Thursday, 28 April 2016

Review: Dreamology by Lucy Keating

Title: Dreamology
Author: Lucy Keating
Published: 12 April 2016
Publisher: Harper Teen
Source: Harper Teen via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review
Reviewed: Sapphired Dragon
Rating: *****

My Review:

I absolutely adored this story! From the moment I started the first chapter and felt the quirkiness of Alice's voice, I was knew this book was going to be warm magical read..

I originally picked it up because the description sound very unique and original and I thought whole premise of two people growing up together and falling in love in their dreams, only to suddenly find out that not only was the other person real but also seeming nothing like their dream self incredibly intriguing and I was eager to see where this would lead.

What it lead to was a uniquely original and captivating story that was a delicious melding of quirky, funny and sweet. I loved where Ms Keating took this story and the vivid, colourful characters she created to deliver it. I loved the main character Alice, sweet yet lonely with her best friend Sophie, her bull dog Jerry and her dreamboy Max. I loved Oliver with this irrepressible humour and attitude, celeste, 'the girlfriend' yet the all around nice person and max, the boy who despite his feelings about his dream girl Alice, has a whole other world that Alice is not a part of.

Ms Keating bubbly writing style, with seemingly random yet perfectly placed scientific facts and fragments of Alice's dreams peppered through the story line perfectly balances some of the more serious themes in this book such as abandonment and death. She has created a story with characters the reader can emotionally connect to and live the story with them. We see the story through the eyes of Alice, and Ms Keating had me feeling the wonder, the adventure, the heart break and the hard truths right along with Alice.

I loved the fact that I had no idea where the story was going to lead, that I loved every moment of the journey and was immensely satisfied with the place the story finished.

This was definitely one of my most enjoyable reads of 2016 and I give this book 5 stars!
Sapphired Dragon xx

About The Book:

Dreamology by Lucy Keating

A debut novel with the vibrantly unconventional romance of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and the sweetness and heart of Jenny Han

For as long as Alice can remember, she has dreamed of Max. Every night since they were kids, they've met in their dreams, traveled the world, and fallen deliriously, hopelessly in love. Max is the boy of her dreams—and only her dreams. Because he doesn’t exist in real life.

Then Alice walks into class on her first day at a new school, and there he is. It turns out, though, that Real Max is nothing like Dream Max, and getting to know each other in reality isn’t as perfect as Alice always hoped—especially when their dreams start to bleed troublingly into their waking hours. Soon, Alice and Max question not just their relationship, but their own sanity. The pair realize that the only way to fix things might be to put an end to a lifetime of dreaming about each other. But when you fall in love in your dreams, can reality ever be enough?

Whimsical, romantic, heartbreaking, and utterly original, Lucy Keating’s debut novel will win readers’ hearts, and is perfect for fans of Jennifer E. Smith and Stephanie Perkins.


Release Week Blitz + Giveaway : The Secrets We Keep by Trisha Leaver

I am so excited to help spread the word that THE SECRETS WE KEEP by Trisha Leaver is now out in paperback!

If you haven’t yet added this awesome book to your shelf, now’s the perfect time. Just scroll down to learn more about the book and author, to read an excerpt, and to enter the giveaway for a chance to win an Amazon gift card!



Author: Trisha Leaver

Paperback release date: April 26, 2016

Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) | Square Fish

Pages: 304

Formats: Paperback 978-1250073624) | hardcover (978-0374300463) | audio (978-1501212222) | eBook (ASIN: B00OFKKFFQ)

Genre: YA Contemporary

Ages: 12 and up


Twin sisters. A fatal accident. A devastating lie. Which girl survived?

"A girl takes over her twin sister's identity in this emotionally charged page-turner about the complicated bond between sisters."

Ella and Maddy Lawton are identical twins. Ella has spent her high school years living in popular Maddy's shadows, but she has never been envious of Maddy. In fact, she's chosen the quiet, safe confines of her sketchbook over the constant battle for attention that has defined Maddy's world.

