Thursday, December 18, 2014

Review: Every Day by David Levithan

Title: Every Day
Author: David Levithan
Publication Date: August 28th, 2012
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Genre: Young Adult
Pages: 322
ISBN: 0307931889
Source: The Library
Awards: YALSA Teens' Top Ten (2013), Abraham Lincoln Award Nominee (2014), Andre Norton Award Nominee (2012), Cybils Awards Nominee for Fantasy & Science Fiction (Young Adult) (2012), YALSA Best Fiction for Young Adults (Top Ten) (2013)

Synopsis (from Goodreads):
Every day a different body. Every day a different life. Every day in love with the same girl.

There’s never any warning about where it will be or who it will be. A has made peace with that, even established guidelines by which to live: Never get too attached. Avoid being noticed. Do not interfere.

It’s all fine until the morning that A wakes up in the body of Justin and meets Justin’s girlfriend, Rhiannon. From that moment, the rules by which A has been living no longer apply. Because finally A has found someone he wants to be with—day in, day out, day after day

David Levithan (born 1972) is an American children's book editor and award-winning author. He published his first YA book, Boy Meets Boy, in 2003. Levithan is also the founding editor of PUSH, a Young Adult imprint of Scholastic Press.

At 19, Levithan received an internship at Scholastic Corporation where he began working on the The Baby-sitters Club series. Levithan still works for Scholastic as an editorial director. Levithan is also the founding editor of PUSH, a young-adult imprint of Scholastic Press focusing on new voices and new authors.[1] PUSH publishes edgier material for young adults and is where Patricia McCormick got her start with 2002's Cut.

I had seen this book on the end caps at Barnes & Noble all year long. The premise sounded highly intriguing: undefined wandering soul travels from body to body every single day and never repeats the same person twice. One day, they awake in some dude's body and fall obsessively in love with his girlfriend, and thus, the plot thickens.

The wandering soul calls themselves A, and the girl's name is Rhiannon. The fascinating part about this whole thing is that A has no consistency. A is not defined by their gender, hair, eyes, height, or anything else. A can't even have a cell phone number because there's no way for them to keep track of it. The only way to reach Rhiannon is email.

Until this point, A just went through motions trying to give their host another normal day so it wouldn't be suspected that they had basically been "possessed" for 24 hours. However, once Rhiannon enters the picture, things change, and A is no longer satisfied with the inconsistency.

Aside from the fact that it's really hard not to use pronouns while talking about this book, it was incredibly interesting to step outside of societal roles and experience the world from the point of view of someone who was first of all, gender neutral, but also had to live a life with no true stability. It raises a lot of interesting questions, such as: What makes a person? Is it the way they look, the family they are raised in, the kind of trouble the stay in or out of? Is it their addictions, depression, lack of self control? And what is love? Can you truly love a person if their image changes every day? Is physical attraction and familiarity as important to loving someone as we think it is, or is it actually a supernatural occurrence between two souls? This book really makes you think.

I liked how Levithan chose to put the reader into the minds and bodies of different types of people. He communicated the thoughts and feelings of people who struggle with drugs, suicidal thoughts, obesity, and even those who live sheltered lives. In my opinion, it was a great opportunity to cover such subjects and lifestyles. And it's entirely realistic that A would wake up dealing with people who were experiencing these things. It added to the story so we weren't just reading about his obsession with Rhiannon the whole time.

It seems a handful of people were completely disgusted with this book and felt like A violated other people's lives (and this is kind of a spoiler, so beware). Honestly, when I saw the reviews I thought A went "too far" with Rhiannon or something, but they didn't. If you think about it, what would you do in that situation? 16 years of never having your own life. Of never being surrounded by people who love and know you. You are always a stranger, and you are always different. Every single day for 16 years, you're alive, but it's like you're a ghost because no one knows that you exist. What would you do?? I'm surprised they made it 16 years! You have to have some inhumane amount of maturity and self-control to continue living like you were never even born, especially when love is mixed in the picture. I probably would've liked this book less if A was given the supernatural ability to just "respect" their owners. That would have made a really boring book, too.

The only major thing that I did not like about this book, was that although it had a lot of interesting things to say about gender-neutrality, there were moments I felt like the author was trying to force their opinion at the reader by A forcing their way of thinking toward Rhiannon. When Rhiannon was having trouble accepting that A was neither male nor female, A would think things like "so we need to fix her way of thinking." It's one thing to want her to accept gender neutrality, but it's another to basically say something is wrong for a straight person to be straight and want to continue being straight. That's the same as all the controversy about trying to force homosexuals to be straight, so I feel like Levithan missed the mark here. And it wasn't done very well, either...because I felt like I wasn't reading the story at that point. It just felt like the author's opinion.

