Friday, November 30, 2012

Review: Unearthly


Title: Unearthly
Series: Unearthly #1
Author: Cynthia Hand
Publisher: HarperTeen
Publication Date: January 4, 2011


In the beginning, there's a boy standing in the trees . . . .

Clara Gardner has recently learned that she's part angel. Having angel blood run through her veins not only makes her smarter, stronger, and faster than humans (a word, she realizes, that no longer applies to her), but it means she has a purpose, something she was put on this earth to do. Figuring out what that is, though, isn't easy.

Her visions of a raging forest fire and an alluring stranger lead her to a new school in a new town. When she meets Christian, who turns out to be the boy of her dreams (literally), everything seems to fall into place and out of place at the same time. Because there's another guy, Tucker, who appeals to Clara's less angelic side.

As Clara tries to find her way in a world she no longer understands, she encounters unseen dangers and choices she never thought she'd have to make between honesty and deceit, love and duty, good and evil. When the fire from her vision finally ignites, will Clara be ready to face her destiny?
Unearthly is a moving tale of love and fate, and the struggle between following the rules and following your heart.

My Thoughts:

So far in my reading and blogging career, I haven't had the best luck with angel books. Sometimes, they come off a bit too religious for my taste and sometimes the author takes the whole fallen angel thing too far (Hush Hush was a trainwreck for me because Patch was way too creepy and gross). However, Unearthly is the best angel book I've read yet! I really enjoyed the angel lore included in it and I also found the characters very real and relatable.

Clara wishes she was just an average girl, not an angel-blood put on earth to serve a single purpose and I'm right there with her! Clara struggles with the feeling that her life isn't entirely her own and I totally get that! She's super relatable and likeable. While she can be very stubborn, she also deals with the challenges with strength and grace.

I really enjoyed the concept of an angel-blood's purpose. Being put on earth to perform one task, but still living life around that purpose is such an interesting concept. I really sympathize with Clara as she is forced to make decisions based her purpose and sometimes go against her personal desires (such as moving to Wyoming). I think that Unearthly took an interesting view at the conflicting concepts of fate and free-will, which I really enjoyed.

Unearthly also have a fun cast of secondary characters. I immediately loved Wendy and was a bit bummed that she didn't appear more in the story (although I can foresee her being part of Hallowed for sure). I wasn't a huge fan of Angela. I'm not sure why, the girl gives me the creeps. Christian is such a typical YA-hero: popular, insanely-good looking, liked by all, that sort of thing. And then there was Tucker. I was team Tucker almost from the start (and definitely after the prom). Maybe it's because I'm a farm girl, but any real-life cowboy gets bonus points with me. Any guy who can ride a horse really, which we don't see enough of in YA.

And that leads me to my next point (not the cowboy stuff). Unearthly had two YA tropes that are so overdone it makes all of us crazy. 1. A we're-destined-to-be-together, sparks-when-we-touch, instant connection and 2. the dreaded love triangle. The first one comes thanks to Clara's purpose and is understandable, although I could have done without the whole sparks thing. And the love triangle was actually really well done! I'm not usually a fan of love triangles (Twilight gave me my fill years ago), but Cynthia Hand did a really good job developing Clara's feels for both boys and I found myself enjoying it. Her relationship with each boy is different and I appreciated that.

Overall, I really enjoyed Unearthly and am excited to read Hallowed (I'm waiting until the paperback comes out in December). Angel books are looking up for me!

On the Cover:

Oh my gosh, I love this cover. It's so pretty in person, with the shiny silver lines and feather. My boyfriend looked at it and said it looked like something I would like, so there you go!

Rating: 4 hearts

Source: Purchased.

Find the Book: Goodreads | Amazon | The Book Depository

Find the Author: Goodreads | Website | Facebook | Twitter

Don't Just Take My Word For It: Mindful Musings | Bewitched Bookworms | Alluring Reads


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Waiting on Wednesday (5)

"Waiting On" Wednesday is a weekly event, hosted by Breaking the Spine, that spotlights upcoming releases that we're eagerly anticipating.

