Friday, March 23, 2018

Prodigy by Marie Lu

Title: Prodigy 
Author: Marie Lu
Genre: Sci-Fi Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Legend # 2

Trade paperback, 371 Pages
Publication: April 8, 2014 by Putnam Juvenile

Source: Personal Library

Injured and on the run, it has been seven days since June and Day barely escaped Los Angeles and the Republic with their lives. Day is believed dead having lost his own brother to an execution squad who thought they were assassinating him. June is now the Republic's most wanted traitor. Desperate for help, they turn to the Patriots - a vigilante rebel group sworn to bring down the Republic. But can they trust them or have they unwittingly become pawns in the most terrifying of political games?

I can’t believe it’s been five years since I’ve read the first book in the Legend series. The first book, Legend was all about The Republic and in the sequel, readers get to see the opposing side as Day and June seek guidance and help from The Patriots. Both Day and June want revenge for what The Republic did to their families and the only way to stop The Republic is to infiltrate them from the inside. Which is why June and The Patriots concocted a plan to get her capture and pretend that she’s still loyal to get close to the new regent. As the saying goes, keep your friends close but your enemies closer.

I’m sure everyone has heard of the dreaded second book syndrome. It’s real y’all. It sadden me to say this but Prodigy definitely suffers from it. The book’s pacing was extremely slow. In some areas the book felt like it was dragging along with no action in sight. For the majority of the book, we watch as June, Day and The Patriots plan their attack…which consisted more of planning, planning and more planning. And then all that strategic planning went out the door when Day and June decided to go rouge. Even with the surprise turn of events, the climax of the story felt anticlimactic.

Bottom line, I didn’t love it as much as Legend, I think I had too high of expectations for Prodigy that I was left disappointed and underwhelmed. I’m not sure if it would’ve made a difference if I read the book at the time of its release or perhaps I’m losing interesting in the whole YA Dystopian genre; who knows. The ending of Prodigy leaves a lot of questions still, and I’m not sure how things are going to play out after learning of Day’s prognosis. I plan to finish this series and read Champion but it’s certainly not a priority.

Tuesday, March 20, 2018

Children of Blood and Bone by Tomi Adeyemi

Title: Children of Blood and Bone
Author: Tomi Adeyemi
Genre: Fantasy
Series: Legacy of Orïsha # 1

Hardcover, 525 Pages
Publication: March 6, 2018 by Henry Holt BFYR

Source: Received audio-book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

Zélie Adebola remembers when the soil of Orïsha hummed with magic. Burners ignited flames, Tiders beckoned waves, and Zelie’s Reaper mother summoned forth souls.

But everything changed the night magic disappeared. Under the orders of a ruthless king, maji were targeted and killed, leaving Zélie without a mother and her people without hope.

Now, Zélie has one chance to bring back magic and strike against the monarchy. With the help of a rogue princess, Zélie must outwit and outrun the crown prince, who is hell-bent on eradicating magic for good.

Danger lurks in Orïsha, where snow leoponaires prowl and vengeful spirits wait in the waters. Yet the greatest danger may be Zélie herself as she struggles to control her powers—and her growing feelings for the enemy.
Children of Blood and Bone is the most anticipated novel of 2018, and the only reason why you wouldn’t of heard about it is if you’ve been living under a rock. This book has been the talk of the blogosphere for months leading up to it’s publication earlier this March, so much so, that movie rights were acquired awhile back and last I heard that it’s actually in development; talk about fast! Children of Blood and Bone takes place in a re-imagined Africa, following three characters: Zélie, a young Divîner, Princess Amari and her brother Inan. The book alternates between their POV/narrative; enabling the readers to glimpse through their eyes and see what they were thinking. I normally prefer books with one POV, however, Adeyemi did a spectacular job in creating such a clear, distinct voice for each of her characters that I found myself enjoying all three narratives; although I found some of the characters vexing at time.

