Thursday, January 31, 2013

Printed Books Hop (US)

Another chance to giveaway a few books. :)

This will be a US address only contest.  Like most people, my family is experiencing a financial crunch and looking to spend as less money as we can.  Sorry to all my wonderful friends who live outside of the US.  I will soon be having a giveaway that is International.

The books up for grabs are:

The Ultimate Game: Echo's Revenge (ARC)
Neversink (ARC)
The Night Fairy (Hardcover)

The titles are linked to their goodreads page.  You can find more info and reviews there.

You must have a US mailing address to enter this contest.  See my giveaway policy before you enter.  It is in the upper sidebar.  All policies are in effect for this giveaway.

Use the rafflecopter form to enter. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Silver-White by Shawn Underhill ~ Book blast

Silver-White by Shawn Underhill

“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep.”
~ Robert Frost

*Evie’s family has been holding out on her …

Big time.

On an unexpected visit to her grandparents’ house in New Hampshire’s secluded North Woods, the sixteen-year-old literally runs into the truth of the long-hidden family secrets, and finds herself thrust without warning into the clandestine world of the Great North Pack—a wild and exhilarating world of rugged beauty, heart-pounding adventures, and long nights running under a sea of stars … but as she’s set to discover, a world also fraught with potential dangers lurking in the shadows.

 "Simply put, this book was amazing. I've read more fantasy novels than than I can count, but this one is certainly one of the best. The heroine isn't some wishy-washy pansy that screams at everything, and the focus of the story isn't on some unbelievably beautiful teenage girl who suddenly becomes the biggest, baddest member of her species falling in love with some big, bad, sexy member of her newfound species. It's about a girl becoming something she never knew existed, finding her place within the pack family she values more than ever before, and an age-old feud that threatens everything she loves." ~Morgan

Purchase ~ just .99 cents

Author Shawn Underhill

Shawn is a part-time writer from New Hampshire, where he spends his free time hiking in the mountains, camping, racing dirt bikes, or anything else that keeps him outdoors. Dogs are his very favorite people. He is also the author of the novel All Things Different.

BookBlast $100 Giveaway
$100 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash
Ends 2/13/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Blog tour ~ Alaina Claiborne by MK McClintock (Excerpt/10's list/ giveaway)


                          Alaina Claiborne by M.K. McClintock

My rating: 4 of 5 stars
                         Genre: Historical Romantic Suspense
                         Source: Received kindle copy to review

Book Description:  How far would you go to avenge your family and save the one you love?

​In nineteenth-century England, Alaina Claiborne had a loving family, a cherished friend, and devoted servants. She spent her days riding across the grassy hills of the English countryside, joyful and at peace.

Then tragedy strikes and her world is forever changed. Searching for those responsible is her only focus . . . until she meets Tristan.

Tristan Sheffield, a man of many talents, searches out those who don’t want to be found. His past is filled with secrets and deeds he would rather leave deeply buried. However, when his life unexpectedly entwines with Alaina's, he soon discovers they share more than a mutual desire to catch a murderer.

On their hunt for a man driven by greed, Tristan and Alaina find that love is the greatest weapon against evil, and they'll stop at nothing to survive.

My thoughts:  The first thing that inspired my interest to read this book is the first name, Alaina. It's not one that I see often. It happens to be the first name of my sister-in-law who died several years ago. I also love historical romance.

Alaina is an orphan raised by her aunt and uncle. She was in a carriage that overturned while being chased by bandits. She witnessed the murder of her parents and lost her best friend in the tragic event.

Ten years have passed and Alaina meets her new neighbor, his name is Tristan and he is handsome and mysterious. Their lives intertwine as he is investigating the murder of her parents. It doesn't take long for the romantic feelings to blossom.

Alaina has repressed her memories of her parents death and Tristan is trying to get her to remember. Her nightmares begin and she starts to unravel the cloak shrouding her mind.

This book has action, mystery and romance. It didn't take me long to read, and I did enjoy it. There is some intimate moments that don't go into a ton of detail, I would recommend this book only to adults.

