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Sunday, March 31, 2013

March Wrap Up

March seriously had to be one of the longest months of my life. It felt like it was never ending. But here we are. April is one of my most favourite months and it totally is because my birthday is in April and it's spring and school is over. I love April. So I am looking forward to it.

Check out my March Wrap Up/April TBR video below. It's pretty epic, I say Um a lot!

Like I mentioned in my last wrap up. I didn't think I was going to post much (which was true) and I didn't read much (also true). I did manage to read five books though.

Books Read:

1) What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton
2) Perdita by Hilary Scharper
3) Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins
4) Frost by Wendy Delsol
5) Lover Reborn (reread)

Books Reviewed:

Again, I only reviewed three books in the most of April and they were:

1) Unremembered by Jessica Brody
2) Altered by Jennifer Rush
3) Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys


My challenges were blah this month. I didn't listen to an audio book and I didn't read a debut. For shame, I know. But I did post reviews for both in March.

Debut Author Challenge: 2/20

YA Audiobook Challenge: 3/12

2013 Reading Challenge: 20/75 (2% over)

Random side note:

One of the Earlier Top Ten Tuesday topics was your Spring TBR, I have managed to read one from that list and I am currently working on number two now (whoop whoop).

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books I recommend a lot

This week's topic is every bloggers dream I think- for the most part, it's why we started blogging in the first place. Be warned though, you will most definitely be seeing a lot of books from previous lists.

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and Bookish

Top Ten Books I Recommend The Most

1) Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta- I love this book and I have told SO many people to read it. I find that I am still shocked when I hear that someone (you know who you are) hasn't read it yet. It really is a fantastic novel.

2) Dreamland by Sarah Dessen- Since becoming a blogger I have read a number of novel about abusive teenage relationships. Dessen's Dreamland was my first and honestly in my opinion it was the best of the bunch. I recommend this one to readers who are looking for an "issues" novel that is really well done.

3) Will Grayson, Will Grayson by John Green and David Levithan- Specifically the audio book- This novel had me in hysterics. It is SO funny!!! I really started to love John Green after reading this book.

4) Unearthly by Cynthia Hand- I recommend this one to those who have a bad taste in their mouth about angel books. Unearthly  is one of the only angel novels that I like and I really liked this one. I also think it's one of the best YA romances out there.

5) The Taker by Alma Katsu- Just because I loved it so much and I don't think enough people have read it.

6) The Summer I Turned Pretty by Jenny Han- Because it holds a special place in my heart. It's such a sweet summer read.

7) The Fault in Our Stars by John Green- Because it's amazing! What else can I say?

8) The Perks of Being a Wallflower by Stephen Chbosky- This was a surprise like for me. And I really liked it. Therefore everyone should read it.

9) If I Stay by Gayle Forman- I absolutely loved this book and I tell everyone and anyone that they need to read it. But, it will make you cry.

10) Harry Potter by JK Rowling- I mean really... how can you call yourself a reader and not have read Harry Potter.

that is everything, I know this is late, but better late then never. It's been a busy couple weeks.

~Happy Reading Everyone!

Thursday, March 21, 2013

My Thoughts: Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

It’s 1950, and as the French Quarter of New Orleans simmers with secrets, seventeen-year-old Josie Moraine is silently stirring a pot of her own. Known among locals as the daughter of a brothel prostitute, Josie wants more out of life than the Big Easy has to offer.

She devises a plan get out, but a mysterious death in the Quarter leaves Josie tangled in an investigation that will challenge her allegiance to her mother, her conscience, and Willie Woodley, the brusque madam on Conti Street.Josie is caught between the dream of an elite college and a clandestine underworld. New Orleans lures her in her quest for truth, dangling temptation at every turn, and escalating to the ultimate test.

I was SO wanted to read this one that I couldn't wait to get my hands on it and used one of my Audible credits and listened to it which I was on a fairly long road trip- it was perfect!

