The Seventh Sun (The Age of the Seventh Sun, #1) by Lani Forbes – Spoiler Free Review, Tour, & Giveaway

Publisher: Blackstone Publishing

Publication Date: February 18, 2020

Genre: Young Adult Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Buy Links: Blackstone’s Website | Amazon | Book Depository | Goodreads

“Thrust into leadership upon the death of his emperor father, young Prince Ahkin feels completely unready for his new position. Though his royal blood controls the power of the sun, he’s now responsible for the lives of all the Chicome people. And despite all Ahkin’s efforts, the sun is fading–and the end of the world may be at hand.

For Mayana, the only daughter of the Chicome family whose blood controls the power of water, the old emperor’s death may mean that she is next. Prince Ahkin must be married before he can ascend the throne, and Mayana is one of six noble daughters presented to him as a possible wife. Those who are not chosen will be sacrificed to the gods.

Only one girl can become Ahkin’s bride. Mayana and Ahkin feel an immediate connection, but the gods themselves may be against them. Both recognize that the ancient rites of blood that keep the gods appeased may be harming the Chicome more than they help. As a bloodred comet and the fading sun bring a growing sense of dread, only two young people may hope to change their world.

Rich in imagination and romance, and based on the legends and history of the Aztec and Maya people, The Seventh Sun brings to vivid life a world on the edge of apocalyptic disaster.”

*Thank you so much to MTMC Tours for having me on the tour!

Here is my aesthetic I made for the book!

This book surprised me for some reason. I mean, it sounded interesting, and I thought I was going to like it, I just didn’t realize how much! Like, I actually stayed up late reading this and couldn’t put it down! I also figured something out, I really like the whole chosen bride competition thing. I don’t even know what to call that, but I like it.

I normally don’t like insta-love type thing but Forbes actually did it really well. I think Mayana and Prince Ahkin had to fall in love quickly because, you know, the whole death thing. And they were on a bit of a time crunch. It fit and made sense with the book. And they clicked really well and had great chemistry!

I loved the descriptions of the lush landscape that was their home. It sounded so incredibly beautiful mixed with their magic. It was so earthy and I definitely wanted to visit that book world! Forbes has beautiful writing! She’s also quite funny. There were quite a few times where I laughed out loud.

I really clicked with Mayana. She was relatable. She had sincere compassion but that didn’t make her weak. It made her stronger. She still stood up for what she believed in but in a respectful way. I liked that. I felt for her when she had to put up with the other girls (Zorrah) crazy antics, and when she made friends with a couple of the others that were doomed to die. She still tried to find a way to save them all, even thought they wouldn’t have done the same.

Prince Ahkin was a strong male lead. He was a great warrior, smart, and gentle when it came to Mayana or his sister. He and Mayana complimented each other. He thought with his head while she with her heart. He always suspected something was off about their crazy rituals, but it took Mayana to help him see that I think.

The ending! Oh my gosh! Don’t worry, no spoilers, but I was super worried and then it got better and then I was worried again. But hopeful. Man, that’s hard without spoilers!

I can’t wait for the second book!

Lani Forbes is the daughter of a librarian and an ex-drug smuggling surfer, which explains her passionate love of the ocean and books. A California native whose parents live in Mexico, she now resides in the Pacific Northwest where she stubbornly wears flip flops no matter how cold it gets. She teaches middle school math and science and proudly calls herself a nerd and Gryffindor. She is also an award-winning member of Romance Writers of America and the Society for Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators.

Website | Goodreads | Twitter | Instagram 

INTL Tour-Wide Giveaway on Instagram!

Head over to my Instagram account where TWO readers will win:
A hardcover copy of THE SEVENTH SUN!
(And don’t miss out the rest of the tour stops to get more chances to win!!!)

