Spotlight & Excerpt: We Are The Fire + Giveaway

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We Are the Fire
by Sam Taylor
Published by: Swoon Reads
Publication date: February 16th 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult

As electrifying as it is heartbreaking, Sam Taylor’s explosive fantasy debut We Are the Fire is perfect for fans of An Ember in the Ashes and the legend of Spartacus.

In the cold, treacherous land of Vesimaa, children are stolen from their families by a cruel emperor, forced to undergo a horrific transformative procedure, and serve in the army as magical fire-wielding soldiers. Pran and Oksana―both taken from their homeland at a young age―only have each other to hold onto in this heartless place.

Pran dreams of one day rebelling against their oppressors and destroying the empire; Oksana only dreams of returning home and creating a peaceful life for them both.

When they discover the emperor has a new, more terrible mission than ever for their kind, Pran and Oksana vow to escape his tyranny once and for all. But their methods and ideals differ drastically, driving a wedge between them. Worse still, they both soon find that the only way to defeat the monsters that subjugated them may be to become monsters themselves.

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Excerpt:

“How, Pran?” She pressed her head against his. “How will we do better?”
He wished he had an answer, a plan for how they could break from this fort. Leave it all behind and stay free, not be dragged back in chains and burned at stakes with a fire of their own creation. It hurt as much as his thigh, admitting he didn’t know, that all he had was hope.

But after seven years in this fort, hope was nothing to scoff at. Seven years surviving meant they were capable of so much more.

“We’ll find a way. You and I, we’ve always found a way. When we were Novices, you didn’t want to cast fire, but you learned it to teach me, so I’d stay alive. We’ll do that again but stronger, learn everything they demand from us as Hellions, and use all of it to turn this fort on its head. We’ll make our lives our own, and we’ll do it at each other’s side.”

Before he could talk himself out of it again, he plucked the ring from his pocket. It was silver, a thin band engraved with roses, poppies, yarrow, and peonies, exactly like the wreaths she’d talked of wearing at dance festivals with her mother and sister.

Oksana’s jaw dropped as he passed the ring to her. “Where did you get this?”
He’d stolen this ring during a mission last spring. He’d been sent out before nightfall, when the markets were still open, and while slinking through the shadows behind stalls, a silver gleam caught his eye. The moment he saw this ring, he wanted it for Oksana, something so clearly from her homeland.
Then he’d seen the words inside—in Horádimian, no less: Ya abetschayu. I promise.

A flush bloomed across Oksana’s cheeks as she caught sight of those words.

“You promise . . . what?”

That was what he hadn’t known for so long. How could he promise anything when he had no control over his life? But after tonight, this change in rank . . . he would not spend such power bending to the Commanders’ whims.

He lifted the ring from Oksana’s trembling hand, though his own shook so badly he could hardly slide the ring onto her finger. “I don’t know what our future holds.” He cupped her face in his hands, and only then did they go still.

“But I want to give us freedom. And I’d like to share it with you.”

She was silent for so long he feared he’d said the wrong thing. Perhaps these claims, this ring, were too absurd, too much this impossible night.

But then she leaned close until her breath fluttered like a moth against his jaw.

“That is a future worth fighting for.”

 

Author Bio:

Sam Taylor grew up in Arizona’s deserts and now lives among Connecticut’s trees. She spends her days writing, being mom to the world’s cutest boys, whirling through dance workouts, and baking too many cakes. She does not possess fire magic, but does have one fire-colored cat. We Are the Fire is her debut novel.

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Spotlight & Excerpt: A Beauty So Cruel + Giveaway

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A Beauty So Cruel
Beena Khan
(Beauty & The Beast #1)
Publication date: February 14th 2021
Genres: Contemporary, New Adult, Romance

I was a beauty, a stray orphan until the beast took me as his hostage.

Once upon a time…
A Don by the name of Vlad Vitalli ruled New York. He’s a mafia man. The leader of one of the ruling families, La Cosa Nostra. He’s a monster. A trained killer and a cold-blooded murderer. Tall, mysterious, with icy gray eyes, and he rarely smiles. His smile was made to fool any girl. He’s ruthless, cold, dangerous, and wants to kill me.

I was the wrong person at the wrong time.
Just an innocent at the masquerade ball. The mafia has rules: no witnesses left behind. To save my life, I made a deal with the beast. I handed myself to the cruelest man in the kingdom.

For him, It was supposed to be an easy kill. I’m an orphan raised in poverty. No one would have missed me. Just as the Don Vlad was about to order the hit, I threw off my masquerade mask, revealing my face, and offered myself to him. One look and I was doomed. He took me as his hostage. His captive. He didn’t know by taking me, Dahlia Hadid, he sealed his own fate.

Welcome to New York’s Underworld.
Loosely based on the fairytale.

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A Beauty So Cruel

Excerpt:

After a few moments, Gabriele turned to look at Vlad. “You think that’s the best decision? The girl has seen our faces,” he said quietly, jerking his head in her direction.

Vlad dismissed his concerns immediately. “I don’t care.”

She’s just a kid.

“Dahlia heard our names and saw our faces, yet you didn’t let her walk free,” Gabriele accused him.

Vlad’s eyes narrowed down at his cousin, but Gabriele’s expression didn’t match his tone, it was playful and teasing.

“Mind your own damn business,” Vlad scoffed at him.

