GEEK FUEL SUBSCRIPTION BOX REVIEW!

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If you haven’t noticed by now, subscription boxes are pretty hot.  It seems like there is a box for everything these days and if you’re like me, you’ve been tempted more than once.  I finally took the plunge this month with Loot Crate (But that’s another review!)  and was happily biding my time, waiting for delivery when I stumbled across GeekFuel.

What initially caught my attention was the promise of exclusive Guardians of the Galaxy items.  My husband is a huge Guardians fan and I thought I’ll get it and, if it’s good, I’ll save it for Christmas as a surprise gift!  Another thing that was appealing was the promise of a tshirt in every crate.  Other subscription boxes offer the chance of a tshirt but it’s not a monthly thing.  It might have been a bit of a risk as Geek Fuel is a MYSTERY box so they don’t hint about the content.  But guess what?

 

IT WAS AWESOME!

This is how it comes every month.  Pretty eye catching!

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I really like the little robot guy!

Here’s what it looks like when you open the lid.

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The suspense is killing me!

Ta-da!

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Goodies!

And finally…….

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I have to say, I am completely blown away by the Geek Fuel subscription box!  I loved every item so much that I didn’t even wait to give it to my husband for Christmas.  He got it immediately after opening! Every Geek Fuel box comes with a tshirt and a PC game, and I adored the Guardians Funko Pop. (Though I would have preferred Nebula, but hey, it wasn’t for me!)  There was also a fantastic Star Wars pillowcase featuring Admiral Ackbar, an energy drink, and several Back to the Future items.

The Geek Fuel subscription box is completely worth the money!  Not only was I surprised and pleased by the contents, they got it to me super fast.  This was my first month with them and I subbed right as the boxes were shipping so I received my box in a matter of days.

I can’t recommend Geek Fuel enough!  My husband has been a Loot Crate subscriber for over a year now and I have to say,  I think Geek Fuel has them beat.  If you guys are interested in checking out Geek Fuel for yourselves, here’s the link:

GeekFuel

I’m curious what kind of subscription boxes you guys subscribe to?  Let me know in the comments!

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Review: Illuminae by Amie Kaufman and Jay Kristoff

23395680Illuminae (The Illuminae Files #1)

The year is 2575, and two rival megacorporations are at war over a planet that’s little more than an ice-covered speck at the edge of the universe. Too bad nobody thought to warn the people living on it. With enemy fire raining down on them, Kady and Ezra—who are barely even talking to each other—are forced to fight their way onto an evacuating fleet, with an enemy warship in hot pursuit.

But their problems are just getting started. A deadly plague has broken out and is mutating, with terrifying results; the fleet’s AI, which should be protecting them, may actually be their enemy; and nobody in charge will say what’s really going on. As Kady hacks into a tangled web of data to find the truth, it’s clear only one person can help her bring it all to light: the ex-boyfriend she swore she’d never speak to again.

Told through a fascinating dossier of hacked documents—including emails, schematics, military files, IMs, medical reports, interviews, and more—Illuminae is the first book in a heart-stopping, high-octane trilogy about lives interrupted, the price of truth, and the courage of everyday heroes.


 ~REVIEW~

 

 

I was lucky enough to pick up an ARC of this book at C2E2 this past March.  At first, I had no idea the goldmine that I had fallen into.  I posted a Thank You picture to my twitter for the publishers and soon after comments came rolling in exclaiming my good luck.  My good luck indeed!

 

There is no way to adequately put into feelings my love for the glorious thing that is Illuminae.  So, because so many times it reminded me of Firefly, (BROWN COATS FOREVER!!!)  I will try to summarize all the feels through Firefly/Serenity Gifs.

 

Let’s start with the cover.

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Yes Jayne, it IS pretty cunning. Not to mention intriguing and alluring!  Also, it matches your hat quite nicely!

The formatting in this book is anything but typical. But coupled with a plot that just won’t quit, it’s fascinating!  I loved turning each page just to see how the story would be delivered to me next!