When--after a heated argument--Maddy and Ella get into a tragic accident that leaves Maddy dead, Ella wakes up in the hospital surrounded by loved ones who believe she is Maddy. Feeling responsible for Maddy's death and everyone's grief, Ella makes a split-second decision to pretend to be Maddy. And everyone believes her. Caught in a web of lies, Ella is faced with two options--confess her deception and risk devastating those who loved Maddy, or give up her own dreams and live her sister's life.
Find it: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | iTunes | IndieBound | Goodreads


*"Leaver's brilliant novel is the high school version of What Happened to Janie? The compelling premise will attract readers and the strong characterization will keep them enthralled." -VOYA, STARRED REVIEW

*“Leaver's story is certainly entertaining and intriguing. VERDICT This should be a primary purchase for any library with patrons who love melodramatic mysteries and romance.” SLJ, STARRED AUDIO REVIEW

"Trisha Leaver crafts a powerful and haunting novel that will keep you up long after you read the last page. Full of twists and turns and FEELS, this book questions how far a person will go for her family . . . even if it means losing herself." - Lynne Matson, author of NIL

The Excerpt

I don’t remember her room being so cold. Even snuggled into her sweater the chill seeps in, settling into my bones like a whisper from beyond. That’s where I will sleep Maddy’s bed, surround by her scent. Mom wants to change the sheets, but I won’t let her. The hint of vanilla mingled with Alex’s dark cologne brings a little piece of my sister back to me each night.

The only thing I have left of my old life is a few sketches and a poor replica of the friendship bracelet Josh gave me. It took me days to re-create, to weave the strings into the right pattern. It’s not perfect, but it goes with me everywhere, a tiny reminder of who I once was and what Josh still means to me. The real bracelet is gone, cut off and tossed aside just like my life.

I want to make peace with my choice, but Maddy’s secret haunts me. The dark pieces of her life are hid- den in the back of her closet for no one but me to see. She’s not who I thought she was, but that doesn’t matter. Maddy was my sister, my twin sister, and I’ll do anything for her, including losing myself.

The Teasers

There was a fear behind his words, a fear that I would change my mind and reveal a secret I didn't even know.”

“I am already gone. I died that night on the side of the road with my sister.”

About Trisha Leaver

Trisha Leaver lives on Cape Cod with her husband, three children, and one rather disobedient black lab. She is a chronic daydreamer who prefers the cozy confines of her own imagination to the mundane routine of everyday life. She writes Young Adult Contemporary Fiction, Historical Fiction, Psychological Horror and Science Fiction and is published with FSG/ Macmillan, Flux/Llewellyn and Merit Press. Her YA Contemporary, THE SECRETS WE KEEP, was named one of the best YA novels for summer (2015) by Teen Vogue and received starred reviews from VOYA Magazine and School Library Journal (audio). For more details, check out her website at

Find her: Website | Twitter | Tumblr | Facebook | Instagram | Goodreads

The Giveaway

There is a blitz-wide giveaway, courtesy of the author, for:

  • ONE (1) winner will receive a $25 Amazon Gift Card
***Giveaway is open to anyone 13 or older who can accept an Amazon Gift Card***

Enter in the Rafflecopter below.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, 27 April 2016

Review: The Winner's Crime ( The Winners Trilogy #2) by Marie Rutkoski

Title: The Winner's Crime
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Published: 12 March 2015 by Bloomsbury Publishing
Source: Bloomsbury via netgalley in return for an honest review
Reviewed: Sapphired Dragon
Rating: ****

My Review:

I absolutely adored the first book in this series The Winner's Curse. I gave it 5 stars. I have to be honest though, this second instalment took me 2 separate goes to finish it. It actually took receiving book 3 for review, to go back and finish it. That being said though. I am so glad I did come back to it as the second half had me absolutely gripped to the pages, greedily devouring each page until the ending... The words exquisite agony come to mind. Needless to say. I am extremely glad to be able to move straight on to book 3 to see how it is all going to unfold.

I first started it shortly after I reviewed book 1 last year. I read it ravenously at first then I think I got distracted by something else and then never quite got back to it. When I picked it up again however last week, i found I could easily sink back into to the story and get caught up in all the intrigue till suddenly i was sitting shell shocked at the last page. What I really love about this series and this instalment is that there are so many different threads running through it and yet every thread is exactly where it needs to be, being expertly woven into the whole to make such a rich, detailed and authentic story.

