Review // These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch

Monday, July 30, 2018


These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch
Stream Raiders #1
Publisher: Balzer + Bray
Publication Date: August 7th, 2018
Rating: DNF
Source: Emma @ Miss Print
Format: Physical ARC

Summary (from Goodreads):

Adeluna is a soldier. Five years ago, she helped the magic-rich island of Grace Loray overthrow its oppressor, Argrid, a country ruled by religion. But adjusting to postwar life has not been easy. When an Argridian delegate vanishes during peace talks with Grace Loray’s new Council, Argrid demands brutal justice—but Lu suspects something more dangerous is at work.

Devereux is a pirate. As one of the outlaws called stream raiders who run rampant on Grace Loray, he pirates the island’s magic plants and sells them on the black market. But after Argrid accuses raiders of the diplomat’s abduction, Vex becomes a target. An expert navigator, he agrees to help Lu find the Argridian—but the truth they uncover could be deadlier than any war.

Benat is a heretic. The crown prince of Argrid, he harbors a secret obsession with Grace Loray’s forbidden magic. When Ben’s father, the king, gives him the shocking task of reversing Argrid’s fear of magic, Ben has to decide if one prince can change a devout country—or if he’s building his own pyre.

As conspiracies arise, Lu, Vex, and Ben will have to decide who they really are . . . and what they are willing to become for peace.

**DNF @ ARC page 85**

These Rebel Waves by Sara Raasch was one of the books that I was really anticipating in 2018. I know I mention this a lot, but I freaking love pirate books. I feel like I can't get enough of them. I also really enjoyed the Snow Like Ashes series also by Sara.

But I got 85 pages into this book and I was kind of dreading having to pick it back up every time I put it down. I am already woefully behind on my reading, but I feel like I might have put myself in a reading slump if I had kept going with this book.

I personally don't necessarily mind books that focus on political aspects of the book's world or books that focus on the religion of that world, but from what I gathered in 85 pages, this book felt like it was going to be quite heavily focused on both of those things. And I just wasn't there for it.

It also had 3 POV characters and, while I have grown to appreciate multiple POVs more, I still don't love it.

When I started to really feel the drag, I looked up on Goodreads to see if I thought it would be worth continuing with this book and I just don't think it would have been. It seems that there wasn't going to be much pirate-y stuff going on and also there apparently really aren't any gay pirates in this particular book. Also a lot of people said that the magic system, which is something that really interested me about this book, was confusing. Or something along those lines.

I might pick this book up again sometime in the future. I think if I could have gotten further into it something interesting might have started happening (I was kind of bored while reading this) and it would have gotten better. But at this point in time, I just didn't care enough to try.

Overall, this book wasn't as much of a hit with me as I would have hoped. Maybe someday I will be inclined to try this book again, but I don't know. If you don't mind books that are could be heavily focused on politics and religion, you could like this book. Because that was really where this one went wrong for me.

Have you read These Rebel Waves yet? Did you like it?

Review // The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken

Monday, July 23, 2018


The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken
The Darkest Minds #4
Publisher: Disney-Hyperion
Publication Date: July 31st, 2018
Rating: 5 Stars
Source: Alexandra Bracken
Format: Physical ARC

Summary (from Goodreads):

Five years after the destruction of the so-called rehabilitation camps that imprisoned her and countless other Psi kids, seventeen-year-old Suzume "Zu" Kimura has assumed the role of spokesperson for the interim government, fighting for the rights of Psi kids against a growing tide of misinformation and prejudice. But when she is accused of committing a horrifying act, she is forced to go on the run once more in order to stay alive.

Determined to clear her name, Zu finds herself in an uncomfortable alliance with Roman and Priyanka, two mysterious Psi who could either help her prove her innocence or betray her before she gets the chance. But as they travel in search of safety and answers, and Zu grows closer to the people she knows she shouldn't trust, they uncover even darker things roiling beneath the veneer of the country's recovery. With her future-and the future of all Psi-on the line, Zu must use her powerful voice to fight back against forces that seek to drive the Psi into the shadows and save the friends who were once her protectors.

From #1 New York Times best-selling author Alexandra Bracken comes a harrowing story of resilience, resistance, and reckoning that will thrill loyal fans and new readers alike.

So, I don't think this will come as a surprise to any of my regular blog followers, but The Darkest Legacy by Alexandra Bracken was my most anticipated book of 2018. It was made even more exciting by the fact that it was the first Darkest Minds novel that I got to look forward to because I originally discovered the series after In the Afterlight came out.

It absolutely lived up to the hype I gave it! I absolutely adored this book. I adored Zu. I adored the new characters that we get to follow. I pretty much loved everything about it. :')

I don't want to give too much of this book away because Alex has said that she believes that this book is better to go into not knowing TOO much. So to give a super brief summary of the plot: The Darkest Legacy follows Zu, five years after the events of In the Afterlight, where she is basically a spokesperson for the government, speaking on behalf of her fellow Psi. At one of her scheduled speeches, something awful happens that she ends up being framed for and she has to go out and try to clear her name with the help of a couple new characters.

I think it's safe to say that there is a bigger picture here, but you're going to have to read it to find out what it is.