So in that light, here is my attempt to describe Illuminae purely using gifs!

images (2)

(not)

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(we meet Kady and Ezra)

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(crap, it’s an invasion!)

download (1)

(Whew close one!)

images (1)

(Kady does her hacker thing)

UPPEaTO

(Oh no! Plot twist!)

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(then….)

download

(Stuff gets worse)

images

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(stuff gets a lot worse)

River-versus-the-Reavers

LEOwtUa

(the end. where you’re left thinking, WHAT THE CRAP JUST HAPPENED?!)

If you are looking for an exhilarating, can’t put it down read, then this book is for you.  The writing is gorgeous, the action is non-stop and heart pounding with jaw dropping plot twists.  I cannot recommend this book enough! Have you guys read it?  I’d love to know what you though of Illuminae!

GABRIEL BOOK BLITZ

ABOUT

Title: Gabriel
Author: Nikki Kelly
Series: The Styclar Saga #2
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends
Release Date: October 27th 2015
Synopsis:

The handsome Angel from Lailah gets center stage in this continuation of Wattpad sensation Nikki Kelly’s romantic and action-packed series about mortals, vampires, and angels.

Gabriel is an Angel Descendant. He’s also an ally to a generation of vampires who want to break away from the demon who controls them. His faith in the power of good over evil wavers, however, when he discovers that Lailah, the woman he considers his only true love, may be both angel and demon. Is their love enough to overcome the dark forces who are ready to go to war with Gabriel, the vampire Jonah, and the angel and vampire forces? And can Gabriel compete with Jonah, who is also in love with Lailah?

Once again, Nikki Kelly looks deeply into the heart and soul of good and evil to create a romantic, action-packed reading adventure.

Check out the Styclar Wattpad page for preview chapters of Gabriel!

INTERVIEW

 

What did you do on your research trip to France? 
Mainly, I visited all the locations used in the book! I also spent some time writing while I was there of course! I think the nicest thing about my research trip was that I ended up using my Auntie and Uncle’s barn conversion as a base for the property our gang find themselves staying in! Everything in the story form the barn, the village itself and various locations (including the snowy mountains) are completely real – you could even go and visit them all yourself!
Was the writing process for Gabriel a lot different than Lailah? 
The writing process for GABRIEL was shorter, because this time around I was writing full time! But the actual ‘writing’ part was much the same. I start with a premise, have an idea in my head of the beginning/ the ending/ a specific character etc etc. and start writing! I only ever do rough outlines, it’s all pretty much in my head, which is another reason why I have often said I feel like this story was implanted in my brain sometimes and I am the mere mortal who gets to put pen on paper to bring it to life!
What can we expect from Gabriel (the novel) ? 
Gosh, A LOT! The story picks up right where it left off, and continues to be told form Lailah’s POV – The main cast are back, but we get to meet some lush new ones too! I am still a great fan of the twist – suffice to say, just when you think you know, really you have no idea! 😉 Oh, and also, did I mention… #NoMercy 😉
Would you say that you’re similar to Lailah in any way? 
Naturally, Lailah and I have a few of the same traits, I think every character in my stories have a little something piece of me, whether intention or not! But I think we can all relate to Lailah’s plight, I think most of us go through a time in our lives where we are working out who we are and making choices that carve out who we ultimately end up becoming.
What are you currently reading? 
I have a new baby, so my hands are a little tied at the moment! But I can tell you what I will be reading next *grabby hands* Six Of Crows by Leigh Bardugo !!!
Any advice for aspiring authors? 
If you have a story to tell, don’t stop until it’s told… and Never.Ever.Give.Up
How much of your personal experience is tied into this series?

 

A very large percent! A good example — In GABRIEL Ruadhan tells Lailah ‘You only fail, if you never try.’ That is the very advice my Mom gave me, and one of the reasons I am living my dream today… I think it all goes back to that great advice you hear again and again about writing – about writing what you know. So in this case, for example, I know very well the true meaning and the importance of that message…  Even down to the mythology in the story — it’s all based loosely on my own belief system (you’ll see plenty more of that in Book2 and especially in Book3)

And if you haven’t read Lailah yet. . . .

