Friday, February 27, 2015

Blog Tour - Dark Phoenix by Elise Faber

Title: Dark Phoenix Author: Elise Faber Series: Phoenix Genre: Paranormal/New Adult Publisher: Blue Tulip Publishing

dark phoenix
From the author of Phoenix Rising, comes the second novel in the Phoenix Series. A tale of darkness, love, and mortal enemies...
  Synopsis 
 Black magic. Immoral monsters. Death. And bone-deep, soul-to-soul love with a green-eyed man hell-bent on owning every part of her heart. Daughtry’s life changed forever when she bonded with Cody and began to control her visions. Yet as she masters her magic, those very same abilities threaten to harm the people she holds most dear. When an opportunity arises for her to fix a past wrong, does she dare risk using her magic in order to set things right again? A soul sweeping darkness is lurking at the Colony, making the choice for her and threatening the world she’s built for herself. But Daughtry soon discovers that if she’s to have the future and love she’s always wanted, she must fight for it.
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Cody
Ability: Healing (Secondary Level of magic)
Age: 94
Magic color: Emerald Green
Bonded with Daughtry
LexTal
Fun Facts: Not-so-secret chick flick addict, loves sour candy and hates subtleness
Favorite Quote: “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” –Buddha
 
   The Background
The Rengalla Descended from magical beings that could control the elements, the Rengalla appear human but are more. Besides their magical abilities, they live on average a millennium and a half, are rarely sick, and heal rapidly.  

The LexTals An elite group of warriors whose purpose is to protect the Rengalla from the Dalshie. The current LexTals are: Dante, Cody, John, Morgan, Mason, Monroe, Tyler and two new recruits whose names the rest of them haven’t bothered to learn yet (the training is excruciating and the fail rate is high).  

The Dalshie “Turned” Rengalla who’ve been corrupted by their magic — who’ve used their powers to hurt others. As the infected magic invades their mind and soul, a stain spreads over their body, starting from their palms and spreading up their arms. Once the taint reaches the heart and brain, every trace of the former Rengalla is lost, leaving only a cruel, inhuman monster in its wake.   Recognize these evil creatures from their stained palms. They can glamour most of the taint of the black magic, but cannot hide the infection on the center of their hands. They also heal instantly, have red eyes (when their glamour fails), and can only be killed — ashed — via decapitation or a direct strike to their heart.  

Magic of the Rengalla Primary or elemental involves controlling individual elements — fire, air, water, and earth Secondary is combining 2 or more elements into another power, e.g. healing or teleportation Tertiary is the capacity of foresight (involves any ability to see the future whether it involves a specific person or the entire world) — those with this power are most at risk of turning Dalshie  

Magic of the Dalshie Once they’ve begun to turn, the Dalshie can no longer manipulate the elements. They retain magic, but it turns black and it can only hurt — burn, maim, destroy.    

The Colony Located on the border of Kentucky and Tennessee, this hidden building is the home of the majority of the Rengalla. It’s tucked in a stretch of rarely occupied National Forest and is glamoured to appear like an ugly old warehouse in order to keep the humans away. It’s also protected by a shield that prevents the Dalshie from getting in an attacking the Rengalla.  
    


DP teaser 4   Interview  

An Interview with Cody

What’s your favorite color? C: I’m partial to violet.   Blonde or Brunette? C: I happen to prefer girls with mahogany hair and porcelain skin.   How do you feel about Daughtry? C: *rolls his eyes* What do you mean, ‘How do I feel about Daughtry?’” That’s the stupidest question I’ve ever heard. I love that woman; need her more than I need air to breath. She’s my other half, sewn so deeply into my soul that she can never be excised.   Favorite TV show? C: I only watch movies. And no, I won’t tell you my favorite one of those.   What’s your biggest regret? C: Being so focused on the past hurts and fears that I missed out on the today. I was lucky enough to get a second chance and I won’t squander it.   Do you believe in love at first sight? C: Yes… And no.
  Phoenix Series
  Author Bio
elise faber author photo 
 Despite moonlighting as a zookeeper and then a dog trainer, Elise decided that the only mammals she wanted to work with were her dark and sexy heroes and heroines. She inherited her love of reading from her mother and grandmother who dutifully kept stacks of romances where her teenaged fingers could easily pilfer them. She lives in Northern California with her three dogs, two energetic (read crazy) boys, and her awesome (see prior comment) husband.
Giveaway
Enter to win a SIGNED copy of DARK PHOENIX or one of TWO ebooks!
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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Book Blast - The Third Twin