Tour Schedule:

February 17
@thereaderandthechef – Bookstagram + Blog

February 18
@throneofshatteredbooks – Bookstagram

February 19
@reverieandink – Bookstagram

February 20
@paperfury – Bookstagram 

February 21
@storied.adventures – Bookstagram + Blog

February 22
@libraryinthecountry – Bookstagram

February 23
@exquisitepages – Bookstagram + Blog

February 24
@giota_the_reader – Bookstagram

February 25
@myhoneyreads – Bookstagram + Blog

February 26
@the.magicalpages – Bookstagram

Hosted by:

Let’s discuss! Since this one is based on Mayan/ Aztec culture, what is your favorite culture to read about in books?

All the Stars and Teeth by Adalyn Grace – Book Tour and Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Imprint

Publication Date: February 04, 2020

Genre: YA, Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Goodreads | Amazon

“Set in a kingdom where danger lurks beneath the sea, mermaids seek vengeance with song, and magic is a choice, Adalyn Grace’s All the Stars and Teeth is a thrilling fantasy for fans of Stephanie Garber’s Caraval and Sarah J. Maas’s Throne of Glass series.

She will reign.

As princess of the island kingdom Visidia, Amora Montara has spent her entire life training to be High Animancer—the master of souls. The rest of the realm can choose their magic, but for Amora, it’s never been a choice. To secure her place as heir to the throne, she must prove her mastery of the monarchy’s dangerous soul magic.

When her demonstration goes awry, Amora is forced to flee. She strikes a deal with Bastian, a mysterious pirate: he’ll help her prove she’s fit to rule, if she’ll help him reclaim his stolen magic.

But sailing the kingdom holds more wonder—and more peril—than Amora anticipated. A destructive new magic is on the rise, and if Amora is to conquer it, she’ll need to face legendary monsters, cross paths with vengeful mermaids, and deal with a stow-away she never expected… or risk the fate of Visidia and lose the crown forever.

I am the right choice. The only choice. And I will protect my kingdom.

*Thank you so much to Imprint for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review, and having me on the blog tour!*

Oh dang that was a good read! Very adventurous. Pirates, mermaids/ sirens, magic, adventure, a runaway princess, monster fights, action. Everything I love in a book. It did remind me ever so slightly of Caraval BUT only in the descriptions of things. Not plot. And along the lines of Velaris in description.

Let’s talk characters! Amora was great fun to read from her POV. She was sassy, flawed, and strong. She loves her people and would do anything to save them. She is battling her magic as well as others who want to destroy her kingdom. Loved her. Okay, BASTIAN. I really could not help but picture him as Killian Jones from Once Upon a Time. Minus the hook. But with plenty of secrets. The side characters were also great fun. Vataea and Ferrick hold their own. (Side note: Sorry not sorry, I totally ship them.) Ahem, moving on. Vataea is a beast. I want more of her story! And Ferrick is the cinnamon roll character. So sweet!

This book had GRAND adventure! They sail across the sea to find a way to help Amora save her kingdom. There is an epic beast fight, a daring rescue, and a bit of a cliff hanger that makes me need the next book, like, yesterday. I love seeing the different magics played out. Although there are many different kinds of magic, I couldn’t help but think a tiny bit of Avatar: The Last Airbender type of thing going on. Which I was all about. I need this to be a movie. It would be epic.

I loved the writing. It was so beautifully descriptive. Adalyn Grace and this series are definitely ones to watch out for. I can see this becoming a big hit series.

Some favorite quotes:

“The world doesn’t work with only your eyes, Princess. There’s truth in more than what you can see.”

“Fear is part of life; all that matters is what we do with it.”

Let’s talk! Tell me your favorite pirate/ sea adventure movies, shows, books!

A Castle in the Clouds by Kerstin Gier – Blog Tour, Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Henry Holt & Company

Publication Date: January 28, 2020

Genre: YA, Mystery, Contemporary

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Goodreads | Amazon

A Castle in the Clouds follows a girl as she navigates secrets, romance, and danger in an aging grand hotel.

Way up in the Swiss mountains, there’s an old grand hotel steeped in tradition and faded splendor. Once a year, when the famous New Year’s Eve Ball takes place and guests from all over the world arrive, excitement returns to the vast hallways.