This week for WoW, I chose The Program by Suzanne Young. This one sounds like a creepy-awesome dystopian (I am still on the dystopian train for sure). This one comes out in April, so still a few months to wait. :(

With suicide now an international epidemic, one outburst could land her in The Program, the only proven course of treatment. Sloane’s parents have already lost one child; Sloane knows they’ll do anything to keep her alive. She also knows that everyone who’s been through The Program returns as a blank slate. Because their depression is gone—but so are their memories.

Under constant surveillance at home and at school, Sloane puts on a brave face and keeps her feelings buried as deep as she can. The only person Sloane can be herself with is James. He’s promised to keep them both safe and out of treatment, and Sloane knows their love is strong enough to withstand anything. But despite the promises they made to each other, it’s getting harder to hide the truth. They are both growing weaker. Depression is setting in.

And The Program is coming for them.

What are you waiting on this week?

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

The Midnight Spell Cover Reveal

Cover designed by Phatpuppy Art.

The Midnight Spell - Publication date: February, 2013

Best friends since kindergarten, Adam and Christy have always been the perpetual outsiders in their small town in Texas.  The other kids call Adam gay and Christy a witch.

On both counts the bullies are right.

Their junior year in high school seems destined to be the same old same old until Christy decides to cast a love spell for Adam at the midnight hour. The next day an alluring and mysterious boy enrolls at school and sets hearts a flutter, including Adam’s. Meanwhile, Christy’s mad crush on the handsome football player Ian seems to be going nowhere fast and her witch puberty is making her life miserable.

When a great evil arrives in town that threatens everything they hold dear, the best friends realize that finding a boyfriend is the least of their worries. Soon Adam and Christy will have to battle a force of darkness that has killed in their town before, and will again.

Rhiannon Frater:
Rhiannon Frater is the award-winning author of the As the World Dies trilogy (The First Days, Fighting to Survive, Siege,) and the author of three other books: the vampire novels Pretty When She Dies and The Tale of the Vampire Bride and the young-adult zombie novel The Living Dead Boy and the Zombie Hunters. Inspired to independently produce her work from the urging of her fans, she published The First Days in late 2008 and quickly gathered a cult following. She won the Dead Letter Award back-to-back for both The First Days and Fighting to Survive, the former of which the Harrisburg Book Examiner called ‘one of the best zombie books of the decade.’ Rhiannon is currently represented by Hannah Gordon of the Foundry + Literary Media agency. You may contact her by email.

Author Links:

Kody Boye:
Kody Boye was born and raised in Southeastern Idaho. Since his initial publication in the Yellow Mama Webzine in 2007, he has gone on to sell nearly three-dozen stories to various markets. He is the author of the short story collection Amorous Things, the novella The Diary of Dakota Hammell, the zombie novel Sunrise and the dark fantasy novel Blood. His fiction has been described as ‘Surreal, beautiful and harrowing’ (Fantastic Horror,) while he himself has been heralded as a writer beyond his years(Bitten by Books.) He currently lives and writes in the Austin, Texas area.

Author Links:

Monday, November 26, 2012

Announcing the 2013 Paranormal Reading Challenge

I'm already getting excited for my 2013 reading challenges (although I'm resigned to failing a couple of my 2012 ones). I was looking for a 2013 paranormal challenge and couldn't find one, so rather than wait to see if one would appear, I decided to make one! With the help of Jessi at Auntie Spinelli Reads, I'm very excited to introduce the 2013 Paranormal Reading Challenge! We'd both love it if you would sign up!

Welcome to the 2013 Paranormal Reading Challenge hosted by Megan Likes Books and Auntie Spinelli Reads! There are so many awesome sub-genres of paranormal books, that it's easy to find one you like and stick with it. So that's why I decided to make a reading challenge with the goal of reading about all kinds of paranormal creatures.

The goal is to read one book featuring each of the following paranormal creatures:

Other (ie: sirens, unicorns, centaurs, timetravel etc.)

