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Monthly Archives: June 2018

{Review} Twice Dead by Caitlin Seal


37789954Twice Dead by Caitlin Seal

Hardcover, 336 pages

Expected publication: September 18th 2018 by Charlesbridge Teen

Goodreads

~Rating: 4/5 stars~

Naya, the daughter of a sea merchant captain, nervously undertakes her first solo trading mission in the necromancer-friendly country bordering her homeland of Talmir. Unfortunately, she never even makes it to the meeting. She’s struck down in the streets of Ceramor. Murdered.

But death is not the end for Naya. She awakens to realize she’s become an abomination–a wraith, a ghostly creature bound by runes to the bones of her former corpse. She’s been resurrected in order to become a spy for her country. Reluctantly, she assumes the face and persona of a servant girl named Blue.

She never intended to become embroiled in political plots, kidnapping, and murder. Or to fall in love with the young man and former necromancer she is destined to betray.

~Review~

*a copy was provided by NetGalley*

I enjoyed this more than I expected! I have to admit, it took me about 20% to really get into it, but once I did, I really really, really enjoyed reading it! Such an interesting concept and exciting new topic of fantasy to explore. Ugh I need the second one now!

Twice Dead is the first installment in Caitlin Seal’s new series titled The Necromancer’s Song. Because this is a review for a book that has not yet been released, it will be spoiler and plot free. I was first drawn to the cover of this book, and although I usually tend to avoid paranormal fantasy, the description proved too tempting to pass up.

The book follows our main character Naya, a naive trade merchant’s daughter from the country of Talmir, who is on her first trade mission in the country of Celamor. Her father waits for her on their ship while she ventures off to meet with the client. On the way there, she’s murdered in an alleyway and later brought to back to life as a wraith by a necromancer. After her resurrection, she learns from the Talmirian embassy that she was brought back in order to spy on Celamor.

Twice Dead also had some interesting twists and surprises — it definitely packed some punch. The story, in my opinion, was really thought out and well planned. There wasn’t one point in this book where I was confused as to what was going on. Naya was an interesting, dynamic character, and almost immediately, I felt comfortable in her head.

I highly recommend this novel to anyone who enjoys paranormal fantasy! I cannot wait to read the rest of this series when it comes out! I’m excited!

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~Author Bio~

Photo by Mic DBernardo PhotographyCaitlin is a writer and compulsive reader living in Northern California. She graduated from Middlebury College with a degree in International Politics and Economics, and quickly learned that she preferred making up her own governments to working with real ones.

She started writing when she was six and her parents were kind enough to encourage her even though her stories involved things like haunted jukeboxes luring people to their deaths. When not writing she GMs tabletop games, practices aikido, and hunts for portals in old wardrobes.

She writes Fantasy and Science Fiction and is represented by Lucienne Diver of The Knight Agency. Her first novel, TWICE DEAD, will be published by Charlesbridge Teen in Fall 2018.

Twitter | InstagramWebsite | Goodreads

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Happy Reading!

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Book Blitz ~ Alpha by Jus Accardo: Excerpt + Giveaway!


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Alpha by Jus Accardo

(The Infinity Division #3)

Published by: Entangled: Teen

Publication date: July 3rd 2018

Genres: Science Fiction, Young Adult

“A fun YA sci-fi story with a compelling cast of characters.” —Kirkus Reviews on Infinity

Sera is the obsession of a killer chasing a ghost. G is a soldier with too much blood on his hands.

Dylan lost the only person he ever loved—and will stop at nothing to get her back.

In a whirlwind chase that takes them back to where it all started, Sera, G, and Dylan will have to confront their demons—both physical and mental—and each other, in order to win their freedom.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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~Excerpt~

The rain stopped, and the wind outside had settled, leaving an uncomfortable silence in its wake. I didn’t have a problem with the quiet. I liked it, in fact. But this was something a little different. This was uncomfortable. The kind of stillness that came from forced proximity to someone or something that made your skin itch and your stomach roil. The kind of hush that usually set in right before a devastating storm or a natural disaster.