I think that the best way to do this review is to talk about what I liked and what I didn't like.

What I Liked:

I loved Zu as a protagonist. I love that she is using her voice after spending 90% of the trilogy being afraid to speak. I loved that you can see bits and pieces of the other characters in her after they spent so long being each other's family. I love that there are points in this book where she doesn't pretend to be fine when she's not.

I feel like that's something you see a lot. A character is asked if they're okay when there is something bothering them and they said that they're fine. But Zu came out and said she wasn't really fine on several occasions and that was something that I liked seeing. It's okay to not be okay.

I also loved the new characters that we meet, Roman and Priyanka. Roman definitely gives Liam a run for his money for being so soft and just generally perfect.

Priyanka reminds me a lot of Vida. At the beginning I wasn't sure if I was going to like her because I was like, "She's not beiNG NICE TO ZU." But I loved Priyanka, she has a lot of attitude like Vida, but is a little bit less.... vicious?? I don't know what the best word I'm looking for is here, but I loved her.

I loved seeing the new characters interact with Zu. I liked seeing how they dealt with each other when they didn't trust each other, but even though it took them awhile to warm up to each other and trust each other fully, they were always kind of there for each other and helping each other and I loved their friendship. Lol, how many times can I get "each other" into one sentence??

I looooved the romance. The romance is definitely not a big thing in the book, it's very similar to how the romance went in The Darkest Minds. It's so slow and sweet and I. Loved. It.

I loved seeing what the world was like for psi kids this long after the camp closures. Seeing what may have gotten better, what may have gotten worse, what new problems they were having all together. I just generally love this world that Alex Bracken has created and I could read book after book after book that takes place in it.

I loved seeing what the original cast of characters was up to! It would be good to keep in mind when you're reading this book that this is not like The Darkest Minds 2.0. This book doesn't follow the same characters. Your favorites from the original books are still super important to Zu, but they're not necessarily as important to this story. I feel like if I hadn't seen something like this from Alex, I might have been disappointed about the lack of my favorite original characters, but since I knew to expect this, I was probably able to enjoy the book more. So if you're reading this review before reading the book, you should keep that in mind!

What I didn't like:

There really isn't anything that I didn't like about this book. If I were going to make a complaint though, I would say that I think the ending was rushed. When I was starting to get close to the end I was thinking there was no way this story could get resolved in so few pages.

It does get resolved, but there is a bit of a time jump and then they're in the middle of the op that is how they resolve the current problems. I would have liked to know how they got from point A to point B with a little bit more detail. And then there is one burning question that I have about something at the end.

But this book definitely ends in the same way as In the Afterlight. The story is resolved, but the problems for the psi don't end there. There is definitely room for more stories in this world. Which, the ending isn't a complaint about the book, I'm glad that it ended like that so that I can hope for more books in this world.

I guess I might deduct half a star for the ending being a bit rushed, but I felt like it was resolved satisfactorily in such a short amount of time and I'm gonna bump it up to five stars anyway because I'm just so impressed with this book.

Overall, I adored this book. I am so glad that this book lived up to the hype I gave it. If you liked The Darkest Minds series, you obviously need to read this. And if you haven't read the series, but you like  books about kids fighting against the government, you should definitely read this series.

Have you read The Darkest Minds series? Are you looking forward to this book?

Review // Seafire by Natalie C. Parker

Monday, July 16, 2018


Seafire by Natalie C. Parker
Seafire #1
Publisher: Razorbill
Publication Date: August 28th, 2018
Rating: 3 Stars
Source: Goodreads Giveaway
Format: Physical ARC
Pages: 384

Summary (from Goodreads):

After her family is killed by corrupt warlord Aric Athair and his bloodthirsty army of Bullets, Caledonia Styx is left to chart her own course on the dangerous and deadly seas. She captains her ship, the Mors Navis, with a crew of girls and women just like her, whose lives have been turned upside down by Aric and his men. The crew has one misson: stay alive, and take down Aric's armed and armored fleet.

But when Caledonia's best friend and second-in-command just barely survives an attack thanks to help from a Bullet looking to defect, Caledonia finds herself questioning whether or not to let him join their crew. Is this boy the key to taking down Aric Athair once and for all...or will he threaten everything the women of the Mors Navis have worked for?

**I received an advanced copy of this book through a Goodreads giveaway**

Seafire is another YA pirate novel featuring a captain and crew that are all exclusively female. The story follows Caledonia, captain of the Mors Navis, and her crew as they pretty much sail around trying to destroy Aric Athair, leader of the Bullets, who killed Caledonia's family.

I am personally a huge fan of the badass lady pirates trend. However, this one was a bit unremarkable for me. It did have a cast of brave and amazing ladies and there was a lot of action and excitement, but overall, I didn't find this one to be all that memorable.

I will admit it has been a bit since I finished this book, I think I read it in May. But I don't really feel like any of the characters stuck out to me all that much. The only things that I really remember were the things that I found disappointing about this book.

For one, it was hyped up to be a sapphic pirate novel. I never personally saw this officially said anywhere, but when I was looking it up on Goodreads before there were any reviews, all the hype said it was going to be sapphic. However, I didn't find that to be true. I feel like there could be more lesbians in the future of this series, but I think it's misleading to call this a sapphic pirate novel.

