Book Excerpt: DREAM FOREVER by Kit Alloway

Dream Forever_cover imageDREAM FOREVER
Dream Walker #3 By Kit Alloway

YA Fantasy / Released March 28, 2017 by Griffin Teen

“Sometimes people give me special access because I’m Peregrine’s granddaughter.”

That was only part of the truth. Josh had a reputation among dream walkers as a prodigy, and they were usually more than happy to bend over backward for her.

“Ironic,” Feodor said, but he smiled at her in a way that made her feel like he saw right through her. “Unfortunately, triangulating the bodies will give us, at best, a rough idea of where Peregrine might be.”

Not to discount the lives of the five men Peregrine had killed, but Josh had a larger concern. If he found a way back into the Dream, he was likely to hurt a lot more people.  “What are the chances he’ll figure out how to deactivate the symbol?”

Feodor considered. “I could do it. But then, Peregrine is not me.”

“Well, that’s reassuring,” Josh said.

“However . . . the power of obsession to propel a man to acts of which he might not otherwise be capable should not be underestimated.  I believe Peregrine will continue until he finds a way.”

That was not reassuring.

 

Kit Alloway CREDIT Fusion PhotographyKIT ALLOWAY writes primarily for young adults, having always had an affection for teenagers. In addition to writing, she plays various musical instruments, decorates cakes, mixes essential oils, and studies East European languages. She lives in Louisville, KY with her family and four very tiny dogs.

Book Excerpt: A CROWN OF WISHES by Roshani Chokshi

 

ACROWNOFWISHES_cover imageA CROWN OF WISHES By Roshani Chokshi

YA Fantasy / Released March 28, 2017 by Griffin Teen

Skanda’s knife was pressed to her throat, sharp and close enough that beads of blood welled onto her skin.

“I know what you want,” said Skanda.

I closed my eyes, shuttering the memory. I looked around the room, wondering which corner was the best position for attacking. At one end, a trellis of roses covered the wall. My chest tightened. I used to grow roses. One trellis for every victory. I had loved watching the blood red petals unfurl around thorns. Looking at them reminded me of my people’s love: red as life. A month before Skanda had me thrown over the Ujijain border, he had set them on fire in a drunken stupor. By the time I got there, it was too late. Every petal had curled and blackened.

“You think these flowers are tokens of Bharata’s love for you,” he had slurred. “I want you to see, little sister. I want you to see just how easy it is for everything you plan and love and tend to go up in flames.”

I’ll never forget what burning roses look like. All those scarlet petals turning incandescent and furious. Like the last flare of the sun before an eclipse swallows it from the sky.

“You think they love you now, but it doesn’t last. You’re the rose. Not them. They are the flames. And you’ll never see how quickly you’ll catch fire until you’re engulfed. One step out of the line I draw, and they will set you on fire.”

I turned my back on the roses.

I chose a corner of the room, and then sank my teeth into the insides of my cheek. It was a habit I’d picked up on the eve of my first battle.

Nerves had set my teeth chattering, so I brought out a mirror and glowered at myself. The glowering didn’t help, but I liked the way my face looked. The small movements made my cheekbones look as sharp as scimitars. And when I tightened my lips, I felt dangerous, as if I were hiding knives behind my teeth. Biting my cheeks became a battle tradition. Today I went into battle.

A door in the distance creaked. I ran through what I knew about the Prince of Ujijain. They called him the Fox Prince. And given the way some of the soldiers had jealously said his name, it didn’t seem like a name given because his face had animal features. He spent part of every year at an ashram where all the nobility sent their sons. Reputedly brilliant. Not good. Weak with weapons. Excellent. The guards were fond of retelling the story of his trial with the council. Prince Vikram had to submit to three tasks in order to be named heir of Ujijain—give the dead new life, hold a flame that never burns, and deliver the strongest weapon in the world. For the first task, he whittled a piece of bark into a knife, proving that even discarded things could be given new life in purpose. For the second task, he released a thousand jars of fireflies and held the small insects in his hand, proving that he could hold a flame that never burned. And for the last task, he said that he had poisoned the council. Desperate for the antidote, the council named him heir. The Fox Prince then revealed that he had lied and proved how belief itself was the strongest weapon in the world.

I rolled my eyes every time I heard the tale. It sounded like something that villagers with a restless imagination would spin beside a fire. I’d heard another rumor about him. Something about his parentage.  That he was an orphan who’d moved the Emperor to pity. But I doubted the vicious Emperor would be moved in such a way. The guards told me that the Emperor kept great beasts at his side thatcould tear the throat out of anyone who dared to cross him.

Footsteps shuffled down the hall. I clutched the silk bag of pearl dust. The Prince might be clever and eloquent, but you can’t talk your way out of death and I wasn’t going to give him a chance to speak. All my intelligence told me that he was no match for me. I’d have him on his knees and begging for his life in a matter of moments.

