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Monday, September 30, 2019

Cover & Trailer Reveal- BENEATH THE BLOOD MOON by Melissa S. Vice With An Excerpt & Giveaway!

Today Melissa S. Vice, Editingle Indie Book Cafe, and Rockstar Book Tours are revealing the cover and the trailer for their upcoming Urban Fantasy Romance, which releases on October 15, 2019! Check out the awesome cover and enter the giveaway!

On to the reveals!
Author: Melissa S. Vice
Pub. Date: October 15, 2019
Publisher: ditingle Indie Book Cafe
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Find it: Goodreads

There’s nothing worse than having to take a bathroom break when there’s none to be had.When Whitney Dugan is forced to play babysitter to a patient, her temporary position is turned into a permanent one. Soon, she’s pulled into a troubling situation she wants no part of, despite there being two dangerously, smoldering Alphas at her side.

The Viktor twins have the world at their feet. Demanding an empire of respect, fear and submission, human and lycan steer clear of the dynamic duo. But when a brutal attack lands one of them in the hospital, they realize everything is nothing without the presence of their female as they all too suddenly fall for their human mate.

Willing to do whatever it takes for revenge while keeping their female happily by their side, they must bare every dark secret they hide in hopes it will bring them together instead of driving them apart.



Watching him leave, she noted for the first time in a long while the hard beat of her heart. A real, sure beat that had her clutching at the chest and massaging it, trying to soothe the ache from spreading further.

What was this foreign feeling?

Carnation flowers. Red, pink, and white peaking from the gift shop window. For no reason, they became all the brighter as he walked by. Or maybe, it was him. He was the reason why they became all the richer, his presence lighting them aglow and feeding into their untapped essence of blossoming beauty. He turned to look at her before disappearing around the wall.

Was it her or did those eyes appear even brighter than the first time she’d seen them?

About Melissa:

An American Author of Erotica, Fantasy & Paranormal romance novels, Vice was born in Duluth, GA a proud Libra in the Fall of October. She is the author of Oblivion, the first novel to her Tales of Incipion series, and the highly anticipated werewolf novel, Beneath the Blood Moon. An avid reader, she was introduced to her first taste of whimsical love, Wishes by Jude Deveraux, and has expanded her shelves since those tender years of youth and blissful ignorance. Her enjoyment for video games and books inspire unlimited worlds of adventure and everlasting love to rival those that had come before.

Established in late 2018, Vice became Head Developmental Editor of Editingle Indie House, where she works alongside Author and Co-Founder Catherine Edward, and seasoned Editor and Co-Founder Rucha Kulkarni. With the help of many talented colleagues, she assists indie authors near and far to reach their potential in being able to weave an unforgettable story.

Giveaway Details:

1 winner will win a $10 Amazon GC, International.

Thursday, September 26, 2019

Blog Tour- WHO PUT THIS SONG ON? by Morgan Parker With An Excerpt & Giveaway!

I am stoked to be hosting a stop on the blog tour for WHO PUT THIS SONG ON? by Morgan Parker! I have an excerpt to share with you today check it out and enter to win the giveaway below!

About The Book:

Author: Morgan Parker
Pub. Date: September 24, 2018
Publisher: Delacorte Press
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, Audiobook
Pages: 336
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindleAudibleB&NiBooksKoboTBD

In the vein of powerful reads like The Hate U Give and Girl in Pieces, comes poet Morgan Parker's pitch-perfect novel about a black teenage girl searching for her identity when the world around her views her depression as a lack of faith and blackness as something to be politely ignored.

Trapped in sunny, stifling, small-town suburbia, seventeen-year-old Morgan knows why she's in therapy. She can't count the number of times she's been the only non-white person at the sleepover, been teased for her "weird" outfits, and been told she's not "really" black. Also, she's spent most of her summer crying in bed. So there's that, too.

Lately, it feels like the whole world is listening to the same terrible track on repeat--and it's telling them how to feel, who to vote for, what to believe. Morgan wonders, when can she turn this song off and begin living for herself?

Life may be a never-ending hamster wheel of agony, but Morgan finds her crew of fellow outcasts, blasts music like there's no tomorrow, discovers what being black means to her, and finally puts her mental health first. She decides that, no matter what, she will always be intense, ridiculous, passionate, and sometimes hilarious. After all, darkness doesn't have to be a bad thing. Darkness is just real.