The world building is incredible. Ms Rutkoski has created a such a vivid world, with such distinct countries and cultures and her writing really captures the brutalness of the Valourians conquests and campaigns and the desperateness of the conquered countries to both obtain their freedom and fight back against the Valourians and their brutal tactics. I think in this books we get to let much more about all of these countries and the people who both live and rule them and i think this really adds to the story and series as a whole.

There is so much intrigue in this story. I was genuinely scared for both Kestrel and Arin for a good portion of this book. And the emperor scares me with his evilness and constant game playing and loyalty tests. He always seems to be several steps ahead of everybody else and that just makes him dangerous. This goes together with my point about the many different threads. there s so much going on beneath the surface in this book and Ms Rutkoski gets the balance between suspense and reveal absolutely perfect

I am so very glad i finished this story and it truly was a gorgeous and thrilling read and if you will just excuse me now, i am off to read book 3 :-)

Even though I loved this book, because of my original false start with this book, I have to pull this otherwise flawless story back to 4 stars!

Sapphired Dragon xx .

About The Book:

Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

 check out the good reads link
Publication Date: 12 March, 2015
Pre-Order:Booktopia  | Book Depository | Amazon

Tuesday, 26 April 2016

Review: Emerge (Mer Chronicles #1) by Tobie Easton

Title: Emerge
Author: Tobie Easton
Published: 18 April 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Source: Month9Books in exchange for an honest review
Reviewed: Sapphired Dragon
Rating: *** 3/4

My Review:

I have always like stories about mermaids and this is on of the most engaging ones I have read in a while. I easily slipped in to the tail and was kept there from beginning to end. I really like the different angles , this story brought to the mermaid Myth ie the connection to the little mermaid and the Hans Christian Anderson tale but also the idea of being exiled on land due to war. This exile was padded out well with a believable mythos behind it as a well thought out way of life for the mermaids co-existing with humans on land.

I wasn't a huge fan of Lia and thought she made some bad choices in the book. That being said though, i liked seeing there be consequences of the bad choices and the fact that she wasn't portrayed as the all perfect heroine.

I also liked that even when I was able to predict certain plot points, there were also things that came as a surprise and others that made me just enjoy the journey. The story and the writing flowed well, keeping me invested in the story till the end. I wanted and need to find out how it would all turn out.

This story works as a stand along however Goodreads does have it as book 1 of the Mer Chronicles. I am really hoping that means we get to read stories about some of the other characters in the Mer World. In particular i would love to read Caspian's story, I was really intrigued by his character, his insatiable need for learning, languages on particular, and what he and his family had experienced from other Mer as result of his siren Aunt.

I really loved this story and this world and gave it 3 3/4 stars!

Sapphired Dragon xx

About The Book:

Emerge (Mer Chronicles #1) by Tobie Easton


Lia Nautilus may be a Mermaid but she’s never lived in the ocean. War has ravaged the seven seas ever since the infamous Little Mermaid unleashed a curse that stripped Mer of their immortality. Lia has grown up in a secret community of land-dwelling Mer hidden among Malibu’s seaside mansions. Her biggest problems are surviving P.E. and keeping her feelings for Clay Ericson in check. Sure, he’s gorgeous in that cocky, leather jacket sort of way and makes her feel like there’s a school of fish swimming in her stomach, but getting involved with a human could put Lia's entire community at risk. So it’s for the best that he’s dating that new girl, right? That is, until Lia finds out she isn't the only one at school keeping a potentially deadly secret. And this new girl? Her eyes are dead set on Clay, who doesn't realize the danger he's in. If Lia hopes to save him, she’ll have to get closer to Clay. Lia’s parents would totally flip if they found out she was falling for a human boy, but the more time she spends with him, the harder it is for her to deny her feelings. After making a horrible mistake, Lia will risk everything to stop Clay from falling in love with the wrong girl.


Release Day Blitz + Giveaway: The Rose & The Dagger (The Wrath & The Dawn #2) by Renee Ahdieh

I am so excited that THE ROSE & THE DAGGER by Renée Ahdieh releases today and that I get to share the news, along with an awesome giveaway!

