Monday, June 30, 2014

{ARC Review+Spoilers} Just Like the Moves: Kelly Fiore

 

Rating: 7.5/10
Standalone
Genre: Contemporary Young Adult Romance, Fiction
Publication Date: July 22, 2014
Publisher: Bloomsburry USA Children's Books
Page Count: 288
Format: eARC
Source: Netgalley


Synopsis: Pretty and popular track star Marijke Monti is confident about almost everything – she’s got great friends, a great family, and she’s on her way to the State Track Championship. In fact, the only thing Marijke isn’t confident about is her relationship with Tommy Lawson. 


Lily Spencer has spent her entire high school career preparing for the future – she’s participated in every extracurricular activity and volunteer committee she could. But, at home, she watches her mother go on date after date with dud-dudes, still searching for “the one.” Lily realizes that she’s about to graduate and still hasn’t even had a boyfriend. While they live on each other’s periphery at school, Lily and Marijke never seemed to have much in common; but, after a coincidental meeting at the movie theater, Lily gets an idea – why can’t life be like a movie? 

Why can’t they set up their perfect romantic situations, just in time for their senior prom, using movie techniques?Once the girls come up with the perfect plans, they commit themselves to being secret cohorts and, just like in the movies, drama ensues.


Disclaimer: I received this book from Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.

***I know I shouldn't have included spoilers in an ARC Review, but guys.... the feels***

By now, I'm sure that everyone knows that I have issues with straight up contemporary romance novels. Eighty percent of the time, I just can't handle them, there isn't enough going on, there is too much focus on the romance itself, etcetera etcetera, the list goes on. Yet, there is that other 20% of the time where I find that one contemporary romance that I fall in love with such as How to Say Goodbye by Amber Lin and The Distance Between Us by Kasie West. I am so happy to say that Just Like the Movies was in that slim 20% because I absolutely fell in love with the adorableness.

If you have been reading my blog for a while now, you will know that I despise things being cliche. There are however exceptions to my acceptance of cliche events/occurrences such as with Just Like the Movies because the story depended on cliche plots and story arcs. You probably just read that and are now extremely confuzzled (that wasn't a typo). As you probably know from reading the synopsis, Lily and Marijke set up romantic situations using movie techniques, and these movie techniques are ones that the majority of movie lovers (primarily rom-com/chick-flick lovers) know and love from the classics.  
"All the movies we've watched and studied and copied -- well, they all had happy endings, despite potential outside variables. That's not how real life works, I guess. No director, no writer, no second or third or fourth takes. You get one shot to do it right the first time and, when it doesn't work, you have to live with the outcome." ARC 85%
What I was a bit disappointed with was the narration of the story. It is told in dual points of view, from Lily and Marijke, and even though I was allowed to see into two different people's heads, I didn't really get a feel for who they were. On one hand, Fiore could have tried to give me an in-depth look into their heads, but that might have harshed the light-hearted mood of the story. On the other hand, Fiore could have gone full-blast with the "jock and nerd become unlikely friends" thing, and made their voices sound uber cliche.

Even though I liked the romance in Just Like the Movies, I was not routing for Marijke and Tommy. They may have seemed sweet, but I thought Tommy was a major jerk (and other terms inappropriate for this family-friendly blog). Marijke put so much effort in trying to make the two of them work and the he didn't appreciate her until she was gone *puts hands on hips* "I knew it!" On top of that, she also put off deciding which college she was going to go to because of him. I had this odd fantasy/wish that she would get swept off of her feet by an even better guy, but that didn't happen.

Then it came to Lily's romance which I was behind 110%. It was a typical she was a nerd, he was the bad boy situation (he actually wasn't a bad boy and just rode a motorcycle), and they met in detention thanks to the Marijke's doing. They were the epitany of sweetness and I shipped them so hard during the entire book. Yet, as things have to happen to get in the way of their love, he says that is going with SOMEBODY ELSE to prom which to me is NOT OKAY! She flees from the scene and tries to avoid him, but it was really a misinterpretation of the situation. But don't worry.... their movie ending comes. Yet, the movie ending that I totally thought I saw coming from a mile away didn't happen which was so disappointing, but they were happy in the end anyway and (*gulps* I guess) that's all that matters. If you have read the book, or when you do, tell me if you thought he was going to ask her to prom at the motorcycle charity. It would have been perfect if he won the raffle that he had helped set up.

What I enjoyed in Just Like the Movies were the glimpses we got to see of Marijke's and Lily's home lives which ended up being not so much like the movies. I thought it was such an interest spin that Marijke's parents had met and fell in love in high school, but ended up getting a divorce because they had made the commitment too early. This could have been foreshadowing for Marijke that she shouldn't have held herself back from opportunity because of him. Then there was Lily whose mom kept trying to find love and welcoming random strangers men into her home, convincing herself she was in love, and then having her heart broken. This aspect of Lily's life made her wary of forging those relationships that every teenage girl deserves, but taught her a lot of dos and don'ts of dating that she could apply if there was a sequel.

Conclusion: Just Like the Movies is the perfect beach read for this summer full of all the feels and two adorkable romances with relatable characters you are sure to love.

Saturday, June 28, 2014

{Promotional Post} Ella James


Here by Ella James
Young Adult Sci-fi
Book 1 - Here Trilogy
Milo Mitchell's life used to be charmed, but that was before her family dissolved, she went a little crazy, and her best friends started acting more like strangers. Spending Saturday morning in a treehouse with a stun gun for company and a herd of deer for friends is the only exciting thing in her life...until she shoots a fawn and finds her dart stuck in a guy.



Her gorgeous victim is dressed in a Brioni tux and armed with a hanky. He has no idea who or where he is. Afraid her dart caused his amnesia, Milo takes him in, names him Nick, and vows to help him solve his mystery. Soon the pair find Nick's face in a newspaper obituary, and Nick beings to have strange, ethereal memories of Milo--who is sure she's never met him. Suddenly Nick knows things he shouldn't know and is doing things he shouldn't do. When the Department of Defense shows up, Nick and Milo run--toward a shocking conclusion that could destroy both their worlds.



Purchase

About Ella James

Ella James is a Colorado author who writes teen and adult romance. She is happily married to a man who knows how to wield a red pen, and together they are raising a feisty two-year-old who will probably grow up believing everyone's parents go to war over the placement of a comma.

Ella's books have been listed on numerous Amazon bestseller lists, including the Movers & Shakers list and the Amazon Top 100; two were listed among Amazon's Top 100 Young Adult Ebooks of 2012.

Friday, June 27, 2014

{Blog Tour+Giveaway+Review} The Silver Sickle: Ellie Ann


Rating: 6/10
Series: None
Genre: Science Fiction, Young Adult, Fiction, Romance
Publisher: Stonehouse Ink
Publication Date: July 2013
Page Count: 289
Source: Xpresso Book Tours
Format: eBook

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ B&N

Synopsis: The end of humanity will come through the Silver Sickle . . .

Farissa lives every moment with reckless abandon, for it may be her last. Any day now, the alien goddesses will harvest her and take her to the mysterious Silver Sickle, never to return. She’s accepted that. What she can’t accept is this new idea of freedom Zel has planted in her head. She’d give almost anything to be with Zel, but how can she run from her destiny if it means putting the whole kingdom in danger?

Everyone in the desert kingdom believes the goddesses are immortal, but Zel has invented a way to kill them. Now all he has to do is convince Farissa to run away with him and plant a seed of hope in her heart that she’s not destined to die. Little does he know that one seed of hope could change the course of the future.


About the Author: Goodreads ~ Website ~ Twitter ~ Facebook

Ellie Ann is a New York Times and USA Today bestseller of science fiction, comics, and thrillers.

I was born in the jungles of Thailand, was raised in a small farming village in Iowa, lived in the middle of a Texan desert, and now abide in the Ozarks.
I like writing fairy tales, tall tales, thrillers, science fiction, and am seriously interested in transmedia storytelling.

I’m a creative editor for Stonehouse Ink. I’m a producer of interactive books at Noble Beast.

Come say hi! I don’t bite. Unless I’ve been turned into a zombie.


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Disclaimer: I received this book from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. 

While I was quite confused in the beginning of The Silver Sickle, I am so glad that I stuck with the book because of it's unique Sci-Fi feel, multiple points of view, and all the unique beings present in the novel. 

Sci-Fi Feel: when people ask me what my favorite genre to read is, I usually respond Science Fiction - because I know it's an umbrella term for Post-Apocalyptic stories and Dystopian novels. Yet, now when I think ant it, there are so few genuine Science Fiction novels I have read. The Silver Sickle is one of them, and it makes me want to read more like it. The best part about it, is that there was a unique premise and plot. I cannot tell you how many times I have come across a novel -that I will label as "Sci-fi"- and then wanted to slap the characters silly because of their cliche lines and actions, as well as the plot because it was like "Been there. Done that" *Hair Flip* The Silver Sickle was so refreshing because I haven't ever read anything like it. Sure, there have been aliens and a protagonist wanting to get away from them, but I simply adored the way Ellie Ann put her own spin into it. 