Read an Excerpt: 
 Across the acres, darkness enveloped another, her surroundings illuminated by the flickering flame of a lamp. Alaina moved around in the attic, searching through trunks of the items that had come from her mother’s cottage in Ireland. It was difficult to see so many memories that reminded her of her parents, but she also found it calmed her. She had avoided these things since they had been delivered years ago, but now her fears became secondary. She hoped that something from her parents’ past would shed light on what was happening in the present.          
      Alaina rummaged through a trunk of some of her mother’s clothes, pulling them out and smelling them, hoping for a faint whiff of the soft rose scent her mother used to wear. There was something lingering around the old clothes, and it took Alaina back to a time when she was a little girl. Nevertheless, the memory ended there. She paused for a moment, as if the scent reminded her of something else besides her mother. She subsequently released the memory when she saw the bottom of the trunk was not as deep as it should have been. She pulled out the remaining dress and ran her fingers along the bottom and edges. She next looked on the outside of the trunk. Nearly six inches of extra space remained near the bottom on the inside.
Alaina felt along the inside edges and became excited when she found a gap. Slowly reaching her fingers into the hole, she simultaneously pushed down on the other edge for leverage and surprised herself when the bottom tilted to reveal the extra space beneath. Removing the thin board, she set it aside and gasped when she turned back to the trunk.
“Oh, Mother. What did you do?”

MK's  partial bucket list!

What are 10 items on your bucket list?

Ride an elephant
Go on a horseback safari in Africa
Visit my friends in Ireland
Walk through Eilean Donan Castle
Learn to speak Gaelic
Walk along the entire length of Hadrian’s Wall (what’s left of it)
Make a life for myself that doesn’t require a cell phone
Have a photograph published in National Geographic
Write a book Oprah would want to recommend
Make a difference

About MK ~  McClintock is an over-worked entrepreneur, baker of decadent desserts and all things chocolate, photographer of beautiful places, and most importantly, a writer. 

She dreams of a time when life was simpler, the land rougher, and the journey more rewarding. With her heart deeply rooted in the past and her mind always on adventure, McClintock will always call Montana home.

McClintock is a member of Romance Writers of America, Montana Romance Writers, Hearts Through History Romance Writers, and Women Writing the West.

Tour Giveaway
Three Winners!
1-$25 Amazon Gift Card
2 Autographed copies of "Alaina Claiborne"  

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by Rafflecopter and announced here, as well as emailed, and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter, or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. 

Tuesday, January 29, 2013

Join the LUNAR LOVE Blog Hop!

Do you love books that have some aspect that deals with the moon?  
Werewolves, Space Travel, Paranormal, etc.

This may be the hop for you to join!

I am teeming up with Kathy at I am a Reader, Not a Writer to bring you this hop.

All you have to do is sign up and giveaway a book that has some aspect of the moon.

Each blog is responsible for their own giveaway.

Here are the rules:

  • Each participating blog will host a giveaway on their site.
  • Your giveaway must feature a book with paranormal, supernatural, science fiction or space travel element or a book that has something to do with the moon or has a moon on its cover.
  • No more than 6 possible entries per person.
  • Offering a Gift Card or book of choice from The Book Depository is fine.
  • Any family friendly blog or site is welcome to join.
  • Your post must include the giveaway hop image, the linky or a link to the host site & must be live by 12:01 AM on March 8th.

Use this linky to sign up today.  Make sure to mark it on your calendars!

Tournament of Chance by SG Rogers ~ Review

Tournament of ChanceTournament of Chance by S.G. Rogers
My rating: 4.5 of 5 stars
Source: Received to Review
Genre: YA Fantasy

Book DescriptionIn the Kingdom of Destiny, King Chance decreed any female be she high or low born may earn a place at court by winning an archery competition known as the Tournament of Chance. Although no commoner has ever won before, this is Heather’s year. To prevent her from winning the tournament, however, King Chance will stop at nothing. The king does not yet realize Heather of the Jagged Peaks will be the spark that ignites a revolution — in time

My thoughts: I am very glad that I finished this book. I started as part of a blog tour and wasn't able to finish before my post. I was determined that I would finish the book and give it the review that it deserved, rather than the partial review that I gave it on my blog.

Heather is a resilient young woman. The book begins as she is learning about archery and setting her goal to win and be able to become a lady in the kingdom. She is of common birth. The King has decreed that anyone can win the archery contest and become a noble.

