Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Books I'm dying to read in 2014

Hey everyone! 2014 is only one day away (or a few hours, depending on your time zone; or maybe it's already here, in which case Happy New Year!!) and I've been thinking of all the awesome books that will be published in 2014. I have a big list of those (who doesn't?) and I hope I'll have time to read them all. Here are a few of those books:


  • Opposition by Jennifer L. Armentrout - I am so not ready for this series to end *sobs* I really loved Daemon and Katy's story and the latest book just broke my heart. :-(
  • Illusion by Sherrilyn Kenyon - Seriously, no list would be complete without at least one book by my favorite author in the whole wide world. Inferno not only finished in a most surprising way, it also had some big details regarding the world of the Dark Hunters and a certain group of characters. After reading Styxx I am dying to know if my suspicions regarding some characters are correct or not. 
  • Silver Shadows by Richelle Mead - I wasn't so surprised by what happened at the end of The Fiery Heart. After reading the Vampire Academy series, I've actually been expecting something like that to happen. What will be a huge surprise is what comes next. There are a few things I'm keeping my fingers crossed for.
  • Sweet Reckoning by Wendy Higgins - Another amazing series is ending next year and my heart is breaking over this one. But I really can't wait for this one and I hope there will be some major ass kicking in it :D
  • The Forever Song by Julie Kagawa - I can't wait to see what happens with Zeke and Allie and the rest of the gang. I am not ready for this series to end, but I sure am excited about this book. 
  • Let The Storms Break by Shannon Messenger - I read the first book a few days ago, during the #31 days of reading on Pulseit.com and I loved it a lot. I can't wait to see what's coming and I am very curious about the cover for book 3.
  • Uninvited by Sophie Jordan - Killer gene and amazing hair on that cover. Need I say more?
  • White Hot Kiss by Jennifer L. Armentrout - I loved Bitter Sweet Love and it was my very first book about gargoyles. I love gargoyles (both the statues and the cartoon, remember that one?) and I am so ready to read more about these creatures :D


  • Son of No One by Sherrilyn Kenyon - Apparently there's a secret about Thorn that's going to be revealed in this book. I can't wait to see what this secret is. I am hoping this book won't break my heart as much as Styxx did. I don't think it could handle it. I am, however, ready for awesomeness :D
  • Melting the Ice by Jaci Burton- This is another of my favorite authors and she writes amazingly sexy, funny and good stories. The Play by Play series is one of my favorites and I am so happy it's not ending anytime soon.
  • Revenant by Larissa Ione - I know Reaver just came out, but I am soooooo excited to read about this character's story. If you've read Reaver, you know who Revenant is. If you haven't read it, go ahead and do it!
  • Chained By Night by Larissa Ione - I really loved the first book in the series. Plus, it has vampires and they never get old for me :D
  • The Professional parts 2 & 3 by Kresley Cole - I adored the first part and I seriously need to read more of Sevastyan and I'll pretend the heroine is actually named Ruby *wink*wink*nudge*nudge*

I am missing a few books that I am absolutely dying to read, but I can't help it. In case you want to see the whole list, go here. What about you? What are the books you can't wait for in 2014?

Monday, December 30, 2013

Book Highlight: The Forgotten Ones by Laura Howard

Title: The Forgotten Ones
Author: Laura Howard
Genre: New Adult Fantasy
Series: The Danaan Trilogy #1
Published: April 28, 2013

Allison O'Malley's plan is to go to grad school so she can get a good job and take care of her schizophrenic mother. She has carefully closed herself off from everything else, including a relationship with Ethan, who she's been in love with for as long as she can remember.

What is definitely not part of the plan is the return of her long-lost father, who claims he can bring Allison's mother back from the dark place her mind has gone. Allison doesn't trust her father, so why would she believe his stories about a long forgotten Irish people, the Tuatha de Danaan? But truths have a way of revealing themselves. Secrets will eventually surface. And Allison must learn to set aside her plan and work with her father if there is even a small chance it could restore her mother's sanity.

Laura Howard lives in New Hampshire with her husband and four children. Her obsession with books began at the age of 6 when she got her first library card. Nancy Drew, Sweet Valley High and other girly novels were routinely devoured in single sittings. Books took a backseat to diapers when she had her first child. It wasn’t until the release of a little novel called Twilight, 8 years later, that she rediscovered her love of fiction. Soon after, her own characters began to make themselves known. The Forgotten Ones is her first published novel.

