Sunday, May 31, 2015

Sunday Post #28 and Stacking the Shelves May 31st, 2015

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted  @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It’s a chance to share news ~ A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things we have received and share news about what is coming up on our blog for the week ahead. See rules here: Sunday Post Meme.   
Last two weeks on the blog:
I got a total of 3 reviews a week for the last two weeks, although one was a mini-review of a sampler, and another was a review of an audiobook.  Hoping to keep that up this summer now that school is out.  I didn't blog every day though. Even though I'm out of school, I've asked for more hours at my part time job at the bookstore, and I have been going back into my school to do inventory in the library.  I joined the COYER Challenge again to try to get more of my ebooks read!  I was on vacation over Memorial Day weekend as well, so didn't stress too much about getting reviews done while I was there.  

This week on the blog:
  • Review and Blog Tour for The Sacred Lies of Minnow Bly by Stephanie Oakes
  • Review:  The Rose Master by Valentino Cano
  • Possible Reviews:  Daughter of Deep Silence by Carrie Ryan or The Stars Never Rise by Rachel Vincent
  • Waiting on Wednesday
  • Maybe Cover Characteristic:  green covers
  • Maybe Top 10 Tuesday
For once I don't have a whole bunch of things planned for the blog this week.  And I actually only have a couple of egalleys to review in the next week or so.  And I'm hoping to get lots of reading done this week.  I"m also listening to another audio book, and if I get out and walk this week, I'll probably continue listening to it.  May get it done and reviewed, but we'll see.  

My fit/walking goals:
As you can tell I haven't done much walking the last two weeks.  Partly from being busy, partly from all the rain.  I hope to get out and get walking this week.  As well as start cooking more healthy food at home instead of eating out all the time.  
Stacking the Shelves is hosted by Tynga's Reviews.  It is a way for us to share the new books we have collected.  Let's just say that the last two weeks have been one of the biggest hauls I've had in a long time.  No BEA this year.  :-(  But I got a box of books I won as well as it is our special employee appreciation days at the bookstore, so I get 40% instead of just 30% off of books for the week, and I've already done some buying.

These are all the books from my first employee appreciation days purchase, other than the ones I purchased for the library where I work, here is a list of them:

  • The Walking Dead: The Fall of the Governor Part 2 by Robert Kirkman and Jay Bonansinga - was on the bargain table for $4.98 I think.  With my 40% off it was only like $3.
  • Fierce Reads:  Kisses and Curses  I saw this one and had to have it!
  • Mr. Mercedes by Stephen King - My mom got this on her Nook, but you can't share it.  And, we own all the other Stephen King books, so I went ahead and bought it with my really great discount.
  • Write it Down, Make it Happen by Henriette Anne Klauser - A friend said this was really helpful to her when trying to set goals and work to achieve them, as well as not getting frustrated as she worked on them.
  • End of Days by Susan Ee - Since I just finished the 2nd book, I had to move on. This paperback was only $9, so $6 with my discount, I had to go ahead and get it.
  •  As you can see I got two bobble heads, Mulder and Scully from The X-Files, one of my favorite shows of all time, again at 40% off.  
  • I also got a really funny bookmark that says "My workout is reading in bed until my arms hurt."

I won a box of YA books from  The Novel Hermit in the Spring Cleaning Giveaway Hop.  Here's a list of them:

I also won a copy of Vostok by Steve Alten, a favorite author of mine, from iRead Book Tours.

Even though I have an e-galley of Finding Audrey by Sophie Kinsella, when I saw a physical ARC on the table at the bookstore for us to take, I had to grab it.  Here is a blurry photo of the ARC and to the left of the picture, a fancy little box it came in.  


  The first two are egalleys I got from Edelweiss, the third one was a free Kindle book.

So, tons of physical books the past two weeks, not so many e-books/galleys, so good thing for the most part.

What did you add to your shelves this week?

Saturday, May 30, 2015

Promo Post: Spelled by Betsy Schow (Giveaway)

by Betsy Schow
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: June 2nd 2015


Fairy Tale Survival Rule #32: If you find yourself at the mercy of a wicked witch, sing a romantic ballad and wait for your Prince Charming to save the day.

Yeah, no thanks. Dorthea is completely princed out. Sure being the crown princess of Emerald has its perks—like Glenda Original ball gowns and Hans Christian Louboutin heels. But a forced marriage to the brooding prince Kato is so not what Dorthea had in mind for her enchanted future.

Talk about unhappily ever after. 

Trying to fix her prince problem by wishing on a (cursed) star royally backfires, leaving the kingdom in chaos and her parents stuck in some place called "Kansas." Now it's up to Dorthea and her pixed off prince to find the mysterious Wizard of Oz and undo the curse...before it releases the wickedest witch of all and spells The End for the world of Story.

