ARE YOU READY FOR THIS?
Probably not. It’s a lot of awesome for one day.
IT’S THE COVER REVEAL EXTRAVAGANZA.
Today, we are revealing not one, not two, but SIX covers and excerpts of upcoming releases you DON’T want to miss out on. Covers and excerpts will be added here are they are revealed, so keep an eye out here, on our Instagram, and Twitter to be in the know!
First up? A RIVER OF ROYAL BLOOD by Amanda Joy!
Next up we have JULIE C. DAO’s new fantasy…SONG OF THE CRIMSON FLOWER!
Scroll down to read an excerpt!
The music came in on the breeze.
Lan rushed to the window, the sleeves of her pale yellow robe fluttering like butterfly wings. “He’s here! Quick, put out the light!”
Her maid blew out the candles, plunging the bedroom into darkness, and Lan saw outside with a sudden sharp clarity: the great oaks sheltering the Vu family home, bending close together as though sharing a secret; the sunset-pink blossoms in the garden that smelled of summertime; and the grassy hill sloping down to the river two levels beneath her window. The warm breeze ran playful fingers through her long hair as she leaned out.
“Be careful, miss!” Chau begged. “What will I tell your parents if you fall?”
Lan brushed away the maid’s hands. “I’ve never fallen yet, have I? Hush, now.”
A boat glided over the water and stopped near the riverbank. In the moonlight, Lan could only see a sliver of the young man’s face, turned up toward her, and the shine of his bamboo flute. Tam, she thought, her mind caressing his beloved name. Her heart soared as he began to play, every sweet note ringing out as clearly as though he were in her room with her.
The music seemed a living, breathing thing. It whispered to her and danced in the air before her. The notes clung to her skin and the back of her throat. Lan pressed her hands against her flushed cheeks, thrilling at the beauty of it. Tam had come every night for two weeks and had played this song each time—her song, the melody he had written for her. He had tucked the lyrics into the hollow of their favorite tree, and she had learned them by heart:
Little yellow flower,
You crossed the grass and the wind kissed every blade
Your feet had blessed.
I see springtime in the garden of your eyes.
The flute sang for her, and her alone. It was his voice, telling her in music what he had always been too shy to say in words: that he loved her, that he couldn’t wait to spend his life with her, that both their families’ dearest hope was also his own. When he finished, he gazed up and lifted his hand to her, and Lan noticed the soft blue scarf tied around his wrist. She had given it to him along with a ruby dragonfly brooch, the heart-jewel a woman presented to her true love.
Chau, well versed in the routine by now, handed Lan several bundles of hoa mai. Lan kissed the sweet-smelling yellow flowers before tossing them to Tam. Most of them scattered on the surface of the water, but it was no matter. She knew he would gather each and every one, for she had watched him do it for fourteen nights. As she watched, he stooped to pluck a blossom from the river and kissed the petals her lips had touched.
The maid sighed. “How lucky you are to have such a beautiful romance, miss.”
“I am,” Lan said softly, stretching her hand to the boatman. She felt like a princess in the ancient ballads her father loved, with stars in her unbound hair. But the girls in those tales were always falling in love with men far beneath them. Tam was of a family equal to Lan’s, and the prospect of their marriage was as close to their approving parents’ hearts as it was to their own. “He’s perfect, isn’t he?”
Ready for another AMAZING COVER? Prepare yourself for AS MANY NOWS AS I CAN GET by Shana Youngdahl!
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Ten Months Ago, Early August
Mine Gulch Bridge · Graceville, Colorado
“I want to feel everything—what it’s like to be that heron, or those clouds, and to jump off that bridge.” David’s eyes were steady as a bird’s as he pointed upriver to where the old metal bridge glinted in the late afternoon sun. I smiled. I’d known people who’d jumped from it, but I’d never considered it. Too risky. Yet, in that moment, feeling like I could control the earth’s rotation, I grabbed David’s hand and we ran. Behind us we heard the others emerging from the forest to stack firewood on the sand. David pulled up on the guardrails, and steadied himself on a piling. I climbed up next to him. My bare toes gripped the railing as I swayed. David reached for me. Our fists laced together above the water.
“Ready?” he said. I wasn’t. But he’d already stepped into the air, so a millisecond behind him, I stepped off the bridge.