Sophie, who works at the hotel as an intern, is busy making sure that everything goes according to plan. But unexpected problems keep arising, and some of the guests are not who they pretend to be. Very soon, Sophie finds herself right in the middle of a perilous adventure–and at risk of losing not only her job, but also her heart. “

*Thank you so much to Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review, and for having me on the tour!*

Coming at you with another mood board! I have found I tend to do mine based on what is in the book, rather than try to color match all the photos. Hope you like!

I really enjoyed this book! It was slow but a good slow. A good cozy slow, if that makes sense. It is a perfect winter read. I definitely want to visit this place! Everything seemed so magical!

Sophie is an extremely likable character. She is nice, helpful, but when it really comes down to it she will stick up for herself. She is quite funny. She asks herself “What would Jesus do?” but then decides that no one is as perfect as Jesus, so she asks herself “What would Gandhi do?” I thought that was pretty funny. She also finds trouble always on accident. The situations she gets herself into… Like when she meets Ben. She rolls out into the street chasing kids and he almost hits her with his car. Or when she meets Tristan. She is hiding in a closet (avoiding the horrible owner) and thinks the coast is clear and bumps into Tristan instead. I like her conversations with him and with Ben! She’s witty!

Like I said, the plot was a bit slow, but in a good way! It started out being about Sophie’s time at this fancy old timey hotel. But it ends up having quite the twist and turns into a few different mysteries! I would love to solve a mystery in a hotel, in Europe, in the mountains. How cozy is that?!

The writing is beautiful without going overboard. I loved the descriptions of the hotel. It really seems like somewhere I would want to go. And they have a New Years Eve Ball! That would be so much fun! The mystery happened really quickly, within the last 50-100 pages. But I still loved it! It was a very cute book!

Where would you love to solve a mystery?

Immunity (Contagion, #2) by Erin Bowman – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Harper Teen

Publication Date: July 2, 2019

Genre: YA, Sci-fi

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Goodreads | Amazon

Survivors of a deadly planetary outbreak take on a new, sinister adversary in the sequel to Contagion.

They thought their nightmare was over, but Thea, Coen, and Nova’s rescue was only the beginning. After being imprisoned on a ship they thought was their ticket to safety, it’s clear that the threat they left behind isn’t as distant as they’d hoped—and this time the entire galaxy is at risk.

Now that threat is about to be unleashed as an act of political warfare. To prevent an interstellar catastrophe, the survivors must harness the evil they faced on the planet Achlys and learn to wield the only weapon they have left: themselves.”

I’ll keep this one short and sweet since it’s the sequel/ series finale.

I had so much fun with this book! I was really pleased with the way it played out and ended. Thea had some MAJOR character growth and she became a fierce young woman.

Thea and Coen had good chemistry and I totally shipped them. The fact that they had to deal with the virus AND political warfare at the same time was super interesting. They had to save everyone. Yet, at the same time, couldn’t save everyone.

It wasn’t quite as intense as the first book but it was still really good!

Let’s discuss! I love virus outbreak type of books and movies! What are your favorite virus books or movies?

*Book sleeve is from Love You More Studio. Coupon code: Storied10

*Amazon link is my affiliate link*

*Usual warning of content: This is something I put on my blog for parents specifically. Just listing the different themes or topics represented in the book.*

CONTENT: Blood, death, deadly virus outbreak, perseverance, friendship, two of the side characters are f/f relationship, kissing, sexual thoughts, killing

Wardens of Eternity (#1) by Courtney Allison Moulton – Spoiler Free Review

Publisher: Blink

Publication Date: January 21, 2020

Genre: YA Fantasy, Mythology

Goodreads | Amazon

“Ziva Ellison has one memory of her parents, made the day they abandoned her on the streets of New York City when she was three years old. They left her with only a memory and a promise that she had a great and terrible destiny.

Fifteen years later, Ziva discovers that destiny includes powers that she doesn’t understand and can barely control. Her magic attracts vicious, otherworldly monsters, and eventually compatriots to help her fight them. Sayer and Nasira know the secrets Ziva doesn’t; that Ziva is descended from Egyptian royalty and in possession of ancient magic passed down from the time of the gods. They promise to teach Ziva to control her magic and to give her the family she’s always yearned for.

