Wednesday, September 25, 2013

My 7 Deadly Sins of Reading

I saw this feature over at In Libris Veritas. It looked cool so I decided to join in. It's basically like those surveys that go around so that the blogger can let readers know a little bit more about themselves. 


What is your most expensive book? What is your least expensive?

Huh. My most expensive is probably one of Rick Riordan's books because I always get them right away and they are nice and bulky hardbacks. So I will say The Mark of Athena by Rick Riordan at around $21-$23 at the time. My least expensive is probably one of those free books from Amazon but I won't count that. If you don't know already there is a county store near me where I get books for ten cents each. When I went there last time I got a book called Sorcery & Cecilia or the Enchanted Chocolate Pot. I've read it before and was totally entranced by it. It's written as letters from the two main characters and is full of magic. Great combinations. I've gotten more but that's one I felt instantly lucky to have. I also got one of my favorite books there. Ah, how I love you county store.


Which author do you have a love-hate relationship for?

I don't think I have a love-hate relationship with an author. The only author that crosses my mind right now is Markus Zusak because of what he did to me close to the end of The Book Thief. I've never been so angry at an author or book ever before. J.K. Rowling can be cruel as well.


Which book have you devoured over and over with no shame whatsoever?

My favorite book: A Week in the Woods. I know it's a kids book and it's weird for it to be my favorite or for me to have read it as many times as I have but I love it too much to ever change. I've been thinking about it a lot lately too. I think it's time for another reread!


What book have you neglected to read due to laziness?

So many! There is this one trilogy that I haven't read the last book for. It's all clean and in pristine condition on my bookshelf just waiting for me to read it. It taunts me... The thing is I have to read the first two again because it has been forever since I've read them and I'm reluctant to do so. One reason is obviously laziness and the other is those books are intense! Kind if like Robert Cormier's books. I just need to be in the right mood. Eventually. The first book in the trilogy is A Crack in the Line.


What book do you most talk about in order to sound like a very intellectual reader?

Pffff!!! None. I think that's how most people think about readers. They believe we read to gain just knowledge when it is mainly for fun. I doubt it sounds intellectual when I talk about Harry Potter so I would have to definitely say once again none.


What attributes do you find most attractive in male and female characters?

It really depends on the character and what's going on with their life like I love Charlie's shyness and I love that she breaks out and becomes amazing in A Little Wanting Song but I also love sarcasm and wit. The Fault in Our Stars is so great because the characters just know their way with words. They are witty and intelligent sounding and I want to sound like them so badly... They also have this fire in them that may not be so apparent right away but it's there. I love when characters have fire in them, when they are able to get me so excited for them that I root for them and their happiness. I'm so contradictory because I like nice characters and I like rebellious characters. I mean who doesn't like Clay from Thirteen Reasons Why? And on the other hand all those bad boys (as long as they have some other quality other than being "bad") in books or maybe just misunderstood characters in general are wonderful too. It depends on the writing of those characters. It always has.


What books would you most likely receive as a gift?

This fluctuates from time to time so right now I really want The School for Good and Evil. I recently read the summary and a review of the book and I'm completely in love. I want the second book already too, I'm that excited!

Do you recognize yourself in any of these deadly sins of reading? 

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Cover Love Sunday: Girl on the Cover

Cover Love Sunday is a weekly feature hosted at The Quiet Girl Talks, where you choose your 3 favorite covers for each weekly theme. 

This week's theme is...

There's a lot of great covers with girls. They are everywhere! But I love Chantress because it shows the magic that surely is in this story. I love the motion it has on the cover and the heart clasped in her hands. The Originals cracks make this cover look so pretty and so damaged. The three girls looks so pretty together.

I love Poison's and The Elites' grassy background. They both look very magical and the heroines look strong like they could take on anyone, anywhere.

What are your favorite books with a girl on the cover?

Sunday Post: 9/22/13

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted  @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things received and share news about what's coming up for the next week ahead.

