Friday, March 17, 2017

{Blog Tour} SEVEN DAYS OF YOU by Cecilia Vinesse + Excerpt

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Seven Days of You
by Cecilia Vinesse


Sophia has seven days left in Tokyo before she moves back to the States. Seven days to say good-bye to the electric city, her wild best friend, and the boy she’s harbored a semi-secret crush on for years. Seven perfect days…until Jamie Foster-Collins moves back to Japan and ruins everything.

Jamie and Sophia have a history of heartbreak, and the last thing Sophia wants is for him to steal her leaving thunder with his stupid arriving thunder. Yet as the week counts down, the relationships she thought were stable begin to explode around her. And Jamie is the one who helps her pick up the pieces. Sophia is forced to admit she may have misjudged Jamie, but can their seven short days of Tokyo adventures end in anything but good-bye?

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Age Group/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
 Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Purchase: Amazon • B&NKobo • iBooks • IndieBound



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07:00:00:00
DAYS   HOURS     MINS     SECS 
AT THE BEGINNING OF THE SUMMER, I tried to get on top of the whole moving-continents thing by reminding myself I still had time. Days and hours and seconds all piled on top of one another, stretching out in front of me as expansive as a galaxy. And the stuff I couldn’t deal with—packing my room and saying good-bye to my friends and leaving Tokyo—all that hovered at some indistinct point in the indistinct future.
So I ignored it. Every morning, I’d meet Mika and David in Shibuya, and we’d spend our days eating in ramen shops or browsing tiny boutiques that smelled like incense. Or, when it rained, we’d run down umbrella-crowded streets and watch anime I couldn’t understand on Mika’s couch. Some nights, we’d dance in strobe-lit clubs and go to karaoke at four in the morning. Then, the next day, we’d sit at train-station donut shops for hours, drinking milky coffee and watching the sea of commuters come and go and come and go again.
Once, I stayed home and tried dragging boxes up the stairs, but it stressed me out so much, I had to leave. I walked around Yoyogi-Uehara until the sight of the same cramped streets made me dizzy. Until I had to stop and fold myself into an alcove between buildings, trying to memorize the kanji on street signs. Trying to count my breaths.
And then it was August fourteenth. And I only had one week left, and it was hot, and I wasn’t even close to being packed. But the thing was, I should have known how to do this. I’d spent my whole life ping-ponging across the globe, moving to new cities, leaving people and places drifting in my wake.
Still, I couldn’t shake the feeling that this good-bye—to Tokyo, to the first friends I’d ever had, to the only life that felt like it even remotely belonged to me—was the kind that would swallow me whole. That would collapse around me like a star imploding.
And the only thing I knew how to do was to hold on as tightly as possible and count every single second until I reached the last one. The one I dreaded most.
Sudden, violent, final.
The end.

Chapter 1
Sunday: 06:19:04:25
DAYS     HOURS     MINS     SECS
I WAS LYING ON THE LIVING-ROOM floor reading Death by Black Hole: And Other Cosmic Quandaries when our air‐conditioning made a sputtering sound and died. Swampy heat spread through the room as I held my hand over the box by the window. Nothing. Not even a gasp of cold air. I pressed a couple of buttons and hoped for the best. Still nothing.
“Mom,” I said. She was sitting in the doorway to the kitchen, wrapping metal pots in sheets of newspaper. “Not to freak you out or anything, but the air-conditioning just broke.”
She dropped some newspaper shreds on the ground, and our cat—Dorothea Brooks—came over to sniff them. “It’s been doing that. Just press the big orange button and hold it.”
“I did. But I think it’s serious this time. I think I felt its spirit passing.”
Mom unhooked a panel from the back of the air‐ conditioning unit and poked around. “Damn. The landlord said this system might go soon. It’s so old, they’ll have to replace it for the next tenant.”
August was always hot in Tokyo, but this summer was approaching unbearable. A grand total of five minutes without air-conditioning and all my bodily fluids were evaporating from my skin. Mom and I opened some windows, plugged in a bunch of fans, and stood in front of the open refrigerator.
“We should call a repairman,” I said, “or it’s possible we’ll die here.”
Mom shook her head, going into full-on Professor Wachowski mode. Even though we’re both short, she looks a lot more intimidating than I do, with her square jaw and serious eyes. She looks like the type of person who won’t lose an argument, who can’t take a joke.
I look like my dad.
“No,” Mom said. “I’m not dealing with this the week before we leave. The movers are coming on Friday.” She turned and leaned into the fridge door. “Why don’t you go out? See your friends. Come back tonight when it’s cooled down.”
I twisted my watch around my wrist. “Nah, that’s okay.”
“You don’t want to?” she asked. “Did something happen with Mika and David?”
“Of course not,” I said. “I just don’t feel like going out. I feel like staying home, and helping, and being the good daughter.”
God, I sounded suspicious, even to myself.
But Mom didn’t notice. She held out a few one-hundred-yen coins. “In that case, go to the konbini and buy some of those towels you put in the freezer and wrap around your neck.”
I contemplated the money in her hand, but the heat made it swim across my vision. Going outside meant walking into the boiling air. It meant walking down the little streets I knew so well, past humming vending machines and stray cats stretched out in apartment-building entrances. Every time I did that, I was reminded of all the little things I loved about this city and how they were about to slip away forever. And today, of all days, I really didn’t need that reminder.
“Or,” I said, trying to sound upbeat, “I could pack.”