A final door opened.

The Fox Prince was here.

NewRelease:DREAMWORLD by Kit Alloway

51p4v2hbcwl-_sx341_bo1204203200_DREAMWORLD / Two books in one:  DREAMFIRE AND DREAMFEVER by Kit Alloway / Fantasy / Released Jan 10, 2017 by St. Martin’s Griffin

Unlike most 17-year-olds, Joshlyn Weaver has a sacred duty.  She’s the celebrated daughter of the dream walkers, a secret society whose members enter the Dream universe we all share and batter nightmares.  If they fail, the emotional turmoil in the Dream would boil over and release nightmares into the world.

Despite Josh’s reputation as a dream walking prodigy, she’s haunted by her mistakes.  A lapse in judgement and the death of someone she loved have shaken her confidence.  Now she’s been assigned an apprentice, a boy whose steady gaze sees right through her, and she’s almost as afraid of getting close to him as she is of getting him killed.  But when strangers with impossible powers begin appearing in the Dream, it isn’t just Will that Josh has to protect – it’s the whole World.

Coming March 2017 – DREAM FOREVER, the final book in this trilogy.

Blog Tour: RED DEATH by Jeff Altabef

reddeath14RED DEATH by Jeff Altabef / YA Fantasy / Released Oct 10, 2016 by  Evolved Publishing

What happens when everything you believed turns out to be a lie?

Every child of Eden fears the Red Death. All those afflicted with the plague die young, their souls stripped away as punishment for ancient sins long forgotten. For centuries, Guardians have protected Eden from the Red Death by killing outsiders who stray too close.

Seventeen-year-old Aaliss is a highly-trained Guardian, but when her rather odd thirteen-year-old brother, Wilky, discovers a cure to the plague, her world turns upside down. Branded as traitors by the corrupt High Priest, Aaliss and Wilky are forced to seek refuge in the last place Aaliss thought she’d ever go—beyond the boundaries of Eden and into the land of the Soulless. Here they must navigate a medieval world filled with witches, magic, and warrior kingdoms run by Elders only a few years older than her.

Aaliss yearns to return home, but when her heart tugs her deeper into the world of the Soulless, she questions everything she once believed. Has her soul been taken? Will she and Wilky fall victim to the Red Death, or might they die sooner in the center of a battle that threatens to tear apart the Soulless world? Or… might Aaliss finally find, against all odds, what her heart has yearned for all along?

 

About the Author

Jeff Altabef is an award-winning author who lives in New York with his wife, two daughters, and Charlie the dog. He spends time volunteering at the writing center in the local community college. After years of being accused of “telling stories,” he thought he would make it official. He writes in both the thriller and young adult genres.

In the Young Adult genre, Jeff co-authored the Chosen Trilogy with his teenaged daughter, Erynn. The Chosen Series has won multiple awards including the 2015 Readers’ Favorite Gold Medal for Best Coming of Age Novel, the 2015 Beverly HIlls Book Award for Best YA Fiction, and a Mom’s Choice Award.

As an avid Knicks fan, Jeff is prone to long periods of melancholy during hoops season. Jeff has a column on The Examiner focused on writing and a blog designed to encourage writing by those who like telling stories.

You can connect with Jeff on his website, Facebook, Twitter & Newsletter.

Review: DRAGONS OF DESERT AND DUST by Susan Brown

51b30x5tsyl-_sx331_bo1204203200_DRAGONS OF DESERT AND DUST by Susan Brown / Create Space / December 2015

Blurb: A boy with the Heart of a Dragon… Fourteen-year-old Angel Cerillos is stuck living with foster parents at a second-rate desert motel while his mother is in the hospital. Despite threats from a local rancher and his greedy foster father, Angel is determined to scour the harsh desert for turquoise nuggets that could pay for his mom’s care. Without them, all he has of value is a carved, two-headed turquoise serpent, left to him by his mysterious father. It’s a hard life. But the desert spirits are awakening, and the mythic power of his dragon talisman spins Angel into terrifying danger.

Review: Fourteen-year-old, foster child, Angel Cerillos lives at the local motel where he cleans rooms and scrubs toilets as part of his daily chores. The nearby desert calls to him and he escapes into it whenever possible determined to understand its mysteries. The call of the desert helps him come to terms with an ailing mother stuck in a hospital and an absentee father. His foster parents don’t make up for Angel’s emotional loss. His foster mother, Treece, is an enabler who teaches Angel how to steal sodas from the motel office. His foster father, Gary, physically and emotionally abuses Treece and Angel. It makes one wonder how this obviously dysfunctional couple managed to meet the state requirements for taking in a needy child or if there are any such laws in Arizona.

