Pretty Fierce by Kieran Scott (Giveaway and Excerpt!)

 

An action-packed, edge-of-your-seat novel about a teen who, when backed into a corner, fights back, from the author of What Waits in the Woods

Kaia has been on the run her whole life. The daughter of professional assassins, she knows danger—and she’ll do anything to survive. After her parents vanished during a job gone bad, Kaia’s spent the last year in hiding, trying to blend in as an ordinary teenager, and there’s no one who makes her feel more normal, more special, than her boyfriend, Oliver.

But when she’s attacked by someone from her mother’s past and Oliver catches her fighting back, Kaia’s secret is exposed. In a split-second decision, she flees the small town, taking Oliver with her. Stalked at every turn, Oliver and Kaia must protect each other…or die trying.

 

KIERAN SCOTT is the author of several acclaimed young adult novels, including the Non-Blonde Cheerleader trilogy, the He’s So/She’s So trilogy, and Geek Magnet. She also wrote the New York Times and USA Today bestselling Private and Privilege series under the pen name Kate Brian. She is a senior editor at Disney/Hyperion and resides in New Jersey with her family. Visit kieranscott.net.

 

Buy Links: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Books-A-Million | Kobo | iTunes | Indiebound

 

GIVEAWAY! Enter to win here.

 


EXCERPT 

KAIA

“How did you find me?”

His thin lips curled into a sneer. “Word is out, liebling. You should thank me because I’m going to make your death nice and quick. Others will be coming for you and they won’t be as kind as I intend to be.”

Others? The very word sent a spiral of fear down my spine.

“What did you do to Henry and Bess?” I demanded.

Slowly, the visitor walked past me, slipping the side of his knife across the placket of his gray pinstriped jacket over and over again. My blood left tiny red hash marks in the fabric. He came to a stop behind my chair.

“To who? Those trolls you call protectors? I’m sure they’ll find their bodies before the end of the month.”

A real sob welled in my throat. “You sonofa—”

He grabbed me by the hair. Before he could bring the knife to my neck, I drew my arms forward, then yanked my elbows back as hard as I could into his gut. His knife hit the floorboards as he doubled over and I kicked it away. He was as good as dead, but knives were not my style. I was a gun girl, born and raised. I yanked the shotgun off the mantle—the one Henry had told me he always kept loaded in case of emergency—turned around, and whacked the guy across the chin with the side of the stock so hard even I saw stars. I was going to have to thank Bess for making me keep up the kickboxing training—for keeping me strong. If I ever saw her again.

Please let this guy be lying about what he’s done to them. Henry and Bess had become my family over the last year and a half. They were the only family I had left. I couldn’t lose anyone else. I just couldn’t.

The impact from my blow had laid the German out, and I brought my foot down on his neck, choking off his air supply.

Shotguns leave a serious mess, and they can be painful as hell to fire, but you can load the shell from the magazine into the chamber with one hand. Click clack. It’s pretty badass. I aimed the gun at his face and looked down the sightline at the man’s quivering, bloody upper lip.

“Please, kid,” he rasped. “Please. I’m only doing my job.”

“Not anymore,” I said.

See? Badass.

But then I started to sweat. My throat tightened, and my vision went fuzzy. I didn’t want to do this. Not really. Not again. But I had to. If I didn’t kill him, he was most definitely going to kill me.

I had this sudden, vivid memory of my uncle Marco frying ants with a magnifying glass when I was about five. When I’d burst into tears, he’d looked over his shoulder at me, his glass eye glinting, and sneered. “Survival of the fittest, baby.”

“Please kid,” the guy choked out now. “Please.”

I clenched my teeth. My finger twitched on the trigger. Before I ended him, I needed to ask him who’d sent him here. It was what my parents would have done.

“Kaia?”

I blinked. The screen door creaked open, and Oliver was there, staring. Oliver Lange. My boyfriend. His unruly blond curls were slicked back with water from his postpractice shower, and his solid soccer bod practically filled the doorway. Oliver was the love of my life. The only person left on this godforsaken earth who gave two shits about me.

“What’re you doing?”

He looked, understandably, like he was about to throw up, and suddenly I was reliving, in vivid detail, the day just over a year ago when Oliver and I had met. I’d dropped my books all over the floor in front of my locker when Oliver’s soccer ball had hit my shoulder—an accident that felt like the icing on the crapcake that was my life. It was my second week at South Charleston High School—the first normal school I’d ever been to, and hardly anyone had said a word to me. I’d spent every night for three months not sleeping, searching the internet for any sign of my parents, waiting for a text or a call or an email, and afraid of the nightmares I had whenever I closed my eyes. I was so exhausted that when my books hit the floor, I’d almost lost it. Yes, I’d almost cried over spilled books.

But then Oliver was there, helping to gather up my things, looking directly into my eyes. And unbelievably, what I’d seen there was understanding.

“Hey,” he said. “It’s gonna be okay.”

“Is it?” I asked.

“I’m Oliver,” he said.

“I’m Kaia,” I replied.