ABOUT

Title: Lailah
Author: Nikki Kelly
Series: The Styclar Saga #1
Publisher: Feiwel and Friends

GoodreadsPage

Synopsis:

The girl knows she’s different. She doesn’t age. She has no family. She has visions of a past life, but no

clear clues as to what she is, or where she comes from. But there is a face in her dreams – a light that

breaks through the darkness. She knows his name is Gabriel.

On her way home from work, the girl encounters an injured stranger whose name is Jonah. Soon, she

will understand that Jonah belongs to a generation of Vampires that serve even darker forces. Jonah and

the few like him, are fighting with help from an unlikely ally – a rogue Angel, named Gabriel.

In the crossfire between good and evil, love and hate, and life and death, the girl learns her name:

Lailah. But when the lines between black and white begin to blur, where in the spectrum will she find

her place? And with whom?

Gabriel and Jonah both want to protect her. But Lailah will have to fight her own battle to find out who

she truly is.

 

 

 ABOUT THE AUTHOR

NIKKI KELLY was born and raised only minutes away from the chocolately scent of Cadbury World in

Birmingham, England. Lailah was first launched to Wattpad, an online readers and writers community.

Within six months, the novel had over one million reads. Lailah is Nikki’s debut novel, and the first book

in The Styclar Saga. She lives in London with her husband and their dogs, Alfie (a pug) and Goose (a

Chihuahua).

LAILAH is my debut novel, and first launched in serial form to wattpad, a readers

& writers community. Within just 6months, LAILAH had over a million reads and thousands of

comments and votes.

Since then, The Styclar Saga has gone on to pick up a traditional deal

with Feiwel & Friends, and LAILAH, the first book in the series is due for release on October 7th

2014.

These days I spend my time balancing my amazing job of writing fantasy fiction, with

my other, very important role of Chocolate Connoisseur. I like to multitask and do the two together. It

makes me happy.

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Tumblr | Pinterest | Goodreads | Wattpad | Youtube

**GIVEAWAY**

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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Review: The Sparrow and the Trees by Sharon Chriscoe

26170158The Sparrow and The Trees

The Sparrow family is ready for their trip south for the winter, but Papa’s wing is hurt and he cannot make the trip. He asks the trees for help. One by one, the mighty, leafy trees of the forest say no! Will any of the trees help Papa Sparrow? What will happen to the selfish trees that turned him away? Discover why some trees lose their leaves in winter in this folktale.

 ~Review~

The Sparrow and the Trees is a darling tale of why the trees lose their leaves in the winter.  When Papa Sparrow hurts his wing, he sends his family south without him trusting in the leafy trees of the forest to protect him.  Unfortunately, the leafy trees are too proud and vain to shelter one tiny sparrow for the winter.
Chriscoe’s prose coupled with the gorgeous artwork of Susan Detwiler makes for story that you’ll want to read again and again!  I know it’s my three year old’s go to bedtime story!  I definitely recommend this book for any home library.

The Lunar Chronicles Fan Fiction!

Recently I submitted an entry into The Lunar Chronicles Fan Fiction contest and I wanted to share it with all of you! The prompt was to write a 2000 word (or less) short story centered around an original Grimms’ fairy tale character interacting with characters from The Lunar Chronicles.  Can you guess who which Grimms’ fairy tale I used?  I hope you all enjoy the story, I had so much fun writing it!

 


 The Beauty in the Briars

“And, in the very moment when she felt the prick, she fell down upon the bed that stood there, and lay in a deep sleep.”

 

Rory swiped at the strands of grimy brown hair that fell in her eyes with the back of a dirt-smeared hand.  The sickly sweet smell of decay lay heavy on the stagnant air, coating her tongue with every breath. Sweat poured from her forehead, causing the plaster dust in the air to cling to her. She wore the filth like a second skin –what she wouldn’t give for a bath.

But at least the smell kept them at bay.

Tears of frustration welled in her eyes and she squeezed them shut.  One rebellious tear streaked down her face cutting a dirty path through the plaster white, giving her the appearance of a sad clown.  She scrubbed her face with her hands. It was only fitting, she thought, given that she was locked in the basement of an opera house. Fifteen years of running and hiding wasted, all because of one stupid mistake. She sucked in a breath and held it, refusing to give in to the despair that lurked just over her shoulder, waiting for the chance to devour her.

