Tuesday, April 24, 2018

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Hiding Lies (Eleanor Ames #2) by Julie Cross

Book Blurb:

Fans of Veronica Mars or Ally Carter will love the snarky, whip-smart former con artist Eleanor, in this sequel to Chasing Truth.

At Holden Prep, dirty little secrets always have a way of coming to the surface.

Eleanor Ames has never been what she seems. Average high school student on the outside, but reformed con artist trying to break free of her past on the inside. When Eleanor receives startling news about someone from her previous criminal life, plans for a new operation coinciding with her school’s upcoming field trip quickly consume her.

But operations rarely go according to plan. And this is one her irresistible teen FBI agent boyfriend, Miles, would never approve of.

Now, more than just Ellie’s reputation is at stake. If she fails, it could be her life.

Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | Entangled

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My feet have been dangling. I start to lift them up, attempting to conceal myself. But I’m not fast enough. Warm fingers wrap around my ankle. “Got you,” the guy says. “How long have you been up there spying on me?”

“Spying? On you?” I shake my head. “Don’t know what you’re talking about. I’m waiting for someone. He’ll be here any second.”

The hot guy takes the binoculars and looks them over, analyzing the zoom-in and recording switches hidden on the underside. “Fancy. Not exactly for recreational use.”

That’s because they’re Aidan’s. My sister’s boyfriend. Up until two weeks ago, when he was forced to resign, Aidan was a Secret Service agent. He used all kinds of spy gear in his former job—like these high-tech night-vision binoculars.

I hop down from the tree, assessing the intruder, searching for body language that says friend or enemy, even though I already know the answer.

No harm in having a little extra practice. Role-play is definitely a skill of mine, but it’s also a muscle that must be worked regularly.

“Just so you know, I am trained in self-defense. Wouldn’t try anything if I were you.”

“Yeah?” He lifts an eyebrow. “That’s good because this place is sketchy as hell.”

We both glance around the deserted warehouse building beside us, the vandalized lumberyard nearby, and the questionable items strewn across the walkway leading to the giant warehouse door—condom wrappers, broken beer bottles, cigarette butts.

“You’re right, it’s sketchy,” I say. “I better take off before something bad happens.”

“Wait…” Hot Guy reaches for me, his fingers curling around my waist. He tugs me until my back rests against the tree and we’re hidden from anyone on the street. “Tell me about this other guy you’re waiting on.”

I stare up at him, taking in the cocky smirk, perfectly messy dark hair, and blue eyes that hold dozens of secrets. “What other guy?”

He grins, showing off two perfect dimples to go with the rest of his perfects. “Good answer.”

Then, before I can refocus on the role I’ve been playing, he leans down and kisses me. It’s only been a week but feels like a month. Maybe longer. His cheeks are cold, but his lips are warm and tender. I bring him closer and closer until his slinged arm is lodged between us.

“Miles,” I mumble against his lips.

“Uh-huh.”

“Miles,” I repeat, too caught up in this kiss to celebrate the slip he just made. “That’s his name. The guy I’m waiting on.”

“Miles. Sounds like an asshole. Forget him.” He pulls away just enough to see my face. His good hand rests against my cheek. He looks like he’s about to dive into kissing me again but hesitates. “It’s really cold out here.”

“And sketchy,” I add. “Why would you pick a place like this? You can’t coast forever on the whole mysterious-hot-guy persona. So if that’s your plan, I’d rather meet at the Y or Planet Fitness like a normal person.”

He rolls his eyes. “Yes, that’s my goal in life. Devote all my time to training to be a spy so I can impress girls.”

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My Review:

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Teen--

After reading Chasing Truth, book 1 in the series, I could not wait to get my grabby hands on more of Eleanor and her hijinks. I think I found my favorite reads of the read so far, maybe my top YA contemporary read in general. Yep, that is how much I am in love with this book and this world in general. I will admit that I was a little hesitant, regardless of my excitement to read more (and yes, I was so happy that I could binge read the series back to back and not have to wait for book 2...don't get me started on waiting for book 3...Please be a book 3 somewhere down the line, just saying...)

Hiding Lies picks up a few weeks after the events of Hiding Lies, where Ellie's life basically imploded and her almost-kinda-sorta boyfriend Miles was reassigned out of town, leaving her trying to pick up the pieces of her life. The danger that she thought was past in book one ends up coming back to light as well as some truths from her previous life, the life she pretends did not happen. I loved learning more about how Ellie was raised, her true skills, the crimes she took part in and how much she gave up to have this chance at being a "typical" teen. Ellie can never be typical, but watching her struggles and triumphs was so endearing, regardless of her truths I rooted for her to succeed. To me, Ellie can do no wrong, regardless of her questionable choices that made me cringe. Julie brought Ellie to life so well I feel as if I know her, that we are friends.

