Below by Meg McKinlay

10:50 PM

Title: Below
Author: Meg McKinlay
Publish Date: May 14, 2013
Publisher: Candlewick Press
Pages: 224
Buy the Book: Barnes & Noble | Amazon | The Book Depository
Received: NetGalley
Rating: ★★★★

Secrets have a way of floating to the surface.... Mystery, compelling characters, and an abandoned town beneath a lake make for a must-read adventure. 
On the day Cassie was born, they drowned her town. The mayor flipped a lever and everyone cheered as Old Lower Grange was submerged beneath five thousand swimming pools’ worth of water. Now, twelve years later, Cassie feels drawn to the manmade lake and the mysteries it hides — and she’s not the only one. Her classmate Liam, who wears oversized swim trunks to cover the scars on his legs, joins Cassie in her daily swims across the off-limits side of the lake. As the summer heats up, the water drops lower and lower, offering them glimpses of the ghostly town and uncovering secrets one prominent town figure seems anxious to keep submerged. But like a swimmer who ventures too far from shore, Cassie realizes she can’t turn back. Can she bring their suspicions to light before it’s too late — and does she dare?

This book surprised me, which is something that rarely happens and it is typically something small. However this book was an all around surprising book for me and I definitely wouldn't have been able to guess how it ended, let alone what happened in the middle. Trust that it has a happy ending. Truthfully I hadn't realized that the town was legitimately submerged underneath water and so was the town's secrets. The plot flowed easily which made it that much easier to slip into the life of the main character as she struggled between who she is and the past that she didn't have a chance to be a part of. 

Cassie, the main character, was born early - that much was made clear. Perhaps, she shouldn't have been born at all or so some people believe. It would be hard to tear your family away from the triumphant moment when the town sunk beneath the water especially when it seems to haunt you since you were born. Despite all of the things that seem to be against her, she is amazingly smart and she has a vast knowledge about the town that she never saw - a town she never got the chance to know. Her lungs, under developed from her early birth, only seems to encourage her desire to see the town even if it is just from the surface of the lake as she swims across. Her intuitive nature and her desire for answers are what drives the whole story and it definitely brings about answers that will shock people. 

I was actually surprised with Liam, simply because he became a character that was so different from what I had conceived he would be. His life is what I would think would be the definition of hard, at least for me. He was born along with his twin brother in the original town, awhile prior to the idea of drowning the town was discussed. However he became deformed when his family got in an accident which killed his twin brother and forever changed his father from the man he once had been. Liam partly blames himself and because of that Cassie was able to form a connection with him. I think he has a crush on her though and in many ways I think they are perfect for each other. He is a great kid that loves his family and looks out for his dad. Not what I expected but something I definitely loved. 

Her parents are polar opposites from each other and yet they both attempt to show Cassie love in their own unique way which sometimes only seems to hinder their relationship with them. It's clear they didn't want another kid and didn't need one, so how can they have some deep bond that most claim to have with their kids? Her mom is a history teacher, who had taken off time to raise a family and once the two older kids had gotten older, returned to work. She practically raised Cassie in the class room. She is overly protective of her and certainly treats her other kids different. Cassie sees that it is unfair. Her dad is the artist of the family and a free spirit. He doesn't see the world like everyone else and he takes a more gentle approach with how to love his youngest child. He allows Cassie to watch him create and shares secrets with her that he would not share with anyone else.

Her siblings always seem to be miles away from her as though they realize they have a younger sibling and yet sometimes refuse to acknowledge the bond that definitely could've formed between them. Her sister is perhaps the toughest one of all to understand. She works for the mayor, a character that has a great deal of charisma and has an addiction to his power, and doesn't question everything - not like Cassie. She is always trying to make the city government look better and I can't decide if that is admirable or annoying. She is the sibling that constantly rains on Cassie's parade and point out that when important things had happened, Cassie wasn't alive. Her brother tries to be supportive of his sister and not make things so awkward for her. He realizes that she is struggling with the age gap so he just doesn't push like her sister does. He manages to bring humor to some of the hardest moments. He helps Cassie find her place in the world, even if it is not with their family.

I really liked this book. So check it out!


Snowed In? So Read - Giveaway Hop

1:39 PM

I am going to start flooding my blog with reviews starting today but I thought I would start out the fun with another giveaway which is being hosted by Stuck In Books since my last one just finished. The winners will also be chosen today and the emails will be sent out!

I have so many books finished, some of which I completely adore with all my heart, and I can't wait to share all my fangirling over some of things that happen. So, because I wanted to support one of my new favorite books, I am giving away Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano. First I love my ARC cover for this novel. Second I hadn't known what I would think of it. Third it is not really about romance, which was a big contrast to the book I had been having a book hangover with. 

