Monthly Archives:: September 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

Shadowlark Tour Stop – Sneak Peek + Giveaway!

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Today I’m happy to have the Shadowlark blog tour stop by to give you a sneak peek as well as a giveaway! I enjoyed Skylark when I read it last year and I’m excited to find out what the sequel has in store for us! If you missed if, you can find my review of Slykark here!

Shadowlark Tour Stop – Sneak Peek + Giveaway!

Meagan Spooner
Series: Skylark #2
Genre: Dystopia, YA
Publication date: October 1st 2013
by Carolrhoda Lab

Ever since she escaped the city within the Wall, Lark Ainsley's wanted one thing: to find her brother Basil. She's always believed he would be the one to put an end to the constant fear and flight. And now, hidden underground in the chaotically magical city of Lethe, Lark feels closer to him than ever.

But Lethe is a city cowering in fear of its founder, the mysterious Prometheus, and of his private police force. To get the truth about what happened to Basil, Lark has no choice but to face Prometheus.

Facing her fears has become second nature to Lark. Facing the truth is another matter.

Lark never asked to be anyone's savior. She certainly never wanted to be anyone's weapon. She might not have a choice.

Chapter 1 Sneak Peek

Chapter 1:

The clockwork dawn is loudest in the old sewers. The sound of the machines pushing the sun across its track in the sky echoes through the tunnels, shaking the ground beneath my feet. Mortar crumbles from the ceiling and falls like snow- flakes, surrounding me in a column of white.
“Don’t worry,” I say, reaching out for Tansy’s hand. “This happens every day. It’s safe.”

She shrinks back from me, standing just beyond arm’s reach, twisting her hands together. “Where do we go?”

I turn in place, peering through the flakes of mortar. For a moment I’m disoriented, trying to make sense of the route I’ve known since childhood. There: a tunnel gapes black through the haze. “This way.”

Tansy can read the trees and the sky and the breeze, but this is my domain. This is the world I know. My path is certain—and where I falter, my brother’s ghost leads the way. It’s as though Basil’s just ahead, waiting for me to catch up.

I crawl into the sewer pipe and hear Tansy follow after. Her breathing grows sharp and heavy behind me, the air thick with magic and fear. She’s not used to confined spaces. In the clammy dampness of the sewers, her power shines in my second sight like a beacon, golden and warm despite the tunnel’s cold.
When we emerge into a junction, Tansy stumbles into the muck on her hands and knees. I reach out to help her to her feet, but she backs away, scrambling up on her own.
“Do you hear that?” she gasps.

I close my eyes, concentrating. There’s wind blowing some- where, whistling through the tunnels, and in the distance I can hear the rustling of leaves. But beyond that there’s something out of place, a sound that doesn’t belong. Pixies? No. Splash- ing, like footsteps. Kids, then. Rivals, trying to beat us to our destination. Other students come to break into the school.

“Come on, let’s move faster.” I can feel Basil’s ghost mov- ing further away, slipping out of my senses. “Hurry, and we can beat them there.”

“Wait, Lark.” She takes a step toward me, then stops, turning her head, trying to pinpoint the source of the sound. “Listen. They’re dangerous.”

I close my eyes again, and this time I can hear their snarl- ing. My foot slips in the muck, splashing loudly, and the snarls change to howls. They’ve heard us. In my mind, I can see their hungry white eyes, their sickly grey skin, their ravenous mouths.

Tansy reaches for her bow, but she’s not wearing it. Her hand closes on empty space. “What if we run into them in the tunnels? There’s no room to fight in there.”
“Fight?” My stomach twists, sickening. “You can’t fight them, they’re just children. They’re just like me.”

“That’s your problem,” Tansy protests. “You’re too soft. Too trusting. They’ll take advantage of that.” She takes a deep breath, trying to calm herself. “Fine. If you won’t fight, then we need to run. What about this way?” She sticks her head into a pipe leading east.

I know that route. I used it when I was younger. But some- thing halts me, the hairs lifting on the back of my neck. Basil didn’t go that way. I can’t sense him anymore—and that alone is enough to trigger the alarm bells in my mind. Basil is ev- erywhere down here. It’s the only place I know he still exists, the only place where I have more than just a folded paper bird to remember him by.

