Category Archives: Exclusive

Become the Hero of Your Own Percy Jackson-Style Adventure!

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As part of the Percy Pack, today I am thrilled to help share the exclusive news with you, fellow Percy Jackson fans, about a brand-new e-book coming from author Rick Riordan, which gives readers the chance to experience their own Percy-like adventure! Check out the deets:

The Demigods of Olympus: An Interactive Adventure

DemigodseBookPrice: $8.99 / $7.99
On-Sale: July 14, 2015

Your quest begins! Use your demigod skills in this interactive and customizable adventure story written by New York Times #1 best-selling author Rick Riordan. Combining four short stories, The Two-Headed Guidance Counselor, The Library of Deadly Weapons, My Demon Satyr Tea Party, and My Personal Zombie Apocalypse, your choices will have consequences in this first interactive demigod adventure.

Of course, that’s just the tip of the iceberg. There are TWO MORE books coming from Riordan later this year that Percy fans will adore. Here’s the scoop on both of them:

Magnus Chase and the Gods of Asgard
On-Sale: October 6, 2015

MagnusChaseCoverMagnus Chase has always been a troubled kid. Since his mother’s mysterious death, he’s lived alone on the streets of Boston, surviving by his wits, keeping one step ahead of the police and the truant officers. One day, he’s tracked down by an uncle he’s never met—a man his mother claimed was dangerous. His uncle tells him an impossible secret: Magnus is the son of a Norse god. The Viking myths are true. The gods of Asgard are preparing for war. Trolls, giants, and worse monsters are stirring for doomsday. To prevent Ragnarök, Magnus must search the Nine Worlds for a weapon that has been lost for thousands of years. When an attack by fire giants forces him to choose between his own safety and the lives of hundreds of innocents, Magnus makes a fatal decision. Sometimes, the only way to start a new life is to die . . .

Read a sneak peek HERE!

Percy Jackson’s Greek Heroes
On-Sale: August 18, 2015

GreekHeroesWho cut off Medusa’s head? Who was raised by a she-bear? Who tamed Pegasus? It takes a demigod to know, and Percy Jackson can fill you in on the all the daring deeds of Perseus, Atalanta, Bellerophon, and the rest of the major Greek heroes. Told in the funny, irreverent style readers have come to expect from Percy, ( I’ve had some bad experiences in my time, but the heroes I’m going to tell you about were the original old school hard luck cases. They boldly screwed up where no one had screwed up before. . .) and enhanced with vibrant artwork by Caldecott Honoree John Rocco, this story collection will become the new must-have classic for Rick Riordan’s legions of devoted fans–and for anyone who needs a hero. So get your flaming spear. Put on your lion skin cape. Polish your shield and make sure you’ve got arrows in your quiver. We’re going back about four thousand years to decapitate monsters, save some kingdoms, shoot a few gods in the butt, raid the Underworld, and steal loot from evil people. Then, for dessert, we’ll die painful tragic deaths. Ready? Sweet. Let’s do this.

Pre-order Greek Heroes:

RICK RIORDAN ONLINE

Visit the Official Website

Follow Rick Riordan on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter

#ReadRiordan

Thanks to Disney-Hyperion for providing all this great content — with more goodies on the way throughout the rest of this year, including more chances for you to win cool prizes!

The Good Girls by Sara Shepard: Exclusive Video & Giveaway

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Today, we’re thrilled to be bringing you an exclusive video (AND a contest) for the blog tour for The Good Girls by Sara Shepard, the sequel (and conlusion) to The Perfectionists. Sara is also the author of the Pretty Little Liars series (yes, the same one the TV show is based on) and The Lying Game series, among other books.

The Good Girls picks up where The Perfectionists left off, with Mackenzie, Ava, Caitlin, Julie, and Parker trying to figure out who killed Nolan Hotchkiss — as well as the other people on their hypothetical “hit list” — and why they’d want to frame the girls for the murders.

For today’s post, we have an exclusive video Q&A with Mackenzie:

Want to see interviews with the rest of the girls? Check ’em out here:

ABOUT THE BOOK:

good girls, theTHE GOOD GIRLS
The Perfectionists #2
Author: Sara Shepard
Release Date: June 2, 2015
Publisher: HarperTeen

SYNOPSIS:

From Sara Shepard, author of the #1 New York Times bestselling Pretty Little Liars series, comes the shocking sequel to The Perfectionists—with an ending you’ll have to read to believe!

Mackenzie, Ava, Caitlin, Julie, and Parker have done some not-so-perfect things. Even though they all talked about killing rich bully Nolan Hotchkiss, they didn’t actually go through with it. It’s just a coincidence that Nolan died in exactly the way they planned . . . right? Except Nolan wasn’t the only one they fantasized about killing. When someone else they named dies, the girls wonder if they’re being framed. Or are they about to become the killer’s next targets?

BOOK LINKS:

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo | IndieBound |
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

SaraShepardFor as long as she can remember, Sara Shepard has been writing. However, when she was young she also wanted to be a soap opera star, a designer for LEGO, a filmmaker, a claymation artist, a geneticist, and a fashion magazine editor when she grew up. She and her sister have been creating joint artistic and written projects for years, except they’re pretty sure they’re the only ones who find them funny.

She got her MFA at Brooklyn College and now lives outside Philadelphia, PA with her husband and dogs. Her first adult novel is called The Visibles/ All The Things We Didn’t Say.