 Perfect Ruin (Internment Chronicles, #1)
Perfect Ruin by Lauren DeStefano

On Internment, the floating island in the clouds where 16-year-old Morgan Stockhour lives, getting too close to the edge can lead to madness. Even though Morgan's older brother, Lex, was a Jumper, Morgan vows never to end up like him. She tries her best not to mind that her life is orderly and boring, and if she ever wonders about the ground, and why it is forbidden, she takes solace in best friend Pen and her betrothed, Basil.

Then a murder, the first in a generation, rocks the city. With whispers swirling and fear on the wind, Morgan can no longer stop herself from investigating, especially when she meets Judas. He is the boy being blamed for the murder — betrothed to the victim — but Morgan is convinced of his innocence. Secrets lay at the heart of Internment, but nothing can prepare Morgan for what she will find — or who she will lose.

So, here's the details - this giveaway is international (something I absolutely adore being able to do) and it will end on January 15th. There are five entries with varying values on the point system and one is required but lucky for you, it's entirely on me!

Feel free to comment below with any ideas for future giveaways or what you think about Lauren DeStefano's novels especially if you've had a chance to read this book!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

There are a bunch of other blogs participating in the hop, so check 'em out!


Midwinter Eve Giveaway Hop

10:42 AM

I know, I know... it seems like all I post is giveaways but here's the deal. I am going to start posting reviews shortly and catch up on blog tour posts. I've been pretty sick plus putting my dog down has made my past two weeks pretty crappy. So, my lateness in all of the required stuff is entirely my fault. Anyway, here's what I've got going on for this giveaway:

This is hosted by Bookhounds and I Am A Reader, Not A Writer.

I have two awesome books up for giveaway and three chances to win one of these books. I have read both of them and I think that they are awesome. These are the options:

Let It Snow by John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle

An ill-timed storm on Christmas Eve buries the residents of Gracetown under multiple feet of snow and causes quite a bit of chaos. 

One brave soul ventures out into the storm from her stranded train and sets off a chain of events that will change quite a few lives. Over the next three days one girl takes a risky shortcut with an adorable stranger, three friends set out to win a race to the Waffle House ( and the hash brown spoils), and the fate of a teacup pig falls into the hands of a lovesick barista.

A trio of today's bestselling authors - John Green, Maureen Johnson, and Lauren Myracle- brings all the magic of the holidays to life in three hilarious and charming interconnected tales of love, romance, and kisses that will steal your breath away.

Dash & Lily's Book of Dares by Rachel Cohn & David Levithan

“I’ve left some clues for you.
If you want them, turn the page.
If you don’t, put the book back on the shelf, please.”

So begins the latest whirlwind romance from the bestselling authors ofNick & Norah’s Infinite Playlist. Lily has left a red notebook full of challenges on a favorite bookstore shelf, waiting for just the right guy to come along and accept its dares. But is Dash that right guy? Or are Dash and Lily only destined to trade dares, dreams, and desires in the notebook they pass back and forth at locations across New York? Could their in-person selves possibly connect as well as their notebook versions? Or will they be a comic mismatch of disastrous proportions?

Rachel Cohn and David Levithan have written a love story that will have readers perusing bookstore shelves, looking and longing for a love (and a red notebook) of their own.

So, which one do you want? Enter below!
Check out the other blogs in this hop!

<!-- end LinkyTools script –>


Dystopian December

10:50 PM

Oh, to end one giveaway and begin another. I seriously need to actually start posting all of the reviews I have almost ready to post... sort of. But then Thanksgiving hit and the turkey mixed with seeing family nevertheless makes me lazy. Anyway, beyond my awesome excuses and my unintended absence, here is the latest and greatest from my side of the computer.

A couple of weeks ago, I got an email about this opportunity to participate in this giveaway and I was pretty much thrilled at the prospect! There is one particular dystopian that I fell in love with earlier this year, Stung by Bethany Wiggins, and I knew that I had to put it on the list of books to win (although it isn't the most epic prize on the giveaway list)!

So here's the deal. Rather than have you hop around to all these awesome blogs, you have the chance to win any of the awesome books through a single Rafflecopter and all you have to do is have your Twitter account at the ready to follow these awesome blogs. 