I had the pleasure of reviewing the audio-book version of Children of Blood and Bone, narrated by the talented Bahni Turpin. Turpin brought the characters and the world of Orïsha to life. I loved listening to her voice. Turpin enunciated everything very clearly and put so much emotion into her voice at all the pivotal scenes. I’m not gonna lie, there were many times I ended up tearing up in the middle of the day, while out in public because you can hear the genuine raw pain that Turpin brought forth while narrating Zélie’s chapters. While listening to the audio-book, I can vividly see as Zélie and Amari ran through the bazaar in Lagos, all the Divîners celebrating Sky Mother in their sanctuary and as Amari lead a siege on her father’s compound to rescue Zélie. It was like watching a movie in my mind. Another reason why I’m so glad I had the opportunity to listen to an audio-book version was being able to hear the correct pronunciation of the the words and the characters’ name. I am positive if I read this on my own, I would have pronounced a lot of things incorrectly. Reading a book and listening to an audio-book is a totally different experience, and if you have the chance to listen to Children of Blood and Bone; definitely do it! You’ll be glad for it! I know I was.

There were a ton of great characters in Children of Blood and Bone. Zélie never backed down from a challenge and had a fiery personality to match. But the biggest surprise and breakout star of the book in my opinion was Amari. When we first met Amari she was a timid and quiet princess, all she knew about her kingdom was minimal as she has never left the confines of the castle but with one bold choice, of defiance, her life changed. Gone was the scared princess and as the story progressed a true warrior emerged, a girl fit to be Queen. Amari like any teenager had doubts and insecurities but she pushed them down and stood up for what she believed was right. Amari was without a doubt my favorite character and it was wonderful to see her journey and character growth. Tzain and the a couple of Divîners also made quite an impression as well…like Zule, the thirteen-year-old healer that lead the group of Divîners. I can still see her in my mind, her final scene was truly devastating.

While there was a lot to love about Children of Blood and Bone, it is not without flaws. I did not like the character Inan, he was so hot and cold it drove me nuts. One moment he was all for killing every single Divîner because he truly believed that was the only way to protect Orïsha by riding the world of Magic. Then suddenly he falls for Zélie and wants to create a better Orïsha where regular folks and Divîners lived side by side. Then he gets brainwashed by his father and was back on his path of riding the world of Divîners and Magic. And there’s a secret that Inan carries which readers discovers early on, which makes this all more ridiculous in his hypocrisy! If and when you read this book, you'll know what I mean. I also wasn’t a fan of the magic system. Compared to everything else, I thought the magic system was the weakest, considering it’s a big part of the world building. There are many types of maji (when a Divîner comes into their power as an adult, at the age of thirteen); there’s the reaper like Zélie, who can see, hear and control spirits, burners, winders, connector (control the mind/dreamscape) and so forth. The idea, the magic system is pretty generic and can be seen countless of times in other fantasy series. The only difference is what it’s being called. Although I wished the magic system was better developed and more complex, it didn’t take away from the book. What makes Children of Blood and Bone great was the characters and Adeyemi delivered on that front.

All in all, Children of Blood and Bone was a wonderful debut that deserve all the hyped that it got.It is one of the best debut novel I’ve read in awhile and I can’t wait to read the rest of this series. As I said before, if you’re able to listen to the audio-book version, do so, you won’t regret it. It takes the reading/listening experience to an entire new level.

*A big thank you to Macmillan for providing me with an audio-book of Children of Blood and Bone.

Monday, March 19, 2018

Magic Stars by Ilona Andrews

Title: Magic Stars
Author: Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Grey Wolf #1/KD #8.5

Paperback, 64 Pages
Publication: December 8, 2015 by NYLA

Source: Personal library.


Scarred, solitary Derek Gaunt has separated from his Pack, and is truly a lone wolf. With no family he answers to no one; but is fiercely loyal to a chosen few. So, when several of those close to him are murdered, he’ll stop at nothing to hunt their killer through the magic-drenched streets of Atlanta. Never one to be left on the sidelines, equally determined—some might say stubborn—Julie Lennart-Olsen soon joins in his pursuit; and what began as revenge turns into a race to save the city. Their search pits them against powers they never imagined and magic so old, it predates history. It may cost Derek his life, but there are things for which even he would risk everything.

Novellas aren’t my things. I normally avoid it. Books under a certain length don’t interest me because I don’t think there’s enough pages and/or words to develop a fully fleshed out world or characters. It’s not to say that I don’t read them at all. There are very few authors that I follow and are willing to read anything and everything they write. Ilona Andrews is one of the few. If their names on it, I’ll read it. So, when I heard that Magic Stars, a novella from Derek’s point-of-view was written; I jumped right on it. Derek is one of my favorite characters besides Kate and Ascanio.