  third Twin
The Third Twin by C.J. Omololu 
 When they were little, Lexi and her identical twin, Ava, made up a third sister, Alicia. If something broke? Alicia did it. Cookies got eaten? Alicia’s guilty. Alicia was always to blame for everything. The game is all grown up now that the girls are seniors. They use Alicia as their cover to go out with boys who are hot but not exactly dating material. Boys they’d never, ever be with in real life. Now one of the guys Alicia went out with has turned up dead, and Lexi wants to stop the game for good. As coincidences start piling up, Ava insists that if they follow the rules for being Alicia, everything will be fine. But when another boy is killed, the DNA evidence and surveillance photos point to only one suspect—Alicia. The girl who doesn’t exist. As she runs from the cops, Lexi has to find the truth before another boy is murdered. Because either Ava is a killer . . . or Alicia is real.
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Praise: "[An] original, riveting thriller." -- Melissa Marr, New York Times bestselling author of Made for You "Delicious and deceptive, The Third Twin is a twisty-turny thrill ride! I couldn't flip the pages fast enough!" --Kimberly Derting, author of the Body Finder series and The Taking "A classic whodunit."--Kirkus Reviews
  CJ
CJ OMOLOLU is the author of the ALA-YALSA Quick Pick Dirty Little Secrets and several other YA novels. She loved to read but never thought to write until she discovered that the voices in her head often have interesting things to say. She lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and their two sons.
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  $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Ends 3/19/15 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.  

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Blog Tour - Ember by Rachel Van Dyken




I am a Killer. A Rapist. A Monster.
I know only pain and survival.
That is until the Cappo's sister walked into my life.
And changed everything.
She's a light who makes my darkness darker, her smile makes my heart turn to ice, and I can't escape the fear her seductive looks instill--knowing it's only a matter of time before I fail--again, and take her for myself.
This is the story of my redemption.
But it's not pretty...I died, and now I'm alive, but not living, breathing but not surviving. I am Phoenix De Lange, son to a murdered mob boss, estranged brother, horrible friend, monster in the making, newest leader to one of the most powerful families in the Cosa Nostra.
And I will have my vengeance.
Or die trying.
I am Phoenix De Lange.
Death is all I know.
Until she offers me a piece of life--I can't resist taking.





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Jewelz Review~
"Ember: A small piece of burning coal. Origin: Old English, Germanic. Example: All it takes is one tiny piece of ember to start a flame, one small flame to burst forth into a fire. One spark, and a man's world may implode from the inside out."

"Phoenix: a mythical bird of great beauty fabled to live 500 or 600 years in the Arabian wilderness, to burn itself on a funeral pyre, and to rise from its ashes in the freshness of youth and live through another cycle of years: often an emblem of immortality or of reborn idealism or hope."

That said, if you have read the previous books in the Eagle Elite series by Rachel Van Dyken, you'll understand that Phoenix and his book Ember were given perfect names. You'll also know that this series is intense - it's gritty and emotional. Ember kicks up the grit and there's a lot of raw and tender emotions - some unexpected.

The beauty of this book, in my opinion, is that it's a story of redemption. The juxtoposition of a fallen man - one who is convinced of his complete lack of self worth - with the sweeet innocence of a young woman who hasn't even been kissed, but is full of sass, makes for a truly mercurial relationship. Together Phoenix and Bee became more than they were indiviually - and their entire family is stronger because of their bond.

There are many surprises and twists as we venture deeper into the mafia dealings of the 5 mafia families. Trust is a fragile thing in the mafia world - loyalty runs blood deep, but when it comes down to a choice between your life and betrayal what's a man to do? But as the saying goes: blood in, no out. Is there ever really a choice when you're mafia?

Amazing addition to the Eagle Elite Series - it's hard to choose, but this may be my favorite.

FYI ~ not a "clean read" contains mature language, intimate scenes, and violence.
Honest Disclosure ~ we received ebook copies to review in conjunction with this blog tour





Elite:

Elect:

Entice:
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Elicit: 
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BANG BANG:

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ENFORCE:

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Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers! You can follow her writing journey at 
www.rachelvandykenauthor.com








Friday, February 20, 2015

Release Blitz - Whispered Lies by Kristen Vayden


Title: Whispered Lies Author: Kristin Vayden Genre: New Adult Release Date: February 19, 2015

Whispered Lies Cover

Synopsis

The heart always wants what it can never have. I knew she'd never look at me twice. But that didn't stop my heart from beating for her. You see, I’m not the good guy. On the outside, I might look like it, I might even smile at you. But it’s a lie. It’s all a lie. There’s nothing redeemable about me. Except for her. But I’m the last person she’d ever want to be with. Because I’m the reason he died. I’m at fault. But she doesn’t know it was me. Atonement is my only salvation. Protecting her, because I finally fell. And the monster she needed protection from… Was me.
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Excerpt 