There were two small instances in this book that I can remember. There is a minor f/f romance in the book, but I don't feel like it was really talked about all that much. I remember it being talked about a couple times, but the thing I remember the most about it was at the end. It was said that if something were different or something, then the two characters could be together or could be happy together or something along those lines. I don't have the book anymore so I can't look it up exactly.

The other instance that I recall is before a big battle toward the end of the book. It was talking about how the girls were preparing for the battle and it said that some of the girls shut themselves in their rooms to spend their extra energy on each other. Which I personally took to mean that they were loving on each other. Which, I could be wrong, but that's how I read it.

I feel like neither of those super minor instances are enough to say this book is sapphic, but once again, I could be wrong. From what I read, I was expecting a main romance to be f/f, and while there isn't any major romance in this book yet, the main "attraction" (not even really a romance) is m/f.

The other thing that I disliked about this book was the fact that everything was so conveniently resolved. There were two major instances where the crew of the Mors Navis found themselves pretty much caught by different groups of people. But Caledonia managed to EASILY talk their way out of trouble both times.

Perhaps I'm exaggerating a bit, but to me, it was kind of like this:

Other people: Ha! Got you now, you're not getting out of here easily!

Caledonia: Hey, but what if you just let us go because reasons?

Other people: Alrighty then!!

Those two things are really what brought my opinion of this book down. Like, it was a fun read, I was invested in the story, I liked the characters for the most part, there was plenty of action and it was exciting. And I wouldn't NOT recommend this book because of these things, but I found them to be disappointing.

I'm sorry I can't really say more to what I actually DID like about this book, but I can't really remember anything specific beyond that I liked the characters and I found it exciting.

I was rooting for the characters in their mission and I am really interested to see where the story goes next, but in general, this book didn't live up to the hype that I gave it or the hype that I was seeing on Goodreads when I was researching this book.

Overall, I really did enjoy this book. I liked the story and the characters and the excitement, but I found the conflict too conveniently resolved in some parts and I was let down by the lack of any prominent lesbian relationships (however, I could see this being different in the future of this series). If I was making a list of best to worst badass lady pirate books that I've read, Seafire would probably find itself near the bottom of the list.

Have you read Seafire yet? What did you think of it?

Review // Wildcat by JP Harker

Friday, June 15, 2018


Wildcat by J.P. Harker
The Caledon Saga #1
Publisher: JPH
Publication Date: September 4th, 2016
Rating: 4 Stars
Source: Author
Format: Paperback
Pages: 

Summary (from Goodreads):

Rhianwyn of the Caderyn is conflicted about giving up a warrior’s life to become a wife and mother, but her love for her new husband is enough to at least make her consider it. However, with the conquering Gaians moving ever closer to her homeland a peaceful life may no longer be an option, for Rhia or for any of her people. With rival tribes, old suitors, and the dangerous General Lepidus to contend with, Rhia soon finds her new family in unprecedented danger, and her choices now must be about more than just herself... 

Wildcat takes place in a fantasy land inspired by Iron Age Britain and follows Rhianwyn's story as she encounters a civilisation unlike any she could imagine, and is constantly forced to learn and adapt through trial after deadly trial.

** I was given a copy of this book by the author in exchange for an honest review. **

Trigger Warnings: rape & violence.

Wildcat is a fantasy book that follows Rhianwyn, a warrior from the Caderyn tribe, over the course of about five years. It follows her from her first battle against the Caderyn's rival tribe, the Gorvicae, to her new life among the Gaians after her tribe's defeat at their hands, and back.

I keep wanting to say more, but I feel like I would personally think anything else that I have to say about this story in general would be saying too much/borderline spoiler-y. So that is all that I am going to say specifically about the story. Because I can't be trusted to keep it brief.

Not gonna lie, I was almost scared to read this book because if we're being totally honest, I haven't really liked any of the books I have been asked by authors to review on my blog. But this one sounded really good and I'm SUPER glad that I didn't pass this one up! Because I honestly really liked it.

So, Wildcat is a rather long book, it's about 550 pages. While there were parts that did start to feel a bit long, overall, it wasn't bad. There was a lot of information in this book about the world and the people, but it was never presented in a way that felt like an info dump, which I greatly, greatly appreciated.

World-building info dumps are the bane of my existence. This book did it right, in my opinion.

I really liked the characters in this book. I feel like the only one you REALLY get to know is Rhia. I loved her. She's kinda ferocious and bold and brave. And like, every crappy thing ever happens to her and she always comes out on top of it. She's pretty much a badass.

The other character I really liked is Marius. I feel like I would have liked to know more about him. He just seemed so quiet and noble. [WHYYYYYY?!?!] <--- Highlight for possibly spoiler-y content.

I even liked a lot of the less likable characters. Except for that creepy little sorcerer dude. I kept picturing him as the creepy little sorcerer dude from Game of Thrones. And Tulius, I didn't really like that guy either. But the rest of them I managed to scrape up some appreciation for, even if I didn't want to (Leaping Wolf).

