will receive a signed paperback copy of X5, AND $25 to spend at Amazon, where you could pick up some of the other great offerings from Evernight Teen. They've got a slew of new titles just released or coming soon. 

Below is the schedule. I hope you can stop by! Each of these bloggers has a host of other treats on their blogs that you won't want to miss. Plus, I've got the Rafflecopter below for my awesome giveaway!

23 – Guest Post @ Laura Diamond
23 – Guest Post @ Jessica Tornese
24 – Spotlight @ Indie Author Books and More
24 — Interview @ Self Publish or Die
25 – Spotlight @ The Seraphine Muse
25 — Interview @ Laurie’s Thoughts and Reviews
26 – Spotlight @ New Age Mama
27 – Interview and Review @ Sizzling Hot YA Books
28 — Top ten list @ Kayla’s Place
30 — Spotlight @ Le’ Book Squirrel
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, 16 September 2013

Evernight Teen Feature: Blood Hex by Erin Butler

Today's feature is Blood Hex by Erin Butler. This book is about a girl named Sarah who discovers her dead father's journal and learns of an aunt she hadn't known about. Annoyed with her mother for keeping this a secret, Sarah takes off to find the aunt and learn more about her dad. But the town she ends up in is full of strange secrets, and Sarah feels as though she's caught up in something much bigger than herself.

Sarah's story is interspersed with the tale of Isabella from centuries earlier, and her fight for the boy she loves amid a town obsessed with witch hunts.

Although the alternating story lines confused me a little at first (and let's face it, I confuse easily!), once I got my head around it, I was drawn in and had to keep going to figure out how Isabella's story and Sarah's connected. In the beginning, it doesn't seem as if they do, but little by little, Erin tosses out crumbs to keep you searching for the truth. It's very well written, and the author does a great job of stringing the reader along on this intricate and well-planned story. The ending is a bit surprising, but makes complete sense when you arrive there. Definitely check out this amazing book from Evernight Teen!


Two girls. Four centuries. One curse. 

Isabella started it—all because a boy fell in love with her—but it ends with Sarah. 

Isabella and Thomas meet in secret during the witching hours while the rest of the villagers hide behind locked doors. And even though Isabella's scared, she wants Thomas more. He'll protect her from the night, from his father who'll decide her future, and from the paranoia-fueled hunting parties taking away innocents. 

Centuries later, seventeen-year old Sarah runs away to an aunt she never knew she had. Her dad? Dead. Her mother? A liar. She wants the memories of a father she never got, but instead, discovers her father's death wasn’t innocent. Everyone—the Wiccans, the townies, even her quasi-boyfriend—is hiding something. The history-rich town has a secret they will kill to keep, entangling Sarah into a centuries old witch curse.
14+ due to violence and adult situations

Buy Links:   Evernight Teen     Amazon

Monday, 9 September 2013

Evernight Teen Double Feature: Phoenix: The Rising by Bette Maybee & Elysium by Sylah Sloan

Phoenix: The Rising is Evernight Teen's first book, and they certainly picked a great one to get started with. The story revolves around Julie, a seventeen year old girl who is struggling with illness, family issues, and being accepted at her new school. Then she meets Eli, and suddenly her whole world changes, because now she's trying to escape from the Nephilim, fallen angels who've gone on a killing spree in search of the Phoenix.

Once I started this book, I only put it down because I literally could not keep my eyes open. It's fast paced and gripping. I love the way Bette's taken actual mythology and created her own modern take on it. The writing is excellent and will keep you hooked throughout. And though the story is complete in itself, its ending hints at a sequel and I'm looking forward to reading that as well!