Like many children of single parents, Angel is older than his years. Celsa Reyna, one of his classmates tells him how valuable turquoise stones are and he decides that if he finds enough, he’ll be able to have sufficient money for his mother’s medical bills. With plenty of funds, she could even be cured. This provides more motivation to flee to the desert whenever possible. Warned to be careful of the neighboring rancher and his cowhands, Angel attempts to be discreet. He has to look out for more than two-legged dangers; there are other predators in the desert.

Physical dangers aren’t all Angel worries about – he also confronts psychological ones and his dreams intensify, apparently teaching him new skills or has he always had them? Dream-walking? Talking to snakes? Visions? Why is his amulet so important? Why does his mother ask if he’s turning blue when he finally has an opportunity to visit her? What is going on?

Angel’s drive to save his mother propels the story forward. He and Celsa are two of most clearly drawn, well-developed characters which makes the disparity between them and the adults even more glaring. Angel’s caseworker doesn’t “notice” what is directly in front of her, i.e. the abuse the boy suffers and doesn’t talk to him alone even when she thinks there might be a problem with Gary. Local rancher, John Hydemann accepts all of Gary’s stories far too easily. This guy has a kid who appeared out of nowhere – didn’t the caseworker interview the neighbors before placing Angel at the local motel?

What is wrong with these adults? Shouldn’t they be more discerning? How will the kids in the story and readers of the book learn not to judge by appearances if every adult suffers from the same character defect? Still, as Angel grows throughout the story, he does learn a few life lessons even if the adults in his world remain static. Ms. Brown has a gift for creating a believable world where shapeshifting dragons fly and a boy becoming a man discovers there is more than one kind of talent when he faces maturity. The choices he makes today will guide him down more than one kind of path, but he still needs stronger mentors to lead him.

While this is a companion to Ms. Brown’s Dragons of Frost and Fire, these are single title releases. Hopefully, the next book will link these characters as well as the dragons, hint, hint, hint!

Review: DRAGONS OF FROST AND FIRE by Susan Brown

51jtadefkhlDRAGONS OF FROST AND FIRE by Susan Brown / Create Space Publishing / June 2015

Blurb: “I know she’s still alive!” A year ago her mother disappeared in an Alaskan blizzard, but Kit Soriano refuses to give up. Against all logic, propelled by recurring dreams of ice-white dragons and a magical silver knife, Kit journeys to the wilderness town of Silver Claw where her mother vanished. She’s clearly not welcome, but her knife throbs with heat and her dreams show the impossible – mythical dragons are guarding her sleeping mother. Desperate, Kit has no choice but to rely on Dai, who knows more than he says about the wild magic rippling beneath the surface of the town. She wants to trust him. But is he her friend or an enemy? If she’s wrong, will she too be lost forever in the unforgiving Alaskan wilderness?

Review: In this YA fantasy, sixteen-year-old Kit Soriano travels with her father to a small town in Alaska to discover what happened to her mother. Even though everyone around Kit insists that Dr. Nora Soriano noted for her studies in genetics must be dead, killed in a harsh winter storm, Kit knows better. Haunted by dreams and inspired by a family heirloom, a dragon-shaped knife, she plans to find her missing mother regardless of any roadblocks. She hasn’t counted on fighting the entire town of Silver Claw, Alaska, much less her own father who thinks she needs closure, not answers. Kit sets out to solve the mystery beginning in the town library where the elderly librarian thwarts all of Kit’s research attempts. She also must deal with Dai, a “hot” guy who acts as a local guide, but she thinks of him more as a local spy. She must avoid him in order to determine what happened to her mother, however he is so…..cute!

This is a well-plotted story with carefully crafted characters. A discerning reader may catch onto all the clues provided, but it is much more fun to journey along with Kit and allow her to share the conclusions she draws. Her arguments with Dai and the other teens are realistic, but it would be nice to learn more about what happens to some of the supporting cast. What happens to Kirsti? The clues are carefully put in place, but we need to know if she achieves what she most desires.

The setting showcases the story too, effectively describing the solitude of native Alaska. More sensory details would have added depth but Ms. Brown has a deft touch with sounds as well as sights in this short (147 page) novel. One can really hear the ice falling off the glaciers near Silver Claw. The point of view remains with Kit, but would have been stronger with Dai’s input. Still, Ms. Brown, a skilled writer who honed her craft writing for Scholastic has penned an intriguing story that will enthrall readers. She leaves the story open for a sequel or even a series where we can discover and share more of Kit’s adventures, hopefully with Dai. Meanwhile, I’m off to find another of her “Dragon” tales.