But trouble is brewing in the world around them; darkness is descending on Hitler’s Germany, threatening World War II. As the last heir of a revered Egyptian queen, Ziva is the only one with the power to prevent another costly global conflict. As Ziva navigates her newfound abilities and makes a connection with Anubis and other Egyptian gods, the Nazis are hunting for the ultimate weapon, and Ziva has caught their interest.

From Courtney Allison Moulton, author of the acclaimed Angelfire series, comes Wardens of Eternity, an action-packed page-turner that blends history, mythology, and magic, perfect for fans of Rick Riordan and Kiersten White.”

*Thank you so much to Blink for sending me an ARC in exchange for an honest review and for TLC Book Tours for having me on the tour!*

First of all, I am trying to spice up my blog a bit and try new things with my reviews. So, I put together a mini mood board for Wardens of Eternity! Please let me know if this is something you like or do not generally like!

I loved the Egyptian mythology. It did give me Percy Jackson vibes but for an older audience, I think. I really liked the historical, 1940s, plot. Finding the tombs of Nefertari, and other archaeological finds and learning about them was so interesting! Especially with the added plot point of the second world war.

Ziva has these powers and background that she doesn’t understand. I love that she finds her family in the Medjai people. She has this awesome lineage that makes her Egyptian royalty. How freaking cool! So, she is like, one of the most powerful of her people and retains knowledge like nobody’s business. And Sayer! Oh, sweet Sayer. I love his personality. He can kick some butt and then be the nicest guy ever. And Nasira is so sassy, I love it. I also love the side characters! I would love a book from Anubis’ POV!

I really enjoyed the plot. They are running around on this grand adventure trying to find the body parts of Queen Nefertari, to bring her back to life. All the while dodging WWII and fighting gods who don’t want Nefertari to be reborn. There are some crazy fight scenes! Plus some plot twists that I was like, WHAAAAAT?!

The only thing I didn’t really like is the fact that it was mentioned a lot that Egypt was being victimized. And how horrible they had it. Which, I understand, BUT Egypt (nor any other country) is not perfect. Egypt also enslaved and killed people. They did to other countries what the book was saying was so horrible being done to Egypt… Also when they were saying how the archaeologists were taking their artifacts, which again I completely understand, BUT their own government was letting it happen…

Okay, I really enjoyed this book and the mythology! It was so interesting! I am definitely interested in the next book! Talk about a cliff hanger!

What mythology is your favorite?

Renegades (Renegades, #1) by Marissa Meyer – Spoiler Free Review

Processed with VSCO with a4 preset

Publisher: Feiwel & Friends

Publication Date: November 07, 2017

Genre: YA, Sci-fi, Fantasy

Adventure Rating: 4.5 Stars

Goodreads |Amazon

Secret Identities. Extraordinary Powers. She wants vengeance. He wants justice.

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.”

I LOVED this book. This month was my pick for one of my book clubs and I chose this one because I’ve been dying to read it since it came out! Marissa Meyer is one of my favorite authors. If you haven’t read her The Lunar Chronicles series, you should. I love the way she retells classic themes! Including super heroes and villains!

Okay, this is going to sound crazy, but if you liked the Amazon show, The Boys, you *might* like this series. This series is just WAY cleaner. I mean, it’s target audience is teens, so, yeah.

Moving on. I loved the two main characters. Their banter and interactions are swoon worthy. Nova has been training her whole life to take down heroes. She has ninja skills as well as the ability to put people to sleep. So cool! I feel for her though. Her back story is really sad. And she was taken in by villains who are filled with some morally gray characters as well as classic manipulative villains. She’s filled with confidence and sass and I love it. It matches Adrian’s sweet disposition. He is a pretty classic hero type. He just wants to genuinely help people. He is a total cinnamon roll. But he has some awesome fighting skills too.

Random thoughts: The action is INTENSE sometimes! I couldn’t tell who was going to die or be hurt or what! I love that Nova and Adrian’s relationship is both enemies to lovers as well as forbidden romance. They don’t know each other’s secret identities which makes for some hilarious moments. I also loved the side characters on their team! Ruby is so freaking cool. She can make crystallized weapons out of her blood. Like, what?!