Every 300 years, the immortal Phoenix returns to Mono Lake to be reborn—but this time it didn't return alone.  The Nephilim are back in force, trying to keep it from being reborn so one of them can claim its immortality. But first they have to figure out who the Phoenix is—and any red-haired, green-eyed, seventeen-year-old in the area is fair game. And so, the killing begins...
Julie Mason doesn't believe all this legend crap until she falls for Eli Sullivan, whose hallucination-inducing kiss not only saves her, but makes her the Nephilim’s prime target. But, it's worth the risk. Her death is inevitable...not even Eli can prevent it.  All she has to do is keep the Nephilim off Eli’s trail until The Rising. Once Eli is reborn and forgets his past life, Julie’s life is over, whether she’s dead or not. At least that's what she thinks...
14+ for brief violence and sexuality
Buy links:  Evernight Teen     Amazon

Elysium is not to be confused with the recent movie. It's the story of a girl who suddenly finds out that her life is not what she once thought it was. She's taken to a new school for paranormal people such as herself, and discovers that she is a pawn in a new power play.
I really enjoyed Sylah's book. It was the first of the Evernight Teen books that I read, even before I had considered submitting my own work to them, and it got me interested. Yes it's paranormal, yes there are vampires, but Sylah has given us a unique take on the existence of the paranormal in our own normal world. Her descriptions are brilliant, and the tension between Meadow and Caedon leaps off the page. Sure he's a couple hundred years older than she is, but when you hit the triple digits, it's hard to find someone your own age. The author makes the romance work. I'd love to read more from Sylah, though she's terribly busy at the moment, both personally and professionally. This book is one of my top picks!

Meadow Caldwell is about to learn a very dark secret about herself. 
When she is taken away from the only family she has ever known and thrust into the world of the paranormal, she learns not everything or everyone is what it seems. 
Arcane Manor, a school for creatures of myth and lore, is all Meadow knows now. The only person she can rely on is herself in this strange, new world, especially with the secret of her true identity. 
When Dr. Cadeon Frost, an enigmatic vampire, helps her unravel her past, Meadow finds herself falling for the quiet, intelligent doctor. 
When she is thrust out of reality and into the arms of a mysterious man, she is trapped between the world she knows and one that nightmares are made of. It is up to her to stop not only an evil that threatens her, but everyone she cares for.
14+ for brief sexuality
Buy links:  Evernight Teen      Amazon

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Back to School Madness

Well folks, today was the first day of school and things have been crazy!

First off, I work in a brand-new school. We weren't able to actually get into the building until last Friday meaning I spent a good portion of the weekend getting stuff organized. It's a beautiful place and I love it, but parts of it are still under construction. Ack! It'll be an interesting few weeks until that's all finished and I can actually find all my resources. Many of them are on the stage, but there are no steps to get to the stage and all access points are blocked off because they're still under construction. It would be great if I could find some reliable transporter technology to zap it all up to my room, but I think I'm stuck waiting until we can get on the old-fashioned way.

Second, we had a houseguest all last week and that always throws everyone out of routine, especially because we made a few day trips, one of them to Fort George in Niagara on the Lake. Check out these pics!

The music teacher in me loved this! On the right is an old-school bassoon. I mean REALLY old-school, from around 1812. The weird instrument on the left is called a Serpent. Fitting really. It's sort of a precursor to the modern tuba. It was neat to hear an ensemble of musicians playing on replica instruments.

I know it's kind of hard to see, but the dude in this pic is firing a musket which was heavily used during the War of 1812. He didn't fire actual shots, just blanks, but it still created a lot of smoke!

And on top of that, I had to get my own kids ready for school, and couldn't find half their school supplies because I bought some stuff weeks ago and put it aside for safe keeping. It's very safe because no one can find it.

So of course, I forgot to get my Evernight Teen feature done on Monday, so to make up for it, next Monday will be a double feature! Stay tuned!

I hope all of you had a relaxing Labour Day weekend and are getting back into your own school routines.

Friday, 30 August 2013

Release Day! Giveaway!

Image from www.freedigitalphotos.net
Well ladies and gentleman, it's finally here!


I am officially a published author. Hard to believe! And I'm so happy to be able to share this exciting day with you! Well, truthfully, I'm celebrating at a staff meeting and finishing up my classroom for the first day on Tuesday. But I may crack open a bottle of wine tonight! And I'm definitely not cooking!