If I could somehow follow myself and enter this giveaway, I would because these books are awesome! I hope you enter and may the odds be ever in your favor.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Steampunk Giveaway Hop

10:29 PM

A couple of years ago, I picked up a copy of the first book in Cassandra Clare's Infernal Devices trilogy and fell in love with the steampunk genre. It's isn't a genre that is typically talked about and the first time I heard about steampunk was on Halloween with all of these strange people dressed up in strange costumes. It was baffling. Now, I quite enjoy the creativity that authors impose on Victorian era England through steam-powered objects and other various steam related materials. This genre manages to entwine something that I deeply love the historical genre and the fantasy/science fiction genre. For those of you who were like me on Halloween not so long ago, here is the definition of steampunk:

Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction that typically features steam-powered machinery, especially in a setting inspired by industrialized Western civilization during the 19th century. Steampunk works are often set in an alternative history of the 19th century's British Victorian era or American "Wild West", in a post-apocalyptic future during which steam power has regained mainstream use, or in a fantasy world that similarly employs steam power. Steampunk perhaps most recognizably features anachronistic technologies or retro-futuristic inventions as people in the 19th century might have envisioned them, and is likewise rooted in the era's perspective on fashion, culture, architectural style, and art.
As most of you well know, who stalk the blogsphere like I do, there are so many various giveaway hops and it is honestly nearly impossible to keep track! I've seen giveaway hops for horror novels, dystopian novels, romance novels, young adult novels, and new adult novels, just to list a few. However, there is little traction for the steampunk genre so, vvb32 has decided to host this giveaway hop in order to raise awareness for this epic genre! 

My giveaway consists of 3 winners who will have the opportunity to select ONE book out of a list of ten. These books will be shipped via The Book Depository, so be sure to check out their list of countries they ship to here! Each winner will be contacted by email and will have 48 hours to respond to my email or I will be forced to select a new winner. If you have any questions, feel free to comment below!

The titles I have selected are as follows:

The Girl in the Steel Corset by Kady Cross

Fever Crumb by Philip Reeve

Incarceron by Catherine Fisher
The Looking Glass Wars by Frank Beddor
The Stars Fell Sideways by Cassandra Marshall

Masque of the Red Death by Bethany Griffin

Something Strange and Deadly by Susan Dennard

Dearly Departed by Lia Habel

Airborn by Kenneth Oppel

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Stacking The Shelves (1)

12:17 AM

Stacking The Shelves (hosted by Tynga's Reviews) is all about the books I am adding to my shelves each week, sharing with you my excitement for the newest titles and maybe have you discover a new book in the process!

So, since I have never done this before and I am coming back from a long hiatus, I figured I should just catch everyone up on the paperbacks and hardcovers I've gotten as well as the eBooks I've received or bought. Sadly I have way too many eBooks to even cover in one post and I definitely don't want it to seem like I am bragging (seeing as my eBook totals tend to make me break out in a nervous sweat). In this post I will cover my books I have bought/received via the mail or bookstore since my disappearance, which isn't as many as you would think, and a few of the eBooks I have gotten since my return. I am not trying to leave anything out because it is quite the opposite and I adore all of the titles/authors/blog tour companies that have submitted books to me but my list of books is ever growing and ever daunting.

Paperbacks and Hardcovers

Okay, so in this edition, I am only going to include the books that are currently in my hands at the moment seeing as I have a bunch cycling through the USPS system.

Some of these I won through giveaways and others I have been given/or received through various avenues. I can't even express how excited I am to get to read all of these amazing books! I would like to thank a few specifically GoodReads, LibraryThing, Shar Lee, Little Library Muse, and My Little Pocketbooks for these books!

