Anne’s No Rules Friday 10

This is a companion piece for In Repair. You don’t have to have read that one to read this one. 😀

Motorbike "Indian Scout" (1929) © Copyright Joachim Köhler, 2006. Used by permission of the Creative Commons License

Motorbike “Indian Scout” (1929) © Copyright, Joachim Köhler 2006. Used with permission. Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 United States License.

Back to You

Five months ago, I tricked Rosa into kissing me. I’ve been lying to her ever since. That’s not entirely true. They’re not lies. They’re omissions. I omit pieces of the truth because she hunts creatures like me. So far she doesn’t know what I am, so well rehearsed are my stories. I kill hunters like her, but none of them ever caused my pulse to thrum at the base of my wrists. None of them had salted caramel taffy skin, sun-warmed, and soft. Soft in the way only a fawn’s coat should be soft.

“C’mere.”

We sit shoulder to shoulder at the edge of a neighbor’s pool, water laps against our knees, passing a cigarette back and forth. Sunlight glints off the water, off the drops running down her bare arms. Over the sharp chlorine and cloves, she smells like a field of sunflowers and coconut sunscreen. Rose kicks a leg and water sparkles in an arc. The splash silences the hum of cicadas for a split second.

It’s taken five months to convince her to break into backyards with me. The danger didn’t keep her away, no. She stayed out because she respected the people that live here. She hid her Scout motorcycle along the side of the house. Rosa relaxes against me. Like she’s home.

“Ever been skinny-dipping?”

Rosa laughs in that deep throaty way that’s only for me. I kiss her neck, drag a canine along the tender skin at her throat. Her laughter catches between my teeth.

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Anne’s Book Club 10

I love reading trilogies, tetralogies, and series. If you don’t want to wait a year (or sometimes two) between books, here’s a list of trilogies that are coming to an end, sadly, this year (in order of release):

daughtersmokebonetrilogy
Daughter of Smoke and Bone
, Days of Blood and Starlight, and Dreams of Gods and Monsters (Apr 2014) by Laini Taylor is a gorgeous sweeping story of monsters, love, teeth, lies, hope, and reincarnation. Laini Taylor is one of my favorite YA authors. Her writing is rich and lyrical. It will transport you from a magical Prague to a deadly land of dust and starlight. These books will leave you breathless and aching in all the right ways.

Note: I first fell in love with Laini Taylor’s writing when I read Lips Touch Three Times. Audrey reviewed it here after I foisted it on her to read.

grishatrilogyShadow and Bone, Siege and Storm, and Ruin and Rising (17 Jun 2014) by Leigh Bardugo is a unique and wildly imaginative tale of summoners, sunlight, darkness, beauty, ugliness, friendship, and romance.  Leigh Bardugo writes magic that sparkles on the page. Her world is enriched by Russian language and folklore, but it’s all her own. The Darkling is sinister and trapped by his own lust for power. Alina and Mal are mismatched and matched brilliantly.

Note: I picked up the first book at the library completely based on the cover. I’m so glad I did. It was a thrilling read. (Also, a New York Times Bestseller, but I didn’t know that at the time.)

strangedeadlytrilogy
Something Strange and Deadly, A Darkness Strange and Lovely, and Strange and Ever After (22 Jul 2014) by Susan Dennard is sprawling epic that weaves zombies, spirit-hunters, steampunk, necromancy, love, and demons. Susan Dennard writes some intense action scenes. Anyone who enjoys historical fantasy will inhale these books. The settings of Philadelphia and Paris are delightful. I can’t wait to read about Egypt in the third book!

Note: Something Strange and Deadly is the first book in the trilogy. I put it in the middle of my collage so it looks like the other two cover girls are looking at her.

throneglasstrilogy
Throne of Glass, Crown of Midnight, and Heir of Fire (2 Sep 2014) by Sarah J. Maas is an epic fantasy that brings together assassins, political intrigue, sexy heroes, castles, mystery, and one of the baddest-ass female protags in Celaena Sardothien. Sarah J. Maas also writes terrific fight scenes. Each book is told from three points of view: Celaena, Chaol, and Dorian. Each of them are hiding something exquisite, and the twists and turns to reveal these things are divine.