I love how you actually can’t tell who is all good and who is all bad. Just like in real life, every side has bad guys and good guys. It’s just weeding them out that’s hard!

That plot twist ending killed me though. WHAT?!

Let’s talk! Have you read this series? What other Super Hero books do you love?

*Mini sign is from Bookish Signs. Coupon code: Lauren10

*Amazon link is my affiliate link*

*Usual warning of content: This is something I put on my blog for parents specifically. Just listing the different themes or topics represented in the book.*

CONTENT: Blood, death, death of a parent, grief, Adrian has same sex parents, finding out who is good and bad, loyalty, thinking for yourself, fighting scenes

A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison – Blog Tour – Spoiler Free Review – Excerpt

Publisher: Inkyard Press

Publication Date: January 07, 2020

Genre: YA, Contemporary, Romance

Adventure Rating: 4 Stars

Buy Links: Harlequin |Amazon|Barnes & Noble|Indie Bound|Kobo|Books-a-Million|Google Play

When they’re stuck under one roof, the house may not be big enough for their hate…or their love.

When Tyson Trice finds himself tossed into the wealthy coastal community of Pacific Hills, he’s ready for the questions, the stares and the feeling of not belonging. Not that he cares. After recovering from being shot and surviving the rough streets of Lindenwood, he doesn’t care about anyone or anything, much less how the rest of his life will play out.

Golden girl Nandy Smith has spent most of her life building the pristine image that it takes to fit in when it comes to her hometown Pacific Hills where image is everything. After learning that her parents are taking in a troubled teen boy, Nandy fears her summer plans, as well as her reputation, will go up in flames.

Now with Trice living under the same roof, the wall between their bedrooms feels as thin as the line between love and hate. Beneath the angst, their growing attraction won’t be denied. Through time, Trice brings Nandy out of her shell, and Nandy attempts to melt the ice that’s taken Trice’s heart and being. Only, with the ever-present pull back to the Lindenwood streets, it’ll be a wonder if Trice makes it through this summer at all.”

Thank you so much to NetGalley for the e-arc and to Inkyard Press for having me on the tour!

This book surprised me with how much I loved it. I honestly thought it was going to be a cute, fun read, which it was BUT there was a lot more depth than I was expecting. And some really good quotes! I have a lot to say about this book so hang on to your horses.

Grandison covered a lot of issues. Race, feminism, community, stereotypes to name a few. I actually thought she did a really good job of it. The way she didn’t go super into each topic but enough to get young readers interested in the seriousness of what is going on.

Tyson, that sweet boy, is amazing. He comes from a neighborhood and home life that wasn’t good. He made the choice to not become a product of his environment. It’s a HARD choice. My husband comes from a similar home life as Tyson (minus the good mom and minus the shooting), so I know it is hard to leave everything you know and were raised to be, to be a better person. The courage Trice had to walk a better path is something to be commended.

Another issue Grandison brought up was how boys are not taught emotions growing up, resulting in them acting out in inappropriate ways. And them thinking they don’t need help/ therapy. This is a HUGE problem with our society.

Nandy was a bit stand offish in the beginning but I liked her character development. She judged Trice (Tyson) to be someone bad, just because where he came from. And she quickly found out she was wrong about him. She then turned quite likable and a great character to read about. I loved how she saw the good in everyone.

And lastly, the lerrrrve. Okay, it was cute. They met and were friends as kids then reconnected as teens. It sort of reminded me of Sweet Home Alabama in that sense. Absolutely adorable. And they went from friends, to enemies, to lovers. It’s my favorite trope.

I honestly could write a lot more about this book but I don’t want to give away spoilers and what the characters have to go through! And I don’t want this to take a million years to read.

1 | TRICE

Getting shot isn’t the worst part. It’s the aftermath that really fucks you up.