Multiple Points of View: I had so many issues with this in the beginning. Usually I enjoy them because of the inside looks I get into characters heads, but with so many to keep track of.... it can definitely get confusing. I tend to feel like my connections with them aren't very strong, and I don't get to see them progress and grow. I felt all of these emotions until about 25% because, by then, I had gone through several "cycles" so to speak of each character narrating the story. And when I finished The Silver Sickle, I loved the way it was told, and couldn't have imagined it any other way. 

Unique Beings: This is an aspect that only comes into play with those science fiction novels I was talking ant. The weird, wonderful, crazy, and insane are all in this book. The Cogsmen were so unique - beings that's brains were made from synthetic DNA. They're supposed to be emotionless machines, which kind of reminds me of the movie iRobot. But then they go all A-Wall and start rebelling, and acting totally unlike hat their purpose was for. The aliens were also an interesting aspect of the novel, being around 7 feet tall, with long appendages, antennae, and more. On that note, did I mention the insanely cool sickles that enhanced the battle sequences?

I'm not going to go into detail about the other elements I enjoyed, but I would like potential readers to know that the Silver Sickle is unlike anything else I have ever read with spectacular worldbuilding, with an odd steampunk feel thrown into the mix, and the best part of all was the ending. Without spoiling anything, I wid like to point out how refreshing it was. For once, it didn't feel like there needed to be a sequel. I was of course, like to dive further into this rich world Ellie Ann had created (maybe with a spinoff novel) but everything was wrapped into a lovely package. 



Thursday, June 26, 2014

{Guest Post+Playlist} Lost in Starlight: Sherry Soule

LOST IN STARLIGHT PLAYLIST

Guest Post by Sherry Soule

Today author, Sherry Soule has some exciting news to share with us! She will be publishing a brand new Upper YA / Sci-Fi romance series: the “Starlight Saga” with scorching-hot character chemistry, exciting suspense, and epic romance on June 26, 2014.

To help promote this amazing interstellar love story, “LOST IN STARLIGHT,” Sherry is doing this fun promo to share the news with fellow booklovers.

STARLIGHT SAGA SONG LIST


Some of the most ambiguous lyrics take on new meaning when you’re writing a book, even correlating to some of the scenes or giving insight into Hayden and Sloane’s romantic relationshipSherry has put together just a few of the awesome songs—a collection of her character’s electric tastes in music—mentioned throughout this epic new series in this post. Enjoy!

Still Into You” by Paramore

“Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons:

“Boom Boom Pow” by Black Eyed Peas

Titanium” song by Sia

“I'm Not Okay (I Promise)” by My Chemical Romance

“Stay” song by Thirty Seconds to Mars

“Counting Stars” by OneRepublic

“Sugar, We’re Going Down” by Fall Out Boy

“Jar of Hearts” by Christina Perri

“Cello Sonata, L 135” by Debussy

While writing LOST IN STARLIGHT, Sherry listened to this amazing track on a loop, “4 Hours of Emotional Music” composed by the talented, Adrian von Ziegler. She found the melody really set the mood to the type of romantic tale that she wanted to write. At its core, LOST IN STARLIGHT is basically a love story about two lonely hearts finding each other and how their star-crossed relationship changes both of their lives.

Listen to his music on YouTube: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=T6r5bo_D9QY

We hope that you enjoyed this post. Now go feed your mind and read a book!


Please mark your calendars to buy your copy of LOST IN STARLIGHT on June 26th 2014!

Read the first five chapters for free on wattpad:http://www.wattpad.com/story/14214838-lost-in-starlight-syfy-romance

VOLUME ONE: Starlight Saga

High school reporter Sloane Masterson knows she has one helluva story when she witnesses hottie Hayden Lancaster bending forks with his mind.

Like any good journalist, Sloane sets out to uncover the truth, even if it includes a little stalking. When the superhuman feats start to pile up and the undeniable heat rises between them, Hayden has no choice but to reveal his secret: he’s an alien hybrid.

They’re as different as night and day—she’s a curvy, purple-haired, horror junkie and he’s a smoking hot, antisocial, brainiac—yet the intense fascination between them refuses to go away. Even at Hayden’s insistence that dating each other is “off limits” and crazy dangerous, their fiery attraction threatens to go supernova.

Now Sloane’s dealing with creepy government agents, ├╝ber snobby extraterrestrials, and a psycho alien ex-girlfriend out for revenge. After a crash course on the rules of interstellar dating, Sloane must decide if their star-crossed romance is worth risking her own life....

Places you can visit Sherry Soule:

Official Blog: http://www.sherrysoule.blogspot.com/

Twitter @SherrySoule: http://twitter.com/SherrySoule

Please add LOST IN STARLIGHT to your TBR on goodreads:https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/20707942-lost-to-starlight

The awesome book cover was designed by the talented, Kristen Thompson-Oh ofKCT Designs at www.kctdesigns.com

Eager to read the first five chapters on your Kindle? FREE every Friday from Amazon: http://amzn.to/1hdo6Oh

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

{Blog Tour+Giveaway+Review} Caught in the Crossfire: Juliann Rich




Rating: 7/10
Series: None
Genre: LGBTQ+, Young Adult, Fiction, Contemporary Romance,
Publisher: Bold Strokes Books
Publication Date: June 16, 2014
Page Count: 192
Source: Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours
Format: eBook

Goodreads ~ Amazon ~ B&N

Synopsis: Two boys at Bible camp; one forbidden love.

That is the dilemma sixteen-year-old Jonathan Cooper faces when he goes away to Spirit Lake Bible Camp, an oasis for teen believers situated along Minnesota’s rugged north shore. He is expecting a summer of mosquito bites, bonfires with s’mores, and photography classes with Simon, his favorite counselor, who always helps Jonathan see his life in perfect focus.

What he isn’t expecting is Ian McGuire, a new camper who openly argues against phrases like pray the gay away. Ian is certain of many things, including what could happen between them if only Jonathan could surrender to his feelings. Jonathan, however, tosses in a storm of indecision between his belief in God and his inability to stay away from Ian. When a real storm hits and Ian is lost in it, Jonathan is forced to make a public decision that changes his life.

About the Author: Website ~ Facebook ~ Twitter ~ Blog
Minnesota writer Juliann Rich spent her childhood in search of the perfect climbing tree. The taller the better! A branch thirty feet off the ground was a good perch for a young girl to find herself. Seeking truth in nature and finding a unique point of view remain crucial elements in her life as well as her writing.

Juliann is a PFLAG mom who can be found walking Pride parades with her son. CAUGHT IN THE CROSSFIRE is her debut novel and will be available on June 16th, 2014. The sequel, SEARCHING FOR GRACE, hits the shelves September 2014. Juliann lives with her husband and their two dogs, Mr. Sherlock Holmes and Ms. Bella Moriarty, in the beautiful Minnesota River Valley.

Juliann recently won the 2014 Emerging Writer Award at The Saints & Sinners Literary Festival in New Orleans.



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Disclaimer: I received this book from Reading Addiction Virtual Book Tours in exchange for an honest review.

My Initial Thoughts: I originally signed up for this blog tour because I saw the "LGBT Fiction" label on the genre section. At that time (and this time as well), I had eagerly signed up for any blog tours with that LGBT label because it was a newer genre of fiction I hadn't been interested in before. Now, after finishing this novel, I realize that it is not fair to stick just that LGBT Fiction label on Caught in the Crossfire because it is so much more than just that.

One of the most relatable aspects of the novel was the "Summer Camp" one because let's face it - I am a teenager that loves to go to summer camp and have had the odd fantasy of everybody singing when at summer camp since Camp Rock premiered on Disney Channel. However, one of the aspects of Caught in the Crossfire that I was most apprehensive about was the "Bible Camp" one. I don't want to be offensive, but in my personal experience, some religions can be a little too pushy and having a summer camp connected with a religion would just be another chance to infuse the youth of that camp with more information about whatever higher power that religion believed in. Anyway, all I knew then was - If this novel was written well, it would be one heck of a story.

What I would like to report back to you is that I am extremely glad that I read this novel, and those aspects that had enticed me into reading it and the aspect that made me apprehensive only increased my enjoyment. Caught in the Crossfire is really short, less than 200 pages, but the story that you get out of what can be considered such a short novel, is rich, stimulating, and at times even thought-provoking. 

I do not mean to be prejudice, or whatever label you can stick on a person that judges a religion is, but I do know that the stereotype for a uber Christian faith is the fact that they are openly against homosexual people because God intended for it to be "Adam and Eve" not "Adam and Steve." As it happens with most stories of forbidden love - one of the people in that relationship is extremely outspoken and in Caught in the Crossfire's case, that outspoken person is Ian. As usual, the person -Jonathan- on the other end of that relationship has been taught a certain thing their whole life and then that person goes through some realization that it is okay to be different. 