1. This challenge runs from January 1, 2013 to December 31, 2013.
2. You must have a blog to able to participate, since reviews must be added to the linky.
3. When you sign up with the linky, please put the link to your post about joining the Paranormal Reading Challenge.
4. You're welcome to list your books beforehand or just add as you go.
5. Sign-ups are open until December 1, 2013
6. At the beginning of each month, I will post a kick-start post, each month featuring a different category of paranormal creature. This post will also include a linky to include your reviews from that month.
7. Each review you link will qualify you for an entry into the monthy giveaway and if your review includes the feature paranormal creature of that month, you get a bonus entry.
8. Each book can only count for one category, even if it contains more than one paranormal creature. For example, Twilight contains both vampires and werewolves, but you can't use it for both the vampires and werewolves/shifters categories.
9. Everyone who completes the challenge will be entered into a grand prize giveaway at the end of the year.
10. If you read multiple books from one category, feel free to add them to the linkies. Don't stop at just one!
11. Book can count for other challenges.

Each month, we'll be featuring one of the creatures on the list at both Megan Likes Books and Auntie Spinelli Reads.

January - Vampires
February - Angels/Nephilim
March - Fey
April - Demons
May - Aliens
June - Zombies
July - Witches and Wizards
August - Mermaids
September - Dragons
October - Ghosts
November - Werewolves/Shape-shifters
December - Other

Be sure to grab the button for your blog!

Sign up here:

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Megan Likes (New) Books (9) / Reading Through My Bookshelf (7)

Megan Likes (New) Books

Megan Likes (New) Books is a personalize weekly meme inspired by In My Mailbox, Stacking the Shelves and Book Haul where I show off the new books and bookish items I've received lately.

For Review:

The Pineville Heist by Lee Chambers - Thanks to Smith Publicity!

A Natural History of Dragons by Marie Brennan - via Netgalley - Thanks to Tor Publishing!


Splintered Swag - Thanks to author A. G. Howard

Dualed bookmark - Thanks Megan at The Book Galaxy

Horrid Henry's Monster Movie by Francesca Simon
Horrid Henry and the Zombie Vampire by Francesca Simon
A Bad Day for Voodoo by Jeff Strand
Picture the Dead by Adele Griffin and Lisa Brown
A big thanks to Sourcebooks and Jenni at Alluring Reads for these beauties!


Unearthly by Cynthia Hand
Hemlock by Kathleen Peacock
The Selection by Kiera Cass
Incarnate by Jodi Meadows


Verita by Tracy Rozzlynn
Fast-Tracked by Tracy Rozzlynn

*   *   *

Last Weeks Status: 59
Incoming Books: 9
Books Complete: 1
Current Status: 67

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Hosting my first reading challenge & Call for co-hosts

So, I've been thinking about my favourite reading challenges from the past year and I realized that I didn't do any paranormal ones, even though that's the majority of what I read. So I got it in my head to make my own.

Here's the gist: read at least one book featuring each of the following paranormal creatures:
Other (ie: sirens, unicorns, centaurs, timetravel etc.)

Interested? Great! Sign-ups will be opening shortly and I'm hoping to have monthly prizes. Really interested? Awesome! I'd really love to have one or more co-hosts involved in this challenge. You would be helping me organize things and host one or more monthly wrap-up posts, each featuring one of the paranormal creatures on the list. If you're interested in co-hosting, please email me!

If you're a paranormal author interested in donating prizes, also email me!

Stay tuned for the launch of this challenge in early December!

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Blog Tour: Blood Debt Character Interview

Her whole life, it had just been the two of them. Before her mother’s last breath, she gave Camille the information she had craved her entire life: the identity of her father. Daring to contact him, Camille was welcomed by an entire family she never knew existed. But nothing comes without a price, as she discovers when her family claims a legendary heritage tracing back to a Centaur touched by Zeus.

As she learns the secrets of her Centaur bloodline, she is drawn into a forbidden love with Drake. Her family acknowledges her life may be the blood debt required to pay for her mother’s transgressions. The same person who once held her mother captive, and forced her into decades of hiding, now controls Camille. Her only chance is to seek a piece of her mother’s past that will win her freedom and the life she desperately desires.

Blood Debt

Today I’m super excited to welcome Camille to Megan Likes Books, Welcome Camille!

Megan, thanks so much for having me!  I’m a little nervous so if I say anything wrong you won’t actually post it for the world to see, right?  You will?   *eyes widen* Okay, now I’m nervous.  

You recently lost your mother.  That must be really difficult.  How are you coping with the stress and grief?