This Week:

I had a feeling I wasn't going to be able to read/review as much as I wanted to. There was this whole thing with an online professor where I made a mistake and was confused by an assignment. The professor wasn't telling me what exactly I should do... they wouldn't respond with a direct answer until the last minute. It was a headache. I have an online exam that I have to do soon. The math exam was switched from Friday to Monday so more studying time for me. I have a draft for an essay due soon too. It doesn't sound like much but it's been a pain. I did get to read a couple of books in the beginning of the week so that was great. Really good books too that I can't wait to share with you all. Hope everyone's week was great!

Last Week on the Blog:

I finally reviewed Gameboard of the Gods! It's truly a miracle. I also reviewed Choker and read and reviewed a children's book - Loula is Leaving for Africa. I also did a post on Cover Loves with the theme Eyes. I got two of the books from the library because I like the covers so much. We also have a giveaway winner for Sia - Dena from BooksforKids. Hope you enjoy it Dena!

Around the Blogosphere (a.k.a. my to-read list is now larger):

Some books I added to my to-read list that I can't wait to get my hands on: Palace of Spies by Sarah Zettel and Since You've Been Gone by Morgan Matson.

Posts/articles/videos I enjoyed: 

Plans for Next Week:

I am still reading Saving Wishes so I want to finish it this week. I also want to read two to three other books if I get the chance. Endless, Made of Stars, and Where the Stars Still Shine. All three are NetGalley books that look amazing! I wanted to read The Mark of Athena last week but it's a bit too much for me right now. I also want to wait and read Sia closer to it's release date but I might give in and read it on a whim since it sounds so good. I just need some time...

I want to review at least three books. I finished Mira in the Present Tense so I'll probably review that. I want to review this book called Autumn as well and review 13 Little Blue Envelopes.

I got a bunch of books in the mail thanks to a fellow blogger who was giving away some books she didn't want which I really appreciate. I also got a book from Abrams that I plan to read and review the week of it's release. My October reads is pretty much set so I'm really happy. I decided to read Carrie in October too so that's going to be awesome. I've never read a Stephen King novel before!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Loula is Leaving for Africa by Anne Villeneuve

Standalone. Kids Can Press (September 2013) NetGalley
Loula has had enough of her terrible triplet brothers and decides to run away to Africa. Luckily, her mother's chauffeur, Gilbert, knows just how to get there. Together, Loula and Gilbert ride camels, cross a desert and, most important, use heaps of imagination in this heartwarming adventure.
Loula is tired of her mean, stinky brothers antics so she decides to run away to the farthest place she can think of - Africa. Her brothers will never go there in a million years because they are scared of snakes and even if they did come a piranha would surely eat them. So off she goes but not before telling her parents mind you but all they do is brush her off not even seeming to know what she is saying. That definitely seals the deal. She's going to Africa! The chauffeur catches wind of her plans and decides to help her on her journey. What ensues is a whimsical journey about running away and finding your way back home.

Loula is understandably upset. Her brothers are bothering her all the time and her parents don't even care that she's running away! Her parents are too busy doing their own thing to pay attention to her. She ends up finding a friend in the chauffeur who agrees to take her to her destination. Loula has spunk from the start. She's a determined little thing who you quickly realize really just needs a friend to make her feel wanted and she found that in an unlikely source. The curious pair go to imaginative and wondrous places that only a childish mind knows. The illustrations are very much like Madeline. It has that messy, artistic sort of feel. I enjoyed seeing Loula's journey unfold through the art. I especially took delight in the little squiggly marks over Loula's head in most of the images showing how upset she was. It got a couple of chuckles out of me.

Overall: Lovely story that is great for those kid's who have running-away-itis. It also brought up the fact that kids who need some attention now and again will let you know. So pay attention!