Loosely based on her own teenage life and diaries, this incredible debut by award-winning poet Morgan Parker will make readers stand up and cheer for a girl brave enough to live life on her own terms--and for themselves.

Now on to the excerpt!


This is a story about Susan. Draped permanently on the back of Susan’s chair is a sweater embroidered with birds­that type of lady. She has this thing I hate, where shes just always medium, room temperature. Susan looks like a preschool teacher with no emotions. She smiles, she nods, but she almost never laughs or speaks. That might be the number one thing I hate about coming here. She won’t even laugh at my jokes! I know that life with me is a ridiculous hamster wheel of agony, but I’m kind of hilarious, and I’m just trying to make this whole situation less awkward.

I’m the one who begged for my first session, but I was desperate, and it was almost my only choice. Now that I’m actually doing this, I hate it. I just want Susan to buy my usual pitch: I am okay. I am smart and good. I am regular, and I believe in God, and that means I am happy.

By the way, of course my therapist’s name is Susan. It seems like everyone I meet, everyone telling me how to be, is a Susan.

I don’t trust a Susan, and I don’t think they trust me either.

I don’t like Susan, but I want to impress her­Im usually so good at it.

But this is what I mean about the bird sweater. I know the bird sweater is awful, and just uncool and unappealing in every way­it doesn’t even look comfortable. But other Susans like it, and generally all Susans do. It is a sensible piece of clothing; it is normal, and it makes sense. Wouldn’t it be so much easier if I liked the sweater, if I just wore the fucking sweater and didn’t make such a big deal out of everything?

This Is a Story About Me

This is a story about me, and I am the hero of it. It opens with a super-­emo shot of a five-­foot-­nothing seventeen-­year-­old black girl­me­in the waiting room at my therapists office, a place that I hate. It’s so bright outside it’s neon, and of course the soundtrack is Yankee Hotel Foxtrot by Wilco, because I have more feelings than anyone knows what to do with.

The smell in here is unlike any other smell in the world, some rare concoction of pumpkin pie­scented candles and every single perfume sample from the first floor of Macys. I bet Susan Brady LCSW decorates her house with Thomas Kinkade paintings and those little figurines, cherubs dressed up for various occupations, I dont know. The other thing I hate about coming here is the random framed photo of, I believe, Bon Jovi on the coffee table, which also features a wide assortment of the corniest magazines of all time.

(White people love Bon Jovi. When Marissa and I went to Lake Havasu with Kelly Kline, because that’s what white people do here in the summer, Bon Jovi was the only thing her family listened to­that freaking scratched-­up CD was actually stuck inside the thing on their boat. I had a moderate time at the Lake, except for when I had to explain my summer braids to Kelly and Marissa, for probably the eight hundredth time, to justify why I didn’t have a hairbrush to sing into. They made me sing into a chicken leg because of course. I was also shamed for not knowing any Bon Jovi lyrics. That was around this time last summer, but it feels like a past life.)

(Another thing I hate about coming here is how I have to think about everything I’ve lost, everything I’ve done wrong, and everything I hate about being alive.)

The thing I like about it here is that there’s Werther’s.

Susan opens the door and spreads her arms to me in a weird Jesus way, the sleeves of her flowy paisley peasant top billowing at her sides. She has kind of a White Auntie thing going on, or a lady-­who-­sells-­birdhouses-­at-­the-­church-­craft-­fair thing: a sad squinty smile, a dull brown bob, a gentle cadence to her voice. I can tell she’s used to talking to children­probably rich white children­and as I stiffly arrange myself on the couch in her office, I’m suddenly self-­conscious about my largeness, my badness. I just feel so obvious all the time.

It’s like that song “Too Alive” by the Breeders. I feel every little thing, way more than regular people do.

“So, how are you doing today?” Susan asks too cheerily, like a hostess at Olive Garden or something. “Where are you on the scale we’ve been using?”

(I feel so deeply it agonizes me.)

“I’m okay. I guess on the scale I’m probably ‘pretty dang bad,’ but better than yesterday and still not ‘scary bad.’

(Now, probably to the soundtrack of Belle and Sebastian’s “Get Me Away from Here, I’m Dying,” there’s a longish montage of me zoning out, imagining the lives of everyone I know. Even in my dreams, it’s so easy and fun for them to exist.)

“Are you still taking the art class?”

“Yeah. Every Tuesday.”

“That’s wonderful. And how are you liking it?”

“It’s fine. Sort of boring, but . . . I guess it takes my mind off things.”