Note: Sarah J. Maas and Susan Dennard are critique partners. It’s no wonder I like both of their trilogies, which are wildly different and amazing.

lynburnlegacytrilogy
Unspoken, Untold, and Unmade (23 Sep 2014) by Sarah Rees Brennan is a quirky story with a diverse cast, a quaint English town, magic, mystery, family legacies, and a plucky heroine. Sarah Rees Brennan is known for her humorous voice, and she certainly delivers in these books. However, there’s a darker side too, filled with need and murder. The two main protags have been able to communicate psychically since they were little things. I loved being in Kami’s head, which is funny because I’m pretty sure Jared did as well.

Note: Sarah Rees Brennan also wrote the delicious The Demon’s Lexicon trilogy, which I highly recommend. The twist in book one was perfect. It made me question things. Things I can’t tell you because I’m not going to spoil it.

darkestmindstrilogy
The Darkest Minds, The Darkest Minds Never Fade, and The Darkest Minds Never Fade In the After Light (28 Oct 2014) by Alexandra Bracken is a page-flipping thriller that deals with powers, a sadistic government, escapes, road trips, creating family, and hard choices. Alexandra Bracken writes about a future where a disease has killed most of its children. Those that did live are burdened with powers that many adults think made the kids monsters. In a world of brutality, Ruby finds love and answers to long-guarded secrets. But will she survive?

Note: I was a huge fan of comics/superheroes as a kid. These novels hit all the right buttons for me. I can see this set of books being turned into a Hollywood franchise.

Are there any trilogies, tetralogies, or series ending this year you think I should read? Let me know in the comments!

“King and Lionheart” by Of Monsters and Men inspires Audrey

The Howlers

I didn’t think they would follow me out here where the ice thins and I can hear the crash of the ocean. The wind is wilder here and has freed the ice of its protective layer of snow, making it slick. Slipping now would be fatal. The wind whips off my hood, but I can’t stop to fix it. Their chilling calls rise above the roar of the wind and sea, and I know the Howlers have nearly reached me. My lungs ache with each cold breathe I take, but I push myself harder. I have to.

My eyes leak frozen rivers across my cheeks. I lost my goggles when I tripped and rolled down a powdery hill before reaching the flat ice. The cold and wind burn my eyes. That, and I might be crying. A rush of heat runs up my thigh and all I hear now are Howlers. They’re breathing on me! I scream. It doesn’t help me run faster or release the fear clawing at my heart, but it excites the Howlers. I want to cover my ears to their deafening cries; they know a kill is soon.

No one will hear me out here, days from the shining citadel of Hiverfryt, but I can’t go quietly. I release another scream. It’s part fear and part anger. I was so close to finding my sister when the Howlers caught my scent. Now I never will. Suddenly, my fur boots slip. I try to correct myself by flailing my arms, but there is nothing to catch. I’m grabbing at air as I fall backwards. The Howlers are so close, one leaps over me in a giant stride before turning on me.

Squinting at the sun, he is nothing more than white wisps. Despite this, their teeth are sharper than knives. I’m nearly nose to nose with him, staring into his red eyes before I think to turn on my stomach and cover my head with my hands. Teeth try to find me through the layers of my clothes as I press my nose into the ice. I scream again as one tears off my mitten and bites my wrist. There are paws on my back and my hood pulls taut across my neck. It cuts off my scream.

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Jen’s No Rules Friday

Flight

Birds have hollow bones. In numbers, they make shapes like shadows that live. A murmuration. That’s what it’s called. The word sounds soft, like whispers, heartbeats. Those birds turn air from nothing into something solid, something with weight like a hand on my shoulder, like my name on your mind. Something light, something heavy. I’m not going anywhere with this but to say that everything is light, and everything is heavy, even when it seems like nothing’s there.