Anne Villeneuve is the illustrator and sometimes author of several picture books including The Red Scarf. You can check out her website here. You can also get a sneak preview of Loula is Leaving for Africa at Kids Can Press.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Choker by Elizabeth Woods

Standalone. Simon & Schuster (January 2011) Library
Sixteen-year-old Cara Lange has been a loner ever since she moved away from her best and only friend, Zoe, years ago. She eats lunch with the other girls from the track team, but they're not really her friends. Mostly she spends her time watching Ethan Gray from a distance, wishing he would finally notice her, and avoiding the popular girls who call her "Choker" after a humiliating incident in the cafeteria. 
                                                                                               Then one day Cara comes home to find Zoe waiting for her. Zoe's on the run from problems at home, and Cara agrees to help her hide. With her best friend back, Cara's life changes overnight. Zoe gives her a new look and new confidence, and next thing she knows, she's getting invited to parties and flirting with Ethan. Best of all, she has her BFF there to confide in. 

But just as quickly as Cara's life came together, it starts to unravel. A girl goes missing in her town, and everyone is a suspect—including Ethan. Worse still, Zoe starts behaving strangely, and Cara begins to wonder what exactly her friend does all day when she's at school. You're supposed to trust your best friend no matter what, but what if she turns into a total stranger?

Cara isn't the most popular kid around. She may be in track but that doesn't necessarily mean she can easily be friends with the other girls on the team. She's just too terribly shy and awkward. When she starts choking in the cafeteria and her crush literally saves her life it should have been a great, triumphant moment - incredibly embarrassing - but at least she gets to see Ethan Grey up close. Unfortunately his girlfriend Alexis, a real witch of a person, decides to make fun of her near death experience by nicknaming her Choker. Now everyone is staring at her in the halls and all of Alexis' friends circle her like they are her prey - taunting her and making her life miserable. Luckily Zoe, Cara's best friend, who she hasn't seen since she was a little kid, comes back into her life. Zoe ran away from home because of problems with her stepdad. Cara is able to get some confidence now that Zoe's back. But strange things start to happen now that she's back. Someone dies in a pool and another person goes missing. Could it possibly be that the Zoe she knew so long isn't the Zoe that came back to her?

It was pretty obvious what was going on here. A lot of people were in shock but I KNEW! And that wasn't a bad thing either. I was even more excited to read on and see if I was right because the truth is so deliciously wonderful and the ending. That ending! It's making me giddy all over again thinking about it. 

For no reason whatsoever (other than Alexis being a horrible, catty person) Cara is bullied. Why no one defended her I don't know. I mean she almost died! I'm so sorry that it was your boyfriend who saved my life. If you cared enough you could have done it yourself. Although you probably would stare at me until I die... Alexis is that popular girl that's relentlessly mean just to be mean. You just want someone to just hit her over the head with some human decency. Maybe it will rub off on her.

Not surprisingly, Cara is a nice person. Her problem is that she can't stand up for herself. She'll get angry inside but she can never tell anyone off. I felt sorry for her because I was an even more shy kid in high school than I'm now. I know how that feels. And if someone called me out like Alexis did? I would be clinging onto the walls trying desperately to disappear just so no one would notice me anymore. 

Zoe is a bit of an extreme person. She's pretty catty herself but she's against the bullying that's happening to Cara of course. She says it how it is. Zoe... gets complicated. There's a lot of suspicion on why she ran away from home and what's happening to her whole demeanor. The suspense in this story was top notch. I know I had my opinions on what was happening but it was still brilliantly unfolded in front of me. Woods brought a good amount of balance between what was happening in Cara's new and perfect life and her new and terrifying reality. 

Ethan Grey - he sounds like he's a character in 50 Shades of Grey Ugh. Thank goodness he's a much nicer guy than I thought. He's not a bad boy either. He's just a nice guy who happens to be pretty darn good looking. I liked his interactions with Cara. I couldn't understand how this polite, sweet guy could be dating someone like Alexis. I guess since they have been going out since forever it's easier. But he should have dropped that girl a long time ago. I did want a little more romance when they met although it makes sense why there wasn't. There was the whole missing girl police investigation. 

Overall: A great and thrilling read. Made me happy all over inside. Wickedly satisfying ending. Read if you need a little suspense in your life!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Gameboard of the Gods by Richelle Mead

Age of X #1. Penguin (June 2013) Own
In a futuristic world nearly destroyed by religious extremists, Justin March lives in exile after failing in his job as an investigator of religious groups and supernatural claims. But Justin is given a second chance when Mae Koskinen comes to bring him back to the Republic of United North America (RUNA). Raised in an aristocratic caste, Mae is now a member of the military’s most elite and terrifying tier, a soldier with enhanced reflexes and skills.