“Do you want to talk about what’s on your mind the other times?”

“Um, not really,” I chuckle, in my best joking-­with-­adults voice. The AC churns menacingly, like it always does, taunting me. Susan, with her wrinkled white cleavage, unmoving and unrelenting. Susan doesn’t play.

I think about grabbing a Werther’s from the crystal bowl but don’t, even though I want one. (Will Susan write Loudly sucks on Werther’s in my file as soon as I leave, right next to Is probably fine; just being dramatic?)

“I guess just people at school. Why I’m so different.”

“Can you say a little more about that? What are the things that make you feel so different?”

“I don’t know.” My chest is welling up with everything I’ve been trying to stuff into my mind’s closet. “I can’t get happy.”

It happened only three weeks ago, but since my “episode,” no one in my family has uttered the word suicidal. It’s easier not to.

I glance down at my Chucks, trying to divert my eyes from Susan. Stare at a lamp, the books stacked on her shelves. I spot a spine that reads Healing, Recovery, and Growth, and immediately feel ridiculous. Sweat pools in my bra. This isn’t gonna work.

“Morgan, why are you so angry with yourself?”

I clench my jaw. “I’m not!” This is a lie, but it hasn’t always been. “I’m annoyed,” I admit, sighing, “and embarrassed.”

“Why are you embarrassed?”

“Just­I dont know . . . , I whine. Words begin to spill and spew from my lungs like a power ballad. Like, why am I the only one I know who has to go to a shrink? How did I become the crazy one? I have to be the first one in the history of our family and our school to go to therapy?” I bristle. “I’m pissed I can’t just get over stuff the way everyone else seems to.”

I purse my lips resolutely and fold my arms tight against my boobs. Your ball, Susan. She just nods and squints like she has no clue what to do with me.

I’ve asked God and Jesus and all their other relatives to “wash away my sins,” but it doesn’t feel like Jesus is living inside me­I cant even imagine what that would feel like. Im so full up with me, me, stupid me.

“Mmm . . . ,” she finally grunts. “I see.”

Fighting the near-­constant urge to roll my eyes all the way to the back of my skull, I snatch up and devour a Werther’s.

Copyright © 2019 by Morgan Parker
PublisherDelacorte Press

Morgan Parker is the author of the poetry collections Magical Negro (Tin House 2019), There Are More Beautiful Things Than BeyoncĂ© (Tin House 2017), and Other People’s Comfort Keeps Me Up At Night (Switchback Books 2015). Her debut young adult novel Who Put This Song On? will be released by Delacorte Press on September 24, 2019. A debut book of nonfiction is forthcoming from One World/ Random House. Parker received her Bachelors in Anthropology and Creative Writing from Columbia University and her MFA in Poetry from NYU. She is the recipient of a 2017 National Endowment for the Arts Literature Fellowship, winner of a 2016 Pushcart Prize, and a Cave Canem graduate fellow. Parker is the creator and host of Reparations, Live! at the Ace Hotel. With Tommy Pico, she co-curates the Poets With Attitude (PWA) reading series, and with Angel Nafis, she is The Other Black Girl Collective. Morgan is a Sagittarius, and she lives in Los Angeles.

Giveaway Details:

3 winners will receive finished copies of WHO PUT THIS SONG ON?, US Only.

Tour Schedule:
Week One:
9/2/2019- Becky on BooksExcerpt
9/3/2019- A Dream Within A DreamExcerpt
9/4/2019- Lifestyle Of MeReview
9/5/2019- Life of a Simple ReaderExcerpt
9/6/2019- jade writes booksReview

Week Two:
9/9/2019- Kait Plus BooksExcerpt
9/10/2019- Here's to Happy EndingsReview
9/11/2019- Jena Brown WritesReview
9/12/2019- Country Road ReviewsExcerpt
9/13/2019- Paper ReaderReview

Week Three:
9/16/2019- Eli to the nthReview
9/17/2019- Book-KeepingReview
9/18/2019- The Layaway DragonReview
9/19/2019- Wishful EndingsExcerpt
9/20/2019- Kati's Bookaholic Rambling ReviewsExcerpt

Week Four:
9/23/2019- BookHounds YAReview
9/24/2019- Confessions of a YA ReaderExcerpt
9/25/2019- dwantstoreadExcerpt
9/26/2019- Two Chicks on BooksExcerpt
9/27/2019- two points of interestReview

Week Five:

9/30/2019- Bookish RantingsExcerpt

Release Day Blitz- HARBOR FOR THE NIGHTINGALE by Kathleen Baldwin With An Excerpt & Giveaway!