Audrey’s No Rules Friday

Pushing (Part 2)

To read Part 1, please click here.

“1…”

The countdown stops and there is a moment of silence. We’re all holding our breaths, even table 14 girl. There is a sudden burst of cold air from the vents above and table 5 boy gasps. The cold air drifts down and little bumps spread over my skin. I clench my teeth so they can’t shiver against each other. My breath freezes in the air above my nose. I close my eyes.

“Phase one commencing. Please begin with your toes,” the metallic voice commands.

It tickles, pushing my soul out of my cells. My feet are especially sensitive. Laughing now would be disastrous so I bite my cheek until a coppery tang reaches my tongue. The tickle eases with the pain. My toes feel lighter, stronger, no longer burdened by the weight of my soul. I keep pushing.

Inch by inch, I make sure to remove every spec of soul. I don’t want to fail the scan. Up my ankles, calves, thighs, my soul moves before pooling around my intestines. The real pain starts as small prickles around my knees and increasing to bruising aches in my thighs. My chest is rising and falling heavily and beads of sweat are rolling off my forehead. I take a moment to catch my breath. My legs tremble with lightness causing a slight hum from my table. Other tables are humming too.

“Please maintain control and begin phase two.”

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Audrey’s Cimmerian Tales Book Club

imagesMH53KI9W

Just so you know, Anne has a great taste in books. Occasionally, she has great tastes in other things, but I’ll save that for another post. Anywho, a million years ago she gave me a stack of books that I’m just getting around to reading. I had to stop after reading Lips Touch: Three Times by Laini Taylor because it was so good I didn’t want to read anything that would distract me from how good this book is. It’s like jumping-up-and-down-while-hugging-the-book good.

Lips Touch: Three Times is a novella collection (Goblin Fruit, Spicy Little Curses Such as These, Hatchling) and features beautiful illustrations by Jim Di Bartolo for each story.

Summary from Amazon:

A National Book Award Finalist, now in paperback!

Everyone dreams of getting the kiss of a lifetime… but what if that kiss carried some unexpected consequences? A girl who’s always been in the shadows finds herself pursued by the unbelievably attractive new boy at school, who may or may not be the death of her. Another girl grows up mute because of a curse placed on her by a vindictive spirit, and later must decide whether to utter her first words to the boy she loves and risk killing everyone who hears her if the curse is real. And a third girl discovers that the real reason for her transient life with her mother has to do with belonging — literally belonging — to anther world entirely, full of dreaded creatures who can transform into animals, and whose queen keeps little girls as personal pets until they grow to child-bearing age.

From a writer of unparalleled imagination and emotional insight, three stories about the deliciousness of wanting and waiting for that moment when lips touch.

My Thoughts:

From the opening lines of Goblin Fruit, “There is a certain kind of girl the goblins crave. You could walk across a high school campus and point them out: not her, her,” I knew Laini Taylor was my brand of storyteller. The stories are original, the characters are real, and (you might have guessed this) there is kissing. There is something fun about the language and the pacing is perfection. My favorite is Spicy Little Curses Such as These because I love Anamique’s struggle. Is her curse real? Who should she believe? Anne’s favorite is Hatchling because “her writing is lush and her imagery is like watching a movie. Secondly, she takes Zoroastrianism and flips it into this unique and beautiful fantasy.” Totes.

If you haven’t read this, then you should. If you have read it, let me know what you thought. And if you have a friend who loans you the best books ever, give them a hug.