She waited until her lungs screamed with the desperate need for air before finally releasing the breath and opening her eyes.  She welcomed the burning in her chest. It made her feel better; reminded her that she was still alive. Rory sat back, the cold concrete floor biting into her knees, and surveyed the wall in front of her.  Once a dressing room, the deep color of the walls had been dulled by the soft patina of countless hands touching them over the years. Identical in every way, the walls were only broken by the cold metal bars fitted in the doorway.  The cherry glow from the scanner mounted on the wall near the door painted the hallway outside in eerie shades of red.

Rory risked a glance over her shoulder at the hallway.  She didn’t know where her beast of a guard went, but she didn’t care.  Curling her fingers tight against the shard of metal, she once again went to work on the wall, chipping away at the plaster.  If she could just break through this wall she could escape through the unused cell next to her.  The scritch-scritch of the metal on plaster was enough to drive her crazy, but Rory couldn’t afford the luxury of crazy.  If the Queen found her…..

A soft noise broke through Rory’s concentration and she froze, her hand poised in the air.  She strained to hear the noise again and was rewarded with another sound.

A grunt?

A moan?

Rory’s heart simultaneously leapt and dropped at the realization that someone was in the cell next to her. She was so sure it had been empty.  A cold knot of fear lodged in her throat. If it was one of those things and they found out what she was doing…….

But if it was another prisoner?

A spark of hope flared within her.

Rory set down the piece of metal and explored the damage she had done with her fingers.  Prying away the loose pieces of plaster, she was able to make a hole just large enough to see through.  Rory pressed her eye against the hole and squinted in the murky light.  There, against the far wall, she could make out the dim form of another person.

“Hello?”  Rory called softly, not wanting to startle the prone figure. Her voice was scratchy from disuse and came out in a half-croak.

The figure turned its head toward the sound of her voice and uncurled from the shadows.  It was a girl about her age with long, flame-colored hair and a red hooded sweatshirt that hugged her ample curves.  Rory felt a flash of jealousy; she’d never have curves like that.

“Who’s there?”  The girl whispered, clutching the drawstrings of her hood and pulling them tight.  Fear and anger radiated off her body in waves and Rory felt her heart crack for the girl.  Sure, she was a prisoner too, but she had been prepared for this day ever since her parents had shipped her to Earth to escape the Queen.  Rory wondered what this poor girl had done to deserve a similar fate.

“My name is Aurora—Rory.  What’s yours?”

“Scarlet,” the girl replied, creeping closer to their shared wall.

“Well Scarlet, I’d say it’s nice to meet you, but under the circumstances…”

Scarlet’s lips twitched into a half smile before falling into a determined line.  Her eyes blazed and she launched herself towards the small hole between them.

“My Grand-mere,” she asked, desperation tingeing her voice. “Have you seen her?”

Rory’s heart sank.  She had seen an old woman being hauled past her cell, but she hadn’t looked well.  The woman had been covered in so many bandages that she looked like a battered first aid kit.  Rory shuddered to think what those animals had done to the poor woman.  She couldn’t imagine that she would still be alive.

“No, “ she lied, not wanting to give Scarlet false hope.  “It’s just us down here.”

Scarlet deflated. Rory felt her stomach twist with guilt, but she knew she’d done the right thing.  If she could just get them both out….

Her thoughts were interrupted by the sound of footsteps in the hall.  Rory could hear Scarlet stiffen on the other side of the wall.

“Shh, stay quiet,” she breathed as she dragged her mattress over and sat on it with her back against the wall, covering the hole.  She didn’t trust the darkness of the cell to totally conceal her attempts to escape, not with the keen eyesight of these wolf men.

The footsteps turned into a sharp click-click that paused just outside her cell.  An icy thread of fear crept its way down Rory’s spine.  Wolf men didn’t wear high heels.