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Saturday, December 28, 2013

2014 Bookish Resolutions

Hey people! I hope you had a fantastic Christmas and that Santa brought you all the goodies you wished for.

So, we all make New Year's resolutions. I tell myself every year I will not, but the last week of December starts and I'm back to planning stuff for next year. I don't know, maybe I'm just bored or something, but I keep making them. I thought that instead of making resolutions for my personal and/or professional life (those resolutions are a tad boring and they get so repetitive) I'd stick to bookish resolutions this year.

  • Read from the TBR pile more
Since I decided not to make any more requests for ARCs, this should be doable. I plan on making a dent in my 1000+ mountain of TBR next year. Hopefully, it will count for something, though I believe that list is a descendant of Hydra.
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  • Lower thy expectations
This one is a bit harder to keep, but I've noticed the bigger the hype around a book and the more a book is loved by most of my fellow bloggers, the higher my expectations. I will try in 2014 to not let my expectations get so big.

  • Write down reviews as soon as I finish reading a book
This is something that I never do and while most of the times it's not problematic and I can remember most of what happened during the book I'm trying to review, I've had some problems recently. Granted, I've been under a lot of stress what with my exams and my dissertation, but I still want to make a habit of writing the review right after I finish the book.
  • Schedule posts more often
I know, I'm terrible with this, but I promise I'll get better. I swear!
  • Read the books I already own before buying new ones
Actually, this could go hand in hand with the first resolution. I figure the first step in making a dent in my TBR pile would be to actually read the books I've already bought, the ones that are patiently waiting on my shelves and that are silently begging me to read them. So I'll do that this year.
  • While reading, take notes that actually make sense
I have found that taking notes during reading helps me write better reviews. I didn't think it was possible, at first, but I've tried it and it actually works. HOWEVER. I actually need to take notes that make sense. I scheduled a review for a book I read a few weeks ago and I found it rather difficult to understand what the hell I was talking about when I wrote certain things down. So maybe I'll get a notebook and use it and write down something that is easy to understand. Maybe even write down page number, start of the paragraph, stuff like that.

This is the list that I came up with and I want to meet every goal I for myself, so I'll keep my fingers crossed. What about you? Did you make any resolutions for 2014? I'd love to hear about them.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Book Highlight: Astrid, The Dragonslayer's Blacksmith: a mini novel by Resa Nelson

Astrid constantly worries about her place in the village of Guell. She loves being the apprentice of Guell’s blacksmith, Temple. But Temple bought her from a childseller many years ago, which means Astrid has no blood kin in Guell. If anything should happen to Temple she’s likely to lose her home, her work, and her sweetheart, DiStephan, the dragonslayer’s son.

One day Astrid’s worst fear comes true when Temple and DiStephan fail to return from a short journey to a nearby village. A teenage boy named Finehurst arrives in Guell, claiming to be Temple’s nephew and rightful heir – and insisting that he saw Temple and DiStephan killed by a dragon. The villagers are divided in their opinion of Finehurst, but Astrid is soon thrown out of her own home, desperate to find a way to regain it. Before the dragonslayer goes in search of his missing son DiStephan and Astrid’s mentor Temple, he sets forth a challenge for Finehurst and Astrid to prove their blacksmithing skills by forging a dagger. Normally, Astrid would be confident, but the village’s iron supplies are so low that she doesn’t know how she can possibly make a dagger that can prove her worth.

Astrid, The Dragonslayer’s Blacksmith is an all new mini novel that takes place in Resa Nelson’s Dragonslayer world (the 4-book series includes The Dragonslayer’s Sword, The Iron Maiden, The Stone of Darkness, and The Dragon’s Egg). Appropriate for adults and teens, ages 14 and up.
Buy it: Amazon
Author Pages: Twitter | Website

Hey guys! I've been obsessed with this awesome series for almost two years now and I was soooo excited to hear there's a new story in this world!! And because Resa is sooo fantastic, she is giving this book for free on Amazon. That's right, FREE!! So, click here and get it right now!! And hurry up, it will only be free until December 27th.

End of Year Book Survey 2013

Hey everyone! I'm back! I decided this year I was going to do the "End of Year Book Survey" hosted by the awesome Jamie from Perpetual Page Turner. Here we go!

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1. Best Book You Read In 2013? (If you have to cheat — you can break it down by genre if you want or 2013 release vs. backlist)

While I've read a lot of awesome books, I have to say none of them tops Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon.

