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Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Blog Tour- LULLABYE by L. R. W. Lee An Excerpt & Giveaway!



Hey everyone! I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the blog tour for LULLABYE by L. R. W. Lee! 

I have an excerpt from the book to share with you today! And make sure to enter the giveaway below!


Haven't heard of LULLABYE? Check it out!



Title: LULLABYE
Author:  L. R. W. Lee
Pub. Date: January 15, 2018
Publisher: Woodgate Publishing
Pages: 465
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&N, iBooksTBD
You've heard of the Sand Man. Meet his counterpart, the Sand Maiden.

Alissandra thrills to help her human charges make sense of thoughts that need refinement, problems that need solutions, worries that beg for action, and things they should or shouldn’t have said, as she weaves their dreams. She’s been doing it her entire immortal existence. But when the most powerful king in Dream realm sets his sights on her current charge, Prince Kovis Altairn, to exploit him in his quest to conquer Wake realm, Ali has no choice but to flee and pray the sovereign doesn’t hunt her down.

In this, the first in a three book series, Ali’s arrival isn’t applauded by some and she finds herself caught in a political game that may silence her before she can begin to defend Wake. All the while, she sees signs that the power-hungry Dream king is pursuing her. What will happen if he finds her?

Prince Kovis Altairn, crown prince and the most powerful sorcerer in the Altairn Empire, knows nothing about Dream realm, let alone his sand maiden. So when Ali is discovered naked in his bedroom, how will she convince him of her intentions, as well as the danger?

The Sand Maiden is a three-book NA Epic Fantasy Romance series with YA appeal. If you loved Sarah J. Maas' A Court of Thorns and Roses, Elise Kova's Air Awakens, and/or Rachel E. Carter's The Black Mage you'll definitely love this. 

WARNING: Mature content including sexual abuse. Recommended for 18+.


Now on to the excerpt!
I heard him before I saw him, his power rippled about the room. And with two more steps, the most beautiful man I’d ever seen, my Dreambeam, stood before me.

He stiffened.

My breath caught.

Everything about him radiated power, refinement, and ease. His tattoo, beige at the moment, stood in contrast against his sun-bronzed skin and peaked out from where the two top buttons of his fine, white shirt hung open. Uncharacteristically, a lock of his close-cut dark-brown hair flopped on his forehead. A shadow, a sun’s worth of growth, accented his chiseled jaw. His eyes. I’d lose myself in those pools one of these suns. Dark circles marred their beauty, forming bags beneath. My fault.

With a hand to my back, Allard compelled me to bow.

“Rise. Please.” Kovis relaxed once more. His eyes started dancing as he took in my borrowed dress, golden locks, and clasp hands—a death grip seemed the only way I could control these damn appendages.

I shifted as he took a slow step toward me.

Don’t bite your lip! I reprimanded myself.

Then another.

Stand still!

Kovis opened his mouth as if to say something, then stopped. “Allard, I’ll be dining here, tonight.” He flicked his brows at me. “With a guest.” I inhaled sharply.

“Yes, my prince,” Allard replied. Another guard replaced him as he left.
Kovis continued looking me up and down, not saying a word. So different from those guards, his study sent excitement rather than revulsion through me. I felt like a fly in a spider’s web, and I couldn’t stop myself from fidgeting. Was he trying to intimidate me? He did a good job. But I couldn’t allow him to. I pulled my chin up. But his eyes, so much more beautiful in person. And their hazel centers. I tried, but failed to calm my breathing.

I stayed rooted to my spot as he took another step toward me. “You clean up well. You’re very beautiful.” His voice, a purr.

“Thank you.” I felt my cheeks warm, bringing a smile to Kovis’s lips.

“You didn’t address me when you bowed just now.”

The cut of his clothes showed off how impressive he was, and tingling erupted in my stomach.

“I’m sorry.”

He took another step toward me, and I wondered if he could hear my heart race.

“You called me by my first name. That night,” he said.

I averted my gaze to the floor. “I’m sorry. It was inappropriate of me.”