Most of the crowd had dispersed. The final few stragglers looked at me with the all­too-common look of fear mixed with trepidation. Pix ’em. They were just servants. It wasn’t like their opinion mattered.
Only one remained, watching me with open curiosity. He looked to be in his late teens or was magically enhanced to appear so. He could have been a hundred for all I knew. I’d never seen him before in my life. He was handsome enough, for a commoner, even in his worn leather pants and cracked work boots. A foreigner, his hair was unruly and dark auburn, which complemented his tanned but dirt-smudged complexion, though the tall, dark stranger vibe was ruined by his piercing pale blue eyes.
Well, I’d had enough of being a sideshow for the day. “If you’re the new gardener, the hedges are overgrown and in need of a trim.” I pointed in the direction of my father. “While you’re there, you can help the king with the wisps.”
The young man’s expression clouded over, but he didn’t move.
I stamped my foot and pointed more forcefully. “Off with you. Courtyard’s that way. Be sure to clean those awful boots before coming back in.”
“Someone told me I’d find a princess of great worth here. One with the strength to be the hero this realm needs.” He stared at me with those unsettling blue eyes. They were cold, like ice water—made me shiver from head to toe. Then his gaze seemed to search even deeper. Finally, he looked through me, like I was nothing.
In brisk steps, he strode across the marble to the courtyard. But before crossing the threshold, he turned back to glare at me with his lip curled ever so slightly. “It seems she was mistaken.”
Just like that, I had been sifted, weighed, and found wanting.
I felt my own lip curl in response. How rude! Who the Grimm was this peasant to judge me? I was wearing a Glenda original. Original! Not some fairy-godmother knockoff worn by those servant girls turned royal. I was a crown princess, for the love of fairy, and no one dismissed me.
Before I could put the boy in his place—down in the dirt, where he belonged—a clatter came from behind, making me nearly jump out of my shoes. I checked and was relieved that Sterling had simply dropped his sword. By the time I looked back, the gardener was gone.
After stowing his blade, Sterling held up his shield, not in defense of the entrance but so he could look at his reflection. “Clearly he’s blind and doesn’t know what he’s talking about.”
I didn’t ask for Sterling’s opinion, but it made me feel better.
Until he opened his mouth again.
“Worth, pffft. I mean, look around at all the jewels. Your palace has everything you could ever want. Honestly, I don’t know what you’re fussing about. Why would anyone want to leave?”
Because a cage is still a cage, no matter how big or glittering the bars are.
And I would find a way free, no matter the cost.

 photo addtogoodreadssmall_zpsa2a6cf28.png photo B6096376-6C81-4465-8935-CE890C777EB9-1855-000001A1E900B890_zps5affbed6.jpg

Follow the Spelled by Betsy Schow Blog Tour and don't miss anything! Click on the banner to see the tour schedule.

BETSY SCHOW is the TODAY Show featured author of the non-fiction book, Finished Being Fat; however she’s been mixing up real life and fantasy for as long as she can remember. If someone were to ask about her rundown truck, she’s 100% positive that mechanical gremlins muck up her engine. And the only reason her house is dirty is because the dust bunnies have gone on strike. She lives in Utah with her own knight in geeky armor and their two princesses (that can totally shapeshift into little beasts). When not writing, she acts as the Tournament Director for Odyssey of the Mind and helps teach kids creative thinking (or how to turn their toasters into robots).
Her debut novel, Spelled, comes out June 2015 from Sourcebooks. She is represented by Michelle Witte, Mansion Street Literary Agency.


Review: Between the Lines by Jodi Picoult and Samantha van Leer (Audio book)

I did something I haven't done in a long time.  I listened to an audio book.  Thanks to Audible's free 30 day trial and Goodreads, I got two free downloads.  I decided to go ahead and use it as I was driving to Branson last weekend for my family vacation.  That's about a four to four and a half hour drive.  My CD player in my car no longer works.  I had satellite radio free for a week, but I get bored with the channels they let me use for free.  And, I'd been tired of using the music in my iTunes as I'd been doing that since my CD player first gave out.  So I decided to listen to a book, and when I picked my free books, this was one I picked because I'd wanted to read it ever since a student recommended it to me several years ago. And I liked that it had more than one person as the reader, having a couple characters that had their own reader.  I enjoyed the first book so much that I returned the other book I downloaded, and used my other free credit to download the sequel that just recently came out, and I'm currently listening to that in my car right now.

This is a book about characters in a book coming to life.  What they do when the book is closed.  You see, to the characters, the story itself is like a play they have to put on every time someone opens the book. But when the book is closed they have kind of their own lives. They're only able to do things that are there in the book, but they can be who they want to be within those parameters.  Also, the villain isn't really a villain, families aren't really families, and animals can talk.  Normally the readers don't ever see this as the characters rush to be in their places and do only what the story and pictures show them to do.  But in this book, one reader has noticed a change or two.  Her name is Delilah, and she is a girl in high school who found the book on a shelf, and decided to check it out.  She has kind of felt a connection with the main character in the book, Prince Oliver, even though it is a fairy tale picture book for younger readers.  The connection?  Well her father left her and her mother when she was younger.  Prince Oliver never knew his father because he died out trying to kill a dragon to save the kingdom on the day Oliver was born. 

Oliver isn't happy inside the book, he wants to do other things, wants to see what else there is in the world outside the book.  And he even really notices this new reader, thinks she is beautiful when she opens the book and sees her eyes and face.  He likes to play games in the sand with his best friend, Frump, who is a dog.  But we know that Frump used to be a boy around the age of the Prince before an evil spell turned him into a dog.  One day when they called to go to their places, Oliver doesn't get the game board scratched out of the sand, and Delilah notices it as something changed in the picture in the book.  And from there they just seem to figure out how to talk to each other and now Delilah wants to find a way to help Oliver. But talking to the book gets noticed by her mother and soon she had to prove she's not crazy.  And getting Oliver out of the book isn't going to be quite as easy as they'd  hoped. 