The first book in the picture is Minders by Michele Jaffe (who is currently hosting a giveaway of GoodReads for this book!) and I am serious in love with the cover. Here's the first line from the synopsis:
A high concept, cinematic read with a surprising twist, Minders asks the question: who is really watching whom?
The second book in the picture is Baygirl by Heather Smith, something I have had on my hands for a little bit (epic fail) and haven't reviewed it yet! Here's the first line from the synopsis:
Growing up in a picturesque Newfoundland fishing village "should" be idyllic for sixteen-year-old Kit Ryan, but living with an alcoholic father makes Kit's day-to-day life unpredictable and almost intolerable.
The third book in the picture is Westward to Strange by Ray Litt, a book that I honestly didn't even realize I would get a hard copy of but am thrilled to have nevertheless. Here's the first line from the synopsis:
When Lula meets Morgan, the peculiar boy swimming in the cove, her dream life quickly spirals into dangerous waters.
The fourth book in the picture is Save The Enemy by Arin Greenwood, which I have two copies of and I am planning to do a giveaway with my review. Here's the first line from the synopsis:
Everything has been downhill since Zoey Trask's mother was murdered in a random mugging.
The fifth book in the picture is Everything Breaks by Vicki Grove and I am pretty much dying to see how everything works out in the end of the book! Here's the first two lines from the synopsis:
Tucker was supposed to be the designated driver. But there was something about the beauty of that last true summer night, that made him want to feel out-of-control just once.
The sixth book in the picture is Independent Study by Joelle Charbonneau, a book that I can't even describe how thrilled I am to have. Here's the first line from the synopsis:
Cia is a freshman at the University in Tosu City with her hometown sweetheart, Tomas - and though the government has tried to erase her memory of the brutal horrors of The Testing, Cia remembers.
The seventh book in the picture is The Well's End by Seth Fishman and there is something about the cover that is equal parts intense and awesome. Here's the first three lines from the synopsis:
A deadly virus and an impossible discovery unite in one enthralling can't miss read... Sixteen-year-old Mia Kish has always been afraid of the dark. After all she's baby Mia, the one who fell down a well.
The eighth book in the picture is Scan by S.E. Fine and Walter Jury, a book that I knew I needed to read from the moment I read the synopsis. Here's the first two lines from the synopsis:
Tate and his father don't exactly get along. As Tate sees it, his father has unreasonably high expectations for Tate to be the best - at everything. 
The ninth book in the picture is Ashes to Ashes by Melissa Walker, which is my mom's favorite cover out of the bunch. Here's the synopsis:
If I Stay meets the movie Ghost in this first book in a teen duology about a teenage-girl-turned-ghost who must cling to the echoes of her former life to save the people she left behind.
The tenth book in the picture is Avalon by Mindee Arnett, a book I have heard about from various blogs and I am pretty excited that I have my hands on it! Here's the synopsis:
A ragtag group of teenage mercenaries who crew the spaceship Avalon stumble upon a conspiracy that could threaten the entire galazy in this fascinating and fast-paced sci-fi adventure from author Mindee Arnett.
The eleventh book in the picture is All that Glows by Ryan Grauden - all I have to say is that is has such a pretty cover and synopsis. Here's the first two lines from the synopsis:
Emrys - a fiery, red-headed Fae - always embraced her life in the Highlands, far from the city's draining technology, until she's sent to London to rejoin the Faery Guard. But this isn't any normal assignment - she's sent to guard Prince Richard: Britain's notorious, partying bad boy and soon-to-be King.
The twelfth book in the picture is Elusion by Claudia Gabel and Cheryl Klam. I feel like it should be obvious that I am excited to read all of the books and love pretty much all of the covers, including this one! Here's the first line from the synopsis:
Soon, Elusion will change the world and life as we know it. 

These are the final three that I was unable to fit into the picture above!

Countdown by Michelle Rowen was received via a giveaway on . Here's the first lines from the synopsis:
3 seconds to live. Once the countdown stars, it cannot be stopped. 2 pawns thrown into a brutal underground reality game.
Siege and Storm by Leigh Bardugo was bought at my favorite bookstore while I was in Denver called The Tattered Cover. Here's the first lines from the synopsis:
Darkness never dies. Hunted across the True Sea, haunted by the lives she took on the Fold, Alina must try to make a life with Mal in an unfamiliar land.
Fortress of Mist by Sigmund Brouwer was given to me via the publisher for review. Here's the first lines from the synopsis:
Following Thomas' conquest of Magnus, the young ruler must now lead his people into a new era - one which is sure to reveal dark forces at work behind the evil undercurrent that controlled Thomas' kingdom for so long.


Rather than overwhelm you will twenty images, here is some of the titles (linked to GoodReads when available) listed below that I have in eBook form. Some of which I have won, requested, been offered, or bought and I honestly cannot name how many people have helped me in my pursuit of reviewing in this format so thanks to the authors, publishers, and blogs that supplies some of these titles!

The Road to You by Marilyn Brant - Here's the first line from the synopsis:
Sometimes the only road to the one you've never taken.
The Star Child, The Fallen Stars, and The Star Catcher by Stephanie Keyes - Here's the first lines from the synopsis for the first book:
The world is about to be cloaked in darkness. Only one can stop the night.
The Forgotten Ones by Laura Howard - Here's the first lines from the synopsis:
Allison O'Malley's plan is to go to grad school so she can get a good job and take care of her schizophrenic mother. She has carefully closed herself off from everything else, including a relationship with Ethan, who she's been in love with for as long as she can remember. What is definitely not part of the plan is the return of her long-lost father, who claims he can bring Allison's mother back from the dark place her mind has gone.
Sunshine and Sun Poisoned by Nikki Rae - Here's the first line from the synopsis from the first book:
18 year old Sophie Jean is pretty good at acting normal. Sure, she's not exactly happy, but happiness is nothing compared to being like everyone else.
Breathing Ghosts by Laekan Kemp - Here's the first line from the synopsis:
She is a winding cosmos, bleeding and bursting into night. She is a dream. She is dead.

Well, that's all I have time to list. What's your book haul?


This Week on The Blog & Last Week in Review

12:40 AM

You want to know what's overwhelming my life right now? Well, the basic college classwork and a foot surgery I had last month. I sleep too much and read too little, I think. So my list of reviews for the last two weeks didn't come to fruition as sad as that may be. Also NetGalley November is kicking my butt into gear when it comes to reviewing. I really, really need to read all of these books before I get into too much trouble as it is. PLUS my family adopted two foster kids last week and therefore I had to travel in my epic walking boot plus wheelchair to court which is a long trip for the next four days (with limited internet). It was an awesome time but definitely ate up any of my reviewing time.