In order to realize that it is okay to be different, Jonathan has to make a lot of mistakes in order to learn. One of his mistakes is his reluctance to give into emotions (and just go with the flow) pertaining to Ian. After one of these mistakes Jonathan makes, he starts thinking, and even talks to one of his good friends who is outside of camp (a long story) about what God wants and what exactly it means to be a "Good Christian." Are gay people bad? But how could they be bad if God lovingly created them? All of those usual questions and more are mulled over by him. This is where the whole "Bible Camp" aspect really comes into play, and there are scenes where being gay is openly discussed and those are what really provide the ideas to be mulled over.

I will admit something - I loved Caught in the Crossfire. Yet, in the end, I did not love it because of that "LGBT Fiction" label. I loved it because of the culmination of all the elements that are present in a good story. A gay person does not love another gay person because that other person is gay. He/She loves that other person because of their personality, their intellect, their humor and everything else that made them.... them. Just like how I loved this novel because of the genre, the characters, the chain of events, the writing style and more. 




Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The Chocolate Book Tag

So, I wasn't tagged, but I first saw this on Laura Plus Books and knew I just HAD to do it because of how it connected Books and CHOCOLATE! Need I say more?

Dark Chocolate: A book that covers a dark topic
Impulse: Ellen Hopkins
So I am currently in the middle of a reading slump, as those do tend to happen to me after a long period of stuff going on (such as the end of the school year), and I picked this book up because I know that I LOVE almost anything written by Ellen Hopkins. Well, this book got me out of my reading slump.... but launched me into a full-on Book Hangover. Impulse was incredibly thought provoking and invoked a multitude of "feels" in me. If I were to sum this story up in one sentence it would be: Conner, Tony, and Vanessa meet in Aspen Springs -a psychiatric hospital- after all three of them tried to commit suicide, and the story progresses as they all try to break free of emotional baggage that landed them there in the first place. I believe that tells you all that you need to know about how dark Impulse is.   
White Chocolate: Your favorite light-hearted/humorous read
Just Like the Movies: Kelly Fiore
This book actually doesn't come out until the 22nd of July, and my review doesn't go live until the 30th of June.... but we'll just ignore those statistics so I can talk about how much I loved this book. Just Like the Movies is told in dual perspective as we follow Lily and Marijke, the nerd and the jock, who become unlikely friends as they bond over trying to get guy using techniques from classic movies. If that isn't sweet, I don't know what is. There were so many feels of the fluffy, walk-on-air,  contemporary variety, and I highly recommend that you pick this book up when it is released.

Milk Chocolate: A book with a lot of hype that you're dying to read
City of Bones: Cassandra Clare
I admit it. I haven't read a single piece of writing from Cassandra Clare. I know that there has been hype surrounded TID and TMI for YEARS. It was probably 6 years ago when I first heard about the series. It didn't interest me then, but it has gotten to a point where I just want to read the darned book so I know what the heck everybody is talking about - ESPECIALLY because City of Heavenly Fire was released. 

Chocolate With a Caramel Center: Name a book that made you feel all gooey in the middle while reading

Wafer Free Kit Kat: Name a book that surprised you recently
The Hunger Games: Suzanne Collins
I admit it, I read THG in 2011, and that isn't very recent. But what the heck, this is my challenge, and I can do whatever I want.... except survive The Hunger Games, because I would die in the bloodbath. I was in Mammoth California when I first heard about it, my best friend Emma had said, "Sofia this is a really good book. A boy and a girl from each of the 12 districts get sent to the Capital to fight to the death!" Needless to say, I was turned off by that. Yet, I had finished the book I had brought, and had nothing to read on the car ride home, so I begrudgingly picked up the book about teenagers killing each other. It became my favorite book for a solid year and a half. A lot of people have said that Twilight got them to read. For me - The Hunger Games got me to read Young Adult Dystopias, now one of my favorite genres EVER. 

Snickers: A book that you are going nuts about
The Young Elites: Marie Lu
I am going stark, raving mad for this book. My very good friend +Tina Chan (@The_Book_Lander) got me the chapter sampler at BookCon. After I finally got over the beauty of the cover, and the sensation that I had some of Marie Lu's amazingness in my hands, I read it. OH MY GOSH! I can't wait to see where this story is going to go. What I do know is that I will probably burst if I have to wait any second longer than October 7th. The narration was so different than June's, but I loved it all the same. I also know that the world building will be fantastical, and I can't wait to find out more about the Young Elites and how they use their powers. For Good.... Or For Evil?

Hot Chocolate With Marshmallows: What book would you turn to for a comfort read?
The Report Card: Andrew Clements
I know what you are probably thinking, "Why the heck does Sofia have a book that is for third graders as a comfort read?"Well that's exactly what it is to me - a comfort read. I first read this book when I was in second grade, and vowed to read it every single year around October for as long as I lived. While that didn't exactly work out, the intent was there because I honestly LOVE this book. The story is so Andrew Clements, and the plot is so quirky, and I remember loving every single minute of it when I was little. I have not read The Report Card in over four years, but it is on my bookshelf, and I will definitely be picking it up soon so I can relive my childhood. 

Box of Chocolates: What series have you read that you feel has a little something for everyone?
The Heroes of Olympus: Rick Riordan


I believe this has something for everyone because I have literally never met a person -online or IRL- that hasn't loved it no matter what age they are. So many of us grew with Percy Jackson, and the Heroes of Olympus lets us continue the epic saga. It is technically a "Middle Grade" novel, but that label shouldn't deter anybody because it is still enjoyable and hilarious regardless of the age group that it is targeted for. We have the action, adventure, thrills, mythology, and even a bit of romance. It's the total package. 

Now I would like to know if YOU have read any of these novels, and what your answers would be for this tag. If you haven't done it yet and would like to (like me) I tag YOU because it was so much fun to come up with answers. I also tag +Nathania Shuttleworth +Tina Chan +Mallory Alcala If you have done the tag, please leave me the link below so I can comment.


Monday, June 23, 2014

{Blog Tour+Giveaway} Hive Queen Saga (#1 & 2): Janine A. Southard


Series: Hive Queen Saga #1 & 2
Genre: Young Adult, Science Fiction 
Publisher #1: Self Published
Publisher #2: Martian Cantina
Publication Date #1: March 13, 2013
Publication Date #2: April 29, 2014
Page Count #1: 250
Page Count #2: 306  



Book One Synopsis: **WINNER 2013 IPPY AWARD -- Silver Medal for Best Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Horror E-Book**

On a world where high school test scores determine your future, six students rebel. They’ll outrun society as fast as their questionably obtained spaceship will take them.

Rhiannon doesn’t technically cheat the Test. She’s smarter than the computers that administer it, and she uses that to her advantage. She emerges from Test Day with the most prestigious future career possible: Hive Queen.

Gwyn & Victor are madly in love, but their Test results will tear them apart. Good thing Rhiannon is Gwyn’s best friend. Rhiannon can fix this. Queens can do anything.

Gavin is the wild card. Raised off-planet, he can’t wait to leave again... and he’s heard of an empty ship in orbit. The Ceridwen’s Cauldron.

Both Luciano and Alan fit in the system. They don’t need to leave. Only their devotion to Rhiannon spurs them to join the Cauldron’s crew.

Spaceships. Blackmail. Anywhere but here.




Book Two Synopsis: Queen Rhiannon and her Hive have found safety on John Wayne Station, but with no way to pay their docking fees or Victor’s medical bills, their debts are racking up quickly. Thankfully, Gavin gets a job with American Space Ranger M3L-15-A, who’s hot on the trail of dangerous criminals.

The teens move in with their Ranger benefactor, but when they revisit their ship to pick up personal belongings, they realize their Alcubierre tensor jet has been stolen!

If Rhiannon and her Hivemates ever hope to leave, they must find and steal back what’s theirs. But far from home and among strangers, who can they trust? Will they be stuck on John Wayne for the rest of their lives?



About the Author: Goodreads ~ Twitter ~ Website
Janine A. Southard writes and edits speculative fiction in between working on videogame projects. She’s attended more than the average number of universities, which she claims is a FEATURE. (“Oxford educated, but Californian at heart.”) She’s also lived and traveled in Europe, the United States, and Japan. Currently, she lives in Seattle with a husband (and a cat) and sings with a Celtic band.




