REVIEW – THE HERE AND NOW BY ANN BRASHARES

The Here and Now by Ann Brashares

Release date: April 8, 2014

Delacorte Press

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Follow the rules. Remember what happened. Never fall in love.

This is the story of seventeen-year-old Prenna James, who immigrated to New York when she was twelve. Except Prenna didn’t come from a different country. She came from a different time—a future where a mosquito-borne illness has mutated into a pandemic, killing millions and leaving the world in ruins.

Prenna and the others who escaped to the present day must follow a strict set of rules: never reveal where they’re from, never interfere with history, and never, ever be intimate with anyone outside their community. Prenna does as she’s told, believing she can help prevent the plague that will one day ravage the earth.

But everything changes when Prenna falls for Ethan Jarves.

I received a digital copy of this book from Netgalley. I do not receive any compensation for my reviews.

Let me start with a disclaimer. I went into this book with zero expectations because I’ve never read The Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants, though I think I watched part of the movie once. Basically, I knew nothing of the author’s writing style.

The Here and Now follows Prenna, who is a time traveler from the future. She, her mother, and hundreds of others from her time, returned to 2010 to undo history, and stop the world from destroying itself. Or so they’re told. Their “community” follows a list of rules. Basically, don’t tell anyone where you’re from, don’t fall in love or be intimate with any time “natives,” and obey your community leaders at all costs. As the story unfolds, we learn that the leaders are bad, and only made up the rules to protect themselves, and they have zero intention of saving the world, just living in the past so they don’t have to die of a plague in the future. Prenna’s father doesn’t come with them when they travel, though he does show up later, as a homeless man, 24 years older than when she left him. The story twists and weaves its way into a huge mess, which leaves Prenna, her love interest Ethan, and the fate of the world in danger. It’s up to Prenna and Ethan to stop a murder to change the course of time, or the world will continue on the same path, and the plague will take over.

The Here and Now left me waiting…and wanting. I’m assuming this is going to be a series as there was a lot of loose ends left at the end of the book. I’m not a huge fan of first person present tense writing. It grates of my nerves as so little of it is written well. When I first started the book, I got the feeling that The Here and Now would be no different. There’s a lot of passive phrasing, which is so EASILY corrected, I’m not sure why no one has taken the time to do it. Perhaps before the final releases, it’ll be taken care of.

Let’s begin with Prenna. At the start, she comes off as a shy girl, bound by the constraints of her “people” and “community.” However, it doesn’t take long for her to become brave, demanding, and basically oblivious to the consequences of her actions. I liked her character to a point, but I got the impression that she had a one track mind and that the repercussions didn’t matter.

Next, we have Ethan, who is the real gem of this book. He’s nerdy, he’s smart, he’s patient, he’s brave. He seems to do things for the right reasons and be conscious that there are more important things than just himself and the girl he cares about.

The story itself is…okay. I followed along easily, the first person thing kind of fell away as I got more into it, but I’m still left scratching my head a little. Not to mention that the “big reveals” felt like small blips, because I had to wait about fifty pages after I figured it out for the character to finally get it. I don’t like knowing stuff before the character does, it steals all of their glory. The specific case of this is the homeless man being Prenna’s father. I don’t buy that she doesn’t recognize him right away. This is explained away because he’s “older” and came from a “hard place,” but I don’t buy it. I knew it was her father right away.

Also, why are there so many copies of the drawing Ethan made after Prenna came through by the river? He gave one to Prenna’s father…I think? And then one to Andrew Baltos? And there’s still one in his drawer at home. This wasn’t ever really followed up on. Now that her father and Baltos are dead…maybe it’s the time travel that confuses me. And how does Ethan know that he’s the “Moses” when he looked in Baltos’s wallet? I’m still confused. I guess it was probably Ethan’s ability to “sight” the travelers…but it’s never explained why he has this sight. Seems too convenient to the storyline and I hate “just because” answers.

What I really enjoyed about the story was the relationship development between Prenna and Ethan. It’s the only pacing in the story that worked for me. Up until they start talking about having sex. I might be alone in this, but I’m really over the “we can’t have sex because you’ll die” thing. I can’t count how many books I’ve read that have this theme. All of them young adult, and in all of them, it irritated me. It’s like the author can’t find a reason good enough for the teens to be abstinent, so they hitch it to the fate of the world…like sex is the only reason we exist. Like you can’t have a solid relationship without having sex. I. Don’t. Get. It. It blows sex way out of proportion. It makes it seem all powerful. But in our highly sexualized society, I suppose this is normal.

The other thing I enjoyed is all the references to paper. As an author myself, I’m hung up on paper as well. I think that digitizing everything is going to be the downfall of our society, because we’re relying on something we can’t physically hold in our hands. So I didn’t miss that reference.