Book Excerpt: INVISION by Sherrilyn Kenyon

inVisionINVISION:  Chronicles of Nick (Book 7) by Sherrilyn Kenyon / YA Fantasy / Released May 3, 2016 by St. Martin’s Griffin.

He’d just gotten comfortable again when the door opened to admit a new student. Something that didn’t happen often in their small private, parochial school. And it wasn’t just because St. Richard’s was hard to get into due to its high academic standing. But rather from the fact that the school had been set up as a place for preters to learn how to mingle with humans and not let the stress throw them into their animal states.

While there were a handful of baretos, or “normal” humans who had no idea that they were attending school with shapeshifters, the majority of the student body here was either shapeshifters or the children of Squire families. Squires who had been in service to Dark-Hunter like Kyrian and Acheron for generations.

As such, the Squires usually sent their kids to private school together so that they could be watched by older Squires to ensure that no one messed with them. Especially since their enemies might want to take their kids hostage, or kill them to get back at their parents or the Dark-Hunters in retaliation for the centuries of protecting humans from their supernatural predators.

It also allowed the shapeshifter families a controlled environment for their children so that they could have playtime with humans where if they had an accident and shifted into their animal bodies, the humans wouldn’t flip out and call the authorities. As Squires or their children, they all knew about Were-Hunters, and they could help cover for them with the humans here who didn’t know about them.

It gave the Were-Hunters a way to practice being in the normal world so that they could acclimate.

Nick had been one of those baretos students at St. Richard’s until two and half years ago when his best friends had turned on him, and Kyrian had saved his life. For some reason that still eluded Nick, the ancient Greek had taken a liking to him and decided to give him a hand up and bring him into this amazing world.

Now he was a Squire at an age that was unheard of since Squires were supposed to be eighteen before they could be sworn in to their oaths. But Kyrian had pulled strings and so here Nick was. The youngest Squire in Council history. And this new guy they were introducing . . . He didn’t appear to be a Squire.

Nick glanced to Caleb. What do you think?

Caleb shrugged nonchalantly.

Ms. Pantall cleared her throat as she read his card. “Everyone? This is Nathan St. Cyr. Nathan’s a new student who just moved to New Orleans from New York. I know everyone will be on your best behavior and welcome him in. Mr. St. Cyr, if you’ll take an empty seat, we’ll get started.”

An odd sensation went through Nick as Nathan neared him. Like a wire had been touched to his spine and sent a jolt through his entire central nervous system. Not that anyone had ever done that to him, but that was what he imagined such a thing would feel like.

As Nathan neared his desk, he inclined his head to him, then sat down on the other side of Kody.

Yeah, that didn’t endear him any. You better not be eye-balling my girl, punk . . .

Nick would snatch those blue eyes out of that boy’s head and use them for marbles. The Malachai in him was rising up and breathing fire down Nick’s neck. It was hard to leash the beast when he came calling like this. Every part of Nick wanted a piece of Nathan for daring to trespass on Kody’s personal space.

Especially when he leaned over a second later and, with a charming grin, brushed his hand against Kody’s arm. “Do you have a pencil I can borrow? Mine must have fallen out of my backpack.”

“Sure.” Kody handed him the one she was holding.

His grin turned even more debonnaire as he ran it under his nose and smelled the stylus as if he could still detect her light perfume on the wood. “Mmm, I’ll treasure it always. Thank you for your kindness, my noble lady.”

When Nick started to rise, Caleb caught his arm. Down, boy. Don’t make me smack your nose with a rolled up newspaper.

Nick cut a glare at his best friend to let Caleb know he could be a worthy substitution as a whipping boy if he didn’t let go.

Kody turned toward Nick. Is it me or was that gross? And that right there saved Nathan’s life. Leave it to his girl to be oblivious.

He was relieved, until Nathan turned back toward her.

Suddenly, Kody’s desk slid four inches closer to Nick’s, and farther from Nathan’s. She turned an indignant glare at him for his audacity.

At the sharp, scraping that made most people cringe, everyone in the room shot around to look for the source of the sudden sound. Nick forced himself not to cringe at the involuntary use of his Malachai powers.

Clearing his throat, he glanced to his teacher. “Sorry. My foot got caught under Kody’s desk.”

“Why was your foot under her desk?”

Nick shrugged. “I’m too tall for the desk and my feet have a mind of their own. You’ve seen me walking down the hall, Ms. Pantall. I never know where my arms or legs are located, hence all the bruises I keep.”

She rolled her eyes. “Keep your feet under your own desk, Nick. Stop disrupting class or I’ll send you to the office.”

Something stabbed him in the leg. Hard. Nick let out a sharp curse and though it wasn’t in English, Ms. Pantall had enough Cajun in her to unfortunately know exactly what the word meant.

“That’s it! Get to the office! Now!”

“But—”

“No buts! Go!”