I wanted to share the celebration, so I'm having a giveaway! A signed print copy of the book is the prize! If you want to enter, all you have to do is answer this simple question by doing a little searching on my blog.

What is the NUMBER (hint, hint) of words from the original manuscript that ended up in this final version? Check out the blog archives on the sidebar to find the entry and then use the Rafflecopter below to submit your answer. Once you've done that, you'll unlock the bonus entries which you can earn by following me and Evernight Teen on Twitter and Facebook.

Oh, and in case you'd like to buy my book, it's available on the Evernight Teen site and Amazon so far. More links to come!

Thanks once again!

Monday, 26 August 2013

Evernight Teen Feature: X5 by Diana Stager

Today I'm featuring a fantastic, amazing, wonderful, stellar book from Evernight Teen. Okay, I'm a bit biased because it's MINE! It's a surreal experience to know that very soon, people will be reading a book that I wrote, and hopefully enjoying it. Clearly, I won't give a review because I can't judge my own work objectively. Instead, I'm giving you the official blurb and excerpt!

I should also tell you that I've done a guest post over at the official Evernight Teen Blog, so pop over there for even more goodies!


X5  by Diana Stager

Being a socially awkward geek with anger management issues has made Travis Armstrong an outcast, but on top of that, he has visions of the future. Not that he can tell anyone, except in an anonymous online forum. When he takes a chance and meets with another group member, he winds up at The Bunker, where everyone is like him, and where, finally, he feels like he belongs.

Tara Gage has been at The Bunker since she was thirteen years old. Even among the residents there, she’s unique, and her special talents lead her to discover that The Bunker is not the safe haven it seems to be. She’s determined to escape and get back to her family.

When they each have visions of the other’s death, Travis and Tara know they have to run. With their captors desperate to get them back, they must rely on each other to get away before their visions become reality.


My foot jiggled in time to the song running through my head as I waited for my turn at the polygraphs. Travis was nowhere to be seen, and I was glad of that. Or that's what I told myself whenever I became aware of my disappointment at not seeing him. He drove me crazy, and really didn't seem at all exceptional, but a growing part of me didn't care about that, and just longed to be near him. Disgusted with myself, I tried to think of something else.
My thoughts were cut short when Travis and Mike entered the hallway, both looking upset about something. Their friendship puzzled me. I know Mike was trying to prod Travis into being more of a leader than a loner, but as far as I was concerned, it wasn't working. He was too introverted, too willing to follow along with what the rest of us were doing, or else go off by himself. Both of them sent anxious glances my way, setting me on edge, and just as I stood to go talk to them, the attendant called my name. Casting a last look their way, I turned and entered the polygraph room.
I tried to get through it as quickly as I could so I could find out why Mike had looked so worried. Of course, because I was in a hurry, things took twice as long as normal, and every second wasted irritated the crap out of me. By the time I returned to the hall, Mike was nowhere to be seen, and Travis was pacing back and forth. It seemed I had no choice but to talk to him.
Taking huge strides, I made it to Travis's side quickly and tapped him on the shoulder. When he turned, I hesitated for just a moment when my eyes locked with his, my stomach fluttering. Pull it together, Tara! I took a breath and then said, "What's up with Mike?"
Travis's eyes darted around and he turned to look over each shoulder before giving me a weird look. "Not much," he said finally, though he seemed to be trying to communicate something with his eyes. I frowned, and watched as his eyes widened, then darted to the side, his eyebrows lifting and then drawing together. What the hell? I shrugged and shook my head. Whatever he was trying to tell me wasn't coming across at all. He sighed and opened his mouth to say something else when something behind me caught his attention.
Turning, I saw a couple of armed security guards rushing into the polygraph room Mike had gone in. Remembering Cam, a band tightened around my stomach as my heart began to pound. Security only came to the polygraph rooms for one reason, and my fears were confirmed a moment later when they exited, holding Mike in between them.
"Mike!" I screamed, leaping forward to try to get to him. They couldn't be taking him away! What had he seen? My efforts to reach his side were blocked when Travis grabbed me from behind and wrapped his long arms around me. "Travis, let me go! Let me go!" I struggled against his grip, but it was like iron and I was getting nowhere. Lifting one foot, I kicked backward and connected with his shin. I heard him swear, but he didn't loosen his hold on me.
"Tara, stop," he whispered in my ear. "He knew this was going to happen."
I ignored him and screamed after Mike again. The security team nearly had him to the entrance to the administrative section of The Bunker. "No!" I yelled. "No, you can't take him! Mike!"
His eyes were full of pain when he turned to look at me one last time. I saw his mouth form the words, "I love you." And then the door slammed closed behind him. Hot tears streamed down my cheeks, my heart ached, and though my throat was raw and sore, I couldn't stop screaming. Travis wouldn't let me go no matter how hard I pulled against him. My squirming and wiggling wasn't doing any good, but I couldn't stop. The rational part of my brain knew that Mike was gone and nothing I did would help, but at the same time if I didn't try, I'd be giving up.
Suddenly I felt a sharp pain in my arm and when I turned my head, I saw one of the infirmary staff standing with a syringe in her hand. I tried to say something to her, but the edges of my vision were going fuzzy, and then everything went dark.