Six months ago, on a dark December night, I was lying in a pool of my own blood on the living room floor. Six months later, I was sitting in a car on the way to a new town to start fresh. In some ways, yeah, the wound had healed. In others, it never would. I didn’t care, though. The last thing I’d cared about got me where I was.

“You’ll like it there, Tyson. The Smiths have prepared a new home for you,” Misty from social services was saying as she drove the long stretch of highway toward Pacific Hills. It was only an hour away from where I used to live in Lindenwood, California.

I didn’t respond. Home was a meaningless word to me now.

Misty peeked at me. “Aren’t you going to say anything?”

“I can leave as soon as I turn eighteen, right?” That was all that mattered. Fuck the rest. Five months, aka one hundred and sixty days, to go. On November twelfth, I’d be free.

Misty sighed. “Look, I know what you’re going through—”

“Word? You’ve been shot too and all’at?” I glanced her way. This lady was going home to a million-thread-count sheet-and-pillowcase set, resting easy once I was off her hands.

Fuck outta here.

“Well, no, but—”

“Then shut up.” I faced the road ahead, done talking. 

Misty let out a breath, her light tan skin no doubt holding a blush upon her cheeks. “Do you kiss your—” She caught herself, as if realizing where she was about to go. “I—I’m sorry. You just shouldn’t speak that way.”

I felt an ache in my chest, but I let it go.

I didn’t care.

Half a beat later Misty was rambling on about food. “Do you wanna stop and get something to eat, you must be starving.”

“I told you I wasn’t hungry.”

“Oh, well, are you nervous?”

I hadn’t thought about being nervous or the fact that I would never return home again and lead a normal life. Not like I’d ever led one to begin with.

“No.”

“Well, good. Think of it as going to a sleepover at an old friend’s house.”

One thing was true, the Smiths were old friends, but this setup was for the next five months.

“It’s been ten years since I last saw them,” I spoke up. “This ain’t no damn sleepover, and it’s not about to be all kumbaya, neither.”

At least they were black. Moving into the uppity setting of Pacific Hills was sure to be hell, but at least I would be with a black family. Even if I wouldn’t exactly fit in.

I didn’t look the same. I didn’t act the same. I wasn’t the same. And I didn’t care.

“Tyson—”

“It’s Trice.” I had asked her to call me that from jump street. No one called me Tyson.

I didn’t want to think about that. I didn’t want to think about anything. I didn’t care.

“Trice, please, try? I know it’s been rough these past few months, but you have a chance at something fresh. The Smiths are good people, and Pacific Hills is a lovely town. I’m sure soon you’ll be close to your old self.”

Misty had no clue what she was talking about. My old self? She obviously hadn’t paid attention to my file, or she would’ve been smart enough to leave it at fresh and not bring up my past.

Tyson Trice was dead.

He died on the f loor in the living room that day, and he was never coming back.

When I didn’t respond, Misty let up, probably getting that I didn’t give a shit either way.

I didn’t care.

2 | Nandy

I told myself I didn’t care about the juvenile delinquent my parents were moving into our home. I told myself it was no big deal an ex-con would be sleeping right next door to me. I told myself that my parents hadn’t made the worst decision in everdom.

It was just an everyday occurrence in the Smith household.

Still, it wasn’t fair.

As I paced around the pool in my backyard and complained to my best friend, Erica Yee, over the phone, I expected her to be on my side and console me.

“This was supposed to be a great summer and they pull this?” I whined.

“You can still have a good summer,” Erica responded. “This doesn’t have to be the end.”

But it was the end. My parents hadn’t gone into detail about the boy’s situation, just that he was in a “rough spot” and would be living with us for now. And that he was from Lindenwood, otherwise known as the ghetto.

I’d never gone there, but I’d heard enough stories to know to be cautious. When my parents watched the news, there was always a segment on some tragedy that had happened in Lindenwood. Some high-speed chase, or little kids killed during a drive-by, or a robbery gone wrong among the usual clutter of crime that kept the LPD busy. Lindenwood was notorious for its drugs, thefts, assaults, and murders.

I shivered.

It probably hadn’t been the best idea to stay up lurking on the local news feeds right before the delinquent moved in.