  Alder   The next afternoon as three rolled around, I tapped my foot nervously and waited for Jayne to arrive. After scanning the new crowd of students who’d entered the commons, my gaze greedily took in her heart-shaped face and wide smile that grew as soon as she spotted me. Me. It was amazing to consider, yet, as wondrous as it was, it was fake — false and a hell of a deception on my part. But that she wanted to be around me, that she liked me was a drug I couldn’t reject. I knew that someday soon I’d have to do it, make the clean break and walk away, but I couldn’t do it, not yet, not when I had heaven so close. “You ready?” I stood and asked. “Yep.” Her beauty was constantly overwhelming. From her clear eyes, filled with wonder and delight to the perfect shape that God blessed with every tempting curve. But what captivated me was her inner strength, her passion for life, and the innocent nature with which she attacked it. “Let me take that for you.” I held out my hand, waiting for her to give me the pink backpack she carried. “Really?” She cocked a skeptical brow. “No, I’m offering so I can leave it here.” I replied sarcastically. Wiggling my fingers I enticed her to hand it over. “Well thanks.” She handed it over, her gaze softening. “Real men wear pink.” I hitched the carnation-pink bag over my shoulder. She giggled as we made our way out of the commons. Glancing at me shyly, she nodded to the pack. “It looks good on you.” “I know,” I shot back. “So, where are we going?” “Didn’t we cover this? Nosey equals…” I let it linger, teasing her. “Annoying. I remember. Fine.” “Where are you parked?” I asked as we made it to the parking lot. “Over there.” We headed to her car, and I waited for her to pop the trunk. Then I placed both bags in and closed it. “Ready?” “Always.” “Okay, it’s not far. Want to walk?” “Sure.” Her smile was as warm as the summer sun, melting away the quiet whispers that tried to remind me how I was playing with fire. Swallowing hard, we walked a few steps, and I reached out and grasped her hand. Lame. I couldn’t believe it was such a huge step for me to simply hold her hand. But it was. It was the world, literally in the palm of my hand. Her grasp was immediate, and as I glanced at her, a beautiful rosy blush graced her cheeks, highlighting her already stunning beauty. We made our way to the small ice cream parlor on the edge of campus and, true to form, I ordered Neapolitan, and Jayne ordered the strawberry cheesecake flavor. When she pulled out some cash from her pocket, I frowned at her. “No… girls don’t pay.” “Girls don’t pay?” she asked, her expression a question almost as if she were debating whether to be impressed or offended. “Out of respect.” I shrugged and paid for our order then walked to a side table. “Respect?” she asked, her expression open. “Yeah, I know you could pay for it. It’s not that I doubt that… it’s that as a guy, it’s an… honor to take care of a woman.” “Oh, wow.” She tilted her head and studied me. Then she took a bite of her ice cream. “How old are you Alder?” “Uh, I’m twenty-three. Why? How old are you, Jayne,” I teased, hoping she couldn’t sense my discomfort. “Twenty. It’s just that you seem… older. You know? It’s… nice.” “Nice? Okay, has no one ever told you that guys hate to be called nice? It’s like saying a girl has a great personality.” I held up imaginary quotes. “Hey!” She tossed her napkin at me. “I happen to have a great personality.” “Yes, yes you do. But that’s not all you’ve got going for you. But I must say, the whole great personality part is one of my favorite aspects.” I winked. “Look at you, turning something I should be ticked over into a compliment.” She replied while narrowing eyes, studying me. “I try.” “Yeah, well, keep your charm in check.” “Yes ma’am,” I teased and took a big bite of ice cream, letting the cool sweetness distract me from the temptation she presented. We talked for at least an hour. And that was where it started. It seemed like as much as I knew our relationship couldn’t go anywhere, I couldn’t stop taking hit after hit, moment after moment with her. With each study date we’d have, or short walk from one class to another, I’d tell myself that I’d just commit every second to memory so that when I faded away, out of her life, I’d still have those precious smiles, those captivating expressions she’d flash when something amused her, or the light of intelligence that illuminated her amber gaze. I was in deeper than ever before. Because I’d loved Jayne when I’d just been the creepy stalker, in Raphael’s words, but now that I was actually with her, it was a million times worse. About two weeks after spending every available moment with her, I found myself at the center, beating the shit out of the boxing bag, fighting myself, trying to justify my actions. “What to talk about it?” Raphael’s voice asked quietly as he went behind the bag and held it for me. “I’m in deep,” I whispered then spun and kicked the bag. “You still seeing her?” he asked, knowing the answer. “Yeah.” “It’s like you’re willingly being drawn and quartered.” He sighed. “It’s not that I think so little of Jayne that she’d never forgive you… but even if she did, man… it wouldn’t ever be the same. You know that, right?” “I do. I know it all, Raphael, Okay? I know it so well that I’ve freaking stopped sleeping at night, knowing that I have to let go, but I don’t want to. I want her… I want this so badly.” My chest constricted, like I had been holding my breath for far too long. “For the first time in so long, I’m at a place where I’m actually proud of who I’m becoming… and that guy is the one who’s totally winning her heart… but I don’t have a freaking chance of a snowball in hell because of the past I can’t escape. It’s so… screwed up.” “No argument there. This is messed up in a way that’s… I don’t even know, man. But… you gotta let it go.” Raphael came around the bag and put his hand on my shoulder. “I know. If it were just me who would end up bleeding, I’d live every last moment till I bled dry, but it’s not just me.” “No, it’s not, dude. It’s her. And if you really love her like you say…” He let the thought linger. “Then I’ll think of what’s best for her rather than what I want,” I finished, feeling like I was slowly sliding a dull knife through my heart. “Love doesn’t take,” Raphael said. “It gives.” And I was pretty sure the price would kill me, ripping what was left of my soul from my body.