This book was a fun read.  There were parts as I listened that I chuckled at, and I'm sure I would have enjoyed it as I was reading it as well. So far I'm enjoying the second book on audio as well, although I think the voice of the Prince has changed, even though I thought it said it was the same reader.  I highly recommend either listening or reading this series if you haven't started yet.  It is my first venture into the world of Jodi Picoult books, and it probably won't lead to me picking up her other solo author books, but I am glad I chose to listen to this one.

Friday, May 29, 2015

Challenge: Summer 2015 COYER (Clean Out Your E-Reads)

I feel like participating in this earlier this year really helped me get through some e-books and e-galleys on my Nook, and I even found some that had been on there for awhile that I then really enjoyed and I found a new author to love.  So I decided to participate in the summer one as well.  There are three hosts this time, Berls @ Fantasy is More Fun, Michelle @ Because Reading, and Stormi at Books, Movies, Reviews, Oh My!  This time it runs from June 20th until September 4th, and you can sign up HERE until August 8th.  This time there will be three different grand prize giveaways, one for the reviews, one for participating in the scavenger hunt activities, and one for being supportive of the other participants.

My goals:
I'll probably stick with my same goals as last time, although I will probably also try to read e-galleys that I got from Netgalley and were Kindle files that didn't expire, so I didn't rush to read them before they were published.  That should also help me to work on my percentage on Netgalley and help me out there as well.
  • Read and review about 10 e-books, that's about one each week of the challenge.
  • Comment on at least 3 other reviews every time I post a review on the linky.
  • Since it is summer, I will try to participate in at least one read-a-thon if there is one.
  • I will try to participate in at least one of the scavenger hunt challenges.
  • And I WILL post a wrap up post.  I often get to the end of a challenge and then just fizzle out with the wrap up post.  I will not do that this time.  In fact, I'm probably going to go start a post and schedule it for the day after the challenge ends to put all my wrap up stuff in.
Those are my goals.  And I intend to stick to them, maybe go above them if I have time, and I should since it is summer.  Although I am trying to work more at the bookstore and I'm going in and working on inventory in the library so that is taking up some of my extra time at the moment.

If you're interested, go sign up and I'll look forward to reading your reviews as the challenge goes on!

Thursday, May 28, 2015

Review: World After (Penryn and the End of Days #2) by Susan Ee (TBR Challenge #6)

I won a copy of this book a year or so ago, and just finally got around to it because I accidentally signed up for an egalley on Netgalley when I forgot I had it on my shelf.  As so often happens when I wait so long to read a book that is a sequel to a book that I loved (in this case, the first one was Angelfall, and I got it the first year I went to BEA, 2012), I was mad at myself for waiting to pick up the story and find out what happened next. Because I loved it.  I loved the originality of the angels in this story.  When we finally get back to Raffe, I loved the dynamic between him and Penryn.  If you haven't read the first book in the series, I can't promise no spoilers in this review unfortunately.

We start back and Penryn is back with her mom and her younger sister.  Her younger sister who has been changed thanks to whatever experiments the angels were doing that created the horrible scorpion creatures.  And now her sister Paige has scars on her face where they changed her.  And she doesn't seem to want to eat anything but meat.  And even that doesn't quite work for her.  But she still knows her mother and sister, and will do anything to protect them.  And not only does she have the scary physical improvements, she has great strength now.  But when the other humans turn on Paige and try to destroy her, Penryn tries to help her escape.  It is only with the help of the scorpion creatures that show up that she does get away.  All the people who are stung seem to be dead, just as Penryn had seemed until she came out of the venom.  But the other humans don't trust that and so throw all the paralyzed, dead seeming humans into a pile and get ready to bury them.  Penryn and her mother run off to find Paige.  In their escape they wind up getting caught by the angels. And soon learn that Paige might be with some of the angels, the one that had actually created her.  Penry still has Raffe's sword and tries to learn how to use it.  But to find Paige she ends up having to give it up and even try to infiltrate the angels as the biggest enemies escort.  It is here that she spots Raffe again, and the true use of the scorpion creatures comes to light, and you might say that all hell begins to break loose.

I know that's a very confusing summary, but I don't know how else to explain it without giving things away.  Just know that it was a good one, didn't suffer from the 2nd book slump in my opinion either.  Now, I'm so eager to read the final book in the series!

Wednesday, May 27, 2015

Waiting on Wednesday: Bits and Pieces (Rot and Ruin #5) by Jonathan Maberry

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine where we spotlight upcoming releases that we're eagerly awaiting.  I've chosen a book that is novellas for a series that I am a fan of that have been grouped together to make one book that will be put out in print.  I also have a bit of a personal connection to the stories because one of them I named through a contest on Facebook, Tooth and Nail.  The ebook has a thank you to me at the beginning of the story, and I'm hoping to see it in print now as well!  If you are  zombie fan and haven't read this series by Jonathan Maberry, you need to pick it up.  I haven't actually read the last book yet, so I don't know how it will end, but I have loved all of the books so far.  Here is the blurb about this book of short stories from Goodreads:

Return to the zombie apocalypse wasteland that is the Rot & Ruin in this short story collection from Jonathan Maberry.

Benny Imura’s zombie-infested adventures are well-chronicled in the gripping novels Rot & Ruin, Dust & Decay, Flesh & Bone, and Fire & Ash. But what else was happening while he was on his quest? Who were the others navigating the ravaged landscape full of zombies?

Bits & Pieces fills in the gaps about what we know about First Night, surviving the plague, and traveling the land of Rot & Ruin. Eleven all-new short stories from Nix’s journal and eleven previously published stories, including “Dead & Gone” and “Tooth & Nail,” are now together and in print for the first time, along with the first-ever script for the Rot & Ruin comic books.