So altogether, I thought this book was absolutely amazing. It's definitely a fresh premise that offers a lot of deep thinking and perspective. It's also a very easy and fast read.

I was doing a little research and it looks like Levithan might be releasing a second book from Rhiannon's perspective. There's a lot of controversy as to whether this is a good thing or not, but I guess we'll see!

Monday, December 15, 2014

Chris Datta eBook Sale and New Release!

Touched with Fire, Christopher Datta's #1 best selling Historical Fiction is on sale now for only $0.99.

"A tremendously amazing story for History lovers!" 
 "A fantastic story that engaged" 
 "An excellent example of entertwining a love story with historical facts"
  $0.99 December 15th-19th 

Touched With Fire, a novel of the Civil War inspired by the true story of Ellen Craft.
Ellen Craft is property; in this case, of her half-sister Debra, to whom she was given as a wedding gift. The illegitimate daughter of a Georgia plantation owner and a house slave, she learned to hate her own image, which so closely resembled that of her “father:” the same wiry build, the same blue eyes, and the same pale—indeed, lily-white—skin. Ellen lives a solitary life until she falls, unexpectedly, in love with a dark-skinned slave named William Craft, and together they devise a plan to run North. Ellie will pose as a gentleman planter bound for Philadelphia accompanied by his “boy” Will. They make it as far as Baltimore when Will is turned back, and Ellie has no choice but continue. With no way of knowing if he is dead or alive, she resolves to make a second journey—South again. And so Elijah Craft enlists with the 125th Ohio Volunteers of the Union Army: she will literally fight her way back to her husband. Eli/Ellie’s journey is the story of an extraordinary individual and an abiding love, but also of the corrosive effects of slavery, and of a nation at a watershed moment.

Announcing the release of Fire & Dust, book two in the Fire Trilogy

"If you thought you knew the Civil War, think again. In Fire and Dust, Christopher Datta takes you beyond the clatter and gore of the battlefield to reveal the very hearts and minds of the Confederacy. His characters will haunt you like a rebel yell, sounding down through the years to touch you with their sacrifices, their struggles, and—most of all—their humanity." -Karen Lyon, Hill Rag Magazine

In the fall of 1863, there is still a chance to prevent a Union victory in the Civil War. Robert E. Lee’s most trusted senior commander, General James Longstreet, takes two Virginia divisions west to unite with General Braxton Bragg’s Army of Tennessee. Longstreet arrives just in time to join in the Confederate attack on the Union army at the battle of Chickamauga. As the fate of the Confederacy is decided, this epic saga plays out against the backdrop of the love stories of Mexican war veteran Sargent Sam Davis and the recently widowed Sally O’Grady, and of the young, poor and naive private Harry Kolb and Rachel Shaw, the daughter of a wealthy plantation owner. Their tales bring to vivid life the forgotten watershed moments of September, October and November of 1863, a period that more than any other determined the outcome of the war.
Fire and Dust narrates the history of the Civil War as it really was, and makes you a front row witness as the destiny of the Confederacy unfolds.

About the Author

Chris1Born in Washington, DC Chris Datta, Foreign Service officer, has been on numerous battlefields for his job and country. He has seen mass graves, brought war criminals to justice and in this new chapter, Datta brings readers a stunning historical account of the American Civil War with Touched with Fire. His attention to detail is superb, and his experiences abroad have given him ample stories to tell for years to come. His action packed life has taken him across the world from the United States to Liberia and Southern Sudan. Not only serving in active war zones but often battling tropical diseases, Datta has nurtured his fascination with civil conflict by diving into the history books and historical records of America’s past. His research is meticulous, and his attention to detail creates vivid pictures of the past.  

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Spotlight: A Breed Apart: The Token by Natasha Rogue

Title: A Breed Apart: The Token
Author: Natasha Rogue
Publication Date: December 2nd, 2014
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 301

Synopsis (from Author): Callie Michaels isn’t pretty or popular, but her singing more than makes up for all she lacks. And as long as she focuses on what’s really important, she can survive high school. But how can she focus with all the drama? Between her best friend’s odd issues and a daily dose of weirdness from the social elite, she’s starting to wonder if she’s the only normal one around.

He pulled the front door open. “That’s how it’s done.”
I rolled my eyes and made my way through the crowd that had spilled into the hall, muttering. “That’s how it’s done. Yeah? Where? In the jungle?”
“Yeah.” James’ breath on my nape sent a chill down my spine. “Something like that.”