Unfortunately, the King is all talk. He has no intention of honoring his decree. His goal is to keep the common people in their place. Heather begins a revolution. The common folk know who won the contest. Heather is thrown in jail.

This sets Heather on journey that will be through time. She gets the opportunity to be a catalyst to change the direction of the Kingdom. Time will tell if she will have the heart to do what it takes and sacrifice all she holds dear.

I loved the story. It has romance and fantasy elements. It is a book that I can easily recommend to teens. There are kissing scenes and fighting scenes. There are wizards, trolls, dragons, and fairies.

The book is written in a simple and easy to read style. There were times I wished that the book was a little less simplistic, but it should make an easier read for younger readers.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Young Adult Giveaway Hop

Thanks I am a Reader, Not a Writer and BookLove 101 for hosting this hop!

I recently discovered some YA books that I absolutely loved.  They are available only in digital format however.  I will gift the winner a copy by Amazon or Barnes and Noble to use on their eReader.  If you have read the first book, I would be glad to gift the second instead.

Chloe Masters’s world changes in a heartbeat and all she did was touch a doorknob. 

When she was young Chloe’s mother vanished. Wracked by feelings of abandonment and anger she lost herself traveling with her fathers magic act, where illusions were part of her everyday life. Yet everything changes when they are pursued by a mysterious man in black out to kill her father. Touching a doorknob activates abilities she never knew she had and she finds herself thrust into a world of ancient societies and secrets.

When her father disappears it is a race against time to find answers before she loses whats left of her family. Now Chloe must choose who to trust, the man who will do anything for her or the one she can’t stop thinking about.

Book one of the Doorknob Society series.

Use the rafflecopter form to enter.  My policy for giveaways apply to this one.  Please review it in the right sidebar.  By entering your information in the form, you are stating that you are in compliance.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

daynight by Megan Thomason ~ Blog Tour ~ Tens List and giveaway

DaynightDaynight by Megan Thomason
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Received to Review
Genre: Dystopian YA (for mature YA readers)

Book Description: Meet The Second Chance Institute (SCI): Earth’s benevolent non-profit by day, Thera’s totalitarian regime by night. Their motto: Because Everyone Deserves a Second Chance™. Reality: the SCI subjects Second Chancers to strict controls and politically motivated science experiments like Cleaving—forced lifetime union between two people who have sex.

Meet Kira Donovan. Fiercely loyal, overly optimistic, and ensnared by the promise of a full-ride college scholarship, Kira signs the SCI Recruit contract to escape memories of a tragedy that left her boyfriend and friends dead.

Meet Blake Sundry. Bitter about being raised in Exile and his mother’s death, Blake’s been trained to infiltrate and destroy the SCI. Current barrier to success? His Recruit partner—Miss Goody Two Shoes Kira Donovan.

Meet Ethan Darcton. Born with a defective heart and resulting inferiority complex, Ethan’s forced to do his SCI elite family’s bidding. Cleave-worthy Kira Donovan catches his eye, but the presiding powers give defect-free Blake Sundry first dibs.

Full of competing agendas, romantic entanglements, humor, twists and turns, daynight is Megan Thomason’s debut young adult dystopian novel and first in the daynight series.

My thoughts:  When I thought I had figured out where the plot of this story was taking me, I was amazed to find it go another way. Megan Thomason has created a book full of plot twists and turns.

Kira has a chance at a scholarship that would entail skipping out her senior year and going to the SCI. They offer second chances to people who have screwed up their lives. It is an opportunity that she can't pass up. It would set her on the path to a future success.

She soon discovers that if a deal is too good to be true, it is. SCI is a cover for an operation that brings people from earth to another plane of existence. Thera is the polar opposite of Earth. Where we have water, they have ocean. The climate is harsh, with more land, there is extreme heat. Lives are lived during the nigh time hours and sleep is during the unlivable heat of the day.

The society is dystopian. The people given a second chance is a huge surprise that I will not reveal. It is amazing to me the concept that Megan came up with. It is in many ways original.  There are many hidden agendas and political intrigues in this book.

Kira is meant to "cleave" with one of two potential suitors. One came from Earth with her, Blake, and the other is from Thera, Ethan. Both boys have much to offer and sound very attractive. It has left her with a dilemma, not easily solved.