An elegantly dressed, waxen hair woman stepped into the doorway, her blue eyes flashing violet in the scanner’s red light.  She turned her head as another woman joined her, this one dressed in the high-collared, long-sleeved coat that designated her as a Thaumaturge.

The first woman inclined her head towards Rory and asked, “Is this the one?”

The other woman gave a sharp nod, “Yes, my Queen.”

Rory’s gut clenched. Queen Levana.  After everything her parents had sacrificed to keep her from this very woman, it would end like this, in a dark and dank basement.  Shame burned Rory’s cheeks and she let her head fall to her chest. She had failed.

Her chin was jerked up and she felt herself being pulled to her feet.  Against her will, she was being drawn to Levana.  She dug her heels into the floor but it was no use.  Rory glared at her traitorous feet as they took her closer and closer towards the snake in the Queen’s skin.

She heard a dry chuckle and lifted her eyes to see she now stood face to face with the woman who had stolen her life.

Levana took Rory’s chin in her fingers and turned her face from side to side, examining her. Anger surged and Rory wrenched backwards, but Levana’s fingers only tightened, pulling her closer until they were eye to eye.

“Your parents went to an awful lot of trouble to hide you from me, my dear,” Levana purred, the tips of her pointed nails cutting into Rory’s skin. Levana gave an extra squeeze then suddenly released her.  Rory stumbled back a few steps and rubbed her chin.

Narrowing her eyes at the Queen she spat, “Only because you were going to kidnap me!”

Levana laughed, “Kidnap you? My dear, I was going to make you royalty!”

Rory trembled with anger. She had heard the story her entire life; her Earthen guardians making her repeat it countless times lest she forget and let her guard down.  Her parents, Lord and Lady Briar had belonged to one of the oldest families of Luna.  Married young, they yearned for a child, but as the years passed their hope became a fragile thing.  Then one day Lady Briar had shown a kindness to an elderly fishmonger and was given a special herb; Damiana leaf.  Nine months later Rory was born to her parents’ great delight.  So enthralled by their tiny baby, her parents decided to hold a grand ball where they would present her as Lady Aurora Rose Briar to all of Luna.  But in their jubilation, her parents forgot the most important invitation of all, that of Queen Levana’s.

All of Luna nobility had turned out for the lavish affair and bestowed gifts of wealth and beauty upon the small baby. Enraged by the slight, Levana too had attended the ball.  Lord and Lady Briar realized their mistake immediately and did everything in their power to assuage the Queen’s anger, offering to make her the baby’s Godmother.  But Levana declined, instead offering her own gift.  She would take baby Aurora to the palace to live as her own and become heir to the throne of Luna.

Levana had given Rory’s parents fifteen days to make the necessary arrangements to transfer custody from themselves to her.  But Rory’s parents used that time for a far different reason, securing safe passage from Luna to Earth for their infant daughter.

She hadn’t seen them since. And here, on her fifteenth birthday, it would all be for naught.

Rory could see the old anger still simmering in Levana’s calculating blue eyes.

A sneer twisted Rory’s lips as she looked upon the woman who had destroyed her family. She would avenge her parents before Levana killed her.  Her fingers curved into claws and she threw herself at Levana, desiring nothing more than to scratch out the Queen’s eyes. But Rory was stopped cold, inches from the Queen.

Levana tilted her head at Rory suspended in the air and giggled, the sound filling Rory with   fear.  She felt her thirst for revenge drain away and knew Levana was manipulating her emotions again.

“Dear child,” whimpered the Queen, her face a mask of mock sympathy, “what lies you have been told.  I wanted nothing more than to love and cherish you as my own.”

Rory grit her teeth against the impulse to run and embrace Levana.  “I will never love you,” she hissed, “You destroyed my family!”

Levana looked at Rory with such pity and stroked her cheek.  “Oh, but I’m your only family now. It is unfortunate that you won’t come willingly.  I’ve been told this can be quite painful.” A mad smile slid onto the Queen’s face and Rory gaped at her. “Sybil, please ready my dear Aurora for transport, we’re going home!”