When Justin and Mae are assigned to work together to solve a string of ritualistic murders, they soon realize that their discoveries have exposed them to terrible danger. As their investigation races forward, unknown enemies and powers greater than they can imagine are gathering in the shadows, ready to reclaim the world in which humans are merely game pieces on their board.

Gameboard of the Gods, the first installment of Richelle Mead’s Age of Xseries, will have all the elements that have made her YA Vampire Academy and Bloodlines series such megasuccesses: sexy, irresistible characters; romantic and mythological intrigue; and relentless action and suspense.

Mae is a Praetorian, a super soldier with enormous amounts of strength and speed due to an implant given to all soldiers. She prides herself on being who she is and on her strength. She grew up in a rich Nordic home and was the only one in the family who hadn't suffered from Cain, a virus that makes you infertile and asthmatic. She got out of there to join the military. On the day you meet Mae she is going to a funeral and is particularly riled up by this Praetorian death. One thing leads to another and she is being punished and sent to Panama to retrieve Justin March, an intelligent strategist who is supposedly the key to a new case of homicides. He is specifically wanted because of the only evidence that the government is able to find, something inhuman.

I want to point out that there are a lot of negative reviews out there for Gameboard of the Gods. People either really like or hate this book. It is a very long book, about 400 pages or more and it does have some sex scenes and talk of sex. It's an adult book that can be categorized for older young adults as well. If you aren't into the book after the first chapter you might end up not liking this book. I'm just leaving that out there before I tell you what I think.

I think I loved this book. The pace was just right for me. It was methodical and it just made me happier because there was so much more that could happen to the three main characters. There are three POV's. It mostly goes from Mae and Justin but there's also Tessa, a young prodigy that Justin brought back from RUNA. Her point of view was crucial to the story. She saw things in a completely different way from the people of RUNA. She saw how they secretly worshiped a God even if religion at that time was a touchy subject (well whenever hasn't it been?). She also provided a way to see into the life of someone who was an immigrant. She didn't know about all of the technology and struggled with school. She was talked loudly at because clearly since she's from another country she is deaf. And she constantly is asked to repeat herself and given looks when people hear her accent. The people of the RUNA think they are all better than everyone else. The way Mead showed different aspects of our culture, religion, and perspective on how we see ourselves in the world was pure brilliance. RUNA is the U.S. and Tessa is an immigrant. She shows that relation between the U.S. and immigrants today so well. I wonder if my father felt so out of place like Tessa did...

Mae is Mae. I didn't find her robotic or boring. She talked in a very... articulate way. That was just who she is. She was a very strong heroine not only in her actual physical strength but with how she carried herself. She wasn't pompous like her other family members probably because she didn't grow up bitter. When she showed her soft side you got a sense that she's not just a weapon but an actual human being. Most people in the RUNA are terrified of the Praetorian's so throughout the story Mead broke that boundary between Praetorian and a regular person. It's like she was someone who was seen as a threat but she really wasn't as long as you didn't attack her or anyone she cared about. 

Justin March can be over confident. You see that when you are reading Tessa's point of view. There are points where he can be a bit irritating but he's learning to be better. He has flaws like the overconfidence thing, drinking, and drugs. He's actually not that bad as he sounds. He can be very sweet if he wants to be. He also makes up for his attitude in the way he investigates the murders. He investigates different churches and Gods by the way. He catches body language and little things people say to figure out if they are lying or doing anything illegal. He and Mae go to a string of churches to figure out if any group is the cause of the murders. The thing about Justin is that he is hardheaded. He doesn't believe in any Gods when he has two Ravens in his head. Yeah, I said Ravens. A God sent them there to guide him. That God needs him and in return he gets a woman who will always protect him. Guess who that is? The only thing I don't like about this book is how Justin has to make the deal with his God. It's really stupid and sexist. The sex scenes were a little bit too graphic as well but it just went along with the story and I didn't think about them too much. It just says a lot about the world we live in. It's highly sexualized and violent. So in that way everything makes complete sense. It's very much a futuristic image of our world today. 