I was incredibly eager to read Ruta Sepetys' second novel Out of the Easy when I first read it's synopsis. I have had a slight obsession with New Orleans and the French Quarter since I was a kid. Take me back to the 1950's and Out of the Easy was high up on my TBR for 2013. Having not read Sepetys' debut novel Between Shades of Gray, I wasn't sure what I was getting into. But I had pretty high expectations, because  Between Shades of Gray was so well received among readers everywhere. Not only that, Out of the Easy was getting rave reviews. Everyone was loving it. And after reading it, I loved it as well.

The audio book is narrated by Lauren Fortgang (who has narrated a number of audio books including Precious and Fragile Things by Megan Hart and other adult romances), and is just under ten hours long. I devoured this one in a couple days in as many sittings. Fortgang does a really good job of narrating this story. Because Out of the Easy takes place in Louisiana, the majority of the characters have southern accents. Fortgang does a good job of conveying the southern twang of the characters but of also making each one unique. None of them came of flat due to narration- which can sometimes happen with audio books. Overall the audio book of Out of the Easy was a great experience and I was very happy with the narration.

The story itself was interesting. While I totally loved it, I spent a good portion of the novel waiting for something to happen- this is in no way a bad thing. What's interesting about Out of the Easy is it is very character driven, and the focus is on the relationships the characters have with one another. There isn't a strong plot. If you like character driven novels you will love this book, but if you are looking for fast paced adventure with a lot of suspense you won't get it. Neither will you get a swoony romance. There is a romance, but it's very subtle and you don't realize what it is until midway through the novel.

The writing in Out of the Easy is flawless. Ruta Sepetys is a beautiful writer. As many who have read Between Shades of Gray have said. Listening to the audio book was such an enjoyable experience which was one hundred percent due to the beauty of the story.

Overall, Out of the Easy was fantastic. I would absolutely recommend it to anyone who really is looking for a well written story. It's just good. I will absolutely be looking to read Between Shades of Gray soon.

~Happy Reading Everyone!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Books Sitting Unread On My Shelf

Again, the girls at  The Broke and Bookish have come up with a pretty fantastic topic for this week's Top Ten Tuesday. I hope everyone is ready for this one. 

Top Ten Books I HAD To Buy...But Are Still Sitting On My Shelf Unread

1) Lolita by Vlad Nabokov- I bought this back in 2011 and I haven't read it yet. I plan to though. One of my 2013 reading resolutions was to read a Russian classic. So this has to get done.

2) The Power of Six by Patticus Lore- I saw this at Costco for a stellar price and I just needed to own it. While I enjoyed I Am Number Four I don't think I will be reading the sequel any time soon.

3) Jane by April Lindner- I got this one for an incredibly good price and thought I would eventually get to it. But then I got it into my head that I need to read Jane Eyre first. Sigh.

4) The Iron Queen by Julie Kagawa- I bought this book at the end of my first year of university two years ago. I have read both The Iron King and the Iron Daughter but for some reason the Iron Queen is sitting there unread

5) A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness- Bought this one on a whim after seeing so many great reviews. Haven't read it yet. It's been there for at least a year.

6) A Million Suns by Beth Revis- Whyyyyyyy?!?!?! I don't know. But again, I promise to get this one done

7) Envy by JR Ward- I haven't been completely in love with this series- but I buy the books and let them sit. Not only is Envy the third in the Fallen Angel series and sitting there unread I just ordered the paperback to Rapture the fourth in the series and probably won't read it until next year sometime.

8) Selfish is the Heart and Virtue & Vice by Megan Hart- I am counting these both as one. They are both from the same series and I have owned them for years, but haven't read either of them yet. I think I need to be in a particular mood for historical smut.

9) Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins- While I enjoyed Anna and the French Kiss I didn't enjoy it as much as the rest of the world. I do plan on reading it this spring sometime (like every other unread book on my shelf).

10) Handle With Care by Jodi Picoult- I have read a number of novels by Jodi Picoult and I have always enjoyed them they are pretty intense and take over my life, I need to have a couple of uninterrupted days before before I can start reading her books, I haven't found that I have had that yet. Someday.