He offered his hand to shake, and when our fingers touched, I knew nothing would ever be the same.

“Kaia?” Oliver said again in the here. In the now.

I blinked.

Behind him, a black SUV careened around the corner into view. No plates. It didn’t belong here. We were about to have more company. And Oliver was in their line of fire.

No. Hot desperation welled inside my chest. Not Oliver.

He was everything good and pure in this world. Broken, yes. But to me that made him all the more perfect. And he loved me. Almost every single detail I’d told him about myself had been a lie, except for the fact that I loved him too. That was 100 percent true. And I wasn’t about to let him die.

I flipped the gun around, brought the butt down in the center of Picklebreath’s forehead, and snatched my canvas backpack from the floor. My eyes lit on the German’s duffel, tossed carelessly next to the front entry.

“Grab his bag,” I ordered Oliver.

“What?”

I groaned, leaned past him, and picked it up myself. Brakes squealed outside.

“Get inside!” I shouted to Oliver as I grabbed his arm and dragged him into the house.

“What the hell is going on?”

“Oliver, I swear I will explain everything!” I shoved him ahead of me, through the kitchen toward the back door. There was blood all over the floor—Betty and Henry’s blood—and he slipped in it as he reached for the handle. I swallowed hard and held my breath to keep from throwing up. Outside, a second set of brakes screeched, and a car door popped, then another, then another. “Please! Just run!”

Blog Tour: Chasing Truth by Julie Cross, plus a GIVEAWAY!

chasing-truth-coverWhen I saw that Chasing Truth was being compared to Veronica Mars, I was both intrigued and skeptical. I mean, I really loved that show, and most things that reference VM end up being super disappointing. I was beyond pleasantly surprised, though, when I started reading Chasing Truth and LOVED the snark, the suspense, the character quality… everything I’d expect from a story calling on Veronica for backup was totally there. And, Eleanor (Ellie) Ames is a worthy heroine by her own right. The VM reference may have gotten my attention in the beginning, but Ellie held it captive all on her own (well, Miles helped, because OMG). Anyway, you certainly need to read this. Really. You also need to scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post to enter an awesome giveaway. :)

Here’s all the official info:

Chasing Truth (Eleanor Ames #1) by Julie Cross

Publication Date:  September 27, 2016

Publisher:  Entangled TEEN

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.

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  julie-cross_author-photo

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 the Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more to come!

Julie lives in Central Illinois with her husband and three children. She’s a former gymnast, longtime gymnastics fan, coach, and former Gymnastics Program Director with the YMCA.

She’s a lover of books, devouring several novels a week, especially in the young adult and new adult genres.

Outside of her reading and writing cred, Julie Cross is a committed–but not talented–long distance runner, creator of imaginary beach vacations, Midwest bipolar weather survivor, expired CPR certification card holder, as well as a ponytail and gym shoe addict.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

Take a second to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway for the chance to WIN a $50 Amazon gift card and a paperback copy of another one of Julie’s novels, Whatever Life Throws At You.

chasingtruthtour

Holding Court by K.C. Held

After kind of a crazy day at school and a long evening of running errands with two kids in tow, I came home to this amazing package from Entangled Teen:

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In case you can’t tell from the picture, that’s actual magnetic poetry (magnetic “prophecy” for the sake of the book), and I was ridiculously excited by this. I started reading immediately and couldn’t have been happier with what I found within those pages.

Because it’s a unique premise, let’s start with the official blurb:

Sixteen-year-old Jules Verity knows exactly what’s in store at her new job at castle-turned-dinner-theater Tudor Times. Some extra cash, wearing a fancy-pants dress, and plenty of time to secretly drool over the ever-so-tasty–and completely unavailable–Grayson Chandler. Except that it’s not quite what she imagined.
For one, the costume Jules has to wear is awful. Then there’s the dead body she finds that just kind of…well, disappears. Oh, and there’s the small issue of Jules and her episodes of what her best friend calls “Psychic Tourette’s Syndrome”–spontaneous and uncontrollable outbursts of seemingly absurd prophecies.
The only bright side? This whole dead body thing seems to have gotten Grayson’s attention. Except that the more Jules investigates, the more she discovers that Grayson’s interest might not be as courtly as she thought. In fact, it’s starting to look suspicious…

Now, a YA romantic comedy mystery? Count. Me. In.

The protagonist, Jules, is a fascinating, lovable, honest, and quirky character that I just couldn’t get enough of. Her seemingly random psychic blurting made me LOL more than once, and her love of Grayson Chandler’s abs created plenty of adorably awkward teenage crush moments.

I don’t remember reading anything with a premise quite like this before, but it reminded me of a fun, younger version of Psych, which was one of my favorite shows when it was on. The dead body finding and mystery solving kept the story moving at a good pace, along with the hope that Grayson and Jules would actually get together.

Holding Court is pleasantly clean, too – a few little cuss words, but nothing major, and an appreciation of Grayson in Tudor tights and a flowy shirt, but no actual sexual situations. I’m 100% comfortable with putting this in my school library, which is awesome.