Sara’s bestselling young adult series, Pretty Little Liars, is loosely based on her experiences growing up on Philadelphia’s Main Line…although luckily she never had any serious stalkers. The series has also inspired the ABC Family television series of the same name.

www.sarashepard.com | @sarabooks

GIVEAWAY:

One winner will get finished copies of THE PERFECTIONISTS and THE GOOD GIRLS. (Ships in US Only | Must be 13+ To Enter)

Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form HERE.

 

The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler: Mermaid Monday Exclusive Quote Graphics & Contest

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Today, we’re excited to be hosting a stop on “Mermaid Monday” –– celebrating the upcoming release on June 2nd of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids by Sarah Ockler. It’s all leading up to the reveal of the first two chapters of the book later today!

For our post, we have a fantastic contest — AND some exclusive quote graphics I created with some lovely passages from the book. Much of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids takes place on the Oregon coast — and as most of you know, I live in the Portland, Oregon area — so visiting the Oregon coast is not only easy, it’s one of my favorite things to do.

So I used some of my own photos from recent trips to the Oregon coast as the backgrounds for all three of our quote graphics. Feel free to share these on various social media websites, using the hashtag #MermaidMonday:

Chasing Mermaids_Quote1 Chasing Mermaids_Quote2 Chasing Mermaids_Quote3
summer of chasing mermaidsHere’s more about The Summer of Chasing Mermaids:

The youngest of six talented sisters, Elyse d’Abreau was destined for stardom—until a boating accident took everything from her. Now, the most beautiful singer in Tobago can’t sing. She can’t even speak.

Seeking quiet solitude, Elyse accepts a friend’s invitation to Atargatis Cove. Named for the mythical first mermaid, the Oregon seaside town is everything Elyse’s home in the Caribbean isn’t: An ocean too cold for swimming, parties too tame for singing, and people too polite to pry—except for one.

Christian Kane is a notorious playboy—insolent, arrogant, and completely charming. He’s also the only person in Atargatis Cove who doesn’t treat Elyse like a glass statue. He challenges her to express herself, and he admires the way she treats his younger brother Sebastian, who believes Elyse is the legendary mermaid come to life.

When Christian needs a first mate for the Cove’s high-stakes Pirate Regatta, Elyse reluctantly stows her fear of the sea and climbs aboard. The ocean isn’t the only thing making waves, though—swept up in Christian’s seductive tide and entranced by the Cove’s charms, Elyse begins to wonder if a life of solitude isn’t what she needs. But changing course again means facing her past. It means finding her inner voice. And scariest of all, it means opening her heart to a boy who’s best known for breaking them . . .

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under the sea earringsThanks to our friends at Simon & Schuster, we are giving away a finished copy of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids and a set of “Under the Sea” post earrings from Urban Outfitters (pictured, right).

Earn entries by sharing one or more of the above quote graphics on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #MermaidMonday. Submit your links & complete your entry by filling out the Rafflecopter form HERE.

You must share AT LEAST one graphic on either Twitter OR Instagram. But the more you share, the more chances you have to win!

Contest is open to the U.S. only. Runs through midnight (PT) on Tuesday, June 2nd.

Be sure to check out the other posts from Mermaid Monday throughout the day for more content, contests & a preview of the first two chapters of The Summer of Chasing Mermaids:

 

Exclusive Cover Reveal & Interview: The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth

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Today, I’m excited to be hosting the exclusive cover reveal for The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth, plus we’ve got a Q&A with Jenn to talk about her highly anticipated new book! But first, here’s more about The Killing Jar:

“I try not to think about it, what I did to that boy.”

Seventeen-year-old Kenna Marsden has a secret.

She’s haunted by a violent tragedy she can’t explain. Kenna’s past has kept people—even her own mother—at a distance for years. Just when she finds a friend who loves her and life begins to improve, she’s plunged into a new nightmare. Her mom and twin sister are attacked, and the dark powers Kenna has struggled to suppress awaken with a vengeance.

On the heels of the assault, Kenna is exiled to a nearby commune, know as Eclipse, to live with a relative she never knew she had. There, she discovers an extraordinary new way of life as she learns who she really is, and the wonders she’s capable of. For the first time, she starts to feel like she belongs somewhere. That her terrible secret makes her beautiful and strong, not dangerous. But the longer she stays at Eclipse, the more she senses there is something malign lurking underneath it all. And she begins to suspect that her new family has sinister plans for her…

Sounds amazing right? Well, wait until you see the GORGEOUS cover:

KJ_CVR_FINAL copy
Stunning, isn’t it? And wait until you hear the VERY cool story behind it — so keep reading for our exclusive Q&A with Jenn:

Jenn BosworthWhy don’t you start by telling us a bit about THE KILLING JAR. What can readers expect?

Hippie horror, a mysterious commune, monstrous moths, and, well, a good bit of killing. There’s a reason it’s called THE KILLING JAR, after all.

The idea for TKJ didn’t come to me as an “idea” the way my stories usually do. I just sat down one day and started writing about a girl named Kenna Marsden, who sneaks in after curfew and finds that her mom and younger sister have been attacked and mortally wounded, and the man who tried to kill them is still in the house.

What does that story opening have to do with communes and hippies and moths that feed on blood? I guess you’ll have to read it and find out!