Well, there are ten eleven books sitting unread on my shelf, but absolutely needed to buy.

~Happy Reading everyone!

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

My Thoughts: Altered by Jennifer Rush

When you can’t trust yourself, who can you believe?

Everything about Anna’s life is a secret. Her father works for the Branch at the helm of its latest project: monitoring and administering treatments to the four genetically altered boys in the lab below their farmhouse. There’s Nick, Cas, Trev . . . and Sam, who’s stolen Anna’s heart. When the Branch decides it’s time to take the boys, Sam stages an escape, killing the agents sent to retrieve them.

Anna is torn between following Sam or staying behind in the safety of her everyday life. But her father pushes her to flee, making Sam promise to keep her away from the Branch, at all costs. There’s just one problem. Sam and the boys don’t remember anything before living in the lab—not even their true identities.

Now on the run, Anna soon discovers that she and Sam are connected in more ways than either of them expected. And if they’re both going to survive, they must piece together the clues of their past before the Branch catches up to them and steals it all away.

OMG this book was incredible. Go read it. Seriously, this is how I want to leave the review. I don't even know what to say other than what are you waiting for?

So, the only reason I pushed this book up on my TBR pile was because Amber from Books of Amber really enjoyed and totally sold me on it. I was not let down.

Altered tells the story of Anna and four boys who have been a part of her life for many years. As the synopsis implies the boys are hidden in a lab run by Anna's father. She has been assisting him with the boys for a long time and they have become her closest friends. This is cause for some tension considering the boys are being held captive by a secret government corporation and all four have no memory of where they came from or who they are. When the boys finally escape and take Anna with them, they find themselves following an obscure set of clues in an attempt to figure out their life.

While the concept of memory loss may not be incredibly unique in the world of YA, I believe that as long as the author knows what they are doing with it and where they are going, it can still be a thrilling concept to read about. Jennifer Rush nailed it with Altered. I had no freaking clue what was going on half the time and that was okay. Why did the four boys not know who they were? What happened to them? Were they even human? What does genetically altered even mean? All of these questions were flying through my head as I read. And every time I thought I had an answer, I would totally have it wrong. I loved that about this book. I would think that I had something figured out but Rush would through something in that would leave me reeling. I was never ever bored with this book. In fact I didn't want it to end.

I LOVED the characters of Altered and I absolutely loved how they interacted with one another. Anna was a great protagonist, and while some may find her annoying, juvenile, immature, I did not. I thought for the situation she was in her response was pretty reasonable. The boys- Sam, Nick, Trev and Cas, were all great as well. Sam was broody, Nick was moody, Cass was hysterical and Trev was Anna best friend. My favourites (cause of course there are going to be favourites) were Sam- for obvious reasons and Nick.

I really liked how Anna and Nick would bicker,I don't know why. Nick would pick on Anna and it would drive her insane and I loved it. I also liked how loyal he was to her in the end. It wasn't that he genuinely did not like her, but in his eyes, she was the enemy's daughter which in retrospect that made her the enemy.

Sam, whoa, Sam. I had SUCH a crush on Sam as I was reading this book. He was an alpha male to the max, but he also had a softer sweet side (but it wasn't pathetic). However, Sam was scary. He could snap a guy's neck without even blinking and feel no remorse about it afterwards. It was fantastic. I could totally see why Anna had the hots for him. The romance between the two of them was definitely not the focal point of Altered, but it sure did add to absolute amazingness of it.

Over, Altered by Jennifer Rush was an action packed novel that never had a dull moment. I adored this novel and I cannot wait to see what's in store next for Anna and the boys. Read this books guys, you will not be disappointed.

~Happy Reading Everyone!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: My Spring TBR

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and Bookish.

This week's topic is pretty exciting for me... so

Top Ten Books At The TOP Of My Spring 2013 TBR list!

Some people have been talking exclusively about spring releases and while I have included some that I am pretty excited about, it was not my sole focus. Spring also means that I am done school for summer and I have plenty of time to read, so I have added books that I haven't had time to read, but I've been dying to.