Out of the corner of my eye, I saw Kovis tilt his head. He took another slow step forward. “No one other than my family has ever done that.”

“I’m sorry.” I wrung my hands.

Another step. I felt like prey, frozen, unable to help myself even if I tried. Which I didn’t. I’d wanted to drink in his presence since before I could remember. But utter terror gripped me. Finally. To be this close to him. In the flesh.

My stomach’s tingling increased.

“My name rolled right off your tongue, as if familiar.”

Kovis stood before me, one hand behind his back. He placed a finger under my chin and lifted my face up until our eyes met. “And you called me your ‘Dreambeam’?”

My face burned. I wanted to stare a hole in the floor, but Kovis’s hand made that impossible. “It’s a term of endearment,” I squeaked, looking anywhere but at him.

Kovis smiled. “Yes, I’m familiar with the nature of the term. But why?”

I thought I’d burn up on the spot.

A knock at the door proved my savior. The gods still cared about me!

Kovis didn’t move, but I distinctly heard him chuckle—through whatever joined us. I gasped and drew a hand over my gaping mouth.

He winked at me, then commanded, “Come in!” 



About L. R. W. Lee:

L. R. W. Lee has a passion for fantasy and epic fantasy and in that genre, she credits C. S. Lewis' Chronicles of Narnia The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe with its beginning in her life. Later on, she enjoyed the complex world of Middle Earth brought to life by J. R. R. Tolkien in Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit. 

The multiple dimensions of the worlds, especially the dragons, mixed with a layer of meaning captivated her and made her desire to invent Young Adult Fantasy and Epic Fantasy worlds others could get lost in, but also take meaning away from. 

More recently, L. R. W. has taken her love of fantasy in a new direction, that of NA fantasy romance. Calling herself a fan of Sarah J. Maas, L. R. W. has begun The Sand Maiden series which promises to satisfy the most die hard romantic while giving a plot and obstacles meaty enough for the fantasy lover. 

L. R. W. Lee lives in scenic Austin, TX with her husband.




Giveaway Details: International
Win a Charlie Bowarter Autographed Cover Print plus an Autographed Paperback of LULLABY!

***Note***


For one of the entries below, you can gain points if you follow L. R. W. Lee on BookBub. To do so, go to Bookbub and click the Follow button (like in the picture below). Then enter the email address you used at BookBub in the Rafflecopter form below so I’ll know it’s you. That’s it. Easy.

CLICK ON THE IMAGE TO BE TAKEN TO THE GIVEAWAY PAGE!








Tour Schedule:
Week One:
Feb. 14 -- Bonnie @ A Backwards Story
Feb. 15 -- Kristen @ My Friends Are Fiction (via Instagram)
Feb. 16 -- Kelly @ Book Crushin'
Feb. 19 -- Jaime @ Two Chicks on Books
Feb. 20 -- Damaris @ Good Choice Reading 


Friday, February 16, 2018

Blog Tour- ANIMAL GRAPH by M. Black An Excerpt And Giveaway!



Hey everyone! I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the blog tour for ANIMAL GRAPH by M. Black! 

I have an excerpt from the book to share with you today! And make sure to enter the giveaway below!


Haven't heard of ANIMAL GRAPH? Check it out!



Title: ANIMAL GRAPH
Author: M. Black
Pub. Date: June 7, 2017
Publisher: M. Black
Pages: 157
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NTBD
ENTER A WORLD OF ANIMAL GRAPHS in this SciFi FANTASY DYSTOPIA that is also called a "YA AMAZON POST-APOCALYPTIC
never-before-seen-concept in a kind of HUNGER GAMES meets DR. Moreau!" 

GET LOST WITH JIN IN A WORLD OF EXOTIC ANIMALS, LANDSCAPES, RIVERS, WARRING GROUPS, AND AN EVIL RULER. When prisoners are experimented on by the ruler of the Americas, after a nuclear war, their cells are grafted with cells and neural tissue from animals of the Amazon. Release to be hunted in the Amazon, to train soldier, Jin finds another Graph like herself named Adan and the two have to survive the Amazon if they are going to live.