Rory was hit by waves of dizzying emotion.  She could feel the prick of the Thaumaturge’s will snaking its way into her mind and she screamed in agony.  Rory was defenseless against the onslaught, never developing her own Lunar gift.  It had been thought that using her gift would make it too easy for Levana to find her.

But she tried anyway.

The edges of her vision grew fuzzy as darkness began to overtake her.  The pain of the initial prick spread throughout her body and she knew she couldn’t hold out long, not against Sybil Mira. Gasping, Rory threw her mind against Sybil’s, but it was no use.

She willed Scarlet to stay silent in the next cell.

Just before she fell into a sleep like death,  she heard Levana whisper, “You will love me.”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

ARC Review: Ice Like Fire by Sara Raasch

17404295Ice Like Fire (Snow Like Ashes #2)

 

It’s been three months since the Winterians were freed and Spring’s king, Angra, disappeared—thanks largely to the help of Cordell.

Meira just wants her people to be safe. When Cordellan debt forces the Winterians to dig their mines for payment, they unearth something powerful and possibly dangerous: Primoria’s lost chasm of magic. Theron sees this find as an opportunity—with this much magic, the world can finally stand against threats like Angra. But Meira fears the danger the chasm poses—the last time the world had access to so much magic, it spawned the Decay. So when the king of Cordell orders the two on a mission across the kingdoms of Primoria to discover the chasm’s secrets, Meira plans to use the trip to garner support to keep the chasm shut and Winter safe—even if it means clashing with Theron. But can she do so without endangering the people she loves?

Mather just wants to be free. The horrors inflicted on the Winterians hang fresh and raw in Januari—leaving Winter vulnerable to Cordell’s growing oppression. When Meira leaves to search for allies, he decides to take Winter’s security into his own hands. Can he rebuild his broken kingdom and protect them from new threats?

As the web of power and deception weaves tighter, Theron fights for magic, Mather fights for freedom—and Meira starts to wonder if she should be fighting not just for Winter, but for the world.


 

~REVIEW~

Ice like Fire is the second installment of Sara Raasch’s Snow like Ashes trilogy.  We pick up almost right where we left off in the first book; Meira and the Winterians return to Winter to rebuild their kingdom, but under the thumb of Cordell.

Let’s start with the things I liked!

The Cover/Title

I have always felt that the titles Snow like Ashes and Ice Like Fire had a poetry about them.  The titles convey beautiful imagery and allude to the actual heart of each story.  The covers also do a fantastic job of drawing in the reader’s interest with their dynamic artwork.

The Other Kingdoms

In Ice like Fire, Meira is forced to travel to the other Season and Rhythm kingdoms in search of a way to unlock the Magical Chasm that lies under Winter.  But Meira sees it as an opportunity to garner support from Winter, should they decide to cut ties with Cordell.  I  enjoyed how vastly different each kingdom was and the details in which they were built.  I cringed reading about Summer’s never-ending quest for pleasure of any kind, at any price and was insulted by Yakim’s arrogant assurance in their own intelligence.  But Ventrali’s cruelty really took the cake.

The Love Story

No, not with Meira and Mather. Not even with Meria and Theron.  Without giving anything away, all I can say is that the love story I was most intrigued by revolved around Ceridwen.

The Action

When there was action, it was great.  It was intense and emotional and exciting.  Unfortunately, it doesn’t really happen until the end of the book.

Now the things I didn’t like.

The Pacing/The Characters

Ice like Fire is that frustrating second book in a trilogy where most of the main characters are whiny, self-indulgent, and make stupid decisions.  Meira in Snow like Ashes was tough, resilient, and sure of her place.  In Ice like Fire, Meira struggles almost through the entire book to reconcile herself as a Queen.  And I suppose I get that.  It would be daunting to be thrust into a leadership position after believing that role would fall to someone else your whole life.  But she let the expectation of what it was to be a Queen defeat her.  The Meira that fought so hard in the first book to be noticed for who she was allowed others to roll right over her and dictate who she should be in the second.

Mather and Sir were no different.  Neither would talk about the elephant in the room; Mather’s true heritage.  Because of this, Mather sulked and drank away his troubles.  Sir let the ghosts of past and present failures eat away at him until he was a shadow of the strong, sure man he was in Snow like Ashes.