So most of my time was/is divided between those things and be prepared for a lot of NetGalley reviews in the coming weeks as I bust through these books. Trust me, it's a lot. I have plans to read like ten or so books this week alone (trust me, I read really fast when I have nothing to do but have my foot up on a pillow). 

I have a couple books sent from authors so those will be reviewed this week as well! Thanks to Brandi and Allison! Next week there will be a few more from some pretty awesome authors, I am just attempting to catch up for last week as well as this week. So, here's what I am going to do. Tomorrow I will post my book haul since I've come back because I have yet to do so and post a few reviews that I actually have already planned out. If I read about three NetGalley books a day, I can actually get through all of my desired reading for NetGalley by the end of December but the truth remains to be seen whether I can actually do such a thing and give each title some justice. Plus I have blog tours, author/publisher/really awesome people requests that I accept which require my attention as well.

Oh to not be lazy and accomplish such feats! Maybe my goal should be to just finish all of my NetGalley books (and get my percentage up) by the end of the year. We will see!!

How's your week going? What have you guys been up to?

Two Weeks Ago

11/4 - Rotten by Michael Northrop
11/4 - Daughter of Smoke & Bone by Laini Taylor
11/7 - Crush. Candy. Corpse. by Sylvia McNicoll
11/8 - NetGalley November Update #1
11/8 - Bloodlines by Richelle Mead
11/8 - The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black
11/8 - Invasion by Jon S. Lewis
11/8 - First Line Friday*

* I actually discovered my new favorite meme (First Line Friday) while scrolling through the various blogs I read occasionally and that is most certainly going to be one of my more looked forward to memes. Book hauls and so forth can be boring and somewhat disappointing at times. I don't like to brag and I don't like to complain. I feel epic just having the honor of getting free books, why spoil it with getting cocky?

This Week

[Blog Tour] The Star Catcher by Stephanie Keyes*
Below by Meg McKinlay 
Tethered by Brandi Leigh Hall + INTERVIEW
Diamonds Are a Teen's Best Friend by Allison Rushby + INTERVIEW
That Time I Joined the Circus by J.J. Howard
Nothing But Blue by Lisa Jahn-Clough
Out of this Place by Emma Cameron
Georgetown Academy: Book Two by Jessica Koosed Etting and Alyssa Embree Schwartz
Georgetown Academy: Book Three by Jessica Koosed Etting and Alyssa Embree Schwartz
Georgetown Academy: Book Four by Jessica Koosed Etting and Alyssa Embree Schwartz
Rumor Central by ReShonda Tate Billingsley
Thin Space by Jody Casella
Chameleon: The Awakening by Maggie Faire
Book Haul
First Line Friday

* I will post reviews for the first two books when I am not so crunched for time like I am this month. So honestly watch for those! Also, all of the books I am reviewing, with the exception of Tethered and The Star Catcher, are from NetGalley.


Deep Blue Secret is Free - I love this book!

12:52 PM

Deep Blue Secret is Book 1 of the Water Keepers series

A sweet, mysterious teen romance with a refreshing fantasy twist.

California teen Sadie James thinks her life couldn't get any better. She has great friends, an energetic mother she adores, and the beach practically in her own backyard. 

But her carefree life is turned upside down when she's rescued by a mysterious and strangely familiar boy who won't even tell her his name. Each time the boy appears, Sadie's unexplainable attraction to him deepens along with her need to unravel his secrets. 

The boy is there to protect her, but as wonderful and exciting as it might be to have an irresistible boy with crystal green eyes protecting her every move, every minute of the day...why does Sadie need one? As Sadie finds answers, she realizes her life isn't as perfect as she thought. Not only is she caught in a world of dangerous secret agents she never knew existed, but it turns out her true identity may be the greatest secret of all.