Immerse yourself in the gorgeous and dangerous Amazon, find new creatures, learn about new exotic countries, travel the highlands, savannas, and plateaus in this breath-taking, page-turning book, ANIMAL GRAPH.


"AN ACTIVE AND EXCITING STORY THAT WOULD BE ENJOYED BY YOUNG ADULTS AND MATURE READERS. M. BLACK PACKS IN A LOT OF INTERESTING CONCEPTS. FANS OF DYSTOPIAN FICTION LIKE THE HUNGER GAMES WILL ENJOY THIS VERY CREATIVE STORY." -Netgalley 

"WOW! WHAT A CONCEPT! I CAN SAY THAT THIS IS THE FIRST BOOK OF THIS KIND THAT I HAVE READ." -Amazon Reader 

"THIS WAS AN AWESOME STORY. IN THE APOCALYPTIC FUTURE THEY ARE EXPERIMENTING ON PRISONERS." -Amazon Reader 

"M.BLACK’S ANIMAL GRAPH IS MORE THAN A DYSTOPIAN TALE FROM THE CREATIVE GENIUS OF THIS AUTHOR’S MIND. IT RAISES THE QUESTION OF SURVIVAL OF THE FITTEST, OF LIVING IN HARMONY AND QUESTIONING WHAT IF THE ODDS ARE ARTIFICIALLY STACKED AGAINST THESE NEW CREATIONS." -Netgalley

"ANIMAL GRAPH TAKES A FRESH AND INTRIGUING LOOK AT ANIMAL-HUMAN PAIRINGS" -Avid Amazon Reader 

"THE CHARACTERS HAVE EXTRAORDINARY ABILITIES FROM THEIR ANIMAL GRAPHS, BUT THESE ALSO COME WITH WEAKNESSES. IT'S A REALLY GOOD BALANCE." -Netgalley

"IT IS GOOD, VERY STRANGE ON ONE HAND YET THRILLING AND EDGE OF YOUR SEAT! I LOVE THE BEGINNING WHERE THE READER IS IN THE ACTION FROM THE START! I ALSO LOVE THE WHOLE IDEA OF THE GRAPHS." -Reader Review

"THIS BOOK HAD ME HOOKED FROM THE BEGINNING." Netgalley

"YOU ARE ONE OF THE FEW AUTHORS WHOSE BOOKS LEAVE ME WANTING TO READ MORE OF YOUR BOOKS." -Amazon Reader

"GOOD STORY! I DIDN'T WANT IT TO END!" Amazon Reader 

"I HAD ANXIETY ATTACKS WITH JIN. IT REALLY BOTHERED ME THAT I HAD TO PUT THE BOOK DOWN TO DO NORMAL THINGS LIKE EAT. LOL." -Amazon Reader





Now on to the excerpt!


“This is crazy.” Ostir clenches her jaw. “We can’t just abandon you to die.”
“Then, tell me, what other choice do I have?” Adan asks, his eyes almost pleading.
Sum walks up with his knife, the blade shooting skyward. “The locator chip may not be removable, but your hand is. We cut off your hand.” We all look to Sum, Ostir grimacing and Klen debating in his head.
Then, Sum responds, “I’ve had worse. Look at me.” He gestures to his radiated face.
His comment makes Ostir and I grimace.
Klen nods. “Yes, it’s either that or you die at the hands of Borran’s military.” He looks at Adan with hard eyes.
Ostir interjects, her expression wincing already. “Can’t we just cut around the locator chip? Pull it out of the hand?”
Adan shakes his head. “No, the wiring is twisted with my veins. Any cutting around it will trigger the blow.” Adan looks down at his hand, and then at me, and then to Sum. “Okay, do it.”
I give Adan a thick branch to bite down on as Sum cuts his serrated blade into Adan’s wrist. Adan’s scream is hollow like the treeit has to be so no one hears. His body wriggles as Sum saws over his wrist bone, and I can’t look. I cast my gaze in the opposite direction, anywhere but Adan.
Ostir grabs me and stands beside me, like a comforting sister, and I miss mine. I try to keep my mind occupied as Adan’s quiet screams of agony wash over me. I remember my sister and I playing in the creek near our house, and sewing our pants together. My parents named her May, and she taught me how to cross-stitch. We had to reuse old clothes from years prior. Buying new clothing or even fabrics got expensive, but because of my sister’s sewing talents, I never had to wear the same clothes year after year. Tears swell remembering her death.