Just as her life begins spiraling out of control, the answer comes to her in a dream. In exchange for a token of blood, a demon will give her everything she desires. She says “yes.” From that point on, she finds herself changing, becoming something far from normal. Something dangerous.

No one is what they seem—least of all her. While the supernatural creatures around her struggle to maintain their humanity, Callie slowly loses hers. She doesn’t even know what’s important anymore. Friendship, the future, love? And is there anyone who can make her care?


"If I let you watch to make sure she's okay, you have to swear to be quiet and not tell anyone what you see."
Do I have a choice? I arched my neck and studied his face. Still just James. Scary fast—or maybe I was just slow. Either way, he hadn't turned into a monster. And he was trusting me.
I decided to return the favor and just watch the scene unfold.
"It was one stupid little remark, you big jerk. Whoever ratted me out made a big deal for nothing." The man's firm grip on her hair arched Amy's head back and put a strain in her voice. "Damn it, Ethan, let me go!"
Ethan. He had a name.
"There is no room for stupid little remarks. One slip and you ruin things for us all. Submit, Amy. There's no point to you resisting any longer."
"Go to hell!" Amy struggled against him.
Ethan shook his head and turned her to face the wall. "You tempt me, Amy, you really do. Maybe I should reclaim you from my brother. Would that make you happy?" Slipping his hand from her hair and letting it hang over her shoulder, he nuzzled against the side of her throat.
Amy whimpered. "No."
A growl rose from deep in Ethan's chest. He bared his teeth and set them into Amy's nape.
My eyes went wide. I twisted my body and James tightened his grip.
He whispered in my ear. "Listen."
Purring. Amy was actually purring and rubbing her body against Ethan. You're going crazy.
Ethan chuckled and let her go. "Good girl." He pressed a light kiss on her forehead. "Now get to class. I'll have your parents call the school so you won't get detention for being late."
Amy nodded and gave him a shaky smile. "Thanks, Ethan."
Before Ethan could turn, James was hauling me back, not stopping until we were in front of the school, out of sight of the parking lot. Crouched behind an evergreen, we watched a black, classic GTO pull out with Ethan behind the wheel. The car looked a lot like the one James had been driving before the Stingray.
Oh. My. God.
I stood and stared at James. "That's your brother?"
"Half." James corrected and confirmed all at once. "We should really get inside." "After you tell me what that was all about."
"Family stuff. Kept on a need to know. Figure out where you classify." Turning
his back on me, James headed toward the front door.
I ran to keep up. "Amy's not part of your family."
"Yes, she is."
Ew! "You guys are related? And your parents set you up?"
He arched a brow at me and shook his head. "No. We're not related. Our families are just . . . close." He stopped, smiling like something had just occurred to him. "Come Friday and I'll tell you everything."
Laughing, I shook my head. "You're so full of it. He's the reason for all the secrets. You're scared Ethan will find out if you tell me anything, aren't you?"
A blotchy red blush spread up his cheeks. "Tell me he doesn't freak you out."
Seriously? I laughed and tried to skirt by him. "I just watched him bite a girl after roughing her up—"
Before I could pass, James caught my hand and tugged me back. "He didn't rough her up. He was firm with her. There's a difference."
I licked my bottom lip. "Tell me you're not okay with what just happened." He pulled the front door open. "That's how it's done."
The bell ending homeroom rang, and I groaned. Unlike Amy, we didn't have
anyone calling in with an excuse for us being late. Which meant we'd both get detention.
This was not my day. I rolled my eyes and made my way through the crowd that had spilled into the hall. I muttered, "That's how it's done. Yeah? Where? In the jungle?"

"Yeah." James breath on my nape sent a chill down my spine. "Something like that."

Natasha Rogue is a Canadian author who's been writing for most of her life. After penning novels behind math textbooks all through high school, she attended Dawson College in Creative Arts with dreams of becoming a screenwriter. The best teacher she ever had took her aside and told her to go back where she belonged. To her roots with the books she loved to write.

Eternal Neverland (Steps Before the Fall) was one of her first complete novels. There are seven books in draft form completed in the series, but they gathered dust until experience and contacts with the right editors and crit partners gave them what they needed to be shared. However, A Breed Apart: The Token, was released through a small press in 2012. The book will be rereleased shortly.

You may find Natasha at several signings throughout the year as she writes multiple genres. Don't worry, she doesn't bite. But she will happily chat with you about the hotties who do. And shamelessly admit to liking Charlie way more than she should.