Author Bio

authorpictureprof Kristin Vayden
Kristin’s inspiration for the romance she writes comes from her tall, dark and handsome husband with killer blue eyes. With five children to chase, she is never at a loss for someone to kiss, something to cook or some mess to clean but she loves every moment of it! She loves to make soap, sauerkraut, sourdough bread and gluten free muffins. Life is full of blessings and she praises God for the blessed and abundant life He’s given her.

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Thursday, February 19, 2015

New Release!! Ember by Rachel Van Dyken




I am a Killer. A Rapist. A Monster.
I know only pain and survival.
That is until the Cappo's sister walked into my life.
And changed everything.
She's a light who makes my darkness darker, her smile makes my heart turn to ice, and I can't escape the fear her seductive looks instill--knowing it's only a matter of time before I fail--again, and take her for myself.
This is the story of my redemption.
But it's not pretty...I died, and now I'm alive, but not living, breathing but not surviving. I am Phoenix De Lange, son to a murdered mob boss, estranged brother, horrible friend, monster in the making, newest leader to one of the most powerful families in the Cosa Nostra.
And I will have my vengeance.
Or die trying.
I am Phoenix De Lange.
Death is all I know.
Until she offers me a piece of life--I can't resist taking.









~EXCERPT~

Once we were on the road, Phoenix chose the correct music for our drive. I say correct because, according to him, one didn't start the day listening to hip-hop or anything remotely fun. No. Mr. Rogers had me listening to classical music.
Classical.
Mozart, to be exact.
Not that I wasn't a fan of the arts, but really? It just seemed so against what you would expect from him. He was the bad boy personified; like, if you put his name in the dictionary, right next to it would be "And mothers warned their daughters to stay away, but the heart wants what the heart wants, and that heart wants that body… bad."
He was all lean muscle and tight abs.
And I could have sworn he had a dimple, but I'd never actually seen it. Phoenix's dimple was like Bigfoot; I'd seen glimpses in pictures and via rumors, but I had never actually seen it for myself.
One day.
One day I'd catch it and take a mental picture or five. Maybe ten. Needless to say, I knew that if I had one of his smiles, it would be a magical thing.
His hands gripped the steering wheel so hard I had a brief moment of panic thinking he was actually going to rip the thing from the dash and have a breakdown. Sad part? I half-expected it. He wasn't acting normal… well, he was always moody, but this morning he seemed downright suicidal.
"So…" I tried to zone out the instruments assaulting my sanity. "You went to Eagle Elite, right?"
He was quiet for a minute then gave a swift nod.
"Wow, don't talk so fast. I almost didn't get all that."
And crickets. Again.
I cleared my throat. "You graduate?"
"Sort of."
"How do you sort of graduate?"
"Did you bring lunch money?" He asked in a tight voice.
I gaped. "Did you just ask me if I brought lunch money?"
He shrugged.
"You're driving me to school, forcing Mozart on my poor sensitive morning ears, and just asked me if I had money for milk."
"I'm concerned about you eating. Sue me."
"Pretty sure the Nicolasi boss can afford to spare me a few dollars for a sandwich and a can of pop."
"No pop."
"Who died and made you my grandpa? Seriously. I want to know so I can steal your gun and point it at them."
"Nobody touches my gun."
"Which one?" I smirked, hoping he'd find the humor in my sexual innuendo, but who was I kidding? It was Phoenix. He simply grunted, rolled his eyes, and kept driving.
In a moment of pure rebellion, I undid the first two buttons of my white, collared shirt.
"What the hell do you think you're doing?" he asked, his voice calm, his eyes still on the road.
"Wow, you really are like a parent. You can see me even when you aren't looking."
"Button that shit to your chin before I pull this car over."
"Put on Jay-Z, and we'll talk."
More cursing.
I undid another button.
"Son of a bitch, you're annoying."
"Is this our first lovers' spat?"
"Were there drugs in your toast?" He finally glanced at me, his blue eyes chilling me to the bone. "Be serious. I don't want to get called into the dean's office because you're high."
"Do I look like I'm on drugs?"
"Is this a trick question?"