 Packing was, of course, a terrible idea.
Even the thought of it was oppressive. Like if I stood in my room too long, the walls would start tightening around me, trash-compacting me in. I stood in the doorway and focused on how familiar it all was. Our house was small and semi-dilapidated, and my room was predictably small to match, with only a twin bed, a desk pushed against the window, and a few red bookshelves running along the walls. But the problem wasn’t the size—it was the stuff. The physics books I’d bought and the ones Dad had sent me cluttering up the shelves, patterned headbands and tangled necklaces hanging from tacks in the wall, towers of unfolded laundry built precariously all over the floor. Even the ceiling was crowded, crisscrossed with string after string of star-shaped twinkly lights.
There was a WET PAIN! sign (it was supposed to say WET PAINT!) propped against my closet that Mika had stolen from outside her apartment building, a Rutgers University flag pinned above my bed, Totoro stuffed toys on my pillow, and boxes and boxes of platinum-blond hair dye everywhere. (Those, I needed to get rid of. I’d stopped dyeing my hair blond since the last touch-up had turned it an attractive shade of Fanta orange.) It was so much—too much—to have to deal with. And I might have stayed there for hours, paralyzed in the doorway, if Alison hadn’t come up behind me.
“Packed already?”
I spun around. My older sister had on the same clothes she’d been wearing all weekend–black T‐shirt, black leggings–and she was holding an empty coffee mug.
I crossed my arms and tried to block her view of the room. “It’s getting there.”
“Clearly.”
“And what have you been doing?” I asked. “Sulking? Scowling? Both at the same time?
She narrowed her eyes but didn’t say anything. Alison was in Tokyo for the summer after her first year at Sarah Lawrence. She’d spent the past three months staying up all night and drinking coffee and barely leaving her bedroom during sunlight hours. The unspoken reason for this was that she’d broken up with her girlfriend at the end of last year. Something no one was allowed to mention.
“You have so much crap,” Alison said, stepping over a pile of thrift‐store dresses and sitting on my unmade bed. She balanced the coffee mug between her knees. “I think you might be a hoarder.”
“I’m not a hoarder,” I said. “This is not hoarding.”
She arched an eyebrow. “Lest you forget, little sister, I’ve been by your side for many a move. I’ve witnessed the hoarder’s struggle.”
It was true. My sister had been by my side for most of our moves, avoiding her packing just as much as I’d been avoiding mine. This year, though, she only had the one suitcase she’d brought with her from the States—no doubt full of sad, sad poetry books and sad, sad scarves.
“You’re one to talk,” I said. “You threw approximately nine thousand tantrums when you were packing last summer.”
“I was going to college.” Alison shrugged. “I knew it would suck.”
“And look at you now,” I said. “You’re a walking endorsement for the college experience.”
The corners of her lips moved like she was deciding whether to laugh or not. But she decided not to. (Of course she decided not to.)