Check out the first chapter
I tossed my school bag to the back seat of my run-down Honda. The car was a hand-me-down from my mom when she upgraded to a new one last year. It had been super reliable for how old it was, but the radio didn't work. That was a major bummer. But not even a broken radio could bring me down on such a beautiful, sunshiny day.
I toggled through the menu on my MP3 player until I found the perfect song for my upbeat mood. My earphones blasted as I drove down the street, admiring the cloudless Newport Beach sky, wisps of hair circling my neck from the breeze through the open window.
It was usually in the sixties this time of year, but I heard it was going to hit eighty this week; pretty nice for November. I could feel the extra warmth already. The sunshine gave me an extra burst of energy, making an already good day seem even better.
It took maybe five minutes to drive to my high school. Traffic lined the web of Southern California freeways every day, but I rarely ventured out that far. I had everything I needed right here in my own little corner of the world.
My poor old car buzzed into the student lot at the back of the school, and I circled around the corner to find a parking spot. Normal teenager clunker-cars, just like mine, studded the rows, but they were interspersed among the typical mix of new convertibles, sports cars, and SUV’s. I wasn't embarrassed by my car; I was glad to even have one. And it wasn’t like anyone gave me a hard time for driving it.
As I pulled into a parking space and turned off the engine, a slow, melancholy song played in my ears. Without thinking twice, I grabbed the headphones and yanked them off immediately. I thought I had removed all the sad stuff a few weeks ago. This day was too cheerful and bright to listen to something so blah.
Plus, I was sort of developing a fear of love songs over the last couple months. I’d always enjoyed all kinds of music, but I’d been having some crazy emotional reactions to it lately. And music wasn’t the only problem. A couple of weeks ago, I felt completely depressed for hours after reading a scene in a book—totally out of character for me. My life was way too great to be sad and moping around for no reason at all.
It was probably just teenage hormones going haywire.
I waved at a few kids I knew talking by their cars and continued to the outdoor quad area covered in grass and leafy trees. It was already full of my classmates, and I greeted a few more as I crossed the sidewalk.
Then I saw him. Justin Crane.
My head darted down and away, hoping he wouldn’t notice me from across the path. It wasn’t like I made a habit of avoiding people at school, but I’d been on a few dates with Justin earlier this year and they didn’t exactly turn out the way I had hoped.
I thought…what was the harm, you know? Maybe it could be fun. But that totally backfired on me. The truth was, I was hesitant to go with him in the first place, but saying no just seemed too…mean.
I should’ve listened to my instincts. Once Justin got the first yes, he couldn’t be stopped. He pursued me like crazy, almost obnoxiously. And his hands really had a problem with wandering. I tried to tell him I only wanted to be friends, but he just wasn’t willing to take no for an answer. The guy had some serious determination; I had to give him that. But it got to the point where I had to be outright rude, and I didn’t like that.
The last week or two it seemed like Justin was finally backing off, but I wasn’t about to give him a chance to change his mind. I hurried through the double glass doors of the school building at the end of the sidewalk and let out a sigh of relief. Justin Crane was safely out of view.
When I approached my locker, I glanced around the hallway to see if Heather was nearby. She was my best friend. We had first period together, so she always came to meet me before class.
When I spotted Heather from across the hall, her lean physique approached my direction with purpose, holding her phone to her ear. That wasn’t an unusual sight; Heather would probably choose to have her phone surgically attached to the side of her head if it was possible—as long as it was also considered fashionable of course. I had a cell phone too—I mean, who didn’t—but mine seemed like a piece of junk compared to hers.
I’d known Heather since second grade, so I was totally comfortable around her, and I spent more time with her than anyone else, besides my mom of course. But, I had a feeling Heather could be a little intimidating to some people. I was a decent height at five feet five inches, but Heather beat me by at least four more inches. And it wasn’t just her height. Even in a crowd, Heather had a way of making sure she was noticed, but not in a bad way. At least, I didn’t think so.
Heather and I had a lot in common, yet somehow we were nothing alike. Maybe that was why we worked so well together. Either way, we'd been friends a long time.
Heather slid the phone in her designer bag and sprung up beside me.
“Hey, Sade!” she said, her face animated, like she had a juicy secret to share. Heather used the mirror in my locker to check her long platinum hair for any imperfections. “So I was just talking to Lindsey,” she went on, “and you will never guess what she said.”
“What?” I asked.
Suddenly, Heather was pulling me down through the crowded corridor of students. Some looked like they were modeling for a designer clothing catalog, kind of like Heather, while the majority were dressed in flip-flops and shorts like they just stepped foot off the beach.
Heather stopped around a quiet corner and brought her perfectly made-up face close to mine, lowering her voice. “I don’t know if I’m supposed to say anything, so you totally didn’t hear this from me.”
“Okay…” I said, confused but intrigued.
“Lindsey heard that, Nick,” she said the name with emphasis, “Christensen, like, has a thing for you, and wants to ask you out on a date or something.” She paused dramatically, waiting for my response.