I haven't read Magic Shifts yet and this book takes place after book 8. I thought it was just a complete spin-off. If I knew it was continuing from the series, I've would've read it in order. But anyways, what makes this novella great and unlike any other novellas is that we finally get to see inside Derek’s head. He’s such a serious and closed off character, an enigma, that I’ve always wondered what was going on in his head. Well, I finally get that chance with Magic Stars. What started out as a murder investigation turns into something even more sinister involving an ancient stone and mythical creature. Readers get to see a completely different side of Derek and I must say, it’s refreshing and makes me like Derek more.

Julie, Kate and Curran’s adopted daughter is also another main lead in the story. We rarely get to see Julie, so I thought it was cool to see more of her for a change. Julie been spending most of her free time with her grandfather, Roland…learning magic! But not only that, Julie thinks the best way to defeat an enemy is to get to know them; hence her hanging out with Roland. Again, we don’t see much of Julie, but from this novella, I can say without hesitation that she is beginning to sound more and more like Kate. She is literally a miniature version of Kate, not sure if that’s awesome or worrisome!

This is a very short novella, under 70 pages. I was able to finish it in one sitting. I really enjoyed it and thought it was a very well written novella, though I wished it was a bit longer as most novella averaged 150 pages or so. Andrews did a great job of incorporating a solid plot with humor and action and since most readers starting this novella have already read the Kate Daniels series; there were no issues with needing to build a backstory or foundation for the world and its characters. We learned a lot in this short story, which I’m positive will play a bigger role in the final books. I’m excited to see how Andrews plans to finish this amazing series. If you’ve been under a rock and haven’t read the Kate Daniel series, I highly suggest it! Start at the beginning with Magic Bites!

Monday, March 05, 2018

Magic Breaks by Ilona Andrews

Title: Magic Breaks
Author: Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels # 7

Mass Market Paperback, 357 Pages
Publication: March 3, 2015 by Ace

Source: I received a review copy from the publisher in exchange for a honest review.


As the mate of the Beast Lord, Curran, former mercenary Kate Daniels has more responsibilities than it seems possible to juggle. Not only is she still struggling to keep her investigative business afloat, but she must now deal with the affairs of the Pack, including preparing her people for attack from Roland, a cruel, ancient being with godlike powers.

As Roland’s long shadow looms ever nearer, Kate is called to attend a gathering of leaders from Atlanta’s supernatural factions. When one of the Masters of the Dead is found murdered by a shapeshifter, Kate is given less than twenty-four hours to hunt down the killer. And this time, if she fails, she’ll find herself embroiled in a war that could destroy everything she holds dear...
Magic Breaks is the seventh book in the Kate Daniel Series and the end of the ARC according to the authors, which I can now see having read it. In this latest installment, Kate is left alone to deal with The pack and The People’s affair while Curran is called away on an assignment. A shifter killed a Master Vampire and Kate is sent to investigate or there would be an all out war between The People and The Pack which would bring in Hugh and Roland; something that Kate desperately wants to avoid.

I must say, looking back on it, this is probably the weakest novel of the series…even compared to the last book which many found to be silly with too much teenage angst going on. It’s still a good book overall but not the usual best I’ve come to expect from Andrews. Let’s start off with what I liked. Kate has always and will be a kick-ass heroine. Let that be known. She can hold her own no matter the circumstance she is thrown into. While it sucked that Curran wasn’t around for the majority of the story, it also spotlighted Kate and everything she’s capable of; and it showed readers, The Pack and everyone else that she can lead without Curran. And I loved that we got to see more of Derek and Ascanio, espeically Ascanio, our handsome, reckless Bouda, whom readers haven’t seen for awhile. I was so happy that he had plenty of page time. Derek and Ascanio together was a riot! I love their chemistry together and thanks to them, there were many laugh-out-loud moments. I think it’s safe to say that everyone has probably read this novel already if they follow the series; that one Ascanio scene had me on the verge of tears! I’ve become so attached to these characters, I can’t imagine ever loosing them. Talk about a close one! And Desandra, whom we met in the previous novel makes herself a regular as she travels with Kate. I must say, Desandra is starting to grow on me. I love her blunt, no-filter attitude; it brings a smile to my face.