What was the original “spark” that got you started writing THE KILLING JAR?

It was a collision of two disparate elements: my love of a good horror story, and my infatuation with hippie communes. The idea of them, anyway.

THE KILLING JAR takes place on a mysterious hippie commune in Oregon. I wanted to write a book with an element of wish fulfillment, and I’ve always wanted to form my own commune. I have this idyllic version of it in my head. It would be like a Free People ad come to life, all flowing dresses and gypsy jewelry and adorable goats. I don’t know if I’ll ever start my own commune, but I’m impatient so I decided to write about one. I did visit a commune in Oregon when I was doing research for TKJ. Alas, it was quite creepy. All of the people on it looked a little too Deliverance for my taste. But the goats were cute!

Your cover is gorgeous! It’s unusual for authors to have much of a say in their cover design — but you have a pretty unique story with THE KILLING JAR. Tell us about it!

I always ask my husband, Ryan, to design a temporary book cover for whatever I’m working on, just so it feels more real when I’m in the muck. He came up with something really beautiful and eerie, which I’ve had up on Goodreads as a temp cover for a while now. The cover designer at FSG loved what he did, and so she went in and improved on it and made it even better! This doesn’t happen often, so I feel fortunate to have gotten a hand in the design.

What do you hope the cover conveys to readers?

The thing about this book is that it’s a horror novel, but it’s not what people typically think of when they think of horror, so I don’t want it to look like it belongs firmly in any one genre. I’ll be honest. It’s a weird book, and I have no idea how people will react to it. But I do hope the cover design gives people a sense of menace and dark beauty to prime their mood for what lies beyond the book jacket.

struckFor fans of your first book, STRUCK, what do you think will appeal to them in THE KILLING JAR?

I felt like I shot myself in the foot a bit with STRUCK, which dealt with apocalyptic stakes. For my follow-up, I was paralyzed by the conundrum I’d created for myself: how do you top the end of the world? The answer is, you don’t. Or I couldn’t. So, for TKJ, I decided to scale way back, but still deal with some of the same themes I dealt with in STRUCK: fanatical belief and brainwashing, balancing one’s personal capacity for darkness and light, and the way addiction helps us hide from aspects of ourselves we don’t want to deal with.

Speaking of your first book … any word on a sequel? (Goodreads is teasing us with a “2016 placeholder” release date.)

Well . . . I hate to break it to STRUCK fans, but there is actually no sequel in the works. Some hopeful person posted about a sequel on Goodreads, and then I fanned the flames a little bit by giving it a title, since STRUCK 2 wasn’t very interesting. But a lot of people have added AFTERSHOCK to their to-read lists, so now I’m considering writing a prequel novella. I’ll have to get permission from the powers that be first. Stay tuned!

And finally … some flash questions!

Favorite villain?

Randall Flagg from Stephen King’s The Stand (aka Walter o’Dim, the Walkin’ Dude, the Dark Man, the Hardcase, the Man in Black, etc . . .) He has many names and many faces, all of them delightfully bad!

Pen or pencil?

Pen! I have no problem with commitment.

Favorite piece of clothing?

Black, rock n’ roll bell bottoms. I’m not sure they fit me anymore, but I can’t bring myself to get rid of them.

Song you can’t get out of your head right now?

“I Love You, Honeybear” by Father John Misty. The whole album is stuck in my head.

Most recent vacation?

New Zealand. But that was a year ago, so I guess it’s time for another vacation, right?

5 things that are always in your purse?

Aside from my wallet and phone: A cyborg pen, my emergency asthma inhaler, rings that I’ve taken off so I can type, rum balls chapstick, and hard candy, preferably butterscotch flavored.

Look for The Killing Jar in stores in January 2016. Here’s a little bit more about Jenn & how you can connect with her online:

Jennifer Bosworth grew up in a small town where there was nothing to do but read and get into trouble. She did plenty of both, which led her to a career writing about people who get into trouble. Jennifer and her husband recently escaped from Los Angeles and are now hiding out in Portland, Oregon with a couple of long-legged dogs. In her spare time she can be found watching horror movies and dreaming of starting her own hippie commune, where there will be many goats. Learn more about her on her website or just Google her and see what happens.

Connect with Jenn: Facebook | Twitter

EXCLUSIVE: Meet debut YA novelist Brie Spangler

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Today, I am SO thrilled to share an exclusive interview with upcoming debut YA novelist Brie Spangler. Brie has previously written & illustrated two adorable picture books, Peg Leg Peke and The Grumpy Dump Truck — but Yesterday, Publisher’s Marketplace announced the sale of her first YA novel, Beast, being published in Fall 2016 by Knopf:

A modern retelling of Beauty and the Beast, in which the tallest, hairiest boy in town meets and falls for his dream girl, who also happens to be transgender.

Brie is not only my best friend, but she was the maid of honor at my wedding!

Brie is not only my best friend, but she was the maid of honor at my wedding!

Brie also happens to be my best friend in the whole world, and I could not be more thrilled for her book to be making its way out into the world. I’ve read a lot of Brie’s writing — including entire books that may never see the light of day, but probably should IMHO — and a few drafts of Beast. I can’t wait to see what the final version looks like, but even the earliest versions were just so excellent. I honestly can’t wait for you guys to read it!

