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Tuesday, November 30, 2021

Release Day Blitz- HIT by Mallory Hart With An Excerpt & #Giveaway!

I am so excited that HIT by Mallory Hart is available now and that I get to share the news!

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

This blitz also includes an awesome giveaway courtesy of Ivy, & Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, check out the giveaway info below.

 

About the Book:

Title: HIT (Mafia Born Book 1)

Author: Mallory Hart

Pub. Date: November 30, 2021

Publisher: Mallory Hart Romance

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon

Read for FREE with a Kindle Unlimited Membership!

GIUSEPPINA

I was never supposed to meet him, but one fateful night had him saving my life.

Now he thinks he owns me. I’m his to keep.

He’s ruthless, cold, and a killer, but something draws me to him anyway.

I know what he’s capable of. I know he was meant to kill me. And I know one wrong slip may make him change his mind about sparing my life.

But I want to test him, push him, be a part of his world.

I know I should be afraid. I know I should run. But something about Darragh has taken me over, and I don’t know how long I can resist . . .

______

A hitman.
A princess.
A forbidden romance.

All her life, Giuseppina Delarosa knew two things: what her father and brother did after dark was a secret, and her life was never her own. As the sole daughter of Don Delarosa’s clan, it was well known a marriage would secure the future of the family. But when she learns she’s to be wed to an infamous ally, Giuseppina has other plans.

Darragh O’Callaghan is good at exactly two things: not caring about anyone, and killing his enemies. The only Irish mafia in the city needs good enforcers to keep their borders, and Darragh does his job well. So he can’t understand why he screws it all up when a hit is placed on the Delarosa gang’s prime jewel: Giuseppina Delarosa.

One rainy night.
One decision not to kill.
One moment that changes everything.

Hit is a slow burn, enemies-to-lovers, dark mafia romance. It is book one in the Mafia Born Duet.

 

Excerpt:

I opened the door and stepped onto the sidewalk. The heat hit like a brick wall, drying up the very moisture from my lungs. My bare feet burned on the cement as a hellish breeze swirled the edge of Darragh’s dress shirt around my hips. 

He didn’t turn around. His low voice carried on the wind like a death knell. The bible described the Angel of Death as an unseen force. A spirit drifting from door to door to collect those it claimed. But the book was wrong. The Angel of Death was not an omniscient spirit of the night.

He was a violent man with blue eyes and a thick, Irish accent. 

I steadied my breath. The burning soles of my feet planted into the ground. Hot wind caressed my legs as I stared into the thick, dark locks over the back of Darragh’s head. Rust-colored dust blew around me, scraping the corners of my eyes and springing hot tears to my irises. But I never took my gaze off the Angel. 

My arms lifted to eye-level.

The gun went steady in my palms.

My finger wrapped around the trigger.

 

About Mallory Hart:

Mallory Hart is the writer of steamy stories to make you swoon. When not writing, she can be found with a glass of red wine, blasting music and dancing in her underwear or reading books that make you blush. For updates on new releases, visit her website and subscribe to the newsletter.

Her first full-length work, Hit, releases 11/30/2021 and can be pre-ordered on Amazon.


Sign up for Mallory’s mailing list!

 

Website  | Instagram | Facebook | TikTokGoodreads | Amazon  

Giveaway Details:

2 winners will receive a signed finished copy of HIT, US Only.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, November 16, 2021

Blog Tour- HIT by Mallory Hart With An Excerpt & #Giveaway!

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the HIT by Mallory Hart Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

 

About the Book:

Title: HIT (Mafia Born Book 1)

Author: Mallory Hart

Pub. Date: November 30, 2021

Publisher: Mallory Hart Romance

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon

Read for FREE with a Kindle Unlimited Membership!

GIUSEPPINA

I was never supposed to meet him, but one fateful night had him saving my life.

Now he thinks he owns me. I’m his to keep.

He’s ruthless, cold, and a killer, but something draws me to him anyway.

I know what he’s capable of. I know he was meant to kill me. And I know one wrong slip may make him change his mind about sparing my life.

But I want to test him, push him, be a part of his world.

I know I should be afraid. I know I should run. But something about Darragh has taken me over, and I don’t know how long I can resist . . .

______

A hitman.
A princess.
A forbidden romance.