I am so excited that HARBOR FOR THE NIGHTINGALE by Kathleen Baldwin is available now and that I get to share the news!
If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Kathleen Baldwin, be sure to check out all the details below.
This blitz also includes a giveaway for a finished copy of the book, US Only, courtesy of Kathleen 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: HARBOR FOR THE NIGHTINGALE (Stranje House #4)
Author: Kathleen Baldwin
Pub. Date: September 26, 2019
Publisher: Ink Lion Books 
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Pages: 352
Find it: GoodreadsAmazonKindleB&N, Kobo

Harbor for the Nightingale is the highly anticipated fourth installment in the popular award-winning Stranje House YA series! #1 New York Times best-selling author Meg Cabot calls this romantic Regency adventure series "completely original and totally engrossing."

"Enticing from the first sentence." --New York Times Sunday Book Review on A School for Unusual Girls

"Baldwin has a winning series here: her characters are intriguing and fully rendered." --Booklist, on Refuge for Masterminds

It's 1814. In this alternate history, Napoleon has forced Europe to its knees, and now he plots to seize control of Britain.

Maya brings the mystery of India with her...

With her friends' lives in deadly peril, Miss Maya Barrington, one of Miss Stranje's unusual girls, must serve as a double agent. To do so, she gains entry into Napoleon's duplicitous game on the arm of the enigmatic Lord Kinsworth. She can read almost everyone; not so with this young rascal. Quick with a jest and armed with lethal charm, Kinsworth remains just beyond her reach. Can she trust him?

With Britain's future at risk and those she loves in deadly peril, Maya questions everything she thought she understood about life, love, and loyalty.

Fans of genre-blending, romance, and action will love this speculative history Regency-era novel filled with spunky heroines, handsome young lords, and dastardly villains--fourth in the Stranje House series. Don't miss the first three books: A School for Unusual Girls, Exile for Dreamers, and Refuge for Masterminds

"An outstanding alternative history series entry and a must-have for teen libraries." --School Library Journal on Refuge for Masterminds

"This alternative history series will appeal to fans of Gail Carriger's works and The Cecelia and Kate novels by Patricia C. Wrede and Caroline Stevermer." --School Library Journal on A School for Unusual Girls

Title: REFUGE FOR MASTERMINDS (Stranje House #3)
Author: Kathleen Baldwin
Pub. Date: May 23, 2017
Publisher: Tor Teen
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Pages: 352

It’s 1814. Napoleon has escaped his imprisonment on Elba. Britain is at war on four fronts. And at Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, five young ladies are secretly being trained for a world of spies, diplomacy, and war…

Napoleon’s invasion of England is underway and someone at Stranje House is sneaking information to his spies. Lady Jane Moore is determined to find out who it is. If anyone can discover the traitor, it is Jane—for, according to headmistress Emma Stranje, Lady Jane is a mastermind.

Jane doesn’t consider herself a mastermind. It’s just that she tends to grasp the facts of a situation quickly, and by doing so, she’s able to devise and implement a sensible course of action. Is Jane enough of a mastermind to save the brash young American inventor Alexander Sinclair, her friends at Stranje House, and possibly England itself?

Title: EXILE FOR DREAMERS (Stranje House #2)
Author: Kathleen Baldwin
Pub. Date: May 24, 2016
Publisher: Tor Teen
Format: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

A School for Unusual Girls is the first captivating installment in the Stranje House series for young adults by award-winning author Kathleen Baldwin. #1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot calls this romantic Regency adventure "completely original and totally engrossing."

Tess can't run far enough or fast enough to escape the prophetic dreams that haunt her. Dreams bring nothing but death and grief, and Tess refuses to accept that she may be destined for the same madness that destroyed her mother. Until her disturbing dreams become the only means of saving Lord Ravencross, the man she loves, and her friends at Stranje House from Lady Daneska and her lover, the Ghost-agent of Napoleon, who has escaped from Elba. Can the young ladies of Stranje House prevail once more? Or is England destined to fall into the hands of the power-mad dictator?

"Enticing from the first sentence." -New York Times Book Review

A School for Unusual Girls is a great next read for fans of Gail Carriger's Finishing School series and Robin LaFevers' His Fair Assassin series. 