So, have you read this series yet?  I'm so excited for the 11 short stories, especially ones I have not read yet.  What book are you eagerly awaiting this week?

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Review: The Cage by Megan Shepherd

First, thanks to Balzer and Bray for approving me for the e-galley of this title from Edelweiss.  I also won an ARC that I actually ended up reading for the most part.  This is my first book by the author.  I have a copy of The Madman's Daughter and its sequel, but haven't gotten around to them yet.  I'm even more eager to read them now that I have finished this one though.  I have to say I really enjoyed this book. 

It's a kind of new type of story,  or at least compared to the majority of what is out there at the moment.  The main character is Cora.  She is the daughter of a politician, and she just recently got out of juvenile detention for a wreck that killed a woman.  She wakes up in the desert.  She has no idea where she is or how she got there.  Only that the last thing she remembers is being in a car with her brother on the way to spend time with all of her family together. Something that hasn't happened since before her mother and father got divorced.  But now she's somewhere strange.  Alone she thinks, until she runs into a boy her age.  A cute boy, named Lucky.  Lucky knows Cora, even if she doesn't know him.  He knows about the accident that sent her to the Juvenile detention center, and he has a part in what got her sent there.  He feels guilty for it when he gets to know her.  They find a dead girl by the ocean that is strangely right on the edge of the desert.  They also find tattoos of strange patterns on each other's necks.  They begin to explore the area and find there are all kinds of different environments right next to each other, pretty much in impossible ways. They find what looks like a town from far away, but when they get up closer, it is one, but it is all different kinds of mismatched buildings. And when you go inside there are not normal interiors.  They also run into three more people their age. There's a big strong boy named Leon, a nerdy boy named Rolf, and a very skinny, pretty girl named Nok.  They soon find out they are not on Earth anymore. They have been taken by aliens.  The aliens are not really as different or strange as could be imagined. They are somewhat human like in their body forms, although their skin color is way different, their eyes are different, and they are bigger.  Plus they are psychic. They don't think humans are as "advanced" as they are.  They call themselves "The Kindred".  And supposedly they keep humans in little environments like this, for observation.  There were supposed to be 6, three girls and three boys.  Matched by the little marks on their necks. 

But while the other four seem to be settling in and accepting that this is their new home, Cora wants only to escape. Even as one of the aliens, the Caretaker, seems to be showing her favoritism.  She can't believe how easily the others are falling into what the aliens want them to do. But there is only a 21 day limit, and the caretaker shows Cora what will happen to them if they don't follow the directions and rules.  But she still wants to try to escape.  A new human girl named Mali is brought in to replace the girl who died, and she has lived with the aliens since she was 4 years old.  Cora hopes to convince her to help her with her plan.

The end will not go quite as expected, there will be a twist in who really is what they say they are, and what the aliens have been telling them will seem not so real. 

Honestly this is one that is hard to explain.  I just know that it was a very interesting story, some parts that were things I had thought about as a possible story in the past, but all put into the story in a very unique and new way.

Sunday, May 24, 2015

Review: YOLO Juliet by Brett Wright/Shakespeare and srsly Hamlet by Courtney Carbone/Shakespeare

Okay, thanks to Edelweiss and Random House Books for Young Readers for allowing me to read a sampler of these two titles.  Now, I am a little disappointed that it was only samplers, but that is fine. While I normally do enjoy books like this, I might not have made it all the way through, as I have actually read Romeo and Juliet.  But I think this could be a great way to help kids today understand Shakespeare.  Yeah, you could say it "dumbs" it down.  But, it's not any different to me than translating it into more modern words like the No Fear Shakespeare books do.

These are basically told through Romeo and Juliet texting each other, or else writing in diary mode on their phones.  They use normal texting abbreviations and terms, as well as emojis.  One of the exchanges between Romeo and Juliet that I love was like this:

Romeo:  Juliet, I swear on the

Juliet:  Wait, you swear on a piece of rock in the sky?  Um.

Romeo:  Okay, what should I swear on, then?

Juliet:  Maybe we shouldn't make any promises yet.  All of t his happened as fast as 

Doesn't that kind of look like fun?  Of course in the book each person's speaking part is in bubbles like in a text message.

So I would recommend this as a fun book for someone trying to understand Shakespeare as they read it.

Saturday, May 23, 2015

Promo Post: Revolution by Randi Cooley Wilson #Giveaway

Revolution Banner
About the Book:
A King Rises

A Fate Seals
Realms Fall
Eve Collins has set in motion a chain of events that could destroy everything she’s ever loved. Surrounded by dangerous creatures, dark worlds, and the struggle to become who she was meant to be, Eve must complete her ascension and accept her destiny.
War has begun. Losing is not an option. With dangers lurking around each corner, and everything against her, will Eve sacrifice her own happiness in order to tip the scale of balance? Which side will rise to power, and which fall to fate?
In this fourth installment in The Revelation Series, Eve must risk it all in order to prevent a centuries old war.
Everything comes with a sacrifice, even love.
Releasing: May 2015
About the Author:
Randi Cooley Wilson
Randi Cooley Wilson is a “New Adult” Paranormal/Fantasy and Contemporary Romance author. Randi was born and raised in Massachusetts where she attended Bridgewater State University and graduated with a degree in Communication Studies. After graduation she moved to California where she lived happily bathed in sunshine and warm weather for fifteen years. Randi makes stuff up, devours romance books, drinks lots of wine and coffee, and has a slight addiction to bracelets.