All her life, Giuseppina Delarosa knew two things: what her father and brother did after dark was a secret, and her life was never her own. As the sole daughter of Don Delarosa’s clan, it was well known a marriage would secure the future of the family. But when she learns she’s to be wed to an infamous ally, Giuseppina has other plans.

Darragh O’Callaghan is good at exactly two things: not caring about anyone, and killing his enemies. The only Irish mafia in the city needs good enforcers to keep their borders, and Darragh does his job well. So he can’t understand why he screws it all up when a hit is placed on the Delarosa gang’s prime jewel: Giuseppina Delarosa.

One rainy night.
One decision not to kill.
One moment that changes everything.

Hit is a slow burn, enemies-to-lovers, dark mafia romance. It is book one in the Mafia Born Duet.

 

Excerpt:

I fumbled to line up my shot. He’d come out enough to reveal his heavily guarded torso. The black vest stuck out like a stain on the landscape. Everything adjusted into place. I breathed. My finger wrapped around the trigger, but his blue eyes flashed at me again, and I hesitated.

It was snowing hard. The wind was blasting. There was a chance I’d miss and genuinely hurt him.

I didn’t know why that bothered me. We weren’t really married. We weren’t even friends. But that memory of the shower flashed back, as he rubbed soap into my hair and told me about Vietnam. When he kissed down my neck after revealing that little tidbit of his life to me. Then, an even earlier memory, when his arms encased me at the bar in Colorado. When I cried about Paulina, and instead of pushing it, he let me go.

The blue eyes that revealed absolutely nothing while we played cards each night. That crinkled into a little smile whenever I got another math problem right. That followed me up and down the hill each morning he ran beside me, panting heavily, never pushing me to go farther even though his legs could carry him much faster. The same blue eyes that flashed with desire the night I came downstairs in my wedding dress.

I hesitated.

He didn’t.

 

 

About Mallory Hart:

Mallory Hart is the writer of steamy stories to make you swoon. When not writing, she can be found with a glass of red wine, blasting music and dancing in her underwear or reading books that make you blush. For updates on new releases, visit her website and subscribe to the newsletter.

Her first full-length work, Hit, releases 11/30/2021 and can be pre-ordered on Amazon.


Sign up for Mallory’s mailing list!

 



Website  | Instagram | Facebook | TikTokGoodreads | Amazon  

Giveaway Details:

2 winners will receive a signed finished copy of HIT, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tour Schedule:

Week One:

11/15/2021

Rockstar Book Tours

Kickoff Post

11/16/2021

Two Chicks on Books

Excerpt

11/17/2021

tmbacorbett.com

Excerpt

11/18/2021

BookHounds YA

Excerpt

11/19/2021

The Momma Spot

Excerpt

Week Two:

11/22/2021

Rajiv's Reviews

Review

11/23/2021

The Girl Who Reads

Review

11/24/2021

@talkwordytomeee

Review

11/25/2021

Books a Plenty Book Reviews

Review

11/26/2021

Writer of Wrongs

Excerpt

11/27/2021

The Reading Devil

Excerpt

Week Three:

11/28/2021

Karen Dee's Book Reviews

Review

11/29/2021

_Bookbound_

Review

11/30/2021

Triquetra Reviews

Review

12/1/2021

Emilyreadsspice

Review

12/2/2021

@coffeebooksandmascara

Review

12/3/2021

The Phantom Paragrapher

Excerpt

Week Four:

12/6/2021

@curlygrannylovestoread

Review

12/7/2021

Simply Daniel Radcliffe

Review

12/8/2021

More Books Please blog

Review

12/9/2021

#BRVL Book Review Virginia Lee Blog

Excerpt

12/10/2021

Coffee and Wander Book Reviews

Review


Friday, November 12, 2021

Release Week Blitz- WOLF REBORN by Sara Snow With An Excerpt & #Giveaway!

I am so excited that WOLF REBORN by Sara Snow is available now and that I get to share the news!

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

This blitz also includes an awesome giveaway courtesy of Sara, & Rockstar Book Tours. So if you’d like a chance to win, check out the giveaway info below.

 

About the Book:

Title: WOLF REBORN: Book 1 of the Wolf Reborn Series (A New Adult Paranormal shifter romance story)

Author: Sara Snow

Pub. Date: November 12, 2021

Publisher: Sara Snow

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon

Read for FREE with a Kindle Unlimited Membership!