My caution in this book would be with the emphasis on cleaving. While there are not any blatant intimate moments, there is much talk dealing with cleaving. It is a huge deal in the Theran society, and when cleaved it is for life, no exceptions. There are also some compromising situations and teens drinking.


Megan is sharing with us her top ten favorite characters in book.  She purposely left out daynight.  But I'm pretty sure they would make the top of the list. :)

Favorite characters in a book 
Peeta in Hunger Games (but Katniss, Haymitch, Effie, Finnick all right up there)
Anne Frank in Diary of a Young Girl
Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit
Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice
Myrnin in Morganville Vampires series
Adrian in Vampire Academy series
Anne in Anne of Green Gables
Jadyn in That Boy/That Wedding
Kellen in Thoughtless/Effortless
Lucas/Landon in Easy

Author Megan Thomason

Megan Thomason lives in paradise aka San Diego, CA with her husband and five children. A former software manager, Megan vastly prefers writing twisted tales to business, product, and marketing plans. When she isn't typing away on her laptop, she's reading books on her phone—over 600 in the last year—or attending to the needs of her family. Megan’s fluent in sarcasm, could potentially benefit from a 12-step program for road rage, struggles with a Hot Tamales addiction, loves world travel & fast cars and hates paperwork & being an insomniac. Daynight is Megan's first published novel, but fourth written one.

Tour Schedule

Blog Tour Giveaway

$50 Amazon Gift Card
Signed copy of Insurgent by Veronica Roth
Signed copy of daynight

Ends 2/7/13

Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Book Blast ~ Jack Templar: Monster Hunter by Jeff Gunhus

Jack Templar: Monster Hunter

Orphan Jack Templar has no memory of his parents and only the smallest details from his Aunt Sophie about how they died. The day before Jack's fourteenth birthday, things start to change for him. At first it's great: A sudden new strength helps him defend his nose-picking friend "T-Rex" from the school bully, and even his crush, Cindy Adams, takes notice. But then a mysterious girl named Eva arrives and tells him two facts that will change his life forever. First, that he's the descendent of a long line of monster hunters and he's destined to be in the family business. Second, that there's a truce between man and monster that children are off-limits...until their fourteenth birthday! Jack has only one day before hundreds of monsters will descend on his little town of Sunnyvale and try to kill him.

As if that weren't enough, things get even more complicated when Jack discovers that the Lord of the Creach (as the monsters are collectively known) holds a personal grudge against him and will do anything to see that Jack has a slow and painful death. To stay alive and save his friends, Jack will have to battle werewolves, vampires, harpies, trolls, zombies and more. But perhaps the most dangerous thing he must face is the truth about his past. Why do the other hunters call him the last Templar? Why do they whisper that he may be the "One?" Why do the monsters want him dead so badly? Even as these questions plague him, he quickly discovers survival is his new full-time job and that in the world of monster hunters, nothing is really what it seems.

Author Jeff Gunhus

Jeff Gunhus grew up in Cyprus, Greece, and Saudi Arabia where there was a distinct lack of television. He quickly found books were the gateway to incredible adventures, fascinating characters and unbelievable discoveries. Now, with five children of his own (all who watch too much television, in his opinion), he has enjoyed revisiting his old books and reliving those adventures all over again.

Kirkus Reviews

"Gunhus brings young readers a monster-filled romp to read at their own risk. In the first few pages, Jack, the storyteller and main character, warns readers not to read about these real-world monsters that would seem to only exist in fiction. The tone is set--sarcastic, tongue-in-cheek and likable; rooting for Jack is easy...Gunhus masterfully introduces fully realized characters with whom readers can connect almost instantly. The pacing is quick but not rushed, and events seamlessly progress, complete with action, cliff-hangers and surprise reveals. "

Amazon Reviews

Watch out Percy Jackson here comes Jack Templar
Move over Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, there's a new kid in town - Jack Templar, and he will take you on a wonderful adventure of good vs evil, with friends and enemies at every turn. The twists and turns keep the reader on a roller coaster of entertainment in the way of JK Rowling and Rick Riordan. ~ Penny Brein