Hope you enjoy.

1) Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen- I am bound and determined to get this book read sooner rather then later. I have been a little obsessed with the story (which I actually have never read), I will be reading it soon.

2) Lover at Last by JR Ward- This hits stores March 26th (and yes, I have already pre-ordered it). I don't want to talk to much about this. But you best believe that this is on the top of my spring TBR- I'll drop everything to read this.

3) Boundless by Cynthia Hand- I am DYING to read this book. I absolutely need to know what happens to Clara and Tucker and Christian and everyone involved. It drives me crazy that I haven't read this yet.

4) Dare You To by Katie McGuire- This comes out in early June and I am pretty excited to read it. I really enjoyed Pushing the Limits and I love the way McGuire writes her characters. I'll be happy to experience that again.

5) Strands of Bronze and Gold by Jane Nickerson- Happy Book Birthday, This novel hits shelves today and, however I won't be reading it until later this spring. I am very curious about the story and I don't know the Bluebeard fairy tale at all so...

6) Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins- Sooooo... I still haven't read this one yet. Please don't shoot. This has been sitting on my shelf for a good long time and I really need to get to reading it. SO one day, I will sit down and do nothing all day but read. It will be magical.

7) Asunder by Jodi Meadows- Another book that I have on my shelf that I am sad I haven't read yet. I loved Incarnate so much and the fact that I haven't read the sequel is killing meeeee.

8) Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone by JK Rowling- I have made it my goal to reread the entire Harry Potter Series while I am not in school (so from May-September). There may be one or two of those books that I have only read once (the 5th and 7th one I think, maybe the 4th as well). I know. Shame on me.

9) Days of Blood and Starlight by Laini Taylor- There are a lot of sequels that I need/want to get to. And this is one of them. I am hopeful that it will happen. I am particularly excited about this one. I have heard nothing but good things about it.

10) An Abundance of Katherines by John Green- This is only the only novel by JG that I have not read. I think it order to call myself a true fan I need to get on it. I have also heard this one is pretty funny and I like funny.

So that is my list for this week, feel free to comment and let me know what you plan on reading this spring.

~Happy Reading Everyone!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Stacking the Shelves (9)

This is one heffer of a book haul. I have about five weeks of books to show you. I hope you're all ready for this.  I am a little freaky in this video. It's all kinds of crazy. 

Staking the Shelves is hosted over at Tynga's Reviews

Books Mentioned (all links link to Goodreads)


Pride and Prejudice  by Jane Austen 


Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo 
Monument 14 by Emmy Laybourne 


What Happens Next by Colleen Clayton 
(Thanks Aylee
The Casual Vacancy by JK Rowling 
(Thanks Mum) 


Asunder by Jodi Meadows
Boundless by Cynthia Hand 
The Taker by Alma Katsu 

For Gifts: 

Go the F**k to Sleep by Adam Mansbach

That's it for me, be sure to link your book hauls below so I can check them out. 

~Happy Reading Everyone! 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

My Thoughts: Unremembered by Jessica Brody

The only thing worse than forgetting her past... is remembering it.

When Freedom Airlines flight 121 went down over the Pacific Ocean, no one ever expected to find survivors. Which is why the sixteen-year-old girl discovered floating among the wreckage—alive—is making headlines across the globe.

Even more strange is that her body is miraculously unharmed and she has no memories of boarding the plane. She has no memories of her life before the crash. She has no memories period. No one knows how she survived. No one knows why she wasn’t on the passenger manifest. And no one can explain why her DNA and fingerprints can’t be found in a single database in the world.

Crippled by a world she doesn’t know, plagued by abilities she doesn’t understand, and haunted by a looming threat she can’t remember, Seraphina struggles to piece together her forgotten past and discover who she really is. But with every clue only comes more questions. And she’s running out of time to answer them.

Her only hope is a strangely alluring boy who claims to know her from before the crash. Who claims they were in love. But can she really trust him? And will he be able to protect her from the people who have been making her forget?