I have the chance at a perfect afterlife. Now if only my two fated mates weren’t making it a living hell...

As an Enchanted, I might not be able to shift like other wolves, but I've saved countless lives through the visions I receive. And in the end, saving others cost me my life.

That sacrifice buys me a one-way ticket to my LAST chance at happiness: an afterlife in the God Realm.

Sounds great, right?

Wrong.

The problem is, the perfect afterlife for me includes settling down with my fated mate. And whoever he is, he’s probably back down on Earth wondering where the hell I am.

When I actually find my fated mate, the gorgeous but scarred white wolf Lucian, in the God Realm with me, I learn that the wolf of my dreams, my other half, the wolf that was created to complete me... 

 ...wants absolutely nothing to do with me.

Just when I thought things couldn’t get any worse, a second fated mate shows up out of nowhere... and he's not even a werewolf. Just my luck. 

It turns out my two mates can’t stand each other. And while Lucian may not want me himself, he doesn’t want Remir to have me either. Seriously?

All I know is, if either one of these two hotheads rejects me, my one last chance at a perfect afterlife could turn into an eternal hell—or worse...

Wolf Reborn” is the first book of the Wolf Reborn series, the next New Adult shifter paranormal romance in the bestselling world of Luna Rising.

 


Grab the FREE prequel story HERE!

 

Excerpt:

"Yes, I had planned to. Will you? Would you like to go with me?"

 

The words rushed out of my mouth before I could stop them, and Lucian stopped to look at me, his left brow arching. He didn't answer right away, and he didn't hide—or couldn't hide—the indecision in his eyes. 

 

“I don’t think so.” 

 

 I blinked rapidly, trying to hide my shock. “Ah, okay.” My heart plummeted. “Why not?”

 

“It’s not my thing. I haven’t been to one of those things in ages.” 

 

“A party?” I asked with narrowed eyes, and he continued walking.  

 

“Yes.” 

 

I followed him as he made his way through the garden until we found an open space with a fountain, the ground covered in auburn leaves. There was no one else there, except for a few small birds drinking from the water. 

 

"You give me serious loner hermit vibes," I said, and Lucian paused where he'd been stretching his hand out to remove a leaf from the water's surface. 

 

"Your vibes are correct,” he laughed softly and threw the leaf to the ground. “But, maybe I’ll attend this one.” 

 

“Really?”

 

“Yes, since you’ll be going and because you asked so nicely.” 

 

Most of the time, he was a serious man, but whenever he got like this—playful, teasing—it tugged at my insides in the best way.

 

I crossed my arms and smiled. "Are you deciding to go because I'm gorgeous, and surely someone is going to hit on me?"

 

His face went blank, and my arms fell to my side as he closed the space between us in seconds. The pleasant aura he'd had around him since we arrived vanished, and his eyes changed to black. I knew then, as my wolf whimpered, that Lucian's wolf had pushed himself to the forefront.

 

 

About Sara Snow:

Sara Snow was born and raised in Texas, and she moved to the Washington, D.C. area after high school. She’ll always be a Texas girl at heart, though! Now she lives in Northern Virginia with her family and her adorably fierce Yorkshire Terrier, Loki. In fact, Loki inspired her to write her best-selling series "Luna Rising" (although he's still more of a beta than an alpha!).

When not eagerly working on her next book, she loves to geek out at Marvel movies, play games with her family and friends, and travel around the world (when there isn’t a pandemic, that is!).

No matter where she or what she is doing, she can rarely be found without a book in her hand.

Like the book? Want to get notifications when the next books come out or even have the chance to receive an Advanced Reader’s Copy?

Sign up here to get the Sara Snow Newsletter --> https://ssbks.com/nl

Website  Facebook  | Facebook Group Goodreads | Amazon | BookBub


Giveaway Details:

2 winners will win a finished copy of WOLF REBORN, US Only.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, November 5, 2021

Cover Reveal- BLOODY CRUEL PSYCHO by @Lucy_Smoke With Teasers & A $20 Amazon GC #Giveaway!

Today Lucy Smoke and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover for BLOODY CRUEL PSYCHO, the fifth book in her new adult romance series which releases May 6, 2022! Check out the awesome cover and enter the giveaway!

 

On to the reveal! 