But since we have over a YEAR to wait, I thought I’d at least give you all a chance to get to know Brie and her debut YA novel Beast a little bit better:

Tell us a little about the premise for BEAST, and how the idea originated.

It’s a new take on Beauty and the Beast that I originally starting tapping out in 2010. The more I wrote, the more enamored I got with this weird kid for whom everything —his ugly face, his enormous body, his epic amount of body hair— is terrible. Except his brain. That’s pretty much the only thing he’s proud of. Then along comes this girl who’s as smart and funny as they come and he falls for her and falls hard. The fact that Jamie is trans is a part of her but not everything that makes her who she is. I don’t really know how the idea originated other than these two characters were great fun to write.

peg leg pekeYou’ve written and illustrated some super cute and charming children’s picture books before. What prompted the move to YA? What have been some of the new challenges you faced writing YA versus picture books? What are some of the perks?

First of all, thank you! I’m very proud of my picture books and I look forward to making more someday. It’s comforting to take an idea and create the words and pictures, something I enjoy. I went to school for art and never in a million years did I think I had the capacity to write an actual novel, until I tried. And then I fell in love. My first YA novel (which is buried in a drawer and will be forever, haha) was almost 200K words because I couldn’t stop writing. It was like I found this inner rage to WRITE I never knew I had. What I love about YA is the excitement. I had a crazy first love that made no sense and knocked me on my butt. Those years are some of my favorites from growing up, even though it ended terribly and I cried forever. But that’s the heart of being a teenager. And I realize I used the word love multiple times because that’s it in a nutshell. I love it. I love reading and writing YA, guilty as charged.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAI know BEAST went through some big changes after you started working with your agent, Mackenzie Brady. What was the revision process like working with Mackenzie?

AWESOME. That’s my one word sum up right there, working with Mackenzie is seriously great. My initial submission was different from the one set to be published, but she saw the bones and sensed where the heart of the real story lay. (Or is it lied? I’m playing the art school card when it comes to grammar.) I love to work hard and she’s fantastic to work with, great listener, wonderful idea smith, and supportive partner in crime.

I love that BEAST is inspired by such a classic fairy tale. What is it about fairy tales, do you think, that makes them still so relevant today?

They’re timeless and just as we people-humans seem to fall in love one generation after another, these tales light endless fires for centuries on end and just so I don’t end this sentence with a prepositional phrase: I like cats. Fluffy ones.

FLASH QUESTIONS:

Favorite villain?

Gah! So many. I wouldn’t mind being locked up in an Asgard prison with Tom Hiddleston’s Loki though. Wink face.

Must-have writing snack?

COFFEE.

Favorite Disney movie?

Emperor’s New Groove, j’adore Kronk and Yzma.

Song that can always get you dancing?

Lovely Day by Bill Withers

Favorite member of the Avengers?

I have to choose? You’re so mean! Hmmm… Based on my character Dylan’s physique I should say The HULK, but I’ll say Spiderman.

HOWBAD5 things currently on your desk or in your writing space.

My scale model of a 1968 El Camino, postcards from all my amazing illustrator friends, a rock my mom gave me with the word IMAGINE carved into it, loads of scattered notes and scraps of thoughts, and the message I wrote to myself on post-its when my kid was a baby and writing was the hardest thing in the world after a long day of crying and hot poop. And yes, my computer sits on a box covered in Care Bear stickers because without it, I get hunchy.

Thanks so much for stopping by, Brie! And guys … be sure to put Beast on your “want to read” lists right away. You do NOT want to miss this fantastic story!!!

Connect with Brie now on Twitter and Facebook, plus check out her website here.

Exclusive Cover Reveal: Frozen Tides by Morgan Rhodes

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Today, we have the honor of sharing the EXCLUSIVE cover reveal for the upcoming fourth book in Morgan Rhodes‘ best-selling Falling Kingdoms series, Frozen Tides. Before we get to the GORGEOUS cover … here’s a bit more about the book:

FROZEN TIDES, A FALLING KINGDOMS NOVEL
by Morgan Rhodes, on sale December 15, 2015

Rebels, royals, and monsters wage war over the Mytican throne in the shocking fourth book of the Falling Kingdoms series, from New York Times bestselling author Morgan Rhodes.

CLEO: Reeling after a bloody showdown in Limeros ending with Amara’s abduction of the water crystal, and a vacancy in the Mytican throne, Princess Cleo must cast aside her feelings and look toward her kingdom with the eyes of a Queen.

MAGNUS: With the kingdom in chaos, Princess Lucia still missing and quite possibly in danger, and a shocking realization about Cleo, the steely prince is once again torn between love and duty, leaving him wondering whether he’s strong enough to rule his people.

LUCIA: The young sorcercess has had her vengeance after the cruel death of her first and only love. Heartbroken and unable to trust anyone, she allies with the awoken Fire god, who also seeks revenge.

JONAS: After escaping death by the skin of his teeth, the defeated rebel—along with a mysterious stranger–leader reunites with Princess Cleo, only to find himself a mere pawn in a dangerous hunt for the elusive Kindred.

KING GAIUS: Abandoned by Melenia and betrayed by his own children, Gaius flees Mytica and sails to Kraeshia, where he attempts to ally with the famously brutal emperor across the Silver Sea.

Sounds amazing, right?