Excerpt: (Warning - definitely not a YA book)

The Midnight Temple

FROM DARKNESS, COMES LIGHT. I whisper the assertion in my head, over and over again, as a form of reassurance. Distracted eyes take in my surroundings, seeking out a focal point of luminosity. Nightfall shrouds the ill-omened forest I’m standing barefoot in.

     My gaze lifts toward the heavens, searching for light. There is nothing. No stars shining brightly to guide me. No flush of the moon’s silver rays caressing the ominous tree lined confinement I find myself in. Panic begins to claw at my throat.

     Everything is unnaturally still. The trees are motionless. There’s no breeze to embrace me. No woodland creatures at home to calm me. Only silence. It’s eerie and yet, oddly familiar.

     “Hidden within the darkness, the unseen will eventually be divulged. Revealing the true purpose of your existence.” Gage’s deep, masculine voice penetrates my trepidation.

     I shift my body and tilt my head, meeting a pair of sea-green irises. The gargoyle clasps his warm fingers over mine in a soothing gesture while the scent of cigarettes and spice drifts over me. His presence rescues me from the shadowed corners my mind finds itself in.

     I inhale, for what feels like the first time tonight. A small smile appears on my lips at the sight of the good-looking protector. Gratitude washes over me, because I’m not alone on this self-imposed journey.

     The moment of reprieve passes quickly when I remember who I am and what I’ve done. At the thought, a sharp, unyielding pain presents itself deep within my heart. The sting causes my breath to hitch as my hand moves to cover the twinge.

     In the distance, a faint, familiar sound floats over me. “Come back to me, siren,” it whispers. The memory of how much hurt I’ve caused seeps in. “I will protect you, always.” The voice, belonging to Asher St. Michael, my gargoyle protector, and now my mate, promises. My stomach lurches at the recollection of my actions this evening. My treachery.

     Instantly, I fold at the waist and vomit into the plant life lining the forest’s floor. Gage steps closer to my uncontrollable, trembling body. Releasing my hand, he gently holds my hair back, allowing me to empty the contents of my stomach into the undergrowth. Shit.

     “You’re okay, love. It’s just the adrenaline wearing off. Take deep breaths,” he soothes.

     I close my eyes, trying to block it all out, as my body hums from the protector blood bond. In rapid fire, images of this evening flash through my mind. Each one cutting my soul like the dagger I used in my deception. All I can see is Asher. My dark prince. My everything.

     Asher’s gentle hand is wrapped around the lower portion of my throat, showing dominance. The feel of my gargoyle’s body pressed against mine, pushing me into his stone state bed. The stunning and blissful expression he had as he slid into me for the first time. His scent. His touch. His declarations of forever, all marred by my deceit.

     I’ve ended us by showing my disloyalty. When his indigo eyes met mine, my dagger fell into his heart, forcing him into a healing sleep. Protecting him. Then, I walked away from my love to save another who I hold dear to me. My sacrifice.

     A shiver passes over me and my breathing becomes ragged. My stomach churns again and my knees buckle. If it weren’t for Gage’s large hands wrapped around my waist, I would collapse in despair on the dirt-covered pathway. Crap. Pull yourself together, Eve.

     “Are you alright, love?” Gage questions quietly into my ear, holding me close.

     Once the visions dissolve, so does the nausea. I open my eyes to meet Gage’s troubled ones. Taking a step back, I allow for some distance from his protective arms. Then I center myself before pushing back my shoulders and lifting my chin.

     “Yes,” I say firmly.

     He knits his brows together, running a hand through his golden-blond hair. “Are you sure, Eve?” he questions with worry lining his voice.

     I’m actually taken aback by his apprehension. Normally, Gage doesn’t show signs of unease. It’s unnerving and making me question my resolve. I straighten and nod once.

     “I said I am.” My voice is strong, even though inside, I’m terrified.

     The undecipherable gargoyle’s eyes just search mine. His face is strained in disbelief.

     “I really am,” I assure him and attempt to turn my attention to the fog-covered fortress in front of us. I don’t want to see his troubled expression.

     Gage doesn’t let me twist though. Instead, he snatches my chin roughly and tilts my head back. His gaze roams over my face before locking onto it with a raw intensity. “With every moment that goes by, they turn a deeper shade of indigo, love,” he whispers.

     My breath hitches and I slam my lids down, hiding the irises. Asher and I triggered our mate bond and fulfilled the divination of redemption. My light ignited and awakened his soul, protecting him from stone petrifaction. I was so concerned with his safety, I failed to remember his mate mark wouldn’t be the only change to my body. My eye color changed from hazel, to blue, the clan’s hue. I really should have read more paranormal books. Crap.

     Opening my eyes, I take in a deep breath through my nose. The memory of my intimate night with Asher disappears. His mate mark angrily pulses on my lower back, alerting me to Asher’s emotional state. He’s pissed. Of course he is. Why wouldn’t he be?

     Gage sighs in annoyance. “One look at you, love, and the Declan clan will not be able to overlook the fact that you are the dark prince’s mate.”

     My eyes narrow in response. “Not fully. Abby told me that the mark and eye color are temporary until my new mark is infused with Asher’s blood. If that doesn’t happen, with time, both disappear and release him of our soul connection. That’s what needs to happen, Gage. I only did this to protect him from the council and Dark Army.”

     Gage releases a hollow laugh that sounds more like a bark. “You’re naïve, daughter of Heaven, to think you gave yourself to him in the name of protection only.”