About the Book:

Title: BLOODY CRUEL PSYCHO (Sick Boys #5)

Author: Lucy Smoke

Pub. Date: May 6, 2022

Publisher: Lucy Smoke

Formats: Paperback, eBook

Find it: GoodreadsAmazon

PRE-ORDER NOW AND READ FOR FREE WITH A KINDLE UNLIMITED MEMBERSHIP!

 

A life for a life … will kill the both of us in the end.


Clover


I know nothing of the Sickness at Eastpoint University. I know only the backroads that slip past the southern beaches and the gators that make their way onto the swamps shores. Until him. Until the killer known as Braxton Smalls finds his way into my stilted trailer on the coast of Port Charlotte.

He came looking for Ace, but he found me instead…

Braxton

I’m a monster. Always have been. Always will be. The only people I’ve ever given a shit about are my boys and their girls. No one hurts my family, and knowing that someone has … and that they’ve gotten away with it plagues me.

Ace Volkov will pay for what he put Avalon through and if I have to use his most precious weakness to draw him out, I will.

She thinks she can bargain for his life with her own, but I mean to show her that there’s nothing I won’t do to see my vengeance through to the end.

 



 

About Lucy Smoke:

Lucy Smoke/Lucinda Dark suffers from severe wanderlust and enjoys people watching to find her next character. Who knows, maybe you’re in one of her stories as well.

Author of new adult, reverse harem, and dark romance, Lucy Smoke/Lucinda Dark switches between subgenres, but focuses the primary themes of her novels on strong heroines and romance.

She lives and works in the south with her beloved puppy, Hiro, and enjoys teasing the life out of her all of her friends. 

For more information and some fun games and contest opportunities, join her Facebook group (link below).

Sign up for Lucy’s mailing list!

WebsiteFacebook | Facebook Group  | Twitter  | Instagram | TikTokGoodreads | Amazon | BookBub


Giveaway Details:

1 winner will win a $20 Amazon GC, International.


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, October 31, 2021

Blog Tour: TRISTAN STRONG KEEPS PUNCHING by @KSekouM With An Excerpt & #Giveaway @DisneyBooks

I am thrilled to be hosting a spot on the TRISTAN STRONG KEEPS PUNCHING by Kwame Mbalia Blog Tour hosted by Rockstar Book Tours. Check out my post and make sure to enter the giveaway!

 

About the Book:

Title: TRISTAN STRONG KEEPS PUNCHING (Tristan Strong #3)

Author: Kwame Mbalia

Pub. Date: October 5, 2021

Publisher:  Rick Riordan Presents

Formats: Hardcover, eBook, audiobook

Pages: 320

Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindle, Audible, B&N, iBooks, Kobo, TBD, Bookshop.org

Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents the finale of Kwame Mbalia's trilogy, in which Tristan Strong faces off with his archenemy King Cotton once and for all.

"Imagine if you combined Anansi the Spider, John Henry, and Marvel into, like, one book."--New York Times best-selling author and Newbery Medalist Kwame Alexander

After reuniting with Ayanna, who is now in his world, Tristan travels up the Mississippi in pursuit of his archenemy, King Cotton. Along the way they encounter new haints who are dead set on preventing their progress north to Tristan's hometown of Chicago. It's going to take many Alkean friends, including the gods themselves, the black flames of the afokena gloves, and all of Tristan's inner strength to deliver justice once and for all. 

Shocking twists, glorious triumphs, and a cast of unforgettable characters make this series conclusion as satisfying as it is entertaining.

Grab the first 2 books in the series now!

 

Excerpt:

1

Stay Strong

It should be physically impossible for the human body to burst into flame. Aren’t there rules against that? I’m pretty sure my Life Science class covered it last year. Call me old-fashioned, but I’m a firm believer that people aren’t meant to be matches.

So that’s why I stared in utter horror at the small silver flame popping out of my knuckles.

“I don’t like that,” I said, my voice sounding faint and distant to my own ears.

That was probably wrong to say. For several reasons. First, I was already trying my best not to lose my temper and attract attention. Our tour guide kept shooting angry looks at our group and shushing us. And we weren’t even being that loud! No more so than anyone else on the tour. Still, I was pretty sure my bursting into flame would get us more than a mean look.