I'm struggling to talk about the romance because everything I want to say is something that I personally wouldn't want to know if I was just going into this book. But basically there are two main romances. The first one is previously established before the book starts and is super happy and great. The second one is more slow burn. They don't really seem to like each other that well in the beginning, but once they started warming up to each other more, I was ROOTING FOR THEM HARDCORE.

If you're looking for happy endings in this book, you aren't really going to find any. Happiness doesn't live here. That being said, it doesn't have a bad ending.

The only real complaints that I can think of are:

1. Right after the Caderyn's defeat at Nantwyn and through the beginning of her time among the Gaians, there is a lot of Rhia's inner thoughts about what all had happened. Which maybe started to feel a bit long, but I feel like the word 'shame' was used a lot. It wasn't something prevalent throughout the whole book, but mostly during the ride from Bryngarth to Tamora and perhaps a little bit past Rhia's Gaian wedding.

2. The Caderyn warriors are said to be made up of both men and women, but I feel like almost all the warriors that are talked about in battle are men, there are a few mentions of women as warriors, mainly a couple of Rhia's friends that fought beside her in the few battles in this book, but other than that, it seemed like it was mostly men talked about. I feel like it would have been cool to see more women in the battles.

Those are probably the biggest concerns I have about this book.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I feel like it was interesting and well-crafted. I am looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

Have you read or heard of this book? You should give it a shot if you're at all curious or interested in fantasy inspired by Iron Age Britain and then come talk to me about it!

Blog Tour // Kissing Games by Tara Eglington Excerpt

Sunday, June 3, 2018

Hello everyone! Today I am going to be sharing an excerpt of KISSING GAMES by Tara Eglington for the blog tour hosted by Wednesday Books! I didn't notice that this book was a sequel so I haven't read it yet or the first book, but they sound super cute and perfect for summer! If you are curious for a taste of this adorable book, scroll down for an excerpt from chapter one!


About the Book

Kissing Games by Tara Eglington
Aurora Skye #2
Publisher: Wednesday Books
Publication Date: June 5th, 2018
Pages: 352

Summary (from Goodreads):

The course of true love never did run smooth. For a girl who shares her name with a princess (a.k.a Aurora from Sleeping Beauty) Aurora Skye’s life seem fathoms away from a fairytale. Sure, she’s landed Hayden Paris, Potential Prince extraordinaire. And she got her wish -- one first kiss with all the knee-trembling, butterfly-inducing gloriousness she’d hoped for. 
But Aurora’s learning that a kiss is just the beginning of a story.
Instead of being the truly transcendent, utterly epic follow up it should be, her second attempt at kissing has literally landed Hayden Paris in the emergency room. If that’s not mortifying enough, the whole school is now referring to her as ‘Lethal Lips’.
Meanwhile it’s all systems go for her best friend Cassie - she and Potential Prince Scott are totally loved up and can’t stop kissing. Jelena (Jefferson High’s answer to Helen of Troy) has moved on from the heinous betrayal by Bad Boy Alex West and has unleashed her plan to rule the world by running for School Captain. Problem is Alex is running too and Jelena’s pulling out all the stops to prevent him from stealing her rightful place as ruler of Jefferson High - including offering Aurora’s Find a Prince/Princess Program as one of her campaign initiatives.
How is Aurora going to prove her program is foolproof and help Jelena win the election when her matchmaking manoeuvres seem to be throwing all the wrong people together - including the NAD and the hippy-dippy Ms Deforest -- and she can’t even convince Hayden to kiss her?

Buy Links


Excerpt

1

For a girl who shares her name with a princess (Aurora from Sleep- ing Beauty), my present circumstances were fathoms away from a fairy tale. My kissing skills had left both parties maimed—one case worthy of the emergency room.
Our first kiss as a couple, and my first-ever kiss, had been a melding of everything I’d heard kisses could be, all the glorious cli- ch├ęs in action—weak knees, my heart a field of fluttering butter- flies, life in Technicolor. Worth the wait.
With a start like that, I’d expected the second kiss to be as good.
Or at least not to end in calamity.
Four hours ago I’d had no idea I’d be spending half of my Thurs- day night in the local hospital’s emergency department, watching the on-call physician stitching Hayden Paris’s formerly perfect lower lip.


four hours earlier . . .


I stood at my bathroom mirror, staring at my lips. I’d just applied red lipstick, taking a good five minutes to make sure that the edges were perfect. Now I was having second thoughts.