Now, the things that I didn’t like. As many readers mention, Magic Breaks definitely felt like a filler novel with a lot of unnecessary scenes that didn’t really help progress the story line. With how everything started, The People accusing a shifter of killing one of their men and unless the culprit is capture, they risk an all out war…the ending turned out to be very anticlimactic. I read it last week and now I can’t really remember how it ended. That says a lot. And from the very start, we are told how scary and ruthless Roland is, a god among men. But I gotta say, he wasn’t what I expected. He seems so calm, logical, reasonable most of the time. This is the Roland’s first appearance and though he doesn’t seem so scary, we’ve yet to see what he’s truly capable of or exactly what his motives are involving Kate. Who knows, I could be totally wrong and he turns out to be the evil god Kate was warned about. Just gotta wait and see how things play out in the last three books!

Overall, another solid addition to the series but not without flaws. Looking forward to see what else is in store for Kate and the gang. 

Thursday, February 08, 2018

Renegades by Marissa Meyer

Title: Renegades
Author: Marissa Meyer
Genre: Sci-Fi Fantasy, Young Adult
Series: Renegades # 1

Hardcover, 556 pages
Publication: November 7, 2017 by Feiwel & Friends

Source: Won a review copy on Goodreads.


The Renegades are a syndicate of prodigies — humans with extraordinary abilities — who emerged from the ruins of a crumbled society and established peace and order where chaos reigned. As champions of justice, they remain a symbol of hope and courage to everyone... except the villains they once overthrew.

Nova has a reason to hate the Renegades, and she is on a mission for vengeance. As she gets closer to her target, she meets Adrian, a Renegade boy who believes in justice — and in Nova. But Nova's allegiance is to a villain who has the power to end them both.

Meyer is best known for her Lunar Chronicle series, a mash-up of fairy-tales and sci-fi. I have the entire series just sitting on my shelf. I did read a bit of Cinder a few years back and while I did enjoy what I read…I just never had the urge to pick it up again. Then I heard Meyer was starting a new series with superheroes and villains. I was intrigued, I love all things superheroes/villains…you’d think people would get burnt out on the idea with it flooding mainstream television and movies. Nope. If there’s a market for it, you’d bet it’d sell.

Renegades was like the comic book version of Romeo and Juliet. We have Nova, niece of the Anarchist leader and Adrian, the adopted son of the beloved Renegades Originals. I think you all know how this is going to go (not death, obviously). It's pretty predictable. With the help of her Anarchist family, Nova infiltrates The Renegades by trying out to be part of the team and actually landing in a group with team leader Adrian, the golden child of The Renegades. Nova’s plan is to learn as much as she can to take down the entire organization; enacting retribution because she believes The Renegades are the reason why her family was dead. Adrian on the other-hand is keeping a big secret from The Renegades and investigating his mother’s death and he thinks Nightmare, an Anarchist, has the answers. The two end up liking one another but little do they know they come from rival families.

The plot as I said is pretty generic and predictable. Meyer doesn’t bring anything new to the concept of superheroes or villains. The characters themselves are basic, I don’t recall anything special or anyone standing out for that matter. I have to admit, even the dialogue seemed juvenile. But I still found myself glued to the pages. It’s the way Meyer writes. There’s just something that pulls the readers in and keeps your attention. I know I’m gonna get flacked for this comment but its the only comparison I can give. Everyone remember Twilight? Of course you do. You know it’s not particularly good fiction or writing but yet you keep reading it anyways…because in the moment you’re reading it…it's the best thing ever! Yeah that was what it’s like for me. I mean, the point of any and all books is to be able to immerse yourself into the story and suspend reality for a couple of hours. Well, The Renegades definitely accomplished this. So there’s that going for it.

There wasn’t much romance in this book, more like a potential start of one. It was kind of awkward any way you looked at it. There’s something between Adrian and Nova but they never acted on it. And while they had plenty of interaction with one another, it wasn’t like sparks were flying. And because their interaction was weird; there’s was a disconnect between the characters which caused a disconnect between the readers as well. I didn’t feel it and didn’t really care about their relationship. It was just there. I didn’t think it brought anything to the story/plot sadly.

The Renegades doesn’t have much to be desired, it’s lackluster in terms of plot, world building, and characterization at best. If I don’t think too much about the book, I’d say it was okay borderline good. I mean, I did finish it. I’m pretty picky when it comes to book, so that’s saying a lot. The ending was the only unpredictable thing in the entire book and I am curious to see how things will play out in the sequel. I may or may not pick up the sequel just to see what happens next. But would I recommend this book? Probably not unless you’re looking for a brain candy type of book to pass the time…it may look and feel good at the moment but there’s no real substance.