**ARC received from publisher for review** 

Believe it or not, I have not read many books about memory loss. Actually- I don't think that I have ever read a book about memory loss. Which is strange, considering that there are So many of them out there. Again, the fact that I have never read a novel on memory loss is also weird for me as I am kind of fascinated by it. What is more mysterious than not remembering yourself? So, I was really excited at the idea of Unremembered by Jessica Brody. I thought: well here we go, a book about a girl who can't remember where she came from, who she is and has no past. So cool.

Unfortunately, Unremembered fell really short for me. So short, that I didn't finish it. I got to about a hundred pages from the end and had to stop reading it. So yes, My review may be incomplete and maybe I shouldn't even be reviewing a book I didn't finish but here we are. I am not saying Unremembered was bad. However, there were a few things that just did not work for me. Which is sad, because I think Brody had such potential with this book.

Unremembered was really good for the first 175 pages or so. But after that it sort of lost steam. The story started strong with this girl (Violet) being the only survivor of a plane crash. She has no memory of who she is and what she was doing there or why she was going where she was going. Also there is no evidence that she even boarded the plane. No one checked her in, she wasn't on the passenger manifesto. She was this nameless individual. Once in the hospital  no one came to claim her (even though she was supposed to be about 16 years old), she was an orphan. All of this was really intriguing and I so curious to find out what happens. Later on in the book the Violet starts having these mysterious run ins with this boy who claims to know her, who she is and where she came from. But every time you think you might get an answer he disappears again. You would get a little hint of Violet's past, enough to keep you on the edge of your seat.

And then.... at about page 150

Everything is revealed. All at once. That really bothered me. Once I knew what happened and why Violet (who is actually Sera) lost her memory and who the antagonist was and why, I lost complete interest in reading. And all of this happened by about page 175, so I gave it a good twenty-five to fifty more pages to see if things would pick up, but it didn't. And I had to stop reading.

I think I could have kept reading, if the characters had been more engaging and interesting, but they weren't. If you have read my reviews before you know that I prefer books that are more character driven. And the characters in Unremembered weren't great for me. Cody, the foster brother, I thought was a great character. He had personality and spunk and if all the characters in the book would have been written like he was, the story would have done better with me.

I am perfectly aware that my giving up on reading this book means I may have missed some crucial moments that would have blown the whole thing out of the water. But I feel like I gave Unremembered a fair shot. I got well into the story and was over 200 pages in when I felt like I couldn't do it anymore. I understand that these are just my opinions and that others loved this story and that's awesome. It just wasn't for me.

~Happy Reading Everyone!

Monday, March 4, 2013

Top Ten Tuesday: Series I need to start

Top Ten Tuesday is hosted over at The Broke and Bookish

This week's topic is a good one for me. Why... cause it's a long list...

Top Ten Series I'd Like To Start But Haven't Yet

1) The Vampire Academy series by Richelle Mead- So many people have read this series. It's like a cult favourite. But I haven't even read the first sentence of the first book. I know, it's shameful. I have read the first book in the spin off series though. So that has to count for something. Right?

2) The Delirium series by Lauren Oliver- I am not sure why I haven't read this one yet. Not a clue. Maybe because I have read so many mixed reviews? Maybe... who knows. But with the last one coming out soon, and the tv show in production, I best get on it.

3) The Jessica Darling series by Megan McCafferty- I have wanted to read this series for eons now. But I have never gotten around to it. I think they look cute, and funny. It's gonna be my summer goal I think. I hope.

4) The Gemma Doyle series by Libba Bray- I have nothing but good things about these books and I want to read them. I believe I borrowed the first one from the library once and had to return it before I actually had time to read it. But I will. I promise.

5) The Paranormalcy by Kiersten White- I own this book. I have owned it for years, and still it sits unread. I know I would love it. I just need to get around to reading it.

6) The Forest of Hands and Teeth series by Carrie Ryan- I haven't actually read a single zombie novel and I really want to dig into this series. Even though a number of people have not enjoyed it, I think that I would. So here's to hoping.

