Blog Tour: Groupie by C.M. Staunch (Guest Post)

Groupie by C.M. Stunich
Release date: March 21st, 2017
Publisher: Sarian Royal
Genres: New adult, romance

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“Can one of these five rockstars fill the hole in my heart? Or will I stay broken forever?”

Young, dumb, and broke.

That’s what started everything. With five dollars in her pocket, and everything she owns stuffed in the back of her car, Lilith Goode’s life is over. Done. Destroyed.

Ten words. One text. That’s what it took to change the whole world.

A crumpled concert ticket. A chance encounter. That’s what it takes to start all over again.

Five rockstars. One girl. Six dark hearts, six withered souls.

But can one broken person really put another back together again?

Author Guest Post: Top 10 Bands I Fangirled Over as a Teen

* Click the link to explore music from the artists.

1. From First to Last
2. Escape the Fate
3. Bleeding Through
4. Avenged Sevenfold
5. Alesana
6. Funeral for a Friend
7. From Autumn to Ashes
8. A Static Lullaby
9. Finch
10. A Skylit Drive


About the Author

C.M. Stunich is a self-admitted bibliophile with a love for exotic teas and a whole host of characters who live full time inside the strange, swirling vortex of her thoughts. Some folks might call this crazy, but Caitlin Morgan doesn’t mind – especially considering she has to write biographies in the third person. Oh, and half the host of characters in her head are searing hot bad boys with dirty mouths and skillful hands (among other things). If being crazy means hanging out with them everyday, C.M. has decided to have herself committed.

She hates tapioca pudding, loves to binge on cheesy horror movies, and is a slave to many cats. When she’s not vacuuming fur off of her couch, C.M. can be found with her nose buried in a book or her eyes glued to a computer screen. She’s the author of over thirty novels – romance, new adult, fantasy, and young adult included. Please, come and join her inside her crazy. There’s a heck of a lot to do there.

Oh, and Caitlin loves to chat (incessantly), so feel free to e-mail her, send her a Facebook message, or put up smoke signals. She’s already looking forward to it.

Website | Goodreads | FacebookTwitter


Giveaway

Click on the link for a Rafflecopter giveaway. Win a $50 Amazon gift card and a signed copy of Groupie! The giveaway is international. Good luck!! 🙂

Blog Tour: The Waterfall Traveler by S.J. Lem (Guest Post)

The Waterfall Traveler by S.J. Lem
Release date: April 19th, 2017
Genres: Young adult, fantasy
Publisher: Carpe Noctem Publishing
Formats: Paperback, hardcover, eBook

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All eighteen-year-old Ri wants is to cure her adoptive father Samuel from his hallucination-inducing illness. Everyone in her village tells her it’s impossible. But when she meets two newcomers in the forest—a gruff rogue with a vendetta against the gods and a charming fugitive who saves her life—she’ll be torn away from Samuel and swept across the sea to an oppressive city governed by a ruthless tyrant. Once there, she’ll not only have to confront Samuel’s unlawful past, but a vicious evil that threatens all mankind.

In this tale of bravery, friendship, and unforeseen love, Ri risks it all to save those she cares for. But if she prevails, she’ll find the one thing she yearns for most—a cure for Samuel.

Author Guest Post: Cover Inspiration

I’m so glad that Jacquie asked about the cover for The Waterfall Traveler because the design process was so exciting. I loved that the characters I had spent so much time with for the past three years were going to be given more “life” by being featured in an incredible illustration.

I had the opportunity to work with two talented individuals during the design process: illustrator Lindsay Nery and designer Vic Sanchez. Since I also have a design background, I had strong vision of how I wanted the cover to look. Both Lindsay and Vic did a tremendous job visualizing my ideas, and the final piece exceeded all of my expectations.