He did this sometimes. Just sat across from me and stared. He usually wouldn’t even say anything. I didn’t think he expected me to say anything, either. He just looked. Sometimes it lasted a few minutes, just long enough to send that chill skittering up and down my spine. Other times it would go on for hours. He’d blink and breathe and fidget, but his eyes…those remained locked on me, his unhealthy mix of sadness and lust and greed and anger crushing me to the point of breathlessness.

We were at it again, and I was just about out of patience. It was one thing to have been ripped away from my home, from my life, by that madwoman, Cora Anderson. It was another to have her poke and prod and use me as a science experiment. She’d altered my mind. Made me forget most of my life before the day I woke up a prisoner on the floor of her cold, dank cell. Those things were all bad, but having been “rescued” by this bastard and forced to stay by his side at all times? That was an entirely new level of torture.

“You’re thinking about him again, aren’t you?” His tone was acidic and his jaw tight. He had a temper, this guy. I’d seen it multiple times. He’d never done anything more than scream at me, but it was only a matter of time with people like this. I wasn’t sure how I knew that, but I felt it in my bones. Maybe I’d known someone like him at home. Maybe it was just intuition.

“Yes,” was all I replied. I found that simple, one-word responses went over the best. Or, more accurately, the worst. When I said too little, he grew agitated. He wanted me to talk to him, yet the things that came out of my mouth weren’t ever what he wanted to hear. I didn’t act like he’d hoped I would, didn’t say the things he longed to hear. Some days he was determined to change me. Others, he was rabid, blaming me for not behaving like myself and demanding that I wake up.

Forget that I had no idea who I was.

“While it’s not okay, I understand.” He offered me a smile—a small, tentative twitch of his lips and gentle shrug of his shoulders. He was making an effort to be kinder today, going out of his way to speak softer and move slower.

That made me even angrier.

“You understand? Then my life is complete. All I’ve ever wanted was the understanding of a serial killer.” Even if I hadn’t been thinking about…someone else, I would have lied. The fact that I wasn’t focused on him, and him alone, drove Dylan—my savior, my captor—crazy. But the truth was, I was thinking of him. That other him. How could I not? Even if I didn’t find myself missing him every moment of every day in an almost physical way, I wouldn’t be able to put him out of my mind because he was technically sitting here across from me.

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~Author Bio~

JUS ACCARDO spent her childhood reading and learning to cook. Determined to follow in her grandfather’s footsteps as a chef, she applied and was accepted to the Culinary Institute of America. But at the last minute, she realized her true path lay with fiction, not food.

Jus is the bestselling author of the popular Denazen series from Entangled publishing. A native New Yorker, she lives in the middle of nowhere with her husband, three dogs, and sometimes guard bear, Oswald.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

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~Giveaway~

Blitz-wide giveaway (US/CAN)

2x print copies of Alpha

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Waiting on Wednesday ~ The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest


WOW____

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event on my blog; So Many Books So Little Time, which spotlights highly anticipating upcoming new releases.  Usually posted on Wednesdays.

This week’s pre-publication “can’t-wait-to-read” selection is:

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The Iron Flower by Laurie Forest

Hardcover, 608 pages

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Expected publication: September 18th 2018 by Harlequin Teen

Elloren Gardner and her friends were only seeking to right a few wrongs, but their actions have propelled them straight into the ranks of the realm-wide Resistance against Gardnerian encroachment. As the Resistance struggles against the harsh rulings of High Priest Marcus Vogel and the Mage Council, Elloren begins to realize that none of the people she cares about will be safe if Gardneria seizes control of the Western Realm.

With tensions heating up in Verpacia, more and more Gardnerian soldiers continue to descend upon the university…led by none other than Lukas Grey, now commander of the newly rebuilt Fourth Division base. Though Elloren tries to keep him at arm’s length, Lukas is determined to wandfast to her, convinced that she has inherited her grandmother’s magic—the prophesied power of the Black Witch. As his very nearness seems to awaken a darkness inside her, Elloren finds it more and more difficult to believe that she’s truly powerless, as her uncle always claimed.

