Wednesday, April 19, 2017

"Waiting on" Wednesday

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's selection is:

By: Julie Murphy
Published By: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: May 9, 2017
Preorder the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: Ramona was only five years old when Hurricane Katrina changed her life forever.

Since then, it’s been Ramona and her family against the world. Standing over six feet tall with unmistakable blue hair, Ramona is sure of three things: she likes girls, she’s fiercely devoted to her family, and she knows she’s destined for something bigger than the trailer she calls home in Eulogy, Mississippi. But juggling multiple jobs, her flaky mom, and her well-meaning but ineffectual dad forces her to be the adult of the family. Now, with her sister, Hattie, pregnant, responsibility weighs more heavily than ever.

The return of her childhood friend Freddie brings a welcome distraction. Ramona’s friendship with the former competitive swimmer picks up exactly where it left off, and soon he’s talked her into joining him for laps at the pool. But as Ramona falls in love with swimming, her feelings for Freddie begin to shift too, which is the last thing she expected. With her growing affection for Freddie making her question her sexual identity, Ramona begins to wonder if perhaps she likes girls and guys or if this new attraction is just a fluke. Either way, Ramona will discover that, for her, life and love are more fluid than they seem.

Why it's Wanted:

This book sounds like it tackles some tough issues in a new way. I love a good emotional read, and this will probably be one I enjoy delving into.

Friday, April 7, 2017

Book Sketch: The Radius of Us by Marie Marquardt

By: Marie Marquardt
Published By: St. Martin's Griffin
Release Date: Jan. 17, 2017
Series: None
Pages: 304
Genre: Contemporary
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Netgalley
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: What happens when you fall in love with someone everyone seems determined to fear?

Ninety seconds can change a life — not just daily routine, but who you are as a person. Gretchen Asher knows this, because that’s how long a stranger held her body to the ground. When a car sped toward them and Gretchen’s attacker told her to run, she recognized a surprising terror in his eyes. And now she doesn’t even recognize herself.

Ninety seconds can change a life — not just the place you live, but the person others think you are. Phoenix Flores-Flores knows this, because months after setting off toward the U.S. / Mexico border in search of safety for his brother, he finally walked out of detention. But Phoenix didn’t just trade a perilous barrio in El Salvador for a leafy suburb in Atlanta. He became that person — the one his new neighbors crossed the street to avoid.

Ninety seconds can change a life — so how will the ninety seconds of Gretchen and Phoenix’s first encounter change theirs?

Told in alternating first person points of view, The Radius of Us is a story of love, sacrifice, and the journey from victim to survivor. It offers an intimate glimpse into the causes and devastating impact of Latino gang violence, both in the U.S. and in Central America, and explores the risks that victims take when they try to start over. Most importantly, Marie Marquardt's The Radius of Us shows how people struggling to overcome trauma can find healing in love.

First Thought After Finishing: This book tackles a lot of issues, but it does so with sensitivity and reason and as part of the overall story.

Gretchen is recovering from the ninety seconds that changed her life and destroyed the illusion of safety. She rarely goes out other than to babysit for her cousins. One day, she thinks she sees her attacker again, only it's not him. It's Phoenix, an asylum seeker from El Salvador. He knows better than to get involved with Gretchen--or anyone--he needs to free and care for his brother and figure out the future. Only the universe has other plans for them. As the radius between them shrinks, both realize that secrets can only stay hidden for so long, and in order to move forward, they have to confront their past.

I thought the premise of this book sounded interesting, but I did not expect to love it as much as I did. Gretchen and Phoenix both have their own backgrounds and experiences. Phoenix's story in particular broke my heart, especially when considering for how many people that life must be a reality. Phoenix had incredible strength and integrity, and I just wanted to reach through the pages and give him a hug. He wasn't always perfect, but he is definitely a good guy who deserved some good in his life.

Then there is Gretchen. I enjoyed reading her journey of coming back to life. What I loved most is that although Phoenix helped her and gave her incentive to take back control, she did not drastically change just because of a boy. She had good friends, a supportive family, and she was willing to accept help. She was adrift just as much as Phoenix, and that is what made them work so well together.