If you haven’t yet heard about this wonderful book by Author Renée Ahdieh, be sure to
check out all the details below.

This blitz also includes a giveaway for a paperback of THE WRATH & THE DAWN and a hardcover of THE ROSE & THE DAGGER and an awesome candle from The Melting Library’s Etsy Store, US Only!  So if you’d like a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the bottom of this post.


Author: Renée Ahdieh
Release Date: April 26, 2016
Publisher: G.P. Putnam's Sons Books for Young Readers
Pages: 432
Formats: Hardcover, eBook, & audiobook
Find it: Goodreads | Amazon | B&N | iBooks 

The much anticipated sequel to the breathtaking The Wrath and the Dawn, lauded by Publishers Weekly as "a potent page-turner of intrigue and romance."

I am surrounded on all sides by a desert. A guest, in a prison of sand and sun. My family is here. And I do not know whom I can trust.

In a land on the brink of war, Shahrzad has been torn from the love of her husband Khalid, the Caliph of Khorasan. She once believed him a monster, but his secrets revealed a man tormented by guilt and a powerful curse—one that might keep them apart forever. Reunited with her family, who have taken refuge with enemies of Khalid, and Tariq, her childhood sweetheart, she should be happy. But Tariq now commands forces set on destroying Khalid's empire. Shahrzad is almost a prisoner caught between loyalties to people she loves. But
she refuses to be a pawn and devises a plan.

While her father, Jahandar, continues to play with magical forces he doesn't yet understand, Shahrzad tries to uncover powers that may lie dormant within her. With the help of a tattered old carpet and a tempestuous but sage young man, Shahrzad will attempt to break the curse and reunite with her one true love.
Praise for The Rose and the Dagger:

“Above all there is the shattering, triumphant catharsis of love… In a story about stories, love is ‘the power to speak without words.’ Thrillingly full of feeling.”—Kirkus Reviews

“Fiery romance, a spirited heroine, shifting loyalties… With more than a few heartrending twists and turns.”—Booklist 


About Renée:
Renée lives in North Carolina (Go Heels!) with her husband Victor and their dog Mushu. Her YA fantasy novel, THE WRATH AND THE DAWN, will be published on May 12th, 2015. In her spare time, she likes to cook, dance salsa, and wreak havoc on the lives of her characters.

She’s also a member of the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, as well as an active member of theScience Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America.

Giveaway Details:
1 winner will receive a paperback of THE WRATH & THE DAWN, a hardcover of THE ROSE
& THE DAGGER, and a His Calipha candle from The Melting Library’s Etsy Store, US Only.

Ends on May 3rd at Midnight EST!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, 23 April 2016

Deweys 24 hour Readathon: Opening meme #readathon

It's less than half an hour until the Readathon starts and I already have my first book and first snack ready. Its 10 pm here and i haven't had dinner yet so starting small with the snacks/drinks

Here also is the opening meme so you can find out a little more about me and my reading habits :-)

1) What fine part of the world are you reading from today?

I am reading from Sydney Australia and as mentioned my start time is actually 10 pm on Saturday 23rd 

2) Which book in your stack are you most looking forward to?

I have a few i am looking forward to but probably The Winners Kiss and The Glittering Court

3) Which snack are you most looking forward to?

Probably the meat pies i will have for lunch tomorrow which will be just past the midway mark

4) Tell us a little something about yourself!

I am a reader/blogger in my mid 30s and this is my second readathon.  I tend to read a lot of paranormal romance and urban fantasy and also like YA again mostly in the genres of paranormal, urban fantasy and paranormal romance.  That being said though I am kind of an eclectic reader so will read a whole assortment of things if the mood takes me.

5) If you participated in the last read-a-thon, what’s one thing you’ll do different today? If this is your first read-a-thon, what are you most looking forward to?

I am going to try and cheerlead more and be more social today as well as getting my read on.  

Well only 10 minutes till show time.  i guess I will see you at the other end :-)

Good luck and happy Reading!