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Excerpt
Steal back their ship’s engine... or be stuck on this foreign station forever!
Keeping her tone hushed in case a local wandered too close, Rhiannon outlined her plan. “We have seven days till we take back what is ours,” she said. 
There was a small cheer. This, this was what she was made for. She could strategize; she could organize; she could direct her people along the optimal paths.
“Gavin.” Her voice was sure, commanding, and he straightened to a near-military posture. “You’ll have the theatre’s production vehicle, so I’ll need you to be the getaway driver.”
He coughed. “Ah, but, the sheep?”
“You’ll bring the lorry to me after you drop off the sheep, so be sure to pick them up early and to take Gwyn with you. She’ll keep the lambs quiet.”
Next. “Alan.” 
He acknowledged her with a mumbled my lady, overbright excitement turning his hazel eyes almost entirely green. 
“You’ll go along with Gavin and Gwyn to make sure we get all the parts. If the jet’s been dismantled or damaged, determine what to take and what to leave behind. Put the jet in the truck as soon as you have it.”
Trust. “Luciano.” He fixed her with grave, dark eyes. She, the center of his attention. “You’ll keep in touch with everyone. I trust you to be my eyes and ears.”
Luciano went to his knees before her, pressing his forehead to the back of her hand. “I am honored, my lady.”

Soon all four Devoted were on the floor, each bending one knee. “My lady,” they said in eerie unison. 



Saturday, June 21, 2014

The Long Awaited Story Itself: The Journey to Fortitude (2)


Welcome! Welcome! Welcome to post number two of a five part Mini Series entited - The Journey to Fortitude. All information about this Mini Series, why I'm writing it, what is to be expected, etc. can all be found in last week's postt - The Aesthetics: The Journey to Fortitude (1).


The Journey to Fortitude Schedule

6/15: The Aestethics

6/22: The Long Awaited Story Itself

6/29: The Premise

7/6: The Revisions

7/13: The Annotated Version 

Without further ado, I present to you my pride and joy of the past two months. Fortitude.


Chapter 1

Myself: Emmalynne Aldacinnia

What could happen... 

January 1, 2015


Two roads diverged in a wood, and I- 

I took the one less traveled by,

And that has made all the difference 

---The Road Not Taken: Robert Frost

What went wrong? Everywhere I turn, I see traces of death -- the mangled, fragmented bodies of innocents. I glide over the world. The world I have come to begrudgingly love, overrun by a massacre of ill fate and carnage. But this isn’t ill fate. This is what will happen to their world. There are other ones, worlds I mean, thousands, maybe even millions they have yet to discover, but this is their only world and their only truth. This world seemed average, inferior to myself when I first arrived to carry out my destiny. Now that I have lived on it, I know there is so much more. This world, the place they call “Earth” and “Home.” While it may not be perfect, it is their reality. A world where, to make progress, people must stand on the backs of others, contribute to and increase what has been done and learned before. It is a society of constant learning, nothing can be done by one person without some strand of help from another, and this is what should make my decision. 


In this world, I have learned what it means to progress, to learn, and to grow. When I said people must stand on the backs of others, that was not meant as an insult or judgement, but as a statement said in admiration. These people think of success as a ladder -or a jungle gym as one leader of this world spoke about. After a foundation is made, after one person has the idea, or decides to speak out....another person is there to take their place. This race of people help each other, pulling the other one up in order for everyone to benefit. An indirect version of mutualism and symbiosis.

Why is it so hard for me to make my decision? 

I stand here, on the altar of their world, the playing field where this messed-up game began. Leaders in this world must make sacrifices, whether their offering is as important as their life, or them not being somewhere at a certain time and place. I should be prepared to choose the path that has been carved for me, so that I could be a leader that helps. Instead, I am a hypocrite. I am a coward. Others have been in my position, and they made the leap. The leap of blind faith that saved everyone. But there is a reason I don’t accept blind faith without proof. That reason is the beginning of my story. 


There is the less traveled road that everyone expects me to take. Do you know why that one is less traveled? Because that road is one of solitude. In my position, you are the offering. You are the example. You are the moral compass for humanity. That other road? That is the road created out of whispers, people goading you to fail, so you can follow in their footsteps. The question of which road to take is the one that has been tearing at what’s left of my soul, the very brink of my personal existence.


Will I make this decision based on my experiences that have apparently molded me into who I am today? Or will I disregard my past, and have the new definition of myself be created out of what I choose?

 
My thoughts are interrupted by Him violently shaking me back to the present. I gasp, my eyes blinking away the horrifying scene, and the sterile white room coming back into focus. My memory surges back into my skull as I glare at the man who I remember has been in control of my destiny. The man who refuses to be named. He glances at me, then looks back to the syringe he’s carefully sterilizing, as if everything that had just occurred was normal. 


“Do you see what will happen?” He asks gruffly, as if my decision would be changed just because I had seen some death and destruction. Maybe, if I was somebody different, maybe if I hadn’t always been the “little sibling” and the “tagalong,” this decision would be easier to make. Instead, the person I choose to be is selfish. 


My 12 brothers and sisters each lived out their own lives on Earth, and when the time came, they made the decision to venture forth into the unknown without hesitation. I am the youngest, and therefore the last to make my decision. It is supposedly voluntary, but the amount of pressure put on myself and others would suggest that it is not. The 13 of us are supernatural beings, Admiramini, each destined to make an impact on Earth, in one way or another. We are immortal, and we appear every century in order to help the human race progress. However, to do this we must make the conscious and verbal decision to carry out the duty of helping the planet that has been bestowed upon us.


Despite being supernatural, and immortal, we are not perfect. The 13 of us still have human tendencies, and faults, like those on Earth. It us similar to how the humans’ “Greek Gods” still had tempers, jealousy, and the desire to deceive, as the very popular author of the human’s 21st century, Rick Riordan depicted. 


All of this is why I am too selfish to make the leap of faith, too petrified to leave the safety of my current reality. Each of my siblings embodies a different emotion and characteristic, all of them together covering the wide spectrum of human behavior. The emotion that they embody is the basis of how they are supposed to impact the world. They have changed the world fueled by anger, driven by passion, overcome fear, fought for acceptance, turned sadness into art, and much more. Every one of them will be marked down in the history books for what they did, good or bad. 



Nobody says, but everyone wonders, “Why is my existence needed?” There are only 12 defined emotions, which means 12 defined places for my siblings in this world, yet I am the 13th sibling. Maybe that’s why I’m so imperfect, the little girl who doesn’t share her toys with others, cries when she is sad, is afraid of the dark, hostile to strangers, and insecure with her appearance. My siblings don’t have those problems.
“Emmalynne,” He growls, “are you paying attention?”


“Of course I am,” I told him, although it was blatantly obvious that I wasn’t. 


“I think we will have to take a more....unconventional route with you.” He replies, then takes another syringe, and fills it with an ethereal colored liquid that had the appearance of fairy wings, “Emmalynne, I don’t believe the methods used to introduce your brethren to Earth will work for you as well. Placing you on Earth to discover your own path may not be the best course of action. Instead, I believe that showing you different scenarios of people experiencing emotions will be the best action for your unusual case.” That was probably the most over-the-line phrase he would ever say about my not belonging as an Admiramini or a human. “You will experience these emotions as if you are the person, and will have complete knowledge and awareness of their situations.”



“But---” I started to say, wondering how this would help me with my plight.


“In order for this process to work, the issues that these humans are dealing with range from controversial to pitiful. It will be up to you to assess what you -as the person- is feeling. You will experience life from the point of view of a broken girl trying to fight against an unfair educational system, a girl who is being released from rehabilitation because of the loss of her parents, a girl trying to stand up for the right to love, and a girl under extreme pressure to become something that she is not.” I had no idea what he was talking about, and if I weren’t restrained, I would have physically rebelled against Him. Instead, all I could do was stare as he injected the syringe into my vein, “Maybe next time we meet, you will be more inclined toward your destiny.”


Chapter 2

Skylar Simmons~ 14 y/o

Eastbrooke High School

Portland, Oregon

April 22, 2014

Even the darkest night will end and the sun will rise

---Victor Hugo

“What’s wrong?” 

That’s all she can ask? That’s all my teacher of almost 10 months can ask when she sees me distressed? Hasn’t she realized what she has done to me? Doesn’t she realize how much I have suffered because of her? Because of everything in this crappy obstruction called life? She really hasn’t noticed the dark circles under my eyes that I attempt to cover up with drugstore concealer? She really hasn’t noticed everything that’s wrong with the education system? 


Anger flows through my veins and arteries. It feels as if that and adrenaline are the only chemicals in my blood stream. I ball my fists, as if I were about to punch someone, but I quickly unclench, knowing it wouldn’t help my situation. I can feel the heat ascend to my face, and the back of my throat suddenly feels swollen as I open my mouth to talk.


Miss Violet Cross stares at me, brows creased and face blank. She places a gentle hand on my knee, takes a deep breath, and then withdraws it, like she wanted to offer comfort, but realized it was the wrong thing to do. “Everybody out,” she commands, and when they don’t respond, she adds, “Now!” In a moment, the classroom is clear. 