"When he's with me, we are both here. Right here."

Beyond the couple, I loved the dual POVs in this book as well as the occasional flashbacks. There were moments of fun and general kindness in the midst of all the heavy issues, and those moments also carried emotional power. If I had one complaint, it would only be the ending, because I wanted to see ore from the characters. Still, although their tumultuous journeys found some resolutions, I find myself thinking about Gretchen and Phoenix and hoping that they would have happiness in their fictional future.

Most Memorable Aspect: Gretchen and Phoenix were so perfectly matched. Circumstances brought them together, but they make sense as a couple. I loved that they needed each other and that their relationship had balance.

Wednesday, April 5, 2017

"Waiting on" Wednesday

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's selection is:

By: Becky Albertalli
Published By: Balzer + Bray
Release Date: April 11, 2017
Preorder the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: Seventeen-year-old Molly Peskin-Suso knows all about unrequited love. No matter how many times her twin sister, Cassie, tells her to woman up, Molly can’t stomach the idea of rejection. So she’s careful. Fat girls always have to be careful.

Then a cute new girl enters Cassie’s orbit, and for the first time ever, Molly’s cynical twin is a lovesick mess. Meanwhile, Molly's totally not dying of loneliness—except for the part where she is. Luckily, Cassie's new girlfriend comes with a cute hipster-boy sidekick. If Molly can win him over, she'll get her first kiss and she'll get her twin back.

There's only one problem: Molly's coworker, Reid. He's a chubby Tolkien superfan with a season pass to the Ren Faire, and there's absolutely no way Molly could fall for him.


Why it's Wanted:

I enjoy reading books about sibling relationships, probably because as an only child I want to live vicariously through the stories. This sounds like it has the potential to be a really cute story!

Tuesday, April 4, 2017

Release Day Blitz: Zenn Diagram by Wendy Brant and Perfect by Cecelia Ahern

As a math teacher, I love the title of this book! Plus (see what I did there?) I love the idea of a girl who loves math and is a synesthete of sorts. I can't wait to read this one!

By: Wendy Brant
Published By: Kids Can Press
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Series: None
Pages: 328
Genre: Contemporary
Reading Level: Young Adult
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: Eva Walker is a seventeen-year-old math genius. And if that doesn’t do wonders for her popularity, there’s another thing that makes it even worse: when she touches another person or anything that belongs to them — from clothes to textbooks to cell phones — she sees a vision of their emotions. She can read a person’s fears and anxieties, their secrets and loves … and what they have yet to learn about calculus. This is helpful for her work as a math tutor, but it means she can never get close to people. Eva avoids touching anyone and everyone. People think it’s because she’s a clean freak — with the emphasis on freak — but it’s all she can do to protect herself from other people’s issues.

Then one day a new student walks into Eva’s life. His jacket gives off so much emotional trauma that she falls to the floor. Eva is instantly drawn to Zenn, a handsome and soulful artist who also has a troubled home life, and her feelings only grow when she realizes that she can touch Zenn’s skin without having visions. But when she discovers the history that links them, the truth threatens to tear the two apart.

~ ~ ~ EXCERPT ~ ~ ~

While he waits for his coffee, I snuggle deeper into the couch, hoping he won’t notice me. The only thing worse than filling out college applications the night of the homecoming dance is your crush seeing you fill out college applications the night of the homecoming dance. I guess it should make me feel better that he’s not at the dance, either, but it doesn’t. When guys don’t go to homecoming it seems like a conscious choice. When girls don’t go, it just seems like they didn’t get asked.

“Tall black drip!” the barista calls out, like she’s calling out his name and not the drink. Zenn is tall and dark, but there is nothing drippy about him. He is most definitely non-drippy, whatever that means. He takes his coffee and I think I am home free until he steps away from the counter.

Crap. He sees me. I am equal parts mortified and thrilled.