When I first began working with Lindsay, I mentioned that I wanted the cover to capture the intensity, emotion, and fast pace of the story. Throughout the novel, characters Ri and Bryce face terrifying dangers, brutal elements, and internal struggles. They develop a strong friendship that deepens into much more as the story progresses. As the stakes continue to rise, Ri and Bryce risk their lives for each other and their friends. So above all, I wanted the artwork to show the connection between those two characters.

Though it was a daunting task, Lindsay returned to our next meeting with various sketches. One drew my attention immediately. It featured Ri and Bryce, gripping each others’ hands as Ri tumbles from a waterfall. I loved all the movement, the characters’ expressions, and the intensity. Since the story is filled with action-packed scenes, it made perfect sense that the artwork should convey the same tension and urgency. The final illustration, with its vivid colors and movement, truly represents the tone of the novel. I couldn’t be happier with it.

Once the illustration was completed, Vic tackled the typography and layout. Like the illustration, the typography captures that same sense of movement. I love how the “R” in “Waterfall” dips down like flowing water. The treatment is somewhat whimsical, but also very elegant.

I really hope that readers enjoy the cover as much as I do. Bookmarks featuring the artwork will be available on my website, sjlem.com, this summer.


About the Author:

S.J. Lem is a digital art director gone writer in hopes of expanding her creative aspirations. Whether it’s introducing dimensional characters, crafting imaginative worlds, or transporting readers into high-stakes adventures, she strives to deliver an immersive experience.

She lives in Chicago with her husband and son. When not writing, she enjoys pottery, gardening, and volunteering. Connecting with readers and fellow writers is one of her greatest joys.

Website | Goodreads | Facebook | Twitter


Giveaway

Click the link to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway. You could win a print copy of The Waterfall Traveler! Good luck! 🙂

Blog Tour: The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember (Q&A + Giveaway)

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32890474The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember
Release date: May 4th, 2017
Publisher: Duet/Interlude Press
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Formats: Paperback, eBook

Goodreads | Amazon | Book Depository | Indiebound

Having long-wondered what lives beyond the ice shelf, nineteen-year-old mermaid Ersel learns of the life she wants when she rescues and befriends Ragna, a shield-maiden stranded on the mermen’s glacier. But when Ersel’s childhood friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: say goodbye to Ragna or face justice at the hands of the glacier’s brutal king.

Determined to forge a different fate, Ersel seeks help from Loki. But such deals are never as one expects, and the outcome sees her exiled from the only home and protection she’s known. To save herself from perishing in the barren, underwater wasteland and be reunited with the human she’s come to love, Ersel must try to outsmart the God of Lies.

Hello everyone and welcome to my stop on the blog tour for The Seafarer’s Kiss by Julia Ember. I’ll be posting my review of this fantastic book very soon (I gave it 5 hearts because it’s so, so good), but until then check out this fun Q&A with Julia and enter to win some prizes! 🙂


Author Q&A

Hi everyone! I’m Julia Ember and I’m really excited to be on the blog today as part of the Virtual Book Tour for my new release, The Seafarer’s Kiss.

The Seafarer’s Kiss is my second novel. It is a bisexual, Norse retelling of the Little Mermaid by Hans Christian Andersen. The main character, Ersel, longs to escape her harsh arctic sea world where she is expected to choose a mate and bear children. When she meets, Ragna, a Viking shield maiden stranded on the ice-shelf near her home, she learns of another way of life. But when her former best friend and suitor catches them together, he gives Ersel a choice: abandon Ragna or face justice at the hands of their tyrannical king. Ersel decides to make her own rules instead, and makes a deal with Loki.

1. Do you buy a book because of the cover, the blurb, or something else?
I’m a concept buyer! I like vast, interesting, unusual concepts that make me perk up and wonder about the book. Give me African mythology in space, rogue narwhal communities – if it’s weird and speculative fiction, I’m probably all over it! I buy a lot of books through Twitter recommendations. The format of Twitter is perfect for people who buy off concept, because the 140-char limit forces people to distil a book down to its basic parts.