Elite:

Elect:

Entice:
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Rachel Van Dyken is the New York Times, Wall Street Journal, and USA Today Bestselling author of regency and contemporary romances. When she's not writing you can find her drinking coffee at Starbucks and plotting her next book while watching The Bachelor.

She keeps her home in Idaho with her Husband and their snoring Boxer, Sir Winston Churchill. She loves to hear from readers! You can follow her writing journey at 
www.rachelvandykenauthor.com





Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Book Blast - Miranda's Choice

Miranda's Choice by Mya O'Malley
Miranda's Choice by Mya O'Malley 
Have you ever felt that the grass is greener everywhere else? Meet Miranda James. Miranda has a problem. Her friends and family are wrapped up in themselves, so clueless. With divorced parents, a mother who is always on her case and a new step-mother on the horizon, Miranda wishes that everybody would just grow up. In a moment of magic, Miranda is mysteriously pulled into the life of a charming mermaid and her adventurous daughter. Why can’t her life be so carefree and exhilarating? Why can’t her own mother be more like Abigail, the mermaid? Be careful what you wish for though. Only through self-realization can Miranda figure out that perhaps the grass is not always greener. Held captive in an underwater paradise, Miranda wishes to desperately recapture the life she used to have. Through many twists and turns, Miranda is caught up in a whirlwind of emotions, including finding her first true love. Miranda is faced with making a decision that will not only affect her own life, but also those around her. What would you choose?

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Praise: I love the way it all wrapped up. Some of the twists and turns took me by surprise, but that ending. Oh, how I loved it! ~Katie W.

 

Mya Omalley
Author Mya O'Malley
Mya O’Malley was born and raised in the suburbs of New York City, where she currently lives with her husband, daughter and three step-daughters. The family also consists of two boxers; Destiny and Dolce and a ragdoll cat named Colby. Mya earned an undergraduate degree in special education and a graduate degree in reading and literacy. She works as a special education teacher and enjoys making a difference in the lives of her students. Mya currently has two new releases: At First Sight, a contemporary romance about dating in the modern world, published by Astraea Press, and Where There is Love, a contemporary romance in which a woman struggles with past obstacles, ultimately faced with whether or not she will open her heart to love. Where There is Love is published with Solstice Publishing. Mya is excited to say that Astraea Press will be releasing her contemporary holiday paranormal romance titled If You Believe on November 25, 2014. Due to be released late January is The Calm After the Storm, published by TouchPoint Press. This novel is a contemporary romance taking place in the setting of Hurricane Sandy. The story revolves around the idea of a utility worker from Georgia falling in love with a woman in New York. Mya’s passion is writing; she has been creating stories and poetry since she was a child. Mya spends her free time reading just about anything she can get her hands on. She is a romantic at heart and loves to create stories with unforgettable characters. Mya likes to travel; she has visited several Caribbean Islands, Mexico and Costa Rica. Mya is currently working on her sixth novel.
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Friday, February 13, 2015