Friday, 22 April 2016

Time To Readathon - Dewey's 24 hour Readathon : Sign up Post and TBRList #readathon

Well it is that time again aka Readathon time.  This is my 2nd time participating in Dewey's 24 hour readathon and this time despite the lateness of this sign up post, I have actually had some more time to prepare.  The readathon starts at 10 pm AEST

I have carefully chosen my TBR list for the event ( shown below) and plan to use this post to tick off books as i go and keep track of what I am reading.  My list is a mix of books I need to read for various challenges, ARCs I need to read for review and also just books I have acquired recently that I just haven't had a chance to read yet. I also reserve the right to change books on the list if I need to in case at some stage I decide i am not in the mood for any of the books on the list and go for something else. :-P

I have downloaded a heap of books on to my Kindle and Ipad for just this reason and also as my leg of the Sprint into earth day Challenge relay falls towards the end of the readathon so i will spending at least an hour of paperless reading :-)

Here is my Readathon TBR

Finished 1.21am (hour 4)

I will be updating my progress on this post, on instagram at Sapphired Dragon Reads, on goodreads via my TBR shelf and completed shelf and also on Twitter using the hashtag #readathon.

I will also be cheering on my fellow readathoners as well as participating on in some challenges and sprints along the way :-)

If you are thinking about participating yourself, its not too late!  Head over to Deweys 24 Hour Readathon to sign up then head over to the goodreads group or facebook group to meet some fellow readathoners and post your TBR list and most important of all... Read!

Wish me luck!

*All readathon buttons and banners used can be found on the Deweys 24 hour readathon button page *

Blog Tour Stop & Giveaway: Nobody's Lady (Never veil #2) by Amy McNulty

Welcome today's stop on the Nobody's Lady (The Never Veil #2) by Amy McNulty Blog Tour presented by Month9Books and hosted by Chapter by Chapter.  Today's stop is a review as well as a chance to enter the great giveaway that is being run throughout this tour.

I loved book 1 of this series and I have to say that book 2 kept me just as spell bound. One of the things I really love about this series is originality and that this is quite different to a lot of other things I have read.

Book 2 is set shortly after the events of book one. the curse has been broken and men are now free to choose whomever they would want to love or not love and are no longer required to hide their faces from all but their goddesses.

However with the removal of the curse, there is a lot of unrest as people struggle to accept and adapt the changes that have resulted

Noll annoyed me a little in this first part of this book. In the first book, she is accused of being selfish and only caring about her desires as she unwittingly cursed the entire village. Now, knowing that she is the one guilty for all this resulting unrest, she chooses to hide away from the rest of the village. I felt like she spent a lot of the first part of this book in denial. Not willing to really think about or accept the consequences of her actions from book 1.

However in the second half of the book, I do think she started to grow and really try to help her village in the curse's aftermath, and though she still made some questionable decisions, I hope to we get to see more of this personal growth in book 3.

I liked that we got to see some more character development and learn more about other peripheral characters like Darwyne and Sindri and I loved we got to learn more about Ailill and how he had spent the long years between being cursed and the curse breaking. I loved the tension between Noll and Ailill, especially in light of what they both now know.

I also loved the direction the second half of this book took, as we discover more about the world around this one village, more about the curse and discover that there may be something darker going on then ever imagined. I really felt like this book built on the events of book 1 and provided an original story both engaging and compelling.

A truly worth sequel to book 1 and I cannot wait to see how it will all conclude in book 3, Nobody's Pawn!

I give this book 4 stars!

SapphiredDragon xx


About Nobody's Lady (The Never Veil #2)

Nobody’s Lady (Never Veil #2) by Amy McNulty
Publication Date: April 12, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books

For the first time in a thousand years, the men in Noll’s village possess the freedom to love whom they will. In order to give each man the chance to fully explore his feelings, the lord of the village decrees all marriages null and void until both spouses declare their love for one another and their desire to wed again. What many women think will be a simple matter becomes a source of village-wide tension as most men decide to leave their families and responsibilities behind.

Rejected by the lord and ashamed of her part in the village’s history, Noll withdraws from her family and lives life as an independent woodcarver. This changes when her sister accuses her of hiding her former husband Jurij from her—and when Jurij eventually does ask to move in. Determined not to make the same mistakes, Noll decides to support her male friends through their new emotional experiences, but she’s soon caught up in a darker plot than she ever dared imagine possible from the men she thought she knew so well. And the lord for whom she still has feelings may be hiding the most frightening truth of them all.