Beyond that, I usually read 5-10 pages before I commit to buying. I like fast-paced reads, and will usually pass on anything that has a slow opening.

2. What does ‘romance’ mean to you?
Romance to me is always going to represent the genre. Before I gave up academia, I was medievalist studying literature. When I hear the word ‘romance’ I think of writers like Chaucer, early pioneers of the genre, or of poets like John Donne. I’ve only very recently started to read modern romance. I used to be an almost exclusively sci-fi/fantasy reader. Even now that I’m writing some contemporary romance, my first thought when I hear the word is STILL that historical one. With time, I think the word will probably start to take on more modern connotations!

3. What are your current projects?
At the moment, I have a totally unwieldly number of WIPs! My agent and I are getting ready to go on submission with two projects. The first is a contemporary f/f novella about two gamers who fall in love before realising they’re bitter enemies online. The other is a YA Space Opera that is crazy genre mashup of sci-fi, fantasy and historical fiction, with dragons.

4. What is the most difficult part of writing for you?
The second draft is the hardest for me! I write the first very quickly and its usually very short, just a collection of scenes. In the second draft, I have to go back and connect all the dots.

5. Tell us something about yourself that would surprise people.
I’ve visited 66 different countries! My parents travelled with us a lot when I was a kid, and that wanderlust has stayed in my blood. There are still so many places that I haven’t gone, and I’m looking forward to organising more trips.


About the Author

julia2-e1455421316346-300x300Julia Ember is a polyamorous, bisexual writer and native of Chicago who now resides in Edinburgh, Scotland. The Seafarer’s Kiss is her second novel and was influenced by her postgraduate work in medieval literature at The University of St. Andrews. Her first novel, Unicorn Tracks, was published by Harmony Ink Press.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Tumblr | Facebook


Giveaway

Click to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway. Five people will win multi-format eBook editions of  The Seafarer’s Kiss and the grand prize winner will receive a $25 IP web store certificate. Good luck!


Follow the Tour

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Blog Tour: Curse of Stars by Donna Compositor (Excerpt)


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cosCurse of Stars by Donna Compositor
Release date: February 19th, 2017
Publisher: Donna Compositor
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Format: eBook, paperback

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Sabi Perez is the last Diamond Crier, only she doesn’t know it. Not until a crazed ruler from another world comes to collect her priceless tears and won’t take no for an answer.

Living in New York, Sabi’s seen some nasty things, but the lengths to which her captor will go to keep his crown are things found only in the darkest nightmares. Afraid and alone, Sabi finds solace in her cellmate, Anya, and Cabal, a fellow Crier who also has powers, a rare combination that buys his favor from the ruler. Only it’s a favor he doesn’t want.

In a fit of rage, power erupts out of Sabi, the same power Cabal has, and a spark of hope ignites. Together they may have a chance at escape, something no other Crier has done. Except a ruler hellbent on draining them of every last diamond tear isn’t their only hurdle. If they escape they’ll be hunted to the ends of the earth, if they survive the trek to safety. If they stay the ruler will leech them dry. Sabi would rather die trying than lie down and die, even if that means running away into even more danger.


Excerpt

“I won’t let you take her,” Papa said. His voice rumbled through him into Sabi. She pressed her face into his shoulder but kept her eyes on the man.

“I expected you to say that.” He reached into a pocket on the inside of his cloak and pulled out a vial about as tall as a fist. Inside was a small orb of purple casting the glow up onto his face. It was so small, but it made Papa press harder into her, grinding her back into the window frame. Mama muttered more and Matti gasped as she fisted Mama’s sleeve. “This will ensure I do.”

The man leaned forward slightly, as if he needed to look around Papa when Sabi’s eyes stared right at him. “So many things you don’t know. This is your family’s heart.”

“Where did you get that?” If Mama were a snake she’d be rattling her tail, her fangs down and ready to strike.

