October 22, 2013

Endless Blog Tour: Review, Excerpt + Giveaway


Welcome to my stop on the Endless blog tour! Today I have an exclusive excerpt from the book to share with you along with my review of the book - and don't forget to scroll to the bottom of the post to enter the tour wide giveaway!

Author: Amanda Gray
Genre: YA Fantasy/ Time Travel/ Romance
Release Date: September 10, 2013
Publisher: Month9Books

Buy Links: Amazon 


Jenny Kramer knows she isn't normal. After all, not everybody can see the past lives of people around them.

When she befriends Ben Daulton, resident new boy, the pair stumble on an old music box with instructions for “mesmerization” and discover they may have more in common than they thought. Like a past life.

Using the instructions in the music box, Ben and Jenny share a dream that transports them to Romanov Russia and leads them to believe they have been there together before. But they weren't alone. Nikolai, the mysterious young man Jenny has been seeing in her own dreams was there, too. When Nikolai appears next door, Jenny is forced to acknowledge that he has travelled through time and space to find her. Doing so means he has defied the laws of time, and the Order, an ominous organization tasked with keeping people in the correct time, is determined to send him back.

While Ben, Jenny and Nikolai race against the clock - and the Order - Jenny and Nikolai discover a link that joins them in life - and beyond death.

Chapter Six

The graveyard was quiet. There was no wind, and the air held the heavy heat of Connecticut in summer. Jenny ran a hand across her brow, setting down the paper and pencil and stretching her fingers.
“How many more are there?” She turned her eyes to the dark-haired woman kneeling at a gravestone one row over.
The woman rocked back on her heels, gazing across the cemetery like she was calculating when Jenny knew that it wasn’t necessary. Morgan Frazier kept count of every tombstone and every mausoleum in the old graveyard. She could have recited the numbers by heart.
She turned her green eyes on Jenny. “Four hundred and sixty-three.”
“But who’s counting, right?” Jenny laughed.
Morgan grinned. “Right.”
It might have been wrong to feel closer to Morgan than she did to her own father, but Jenny couldn’t help it. Morgan had been her mother’s best friend, and the older woman seemed to understand Jenny in ways her dad just couldn’t. Morgan accepted her without getting freaked out when Jenny felt herself slipping toward the darkness that always seemed to lurk at the edges of her consciousness. Helping in the cemetery was a bonus. Guaranteed time to think in silence or talk about her art while they worked their way through the tombstones, rubbing the epitaphs so that Morgan could add them to her study of the strange runes and markings that appeared on some of them.
“I heard your dad has a new project,” Morgan said.
Jenny picked up the pencil and paper, rubbing the marker in front of her to get an impression of the stylized “3” with swirled ends etched into the gravestone’s surface.
“Yeah. An old farmhouse outside of town.”
“You going to help?”
Jenny couldn’t stop the bitter laugh that escaped her mouth. “Do I have a choice?”
“You always have a choice.”
Jenny sighed. “If I make a big deal out of it we’ll just end up arguing about the same things all over again. He’ll tell me there’s no future in art, I’ll tell him it doesn’t matter, since it’s my future anyway, and he’ll end up worried and unhappy which will just make me worried and unhappy, too.”
“Right.” Morgan didn’t look up from her work. “But you still have a choice, and choosing what you want isn’t always easy.”
“I guess.”
Jenny had moved onto the next stone when Morgan spoke again. “I heard the client has a son your age.”
From the teasing tone in the older woman’s voice, Jenny knew right where this was going. She shook her head. “Uh-uh. Don’t even think about it.”
“Think about what?”
“Don’t try to act innocent!” Jenny said. “I know what you’re thinking!”
Morgan stood, picking up her stuff and moving on to the next gravestone. “What am I thinking?”
“That Dad’s client has a son who’s a potential boyfriend for me.”
Morgan shrugged, glancing over at Jenny. “So?”
“So, you’re way off base. I’ve met the guy and trust me, there is no possibility whatsoever.”
Jenny had a flash of the boy named Nikolai, his lips full and sensual as he’d gazed at the painting over her shoulder in the big fancy room. She had a reckless desire to tell Morgan about him instead of Ben. To tell Morgan how he’d made her feel, even in her dream.
“Why not?” Morgan asked, pulling Jenny back to the conversation. “You don’t think he’s cute?”
Jenny thought of Ben Daulton. “Sure, he’s cute. Until he opens his mouth.”
“Ah!” Morgan laughed out loud. “That bad, huh?”
“Worse!” Jenny was getting mad all over again just thinking about it.
“Is he a brainless twit like half of those other guys you go to school with?”
“Not exactly. I mean … I guess I don’t know. We didn’t talk for very long.”
“Then how do you know you don’t like him?”
“Because! He’s rude! He has the manners of a gorilla!” Jenny sputtered.
Nodding, Morgan appraised Jenny with fresh interest and a sly smile. “I see.”
Jenny sighed, shaking her head. “No, you don’t. You think you do, but you don’t.”
Morgan turned back to her work. “If you say so.”
They worked in silence for another half hour before Jenny realized the time. She stood up, stretching. “I have to get ready for the show. Need me to do anything else before I go?”
Morgan shook her head, standing to say goodbye. “I’m good. You didn’t have to come at all. This is a big day!”
“It’s just a local show,” Jenny said, embarrassed.
“Don’t sell yourself short, Jenny. Didn’t you say they only accepted twenty-five artists in the whole county?”
“Well, yeah … ”
“Then give yourself a little credit, will you?” Morgan stepped toward Jenny, taking her hand. “I’m proud of you. And you know what?”
“Your mom would be proud, too.”
“She would?” Jenny asked.
Morgan nodded, smiling. “She would.”