     My teeth clench in aggravation. “You said you would help me. I need to extract my aunt Elizabeth from Lucifer before he kills her. I’m the one he wants. It’s my role to save her. By any means necessary. Asher wouldn’t have let me do this, you know that.”

     He holds my gaze for a moment in contemplation. “Don’t you mean your mother?”


     “Ever since finding out that Elizabeth and Michael are your biological parents, you continue to refer to her as your aunt. She’s your mother, love. You are her flesh and blood.”

     I pull my chin out of his grasp. “Fine. I need to save…my mother.” As the words fall out of my mouth, my stomach sinks at the recollection that both the archangel and my guardian, whom I’ve known since birth as my aunt Elizabeth, lied to me for years before recently coming clean about our biological lineage.

     “Are you going to help me or not?” I snip impatiently.

     Gage’s focus shifts from me, down the haze-filled path, toward the ominous castle that belongs to Deacon, the leader of the Declan clan. Since Gage was the half-demon, half-gargoyle’s right hand man for a short time, Gage is the only one who knows of its location, which is why I entrusted him to assist me with this plan.

     My eyes follow his line of sight, landing on the stone fortress, as unease trickles down my spine. The last time I was here, Deacon was holding me hostage. Despite the bad blood between the two, Gage had helped Asher and his family, the London clan, with my rescue.

     Deacon’s entire focus has been to hand me over to Lucifer and the Dark Army. He killed Aria, my best friend and college roommate, while she was protecting me. After which, both Deacon’s brother Kaiden, and his mother Dimia, died doing his bidding.

     I shudder at the thought of what he’ll do to me this time, knowing that Asher and the St. Michaels won’t save me. Stabbing Asher, the future king of the gargoyle race, in the heart with my daggers was the ultimate betrayal. I’ve ended the protection the clan offered.

     Releasing a slow breath, I remind myself that I’m the weapon, created by Heaven, to tip the scale in their favor and bring redemption to the world ending this centuries’ old war. Heaven sees me as a pawn, but for Hell, I’m a threat to their very existence. It’s why they’re hunting me. If not restrained, I have the power to destroy the Dark Army. This time, though, I’m going to make it easy and surrender, exchanging my life for my Elizabeth’s.

     Chewing on the inside of my cheek, I wait for his answer. Deciding then and there, with or without his help, I’m still doing this. It’s my fault that Deacon and Lucifer kidnapped my mother to get to me. Gage faces me with a soft look. I can tell he’s made his decision.

     Silently, he extends his hand for me to take, and I do, as relief floods through me. The grip he has on me tightens, almost painfully, as he yanks me harshly to his chest. Without warning, his grey wings snap out from his back. Gage’s face morphs into one of regret.

     My expression turns to one of confusion at his sudden coldness, wordlessly questioning him.

     “Sorry, love,” Gage whispers in my ear before disappearing with me in his possession.

If I stand any straighter, I think it’s possible my spine might snap in two. Of their own accord, my hands clench and unclench at my sides in agitation. I fear if they stop, I might land a hard smack on the cheek of the sexy gargoyle watching me with his unimpressed eyes.

     “Are you fucking kidding me?” I scream and throw my hands up in dismay.

     The protector ignores my outburst. Instead of responding, he takes out a cigarette, rolling it between his thumb and index finger, momentarily distracting me. Damn, he’s alluring when he does that.

     “I said I was sorry,” Gage offers unapologetically, yanking me back to the present.

     “Take. Me. Back,” I demand.

     “No,” he says with finality then pulls out a lighter from the front pocket of his black dress pants. Once the nicotine stick is lit, he drags in a hard inhale, relaxing his face and shoulders.

     “Now, Gage.” I narrow my eyes at him.

     He pins me with a hard glare and he lets out a long exhale. A cloud of smoke is directed at me, forcing me to fan my hand in front of my face like Miss America does when she starts crying after she’s found out she’s won. Jerk.

     “I understand the word no is not something you’re used to hearing, love, since Asher bows at your every whim, but I mean it. So stop arguing with me.” His voice is rough.

     “She will die,” I seethe.

     His shoulders drop at my statement. “Elizabeth is not under my protection. You are.”

     I scoff. “Unreal. NOW you decide to step in and protect me?” What the hell? “What happened to, I don’t babysit, love. You’re a big girl, Eve. Spread those wings and fly, daughter of Heaven.” I mock his previous statements.

     He shrugs and places the cigarette in his mouth again. “It pleases me to do so now.”

     I fold my arms over my chest and attempt to take on an even angrier stance. He just continues to stand there, unaffected, sucking on his cigarette. Letting it dangle over his infuriating perfect lips. Damn gargoyles.

     “Gage,” I fume.


     “This wasn’t the plan.”

     Gage throws the remains of his cigarette on the concrete sidewalk before stomping on it with his black designer shoes. “No, love, it wasn’t. Plans change. Isn’t that what’s so wonderful about free will, daughter of Heaven?”

     We hold one another’s irate glare before a deep tone cuts through our childish stand off.

     “In or out?” the gruff, accented voice asks in a short manner.

     My eyes shift to the large Samoan man glaring at Gage and I. His thick, tan arms are covered in tribal tattoos and folded across his heavy body. The stranger is guarding a black door with no sign on it. His sudden presence triggers the realization that we’re standing in a back alley, in a city.

     “Where are we?” I ask Gage, finally coming to my senses.