Caught between her growing feelings for the rebellious Yvan Guriel and the seductive power offered by Lukas Grey, Elloren must find a way to stay true to what she knows is right and protect everyone she loves…even if that means protecting them from herself.

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What are you waiting on?

 

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Book Blitz ~ Destiny Calls by Phenice Arielle: Book Trailer, Teaser + Giveaway!


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Destiny Calls by Phenice Arielle

(The Phoenix Rising #1)

Publication date: December 26th 2013

Genres: Paranormal, Romance, Young Adult

College student Kay Morowa goes up against warlords, poachers and human traffickers in The Phoenix Rising – Destiny Calls.

After Kay’s parents reveal that they haven’t been honest with her about her past, Kay flies to South Africa feeling bitter and anxious. Her excitement on arrival is cut short when she becomes a victim of a human trafficking ring operated by a large-scale poaching operation.

Kay flees and finds her way to a dazzling refuge called Ipharadisi. There, she meets the majestic, menacing Queen Zaina and a handsome doctor named Erec.

Although impressed by Ipharadisi’s beauty and noble reason for existence, Kay’s sole desire is to return home to her college beau (whom she has much unsettled business with) and to her mom and dad, whom Kay never thought she could miss so much.

If Kay can survive the hand-to-hand combat she’ll need to learn to survive, she may just become the kind of peace-seeking hero her classmates would never believe. However, Kay may never get to tell the story if she can’t find her way home, or if she is forced to stay, or worse, if in doing either, Kay dies.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iBooks | Kobo

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Only 99¢ for a limited time!

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~BOOK TRAILER~

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~Author Bio~

The Phoenix Rising – Destiny Calls was inspired by global events. Please support organizations like Restore International (Love Does), UNICEF and Wildlife Conservation Society.

New York native Phenice Arielle (featured on the book cover) majored in journalism at The Pennsylvania State University. Her favorite memories are those of traveling solo through South Africa and Namibia.

Having worked in both print and broadcast media, Phenice Arielle wrote, directed and produced a series of cinematic trailers for The Phoenix Rising – Destiny Calls to give fans a taste of future plans for the book and rest of the series.

For book extras, exclusive content and to stay in the loop about the upcoming sequel, follow @PheniceArielle at:

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Instagram

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~Giveaway~

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)

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Teaser Tuesday (#64)


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Teaser Tuesday is a weekly meme hosted by So Many Books So Little Time. Anyone can do it.  All you have to do is: (1): Grab your current read. (2): Open it to a random page. (3): Share 1 or 2 “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page.  BE CAREFUL NOT TO INCLUDE SPOILERS!! (4): Make sure you also mention the author and title.

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Heartless by Marissa Meyer
Goodreads Button with Shadow

#1:

“These things do not happen in dreams, dear girl,’ he said, vanishing up to his neck. ‘They happen only in nightmares.’
His head spiraled and he was gone.”

#2:

“Mind my words, Cheshire, I will have you banished from this kingdom if you tempt me.”
“An empty threat from an empty girl.”
She rounded on him, teeth flashing. “I am not empty. I am full to the brim with murder and revenge. I am overflowing and I do not think you wish for me to overflow on to you.”
“There was a time” – Cheshire yawned – “when you overflowed with whimsy and icing sugar. I liked that Catherine better.”

#3:

“This was why she enjoyed baking. A good dessert could make her feel like she’d created joy at the tips of her fingers. Suddenly, the people around the table were no longer strangers. They were friends and confidantes, and she was sharing with them her magic.”