Friday, 23 August 2013

X5 Cover Reveal

Getting a release date was great, but finally seeing the cover makes it real! So....

Here it is!

Isn't it awesome? Sour Cherry Designs did a fantastic job and I'm thrilled with it! On Monday, I'm posting the official blurb and teaser excerpt so make sure you stop by.

Monday, 19 August 2013

Evernight Teen Feature: Black Amaranth by Sasha Hibbs

Umm...I'm still trying to figure out this whole Blogger thing and thought I had this scheduled to go live on Monday, but apparently not. Oops. Anyway, here's my review and feature of Evernight Teen's latest release, Black Amaranth by Sasha Hibbs.

Today's feature is Evernight Teen's latest release, Black Amaranth by Sasha Hibbs, which was only released last Friday! Needless to say, I had to do some fast reading to get it done, but it was worth it!

The excerpt below had me intrigued, and right away, Sasha's writing sucked me into the story and wouldn't let go. It's easy to identify with Ally as she struggles to figure out who she is, and contemplates the impact of her decisions (which are VERY far reaching) on the people she cares about, and really, the entire world. 

I think the thing that astounds me most about this book, is the intricate mythology that Sasha has created. She's pulled from a variety of traditions to make a whole new world and that is not easy to do. It could get a bit hard to follow at times, but I think that mostly had to do with the fact that I was up all night reading and therefore very tired! I just didn't want to put it down. 

The climax of the book was extremely powerful, though I can't say much about it or I'll spoil it. Let's just say that there are a lot of twists and surprises.  And  I can't wait for book 2!

Eighteen-year-old Ally Watson arrives home from high school graduation, more than a little annoyed that her Uncle Argyle—Ally’s legal guardian and only surviving relative—didn’t even bother showing up.  But instead of berating him for his forgetfulness, Ally finds him in a life-or-death battle with a monster. Argyle manages to kill the creature, and gives Ally a parcel containing a destiny she never knew existed.

Ally, along with her best friends Michael, Jessica, and David, hurry to Georgia to uncover the truth of Uncle Argyle’s secrets, and the meaning of the mysterious marks that Ally bears. Are the marks related to the blacksmith mythology of her ancestors? Who are these heavenly warriors who show up in the oddest of places? And will an ancient gypsy curse destroy the very things Ally fights to save?  

Black Amaranth: a simple flower, a symbol with an ancient legacy, a conduit for prophecy…while faith and hope are essential to the journey, Ally soon discovers that love is the most powerful force of all.