7) The Lumatere Chronicles by Melina Marchetta- As I hang my head in shame when I admit that I haven't actually started this series. I own the first novel- Finnikin of the Rock. It's on my shelf of to read asap. But I haven't yet. But I will before the year is through. Promises, promises.

8) The Chaos Walking series by Patrick Ness- I have heard nothing but good things about this series and I think I would really enjoy it. I don't know when I will get around to it, but someday.

9) The Maze Runner Series by James Dashner- Another book I borrowed from the library, but didn't read before it needed to be returned. I really want to read this one though. So hopefully soon.

10) The Percy Jackson and the Olympians series by Rick Riordan- As I hang my head in shame (again) in my admission that this book has not been read by me. My housemates are always getting on my case to read it. I need to find the time to read this series.

Well there are ten series that I have yet to begin (on top of all the others that I have begun and not finished) I have a never ending TBR. Whew.

Better get started

~Happy Reading Everyone.

Sunday, March 3, 2013

February Wrap Up

March!!! What?!?! I know February  is a short month, but really is it that short?

I had a pretty good month. Went away for a few days to see a friend (which was not good, but it wasn't bad either). While away I got to meet up with Aylee from Recovering Potter Addict and Cassay from Vamps, Were and Cassay Oh My. It was fun to spend a couple hours talking books and blogging with people who understand what it's all about. When I got home, I ended up getting really sick for a week and didn't do anything. I was to sick to even read.


I had a pretty slow month. I did manage to read six books (which I guess is still pretty good). But I didn't get as many reviewed as I would have liked. Anywho... Here goes.

Books Read:

1) On the Island by Tracy Garvis-Graves
2) The Seclection by Kiera Cass
3) Altered by Jennifer Rush
4) Pantomime by Laura Lam
5) Unremembered by Jessica Brody
6) Out of the Easy by Ruta Sepetys

Books Reviewed:

Again, I only reviewed three books this month (it would have been four, but I needed to take a week off, because of my sickess).

1) Sever by Lauren DeStefano
2) Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
3) Pantomime by Laura Lam


I did better with my challenges this month. Sort of.

Debut Author Challenge: 1/20 (although I have read two, my review will go up in March sometime)

YA Audiobook Challenge: 2/12 (Right on track, and I have another going up soon)

2013 Reading Challenge: 16/75 (which puts me 5% and 4 books a head- which I think I will need in March).

So, Miserable March is upon us (as most University students call it). March I have two papers, one exam and a bunch of labs to get done. I will do my best to keep posting semi-regularly, however I cannot promise anything. But I will not be totally absent.

That's it for me,

~Happy Reading Everyone!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

The Midnight Spell Excerpt & a Giveaway

Adam and Christy have been best friends since kindergarten. Always the perpetual outsiders in their small town in Texas, they’ve always had to deal with nasty comments from their classmates. Adam is called “gay” while Christy is called “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 new boy enrolls at school and sets hearts a flutter, including Adam’s. Meanwhile, Christy’s mad crush on the handsome Ian seems to be going nowhere fast. Struggling to capture the heart of Ian while trying to come into her full witch powers is tough enough, but when a great evil arrives in town that threatens everything they hold dear, she realizes that finding a boyfriend is the least of her and Adam’s worries.

Soon Adam, Christy, their potential love interests, and their good friends Drifter and Olivia, will have to battle a force of darkness that has killed in their town before and will again.

Lets talk about The Midnight Spell by Rhiannon Frater and Koby Boye. Some of you may have heard of Rhiannon, as she is fairly popular for her adult zombie apocalypse series As the World Dies. And co-author Kody Boye is no stranger to horror writing either, with a number of short stories under his belt. So you can imagine The Midnight Spell is going to be a winner. I am about a third of the way into The story and I am loving it. It's fun and I love the characters. Be sure to keep an eye out for my review in the next couple of weeks.

To give you all a little taste of what to expect from The Midnight Spell I have for you today a excerpt of the novel (with permission of course) and a couple of chances to win a copy for yourself.  Pretty cool eh?