Leaving Albany, New York
I don’t remember meeting David Warren. That’s just part of growing up in a small town—some people are part of the landscape from the beginning. For many of them, this mountain-in-the-background or oak-tree-in-the-front-yard kind of permanence is just fine, unquestionable. There’s little change in their location relative to you, and they travel at predictable speeds. Hannah—my best friend from before I can remember—is like that, dependable like an oak in the front yard, always there. From the time we could toddle we were together: in the preschool sandbox; holding hands on our first day of elementary school; in fourth grade, exploring the trails behind my house and pretending the lookout bench was a one-room school; by middle school, taking cookies to our blue-haired ladies at Christmas. I have no first memory of Hannah, but that doesn’t matter. She was at every birthday party from one to eighteen. We grew together until it was time to part, and I left her standing in my front yard certain she’d be waiting there when I returned.
Still, there isn’t anything I could conjure from the dry mountain landscape of Graceville, Colorado, that might explain my friendship with David Warren. And so not remembering how I met him is like a black hole.
I asked my mom if she knew when I met David. I was hoping for some story like how we were kids at the park and he knocked me down with a hug but then threw sand in my eye, but Mom said she met his parents in childbirth class.
My roommate, Mina, thinks life in utero is like being behind a curtain, and that babies actually learn much more about the outside world than we give them credit for. She says this is why newborns turn their heard toward their mothers’ voices seconds out of the womb. Mina is probably right about this because she’s nerdy about things like developmental psych. It makes me wonder if David and I could have been communicating even then.
I bet he called out to me at those birthing classes:
“Hey! Scarlett! Does that breathing calm you?”
And I answered in the secret language of those not-yet-born, “I get more room to kick when she exhales.”
David laughed. “Ah, getting cramped in there?”
“Of course! What about you?”
“I can’t wait to get out,” he said, and elbowed his mother’s uterine wall for emphasis.
“Yeah, me too.”
That’s it. That’s how I met David Warren. Both of us in utero, cramped as hell, waiting for the right time to drop into position, to escape.
DROPPIN’ COVERS LIKE THEY’RE HOT! (Or, in this case, CHILLING.) Get ready for RULES FOR VANISHING by Kate Alice Marshall
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I don’t know who lets go. Maybe me. By then the urge to do it is so strong it’s a physical ache, pain through my wrist and shooting up to my elbow. It makes my teeth hurt, and I clamp them hard over the urge, but it isn’t enough. Or maybe it’s Anthony whose fingers slip away from mine. Maybe it’s both of us. It doesn’t matter. We start to take the step and by the time my foot comes down, my hand grasps nothing but air.
It lasts a second. Half a second. An instant of sweet relief, overpowering, and then panic sweeps over me, and I flail for his hand again. He catches mine, a moment of awkward grappling for each other before our fingers fit together again, and I let out a shuddering breath. I grip his hand with both of mine, getting my bearings.
“Sorry,” I whisper. “Okay. Seven—no, this is eight.”
We step forward. Faint vertigo makes me unsteady; I stumble. Anthony’s grip keeps me on my feet. I never want to let go.
“Nine,” I say. I take another step, Anthony slightly out ahead, guiding me. My foot lands strangely, on the edge of a stone, tilting toward bare dirt that compresses under the edge of my sneaker. “Hold on,” I say. “I think we’re—the road curves or something.”
Anthony doesn’t answer. And then I hear my name.
Anthony’s voice. Behind me. Far behind me.
“Sara, where are you? Where did you go?”
I can’t breathe. There’s something in my throat as solid as a stone.
Whose hand am I holding?
“Anthony?” I say. Barely a whisper. Louder, “Anthony?”
“Sara? I can hear you, barely. Where are you?”
I make a sound like a sob. The hand in mine doesn’t let go. Doesn’t tighten. Doesn’t do anything. I tug. It holds fast. “Let me go,” I whisper. “Let me go. Let me go. Let me go.” I pull. I twist my hand.
It holds fast. And slowly, slowly, starts to pull toward the edge of the road.
“Let me go!” I yell and strike out at where Anthony should be. Where it should be. My hand hits something. It tears under my fingers, sinewy but thin, warm and wet and shredding, filling the gaps between my fingers, like putting your hand through rotten fruit.
I scream. I rake at the hand in mine, my fingernails scraping over my own skin, digging painful furrows across my wrist and palm. The hand shreds, pulps beneath mine, still tugging me toward the edge of the road—and then there’s not enough of it left to hold me, and I fling myself away. Back toward Anthony’s voice.
“Sara! I’m coming!”
Next up is WE SPEAK IN STORMS by Natalie Lund!
Scroll down to read an excerpt!
On October 7, 1961, some of us snuck from our houses, climbing onto roofs, dropping into bushes. Some of us called to our parents: We’ll be at the movies. See you later. We ignored the sharp wind, the chill that ran along the collars of our letterman jackets and the tops of our ankle socks. We loaded the pickup beds with quilts and pillows and packs of beer stolen from our fathers’ basements. Or we piled into cars with our sweethearts, unable to keep our hands still, our skin from buzzing.