Go back to where it all started:

About Nobody's Goddess (The Never Veil #1)

Title: Nobody's Goddess (The Never Veil #1)
Publication date: April 21, 2015
Publisher: Month9Books, LLC.
Author: Amy McNulty

In a village of masked men, magic compels each man to love only one woman and to follow the commands of his “goddess” without question. A woman may reject the only man who will love her if she pleases, but she will be alone forever. And a man must stay masked until his goddess returns his love—and if she can’t or won’t, he remains masked forever.

Seventeen-year-old Noll isn't in the mood to celebrate. Her childhood friends have paired off and her closest companion, Jurij, found his goddess in Noll’s own sister. Desperate to find a way to break this ancient spell, Noll instead discovers why no man has ever chosen her.

Thus begins a dangerous game between the choice of woman versus the magic of man. And the stakes are no less than freedom and happiness, life and death—and neither is willing to lose.


ABOUT Amy McNulty:

Amy McNulty is a freelance writer and editor from Wisconsin with an honors degree in English. She was first published in a national scholarly journal (The Concord Review) while in high school and currently spends her days alternatively writing on business and marketing topics and primarily crafting stories with dastardly villains and antiheroes set in fantastical medieval settings.

Author Links:   Website | Twitter | Facebook | Pinterest | Goodreads

The Giveaway

·       Five (5) winners will receive a digital copy of Nobody's Lady (The Never Veil #2) by Amy McNulty (INT)


a Rafflecopter giveaway

Cover Reveal & Giveaway: Un/Fair by Steven Harper #FridayReveals

Today Steven Harper and Month9Books are revealing the cover and first chapter for un/FAIR which releases September 6, 2016! Check out the gorgeous cover and enter to be one of the first readers to
receive an eGalley!!

Here’s a quick introduction from the author.

When the doctor said my son Aran was autistic, my world turned upside-down.  I spent years playing special games with him to help him understand the world better.  But in the process, I learned to
understand him.  While I struggled to pull him into our world, he quietly pulled me into his.  This book came out of that.

People always ask authors--including me--why I got a certain scene on the cover or why I didn't put a particular character on the front.  The truth is, authors almost never draw the book covers.  We get a picture of it by email, and it's always a surprise, like getting an early birthday present.  Sometimes the present is a wool sweater you want to wad into a ball and stuff under the bed.  Sometimes the present is a toy you didn't know you wanted until you got it.  The cover for un/FAIR was the latter.  Ryan looks very much like I imagined him in my head, and the salamanders creeping down the top make it clear this isn't a happy fairy book.  The artist even snuck in a reference to the Fibonacci sequence!  I loved getting this one.

On to the reveal! 

 Title: un/FAIR
Author: Steven Harper
Pub. Date: September 6, 2016
Publisher: Month9Books
Format: Paperback & eBook
Find it: Amazon | B&N | TBD | Goodreads

It's difficult enough to live in the neighborhood "freakazoid" house.  It's even more difficult when you're autistic and neither your family nor best friend really understands you.  So when Ryan November wakes up on his eleventh birthday with the unexpected ability to see the future, he braces himself for trouble.  But even his newfound power doesn't anticipate that the fair folk--undines, salamanders, gnomes, and sylphs--want him dead, dead, dead.  Ryan races to defend himself and his family against unrelenting danger from the fairy realm so he can uncover the truth about his family history--and himself.  Except as Ryan's power grows, the more enticing the fairy realm becomes, forcing him to choose between order and chaos, power and family.  And for an autistic boy, such choices are never cut and dry.





Ryan November woke up on his eleventh birthday and knew he’d be able to see the future by breakfast. He rolled over. His clock said 6:56, so he couldn’t get up for four more minutes. That was all right. He didn’t mind waiting.

Not until he saw the string.