Fast paced adventure through and through
Written for middle school aged students, this book is action-packed from the beginning and will hold the attention of young readers. Not only that, as an adult reader, it was hard to put down, so parents will enjoy it as an easy read. ~ bluejellybean

Kids will love it!
Not only will kids love it, adults will too! I don't want to give the plot away but this is a book worth reading. This book is creatively written drawing in the reader to be a participant in the story. There is lots of action with enough blood and guts to be interesting without being gross. Girls will like it too with the strong female role models and the hint of romance. Even though this is a children's book, I couldn't put it down. I will definitely be adding this to my classroom library. I am looking forward to reading the book in this series and sharing it with my students. Awesome book! ~ pixiep


Book Trailer


Yeah, you read it right. I’m a monster hunter. Back before I actually became one, I would have thought that sounded totally awesome. And don’t get me wrong, in a lot of ways it is. But most of the time, I’m either running for my life or hiding in the shadows, praying the monster chasing me doesn’t pick up my scent. And I’m almost always scared to death. In a few pages, I think you’ll see why.
     But there are a few things I need to warn you about before I tell you my story.
     First, this isn’t a cartoon. These are bloodthirsty creatures who will stop at nothing to kill. They are scary. Very scary. Second, the only way to stop them is to kill them first…and that gets gross and messy. Third, this is all real.
     You think I’m kidding, don’t you? I can almost see you smirking as you read this. But this isn’t a joke. Monsters are real and the story I’m about to tell you really happened. If you’d rather walk through life believing that monsters are only found in books or on the movie screen, then you should shut this book right now and go do something else.
     I give you these warnings because the story I’m about to tell you isn’t for everyone. Not everyone can handle it. The blood. The gore. The monsters.
     This life was thrust onto me. I had no choice but to take up a sword and fight. But you can still walk away and pretend this dark world doesn’t exist. Or you can walk through the door that I’m about to open and find out the truth about the world around you.
     But I warn you (and this is a big warning), if you read this book, if you learn about the monsters that roam among us and the hunters who fight them, if you decide to learn the truth, then you will become fair game for the monsters to chase.
     Make sure you understand what I’m saying.
     If you read this book, you will be part of this world and the monsters will come after you too. You will start to see things that no other humans can see. The shadows will move when you walk near them. The creatures of the night will seek you out, testing the doors and windows of your house, looking for a way in.
     And, at some point, they will find you, just like they found me, and you will be forced to defend yourself.
     So, think carefully before you turn the page, because once you do, there’s no turning back.
     Once a monster hunter, always a monster hunter.
     See you on the other side.
     If you’re brave enough.

Tour Schedule

Book Blast $50 Giveaway
Ends 2/15/13
Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader, Not A Writer and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, January 26, 2013

"The Alias" Blog Tour ~ by Mandi Slack

The AliasThe Alias by Mandi Slack
My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Source: Received to Review
Genre:  Romance/ Suspense

Book Description:  After a long and difficult divorce, Jacey is sure the worst is over. But when the FBI reveals some disturbing information about her ex-husband, she is forced into hiding to protect herself and her son. In the process, she risks losing her identity, her future, and her heart. Thrilling and suspenseful, this novel is an edge-of-your-seat read.

My thoughts: Jacey is running. She is running from an abusive ex-husband who wants to take her son. She's running because the FBI has just told her about his illegal activities. What she doesn't realize that she is running to the family she always wanted.

Jayce is stronger than she realized. Circumstances forced her to make some tough choices and bold moves. She hated lying to Helen and Grant. She posed as their niece, whom they had never met, to give herself and her son, Blaze, a refuge while she figured out their next move. She didn't consider the feelings they would have for her and how much she would come to love and respect them. She never thought that they would have an amazing son she may want to get to know better.

There is some action as the ex came seeking revenge. The romance is quick and sweet. The unconditional love is amazing. The acceptance is exampillary.

I enjoyed reading about Jayce's journey.  This book is an adult book, but it is clean and suitable for multiple age groups.