And now …

the cover …

you’ve been …

waiting …

for …

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Isn’t it stunning? And think how it will look next to the other three books:

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And get ready, because Morgan is heading out on tour with some other great Penguin Teen authors — starting TODAY, actually! Here are details:

penguin teen tour

Tour Authors:

And here are the tour dates & locations:

Tuesday, March 3rd 7 PM–Decatur, GA
Little Shop of Stories
133 East Court Square # A
Decatur, GA 30030

Wednesday, March 4
th  6 PM – Athens, GA
Avid Bookshop
493 Prince Avenue
Athens, GA 30601

Thursday, March 5th 7 PM – Alexandria, VA
Hooray! For Books
1555 King Street
Alexandria, VA 22314

Friday, March 6th and Saturday, March 7th – Arlington, VA
NOVA Teen Book Festival
One More Page Books
Washington Lee High School and Arlington Central Library
Find out more about the NOVA Teen Book Festival events here!

Monday, March 9th 7 PM – Oakland, CA
A Great Good Place for Books
6120 La Salle Avenue
Oakland, CA 94611

Tuesday, March 10th 6:30 PM – Pasadena, CA
Vroman’s Bookstore
695 E. Colorado Blvd
Pasadena, CA 91101

Follow along on social media using the hashtag #PenguinTeenOnTour & learn more HERE!

And if you tweet about the Frozen Tides cover reveal, be sure to use the hashtag #FallingKingdoms

What do you think of the cover? Tell us in the comments below!

Exclusive Excerpt: The Tragic Age by Stephen Metcalfe

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Today, we are thrilled to be hosting the final stop on the pre-publication blog tour for The Tragic Age by Stephen Metcalfe, a thought-provoking new contemporary coming-of-age story in the vein of The Catcher in the Rye and King Dork.

tragic ageAs part of the blog tour, we’re excited to bring you an exclusive excerpt from the book — but first, catch up on all of the previous excerpts released so-far:

And now, here is the final excerpt from The Tragic Age:

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11

It’s twenty minutes later and I’m moving down the hall- way past the school office when I glance through the open door and see that Willard Twomey is sitting on a bench.

It’s postbell but I’m in no real rush. After lunch it’s fourth period calculus and I always take some time get- ting there because I know the teacher, Mr. Thurmond, is still in the faculty lounge sucking down his umpteenth cancer stick of the day.

Mr. Thurmond, who is heavy and sad faced, is an aspiring stand-up comedian who puts flyers of his open-mike nights on the classroom bulletin board, never realizing none of us are old enough to get in. He also uses the class to try out his material, which means he tries to make calculus funny. Calculus, which studies the limits, functions, derivatives, and integrals of numbers, is about as funny as an abscessed tooth and so is Mr. Thurmond.

“What did the zero say to the eight?” he’ll say. “Nice belt!”

“What is the first derivative of a cow?” he’ll says. “Prime rib.”

No one laughs.

Which confuses and disappoints Mr. Thurmond. And makes him anxious. Which makes him want a cigarette. Which makes him excuse himself and run down the hall to the teacher’s lounge. The class is pretty much Mr. Thurmond’s only good joke.

I stop and look around to see if anyone is coming, and when I see that no one is, I turn back and go into the school office. Except for Willard Twomey and some secretary, there’s nobody else there. I clear my throat. The secretary looks up from whatever it is she’s doing. Unprepared for the port-wine hemangioma on my face, she flinches.

“Shouldn’t you be in class?” she says. No hello, no may I help you.

“I need to see the nurse,” I say.

“For what?” she says. She seems alarmed. Like maybe a birthmark is possibly contagious.

“For a brain tumor,” I say.

Actually, I don’t say that.

“My stomach hurts,” I say. “I think I ate something at lunch.” Which is true. It was something.

The secretary sighs as if she’s besieged on a daily basis by disfigured people who have gotten sick from eating something at lunch and it’s exhausted her.

“Have a seat,” the secretary says. “I’ll see if she’s in.” She gets up and she leaves, probably down the hall to join Mr. Thurmond and the school nurse in the faculty lounge for a quick smoke.

Willard Twomey is still sitting on the long wooden bench, acting as if I’m not even there. I go over and sit down next to him, leaving room between us. Now both of us are acting as if the other isn’t there. I realize I can hear Mr. Esposito, the principal, talking on the phone in the inner office. He has a surprisingly strong, authoritative voice.

“Yes, I understand . . . No, but I do want to know who’s responsible for him . . .”

Obviously he’s talking about Willard Twomey.

“Very impressive,” I say, not looking at Willard Twomey. Willard Twomey doesn’t say anything.

“What you did in the cafeteria today.” Willard Twomey doesn’t so much as blink. “Montebello’s an idiot.”

“What are you?” says Willard Twomey. He stares straight ahead. I notice that on the back of his right hand Willard Twomey has another tattoo.

Chaos.

And on the back of his left hand yet another.

Change.

“. . . yes, well, I think we should have been informed that the young man has a juvenile record and a history of physical assault,” says Principal Esposito in his surprisingly strong voice.

“Who’s he talking to?” I say.

I don’t think Willard Twomey is going to answer. But then he does.

“My grandmother. Like she’s going to do anything but make herself another drink.” Willard Twomey sounds disgusted.

“I understand. Yes, I’m sure it is difficult for you,” says Principal Esposito’s voice, full of authority.