Overall, I enjoyed the books, at some points, I found it highly engaging, but overall, it left me wanting and waiting for the other shoe to drop. Will I read a sequel? Maybe, just to get some more of Ethan.

3 Stars

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COVER REVEAL: REFLECTION POND

Reflection-Pond-ebook-1-Van

Reflection Pond by Kacey Vanderkarr

Available April 1, 2014

Cover design by Bioblossom Creative.  bioblossomcreative@gmail.com

Sometimes you find home, sometimes it comes looking for you.

Callie knows a lot more about pain than she does about family. She’s never belonged, at least, not until she falls through a portal into her true home. The beautiful faerie city of Eirensae doesn’t come free. Callie must find her amulet and bind herself to the city, and most importantly, avoid the Fallen fae who seek her life. Seems like a small price to pay for the family she’s always wanted.

Then she meets cynical and gorgeous Rowan, who reads the darkness of her past in her eyes. He becomes Callie’s part-time protector and full-time pain in the ass. He has secrets of his own for Callie to unravel. What they don’t know is that the future of Eirensae lies with them, and the once peaceful city is about to become a battleground for power.

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About the author:

cropped author photoKacey Vanderkarr is a young adult author. She dabbles in fantasy, romance, and sci-fi, complete with faeries, alternate realities, and the occasional plasma gun. She’s known to be annoyingly optimistic and listen to music at the highest decibel. Kacey is the president of the Flint Area Writers and the Social Media Director for Sucker Literary. When she’s not writing, she coaches winterguard, and works as a sonographer. Kacey lives in Michigan, with her husband, son, crazy cats, and two bearded dragons. Kacey’s debut novel, Antithesis, is available from Inkspell Publishing.

EXCLUSIVE! EXCERPT FROM REFLECTION POND

Reflection pond TeaserTake a good hard look at this foot. What you’re seeing is a snippet from the cover of Reflection Pond. On Saturday, you’ll be able to finally see the full cover. In keeping with my trend of interviews, exclusive insider info, and tidbits, I will now give you an excerpt from Reflection Pond. (This excerpt is from an uncorrected galley of Reflection Pond and may contain errors.)

Don’t be shy. Post your comments below!

Chapter One

His hand slid under Callie’s shirt; branded skin, slipped into places she tried to keep hidden.

“No,” she said, shoving his fingers away. “No.”

Nate froze and made a disgusted sound. “Callie…”

            She tugged her shirt down.

He sighed. “This has to stop. Do you expect me to wait forever?”

          Callie climbed off of the bed and curled her trembling hands into fists. She hated the wash of his breath on her neck, the smell of his skin, soap and cheap cologne. She’d never loved him, only hoped that if she tried hard enough, she’d miraculously transform into a puzzle that still had all its pieces. Fake it until you make it, she thought bitterly.

            “Callie…” He stood now, came two steps closer as she shrank away. “We can work this out.”

            Behind Nate, the bed lay disheveled and made a mockery of her inadequacy. She added to the list of things she hated—the ten by eight foot space of Nate’s room, the bed, the way he said her name, his refusal to give up.

           “I said I can’t, Nate.” His name slid between clenched teeth. Callie backed up further, until the cold roundness of the doorknob pressed into her back. Her heartbeat thundered everywhere, chest, fingertips, and scalp.

            Nate scraped his hands through unruly curls. He was attractive enough, she supposed, muscular from playing football. But he was right; she couldn’t expect him to wait forever, just as he couldn’t expect her to ever be ready.

            The hard ball of the doorknob filled her hand. She bolted, leaving Nate standing dumbfounded, surrounded by the dirty clothes that lined his floor and the sparkling football trophies on his shelves.

          She didn’t stop to see if he was chasing her. It didn’t matter if he was, because every part of her body screamed to run faster. Out the front door, across the patchy lawn, past her foster home next-door where the screen gaped open and the shutters hung crooked.

            Callie pushed harder, wondering if she could run fast enough to dissipate like smoke, to un-become.

           She couldn’t go home—if she could call it home—where the stench of her foster mother’s cancer seeped into the walls, where she was expected to play parent to the younger foster kids. She couldn’t return to Nate—not ever—not with the humiliation clawing at her chest. Callie knew she’d never be ready. Not in a week, a month…a year.

            Never.

           The thought of Nate’s skin on hers made Callie gag as she steered her legs toward the park. She gasped for air around the bile burning her throat. She knew she looked crazy, but couldn’t bring herself to care. She blew past the old man walking his dog and the girl drawing a hopscotch board on broken concrete. It was as though seventeen years of needing to escape had finally caught up with her.