When silence engulfs me, I flip around as my eyes fall on a pool of blood around Adan, and drops of blood still seeping like syrup down his leg. Sum is wrapping Adan’s left hand with cloth torn from his garb, and Adan is fixing his glove around his bloody arm stump. I can’t look at the blood. Adan’s blood.


About M. Black:

M.Black is Ami Blackwelder and writes for the brand ENTER TOMORROW. She is a Montessori teacher, helps the deaf and hard of hearing, is an avid Pescetarian, believer in animal rights and wildlife conservation, and a lover of books. she is the author of the never-before-seen-concept Animal Graph, and dubs herself the 'Robot Girl' since many of her stories revolve around robots and A.I. She has a Siamese cat names LOTUS from Thailand when she was an educator there and he show sup in all her robot books. She adopted a cat named Ash in the States who also shows up in all of her robot books. She loves reading on Kindle Unlimited and only buys paperback. She enjoys many vegetarian dishes like veggie lasagna and four bean chili. She also likes watching movies, gardening, the beach, and hanging out with friends. Of course most of the time you will find her at home, pounding away at her computer.




Giveaway Details: International
1 winners will receive a $10 Amazon Gift Card.


Ends on February 27th at Midnight EST!

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Tour Schedule:
Week One:
2/12/2018- Ogitchida Kwe's Book BlogSpotlight
2/13/2018- The Book Recluse ReviewExcerpt
2/14/2018- Don't Judge, ReadInterview
2/15/2018- Wonder StuckReview
2/16/2018- Two Chicks on BooksExcerpt

Week Two:
2/19/2018- Adventures Thru WonderlandReview
2/20/2018- BookHounds YA- Interview
2/21/2018- Savings in SecondsReview
2/22/2018- The Page UnboundExcerpt
2/23/2018- 100 Pages A DayReview

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

Release Day Blitz- 20 SHADES OF SHIFTERS Anthology With An Excerpt & Giveaway!



I am so excited that 20 SHADES OF SHIFTERS ANTHOLOGY is available now and that I get to share the news!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful box set, be sure to check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a $25 Amazon Gift Card (where Amazon is located), courtesy of author K.L. Bone and Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.



About The Book:

Title: 20 SHADES OF SHIFTERS ANTHOLOGY 
Author: Demelza Carlton, Evelyn Lederman, ML Guida, Aidy Award, Carmen Fox, David Adams, Sascha Illyvich, Lynn Best, Lilly Cain, Emma Alisyn, Vonnie Davis, Brenda Trim and Tami Julka, Nina Croft, K.L. Bone, Natalie Jones, Kailin Gow, Moxie North
Pub. Date: February 14, 2018
Publisher: Laudanum House
Pages: 511
Formats: eBook
Find it: Amazon, Goodreads

Order now for only $1.99! Or read for FREE on Kindle Unlimited!
20 Shades of Shifter is a limited-edition collection of new and exclusive paranormal romance novels guaranteed to suck in you from page one. 

A shape-shifting dragon must win over his reluctant mate and stop Jack the Ripper. A Fae trucker becomes allies with an MC member when trying to deliver magical motorcycles to the Fae Queen. A wolf shifter is held captive in a human research lab where he is tortured until he meets one sexy scientist. An angel risked it all to steal the elixir of life and save his mortal love’s life and over two millennia later must get her to remember she once loved an angel. These stories and many more are included in this steamy, hot collection. 