2. Book You Were Excited About &  Thought You Were Going To Love More But Didn’t?

There are two books that fit here. One of them is Partials by Dan Wells. The other one I haven't finished reading yet (which is why I won't mention the title), but from what I've read so far I feel like I'm definitely missing something, because almost all the reviews I've read are more than just glowing and positive. I will finish reading it, but so far I don't seem to click with this book.

3. Most surprising (in a good way!) book of 2013?

Mad World: Epidemic by Samarie Provost. I wasn't expecting to like a zombie book. Granted, the zombies are the bad guys, but still, it was surprising.

4. Book you read in 2013 that you recommended to people most in 2013?

Errr...Hmmm. I am ashamed to say I can't think of any book I've recommended this year. I mean, I did do some book pimping, but not with books I've read this year. Oops.

5. Best series you discovered in 2013?

Lux by Jennifer L. Armentrout.

6. Favorite new author you discovered in 2013?

Jennifer L. Armentrout, Veronica Roth, Debra Driza and I'm sure I'm forgetting a few other awesome authors out there.

7. Best book that was out of your comfort zone or was a new genre for you?

The Mad World series by Samaire Provost was a new one for me. Like I said before, I've never read about zombies, but I liked it :D

8. Most thrilling, unputdownable book in 2013?

Right now it's a tie between Larissa Ione's Reaver and Sherrilyn Kenyon's Styxx. Both are simply amazing.

9. Book You Read In 2013 That You Are Most Likely To Re-Read Next Year?

Ha! I like this question. So besides the by now obvious Reaver and Styxx (because those two need to be read at least two or three times) I can't wait to re-read Let The Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger

10. Favorite cover of a book you read in 2013?

11. Most memorable character in 2013?

Four from Divergent *swoon*.

12. Most beautifully written book read in 2013?

Nantucket Blue by Leila Howland.

13. Book that had the greatest impact on you in 2013?

If we're talking book hangover then definitely Styxx. I couldn't touch another book for about a week or so.

14. Book you can’t believe you waited UNTIL 2013 to finally read?

Obsidian by Jennifer L. Armentrout. I kept mentally smacking myself for not picking this up earlier.

15. Favorite Passage/Quote From A Book You Read In 2013?

This is one of the funniest I could think of and if you've read the Dark Hunter series, you know all about Artemis and her vocabulary problems :D And before you ask, yes, this is from Styxx.

Artemis smiled. “Yes, well, payback’s a cat.”
Acheron sighed and rubbed his head. “I absolutely give up.” 

16.Shortest & Longest Book You Read In 2013?

I'm not sure about the shortest book, but the longest is Styxx by Sherrilyn Kenyon, with 836 pages.

17. Book That Had A Scene In It That Had You Reeling And Dying To Talk To Somebody About It? (a WTF moment, an epic revelation, a steamy kiss, etc. etc.) Be careful of spoilers!

Okay, I'm going to sound like a broken record here, I know. After I read Styxx I had this massive book hangover. During it I decided to stick with Sherrilyn Kenyon and I sort of re-read the latest installment in Chronicles of Nick, Inferno. There's one scene there that ties Chronicles of Nick and Styxx and I won't talk about it because of major spoilers. But it left me wide eyed and half confused because I have no idea what to do with that information.

There was another book that had a WTF moment and it's in Onyx by Jennifer L. Armentrout and it involves two characters that were previously thought to be dead.

18. Favorite Relationship From A Book You Read In 2013 (be it romantic, friendship, etc).

Lottie and Zan from Deeper We Fall by Chelsea M. Cameron have a very strange relationship. Yes, it eventually turns into a romantic one, but their pasts are so painful that it makes their story very unique.

19. Favorite Book You Read in 2013 From An Author You’ve Read Previously

The Indigo Spell by Richelle Mead was fantastic.

20. Best Book You Read In 2013 That You Read Based SOLELY On A Recommendation From Somebody Else

The Assassin's Curse  by Cassandra Rose Clarke. I joined the Book Buddies group on BookBlogging and Anya from On Starships and Dragons wanted to read the second book in the series. We buddied up to read it, but I had to read the first one as well. I really enjoyed the book and I'm halfway through the second book now. I enjoy the world in this series a lot and I hope there will be more to follow :)

21. Genre You Read The Most From in 2013

This is a hard one to answer. Definitely fantasy, but I couldn't tell you the sub-genre very well. I am sure, however, that I didn't read as many contemporaries as usual.