We were stuffed in the middle of a crowd in a tiny museum crammed with fascinating exhibits. Granddad called it the Pharmacy Museum. From that name I expected to see bor­ing displays, like the history of headache medicine or some­thing like that. Instead, I learned about century-old tools used to probe, prod, and investigate the human body. Pretty cool! But again, the place was jam-packed. Everybody in the French Quarter must’ve come for a tour. So I definitely didn’t want to cause a panic because my fist had turned into a Flamin’ Hot.

Yes, the Strongs were in New Orleans. One last adven­ture before I headed back to Chicago to start the new school year. It was bittersweet. I mean, I was looking forward to getting home, being back in my neighborhood, and seeing my parents. Still, I’d had fun with Granddad and Nana. I’d eaten a bunch of key lime pie, done a little boxing, fallen into another world with powerful gods and made a bunch of folk-hero friends.... You know, the normal summer.

I was excited to visit the Big Easy, but this trip had come with a few strings attached. And—

“What don’t you like?” someone said over my left shoul­der. “The artificial leech? C’mon! That’s so cool! Apparently back then you’d jam that thing into your—”

“Thank you, Terrence,” I whispered, covering up my burn­ing hand.

The tour guide glared as Terrence continued to hiss facts

at me. I shot a glare right back, and the guide huffed and turned around. Then I looked at the walking encyclopedia behind me. Terrence was a short, thin Black boy with a red-tipped lightning bolt dyed into his close-cropped hair. He was also one of those aforementioned attached strings.

“No more ancient surgery lessons,” I said in a low voice. “Please.”

He shrugged and continued to mutter trivia to the stranger next to him. I shook my head. Terrence was my nine-year-old cousin, Dad’s brother’s son, and the second reason I had to keep things to myself. The powers that be (Nana) had decided that Terrence needed a buddy, someone to partner with as we toured New Orleans, and guess who that was?

Lucky me.

Terrence wore an oversize lime-green T-shirt with an icon of a flexed bicep on the front and strongs on the move writ­ten beneath it in bold black letters. On the back, black is a rainbow arced over interlocking hands in different shades of brown. Yeah. Brown and lime green. The message was great! The aesthetics? Eh. I (unfortunately) was wearing the same shirt, and four or five others in the Pharmacy Museum were sporting it as well.

You’ve probably figured out what was happening.

It was a Strong family reunion.

Relatives I hadn’t seen in years—and some I’d never met at all—had made the trip. Great-aunts, cousins, their children. I met my Uncle Jeff-Jeff and what he called his emotional sup­port pug (also, strangely, called Jeff-Jeff). In fact, it seemed the only ones not here were my parents. They’d been unable to make the trip—something about car trouble—and Mom had stressed the importance of me representing for the Chicago Strongs. What I did would reflect on them. So, you know how it goes. Best behavior and all that.

Which brings us to the third reason I had to avoid mak­ing a scene. I was on a mission.

Two weeks ago I had returned from my second trip to Alke, the magical world where storied folk heroes like John Henry, heroines like Keelboat Annie, gods like Anansi and Nyame, and goddesses like Mami Wata reigned.

Unfortunately, it was also my last trip there. Alke had been destroyed, and the only way to save its inhabitants had been to weave the story of their world into mine. Now Alkeans were scattered across the country, and it was my responsibil­ity to help find them and make sure they were okay.

Whiiich you can’t really do when you’re a line buddy for your cousin.

“Where should we visit next?” Terrence asked as we exited the museum. “I could use some dinner first.” He pulled out his phone and started scrolling different travel websites, then gasped. “Tristan, look! There’s a pizza parlor that gives you an oversize spatula if you eat a whole supreme pie!”

He looked at me with way too much glee in his eyes (could that be a medical condition?) and I shook my head. “We’re supposed to wait here for Granddad, then we’ll move to the next stop.” The hotel, I hoped.

My phone vibrated. I froze for a second before reach­ing for it. Fortunately, the flame had disappeared from my knuckles, and Terrence was still busy reading about pizza. I pulled a sleek black smartphone from the back pocket of my basketball shorts.

The SBP, or Story Box Phone, was the magical treasure chest of Anansi tales. Nyame the sky god had transferred the stories from an actual box into my phone and then trapped Anansi himself inside with them. That hadn’t stopped the spider god from bossing and heckling me at every opportu­nity. The plus side? Anansi had turned out to be a talented web designer and had added all sorts of cool apps, including one that alerted us to the location of Alkeans. I now had the most advanced smartphone in this realm or any other.