Overall: I am one of the people who loved this story and enjoyed the way it unfolded slowly. There was a lot of story to tell and I loved how this world is very much like our own. I can't wait to get my hands on the next book now that we know what God is following him around. It's going to get pretty interesting...

Richelle Mead made the Vampire Academy series which you should know about. 
Her website shows you vocabulary for Gameboard of the Gods and other fantastical things.

Sunday, September 15, 2013

Cover Love Sunday: Eyes

Cover Love Sunday is a weekly feature hosted at The Quiet Girl Talks, where you choose your 3 favorite covers for each weekly theme. Anybody can do it, just check the Features page for themes ahead of time! :) 

I saw this feature at the hosts blog and couldn't resist! 

This week's theme is...

Deadly Cool by Gemma Halliday and Whispers in Autumn by Trisha Leigh
I love Deadly Cool's icey blue eyes looking up at me and Whispers in Autumn's innocent, sweet and simple design.


Crash by Lisa McMann and Infinite Days by Rebecca Maize
The Fire in Crash's eye doesn't look strange or out of place but it screams read me! I will have a protagonist with real spark! Infinite Days is beyond my favorite. I could stare at it all day...

I've never read any of these myself. Have you?

Sunday Post: 9/15/13

The Sunday Post is a weekly meme hosted  @ Caffeinated Book Reviewer. It's a chance to share news. A post to recap the past week on your blog, showcase books and things received and share news about what's coming up for the next week ahead.

This Week: 

I was able to get three reviews up this week which I'm pretty happy about. (I realize now I am talking about last week but I always count Mondays as the beginning of the week so it doesn't really matter...). I've been busy for the last couple of days because of school work. Mainly online classes. My first big "test" is coming up on Friday. I have to study a bunch this week but hopefully I can get some reading and reviewing in. Hopefully.

What's been happening to you this week? Or should I say last week...?

Last Week on the Blog:

I reviewed all the books I wanted except for Gameboard of the Gods. I finished reading and reviewed One for the Murphys (the author commented with a sweet message which I'm grateful for), I read and reviewed Bruised, and I finally reviewed Twigs! I also have a GIVEAWAY going on for Sia. The Book Blitz from Xpresso Book Tours includes an author interview with Josh Grayson and and excerpt from the book. The giveaway ends next Saturday. 


In addition to finishing One for the Murphys and reading Bruised I also got to read 13 Little Blue Envelopes. Let's just say I'm excited to read the sequel.

Around the Blogosphere (a.k.a. my to-read list is now larger):

Some books I added to my to-read list that I can't wait to get my hands on: Love Letters to the Dead, Dead Girls Don't Lie, Two Lies and a Spy, and By The Grace of Todd.

Posts/articles/videos I enjoyed: 
  • LOVED Readers in Wonderland post on their most awkward and embarrassing moments.
  • Loula is Leaving for Africa sounds like a great little story about running away when you are a little kid. 
  • Covet about a woman falling for another man whose NOT her husband is described in a way where I really want to get my hands on it! 
  • The Man Who Was Poe "The fictionalized Poe is a sour, selfish man that cares only for material to create a story." - those lines by Dena make me really want to read this book! 
  • New Harry Potter Film Series! - Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them.
  • A recipe for Magical Butterbeer Cupcakes! - Would love to try this one day.
  • Books for Boys and Books for Girls: Problems with Gendered Reading (everyone should read this!) - Thanks Courtney Summers!
  • It was Roald Dahl Day Sept. 13th! Next time I won't miss it.
  • Author Interview with Cornelia Funke - Really want to read her books after this!
  • 11 Things You May Not know about J.K. Rowling - thanks to Girl!Reporter plus you can check out what type of reader you are there... *smirks*
  • The Simple Reason Why Goodreads is so Valuable to Amazon - very interesting. When are they going to merge anyways?
  • "Miami-Dade County Commissioners broke open the piggy bank, emptying a $7.8 million library reserve fund to avoid cuts in library service that would have slashed operating hours at many branches and eliminated hundreds of staff jobs." - yay! (kind of) from Library Journal.
  • The NerdHerd Reads favorite tweets of the week - made my day!
  • Hooray for Hat! BOOK TRAILER.
  • Journey BOOK TRAILER.
  • Carnivores BOOK TRAILER.