Tuesday, February 06, 2018

Magic Rises by Ilona Andrews

Title: Magic Rises
Author: Ilona Andrews
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Series: Kate Daniels # 6

Mass Market Paperback,  327 Pages
Publication: July 30, 2013 by Berkeley Publishing Group

Source: Personal Library


Atlanta is a city plagued by magical problems. Kate Daniels will fight to solve them—no matter the cost.

Mercenary Kate Daniels and her mate, Curran, the Beast Lord, are struggling to solve a heartbreaking crisis. Unable to control their beasts, many of the Pack’s shapeshifting children fail to survive to adulthood. While there is a medicine that can help, the secret to its making is closely guarded by the European packs, and there’s little available in Atlanta.

Kate can’t bear to watch innocents suffer, but the solution she and Curran have found threatens to be even more painful. The European shapeshifters who once outmaneuvered the Beast Lord have asked him to arbitrate a dispute—and they’ll pay him in medicine. With the young people’s survival and the Pack’s future at stake, Kate and Curran know they must accept the offer—but they have little doubt that they’re heading straight into a trap…

The final Kate Daniel novel releases this year. So, I thought It’d be a good time as any to catch up on the series. I don’t know why but I’ve been holding off on reading the series for years, even though it’s my favorite series and I know it’s going to be great…and of course, it was! The sixth installment in the series takes Kate, Curran, Derek, Andrea…and a few more away from The Keep as they travel across The Black Sea to act as bodyguards to Dessandra, a shifter whom is about to give birth to twins in exchange for a cure for lupism. The gang know that it’s likely a trap, but they’re in for a rude awakening when the find out who’s in charge and things are a lot worst than it seems.

There’s A LOT that went on in Magic Rises. Kate and Curran’s relationship is tested by Curran’s former acquaintance, the other two packs has it out for Kate feeling she’s unfit to be a consort because she’s not a shifter, unknown creatures are wrecking havoc on the island, and Kate’s history and identity is at risk of being exposed. I’m sure there were more things but like I said, there’s too many things going on at once.

I’ve been following this series for almost 10 years now, and with each book it just gets better and better. The world building is complex and ever-expanding; there’s always something new to discover. And I love seeing the characters grow into their person and their relationship with one another. It crazy to see how far everyone has come. The third book in the series has been my favorite book for the longest time, but now Magic Rises takes the coveted position (but I’m pretty sure that’s going to change again when I read the next book lol). Magic Rises made me deliriously happy, annoyed, left me gobsmacked and a few more emotions I can’t reiterate.

It made me happy because, hello…it’s a Kate Daniels novel. Enough said. But really, I liked that it took place in a new location with new characters. Kate was totally bad-ass, as usual. The other packs verbally and physically attacked her and she handle everything like it was a walk in the park. She didn’t care about anyone’s opinion of her. When they voiced their doubts about her, instead of stooping to their level by arguing, Kate showed her worth by her actions which spoke volumes. Kate and Curran’s relationship was pretty close of being over at one point. For the majority of the book Curran spent his time with a former lady acquaintance as rumor flew that Kate was going to get replaced. I was annoyed that Kate actually believed it! She and Curran have been through so much together and I was surprised that she actually doubted his loyalty and love for her. And finally, to say I was shocked at the events towards the end is an understatement. There were casualties, we lost a favorite shifter! I literally gasped out loud during the dining hall scene…because all hell broke loose.

Andrews have written yet another amazing addition to the Kate Daniel Series. Magic Rises is definitely a game-changer and I can’t wait to see what happens next…I have a feeling it’s going to be big. Maybe Roland will finally make an appearance! All in all, I love this book and series, it’s one of the best Urban Fantasy out there and is still going strong after six books. Normally when authors publish four or more books in a series, things get stale, redundant, dull or some combination of all three but Andrews don’t have that issue…ever. If you want to read the best that Urban Fantasy has to offer, then you need to read this series A.S.A.P. Trust me, you won’t regret it! 

Thursday, February 01, 2018

[Blog Tour} It Should Have Been You by Lynn Slaughter + Excerpt

Publication: January 30, 2018 by Page Street Kids
Living in her sister's shadow has never been more dangerous.