“No,” I whisper. “No. Not that way.”
“Lark, we have to go! Now, or they’ll find us!”
“That way’s wrong, it’s too small. I’m too old now to pass that way.” Around us the snow is hissing into the water, melting against our skin. Tansy’s hair is a halo of white.

“I don’t want to die here, underground, so far from the sky.” She starts trying to force herself into the pipe, stopped first by her shoulders and then, when she tries to go feet-first, by her hips.

I move away from her, eyes scanning the junction. It looks familiar. I’ve been here before, although it’s different now. Vines have grown through the cracks in the bricks, swarming up the walls, reclaiming these sewers for nature. In the spring it will all be moss and flowers and earth, like there was never a city here at all.

A snowflake lands on my cheek, and I look up. Beyond the swirling white sky I can see a hatch.

“We have to go up.”
“What? Are you insane?”
“We’re underneath the Institute now. We can go there in-stead of the school. They’ll have the Harvest list there, too— we just have to get into the Administrator’s office.”

Tansy pries herself back out of the pipe and comes to- ward me, peering up through the snow. “We’ll never make it. There’s no ladder. I have no rope. We aren’t wearing climbing gear . . . ” Her voice fades into the background, still listing the things we’d need to climb up into the white sky.

In the distance, far above us, I can hear a bird singing. My brother speaks to me, as he often does down here in the old sewers, down here where I’m closest to him. I ask him, How did you do that?

He smiles. Magic.

“Tansy.” She stops abruptly, mid-word, turning toward me. I reach out. “Take my hand.”

She shrinks away, fearful. “I can’t.”

“You have to trust me.” I take a deep breath. “I promise, I’ll keep you safe.”

The howls have grown to the point where I can no longer hear the birdsong, but I know it’s still there.

Tansy hesitates a moment longer and then reaches out, her palm meeting mine with a jolt that sends the snow swirl- ing away from us, thrashing against the walls of the sewers.

We rise, and the snow rises with us, up into the sky. The hatch bangs open and we go soaring through it to land on the other side. The snow streams through after us, and it takes us both pushing with all our weight to close the hatch against the storm behind us. It slams shut, the sound echoing through the vastness of the space.
We’re standing in the rotunda of the Institute, with its domed sky inlaid with gold and precious stones in a mosaic meant to imitate the world beyond. The sun and moon dance across the interior of the dome in tracks much like the one in the Wall outside.

Tansy is silent now, not looking at me, arms wrapped around herself as she crouches on the marble floor. I can’t see the halo of power around her anymore—but there’s no time, and I haul her to her feet. She pushes my hands away, but at least she’s moving again.

Together we hurry across the floor towards a door on the far side marked “Harvest and Resource Administrator” and, below that, a plaque bearing the name “Gloriette.” Even though I know she won’t be inside—she’ll be preparing for the Harvest Day ceremonies where she officiates—my heart still pounds as we approach.

I press my ear to the door, but it’s made of iron, and I can hear nothing on the other side of it. But even if the other stu- dents don’t catch up to us, there are pixies everywhere, and we have no time to waste. I twist the handle, take a deep breath, and shove.

We stumble through, and the door bangs shut behind us. We’re standing in Dorian’s house, exactly as it was the day I left the Iron Wood. His bed is neatly made in the corner, the dresser stands covered in curios, and the map still hangs above it. I squint, trying to make out the city where my broth- er was headed, but the lines and words blur before my eyes, impossible to read.

A flicker of city magic, twisted and unnatural, touches my senses. Pixies.

“Come on, Tansy—we have to find the list of names for the harvest.”

I start rummaging through Dorian’s kitchen. My heart has risen into my throat, choking me, making my mouth taste like bile. Even though it will change nothing if I find the list, I have to know. Either my name is on it or it isn’t, but at least I can find out if all of this has been worth it—if this time, finally, I’ll be where I belong.

The discordant clang of city magic rises all at once, and something metallic and heavy bangs against the shutters. I slam shut the cupboard I’m searching and back away, scan- ning the room for a place to hide.

Tansy leaps forward before I can stop her. “Enough,” she cries, breaking her uncharacteristically long silence. “We have to fight.”
She throws open the shutters.