Don’t wait to read this set. It is only out for a short time before it will be gone forever! 

Demelza Carlton 
Evelyn Lederman 
ML Guida 
Aidy Award 
Carmen Fox 
David Adams 
Sascha Illyvich 
Lynn Best 
Lilly Cain 
Emma Alisyn 
Vonnie Davis 
Brenda Trim and Tami Julka 
Nina Croft 
K.L. Bone 
Natalie Jones 
Kailin Gow 
Moxie North 






Excerpt from one of the books in the Box Set:
Embracing the Dragon:
The Flames of Kalleen

By: K.L. Bone

Ash fell from the sky, blanketing the charred ground like cascading snow. Amelia stretched out her fingers, finding the burnt residue cool against her pale skin, lacking the heat responsible for the land’s horrific transformation. As she searched the valley for the conflagration’s source, or any living being, toxic particles coated her lungs with each labored breath.

Normally this lush region would have been filled with the merry songs of chittering birds, and the scattering rustle of creatures hidden amid the tall grass. As she walked the field, the only sounds were the crunch of charred vegetation, and her occasional cough as her chest attempted to expel the smoke-laden air.

She scanned the horizon, seeking flames. Gloomy air surrounded her, with smoke so thick she couldn’t even discern the fire’s glow through its suffocating layers.

Amelia pushed forward, drawing shallow breaths as more particles lined her throat, turning coughs to occasional gags as she reached what should have been the forest’s edge. In place of towering trees, she found blackened stumps. Her heart skipped at the sight, her mind rejecting the ruined vision of the land she had loved.

“What happened?” she asked the desolate terrain. “What, by the gods, took place here?”

She had cherished this land with its lush shrubbery, thick enough to hide even her darkest secrets. A place all were once welcomed to enjoy shaded comfort, perfumed by the sweet scent of fresh grass and wildflowers. Now, only cooling embers remained.

When she reached the clearing’s center, a pitiful squeak drew her attention. She knelt, brushing her hand through ash and soot to find a bird chirping meekly between desperate gasps. Gently cradling the suffering creature between her hands, Amelia closed her eyes.

As though anticipating her intentions, the wren remained motionless against her palms, and its labored breathing eased.

Settling her mind upon the bird, soft-blue light emanated from between her fingers, bathing the unremarkable brown feathers in cerulean light. As Amelia’s power drew out the toxins poisoning the delicate creature, it first flapped its wings, and then flew from Amelia’s hands.

“Fly away,” she urged. “The air remains poisonous.”

The bird chirped in thanks before fluttering away, though Amelia was uncertain as to the safety of its chosen direction.

She resumed her survey of the ruined forest, helping a struggling squirrel in the same manner she had the bird. As it scampered away, Amelia stood and attempted to brush the soot from her hands, but only managed to smudge the fine black powder.

Without audible warning, orange flames surged toward her, forcing Amelia to jump to her left, rolling through the fire’s debris, hands and knees stinging as they encountered hidden rocks.

A roar resounded, shattering the unnatural silence as Amelia glanced toward the sky to face a looming figure.

Above, darker than the choking smoke, hovered an immense beast, its wingspan casting a wide shadow over her curled form. The deep purple wings had a feathered appearance, glowing with what appeared to be golden flames, though they did not burn. Instead the menacing creature’s wings fanned hotter, reminding Amelia of a forge fire amplified by a blacksmith’s bellow. From an ebony body, its back feet were hooved, but its front arms had claws similar to a bird’s, while larger talons protruded from the outer tips of both wings. A terrifying creature of utter destruction.

The dragon stared down with glinting silver eyes, glowing nostrils framing the fire within. With each methodical beat of its wings, Amelia’s blonde tresses were alternately tugged and blown back in the wash of hot air.

Fear consumed her, stole her breath, and froze every thought. She briefly considered running, but knew she would never escape the creature’s wrath.

Shakily, Amelia climbed to her feet, her blue eyes wide as she waited for her inevitable fate. The dragon’s jaws opened, flames spilling to engulf the girl below before she could even utter a scream.