His gaze slid slowly over to her. “From someone smart enough not to get in my way.” He looked back to Sabi. “You aren’t in here, my little Crier.” He laughed. “No, that wouldn’t work, would it? No sense in me doing all this work just to kill the last Diamond Crier because her parents were insubordinate. No. But the little one is.” With the vial in his hand he pointed at Matti and she whimpered. Sabi saw her duck farther behind Mama. “Let’s get off at the next stop.”

“The driver . . .” Sabi said, her voice cracking, strained under tears left unshed. “He won’t let us off. He’ll call the police. Papa tsked at her, trying to get her to be quiet, but it didn’t work. “You won’t get away with this.”

The man laughed. More like guffawed, a hearty belly laugh that made Sabi’s skin crawl. “Dear one, you could scream at the top of your lungs and no one would even bat an eye.”

She looked toward the front of the bus and indeed no one had turned around. The driver carried on, not even looking up in his rearview mirror.

“Hey!” Sabi yelled. She squirmed out from behind Papa while he grasped for her arms, trying to pull her back down. “Help us! Call the police!”

She heard her voice. Mama, Papa, and Matti all heard her. The man sat there smiling at her. No one else showed any signs that she was there at all.


 The Author

donnaDonna has been writing since she was in the single digits when she first realized she needed to do something about all the thoughts in her head. After a stint with bad poetry she finally found her way to novels, mainly of the young adult fantasy variety. When she’s not cranking out more stories she works a regular 9 to 5, reads anywhere from 2 to 3 books a week, drinks copious amounts of tea, eats way too much, and makes her own beauty products because her skin turns into a sentient hive if she uses anything else. This is mostly because she lives in the desert where the air siphons water clean out of her. She lives with a man named Steve and several quadrupeds: three cats named Renfield, Sam, and Dean; and a MinPin named Malfoy.

Website | Twitter | Goodreads | Facebook


Giveaway

Click here to enter the international giveaway to win:

  • 1st place: $20 gift card to the eBook retailer of their choice, a glow bookmark, and swag pack
  • 2nd-4th places: $10 gift card to the eBook retailer of their choice and a swag pack
  • 5th place: a swag pack

Blog Tour: The Broken One by Christine H. Bailey (Guest Post)

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29601936The Broken One by Christine H. Bailey
Release date: April 5th, 2016
Publisher: Vinspire Publishing
Genre: Young adult, contemporary
Format: eBook, paperback

Check out my review here.

Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Kobo

Sixteen-year-old Farris is picking up the pieces after the untimely death of her best friend. But even one year later, she can’t seem to find “normal” again—not until Lane Evans pops back into her life and pushes her to face reality.

When he offers her the chance to find the truth, Farris fears what will surface. Is it too much too soon or just what she needs to move forward?


One Good Reason to Read a Depressing Book

What did I do on my summer vacation? I traveled, did some reading, wrote a chapter or two—and I watched a lot of Netflix. In fact, I just finished watching another seven-season series. At 12 episodes per season, that’s roughly 2,500 minutes or 42 hours of my life I will never get back. But I so looked forward to clicking that little play button and seeing what was next for this character or that one. And I loved being able to say, “Just one more show” even at 1 am. I was hooked. But after the series finale, I was left with this giant hole in my gut. The characters I had come to love and despise were no more. With the closing credits of the final episode, I panicked. I needed a quick fix—a new show to fill the void. Come on, you guys know what I mean.

So I went on the hunt for something new—a comedy or something with a little grit—and stumbled across ABC’s Chasing Life. I have to admit that it wasn’t exactly what I was looking for. But I decided to give it a shot for one reason—I loved John Green’s The Fault in Our Stars. If you haven’t read it or watched the movie, it’s about two teens who fall in love. But here’s the catch: both of them have cancer. Sigh. Chasing Life is about a twenty-something who gets her dream job, an amazing new boyfriend, and the-not-so-great news that she has leukemia. Double sigh. So why do we read these books or watch movies about terminally ill cancer patients? Why do we get pulled in to these narratives? Can anyone give me one good reason to watch a show about young people living with and dying of cancer?