The string was made of liquid silver and lay piled in the exact center of a perfect square of May sunshine on his bedroom floor. It gleamed where the sunlight struck it. Ryan stared. He had never seen it before. The messy string looked out of place in the perfectly neat room. In Ryan’s room, every piece of clothing hung in the closet or lay folded in a dresser drawer. Every book sat in alphabetical order on the shelf. Every toy and video game stood arranged in rows more orderly than troops of soldiers. The squiggle of silver string on the floor made Ryan’s head itch on the inside, where he couldn’t scratch. He wanted to pick the string up and put it away.

The clock stopped him. The little red numbers read 6:57 now — three more minutes to go, even though he wanted to examine the string very badly.

Maybe he could find a way around the problem. Automatically, Ryan ran a flowchart in his mind. If he had written it down, it would have looked like this:

[See Figure 1.]

The chart put him at “Stay in bed,” so he lay there, trying not to scratch his head or squirm with suspense, until at last the numbers flicked to 8:00. Ryan pushed the blankets aside and hurried over to pick up the string, still squiggled across the floor. The moment he touched it, the string moved on its own. It jumped into his hand like a little snake. He felt a cold, tingly sensation, and the string was gone. Instead, there was a perfect circle of raised skin around the palm of his left hand.

“Wow,” Ryan said.

Ryan liked circles. He liked their symmetry, the way you couldn’t tell where they started or ended, the way every part was like every other part. He traced the circle with his finger and smiled. He could have a circle with him wherever he went. Then, because Saturday was a brown day, he put on brown cargo pants, a brown shirt, and brown socks before pulling on his shoes and heading for the stairs. Ryan had red-blond hair that he tried to keep combed but always got away from him, a thin sprinkling of freckles that thickened in the summer, and somber eyes that his best friend Alison always described as “blue pools of inexactitude,” which bugged Ryan because he didn’t know what it meant. At the last second, Ryan remembered to grab his cell phone from his dresser. The circle had almost made him forget. There were already two text messages on the screen:

Happy Shared B-Day, R!!


Happy day kiddo!

He texted back, his thumbs jumping across the keypad like precise, tiny frogs:

Happy Shared Birthday to you, too, Alison!

Thanks, Mom.

Ryan never felt quite right abbreviating, so he didn’t. Then he traced the circle on his hand one more time and tromped downstairs.

There were fourteen wooden steps leading down to the kitchen. Each one had nine wooden pegs pounded in a straight line across the front edge, and Ryan automatically counted them all at a glance. 126 pegs, just like yesterday and the day before that and the day before that. He liked the number 126. The digits added up to nine, which was also the number of pegs in each step. The number 126 was a good number to start the day with. He jumped over step number twelve. Ryan didn’t like the number twelve. It was divisible by too many other numbers — itself, six, four, three, two, and one. That was half the numbers between one and twelve. Ryan always felt like twelve would keep dividing itself until it vanished entirely, and he didn’t want to step on a stair that might disappear.

Ryan rounded the turn in the staircase and emerged in the kitchen. It was big and airy, and right now it smelled like butter and hot batter. Aunt Zara was on breakfast duty this morning, and today she had settled on pancakes, Ryan’s favorite. Ryan quietly took his usual place on the bench that ran down the long wooden table. Everything in the Cottage was wood — walls, floor, cupboards, ceiling. Wood hinges held the doors on, and wood latches held them shut. Raw exposed beams ran up to support the roof, and the shingles were made of flat wood. The entire house was held together with wooden pegs. Ryan’s dad boasted that not one scrap of steel held the house together. Instead, the builders had used copper and plastic and ceramic. Ryan liked this. Metals like iron and steel felt heavy and harsh and made his stomach queasy.

“My, my. Happy birthday, Ryan,” Aunt Zara said, and put a plate of pancakes in front of him. Ryan tensed a little. Food you could count had to come in even numbers. Mom always remembered this when she cooked, but Aunt Zara sometimes forgot, and it could turn a simple meal into a disaster. Quickly he counted. Two pancakes, two pieces of sausage. Ryan sighed with relief. It would be bad to get the wrong number of pancakes on his birthday.