I don’t remember the last time I’ve done this. Maybe I never have. But I do now. I stick out my right hand.

Fact.

A handshake is a ritual in which two people grasp one another’s hands. It is thought by some to have originated as a way of saying, There is no weapon in my hand. I’m not going to cut your head off. This, of course, is unless it’s the left hand, which in many parts of the world is a way of saying, I’m going to use your head to wipe my ass.

“Billy Kinsey,” I say.

Willard Twomey looks at my outstretched right hand. And now he looks at me. At me. Willard Twomey doesn’t flinch, he doesn’t waver. He studies my face. It is rude and disconcerting to the point of panic inducing and I have to force myself not to look away. His eyes trace the periphery of my right cheek and all of a sudden that side of my face begins to burn.

Point of reference.

Dorie used to say that my birthmark lightened or darkened, ebbed and flowed in shade and intensity, according to my emotions, and that a person could tell what I was feeling just by looking at it. Which is just another reason why I always try to feel nothing at all.

Sidebar.

Dorie thought my port-wine hemangioma was beautiful.

Willard Twomey reaches out and lightly taps my open hand with a closed fist. “Twom,” he whispers. He repeats himself, says it louder. “Twom Twomey.”

“Not Willard?” I say. I make sure I sort of smile as I say it.

“Not unless you want a tray in your head.” He’s sort of smiling too. The tap with the fist, I decide, is an original way of saying, I’m not going to kill you yet.

“I look forward to meeting you as well,” we hear Esposito’s voice say. It sounds like he’s wrapping things up which means it’s time to get out of there. I stand.

“See you around,” I say.

“I thought you were sick,” says Twom Twomey.

“Miraculously cured,” I say.

I beat it out of the office into the hall. When I look back I can see Esposito standing over Twom Twomey, lecturing. Twom Twomey, looking bored to stone, is staring at Mr. Esposito’s navel. Esposito might as well be talking to the wall.

Twom. Twom as in “tomb.” A mausoleum. A place for the dead. Dad thinks I should have a new friend. I wonder what he’ll think about one who’s now baptized my open palm with the right hand of chaos.

The Tragic Age is in stores March 3rd. Here is the official synopsis:

This is the story of Billy Kinsey, heir to a lottery fortune, part genius, part philosopher and social critic, full time insomniac and closeted rock drummer. Billy has decided that the best way to deal with an absurd world is to stay away from it. Do not volunteer. Do not join in. Billy will be the first to tell you it doesn’t always work— not when your twin sister, Dorie, has died, not when your unhappy parents are at war with one another, not when frazzled soccer moms in two ton SUVs are more dangerous than atom bombs, and not when your guidance counselor keeps asking why you haven’t applied to college.

Billy’s life changes when two people enter his life. Twom Twomey is a charismatic renegade who believes that truly living means going a little outlaw. Twom and Billy become one another’s mutual benefactor and friend. At the same time, Billy is reintroduced to Gretchen Quinn, an old and adored friend of Dorie’s. It is Gretchen who suggests to Billy that the world can be transformed by creative acts of the soul.

With Twom, Billy visits the dark side. And with Gretchen, Billy experiences possibilities.Billy knows that one path is leading him toward disaster and the other toward happiness. The problem is—Billy doesn’t trust happiness. It’s the age he’s at.  The tragic age.

Stephen Metcalfe’s brilliant, debut coming-of-age novel, The Tragic Age, will teach you to learn to love, trust and truly be alive in an absurd world.

Exclusive Cover Reveal & Contest: The Vanishing Island by Barry Wolverton

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Today, we are so excited to be hosting the exclusive cover reveal for The Vanishing Island by Barry Wolverton — the author of Neversink. But before we get to the INSANELY GORGEOUS cover, here’s a little bit more about The Vanishing Island:

Does  the Vanishing Island really exist? And if so, what treasure—or terrible secret—was hidden by its disappearance?

It’s 1599, the Age of Discovery in Europe. But for Bren Owen, growing up in the small town of Map on the coast of Britannia has meant anything but adventure. Enticed by the tales sailors have brought through Map’s port, and inspired by the arcane maps his father creates as a cartographer for the cruel and charismatic map mogul named Rand McNally, Bren is convinced that fame and fortune await him elsewhere. That is, until his repeated attempts to run away land him a punishment worse than death—cleaning up the town vomitorium.

It is there that Bren meets a dying sailor, who gives him a strange gift that hides a hidden message. Cracking the code could lead Bren to a fabled lost treasure that could change his life forever, and that of his widowed father. But to get there he will have to tie his fate to a mysterious Dutch admiral obsessed with a Chinese legend about an island that long ago disappeared from any map.

Before long, Bren is in greater danger than he ever imagined, and will need the help of an unusual friend named Mouse to survive. Barry Wolverton’s thrilling adventure spans oceans and cultures, brings together the folklore of East and West, and proves that fortune is always a double-edged sword.

Sounds exciting, no? And if that’s not enticing enough, then get ready … for one … amazing … cover …

Are you ready?

Here it is …

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So fantastic!!! I am in LOVE with this cover. It’s gorgeous, engaging, and so enticing. It just draws me in and makes me want to start reading immediately!

And to celebrate, we’re giving away a signed copy of Barry’s previous book, Neversink to one lucky reader! To enter, just tell us in the comments what you think of The Vanishing Island cover & then fill out the Rafflecopter form here.