I climbed onto my desk, pushing aside an oversize paper‐ back called Unlocking the MIT Application! and a stuffed koala with a small Australian flag clasped between its paws. Through the window behind me, I could see directly into someone else’s living room. Our house wasn’t just small lit was surrounded on three sides by apartment buildings. Like a way less interesting version of Rear Window.
Alison reached over and grabbed the pile of photos and postcards sitting on my nightstand. “Hey!” I said. “Enough with the stuff-touching.”
But she was already flipping through them, examining each picture one at a time. “Christ,” she said. “I can’t believe you kept these.”
“Of course I kept them,” I said, grabbing my watch. “Dad sent them to me. He sent the same ones to you, in case that important fact slipped your mind.”
She held up a photo of the Eiffel Tower, Dad standing in front of it and looking pretty touristy for someone who actually lived in Paris. “A letter a year does not a father make.”
“You’re so unfair,” I said. “He sends tons of e‐mails. Like, twice a week.”
“Oh my God!” She waved another photo at me, this one of a woman sitting on a wood-framed couch holding twin babies on her lap. “The Wife and Kids? Really? Please don’t tell me you still daydream about going to live with them.”
“Aren’t you late for sitting in your room all day?” I asked.
“Seriously,” she said. “You’re one creepy step away from Photoshopping yourself in here.”
I kept the face of my watch covered with my hand, hoping she wouldn’t start on that as well.
She didn’t. She moved on to another picture: me and Alison in green and yellow raincoats, standing on a balcony messy with cracked clay flowerpots. In the picture, I am clutching a kokeshi—a wooden Japanese doll—and Alison is pointing at the camera. My dad stands next to her, pulling a goofy face.
“God,” she muttered. “That shitty old apartment.”
“It wasn’t shitty. It was—palatial.” Maybe. We’d moved from that apartment when I was five, after my parents split, so honestly, I barely remembered it. Although I did still like the idea of it. Of one country and one place and one family living there. Of home.
Alison threw the pictures back on the nightstand and stood up, all her dark hair spilling over her shoulders.
“Whatever,” she said. “I don’t have the energy to argue with you right now. You have fun with all your”—she gestured around the room—“stuff.”
And then she was gone, and I was hurling a pen at my bed, angry because this just confirmed everything she thought. She was the Adult; I was still the Little Kid.
Dorothea Brooks padded into the room and curled up on a pile of clean laundry in a big gray heap.
“Fine,” I said. “Ignore me. Pretend I’m not even here.”
Her ears didn’t so much as twitch. I reached up to yank open the window, letting the sounds of Tokyo waft in: a train squealing into Yoyogi‐Uehara Station, children shouting as they ran through alleyways, cicadas croaking a tired song like something from a rusted music box.
Since our house was surrounded by apartment buildings, I had to crane my neck to look above them at this bright blue strip of sky. There was an object about the size of a fingernail moving through the clouds, leaving a streak of white in its wake that grew longer and then broke apart.
I watched the plane until there was no trace of it left. Then I held up my hand to blot out the sliver of sky where it had been—but wasn’t anymore.