Giveaway details can be found after you have read the excerpt below.

* * *
Adam Excerpt
* * *
From the side of the room the door opened, instantaneously drawing almost everyone’s eyes to the newcomer.
My mouth dropped open.
The new arrival reached back to push his hair behind the nape of his neck and scanned the room with his magnetic gaze.
No. It couldn’t be.
There’s no such thing as magic, yet the guy from my dream the night before stood in the doorway. His face was exactly the same. His strong nose, his exquisite lips, his straight-edged brows that appeared harsh, yet empathetic. Even his eyes were the same color I’d seen in my dream, steel-gray and the shade of clouds filled with the most welcome of rains.
To my surprise, he glanced toward me and his finely-shaped lips curled into a smile. I could have sworn that my heart stopped beating. I had to force myself to breathe.
“Mr. Black,” Mrs. Berry said, instantly knocking me out of my reverie as she turned her attention to the newcomer. “A pleasure to see you. Did you find your way here all right?”
“Yes ma’am,” the guy named Black said. “I got lost, but I found the room finally.”
“You’ll sit there, next to Adam.” She pointed.
He started toward the desk beside me as the bell rang.
“But first, Mr. Black,” Mrs. Berry continued, “why don’t you introduce yourself? I’m sure everyone here would like to know who you are. Wouldn’t you, class?”
A resounding chorus of grunts and ‘sures’ followed. I was only able to nod.
The new guy straightened his posture, offered a slight smile, then cleared his throat, almost as if he were nervous to be in such a large group. “Uh… hi,” he said, his voice deep. “My name’s Mark Black. I’m from Houston. I moved back here with my mom and dad because my parents were originally from Trinity Springs.”
“Oh! A native!” Mrs. Berry clapped so enthusiastically I thought for a moment her French tips would fly straight off. “Splendid! Absolutely remarkable, Mr. Black. Please, take a seat.”
“Thank you,” Mark said, bowing his head.
When he settled into his seat, he turned and smiled at me before directing his attention to the front of the room.
This couldn’t be happening. I had to be dreaming.
I pinched myself and was surprised to feel pain.
Nope. I was definitely not dreaming.
My cellphone vibrated a third, then a fourth and fifth time. I still couldn’t understand how Christy was able to get away with texting in class so often. It was a miracle she hadn’t had her phone taken away yet.
Just as I was about to reach down and turn my phone off, Mrs. Berry began to walk the rows of desks to pass the tests out. “You have the whole period,” she said.
I accepted my copy of the test, passed my row’s set of papers back, then pulled my pencil from the edge of my desk and went to work.
Much of the period was spent working on the abysmally long but not overly difficult test. Having anticipated it being much harder, I found it refreshingly easy. While filling the bubbles not like the Christmas tree pattern I’d expected to use, I occasionally glanced over at Mark. Each time I looked, his gray eyes met mine.
I was unsettled, but reveled in the small sparks of pleasure I felt each time our eyes met. I’d never felt like this before. My gaze was repeatedly drawn to him, like two polar edges of magnets fighting to come together. Mark just smiled. It was almost like he could sense whenever I looked at him. My heart beat faster with the knowledge that he was at least all right with my attention. Considering the way most of the guys in the school treated me, Mark was a saint—an angel with grand sparkling wings that gleamed gold beneath the school’s fluorescent lighting.
I managed to tear my eyes away from Mark and looked up at the clock. I took note of the amount of time I had left and returned to my work. It was almost impossible to concentrate with Mark’s presence beside me. It seemed to pulse with the continuous beat of my heart. Somehow I managed to push through the test.
By the time I finished, the bell rang and the students began to rise from their seats.
“Turn your papers in here,” Mrs. Berry said, patting the tray on her desk.
I rose, along with Mark, and dropped off my paper in before heading toward the door.
Once more I caught his eyes with mine and offered a slight, unsure smile. He returned it with a short nod and a grin, then was gone.
I felt breathless in his wake.

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