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{Review} Love Hack by Kimberly Dean


38101224Love Hack by Kimberly Dean

ebook, 151 pages

Published March 8th 2018

Goodreads

~Rating: 3.5/5 stars~

Security analyst Spencer Weiler is excited when he lands a job at Afire Industries. The responsibility is daunting, but nowhere near as exhilarating as working with Josie Johnson, the pretty program manager in charge. Spencer lusts after her, but knows that she only sees him as a work friend. He needs to make himself over if he’s going to have a shot with her. Josie is all too aware of the cute computer geek watching over her. He was tempting before, but with his newfound muscles and sexy haircut, he’s suddenly an irresistible stud. She makes the first move and is stunned to learn that her hot IT guy is just as studious in the sack. Their affair turns hot and heavy, but Josie had broken her rule about dating coworkers once before. It hadn’t ended well. When her ex returns and posts scandalous pictures of her on the Internet, it’s not Spencer’s muscles that she needs. She needs a hacker.

~Review~

*a copy was provided by NetGalley*

I fully admit that I probably had way too high expectations for this book.

Love Hack follows Spencer, a computer geek / security analyst new to the company of Afire, and Josie, his new program manager that he must work with to re-enhance their company’s security protocol. There’s an undeniable attraction between Spencer and Josie that the both of them try to ignore. But when Josie’s ex comes roaring back into the picture with some terrible blackmail, Spencer is there to help her.

The characters could have had more depth and development, the good ones and the bad ones. I feel like I really didn’t know the characters at all and even the major villain was pretty lackluster. The plot could have also been a little less predictable and have a little more build up, whether it be in sexual situations or in the major plot points. There just could have been a little more of everything. I probably won’t find myself reaching for something else by this author any time soon.

Overall, Love Hack was a quick read with some quality steamy scenes. It was well written and engaging. It is a must read if you love geeky dorky hero or heroine.!

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~Author Bio~

When taking the Myers-Briggs personality test in high school, Kimberly was rated as an INFJ (Introverted-Intuitive-Feeling-Judging). This result sent her into a panic, because there were no career paths recommended for the type. Fortunately, it turned out to be well-suited to a writing career. Since receiving that dismal outlook, Kimberly has become an award-winning author of romance and erotica.  She has written for seven publishing houses, both domestic and international, and has recently focused her efforts on the exciting world of self-publishing. When not writing, she enjoys movies, sports, traveling, music, and sunshine. In her mind, a beach, some rock ‘n’ roll, and a good book make for a perfect day.

Twitter | Website | Goodreads

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Happy Reading!

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Book Blitz ~ Dark Water byJ.A. Armitage: Excerpt + Giveaway!


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Dark Water by J.A. Armitage

(Reverse Fairytales, #4)

Publication date: June 19th 2018

Genres: Fairy Tales, Young Adult

You think you know the story of The Little Mermaid…

A tragic accident on the eve of her eighteenth birthday leads Princess Erica to a chance encounter with a mysterious man on the beach. When he turns up at her birthday party and whisks her off her feet, she knows she has to find out everything about him, but why won’t he speak and where does he keep disappearing to?

Ari knows he’s crossed a line by mingling with the land humans, but how can he resist the beautiful princess whose life he saved? He must decide whether to stay on land and become like her, or continue to live without her in the depths of the ocean.

Trapped in a centuries long battle between his kind and hers, his decision will rock both their kingdoms.

With a sea witch that needs repaying and the small matter of Erica’s engagement to someone else, Ari knows the odds are stacked against him.

Dark Water is the fourth in the Reverse Fairytale series and the first Little Mermaid retelling by USA Today bestselling author J.A.Armitage. Take everything you think you know about fairytales and turn it on its head.

Goodreads | Amazon

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~Excerpt~

CHAPTER ONE

“May God bless her and all who sail on her.”

I cleared my throat, hoping I’d said it correctly, and gripped the bottle of champagne, terrified of letting it go too early or, worse still, missing the ship entirely.

Beyond the ship, the ocean shimmered in the midday sun. Diamond-like sparkles of light bounced off the calm cerulean water—water that looked so inviting, I wanted nothing more than to jump in, to surrender to the balmy ripples. Of course, wanting it and doing it were two different things. First of all, I couldn’t swim, and secondly, my mother would pitch a fit if I took another step closer to the dock edge. She was already a bag of nerves from today’s event.

