Oh my gosh, I’ve had so much fun reading all your entries for this contest – I was left totally breathless! As I mentioned on Twitter / FB a few days ago, the standard was so high I simply couldn’t choose the winning entries on my own, so I asked 3 super-awesome guest judges to help me decide!
Meet the super awesome judges
Jessica Khoury – ORIGIN
Free in the jungle, Pia meets Eio, a boy from a nearby village. Together, they embark on a race against time to discover the truth about Pia’s origin–a truth with deadly consequences that will change their lives forever.
Fiona Paul – VENOM
Cassandra Caravello is one of Renaissance Venice’s lucky elite: with elegant gowns, sparkling jewels, her own lady’s maid, and a wealthy fiancé, she has everything a girl could desire. Yet ever since her parents’ death, Cassandra has felt trapped, alone in a city of water, where the dark and labyrinthine canals whisper of escape.
When Cass stumbles upon a murdered woman—practically in her own backyard—she’s drawn into a dangerous world of courtesans, killers, and secret societies. Soon, she finds herself falling for Falco, a mysterious artist with a mischievous grin… and a spectacular skill for trouble. Can Cassandra find the murderer, before he finds her? And will she stay true to her fiancé, or succumb to her uncontrollable feelings for Falco?
Beauty, love, romance, and mystery weave together in a stunning novel that’s as seductive and surprising as the city of Venice itself.
Michelle Rowen (aka Morgan Rhodes) – FALLING KINGDOMS
In a land where magic has been forgotten but peace has reigned for centuries, a deadly unrest is simmering. Three kingdoms grapple for power—brutally transforming their subjects’ lives in the process. Amidst betrayals, bargains, and battles, four young people find their fates forever intertwined:
Jonas: Enraged at injustice, a rebel lashes out against the forces of oppression that have kept his country impoverished—and finds himself the leader of a people’s revolution centuries in the making.
Lucia: A girl adopted at birth into a royal family discovers the truth about her past—and the supernatural legacy she is destined to wield.
Magnus: Bred for aggression and trained to conquer, a firstborn son begins to realize that the heart can be more lethal than the sword…
The only outcome that’s certain is that kingdoms will fall. Who will emerge triumphant when all they know has collapsed?
And the winners are…
I’m giving away three prizes: a Breathless Reads slipcase, a signed ARC of BLACK CITY, and 10 signed BLACK CITY bookmarks. So read on to see if you’ve won! And don’t worry if you haven’t won the slipcase this time, as Fiona Paul is running her own slipcase giveaway on her blog right now, so head on over!
1st prize – Breathless Reads slipcase
The winner of the Breathless Reads slipcase is LEXIE B for this entry:
She’d always known it would come to this.
They’d been a constant presence; dancing along the very edges of her sight, whispering sweet nothings in her sleep, darting before her at the most wretched of times. But always shadows; vague, slippery shadows, a cloaked menace, nothing more.
Until her mother died in her arms, and she lost any semblance of strength.
Until her mental walls came crumbling down.
Now, they massed around her; sinuous arms, scarred faces, gaping mouths. And those terrible, terrible eyes. She’d always thought the most awful of eyes would be demonic: a vicious, fearsome red.
But she was wrong. Color isn’t the horror; it’s the total absence that’s truly terrifying. These massive, gaping pits, gazing sightlessly upon her.
They were everywhere.
And they were excited.
I want to know what it’s like . . . to touch, a shadow hissed. Without a moment’s pause, it sprang to her side, its talons lifting in a gentle caress.
I want to know what it’s like, murmured another, to fly. And with the same startling speed, it leapt into the air, claws raking her scalp. She screamed, kicked, fought as terribly as she could, but for naught. Blood tumbled down her cheeks, and finally, the end seemed almost peacefully inevitable.
I want to know what it’s like, whispered a shadow, to feed.
Elizabeth – This entry lingered with me all weekend. It was sinister and spine-chilling, and Lexie brilliantly built up the tension. I was truly scared for the girl and the last line…oooh. Goosebumps!
Jessica – What I love about this entry is that it truly chilled me; the last line is especially creepy, as is the inference that the girl’s been carrying these things with her or around her for a while. It feels as if the creatures are inside her, almost as if she’s possessed, which to me, is way creepier than an external danger. Plus, the whole inevitability of this–the fact she knew it was coming, and can’t escape it when it does–makes the fear claustrophobic. Very well done! I’d say I want to read more, but I’d probably just chicken out and go read the Berenstein Bears or something warm and safe like that. 😉
Fiona – The first sentence builds tension. The rhythm and cadence, the fragments, the repetition—all of these things create a creepy atmosphere for me. I don’t know exactly what’s going on, what the mom’s death has to do with the scene that’s unfolding (I feel like maybe this is part of a WIP) but that’s okay. What I do sense is danger, and lots of it. I also get a very clear picture of a girl being swarmed by these creepy dead things with empty eye sockets and writhing arms. Yikes! I can feel my pulse race a little just re-reading this passage.