* * *

Morgan, beaming like a proud mother, was already at the gallery when Jenny arrived with her dad later that night. The show was in full swing, a long table at the back of the room covered with fancy finger food and punch.
Jenny was engulfed in a patchouli-scented cloud as Morgan hugged her. “Yours are upstairs. I checked it out before you got here.” Morgan started for the stairs. “Let’s go take a look.”
“I thought you said you already checked it out,” Jenny said weakly. Suddenly, she wasn’t so sure she wanted to see her art hanging on the walls. It was too personal.
“I did,” Morgan said, “but I want to see them with you.”
“Okay.” Jenny felt sick. She was surprised to feel her dad take her hand. He squeezed it reassuringly.
Jenny was careful as they ascended the stairs to the second-floor exhibit space. She wasn’t used to wearing heels, but she’d wanted to look nice for the show, so she’d worn gold sandals with the simple black shift dress that Morgan had bought her for her last birthday. The shoes only had a kitten heel, but it would be just like her to trip and fall in front of everyone at her first gallery showing. She didn’t take her hand off of the banister until they reached the landing.
They made their way down the second-floor hallway, passing four rooms with pure white walls punctuated only by art. It was easy to tell which of the teenagers at the gallery were part of the show. They were the ones hovering around the pieces, paying too close attention to the words of the people around them.
They were almost to the end of the hallway when Morgan turned in to the second-to-last room. Jenny followed, her breath catching in her throat as her work came into view.
Morgan stepped forward, turning to face Jenny and her dad, “Well, what do you think, Daniel? Aren’t they amazing?”
Jenny watched her dad’s face as he looked at the wall of paintings. He was almost immobile for what seemed like a long time, his face impassive. Then he turned to Jenny with a smile.
“They’re beautiful, Jenny. Just beautiful.” He pulled her into his arms. “I’m so proud of you.”
Jenny smiled into his jacket. “Really? You like them?”
He stepped back, looking into her eyes. “Of course I do.”
Just then a familiar voice sounded from the doorway. “I’m sorry! I’m sorry! I know I’m late.”
Tiffany burst into the room wearing flared jeans that made her legs look a mile long and a boyfriend sweater over a white T-shirt.
Jenny hugged her. “Don’t even worry about it. I hope you didn’t drive too fast to get here. There’s no rush. It goes until nine.”
“I’m alive, aren’t I?” Tiffany joked. “Now let me look at these paintings.”
“I’m going to go grab a glass of wine,” Jenny’s dad said. “Can I get you girls some punch?”
“Sure! Thanks, Mr. Kramer.”
“I’ll help your dad, Jenny,” Morgan said. “Then I want to take a closer look and talk to you about these pieces.”
They left the room, and Tiffany turned to Jenny. “I’m so freaking excited for you, Jen.”
Jenny rolled her eyes. “Thanks, but it’s no big deal.”
“What are you talking about? You could become some big-shot famous artist someday, in which case you’ll look back on this as the moment everything began.”
Jenny laughed. “Yeah, okay, Tiff. Whatever you say.”
Tiffany punched her playfully on the arm. “Don’t patronize me. God!”
She stepped forward, looking more closely at one of the paintings, the one of the old train depot, the hulking black locomotive, steam coming out its top in a big, gray cloud, sitting on the tracks in the background.
“Who is this?” she asked, still peering at the painting.
“Who is who?” Jenny knew what Tiffany was talking about, she just didn’t know how to answer.
“This.” Tiffany pointed at the man standing at the edge of the track. “Wait a minute … ” She leaned back, her eyes skipping across the other paintings. “Why is this guy in every one? He wasn’t there the last time I saw these.”
Jenny sighed. “I know. I added him. Just yesterday, actually.”
Tiffany’s eyes met hers. “To all of them?”
Jenny’s nod was slow. “Yeah.”
“I’m not sure.” Jenny struggled to find words that wouldn’t make sense to someone who wasn’t her. Someone who hadn’t had the dream about the guy named Nikolai. Who hadn’t felt like she’d known him. Like the dream had been real. “I was touching everything up, and it just felt … right. Like he was supposed to be there.”
It wasn’t a lie, exactly. Now that he was in the paintings, it did seem like he was supposed to be there. Like he was meant to be there all along.
Jenny turned to the sound of clicking heels entering the room. Maxine, the Assistant Curator of the gallery, stepped toward the painting of the snowy field. The one Jenny had been working on the night she’d painted the man into all her pieces. Maxine leaned forward, showing a long stretch of leg under her tight navy dress as she placed a red sticker on the plaque that read, “Jennifer Kramer, Snowy Field.”
“Wait a minute,” Tiffany said, the guy forgotten. “Does that mean it’s sold?”
Maxine smiled. “It does. Just now, in fact.”
“Wait a minute,” Jenny said. “I sold something?”
Maxine laughed. “That’s my understanding.” She left the room in an elegant click of heels on the wood flooring.
“Oh, my God, Jen! You sold something!” Tiffany practically squealed. “And in, like, the first hour, too!”
Jenny didn’t know what to say. Selling the painting was validation of her work. Validation she needed. But she still couldn’t help feeling a pang of loss. Snowy Field wouldn’t be coming home with her.
And even though the guy named Nikolai was in all her paintings, even the ones that hadn’t sold, she was suddenly bereft at the thought of losing even one of them.