How I Fall & How I Fly

How I fly (1)
A two-book series by the bestselling author of Almost and Unmaking Hunter Kennedy.
How I fly 
  How I Fall by Anne Eliot
*WHAT IF YOU HAD AN IMPOSSIBLE CRUSH?* 
Impossible because she’s Ellen Foster. The beautiful, smart, and possibly fragile photography-girl. You’re Cam Campbell. The guy who plays football 24/7 with no life. But what if during junior year, you decide to finally try for her phone number—until this glitter-crazed new girl ruins your plan. Worse, the girl is Irish, awkward, and insists you and Ellen should become best friends—with her! Only, you don’t want to be friends with a human tornado, and you think Ellen might need to stay a crush. This is because after one interaction you’ve discovered Ellen Foster really is fragile. Your problems and secrets are too big for anyone to understand. *WHAT IF YOU COULDN’T RESIST?* But what if the three of you wind up assigned to a group photography project, where rumors are already circling about the new girl being ridiculous? You know she’s nice but very alone, so you convince your crush to help protect the new girl. Suddenly, working on the project makes hanging out, texting, talking—and even high school—seem fun and completely normal when it’s anything but normal. *WHAT IF YOU KISS?* What if you kiss Ellen Foster and it’s perfect enough to make you believe in things you shouldn’t. You tell her secrets and share your dreams. You make the kinds of promises and create plans to be together that might be impossible to keep when you’re only sixteen and your parents control your entire future, but... WHAT IF YOU HURT HER?  
Praise for How I Fall "How I Fall captures exactly how a high school crush feels. You can have endless long days—days that feel exactly the same—and then in one moment a little thing changes, a conversation finally happens, and suddenly there’s a new friend group formed where relationships are suddenly ‘on’! I loved this book (How I Fall) and I’ve already read the sequel, How I Fly as ARC. You will laugh, you will cry and you will fall so in love with Ellen and Cam’s story.” ~Becca H. Teen book blogger. “Anne Eliot writes the sweetest first kisses. She also does those book boyfriends you can’t get out of your head. Cam Campbell in How I Fall doesn’t disappoint, nor does the awesome first kiss.” ~Judith, I Love YA Fiction, Blog
  HOw I fall
How I Fly by Anne Eliot 
 *WHAT IF IT'S TIME TO MOVE ON...?*
 Over six months after an accident that broke her legs as well as removed her boyfriend from her life—because Cam Campbell left town and dumped her—high school senior, Ellen Foster, wants to move past her broken heart. She’s off to attend a summer photography workshop at a real university along with her best friends. Ellen’s determined to find a new love—or at least a summer boyfriend. In the dorm, she meets Harrison Shaw. He’s a handsome photography student, a charmer who likes her, and a perfect way to forget her past. *WHAT IF IT ALL GOES PERFECTLY...?* Ellen thinks she has everything she wants. Her summer program couldn’t be better. She’s half in love with Harrison Shaw, and she’s going after her next scholarship. But when she kisses Harrison, she can only remember how Cam Campbell used kiss her better, sweeter, and how he used to make her feel like she could fly… *WHAT IF SOMETHING IS NOT RIGHT...?* When Cam shows up at the university it’s a shock, especially to Ellen’s new boyfriend. Cam’s distant, different and very afraid to hurt Ellen again. He asks Ellen if they could be friends despite the past and how they’ve both changed and Ellen agrees. But after all they’ve been through, can Cam and Ellen ever be just friends? *WHAT IF...?*
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  Anne Eliot
Author Anne Eliot 
Anne Eliot is the author of the, How I Fall/How I Fly two book series, and bestselling, young adult teen issue romances, Almost and Unmaking Hunter Kennedy. She loves writing about teens who live outside the ordinary and she's devoted to stories about teens who live outside the ordinary but who also get to find sweet first kisses and first loves. Anne resides in Colorado with a very patient husband, two teens of her own whom she adores (an some teens near and far thanks to hosting many exchange students) who are all growing up too fast.  

~EXCERPT~

I pause at the corner down from the bus stop so I can regain some control. Both legs—the good one and the bad—are quaking dangerously. I’m also breathing like I’ve run a marathon in thick maple syrup instead of simply walking five blocks, but who cares? I’ve just navigated sidewalks covered with snow and ice with no crutches and no cane for the first time in my life. And I did not fall. Not once!

I check my phone to record the time and what I see has me almost gasping out loud.

*Crowd roars. She waves. She bows. She’s got ten minutes to burn!*

Because I have mild Cerebral Palsy, my physical therapist, Nash, would normally get half of the credit here. But it was my idea to pull double workouts all summer and fall. This victory is all mine, but either way, I can’t wait to give him a report. He’s going to be so proud. This will prove to him there is light at the end of my tunnel. The guy is so gloom and doom. He’s always thinking about my future and making predictions based on statistics, while I’m trying to convince him that I can write my own statistics.

Today, I will get to be the one who’s right!

Breath caught up, I straighten my messenger bag and face the bus stop ready for anything and anyone this day might try to throw at me! But two steps into walking the last half block, the calf of my bad leg spikes a surprise cramp.

“Please…no,” I mutter, jerking to a stop as white-lightning fires up my entire leg. The pain’s so harsh I could swear it’s stopped my heart. Scanning for anything that can save me from a public wobble-wobble-Ellen-falls-down event, I veer off the sidewalk and head for the cars parked on the street. Luckily, I’ve locked my hand onto a car mirror just as the knee on my bad leg buckles completely. For insurance, I lean most of my upper body weight on the dripping car hood, happy that my lumpy, hand-me-down jacket is at least waterproof. Only then do I pull in a slow steady breath and test—and beg—and pray—for my still trembling good leg to be okay.