In a much more tender voice, she asks me again, “What’s wrong? This is more than just the assignment.---” Heck yeah, why doesn’t she try and remember what she’s been teaching the last nine months? ”---Is there trouble at home?---”Only since Common Core was instated, even after less than a third of New York state passed in both English and Math ”---Or trouble with a boy? Friends?” 


My expression begins to darken, and I feel the tears already beginning to slide down my acne scarred cheeks. When I attempt to speak, the only sound that I manage to emit is a croak.


“Do you need a minute to compose yourself?” Miss. Cross questions, already standing up to leave, probably wanting to get away from me as fast as her four-inch heels will allow her.


Just as she turns around to go, I leap up, clasp my hand around her wrist in something like a death grip, and gasp, “No.” By now, I think she’s figured out that this is much more than what she was originally led to believe -- an act of rebellion from a usually compliant and hard -working student. After brushing her honey blond hair behind her ear, she nods, waiting for her obviously troubled student -- me -- to begin.


“I know this sounds cliche, but it’s the only way I can describe it.” I tell her, my words now coming in a thick, calm, and steady pace, like pancake batter being poured onto a griddle. Her violet eyes, the ones she was named for, twinkle, and ask what she cannot express. “What is it that I am referring to?” I ask myself purely for rhetorical purposes in order to keep her up-to-speed. 


“Imagine that you’re sitting on the couch, watching Netflix on a rainy day, and you realize that you are hungry. So you pad to the kitchen in your bunny slippers, and your not-so-cute sweat pants drag on the floor. You open the pantry and see that there’s macaroni and cheese, the Trader Joe’s shell kind. The kind you practically worshipped the bowls it sat in as a kid. You set the pot on the stove, add the water, turn up the flame, and wait for it boil. You wait for a few moments, and nothing happens. You get the big white bowl out, empty the packet of white powder cheese your mother hates because it’s not organic, then you add the milk. By then, you think the water is almost boiling over.” 



I pause to take a breath from what she must think is a bizarre description, and continue, “It’s not.”


“Only a few bubbles are on the surface. You turn the burner up to a much higher setting. Then because your action yields no results, you slide down the side of the refrigerator, and begin to cry. You don’t know why at first, but then you remember the mountain of homework, the book that hasn’t been read yet, the speech that still needs to be written, and the smile that needs to be reapplied. 



Then you ask yourself, ‘What if I didn’t do this? What if I blew off my work, and went for a run? Read for pleasure? Or started writing the great American novel as Jo March -your childhood idol- would say?’ You think about the old days, when you played with Madeline, and your biggest problem was how to transport the six out of 12 girls you owned from the old house in Paris covered in vines to Spain where Pepito lived. 


By then, you feel water on the ground, and see that the stupid pot has long since started boiling and has now overflowed. Then you wonder, how did it get from tiny bubbles to an overflow? Your macaroni water trickles down the side of the stove. You then move to turn the burner off and attempt to clean up the ginormous mess. But as soon as you try, you have to jerk your hand back which had come in contact with the scalding hot water. All of this seemingly simple event makes you come to a realization. This is not just a cooking incident gone wrong. This is a metaphor. This is a physical representation of what your life has become. 



On Monday, you had nothing to do. By ninth period on Tuesday, you have two projects to complete. No big deal. By Wednesday, you have three more essays to write. That’s nothing, all you need to do is reschedule some things. By Friday that total of essays and speeches and projects is up to ten. That’s the pot starting to boil. You think you have everything under control, you think you know what to do. But guess what? You’re wrong. It isn’t until everything has bubbled up, over, and out of your control that you realize how much of a mess you’re in. From then on, until all ten of those projects (on top of regular homework, because that still exists too) are due, your life is chaos. Every waking moment is spent thinking about them. You’re an over -achiever, but this is the first time you learn that you can’t do it all. The worst part is, that when you have half of them done, more are assigned to take their places. An unstoppable army, so that even when a single soldier falls, three more rise up and take its place.” 


I’m hyper ventilating now, my placid demeanor I was holding onto long gone. Every word I said was sincere -- pure, raw emotion. “This is my life! A constant cycle of momentary relief, and then more anger. Negative, negative, negative, until a shallow ray of positive comes across. This holds me over the next wave of negative until positive arrives again. But this can’t be kept up forever. My spirit is broken down, instead of going outside, or getting something  truly important accomplished, the Netflix zombie takes over so that I can conserve my energy for the next wave.”


Miss Cross looks at me, her eyes full of sympathy, but that’s her problem, and mine as well. What’s in her eyes is sympathy for a clearly troubled child, not empathy. It’s “you poor thing” instead of “what can I do to help?” 



“Miss Cross, I don’t think you understand.” I take a particularly large breath of air, “In fact, I know you don’t understand. It’s like trying to swim against a current. You fight with everything you have, and you think you’re winning, but you can’t keep up that fight. When you pause against the current, just to catch your breath, it sweeps you away again, and all of that work is lost.”



Her face begins to evolve, and I let myself hope that she is being enlightened. To ensure that my words are for a purpose, I dig deep in my arsenal, and give it everything I’ve got. “This isn’t the only class I have! I’m given a quote unquote “reasonable amount of time,” but communication is a lost art when you enter High School. We are students, not soldiers. We have lives. We have activities besides school. We have hopes, dreams, and aspirations, things we want to do with our lives.  No one will remember the 10,000 word essay you assigned us, except the agony they felt, but they might remember you for the one piece they got to write without instruction.  The one time they were given freedom. We are not even asking for life to be easy; we’re just asking for it to be meaningful.”



I already know that I have crossed lines, burned bridges, and have a trip to the Principal in my near future, so I figure I should end strong. “Do you know how much I have suffered? Congratulations, you have broken my spirit.


I have truly broken down now. All the initiative has left my body, and I think I glimpse her writing my name on one of those pink slips of paper known as office referrals. Instead, she leans over, and hugs me. I choke a little, as I try to talk more. My breathing comes hitched, the way a broken metronome sounds. She pats my shoulder and in that moment, the one I had imagined a thousand times, a million snide remarks to back myself up with “evidence.” Instead, I tell her, “Thank you.” 


“Don’t worry about it,” she says, “this isn’t what I signed up for either. I hate to see you like this. I know how strong you are, and I know how hard this year has been on you. Just remember, if you hang on -and I have full confidence in your capability to do so- things do get better.”


Why are you doing this?


Miss Cross’s expression changes, as if I were the first one who had ever asked her this question. “I’m doing it....” she fishes around with her words, trying to either find them or find an excuse, “I’m doing this because I have to prove that I am covering the material. My job depends on it.”


She can tell I did not think that was the appropriate response, so she continues. “If my job weren’t on the line, and if this situation ever changes, you will be the first to know. I didn’t sign up to be a “Spirit Destroyer.” I wanted, and still do want, to help you and your classmates reach your full potential. Listen Skylar, I know things are tough now, but they will get better. For now, all you can do is hang in there, and keep doing what you’re doing because I know you are going to come out a better person at the end of this dark tunnel.”


Her words sounded like empty promises, and water slipping through outstretched hands, yet they were exactly what I needed to hear at my moment of sadness. Then, without another word, I proudly walked out of her classroom, standing on my own two feet.


Chapter 3

Savannah Cooper~ 16 y/o 

The Cooper Family Household-

Montgomery Alabama

May 17, 2004

In my experience, desire is desire, love is love. I have never fallen in love with a gender. I have fallen for individuals. I know this is hard for people to do, but I don't understand why it is so hard, when it's so obvious. ---Everyday: David Leviathan

“I’m hungry”

“You know you can’t have food before supper. It will ruin your appetite.” I told my six-year-old brother, Parker. “How about I play a game with you? Anything you want -- trucks, Power Rangers, Monopoly,”


“I’m hungry!” Parker insisted. 


“I know you are, but you’re just going to have to hang on for another hour,”


“But I want food now!” Parker yelled, tears running in rivulets down his dirt-smudged face. 


I had no choice but to rock him back and forth in the center of the attic, and fix my little brother’s problems like a good big sister should, even if the punishment could be severe. The heat of late spring had accumulated in the room my brother and I had shared for our entire lives. This room had served as refuge and a sanctuary so the two of us could remain out of sight when Daddy and the rest of his “grown-up friends” could discuss “Business.” What that was code for? It could have meant murder or illegal dealing. All I knew is that I never wanted to find out. My father became involved with ‘projects’, and if my brother or I got in his way, a forgotten lunch would be the least of our worries. 


“You know what?” I consoled, tickling Parker’s chin, “I’m going to make you a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.”


“Can I come with you? I need to make sure you don’t add any vegetables to it that you think I don’t know about.” I sighed, knowing that if I didn’t let him come with me, I would have an angry six year old on my hands which is not what I needed when the two of us had to play a game of Hide-and-Seek -where my father was ‘It‘ and our situation made it crucial that he didn’t find us. 


“Okay,” I told him, but then added, “but we’re going to have to be very quiet so that we don’t disturb Daddy if he’s napping.”