Five months ago, Clara Seibert’s twin sister was murdered. Struggling under the weight of newfound and unwanted attention, the only thing that makes Clara feel normal is ghostwriting an advice column for her school’s newspaper—until she starts receiving threatening emails in her staff inbox.

“It should have been you...but soon."

Convinced that her email stalker blames her for her sister’s death and is out for revenge, Clara undertakes her own investigation to clear her name and avoid a similar fate. Can she solve the murder before it’s too late?


The next day after school was more of the same. Apparently Detective Martino had been busy last night after I’d stomped out of his office. No sooner had I headed to my spot in the back newspaper office than Mr. B. summoned me to his adjoining classroom.
“Sit down, Clara.”

I sat.

“Detective Martino called me last night and filled me in about this e-mail. Obviously, I’m very concerned about you and your safety. But frankly,” he said, lowering his chin and staring at me over his wire-rimmed glasses, “I’m also very disappointed that you didn’t report this to me immediately. I thought we had an understanding, that you knew I was in your corner.”

“I do know. I’m so sorry! I was scared you’d take me off the column, maybe even the staff. The column is so important to me. It’s keeping me sane.”
“Sanity is great, but not if it puts you in harm’s way.” 

“But, this jerk can come after me whether or not I’m writing the column. And maybe we’ll be able to ID the jerk from his—or her—messages.” 

Mr. B. slumped forward, putting his right elbow on the desk and resting his chin on the back of his hand. The bald patches on his head shone beneath the classroom’s fluorescent lights. 

He looked like the middle-aged version of that statue of The Thinker.

He didn’t say a word, so I plunged ahead. “I promise I’ll show you any more messages that come in. And I’m supposed to let Detective Martino and my parents know as well. Dad read me the riot act last night when I got home from the station.”

“Well, he should have.” 


Mr. B. straightened slightly and jabbed his finger in my direction. 

“I need to inform the principal about this. For the time being, Since You Asked will remain yours. But if you ever pull something like this again and don’t let me know what’s going on, you’re out. Understood?”

“Yes. Thank you, Mr. B.” I wanted to hug him, but that kind of stuff embarrassed him—and worried him. Last year, a student on the debate team accused another teacher of sexual harassment because he gave her a hug after she won regionals. Personally, I thought that was taking political correctness a little too far.
He glanced at the huge clock above the doorway to his classroom. 

“Staff meeting in fifteen minutes.” 

I headed for the drinking fountain and nearly crashed into CJ, who stood rooted in the middle of the hallway, staring at something at the far end. I turned to look. Sure enough, there was Tony, hand leaning against a locker while he whispered into the ear of a tall blonde with boobs that were so big I wondered if they could possibly be real.
Whatever Tony was whispering was apparently hilarious, because Blonde Girl tittered away.

“How am I supposed to compete with that?” CJ muttered.

“Oh come on. You are fabulous inside and out. It’s Tony’s loss if he can’t see that. Besides, from what I hear, he’s a three-time wonder. Ever since Sheri, it’s three dates and he moves on to the next girl with legs up to her neck. How shallow can you get?”

CJ stiffened and I mentally kicked myself.

I should have known by now that she couldn’t stand any criticism of Tony. 

“I hate it when you say stuff like that,” she said. “He’s the farthest thing from shallow. I wish you could have seen him last summer with those kids in Honduras on our mission trip. He made every one of them feel special, important. Those little guys hung all over him. He was like a rock star.”

Now that I could imagine Tony eating up. As far as I could tell, he loved being the center of attention. But no way was I going there with CJ. Besides, what did I know? I was hardly part of Tony’s inner circle.

“You’re right,” I said. “You know him a lot better than I do. But… it’s just… Don’t you think sometimes he comes across as a tiny bit arrogant?”
“Trust me. It’s a cover. Underneath it all, he’s really insecure. His dad’s a hard ass. Nothing Tony does is ever good enough.”
“That sucks,” I said, feeling more sympathetic towards him. 
“Okay, you’ve convinced me.” I gazed at her with newfound respect. “You should be the one writing Since You Asked, not me. You’re amazing.”
She squeezed my arm. “Not on your life. The column’s perfect for you. To be honest, I wouldn’t want the responsibility.”