The spider god stared out at me from the home screen. His expression was impatient as he pointed to the Maps app icon. “What’s taking you so long? We’ve got to get a move on!”

“Okay, where’s the alert coming from?” I asked Anansi.

I wanted to tell him about the knuckle flames, but just at that moment Terrence moved closer to me. I turned to pre­vent him from being able to see the SBP’s screen. I’m on the phone, I mouthed to him, pointing to the buds in my ears. He frowned but went back to scoping out which pizza he appar­ently wanted to cram inside his face.

“Hurry up, Tristan,” said Terrence. “I’ve always wanted a pizza spatula. I’m going to be a chef, you know. Open my own restaurant and serve my famous teriyaki pizza.” He licked his lips, and I shivered. Some food preferences should remain private.

I looked back at Anansi. “Well? Where should I send Nyame?”

Hey, I was only twelve. I couldn’t exactly go gallivanting across the country by myself to find every Alkean. But the sky god could.

Anansi shook his head. “No, you’re not listening. Right here, just a few blocks away. There’s an Alkean who needs help in the French Quarter!”

I inhaled sharply. Yes! We could handle this ourselves! All I had to do was give Terrence the slip, and then we could—

A tingling sensation pricked the corners of my eyes.

That was weird. I squinted. Rubbed at them. Blinked a few times, but the sensation wouldn’t go away. I had just turned to ask Terrence if there was anything in my eyes when I saw someone I recognized. He was whistling while walking down the street in the opposite direction.

Tall.

Neatly dressed.

Evil.

King Cotton was strolling through the French Quarter without a care in the world.

The way I figure it, no one is owed anything. Not an easy life. Not a happy ending. Nothing. I learned that from Granddad. Life comes at you fast, like a flurry of jabs and hooks, and sometimes the only thing you can do is learn how to take a few on the chin and keep on standing.

And not every story is neat and tidy, either. Sometimes pages are missing, ripped out by forces beyond our control. Sometimes the villain wins. Sometimes the villain wins by a lot. And not every question may get answered. I mean, there are a hundred stories unfolding without our knowledge every day, and the details will never see the light of day because we either can’t or won’t seek them out. So, tough luck, the end­ing to that chapter is forever shrouded from view.

Until someone comes along and tries to tell it. Tries to tease out the answers, give folks some closure. That’s my role as an Anansesem—a seeker, recorder, and teller of stories. I didn’t ask for the title—the title chose me when I was in Alke. In fact, I didn’t want the job. I didn’t think I’d be any good at it. But I was wrong. And despite my best attempts to avoid the responsibility, the magic of my people’s stories didn’t care

about my objections. Since I was the reason the characters in those tales were now scattered around the globe, telling their stories was one thing that only I could do.

Maybe Nana had said it best the first week after we’d returned to our world. She’d been laid up in bed, recovering from being abducted, and the two of us were talking about Alke. And stories. When I mentioned it was hard to find the energy to speak about the world I had destroyed, she peered at me over the new quilt she was working on.

“You gotta find the pulse of the story, baby,” she’d said. “Let the rhythm beat like a heart, and hold on to that pulse once you got it. Don’t change it, no matter what anybody else says. Even if they call you a liar or selfish, or say you lucky to be here, or tell you to go somewhere else if you so unhappy, you don’t let it go. Then speak those words. Tell the story.”

Tell the story. I wanted to do just that. But how could I when King Cotton, the haint who had corrupted everything in Alke, now had his sights on my world? I had to stop him first.

“Hoo HOOO! Boy oh boy oh boy.”

I’d shoved the phone back into my pocket and was two seconds away from tearing off after Cotton when Granddad walked out of a seafood grill a few doors down from the Pharmacy Museum. He was licking his fingers and doing a lit­tle jig, something everyone in the family called his good-eatin’ shuffle. Nana followed him, no stranger to Granddad’s appar­ent inability to say no to an order of battered clam strips. He had a bunch of take-out bags in his hand, and Nana was scolding him.

“Walter, you done stopped at every restaurant selling fried clams. You ain’t supposed to be eating those! What you gonna do with all them, plant them?”