I shook my head as we crept downstairs quietly. The sooner my little brother realized the dangers of making Daddy angry, or even being noticed by him, the better off we’d all be. I only hoped that fate put Albert Steven Cooper on the front porch with the rest of his friends so that I could make the darn sandwich and be done with everything. 


Luckily, my father was nowhere to be seen when Parker and I arrived downstairs, and I set about making the peanut butter and jelly sandwich as fast as I was able so I could help Parker with his homework, and then watch cartoons. A normal night occurring in any of the other normal family’s houses this Monday night. At least that’s what I told myself. 


“Gentlemen, let’s bring this talk inside so that we can---” I didn’t get to hear the rest of his words before I grabbed my brother from where he was sitting on the kitchen counter and the cursed peanut butter and jelly sandwich, dove into the walk-in pantry, and hoped that we wouldn’t be discovered. 


“Savy,” Parker announced in the grave way only young children can when they inform you of facts you are already very well aware of but they think they are geniuses for figuring it all out: “Daddy isn’t taking a nap.”


“I know,” I agreed with him, biting my lip, racking my brains for something to tell Parker. “Parky, why don’t we think of this as an unannounced for game of Hide-and-Seek? Daddy doesn’t know about it, so we’re going to have to keep very quiet.” He nodded solemnly and sat down in the cramped space to begin chewing his sandwich. I started thinking about how this was not the right way any little boy should grow up, in fear that his father would do him or his sister harm. My thoughts were interrupted by the angry conversation outside the pantry door.


“Have you seen this?” My father demanded, throwing his newspaper down violently onto the dining room table, then glared at everyone, to provoke them to speak, which he would then punish them for. “ Why is it that no one has told me of this atrocity to mankind?” 


I winced, feeling sorry for whomever was about to feel his wrath. I suspected his over -reaction was about some neighborhood scandal. Anything that involved infidelity was the worst thing that could happen to a noble community, according to him, even if he was a perpetrator and hypocrite.  


“Look at the date,  Al, this paper is new, fresh off the presses,” someone says.


“How could this be possible! How could anyone of our State Senators, or whoever makes these decisions allow this law to pass?” 


At this point, I was very interested since it involved an entire state, and not a desperate husband trying to find what his wife couldn’t give. Come on, I urged inside my head, Tell them what this is about


Luckily, one of my fathers friends -the same one who pointed out the timestamp on the newspaper- asked the question I, and probably the rest of the room, was wondering as well. 


“Massachusetts.” he said. “legalized gay marriage.”


As if this were a scene straight from a movie, the occupants of the room gasped, and then fell so silent, I was at risk of them hearing my uneven breathing. Inside, my heart leapt higher than Mario did on my brother’s video games. I had been part of, and the sole founder of, my school’s GSA (Gay-Straight-Alliance) club. The reason for my starting the GSA club was not an act of defiance, but an act done for a cause I had faith in, and I firmly believed that falling in love is not something we choose in this life. Whatever the barrier -- rich and poor, black and white, a male and a male -- people deserve happiness. The number of members we had in our club amounted to less than the fingers and toes on my body, and most of us suffered by becoming members, because of our geographical location -living in Montgomery, Alabama, otherwise known as the most conservative region in the United States. Nevertheless, this was a victory, a strand of hope for all the LGBTQ+ people in this world, and having marriage legalized in one state was just a launching pad for others to do the same. 


My elation with this new law was short-lived as my father and his buddies soon started mocking the LGBTQ+ community with words I hadn’t even known before. Phrases like, “Our damn government,” “Those gay lovers,” “No Alabamian in their right minds would ever let this happen,” “Their Supreme Judicial Court members must have been on something,” and much stronger words were used that night over the Cooper family dinner table, including things I would never repeat to another soul in my life.


“What does ‘legalize gay marriage’ mean?” Parker asks innocently, his expression bright as ever, even in the dimly lit pantry. 


I thought for a moment, trying to find a way to describe what it meant to a six year old. “It means some very nice people let other people get married, no matter who they want to get married to, but Daddy doesn’t like it.”


“You mean I could marry you?” He tried to make sense of the situation. 


“No,” I said, ruffling his hair, “It means if you wanted to, you could get married to your friend Tyler, or Ethan.”


“But why is Daddy angry?” he said, more than a little confused. “Even if I don’t want to marry Tyler, other people should be allowed to marry their own Tylers.” 


I smiled -glad that I had taught my little brother to have a good head on his shoulders- but  felt sad at the same time. My own father, who knew what it was like to be in love, didn’t want others to share that same joy and happiness. My 45-year-old father couldn’t recognize what my six year old brother did. Suddenly, it wasn’t sadness, or happiness, or any other emotion I had ever felt before bubbling up from my gut. I didn’t know what it was -- a strange mix of devastation, aggravation, resentment, and indignation joined together in my stomach- making it queasy and nauseous, as if I had gone on the loop de loop roller coaster at the county fair after eating a chili cheese dog.  


As the crude comments continued, and my father’s argument became more heated, I realized what I was feeling.

Disgust.


Chapter 4

Lia Song~ 18 y/o 

Sunnyside Rehabilitation Center- 

New York, New York 

March 13, 2013

We are the lifeless among the living.

We are the soulless among the souls.

We are the whipping boys the world has discarded.

We are the clay toys the world molded so we would be examples.

-----Who We Are: Lia Song 

I smile, reading the poem I had written when I first entered Sunnyside Rehabilitation Center. Then, I look at the date on the calendar hanging in my room -March 13th, 2013. My 18th birthday. I have been here for 97 days. Most teenagers who are celebrating their birthdays do something wild....or at least, ordinary. They complain about the colleges that didn’t accept them, their outdated iPhones, mountains of homework, or their latest breakup. Me? I’m finally being released from the hospital I have been in for the past three months. Most teenagers say their parents are jailers, preventing them from going out to party at night. When I say jail, I am referring to the stark, white-washed walls of the room that has been home for nearly a hundred days.  MY jail was a place where syringes with jewel-toned liquids were injected to calm the unruly and straitjackets were at the ready. 

But this isn’t going to be a sad story.

True, this isn’t my 1st, my 2nd, nor even my 3rd visit here. It’s my 8th long-term stay since I turned 13. I know what you’re thinking: Lia Song is one messed up girl. But I wasn’t always like this. I had a very happy childhood... until my parents were murdered. My entire life can be defined as before and after. Before they were killed. After their deaths. Before I became lonely, friendless, and depressed after my boyfriend broke up with me and the entire world bore down on me with teeth and weapons bared.

I should really stop feeling sorry for myself.

Enough about my past, and the many different girls I once was. This is now, life went on when they died, and life -- no matter how hard I or anyone else tries to stop it- still goes on. 


The click clack of my aunt’s heels is the only audible sound as I walk, my arm looped with hers and my uncle’s, my hands clutching the single tote bag has held everything in my life these past few months. We truly don’t know what to say to each other. When my cousin, their child, Alexa, comes home from summer camp, or even a sleepover, they gush about everything that happened down to the very last detail such as the color she chose to tie-die her t-shirt, or a particular stick of firewood she contributed to that night’s bonfire. With me, they have nothing to say. I feel dejected, as if they didn’t care what happened to me while I was in Sunnyside -- despite their cheerful greeting cards and letters full of well wishes. But did I really expect them to ask, “How were the nurses? Did you swallow all of your pills? Were you happy while you were there?”


They dictated my release and its terms. I was on parole, weekly counseling, and probation, being watched carefully at every moment. 


The countdown calendar, teary farewells, and strained hellos hadn’t penetrated my consciousness until the three of us walked through the front door and I realized what had happened in the seemingly short span of three months.

Transformation.

That is all I saw everywhere. When I had was admitted the last time, all I saw was darkness, all I felt was pain. Now I’m being released, and all I can see is light, all I can feel is elation. There was snow on the ground when I entered, but now that I am exiting, there are little buds fighting their way towards the warm spring air. The construction site across the street is now a finished bakery. The frigidness, frowns, and greyness the world was in late December is gone. Now, the air is brisk, and warm, people look happy, and color has returned where it belongs. 


Immediately, I see Alexa waving from across the street, her golden curls strewn wildly as always around her face, long legs in a pair of dark-washed blue jeans, and blue overcoat encasing her. An actual smile dances on my lips, making me shiver, and sends goosebumps down my arms. She’s as lively as ever, a regular old ray of sunshine I would have mocked when I was admitted to Sunnyside. I would have blamed her positivity on ignorance due to not experiencing the world. Now, as we embrace, I see it was I who was the ignorant one. We settle down for cappuccinos, and I can almost believe we are 12 again, drinking hot chocolate with the shot of espresso we always begged for. In the middle of our conversation, I look out the window, to simply remind myself that I’m no longer locked up. While looking, I suddenly see what I know I should be doing. You are probably wondering (myself included) what I mean by that. To answer, I will have to state what I saw outside.