Title: A SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS (Stranje House #1)
Author: Kathleen Baldwin
Pub. Date: May 19, 2015
Publisher: Tor Teen
Pages: 352
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook

It’s 1814. Napoleon is exiled on Elba. Europe is in shambles. Britain is at war on four fronts. And Stranje House, a School for Unusual Girls, has become one of Regency England’s dark little secrets. The daughters of the beau monde who don't fit high society’s constrictive mold are banished to Stranje House to be reformed into marriageable young ladies. Or so their parents think. In truth, Headmistress Emma Stranje, the original unusual girl, has plans for the young ladies—plans that entangle the girls in the dangerous world of spies, diplomacy, and war.

After accidentally setting her father’s stables on fire while performing a scientific experiment, Miss Georgiana Fitzwilliam is sent to Stranje House. But Georgie has no intention of being turned into a simpering, pudding-headed, marriageable miss. She plans to escape as soon as possible—until she meets Lord Sebastian Wyatt. Thrust together in a desperate mission to invent a new invisible ink for the English war effort, Georgie and Sebastian must find a way to work together without losing their heads—or their hearts... 

Miss Maya Barrington’s

July 1814, Mayfair, London, Haversmythe House
Miss Stranje hosts a coming-out ball for her young ladies

All the world is sound. Even if I were blind, I would still be able to see. It is as
if everything hums—the trees, air, stones, and people—especially people. They all sing songs.

Some songs are more dangerous than others.

Most of the guests have already arrived at the ball, and our receiving line is dwindling.
Georgie, Lady Jane, and Tess left us to join a lively country-dance. Seraphina still stands
quietly beside me. Her inner music wraps around her as delicately as does the silk of her
cloud-blue ballgown. With her white-blonde hair, Sera is the closest thing to an angel I have ever seen. On my other side, stands our rock, our headmistress, Miss Stranje, a woman made of iron.

The footman at the doors announces another arrival. “Lord and Lady Barrington.”

My father and his wife stand in the doorway. The instruments playing serenely within
me crash to a stop and clatter to the floor of my soul.

He came.

I press my hand against my heart to keep it from flapping and shrieking like a strangled
bird. Seraphina edges closer so that our shoulders touch. She is trying to lend me strength.

The ballroom overflows with people. Dozens of strangers clad in shimmering finery,
surround us, laughing and talking, but my very English stepmother ignores them all and
marches straight for the receiving line. She holds her nose aloft, and her mouth pinched up

so tight that her porcelain white face looks almost skeletal. An out of tune clarinet, she
squeaks toward us, every step making me wish I could stop up my ears.

People say she is beautiful. My father certainly must have thought so. I fail to see it,
especially when her face prunes up as it is doing now. It is a familiar expression. One that causes me to quake nervously while simultaneously clenching my fists.

Stepmother. That is what I was instructed to call her. I cannot bring myself to do it.
Mother is a title of sacred honor. This woman, whose soul honks like an out of tune oboe, hasn’t the faintest motherly inclination toward me. To me, she will never be anything more than the woman who married my father. Never mind that my mother, his first wife, was a Maharajah’s daughter. To the new Lady Barrington, I am merely the brown-skinned embarrassment her husband acquired in India. Her hate roars at me like high tide slamming against a rocky shore.

She halts, and her blond sausage curls quiver with distaste as she plants herself squarely
in front of Miss Stranje. She does not curtsey or even nod in response to our headmistress’s greeting.

Her words trickle out so sweetly that most people would not notice she is gritting her
teeth as she utters them. “Miss Stranje, a word if you please.”

Naturally, Seraphina notices. She notices everything—it is her gift. And her curse. She
reaches for my hand to reassure me. Of the five of us, we who are Miss Stranje’s students, Seraphina Wyndham is the only one who truly understands me, and I do not want my best friend to suffer if she is caught being supportive of me. So, I smile reassuringly and slip free of her fingers. This is my battle, and I must face it alone.

Sera tugs my arm as I step away and furtively whispers, “Do something. Calm her.”

She, like everyone else at Stranje House, mistakenly thinks my voice contains some sort
of magical power to soothe. It is much simpler than that. My grandmother taught me how to use certain tones and cadences to relax people and communicate tranquility. Most souls are more than receptive, they hunger for it. My father’s wife is a different matter. I have tried in the past, and rather than succumb to my calming tactics, she resists. On several occasions, she even covered her ears and screeched at me. I remember well her accusations of witchcraft and demonic bedevilment. It was on those grounds she convinced my father to send me away to Stranje House.

