Sheila's Books Read

Sheila's bookshelf: read

What Would the Founding Fathers Think: A Young American's guide to understanding the mess our country is in and how we get out
Isabelle Webb: Legend of the Jewel
Captive Heart
Cobble Cavern
Caller ID
Summer of Secrets
On Little Wings
We Lived in Heaven: Spiritual Accounts of Souls Coming to Earth
Christ's gifts to women
A Woman's power: threads that bind us to god
Scary School
Hope's journey
Targets in Ties
Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island
With a Name like Love
Sean Griswold's head

Sheila's favorite books »

2022 Goodreads Reading Challenge

2022 Reading Challenge

2022 Reading Challenge
Sheila has read 6 books toward her goal of 90 books.

Wednesday, September 5, 2012

Witch Born Blog Tour: Preview of First 6 Chapters! Win a Copy of Witch Born!

Not sure whether to read Witch Born or not? Now you have the chance to read the first 6 chapters. Plus you'll have a chance to WIN a copy of Witch Born at each stop. BONUS. What are you waiting for. GOGOGO!

Start with:
Page Turners-Chapter 1  

Cover copy: Brusenna thought it was finished.

She defeated the Dark Witch, saving the Haven Witches from imprisonment and death. She found love and a place to belong. 

She was wrong. 

Haven is not the sanctuary it appears to be. Even love is in danger of slipping away like water through cupped hands. 

Some things can't be saved. 

A new threat merges with the old as the Witches’ dark history begins to catch up with them. Only Brusenna knows the extent of the danger and how to stop it, though doing so might cost her everything.

Including her life. 

Will Brusenna be required to make the ultimate sacrifice? 