About Mandi:  Mandi Tucker Slack grew up in Orangeville, UT, where her father worked as a coal miner for eighteen years. In 1987 the coal mines shut down for a time and her father joined the U.S. Army. They were stationed in Hanau, Germany, and she had the opportunity to explore Europe. Mandi’s family returned to Utah in 1992, and they settled in Orangeville once again, where she attended and completed High School. She then attended the College of Eastern Utah, where she studied Geology. Eventually Mandi changed her major and moved on to Utah State University while she completed a degree in Special Education. She then married her best friend, Charles Slack. They have three children, with one on the way, 6 chickens, and a lizard (sometimes several lizards).Their family loves to spend time together. They enjoy 4-wheeling, camping, and especially rock hounding. Her house is littered with rocks and fossils. As a child Mandi spent many weekends with her parents and sister exploring abandoned mining towns and searching for relics among the brick ruins. Her adventures with her family are often the inspiration for her stories. Mandi is also the author of romantic/ suspense title, The Alias, available at a bookstore near you. To find out more on The Alias and author Mandi Tucker Slack, visit:

Watch the Trailer:

Follow the Tour: (Calendar taken from tour post at Cedar Fort)

Geo Librarian/

Love. Pray. Read./
The musings of a hopeful writer/Wordpaintings Unlimited/

No Thought 2 Small/From the Other Side of the Mirror/Author Cindy Bennett/Shannen C Books/Bookworm Lisa/
Christy Dorrity Author/Best Authors Read/Blooming with Books/My Life in a Laptop

No More Divorces/

Friday, January 25, 2013

Read an Excerpt from "Fire" by Heather James

Is control over the elements a gift, or a curse?

Roxy thinks that she is in control of everything: with flames flaring at her fingertips and an equally fiery attitude, what more could she need? But then she meets Brae, a prince from a rival Realm, who turns her assumptions of superiority upside down.

Jasmine has none of Roxy’s confidence or intensity. But she does have a secret - and Brae - and she’s not going to give either up willingly.

Read and Excerpt from Chapter One!