Everything would be ruined.

“It is the end,” I insisted. “I mean, they spent all this time whispering and having these hushed conversations behind closed doors, and they barely revealed last night that he’s from Lindenwood!”

Maybe I was acting childishly, but I felt like a kid with the way my parents had shut me out on the biggest detail of all when it came to the boy coming to stay with us out of nowhere. For two weeks, they’d been scarce on the topic and evaded any and all questions. Now it felt like they’d dropped a bomb on me.

For all I knew, this kid was a total ex-gangbanger and my parents were intent on opening our home to wayward souls.

Dramatic? Sure.

Precautions? I was definitely taking them.

“Right now, you’re probably pacing around your pool in a Gucci bikini while your happily-in-love parents are inside preparing dinner together. God, Nan, your life is incredibly boring. You could use this delinquent to spice things up.”

Well, it was a Sunday evening, and the sun was beginning to set. My parents always made dinner together on Sundays, because they were both off work and able to do so.

I stopped pacing and glanced down at my white Gucci bikini. “Yee, you try new hobbies to spice things up, not invite ex-cons to move in with you. Look, whatever, let’s just get away for a few hours. The longer I put a halt on this, the better.”

“When is he supposed to show up?”

“Sometime today. I just wanna blow it off. Maybe you, me, and Chad could grab a bite at the club or something.”

My boyfriend’s family had a reserved table at the local country club. Anything would be better than dinner with the delinquent. I wasn’t 100 percent sure he was a criminal, but I wasn’t taking any chances. When it came to Lindenwood, you couldn’t be too sure.

“You in?” I asked.

“If we must.” Erica pretended to sound exasperated. “Call me with the details in twenty, okay?”

“Deal.” I hung up and sighed, tilting my head back toward the darkening sky and questioning what I had done to deserve this.

It was the first week of June, and school had ended last week. I intended to spend this summer before senior year going to beach bonfires and parties with my friends, lounging around, preparing for cotillion, and just staying as far away from home as possible.

With a plan in motion, I went around my pool and stepped into our family room through the patio doors.

“Shit!” I jumped back, dropping my phone and barely registering the sound of its rough slap against the hardwood floor.

My parents were standing in the room with an Asian woman who was dressed in a violet-red pantsuit. But it was the boy beside her that startled me. He towered over my father, with broad shoulders and a wide chest, and arms that let me know he worked out, even though he seemed drenched in black with his long-sleeved shirt and matching pants. He had deep, dark brown skin with a clean complexion. But what really stood out was his hair. The boy had cornrows braided to the back of his head—well-aged cornrows.

Ugh, he looked so unpolished.

Suddenly I remembered my fallen phone and looked down to discover the screen was cracked. Because things aren’t messed up enough already.

“And you remember our daughter, Nandy.” My mother played it cool, gesturing toward where I’d frozen near the patio doors.

Everyone faced me, looking just as uncomfortable as I felt.

Great, I was making my first impression completely inappropriate in a bikini.

Awkwardly, I waved and forced a smile onto my face, showing off the result of two years of braces.

“Nandy, this may be a little bit of a surprise, but you remember Tyson Trice, don’t you?” my father asked, looking between the two of us. 

At first, the name vaguely rang a bell, but then it hit me. Tyson, the boy I’d played with when I was younger. He used to come by in the summers when his grandfather would do lawn work around our subdivision. There’d been a few times during the school year when he’d come by too, but it was mostly a summer thing. Until he stopped coming altogether.

The revelation brought a sense of relief followed quickly by a foreign anger that I couldn’t explain.

That was then; this is now.

Now Tyson Trice had hit a mega growth spurt and stood before me nearly a man, appearing not at all like the seventeen years young that we both were.

“Right.” I nodded my head. “Tyson, hey.”

Tyson didn’t shift focus to my body. He stared straight into my eyes and bore no friendly expression or a tell of what he was thinking. He was far across the room, but I didn’t need to be right up on him to know that he had the angriest eyes I’d ever seen. Dark, soulless abysses stared at me, making me shiver.