I really, really look forward to more from K.C., and I’d love to see Jules (and her family and friends and, of course, Grayson) in a few more books. Definite series potential! Find it here on Amazon or at your favorite bookstore!

When Reason Breaks by Cindy L. Rodriguez

when reason breaks

Oh my goodness, what a debut! Suspenseful, relevant, and hopeful…There’s so much to love in When Reason Breaks. Plus, I loved the depiction of an authentic and caring teacher in this, because we do exist! Check out the official book blurb below, then find it here on Amazon.

13 Reasons Why meets the poetry of Emily Dickinson in this gripping debut novel perfect for fans of Sara Zarr or Jennifer Brown.

A Goth girl with an attitude problem, Elizabeth Davis must learn to control her anger before it destroys her. Emily Delgado appears to be a smart, sweet girl, with a normal life, but as depression clutches at her, she struggles to feel normal. Both girls are in Ms. Diaz’s English class, where they connect to the words of Emily Dickinson. Both are hovering on the edge of an emotional precipice. One of them will attempt suicide. And with Dickinson’s poetry as their guide, both girls must conquer their personal demons to ever be happy.

In an emotionally taut novel with a richly diverse cast of characters, readers will relish in the poetry of Emily Dickinson and be completely swept up in the turmoil of two girls grappling with demons beyond their control.

I’m Glad I Did by Cynthia Weil

im glad i did

I’m Glad I Did is a wonderfully written, intriguing example of everything that can be great about YA Historical Fiction. The characters are compelling and realistic, the major cultural issues of the time are front and center, and it’s educational and entertaining. Love, love, love this.

Check out the synopsis below, taken from Goodreads, and find I’m Glad I Did here on Amazon or at your favorite book store.

Rock and Roll Hall of Famer and songwriting legend Cynthia Weil’s extraordinary YA debut opens the secretive doors of the Brill Building-the hit factory that changed history. Part Mad Men, part Grace of my Heart, part murder mystery, I’m Glad I Did is a coming-of-age story at an unforgettable cultural tipping point: the summer of 1963.

JJ Greene, a gifted 16-year-old songwriter, defies her lawyer parents by secretly applying for a job in the famed Brill Building-the epicenter of songwriting for a new genre called rock-n-roll. But their warnings about the evils of the music industry prove far darker than she imagined when she finds herself at the heart of a cover-up that involves hidden identity, theft, and possibly murder.

When by Victoria Laurie

When

 

This one is hard to explain, so I’m pasting the blurb from Goodreads below, but I’ll just say this first. When was not quite like anything I’d ever read before, and I loved it. It’s intriguing and mysterious and does a wonderful job of making you think as you join Maddie for her exciting adventures. It’s definitely one I’d read again! Check it out here on Amazon or at your favorite book store.

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from Goodreads:

Maddie Fynn is a shy high school junior, cursed with an eerie intuitive ability: she sees a series of unique digits hovering above the foreheads of each person she encounters. Her earliest memories are marked by these numbers, but it takes her father’s premature death for Maddie and her family to realize that these mysterious digits are actually death dates, and just like birthdays, everyone has one.

Forced by her alcoholic mother to use her ability to make extra money, Maddie identifies the quickly approaching death date of one client’s young son, but because her ability only allows her to see the when and not the how, she’s unable to offer any more insight. When the boy goes missing on that exact date, law enforcement turns to Maddie.

Soon, Maddie is entangled in a homicide investigation, and more young people disappear and are later found murdered. A suspect for the investigation, a target for the murderer, and attracting the attentions of a mysterious young admirer who may be connected to it all, Maddie’s whole existence is about to be turned upside down. Can she right things before it’s too late?

Kiss Kill Vanish by Jessica Martinez

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First, here’s the official blurb:

Love. Betrayal. Murder.

Valentina is living a charmed, glittering life in Miami—falling in love for the first time, showered with gifts and affection by her father, surrounded by friends—when one shocking moment shatters everything she thought she knew about herself, her boyfriend, and her world. With no one left to trust, Valentina sheds her identity and flees to Montreal, where she finds work posing for a series of portraits by a pompous young artist. Valentina has always been at home in the art world, but she’s never felt quite so alone.

Valentina’s carefully constructed new life comes crashing down when someone from her past resurfaces, putting her safety in question and her heart on the line. With betrayal at every turn, Valentina must untangle the deceptions of those she once loved and race to find her own truth—before it’s too late.

This book shocked and amazed me in so many ways, the most important of which is that IT ACTUALLY SURPRISED ME. I kept thinking I knew how it would end, or guessing Martinez would put one plot twist too many in there, but nope. She didn’t. It ends perfectly, with a protagonist who is strong and kicks butt, and left me a highly satisfied reader.

Kudos to Martinez on a true, gritty but not gross, hot but not crude or pornish, suspense thriller that literally had me guessing all the way through. This is one YA thriller that I would actually love to see in the hands of my students!

Find Kiss Kill Vanish here on Amazon or at your favorite book store!