I wish, for Miss Stranje’s sake, Lady Barrington would let me quiet her rat-like tendency
to snipe and bite. Although, I’m not worried. I am confident our headmistress has guessed what is coming and will manage my father’s wife quite handily without my help. After all, a rat does not surprise an owl.

“This way, Lady Barrington.” Miss Stranje graciously directs our bristling guest to the
side of the receiving line.

Father’s charming wife clasps my shoulder and propels me forward with her. I could not
possibly soothe her now. I’m not nearly composed enough to do it. Indeed, I am battling an overwhelming inclination to yank her boney claw from my shoulder and twist it until she cries off.

“What have you done, Miss Stranje?” Lady Barrington releases me and waves her hand
at my ensemble. She is objecting to Miss Stranje’s ingenious innovation, a traditional sari draped over an English ballgown.

“Why have you dressed the child thus?” Lady Barrington’s fingers close in a fist around
the embroidered veil covering my hair. “I’m mortified! You’ve garbed her like a heathen.
Surely, this is an affront to everyone here.” She flicks the saffron silk away as if it has soiled her gloves. “How do you expect Lord Barrington and myself to weather this . . . this outrage!”

She barks so loud that some of our guests turn to stare.

“After the enormous sum we paid you, it is beyond my comprehension why you should
do us such a disservice—”

“Lady Barrington!” Miss Stranje’s tone chops through the woman’s tirade. “Calm
yourself.” Our headmistress stands a good four or five inches taller than most women, and she straightens to make every inch count. “You sadly mistake the matter, my lady. The other guests are well acquainted with your husband’s daughter. In fact, a few weeks ago she was invited by no less a personage than Lady Jersey to sing at Carlton House for the Prince Regent. Miss Barrington’s voice impressed His Highness so greatly that he, the highest authority in the land, suggested your stepdaughter ought to be declared a national treasure.”

“What?” Lady Barrington blinks at this news, but her astonishment is short-lived. She
clears her throat and steps up emboldened. “Oh, that. I am well aware of Maya’s ability to mesmerize others with her voice. She uses demonic trickery, and you ought not allow—”

Miss Stranje leans forward, her tone low and deadly. “Are you unaware of the fact that
Lady Castlereagh issued Miss Barrington vouchers for Almack’s?”

“Al-Almack’s . . .” Lady Barrington sputters at the mention of high society’s most exclusive social club. Her hands flutter to her mouth in disbelief. “No. That can’t be. Lady Castlereagh approved of her?” She glances sideways at me and her upper lips curls as if she tastes something foul in the air.

“Yes. Her vouchers were signed and sealed by the great lady herself.” Miss Stranje’s face
transforms into a mask of hardened steel under which most people tremble in fear. “Not to put too fine a point on it, my lady, but Miss Barrington has been granted entry into the highest social circles. And, more to the point, it is my understanding that the patronesses refused to grant you vouchers. You were denied, is that not so?”

Lady Barrington steps back, unwilling to answer, a hand clutching her throat.

Miss Stranje refuses to let her quarry wriggle away. “In fact, my dear lady, anyone planning a soiree or ball during the remainder of the season, anyone who is anyone, has invited Miss Barrington to attend. I have stacks of invitations, dozens of notes, all of them begging your husband’s daughter to do them the honor of singing at their gatherings. Indeed, society has taken her under their wing so thoroughly I had rather thought you would be offering me a bonus, instead of this ill-conceived reprimand.”

Miss Stranje turns and levels a shrewd gaze at my father, who until this moment stood
behind us silently observing.

He places a hand on his wife’s waist and moves her aside. This stranger, this formidable
Englishman who I used to call Papa with such glee, steps up to my headmistress and takes her measure. After a moment that stretches long enough to hammer my stomach into mincemeat, he nods respectfully. “Very well, Miss Stranje. I shall send additional remuneration to you in the morning.”

His wife gasps, and indignation squeals off her like sour yellow gas.

He turns to me and reaches for my hand. Every instinct in me shouts to pull back. Do
not let him touch you. It has been many long years since I have seen anything resembling a fatherly mannerism from him. I am terrified of what I might feel, and yet even more terrified of what I might miss if I pull away.

A sharp intake of breath crosses my lips, but then all other sounds cease. I no longer
hear laughter or talking from the guests in the ballroom. No footsteps. No shuffling or
clattering. The hum of impenetrable silence muffles everything else as I watch him lift my hand.