Embracing the Dragon Copyright © 2017 by K.L. Bone
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED.




Giveaway Details: All International

1 winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card (where Amazon is located), International

Ends on February 21st at Midnight EST!


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Book Review- THE DARK CALLING by Kresley Cole


Omg y'all!!!! I am so excited to be able to share this review with you today! I have been dying to read this book and was lucky enough to get a copy a few days early from Kresley to post my review before release day! Check out my review below. I have so  much to say about this book and series so be warned it's going to be a long post! 

Title:THE DARK CALLING (The Arcana Chronicles Book 6)
Author: Kresley Cole
Release Date: February 13, 2018
Publisher: Valkyrie Press
Format: Paperback, eBook
Source: eBook from the Author
Rating: Obsessed!!!!!!!!!!!
New intrigues, adventures, and stunning revelations fill the penultimate installment of #1 New York Times best-selling author Kresley Cole’s electrifying Arcana Chronicles.

In a world teetering on the edge . . .
When Evie receives life-changing—and possibly game-changing—news, she has trouble believing it. Why doesn’t she feel any different? Is it possible someone she trusts might be lying?


With enemies at every turn . . .
Tensions seethe inside the castle of lost time as Evie starts to doubt her own sanity. Answers can be found outside their stronghold, but will Death help her find them—or prevent her from learning the truth about her future and Jack’s possible survival?


Darkness beckons. 
A mysterious, sinister power begins to affect the Arcana in its path. Forced out into the wasteland alone, Evie must depend on unexpected allies. But as a battle with Richter looms, can her new alliance defeat the Dark Calling before hell reigns on earth?

I'm going to start this by saying that Simon Teen seriously messed up when they decided to stop publishing this series, I mean book 5 made the NYT Bestseller list for Pete's sake and Kresley is an amazing author. I think this series is way better than some of the other ones that Simon Teen keeps publishing and probably should've cancelled years ago (not mentioning names but I think y'all know who I'm talking about).

It's been TWO LONG YEARS between Arcana Rising and this one and I thought I would've forgotten so much about this series but, surprisingly I didn't and reading THE DARK CALLING was like sitting down to catch up with an old friend who I had missed dearly. It's super funny too because when I read book 1, Poison Princess back in 2012 I absolutely hated the first 13 chapters of the book lol but, after chapter 13, I fell in love with the characters and the world and my love story with this series has only grown stronger with each book!


Ok on to the actual review!

Wow! Just wow! I swear each book in this series gets better and better! I really can't say much seeing as the book just released and not many people have read it. But just know that most of your questions will be answered (no I will not answer them for you). We do find out who the inactive card is and that card plays a HUGE part in this book. There will be more death but I'm not saying who and yes there's more romance and Evie will be tested like never before. I'm so glad this one didn't end on a bad cliffhanger like Arcana Rising did. And I really hope we don't have to wait two more years before the next installment comes out because I don't think my heart would be able to take that! Also I've decided I'm Team #WhyChoose lol



Haven't started the series yet? Now's a great time!



Monday, February 12, 2018

Blog Tour- THE BELLES by Dhonielle Clayton An Excerpt & Giveaway!



Hey everyone! I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the blog tour for THE BELLES by Dhonielle Clayton! I loved this book so I'm super excited to be on this tour!

I have an excerpt from the book to share with you today! And make sure to enter the giveaway below!


Haven't heard of THE BELLES? Check it out!


Title: THE BELLES
Author: Dhonielle Clayton
Pub. Date: February 6, 2018
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Pages: 448
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonB&NiBooksTBD
Camellia Beauregard is a Belle. In the opulent world of Orléans, Belles are revered, for they control Beauty, and Beauty is a commodity coveted above all else. In Orléans, the people are born gray, they are born damned, and only with the help of a Belle and her talents can they transform and be made beautiful.