The story wrapped perfectly, I could not have asked for more loose ends to be tied in a nice little bow, but that doesn't mean I would not love to have another book featuring Eleanor and the trouble she inherently finds herself in. Julie, I am such a fan girl for your books and for Ellie as well as the "Ell-iles" ship! Yet again, I would not change a single thing about these books or this world, it was just the right mash of suspense/mystery/tension/lies and a dash of romance(the swoon worthy kind!) to hook me and keep me fully engaged for the entire journey. Oh, don't forget the snark and humor that color the pages as well- what is a good book without snark? I love Ellie and I know anyone else who pick up this book to read will too!

I am voluntarily reviewing an advance, complimentary copy of this book.

Catch up on the Eleanor Ames Series with Book 1 Chasing Truth

Book Blurb:

At Holden Prep, the rich and powerful rule the school—and they’ll do just about anything to keep their dirty little secrets hidden.

When former con artist Eleanor Ames’s homecoming date commits suicide, she’s positive there’s something more going on. The more questions she asks, though, the more she crosses paths with Miles Beckett. He’s sexy, mysterious, arrogant…and he’s asking all the same questions.

Eleanor might not trust him—she doesn’t even like him—but they can’t keep their hands off of each other. Fighting the infuriating attraction is almost as hard as ignoring the fact that Miles isn’t telling her the truth…and that there’s a good chance he thinks she’s the killer.

Read my review of Chasing Truth HERE and find out more about the book on Goodreads

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Author Bio:

Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin's Press). She's also the author of Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, Chasing Truth, Off the Ice and many more to come! Julie Cross was a longtime resident of central Illinois but has recently moved her entire family across the country to continue her academic studies at Stanford University.

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Tour provided by Entangled Publishing

Blog Blitz & Giveaway: Evolved by N. R. Walker

Evolved
N.R. Walker
Publication date:April 23rd 2018
Genres: Adult, Romance, Science Fiction

In 2068, androids are an integrated part of human life. Big Brother no longer just watches from the shadows. It’s in every household.

Lloyd Salter has OCD issues with noise, mess, and he’s uncomfortable with human interaction. When his ex claimed the only thing perfect enough to live up to his standards was an android, Lloyd dismissed it. But two years later, after much self-assessment, Lloyd thinks he may have been right.

SATinc is the largest manufacturer of androids in Australia, including the Fully Compatible Units known as an A-Class 10. Their latest design is the Synthetic Human Android UNit, otherwise known as SHAUN.

Shaun is compatible with Lloyd’s every need; the perfect fit on an intellectual and physical basis. But Lloyd soon realises Shaun’s not like other A-Class androids. He learns. He adapts. Sure that SATinc is aware Shaun functions outside of his programmed parameters, Lloyd must find a way to keep Shaun safe.

No one can know how special Shaun is. No one can know he’s evolved.

Goodreads / Amazon

EXCERPT:

By the time my intercom sounded at nine fifteen the next morning, the butterflies in my belly felt more like stomping elephants. I buzzed the delivery team through and waited for the elevator to ping down the hall.

Breathe, Lloyd, I reminded myself.

My apartment was a spacious two-bedroom luxury unit on the top floor of the complex. Polished concrete floors, high ceilings, a bookcase as one entire wall, and floor-to-ceiling windows on the north-east facing wall. I liked the clean lines, minimalisticfurniture. Well, I didn’t just like it. I needed it. Clutter and closed spaces made me anxious. My ex-boyfriend had found my apartment cold and clinical, but I found the whites and greys soothing, peaceful. Then again, he’d found a lot of things about me clinical…

The knock on my door startled me, even though I’d been expecting it. I opened it to find two men and a rather large crate. The first man smiled. He was wearing grey suit pants and a navy sweater. He showed me his ID. “Mr Salter, my name is Myles Dewegger. We have a special delivery.”

“Yes, yes, please come in,” I said, standing aside in invitation.

The second man wheeled through the crate. He was dressed all in black with a military style haircut, and he looked as though he belonged in a SWAT team. He was a rather large man, with bulging muscles and perfect skin, and I had to study him for a second. No, he was human.