Kaitlin Thomas from TV.com gives five reasons to watch Chasing Life including, “It’s realistic, not melodramatic fiction.” Okay, I’ll bite. Maybe audiences watch/read because “it” (aka cancer) happens in real life. Maybe people are relating. So many of us have been touched by the “C” word in one way or another. I know I have. The National Cancer Institute estimates that “approximately 8 million Americans alive today have a history of cancer” and about 1,228,600 people will be diagnosed this year alone. These statistics show a startling reality—a reality that is fueling many of the fictional narratives we’re watching and reading today, e.g. Red Band Society, Chasing Life, Fault, etc. So, what do you think about this trend? A trend, as Thomas writes, that involves “exactly zero vampires, werewolves, witches, or superheroes.” However, with no vampires and lots of talk about cancer, Thomas also states, “It’s hard to sell people on shows [books] that sound super depressing.”


Giveaway

Click here to enter the international giveaway to win:

  • 2x $5 Amazon gift cards
  • 2x signed copies of The Broken One

Blog Tour | Queen of Chaos by Kat Ross

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I received this book for free from Xpresso Book Tours in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

queen-of-chaos-ebook-smallQueen of Chaos by Kat Ross
Release date: January 18th, 2017
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Genre: Fantasy, young adult
Format: eBook
Source: Xpresso Book Tours

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Goodreads | Amazon

Persepolae has fallen.

Karnopolis has burned.

As the dark forces of the Undead sweep across what remains of the empire, Nazafareen must obey the summons of a demon queen to save Darius’s father, Victor. Burdened with a power she doesn’t understand and can barely control, Nazafareen embarks on a perilous journey through the shadowlands to the House-Behind-the-Veil. But what awaits her there is worse than she ever imagined…

A thousand leagues away, Tijah leads a group of children on a desperate mission to rescue the prisoners at Gorgon-e Gaz, the stronghold where the oldest daēvas are kept. To get there, they must cross the Great Salt Plain, a parched ruin occupied by the armies of the night. A chance encounter adds a ghost from the past to their number. But will they arrive in time to avert a massacre?

And in the House-Behind-the-Veil, Balthazar and the Prophet Zarathustra discover that they have more in common than meets the eye. But is it enough to redeem the necromancer’s bloodstained soul and thwart his mistress’s plans?

As a final showdown looms with Queen Neblis, the truth of the daēvas’ origins is revealed and three worlds collide in this thrilling conclusion to the Fourth Element series.

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* Read my reviews of the other books in the series, The Midnight Sea and Blood of the Prophet.

This has quickly become one of my favourite book series of all time! With each new release it just got better and better. I cannot and will not stop gushing about how amazing it is. I’m never a read-a-book-in-one-sitting kind of person, but I totally did it with Queen of Chaos. Then I hugged my Kindle and wanted to start the series all over again. Simply said, I LOVED IT!

Like its predecessors, Queen of Chaos was fast paced and totally engrossing. There were so many twists and turns and shocking moments. I was constantly mumbling “what” in complete shock. The story also wraps up major plot lines and answered all of the questions I had about the daēvas. It was truly a satisfying way to the end series!

Unlike in the past two books, Nazafareen doesn’t really take centre stage. While she’s obviously key to the story and overall plot, Kat Ross also takes the time to explore the lives of the other characters such as Tijah, Balthazar and Lysandros through chapters with alternating points of view. I really liked seeing their take on things, especially Balthazar, who occupies a grey area between good and evil. His development over the three books is truly stunning. I couldn’t help but love him!