22. Newest fictional crush from a book you read in 2013?

Four from Divergent is my newest obsession.

23. Best 2013 debut you read?

Mila 2.0 by Debra Driza was pretty awesome. Also The Nightmare Affair by Mindee Arnett.

24. Most vivid world/imagery in a book you read in 2013?

Let The Sky Fall by Shannon Messenger, The Assassin's Curse.

25. Book That Was The Most Fun To Read in 2013?

I can't choose a book for this, because I have fun reading any book. I don't have a scale for how much fun I have reading a book. If I did, then all would be at a 10.

26. Book That Made You Cry Or Nearly Cry in 2013?

I cried like a baby reading Styxx. I tear up just remembering certain scenes.

27. Book You Read in 2013 That You Think Got Overlooked This Year Or When It Came Out?

Errr...I am ashamed to say I have no idea. I usually don't pay attention to how much a book is talked about unless it's way to obvious and the hype is inescapable (think Twilight).

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Book Highlight: The Crescent by Jordan Deen

The Crescent by Jordan Deen
Young Adult, Paranormal
190 pages; published January 14th, 2010

Becoming a werewolf is not an option for seventeen-year-old Lacey Quinn, but death can be a strong motivator.

Lacey is so focused on her future that everyday life has passed her by. Counting down the days to her eighteenth birthday, Lacey is almost home free. But when she falls for the mysterious Alex Morris, she lands in the middle of an ancient war between two enemy wolf packs. Tempting dreams, tantalizing lies and a dangerous love triangle ensues leaving Lacey heartbroken and confused.

Lacey's fate rests in the hands of Alex and Brandon, but both are pulling her strings for their own agendas. Even as she slips further into the dark world of werewolves, Lacey struggles to find the truth and save the only family she's ever known.

A cool breeze shook Mom’s rose bushes and the few hedges that surrounded one side of the patio. But when the wind stopped, the bushes didn’t. I froze staring into the darkness trying to see the threat that was waiting just to the side of my family home. I held my breath trying to decide whether or not to make a run for it. I couldn’t hesitate much longer. Rising slowly from the swing, I lingered again trying to judge the distance between the swings and the safety of the kitchen door.

Can I make it before it gets me? IT! Coming outside again tonight was a bad idea.

 Jordan Deen is an Award-Winning Young Adult and New Adult Author from East St. Louis, Illinois. Her debut novel, THE CRESCENT was a 2010 Reader's Favorite Award Winner. Her second novel, HALF MOON released in 2011. BREAKING LAUREN is her third novel and was a finalist in the Texas Literary Awards. The sequel, LOSING LAUREN will be released on 12/5/2013.

She can usually be found curled up in her favorite chair with a book or her laptop. She is the proud mother of one crazy little boy and an even crazier teacup Yorkie.

Jordan is Indie published, as well as traditionally published with Black Rose Writing.
'Life is about the journey...'
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Monday, December 9, 2013

Blog Tour Book Review: Mad World Desperation by Samaire Provost

Author: Samaire Provost
Series: Mad World #3
Publisher: Black Raven Books
Release Date: October 4th 2013
My Rating: 4.5 cups
Source: review copy provided by author in exchange for an honest review
Blurb (from Goodreads):

“Forget what you thought you knew about this story, because everything is about to change.
With Alyssa near death, Luke, Jacob and their companions make a desperate attempt to reach Boston with the final ingredient needed for the plague antidote. They must travel through the Canadian wilderness, some of the roughest country in North America. Along the way they are joined by new friends and old as they fight to reach their destination and save Alyssa. What they don’t know is that something is hunting them.
Something evil is lurking, waiting to strike when they least expect it.
After years of fighting courageously against the living plague, they’d thought they knew their enemy. They’d believed their wits, bravery and strength would be enough to win this fight against the threat that had overrun so much of the world they once knew. But they were wrong.
Now Luke, Risa, Jacob, DeAndre and Jonathan face their most dangerous trials yet as they battle the ever-present zombie threat, along with a new challenge they never saw coming. How many ways can this plague try to kill them? Find out, in the latest installment of the Mad World series.”

I have been waiting for this book for so long! I was actually a bit scared to start it at first, because of the huge cliffhanger at the end of the previous book and I seriously hoped nothing bad would happen to the characters I've grown to love.