“Nice place,” Myles said, looking around the large, open living room. “Are we all right to do this here?”

I closed the door and took a breath to steady myself. I wasn’t accustomed to having strange people in my house. “Yes, of course.” I followed him and stood next to the couch. “I thought Mr Kingsley might have attended the delivery. I assumed incorrectly, itseems.”

“Sasha’s a busy man,” Myles said with a smile. “Though if you’d prefer, I can call him and you can speak to him.”

“No, it’s fine,” I said. I was now staring at the crate. Oh boy. It was well over six feet tall, three feet wide. Shaun was inside. He was right there. I swallowed hard.

Myles read me. “Let’s introduce you, shall we?”

I nodded. “Yes, please.”

Myles and his helper, whose name I didn’t know, undid the crate and removed the front panel. My heart almost stopped. Inside, Shaun stood, packaged-in perfectly so as not to be damaged in any way. He was dressed in a dinner suit. A charming navy piece with a light blue shirt underneath his blazer, top button undone. His black hair was exactly as I’d ordered; short sides, longer on top, professional. His skin was warm ivory with a subtle hint of blush on his cheeks; his lips were pink and a perfect cupid’s bow. His eyes were closed, his lashes long.

He took my breath away.

The big delivery guy stepped in and unstrapped Shaun, then lifted him out. Right, that explained the need for muscle. Then he quickly wheeled the crate back to the front door, making the room neat again, leaving Shaun standing perfectly still in my living room.

Myles glanced at me. “Everything look okay?”

I nodded and had to focus on speaking so I could make actual sound. “So far, yes.”

Myles smiled as he took out a small hand-held screen I recognised from the SATinc office. It was a control panel. He tapped on both screens, I entered in a personal code, and Shaun was officially added to my Wi-Fi.

It was becoming so very real.

Myles seemed completely unfazed and oblivious to the fact that I was in the middle of a monumental life event. He went on a spiel of specifications and diagnostics, developmental robotics, neural networks, artificial consciousness, proprioceptive sensors, and spatial cognizance, but all I could do was stare at Shaun.

Breathe, Lloyd.

Myles stopped speaking when he realised I wasn’t paying attention, and his pause made me look at him instead. He continued, “I’ll activate him, then we’ll require him to study your face for a few seconds. He has facial recognition, so once he recognises youas his custodian, he’ll be able to identify you anywhere.”

“Okay.”

“So if you’re out in public and you become separated, he will be able to find you.”

For the strangest reason, I found that comforting.

“And your voice. He’ll recognise that anywhere.”

I smiled at Shaun, though he still had his eyes closed.

“Are you ready?” Myles asked.

I nodded.

Myles held the small black screen toward me. He entered in a code and spoke clearand loud. “Please re-enter in your Wi-Fi code,” he said, averting his eyes while I enteredmy security code for Shaun’s wireless access. Then Myles added something else, and watching Shaun, he said, “Activate.”

Shaun opened his eyes.

They were the exact shade of blue I’d asked for. But he just stared blankly.

Myles entered in more codes, then spoke to me. “Please stand in front of him until I tell you to move.”

I did as I was instructed. Shaun was approximately an inch shorter than me, and he was even better close up. Being this close to him sent a curl of anticipation through me.

I could hear Myles tapping on the screen and then Shaun’s eyes focused on me. Hewas scanning my face, and then he looked down to my feet and up my body. It set my blood on fire.

Then Myles handed me the small screen and said, “Please read this out loud to him.”

I let out a breath and looked Shaun right in the eye. “My name is Lloyd Salter. I am your custodian, and this is your home.”

Myles took the control again and clicked on the screen a few more times, and something in Shaun changed. I saw it, the very moment it happened.

He became aware.

His gaze fell on me. “Hello, Lloyd,” Shaun said. His voice was a deep baritone, with a tenor that curled in my belly.

“Hello Shaun,” I replied. My voice was barely a whisper.

And then, throwing my world completely off its axis, he smiled. Not a perfect smile, but slightly lopsided in a very human way. If a simple smile could complete my existence, it was done. He was stunningly perfect.

“It is very nice to meet you,” Shaun said.

“Likewise,” I replied. I couldn’t stop staring at his eyes, and I swore the corner of Shaun’s lip twitched in an almost smile.

“Is that normal?” I asked Myles. “He’s so… human.”

Myles grinned. “It’s amazing, isn’t it? How real they are?”

I nodded, staring back at Shaun. So very real.