But it’s not enough for Camellia to be just a Belle. She wants to be the favorite—the Belle chosen by the Queen of Orléans to live in the royal palace, to tend to the royal family and their court, to be recognized as the most talented Belle in the land. But once Camellia and her Belle sisters arrive at court, it becomes clear that being the favorite is not everything she always dreamed it would be. Behind the gilded palace walls live dark secrets, and Camellia soon learns that the very essence of her existence is a lie—that her powers are far greater, and could be more dangerous, than she ever imagined. And when the queen asks Camellia to risk her own life and help the ailing princess by using Belle powers in unintended ways, Camellia now faces an impossible decision. 

With the future of Orléans and its people at stake, Camellia must decide—save herself and her sisters and the way of the Belles—or resuscitate the princess, risk her own life, and change the ways of her world forever. 
Now on to the excerpt!

This excerpt was originally on EW.com

1
We all turned sixteen today, and for any normal girl that would mean raspberry and lemon macarons and tiny pastel blimps and pink champagne and card games. Maybe even a teacup elephant.

But not for us. Today is our debut. There are only six of us this year.

My fingertips leave fog teardrops on the paper-thin glass walls. The carriage is beautiful and clear and fashioned into a ball. I am a delicate doll poised inside a snow globe. An adoring audience surrounds my carriage, eager to see what I look like, and what I can do.

A net made of my signature pink owers stretches along the glass curves in order to tell everyone my name— Camellia—and to hide me until I’m revealed to the royal court.

I am the last in line.

My heart races with excited nervousness as we snake through the crowds in the Royal Square for the Beauté Carnaval. The festival happens once every three years. I peer through the tiny spaces between the petals with a pair of eyescopes, and try to soak in my first glances of the world, wanting to fold up each bit and tuck it into the cerise layers of my dress.

It’s a wonderland of palace buildings with golden turrets and glittering arches, fountains full of crimson and ivory fish, topiary mazes of clipped trees, shrubs, and bushes in every possible geometric shape. Imperial canals circle the square, holding jeweled boats bright as gemstones and shaped like smiling moons on midnight-blue water. They spill over with passengers eager to watch us. The royal sablier, the columnar hourglass that measures the length of day and night, churns with sand the color of white diamonds.

The sky and its clouds are made of melting cherries and flaming oranges and burnt grapefruit as the sun sinks into the sea. The dying sunlight ashes my own reflection on the glass. My powdered skin makes me look like an overly frosted piece of caramel cake.

I’ve never seen anything like it before. This is the first time I’ve visited the imperial island, the first time I’ve ever left home.

The Orléans archipelago is a string of islands stretching like a rose with a crooked stem out into the warm sea. Most of them are connected by golden bridges or can be reached by lavish river coaches. We came from the very top—the bloom—and we’ve made a long journey to the heart of the stem to display our talents.

A breeze pushes its way through tiny breathing holes in the glass carriage, carrying with it the scent of the sky. Salty rain, spiced clouds, and a hint of sweetness from the stars. It all feels like a dream that’s held on and lingered past the dawn. I never want it to end. I never want to return home. One minute here is richer than a thousand moments there.

The end of the warm months brings change, Maman always said. And my life is bound to transform tonight.

The horses tug us forward, their hooves clip-clopping against the cobblestoned square. Vendors are selling sweets in our honor: small mountains of shaved ice topped with strawberries the color of our lips; intricate little teacakes shaped like our signature flowers; sweet puffs molded like our Belle-buns; colorful strings of sugar pinwheeled around sticks to mirror our traditional waist-sashes and dresses.

A hand thumps my carriage and I catch a sliver of a face. The square is over owing with bodies. There are so many of them. Hundreds, thousands, maybe millions. Imperial guards push the crowd back to give our procession space to pass. All the people seem beautiful, with skin in various colors, from fresh cream to a drizzle of honey to a square of chocolate; their hair is in blond waves or brunette curls or raven coils; body shapes are petite, round, or somewhere in between. They’ve all paid to look this way.