     “The Midnight Temple,” Gage says cryptically and walks over to the intimidating bodyguard. “Issac, it’s good to see you again, brother.”

     Issac doesn’t smile, or move for that matter. To be honest, he looks like he’s about to kill Gage. That unto itself makes him my new favorite person.

     “Ua leva tele ona o'u le toe va'ai ia oe,” Issac grunts out in what sounds like Samoan.

     “It has been a long time, man. I need to see him,” Gage says. “I’m owed a favor.”

     Issac slides his guarded attention toward me before motioning to me with his head.

     “O ai lou igoa?” he asks me.

     “I’m sorry, I don’t understand,” I state.

     “He wants to know your name, love,” Gage explains.

     “Oh. Eve. Eve Collins,” I answer and put out my hand to shake his.

     Isaac doesn’t take it. His dark brown eyes skate back to Gage. “E le o inei le tama.”

     Gage stands straighter and leans in. “Don’t lie to me. I know he’s here. I sense him.”

     “E na'o 'oe?” Isaac questions frostily.

     Gage’s expression turns lethal. “Do I look stupid, ma a'u o?”

     After an awkward few moments, Issac tilts his head toward the door but doesn’t make any effort to move. Gage grabs my hand and yanks me around the large man. As we pass, my arm briefly brushes Isaac’s, causing the hair on the back of my neck to tingle. He just smirks.

    Gage drags me through the steel door into a dark, long hallway. A loud buzzing sound emits from the one small, circular overhead light that’s tinted red, basking the corridor in a burgundy hue. Immediately, the smell of sulfur assaults my nose. I dig my heels into the old, thin black carpet on the floor. Crap. I’m still not wearing shoes.“Where the hell are we?”

     “That’s a pretty close assessment, love.” Gage sighs before turning to face me. “At the risk of sounding like the dark prince, in here, you stick by my side. Don’t speak. Don’t move. Don’t breathe, unless I permit it. This place is where darkness comes to play. Understood?”

     I hold his intense gaze before giving in. It’s not like Gage to go all protector bossy on me.

     “I’m not wearing shoes,” I point out.

     Gage ignores the statement. Instead, he roughly snatches my hand again and continues to pull me along, forcing us further into the hall’s darkness.

     “Why are we here?” I whisper.

     “Christ. Don’t speak unless I speak to you, love,” he growls. “You want Elizabeth back? We do it my way. This is my way.” Why do I get the feeling his way sucks?

     This was not at all how this was supposed to go. Aggravated at the change in plans, I stop and rip my hand out of his hold so he’s forced to turn and look at me again. He does.

     “Gag—” He cuts me off. With supernatural speed, Gage is in front of me, pinning me to the wall and caging me in with his arms. A shrewd smile crosses his lips as he dips his chin.

     “I mean it, love. Not one word unless I give you permission,” he orders.

     After a brief moment of defiance, I press my lips together to prove I can behave. Satisfied, Gage pushes off the wall and continues to maneuver us through the shadowy passage and up several flights of stairs.

     As we walk, the dim vibrations of a bass flow through me, prompting my curiosity. There must be a nightclub on the other side of the wall.

     I keep my eyes trained on Gage’s back while we make our way up the last set of stairs. A snow-white door sits at the top of the landing. The color seems out of place given all the deep burgundy and blacks from the stairwells and hallway decor. Upon approach, I read Media Nocte In Templo spray-painted artistically across the entry. Before Gage knocks, the door swings open and my eyes meet a familiar pair of wild emerald green ones. What the hell?

     “I’ve been waiting for you,” she rasps out.

     “Sorry we’re late, buttercup.” Gage feigns an apology.

     Confused, I look to Gage and then to the pale girl blanketing her face with her long raven hair. The new purple highlights mixed into the glossy dark strands make Nassa, Sorceress of Prosperity, look effortlessly cool. They match her deep purple eyeliner. Longing for my own clothes, I take in her black converse sneakers, black skinny jeans and vintage band t-shirt.

    What in the world is going on? I’m about to ask, but a loud squawking noise interrupts my curiosity. At the sound, my focus stops on a black crow sitting on the sorceress’ shoulder. Its wings are silky with sleek deep cobalt streaks running through the raven feathers.

     “Noir, meet Eve, daughter of Heaven. Eve, my familiar, Noir.” Nassa introduces us.

     I smirk awkwardly at the bird while it tilts its head, assessing me. My life just keeps getting more and more absurd. “You have a pet crow?” I stare at the animal in astonishment.

    Gage shoots me a menacing look, probably for speaking out of turn. My eyes widen at him in apology as I motion with my hand that I’m zipping my mouth closed. Fuck, he’s bossy.

    “You don’t have to be afraid of him.” She enlightens, reaching up and petting the creature.

    “Isn’t he sort of a symbol for death?” I snort, causing the bird to caw at me.

     “Christ, love.” I get an aggravated warning from Gage.

     “Actually, crows are keepers of the sacred law. They can see our true soul self, representing transcendence. They’re also extremely smart and loyal.” Nassa shifts her focus to me.

     I arch my brow in skepticism. “Pretty sure Alfred Hitchcock would disagree.”

     At my reference, she rolls her eyes. “If it helps you sleep at night, they mate for life, sunbathe, and can count to six.” The quirky girl explains these points as if they will win me over.

     “Fascinating,” I reply warily.

     “Noir is simply my familiar, like Malefica, aunt Lunette’s spotted panther,” she adds.