Plans for Next Week:

I'm currently reading: Saving Wishes and Choker (Mother/Daughter Book Club). Choker is getting good! I'm convinced the MC is... a certain way. We pick such weird books. My mom's loving it too by the way. I plan to finally finish Mira in the Present Tense and possibly start The Mark of Athena. I got Sia to review when it comes out. The excerpt really got me psyched for it so I'm planning to start it soon. I also got In This Moment for .99 cents! so that may be happening too. I probably don't do as much reading as I think because I've got to study. School comes first! I do like to dream.

I got a couple of NetGalley books as well (yay!) and I'm planning on reading them from now until the end of October. As well as some cute picture books.

I WILL review Gameboard of the Gods!!! I'll do it first even if I read a book before. I want to also review 13 Little Blue Envelopes, and Saving Wishes if I can. 

Saturday, September 14, 2013

Book Blitz: Sia by Josh Grayson

When seventeen-year-old Sia wakes up on a park bench, she has no idea who or where she is. Yet after a week of being homeless, she’s reunited with her family. At school, she’s powerful and popular. At home, she’s wealthy beyond her dreams. But she quickly realizes her perfect life is a lie. Her family is falling apart and her friends are snobby, cruel and plastic. Worse yet, she discovers she was the cruelest one. Mortified by her past, she embarks on a journey of redemption and falls for Kyle, the “geek” she once tormented. Yet all the time she wonders if, when her memories return, she’ll become the bully she was before…and if she’ll lose Kyle.

Josh Grayson was born in Mexico, raised in Massachusetts, and now lives in Martinsville, Virginia. It was his move to the South that stirred his imagination and gave him the courage to start writing. During his free time, Josh enjoys reading, jogging, swimming, and watching YouTube videos.

Josh currently works as a medical driver, shuttling people all over Virginia and North Carolina. He has also worked as a machinist, film sales rep, administrative assistant, and telemarketer (he apologizes if he called you).

Sia is his debut YA novel.


Q&A with the Author

If you could fly anywhere in the world to do research on an upcoming book, where would you most likely want to go?
Italy, simply because it’s always ranked as having the best food in the world. Its beaches are nice too. I’ve Googled it.

What is your favorite genre to read/write?
Young adult (YA), because those stories carry universal themes we can all relate to, a peek into the lives of characters who are more intriguing, real, and raw.

What is one silly fact about you?
I can mimic Enrique Iglesias’s voice pretty well. I sang “Hero” at a friend’s birthday party once and received an enthusiastic response. Some applauded, others laughed. Overall, though, I felt good about my performance.

What got you started on your writing journey?
My move from Massachusetts (where I’d lived most of my life) to Virginia. The first year here was difficult. I was alone, depressed, and in completely new surroundings. But it was here in the South that I began seeing all these stories in my head, and that my “writing gene” got activated. So it seems the old saying is true, everything does happens for a reason.

Why do you choose to write clean/sweet romance?
I don’t choose, per se. I just write whatever I see in my head. And so far, all the romantic parts have been sweet and clean, which is fine with me.

What other things do you have planned with your writing for the rest of the year 2013?
I’m working on another YA novel that Sia fans should enjoy as well. If things go
according to plan, I’ll publish that in the summer of 2014.

What is the most rewarding thing about being a writer?
Being able to partake in the wildest adventures imaginable, all without ever leaving your house.

Do you have a favorite comment or question from a reader?
One reviewer said, “It, without a doubt, inspired me to find ways to help others in need. I’m looking into charity work.” I loved hearing that, because that’s exactly what I wanted Sia to do: to motivate others to become their best self, to make positive changes in the world, wherever they are.