Nazafareen’s character continued to develop. It’s amazing how much she had grown throughout the series. She had suffered so much – losing her friends and family, the betrayal of friend, torture – and yet she was still willing to give up her life to prevent evil from taking over the land of the living. And the romance between her and Darius…my poor little heart! I JUST ADORE THESE TWO! I was rooting for them since the first book and I’m so happy with the way their story ended. Again, no spoilers, but I had a HUGE smile on my face.

Talking about fantastic characters, Tijah really shone in this book. And it’s about time! She  was fierce and a complete sword wielding, monster killing badass. A loved reading chapters from her point of view. She was so brutally honest and the struggle she went through after losing her closest friend was both heartbreaking and inspiring. While I loved this character, I did take issue with how her homeland of Al Miraji was portrayed. Al Miraji was heavily inspired by the Middle East and fed into the stereotypes of how men in the region treat women. It painted the Al Miraji (Middle East) as evil and backwards because women were not educated, forced into unwanted marriages and expected to be hidden away and silent.

While reading I kept on thinking that some of these characters needed their own story, full-length or novella, I didn’t want this story to end. Three books just wasn’t enough! Luckily for me, Kat Ross has said that she isn’t done with this world or its characters. So…that means there are more adventures to come! I honestly can’t wait!!!


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Click the link to enter a Rafflecopter giveaway. Win 1 of 10 eBook copies of The Daemoniac by Kat Ross. Good luck!

Labyrinth Lost: Spotlight + Giveaway!

Labyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova was released last week and in celebration Sourcebooks Fire has shared some extra goodies and is hosting a giveaway. I was lucky enough to receive an ARC of this fantastic book. It was one of my most anticipated released and it more than lived up to all of my expectations. YOU NEED TO READ THIS BOOK!

cover85322-mediumLabyrinth Lost by Zoraida Cordova
Release date: September 6th, 2016
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Genre: Young adult, fantasy
Length: 336 pages
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

Goodreads | Amazon

** My 5 heart review! **

Nothing says Happy Birthday like summoning the spirits of your dead relatives.

I fall to my knees. Shattered glass, melted candles and the outline of scorched feathers are all that surround me. Every single person who was in my house – my entire family — is gone.

Alex is a bruja, the most powerful witch in a generation…and she hates magic. At her Deathday celebration, Alex performs a spell to rid herself of her power. But it backfires. Her whole family vanishes into thin air, leaving her alone with Nova, a brujo boy she can’t trust. A boy whose intentions are as dark as the strange markings on his skin.

The only way to get her family back is to travel with Nova to Los Lagos, a land in-between, as dark as Limbo and as strange as Wonderland…

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  • Click to download a special colouring page.
  • Watch the very cool Book Trailer here.

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1
Follow our voices, sister.
Tell us the secret of your death.
—- Resurrection Canto, Book of Cantos