We drove into the country and parked our Catalinas, Coupes, VWs, and LeSabres in neat lines, mirror to mirror, facing the two-story whitewashed wall. We checked our watches, ordered pop from the waitresses, and made final trips to the outhouse, a few of us glancing warily up at the clouds. The projectionist started Breakfast at Tiffany’s, wobbly at first, the image gritty, and then, finally, everything was steady. Above us: our stars. We climbed into the back seats to neck our sweethearts, happy in the shadows. Or we sprawled with our friends in the truck beds like sleeping puppies, backs on knees, shoulder blades on stomachs, legs on legs. The movie’s light playing out on our faces, in our eyes.
The wind grew stronger, and those of us outside pulled the blankets up to our chins and scooted closer to one another. The rain was next, pelting the cars’ steel roofs. We squeezed into truck cabs, sitting on one another’s laps, or we continued to fog rolled-up windows, kissing furiously—as though we knew time was almost up.
The movie stopped. A bullhorn announced something, the voice lost in the wind. Cars started for the exit, but it jammed. Some of us watched through blurred windows and waited, thinking the storm would pass.
Then, abruptly, the rain stopped. We laughed at our fear and clamored for the projectionist to start the movie back up. We failed to notice that the night sky had become the color of jade. Even though we’d grown up in the Midwest, most of us had never seen a tornado. Not up close. Not with its great, wide spin, its tapering cone. We’d never heard the roar, the rumored freight-train scream.
Not until that moment.
We panicked, put our cars in reverse, and drove madly through the field, ignoring lanes and rights-of-way. There were crashes. Some of us spilled from our cars and sprinted for the snack bar, the outhouse, the ditches. There were those of us who screamed and those who froze, facing the tornado.
We were a whole generation of Mercer. We were sons and daughters, born at the end of our parents’ Great War. In a few years, we were supposed to go to college, join the military, marry, or stay home to help with the farm. We were supposed to leave and come back or never leave at all. We were supposed to raise children here, love them like we were loved, teach them loyalty to the town and its lore. Our children were supposed to sneak out of houses, pile into pickups, and watch their own stars. It was supposed to be a cycle, we thought. On and on and on.
How were we to know.
OUR LAST COVER DROP TODAY! Get ready for ALL THE BAD APPLES by Moïra Fowley-Doyle!
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ALL THE BAD APPLES
After the funeral, our mourning clothes hung out on the line like sleeping bats. It had rained in the cemetery and everything was muddy. Wet grass clung all the way up to our knees and clumps of muck stuck to the heels of our best shoes.
“This will be really embarrassing,” I kept saying to anybody who would listen, “when Mandy shows up at the door in a week or two.”
Rachel gave me a pitying look, but my best friend, Finn, was uncertain.
That’s the problem with having a funeral for your sister without really knowing whether she’s dead. Without a body in the coffin, how can you be sure she won’t come back?
1 A nice, normal girl
On my seventeenth birthday, two things happened.
I came out to my family (somewhat by accident).
And my sister Mandy disappeared.
Died, Deena, Rachel said—our other sister, the middle sister, the one who came between us. Died, not disappeared.
But I knew Mandy wasn’t dead.
It was raining that morning. I’d woken early, surfacing with a shock from dreams of drowning, of cliff faces with sharp teeth and gaping mouths. Rachel was already up when I came downstairs, frowning at her phone.
The table was set with the best china, the plates we saved for Christmas, and on mine were two strawberry Pop-Tarts—the birthday breakfast I’d loved when I was little. They were still hot; my sister must have heard the shower running, timed it perfectly. She had spread the good tablecloth, red with white polka dots, and had set a bunch of violets, my favorite, in a vase in the center. The birthday card beside my plate was the expensive pop-up kind. Rachel was always trying to make up for my lack of a mother by mimicking some ideal fantasy version.
“This is amazing, Rachel.”
But Rachel was distracted, still reading the text she’d just received.
“What’s wrong?” I asked.
“Dad’s on his way,” she said.
“He messaged just now to say he’s getting the train. He’ll be here this afternoon.”
“Yes.” My sister’s mouth was a thin line.
“As in our father?”
“Yes, Deena. Dad as in our father.”
I hovered in the kitchen doorway, watched my sister sigh and tuck a stray red curl—a darker, neater version of mine—behind her ear, rub her forehead with one finger like she was trying to erase the lines there.
“What do you think he wants?”
“Maybe he wants to wish you a happy birthday,” she said with a shrug. “Happy birthday by the way. Sorry. Should have led with that.”
I couldn’t find the voice to answer. I had a theory as to why our absent father should feel the need to visit this week. I didn’t think it was anything to do with my birthday.