My father bows slightly, the way all the other gentlemen did as they came through the
receiving line. He holds my fingers loosely as if we are mere acquaintances. “You look
lovely, Maya, very much like your mother.” He straightens, and I think I hear a whiff of
sound—a soft keening, low and mournful. Except it is so brief and distant, I cannot be

“You have her fire in your eyes. She would be proud.” He squares his shoulders. “I’m
pleased to see you making your way in the world—flourishing on your own.”



Unable to summon enough breath for words, I dip in an English curtsey that has
become a habit. When I am able to speak, it sounds embarrassingly weak and fluttery, like a frightened bird. “I am glad you think so, my lord.”

He lets go of my gloved fingers, offers his arm to his wife, and leaves me. Without a
backward glance, he walks away. His measured gait is aloof and elegant, no different from that of a hundred other strangers in this room. The hollow thump of his heels as he
abandons me hurts far worse than anything the spiteful woman he married has ever said.

I wish now that I had not allowed him to touch me. I ought to have run from the
house—anything would be better than this grinding loneliness that darkens my insides. I
would rather rip out my heart than to fall into the chasm threatening to swallow me. I’ve been in that dark place before.

The way he dismisses me without a second thought sends me spiraling back to India.
I’m there again, in the stifling heat of his sickroom. Worried, I sneaked in to see him and
stood quietly at the foot of his bed. Fear thumped through me like an elephant march as I watched him thrash under the sheets, fevered with the same epidemic that had only days earlier taken my mother’s life.

I remember his wide-eyed alarm when he noticed me standing by his bedpost. I was only six, but I can still hear his hoarse shout for the servants. “Get her out of here. Send her away!”

“No! No. I want to stay with you. Let me stay with you,” I begged. Crying, I clung to his
bedpost, refusing to leave.

“Go! Take the chi—” Retching cut his rebuke short. Next came a string of muffled
curses. “Out!”

“Come, miss. You cannot stay. Your father is very sick.” Servants dragged me, kicking
and screaming from his room. Later, my ayah told me Papa wanted me to stay away so that I would not catch his illness. I will never know if that was true or not. My ayah may have been trying to spare my feelings. I do remember telling her I didn’t care if I got sick and died. I would rather stay with my papa.

“No, kanya. No, little girl. You must not say such things.” She brushed my hair until it
gleamed like my papa’s black boots. “You will live, child. I see this. The future blooms in
you. You are gende ka phool.” She pulled a marigold out of a small vase and placed it in my palms. “Protector. Sun lion.” I touched the bright orange petals and thought to myself, what good is such a small flower. It is too fragile—too easily crushed.

I was right.

The next day, on Papa’s orders, his secretary, a fusty man with little patience for children, escorted me to my grandmother’s family in the north. My father sent me away from the only world I’d ever known. On that long trip, loneliness and hurt chewed me up. Why would he send me so far away? Was he too sick? Or was his grief too heavy for him to share in mine? Perhaps my black hair and olive skin reminded him too much of my dead mother.

Or was it because she was gone that he no longer cared for me?


We traveled for days and days, journeying toward the great mountains, land of the five
rivers, and all the way there, sadness gnawed on my soul.

Few Europeans had ever ventured to the old villages and cities along the rivers. People
were wary and distrustful of my white escort. He had difficulty finding a guide, and even
when he did, we made several wrong turns. I did not care. Numb with grief, certain my
father would die, or that he no longer loved me. I was already a lost child. What did it
matter if we wandered forever?

After several treacherous river crossings, our guide located my family’s village on the
Tawi River. The weary attaché deposited me and my trunks in their midst and hurriedly
left. I sat in the dirt beside my baggage, completely abandoned. The last ember of hope
flickered inside me and blew out.

Strangers, who I would learn later were my cousins and aunts, gathered in a circle
around me, staring, their faces ripe with curiosity and suspicion. Half-English, half-Indian, I was an unwelcome oddity, who belonged nowhere. I sat in the center of their circle, feeling like an oddly painted lizard. Did they judge me poisonous? Or edible?

A woman’s joyous cry startled me. Astonished, I stood up. In my exhausted state, amidst
all the confusion, I briefly mistook her voice for my mother’s. I stared at the old woman
running toward me. The voice, although eerily similar, did not belong to my dead mother.

It belonged to my grandmother.