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Spotlight & GIVEAWAY: The Legacy of the Key (Ancient Guardians #1) by S.L. Morgan

Title: The Legacy of the Key
Series: Ancient Guardians #1
Author: S.L. Morgan
Publication Date: December 21st, 2012
Publisher: Pasidian Press
Genre: Paranormal/Fantasy, Contemporary Romance
Pages: 374

Synopsis (from Author): No matter where you are, facing your reality with passion and purpose will always lead down the path you were intended to go. 

While Reece Bryant is making her way through this world on her own, she is suddenly confronted with the truth of her existence, and the reality of her future. It is when she encounters two alluring and mysterious men, that a series of extraordinary events takes place, putting Reece’s life in grave danger. With her life in the balance, Reece must blindly trust the two mysterious strangers; and when she does, she is brought into an enchanting world that is beyond her logical comprehension. 
This captivating land reveals new worlds and new dimensions to which her existence is paramount. But it is once she falls in love with the stunning Levi Oxley that everything will change, and Reece’s life will be in more danger than ever before. 
Forced to return to Earth and face a Council of Worlds, Reece discovers there is more to this enchanting dimension than she could have ever imagined. 
At a moment’s notice, even thru the fog of our denial, our journey can become crystal clear. And within the revelation, once our fear subsides, we can find contentment and purpose if we focus on the things that matter most. Trust—Courage—Love 

Awards: eBook Award Nominee, Global eBook Award Gold Medal - Fantasy, Reader’s Favorite 2014 Finalist - Young Adult Fantasy and Fiction Supernatural