I looked behind me, needing reassurance from my parents. This was my first official royal engagement, and I was terrified of messing it up. My father beamed at me with pride while my mother gave me a thin smile. I could see the fear in her eyes although she was doing her best to hide it. I was amazed she’d come at all. The ocean positively terrified her. My father’s hand was almost white with how hard my mother was squeezing it. Next to them, my little brother, Anthony, was picking his nose and examining the treasure he found up there. Not for the first time I was reminded how fortunate it was that I was the first in line to the throne.

Beside me, my life-long best friend nudged me to let go of the bottle. Officially, his title was Sir Hayden Harrington-Blythe, but to me, he was just Hayden. He’d been my first crush since our first day in kindergarten when he’d pulled on my pigtails, and I’d stamped on his foot. Despite our unpromising start, over the years we’d turned into friends. My crush on him was long since over, and his pigtail pulling days were long gone, but somehow, our friendship had survived.

“You do know you are supposed to let go of the bottle right?” whispered Hayden in my ear. I gave him a look I only ever reserved for him and lifted the bottle. Letting go, I watched it swing on a length of string, arcing towards the majestic ship’s wooden hull. It made a tinkling sound as it smashed against the side of the ship, scattering glass all over the paved dock. I couldn’t help thinking it was a waste of good champagne and that it would be better served at the ball being held in honor of my birthday in a couple of days’ time. Still, I felt invigorated by the salty smell of the ocean, the atmosphere of a thousand happy people coming out to see the launch, and the fact that I now had a boat that bore my name. I was feeling as excited as I could hope to feel, second only to being allowed to actually go out on the damn thing.

The Erica Rose’s white sails flapped in the breeze below the official flag of Trifork as if she were eager to be off, out onto the ocean. I couldn’t blame her. To sail on the ocean was a lifelong dream of mine. Ever since I could remember, I’d looked out of my bedroom window toward the ocean and dreamed of the day that I’d be able to disappear beyond the rolling waves toward the horizon.

It was a dream that had never, and would never, be realized as long as my parents were in charge. For a kingdom so well-known for its naval and merchant vessels, my parents were ridiculously strict about letting me go near the ocean. This was the closest I’d gotten in the whole eighteen years of my life, and I had a full team of palace guards surrounding me, stopping me from taking one step closer to the water’s edge than I had to. It was all because of my mother, of course. My father might have been the one that ruled Trifork, but in the palace, my mother was the one that wore the pants, so to speak. If my mother said I couldn’t go near the ocean, then my father wasn’t going to argue with her. However, today was a special day, and not even my mother could come up with a good enough reason for us not to be here. She might have been absolutely petrified, but she was the queen, a duty she held above everything, even crippling panic.

Everybody clapped as the wooden ship began pulling up its anchor, its crew readying themselves to set sail.

I took a deep breath and inhaled the salty air. Above the excited chatter of the crowd, seagulls cawed to each other as they flew overhead looking for an easy snack. Oh, how I envied them and their freedom.

My father managed to extricate himself from my mother’s vice-like grip and joined me on the dock’s edge. My poor mother’s face turned even more ashen, and she had to grip a nearby railing instead to save herself from fainting. It was almost cruel, living so close to the ocean and being so frightened of it. I saw her eyes darting past my father and me to the ocean behind us as though it could somehow climb above the dock and swallow us whole. I don’t doubt it could on a stormy day, but today the skies were blue, and the sea was calm.

“We here in Trifork have a rich sailing heritage, one of which I am immensely proud,” began my father into the microphone that had been set up for the occasion. “Today is a big day for me, both as a king and a father. As you all know, my daughter, the princess Erica Rose, will turn eighteen in just two days’ time. Her first official engagement was supposed to be at the ball, but she begged me to be allowed to launch this ship. Being the dutiful father I am, I agreed.” He paused at this point waiting for a laugh. When he got it, he carried on. “This is my birthday gift to you, dear Erica. I know you’ve always had a fondness for the sea and so this ship not only bears your name but also belongs to you.”