* * *

Jenny stood in her exhibit room, empty except for the painting that had sold, the red dot sticker still on the plaque underneath the piece. The gallery was emptying out. Other than the occasional muffled scrape from one of the other rooms, it was quiet.
Most of the artists had already packed up their unsold paintings and headed home. Tiffany and Morgan had left an hour ago after congratulating Jenny and showering her with compliments. Jenny’s dad was loading the car with her unsold paintings.
She probably should have been helping him, but she wanted to say goodbye to Snowy Field. Robert, the gallery owner, had told her the buyer was going to pick up the piece tomorrow. Jenny tried to imagine it in its new home, on the wall of some aspiring collector. Maybe it would
be in their dining room and they would look at it over breakfast every morning. Or maybe they would hang it over the bed, and it would be the last thing they saw before going to sleep every night.
She sighed, wondering if it would always be hard to say goodbye to her pieces or if this one was just special.
“It’s lovely.” The voice, coming from behind her, made her jump.
She turned, her initial surprise at hearing the voice eclipsed by total and complete shock.
She knew the guy standing in the doorway. She’d seen him in her dream.
Had painted him in her painting.
She shook her head, denying it to herself as he stepped into the room. He was tall, almost slender, though Jenny had the impression that he was also strong under the trousers and button-down shirt. His black hair shone even in the soft light of the gallery.
“What … who … ” She stumbled over her words. “Who are you?”
He tipped his head, his smile a little sad. “I think you know.”
She stared at him as he came toward her. He didn’t take his eyes, a deep green, off her.
“I don’t,” she finally managed to croak. “How would I?”
She said it because that’s what a normal person would say. Because a normal person wouldn’t say, “You’re the guy from my dream.”
He was right in front of her now. He smelled like the cold. Like the evergreens in the field around her house at winter, bracing and clean and a little bitter. He looked down into her eyes, his gaze drifting to the base of her neck. She reached up, touching the birthmark with her fingers before feeling awkward and dropping her hand.
“Maria … ” he said softly. “Jenny.”
The name rang like a bell in her mind. Maria.
She saw again the image from her dream. The girl named Maria painting with her sister while a green-eyed boy arranged for them to meet.
Then the younger sister’s voice: Shall Maria paint it ugly then, if that is how she sees it?
Jenny looked at the guy standing across from her, his green eyes identical to those of the young man named Nikolai in her dream. He reached out, and for a second, Jenny had the strangest impression that he was going to touch her cheek.
“Sorry, honey!” Her dad came into the room in a flurry of words. “I had to wait for some of the other kids to load up before I could—” He stopped suddenly, seeing the guy standing next to Jenny.
He dropped his hand back to his side.
“Who is this?” her dad asked.
Jenny swallowed, trying to clear her head, trying to figure out how to answer a question she didn’t even dare to ask yet.
The guy extended a hand and smiled at her father. “I’m a fan of your daughter’s work. You must be very proud.”
“Thank you.” Her dad took the guy’s hand. “I am. Very proud.”
The guy turned to her. “Congratulations. I’m sure this is just the first of many successful shows.”
Jenny watched him head for the door, her brain trying to wrap her head around what was happening. By the time she felt coherent, all she could do was register he was gone.
“Wow,” her dad said. “You already have fans.” 
Jenny took a deep breath, steadying her voice as she stared at the empty doorway. “Yeah … ”