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PI was born in France but then moved to Japan. And then to the States. And then back to Japan. And then back to the States. When I was 18, I moved to New York where I was homesick for nearly seven years. After that, I got a job in a cold, snowy city in northern Japan and, from there, I headed to Scotland where I got my master's in creative writing and lived off tea, writer tears, and Hobnobs.

I still live in the U.K. and spend most of my time writing, reading, baking, and getting emotional over Tori Amos albums. Hobbies include pretending Buffy the Vampire Slayer is real, collecting a lipstick to match every Skittle flavor, and listening to a thousand podcasts a day.

A pup named Malfi and a Renaissancist named Rachel are my favorite things in the world. That, and books. I should probably mention the books again.




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Thanks so much for stopping by! Happy Reading!

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{Blog Tour} GARDEN OF THORNS by Amber Mitchell—Book Playlist + Giveaway

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Garden of Thorns
by Amber Mitchell


After seven grueling years of captivity in the Garden—a burlesque troupe of slave girls—sixteen-year-old Rose finds an opportunity to escape during a performance for the emperor. But the hostage she randomly chose from the crowd to aid her isn’t one of the emperor’s men—not anymore. He’s the former heir to the throne, who is now leading a rebellion against it.

Rayce is a wanted man and dangerously charismatic, the worst person for Rose to get involved with, no matter what his smile promises. But he assumes Rose’s attempt to take him hostage is part of a plot to crush the rebellion, so he takes her as his hostage. Now Rose must prove where her loyalties lie, and she offers Rayce a deal—if he helps her rescue the other girls, she’ll tell him all the Garden’s secrets.

Except the one secret she’s kept for seven years that she’ll to take to her grave if she must.



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Age Group/Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
 Publisher: Entangled Teen
Purchase: Amazon • B&N • Kobo • iBooksIndieBound

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by Amber Mitchell

GARDEN OF THORNS PLAYLIST

The idea of art inspiring art has always been a cool concept to me so I love peeking behind the curtains at other authors and seeing what music inspired them when they were writing their books. I like having music on while I write because it helps me evoke emotion. I can sit back, close my eyes and let the story of the song take me somewhere or I can block out the words and just hear the music when I’m really into what I’m writing.

With that said, here’s a music list I created for GARDEN OF THORNS.


·         If Not Now, When? by Incubus- This song represents Rose at the beginning of the book. She has been treading water, waiting for her chance to escape her horrible surroundings. Through the circumstances that happen in the book, she might finally have her chance to be free. All she must do is take it. If she doesn’t do it now, when she will ever have a shot again?
·         Futures by Jimmy Eat World- Hello, Rayce! This is such a hopeful song about wanting to change the world and it is exactly how Rayce views what the rebellion can do. There are stumbles, there are setbacks, but he will still “take the streets” at the end of the day. I feel like this is the bustling energy and excitement of the rebellion.
·         Fix You by Coldplay- Another anthem for Rayce. He has this need to fix everyone he meets. It’s something he gets teased for in the book. When he meets Rose and watches her struggle, she is no exception to this need. There is this scene where she is hurt and without giving away too much, I think this song fits it perfectly!
·         Noticed by Mutemath- Rose and Rayce have struggled through a few things together and have started to notice each other. Rose hasn’t had much time to be in tune with her feelings, with what she might want in the future, but the way Rayce treats her has made her heart begin to hammer faster than when she performs. This is a song about noticing the effects another person has on you and it works so well for them!
·         The Grey by Icon for Hire- Throughout the book, Rose is constantly battling with what she wants versus what other people want her to do. She has a goal and a lot of the time her circumstances force her to make decisions that won’t directly help her in her own journey. She is constantly “caught in the grey” with what she wants to do because so many others have asked her to do the opposite.
·         Outstretched Hands by Starfield- As the book wears on, some characters are forced to make decisions that other characters don’t agree with. It leaves Rose and Rayce in a strange place. They aren’t sure how close they can be with each other even though they want to be near each other. Things are shaky and this song captures the questions they have about each other.
·         A World Outside by The Material- This is another song for the rebellion during the last half of the book. Not only can I see Rayce feeling this way for Rose but I can also hear some of the other characters like Arlo, Marin and Oren also feeling this way after the events of the middle half of the book!
·         Mother Misery by Letters from the Fire- This is Rose’s anthem at her darkest hour. Desperation oozes out of every note. I listened to this song nonstop writing the end of the book because it captured the hopeless of the situation Rose finds herself in.
·         Fire (Aim Your Arrows High) by VersaEmerge- This is it! The final push for the rebellion. Everything is on the line and they have nothing left to lose. They better “aim their arrows high” and shoot before time runs out. “Take down all the doubt, cast it out…” everything about this song fits so pairs so perfectly with war.
·         Mystery by Phil Wickham- This song has been with the book since the very beginning. Rose and Rayce are two broken souls in need of fixing and they are also perfectly matched to be able to that. Can they break through all of the things getting in their way to find each other? Their relationship is built on quiet moments, tiny seconds they can snatch like glittering stars in the sky.