6. Wastrel

“Brusenna,” Prenny snapped. “Are you trying to fail?”
Startled out of her daze, Senna sat upright. Her potion, which had been a cloudy topaz color, was now a muddy brown. Using a rag to protect her hands, she pulled the beaker off the flame and dumped its contents into another to cool off. Then she drizzled a few needle-like princher leaves into the liquid and swirled it gently. It immediately went from a muddy brown to coffee black.
She held the beaker to her nose and sniffed. Burned herbs.
Senna felt like throwing something. She settled for setting the beaker down so hard the potion sloshed angrily. At this stage, it was supposed to be the color of apple cider and smell like resin. She was to put in the princher leaves just before the first bubbles formed. She’d let it get too hot. Now she’d have to start over. Three days worth of work, ruined.
And that much longer before she could be done with her Apprenticeship and finally be seen as a full Keeper. She pried her hair away from her sticky forehead, wishing a breeze would work its way through the outdoor pavilion.
Prenny sniffed the contents. “You’ve killed it.”
Senna buried her head in her hands. Prenny always insisted potions were full of life. It was the life they held that made them work. They had to be treated gently. Never boiled or frozen. Only fresh ingredients. “Yes. I killed it. I managed to save the world, but I can’t manage a midlevel potion.”
Prenny snorted. “Oh, don’t be so dramatic.”
“Dramatic? People are dying!” As soon as Senna said it, she wanted to capture the words and shove them back in her mouth.
Prenny’s voice went from stern to unsure. “Brusenna? Is this about Tarten? I know you and I don’t agree with the other Heads, but they really do have the Witches’ best interest at heart.”
“It’s in the Witches’ best interest to look after the world, not just themselves.” When Prenny didn’t respond, Senna dug the pads of her fingers into her tired eyes. The resin made them sting.
Even with Joshen snoring softly on the floor beside her, chaotic thoughts had kept sleep at bay. He’d kissed her goodbye when they’d parted. She still felt the impression of his lips on hers.
Prenny went from soft with concern to rigid so fast it was as if someone had slid a rod up her backbone. “This is an Apprentice class. You may have the strongest song on this island, but potions are more than raw talent. It’s the three P’s.” She ticked them off on her fingers. “Patience, practice, and persistence.”
Knowing the Head was just warming up for one of her famous lectures, Senna stifled a groan.
Prenny took a breath and settled in. “It’s a good thing the harvest is coming up. We’re nearly out of chesli pollen, and you squandered at least a pinch on that.” She waved at Senna’s burnt potion. “Disaster. I told the others it was too soon to promote you to an Apprentice. Now—Mistin!”
Senna nearly startled out of her chair at Prenny’s outburst.
The Head marched toward Senna’s cowering friend without a backward glance. “You are far too advanced to be adding porfor to a drinking draught! Do you want to wrest the truth from your subject, or keep them hunched over the privy for an entire day?”
Senna could have kissed Mistin for sparing her another of Prenny’s tongue lashings, even if the girl hadn’t saved her on purpose.
Senna glared at her ruined potion. With a sigh, she abandoned it and marched over to the stack of potion books kept in a waterproof cabinet in the center of the pavilion. She reached for Intermediate Potions, but hesitated. Next to it was another book—Master Potions by Linsee Chrissin.
After glancing around, Senna pulled it down and flipped through the pages until she reached the potion she had in mind—Ioa. It was extremely complicated—nearly a hundred plants mixed in dozens of different ways on an extremely tight schedule. But she already knew that because she’d tried to make it once already and failed miserably.
Honestly, it was probably still too advanced for her, but if she were going to sneak off the island, the potion would be indispensable. Checking to make sure Prenny was still busy with her scolding, Senna slipped the ponderous book in her satchel and set it down on her table.
Then she wove through the tables of other Apprentices toward the hybrid garden, careful not to crush any vines that had worked their way between the rows, some even growing up the table legs.
The smell of herbs hung so heavy Senna imagined she could reach out and pluck it from the air like a veil. In Haven, there were plants that didn’t exist anywhere else in the world. For decades Witch song had crossbred plants, traipsing across boundaries no one else could. Now, instead of a dozen plants of varying strengths to lower a fever, there was one—pesnit. One controlled the potency simply by how many leaves one used.
There were many, many such plants. Simple cures for everything from warts to infections. She struggled to snip a few leaves; she wasn’t used to using scissors with her left hand. While she took cuttings, she snuck a few leaves for the Ioa potion into her pocket.
Back at her table, she carefully rolled the leaves for the Ioa potion in parchment and tucked them in her pocket. She’d work on it when there weren’t any prying eyes to watch her.
Finished with that, she began the arduous process of creating the olive-green truth serum. As she worked, Mistin pulled up a chair and set up next to her. Senna was on the short side, but Mistin was positively tiny. She had golden skin, almond-shaped eyes, and lustrous black hair that hung nearly to her waist.
“Brusenna, maybe if we work on this together, we can avoid another of Prenny’s tirades,” Mistin whispered.
Senna eyed her sideways. When she’d first met Mistin, she thought she was twelve. She had later learned the girl was a full year older. Though they weren’t exactly close, Mistin was the nearest thing Senna had to a friend on the island.
“I’ve told you, call me Senna.” Retrieving her scraper, she carefully released a scattering of chesli pollen, which would exponentially increase the shelf life of her potion. The little bits swarmed like lightning bugs. With a ring of glass on glass, she stirred clockwise with her stir stick. The potion started to glow softly.
Mistin flipped open her book. “I’ve been meaning to ask you about that. Don’t you like your name?”
Senna shifted uncomfortably. Her classmates rarely spoke to her. At her or around her, but rarely to her. She wasn’t used to making small talk. “I like it fine.”
“Then why don’t you use it?”