It holds steady, but since I’m not allowed any guarantees with how my body behaves, I keep a death grip on the car any way I can. At least my sudden move has turned me away from the kids down at the stop. If I’m lucky, no one will have seen how I almost just hit the pavement. Even better, while I work out the kinks in my calf, I’ll be able to pretend that I’m simply admiring the snow and taking pictures of random stuff with my iPhone like I always do.

“Come on. Please. Come on.” I twist my bad ankle in a slow circle while more shards of pain pull my calf even tighter. Elation has disappeared, replaced by lead-heavy frustration. If Nash saw me clinging to this car, he’d launch into a thirty-minute lecture about how I’m supposed to have a cane with me at all times. I’ve been ignoring my promise to him and my mom since the first day of school about the cane, but it’s my life. So far, no harm’s been done, only good because I’m doing so well without it. But still…if he tells on me I’d feel terrible. Mom already works and worries so much.

My phone dings with the ultra-quiet bell tone I’ve set for my best friend, Patrick.

Every morning, from his bus stop on the other side of the golf course, he sends me cheesy inspirational quotes as a way to half-cheer, half-annoy the heck out of me. But he’s too late to do either. If I can’t get a handle on this spastic muscle response, I’ll be forced to drag one leg around like plywood until it recovers. A fact that will make me limp awkwardly in front of everyone. A little show people seem to watch with interest when I’m forced off balance. I hate that my limp will feature how I still have CP on the very day I thought I might be able to forget about it for a little while.

I also won’t be able to lift my leg high enough for my foot to gain access to the steps up the bus, so I’ll have to ask the driver to activate the mobility ramp. Something I haven’t needed for two years!

I breathe out a long sigh, forcing my thoughts to calm and my ankle to turn and turn, even though it’s making my eyes water from the effort.

*Vows to cling to this car and limp home before asking to use that hateful, stupid, noisy ramp.*

Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding. Ding.

With the cramp still deciding which way it’s going to settle, I pull out my phone and scroll back to the beginning of Patrick’s messages. I shake my head, unable not to crack a smile despite my dark thoughts. He’s outdone himself with this one. It’s a horrible moving .gif that features a kitten with extra big, extra creepy blinking eyes staring at a ferocious hyena. The swirly font reads: Face Your Fears.

He’s added: I can’t tell which is scarier. Hyena or kitten? Thoughts?

I read the rest of Patrick’s texts, sent after I did not respond: Ellen? U there?

I woke up late. Had no clue about the storm.

Stupid snow. I would have come to your stop but no time.

U ok?...

Don’t make me walk over there. Ellen?

ELLEN. Answer.

While I’m reading, more come in: I’m coming there now and calling an ambulance.

Before he goes insane—and because I know he’s not kidding about the ambulance call—I quickly fire out: Very funny.

Then a few lies to calm down his crazy: I’m awesome. Kitten is scarier than hyena. It’s a perfect beautiful day. I was taking photos, sorry it took so long to text back.

He knows that despite the pitfalls winter storms have brought me, I’m happiest when I’m taking photographs of ice and snow. There might not be much to do when fall closes the small lake front beaches all around our small town of  Brights Grove, Ontario, but for me, living on the shores of Lake Huron delivers winters that serve up ice photos like no other place on earth! This storm’s just a taste. In a few weeks, I’ll wake up to find iced trees, iced grass, iced park benches, iced branches and iced everything.

Heaven. And I’ve waited all spring and summer long for them to come back.

I text him a few more lines because Patrick’s hard to convince. I’m also trying to focus on the few positives I have left: Guess who arrived at this bus stop in record time? Me. I’ve also snapped some awesome shots. Wait till you see.

He replies: Waiting.

I evade: Shh. Busy.

If I mention my spazzed leg it will only make him worry. Patrick’s got a geometry test first period he won’t ace if he’s distracted by my daily CP drama. The guy’s already acting extra guilty about how he’s ditched me to be on the Huron High football team this year. The coaches plucked him out of oblivion and made him something called a Varsity defender. Whatever that means. Patrick says it’s some sort of miracle for a kid who didn’t play JV. It’s also made Patrick so happy I can’t complain one bit for the simple reason that it makes me happy when he’s happy.

He and I have been best friends since he was instantly labeled, too-tall-guy and wound up at the loser lunch table with me, the-handicapped-girl. That was way back when he first moved to town, for grade seven.