Chapter One
The fall semester of Temple University’s medical program in Philadelphia had finally come to an end. Reece handed in her last final, and walked out toward the area where her friend Jack was meeting her to drive her to the airport. She had been dreading this day, not because of the finals, but because she was flying back to San Diego. Halfway through the semester, Reece had been notified that she would have to return home to settle the last of her father’s estate. 
Two years ago, the summer after she graduated from college, her father died of a massive heart attack. He left her alone; with no one she could call family. 
She had planned to stay in San Diego to pursue her medical degree, but it took nearly everything she had to stay and cope with her father’s death. In the end, she could no longer bear to live in the city that reminded her so much of him, and their years together. 
After his passing she fled to Philadelphia in search of a new life. She had settled in quickly, making a couple of friends who helped to take her mind off of what she had left behind. Her grades were excellent, and she could not have been more proud of how well she was doing on her own. She felt strong.
Now, she had to return and face again the reality of it all again; the painful memories and feelings of weakness that she had so successfully suppressed. 
She was determined not to let this trip tear down the strength she had found. She refused to let the past haunt her anymore. The trip would not be a long one; she would quickly handle the paperwork regarding the sale of her father’s home, and then return to her life in Philadelphia.
“Hey, Reece,” a familiar voice called out, pulling her out of her distant thoughts. “You’re out early; I was just going to wait out at the benches for you.” 
Jack was getting ready to start his internship. He was an even tempered guy, and enjoyable to be around. They had developed a quick and entirely platonic rapport from the moment they met, and he always made her feel comfortable. 
She smiled. “Thanks for taking me to the airport, Jack. I hated to call you so late, but Lori’s cancellation was kind of last-minute.” Lori and Reece had shared an apartment since Reece’s arrival in Philadelphia. 
Jack placed his arm around her shoulders as they started walking. “So, when is Lori going to admit she’s in love with me, and get rid of that geek, Mitch?” 
Reece chuckled. “When you get over yourself, and you’ve shown you can stay in a relationship longer than one night.” 
He stared back at her. “Figures. Why do women always wait for Prince Charming to come along? I could be Prince Charming if that’s what it takes.” he laughed at himself. 
“Jack, I’m sure you could. I think many of your girlfriends thought you were!” 
“Well, whatever dork Lori wants to date is her problem, not mine. I’ve never been the type to attract the brunettes anyway. It’s always the blonde’s that seem to be attracted to men like me.” 
Reece stared at him incredulously, “You’re unbelievable.”
He laughed. “Actually, come to think of it, there is one blonde haired, blue eyed girl that hasn’t fallen for my charming sensibilities…” He looked at her and smirked.
Reece shook her head, “And that’s not going to change, either! I don’t get it.”
“Get what?” 
“The fact that you have to stereotype every female you come across. How shallow can one person be? You’re actually judging your relationships with women by the color of their hair? It’s stupid, and it’s half the reason you can’t stay in a relationship longer than one day.”
Jack laughed, “Awe, Reece, that’s what I love about you, always trying to keep me in line. And you know what? You’re probably right.”
“I’m always right.”
Jack dropped her off at the airport about two hours before her flight. Airports, ugh. If there was any place that she dreaded, it was an airport full of rush and chaos. On this trip, she had enough to contend with without additional stress. 
She gritted her teeth through the security inspection, then shouldered her backpack and made the rounds of the shops, hoping to keep her mind occupied. She studied what seemed to be every souvenir in the terminal, then headed over to her departure gate and found a seat. She had at least half an hour before boarding.
As she sat back, she noticed two young business men walking toward the gate. They were dressed immaculately, in perfectly tailored suits that gave off an air of absolute supremacy. It wasn’t their magnetic and powerful presence that had her studying both of them, but there was something strangely familiar about them. Even so, she couldn’t place their faces from any class she’d been in. Well, it’s obvious they wouldn’t be in college, Reece, they’re dressed like they own the airline company. Who are these guys? It was bothering her that she couldn’t identify where she had seen them before.
One was dark-haired. Tall, dark, and very handsome, she thought with an internal chuckle. He was probably in his late twenties, but had an intimidating presence. He walked as though he commanded the entire gate, perhaps the entire airport. She frowned, trying to figure out whether it was the way he held himself, or the odd sense that she knew him, that caught her attention.
The blond man beside him was about the same height, and equally stunning, but less intimidating. The good-humored expression on his face set him apart from the other man. He looked as though he was recalling the punch line to a good joke. The men walked through the waiting area and stood near the large windows, away from the crowd. 
Without warning, the dark-haired man looked away from his friend and stared directly at Reece. Their eyes locked, and she startled, but tried to continue gazing casually around the room. Her eyes didn’t see what was in front of them, though; she was wondering why these men seemed familiar. 
She could not resist another glance back toward the window. The blond man was already staring directly at her. Busted. Perhaps she hadn’t been as discreet as she’d thought. He smiled vibrantly at her to confirm it. 
Oh, well... She gave him back a smile, and looked past him at the sky outside. Thankfully, boarding was now announced. Reece stood and turned away.
Knowing this would be a long flight, Reece had opted to fly first class. She was one of the first to board, and found a comfortable aisle seat. 
Two uniformed pilots sat in the front row. Perhaps they were going to take over the flight after Chicago, where more passengers would board. As soon as the airplane moved away from the gate, Reece rested her head against the leather headrest, closed her eyes, and allowed herself to drift off. It seemed now that the long week was finally catching up with her.
She woke enough to refuse when an attendant approached her to ask about refreshments. As she laid her head back, the two pilots in the front row stood and walked toward the cockpit. That’s a bit out of the ordinary, Reece thought sleepily. 
She heard a step and looked backward down the aisle. Through the curtain that separated first class from coach, stepped the two young men she had seen earlier. They didn’t stop, but walked toward the cockpit. Now, she was a little concerned. Both men looked extremely somber. She noticed their blue eyes. Very blue eyes. They were almost—they were glowing, like sapphires reflecting the light. 
Reece looked around at her fellow passengers, but no one seemed to notice anything strange. In fact, no one seemed to notice anything at all; they all stared straight ahead like mannequins, and the flight attendants were nowhere to be seen.