“As I was saying before, he has the spatial awareness and object manipulation skillsof a surgeon. He can lift heavy objects with ease, but he can also hold the finest, most delicate glass object with precision. He has social intelligence; he can recognise and interpret, process and simulate human affects and empathy. He is, without doubt, the most advanced A-Class synthetic android in the world.”

Shaun tilted his head a little while he studied me, and I stared right back at him. So remarkable.

“He’s been uploaded with extensive knowledge of all requested data,” Myles said, holding the screen out for me to see. I glanced at it but couldn’t take my eyes off Shaun for long. Myles continued anyway. “Literary histories, world current affairs, everything you asked for has been preloaded, but he can access any information you require. If it’son the web, he can find it, and he can discuss, converse, debate whatever you want.”

Wow.

“Now, as for the personal companion aspect,” Myles went on. Personal companion aspect was synthetic speak for sex. “All lubricants must be silicone based, not oil based,though I’m sure you’re aware. He can self-clean but he might like it if you help him.” I looked at Myles and he winked. “Yes, he has likes and dislikes. Though he’s been pre-dispositioned to your psych evaluation so there are no conflicts. He enjoys conversation, attention, praise…, touch. Sex.”

My heart rate took off.

Breathe, Lloyd.

Author Bio:

N.R. Walker is an Australian author, who loves her genre of gay romance. She loves writing and spends far too much time doing it, but wouldn't have it any other way.

She is many things; a mother, a wife, a sister, a writer. She has pretty, pretty boys who live in her head, who don't let her sleep at night unless she gives them life with words.

She likes it when they do dirty, dirty things...but likes it even more when they fall in love.

She used to think having people in her head talking to her was weird, until one day she happened across other writers who told her it was normal.

She's been writing ever since...

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


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Review: Chasing Truth (Eleanor Ames #1) by Julie Cross

Book Blurb:

At Holden Prep, the rich and powerful rule the school—and they’ll do just about anything to keep their dirty little secrets hidden.

When former con artist Eleanor Ames’s homecoming date commits suicide, she’s positive there’s something more going on. The more questions she asks, though, the more she crosses paths with Miles Beckett. He’s sexy, mysterious, arrogant…and he’s asking all the same questions.

Eleanor might not trust him—she doesn’t even like him—but they can’t keep their hands off of each other. Fighting the infuriating attraction is almost as hard as ignoring the fact that Miles isn’t telling her the truth…and that there’s a good chance he thinks she’s the killer.

Find out more about the book on Goodreads and pick up a copy from Amazon

My Review:

5 Out Of 5 Stars

Genre: Mystery, Suspense, Teen--

This was almost too easy. Here I thought Miles might provide a real challenge for me, given his no-bullshit approach to every situation. I mean, I’m pretty much 90 percent bullshit.

​Why have I put off reading this for so long?? I honestly have no idea why it took me forever to finally read this book when it had been on my wishlist since it came out. AND it is listed for anyone who loves Veronica Mars, which is me! I am so in love with this story, it is exactly what I wanted it to be! It has the feel, heart and humor of Veronica Mars without being fan-fiction, instead it is a complete world unto itself and all I wanted to do since I first started reading it was to stop real life and escape into the pages. I have read lots of other books by Julie and really enjoyed them, but this is hands down my absolute favorite. There is nothing I would change; the writing, the pacing, the character development, the plot, the relationship dynamics- it was all just so perfect. And now I have a strong urge to re-watch Veronica Mars for the 4th time...

I liked that while there was an underlying mystery of the death of Ellie's best (and only) friends Simon, we also have a few side mysteries or "cases" (jobs?) that Ellie gets involved in that have nothing to do with Simon but helped to make the story more well-rounded and create the side characters so much better. The extras also were like happy little tangents that kept me focused on the book because I had no idea what Ellie would do next or what trick was up her sleeve.

Getting in would be easier than a lot of other break-ins I’ve done. But no, I’m gonna ring the bell and ask to be allowed in. Thanks for making my job hell— I mean challenging—Miles.

Ellie is the main character and narrator of the book, but I feel like I was able to get to know her as well as some of the other important characters just as well through her eyes. Keep in mind that Ellie grew up in the life of a conman, she knows how to read people like a pro, can set up her own con in her sleep, usually can manipulate situations to her advantage way better than a 17 year old should ever, and lies spill from her mouth just as easy as the truth- heck, probably easier since she has to work hard to be honest. I love how pieces of her previous life poked through and she had to fight them, such as hacking Aidan's phone and her deciding on where her new morals will lead her. She in no way was a bad guy, regardless of her upbringing and skills, but instead she was sweet and wanted to help others, even if it meant $1000 paycheck to help her on her way to being kind.