Chapter 1 
Fire rose high into the trees on either side of me, closing in much faster than I'd anticipated. The air was thick with heat and smoke. I had to keep moving, fast. My heart hammered against my chest, keeping time with my feet as they pounded across the uneven ground. Above me, both suns hung high in the air, shining down mercilessly and adding more heat to that of the blaze.
I heard, rather than saw, the ball of flames whizzing through the air behind me, branches crackling to dust as it went. Moving on instinct, I threw myself to the ground, feeling the gritted earth graze my already filthy face and arms.
Only one thought ran through my mind: they were getting closer.
I pushed myself to my feet and set off again, faster than before. As I ran, I pushed a loose strand of hair - as red as the inferno surrounding me - away from my face. It had fallen out of its tie hours ago, but I hadn't stopped for long enough to fix it.
The flames kept coming, attacking me from both sides so that I had to duck and weave as I went. As I darted right, my feet stumbled on the uneven terrain. I couldn't keep this up for much longer; I needed to stand and fight.
"Come on then. I'm ready for you," I whispered to myself as I came to a stop. I wheeled around just in time to see a cloaked figure emerge from the trees to my left. The cloak gleamed with glittering red swirls that made it look as though it were aflame. Where there should have been a face, I saw nothing but darkness.
Slowly, the figure raised his hands out towards me, toying with me; he thought I was beat. Flames sprung up at his fingertips and danced across his hands, gradually increasing in intensity.
But he was being complacent. He was nowhere close to winning this fight. While he put on his pyrotechnics show, my own fingertips burst into flames, burning faster and fiercer. Before he realised what was happening, I cast my hands out in front of me, sending a ball of fire straight at his chest. Thrown back by the force of the hit, he lay on the ground, motionless.
One down, two to go.
The flare receded from my fingers but the tingling sensation lingered; I was ready to attack as soon as I needed. Bending over the unconscious figure I pulled a shining silver ring from the index finger of his left hand. Shoving it into my pocket I set off again, but this time I headed left, in the direction the cloaked figure had emerged from.
I'd had enough of being hunted.
It didn't take me long to find the next one, following the sounds of his gasps for breath, audible even over the increasing noise of the blaze. He wasn't even trying. I paused behind a tree, braced on my toes, ready to attack. My fingers tingled as flames sparked at the tips, before gradually winding down around my hands, growing hotter and brighter every second. The fire was only a precaution though; I had other plans for this hunter.
I heard his footsteps approaching, but stayed still until he finally lumbered past, then I kicked out with a strong shot to the right, hitting him square in the side. He stumbled and almost fell to the ground, but righted himself at the last moment and sent a flare in my direction. I dodged quickly, swinging round to the side and kicking out again, this time colliding with his stomach. Before he could counter I followed rapidly with two more shots, sending the cloaked figure to the ground, unconscious. I bent over him and tugged the ring from its finger.
"Not bad. But you really need to remember to watch your back."
Flames! I spun round to face a third cloaked figure. Unlike the others his hood was down, so I saw the arrogant glint in his eyes and the smug smile which dominated his face, as well as his hair - streaked with the same violent red as mine - and the blaze dancing menacingly in his hands. He was ready to strike.
The shot came faster than I expected, a small ball of fire, whizzing past my ear as I dodged right to avoid it. Before I could steady myself another followed and I was forced to throw myself behind the tree. Come on Roxy, you can do this. I breathed deeply, letting the flames rise up inside me. They curled around my fingers as I emerged and found their target straight on, hitting him on the shoulder with a blow that made him curse. It would take a lot more than that though.
Fire flew in both directions. Sparks hit me relentlessly and I took blows as many times as I made contact with him. The air was sweltering and the strain of three days on the run was taking its toll; my muscles screamed. But I couldn't lose; too much was at stake. He'd been out here just as long as me and the fatigue showed - his eyes were circled in blue and his reactions were slower. I knew I could beat him.
When it came to fire we were evenly matched though. I wasn't going to win with flames. I needed to try something else, something that would make him mad. I lunged at him, throwing as many punches as I could manage, making contact with arms, chest and head. Eventually, my fist collided with his face.
Blood trickling from his lips, he lost it. "Flames!" he yelled. "Look what you've done! I'll make you pay for that Roxanne." There was a flash of silver and I found myself on the floor, a gleaming silver dagger hovering inches above my body. "Give me your rings," he hissed, his eyes glinting with victory.
"That's cheating!" I breathed, wary of raising my chest towards the blade.
He grinned at me wickedly, pressing down with the full force of his weight. "You need to stop thinking in terms of the rules, Roxy. We're out in the real world now. And you're going to pay for touching my face."
While he was busy taunting me I forced my knee up hard into his gut, and he doubled over in pain. Before he recovered I'd flipped him off of me and wrenched the knife out of his slackened grip. Sitting astride him I held the knife up to his cheek.
"Don't think I won't do it, Cinaer!" I hissed, letting the blade touch his flesh. I don't know if it was the cold sincerity in my voice or the shock of being straddled by a wild, mud covered woman, but he didn't try to argue. "Give me your ring. Now."
He pulled it off of his finger and handed it over to me without a word, his lower lip quivering.
"See, that wasn't so hard." I smiled sweetly and moved the blade away from his face. He let out a sigh and I got to my feet.
It was over.
"Not bad Firefly." Another cloaked figure emerged from the trees. "I really thought he had you for a minute." This man was older than the other, but he too had his hood down, revealing soft brown eyes and red streaked hair.
"You could have stepped in Vincent - he cheated - there were no weapons allowed."
Vincent shrugged. "I wanted to see what you could do. Outside of the camp people won't always stick to the rules; you need to be able to adapt, which is what you managed to do today. I think I can safely say that you've passed with flying colours."
I grinned with relief.
"But don't think you're not going to pay for that Cinaer," he added, looking sternly at my attacker, who had stood up rather tentatively. "The rules were clear. No weapons; just your powers and your fists. I'll be reporting this to your mentor."
Cinaer shrugged casually and walked to join us. "Whatever. We can go now, right?" Vincent looked at him, exasperated.
"Yes. Roxy, I'll take you back to base so we can hand over the rings. We can take my bike."
"What about me?" Cinaer demanded, incredulous. "How do you expect me to get back?"
Vincent smiled. "The same way you got here. On foot."
"But that will take days!" Cinaer looked at us in disbelief, appealing for leniency.
"You should get started then," Vincent told him as we turned to leave. "It will give you plenty of time to work on an excuse for cheating. Come on Roxy, let's go."

Purchase Links: Fire (Elements of Power Trilogy)  / Amazon UK

Where can you find Heather James?

Blog / Twitter / Facebook / Goodreads / Google+