Right, well, it’s hard.  But I didn’t lose her the way I thought I had.  Don’t get me wrong, she died and I was devastated.  Weeks went by and I was barely able to function.  It had always been just the two of us, you know?  But coping is much easier now that I know I’ll be able to see her and talk to her again soon.  *gasp at the look on Megan’s face*

No, Megan, not like that!  Don’t worry, I’m not planning to “off” myself or anything.  I have this medium-type ability.  I haven’t figured out how to work it yet, but when I do, it’ll be like I still have a piece of her.  Until then, my step-mother can talk to her for me. 

As well, you just recently reconnected with your father.  How did you feel leading up to that first meeting?

I’ve never tried swallowing a bunch of spears, but the feeling has to be close to finding out you have a father you never knew about.  His name’s William Strayer and my mother hid us from each other until just before she died.  I wasn’t lucky enough to have an average father with an average life.  Someone I could just watch a NASCAR race with on Sunday.  *shakes her head* No, he had to be wealthy, with a picture-perfect family, and a life you only see on television.  I was a little worried that I would be a big fat disappointment to him.

Now that I’ve spent some time with him, all my worrying was for nothing.      

You also recently learned you come from a centaur bloodline.  How crazy was it to find out about that?

*Holds finger to lips* Shhh, Megan, that’s a secret! 

I was sure my step-mother, Gretchen, needed a straight-jacket when she first told me.  At first I was humoring her, thinking that I didn’t want to give up my new family just because she was a little nutso.  I mean, every family’s got one, right?

*smile spreads across Camille’s face*  But then Gretchen got into an argument with my mom’s spirit and I knew she was telling me the truth.  Some of the Centaur stuff is really cool, other parts are, I don’t know. . . are very strange. 

All right, on to the juicy stuff.  Tell me about Drake.

Drake.  *blushing*  How do you describe someone who would give up everything for you?  Not just material possessions, but someone willing to sacrifice his future, his family’s legacy, everything. 

Drake is tall, his eyes are the shade of glaciers in Alaska – ice blue, and he has this way of putting images in my head that are *blushes a brighter red* life-like.

He’s fast, seriously fast.  When I met him, his speed kept me from doing a face-plant right onto concrete.  He’s a centaur, but not like the ones we learned about in school.  He’s not half a horse or anything, none of us are. 

Final question.  What do you think the future holds for you?

I hope some peace, because I haven’t found any since the day I found out I had a father.  I miss California, so hopefully I’ll go there soon.  My grandmother is psycho so we’re watching out for her and hoping she doesn’t pop up again.  *sighs*  The only thing I know about my future is Drake will be with me every step of the way.

Thanks so much Camille for stopping by Megan Likes Books and enjoy the rest of the blog tour!

*hugs Megan*   Thanks so much for having me!  

What a great interview with Camille, she is such a sweetheart! Be sure to check out the rest of the tour!

About the Author:

Nancy was born in Sioux City Iowa, left the cold of the Midwest in 1991 and only returns to see family in the summer time. She spent ten years traveling the world as a US Marine and settled in rural SC.  She has two fantastic son, three rotten dogs and an amazing husband.  When not writing she enjoys RVing with her family, swimming and reading all types of romance genres.  Her favorite is paranormal romance.

Find the Author: Goodreads | Twitter | Amazon | Blog 

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Review: Notes to Self by Avery Sawyer


Title: Notes to Self
Author: Avery Sawyer
Publication Date: November 20, 2011


Two climbed up. Two fell down.

One woke up.

Robin Saunders is a high school sophomore with an awesome best friend, a hard-working single mom, and a complicated relationship with a sweet guy named Reno. She's coasting along, trying to get through yet another tedious year of high school, when Em suggests something daring. They live in Florida-- tourist central--and Emily wants to sneak into a theme park after midnight and see what they're made of.

When things get out of control, Robin wakes up in a hospital bed and Emily doesn't wake up at all. Just getting dressed becomes an ordeal as Robin tries to heal and piece together the details of that terrible night. Racing to remember everything in the hopes of saving Emily, Robin writes a series of notes to herself to discover the truth.