And so, there we sat. Together. Alone. For a really long time.

Our first conversations happened while we were both pretending we didn’t hear the snide comments directed at us. He’d crack into my silences saying stuff like, “You got lime Jell-O? I love Jell-O.” And then he wouldn’t give up until I smiled at him or answered. His real progress with our friendship occurred when I found out his mom is a manager at Tim Hortons, what I consider to be the best donut/coffee/food place ever created. It didn’t take Patrick long to figure out that I have a particular weakness for Timbits. But who doesn’t? They’re these fresh little donut hole pastries. At least twice a week, because his mom is awesome and hooks him up all the time, he’d pull out the cute rectangular, Snack Pack cardboard box all kids love, push it across the table, waggle his brows all funny and say, “Want some?”

Of course I always did.

The Timbits generosity alone should have been enough to seal our friendship for good—because those tiny balls-of-addictive substance are that fresh and that good—but Patrick swears he wasn’t sure about my loyalties until the day I faked a spastic-limb-attack to soak a kid with a whole tin of Mandarin oranges after the kid called Patrick the Jolly Green Giant. I think I also shouted something like, “He’s not even green, you dummy, and now you’re the Mean Orange Bully, so there!” I’ve always sucked at fast comebacks.

I finally gave Patrick my permanent trust one week later. It was the day some kids thought it would be funny to take my crutches and leave me on a swing. Back then I couldn’t go across a room without crutches because my good leg was not strong like it is now.

No one noticed I was missing, either. Except Patrick.

He’d dashed back out to the playground while the teacher was calling the office for back up. He found me, dried my tears, and without a word, helped me to the office. They let him wait while the nurse bandaged the scrapes on my hands and knees. My mom, the principal, and Patrick were angry that I’d been stubbornly trying to crawl my way back inside instead of calling out for help. But later Patrick told me he understood. Said he would have done the same.

He’s never left me alone at recess ever again. Of course, we haven’t had recess for years, but the guy still tries to make sure I’m okay no matter where I am or where he is. I endlessly tell him I can take care of myself, but I know that it’s just his way. He’s still trying to keep that promise because that’s who he is as a person. His inspirational quotes and texts are some sort of over-compensating thing he’s developed because he can’t be near me all the time.

Last summer, Patrick got really lucky. He stopped being so clumsy, his shyness disappeared, and his six-foot-four frame makes perfect sense now that some of the other guys have had growth spurts to match. All that, plus the part where his status on the football team has locked him into the popular crowd, has fast-tracked him to a completely different level than where I’m stuck.

I figured it would happen eventually, because he’s awesome and gorgeous and people were bound to discover that. I refuse to let him be slowed down by me for his entire life, so I’m really careful about acting sad or letting him think I’ve been left behind somehow, because that idea would kill him. Besides, I’m not sad or left behind.

I just miss him, that’s all. I’m also doing great, making my own way bit by bit. And when I’m not, like today, I’m a master at faking it. As much as I try to hide my condition and pretend that I’m just like everyone else, I know that people with CP don’t get lucky and transform into graceful swans like Patrick did. It just doesn’t happen.

Testing the pain in my bad leg with half my weight again, I’m relieved to discover it’s fading away. Just in case, I keep one hand on the car and turn to grab a few shots of this long, delicate icicle melting off the bottom of a mailbox at the edge of the driveway. It’s too tempting not to snap it off and drop it in the perfectly round, snow-bordered puddle near my feet. I get a bunch of cool shots when it floats to the top dead center. The narrow tip is pointing outward and it’s going around and around like it’s a nature-made game spinner.

Patrick texts again: Give me a sign that you are perfectly happy and that you aren’t lying to me right now. How’s the snow? Are you really, truly, absolutely okay? Prove it, or I’m coming over there.

I text him one of the floating icicle photos and add: I’ve never been better. Swear. Now get on your bus and study for your test.

His answer: Beauty. You should take up photography or something…you might be good at it. ;)

Me: :)

I grab a few more shots of the snow-heavy, leafed-out branches above, and then force myself out of my photography haze, because I’m supposed to be working on casually getting myself near enough to board the bus.

My heart sinks and twists yet again as I realize what I’ve missed. No wonder Patrick texted me that big-eyed, brave kitten. The crowd down at the stop is huge. I’ve got way bigger problems than the possibility of limping in front of people. I’d totally forgotten—or blocked out—how crowded it was going to be today. In our town, all car keys are pulled by parents on snow days, because the school closes the student parking lots. I let out a long, shaky breath, wishing I could run all the way back home. Today, we are going to be forced to ride three-to-a-seat.

*Ellen Foster prepares to die.*
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