Where To Buy

About Sasha Hibbs
By age 5, Sasha Hibbs' favorite movie was Gone With the Wind. By age 12, she completed her 7th grade book report on the sequel, Scarlett. By 18, she met and married her very own Mr. Rhett Butler and as it turns out, she never had to worry about going back to Tara to win the love of her life back. Fortunately, he stuck with her.  
With a love of all things paranormal, the ambiance of the South with its gigantic antebellum mansions and canopies of Spanish moss, and a love for her husband’s rich storytelling of blacksmiths and the mythology surrounding their origins, it wasn’t long until the world of her debut novel, Black Amaranth, was born.
When not working her day job as a nurse, you can find Sasha dreaming of her next beach trip, reading the latest YA novel, and drinking more white chocolate mocha than she should.  
Sasha lives in mountainous West Virginia with her husband, Tim, and their two daughters, Aeliza and Ava. She is currently hard at work on book two in The Vulcan Legacies series.


“LOU’S HOUSE OF BLUES?” Dave read the large neon sign in disbelief. “You’re taking us to a…bar?”
“To the Gypsies, and the one I am seeking out in particular,” Parthenia looked straight ahead, “happens to spend most of her time in this bar.”
“Mom thinks we’re going to church camp.” Dave’s face spread into a big smile. “I wonder what she would say if she knew we were going to a bar.”
“We’re eighteen,” Jessica said, reminding him. “Just once, Dave, please be cool.” Jessica winced.
“Cheer up, Jessica.” Brandi patted her mockingly. “There’s a first time for everything.”
“Whatever. I’m sure this beats your lame keg party,” Jessica said.
Nothing surprised Ally anymore, not even the rough-cut lumber bar staring back at her. Motorcycles and beat up trucks lined the gravel parking lot. A wraparound porch with live oaks bordered the outside. Looking determined, Parthenia motioned for them to follow her up there. As Ally ascended onto the creaky porch, her eye caught a slumbering black dog. She sidestepped to miss treading on the dog. Instinctively, Ally bent down and brushed her hand along the thick black coat.
“Good Lord, Miss,” a voice said. Ally looked up into an old pair of friendly brown eyes. “You must be somebody special,” he said, swaying back and forth in a dilapidated rocking chair, the ripened wood groaning with each sway, paint chipping up the back spindles. “Miss Elma doesn’t like anybody,” he said. His deep Southern accent drew out each syllable slowly.
“Sorry,” Ally apologized.
“No need to be sorry, Miss.” Ally could see a warm smile through the grey stubble wrapped around his aged features. “That there dog showed up one day and she’s been laying here ever since like she’s been waiting on someone.” He turned his head out to the horizon, pulling out a battered harmonica and bringing it up to his lips, he paused and said, “You have a good day, Miss.”
Ally looked down at the dog. Lids slowly peeled back revealing deep-set hazel eyes. The dog stretched out her tired limbs, stood to her full height, and nudged Ally’s knees, placing her head under one of Ally’s open palms. Her long silky hair fell between Ally’s fingers.
“Looks like you’ve got a friend—a very large black German Shepherd friend,” Michael said, his eyes smiling.
“Ally,” Parthenia interrupted, “please tell her to sit. I’ve got a feeling this one’s going to follow you.” Parthenia met Brandi’s gaze, their intense eyes implying something they weren’t saying. “Eli, perhaps it would be best if Solomon and Jeb waited out here with Lucy.”
Eli turned, instructing them to wait and watch over his little sister.
“There are three Ravenscraft women: Denaulda, Griselda, and Irini.” Parthenia looked deeply into Ally’s eyes and then shot a look of caution to Michael and the twins. “Denaulda is the eldest sister, and by right, the acting leader of the Gypsies. She is the most powerful next to their holy woman, Belle Crow. Let me caution you now. Do not cross them. They prove to be useful and good allies, but can also prove to be fearful enemies if you’re not on the same side as them. Remember, the curse of the elder Gypsies coupled with Vulcan crossing them is what caused all of this to ensue in the first place. Their magic runs deep, it’s old, and just as the blaxxmiths have a particular affinity for a single element, Gypsies have a strong affinity for magic.”
“Ooo, this should be fun,” Brandi purred mischievously.