Now the two men were in the cockpit. Must be crowded with six in there, Reece thought nervously. Her heart beat faster. 
The aircraft then went through an odd array of motions. It banked hard in one direction, and then immediately dropped. Reece’s stomach reacted instantly, and she gripped the armrests so tightly there should have been finger dents in them. The plane was climbing now. She looked for some comfort from the other passengers, but found none. Everyone in the cabin was expressionless and stoic, staring blankly ahead. Reece began to wonder if it could all be some strange dream. 
Just then, the plane lunged sharply forward; it felt as though they were in a nose dive, speeding back down toward the Earth. Suddenly, a flash of light lit up the cabin, blinding Reece. While she was still dazed, another blinding flash lit the cabin. 
After the two bright flashes, the airplane started to level out. The lights in the cabin flickered. It seemed the bright lights were the cause of the electrical malfunctions in the aircraft. Or was it the other way around? At any rate, they were not heading downward anymore.
Reece began to calm down. The plane flew smoothly without any more abrupt movements. Quiet conversations sounded around her, and she felt as though she were waking from a trance. The cabin was dark, and the people around her were talking to each other with concern. 
A voice came over the intercom. “Good evening, passengers. This is your pilot speaking. It seems that our aircraft is experiencing various forms of technical difficulty. There is no need for any undue concern, but to err on the side of caution, we have requested, and have been granted, clearance to return to Philadelphia. We are en route there now. I ask that all passengers remain seated until we return the aircraft safely to the ground.”
Reece remained quiet; she did not know what to believe. Shortly after the pilot made his announcement, the airplane began its descent. Once safely on the ground again and the airplane slowly returned to an open gate, the pilot came over the intercom again, thanking the passengers for their cooperation and expressing his apologies for the inconvenience. Reece sat in shock and wondered if it had been a dream. Dream or reality, I want off this plane, she thought, and she grabbed her backpack.
As she followed the group back into the airport, she noticed the two young men again, walking ahead of her. The blond man was acting as if he had just got off a plane in Las Vegas after a winning streak, but the dark one seemed uninterested in his friend’s enthusiasm. They stopped, both of them staring down at some object in the dark one’s hand. Reece looked at them speculatively. They raised their heads simultaneously, looking directly at her. She could not pull her questioning eyes away from them, wondering if they were the cause of the airplane’s malfunctioning. They returned her gaze, seemingly as interested in her as she was in them. Everything in her wanted to stop and question them, but for fear of making a fool of herself, she turned her attention back to the crowd in front of her and continued to walk past them. Before turning the corner, she turned back one last time. They were both staring intently at her. The dark blond smiled at her warmly. There seemed to be more behind his smile than just politeness. 
After Reece managed to secure another flight out for the next morning, she called Jack for a ride home from the airport. She hated to bother him again, and should probably just take a cab ride home, but she’d rather not be in the presence of strangers after what she had just experienced. Jack had wasted no time returning to pick her up, and she was grateful for it. The distress of the strange flight started to diminish as soon as she was away from the airport. 
Jack dropped Reece of at her apartment. “Marti’s later?” he asked.
It was their usual coffee shop. “Sure.” she smiled at him. “Lori will bring Mitch; think you can stand it?”
He clasped his hands dramatically. “Ah, my broken heart!” Then he reverted to his normal voice. “Pick you up at six, okay?” 
Reece dumped her backpack at the door, plopped down onto the sofa, and turned on the television. She dropped her purse to the floor next to her and grabbed the remote. Flipping through the channels, she found a sea life documentary to watch. Graceful dolphins, swimming, swimming... Suddenly, she felt as if it were three in the morning; she could hardly keep her eyes open. She let her body relax and closed her eyes.
She woke abruptly from a dreamless sleep, thinking she’d heard the door. She sat up, looking toward the door, expecting Lori to enter. There was no sign of Lori, and no sign the door had been opened. The deadbolt remained in the locked position.
Old building noises. She sank back into the sofa, pulling over her the blanket they kept draped over the back. She leaned over to grab the remote control from the coffee table. 
Something moved. In the kitchen? It was just a glimpse, out of the corner of her eye. She sat back, taking slow breaths. Probably nothing. She stared into the kitchen—open to the living room, with a counter between.
Phone. She picked up her purse and fumbled around for her cell phone. As she retrieved the phone, she looked up and was stupefied by the figure standing in front of her. She tried to blink it away, but it remained; solid, unmoving. 
“Dad?” she whispered. 
She stared in amazement at the image of her father, standing in her living room. He didn’t move, or respond to her. He stood there, expressionless, as if he was studying her. 
Reece felt as if a heavy weight had landed on her, instantly paralyzing her. She could not do anything except stare at him. He was wearing the clothes he had worn the last time she saw him; dark brown slacks, and a crisp, blue shirt. 
Suddenly, he smiled his heartwarming smile. 
Reece’s eyes filled with tears, and the image blurred. She’d forgotten how much she missed him. She felt a flood of repressed emotions far greater than those she’d feared her trip to San Diego would evoke. His face, his presence, and his smile brought back vivid memories of him and their life together; memories she had tried to set aside so she could function without him. These were the memories that made her wonder how she could go through the rest of her life alone. 
Frightened by the realization that her deceased father standing in front of her, she squeezed her eyes shut, hoping this image would go away. Strangely, the weight lifted slowly, and she regained control of her large muscles. When she dared to open her eyes, he was gone. She felt both frustration and relief. Was her perpetual anxiety over her impending trip causing hallucinations now? She needed to get hold of herself. 
Slam! Reece leaped off the sofa and turned back toward the door.
“Geez, girl! What are you doing here?” It was Lori, jumping back into the doorway and dropping her Keys.
With her hand over her heart, Lori stared at Reece in shock. Reece was the mirror image of Lori, with her hand covering her chest. She took a deep calming breath. “Sorry Lori, my flight was pushed out until tomorrow. The plane had issues or something.” 
Lori let out a sigh of relief and bent over to pick up her Keys. “Well, that’s…” she started.
“Never a good thing, I know.” Reece finished her sentence. 
An hour later, they were all in Jack’s car. He drove the car as if he were in a high-speed chase. 
“Slow it down, Jack,” Reece said. “I knew I should have taken own my car,” she muttered to Lori who sat next to her in the back seat.
Lori smiled and leaned forward to put a hand on Mitch’s shoulder. “You’re driving next time, honey.”