“King and Lionheart” by Of Monsters and Men Inspires Anne

Of Swords and Other Things

I watch from atop the fences as two lanky boys kick up clouds of dust under shuffling feet. The sword master and a group of five other boys line the practice circle. The reek of unwashed bodies made worse by vigorous thrusts and parries catches on the breeze. Lantsida and her twin, Basina, escaped inside to finish their needlework rather than be subject to the rank odor for one instant longer. I’ve grown used to the musky roughness of young men. It sings of hard work and determination, an outlet for frustration and anger.

It’s home. It’s Hal.

The layered fabric of their practice doublets blunts the sound of a solid hit. Hal always wins and gives a raucous cheer, which most of the boys echo. He raises his arms in celebration, reveling a strip of bare skin that sends waves of delight through me. Even missing his left eye, Hal never fails to strike a killing blow. Basina says the other boys let him win because he’s their One True Prince. Mama slapped the back of her hand with a wooden spoon the last time she said it. We’re not to speak of Hal as anything other than the orphan boy we took in nearly ten years ago. He’s not His Royal Majesty Prince Henry Louis Philip Charles Valois. That name is supposed to taste like ashes in our mouth.

Instead, it tastes like hope. The royal line didn’t all expire in that tower.

Hal’s taller and more slender than most boys his age. Raven-haired and gray-eyed like his mother. The shape of his full bottom lip closely resembles his father’s mouth. Anyone who worked in the palace would know him, even with the ragged scar that mars the perfect symmetry of his facial planes. He wears his hair longer on the left side to hang down over the deformity.

He’s beautiful in ways that other boys will never be. His kindness shines like the stars at night: quiet and delicate.

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Julie’s No Rules Friday: Taughannock Falls

Taughannock Falls © Copyright, Julie Steinbacher 2013. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

Taughannock Falls © Copyright, Julie Steinbacher 2013. All rights reserved. Used with permission.

I’m in Canada this weekend at TCAF (Toronto Comic Arts Festival). Here’s a photo I took last fall in Ithaca, NY, at Taughannock falls, which is three stories higher than Niagara falls, another site I’m hoping to visit on my trip. I love photography, especially in the fall, of landscapes bursting with colors.

Julie’s Book Club: Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity

Code Name Verity was on the shelf of recommended reads at my most-frequented library, so I picked it up thinking that I don’t read enough YA. The novel tells the story of two girls and their unlikely bond forged in wartime England during World War II. Maddie is a woman pilot. “Queenie,” as her best friend is called, has a much more mysterious job.

The book begins in diary-like entries penned by Queenie, describing their friendship up to the night Maddie delivered her to occupied France and her plane went down. Queenie, the reader learns, is being held and tortured in France and these are in fact passages she’s writing for the head interrogator as a way to avoid further torture. She’s “selling her soul,” she writes, by giving the Nazis bits of wireless code and information on airfields. She’s also buying herself time.

Author Elizabeth Wein does great things with perspective and information here. What Queenie, a non-pilot, knows about planes, for example, is limited. But she is imaginative in her descriptions, and her tandem flights with Maddie are some of the loveliest sequences in the book. The further Queenie gets into her tale of friendship and survival, the higher the stakes, as it becomes apparent that she soon will be shipped to a camp for experimentation and execution.

I read the last 200 or so pages of this book in a rush, because I had to find out how it ended. It unfolds brilliantly, with carefully plotted reveals (especially as Queenie doles out information to her captors bit by bit), and the friendship shared by Queenie and Maddie is sweet enough to make you weep. (There may have been a few tears shed by the time I closed the book.) I don’t pick up a lot of historical fiction, but in this case the setting of wartime England, with high suspicions, rationed food, and women’s work often seen as secondary, was multifaceted and vibrant. Wein really makes history come alive in this book (despite making up several town names, locations, and details of the characters’ work), and the illusion of reality was strong all along. I suspected nothing. A pilot herself, all of the flying sequences Wein described were written dreamily–coming out of the pages, one can tell the author is passionate about being in the sky.

I highly recommend Code Name Verity, and I think the reading experience will make me eager to try other historical fiction novels.