A girl, running. 

That one image brings back everything I had lost when I was 13.

I suddenly remember pushing myself and running my first 5k in Central Park.

I remember getting runners high for the first time, and feeling like unicorns started spreading rainbows across the sky.

I remember being reluctant to run, but feeling magnificent afterwards.

I remember realizing that I had run seven miles, farther than I ever had before.

I remember making my mother buy my me first pair of $180 shoes.

But most of all, I remember a time I was happy.

“Lia....Lia!” Alexa repeated, trying to get my attention, “Are you here?”


“Yes,” I tell her, tracing the rim of my mug, “I was thinking about going for a run tomorrow.”


She and the rest of my remaining family knew what running had meant to me, so she squeezed my hand and told me, smiling, “That sounds like a great idea.” 

Lia Song~ 18 y/o

Central Park- 

New York, New York, 

March 14, 2013 

“Think about how far you have gotten. Not about how far you still have to go.”

---Anonymous

Suddenly, the walls around me shake, the ground vibrating and churning in tsunami-like waves. I groggily open my eyes to see the red glow of my alarm, and the constant thud it makes ringing in my ears. This was its way of saying, “Good morning, it’s 5 am, and if you don’t get out of bed now, you never will.” So I roll out of bed (literally) onto the hardwood floor, pull on some clothes, lace up my shoes, grab my iPod, and stumble out the door. 


You’ve heard of the phrase muscle memory, right? Well, that’s what this morning was. I used to get out of bed every morning at 5am for an hour and a half run each and every day. It didn’t matter if getting up so early cost me hours of precious sleep or if I had gone to bed at 3am the night before. Running had been my therapy, and released something indescribable. This hadn’t been a routine of mine since months before I was admitted into Rehab, but that didn’t matter. My body remembered. It remembered the feeling of the cold air circulating around it like a car trying to find a parking space. My eyes remembered the heavy weight of tiredness on my  lids. My feet remember how to put one in front of the other. 

And that’s all that matters.

The first mile was hard. Who was I kidding, the first mile hurt like heck. It was all I could do to keep moving, aches seemed to have lodged themselves in my sides, my arms were still weak from months of disuse, and my thighs felt like they were ripping themselves from my legs. 


I arrived at the water fountain, my two mile mark at 5:45. It had taken me almost 40 minutes to go two miles. When I ran all the time, I could have managed five miles in the same amount of time. The sweat trickled in rivulets down my neck, my pony tail almost dripping with condensation. 


This is what I wanted? I asked myself. I wanted to put my body through this pain? The feeling that my lungs would burst any moment, and my knees would unscrew themselves from my calves? 

I realized my answer, Yes.

I started again around the perimeter of the park, this time setting a comfortable pace for myself. Suddenly, “Hall of Fame” by The Script featuring Will.i.am started playing on my iPod. And then... I grew my wings. My legs gyrated, turning in full revolutions, going faster and faster, until I felt like I had pushed myself over the edge. I became lost in my own euphoria. Even though sweat stung my eyelids, and I was panting hard, I knew it had been worthwhile. Every single meal I had skipped, every single word that had been hurtled, every single person that had caused me pain... It had all been worth it for this moment. 

I had woken up.

The sun had made its grand appearance. After almost half a year, I hadn’t remembered what it was like. One second, it’s pitch dark, the next, the sky is lightening, the next, there’s light. All in what seems like less than a minute, your entire world changes. The cold leaves your body as easy as shed clothing. You can see the beauty of the world around you. You see yourself differently.


My emotions had gone off the Richter scale. I noticed the little details that had always been there, but I had been too ignorant to notice. At that very moment, I felt happy. I felt carefree. I felt ecstatic. I was at peace. It was if I had finally remembered the lyrics to a song played on repeat. Familiarity would tug at consciousness, bit by bit, until you knew and you were aware. 


It was less than two hours later, but I was a new person. That girl who had been hospitalized for severe depression and attempts at suicide was gone. Running had released something inside of me, the chemical imbalance wasn’t there anymore. It felt peaceful and relaxing. I felt as if those demons that had been playing in the sandbox of my mind had finally been taught to play nicely. 


You could never understand what I mean, and probably think I’m insane. Everybody always says people can’t change. Those people have never been on a run. It has been scientifically proven that running releases endorphins, happiness in chemical form. You feel high, but not off of drugs, or alcohol, or any other substance that will bring you down eventually.


Running released the person I was. She had been fighting to get out, banging on soundproof glass. She had cried herself hoarse, trying to let me know she was there. Now I knew, and I felt an emotion that had never been present before.

In my life, I had been - happy - sad - angry - determined - passionate - betrayed - shamed - accepted - disappointed - regretful - disgusted - afraid - surprised 

----But I had never felt content----

All my life, I had wanted more, or less, of something. But now, I felt exactly what contentment meant, satisfied with what I had, not wanting more or anything else.

Chapter 5


Brooklynne Zheng~ 20 y/o

The Hilton Hotel---

Los Angeles, California

June 21, 2020


“Why did you start swimming?” Sonia Stevens, the woman who was interviewing me, inquired. I should have had a simple reply, it should have been easy to answer the most repeated question of my career. Yet, as I stared at her, which may have come across as rude, I couldn’t think of my answer, her hair pulled tightly into a bun, flawless foundation, and crisp pantsuit reminded me too much of my mother. The same mother who quizzed me on this very question before every swim meet and public event. 

The very first time someone asked was at the first meet I had ever competed in when I was still in Elementary School. Innocently, I had told Allyson, coach from a visiting team. “Because my mommy made me.” 

Allyson continued what had then felt like an interrogation, “How did you get to be so good at it?”

“Easy,” I think I told her, rocking on the balls of my feet, “My mommy and daddy make me get up every morning really early so I can swim before school, and they don’t let me have friends over because they are ‘unneeded distractions.” 

My coach had then pulled me away from Allyson, and then told me off to both of my parents. The answers I had given Sonia were obviously the wrong ones because my parents did not want other people to know they made their eight year old daughter get up at two thirty in the morning for extra practice laps. They had harshly scolded and punished me for those answers afterwards. 

From then on, before every meet, they always asked me the standard questions others did so that I wouldn’t “mess up.” Questions as simple as, “Who do you look up to? What’s the best thing about swimming? When did your parents realize you had such a talent?” Because my parents obviously assumed I would get them wrong again. 

“Excuse me?” I stuttered, pretending to choke on the hors d’oeuvre I was eating, “I’m sincerely sorry Miss....” I trailed off trying to remember her name.

“Stevens?” she filled in, as if her name were a question, and looked at me weirdly because people were not supposed to forget a name that had been told less than 10 minutes before. 

“I don’t feel too well,” I told her. After noticing her questioning look on her face, as if she knew I was faking it, I added, “You can send over your questions for the article to my manager, I will respond to them as soon as I feel well again.”

I then began the long trek across the ballroom, without making it look like I was trying to make a run for it, and dodge the people trying to tell me how I was their inspiration. I never even wanted to swim competitively, let alone become the youngest and most dedicated Olympian in history, and I certainly didn’t want all of the press that came with my much coveted title. 

“Would you sign this for me?” - “What is your favorite brand of suits?” - “Why did your sponsorship with Speedo stop?” - “What do you think of up-and-comer Courtney Bennet?” - “Do you think you will take home gold again at this summer’s Olympics?”


Although my managing team told me the people who asked the questions meant well, they flew like shrapnel. My footsteps became more deliberate, and each one represented one more stride to freedom. The room began to swirl, the bright lights from the chandeliers became blinding, the people became daunting barriers between me and my goal. I grew nauseous, and threw up in the artificial palm tree at the entryway.

After that, it didn’t matter who I offended, whose questions I sidestepped, or whose feet I trod on because dancing would not be my sport in a million years. I kicked off my high heels, and ran through the Hilton at a pace that could have beat the record for the 1600 meter dash if I ran for the Olympics instead of swam. 

I wasn’t aware of my surroundings until 50 degree water attacked my senses. I’d barely been aware of donning my swimsuit and diving straight into the Hilton’s pool.  I was reminded yet again why I tolerated my family’s wishes about me being a professional swimmer. I tell myself (foolishly probably) that I could stand up to them but swimming provides a way for me to block out everything else in the world. The water made me permeable. With other sports, your mind could wander. Yet, with swimming, you became enveloped in a sensation you couldn’t find anywhere else. Streamlining through the clear blue water released something inside of me, and made me feel relaxed, and loose. I felt fluid, and became one with the water, as if nothing else mattered.

I came up to the edge of the pool, to catch my breath after laps that probably would have earned me another gold medal, but my eyes fell on the necklace I had hastily discarded on my way into the water. It was one of the only beautiful things my parents have ever given me, but it came with a price. 