I blinked a couple of times, unsure if what I was hearing was true. The ship was mine? I wasn’t allowed to dip my toes in the shallow waves at the beach, but I was allowed to own a ship?

I gazed up at the huge galleon. “She’s mine?” Hope rose in my chest that I might, for the first time in my life, be able to go out on the ocean. My parents had never so much as let me sail in a dinghy before now, let alone go on a ship.

“She’s all yours, sweetheart. As part of our fleet and a working ship, she will be taken out by her captain, Captain Jackson. But when she’s back in Trifork, you will be able to see her whenever you want.”

“See her?”

“Yes,” beamed my father, oblivious to the disappointment I was feeling. Only see her? I didn’t want a ship to look at. I’d spent my entire life watching the ships of Trifork sail in and out of the harbor. I wanted to sail to foreign lands, to feel the sea breeze upon my cheek. I wanted to know what it felt like to roll over the gentle waves with the vastness of the ocean the only thing in view.

My mother caught my disappointment though. She could read me like a book. An elegant woman with a sharp tongue and an even sharper sense of style, she swallowed her terror and took a few steps toward me, toward the ocean. She walked tall and calmly, but a slight tremor in her step gave her away.

“Aren’t you happy with your new ship?”

“Yes ma’am,” I lied. What was the point of having a ship if I wasn’t allowed on it?

She flicked her eyes past me, once again, toward the ocean. What was it she was looking for? Her eyes snapped back to me. “You know my feelings on you going near the sea, Erica. It’s a dangerous place. I nearly drowned when I was about your age.” She took my hand and pulled me a couple of steps toward her—away from the dock’s edge.

I’d heard the story a million times. Every time I even hinted at wanting to go near the sea, she’d dredge up the same story about how she nearly drowned when she was younger. I wasn’t in the mood to hear it again.

The ship was cast off, the gangplank raised. My ship was about to go on an adventure I could only dream of. The wind caught the sails and the majestic vessel began to move, her crew waving at us as she inched away from the dockside.

My father clapped me on the back, a beaming smile on his face. Even my mother, who usually had a face like a prune when it came to anything to do with water, had found her smile again. I glanced over at Hayden. He knew I was disappointed. I talked about nothing but the ocean with him. He loved the water as I did, but unlike me, he could go out onto it whenever he wanted. He even had his own boat. It was nowhere near as grand as the Erica Rose, but at least, he was allowed to sail in it.

He flicked his eyes almost imperceptibly towards the ship. I arched a brow.

“Do it,” he mouthed silently and cast his eyes towards the ship once again.

He wanted me to jump on the ship! He was actually daring me to do it. Thoughts of all the silly childhood pranks and adventures he’d led me into filled my mind. Hayden was the epitome of an irresistible bad idea. I followed his eye line to where the gangplank had been pulled up. The gate was still open, but it wouldn’t be for long. The ship was already a foot away from the dock and moving swiftly towards the open sea. I had seconds to make a decision.

My heart hammered, and adrenaline took over. Without thinking too hard, I ran from my parents, barged past the palace guards, and jumped as far as I could right off the dock. The ship had moved much faster than I’d anticipated, and I missed the gate by a long shot, and instead of landing on the ship, I plunged head first into the sea.

All I could hear were my mother’s screams as the water crowded in around me.

The water that had looked so warm and inviting when I’d been standing on the dock was actually a lot colder than I’d imagined, and as I scrambled for air, its icy grip took my breath away.

Mouthfuls of briny water flowed into my mouth, causing me to choke as I tried desperately to keep above the water’s surface. In one terrifying instant, I realized what it was that my mother had been keeping me from for all these years. As I’d never been allowed in water deeper than a bath, I’d never learned how to swim. It occurred to me now that this wasn’t exactly my finest moment.