The book is everything I expected it to be. The action is very fast paced and it kept me on the edge the whole time. There were a few big surprises that I did not expect along the way. The first one is that this book is told not from Alyssa's POV, like I was used to, but from Luke's, her son. It was a good surprise and a good change. It really is a great thing to see the events told from someone else's perspective. There where other things that I didn't expect, but they were all positive. I can't really talk about them, because of spoilers, but trust me when I say that they don't disappoint.

There were some scenes that are very creepy and very detailed. They weren't necessarily as gross as I was expecting them to be, or at least not all of them, but there were some that were pretty terrifying. There were some other scenes that just blew my mind. A few of them made me extremely sad and the amazing thing is that they were about the zombies, the "bad" guys.

We also get to see someone from the past that I never thought we'd see. He was a nice surprise and I do hope we get to see more of him. In a very weird way, this guy kind of grew on me. We also get to meet new people and there are some new developments in this world that I think will be very interesting to discover in the next book.

There were some moments where certain scenes felt a bit too rushed, but all in all I really, really loved this book. I can't wait to see what happens next with the characters and if the plague will finally be stopped.

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Author Bio: 
Samaire Provost is a novelist living in California. Author of the Mad World trilogy: EPIDEMIC ~ SANCTUARY ~ DESPERATION. Her upcoming work is a vampire thriller slated to be released in early 2014.

Connect with Samaire!
Facebook | Twitter  | Goodreads | Amazon author page |  Blog

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Wednesday Chatter #5: What Makes A Great Villain

Wednesday Chatter is a weekly feature at Ruby's Books where we'll be talking about anything and everything related to books and reading. Click here if you want to see what we talked about in the previous weeks

WARNING: Some bad words might be used in the following post. Don't say I didn't warn you!

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I need a great villain. I realized that, for some reason, it's been a while since I read a book with a really awesome villain. I don't mean awesome as in sexy, I mean terrifying, bad to the bone, soulless, has-no-heart villain. Think Voldemort.

It seems that lately, I either read about a government organization full of bad people, or some easy to beat bad guys. I am wondering if maybe I'm alone in this and it's all just in my head, or maybe I haven't yet read the right books? So I thought long and hard about this (this is probably why my head hurts right now) and I came up with a list of traits that I think a perfect villain should have. Here we go.

Really, is it so hard to keep your plans a secret? Why do some villains have to put it all out there? Every time I read about a bad guy revealing their master plan I just want to scream. I want to be afraid of you, damn it!! I don't want to think about what I should do to escape you, because that's what I'll do if I know what your plan is. I want the bad guys to be a step ahead until a certain point. I want the good guys to suffer just a little bit and yes, I want the villain to win a battle or two. We all know that in the end the good guys always win in fiction, but I want them to work for that final victory. Telling them what the plan is really makes the experience less entertaining and it really makes them look bad. Think about it! If the good guys know early on what the villain is planning to do, shouldn't they be able to defeat him/her really fast?

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Remember in The Vampire Diaries season...I think it was the second one (??), when everyone was running from Elijah? And when Elijah finally catches up with Rose, Trevor and Elena, he kills Trevor even though he said he forgave him for helping Katherine run from the originals? Yeah, he was mean and all, but I got all tingly in my stomach because that's how a villain should act! He needs to be bad and ruthless, not some dainty flower easily impressed by innocence. I need a bad guy who's bad to the core!

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I know this one is slightly weird, but I need a villain that has a reason for being evil, an endgame if you'd like. Sauron wanted The Ring, Voldemort wanted to rule the magic world and eliminate all half-bloods, Klaus wanted to unlock his werewolf side and The Evil Queen wanted to be the most beautiful woman in the world and to kill Snow White. Each of these villains wanted something, something that somehow makes sense. And if you think about it, all villains that we've read about over and over or watched in movies or TV shows had a reason for doing what they were doing. I've read a string of books where the evil guys were evil just for the sake of evilness. Ugh!

Okay, I admit it, this is just an excuse to have another Tom Hiddleston gif *grins*

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Though seriously, a bad guy who can have a really "good" evil grin makes me even more scared.

You know, it kills me every time a bad guy tells everyone he/she is the one doing all the bad things in a book waaay before I've even started thinking about him/her. Seriously, is it just so difficult to keep their mouths shut about it? I was reading a book about a serial killer years ago and after only a few pages the killer popped up into a scene and very proudly announced the reader (in this case, me) that he was indeed the killer. Talk about a buzz kill. I want to be scared of you and I want to make up theories about who you are and what you look like. Ruining that experience for me really pisses me off. 