Ryan glanced up at Aunt Zara. She favored blue blouses and long skirts that flowed together like waterfalls. She wore her blond hair loose around her shoulders except for two blue barrettes that kept her bangs out of her face. She had a long nose and a wide mouth. At the moment, she was smiling with her teeth showing. Her voice had an upbeat tone to it, and she moved like her body was relaxed. Ryan added these things up and decided Aunt Zara was happy. The appropriate response, Ryan had learned, was a smile. So he smiled. Then he remembered that she had just given him something — his breakfast. It meant he had to say something.

“Thank you,” he said slowly, and tensed slightly, wondering if he had gotten it wrong. It seemed like he got it wrong a lot.

“You’re welcome.” Aunt Zara tried to pat his shoulder, but Ryan ducked away. “Sorry, sweetie. I forget.”

Ryan didn’t like it when people touched him. It felt beyond weird to feel their skin sliding over his in ways he couldn’t control. And a hug felt like being suffocated in wet blankets. When he was little, he had screamed and hit. Now he ducked and dodged.

Aunt Zara headed back for the stove. Ryan was turning to his pancakes, silver fork poised, when his world flickered for a second. Everything grew brighter, as if someone had doubled the sunlight, and he heard a knock. A dark-haired girl poked her head through the screen door and said, “Is he still eating breakfast?” and her voice had a strange, ghostly quality to it. Then the extra light vanished and everything snapped back to normal. Ryan realized no time had passed at all.

A knock came, and a dark-haired girl poked her head through the screen door. “Is he still eating breakfast?” Ryan stopped eating to stare. He had just seen this happen twice.

“Come in, Alison,” Aunt Zara sang out. “You’re just in time for pancakes.”

Alison Ferrier stalked through the door and angled across the kitchen to the table, her skinny legs and sharp elbows flopping carelessly in all directions. Even her ponytail looked sharp. Ryan watched her, caught in an awful fascination. One day she was going to puncture something; he was sure of it. Alison was Ryan’s best — his only — friend, and she lived in a tiny trailer in the woods with three sisters and two brothers and one mother (making seven people total, and seven was a prime number). Like him, she was turning eleven today (another prime number, and if you added one and one, you got two). It took two people to be friends, and two was the only even prime number. Ryan liked that.

Alison folded herself onto the bench beside him. “Two pancakes, two sausages,” she said, looking at his plate. “Will it bug you if I have three and three?”

“No,” Ryan said. “That plate over there” — he pointed — “has one pancake on it, so that makes everything Fibonacci.” He said the word the Italian way: feeb-oh-NAH-chee.


“You know. Zero and one make one, then one and one make two, two and one make three.”

“Oh, right. Cool.”

“My, my. Doesn’t your family feed you?” Aunt Zara asked, setting a plate down in front of her.

“Nope,” Alison said, her mouth already full, and Ryan couldn’t tell if this was a lie or not. He thought about asking, then decided not to and ate more pancakes instead.

“Today is our birthday,” Ryan said. “May first.”

“Yep.” Alison grinned, showing a big mouthful of smooshed-up Fibonacci pancake. Ryan laughed. “Where’s everyone else?”

“I don’t know,” Ryan said.

“Your dad went down to the lake for some early fishing,” Aunt Zara said from the stove. “Aunt Ysabeth and your mother are wrapping birthday presents. So stay out of your mother’s bedroom, Ryan, if you don’t mind.”

There was another flick. The world brightened again, and this time Aunt Zara dropped a spatula. It clattered on the stove. Alison spilled her milk, creating a chaotic mess that rushed over the table and dripped into Ryan’s lap.

The world flicked back to normal. Aunt Zara dropped her spatula. It clattered on the stove. Alison reached for her milk glass. Ryan flinched at the upcoming mess. Chaos was the worst. It hurt his stomach and made his head feel like it was going to explode. So he reached out with his own hand and slapped hers down, pinning it to the table.

Steven Harper/Piziks is the author of
multiple fantasy and science fiction novels written for adults, notably the
Clockwork Empire and Silent Empire series for Roc as Steven Harper and movie
novelizations and tie ins for Pocket Books as Steven Piziks (IDENTITY, THE
EXORCIST: THE BEGINNING, GHOST WHISPERER: THE PLAUGE ROOM).  He's also the father of an autistic son.

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