2nd Prize – ARC of Black City
It was really hard to choose the 2nd prize winners, as there were two entries we liked, so in the end I decided to give away 2 signed ARCs of BLACK CITY!
(Winner 1) NIKKI WANG
I twisted my hair into a ponytail, tucking it under my cap and lowering the brim. I took one last look around the room full of strangers, wondering which would help me escape, and which would try to kill me.
Running had never been my way to take care of things, but even I had to admit, there was no other choice. I tried to concentrate on the voices around me, but my mind kept wandering to the question that had been haunting me: Should I trust them? But it was too late for doubt. This was my last chance.
Shaking myself out of my thoughts, I watched the room, waiting for just one small movement…CLICK. My stomach plummeted as the sound of a gun invaded my mind. I kicked out without thought, feeling my foot connect with something hard. That was all I acknowledged before I ran straight through the crowd. Which was filled with those who wanted me gone.
Shouts of surprise and rage filled the room as I flew past them, but I paid no attention. I had to get out of this room, this place, before they destroyed every secret I had kept safe since I had been born.
I ran up the stairs, panting. Suddenly, I was yanked into a dark room hidden away, barely big enough for two people. I froze, rigid.
“Where do you think you’re going?” A dark voice asked, chuckling humorlessly.
I gasped, recognizing him. “You?! You should be dead!”
(Winner 2) SEL
“How long more?” I yelled into the wind.
My brother looked at me with a hard-set jaw. “Turn around the bend and we’ll be safe from them.”
Them. Those cruel assassins guided singularly by the hands of our cunning emperor himself. Their leader alone had killed thousands, and not once had any been able to escape with their lives untouched. And now, all seven were after us.
The seven black dots behind us grew larger, and my heart began to pound as the wind brought the sound of thunderous hooves to my ears. Beside me, my brother cursed as he spurred his stallion on.
No no no. We can’t come so near to freedom only to be captured again.
Then, suddenly, my mare lurched violently forward and threw me into the air. Bam. My body slammed onto the rough ground. Yet, before I could even think about the pain, my eyes widened at the distinct shapes of the seven riders coming in my direction.
In a flash, I rolled into the bushes, desperately trying to collect back my wits. My horse had galloped around the bend without me. My brother had ridden on too.
I was alone.
Cold beads of sweat broke out on my forehead. There was no time for rational planning. I took one last look at the road that could have led me home, and plunged into the dark forest.
I had taken no more than five steps when they paused by the bushes. I froze. They urged their horses on again, but just when I thought I was safe, one of them spoke.
Michelle – I decided on Nikki’s because it was exciting, it had a great voice, and I wanted to know what happens next.
Elizabeth – I loved Sel’s scene as it had a great sense of danger. I wanted to know who the girl was and why did those men want to kill her? The last line gave me chills.
3rd prize – Ten signed BLACK CITY bookmarks
Congratulations to REBECCA HIPWORTH for this entry:
A pulling sensation was tugging at me, bringing me closer… to what? Across the road was a boy. His eyes shone like emeralds dazzling in the sun; his skin smooth and delicate, matching the rest of his porcelain face. He was too perfect. His chestnut brown hair was wind-swept and I wanted nothing more than to run my fingers through it.
I couldn’t help but stare; too bad he noticed. His eyes met mine and held their gaze. A lopsided smile, sweet and innocent filled his face and made his eyes light up, even brighter than before. I couldn’t help but wonder if I knew him. The boy gestured me closer. As I walked, the pulling sensation grew stronger, it was as if the boy was tugging on my heartstrings. I wondered if he felt it too, or maybe I was just losing my mind. I crossed the road.
As my foot landed on the pavement on the other side of the road, my smile dropped and so did his.
Two thugs, gorilla-like in appearance appeared next to the beautiful boy. I should have known it was to good to be true. Their eyes were covered with dark sunglasses, hiding their identity; the grin they gave spelling trouble. I walked backwards; it didn’t work. Two more men appeared behind me and grabbed my arms. They were taking me away… where?
I should have known that even beautiful things can be treacherous.
Elizabeth – I picked Rebecca’s entry because it had a breathless mix of romance with danger and I was intrigued about the green-eyed boy! I wanted to know who he was and why there were thugs after him and the girl.
That’s it folks. I just want to say a big THANK YOU to everyone who entered. And don’t forget, Fiona Paul is running a Breathless Reads slipcase giveaway so head on over to Fiona’s blog for another chance to win.