The sun shone bright, but to Callie, it was shadows.

            Struggling trees surrounding a mucky pond came into view—the park. She registered the change from hard, unforgiving sidewalk to scratchy, dry grass, and didn’t slow. She ran around empty benches where bums slept at night, under the swing set, clattering the chains that dangled without seats. She ran with a singular vision—freedom.

            Callie didn’t see the motorbike or hear the shouts that intruded upon the desolate wasteland of her life. She didn’t see the man as he fell from his two-wheeled machine of destruction or the look of horror on his face. She saw the sky, impossibly blue, as she flew into the air. Callie saw the dank, clouded surface of the reflection pond, too dirty to have ever served as a mirror, and she saw her life—a short, inconsequential blip on the grand map of existence.

            And then, she broke the surface.

The blue sky smudged gray like a painting and the splash echoed in her ears, muffled by the suffocating sound of being underwater. The reflection pond felt wrong—warm, silky, like the lining of a winter coat—and it made her remember.

She opened her mouth to scream, tasting imaginary, pink bubbles, but nothing happened. No stagnant pond water rushed into her throat.

She didn’t drown. She didn’t even choke.

Callie fell through the water and hit a solid, freezing cold floor with the force of a two-story drop. Her lungs paralyzed from the impact and she rolled onto her back, eyes widening. Above her, floating as though suspended by magic, was the pond. She could make out the bottom, clogged with weeds. Sand swirled around the spot she’d fallen through, hitting an invisible barrier and bouncing back. Humid, floral scented air rushed into her lungs and she sat up, surprised to find her clothes and hair dry.

Heart hammering, she dragged herself to her feet and rubbed the sore spots on her elbows. The fear of suffocation faded, replaced with curiosity and the unmistakable relief of escaping Nate.

Pale light filtered through the pond and cast dancing beams onto the walls. The only other illumination came from small rocks that lined the floor. There was a word for that in the back of her mind—bioluminescent. Dark stone walls dripped with humidity. In the distance, water gurgled. Bright flowers in blues, purples, and pinks hung from vines, their heavy heads as large as dinner plates, bowed to the ground.

It was like something from a painting, too beautiful to be real.

“We have stairs you know,” a male voice said.

Callie whirled to find two guys.

They were as alike as they were different, around her age or a little older. They held an identical posture as they stood staring at her, arms crossed over their chests, legs wide, feet bare and dirty. There was a lightness about them and Callie imagined they could move very fast if they wanted. The taller one had wavy, jet black hair that hung to his shoulders, and intense, light blue eyes. His lips twisted into a smirk. The second boy was shorter than the first, very pale, with green eyes and ginger hair that bordered on strawberry blond. His features were small and fine, pretty for a boy; and he smiled, amused.

“What message have you brought us?” the dark-haired boy asked, smirk turning into a grimace.

Callie stared, wondering if she’d hit her head and this was just a wacky, concussion-induced vision. The boy’s eyes narrowed. She looked up; the pond was still there, swirling with absolute benevolence. She searched for an exit. Stone walls. Stone floor. The pond. The three of them with no doors. A new fear fizzled in her stomach.

“I don’t—” she started, voice breathy and uncertain. Her gaze returned to the pond. “How?”

The dark haired boy snorted, drawing her gaze. “This is the antechamber; you know your charms are stripped here.”

“Don’t be rude,” the redhead spoke up. He took a step forward, holding his forearm out. “I’m Ash,” he nodded his head towards the other boy, “this is Rowan.”

“How—did I just…how did I get here?” Despite falling through the pond, Callie’s mouth was dry. She stared at his offered arm, confused. Where did he intend to escort her? “Did you fall through too? Are we trapped?”

The dark-haired one, Rowan, took a step closer, a curious expression on his face. “She doesn’t know,” he said, fascinated, glancing at Ash. “She has no idea.”

Ash looked between Rowan and Callie, his face a question mark. “That’s not possible.”

“It is,” Rowan insisted. He pushed the ends of Callie’s sweaty hair off of her chest and she was too frozen with terror to stop him. “Look,” he pointed to her pale skin, “She doesn’t have an imprint.”

Rowan glowered furiously at Callie, as though she had any idea what he meant. She glanced down at the purple tank top she wore. Loose strands of hair clung to her skin. She backed away, gasping when her shoulders hit the warm foliage that covered the walls. “What is going on?” She gestured to the ceiling. “I just fell through…” Callie cleared her throat, voice hoarse and high with borderline hysteria. “I just fell through the pond.” She shook her arms. “I’m not even wet.” When Ash didn’t answer, she turned to Rowan. “Please. What’s going on?”