I can think of a few more things I believe a real villain does, like doing the unexpected (like Klaus turning Tyler into a vampire - I didn't see that one coming) or maybe have a surprising sidekick or mole (like in Bones when the weird serial killer was using Bones' assistant, Zack). Or maybe have minions. But they need to be bad guys and act like it. Maybe I'm not reading the right books? *taps chin* I'm open to suggestions of books about real villains, in case you want to help me :D

What about you? What do you think a real villain should act like?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Release Day Highlight: Proxy by Mindee Arnett & Giveaway

Title: Proxy by Mindee Arnett
Series: Avalon #0.5
If you need something stolen from any star system in the Confederation, you need look no further than the Shades. Jeth Seagrave and his band of teenage mercenaries have been making a name for themselves for being able to steal anything—and for disappearing before anyone is the wiser.

Their latest job, a jewel heist on Grakkus, should be no different. But when Jeth's boss replaces a key member of his crew just before takeoff, and Jeth discovers a betrayal within his own ranks, he begins to suspect that not everyone is going to be coming back from his job alive.

Proxy is an action-packed introduction to a world like nothing readers have seen before.

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   The thrill of the job never got old. Jeth Seagrave lived for it. For the way the anticipation sent electricity pulsing through his veins, making his blood burn hotter, his heart beat harder, and sharpening his senses until he felt like something more than human. A superhero from one of the ancient myths of First Earth, perhaps.
   You’re no hero. The automatic thought skidded through his mind, barely registering. No, he wasn’t. He was a thief. One of the best.
   And that was all that mattered. Never mind that he was only sixteen. Never mind that most of his crew was even younger. Together they were an unstoppable force, a gang of teenage thieves their adult marks never saw coming. The thrill pulsed harder inside him, and with an effort he focused on the nav monitor in front of him. They would be entering the patrolled zone around the planet Grakkus soon.
   To his left, Celeste piloted the Debonair forward, her hands steady on the control column. Jeth would’ve preferred to pilot this job—he would prefer to pilot every job—but he and Celeste took turns. All of the members of the Malleus Shades held specific roles that played to their strengths. Celeste’s forte was counterintelligence, particularly the art of distracting marks. Jeth’s was strategy, and he typically took point on every job. But when it came to piloting, he and Celeste were equally matched. Jeth drew a breath, still struggling to focus. He couldn’t help it. The upcoming job was the most challenging, complicated one they’d taken on yet. The target was located in a vault at the top of a tower only accessible through the emperor of Grakkus’s personal bedchambers—not some insignificant politician or petty crime lord, but an emperor. Pulling it off would be like flying a spaceship through a solar storm without getting fried. A grin threatened to break on his face. The job was going to be fun, and with a payout well worth the risk.
   At last the nav computer flashed an indicator that they were heading into the patrolled zone.
   Celeste glanced at him, her dark eyes narrowing. Straight black hair hung in a blunt cut down to her shoulders. “Are you going to turn on the stealth drive or what?”
   “I’m thinking about it.” A part of him didn’t want to. The so-called stealth drive was brand new and untested, at least by the Shades. If it didn’t work, things were going to get a whole lot more interesting real quick. And if it did work, well, then things weren’t going to get interesting. He couldn’t decide which he preferred.
   In the end, Celeste made the decision for him, reaching over to a switch on a sleek new section of the control panel. Jeth sighed. It was the right thing to do, of course, and there would be plenty of risks to be had once they landed.
   Or it might not work properly, he thought, examining the nav monitor once more. Best not to blindly trust some newfangled technology. Within minutes he spotted a blimp on the monitor, a patrol to their starboard.      
   The ship was far off, but within range to scan them.
   “What should I do?” A hint of panic colored Celeste’s voice. They had never before flown so boldly through a patrolled area. “Hold course,” Jeth said, not taking his eyes off the blimp. So far the patrol ship hadn’t given any sign that it had spotted them.
   “You sure you’re right?”
   “Aren’t I always?”
   Celeste snorted. “Do you want an honest answer?”
   “Nope. I prefer my own version of the truth.”
   “Right.” Celeste tightened her grip on the controls. According to the instructions they’d received from their employer, who owned the Debonair, the stealth drive worked best when the ship maintained a constant speed and course. Any sharp turns or drastic acceleration or deceleration could turn up on a system scanning for thruster signatures, stealth drive or no.