“Try to curb your enthusiasm, will you?” Parthenia glared back at Brandi.
“I’ll not say a word.” Brandi winked and said, “Promise.”
“Are they witches?” Jessica asked, a noticeable trace of anxiety in her voice.
“They’re worse than witches,” Eli barked out.
“What is your problem? Considering how you treated me last night, I doubt that your dislike is exclusive to Gypsies. I’m guessing that you hate everyone and everything.” Jessica’s face flushed with anger. Eli fumed, but said nothing.
“No, they are not witches,” Parthenia said, interrupting the awkward silence. “They are Gypsies, and if you want to get on their bad side quick, call one of them a witch.” She turned and looked down her nose at Dave.
“Gotcha,” Dave said, seeming to understand she worried most about what might come out of his mouth.
“Stay behind me and try not to stare at anyone,” Parthenia said.
“Stay, girl.” Ally pointed her finger down at the porch. Miss Elma was obedient, sliding her long muscled legs down, crossing them over top each other and resting her head on her large paws. “Good girl.”
Ally stepped in behind of Parthenia, leaving the rest to trail in after her. Ally looked around in awe. She had never been in a bar before, and wasn’t too disappointed by the one she was standing in now. Red booths lined the unevenly cut board and batten walls, and a few were occupied by men and women who stared directly at them. Round tables just big enough for two were scattered throughout, leading up to a large empty dance floor. Strings of colored bulbs hung down low from the walls, casting dim shadows that mixed in with smoky air. Bar stools surrounded the long slab bar, while behind it a large, intimidating man eyed them up as he casually wiped his hands off on a white towel.
“Hello, Lou,” Parthenia said. “Denaulda around?”
He jerked his head in the direction of the stage, Parthenia following the line of his gaze, sighed softly and said, “Great.”
“Remember me just saying that Gypsies were gifted with a particular talent? Strong magic?” Parthenia whispered close to Ally’s ear. 
“Uh-huh,” Ally said, looking straight ahead to the empty stage.
“Well, you’re about to find out what Denaulda’s is,” Parthenia said, sitting on a barstool and turning to face the stage. “Might as well have a seat and try to stay there.”
Michael and Dave eased down into an empty booth, leaving the opposite side open for the girls. Eli and Brandi opted to sit with Parthenia on barstools.
At the corner of the wooden stage, men were pulling out and tuning guitars and harmonicas. As a slow sultry rhythm played out of their instruments, a petite, dark-haired woman emerged from behind beaded curtains onto the stage. She slinked her way up to the microphone stand like a snake closing in on its prey. She curled her slender fingers around the mic as she cocked her head to the side, looking at her audience with thoughtful, heavy-lidded eyes. Ally’s arms erupted in goose bumps, a surefire warning that something otherworldly was about to happen.
She began to sing, sound floating dreamingly out of her mouth, weaving in and around the crowd like an invisible serpent, creeping up around their heels, sliding up and into their souls.
Michael and Dave twisted around, their heads following the direction of the eerie tune as Jessica mechanically stood up from the bench.
“What are you doing?” Ally whispered between her teeth while tugging on Jessica’s sleeve.
“Just one…dance.” Jessica didn’t look down at Ally; she walked slowly onto the dance floor as though the melody willed her to do so. Problem was, Jessica was a wallflower, or at least when they went to the prom Ally couldn’t peel her away from the wall if her life depended on it.
Ally looked around wondering if Denaulda’s music was having the same effect on everyone else. Brandi smiled naughtily which told Ally there must have been some part of her that expected this. Beside her, Eli watched Jessica through burning eyes. A few patrons joined Jessica on the dance floor, swaying back and forth to the beat, their bodies sweeping in and out in circular motions.
From the wall, a steely gaze followed Jessica. A boy with a shock of blond hair materialized from the shadows and inched his way towards the dance floor. He didn’t look much older than they did but he carried himself like a prowling marauder. His arms encircled Jessica’s waist as he closed the distance between them. To Ally’s surprise, Jessica welcomed him.