Ash glanced at Rowan, incredulous, ignoring Callie. “You don’t have an imprint yet.”

Rowan’s dark eyebrows lowered. “Like I could forget. So nice of you to remind me.” He shook his head and jabbed his finger at Callie again. “Look at her, Ash. She could be related to Sapphire’s line. Look at her eyes.” He took another step closer, which she reciprocated by pressing her spine into the wall.

“I think you’re freaking her out,” Ash said.

Callie lifted her chin in a last-ditch effort not to cry. She was trapped. Her hands curled into stubborn fists. “How did I fall through there?” Something moved in the pond now, something big and solid, wearing a red t-shirt—the guy who’d caused her to plunge into the water.

“Hey!” She waved her arms and followed him from one end of the pond to the other on shaky legs. “I’m right here. Hey!” Panic bubbled in Callie’s chest as she watched his head whip from side to side, looking for her.

“Hey!” Rowan said, raising his voice to match hers.

“I’m here.” She flailed her arms around some more. The guy kicked his feet, traveling from one end of the small pond to the other. Tears leaked onto Callie’s cheeks. She wiped them away. “Why can’t you hear me?”

“Knock that off.” Rowan batted her arms down. “He’s not gonna answer. What’s your name, anyway?”

“Rowan!” Ash admonished.  

They’d cornered her against a wall, and stood before her, expressions perplexed. She’d have to get through both of them if she wanted to run. If she could evade them in a room with no doors. Think, she ordered herself.

“It’s Cal—” she started to answer, searching over their shoulders for a way out. The panic in her chest was rising, an ocean constricted to a jar. She would burst under the pressure.

Ash covered her mouth with his hand. “Shh!”

She tried to bite his palm. His hand tasted sweet, floral.

Ash pulled away and grinned. “You don’t need to tell us your name,” he said, wiping the hand on his pants. “You can’t just ask people that, Row. You know better.”

“She’s not really one of us,” Rowan said.

“She came through the ward. She is.

“I am what?” Callie asked, realizing the only way out was to be the way she came in—the pond. But how was she supposed to get herself back up through it? Even if she jumped, her fingertips would be several feet away from the water. It would have to work. Maybe she could climb on one of their shoulders. She eyed the taller one.

“Maybe we should take her to Hazel. She’ll know what to do,” Rowan said.

“That’s probably a good idea,” Ash hesitated, “but…”

“But what?” Irritation tinged Rowan’s words. “You want to keep her trapped here as a plaything?”

“No. You’re right.” Ash held out his arm again. “Come along then.”

Callie didn’t move. Did he think she would go with them without a fight? Above her, the guy had climbed out of the pond. He’d probably already given up on finding her. What would they tell her foster family? She fell into the pond and just disappeared. I swear.

Typical.

“Clearly there’s been some kind of misunderstanding,” Callie said, forcing her voice to remain reasonable. “I just need to get back up there and we can forget this ever happened.” She nodded. She’d read somewhere that nodding helped convince people to agree with you.

Rowan cleared his throat. “You can come on your own, or we can force you. I’m trained in torture techniques that make ax murderers cringe.”

“You don’t have to be dramatic,” Ash said. He pushed his arm closer to Callie, insistent, it nearly touched her nose. “Once Hazel sees you, we can figure out what you’re doing here and get you on your way.” He waited. “Come on. Don’t be rude.”

Callie didn’t get it and she didn’t like it—she’d somehow fallen through water and remained dry. These two guys were weird. She especially didn’t like that the guy had left her for dead in the pond.

Ass.

She lifted her arms to shove the guys away and make a run for it—to where, she didn’t know—but Rowan caught her wrists.

“Don’t bother. Ash—get the rope.”

Callie couldn’t tell if he was joking. Fear stabbed at her throat.

“For the love, Row. Shut up.” Ash tried to pry Rowan’s hands off, but he held tight.

“Let me go.” Callie jabbed her elbow at his face and missed by a lot. Being a foster for most of her life had given her street smarts, but Callie didn’t know the first thing about fighting, unless she counted evading Nate’s advances, which she didn’t. Callie didn’t count on Nate for much. Rowan’s fingers tightened on the soft inside of her wrist and she flinched, not because it hurt, but because it tingled, as if it’d fallen asleep.

“Be nice,” Ash said, knocking Rowan’s hand away. “It’s okay.” He smiled and presented his arm again like a father waiting to accompany his daughter down the aisle.

The gesture made Callie slightly nauseous. She rubbed her wrist. Her fear gave way to annoyance. Maybe this Hazel person could get her back…up? She had to get out of this room. If there was one thing Callie couldn’t stand, it was being trapped, caged in like an animal, held down. She needed doors. She needed windows. She needed a sky above her.