My Thoughts:

 I really wanted to love this book. The more I read it, the more I wanted to love it. The concept of a person recovering from a traumatic brain injury and having to re-learn basic things like how to take a shower was absolutely fascinating to me. The story flipped back and forth between the present and the past as Robin struggles to regain her memories and figure out exactly what happened the night she and Emily fell..

The reason why this book was a like, but not a love, was the main character, Robin. To be blunt, I didn't like her. It's not so much the way she was after the accident, because I can definitely cut her some slack there. It was the way she was before: selfish and apathetic. I'm not a big fan of people who are too cool to care about anything.

Another thing that bothered me were the kids in Robin's school. They were so nasty! I really had a hard time believing that Robin's return to school would be met with so much ridicule and so little kindness. And seriously, do kids in grade nine actually try to buy Vikoden? Even Robin isn't really above this cruelty, calling girls in grade six (that's 11 years old!) "horny little bitches." I graduated high school 6 years ago and that was not my experience at all. Have times changed that drastically or was this a bit extreme?

Despite these issues, this was a really interesting read. I loved watching Robin try to piece together her own life, while also worrying non-stop about her friend Emily, who is still in a coma. My favourite character by far was Reno, who was the only decent teen in the entire book. He was generally steady and supportive of Robin, although he had his own flaws as well.

Overall, I would recommend this book to anyone who enjoys YA contemporaries, as well as anyone with an interest in medicine and recovery processes.

On The Cover

 I'm a bit undecided on this cover. I think it's too grey for me. However, it looks like they've changed the cover on Amazon, although I like the new one less than the original.

Rating: 4 hearts

Source: Free via Amazon

Find the Book: Goodreads | Kindle

Find the Author: Goodreads

Don't Just Take My Word For It: Xpresso Reads | Helen's Book BlogThe Autumn Review

Monday, November 19, 2012

Blog Tour: Exiled and Shift by M. R. Merrick

Power Will Flourish

Lives Will be Lost

Nothing, Will be Forgotten

Chase Williams is a demon hunter in the Circle, or at least he was supposed to be. On his fifteenth birthday, Chase stepped up to the altar to claim his elemental power, but it never came. Elemental magic is passed down to a hunter through the bloodline, but on Chase's birthday, the bloodline stopped. 

Exiled without the Circle's protection, Chase has spent two years trying to survive a world riddled with half-demons and magic. When he has a run in with a frightened and seemingly innocent demon, he learns the Circle's agenda has changed: the Circle plans to unlock a portal and unleash pure-blood demons into the world. 

Vowing to stop them, and knowing he can't do it alone, Chase forms a reluctant alliance with Rayna - a sexy witch with an attitude and a secret. In their attempt to stop them however, Chase and Rayna find themselves in the middle of the Circle's plan, leaving one of them to decide what their friendship is worth, and the other's life depending on it.