     I’d forgotten Nassa was the niece of the eccentric Sorceress Lunette. A member of the Sorceresses of the Black Circle, and one of the Supernatural Royal Court members, as well as, the guardian of the scroll of divination. Oh, and a tantric sex hobbyist who pierced my mate in the most private of spots. My lips tilt at the vision of the slim, blonde haired witch.

     “Are you going to invite us in, buttercup?” Gage winks seductively from the doorway.

    Nassa glares at him, irritated at the nickname, before stepping aside and motioning us into another hallway. Odd. Before we enter, Nassa steps up to Gage angrily.

     “For the record, Gallagher, your mere presence makes me want to puke,” she quips.

     Gage just stares at her with a blank expression before leaning toward her ear to speak quietly.

     “Gallagher, huh? It’s nice to see you got my name right this time, buttercup. I loathe being confused with God. Oh God…please,” he says in a low, seductive voice. 

     My eyes slide closed. Well, crap. That can’t be unheard.

    Nassa releases a raspy, deep laugh. “Don’t flatter yourself, Gallagher. I was just surprised. Oh God, is that all there is,” she mouths off as I beg the floor to open up and swallow me.

    Gage rolls his neck, allowing the loud cracks of his straining bones and muscles to echo off the walls. He ignores her smart remark and snatches my hand, yanking me hard into the corridor as I stumble over my feet.

    “Eve needs to clean up. Maybe an outfit and some shoes. Can you help before she meets him?” Gage grits out.

    “If you’d release your overprotective grip on her, I’ll get right on that,” Nassa retorts.

    “Love, go with Nassa. You have ten minutes.” He releases my hand.

    I go to say something snarky, but Gage’s face morphs into one of caution. Damn my promise to keep my mouth shut. Instead, I follow the sorceress into a backroom, where she roughly throws a duffle bag at me. Rummaging thought it I find it’s filled with my own clothes and products, as well as my favorite shoes. My eyes meet hers in question.

    “How did you get my things?” I ask.

    “Gallagher told me about your little escape plan, so I packed some items I thought you’d need.” She points a dark purple, polished index finger behind me. “There’s a bathroom through that door to freshen up. No offense but you smell like vomit,” she states as a matter of fact.

    “Yeah…well, you smell like crow,” I retort.

    Her face scrunches. “That isn’t even an insult. You need to spend more time with Kenna.”

    I ignore the dig and snatch the bag off the floor then head into the bathroom to change. Ten minutes later, I’m clean and in my own clothes, shoes and all. I open the door to see Nassa sitting on a couch, magazine in hand. Noir stares at me with his beady bird eyes. Creepy.

    “Why didn’t you have that thing with you when you were at the summit in London?” I ask.

    “Noir doesn’t like flying,” she answers in an even tone, not looking at me.

    I study her for a moment to see if she’s joking. She’s not. Is she serious? She has a pet bird that doesn’t like to fly. Awesome. “Where are we?” I change topics.

    “Didn’t Gallagher warn you not to speak or ask questions?” Her head tilts, watching me.

    “He did. I thought since we know one another, you might be a little more forthcoming with information. My mistake.” I shift uncomfortably, while she focuses on the glossy pages of the fashion magazine. “Are you and Gage an item now, or something?”

    Nassa sighs. “New York. You’re in Manhattan. And no we’re not.”

    I drop the bag holding my dirty outfit and nod in appreciation. “Thanks.”

    She studies me for a moment. “For what it’s worth, I think what you did to Asher was pretty shitty. I’m willing to bet he kills you. Painfully. That said, I respect why you did it. I would do anything to keep my mom safe. So we’re cool. You and me.”

    I swallow the painful lump forming in my throat. “Good to know,” I whisper.

    Her eyes float around the storage room. “This is my uncle’s club, The Midnight Temple. That’s what the Latin graffiti on the door translates into.”

    “Why did Gage bring me here?” I sit down on the worn couch next to her.

    Twisting so she can see me, Nassa shrugs. “Probably because my uncle’s a demon lord.”

    I knit my brows. “A what?”

    “Demon lord. It’s the same as an archangel only for the other team.”

    “Your uncle is a demon? I thought you were a sorceress?” I accuse.

    “My mom is a sorceress. My dad, Mammon, holds a high position within the demon world. To avoid the look you’re giving me now, I tend to play up the sorceress side. It’s less…freakish. I make more friends that way,” she deadpans with a look of irritation.

    “Mammon… Your dad is the demon of greed?” I question in a high-pitched voice.

    “You’re in no position to judge. Your dad is the warrior of Heaven,” she throws back.

    “Sorry,” I murmur. “Wait, how do you know about Michael?”

    “Noir can see your true soul. Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me,” Nassa ensures.

    “Forgive my mistrust but my ability to read people’s motives isn’t what it used to be.”

    “I have nothing to gain by ratting you out, Eve. I live with my mother and the Sorceresses of the Black Circle. My allegiance is to them. I haven’t seen my dad, or my uncle, in a very long time. Nor do I care to engage in what their side believes to be truth,” she explains.

    “If your dad is Mammon, who’s your uncle?” I question, not really wanting to know.

    “The King of the Nine Hells, one of the original seven princes of Hell. Known to most as the demon of lust,” Nassa answers, holding my eyes.

    “Actually, my dear niece, my claim to fame is that I penned the contract of creation,” a baritone intonation cascades over us from the doorway.

    At the interruption, both Nassa and I become rigid, shifting our focus to the voice.

    “Eve, meet my uncle, Asmodeus.”

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