She burst through her gathered kinsman, took one look at me, and opened her arms.
Though I learned later she had only visited me once as an infant, she kissed my forehead
and hugged me, rocking and murmuring in Hindi. In tears, she declared to all my cousins
and aunts that I was her daughter returned home.

Grandmother, my naanii, did not care about my mixed blood. She had no qualms about
teaching her half-caste granddaughter the ways of her people. Others in our village were not so quick to trust me. I was half-English, after all. But out of respect for my grandmother, they kept their opinions to themselves. Naanii taught me how to make bread, how to mix healing herbs, braid hair, sew, and a thousand other things.
More importantly, Naanii taught me to listen.

To hear the world around us.

Over and over, she told me, “All life sings a song if we will but stop and listen.”

I remember standing on the banks of the river washing clothes. “Close your eyes, little
bird,” Naanii said. “Quiet your mind and tell me what you hear?”

I pointed to her kinswoman standing in the shallows scrubbing her laundry against the
stones. “I hear Kanishka humming a contented tune.”

Grandmother, ever patient, smiled and asked, “And the stones, little one, what do they

I laughed and closed my eyes tight, listening for subtler vibrations. “They are old, Naanii.
Their voices are quiet and deep. I can hardly hear them. Kanishka sings too loudly, so
does the wind in the trees and grass.” I opened my eyes. “And the river is especially loud.”

“Ahh.” She nodded, wrung out the cloth she’d been laundering, and set it in her basket.

“It is true. Water is bold and brash. Very noisy.” She galloped her fingers through the air.

“Always rushing to and fro. River thinks she is all-powerful. You must try harder, my child.

Listen for the calm voice of the stones.” She laid a smooth pebble in my palm and pointed to one of the large rocks jutting up, splitting the current of the river. “Do you feel it? The mighty waters push and shove with the strength of a hundred horses, yet that boulder is unmoved. Hear how deep it hums, how sure it is of its connection with mother earth.”

Years later, I would hear the stones sing, but not that day. That day I heard my grandmother, not just her words; I heard the unfathomable vibrations of her soul. It was as if she was as ancient and knowing as the stones of which she spoke.

I wish I were still standing on the banks of the Tawi River. Instead, I am here in London
with too many sounds roaring in my ears—the babble of our many guests, the rumble of the city seeping up through the bones of this house. My father has taken me half a world away from the person who loves me best in all the world. Even though she is thousands of miles away, I close my eyes, hoping to catch my grandmother’s distant pulse. I try to block out all the other noises, searching for those melodic threads that run between us even at this great distance.

“Maya? Maya! Are you all right?” Lady Jane rests her hand on my shoulder and startles
me out of my search. She and Sera stare at me expectantly. “The musicians are tuning up for a quadrille. We are about to return to the dancing. But you seem shaken, what’s

I look at Lady Jane, wondering how to answer. I am not all right, as she phrases it, but
what else can I say, here in this jangling place. “Yes, I hear the music,” I say, and try to smile as if it is an important observation, as if the frivolity of dancing lightens my heart.
“Hmm,” she says skeptically, and takes my hand, pulling me along with her like the
mighty river carrying a piece of driftwood. I feel her questions clamoring to be asked, but luckily, I also know Lady Jane will restrain herself. This is not the time or place for that sort of discussion. She glances around the room and spots Alexander Sinclair. Immediately she brightens, and I feel joy pulse through her fingertips.

“Come.” She leads the way and, arm in arm, we face both the music and crowd together.

About Kathleen:

Award-winning author, Kathleen Baldwin, loves adventure in books and in real life. She taught rock climbing in the Rockies, survival camped in the desert, was stalked by a mountain lion, lost an argument with a rattlesnake, enjoyed way too many classes in college, fell in love at least a dozen times, and married her very own hero. Together they’ve raised four free-spirited adventurous children.

SCHOOL FOR UNUSUAL GIRLS is her first historical romance for Young Adults. Awarded 2016 Spirit of Texas, it is also a Junior Library Guild selection. Publisher’s Lunch listed it in 2015 YA BookBuzz. Scholastic licensed it for book fairs. Ian Bryce, producer of Spiderman, Saving Private Ryan, and other notable films optioned the series for film.

#1 New York Times bestselling author Meg Cabot calls Kathleen’s romantic Regency adventure, “completely original and totally engrossing.”

Giveaway Details:
1 winner will receive a finished copy of HARBOR FOR THE NIGHTINGALE. US Only.

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