Normally I wasn’t one to spend lengthy amounts of time pout- ing at my own reflection, but in the fifteen minutes before Hayden was due to arrive I was fixated on my own mouth.
It had started with the intention of making sure I had fresh breath. Three brushings and a lengthy flossing session later, I’d pinched the superstrong dental clinic–issued mouthwash used by my dad (otherwise known as the NAD—New Age dad), on the ba- sis that it would work better than my Listerine. Figuring that if I used any more mouthwash I’d give myself acid reflux, I’d finally stashed a mini breath spray in the pocket of my skirt so I could do a last quick spritz after Hayden and I had finished dinner. Literally sharing breath with someone was nerve-racking.
I was now in a conundrum over lipstick. I’d automatically reached for the red, as numerous studies have proved that red lips are considered the most sensual, due to the way that lipstick mim- ics the way our lips flush when attracted to another person. But just as I’d finished applying the lipstick, I started worrying that it wasn’t the best choice. It would inevitably kiss off, wouldn’t it? What if I pulled away from the (hopefully) amazing kiss and Hayden was left smeared with red lipstick? Gloss wasn’t an option, either—I’d over- heard way too many guys complaining about how they hated goopy lips.
I blotted the lipstick, hoping to achieve a nice, subtle stain, like I’d been sitting in a field eating raspberries or something. Revlon had had that famous Cherries in the Snow ad campaign in 1953, so bring on Raspberries in a Field. I was obviously getting jittery if I was planning 1950s-esque cosmetic campaigns.
I hadn’t talked about my anxiety with my best friends, Cassie, Jelena, Lindsay, and Sara. They were looking to me to be their dating guru—and hopefully the whole of Jefferson High would be, too, once I implemented my Find a Prince/Princess™ program. This is a program I designed to help guys and girls navigate the minefield that is the high school dating scene. As well as using the program to help Cassie find love with Scott (aka the ubercute new guy) and


to help Lindsay win her ex-boyfriend Tyler back, I had also been using the program to weigh my own romantic prospects, with the aim of identifying my “prince.”
A prince:
has Principles. He stands up for what he knows to be right, instead of going along with the crowd.
Recognizes your worth. He understands how special you are and treats you with respect and kindness.
possesses Integrity. He’s genuine with his feelings and won’t mislead you for underhanded or selfish purposes.
Never doubts you’re the only one for him.
is Constant. He stands by you through the sunshine and the shadows, the good and the bad.
possesses Endurance. He is willing to overcome considerable obstacles to win your affection.
I know the “prince” thing sounds cringeworthy, like it’s some- thing from another century. But the program isn’t about glass slip- pers or lying around until a prince shows up. It’s about valuing yourself and saying no to guys with dishonest intentions or luke- warm feelings. Guys who lie or are self-involved or only looking for an ego boost. Guys who play around with our feelings like it’s a form of sport.
What the program is really about is knowing what you are wor- thy of and accepting nothing less.


I get that some people might see this as idealistic. But if I listened to everyone else’s cynicism, I’d never have stuck with the Find a Prince/Princess™ program for the past three years. I’d have given up and settled for a substandard guy. Instead, following my heart had landed me Hayden Paris, Prince Extraordinaire. After years of misunderstandings and miscommunication, Hayden and I had finally come together as a couple three days ago, after he’d revealed himself to be my secret admirer. I’d realized that he was not the


bane of my life but actually the boy of my dreams. And after six- teen years and six months of not settling, I’d finally had that magi- cal first kiss I’d been waiting for.
I’d once read that the term “French kiss” was derived from “soul kiss,” because of an ancient belief that the sharing of breath was, in essence, the sharing of souls. It was a romantic notion, yet I had to admit, when I’d let Hayden touch his lips to mine the other night, I’d felt as if parts of me, tiny molecules at a time, had come close to dissolving in the intense closeness.
So when it came to tonight, I wanted the follow-up kiss to be just as legendary. I wanted utter elation, a moment of tenderness in which my heart would tremble inside my chest at how exquisitely beautiful it was to be so close to Hayden.
I shivered at the thought, and the tiny hairs on my arms stood up. Catching sight of my watch, I realized there was only about five minutes until Hayden was due to arrive. I had to turn my mind to practicalities.


My heart pounding, I ran downstairs to do a last-minute check of the living room. Thankfully, Dad had headed out to an event at the local meditation center, so I’d had some time this evening to prep the room for maximum ambience. Beyond emotional connection, romance was a sensory experience, so I’d aimed for soft light and scent. I placed oversize, velvety cushions on either side of the cof- fee table to encourage a more relaxed feel than the two of us perched at a distance from each other on my long couch, and then I set three large scented candles atop the coffee table.
After lighting the candles, I dimmed the light, just enough to heighten the mood but not so dramatically that I’d have difficulty making out Hayden’s features.
Then I turned them up again a fraction of an inch. Yes, I was trying to create a sense of intimacy, but what if Hayden thought I was being overly forward? It was only our first date, and here I was getting out the candles!


Oh god, could I even pull this off? Yes, I’d readied the room, but was I ready? Could I take this second kiss to the dizzying heights required?
What if our heart-stopping first kiss had set a precedent in Hayden’s mind that I couldn’t equal the second time around? What if I instigated a kiss and it fell flat? What if Hayden was disappointed? My basic plan was to move in close at some point during the night, ensuring that my intimate intentions were obvious to Hayden. But I had major timing trepidation. How would I know the oppor-
tune moment to get up close and personal?
For example, what if I moved in and he was tired or cranky or lip-fatigued from an afternoon arguing in the debate team? I pictured myself getting shot down midmove in the candlelight. Hmm . . . was rejection better or worse in low lighting? The lack of light would hide my extreme embarrassment, but I’d also be sitting there in a highly sensuous atmosphere. Hopefully not too sensuous. My hand went to the dimmer switch again.
Right. I was calling Cassie.
She picked up right away. “Hey, aren’t you on your date?” “About to be. As in, Hayden’s probably heading toward my door
right now and I’m doubting I have the courage to open it, let alone make a lunge for his lips later. Cass, what if I get the timing wrong and I’m left cast off in the candlelight?”
“Aurora, you know he’s crazy about you. I’m sure he’s planning to kiss you tonight. But if you want to be the one to make the first move, just look for the cues.”
“Cues?”
“Kissing green lights. Physical indications telling you to go straight ahead.”
“I’m a total newbie on the dating highway, Cass. Unless Hayden actually turns green, I’m going to be playing the yes/no game for the next few hours.”
Cassie laughed. “I’m talking things like prolonged eye contact and sitting really close to you, not Hayden turning into a chame- leon.”


