About the Story:
Bensin, a teenage slave and martial artist, is desperate to see his little sister freed. But only victory in the Krillonian Empire’s most prestigious tournament will allow him to secretly arrange for Ellie’s escape. Dangerous people are closing in on her, however, and Bensin is running out of time. With his one hope fading quickly away, how can Bensin save Ellie from a life of slavery and abuse?
What is the Collar for, and What is a Cavvarach?
The story is set in a world very much like our own, with just a few major differences. One is that slavery is legal there. Slaves must wear metal collars that lock around their neck, making their enslaved status obvious to everyone. Any slave attempting to escape faces the dilemma of how and where to illegally get their collar removed (a crime punishable by enslavement for the remover).
Another difference is the popularity of a martial art called cavvara shil. It is fought with a cavvarach (rhymes with “have a rack”), an unsharpened weapon similar to a sword but with a steel hook protruding from partway down its top edge. Competitors can strike at each other with their feet as well as with the blades. You win in one of two ways: disarming your opponent (hooking or knocking their cavvarach out of their hands) or pinning their shoulders to the mat for five seconds.
Excerpt: Some Pretty Impressive Skills
Opening the cavvarach case, Bensin lifted the weapon out, stepping back to brandish it in some practice swings. He loved the way the sunlight reflected off the gleaming steel, the pleasantly squishable feel of the foam rubber that coated the hilt, the sharp angle of the hook jutting out toward him from halfway along the blade’s top edge, the precise weight as he swung it. The ache in his back ceased to matter, and for a moment he almost forgot that he was being sold away from his sister. The cavvarach became another limb, the shil and padding an extra layer of skin.
Mr. Mayvins faced him, his own cavvarach poised. “Ready?”
Bensin waited and let him take the offense. The man tested his defenses, his blade striking high, low, left, right. Bensin caught every blow on his own blade or on his shil, careful to avoid his opponent’s hook. Mr. Mayvins struck out with his feet in half a dozen different kinds of kicks, some aimed to knock the weapon from Bensin’s hand, others to knock him off balance so he could pin him to the ground, the two possible ways to win at cavvara shil. He’s good. But so was Bensin’s defense, and soon he was striking out with kicks of his own, lunging and slashing, attempting to hook his opponent’s weapon, dodging and ducking and sidestepping.
There was something exhilarating about cavvara shil. Bensin never felt more alive than when he was sparring with a skilled partner or competing in the ring surrounded by dozens or hundreds of onlookers. Of course, most of the time the onlookers were cheering for his opponent. Slave fighters had few actual fans. But Bensin had learned not to care, because cavvara shil was one activity in which slave and free were equal. The exact same rules applied to both, and you never got in trouble for hurting a free person as long as you played by the rules. And so he could give it his all, losing himself in the joy of an activity he loved and was good at. He knew he was out of shape, thanks to his sore back and the fact that he had missed his practice and most of his daily workouts for the last fortnight. But still, sparring now was like spending time with a close friend.
“All right, enough,” the trainer ordered finally. They both stepped back and lowered their cavvarachs, dripping sweat and panting. Neither of them spoke as they peeled off their padding and shils. But as they stuffed them back into the duffel bag, the man grinned at Bensin. “You’ve got some pretty impressive skills, you know that?”
Want to Find out a Little More?
Click here to read a description of the setting and what life is like for slaves and others in that world.
Click here to read chapter 1 for free!
About the Author:
Annie Douglass Lima spent most of her childhood in Kenya and later graduated from Biola University in Southern California. She and her husband Floyd currently live in Taiwan, where she teaches fifth grade at Morrison Academy. She has been writing poetry, short stories, and novels since her childhood, and to date has published ten books (one YA action and adventure novel, four fantasies, a puppet script, and four anthologies of her students’ poetry). Besides writing, her hobbies include reading (especially fantasy and science fiction), scrapbooking, and international travel.
Connect with the Author Online:
Amazon Author Page: http://bit.ly/AnnieDouglassLimaOnAmazon
Google Plus: http://bit.ly/ADLimaOnGooglePlus
Myrria is welcoming Landry and her author Krysten Lindsay Hager to the Dragon’s Lair today.
Best Friends…Forever? (Landry’s True Colors Series) by Krysten Lindsay Hager
Best Friends…Forever? by Krysten Lindsay Hager
I have always loved reading books that use humor and have realistic (and relatable) characters. I decided to write the book I wanted to read when I was reading YA and I’m overjoyed it’s now a series where people can follow along on Landry’s journey through dealing with friendships, the ups and downs of school, crushes, relationships, and insecurities. Sure, going back to that time in my own life was a little crazy, but lucky for me there weren’t camera phones to capture me dancing in the school talent show…while wearing jean shorts. If you’re not cringing yet, let’s just say I also had a moment of “genius” where I thought my super dark brown hair would look amazing with “Sun-In” highlights that actually turned my hair a lovely shade of copper. Sigh.