We crammed ourselves around the big work table in the back of Mr. Bradford’s classroom. Mr. B. sat at one end, and Tony at the other. 
I was between Donny Masden, our roving investigative reporter whose recent piece on widespread cheating had set off a major firestorm, and Kristen Svien, who covered music and the arts.
I was surprised Kristen had plopped down next to me, although as usual, she was icy towards me and avoided any eye contact. She’d been Moura’s friend and devoted fan. When I’d finally asked her point blank if she thought I had something to do with my sister’s murder, she mumbled, “Of course not,” but then backed away—as though getting too close might put her at risk for one of my homicidal rages. It hurt, even though I should have been used to it. When I first got back to school, so many kids avoided me it was like parting the Red Sea when I walked down the hall.
Anyhow, CJ sat across from us, along with Wolfman and Rita D’Angelou. Rita, who loved to laugh and was the only person I knew who could sit on her hair because she’d never cut it, covered women’s sports. When she got overloaded, I helped her out. That’s how I’d met Jenny back in ninth grade. Already beating veterans on the tennis team as a freshman, she was a natural for our spotlight feature on students who were “making news or noise.” I also frequently assisted CJ, who reported on school clubs.

We had a lot of clubs—bikers, hikers, future teachers, chess whizzes, astronomers, and the one I was super involved with, the Psychology Club.
“All right gang, before we get into brainstorming about the next issue, I have something I want to talk to you about,” said Mr. Bradford. “This is confidential, and I want to remind all of you that what is said in here, stays in here. Understood?”
“Absolutely, sir,” Tony said, nodding his head vigorously.

Tony was so smooth and slick, especially around adults, that I always felt a little greasy around him.
The rest of us nodded too.
“Okay then. What do we tell people about who writes Since You Asked?”
“We say it’s confidential—that it could be one of us, or all of us, and that we’re honor-bound not to reveal who writes it,” said CJ.

“Right. Why’s that?” said Mr. B.

Wolfman cleared his throat. “Because someone might get pissed off at the advice we give and decide to engage in a little payback.”

“True. And why else, given what you know about who currently works on the column?”

I shifted in my seat and looked down. 

Oh God.

No one said anything for a minute. Finally, Donny spoke up. 
“Because of what happened to Clara’s sister. People who don’t know Clara might believe the rumors and say she shouldn’t be giving other people advice.”
I winced, even as Donny put his hand on my shoulder and gave it a comforting squeeze.
“Someone could also write in to accuse Clara, or bully her,” added Rita.
“Exactly,” said Mr. B. “And yesterday, Clara received an anonymous threatening e-mail.”
All eyes turned toward me as everyone said how sorry they were and bombarded me with questions. “What did it say?”  “What did the address look like?” And on and on.

Fortunately, Mr. B. cut the questions off before I had to pull myself together to answer.
“We don’t need to get into that. But whoever this was seems to know Clara is the column’s writer...But how? I want all of you to think back over your conversations…Is there anything that could have slipped out that gave her away? Not intentionally, of course. You’re not going to be punished. No one’s going to be mad at you. We just need to know, so we can figure out who might be behind this.”

Mr. B. then went around calling on staffers, one-by-one. Everyone said they’d been really careful and couldn’t remember ever spilling the beans, even unintentionally. Kristen’s voice seemed a little higher than usual when she denied having said anything about me being the column’s writer, and she leaned as far away from me as she could. Rita, on the other hand, reached her hand across the table toward mine. “I would never do anything to hurt you, especially after all you’ve been through.”

Donny and Wolfman chimed in with their own words of support. They felt like balm on an open wound.
Then Tony turned to me and said, “This must be awful for you. We’d totally understand if you wanted to take a leave of absence from the paper until this gets cleared up. Even though, of course, we’d hate to lose you. Right, everyone?” 
“Thank you, but no,” I said before anyone else could respond. “I think that’s just what this jerk wants, to intimidate me and mess up my life. And I’m not going to let that happen—or let you guys down.”

“Well, then. If it’s okay with you, Mr. Bradford, let’s move on to talking about the next issue.”

Excerpted from IT SHOULD HAVE BEEN YOU © Copyright 2018 by Lynn Slaughter. Reprinted with permission. All rights reserved.

About the Author

Lynn Slaughter has a passion for dance and music—from Frank Sinatra to Chopin—and her first book, While I Danced, was a finalist in the 2015 EPIC competition in the Young Readers category. After a long career as a professional dancer, she earned her MFA in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University. She and her husband live in Louisville, Kentucky. You can visit her at and follow her on Twitter @lslaughter2.

Read Other Excerpts from It Should Have Been You!

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