Senna slid a dropper back into the bottle then tapped her stir stick against the beaker. Matching her pitch to the clear tone that rang out, she sang.
Truth and honesty extract
Speak in only careful fact.
The potion swirled. She continued the song, her voice sweet and clear, until her sense of the Four Sisters told her it was ready. She added a few drops of alcohol. The potion shifted from clear to amber.
Mistin tipped her head to one side. “Well?”
Senna might not know how to “chat,” but she desperately wanted to try. “Brusenna wasn’t safe anymore. And I wanted to be someone new. Someone better.”
Mistin nodded as if that made perfect sense. “And are you? New and better?”
Senna remembered how terrified she’d been of her village, of the people inside. They wouldn’t frighten her now. “Yes, I think I am.”
“Then I shall call you Senna.” Mistin sang to her potion. The differences between their voices were immediately apparent. Senna’s soprano soared and the whole world seemed to still, as if listening. Mistin’s alto was like the creaking of old wood. She was one step above a Wastrel, or wasted Witch. A level one. Her potion was many steps ahead of Senna’s, but its color and luster were off. Her song just wasn’t strong enough for the transformation to take place.
If a Wastrel remained on Haven long, she became little better than a servant.
Mistin’s song dropped to silence. As if guessing Senna’s thoughts, she said, “Weakness in one area forces growth in another.”
Senna found herself aching to say something honest instead of the veiled niceties everyone else seemed to prefer. “Haven only sees one kind of strength.”
Mistin’s steely gaze met Senna’s. “Their mistake.”
Why did it have to be that way? Why were some innately more powerful than others, regardless of merit? Sorrow burning in her chest, Senna dropped in a few kenlish seeds. Almost ashamed of the clear ringing of her voice, she sang.
Banish all half truths and lies.
Even silence we decry.
The kenlish seeds slowly disintegrated as they swirled. But Senna’s potion wasn’t the only one to change. Mistin’s potion color went from a dirty yellow to honey. The black flecks floating inside shone like flakes of gold.
Mistin blinked. “How many potions could one strong Witch sing if dozens of Witches were mixing the ingredients for her?”
Senna nodded. “I’ve wondered the same thing. But it’s just not the way they do things here, right or wrong.” She studied Mistin more closely. “What’s it like where you’re from, in Dresdan? What’s your family like?”
Mistin hesitated as if considering her words carefully. “The world hates Witches. My mother forbade us from singing. Still, someone always managed to find out what we were, and we’d have to move again. One time, we didn’t get away fast enough. Only my brother and I escaped.”
How had Senna known Mistin for months and not realized most of her family was dead? “I’m so sorry.” Senna had lived with the outside world’s hatred of Witches her entire life. “Where’s your brother now?”
Mistin gave a small smile. “He followed me to Nefalie. He wants to become a Guardian.”
Senna watched a bird fly into the pavilion, circle the heads of the Apprentices a few times, and dart out again. “Why didn’t your family live here? It would have been safer.”
Mistin’s nostrils flared. “My family’s songs were very weak. Believe it or not, I’m the strongest of them. There would have been no place for my sisters here. And I would not have left them alone.”
Senna couldn’t fathom it. Wastrels weren’t welcome on Haven. Apparently, they weren’t welcome anywhere else either—rejected by Haven for not being enough of a Witch, and rejected by the world for being too much of one. They would belong nowhere. “It shouldn’t be like that. There’s plenty of room here.”
Mistin stirred her potion harder than necessary. “That’s why I’m still here, despite the fact that they treat me like a servant and everyone looks down on me. There’s nowhere else for me to go. Certainly nowhere safe.”
Senna stared at her beaker so Mistin wouldn’t see the pity in her eyes.
“Finish up, girls. It’s nearly time to shift your studies,” Prenny announced.
Senna stopped off her half-finished potion.
“Brusenna— Senna, you’re in trouble, aren’t you?”
Senna startled. “How could you know that?”
Mistin shrugged. “I told you. Weakness forces a person to develop other strengths. Good singers tell the world what to do. Not-so-good singers are better at listening to what can’t be heard.”
Things like hearing the music of the Four Sisters? Things like Traveling? Senna rinsed out the dirty beakers and set them in the sun to purify. “What do you mean?”
Mistin straightened her narrow shoulders and assessed Senna from head to foot. “Maybe I can help.”
Senna opened her mouth then closed it again. What she needed were answers—answers only the Heads had. “Unless you can tell me where to find hundreds of Witches hidden somewhere outside of Haven, I don’t think you can help me much.”
Mistin’s eyes went impossibly wide. “What?”
Senna sighed inwardly. And small talk had been going so well. “Never mind.”
Prenny stalked around, pointing to beakers that needed cleaning and books that needed to be reshelved. “The chesli harvest starts at the next crescent moon—that’s a little over a week away. Everyone is required to participate. Plan your schedules accordingly. Jassy! If that beaker of acid spills on my book, I’ll use your hide as replacement parchment!”
Senna snatched up her last few items before the Head made it to their table. She shoved everything in her satchel as she walked. She was meeting Joshen for lunch, and she didn’t want to be late.
“Senna?” She turned back to see Mistin following a few steps behind. The girl bit her lip. “I meant what I said. I can help you.”
Senna didn’t know how to respond, so she stayed silent.
Mistin glanced around and took a step closer. “I work as a secretary to the Heads to help pay my tuition.”
Senna tipped her head sideways. “I know.”
Mistin rubbed her palms together nervously. “I make appointments.”
The first prickle of unease jabbed Senna’s stomach. “What are you trying to tell me, Mistin?”
The girl tucked her hair behind her ears. “You’re the closest thing I have to a friend. Everyone else mocks my song. When I said you were in trouble and I could help— Your mother made an appointment to speak with the Heads today.”
Senna straightened. Why would her mother be meeting with the Heads? “About what?”
Mistin’s dark eyes met Senna’s. “You.”

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