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The BLACKBIRD blog tour: exclusive excerpt and giveaway

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I am so happy to be a part of Mundie Moms’ blog tour for my friend Anna Carey’s new book BLACKBIRD…for several reasons.

1. Because she is awesome. As in she got us tickets to Hedwig last spring type of awesome:

proof:

Anna and Amy on Broadway

Anna and Amy on Broadway

More about Anna:

Anna Carey is the author of The Eve Trilogy (Eve, Once, Rise) and the forthcoming Blackbird series, which hits shelves September 16th, 2014. She studied creative writing at NYU and has an MFA in fiction from Brooklyn College. She likes miniatures, subway generated wind, flea markets, chalkboard silhouettes, dance-offs, arnold palmers, Chinese finger traps, and top-of-your-lungs car singing. She dislikes pennies, paper receipts, and tunafish. For delayed response times, please contact her through this site. For instant gratification, please find her on twitter @AnnaCareyBooks, her Website, or Facebook.

2. Because I read BLACKBIRD back when it was just an itty bitty baby manuscript, and man, did it knock my socks off!

3. Because YA needs more thrillers, and get a load of this one:

A girl wakes up on the train tracks, a subway car barreling down on her. With only minutes to react, she hunches down and the train speeds over her. She doesn’t remember her name, where she is, or how she got there. She has a tattoo on the inside of her right wrist of a blackbird inside a box, letters and numbers printed just below: FNV02198. There is only one thing she knows for sure: people are trying to kill her.

On the run for her life, she tries to untangle who she is and what happened to the girl she used to be. Nothing and no one are what they appear to be. But the truth is more disturbing than she ever imagined.

The Maze Runner series meets Code Name Verity, Blackbird is relentless and action-packed, filled with surprising twists.

4. Because it’s got this awesomely creepy cover:

blackbird

5. Because I get to give one lucky reader a signed copy of Anna’s book. All you have to do to apply is follow Anna on Twitter or Facebook or both and leave a comment below! I will choose a random winner on September 25 when the blog tour ends. Contest is international.

6. And finally, because I have an EXCLUSIVE excerpt to give you, straight from Anna! Are you ready? Here goes…

When you step out into the morning air, the lot is empty except for a few cars. Two buses sit in spaces five and twelve. Their windows are dark. Across the street, a club is just closing. There’s vomit on the sleek metal stairs.

You try to focus on the vending machine, on the twenty breakfast options you have in front of you. Cheetos, Flaming Cheetos, pretzels and peanuts and Snickers bars. You punch the code for Cheetos. The spiral turns, pushes them out, and they fall to greet you.

            You sit against the station wall, popping the bag and eating them one by one. You close your eyes and try to hold the memory again, the tiny snippets of the coffin, your hands, the church. As you walk forward you see the podium. An angel on the altar holds a gold trumpet. You remember the incense and that bright, floral smell, how that one bouquet sitting beside the podium changed the air.

You remember, you remember.

            Everything else exists in a hazy place, like you are looking through a camera that’s out of focus. You can’t quite make out the clock on the church’s back wall. You don’t know what you were wearing, what year it was or where it happened. You focus on the book that was in front of you, trying to remember the exact page number. You can’t remember the passage. You can’t even see the words on the page, instead the memory cuts out, your hand still on that ribbon marking your place. Still, you keep your eyes closed. You wait for it to return. With your head down, your shoulders resting against the station wall, the sound is background at first. It’s somewhere beyond you.

You open your eyes.

You scan the empty lot. One side of it is all grass, some of it three feet high in places. A few tangled trees have sprouted in the abandoned plot next door. The wind has picked up, moving the tips of grass in one direction. Only a four-foot patch is still, the stalks standing at an odd angle. You watch the shadow behind them.

Then you hear the sound again: the quiet crunching of a person moving through dry brush. It takes a moment for you to process what you are seeing. The figure pushes forward and emerges from the grass. The woman is a foot taller than you, clad in a windbreaker and black running pants. Her chestnut hair is pulled back in a ponytail. She looks old enough to be someone’s mother, the type of woman you’d see at a little league game or in a supermarket line. As she starts towards the front of the building, you notice the gun at her hip.

            You stand. She gives you a quick once over as she doubles her pace. You turn away, starting into a run. You cross the street and go down an empty alley. She is right behind you. You scan the backs of buildings, looking for an entrance into the gated parking structures. They’re all locked.

You go another block, but the woman keeps pace. When you look back the woman is pumping her arms, her run effortless. She’s too fast. You try to get a sense of her height, her size, wondering if you have any chance against her. You are only about five three. The woman is taller but she is slight, her limbs long and lanky.

On instinct you run in an arc, cutting down another alley and over Hollywood Boulevard. The traffic is sparse and you feel alone, exposed, the streets too empty to hide. A convertible sees you crossing and slows. It takes only a moment for the car to speed up again, racing past without much notice.

You keep on, turning toward the freeway. You can hear the sounds of cars somewhere above. For a moment there’s nothing except that static hum, and it’s easy to believe you’ve outrun her. But when you glance over your shoulder the woman is there, right at the last corner. She hasn’t slowed at all. You try to keep your breath even, drawing long sips of air, but her presence unhinges you. It’ll only take her a few minutes to close the gap between you.

            You’re all guts and instinct, muscle and blood and bone. You pull the pack to your front, unzipping it as best as you can. The knife is right on top. As soon as you have it you drop the rest, feeling the weight of it go. Everything you own. The cash. The supplies. The notebook. You try not to think about it, try only to feel how much lighter you are without it.

            You pick up speed. As you reach the freeway underpass you turn, moving down an abandoned street that parallels the road above. She’s disappeared from view. There are bushes to your left and buildings to your right—another parking garage, three stories tall. You sprint along the backs of them, hiding behind a dumpster.