He raises his cup in a silent greeting and comes a few steps closer. He opens the lid and I try not to stare at his mouth as he blows on his coffee to cool it.

“Hey, Zenn.” My voice sounds goofy in my own ears. Too loud in this small, cozy space.

He takes a tentative sip from his cup. Straight black coffee, no cream, no sugar, no chocolate syrup. What a badass.

“No homecoming for you either?” he asks.

I close my laptop and press my hands against the warm surface. I shrug. “I’m not much of a dancer.” Zenn nods in agreement. “Yeah. Me neither.”

He comes even closer and sits down on the arm of the sofa across from me. His knees are spread wide, his forearms resting on his inner thighs, his hypnotizing hands holding his coffee in the triangle between his legs. He looks so comfortable, so at ease in his own skin. How does one get that way? You wouldn’t think it would be hard – I mean, we’re born in our skin. It should be pretty comfortable by the time you hit seventeen, eighteen. But for me...not so much.

~ ~ ~ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~ ~ ~

So my name alone should give you a clue that I graduated from high school when bangs were big and clothes were baggy. I went to Northwestern University and majored in journalism even though I had no desire to be a journalist. I've been married to a great guy for a whole drinking-aged person's life. I've got two amazing and yet very different (and very tall) teenage kids. I like crappy food, pinning inspirational quotes on Pinterest, have a tendency to start paragraphs with "anyway", and I wish I were funnier. I would love to be one of those really, REALLY funny bloggers (like Insane in the Mom-Brain) that makes you pee yourself a little bit. I am only moderately funny. I admit that. It's one of my great sadnesses in life.

​I started writing fiction when I was 10, but tried to be practical with the whole journalism thing. Didn't take. Shortly after college, the fiction-writing desire reared its non-practical head and I've been writing ever since. 

Anyway, I'm probably just like you. We'd probably be friends if we met in real life. (Well, let's be honest. It's likely that only my friends are actually reading this blog, so we probably ARE friends in real life.) But whether we are friends in real life, or just virtual friends through cyberspace, I hope you will enjoy your time here.

Check out my debut YA novel, ZENN DIAGRAM (KCP Loft 4/4/17), available for pre-order at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or Target!

Find Her Online: Website | Twitter | Instagram


(1) Winner will receive an annotated copy of Lessons in Falling by Diana Gallagher (US only) Follow these rules to enter!

3 winners will receive a hardcover of ZENN DIAGRAM, US Only. The giveaway will be open until April 11th at 12:00 a.m. Eastern.

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Cecelia Ahern's first book, Flawed, was so popular, and now the next installment is here! Are you eager to see what happens next? It's bound to be good!

By: Cecelia Ahern
Published By: Feiwell & Friends
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Series: Flawed
Pages: 352
Genre: Dystopian
Reading Level: Young Adult
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: Celestine North lives in a society that demands perfection. After she was branded Flawed by a morality court, Celestine's life has completely fractured--all her freedoms gone.

Since Judge Crevan has declared her the number one threat to the public, she has been a ghost, on the run with Carrick--the only person she can trust.

But Celestine has a secret--one that could bring the entire Flawed system crumbling to the ground. A secret that has already caused countless people to go missing.

Judge Crevan is gaining the upper hand, and time is running out for Celestine. With tensions building, Celestine must make a choice: save just herself or to risk her life to save all Flawed people.

And, most important of all, can she prove that to be human in itself is to be Flawed?

~ ~ ~ EXCERPT ~ ~ ~

They stay there for three hours. My muscles burn, my feet ache, but I’m afraid to move.

When the fire has reduced to a smolder, Granddad and Dahy are ordered to place the bundles of food onto the coals. The farmworkers watch from their orderly line, their F brand armbands all visible on their right arms, just above their elbow.

This was supposed to be a celebration, a coming together to show that the Guild couldn’t beat them down. Now the Whistleblowers themselves are here. Hiding behind the tree, huddled on the ground, hugging my legs, shivering from the damp forest, I can’t say that I feel empowered. This feels like a defeat.