“And I can’t leave until I meet Hazel?” she asked. Her instincts said to humor them until she could escape.

“You can’t leave,” Rowan said. “Ever.” A slow, irritating smile spread across his mouth.

“If you don’t shut up, I’m going to set you on fire,” Ash said, but he was smiling at the other boy. Maybe here, under the pond, setting people on fire was a normal thing to do.

“Hazel will help you,” Ash said to Callie. “Besides, it’s not like we can just throw you up through the pond.” He made a dismissive gesture as if it was a ridiculous notion.

“You can leave if you die,” Rowan said thoughtfully.

“Fire,” Ash reminded.

Rowan made a gesture that said lead the way.

“Fine,” Callie conceded, looping her arm through Ash’s, cringing once again at the strange sensation she got when they touched her. “Take me to Hazel.” Get me out of this room.

Ash beamed and pulled her toward the wall. Rowan trailed behind, muttering something about the “idiocy of mere mortals.”

“Wait,” she said as Ash tried to drag her into the stone, “That’s a rock wall.” The room had no exits, no doors, not even a hole large enough to crawl through.

Rowan snickered. “Well, of course it is.” He gave her a hard shove and she shut her eyes as her face careened toward the stone, knowing that she’d made a terrible mistake.

***

Rowan watched the girl disappear and tried to ignore the tightness in his chest.

It wasn’t because she was pretty—of course she was, beauty was a given in Eirensae. Sometimes he longed for the diversity of the human world, where no one was glamoured to perfection. He wanted scars to map out a history that actually meant something. Flawlessness turned his stomach.

            The humid, overheated air shifted as he stepped through the portal and into the common space of the tunnels, turning cooler, though the suffocating scent of flowers remained. He supposed he should enjoy the scent, associate it with home, but home was an elusive word.

            The city was beautiful. Rowan had never gotten used to it. He’d thought that over time the magnificence would grow on him and one day he’d wake up and think, Oh, I fit here.

In a couple months, it’d be two years since he’d crossed the portal into the city, and it still felt just as foreign as the first day. Besides, beauty was fragile. Take the blooms that dripped from every surface here, easily plucked. Rowan was fire and Eirensae was a flower. No good could come of that combination.

            The girl’s arched mouth fell into a gasp as she looked up at the glamoured ceiling. A blond cascade of hair skimmed over her shoulders as she leaned farther backwards, trying to take it all in.

Rowan didn’t believe a single word that came out of her mouth. He couldn’t lie, but he didn’t think she was like him. It didn’t matter if she looked like Sapphire. Lots of girls had blond hair and blue eyes. Lots of girls were beautiful. It didn’t mean she belonged here. No one fell through the pond by accident.

Tearing his gaze from the curve of her throat, Rowan tried to scrape away the cynicism and see the room through new eyes. The walls were similar to those in the antechamber, made of solid, knobby gray rock. Deep green vines snaked across them, weaving in and out of each other, sometimes creating great leaves as long as his legs. Flowers of every shape and color dripped in a kaleidoscope, their petals huge, each color brighter and more impossible than the last. Rowan curled his toes against the cool, compressed dirt floor and glanced up.

            Millions of stars dotted what should’ve been a stone ceiling. It was vast and velvet, the sky over an ocean, away from lights and people, and as magical as it was fake. The glamour was lovely, but not as impressive to those who knew its true form. Rowan focused on the sky until it dissolved into the rock ceiling underneath. The presence of the ordinary stone satisfied him for some reason and he let the glamoured night sky slide back into place.

            Ash tugged on the girl’s arm.

“That’s impossible,” she murmured transfixed, eyes wide.

A cluster of shooting stars flashed across the darkness, brightening the room for a few seconds. They fizzled on the opposite end, just above the tunnel that lead to the library, Rowan’s favorite place in Eirensae. Even now—especially now—Rowan longed to hide in the books, devour the information, immerse himself in the one thing that had never let him down.

            “Stop showing off,” he said, fighting the urge to scowl at Ash. He pushed around them and entered the far passageway that led to Hazel’s hideaway, anxious to get rid of the girl and spend the afternoon with his quarterstaff, beating the hell out of something.

            “You’ll soon learn that nothing is impossible here,” Ash said, voice skipping through the tunnels.

            Rowan quickened his steps, not caring whether they followed or not.

MEET ROWAN, STAR OF REFLECTION POND

To continue our journey into Reflection Pond, allow me to introduce Rowan, the male main character.