Before I could duck away, she spotted Terrence and me and steered Granddad toward us. Granddad didn’t look up from his clam strips. He’d eat two or three, smack his lips and exclaim how good they were, then roll the bag closed and open another. It was like watching a squirrel eat nuts, except this particular squirrel knew how to throw a mean right hook and could ground you.

“Maaaaaaaaaaan, let me tell you about these clam strips right here!” Granddad said when they reached us.

I rolled my eyes. Anytime he started with a Let me tell you, I knew we weren’t going anywhere soon. Might as well unfurl a sleeping bag and put on your pajamas, you’re going to be there for a while. Few things riled up Walter Strong more than a crisp, well-fried clam strip. Which would have been fine any other day (that’s not exactly true, but what was I, a mere twelve-year-old, supposed to do?), just not when Cotton was on the loose.

My pocket vibrated twice. I checked to make sure Granddad was distracted (which was easy, since his eyes were

as he bit into another clam strip) before pulling out the phone. Granddad hated how often I checked it. Meanwhile, Terrence told Nana about the pizza parlor.

The screen winked to life, and the worried face of a trick­ster god stared out at me.

On an average day, Anansi had a contagious smile and a twinkle in his eye. You never knew if he had your back or had a trick in his back pocket. He was the Weaver, the owner of all stories, from truths to tall tales, and his name was embed­ded in my title of Anansesem. But at the moment, the spider god looked far from his normal self.

I slipped in one earbud and his voice, normally melodic and lilting, was flat and strained. “Well, are we leaving or not?”

I peered around the crowded street filled with tourists just like me and my grandparents. It was early evening, but the Louisiana sun still beamed down on the French Quarter as if focused through a magnifying glass. My own reunion T-shirt (yes, still lime green) clung to my back, my black basket­ball shorts felt like they weighed thirty pounds, and my new all-black Chuck Taylors (That’s the second pair we bought you, Granddad had grumbled) felt like their soles were melting.

Still, everywhere I looked, people were laughing, joking, shopping, eating, dancing, and carrying on their merry way through what was possibly the most vibrant square mile in the whole country. Music thumped from Bourbon Street a few blocks over while the casinos on Canal Street flickered

to life. Adults and teens and children walked by with pow­dered sugar dusting their lips and fingers as they bit into soft, hot beignets and—if you didn’t know any better—life was all good.

Yet a shadow lingered now, just out of sight. Cotton. The haint’s specter hovered in my peripheral vision, waiting for the right moment to strike.

I shook my head. “Not just yet,” I told Anansi. “But—”

“Time is running out, Tristan! We have to move!” There was resignation in his voice. He already knew the answer.

“I know,” I said. “It’s just... all my family is here.”

Anansi didn’t respond, and when I glanced at the SBP, I saw he was sitting with his back against the edge of the screen, slumped and depressed. I realized, too late, what I’d just said, and I opened my mouth to say more, but no words would bring back his family—specifically, his son—safe and sound, so I closed it. Sometimes condolences don’t ease the hurt—they just make things worse.

“Hey now, what’s with that face?”

Granddad’s voice came from behind me. He cradled another container of clam strips as if it were a baby, but he wore a concerned look. Nana was speaking to Terrence a few feet away, both of them huddled over his phone as they picked the next destination for our Strong subgroup. “You look like you just got sucker punched, boy. What’s the best way to defend against that happening again?”

 

I snorted, though there wasn’t much humor in it. Granddad always had a boxing analogy ready to apply to any situation, and he’d quiz me at various points throughout the day to test my knowledge of the sport. History, theory, techniques—it didn’t matter. He’d only let me go back to doing whatever I was doing if I answered his questions correctly.

If Gum Baby were here, she’d call it a Grandpop Quiz. I smiled, and then it faded from my face. The little loudmouth was lost out there somewhere, too. As much as I hated to admit it (and if you tell her, I will sing “The Ballad of the Gummy” nonstop outside your window), I missed the tiny sap monster.

“Well?” Granddad asked.

I sighed, stared into the crowd streaming past, and racked my brain. “Um, dodge it?”

“You take a sucker punch, you didn’t dodge anything. Not for a good minute. Try again.”

“Keep my head on a swivel? Make sure I’m always aware.”