I gather my own magic, ready to smash the pixies into oblivion—but it’s not the city’s spies. It’s Nix, and it makes straight toward me, wearing its favorite bee form.
“They’re coming for you.” Its voice is urgent, clipped. “We have to go, now.”

Who’s coming? The other students in the tunnels? The city’s pixies? Gloriette and her machines? The Iron Wood scouts? The shadows? It doesn’t even matter. “I need to see that list,” I hiss.

As I drop to my knees to search under Dorian’s bed, Tan- sy heads for the door. “I’ll just go keep watch.”

Nix, hovering behind me, watches her go. “Is that wise?”

The space under the bed is empty. I sit up, turning to look at the pixie. “Is what wise?”

“Letting her out of your sight. What makes you think you can trust her?”

My stomach twists sickeningly. The pixie drops down to perch on Dorian’s dresser amidst the curios—on top of a leather folder. Somehow I’d missed it when I first scanned the room.

“Nix,” I breathe. “That’s it.”

I scramble to my feet. My hands are shaking as they reach for the folder, the one that will contain the list of names for this year’s harvest. Finally I can know whether I’ll be safe. Whether I can stop running.

From the doorway, a flash of light drags my eyes away from the desk. It’s Tansy, glowing with magic—and yet she’s not Tansy anymore. She’s a figure in white, light shining from every pore, pinprick pupils almost lost in white irises. Follow the birds, she says, and I look back down at the folder in my hands.
I pry it open. It’s empty, save for a single object—my brother’s bird, folded out of old, yellowing paper. As I watch, the edges begin to turn black, as if burned by invisible fire. The scorch marks race inward until the entire bird is con- sumed. It flaps its wings once, its song more a scream than music. I reach out to try to take it, save it, and it gives way to my touch.

In seconds the bird crumbles away to nothing—nothing except the shadow staining my fingertips.

About the Author

Meagan Spooner grew up reading and writing every spare moment of the day, while dreaming about life as an archaeologist, a marine biologist, an astronaut. She graduated from Hamilton College in New York with a degree in playwriting, and has spent several years since then living in Australia. She’s traveled with her family all over the world to places like Egypt, South Africa, the Arctic, Greece, Antarctica, and the Galapagos, and there’s a bit of every trip in every story she writes.

She currently lives and writes in Northern Virginia, but the siren call of travel is hard to resist, and there’s no telling how long she’ll stay there.

In her spare time she plays guitar, plays video games, plays with her cat, and reads

This post is part of the Shadowlark blog tour;
Click on banner for the full tour schedule!




Meagan Spooner has generously offered up a pretty paperback copy of Shadowlark for giveaway.

  • Open to US addresses only
  • Giveaway ends October 8th, 2013
  • Full contest terms and conditions found on Rafflecopter

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Grand Prize Giveaway (Open Internationally)
As part of the Shadowlark Blog Tour you can enter to win signed copies of Skylark and Shadowlark (US/Canada only) and unsigned copies of Skylark and Shadowlark sent via Book Depository (INTL). The winner will also win either a query critique (if an aspiring author) OR a pre-order copy of These Broken Stars (her new series co-written with Amie Kaufman).

–For the grand prize giveaway, each stop will have a password to put on our post. In order for you to unlock more chances to win you’ll need all these passwords. My password at Xpresso Reads is: Lark; use the Rafflecopter below to enter to win the grand prize!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Fresh Batch (New Releases September 22nd – 28th)

Fresh Batch (New Releases September 22nd – 28th)

Posted by on 09/21/2013 • 15 Comments

Fresh Batch, posted weekly, keeps you up to date on the hottest releases of the upcoming week.

Flavor of the week:

Steelheart Brandon Sanderson Series: Reckoners #1 Publication date: September 24th 2013 by Delacorte Books for Young Readers

Goodreads Purchase

Ten years ago, Calamity came. It was a burst in the sky that gave ordinary men and women extraordinary powers. The awed public started calling them Epics.

But Epics are no friend of man. With incredible gifts came the desire to rule. And to rule man you must crush his wills.

Nobody fights the Epics… nobody but the Reckoners. A shadowy group of ordinary humans, they spend their lives studying Epics, finding their weaknesses, and then assassinating them.