Right on, Dad. Thanks for inviting a possible murderer into our home.

“And this is our son, Jordy.” My mother didn’t miss a beat as she went on, downplaying how awkward everything was.

Jordy, my eleven-year-old little brother, was sitting against the ottoman, playing a video game on his handheld.

Tyson glanced at Jordy, and I felt protective, seeing curiosity briefly cross his face as he laid eyes on my Thai brother.

Jordy looked up from his game. “Hey.”

Tyson lifted a brow and turned to face my parents in that familiar way most outsiders looked at my family once they realized a black family was raising a Thai son.

Jordy smirked, shaking his head. “They wish they could’ve spawned a kid as good-looking as me.”

My father chuckled. “We spoke about adopting for years after having Nandy, and right around the time she was eight, we got approved and Jordy came into our lives.”

“He was just two years old,” my mother gushed. “He was so adorable, we fell in love with him instantly.”

I came more into the room, wanting to shield my brother from Tyson. Someone had to think of the kids.

“Nandy, why don’t you go put some clothes on.” It wasn’t a question. My mother was ordering me to cover up and look more presentable for our guests.

“I was actually on my way out to meet up with Erica, we’ve got this—”

“Right now?” she asked. “We’ve got company.”

I glanced at Tyson, hating him again for spoiling my summer. I’d seen him, and I’d spoken to him. What more did she want?

“Yeah, but Erica and I had plans to go to the country club and talk about cotillion.”

My mother pursed her lips. “Nandy—”

“You know what,” my father stepped in, “that’s a great idea. Nandy could take Tyson and the two could get reacquainted, and that’ll give us time to talk to Ms. Tran here.”

My eyes practically shot out of their sockets. There was no way in hell I’d share a car with Tyson.

After thinking it over, my mother seemed to agree. “That is a great idea. We can all sit down together later.”

My jaw hit the ground.

I shook my head. “You know, never mind, suddenly I’m not as hungry as I thought. In fact, I feel sick to my stomach. I think I’ll go lie down.”

By the way my mother narrowed her eyes, I knew she’d be giving me hell later about my behavior. I didn’t care. It wasn’t fair to me to force some scary-looking guy into my hands to be babysat.

With one final look at the newest arrival to the Smith household, I picked up my phone from the floor and made my way up to my room.

Long after Ms. Tran had left and my mother had scolded me in our family office, I sat in my room, maneuvering with a broken phone as I texted my boyfriend. Going on a hunger strike didn’t last long for me. After having refused to go down for dinner, I was starving.

My cell phone chirped as Chad texted me back.

Chad: Outside

Me: Thank God

My parents were probably still up, no doubt discussing either my punishment or how we were going to work Tyson into the family.

With their bedroom being in a different wing of our house, sneaking out was always an easy feat. Still, I made sure to keep extra quiet as I crept out of my room and slipped down the staircase.

Chad was waiting for me out front. He’d been pacing back and forth in front of our walk as he waited, and as I stepped outside I was elated to see him.

“I’m thinking sushi, you in?” I asked as I walked past him, heading for his car.

“Yeah, sure. What’s going on?” Chad asked as he caught up to me and fell into step.

I peered up into his blue eyes. “You don’t want to know.”

Chad ran a hand through his auburn hair, appearing confused but conceding. “O-kay, let’s go get some sushi.”

At the feeling of being watched, I glanced back at my house. On the second floor, through one of the large bay windows, I caught sight of a silhouetted figure.

It was him.

Creep.

I turned back to Chad and reached out and caught his hand. “Yeah, let’s get out of here.”

This was my summer, and no one was getting in the way of that.

Excerpted from A Love Hate Thing by Whitney D. Grandison. Copyright © 2020 by Whitney Grandison. Published by Inkyard Press. 

Whitney D. Grandison was born and raised in Akron, Ohio, where she currently resides. A lover of stories since she first picked up a book, it’s no surprise she’s taken to writing her own. Some of her works can be found on Wattpad, one of the largest online story sharing platforms, where she has acquired over 30,000 followers and an audience of over fifteen million dedicated readers.