The second time I saw my dead aunt Rosaria, she was dancing.
Earlier that day, my mom had warned me, pressing a long, red fingernail on the tip of my nose, “Alejandra, don’t go downstairs when the Circle arrives.”
But I was seven and asked too many questions. Every Sunday, cars piled up in our driveway, down the street, and around the corner of our old, narrow house in Sunset Park, Brooklyn. Mom’s Circle usually brought cellophane–wrapped dishes and jars of dirt and tubs of brackish water that made the Hudson River look clean. This time, they carried something more.
When my sisters started snoring, I threw off my covers and crept down the stairs. The floorboards were uneven and creaky, but I was good at not being seen. Fuzzy, yellow streetlight shone through our attic window and followed me down every flight until I reached the basement.
A soft hum made its way through the thin walls. I remember thinking I should listen to my mom’s warning and go back upstairs. But our house had been restless all week, and Lula, Rose, and I were shoved into the attic, out of the way while the grown–ups prepared the funeral. I wanted out. I wanted to see.
The night was moonless and cold one week after the Witch’s New Year, when Aunt Rosaria died of a sickness that made her skin yellow like hundred–year–old paper and her nails turn black as coal. We tried to make her beautiful again. My sisters and I spent all day weaving good luck charms from peonies, corn husks, and string—-one loop over, under, two loops over, under. Not even the morticians, the Magos de Muerte, could fix her once–lovely face.
Aunt Rosaria was dead. I was there when we mourned her. I was there when we buried her. Then, I watched my father and two others shoulder a dirty cloth bundle into the house, and I knew I couldn’t stay in bed, no matter what my mother said.
So I opened the basement door.
Red light bathed the steep stairs. I leaned my head toward the light, toward the beating sound of drums and sharp plucks of fat, nylon guitar strings.
A soft mew followed by whiskers against my arm made my heart jump to the back of my rib cage. I bit my tongue to stop the scream. It was just my cat, Miluna. She stared at me with her white, glowing eyes and hissed a warning, as if telling me to turn back. But Aunt Rosaria was my godmother, my family, my friend. And I wanted to see her again.
“Sh!” I brushed the cat’s head back.
Miluna nudged my leg, then ran away as the singing started.
I took my first step down, into the warm, red light. Raspy voices called out to our gods, the Deos, asking for blessings beyond the veil of our worlds. Their melody pulled me step by step until I was crouched at the bottom of the landing.
They were dancing.
Brujas and brujos were dressed in mourning white, their faces painted in the aspects of the dead, white clay and black coal to trace the bones. They danced in two circles—-the outer ring going clockwise, the inner counterclockwise—hands clasped tight, voices vibrating to the pulsing drums.
And in the middle was Aunt Rosaria.
Her body jerked upward. Her black hair pooled in the air like she was suspended in water. There was still dirt on her skin. The white skirt we buried her in billowed around her slender legs. Black smoke slithered out of her open mouth. It weaved in and out of the circle—-one loop over, under, two loops over, under. It tugged Aunt Rosaria higher and higher, matching the rhythm of the canto.
Then, the black smoke perked up and changed its target. It could smell me. I tried to backpedal, but the tiles were slick, and I slid toward the circle. My head smacked the tiles. Pain splintered my skull, and a broken scream lodged in my throat.
The music stopped. Heavy, tired breaths filled the silence of the pulsing red dark. The enchantment was broken. Aunt Rosaria’s reanimated corpse turned to me. Her body purged black smoke, lowering her back to the ground. Her ankles cracked where the bone was brittle, but still she took a step. Her dead eyes gaped at me. Her wrinkled mouth growled my name: Alejandra.
She took another step. Her ankle turned and broke at the joint, sending her flying forward. She landed on top of me. The rot of her skin filled my nose, and grave dirt fell into my eyes.
Tongues clucked against crooked teeth. The voices of the circle hissed, “What’s the girl doing out of bed?”
There was the scent of extinguished candles and melting wax. Decay and perfume oil smothered me until they pulled the body away.
My mother jerked me up by the ear, pulling me up two flights of stairs until I was back in my bed, the scream stuck in my throat like a stone.
“Never,” she said. “You hear me, Alejandra? Never break a Circle.”
I lay still. So still that after a while, she brushed my hair, thinking I had fallen asleep.
I wasn’t. How could I ever sleep again? Blood and rot and smoke and whispers filled my head.
“One day you’ll learn,” she whispered.
Then she went back down the street–lit stairs, down into the warm red light and to Aunt Rosaria’s body. My mother clapped her hands, drums beat, strings plucked, and she said, “Again.”

about

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Zoraida Córdova was born in Ecuador and raised in Queens, New York. She is the author of the Vicious Deep trilogy, the On the Verge series, and the Brooklyn Brujas series. She loves black coffee, snark, and still believes in magic.

Website | Twitter Tumblr | YouTube

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Win a copy of Labyrinth Lost with signed Labyrinth Lost bookmarks! The giveaway ends on September 19th and is only open to residents of Canada and the US. Click here to enter!