Granddad pursed his lips. “Better, but still not all the way there. Think about it. Sometimes an opponent will get the drop on you, and they’ll send punch after punch at you. Those blows gonna land and land hard. Knock you back. Stun you. How do you defend against a flurry like that? How do you respond?”

I struggled to come up with an answer, but at that moment

the SBP vibrated. Three times in a row. That wasn’t a signal from Anansi. That was an alert.

“Tristan.”

Granddad’s voice jerked me from my thoughts. He loaded me up with his take out boxes and bags so he could place both hands on my shoulders. Then he pulled me close, into a hug. My arms were too full to hug him back, but I was too surprised to respond anyway.

“Sometimes,” Granddad said, squeezing me tight, “you just have to hold on. Clinch, and catch your breath. The world is going to hit you hard, son. Clinch and don’t let go until you can keep on fighting. Hear me?”

“Yessir,” I said, my voice muffled by his shirt.

Sometimes I forgot that Granddad had been violently introduced to the world of Alke when Bear—under the poi­sonous influence of the haint King Cotton—had attacked the farmhouse and kidnapped Nana. Had Granddad felt helpless while we were gone? Sucker punched?

The SBP vibrated again. Granddad sucked his teeth and stepped back. “Boy, who is that blowing up your phone? Tell them Stanleys to give you a break.”

I groaned. “No, Granddad, no, no, no. They’re called stans. Stans.

“Stans, Stanleys, Stanford Cardinals, you need to tell them to lay off.” Granddad took back his clam strips and popped

a few more golden-brown pieces into his mouth, chewing angrily. “I’m trying to teach here, and you, Mr. Popular, can barely focus. Go on and answer that, boy. I won’t stand in the way.”

I grinned even as I pulled out the phone and began to back up. “It’s not like that, Granddad. I just need to check something real—”

“Tristan, watch out!”

Anansi’s shout came from the earbud I still wore, even as the SBP was snatched from my hand. I whirled to see a kid running into the crowd.

“Hey!” I cried.

“Tristan—” Granddad began, but I was already tearing off after the robber.

“C’mon, Granddad!” I shouted and sprinted down the street.

 

About Kwame:

Kwame Mbalia is the New York Times  best-selling author of  Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky,  for which he received a Coretta Scott King Author Honor award.   The book was also named to best-of-the-year lists  compiled by  Publishers Weekly , the Chicago Public Library, and the  New York Times .   The second book in the trilogy is  Tristan Strong Destroys the World , and Tristan Strong Keeps Punching is the third . Kwame lives with his wife and children in Raleigh, North Carolina, where he is currently working several projects, including a new middle grade series. Follow him on Twitter @KSekouM.

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Tour Schedule:

Week One:

10/1/2021

Amani’s Honest Reviews

Excerpt

10/2/2021

BookHounds YA

Excerpt

Week Two:

10/3/2021

YA Books Central

Excerpt

10/4/2021

Rajiv's Reviews

Review

10/5/2021

Lexijava_Bookish

Review

10/6/2021

What A Nerd Girl Says

Excerpt

10/7/2021

GivernyReads

Review

10/8/2021

Kait Plus Books

Review

10/9/2021

The Bookwyrm's Den

Review

Week Three:

10/10/2021

Books and Ladders

Review

10/11/2021

More Books Please blog

Review

10/12/2021

@bookstagramofmine

Review

10/13/2021

Nerdophiles

Review

10/14/2021

Books a Plenty Book Reviews

Review

10/15/2021

Rockstar Book Tours

Excerpt

10/16/2021

The Momma Spot

Review

Week Four:

10/17/2021

Books Are Magic Too

Review

10/18/2021

onemused

IG Post

10/19/2021

Lifestyle of Me

Review

10/20/2021

Bri's Book Nook

Review

10/21/2021

coffeebooksandmascara

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10/22/2021

Locks, Hooks and Books

Review

10/23/2021

Feed Your Fiction Addiction

Review

Week Five:

10/24/2021

Lily Luchesi's Blog

Excerpt

10/25/2021

Little Red Reads

Review

10/26/2021

@drewsim12

Review

10/27/2021

@fictitious.fox

Review

10/28/2021

BookBriefs

Review

10/29/2021

Popthebutterfly Reads

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10/30/2021

two points of interest

Review

Week Six:

10/31/2021

Two Chicks on Books

Excerpt


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