Ellis's pseudo parents, her older sister Harper and Harper's Secret Service boyfriend Aidan were such a great support system for Ellie. They understood her in a way nobody else could, they backed her when she needed it, they gave her companionship when she tried to wallow, and especially Aidan, challenged her to test herself for the better (the girl has got some mad skills with her memory). Simon was not even alive during this book but based on the snippets and Ellie's feelings I really feel like I know and understand him. And that brings me to Miles. Miles was a really fun character, pretty much the complete opposite of Ellie with his strict rules, no lies, and his love of starch. The two of them butted heads constantly, the dynamic was the best. But strangely, they complimented each other as well and worked like a well oiled machine when teamed up. This was not a romance story, but man did I root for it to be. There were a handful of other well developed side characters scattered throughout the book, all important for the plot and Ellie's life in general and I wonder who will come back later.

Miles points a finger—aggressively, I should note— at a vacant chair, ordering me to sit.

Though I think it’s more of a “keep your mouth shut and stay out of my way” command. I laugh under my breath. It’s nice seeing him flustered for a change.

I highly recommend anything by Julie Cross, but for sure this start to the Eleanor Ames series, full of mystery, lies, truths and the most amazing of characters. I am so excited that there is another book out in the series because I need more Ellie in my life.

Monday, April 23, 2018

Blog Tour & Giveaway: Whisper (Whisper #1) by Lynette Noni

Book Blurb:

WHISPER by Lynette Noni

Pub. Date: May 1, 2018

Publisher: Kids Can Press

Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Pages: 320

“Lengard is a secret government facility for extraordinary people,” they told me.

I believed them. That was my mistake.

There isn’t anyone else in the world like me.

I’m different. I’m an anomaly. I’m a monster.

For two years, six months, fourteen days, eleven hours and sixteen minutes, Subject Six-Eight-Four — ‘Jane Doe’ — has been locked away and experimented on, without uttering a single word.

As Jane’s resolve begins to crack under the influence of her new — and unexpectedly kind — evaluator, she uncovers the truth about Lengard’s mysterious ‘program’, discovering that her own secret is at the heart of a sinister plot … and one wrong move, one wrong word, could change the world.

AmazonB&NTBDGoodreads

My Review:

4 Out Of 5 Stars

Genre: Mystery, Supernatural, Survival--

She refuses to give them her name, or to even speak for that matter. Instead she goes through her daily routine of the facility, of the armed guards treating her like a dangerous criminal, her trainings which at times is the same as torture. And still, she says nothing. With only a month left in her "captivity", "Jane Doe" has a new trainer, a young guy named Ward who seems to want to really help her, and despite her resolve, she begins to weaken to him. But she underestimates the consequences...

When I started reading Whisper, I went into it with no preconceived notions about this story and really only with a vague notion about what the book was about. Well, this was such an interesting, surprising story, very unique and twisty. The reader is dropped right into the story with zero preface, and when I say zero, I mean it. We, the reader, know absolutely nothing about what is going on, but we meet "Jane Doe" who even states that is not her name but will never say what her name is. We follow her during her daily routine in the facility which is basically like a prison with guards, hand cuff and tasers as well as physical conditioning and experimentation. But Jane does not speak, regardless of the tortures she endures, the fact she is treated like a dangerous criminal. But it seems like Jane believes she deserves what she gets, but the reason is not given. And so we slowly understand what caused Jane to be put into this facility and what she is willing to endure.

Wow, I had no idea what was going on. I will admit that the book had a very strong correlation (to me at least) of the Shatter Me series, with the special, strong girl locked up in a prison like facility and one young, captivating guy sent to lure her back to the world. The end of the book went in a different direction than the Shatter Me series, but that was the feel I picked up on the first 60ish pages of this story. I felt like this dark world was turning into a romance, but then I was surprised by the reveals in the plot, making the romance I hoped for take a seat to betrayal and heartache. The world Lynette created was interesting, with new terms and disclosures that allowed the story to stand out.

Whisper is the first in a science fiction/mystery/action adventure, with gritty truths and supernatural world building. Don't expect everything to wrap up in a nice little bow, but at least there are no cliffhangers to make you anxious, instead just lots of questions and worry to keep you desiring the next book, ASAP!

I am voluntarily reviewing an advance, complimentary copy of this book.