Name: Rowan

Age: 19

Appearance: Longish, black hair, with blue eyes, and a compact, muscular frame. He’d be described as thin and sharp, not bulky. In a perfect world, when Reflection Pond is made into a movie, he’ll be played by Kit Harington (see picture!). I agonized over this choice. My issue is, every male actor who’s perfect for the role is too old. It’s not fair for thirty-somethings (or forty-somethings) to play teenagers. So while Ian Somerhalder and Jared Leto are out, I found Kit. Let’s slap some contacts in his eyes and he’s PERFECT. We have to hurry, though, he’s getting dangerously close to thirty.

Personality: Sarcastic, easily irritated. Fiercely loyal. He wants to belong somewhere, but is afraid he’ll ruin everything just by being himself.

Callie’s first impression of Rowan:

There was a lightness about them and Callie imagined they could move very fast if they wanted. The taller one had wavy, jet black hair that hung to his shoulders, and intense, light blue eyes. His lips twisted into a smirk.

An excerpt from Rowan:

            “I know what you’re doing,” he said, voice bored. “You’ll probably break your ankle.” He knew what Callie saw as she looked up at him; a guy in black jeans and a black t-shirt, a bad boy who didn’t belong and didn’t care. He’d cultivated that image so carefully that sometimes even he believed it. He’d turned so many people away with his hostility that they’d stopped trying to befriend him. Rowan preferred it that way, no obligations, no expectations.

            “Not that you care,” Callie said. Her fingers curled into the wood and tried to find purchase.

            “I’ve seen open fractures, you know, where the bone rips through the skin.” He shuddered. “Nasty.”

            “You’re not helping,” she said through clenched teeth.

            “Oh, sorry. Would you prefer I help the process along, throw you out the window and lament over your corpse? Wax poetic about how your life ended so soon and so tragically? It’s a bit dramatic though, falling to your death just to evade a party. Rude, too, if you ask me, considering all of this is to welcome you back to your rightful home and all that bullshit.”

            Callie groaned. Tension leaked into her words. “I didn’t ask for a party. I didn’t ask for any of this. I just want to go home.”

            “What’s your master plan here?” A pause. He used the break to inspect his nails. “Have you considered how you’re going to get back through the pond? I suggest go go gadget arms or abracadabra.” He held up a finger. “I know. Click your heels.” Rowan frowned as though deep in thought. “Wait—that might not work considering we don’t wear shoes.”

            “Maybe I’ll just die and save myself the trouble.”

            “Well, good luck with that.”

Rowan’s interview takes place just before Reflection Pond begins.

  1. If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

            Every day is a day to myself. When you’re unimprinted, nobody cares what you do. So, I’d train with the quarterstaff, then spend the rest of the day in the library. If I’m not beating the hell out of something, then I’m reading. I like to keep things balanced.

  1. What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? How about after they’ve known you for a while?

            Obviously, everyone thinks I’m unbelievably attractive. IF they manage to get past that, then they’ll find I’m loyal. Nobody really gets past the first part.

  1. What’s your idea of a good marriage? Do you think that’ll happen in your life?

            Marriage? Why in the world would someone want to be married? That’s a terrible idea.

  1. What are you most proud of about your life?

            My knowledge. People may overlook me, but I’ll always come out on top in the end, because I studied, and they didn’t.

  1. What are you most ashamed of in your life?

            There are a few bad decisions that will haunt me forever. I’ve found that once you’ve done something horrible, that potential is always inside of you. I’m ashamed of my inability to change the past. If I could go back, I’d let it be me instead of her.

  1. If you could spend the day with someone you admire (living or dead or imaginary), who would you pick?

            My foster mother. Just one more day and I’d change everything.

  1. Do you think you’ve turned out the way your parents expected?

            Probably not. They probably hoped I’d be a doctor or something. Instead, I’m the black sheep. The town idiot. I’m really aiming high.

  1. What do you believe about God?

            If there is a God, he’s not paying attention.

  1. Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done? What would happen if you did it?

            Ha. Oh wait, this is serious? I want to belong. If I could do that…maybe—nevermind. Next question.

  1. What’s the worst thing that’s happened in your life? What did you learn from it?

            I killed someone I loved. That never goes away, you can never take it back. I learned that I can’t trust myself and I certainly can’t trust anyone else. I’m always going to try to rectify that mistake.

  1. Tell me about your best friend.

            That’d be Ash. I’m pretty sure he thinks I’m an asshole. I’m also pretty sure he’s right. Ash is cool, though. He’s a teacher, so we spend a lot of time talking about books and our history. He doesn’t treat me like an outsider. I appreciate that.

  1. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone? Why?

            Really? You had to ask again? See question 10.

  1. What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

            Tombstone? I’m hoping to have my ashes spread in the river.