Denaulda’s lips curled up into a wicked smile. The tune hung in the air, like a poisonous gas. Ally couldn’t ignore the soothing, rich words.
When we were young and full of life
you reached in deep, and pierced my heart with a knife.
The night cries out, sweet and high,
weeping for her children with a gentle sigh.
Young nights, young nights, where did you go?
I can smell the night air, and how the moonlight glowed.
Young nights, young nights, come back to the home we both know.
“Where’s Lucy?” Dave kept his eyes fixed on Denaulda. “I think I should…” Dave’s words drifted off into the chorus.
Jessica reached her hands up and tangled her fingers into the thick blond hair of the boy she’d glued herself to. They appeared to only have eyes for each other as though no one else existed in the room. Ally was ready to get up and separate the two when another wave of lyrics poured out from Denaulda, nailing Ally to her seat.
I have loved you tender and loved you long,
but you were caught in the crossfire, we got it all wrong.
Can we ever go back to the way it used to be?
Young nights under the Spanish moss, just you and me.
I can smell the night air, and how the moonlight glowed.
Young nights, young nights, come back to the home we both know.
Ally couldn’t budge. “Michael?” She looked up, knowing he would fix this, but when she met his eyes, her breath caught in the back of her throat. Heat spread up through her face as his blue eyes bored into hers. The Michael staring at her now wasn’t looking at her as friends look at one another, but as something much different: as a man who looks, really looks, at a woman. Without Denaulda’s enchanting music, Ally wondered if his penetrating gaze would have bothered her or not.
Eli crossed the floor in long strides, catching Ally’s attention. She sat there unable to move, nervous, knowing that the direction Eli was currently going in wasn’t a good one. Eli’d had a chip on his shoulder since they all met, but more so towards Jessica than the rest of them. Ally just didn’t know why, though.
“Enough.” Ally could barely hear what Eli was saying to Jessica over the music. Denaulda looked entertained by what was transpiring on the dance floor. Jessica paid no attention to him, moving in closer to her partner, so close you couldn’t wedge a piece of paper between them.
Eli’s lips twisted into a snarl as he grabbed Jessica’s wrist. The next few moments happened before Ally could fully register what she was seeing. The blond boy swung at Eli, whose hand cupped the boy’s fist, holding him there effortlessly. He jerked Jessica to the side, causing her to rock on her heels, attempting to balance herself. He flung the boy’s fist down in disgust. “You’re done here,” Eli said to the boy through clenched teeth.
“Oh, no we’re not,” Jessica said, seething and stepping away from Eli, going back into the arms of her dance partner.
Eli growled as he grabbed her arm. Jessica spun around and slapped Eli across the face, sending an echo throughout the bar.
“Do not ever touch me again!” Jessica’s face reddened, almost matching the color of her hair. “Do you understand me?”
Eli stood there blinking in disbelief, raising a hand up to where hers had just been.
“Okay, boys.” Denaulda motioned for the band behind her to stop. “I think it’s time for a break.”
As soon as Denaulda quit singing, her spell dissolved. All those affected shook their heads, clearing up the lingering fog, all except Eli. He stood still, tracing the outline of where Jessica’s fingers touched him.
“Um…” Jessica looked back and forth between Eli and the blond boy staring at her and said, “Hmm, this is awkward. Excuse me.” Jessica quickly brushed past them and darted back to sit down. “What was I doing?”
“Let’s just say that you gave Brandi a run for her money,” Ally said, sugar-coating the truth as Jessica slouched down further in the booth.
“Parthenia,” the words were rich, alluring, “what brings you to my neck of the woods?” Denaulda’s eyes slid past Parthenia and landed directly on Ally.
Denaulda tilted her head, studying Ally through suspicious eyes. “I read the stars last night. Do you know what they told me?” Her eyes, the color of ash, rounded as she studied Ally.
Ally couldn’t speak, her voice was jammed. Looking at this sorceress was unnerving. Ally just shook her head no.
         “They told me Death would be coming to visit me today.”