Where do your ideas come from?
I find muses everywhere! In books, magazines, poems, movies, YouTube videos, and so much more. I always try to be receptive. You never know what might trigger your next story.

What inspired you to write Sia?
Initially? Oprah. (laughs). I saw an interview she did on a man with fugue amnesia that impacted me. Fugue amnesia occurs when someone, usually in response to excessive stress, takes off on some unexpected travel. And during the travels, that person assumes either a partial or complete new identity. I found it both fascinating and frightening to think that stress alone can cause the human brain to demand a reset like that. I often wonder why I haven’t gotten fugue amnesia yet!

Is it true you wrote the screenplay adaption as well?
Yes! I wrote it as soon as the book was finished. I’m about to hire a seasoned Hollywood screenwriter to polish it. When it is up to industry standards, we’ll submit it to film companies and cross our fingers. I think Sia would translate wonderfully to film.

If you could sum your main character into five words, what would they be? Determined. Compassionate. Humble. Kind. Brave.

Use no more than two sentences. Why should we read your book?
Because I believe it will leave you touched, encouraged, and—of course—entertained.

Excerpt from SIA

While I wait for my driver, I sit on a step outside the school. I watch the kids go by. No one stops to say hello to me, and I'm starting to understand why. Then I see Kyle trudging out of the school, shaking his thick brown hair back from his brow. I decide to go talk to him. But he changes direction when he sees me approaching.
“Wait! Kyle? Is that your name? Kyle?”
He stops, but doesn't turn around.
Undaunted, I run up from behind. “Listen, I just wanted to apologize for Duke in the cafeteria today.”
“Why? Can’t he take care of that himself?”
“I guess he can, but I don’t think manners are his strong point.”
Kyle squints at me, trying to read my expression, so I keep my eyes wide open. If he's looking for dishonesty or cruelty, I'm determined he won't find any there.
“I don’t get it,” he says skeptically. “Why would you apologize to me?”
I shrug. “Because it was wrong of him to be like that.”
“If you're gonna apologize on behalf of Duke, you should apologize to Ben, not me.”
“Um…okay, I will.”
After a moment of quiet, Kyle says, “Okay. Thanks.” He sniffs and looks at the ground, obviously uncomfortable. “As long as we’re apologizing, I guess I owe you one, too.” He runs his fingers through his hair. “I’m sorry about yelling at you at the soup kitchen. That was you, right?”
I nod.
“So I guess it was my yelling that made you run into the street, wasn’t it?”
I nod again.
“Well, I’m really sorry. About all that. I had no idea.”
“Of course you didn't. Don’t worry about it.” I look down the street, past Kyle, but I can't see John and the car yet. I glance down at my nails, still torn and ratty from living homeless. “What were you doing there, anyway?” I ask.
He shrugs. “I volunteer there sometimes.”
“My parents own a bakery nearby. I work there almost every afternoon. When we have day-old bread and stuff, I take it over to them.”
“You…Oh!” I suddenly recall the slice of bread I'd enjoyed just before Kyle yelled at me that day. Soft, homemade, and unforgetable. It brings a smile to my face. “Well, I know from personal experience that they really appreciate that. It’s very generous of you and your family.”
“It’s the least we can do.” He hesitates. “So you’d been eating there?”
“Yup. All week. With my friend Carol.”
“Carol? That older lady? I know her. She’s sweet. Helps a lot of the kids out. I guess she’s kind of a teacher for lost souls, huh?”
“You could say that,” I agree, remembering my wise friend fondly.
A dark car pulls up to the curb.
I smile with apology. “Sorry, but I have to go. That’s John, here to pick me up. So are we okay?”
“Yeah. You and me.”
After a second, he returns my smile and holds out a hand. “Sure.”
I step closer so I can shake it, and while I'm there I purposefully inhale the smell Amber had so detested. She's right. He smells like bread. Banana bread, I think. And cinnamon. Not unpleasant at all.


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