Granddad and Dahy cover the food with the soil so it will cook under the ground in the heat. Granddad looks at the ground, his work finished, as though he’s buried me alive. Again I want to call out to him that I’m okay, I made it out, but I can’t.

A phone rings and the female Whistleblower takes it. She steps aside, walks away from the others, so she can talk in private. She moves closer to me in the woods. I tense up again.

“Judge Crevan, hello. It’s Kate. No, Judge, Celestine isn’t here. We’ve checked everywhere.”

Silence as she listens and I hear Crevan’s voice from where I stand. Kate walks farther and stops by my tree.

I press my back to the tree, squeeze my eyes shut, and hold my breath.

“With all due respect, Judge, this is the Guild’s sixth visit to the property and I believe Mary May was meticulous in her search. We’ve checked everywhere you can imagine. I don’t believe she’s here. I think the grandfather is telling the truth.”

I can hear the frustration in her voice. They’re all under pressure to find me, pressure placed on them by Judge Crevan. Kate takes a few more steps, right into my eyeline.

She slowly scans the forest, her eyes searching the distance.

Then she looks right at me.

~ ~ ~ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~ ~ ~

At twenty-one, Cecelia wrote her first novel PS, I Love You, which was sold to forty-seven countries. The film of the same title, directed by Richard LaGravenese and produced by Wendy Finerman productions, starred Hilary Swank, Lisa Kudrow, Kathy Bates, Gerry Butler, Harry Connick Jr, Gina Gershon and Jeffrey Dean Morgan. PS, I Love You was one of the biggest-selling debut novels of 2004, reaching number 1 in Ireland and in the UK Sunday Times bestseller list. It was also a bestseller throughout Europe and the USA, staying on the best-seller list in Germany for 52 weeks.

That same year, in November 2004, her second book Where Rainbows End (as Rosie Dunne hardback in the US, Love, Rosie paperback in US) also reached no.1 in Ireland and the UK, remaining at the top of the Irish bestsellers list for 12 weeks and again was a bestseller internationally.  Where Rainbows End was adapted for film titled Love, Rosie and will be released in Oct 2014, starring Lily Collins and Sam Claflin.

Her third book If You Could See Me Now was published in November 2005 and also became an international bestseller. It has been optioned by producer Simon Brooks, producer of Love, Rosie.

Cecelia’s fourth novel A Place Called Here (published under the title There’s No Place Like Here in the US) also became an international number one bestseller.

Thanks For The Memories her fifth novel was also a huge bestseller and is now being adapted for a TV Drama Series by Gate Productions.

The Gift was published in October 2008 and became an International bestseller. It is optioned by Oscar winning producer Andreas Bareiss, and it is going into production later this year.

Her seventh novel The Book Of Tomorrow was released in October 2009 and eOne Television are developing it for a TV series in the US.

In March of 2011 her two short stories, Girl in the Mirror were published.

In November by Cecelia’s eighth novel The Time Of My Life was published and also became a bestseller.

Her ninth novel One Hundred Names was published in October 2012 and became a number one bestseller.

Her tenth novel How To Fall In Love was published last November and also became another bestseller.

To date Cecelia has sold over 22 million copies of her books worldwide.

Find Her Online: Website | Twitter | Instagram


2 Winners will receive finished copies of FLAWED & PERFECT, US Only. Ends on April 18th at Midnight EST!

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Thursday, March 30, 2017

Blog Tour & Book Sketch: But Then I Came Back by Estelle Laure

By: Estelle Laure
Published By: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt Books for Young Readers
Release Date: April 4, 2017
Series: None
Pages: 288
Genre: Contemporary Fiction
Reading Level: Young Adult
Source: Publisher
Buy the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: Eden Jones, a 17-year-old girl, feels lost after surviving a near fatal accident. Unable to connect with her family and friends, Eden forms an unlikely relationship with Joe, a boy who comes to the hospital to visit Jasmine, a friend who may soon be gone forever. Eden is the only person who can get through to Jasmine, but is she brave enough to face a world that’s bigger and more magical than she ever would have allowed?

First Thought After Finishing: As Tolkien wrote, not all who wander are lost…

After you’ve been in a coma, can life ever be the same? Is there life after death, and how can we know? These are some of the questions that Eden struggles with in the new novel by Estelle Laure. But Then I Came Back explores themes as well as self-discovery and new love. This novel is a companion story to This Raging Light, but it can be read as a standalone novel.

"I know better now than to believe in real endings. Things only change. They become something else. We adapt. And sometimes we grow wings."

After an accident, Eden slips into a coma. When she finally wakes up again, she starts to realize that she cannot just slip comfortably back into her life from before. Not only has her body changed, keeping her from doing ballet that has always been her life, but also she cannot quite shake images and dreams from her time in the coma. She feels a mysterious connection to another coma patient whom she dubs Vasquez, and because of her, she comes to know Joe, the one solid and steady visitor. As Eden finds herself drawing closer to Joe, the mystery surrounding Vasquez intensifies, and the lines between the living and the dead become more blurred. In Eden’s new life, who will she be and what will she do?

From the beginning, this book drew me in because of Estelle Laure’s writing style. The opening pages are slightly disjunct and a bit confusing, matching Eden’s state of mind. As she becomes stronger and more self-aware, the writing changes, telling a story woven with beautiful poetry and quotes from Shakespeare and other famous authors. I also loved the connection between worlds that is explored here. Eden refers to the “in-between,” and she seems to be commented there because of Vasquez. I would have loved to see this explored more—I find that concept fascinating.

"This is between me and whatever mighty forces are at work. I spread my arms wide to the sky, and I let go. I am not afraid anymore."

Beyond the mysteries of life and death, Eden struggles to regain her life as she deals with physical restrictions and a missing chunk of time. I enjoyed watching her relationship with Joe progress; it was just the right mix of awkward and sweet. Joe is a character who could have a story in his own right, and it always makes me happy to think that the characters weren’t designed for each other but instead fit together so well because of who they are separately. Joe gives Eden moments of happiness during her recovery, and these prompted Eden to do the hard work of deciding who she wanted to be in her future.

Most Memorable Aspect: The imagery with the black flowers was very vivid, and I keep seeing the scenes in my mind.

~ ~ ~ ABOUT THE AUTHOR ~ ~ ~

Estelle Laure is a Vonnegut worshipper who believes in love and magic and the power of facing hard truths. She has a BA in Theater Arts from New Mexico State University and an MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults from Vermont College of Fine Arts, and thinks everyone should have to wait tables or work in a kitchen at least once in their lives. She lives in Taos, New Mexico with her children.

Find Her Online: Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Instagram


Week One:
3/27/2017 - Literary Dust - Interview
3/28/2017 - The Best Books Ever - Review
3/29/2017 - Novel Novice - Guest Post
3/30/2017 - Portrait of a Book - Review
3/31/2017 - Literary Meanderings - Excerpt

Week Two:
4/3/2017 - YA Book Madness - Review
4/4/2017 - Don't Judge, Read - Review
4/5/2017 - Tales of the Ravenous Reader - Interview
4/6/2017 - Just Commonly - Review
4/7/2017 - Wandering Bark Books - Excerpt


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Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Teaser Tuesday (107)

I'm very excited to be one of the many blogs participating in Teaser Tuesdays! TT is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Books and a Beat. To participate:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
(Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"Flint taps against the granite in me, and before I can tamp it down, there is a spark."

Taken from pg. 107 of BUT THEN I CAME BACK
by Estelle Laure

Please share your teasers - post them or link to your blog!

Wednesday, March 22, 2017

"Waiting on" Wednesday

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's selection is:

By: Rosalyn Eves
Published By: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Preorder the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: The thrilling first book in a YA fantasy trilogy for fans of Red Queen. In a world where social prestige derives from a trifecta of blood, money, and magic, one girl has the ability to break the spell that holds the social order in place.

Sixteen-year-old Anna Arden is barred from society by a defect of blood. Though her family is part of the Luminate, powerful users of magic, she is Barren, unable to perform the simplest spells. Anna would do anything to belong. But her fate takes another course when, after inadvertently breaking her sister’s debutante spell—an important chance for a highborn young woman to show her prowess with magic—Anna finds herself exiled to her family’s once powerful but now crumbling native Hungary.

Her life might well be over.

In Hungary, Anna discovers that nothing is quite as it seems. Not the people around her, from her aloof cousin Noémi to the fierce and handsome Romani Gábor. Not the society she’s known all her life, for discontent with the Luminate is sweeping the land. And not her lack of magic. Isolated from the only world she cares about, Anna still can’t seem to stop herself from breaking spells.

As rebellion spreads across the region, Anna’s unique ability becomes the catalyst everyone is seeking. In the company of nobles, revolutionaries, and Romanies, Anna must choose: deny her unique power and cling to the life she’s always wanted, or embrace her ability and change that world forever.

Welcome to Weep.

Why it's Wanted:

How gorgeous is this cover? I love fantasy, and this sounds like a great novel with historical elements as well. Plus, Rosalyn is a local author, so support is a given!

Wednesday, March 15, 2017

"Waiting on" Wednesday

"Waiting on" Wednesday is a weekly event hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week's selection is:

By: Laini Taylor
Published By: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release Date: March 28, 2017
Preorder the Book: Amazon

Goodreads Summary: A new epic fantasy by National Book Award finalist and New York Times bestselling author Laini Taylor of the Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy.

The dream chooses the dreamer, not the other way around— and Lazlo Strange, war orphan and junior librarian, has always feared that his dream chose poorly. Since he was five years old he's been obsessed with the mythic lost city of Weep, but it would take someone bolder than he to cross half the world in search of it. Then a stunning opportunity presents itself, in the person of a hero called the Godslayer and a band of legendary warriors, and he has to seize his chance to lose his dream forever.

What happened in Weep two hundred years ago to cut it off from the rest of the world? What exactly did the Godslayer slay that went by the name of god? And what is the mysterious problem he now seeks help in solving?

The answers await in Weep, but so do more mysteries—including the blue-skinned goddess who appears in Lazlo's dreams. How did he dream her before he knew she existed? and if all the gods are dead, why does she seem so real?

In this sweeping and breathtaking new novel by National Book Award finalist Laini Taylor, author of the New York Times bestselling Daughter of Smoke & Bone trilogy, the shadow of the past is as real as the ghosts who haunt the citadel of murdered gods. Fall into a mythical world of dread and wonder, moths and nightmares, love and carnage.

Welcome to Weep.

Why it's Wanted:

It's finally a new book from Laini Taylor! Yes, the brilliant mind that brought us the Daughter of Smoke and Bone trilogy! And that COVER! This is at the TOP of my most-wanted list. Need I say any more?

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Teaser Tuesday (106)

I'm very excited to be one of the many blogs participating in Teaser Tuesdays! TT is a weekly meme hosted by MizB at Books and a Beat. To participate:

* Grab your current read
* Open to a random page
* Share two “teaser” sentences from somewhere on that page
(Make sure that what you share doesn’t give too much away! You don’t want to ruin the book for others!)
* Share the title & author, too, so that other TT participants can add the book to their TBR Lists if they like your teasers!

"We kissed again. And again after that.

The stars were all around us, spinning, whirling, carrying me off with them into the sky."

Taken from pg. 65 of OUR OWN PRIVATE UNIVERSE
by Robin Talley

Please share your teasers - post them or link to your blog!

Monday, March 13, 2017

Cover Reveal: The Girl Who Could See by Kara Swanson

I'm very excited to share the cover of Kara Swanson's new book with you! The Girl Who Could See is about a girl who's always been told that she is crazy because of what she can see. I love books that deal with what could be mental illness or could be a supernatural awareness, and I can't wait to read this one! And now, without further ado, I present THE GIRL WHO COULD SEE by Kara Swanson!