That was the big news? I did like going on dates—or at least I thought I did—but I wasn’t sure I was ready to deal with another boy just yet. Nick Christensen was definitely cute, there was no question about that, but what if he turned out to be just like Justin Crane? I wasn’t sure if I should be excited about this or cringe and run away.
Hello?” Heather said. “Did you not just hear me? Nick Christensen wants to hook up with you.”
It took me a second, but I finally responded. “Nick likes me?” I said. “Um, that’s…good, I guess. I mean, he seems like a nice guy.”
Heather clutched my arm, dragging me forward with agitation. “He seems nice? He’s only, like, one of the most gorgeous guys at our school. Seriously, Sadie, could you be any more clueless when it comes to guys? You have boys lining up to drool at your feet and you’re completely oblivious.”
I stopped. “What? No I don’t. And by the way, you get asked out on dates too.”
“Not by guys like Nick Christensen. You could at least try to appreciate how lucky you are.”
I thought about it a second. Maybe Heather had a point. I was lucky to get asked on dates at all, so I should be more excited. I didn’t want to come off as a jerk or something. And there was no way that all the boys in our school could be as bad as Justin Crane, right?
“Wait, so Nick Christensen really wants to ask me out?” I said, trying to mimic Heather’s enthusiasm. “I mean, he is pretty cute. I guess a date with him sounds like fun.”
“Of course it does,” Heather said, like I was ridiculous for thinking otherwise. “He’s totally hot.”
We entered the classroom and sat in our usual seats. Mr. Rivera lectured and scribbled illegibly on the white board as my chin sunk deeper into the palm of my hand. Math first thing in the morning was a bit of a challenge. My mind wandered.
The depressing song I heard in the car started playing through my mind, the chorus repeating in my head over and over again. It was annoying. I should’ve listened to something more cheerful before I turned it off. I straightened in my seat and tried to focus. Even math sounded better right now than that stupid song.
During break I went back to my locker and grabbed a bag of baby carrots. I tossed one in my mouth, but it was bigger than I expected and I struggled to chew as I shut the locker with my elbow.
I almost choked. Nick Christensen was standing right in front of me.
“Oh,” I said, surprised. I threw my hand to my face, covering my mouth full of food, chewing as fast as possible. I practically swallowed the carrot whole.
Nick ran a hand through his chestnut hair, eyes shifting to the floor. “Sorry. I didn’t mean to sneak up on you.”
I tried to smile, hoping I didn’t have any food stuck in my teeth. “It’s okay. You just surprised me.”
I usually didn't get super nervous around boys, at least not in the past, but all of a sudden, I felt strangely uncomfortable.
Nick paused. “So, I was just wondering if maybe you wanted to hang out with me this Saturday?” He fidgeted with a strap on his backpack in this cute, almost endearing sort of way—which was probably the exact opposite thing that Justin Crane would have been doing if I was talking to him right now. It made me feel somehow at ease again. Nick seemed like a really nice guy, and Heather was right…he was pretty nice to look at, too.
But then I remembered I already had plans with my mom that day. My eyebrows wrinkled apologetically. “This Saturday? Actually, I can’t. I told my mom I would help her paint our living room.”
Nick looked away, blue eyes full of disappointment. “Oh. That’s okay.”
I immediately felt bad. I didn’t want him to think I made up some excuse not to go. I really did have plans. Each week my mom had just one or two nights off from the hospital where she worked. That was really our only time to see each other, so we started girls’ night. It had become our weekly tradition. We’d usually do stuff like get take-out and watch chick flicks, but this time my overly-energetic mother talked me into another do-it-yourself project. At least this time it wouldn’t require tearing down any walls.
I wasn’t that excited about painting in the first place, and with Nick looking way cuter than I realized before, I was starting to regret making plans with my mom. But instead of becoming bitter at my mother’s ambition, I quickly thought of a solution that would work for everyone.
The smile returned to my face. “Well, school’s closed Friday for Veteran’s Day. I don’t have plans if you want to do something then.”
“Sure!” Nick’s face brightened. “My uncle works at Disneyland and he could get us in, but that’s kind of an all-day thing, so I don’t know if you would be interested.”
I didn’t have to think about it. “Totally,” I said, touching his arm. “That sounds like fun.”
I loved Disneyland. Growing up in the area, I used to go all the time, but I hadn’t been in a while. That would be something to look forward to.
“Okay,” he said. “I’ll come pick you up Friday morning. Would nine work?”
I nodded. “Nine sounds good.”
There was an awkward pause in our conversation. It looked like Nick wanted to say something but couldn’t push out the words. He laughed nervously and scratched his head but still came up with nothing.
“Well…I probably should get to class,” I finally said. “I guess I’ll see you Friday?”
Nick nodded, wearing a semi-goofy grin as I turned to walk away. Without thinking, I found myself glancing back with a flirty wave goodbye. It couldn’t hurt to be a little flirty, right? Nick seemed completely harmless compared to Justin Crane.
Thanks to Nick, I was suddenly in an extra great mood. Even though the whole dating thing secretly freaked me out a little, it still felt good to know that someone like him was interested in me. I just hoped Nick would be okay with just hanging out and having fun together. I wasn’t interested in dealing with the stress of taking things to the next level. The last thing I wanted was to end up like my mom—deserted and alone.