The dress I’d had picked out for me, a knee length cotton blue dress was perfect for looking smart and launching a ship. It was utterly useless as a floatation device. The heavy, waterlogged fabric weighed me down, making it even harder to try to keep my head above water.

Beside me, I heard a splash. I looked over to see a red and white life ring bobbing close by with a rope attached to it. On the other end of the rope, the Erica Rose’s crew shouted at me to grab hold. After I’d managed to pull myself through it, they heaved me up and pulled me over the side of the boat.

A group of worried faces peered down at me. One of the men reached a hand down to help me up. As I righted myself, my dress dripped ocean water all over the deck and tightened around me. I felt so uncomfortable in the soggy outfit, but when I saw how far from the dock we’d already moved, excitement flooded through me. The fear I’d felt just moments before dissolved, leaving me feeling exhilarated. I was on a ship for the first time in my life, and we were sailing away from the dock.

With giddy excitement, I gripped a railing. On the edge of the dock, my parents shouted and waved for us to come back. My heart fell as I caught the expression on my mother’s face. Her usual stern expression had contorted to one of absolute fear, and she wasn’t trying to hide it anymore. Her screams pierced the air, her usual stoic facade dropped completely as she tore at my father who was desperately trying to pull her back from the edge of the dock.

Her fear of falling into the ocean was obviously smaller than losing one of her children to it.

My stomach churned as I realized the severity of my actions. I’d only wanted to go out to sea. I didn’t want to hurt my mother in the process. I was going to be in the worst kind of trouble for this little stunt, and as we floated further and further out to sea, the more I realized that the adventure was not worth it.

Captain Jackson, a tall man with a perfectly groomed black mustache and oiled down hair greeted me with a salute. I’d never been saluted before. Bowed to and curtseyed aplenty, but a salute was new to me. I raised my hand and saluted back, unsure of the etiquette.

“I’m going to try to turn the ship back, your highness, but it may take a little time to adjust the sails. The wind is not optimal right now. There’s a squall coming, and I’d hoped to get far enough away to miss it.”

I glanced out to the horizon. The seamless blue sky was darkening, and the sea below it matched its threatening color. Where had that come from? Only seconds before, the weather had been as perfect as anyone could wish for.

“Yes, please turn around.” My heart dropped as I realized that my adventure was over before it had even started, and I’d gotten nothing out of it except to embarrass myself in front of thousands of onlookers and terrify my poor mother.

I looked back over to the shoreline. My parents and all the onlookers were barely dots on the horizon now. To my right, I could see the public beach to which people flocked in the summer months. Beyond that were magnificent white cliffs that I’d heard plenty about but never actually seen before as they were only visible from the sea. To my left, the coast was much rockier, and here was where the royal castle stood. Only a wide promenade separated the rocks from the castle. It looked so dark and imposing with its granite grey towers; I barely recognized it from this angle.

“Why don’t you go to my cabin and get changed out of those wet clothes. I’ll have one of my crew show you where it is.”

Captain Jackson swiveled on his toe and left me alone, feeling terrible. I’d not paused to consider the crew or the captain, and now they were going to have to abort their mission. I could chalk up a few more people to the list of those I’d disappointed. With a sigh, I walked to the other side of the deck to look out at the vast ocean. In the distance, the sea turned black and churned ominously almost as though that part of the ocean was alive and out to get us. It was a stark contrast to the crystal clear and calm water beneath the ship. Above me, the crew of the Erica Rose battled to maneuver the sails to turn us around.

“Your Royal Highness.”

I heard someone shouting at me above the wind that was now blustering fiercely. Lightning forked, splitting the sky in two, and the wind tugged my hair from the clip that had been keeping it in place. Strands of long red hair whipped around my face. I turned to see a young man heading toward me.

“I’m Joe, Your Highness, the second in command of the Erica Rose,” he said, giving me a quick bow. “The captain has asked me to escort you to his cabin.”