The Landry’s True Colors Series is a clean reads young adult series about friendship, self-esteem, fitting in, middle school and high school, frenemies, modeling, crushes, values, and self-image. Best Friends…Forever? was ranked at #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Teen & Young Adult Values & Virtues Fiction and #1 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases in Children’s Books on Values. True Colors is an international bestselling book.
Blurb: Landry Albright hopes the new year will start off in an amazing way—instead she has to deal with more frenemy issues, boy drama, and having most of her best friends make the cheerleading squad without her. Suddenly, it seems like all anyone can talk about is starting high school next year—something she finds terrifying.
Landry gets her first boyfriend (her crush, Vladi), but then gets dumped just as things come to a head with her friends. She feels lost and left out, but finds good advice about dealing with frenemies from what she considers an unlikely source. Landry faces having to speak up for what’s right, tell the truth (even when it hurts), and how to get past the fear of failure as she gets another shot at competing in the American Ingénue modeling competition. Will she get a second chance with her friends, fame, and Vladi?
I was so nervous the night of the basketball game. At first, I didn’t even want to go into the gym, but I mustered up the courage just as the game ball went streaking past my head and I almost got knocked over by a referee. The ref blew the whistle and went to hand the ball off. Vladi was standing right there and he nodded at me. Peyton squeezed my arm as we sat down, but I didn’t think it was that big a deal because he didn’t smile at me or anything.
“Duh, he was playing basketball, but he acknowledged your existence,” she said.
“Kind of like how that cheerleader who keeps screaming out his name is acknowledging him?” I pointed to the girl with glossy straight brown hair who was doing back flips on the sidelines.
“Forget her. He must like blondes anyway. He didn’t check me out after all,” she said.
I checked around to see if Carey was there, but I didn’t see her. I did see India sitting with Doug and Cristian though. I poked Peyton, but she had already seen them.
“Devon would kill her,” she said.
“Um, should we tell her? They just started talking again,” I said. I didn’t want to get in the middle of another fight and I could tell that Peyton felt the same way. Besides, it wasn’t like Doug was Devon’s boyfriend. I’m sure India thought she would be safe since other than her and Devon, the rest of us hadn’t gone to the away games before. Peyton said we should try to avoid them after the game so we could pretend that we never saw them together. However, I ran into her on my way out of the bathroom at halftime.
“Landry,” India’s aqua blue eyes widened. “Are you here to see Vladi?”
I nodded and we both stood there. Peyton came in to see what was taking so long and almost passed out when she saw India.
“You guys, could you not say anything to Devon about this? I came by myself and I just ran into Doug here,” India said.
Peyton and I acted like we hadn’t even seen Doug. I knew India had to be lying because who would go to a game by herself? We agreed not to say anything. The whole time I worried about what would happen if Devon found out that I knew about Doug and India. Peyton told me to relax because we weren’t doing anything wrong. I wasn’t sure which was worse: keeping a secret from Devon or breaking up her friendship with India?
A day when I can sleep in and maybe have my Grandma Dombrowski make me potato pancakes and then spend time with my friends—maybe movie night at Peyton’s or hanging out at the bookstore with an unlimited book gift card.
I have a crystal butterfly necklace that all my friends got together. At first, they bought it without me and it hurt my feelings, but then my friend India bought me one and I got one for two of my friends.
Not speaking up for myself sometimes and for not asking Vladi about what was going on with Yasmin McCarty right away when those rumors started. My mom says I overthink stuff and I guess I do spend a lot of time worrying about things..
Actually, what I’d most like to have is to feel confident all the time. I second guess myself and overthink too much. I wish I could just go out and say and do what I want, but I worry about people judging me all the time. I’m getting better about it, but it’s still hard.
That’s a tough one because I keep thinking it would be amazing to live in New York City, but I miss my family in Chicago a lot and don’t want to be apart from my friends in Michigan. My mom started talking about moving from Grand Rapids (Michigan), and I was really worried because I’d miss all my friends.
Talisa Milan who is a model that is in business school and an inspiring business woman. And don’t tell my mother this, but I really admire her. I never knew what she went through to become successful in business. She had to overcome a lot of self-doubt and people who tried to discourage her along the way, but she did it anyway and that’s pretty cool.
I recently told Devon the truth about her best friend (India) going behind her back with another guy. I guess she didn’t want to believe that India could do that, but she confronted her and India twisted the truth. For some reason it was easier for Devon to believe her than the truth and they all got mad at me. Then there was a misunderstanding with Ashanti and it hurt to not have one of my best friends speaking to me at the same time my boyfriend broke up with me. It made me leery of telling people the ugly truth, but in the end, I still stayed true to myself (and what was right). I guess you just have to have faith that doing the right thing is still the way to go.
Amazon international: http://authl.it/B00UIP1N5S
Krysten Lindsay Hager is a book addict who has never met a bookstore she didn’t like. She’s worked as a journalist and writes middle grade, YA, humor essays, and adult fiction. She is originally from Michigan and has lived in Portugal, South Dakota, and currently resides in Southern Ohio where you can find her reading and writing when she’s not catching up on her favorite shows. She received her master’s degree from the University of Michigan-Flint.
Connect with Krysten: