Review: White Rabbit by Caleb Roehrig

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Published: 24 April 2018

Publisher: Feiwel Friends

Category: Young Adult/Mystery/LGBT+

Rufus Holt is having the worst night of his life. It begins with the reappearance of his ex-boyfriend, Sebastian—the guy who stomped his heart out like a spent cigarette. Just as Rufus is getting ready to move on, Sebastian turns up out of the blue, saying they need to “talk.” Things couldn’t get much worse, right?

But then Rufus gets a call from his sister April, begging for help. And then he and Sebastian find her, drenched in blood and holding a knife, beside the dead body of her boyfriend, Fox Whitney.

April swears she didn’t kill Fox—but Rufus knows her too well to believe she’s telling him the whole truth. April has something he needs, though, and her price is his help. Now, with no one to trust but the boy he wants to hate yet can’t stop loving, Rufus has one night to prove his sister’s innocence…or die trying.

Rating: 1 Star

CW: sexual identity slurs, eating disorder comment, sexual assault, drinking/drug use by teens

Mysteries can be really interesting. I’m no stranger to watching them all over Netflix, Hulu, and whatever other streaming site I’ve got access to, not to mention gobbling up books. That’s why I wanted to read White Rabbit: it sounded like a twisty maze of a murder mystery that would grip me from page one.

Oh boy. It was a disappointment and I’m really sore about that. Reading the whole of the book turned out to be more of a duty than an enjoyable experience. The best thing I can say about this is that I can see it being easily adapted to other mediums. With a few tweaks and cleaning up of the more problematic aspects, there’s still a lot of good stuff underneath. However, it was the troubling relationships, the lack of connection, and the pacing that ruined this book for me.

The relationship between Rufus and Sebastian before the book begins and during the majority of the book is, at best, uneasy and at worst toxic. Rufus was outed as gay in the fifth grade and has been dealing with the fallout since then, bullying and the like. Sebastian is terrified of what people would think if they found out he loved Rufus (his identity is unclear: bi, pan, or otherwise). The tension would make sense, but the toxicity comes in when you consider the dependence Rufus shows in regards to their relationship. He said many things that made it seem like Sebastian was the be all of his life and it was more than a little uncomfortable.

 

Dating Sebastian Williams was both the best and worst thing that ever happened to me. In a lot of ways, being with him made me feel as if maybe I’d never really been alive at all before. I was like a violin— an object that hasn’t much purpose until someone touches it, fills it with resonance, draws things from it that it can never produce on its own. Sebastian had been the one to draw music from me, and it’s why the end was so bad; before him, I’d never actually realized how painful the silence was.

 

Sebastian contributed to the toxicity in a few ways. While he and Rufus were dating, he would still be flirting with girls, even knowing that it bothered his boyfriend.

 

It bothered me that Sebastian still flirted openly with girls, even right in front of me, because I knew he still actually liked girls; but I also knew why he felt the need to do it, and I believed all the things he said to me in private— how special I was, how happy I made him, how good he felt when we were together— and so I plastered over my jealousies and let myself fall into him.

 

I understand why he felt the need to keep their relationship private, but knowing how Rufus felt and still doing things like this felt like it contributed to bad stereotypes about bisexual characters. Sebastian isn’t identified as strictly bisexual, though he is coded that way, and these stereotype hints don’t help. It’s distasteful on its own and then Rufus letting him get away with it just adds a whole other level of nose wrinkling frustration.

Sebastian then ends their relationship by ghosting Rufus. He never recognizes or stands up for Rufus when his friends bullied him. He excuses what the bullies do, related to Rufus or not, as being “little kids” back then or just “kids”. Age doesn’t excuse the stuff they did because they were all old enough to know better by this point.

 

“You think maybe I’m in on it.” I respond to the charge with silence, and he states gruffly, “I wouldn’t do something like that, Rufe. Not to you. You know I wouldn’t.” “I don’t know what you’d do,” I shoot back,

 

Even if they weren’t dating, it would have been the decent thing to do. Rufus confronts him about it at one point and Sebastian brushes it off as just something that they do and it doesn’t mean anything. These two didn’t seem healthy for each other and their ending up a couple didn’t sit right. The trust issues that were around before the start and that didn’t have the time to get properly worked on were really serious, as evidenced by the quote above when, after Rufus gets the call from April and thinks it’s an ambush that Sebastian could be in on. You don’t go from something like that to what they do on the night in question and have it be a healthy relationship without a heavy duty dose of therapy or something.

Moving on to Rufus and his half-sister April: whatever he did for her during the course of the book, I cannot believe that he would have so easily let her basically drift into his friend group at the end. Considering the torture that she put him through their entire lives, that her family put him through, it didn’t make any sense. It felt like he was letting those things go and that hurt.

 

Rounding the corner, I walked straight into a trap. April stood against the wall, her blue eyes wide and solemn, and she watched with silent fascination as our older brother Hayden and two of his friends spent the next four minutes beating me into a quivering, bloody pulp at her feet.

 

There were also a few smaller things that bugged me that weren’t really important to the overall story line, but were off just enough that my mind kept coming back, like a loose thread. For example, calling a manga volume by it’s subtitle and then switching to the series title without explanation (only fans of the series would realize what had happened) or when Lia, one of the suspects in the murder, says she used prescription cold medicine to dose someone, but did so at a house where she shouldn’t have had access to such a product (where did she even get it??).

It was really hard to get through the book because I realized around 30% that I didn’t care about anyone. I was semi-curious to find out who the murderer was, so I forced myself to finish, but there was no fun, no enjoyment.

 

 

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

 

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Review: After Hours Vol. 2 by Yuhta Nishio

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Published: 12 June 2018

Publisher: VIZ Media

Category: Manga/LGBT+ (Lesbian/Bisexual MCs)

Steaminess level: Pretty hot (explicit scenes)

Emi and Kei are making plans for something big, but first they have to convince Kei’s DJ collective to go along with their wild idea. And with a lot of money on the line, it will take more than just enthusiasm to launch their dream event. But despite finally feeling like she might fit in, Emi’s anxiety and secrets are starting to catch up with her. Will they ruin everything?

Rating: 4 Stars

Emi and Kei’s journey together, and as part of a performing arts group, continues in After Hours Vol. 2.

This second volume picks up right where the first left off. Emi is a new person to the world of DJs and their accompaniments, so her unsureness was understandable. Her anxiety, both regarding  becoming a VJ and her growing relationship with Kei, is a prominent part of the story. There’s a lot of questioning what this new life means for Emi because it’s so new and unlike the life she was living when she met Kei. There are remnants of that person Emi was that she’s kept secret since entering into a relationship with Kei and those secrets cause a lot of tension between the two.

Most of the tension the reader will feel from Emi’s point of view, but there is also a glimpse into how Kei is feeling. Not only does this volume allow the reader to see how much work Kei puts into her events and her music, but it shows her more vulnerable side and how much Emi means to her.

I root so hard for this couple because not only are they learning something from each other, but they are creating a new life where these interests merge and it’s beautiful. The end of this volume has a spectacular, personal scene and the cliffhanger is perfect as I look forward to volume 3.

 

 

 

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Wotakoi: Love is Hard for Otaku by Fujita

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Published: 17 April 2018

Publisher: Kodansha Comics

Category: Manga/Romance/Contemporary

The awkward, romantic comedy manga about geeks in love that inspired the new anime! Can a professional man who’s secretly a hardcore gamer and a woman who’s secretly a fujoshi date without their hobbies getting in the way, or revealing each other’s secrets?

Extra-long book includes 2 Japanese volumes!

Narumi and Hirotaka are, by all appearances, a power couple. They’re young, good-looking professionals. But they have secrets from everyone but each other: They’re serious geeks! Narumi is a fujoshi, and Hirotaka’s a hardcore gamer. Their sweet, awkward love story started life as a webcomic before becoming a full-blown manga series by popular demand, and is about to become a major anime series!work.

Rating: 2.5 Stars

I am a big fan of books that are about characters I can really relate to, such as Genshiken or Lucky Star which feature manga/video game nerds. Wotakoi seemed like a perfect addition to this list because not only does it have characters that are interested in various aspects of otaku culture, but they’re older than the usual cast (in their 20’s as opposed to teens).

Wotakoi started off pretty well with the introductions and the revelation of what kind of things the main characters Narumi and Hirotaka liked. Their best friends/co-workers are also introduced (Hanako and Taro) and it looks like they’re not as alone at the office as it seemed in regards to their interests.

There’s a lot more energy in the first volume, but as things progressed, it felt like the focus was not as much on the otaku aspect so much as the office and personal relationships of the cast. I was expecting a lot more emphasis on the characters playing video games or reading manga, but aside from one trip to Comiket and topical references I didn’t feel like there was the joy of any of these things.

I’ve read slice of life manga and otherwise traditional manga; Wotakoi felt like a strange blend between the two and it affected the streamlined feel I’d expect from a manga book. A longer story it was not; it felt disjointed. A slice of life manga it almost was, but it didn’t have the same individual strip/larger story synchronicity.

As for reading farther in the series, I might pick this up from the library or if offered for review, but I didn’t enjoy it enough or find any characters that hooked me enough to want to purchase any volumes of the series.

 

 

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

DNF Review: The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky by Jana Casale

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Published: 17 April 2018

Publisher: Knopf

Category: Fiction

For fans of Maggie Shipstead and Emma Straub, an ambitious, timely, and timeless debut that celebrates the joys and confusions of modern womanhood

Leda is a girl who knows what she wants and who she is—or at least believes she does. When we meet her as a college student in Boston—confident, intelligent, independent—she’s hopeful that a flirty chat with a cute boy reading a book in a café will lead to romance. They have a fleetingly awkward conversation that dwindles into little more than mortifying embarrassment, but the encounter does leave her one positive, and ultimately transformative, thought: Leda decides she wants to read Noam Chomsky. So she promptly buys a book and never—ever—reads it.

As the days, years, and decades of the rest of her life unfold, we watch Leda confront what it is that she really wants and who it is that she is really meant to be. Whether it’s a clumsy New Year’s Eve kiss, the first time she sees the man she will marry, her daughter’s tantrum in an IHOP parking lot, the agony of knowing a friend is being cheated on, or the revival of her creative ambitions in a community writing group, all of Leda’s experiences—the everyday and the milestones—prove to her that even our best-laid plans are not the only paths to happiness. Hilarious and heartbreaking, gorgeously precise, and disarmingly honest, The Girl Who Never Read Noam Chomsky is a remarkable literary feat that speaks to urgent questions women face today, even as it offers the possibility that, in the end, it might all be okay.

Rating: 1 Star (DNF @ 12%)

I know this book is about a woman that never reads Noam Chomsky, but does that mean she has to be so ambivalent toward other books? Did that mean I had to be so bored to tears by a book inspired by an author that I was almost instantly put off by it? I suppose it doesn’t, but that’s what happened with this title. To be fair, I probably should have researched Chomsky a bit before picking up a book with his name on the cover; hindsight and all that.

From the first page there was a sense of entitlement or elitism that was equal parts confusing, boring, and off putting. It felt like the author was putting on airs to make their writing sound like it was better than they thought it was and in doing so made it sound utterly pretentious. There was also this feeling I got that the author was patronizing and distasteful about the whole storytelling endeavor.

Leda was entirely unsympathetic. I thought that perhaps it was just the early parts of her personality, but the more I read the more I realized the author had just written her to be this unlikeable person. Maybe, maybe, she was working toward making Leda a better person, but the tone of the book was so horrible that I didn’t care about seeing this possible bright future. There was nothing about Leda that made me want to know her, to see her get better.

There’s definitely a constant fat shaming going on, though Leda uses the word “linear” in place of “fat”. She also makes some comments that gave me the impression that she, at the very least, had this idea that fat people have no place on Earth.

As she turned the corner it all fell away, the donuts, the linearity, the boy and his faultlessness; she caught a glimpse of her jumbled reflection in the window by the elevator, and it was awful. She was disgusting. She was fat.

She was also incredibly judgmental of others, tearing them down in what I would have thought was an effort to make herself feel better except she never did, so I’m not sure what the point was. I can’t decide if Leda was being set up by the author to, at some point, become sympathetic because of her body image issues. Even if she was, I’m not sure I’d care because of her terrible attitude toward other people and their bodies. Her own is one thing, but dragging others down, saying they’re fatter, lonier, etc., was too much.

The author also inserted sentences that revealed the future, such as saying when something was happening for the last time; that said, it’s shown that Leda never heals from this compulsion (“This compulsion to be linear began at age twelve and would persist until her death.”) and that, in all likelihood, the fat shaming would be present through the rest of the narrative. It was sad to hear Leda succumbed to this toxic viewpoint, even worse when the author told us at 1% of the way in that she never learns to love herself whatever her size.

Oddly enough, the book seems able to sum itself up in one quote:

“I really don’t get the ending,” the girl across from her said. “Are we supposed to feel sorry for the main character? Because I really don’t. And it’s boring. Why do I care?”

No characters to care about, a storyline that was flatter than a paved highway and about as tasteful, this book is not one I’d ever recommend.

 

 

 

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I’d Metaphorically Slay a Lion to Get Early

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Top Ten Tuesday was created by The Broke and the Bookish in June of 2010 and was moved to That Artsy Reader Girl in January of 2018. It was born of a love of lists, a love of books, and a desire to bring bookish friends together. You can find the most current prompts here.

 


 

There are some downsides to getting books early, the first that comes to mind being that your circle of people available to have in-depth discussions with is probably going to be quite small. There are a lot of upsides, though, especially if you’re able to get your hands on a sequel or a companion novel right after you’ve finished the previous novel and you’re desperate to find out what happens next. There’s a lot of joy in that.

This week’s topic is about those books that I would metaphorically slay a lion to get my hands on. Are any of these on your tbr? Do you have a copy of any of them? Let me know in the comment section below!

 

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The Dark Descent of Elizabeth Frankenstein by Kiersten White

Release Date: 25 September 2018

 

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LIFEL1K3 by Jay Kristoff

Release Date: 29 May 2018

 

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A Thousand Perfect Notes by C.G. Drews

Release Date: 7 June 2018

 

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Blanca y Roja by Anna-Marie McLemore

Release Date: 9 October 2018

 

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From Twinkle, With Love by Sandhya Menon

Release Date: 22 May 2018

 

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We Regret to Inform You by Ariel Kaplan

Release Date: 21 August 2018

 

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Mariam Sharma Hits the Road by Sheba Karim

Release Date: 5 June 2018

 

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Summer of Salt by Katrina Leno

Release Date: 5 June 2018

 

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Girls of Paper and Fire by Natasha Ngan

Release Date: 6 November 2018

 

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Ignite the Stars by Maura Milan

Release Date: 4 September 2018

 

 

 

 

 

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Review: Royals by Rachel Hawkins

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Published: 1 May 2018

Publisher: G.P. Putnam’s Sons Books for Young Readers

Category: Young Adult/Contemporary/Romance

Meet Daisy Winters. She’s an offbeat sixteen-year-old Floridian with mermaid-red hair; a part time job at a bootleg Walmart, and a perfect older sister who’s nearly engaged to the Crown Prince of Scotland. Daisy has no desire to live in the spotlight, but relentless tabloid attention forces her join Ellie at the relative seclusion of the castle across the pond.

While the dashing young Miles has been appointed to teach Daisy the ropes of being regal, the prince’s roguish younger brother kicks up scandal wherever he goes, and tries his best to take Daisy along for the ride. The crown–and the intriguing Miles–might be trying to make Daisy into a lady . . . but Daisy may just rewrite the royal rulebook to suit herself.

Rating: 3 Stars

I haven’t gotten around to reading Rachel Hawkins’s other books, but I’ve heard great things about her writing. That and the fact that I really like royal stories like this combined to get me to read my first Hawkins book.

The writing was very easy to get through. I breezed through this book in a couple of days, so points of readability. The story itself had overreaching facets that I think were good, but there was a lot regarding the execution of these events that made me not like the story as much as I could have.

Royals takes place in an alternate history version of Scotland, where it is its own country with a royal family and the like. Their cousins are alluded to and it’s easy enough to guess that they’re the current royal family of England. I didn’t mind this too much, the alternate history setting, even though it wasn’t explained how all that worked out. It’s not really the kind of story that needs that information, so as long as the reader knows that this was based on a fantasy version of Scotland, I think I’d be okay with recommending it.

Daisy, the main character and our eyes into this world, did have some funny one liners, starting with working at a local convenience store with her best friend Isabel and through her meetings with various members of the aristocracy in Scotland. These moments of sarcasm and wit were brief, though. Overall, Daisy was a bit of a pushover, always giving things up for others (a con visit for Ellie, a quiet evening with her favorite author for Sebastian & Isabel, etc.). She let herself get walked over a lot and it was mostly infuriating rather than setting her up for self improvement.

Her relationship with her sister was an overreaching sense in the book, but there’s not actually much content to back it up. The two barely interact and when they did, Ellie was next to terrible toward her. I was hoping that Ellie would really stand up for Daisy before the end and she did in a manner of speaking, but overall I got the idea that I was more supposed to believe they had some kind of relationship than I actually saw demonstrated.

Daisy and Miles give off a strong Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy feel, something that Daisy mentions shortly after meeting Miles and dealing with some of Sebastian’s behavior. It was nice, because I do like Pride and Prejudice, but it felt like something that was so blatant that I could see where their story was going long before it was actually resolved. The “ending” for these two, aside from the obviousness, felt forced, like there had to be a happy ending even though I thought the way things went was unlikely. There’s actually a quote from Daisy that I thought summed up my feeling of the ending:

One kiss and a weird summer of fake dating is not worth screwing up his whole life for.

The action of the book had a few “villains” set up in acts, almost, and they were okay. I thought it was kind of weird to leave Sebastian’s twin sister until the book was 70% over. Flora was underutilized and a bit stereotypical, though her romantic intrigues were interesting. I wish that we’d gotten to see her more because as one of two queer characters in the book, she (a lesbian) and one of Sebastian’s friends (gay) didn’t get much page time that was really meaningful.
There’s apparently going to be a second book in the Royals series, though it’s a companion novel from what I can tell so I don’t know how much we’ll be seeing of these characters.

I received a copy of this book from the publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review.

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.

Song of Blood & Stone by L. Penelope Blog Tour – An Excerpt from the New Novel

The first book in the Earthsinger Chronicles, L. Penelope’s story of a world torn apart by two warring rulers and the quest to save it and all its gifts begins an epic quest undertaken by two characters who must face so many things asked of them by others and by themselves.

In advance of publication (out tomorrow!), I’m sharing an excerpt of Song of Blood & Stone so that you’ll have a chance to see how special this book is and get a taste for L. Penelope’s writing with plenty of time to preorder before 1 May.

 

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Published: 1 May 2018

Publisher: St. Martin’s Press

Category: Fantasy/Romance/Young Adult

A treacherous, thrilling, epic fantasy about an outcast drawn into a war between two powerful rulers. 

Orphaned and alone, Jasminda lives in a land where cold whispers of invasion and war linger on the wind. Jasminda herself is an outcast in her homeland of Elsira, where her gift of Earthsong is feared. When ruthless soldiers seek refuge in her isolated cabin, they bring with them a captive–an injured spy who threatens to steal her heart.

Jack’s mission behind enemy lines to prove that the Mantle between Elsira and Lagamiri is about to fall nearly cost him his life, but he is saved by the healing Song of a mysterious young woman. Now he must do whatever it takes to save Elsira and its people from the True Father and he needs Jasminda’s Earthsong to do it. They escape their ruthless captors and together they embark on a perilous journey to save Elsira and to uncover the secrets of The Queen Who Sleeps.

Thrust into a hostile society, Jasminda and Jack must rely on one another even as secrets jeopardize their bond. As an ancient evil gains power, Jasminda races to unlock a mystery that promises salvation.

The fates of two nations hang in the balance as Jasminda and Jack must choose between love and duty to fulfill their destinies and end the war.

 

 

Excerpt

 

CHAPTER TWO

 

Jackal and Monkey stood at the edge of a wide canyon. Monkey asked, If I leap and make it to the other side, was that my destiny or merely my good luck?

Jackal replied, Our destiny can be taken in hand, molded, and shaped, while chance makes foolishness out of whatever attempts to control it. Does this make destiny the master of luck?

—collected folktales

 

Jack had found himself in a great many hopeless situations in his life, but this one was the grand champion—a twenty-­two-­year record for dire occurrences. He only hoped this wouldn’t be the last occurrence and sent up yet another prayer that he might live to see his twenty-­third year.

The temperature had dropped precipitously. His spine was as­ saulted by the rocky ground on which he lay, but really that was the least of his discomforts.

His vision had begun to swim about an hour ago, and so at first he thought the girl looming above him was a mirage. She peered down at his hiding spot behind a cluster of coarse shrubbery, her head cocked at an angle. Jack went to stand, years of breeding kicking in, his muscle memory offended at the idea of not standing in the presence of a lady, but apparently his muscles had forgotten the bullet currently lodged within them. And the girl was Lagrimari— not strictly a lady, but a woman nonetheless—and a beautiful one, he noticed as he squinted into the dying light. Wild, midnight curls floated carelessly around her head, and piercing dark eyes regarded him. Her dress was drab and tattered, but her smooth skin was a confectioner’s delight. His stomach growled. When was the last time he’d eaten?

Her presence meant he was still on the Lagrimari side of the mountain range bordering the two lands and had yet to cross the other, more powerful barrier keeping him from his home of Elsira: the Mantle.

The girl frowned down at him, taking in his bedraggled appear­ ance. From his position lying on the ground, he tried his best to smooth his ripped uniform, the green fatigues of the Lagrimari army. Her confusion was apparent. Jack was obviously Elsiran; aside from his skin tone, the ginger hair and golden honey­colored eyes were a dead giveaway. And yet he wore the uniform of his enemy.

“Please don’t be scared,” he said in Lagrimari. Her brows rose toward her hairline as she scanned his supine and bloodied body. Well, that was rather a ridiculous thing to say. “I only meant that I mean you no harm. I . . .” He struggled with how to explain him­ self.

There were two possibilities. She could be a nationalist who would turn him in to the squad of soldiers currently combing the mountain for him, perhaps to gain favor with the government, or she could be like so many Lagrimari citizens, beaten down by the war with no real loyalty to their dictator or his thugs. If she was the former, he was already dead, so he took a chance with the truth.

“You see, I was undercover, spying from within the Lagrimari army. But now there are men looking for me, they’re not far, but . . .” He paused to take a breath; the efort of speaking was draining. He suspected he had several cracked or broken ribs in addition to the gunshot wound. His vision swirled again, and the girl turned into two. Two beautiful girls. If these were his last moments before traveling to the World After, then at least he had something pleas­ ant to look at.

He blinked rapidly and took another strained breath. His mis­ sion was not complete; he could not die yet. “Can you help me? Please. I’ve got to get back to Elsira.”

She stole an anxious glance skyward before kneeling next to him. Her cool hand moved to his forehead. The simple touch was soothing, and a wave of tension rolled of him.

“You must be delirious.” Her voice was rich, deeper than he’d expected. It eased the harsh consonants of the Lagrimari language, for the first time making it sound like something he could imagine being pleasant to listen to. She worked at the remaining buttons of his shirt, pulling the fabric apart to reveal his ruined chest. Her expression was appraising as she viewed the damage, then sat back on her haunches, pensive.

“It probably looks worse than it is,” he said. “I doubt that.”

Jack’s chuckle sounded deranged to his own ears, so it was no surprise that the girl looked at him askance. He winced—laughing was a bad idea at this point—and struggled for breath again. “The soldiers . . . they’re after me. I have to get back through the Mantle.”

“Shh,” she said, peering closely at him. “Hush all that foolishness; you’re not in your right mind. Though I’ll admit, you speak Lagrimari surprisingly well. I’m not sure what happened to you, but you should save your strength.”

She closed her eyes, and suddenly his whole body grew warmer, lighter. The odd sensation of Earthsong pulsated through him. He had only experienced it once before, and it hadn’t been quite like this. The touch of her magic stroked him intimately, like a brush of fingers across his skin. The soft vibration cascaded over his entire body, leaving him feeling weightless.

He gasped, pulling in a breath, and it was very nearly an easy thing to accomplish. Tears pricked his eyes. “Sovereign bless you.”

Her expression was grave as she dug around in her bag. “It’s just a patch. You must have ticked someone of real good. It’d take quite a while to fix you up properly, and the storm’s coming. You need to find shelter.”

She retrieved a jar filled with a sweet­smelling substance and began spreading it over his wounds. The Earthsong had turned down the volume of his pain, and the cream soothed him even more.

“What is that?”

“Just a balm. Helps with burns, cuts.” Her hand paused for a moment. “Never gunshot wounds, but it’s worth a try.”

He laid his head back on the ground, closing his eyes to savor the ability to breathe deeply again. “A quick rest and I’ll be back on my way. Need to keep moving, though. Need to get back.”

“Back through the Mantle?” Her tone vibrated with skepticism. “And away from the Lagrimari soldiers chasing you?”

“Yes.” Her palm met his forehead again. She thought he was delusional. He wished he was. Wished the last few weeks had been nothing but the imaginings of an impaired mind.

 

About the Author

Penelope, L._CREDIT Valerie Bey

Leslye Penelope has been writing since she could hold a pen and loves getting lost in the worlds in her head. She is an award-winning author of new adult, fantasy, and paranormal romance. She lives in Maryland with her husband and their furry dependents: an eighty-pound lap dog and an aspiring feral cat.

Goodreads  –  Twitter  –  Website

 

 

 

 

 

All media (pictures, quotes, etc.) belong to the respective owners and are used here solely for the purpose of review and commentary.