“Oh god, why can’t he be a chameleon? You know the male ac- tually changes color when he’s in the mood? Just think—if Hayden’s lips burst into stripes of blue and green, I wouldn’t have any hesita- tion!” My voice rose a half octave with nervous tension.
“Aurora, I can hear you getting breathless. You have to breathe. If you don’t breathe while kissing, you’ll pass out. It happened to my cousin!”
“What?” I shrieked. “No one warned me about this!” The doorbell rang.
“Argh! Hayden and his nonchameleon lips have arrived!” “Focus on the feelings and you’ll ace it,” Cassie said. “I promise.”
I caught sight of my face in the hallway mirror as I set the phone down and headed for the door. I looked like a rabbit staring up in terror at a farmer with a pitchfork. Fantastic.
I took a deep breath and opened the door. Hayden’s smiling face greeted me. My whole body instantly relaxed.
“Good evening, Princess.” He gave me a hug. “Any chance a wannabe knight bearing wood-fired pizza could cross the thresh- old?”
I smiled as I stepped aside to let him in. “Was it an epic quest?” “It involved much gallantry,” Hayden replied as we headed down the hall. “The guy at the pizza place was actually kind of a fire-breathing dragon. He had serious issues about half-and-half
pizzas.”
Hayden started turning right to go into the kitchen.
“Oh!” I touched his shoulder. “I thought we might eat in the liv- ing room. It’s cozier.”
My plan of action was to get Hayden comfortable. Get him com- fortable and then pounce.
“Sure.” He turned left then stopped at the entrance to the liv- ing room. “We might need a little more light.”
Oh my god—the living room now resembled a dimly lit saloon where busty women of the Wild West were likely to slink by in skimpy corsets or recline languorously on velvet cushions. I must


have accidentally hit the dimmer switch in my scramble to get to the front door.
“Sorry, I was, ah, setting the scene.” Had that actually come out? “The scene?” Hayden turned, eyebrows raised, his hand paused
on the switch. His eyes were undeniably nervous. He probably thought he was about to be thrown down on the coffee table.
Great. I aim for ambience and wind up scaring my date. “Setting the scene—for history!” I cried. “You know, the Middle
Ages, living by candlelight? I was hoping it would help with my es- say. I, um, was working on it while waiting for you.”
My voice was increasingly resembling a chipmunk’s—high- pitched, fast-paced, and bordering on panicky.
“Much as I love your imagination, I think the take-out pizza might destroy the illusion.” Hayden laughed as he turned the dim- mer switch up. “Let’s skip ahead a few centuries so you don’t drip sauce on that gorgeous dress.”
I tried not to feel seriously insulted. Here I was, preparing to ex- ecute a major move, and my date didn’t want to know about it. I flopped down onto one of the velvet cushions, trying not to let out a sigh as Hayden set out the pizza and filled our glasses with Coke. Why was this so easy in movies? I thought of Cleopatra and Eliza- beth Taylor tumbling out of the rolled-up carpet. Caesar had been putty in her hands. I’d tried to set up a scene of seduction and in- stead I’d wound up eating pizza underneath blazing lights.
I looked across at Hayden, who’d picked up a piece of pizza but seemed to be waiting for me. I studied the pizza on the table in front of me. The second I took a bite, my painstakingly applied lipstick would be messed up. Then, as the smell wafted up toward me, I real- ized I had bigger worries—there was garlic on the margherita! No way was breath spray going to cover up that potent passion killer.
I looked up from the pizza and saw that Hayden was watching me with an amused expression.
“Here, my lady, let me choose the perfect piece for thee.” He picked up a slice and put it on the plate in front of me.


His hazel eyes were so warm they were almost golden in the glow of the candles on the coffee table. Eye contact! That was one of Cass’s green lights. Okay, time to up the ante.
My heart had accelerated within mere seconds. I had to push the rest of me to catch up with it before the opportune moment slipped by. I gave Hayden a long gaze and raised an eyebrow in what I hoped was a Cleopatra-esque expression.
He let out a nervous laugh. “Have I got sauce on my face?”
I started in surprise. “What?” Obviously my attempt at Cleopa- tra was more scornful than seductive. “No!”
My hands, still trembling from the extended eye contact, shook harder, and I dropped my pizza slice into my lap.
“You see! This is why we needed the light!” Hayden leaned for- ward, shaking his head in amusement, grabbed the pizza slice, and put it back on the plate with a smile.
He reached over and pressed a napkin into my hand, giving it a squeeze. Houston, we had contact. If I didn’t do this now, I never would.
Hayden went to move his hand away, but I grabbed on to it. Be- fore my fear could kick in, I leaned across the coffee table, meet- ing Hayden halfway.
“Sorry, blotting the stain will probably make it worse—” he began.
I placed my index finger over his lips, stopping his sentence short. His eyes widened.
Okay, replace finger with lips. With hopefully minty-fresh lips. I leaned farther toward Hayden, closing the distance between  us. The caramel aroma of the candles was intoxicating. I took a steady breath, trying to concentrate on my senses. I could feel my cheeks were flushed, although I couldn’t tell whether that was from the warmth of the candles or the dizzying pulse of blood through my body. The room was in complete silence except for our breath- ing and the pounding of my heart, which thumped in my ears like the crash of the ocean on the sand when you lay your head down
on your towel at the beach.