Selecting songs that pair well with GARDEN OF THORNS was a lot of fun. Each of them have multiple meanings and several were put on repeat while I was writing certain scenes. Hopefully you’ll find a new band or song you like and it can inspire you too!

                          Do you write or read with music or do you find it too distracting?

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Amber Mitchell graduated from the University of South Florida with a BA in Creative Writing. She likes crazy hair styles, reading, D&D, k-dramas, good puns and great food.

When she isn’t putting words on paper, she is using cardstock to craft 3D artwork or exploring new places with her husband Brian. They live a small town in Florida with their four cats where she is still waiting for a madman in a blue box to show up on her doorstep.

Garden of Thorns is her debut novel from Entangled Teen.

GOODREADS • TWITTER

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Thank you so much to Amber Mitchell for composing and sharing this wonderful playlist with us!

Readers, continue on for giveaway details ~

{Blog Tour} OFF THE ICE by Julie Cross—Guest Post + Kindle Fire Giveaway

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Off the Ice
by Julie Cross


All is fair in love and hockey…

Claire O’Connor is back in Juniper Falls, but that doesn’t mean she wants to be. One semester off, that’s what she promised herself. Just long enough to take care of her father and keep the family business—a hockey bar beside the ice rink—afloat. After that, she’s getting the hell out. Again.


Enter Tate Tanley. What happened between them the night before she left town resurfaces the second they lay eyes on each other. But the guy she remembers has been replaced by a total hottie. When Tate is unexpectedly called in to take over for the hockey team’s star goalie, suddenly he’s in the spotlight and on his way to becoming just another egotistical varsity hockey player. And Claire’s sworn off Juniper Falls hockey players for good. 


t’s the absolute worst time to fall in love.


For Tate and Claire, hockey isn’t just a game. And they both might not survive a body check to the heart.



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Age Group/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary Romance
 Publisher: Entangled Teen
Purchase: Amazon • B&N • Kobo • iBooksIndieBound

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by Julie Cross

TEN RANDOM FACTS ABOUT
OFF THE ICE

1. Juniper Falls is a made up town as are all the shops and town history referenced. I had a blast coming up with this stuff.

2. The first draft of OFF THE ICE was way, WAY longer. About 40,000 words longer.

3. My first stab at writing this book--about 100 pages--wasn’t quite right for an introduction to the town of Juniper Falls.

4. My original attempt at book 1, same world but completely different plot and narrators, will now be book 3.

5. I may have been influenced to write this series by a mild middle-school obsession with The Mighty Ducks movies. And Charlie. Who becomes Pacey. I know some of you are following me here, right?

6. I’ve seen The Cutting Edge probably a thousand times and I’m still not tired of it. Now I’m waiting for just the right varsity hockey player to pop up in the series so I can transform him into a figure skater.

7. Juniper Falls High School currently does not have a girls hockey team. I’d like that to change in the near future.

8. In that really long first draft of OFF THE ICE, Tate’s new stepfather Roger hires him to work for his exterminator business and the two of them bond of raccoon trapping.

9. If I had written OFF THE ICE in 2016 or 2017, Claire, my musical theater loving heroine would have performed a solo from Hamilton instead of Les Mis. Not sure which song...maybe Burn?

10. Fans of the movie Dirty Dancing are likely to enjoy the second book in the Juniper Falls series.

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Julie Cross is a NYT and USA Today bestselling author of New Adult and Young Adult fiction, including the Tempest series, a young adult science fiction trilogy which includes Tempest, Vortex, Timestorm (St. Martin’s Press). She’s also the author of the Letters to Nowhere series, Whatever Life Throws at You, Third Degree, Halfway Perfect, and many more to come!

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

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

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

WEBSITE • GOODREADS • TWITTER • FACEBOOK


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Huge thanks to Julie for her amazing guest post today!

Readers, continue on for giveaway details~ ^_^

Wednesday, March 8, 2017

{Blog Tour} ULTIMATUM by K.M. Walton—Excerpt + Giveaway

BLOG TOUR PRESENTED BY SOURCEBOOKS
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Ultimatum
by K.M. Walton


From the author of Cracked and Empty comes a gripping, emotional story of two brothers who must make the ultimate decision about what's more important: family or their differences.