She is coming. You listen to her shoes hitting the pavement, the sound moving closer. You flip open the knife and clasp the base of it. Three, you think, trying to stop the trembling in your hands. Two… There’s an unevenness to her steps as she takes the corner, and you hear her hesitation. She’s realized you’re hiding. She’s registered something’s wrong.

One.

            You step forward. You keep the knife down. You level your right shoulder into her breastbone, keeping your feet out to absorb the impact. When you collide everything in your body hurts. You propel her back, away from you, as you struggle to stay standing. She hasn’t slowed enough and her speed is against her. Her legs give out. She stumbles away, falling to the ground, her hand on her stomach. All her breath has left her body and she opens her mouth, wheezing, trying to get air.

She seems so helpless and small. Your first instinct is to go to her, but then she reaches for the gun, aiming it at your heart. Before she can fire you are upon her. Both hands come together in an X motion, over her outstretched arm. The force of it breaks her grip. Your left hand grabs the barrel and twists, freeing the weapon. You throw the thing as far as you can, sending it skidding across the pavement.

It stops your breath, how easy it was to disarm her. You try to ignore the throbbing in your head, your shoulder, your side. Kneeling down beside her, you’re so close you can see the mascara on her eyelashes. She is in her mid-forties but her skin is pulled taut. She has plump, overdone lips.

One hand immediately goes to her neck. She pinches a medallion between her fingers, the metal glinting in the bright morning light. For some reason you’re struck by it, this small ordinary thing, how just holding it seems to comfort her. There’s a shepherd on one side, an antlered deer and cross on the other. She turns it back and forth.

You bring the knife up, letting it hover over her throat. It feels false. You’re not a murderer. You can’t kill her, you won’t, but you try your best to pretend. She just stares back at you, her chest heaving as she struggles for air. She seems confused. She searches your face as if she knew you once, but she doesn’t quite recognize you anymore.

“Who are you?” you ask. “Why were you chasing me?”

The woman coughs. She still holds the medallion, turning it between her fingers. When she parts her lips, her voice is a sad, slow whisper. “Just do it,” she says. “I’m already dead.”

“What?”

The woman’s face tenses, her eyes squeezing shut. “They’ll do it if you won’t.”

“Who? Who are you talking about?” You are holding the knife so tight your hand throbs.

“Them.” Her eyes turn up, her gaze fixed on something behind you.

You stand, starting backwards, scanning the buildings, trying to figure out what she’s looking at. You’re only a few feet away when something hits the woman in the chest. A wound opens up. It’s no bigger than a quarter. The bullet has buried itself above her right breast, in the tender spot below her collarbone. You just stand there, watching her body heave.

You turn, looking at the building’s windows, at the freeway above. A figure stands on the roof of the parking garage, his right foot planted on the concrete ledge. It’s the man from the day before, wearing a similar white shirt and black pants. You blink, stunned, as he watches you.

Then he lowers his gun. He stares at you for a moment, and if it’s an acknowledgement, you’re not sure of what. He’s killed her, this stranger, even though you were the clear shot. Why would he follow you here, watching this from above? Why would he protect you?

The rush of the traffic drowns out your thoughts. You see only images. The woman on the ground, the way the smog blots out the sky. A bird calls overhead. Then he shifts his attention to the silver car behind him. It’s parked there, the passenger door still open. He climbs in. Then the car pulls away.

You run for it, circling the block, trying to get to the garage exit before he does. You can hear him in the parking structure above, the screech of his tires as he takes each turn, speeding back down to the ground level. When you reach the corner you see him pull out, turning the opposite way, down the alley. You break into a sprint but it’s no use. He takes a right and is gone, disappearing as quickly as he came.

Pure awesomeness, non? Anna really knows how to suck the reader right into the thick of the action…and never let you go!

Here’s the info to pick up your own copy of BLACKBIRD:

More info:
Written by: Anna Carey
Published by: Harper Teen
Releasing on: September 16th, 2014
Add it to Goodreads
Get it From: Amazon | B&N
Read a Sample

And don’t forget to enter the contest for a signed book from Anna! (see Reason #5 above for details)!

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Come hang out with CJ Daugherty & me at a London café

If you’re in London this Tuesday, August 12, grab your Night Schools, Die For Mes & After the End, and come on over to Greenberry Café. (map)

CJ Daugherty and I will be hanging out from 2-3pm, and we’d love to see you. We will sign whatever you’ve got, take pics, and answer (almost) any questions you might have.  (Okay, probably every question. Put us to the test.)

It’s totally casual. There is nothing to buy. Just look for the ladies drinking a TON of coffee, and come over and say hi! We don’t bite. At least I don’t. I won’t speak for CJ, but I’ve never seen her bite before. She usually just smiles and signs things.

Proof that we are not scary.

Proof that we are not scary.

Hope to see you there!

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Another DIE FOR ME novella is in the making!

I have news. Exciting news. I going to write another DIE FOR ME novella.

And I’m including everything you’ve been asking me for during the last year and a half. It’s written from Jules’s POV, once he gets to NYC, starting at the end of IF I SHOULD DIE. So you’ll find out what happens to EVERYONE.

I figured I should tell you because I just noticed it’s already up on Goodreads and available for pre-order on Amazon. Eep! I haven’t even thought of a title yet!

I’m so excited to have the opportunity to tell you WHAT HAPPENS NEXT. So right now I’m refreshing my memory and re-reading the series. I’m halfway through DIE FOR ME. Read-along, anyone?

If you want to read all of my notes on the books as I read them, chapter by chapter, with all sorts of tidbits for DIE FOR ME junkies, follow along on my FB page.

As I post this, I am on chapter 13 of DIE FOR ME. So jump on in and join me!

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