I’d had several jobs in the past year. This one I’d managed to keep for a few months. Most of my employers frowned on me coming to work with cuts and bruises all the time. It made for “poor presentation,” they’d say. I was thankful it hadn’t interfered with this job, yet.
I finished up my shift and had started my walk home from the burger joint when I felt it. A hunter doesn’t mistake the feeling that demons are around. It moves down your spine and chills your bones. Feeling it proved I was indeed a hunter, even without an element.
The August air was warm for the late hour, and a thick layer of sweat made my white shirt cling to me. I stopped and unzipped my duffle bag, locating the silver dagger inside. Silver was great no matter what you were fighting; it could do serious damage to anything of the Underworld.
The tingle shot down my spine again. If I focused, I could feel each hair on my neck rise. I saw a blur of movement across the street and watched it disappear into a shadowy alley. I moved across the street in a low crouch, resting my weight on the balls of my feet. I slowed my breathing and pulled the dagger from my bag before I slipped around the corner.
My senses were alive and strained to see movement, or hear the sound of feet shuffling against loose rocks. As a hunter, I could see well in the dark, though the only light came from a single flickering street lamp.
I was almost to the end of the alley when it hit. I couldn’t tell what “it” was, but it struck my back and launched me forward. My feet tumbled over my head and my back smashed hard into the concrete wall at the end of the alley. Hands grabbed me and lifted me to my feet, dragging me a few steps before throwing me back the other way. I flew through the air, hit the ground and rolled out into the street.
I used my momentum and came up on one knee to recover. My back burned where pavement had grated the skin off, but I pushed the pain aside as the figure stalked towards me.
“Your death will bring me great glory, hunter. Killing the son of Riley Williams will make me a legend among the Underworld,” the low voice gloated.
“That’s really great, good luck with that,” I said.
He smiled and the fangs that slid down from his gums were long and sharp. His pale skin started to thin as the vampire changed into his demon form.
Milky skin faded into transparent flesh, revealing the moving muscles beneath. Veins ran black through the vampire’s face and limbs, pushing against the thinning clear skin. Strange muscles in his hands pushed bony talons out over his finger nails, and the whites of his eyes disappeared, filling with an inky blackness. The dark orbs stared at me as his fanged mouth curled into a smile, and in a blur he sprang forward, talons swinging.
I ducked as they sliced through the air over my head. I brought the knife up into his stomach and twisted the blade before I pulled it out. Blood spilled onto the ground, but I knew the wound wasn’t enough to kill him. Cut off his head or pierce his black heart – those were my options. I could light him on fire, but I was fresh out of matches.
I brought my foot up and kicked the vampire back to give myself some room. I steadied myself, waiting for him to charge, but his body jerked and the point of a silver blade appeared in his chest before he could move.
The vamp’s body went limp and collapsed, then exploded in a flash of orange light. It burned away into a cloud of ash and littered the pavement, revealing the girl – of all things – who had beaten me to the kill.
Raven hair spilled over her pale shoulders with hints of red highlighting the occasional strand. A tight leather top revealed a sliver of toned stomach and a tease of cleavage. Black pants hugged her hips and long slender legs and met knee-high boots. Her skin glistened in the light, but the most noticeable of her features were her eyes.
Bright green orbs sparkled with an odd glow: demon’s eyes. They had the slit pupils of a cat that I’d never seen on anything other than a house pet or a shifter in animal form. I slipped back into fight mode. I’d never watched one demon kill another, but I suppose for the fame of killing me, why not?
I lunged and threw a punch at her face, but she dodged it with ease.
“You almost messed up my kill,” she snarled, and I had barely enough time to dodge her powerful kick.
“Your kill? You stole it from me!” I swung my fist and hit her stomach. She bent over, winded, before she stepped back and caught her breath, regaining her stance and composure.
“Stole it? Please, I’d been tracking him for blocks.” She spun and caught my chin with the heel of her boot, snapping my head to the side. I rubbed my jaw where she’d hit me and smiled.
“Well then, I guess it’s a good thing I was here to slow him down. Who knows if you would have been able to catch him?”
She moved in for another kick but I was ready. I grabbed her foot and pushed her back. She fell to the ground but quickly came to her feet. “I would have gotten him just fine on my own. Hunting is an art. It would’ve gone on as long as I deemed necessary.”
“Call it hunting if you want, but a filthy demon killing her own kind is still just that: a filthy demon.” I could tell I’d offended her even before she hit me.
My eyes watered when her fist smashed into my nose and her foot connected with my stomach in quick succession. I jerked back to avoid the knee that flew towards my face and pushed it to the side, but she was already moving towards me. Her hands hit my chest hard and I soared through the air for a long moment before I hit the ground. I felt a sharp pain shoot up through my spine and I could hear her laughter as I struggled to my feet.