“Hey,” said Mitch, “I’m actually enjoying myself. It’s not every day I get to jump into a classic ‘67 Camaro SS. I’m curious, how fast can these cars really go?” 
A large smile stretched across Jack’s face. “I can fix your curiosity if you’d like.” 
Lori exhaled ostentatiously. “Why don’t you do that after you drop us off, Jack? Then you both can go kill yourselves together. What is it with men and cars?” 
Reece shrugged her shoulders. More talk about cars would just encourage Jack to do something stupid. “Hey, what do you guys think about going to dinner instead of coffee? I’m not really in the mood to sit in a coffee shop right now. School’s out and we’ve spent enough time there studying for finals.” 
Lori smiled. “Good call, Reece. I’m hungry, anyways. Let’s go to that new Italian restaurant. It’s supposed to be nice.” 
Jack laughed and responded. “Whatever you women want, I’m just the driver.” he looked toward Mitch. “You cool with that, Mitch? Oh wait, never mind, you’re always cool with anything.” 
He tried to make eye contact with Reece in the rearview mirror. Reece ignored him pointedly, looking out the window.
They were stopped at a red light, a block south of the restaurant. Pedestrians hurried past on the sidewalks. Two of them—What?—two of them were the young men who’d been on the airplane. Reece’s heart raced.
“Reece? What are you staring at?” Lori had grabbed her arm. 
“What? Um, well, there was… it’s just...” She turned back to look out the window, and the two men were gone. 
“Just what, Reece?” Lori said, trying to look past Reece out the window. 
“Oh, nothing. My mind was somewhere else. I’m sorry, what were you saying?” 
Lori laughed. “Girl, you need a cocktail or something! You’re starting to act delirious.” she laughed, but her eyes showed concern.
“I just need to eat something; it’s been a long day.” 
The restaurant’s parking lot was full. “Well, of course, this place is packed! Hopefully, the garage we passed has a spot available.” Jack huffed. “You girls need to learn how to cook dinner or something. By the time it takes me to park, you both could have cooked and served us men a nice, healthy meal.” He spun the car back down an alley to find more parking. 
“We ‘girls’?” said Lori. “You ‘men’? Learn to cook yourself, Jack! Until then, just park the car and quit complaining, or you can wait with it until we finish.” They pulled into an extra parking area and found a spot. Before he was out of his car, Jack noticed another car nearby. “Are you serious!” he said, walking up to it. “Check out this car, guys. It’s like some prototype or something.” 
Mitch walked over to the car while Reece and Lori stared at them both, annoyed by the delay. 
Lori called out to them, “It’s nice, Jack. What is it, a Porsche or something?” 
Jack laughed as he walked the length of the sporty black car. “It’s not a Porsche. I’ve never read, or heard, about anything like this! I wonder whose it is; this car has to be worth well over a hundred thousand bucks!” 
As he walked closer, the car emitted a warning sound. Reece crossed her arms. “Jack, can we GO? You are most likely about to meet the owner; I’m sure it has some kind of pager. I’m ready to eat.” 
Jack’s head snapped up, and he walked away from the car; turning back over and over, as if he wanted to check it out one more time. 
Once inside the restaurant, they were seated in a secluded, candle-lit nook behind a red brick archway. While waiting for their orders, they engaged in conversation about their challenging finals earlier that day. As usual, Jack entertained the group with his natural humor. It was definitely the environment Reece needed to take her mind off of the strange events from earlier.
In the midst of her laughter, Reece glanced up to see if the waitress was returning with their meals, only to be frozen in shock. Across the way, the two men from the plane were sitting at a table which faced theirs. The blond man was staring directly at her, and when she tried to act as though she hadn’t noticed them, he raised his wine glass in her direction and smiled. 
She looked back to Lori and Mitch sitting across from her, trying to shake herself into reality. Are they following me? Who are these guys?
Lori looked at her quizzically. “Reece, are you okay? You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Reece shook her head and tightened her fist angrily. This could not be happening. 
“What do you need?” Jack said. “I’ll get the waitress. Why are you so tense?” 
Reece heard all of their voices like echoes in the background as she pulled herself together. She closed her eyes and unclenched her fists. “Water,” she said softly. “I just wanted to see if refills were coming.” 
She had to pull it together, and she would do it now. Reece would not allow these men to intimidate her in anyway. Whether or not these two interesting men had anything to do with the strange occurrences on the plane, or if they were following her now, she would prove to them she wasn’t afraid of them. Inwardly she was concerned, but she would not let them see that.
Jack was the one to break the silence. “All of this over a glass of water? Stay here; I’ll go get the waitress.” Reece clutched his hand. “Sheesh, Reece, can you release the death grip? I won’t make a scene, but Lori’s right; you look like you’ve had a paranormal experience or something.” 
Shortly thereafter, the waitress appeared with refills, followed by other staff with their plates. Jack sat back, and once the staff left, Reece laughed. “Sorry guys, it has been a very long day. I think I just need to eat. This food smells delicious, doesn’t it?” 
Her friends looked worried. She knew they’d never seen her act this way. And quite frankly, she was beginning to worry herself. 
Reece ignored their discomfort. She started in on her plate, took a bite, and smiled brilliantly. “Guys, stop staring at me, we don’t need any more drama.” she laughed as she took another bite, “Now, what were we talking about before I almost melted down over a glass of water?” 
Jack didn’t hesitate to break up the awkward moment. While he continued to relax everyone at the table with his humor, Reece reached for her glass of wine. She felt the eyes of the men stealing glances at her, and now it was time to show them, they didn’t intimidate her. 
She looked over at their table. Both men were engaged in conversation, but must have noticed Reece watching them. The dark haired man looked over at her, bringing the blond one’s eyes to follow his gaze. After Reece had the blond man’s attention, she arched her brow, raised her wineglass to him, and smiled with confidence. The darker one’s lips turned up slightly, while he brought his attention back to his friend, the one who Reece was gazing directly at. The blond chuckled softly, and returned her smile with amusement. Then, without another glance back to Reece, he returned to his plate before him. 
Handsome or not, Reece was annoyed that these two mysterious men were playing games with her. It was best if she just ignored them from here on out. She knew if she didn’t, it would not take much for her to walk over to their table and start demanding answers. With that in mind, she engaged herself in the lively conversation her friends were now having, and ignored any desire to return her attention back to the men.
The rest of dinner was uneventful, and Jack entertained everyone so well that they seemed to forget about Reece’s odd behavior. 
Back at the apartment, Reece wished Lori a good night, and fell into bed. The alarm clock would ring soon enough. 