Contest is open to the U.S. only, and runs through midnight (PT) on Tuesday, March 3rd.

The Originals: The Rise Exclusive Sneak Peek & Blog Tour Contest

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Today, I’m super excited to be hosting a stop on the official blog tour for The Originals: The Rise created by Julie Plec.

From the creator of The Originals, the hit spin-off television show of The Vampire Diaries, come three never-before-released prequel stories featuring The Original vampire family.

Today is the LAST STOP on the blog tour, but check out the tour page to see all the other fabulous content about The Originals: The Rise. Today, we’ve got an exclusive quote from the book just for you — but be sure to keep reading to learn more & enter to win a fabulous prize pack!!!

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The Originals: The Rise
Author: Julie Plec
Series: The Originals, book 1/3
Release date: Tuesday, January 27
See it on GoodReads

The Originals_The Rise_book 1_coverAbout the Book:

Family is power. The Original vampire family swore it to each other a thousand years ago. They pledged to remain together always and forever. But even when you’re immortal, promises are hard to keep.

Arriving in New Orleans in 1722, Original vampire siblings Klaus, Elijah and Rebekah Mikaelson believe they’ve escaped their dangerous past. But the city is lawless, a haven for witches and werewolves unwilling to share territory. The siblings are at their mercy…especially after Klaus meets the beautiful and mysterious Vivianne. Her impending marriage is key to ending the war between the supernatural factions—and Klaus’s attraction to her could destroy the uneasy alliance. As Elijah works toward securing a piece of the city for his family, and Rebekah fights her unexpected feelings for a French captain, will Klaus’s volatile desires bring their world crashing down—and tear them apart for good?

JuliePlec_AuthorPhotoAbout the Author:

Julie Plec is the co-creator & executive producer of The Vampire Diaries & the creator of The Vampire Diaries spin-off, The Originals. Plec got her start as a writer and producer on the ABC Family series Kyle XY. She also collaborated on the CW drama The Tomorrow People. Her screenplay adaptation The Tiger’s Curse is in development at Paramount, and she will produce the feature @emma with Darko Entertainment. Past feature production credits include Scream 2 and Scream 3.

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Enter to win one of 15 prize packs including: A copy of The Originals: The Rise and a copy of The Originals season 1 on DVD. US/Canada only. Ends Feb. 4, 2015.

Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form HERE!

This event was organized by CBB Book Promotions.

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Dead of Winter by Kresley Cole – Exclusive Excerpt & Contest

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We are BIG big fans of Kresley Cole’s Arcana Chronicles here at Novel Novice, so obviously we’re super excited about the January 6th release of book 3, Dead of Winter. But if you’re like us, and you just can’t wait until January to get started, you’re in luck … because today, we have an EXCLUSIVE sneak peek at the book!

We’re part of the Dead of Winter Chapter 1 Blog Tour Reveal, and today we’ve got your look at the second excerpt. Plus, keep reading for your chance to enter an AMAZING giveaway!!!

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A wolf’s howl pierced the night.

 

I jolted awake in the saddle. The rain had dwindled to a foggy drizzle. How long had I been out?

I rubbed my gritty eyes. Almost screamed. I was surrounded by shadowy figures.

Wait, not figures. All around me were towering stacks of rocks, placed like logs for a bonfire. There were so many stacks the area resembled a forest. The stone forest.

Who would waste calories to assemble these? And why did I find them so chilling?

Matthew, are you there?

At last, I felt his presence in my mind! —Empress!—

Has Violet joined her brother yet?

—The Violet is not there.—

Oh, thank God.

—Soon.—

Shit! You told me Vincent camped within days of Death’s castle. I’ve ridden for DAYS.

—Arcana all around.—

I heard their calls, as if from a sound-out. . . .

—Eyes to the skies, lads!— Joules.

—Trapped in the palm of my hand.— Tess.

—I watch you like a hawk.— Gabriel.

—Behold the Bringer of Doubt!— Selena.

—Don’t look at this hand, look at that one.— Finn.

—Crazy like a fox.— Matthew.

—We will love you. In our own way.— The Lovers.

So many Arcana were close. Which meant I was close.

—Terror from the abyss!— Huh?

Before I could ask about the new call, my sense of being watched returned. I jerked my head around.

—Empress, you’re one stone forest and one clearing away. Some . . . obstacles between us.—

Movement. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw a man skulking from one stack of rocks to the next.

Another man loped to join the first. The armed pair wore fatigues and creepy night-vision goggles. Soldiers of the Lovers’ army?

The stones were for cover, staged as if for a paint-ball course! How long had those men been lying here in wait?

Matthew, I’m in trouble! I slapped the reins against the mare. She whinnied a protest, but increased her speed. Chest heaving, she wound around the stacks.

I craned my head back. Two soldiers had become ten, all with rifles at the ready. Now they walked in plain view. Because I was already surrounded?

As the ground began to flatten, those stacks grew fewer. I raised my hand above my eyes, straining to see. Ahead—the clearing Matthew had spoken of !

My face fell. With no vegetation, it was a quagmire, water and muck pooling in huge craters.

Past that, a wall towered, must be thirty feet high. What lay behind it?

A shot rang out; a bullet whizzed by my head. My mount fled from the sound. “Go, GO!”