Gabriele shrugged in response. Then, his expression turned serious. “Have you touched her, Brother?” Gabriele called Vlad brother privately, since they were blood relatives.

Vlad only frowned, not taking the bait.

Gabriele chuckled then, his eyes lighting up. “You haven’t touched her.”

It was a statement now, not a question.

“You talk too much,” Vlad shot at Gabriele, shoving his hands inside his pants.
Gabriele’s smirk widened now. “Why not though? I mean, she is…pretty.” Then, he raised his eyebrows as if egging Vlad on.

Rage filled Vlad’s heart before he turned on Gabriele, but his cousin didn’t cower before him. He didn’t fear Vlad like the others did since they had grown up together. They didn’t hurt their own blood.

“Look at her again, and I will rip your eyes out,” Vlad growled at him, losing his cool.

Gabriele raised his hands in surrender, yet he was still smiling. “I’ve never seen you so affected by a girl before.”

Vlad pressed his lips together before growling again, “You’re lucky you’re my blood.” Then, he turned his back on Gabriele, heading toward his car.

 

Author Bio:

Beena Khan writes literary fiction and edgy, contemporary romance. She 27 years old and lives in New York. She’s from Azad Kashmir, Pakistan, an immigrant who moved to New York when she was five years old. She currently holds a Masters Degree in Developmental Psychology. She enjoys reading, writing, and netflixing. The Name of Red is her debut novel published at the age of 26. All of her books are on Kindle Unlimited + Free Novella!

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Spotlight & Excerpt: What Big Teeth + Giveaway

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What Big Teeth
by Rose Szabo
Published by: Farrar Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Publication date: February 2nd 2021
Genres: Fantasy, Gothic, Young Adult

Rose Szabo’s thrilling debut What Big Teeth is a dark, gothic fantasy YA novel about a teen girl who returns home to her strange, wild family after years of estrangement, perfect for fans of Wilder Girls.

Eleanor Zarrin has been estranged from her wild family for years. When she flees boarding school after a horrifying incident, she goes to the only place she thinks is safe: the home she left behind. But when she gets there, she struggles to fit in with her monstrous relatives, who prowl the woods around the family estate and read fortunes in the guts of birds.

Eleanor finds herself desperately trying to hold the family together. In order to save them all Eleanor must learn to embrace her family of monsters and tame the darkness inside her.

Exquisitely terrifying, beautiful, and strange, this fierce paranormal fantasy will sink its teeth into you and never let go.

Goodreads / Amazon / Barnes & Noble / iBooks / Kobo / Google Play

 

Excerpt:

I jolted awake, my hands loosening from my throat. Had I been strangling myself? My throat was dry. I stumbled to my feet. Water, I needed water.

Through the crack in the bathroom door, I could see Mother sleeping in her bathtub. I didn’t want to wake her, so I crept down the back staircase and past the closed laundry door, trying not to think about Grandma Persephone’s body laid out on the flagstones. I slipped into the kitchen and was halfway to the sink when I realized I wasn’t alone.

Margaret stood in the middle of the room with her back to me. She was working at the long low table, her hands doing something I couldn’t see, something that squelched. I held very still at the sink, not sure what to do. She would notice me if I tried to leave, or if I turned on the faucet.

I had to be brave, I told myself. This was my family. Margaret used to stand me on a stool and let me help her in the kitchen, I remembered. Help with what, I wasn’t quite sure.

I shifted so that I could see what she was doing, and had to stifle a gasp.

There was a vulture spread out on the butcher block, its naked neck and head hanging down. Its wings were as long as the table. Its belly was slit open, the knife she’d used was stuck point-first into the wood, and she was rummaging around inside its body, mumbling to herself as though she were looking for something in a handbag. Slick guts caught the moonlight. She combed through them for what felt like an eternity while I was frozen on the spot, not able to move. And then she looked up and turned to me. She held up a length of gut in bloody hands. She seemed to look at me and past me at the same time.

“Mother!” she said.

The back of my neck went cold. I squeezed my eyes shut, hoping I was still dreaming, that if I shut my eyes I’d wake up back in bed, and if I shut my eyes again I’d wake up in my room at Saint Brigid’s, and from there I could shut my eyes and wake up a child again, somewhere in some house just like this one, but where I’d been happy.

Margaret’s feet scuffed on the floor as she padded over to me. One hand, wet and sticky, touched my wrist. She pulled on it. Eyes shut still, I let her lead me, until my fingers brushed feathers, and I realized all at once what was about to happen.

I struggled, but she was stronger than me. She plunged my hand into the guts. I thrashed, silently, afraid of what would happen if I screamed, afraid to open my eyes and see what was happening to me. And then all at once, I felt it. It was as if there were words, in there, in the guts. I relaxed my hand. I felt. The smell of dead meat and guano was almost unbearable, but somewhere in there was the truth. I just had to fight my way through to it.

But no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t make sense of it. At last, I opened my eyes. I shook my head at Margaret. She let go of my wrist, flinging it away from her like some useless thing. And I fled into the predawn garden and desperately pumped water from the spigot to wash the smell of blood from my hands.

 

 

Author Bio:

Rose Szabo is a nonbinary writer from Richmond, VA, where they live with an assortment of people and animals and teach writing at VCU. They have an MA in English from the University of Maine and an MFA in creative writing from VCU. Their work has been published in See the Elephant and Quaint magazines. What Big Teeth is their first novel.

 

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