And David wants in. He wants…

Review: Find Me by Romily Bernard

Review: Find Me by Romily Bernard

Posted by on 09/20/2013 • 24 Comments

Find Me has a fairly strong beginning with dashes of tense, well written scenes. This made me sure that it would be an entertaining read if nothing else, but unfortunately it ended up being mostly boring with too much of the same old same old.

My first problem with this book is character development – or the lack thereof. We’re told Wick is this great hacker, a trait meant to impress but never felt genuine. All she does in this book is track an IP. Not only is the ability to dig up public information not hacking, the few examples we get are weak and some of it inaccurate. When you get a Facebook notification email, digging through the header would give you the originating IPs for the message’s relay…

Book Girls Don’t Cry: Halloween Reads!

Book Girls Don’t Cry: Halloween Reads!

Posted by on 09/19/2013 • 38 Comments

Book Girls Don’t Cry is a weekly feature where we each discuss/vent/advise on the chosen weekly bookish topic. Don’t miss Jenni on Mondays, and Amy on Saturdays:


Halloween Reads!

Since October is almost among us *sobs* it’s time to dish out all those fabulous books that would be perfect for Halloween!  PS – Covers link to Goodreads!

My Halloween recs! Some are horrors, some are more thrillers or gothics. I picked then for their eerie vibe!

Books on my TBR this Halloween! Obviously I won’t get through all of these read on Halloween, but I would like to get a couple of them read from now until then! 🙂

What are your Halloween recs? Any creepy ones on your…

Waiting on Wednesday (93)

Waiting on Wednesday (93)

Posted by on 09/18/2013 • 26 Comments

Waiting on Wednesday is a weekly event that is hosted by Jill at Breaking the Spine and spotlights upcoming releases that we’re eagerly anticipating.

My pick this week:

Jennifer Brown is a fantastic contemporary author and every time I see a new book of hers coming out I know I just have to have it! I saw this one just recently and just the blurb alone breaks my heart so I think I will need to mentally prepare for it, but I think it will be well worth it!

What are you waiting on?

Review: 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

Review: 3:59 by Gretchen McNeil

Posted by on 09/17/2013 • 21 Comments

For an entertaining thriller, 3:59 does a good job. Some of it is overwhelming or far fetched, and specific parts made me cringe, but it’s an action packed read that’s great for a quick thrill.

With a title like 3:59 you already know that this specific time is important to the story. So from the start, the time stamp shown on every page works to keep us on edge as we know that something is coming – and soon. Then 3:59 hits and something bizarre does happen, but we can’t make sense of it quite yet. All we know is it’s ominous, and it’s likely due to her mother’s experiments – meaning science, and alternate universes.

This is when Jo starts coming into the story. First via dreams,…

Review: A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron – Blog Hop, Day 6

Review: A Spark Unseen by Sharon Cameron – Blog Hop, Day 6

Posted by on 09/16/2013 • 12 Comments

With the same atmosphere and wonderfully charismatic characters as the first book, A Spark Unseen is a good sequel to The Dark Unwinding, but I felt somewhat bored while reading it. Even though the pacing in the first book was unhurried, I still found myself entertained by the characters in such a way that I hardly noticed. A Spark Unseen, on the other hand, while it did have the same fun personalities, much of its time is spent expanding the now thicker political layer. Not being a big fan of strong political plots – especially in historical fiction – I had difficulty staying focused during this one.

I can’t say that there is any lack in character atmosphere in this sequel. We have our good old Katharine who…

Stacking the Shelves (70)

Stacking the Shelves (70)

Posted by on 09/15/2013 • 31 Comments

Stacking the Shelves is a meme hosted by Tynga’s Reviews featuring the books we got this week, and I also mention blog news/happenings of the past week. Did you all survive Friday the 13th unscathed? Mine was uneventful and boring. Actually my whole week was, so I don’t have very much to say today. I could bore you with mundane stories of my days I guess, but instead let’s just move on to what you’re actually here for >.<

THIS WEEK’S BOOK HAUL: (Click on covers and links below picture for Goodreads)

I received for review:   –Six Months Later by Natalie Richards –Revelations by J.A. Souders –The In-Between by Barbara Stewart

*Big thanks to Raincoast Books, Random House Children’s Books, and Disney Book…