The men wear jackets and top hats and cravats in a prism of colors. Some have hair growing on their faces in neat patterns. They stand beside women adorned with jewels and draped in luxurious, pastel-colored dresses made full with crinoline and tulle. Intricate hats cover the ladies’ hair; some clutch dainty parasols and oilpaper umbrellas, or cool themselves with patterned fans. From the blimps above, I bet they resemble candies in a box.

I recognize the more popular looks from the stacks of gossip tattlers left in the mail chest a day too long, or from the weekly beauty-scopes Du Barry’s daughter Elisabeth some- times dropped between the velvet cushions of the parlor- room couch. The Orléans Press said strawberry blonde hair and jade eyes are the new windy-season trend. The headlines read:

AWAKEN LOVE… LOOK IRRESISTIBLE WITH STRAWBERRY AND JADE

FILL YOUR TOILETTE BOX WITH BELLE-APPROVED RHUBARB HAIR POWDER

A COMPLEXTION OF LILIES AND BELLE-ROSE LIPS—THIS SEASON’S COLORS OF BEAUTY

The newsies say that’s what everyone will want in the coming months.

Coins jingle. Hands wave velvet pouches in the air. The spintria inside creates a tinkling melody. How much does each pouch hold? How many treatments can they afford to purchase? How much are they willing to pay?

I adjust the eyescope lens, zooming in on excited onlookers, noticing how some of their skin tones have faded, like paintings that have faced the sun too long; how their hair is graying at the roots, and age-lines are creasing several brows.

It’s a reminder of why I’m here.

I am a Belle.

I control beauty.

A
About Dhonielle:

Dhonielle Clayton (“Dhon” like “Don” or “Dawn”) spent most of her childhood under her grandmother’s dining room table with a stack of books.
She hails from the Washington, D.C. suburbs on the Maryland side, but now lives in New York City. She was an extremely fussy and particular child with an undying love for Cheerios (honey nut only), pink lemonade, and frosted animal cookies. A self-proclaimed school nerd, she loved covering her books with brown paper and filled her locker with Lisa Frank stickers. She loved putting headings on her homework, odd-looking pens and freshly sharpened pencils, and numerous notebooks to fill with her research. On most Saturdays you could find her with her equally nerdy Dad at Crown Books and then the comic bookstore where she stocked up on her weekly reading material. Plus, she was so spoiled that her grandfather took her to the library after school almost daily.

She attended Our Lady of Good Counsel High School because her parents thought Catholic school would keep her out of trouble. She went to Wake Forest University, and studied pre-med until she received a fateful F in Chemistry. This setback prompted her to change her major to English, and earned a BA. She rediscovered her love of children’s fiction by re-reading Harriet the Spy, which pushed her to earn an MA in Children’s Literature from Hollins University and an MFA Writing for Children at the New School.

She taught secondary school for several years at a pre-professional ballet academy and a private K-8 school. She spent most of her twenties in and out of America living in London, Paris, a small Japanese town, Bermuda and wandering the planet. Shes been on five out of seven continents, and has grand plans to reach all of them.

She is a former elementary and middle school librarian, and co-founder of CAKE Literary, a creative kitchen whipping up decadent and decidedly diverse literary confections for middle grade, young adult, and womens fiction readers. She is also COO of the non-profit We Need Diverse Books.

What’s next? She will be enrolling in culinary school in New York City and plans to open up a restaurant in the city of her soul, Edinburgh, Scotland.



Giveaway Details: International
3 winners will receive a finished copy of THE BELLES, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway




Tour Schedule:
Week One:
2/5/2018- Adventures of a Book Junkie- Interview
2/6/2018- The Young FolksReview
2/7/2018- YA BibliophileReview
2/8/2018- YA Books CentralInterview
2/9/2018- Ex LibrisReview

Week Two:
2/12/2018- Two Chicks on BooksExcerpt
2/13/2018- Tales of the Ravenous ReaderEvent Recap Post
2/14/2018- NerdophilesReview
2/15/2018- Novel NoviceGuest Post
2/16/2018- Mundie MomsReview


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