   Maybe it was for the best that Celeste was piloting, Jeth realized. He would’ve been tempted to test the theory of what constituted “drastic.”
   They passed out of range of the patrol a few minutes later, and Jeth sat back in the copilot’s chair, folding his arms across his chest as he tried to ignore his disappointment. They flew within range of three more patrols but moved past them without incident, finally breaching Grakkus’s atmosphere.
   Once through, Celeste headed for their rendezvous point, an isolated forested area a few hundred kilometers outside of the capital city. Beyond the bridge’s main windows, the first rays of sunlight were breasting the horizon, heralded by a swath of purple, pink, and vermillion.
   At last Celeste set the Debonair down on a large stretch of tall grass the color of seaweed. She powered off the engines and turned on the auxiliary, which would keep the shipboard systems running, including the stealth drive. It wasn’t likely that anyone would spot them out here—the place was well off the main thoroughfares, not to mention how inhospitable the swamp surrounding them was—but Jeth decided not to point that out.
   Celeste stood and stretched, the movement languid as if she were part cat. The dark, fitted clothing she wore aided the illusion. “So, what now?”
   Jeth checked his watch, which he’d synced to Grakkus time. “I say breakfast or lunch, whichever works, and then a couple hours’ R and R. The setup man’s not due to arrive until fourteen hundred.” They’d had to get here early to avoid being detected during landing. The stealth drive hid them from sight, but it couldn’t disguise the sound of the engines or the wind raised by the thrusters.
   “Think I’m going to shower again, before—” Celeste broke off as a voice echoed over the ship’s comm system.
   “Um, Boss? We sorta have a situation. You might want to get down to the common room.”
Jeth blinked, all his disappointment from their unadventurous journey vanishing in the space of a single breath.    It wasn’t often that Will Shady sounded nervous.
   Wondering if maybe the ship was on fire, Jeth turned and headed off the bridge with Celeste quick on his heels. They arrived in the common room on the deck below moments later. Jeth stopped in the doorway, surveying the scene. There wasn’t a fire. There wasn’t anything amiss at all, as far as he could tell. Shady was sitting on one of the sofas, his attention focused on the 3D projection from his portable gaming system, a wave of bloodthirsty robots coming at him, each one falling to his simulated gunfire. The comm unit he’d used to radio the bridge sat discarded on the sofa beside him, in danger of being swallowed by a cushion.
   Jeth approached him. “What are you doing?”
   “Practicing,” Shady said, not looking up. The scowl on his face as he let off a triple blast, drilling a robot right between its bulbous black eyes, made his features look distinctly leonine, the appearance aided by his shaggy mane of blond hair. Shady’s assigned role in the Malleus Shades was ordnance officer.
   Jeth put his hands on his hips. “We’re not going to be shooting anybody on this job. And please tell me this wasn’t the thing I needed to see.”
   Shady shook his head. “Nope. It’s in that storage locker.” He pointed to the row of lockers along the wall across from them. “The one in the middle.”
   Jeth arched an eyebrow. He considered pressing Shady for more, but knew there wasn’t much point. All the crew dealt with prejob nerves in different ways, and once engrossed in his ritual video game, it was hard to get Shady to concern himself with anything else.
   Jeth crossed the floor to the locker in question, wondering where the Debonair had been last. Their employer used the ship for lots of different jobs, and it was possible it had been parked planetside somewhere a wild animal could’ve gotten in. An image of something furry and clawed and with teeth the size of fingers flashed through Jeth’s mind. He wasn’t wearing a gun, and he briefly considered getting one before finding out what had Shady so nervous, but then he shrugged and pulled the door open. 
   There was something alive in there all right, but it wasn’t a wild animal. Even still, it took Jeth several moments to come to grip with what it was. Who it was.

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About The Author:

Mindee Arnett lives on a horse farm in Ohio with her husband, two kids, a couple of dogs, and an inappropriate number of cats. She’s addicted to jumping horses and telling tales of magic, the macabre, and outer space. She has far more dreams than nightmares. She's the YA author of The Nightmare Affair (Tor Teen), an urban fantasy series about a girl who is literally a nightmare and must use her skills to solve a murder, and the forthcoming science fiction series, Avalon (B+B, 1/21/2014), where Jeth and his teenage mercenaries need to pull off one last big job in order to earn their freedom.

Website: http://www.mindeearnett.com/
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