  1. Describe your ideal mate.

            I like looks as much as the next guy, but I’d really like someone who challenges me. I don’t like slutty girls or the ones who can’t stand up for themselves. Sometimes I’m a jerk, I need someone who will tell me when I’m being an ass.

  1. What are you most afraid of?

            Myself.

  1. What’s the most important thing in your life? What do you value most?

            Home. Not that I really have one, but maybe one day.

  1. What do you like best about yourself? Least?

            I like that I’m able to analyze things from a different perspective. I’m also loyal. What do I like least? Where should I begin? We’ll be here all week.

  1. How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?

            I’d like to find my amulet, for one, finally be accepted in Eirensae. Other than that, things are okay.

  1. Are you lying to yourself about something? What is it?

            Don’t you know the fae can’t lie? Not even to themselves.

Want more Reflection Pond (and more specifically, more Rowan!)? Add it on Goodreads and join my mailing list to get all the latest news and freebies!

All the best,

Kacey

MEET CALLIE, STAR OF REFLECTION POND

In preparation for the upcoming release of Reflection Pond, I’ve compiled some juicy tidbits about the characters (with excerpts!). Today, I’m going to introduce you to Callie, the main female character.

Name: Callie, Calla Lily

Age: 17

Appearance: Long blond hair, blue eyes. In a perfect world, where Reflection Pond was made into a movie, Annasophia Robb (see picture!) would play Callie.

Personality: Reserved, quiet, shy, with a short fuse ignited by fear. She’s had a hard past that makes her hesitant to trust people or rely on them. She has a soft side that longs for magic and kindness. She believes that she can leave her past behind and make herself into a new person, if only given the chance.

Here is Rowan’s (the male main character) first impression of Callie:

It wasn’t because she was pretty—of course she was, beauty was a given in Eirensae. Sometimes he longed for the diversity of the human world, where no one was glamoured to perfection. He wanted scars to map out a history that actually meant something. Flawlessness turned his stomach.

The girl’s arched mouth fell into a gasp as she looked up at the glamoured ceiling. A blond cascade of hair skimmed over her shoulders as she leaned farther backwards, trying to take it all in.

Rowan didn’t believe a single word that came out of her mouth. He couldn’t lie, but he didn’t think she was like him. It didn’t matter if she looked like Sapphire. Lots of girls had blond hair and blue eyes. Lots of girls were beautiful. It didn’t mean she belonged here. No one fell through the pond by accident.

And an excerpt from Callie:

She must be crazy, going through with this party. Callie pressed her fingertips to the mirror, half expecting her hand to disappear through it as she saw in the movies. Maybe she was dreaming. Maybe she’d fallen asleep in Nate’s bed and created another reality so she wouldn’t have to face the real one.

When she was little, back before she’d realized that the world was an awful, cruel place, Callie had dreamed that her mother was a princess. She’d drawn pictures of castles sparkling with jewels and white knights on horses. She convinced herself that one day, a carriage would come for her and never look back. Then she’d been placed with the Johnson’s and Callie had lost all hope.

And maybe she was crazy, but was it so wrong of her to be curious? To ask, what if? She glanced again at her reflection. They’d pinned flowers in her hair and covered her eyelids with glitter. Maybe she wanted this.

Maybe this was the most excited she’d been.

Ever.

Callie’s interview. This takes place just before Reflection Pond, when Callie is a foster child.

  1. If you had a free day with no responsibilities and your only mission was to enjoy yourself, what would you do?

            Read. The best way to escape your life is to take on someone else’s. I can be anyone as long as I’m inside a book.

  1. What impression do you make on people when they first meet you? How about after they’ve known you for a while?

            I think I come off as quiet and maybe a bit standoffish. It’s not that I’m trying to be that way, it’s just hard for me to trust people. I don’t have many friends and very, very few people know what really happened to me. Fosters are like that. You can’t hold too tightly to anything, because tomorrow it will be taken away from you.

  1. What’s your idea of a good marriage? Do you think that’ll happen in your life?

            No. Just no.

  1. What are you most proud of about your life?

            My ability to blend in. Inside, everything is a mess, but on the outside you just see a girl who is making it through every day. Maybe I don’t smile enough, but no one is looking hard enough to notice.

  1. What are you most ashamed of in your life?

            Not being able to defend myself. If I were stronger, I could’ve had a different life.

  1. If you could spend the day with someone you admire (living or dead or imaginary), who would you pick?

            Joan of Arc. Not only did she have visions of the future, but she used them to change history. She had to convince people she wasn’t a heretic, and though she eventually died for her visions, she brought about great change in a small amount of time. She was strong and brave, living in a man’s world, and that’s the kind of person I want to be.