International Award winning author S. L. Morgan grew up in the beautiful Sierra Nevada mountains of California. Over the past nine years, she and her husband, Jason Morgan, their three kids moved throughout the United States. Recently, S.L. Morgan was blessed to move back to her hometown of Oakhurst California where she is currently editing the third book in the Ancient Guardians Novel Series.
S.L. Morgan was born telling vivid and long stories to anyone who would listen. With a personality that is extremely driven, she finally decided to put her stories to paper. With her passion and love for Jane Austen classics and the wonderful imaginative books from C.S. Lewis, she created the new Novel Series, Ancient Guardians.
Recently S.L. Morgan has been honored with awards for The Legacy of the Key, winning the 2014 Reader’s Favorite Silver medal for Fiction: Supernatural and also winning gold in the Global eBook awards for Fiction: Fantasy Romance. The Legacy of the Key was also a recipient of four 5-star review seals from Reader’s Favorite reviews.
With her second book in the series published, receiving a 5-star seal from Reader’s Favorite Reviews and now a nominee for the Global e-book award, S.L. Morgan is currently working on edits for the third book in her series.
When not entirely consumed by writing and editing, S.L. Morgan absolutely loves to be out on her boat in the summer or hitting the slopes in when winter comes around. She prides herself in her Starbucks Gold card and is convinced this series would have never made it to publishing without a Venti Café Americano.
With a profound love for her family, life and friends; S.L. Morgan enjoys every minute of every day, endeavoring to live her life at its fullest. With a very open and friendly personality, she enjoys interacting with her reader’s and helping those in need.
Humbled with every book review, be them good or bad, S.L. Morgan continues to write in her series with the hopes of entertaining more and more reader’s everyday.

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