Joe was barely older than me, with short, dirty blond hair and a winning smile. I was surprised to see someone so young be the second in command of such a ship.

“It’s getting a little choppy,” Joe cautioned, his cheeks red as he took my hand. “They are going to struggle to get the ship back to shore. The forecast mentioned a little bit of turbulent water, but it looks to be shaping up to be a proper storm out there.”

I followed Joe to a big wooden doorway, which he opened for me and beckoned me inside. As I thanked him, a boom filled the darkening sky.

“Thunder,” Joe remarked, taking my hand and leading me down a corridor. I held on tightly to him as the ship listed violently to one side from the sharp turn of the wheel. He showed me to a large room with a writing desk on one side and a bed on the other.

“There will be some clothes in the wardrobe there,” he said, pointing to a small door. “I don’t expect the captain has any dresses, but I’m sure you’ll find something dry to wear.”

I watched the storm unfold through a small porthole as Joe left me to help the captain. It seemed no one was expecting the weather to be this bad and how could they? Only ten minutes earlier, there hadn’t been a cloud in the sky, and now there was barely any blue left, only the darkness of the sea and the sky. It was strange how quickly the storm had taken hold. I certainly had never seen anything like it before. Outside, the rain began to lash down, pitter-pattering on the round window. Thunder crashed as the waves became more intense with the roaring wind that whipped all around us. The storm had sneaked up on us quickly, and as far as I could see, we were getting further and further away from the coastline. Whatever Captain Jackson’s men were doing to turn the ship around, it wasn’t helping.

I hated admitting it to myself after dreaming of the day I could finally sail on the sea for so long, but I was beginning to get scared. My mother’s screams echoed in my head, although we had drifted too far to really hear her. The boat creaked with the strain, and from out of the window, I could see we were being pulled closer and closer toward the storm. A crash from behind me made me jump. I turned to find that some previously neatly stacked dishes had been flung from the cupboard and were now in hundreds of pieces on the floor. Holding on was almost impossible, the ship was lurching so much. I tried walking over to the wardrobe that Joe had pointed out, but the floor beneath me was rocking so much under the motion of the waves that I could barely stand at all. With a shock, I saw a stream of water pushing the remnants of the dishes across the floor. It was coming from the doorway. We were taking on water. I held on to the writing desk to keep myself upright, but the motion of the ship knocked me to the floor. Something sharp pierced my side, and when I looked down, I saw a sliver of broken plate had cut through my dress and into my flesh creating a bloom of fresh blood on the wet fabric.

I looked up to grab hold of the desk to pull myself back up and was shocked to see that the window was now partly submerged. We were sinking, and we were sinking fast.

Pulling myself up, I ran to the door quickly. I had to get out, or I would drown. I yanked the door as hard as I could, and as it opened, a deluge of water rushed in knocking me over once again. The lights flickered out leaving me in complete darkness as the water engulfed me, sending me flying into something hard. Water filled my lungs as the blackness folded in around me, my mother’s warnings of the fierceness of the ocean echoing in my head.

~~~

~Author Bio~

J.A lives in a total fantasy world (because reality is boring right?) When she’s not writing all the crazy fun in her head, she can be found eating cake, designing pretty pictures and hanging upside down from the tallest climbing frame in the local playground while her children look on in embarrassment. She’s travelled the world working as everything from a banana picker in Australia to a Pantomime clown, has climbed to the top of Mount Kilimanjaro and the bottom of the Grand Canyon and once gave birth to a surrogate baby for a friend of hers.

She spends way too much time gossiping on facebook and if you want to be part of her Reading Army, where you’ll get lots of freebies, exclusive sneak peeks and super secret sales, join up here

Somehow she finds time to write.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter

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~Giveaway~

Blitz-wide giveaway (INTL)

  • Mermaid Swag pack including prize candle (with ring worth between $15 and $5000) and a signed copy of Dark Water
  • $20 Amazon giftcard plus an ecopy of Dark Water
  • An e-copy of Dark Water

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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