Author Bio:

Lynette Noni studied journalism and academic writing at university before completing a degree in human behavior. She lives on the Sunshine Coast in Australia and can be found baking cupcakes, singing along to animated movies, or daydreaming about being swept away to a fantasy world. Some days, she can even do all three at once — and still find the time to sneak in a nap afterwards.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Instagram

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Week One:

4/23/2017- The Candid CoverReview

4/24/2017- Smada's Book SmackReview

4/25/2017- FUONLYKNEWExcerpt

4/26/2017- Here's to Happy EndingsReview

4/27/2017- Simply Daniel RadcliffeReview

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Week Two:

4/30/2017- A Dream Within A DreamReview

5/1/2017- Mama Reads Blog-  Guest Post-Playlist

5/2/2017- Book-KeepingReview

5/3/2017- BookHounds YAReview

5/4/2017- Two Chicks on BooksExcerpt

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Review tour provided by Rockstar Book Tours

Blog Blitz & Giveaway: The Dylan Dilemma by Patricia B. Tighe

The Dylan Dilemma
Patricia B. Tighe
Published by: Swoon Romance
Publication date: April 24th 2018
Genres: Contemporary, Young Adult

High school senior Kenzie Harper-Shea has no time for dating, especially after the arrival of the basketball coach from hell. Now Kenziehas lost her confidence, is in a slump, and in danger of losing out on a scholarship to play college ball. The last thing she needs is her “vacation boyfriend,” Dylan McCoy, distracting her with warm smiles, inside jokes, and swoony kisses.

Dylan, however, is totally ready to date. He finally lives in the same town as Kenzie and is not about to lose the chance to let their relationship grow into something more. But for now, he’ll stay in the friend zone because he’s determined to find out what has her running scared. It can’t be just about basketball.

As Kenzie spends more time around Dylan, her feelings become a jumbled-up mess. It’s obvious they’re into each other. So, why does she panic whenever she thinks about dating him? Is it connected to basketball or to something deeper? She’s not sure. Does she have the courage to examine her heart, even if it means breaking Dylan’s?

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / Kobo

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At the school gym on Monday, I wiped sweat from under my eye with the collar of my T-shirt. Jana thumped me on the back before jogging back to her place in line.

“Keep moving,” she said under her breath.

Right. I threw the basketball to Carly, who jerked when she caught it and then passed it to the next girl. Tension filled the air like when you step outside and a thunder storm is about to hit. Coach Dunbar, gray hair flattened like a steel helmet, prowled among us, her whistle at the ready. We were all freaked about the changes. You could see it in the way my usually confident teammates stumbled over their feet or missed shots or flubbed passes.

This passing drill, normally something I could do in my sleep, was making me crazy. I’d already jammed my index finger on one catch, but after a scowl from Coach, I shook my hand and kept going. No one wanted to get on her bad side, which made us so nervous that we looked like amateurs. Sneakers squeaked on the gym floor, exclamations rang out, and the girls beside me breathed so hard I could hear it. Holy crap. When would we all settle down? Things just didn’t feel right and last Friday hadn’t been any better. Halfway through, Coach sat us down and gave us a lecture on teamwork because she said she wasn’t happy about what she saw.

Well, neither was I. I missed Coach Shultz. I missed how her happiness gave all of us a lift—even when we were working hard.

“Kenzie!” Carly shouted.

I turned and a basketball hit me in the stomach. But miracle of miracles, I caught it. Coach blew her whistle in one long shrill sound.

“All right, girls!” she called. “This is pathetic. Time for laps.”

Laps? That wasn’t how practice was supposed to go. “But we never run until—”

Jana, who I hadn’t realized was beside me, squeezed my elbow, cutting off my words. What the heck was I doing? I should know by now the woman didn’t appreciate my helpful hints.

Coach Dunbar walked toward me through the crowd of my frozen teammates, favoring her right leg. Maybe Jana had been right and there was something wrong with the woman. “Mackenzie,” she said, her voice hard. “If you have a suggestion, you can raise your hand. Otherwise, if you don’t like the way I conduct practice, you can leave. There’s nothing stopping you.”

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Author Bio:

The mother of two grown sons, Patricia B. Tighe lives in West Texas with her husband and dog. She eats way too much pizza, drinks way too much coffee, and watches way too much NFL football. On the bright side, she also reads and writes teen fiction. She promises to include as much romance, angst, and adventure as possible in her books.

Website / Goodreads / Facebook / Twitter


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