“I have to admit I expected more from you, Chase, being the infamous son of Riley Williams and all.”
I gripped my dagger until my knuckles turned white and spoke through gritted teeth. “I’ll try not to disappoint.”
My fist hit her jawbone and made a loud crack. I came back with my other hand and wrapped it around her throat. I stepped into the movement and threw her forward in a burst of hunter’s strength. She slammed into the ground but recovered faster than I anticipated. Before I could brace myself she was on top of me.
I pulled her body down and we rolled over each other against the cold concrete until I was on top. I kept a handful of her hair wound tight in my fist and pushed my blade against her throat. “More what you expected?”
“Not really.” She smirked.
I felt the point of a knife pushing against my stomach. Before I could react, a commanding male voice came from behind us.
“Enough!” it boomed.
I didn’t take the knife or my eyes off the demon beneath me.
“But we were just starting to have fun,” she complained. The smile on her face was anything but threatening. If this was her idea of fun, I didn’t want to know what she considered boring.
“Rayna, enough,” the man repeated.
She sighed, sticking out her bottom lip in a pout before the knife left my skin. “Truce?” she said with an innocent face.
“Not a chance,” I replied, pushing the knife harder against her throat.
I was pulled away from Rayna and pressed against a wall, thick hands around my throat. I raised my blade but my opponent blocked and twisted my arm at an awkward angle. The man ripped the blade from my hand and I squirmed.
“Calm down, Chase. We are not here to hurt you,” the voice said. A complete shadow hung around the figure, moving as he moved.
“So she attacked me for fun?” I snapped.
“If we wanted you dead, you would be,” he said, releasing his grip, and I fell to the sidewalk. He stepped back slowly and the shadow peeled itself from his body. As it faded, it revealed a large man whose magic I’d never sensed before.
“If you don’t want to kill me, what do you want?” I asked.
The man reached forward, a large dark arm holding out my dagger. I wrapped my hand around it in confusion. The contrast of our skin was drastic; my pale flesh glowed against his midnight color and the size of his hand alone made me feel small.
“What Rayna told you was true. We were tracking the vampire, not you. Although I’m happy to finally meet you, I’d imagined this moment under different circumstances,” he said.
“There are ways to meet people besides attacking them.”
“I agree. You must forgive us; Rayna is quick to lash out when insulted.” My eyes met his and I couldn’t read his expression. I knew I hadn’t been polite, but I wasn’t about to apologize to a demon. “You know, your father would not have hesitated to kill her, no matter his position.”
“Congratulations, you’ve discovered I’m not my father. What the hell would you know about him anyways?”
He turned his head to the side and as the light hit his neck it revealed a tattoo. It was the one every hunter received after their ceremony. The one I never got.
The tattoo made me realize why he could bend the shadows; he was an air elemental and a powerful one at that. I had heard stories of hunters being able to work with shadows, but I’d never seen it done firsthand.
I looked him over, not sure what to think of a hunter working with a demon. He was taller than me by an inch, around six-foot three. His head was smooth shaven, though there was a small patch of hair under his lower lip. His skin seemed like a smooth dark chocolate. His body was large and square, broad shoulders making him a massive column of strength and power. He filled out a sharp black suit jacket and wore black loafers, leaving the only color on him a flash of bright blue dress shirt.
“You’re a hunter.”
“Once upon a time, yes I was.”
He broke eye contact and cleared his throat, extending his massive hand towards me. “Look at my manners. Let me introduce myself. I am Marcus Starkraven.”
My eyebrows shot up; I knew that name! “You’re supposed to be dead.”
“Is that what you heard?”
“You used to hunt with my father.”
He nodded slightly, but otherwise ignored the comment. “You already met Rayna,” he said, taking his unshaken hand back.
I looked at Rayna and got caught in the depths of her green, slit eyes.
“What are you doing with a demon?” I said, spitting out the last word like a curse.
“How’s your nose?” Rayna asked.
I touched it and looked at the blood on my fingers. “Lucky shot.”
She chuckled and stepped towards me. “Care to go again?” Marcus put an arm in front of her.
“Not what we’re doing right now,” he said.
“You didn’t answer my question.”
“She is my student. And my friend.”
I couldn’t respond. I didn’t believe it. A hunter being friends with a demon was unfathomable.
“I would have thought, being out in the real world, you’d have come to understand, Chase. Some Underworlders don’t fit the Circle’s black and white image of good and evil,” he said.
“The only Underworlders I’ve come across have tried to kill me.”
“Your name is feared by many in the Underworld. Your father has created quite the reputation for himself, so they fear you as well,” Marcus said.
I smirked. “As they should.”
He shook his head. “That wasn’t a compliment.

M.R. Merrick is a Canadian writer and author of The Protector Series, a Young Adult mash-up between Urban and Epic Fantasy. Having never traveled, he adventures to far off lands through his imagination and in between cups of coffee. As a music lover and proud breakfast enthusiast, he’s usually found at the computer between a pair of headphones and in front of a large bowl of cereal.

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