It's not Oscar's fault he's misunderstood. Ever since his mother died, he's been disrespected by his father and bullied by his self-absorbed older brother, so he withdraws from his fractured family, seeking refuge in his art.

Vance wishes his younger brother would just loosen up and be cool. It was hard enough to deal with their mother's death without Oscar getting all emotional. At least when Vance pushes himself in lacrosse and parties, he feels alive.

But when their father's alcoholism sends him into liver failure, the two brothers must come face-to-face with their demons--and each other--if they are going to survive a very uncertain future.

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Age Group/Genre: Young Adult, Contemporary
 Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Purchase: Amazon • B&NKoboIndieBound


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I watch the nurse jab the needle into my father’s arm. He doesn’t make a move. He hasn’t made a move on his own in days. I look over at my brother, Vance, and his head is down, lost in his phone. I close my eyes and just focus on breathing.

I feel a gentle squeeze on my shoulder. “That should make him comfortable, Oscar. I’ll be right out in the hall if you need me,” the nurse says.

Vance told me that since Dad had this thing called a living will with a do-not-resuscitate order, there are no IVs or breathing tubes or anything else that will help to keep him alive longer. His liver is in failure, and he doesn’t have time to wait for a transplant. He will not be coming home from this place.

I nod. “Thank you,” I say to the nurse. Why can’t my brother put down his phone and be present?

“How long now?” I whisper. I read her name tag: Barbara.

She purses her lips into a tight smile. “I wish I could tell you. Definitely not today.”

“Tomorrow?” This is the end of day two here at the hospice, and I’ve been told multiple times that he’s not in pain, that they’re doing everything they can to make him comfortable. But I’m not convinced. How do they know he’s not in pain?

Barbara tilts her head and looks back at my comatose father. “Maybe, maybe not. He’ll leave when he’s ready.”

I want to jump up and shake her. She’s a damn hospice nurse! How can she not know? I want her to know.

I want her to tell me when he will die.

Sitting here watching him fail like this, so close, is harder than watching him live. I want it to just be over. I’m done.

“How many times does she have to tell you that she doesn’t know?” Vance asks after she leaves.
I turn away and ignore my brother.

“I know you hear me,” Vance says.

I lift my eyes and stare into his. To annoy him, I put in my earbuds and turn up the volume as loud as my phone allows. He shakes his head, indicating that he can hear the Mozart. Good.

My head fills with the layered richness of Symphony No. 29, and I let my eyes slide closed. While I’m into everything from baroque to classical to romantic, Mozart has always been my favorite. When I listen to his music, I’m taken out of my life.

My life right now consists of being trapped in this damn room with my brother and watching my father slip away one labored breath at a time. If I count the freckles on Dad’s arm one more time, I may start drooling.

I steal a peek at Vance, and he’s still glaring at me. When isn’t he? Having Mozart drown out him and his never-ending dickhead ways is helping right now. I turn and gaze out the window.

Vance has never understood me—and he never will. Even down to the music I listen to. When we were in middle school, he’d make fun of me because of it. I can still see him playing an imaginary violin with wild, insulting movements, doing everything in his power to look weird.

Were Vance and I ever close? I blink and realize the answer. No, we’ve never been close—despite only being ten months apart.

I scroll back as far as I can remember, and my hands tighten into fists.

I think it’s the classic “he took my place as the baby” situation. Vance resents me—like, my very existence. He couldn’t be any more unbrotherly. In fact, I’d say he stands firmly behind enemy lines. Let’s just say that if I needed saving on the battlefield, Vance would probably let me bleed out.

My brother is an attention junkie, and apparently I robbed him of having our parents’ complete and undivided focus. He has never verbalized this to me, of course—that would involve a deep conversation between us. This is all pure guesswork on my part. But I know I’m right.


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K.M. Walton is the author of Cracked and Empty. As a former middle-school teacher, she’s passionate about ending bullying, and her powerful presentations have made an impact on thousands. K.M. is a graduate of West Chester University. She lives in Pennsylvania with her husband, two sons, and cat. Visit her at kmwalton.com.






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Continue on for the giveaway! ~