I resumed my laps, but try as I might, that state of calmness had long since washed away from me, and I spiraled into a memory that was as clear as freshly blown glass. 

It was the night after I had won Gold in my first Olympic event. I sat with my ankles crossed in my sea foam green evening gown in the most lady-like manner I could attempt, smiled, nodded, and answered the many questions the interviewer asked. 

Near the end of it, on live television, she told me something that nearly made me fall off the plush love seat I was sitting in. “Brooklynne, I have a very big surprise for you,” she said, smiling, as if I would be think I was the luckiest girl in the world after I learned what the surprise was. “Your parents are here.”   

My eyes started to tear up, and the interviewer mistook them for tears of happiness. I don’t know what excuse they had made up for the interviewer and the media, but when I left Los Angeles my parents and I had had a huge fight. The two of them said I wasn’t worthy of them watching me in the event they had groomed me for since before I had been able to walk. 

“Oh Brooklynne,” my mother cooed on international television. “We am so proud of you. Your father and I didn’t want to put pressure on you by us being there, but now you have taken home the Gold, and surpassed all of out expectations.”

That is abso-freaking-lutely what you would say, I yelled in my mind.

“Daughter,” my father said, putting a clearly awkward arm around my shoulder, “we have been waiting to give you my mother’s pearls since you were born, and this seemed like the ideal location and time.” 

Yeah right, I told myself, you made me swim an extra 100 laps after I touched that necklace less than eight years ago.

Then my mother did something she probably hadn’t done since I was a baby, if at all. She embraced me. Her thin arms encased my torso, and awkwardly patted my back, it was obvious to any observers that we didn’t usually have these kinds of cheerful reunions. She looped the cool pearls around my neck, and fastened them against my skin that was hot to the touch because of the stage lights.

With that, she whispered five words in my ear that truly reduced me to tears, “You could have done better.” My mother then drew away with a supposedly loving kiss on my cheek, and another blindingly white smile for the cameras.

That was just one bad memory to stack up onto another, and on a normal occasion I wouldn’t let the bad memories invade my space -- the pool. Even though I still had energy to burn, I climbed out of the water, and started towel-drying my hair. 

In less than a month, I would be flying to Tokyo, Japan, for the summer Olympics, and I realized something I had never cared to admit to anyone before. It went beyond the frequent punishments my parents doled out the way other kids my age got “I love yous.” 

I was afraid.


All my life, I had been trained to keep all my emotions in, to be the perfect piano playing, straight A receiving, swimmer who always obeyed her parents. The result of that constricted life left me in a box where few people were allowed to enter. This made me appear to be sarcastic, unfeeling, and hostile to those around me. The most important lesson my parents had taught me as a little girl was not to fear anything. They actually encouraged my acting fierce to try and scare my competition at swim meets and academic decathlons. There was never supposed to be a shadow of doubt that I wouldn’t take first, and beat records while doing so. All I did was swallow the pills that were given to me, and reacted like I was supposed to. 

Sitting there that night, my feet dangling in the Hilton Hotel’s swimming pool, I realized I was terrified of losing because of my parents. All my life, they had been terrors, and put more pressure on me than what it took (in the myth, at least) to turn coal into diamonds. I had never been given a choice when it came to swimming, or being the star student. I was given the hurdle, and ordered to jump. No one had ever asked me what I wanted, or given any leg room in terms of swimming.

Making the grade and getting the Gold had never before been my choice, but that warm June night, I was determined to make it mine. I would use the fear that had always hovered in the back of my mind --like the monster under the bed nobody believed you about- would be used so that I could finally win, or even lose on my own terms.

Chapter 6


Myself: Emmalynne Aldacinnia

What is...

Infinite


If you wanna find the honey.....You can’t be scared of the bees.

And if you wanna see the forest.....You’re gonna have to look past trees.

If you’re ever gonna find a silver lining.....It’s gotta be a cloudy day.

If you wanna fill your bottle up with lightning.....You’re gonna have to stand in the rain.

---Silver Lining: Kacey Musgraves


I wake up naturally, the morning sun streaming into my bedroom. For the first time in ages, I feel rested, like my body truly had a good night’s sleep, undisrupted by dreams and thoughts of tomorrow. 

I swing my legs over the edge of the bed, and take in my surroundings. After being thrust into the experiences of others, it feels strange to be myself. To feel my obsidian-colored hair stream down my back, and to see my stormy grey eyes when I look at myself in the mirror. I walk out onto the balcony outside my bedroom and take a moment to absorb my surroundings. The air is crisp and fresh, as if there had just been a terrible storm, and it is only now that nature has recovered so she can do her job again. I feel as if someone is pouring a glass of warmth and light over me, and everything feels right.

It is there, as I stand in the middle of the forest, that I awake from a slumber I did not know I was in, and I realize why I could never make my decision before now. In order for any of my brothers and sisters to decide whether they want to accept the role destiny tells them to play, they have to embrace it. 


I had been both distraught and devastated about my situation.


Just like Skylar Simmons, my spirit had been broken. For her, it was the overwhelming stress of a ridiculous education system. For me, it was the overwhelming stress of watching my siblings step up to the podium to fulfill their duty, and know that that had to be me someday. Little by little, the two of us realized that it would be our turn to leave, and our current actions would affect that.  


I had been disgusted with the straight and narrow.


Just like Savannah Cooper, a situation had been placed before me, and I had no choice but to externally comply, while internally, I was trying as hard as I could to not become engulfed in disgust. For her, she had to take her father’s abuse to herself, and innocent people that had simply wanted to marry who they loved. For me, obedience was mandatory, I had been born as an Admiramini with a destiny laid out before me, and I had been seen as selfish for being uncertain of something I had no prior personal connection with. 

I had never known true happiness. 


Just like Lia Song, a negative light was the only filter over the world. She had been dealing with the loss of her parents, and released the energy that originated from that loss. I had seen the earth as a young, inferior planet thats people only wanted war and compassion was as hard to come by as the sacred ‘four leaf clover.’ True happiness could have only been obtained when compared to devastating sadness, and I gained perspective from Lia’s tragic experience. 

I had been afraid.


Just like Brooklynne Zheng, there had been a pressure on me be something. For her, it was to be a champion swimmer. For me, it was to be good. The two of us had been groomed our entire lives to carry out the plans that had been made for us. As a little girl, I had always known that I was to be someone who would change the world. I had never been asked if I wanted to be a moral compass for humanity. Everything had just been assumed.   

Before experiencing the world through Skylar, Savannah, Lia, and Brookylnne, I had lived my entire life in observance. I thought I knew it all. I thought I understood the way the world worked. Emotion was science, a series of chemicals and elements made up of various combinations. My brethren had to learn that life isn’t black and white; it is made up of colors and strokes of the paintbrush. I now understood that to carry out what I was destined for, I had to love it. Even if I didn’t know what ‘it’ was. How could I have made up my mind without ever experiencing a few aspects of what life is, such as the anger of not being heard, disgust at what had seemed like an inevitable outcome, happiness that resulted from the release of pain, or the ability to overcome fears?

Instead of being the teacher, as many of my siblings were when they had first gone to Earth,  I was the student, and now I realized why I had been so selfish and hesitant to take on the role that all Admiramini had done before me. 

Myself: Emmalynne Aldacinnia

What I choose... 

January 2, 2015


I won’t let it swallow me, I won’t let it take me down, I won’t let it run my dreams into the ground....Even on my hardest day; Courage is when you’re scared to death, but you saddle up anyway

---Hardest Day: Jess Moskaluke


“So what do you choose?” is what He asks, standing in the same position from since before I had left the sterile white room, as if He never moved from cleaning the syringe. “Will you let the world decay into its ultimate destruction?---” How positive “---Or will you take upon you the burden that your brethren have shared?---” Even more lovely “---Will you, Emmalynnetta Aldacinnia---” He even pulls out the full name card “---make the leap of faith so that humanity will reap the benefits of your existence?---” Nope, not creepy at all. 

“Do you know what Ignavus?” I say, using his name, which no one has dared to call him by for centuries. “I’m not afraid anymore. I am not the little girl who has no say in her future. Yes, I will now make the leap of faith so that I can do what I was destined to do, but I am doing it of my own free will. You never really gave me a choice, but luckily, I now want the same things you do. Each of my 12 brothers and sisters represents one, single emotion. The people they are now, are finite. 

I am not.


You ask me to declare who I am, this is me. I am not defined by a single line of existence. I embody all emotions, which is why I never previously fit in. I am the good and the bad. I am the light and the dark.” 

I am whole.


So guys, what did you think? Do I have the makings of an Authoress in me? What are your honest thoughts... it's alright, you can lay them on me. If you think I should expand upon this novella during Camp NaNoWriMo, please vote in the sidebar. I appreciate it so much if you actually got to the end of this post, and would appreciate it even more if you came back on the 7th of June for the next installment which will talk all about how I came up with the premise and general plot line.



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