“Anyway!” her dad said, a little too loud. “Let’s go. Someone else might be waiting for me to move the car so they can pack up.”
Jenny followed him out of the room, taking one last look at Snowy Field. But as they descended the stairs, stepping out into the warm summer night, it wasn’t her painting she saw but the guy named Nikolai, his green eyes shimmering in the world of her dream.
And somehow in this one, too.
Endless is a young adult fantasy/time travel novel that follows heroine Jennifer "Jenny" Kramer as she prepares for yet another dull summer in her small town. Although boring is something that Jenny cherishes, because she's not exactly normal. She can see and experience other people's past lives just by touching them. When a chance encounter introduces her to Ben and a mysterious music box with instructions on "mesmerization" - things for Jenny go from weird to full on crazy. Not to mention her incredibly vivid dreams from the past including a gorgeous guy named Nikolai; who just happens to appear in Jenny's life outside her dreams. Jenny's convinced that there are mysterious and life changing events happening around her, but she's not sure what to make of them. When Nikolai moves in next door, Jenny must finally come to grips with the fact that he has crossed time and space searching for her - and now the Order, whose task it is to keep people in their own times - is determined to send him back. Now Jenny, Ben and Nikolai are running from the Order and they just might realize they have a connection that defies time and death.

This novel was a beautifully told story capturing both the present time and the historical Russian era of the Romanovs. I'm always intrigued by time travel books - especially ones that include soul mates searching for each other in different times and places. It definitely is one of my romantic downfalls. The plot wasn't completely original in the time travel aspect or even dealing with the Romanov era, but the author wrote the book with such vivid imagery and detailed descriptions that I was immediately drawn into the world she created. The characters were all interesting and well written with their own personalities. I liked Jenny as a main character - she was a typical teenage girl that had to deal with a unnatural ability and isn't used to having many friends. She's smart, strong and a loyal friend and daughter - and I easily found myself identifying with her early on in the book. Nikolai and Ben were both well written characters too - each with their own strengths and weaknesses, which made them more realistic. The plot, as I mentioned, wasn't completely original, but I loved learning as much as I could about the music box, the Romanov's, the Order, and the connection that Jenny, Nikolai and Ben shared. Apparently, like I mentioned above, I also have a huge soft spot for soul mates and all that too. The writing of the book was well done with a natural flow and a quick pace that kept me eagerly turning the pages to see what was going  to happen next. There's a bit of action, adventure, history and mystery blended in with the time travel and romance, so the book has definite appeal for fans of multiple genres. Highly recommended for fans of fantasy and time travel fiction as well as those who enjoy great love stories.
Amanda Gray believes in magic and fantasy and possibilities. She is a team of two bestselling authors who live only miles apart but have never met in person. They talk on the phone and are the best of friends and between them have written more than a dozen novels and novellas and have had their work appear on television.
Giveaway Information:

(2) print copies of Endless by Amanda Gray (US Only)

(2) eBook copies of Endless by Amanda Gray (INT)

(1) $25 iTunes gift card (INT)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


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