All her life Fern has been told she is blind to reality—but what if she is the only one who can truly see?

Fern Johnson is crazy. At least, that’s what the doctors have claimed since her childhood. Now nineteen, and one step away from a psych ward, Fern struggles to survive in bustling Los Angeles. Desperate to appear “normal,” she represses the young man flickering at the edge of her awareness—a blond warrior only she can see.

Tristan was Fern’s childhood imaginary hero, saving her from monsters under her bed and outside her walls. As she grew up and his secret world continued to bleed into hers, however, it only caused catastrophe. But, when the city is rocked by the unexplainable, Fern is forced to consider the possibility that this young man isn’t a hallucination after all—and that the creature who decimated his world may be coming for hers.


Present Time

On television, they never tell you how cold it is.

They might show you the dimly lit room or the hard, uninviting chairs—stark reminders that you have no power here. They may depict the lonesome table separating you from the elderly agent with the stone-grey eyes. But those cop shows never depict what a chilly affair an FBI interrogation truly is. If their aim is to make this process as intimidating as possible—it’s working.

I wrap my hands around bare shoulders, fingertips far colder than the skin exposed by my red tank top. Brilliant move, Fern. Wear a scarf, but forget your jacket. Stifling a shudder, I try to meet the sharp gaze of Agent Barstow standing rigidly across from me.

“I don’t know where you’re from, miss Johnson—but in LA, state-of-the-art buildings don’t just crumble.” His voice is gravelly, matching the jagged lines of his dark skin and weathered face. “Federal buildings, no less. There one minute and the next…destroyed.”

His tone chills me even more, and I tug nervously on my scarf. His arms slowly unwind from his chest as he takes a deliberate two steps toward me. “We’ve had everyone on the disaster—CIA, local police, firemen…heck, we even called NASA. No one can find a plausible reason why a skyscraper, in excellent repair, would collapse like that. No one, that is, except you.”

I fight the urge to bolt for the door as he leans down, palms flat on the table, so close I can make out the creases on his dark suit. “You warned us of an attack in that area two weeks ago. How did you know?”

I suck in a deep breath as his voice lowers, dark fists tightening on the edge of the table. “Are you involved with a terrorist organization?”

I almost laugh at his words, at how they couldn’t be farther from the truth. I’m here to save LA, not destroy it. To save everyone. And I don’t have much time—none of us do. If I can’t gain this man’s trust, a shattered building is nothing compared to what will come next.

“No, sir.” I shove my shaking hands beneath my legs as I glimpse a pair of lucid blue eyes over the agent’s shoulder. They shouldn’t be there—and I know not to stare. But those eyes that only I can see are the reason I warned the FBI in the first place. Their owner the reason I’m even sitting in this room. Licking my lips, I keep my attention on Barstow. I’ve wanted this for years. Someone to listen. Really listen. And it’s the FBI, no less. Be careful here.

When I open my mouth, the words are calm and steady. I hope they’re convincing—they have to be convincing. “I knew about the incident, Agent Barstow, because my friend warned me.” Throat suddenly dry, I look away. “My imaginary friend."


As the daughter of missionaries, KARA SWANSON spent sixteen years of her young life in the jungles of Papua New Guinea. Able to relate with characters dropped suddenly into a unique new world, she quickly fell in love with the speculative genre and was soon penning stories herself.

At seventeen, she independently published a fantasy novel, Pearl of Merlydia. She has since published many articles, including one in the Encounter magazine. Kara received the Mount Hermon Most Promising Teen Writer Award in 2015. You can find her on Facebook as Kara Swanson, Author, or attempting to be artistic over on Instagram (@karaswanson_author). When she’s not creating new stories and placing characters in peril, she’s probably binge-watching Marvel movies, playing with her huskies, reading till two in the morning or experimenting with a dairy-free mocha Frappuccino (skills, I’m telling you).

Find Kara Online:
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