There were two inches left between our faces. I removed my fin- ger from Hayden’s lips and our foreheads touched. The gentleness of the gesture caused a pulling feeling in my chest.
Last step. Last tiny little step and the plan would be complete.
Focus on the feelings. Cass’s advice floated back to me.
I touched his cheek with the fingers of my right hand. This was Hayden, my Potential Prince, my childhood friend, bane of my life turned boy of my dreams. I felt my lips relax into a smile, a smile that sank down through my skin and seemed to hover over my heart. I was so lucky. This thought tipped me over into the cour- age zone and, almost in a trance, I closed the minute distance left between us.
I pressed my lips to Hayden’s, so lightly that the touch of skin to skin was almost imperceptible. Even the second time around, the sensation was so exquisitely unfamiliar that it was all-encompassing. I was lost to feeling—the exact pressure of Hayden’s lips, his hair brushing against my fingers where they rested on his neck, the smell of his skin—a mix of soap and cologne with green-apple notes.
Hayden put his hand on my waist, pulling me closer and taking the kiss deeper. His breath was hot against mine. My pulse, already at high tempo, hit critical level. I now knew why Cass’s cousin had passed out. The feeling in my chest as we kissed was so intense I almost couldn’t bear it, yet I desperately sought more. I was like the candles, set alight with sensation, all thoughts dissolving in the heat of the moment. The feeling was so realistic that I could almost smell smoke.
I took another deep breath, hoping to dispel the phantom smell by inhaling more of Hayden’s green-apple scent.
Wait a minute. Something was burning. The smell was unmis- takable now, almost sulfuric. What on earth . . . ?
There were about five seconds of illogical agony, in which I won- dered whether the mouthwash had failed me and the smell was coming from my own breath, before I realized what I was actually smelling. My hair was on fire!


The thought screamed through my brain, shocking me out of my kissing reverie completely. Forget the notion of “the heat of the moment”—I was literally going up in flames!
My eyes flew open, but I couldn’t look down to see how much of my hair was on fire because Hayden and I were still in lip-lock. All I knew was that I didn’t want the flames to reach my face. The hair spray I’d so liberally applied earlier was probably acting as an ac- celerant—I might only have seconds to spare!
I threw up my arm, trying to push Hayden away, and instead felt my hand make contact with one of the heavy candles positioned be- tween us. I heard the clunk of the glass holder hitting the table at the same second that I felt boiling-hot wax spill onto my arm.
My whole body jolted from the searing pain. My teeth slammed together in an instinctual reaction and I bit down on Hayden’s lips, which were still intertwined with mine. Hayden let out a muffled shout.
I ripped away from him and stared in horror at the gash in his bottom lip. But there was no time to apologize yet. I snatched the burning ends of my hair from the candle jar, then threw my glass of Coke over them, thankfully extinguishing the flames before they got any closer to my head.
My wrist was prickling with pain from the blisteringly hot wax. I needed ice. I needed liquid of any description. I snatched up Hayden’s Coke and poured it on my arm. As my pain level dropped from all-consuming smart to a bearable throbbing, my attention snapped back to Hayden. He had leaped to his feet and was clutch- ing his mouth. Blood was trickling between his fingers.
Blood. My kiss had actually drawn blood. And not in a sexy, Twi- light way. I wanted to be sick.
“Hayden!” I leaped up from my cushion, too.
“I have to get to the bathroom before I get blood everywhere.”
He pushed past me, his words muffled by his hand, and took off down the hall to the downstairs bathroom.
I ran to the kitchen for the first aid kit. I wanted to cry, from both


the extreme embarrassment of having sunk my teeth into my Po- tential Prince and the throbbing pain of my wrist. I swiped at my eyes with the back of my hand, pushing away tears as I dashed toward the bathroom. I had to stay calm. I would have plenty of time to reflect upon my disastrous attempt at acting the siren once Hayden’s lips weren’t streaming blood. Right now I had to focus on helping him.
Hayden turned as I entered. He had one of our hand towels pressed to his lips. I gasped when I saw that the towel was no lon- ger white but almost completely red, soaked with blood in the few minutes he’d been in the bathroom.
“It won’t stop bleeding,” he said. “I think I have to go to the hospital.”