  1. Do you think you’ve turned out the way your parents expected?

            I have no idea. I’ve never met my parents, though when they gave me up, I hope they didn’t expect me to have so many foster homes.

  1. What do you believe about God?

            I’ve never been very religious. Once, I lived in a home that required us to go to church. It seemed to me that God was just an excuse people used to do things. You can get away with nearly anything if you claim you did it in the name of God.

  1. Is there anything you’ve always wanted to do but haven’t done? What would happen if you did it?

            I want to get out of Pennsylvania, and I will, as soon as I turn eighteen. I’ve got enough money saved for a bus ticket. Florida, California, New York. I don’t know where I’m going, but I know I’m leaving. What would happen? I don’t know. That’s the best part.

  1. What’s the worst thing that’s happened in your life? What did you learn from it?

            I’m not answering that.

  1. Tell me about your best friend.

            I don’t really have a best friend. I guess it’s my boyfriend, Nate. He’s the only person who’s put up with me for this long.

  1. What’s the worst thing you’ve ever done to someone? Why?

            The worst thing I’ve done? Being born. Obviously I was a burden to my parents.

  1. What would you like it to say on your tombstone?

That’s cryptic. My name, I guess.

  1. Describe your ideal mate.

            Mate? You’re kidding, right? A book. A book is my ideal “mate.”

  1. What are you most afraid of?

            Being unable to defend myself. Being trapped.

  1. What’s the most important thing in your life? What do you value most?

            Freedom. Well, I’ll value it when I have it, anyway.

  1. What do you like best about yourself? Least?

            I’m determined, it’s probably my best quality. The least? My fear.

  1. How do you feel about your life right now? What, if anything, would you like to change?

            I feel like I’m stuck, but only for a little while longer. Like I said, eighteenth birthday, bus ticket, sayonara Pennsylvania and being a foster.  

  1. Are you lying to yourself about something? What is it?

Lying? I’m not much of a liar, I prefer to omit things. If I ignore it, it doesn’t really exist.

Read more about Callie and Rowan’s lives when Reflection Pond releases April 1st. Do you have questions for Callie? Post them below and I’ll answer them!

You can also add Reflection Pond on Goodreads and join my mailing list to get all the latest news and freebies!

All the best,

Kacey

REVIEW – PREP SCHOOL CONFIDENTIAL BY KARA TAYLOR

In this breathtaking debut that reads like Gossip Girl crossed with Twin Peaks, a Queen Bee at a blue-blooded New England prep school stumbles into a murder mystery.

Anne Dowling practically runs her exclusive academy on New York’s Upper East Side—that is, until she accidentally burns part of it down and gets sent to a prestigious boarding school outside of Boston. Determined to make it back to New York, Anne couldn’t care less about making friends at the preppy Wheatley School. That is, until her roommate Isabella’s body is found in the woods behind the school.

When everyone else is oddly silent, Anne becomes determined to uncover the truth no matter how many rules she has to break to do it. With the help of Isabella’s twin brother Anthony, and a cute classmate named Brent, Anne discovers that Isabella wasn’t quite the innocent nerdy girl she pretended to be. But someone will do anything to stop Anne’s snooping in this fast-paced, unputdownable read—even if it means framing her for Isabella’s murder.

**

I received an advance copy of this title from NetGalley. All opinions are my own and I did not receive any compensation, monetary or otherwise, for my review.

5 STARS

Prep School Confidential by Kara Taylor

This book was so much fun! The dialogue was hilarious and the situations had me laughing all the way through. Don’t let the cover or the title fool you—I went into this book thinking it was going to be snarky, shallow, and annoying. It was none of those things. (I might go as far as to wish they’d used a different title AND cover, one that was more interesting and more applicable to the story.)

Anne Dowling has a serious case of bad luck that ends her at Wheatley as the “new girl.” What ensues is a mix of mystery, murder, friendship, relationships, and self-discovery. While Anne is constantly touted as a “troublemaker”, I think she’s just a typical teenager trying to stay ahead of the game. She does her fair share of sneaking around, breaking and entering, and snooping, but her character never seemed catty or contrived.

When Anne’s roommate Isabella is found dead in the woods, the book really takes off. The reader follows Anne as she tries to solve the mystery of who killed Isabella—no matter the consequences.

Things I liked: Anne’s authentic voice. The storyline and how it keeps you guessing until the end. How all the characters are involved in something unsavory—it keeps things interesting!

Things I didn’t like: The stereotypical relationships and how Anne chooses the “rich” kid in the end. The extra characters who aren’t well developed.

Prep School Confidential will keep you on your toes and you’ll fly through the pages trying to figure it out. Anne is a likeable main character and the plot is substantial enough to satisfy even a critical reader.