I was in such a good mood that even Chemistry wasn’t that bad today. And when I sat down for lunch next to Heather at our usual outdoor table, I was genuinely excited to tell her about my date.
But before I could even say hello, Heather reached for my arm with raised brows and practically sang as she said, “I heard that somebody has a date this weekend…”
I laughed. “How is it possible that you already know that?”
“Oh please,” Heather said. “You do remember who you’re talking to, right?”
The next thing I knew, Heather was making an announcement to everyone at our table of the news. Nicole, Lindsey, and an entire table full of girls squealed and clapped in unison, causing curious glances from around the lunch area.
After everyone took turns expressing their jealousy and wishing me luck on my date, Heather retold the story of her first kiss on the It’s a Small World ride at Disneyland when she was a freshman. She and Lindsey both agreed that this would be a good opportunity for me to finally do the same, especially with Nick Christensen.
Kissing did sound like a lot of fun. Heather had done a lot of kissing since that boat ride and she never ceased to tell me about it. But I didn’t want to just do it for the fun of it. I wanted it to mean something.
I mulled over the idea. Maybe I was building it up to be something bigger than it needed to be. What if, once I finally tried it, it would be a huge disappointment because I made too big a deal out of it? Should I just kiss Nick Christensen on Friday and get the whole thing over with? It might be fun. But, it didn’t seem like a decision I could make in one lunch period. I had to at least get to know the guy before I decided, right? It could wait until Friday.
I left our table to make my usual social rounds, hopping from one group of friends to the next to hang out and chat for a few minutes. I was like my mom in that way. She was friendly and talkative with everyone she met.
At least, I was like that most of the time, especially at school, but lately it felt like I was living a double life. I didn't always enjoy socializing like I used to. There were times I could be in a crowd full of friends and feel utterly alone. When I had the random episodes of depression triggered by music or emotions, it was even worse. Then I was definitely not in the mood to socialize.
But there was no problem today. I was my happy, carefree self, enjoying the laughter and company of friends.
I was still in high spirits when the bell rang, signaling the end of lunch. The only classes I had left for the day were my two favorites this semester, Spanish and Photography. As I moved cheerfully down the path outside, I noticed my friend Ariana from the other side of the quad. Her parents were originally from the Dominican Republic, but they moved here from New York a few years ago.
Ariana jumped up and down with a huge smile when she saw me. I loved her enthusiasm. She was one of the most energetic girls at our school. Next thing I knew, she was bounding across the grass in my direction, her curly black hair bouncing back and forth around her face.
“Sadie!” she called happily as she skipped up next to me. When she reached my side, Ariana pulled a handful of my wavy blonde strands in the air and let them fall through her fingers back to my shoulder. “I love your hair today, chica.”
“Thanks,” I said. “That’s a cute shirt.”
Ariana looked down at herself, as if trying to remember what she was wearing, and giggled. “Oh, thanks, it’s new. So I brought you that CD I was telling you about.”
Ariana was always putting together CD's with new music for me to try; mostly salsa type music that I would have a hard time finding on my own. Despite how well I was doing in my Spanish class, I couldn't understand most of the words in the songs, but the beats were infectious.
Ariana rummaged through her backpack and handed me a plastic case.
“Cool,” I said, sliding it atop the Spanish textbook in my arm. “I’m excited to listen to it when I get home.”
“Make sure you listen to track two,” Ariana said with animation. “That’s so totally my favorite this week.”
I started to nod, but a small jolt from behind interrupted my response as somebody bumped into me. I glanced up, taken off guard.
A boy in dark clothes muttered a quick sorry under his breath and continued walking, turning his face only partially towards me. I could’ve sworn a glint of light caught his eye, causing a stream of little green sparkles.
A slight tingling sensation shivered up my arm and I looked down at it instinctively. There was a silvery film with iridescent swirls shimmering just below my elbow. I tried to touch it, but it disappeared. I wasn’t sure if I had imagined it. Maybe the sunlight was playing tricks on my eyes.
My thoughts flew back to the intriguing boy that bumped my arm, but I couldn't see him anymore. He seemed oddly familiar, like something was pulling me after him, drawing me towards him.
“Who was that?” I wondered aloud.
 Ariana shrugged. “I have no idea.”
Suddenly, I felt the strangest desire to follow after the mystery person.
“Hey, I have to get going,” I said to Ariana, moving away in a daze.
I wandered quickly through the crowd of students, searching their faces for the boy with the sparkling, familiar eyes. I had no idea why the eyes seemed so familiar, but I felt an unmistakable need to find them. I was sure I followed right in the direction where the boy had hurried away, but it was no use. It was like he had disappeared without a trace. The mysterious green eyes were nowhere to be seen.
About Christie Anderson

CHRISTIE ANDERSON grew up in Southern California and goes back to visit every year. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University and recently moved to Colorado with her husband. Visit her Web site at