The pacing was a bit slow as well as we  are introduced to so many new places. But what drove me nuts more than anything was Meira’s inner dialogue.  It felt like that was the majority of the book.  She stewed about everything and I found myself shouting at her to make a decision!

Overall, I didn’t dislike this book.  There were great parts and the ending will definitely leave you wanting more, so I think it’s worth the read.  I’d love to know what you guys think so drop me a line!

Sara’s Keys by Amber Hendricks

Hi everyone!  I wanted to share a short story I wrote a few years ago.  The prompt was a set of keys laying on the ground and the story had to be 500 words or less.  I hope you enjoy!

                *******************

Sara’s already sitting in our booth as I step into the diner.  It’s become part of our daily routine to meet at the Royal for lunch and chat about our busy day.  I bend to retrieve a set of keys lying on the floor before sliding into the booth across from her.  Their tinkling joins the cacophony of clinking silverware and dishes as I slap them on the table between us.  She laughs and scoops them up, shoving them into an already too full pocket of her coat.  Sara is always losing her keys.  It’s how we first met.

She had been attempting to balance a coffee cup on top of a stack of books as she fished for something in her pocket.  It had been winter then too.  Her brown hair was swept into a messy tail and she was wearing a pair of fluffy earmuffs.  I could see something glinting in the snow near her boot clad feet.

“Are you looking for your keys?” I asked, gesturing toward the ground.

The snow must have muffled my approach because she yelped, spinning towards the sound of my voice.  In her haste, she lost her precarious hold on the books and they spilled over the snow-laden ground.  Her bottom lip stuck out in the cutest pout as she surveyed the mess around her.

I think I fell in love with her right then.

I helped pick up the books and our hands brushed when we both reached for the overturned cup of coffee.  Even through gloves I could feel her heat.

“There’s a diner I know just around the corner, if you’d let me buy you another cup,” I said.  “It’s the least I can do for scaring you.”

I could see her measuring me, weighing the sense of walking somewhere unknown with a stranger.  It was New York City after all.  I felt like I was falling into the deep cinnamon pools of her eyes as we stood there.  Snow had started falling silently around us and I shivered, drawing my coat closer.  She must have felt sorry for me, standing out there in the cold, because she smiled and agreed to go with me.  That had been three years ago.

I reach into my pocket and finger the small velvet box inside.  If all goes right, we’ll have the rest of our lives together.

“Micah, are you even listening to me?”

I snap my gaze back to Sara’s face and paste on a smile.  She narrows her eyes at me, but smiles back.  That smile.  I almost ask her to marry me right then, but I don’t.  Sara deserves the perfect proposal.

We chat about our day. My story of how Chuck managed to catch his tie in the copier gets interrupted when our lunch arrives.  I watch as Sara tucks into her pasta with gusto.  I’ve always liked that about her.  Sara likes to eat and never worries about what the extra calories will do to her.  I pick at my plate, too nervous about this evening’s plans.  If Sara notices, she doesn’t say anything.

Outside we huddle close as we wait for the light to change at the corner.  I work in the opposite direction but these extra few minutes with Sara get me through my day.  I adjust her scarf and tweak her nose as the light changes.  She leans in to give me one last kiss. I linger, not wanting the moment to end.  There’s laughter in her eyes as she pushes me back and tugs her gloves from her pocket.

“See ya tonight,” Sara calls over her shoulder as she steps into the street.

People mill about me on the sidewalk, but all I see is her.  I should go but a flash of silver catches my attention.  I sigh.  Sara is already across the street as I bend down.

“You won’t make it very far without these,” I call, holding up the keys.

Her mouth curves into a sheepish grin and it’s the only thing I see as I step off the curb.  I don’t hear the screech of tires or the startled cries around me.

There’s only her.

I don’t see her smile melt into a look of horror as the bus slams into me.

I don’t feel the jar of my bones as I’m thrown onto the cold, unforgiving pavement or the warm blood. running down the hand still grasping her keys.

Sara’s keys.