About the Author


Tara Eglington grew up in Byron Bay, Australia, and now lives in Sydney. Tara is the author of 'How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You', 'How to Convince a Boy to Kiss You' 'My Best Friend is a Goddess' and the forthcoming 'The Long Distance Playlist.' Her books have been published in Australia, New Zealand, and the USA. 
Tara's third YA novel 'My Best Friend is a Goddess' was released in Australia in October 2016 by Harper Collins Publishers. The novel is on the CBCA (Children's Book Council of Australia) 2017 Notables list. It was also the #7 best-selling YA title by an Australian Author for the Year July 2016-June 2017 in Australia (Neilson Bookscan).

Tara's fourth YA novel - THE LONG DISTANCE PLAYLIST - will be published by Harper Collins Australia in early 2019.

'How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You' was published in the US and Canada by St Martins (Macmillan) in October 2016, with the sequel (titled 'Kissing Games' to follow in May 2018.

Tara's hobbies when she’s not writing include watching endless cat videos on YouTube, planning pretend holidays to the Maldives, and daydreaming about who would play Hayden Paris in the film adaption of How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You.

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Press Release

"This light, dreamy, and easy read is filled with strong character development as the teens find their way in everyday lives. They are portrayed as strong, independent, and confident...the plot has many twists and is bound to keep readers turning pages. The writing transitions smoothly and keeps teens engaged. This fun romantic comedy is great for those who enjoy the works of Meg Cabot and Kasie West." —School Library Journal 

"Like the first installment, this is a fluffy contemporary romance that captures all the highs and lows of high-school love. Aurora and Hayden’s relationship drama is tempered by Aurora’s difficult family situation and her strong friendships, and fans of the first will be excited to see what comes after the happily-ever-after." —Booklist

"Complex, Gilmore Girls-inspired dialogue fuels Aurora's quirky misadventures...A fun, fluffy romp that tackles with fervor teens' obsession with love." —Kirkus Reviews

"Adorably sweet and full of hilarious pratfalls, this rom-com is the rare one that delivers equally on both the rom and the com!" —Jen Malone, author of Wanderlost 

 Kissing Games By Tara Eglington 

From talented YA author Tara Eglington, comes the follow-up to her page-turning, funny and delicious romp of a debut. In KISSING GAMES (Wednesday Books; June 5, 2018), Eglington’s delightful leading lady Aurora is off on another adventure, involving even more kissing. Filled with sweet high school love, this novel has all the hijinks and HEAs Eglington’s fans have come to love.

 For a girl who shares her name with a princess (aka Sleeping Beauty), Aurora Skye’s romantic life seems fathoms away from a fairy tale. Sure, she’s landed her prince charming, Hayden Paris. And she got her wish—one first kiss with all the knee-trembling, butterfly-inducing gloriousness she’d hoped for. But instead of happily ever after, their second kiss landed Hayden in the emergency room. If that’s not mortifying enough, the whole school is now referring to her as "Lethal Lips."

When Aurora's best friend decides to run for class president and offers up Aurora's matchmaking service as one of her campaign initiatives, the kissing games begin. Aurora has to convince everyone that her program works—but that might be hard to do when it seems like her own love life might be falling apart.

With the long lazy days of summer KISSING GAMES will have young readers in stitches and looking forward to making their own mark on the upcoming school year. An Australian favorite, Eglington will please her state-side fans and make new ones in the process in this charming sequel!


About the Author 
TARA EGLINGTON grew up in Byron Bay, Australia. Her hobbies when she’s not writing include watching endless cat videos on YouTube, planning pretend holidays to the Maldives, and day-dreaming about who would play Hayden Paris in a film adaptation of How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You, her first novel. She lives in Australia. 

KISSING GAMES By Tara Eglington
Published by Wednesday Books
**On Sale June 5, 2018**
Hardcover | $18.99
ISBN: 9781250168450| Ebook ISBN: 9781250131423 

For more information or to set up an interview with the author, contact: Brittani Hilles at brittani.hilles@stmartins.com or 646-307-5558

Praise for HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSSING YOU:

"If you've been looking for Clueless: The Next Generation, your search ends here! HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU is a candy-coated read with all of the drama and plenty of heart." —Sandy Hall, author of A Little Something Different and Signs Point to Yes 

"Like Aurora, you will find yourself unable to resist the romance and laughter of HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU. Funny and sharp, Shakespeare lovers and resisters alike will fall for this swoon worthy story." —Michelle Ray, author of Falling for Hamlet 

"This book is full of all the best things—zany misunderstandings, strong friendships, cute boys, and the fun, fresh, and fantastic Aurora Skye, who you're rooting for as soon as she falls in a puddle trying to implement Operation Stop Kiss. HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU is an absolute delight." —Jessica Love, author of In Real Life 

"Aurora’s indefatigable enthusiasm permeates Eglington’s writing, and keeps every plot twist frothy and fun, whether it involves family, boys, or the production of Much Ado About Nothing Hayden and Aurora star in. . . . Eglington celebrates female friendship and loyalty, too, and Aurora’s sunny outlook will satisfy readers looking for a romantic comedy with a dash of Shakespeare." —Publishers Weekly on How to Keep a Boy from Kissing You

Have you read HOW TO KEEP A BOY FROM KISSING YOU? Are you excited for KISSING GAMES?!

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