In my panic, my nails morphed into thorn claws. The razor-sharp edges sliced through the fingers of my gloves. My glyphs stirred, moving over my skin.

A second gunshot. The near-miss bullet pitted the mud beside the horse’s hooves. She shrieked, trotting faster.

The shooters missed on purpose. They would want me—and the horse—alive.

Women and horses were two valuable A.F. commodities.

Desperate for safety, I squinted at the wall. Men guarded a brightly lit gate.

—Head there, Empress.—

My mare would have to slog through the clearing. It was like a moat fronting that wall. The soldiers would catch me long before then.

A bright color drew my attention. Attached to a post was a handcrafted sign emblazoned with a red skull and crossbones—along with the warning: DANGER! MINES!

And that explained the craters.

Are you kidding, Matthew? Soldiers trailing me; mines ahead. How do I get past a minefield?

An agonized yell sounded behind me.

I dared a glance back. Only nine soldiers followed. They ran toward me at a faster clip. The ones at the edges aimed their guns—off to their sides.

Another horrified yell.

And another.

Open gunfire erupted. Muzzle flashes warred with fog; I couldn’t make out anything.

I turned forward. Screamed.

Three soldiers stood before me, rifles trained on my face. The mare reared, punching hooves at them.

The other gunmen had been pushing me toward these!

Yet behind them, a black beast melded with shadow. One brilliant golden eye gleamed like a lantern.

Cyclops! Had Lark sent her one-eyed wolf to protect me?

Baring dagger-size fangs, the massive beast gave a spine-chilling snarl. The men twisted around—

Cyclops launched himself at the panic-stricken soldiers, knocking them to the ground. His mighty jaws clamped down on limbs and rifles, snapping through bone and metal.

Body parts sailed into the air. Blood spurted like a mall fountain. I winced, though I should be used to seeing stuff like this.

The wolf lifted his head from the carnage and growled at the stupe­fied soldiers positioned behind me. Those bastards had driven me into a trap; Cyclops ate the trap.

Faced with the beast’s dripping maw, they fled headlong.

For me, Cyclops wagged his scarred tail. “Good damn wolf. Good boy.”

Matthew said: —Ride for the fort! You have to make it to the wall.—

What’s behind the wall? For all I knew, Matthew was sending me into the Milovnícis’ camp.

—RIDE!—

Into mines? We’re going to get blown away! Forget my self-healing powers; I couldn’t regenerate from decapitation.

—Go left.—

Directing me around the danger?

I turned to Cyclops. “I don’t know if you can understand me, or if Lark is steering her familiar. But follow my mount carefully unless you want to regrow limbs.” He was still limping from our battle with the Devil Card.

He chuffed, and bubbles of blood formed over his snout. With a swish of his tail, he defiantly snapped up a dismembered arm, carrying it like a chew toy. But he did move behind me.

I’m trusting you, Matthew. I swallowed and guided my horse left.

—MY left!—

Quick correction. Cyclops followed.

—Faster, Empress. Or the Azey will figure out our mine moat maze.—

Your what? Who are the Azey?

A.S.E. Army of the Southeast. Go right for three seconds. Then left.—

Holding my breath, I slapped the reins yet again. One thousand one, one thousand two, one thousand three. I tugged the reins to my right.

—Faster!—

Soon I was galloping through a minefield, a telepathic Arcana in my mind and a giant wolf at my heels.

I could hear those same wet breaths. The wolf had been following me! If I lived through this night, I was so going to owe Lark.

The gate creaked open ahead. I spurred the mare, racing to reach the fort.

With no idea what awaited me . . .

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One lucky winner will receive an Amazon Kindle, pre-loaded with Poison Princess, Endless Knight, and an advanced e-copy of Dead of Winter.

Enter by filling out the Rafflecopter form HERE!

Contest is open to the U.S. only. Contest ends at midnight (PT) on Friday, November 21st.

See more chances to win, and get more sneak peeks from Dead of Winter by visiting all of the blog tour stops this week:

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Here’s more about Dead of Winter:

dead of winterCan Evie convince her rival loves to work together? Their survival depends on it in this third book of #1 New York Times bestselling author Kresley Cole’s Arcana Chronicles, a nonstop action tale of rescue, redemption, and a revenge most wicked.

Heartbreaking decisions
Evie was almost seduced by the life of comfort that Death offered her, until Jack was threatened by two of the most horrific Arcana, The Lovers. She will do anything to save him, even escape Death’s uncanny prison, full of beautiful objects, material comforts and stolen glances from a former love.

Uncertain victory
Despite leaving a part of her heart behind with Death, Evie sets out into a frozen and perilous post-apocalyptic wasteland to meet up with her allies and launch an attack on The Lovers and the vast army they command. Such formidable enemies require a battle plan, and the only way to kill them once and for all may mean Evie, Jack, and Death allying. Evie doesn’t know what will prove more impossible: surviving slavers, plague, Bagmen and other Arcana or convincing Jack and Death to work together.

Two heroes returned
There’s a thin line between love and hate, and Evie just doesn’t know where she stands with either Jack or Death. Will this unlikely trio be able to defeat The Lovers without killing one another first?

Pre-order Dead of Winter here and check out the official website for the Arcana Chroincles.

For the comments: Tell us why you’re excited about Dead of Winter!