Free Ebooks (7/21/17)

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PLEASE REMEMBER THAT THE FREE PRICING IS ONLY A SPECIAL FOR THE DIGITAL FORMAT OF THE BOOK THAT IS LISTED AND IS ONLY AVAILABLE FOR A LIMITED TIME, SO BE SURE TO PURCHASE THE E-BOOKS BEFORE THE PRICE RETURNS TO ITS NORMAL LISTING. (Unless you want to buy them at full price:)

 

Don’t forget to check my Free Ebook page on Pinterest for more Free Ebook titles and genres not listed below!

 

 

My T-Rex Gets a Bath on Kindle

My T-Rex Gets a Bath by Chloe Sanders: “My T-Rex Gets a Bath” is about a mischievous dino named Rex and his buddy, Tom. This is a great book about the importance of good hygiene and something kids can learn from (in a delightful rhyming format).

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

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Crystal Magic on Kindle

Crystal Magic by Madeline Freeman: When she moves in with her aunt, Kristyl hopes to leave the past behind. But her classmate, Owen, may know more about her — and her powers — than she knows about herself…

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle Nook Kobo Apple

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DASH Diet For Beginners on Kindle

DASH Diet For Beginners by Emma S. Fisher: This book is all about the DASH diet—what it is and how you can try it for yourself. “DASH” simply means Dietary Approach to Stop Hypertension, which as the name denotes, is a diet that is designed to naturally and effectively boosts your body’s nutrients to lower blood pressure. By reading this book, you’ll have an idea as to what this diet is all about and how you can start practicing it today. It also contains a lot of diet plans and recipes to help you through this new and healthier way of living.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

Paleo Diet for Beginners on Kindle

Paleo Diet for Beginners by Emma S. Fisher: In this book, you will learn why Paleo is one of the top diets of this generation. You will understand how the “modern man’s diet” has caused a man to regress from being agile, athletic, and lean, into being sluggish, inactive, and overweight, and why going Paleo is the solution to achieving your goals such as eating healthy and losing weight.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

Instant Pot Fish & Seafood Cookbook on Kindle

Instant Pot Fish & Seafood Cookbook by Alex Baker: This is a cooking book that teaches you everything you need to know about cooking fish and other kinds of seafood using instant pots. Consumption of seafood is extremely healthy and provides multiple benefits. Seafood contains healthy fats like omega 3, fatty acids and proteins that are very important for your dietary needs.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

Sean O'Casey on Kindle

Sean O’Casey by Gary O’Connor: The writer whose greatest creation was himself… Sean O’Casey was an Irish playwright who formed a strong nationalist identity both in his plays and in his personal identity. Sean O’Casey’s life is as rich and layered as any play, yet in this skillfully crafted biography, Garry O’Connor reveals the man behind the myth and all his glorious contradictions.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

Mother of Ten on Kindle

Mother of Ten by JB Rowley: What happens to children robbed of family? Myrtle’s first three children grew up without any knowledge of their mother after Myrtle was forced to give them up when they were still toddlers. In this sequel to Amazon #1 best seller, Whisper My Secret, JB Rowley explores what happened to the three half-siblings she never knew.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

Essential Oils For Pets on Kindle

Essential Oils For Pets by Nancy McWatkins: Essential oils are not only useful for us, but also for pets! Learn in this eBook about the most effective and useful essential oils as well as other herbal oils that can be used for alternative therapy!

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

Paws and the Tails of Happiness on Kindle

Paws and the Tails of Happiness by Kostas Dimitriadis: Dogs and cats have conquered our hearts for countless reasons, the most important of these being our profound need to see ourselves through different eyes. Nature’s eyes, our little friends’ eyes, look at us in such an innocent and pristine way, a way so deeply etched inside us that it moves and overwhelms us.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

Gardening: Container Gardening 3-in-1 Boxset on Kindle

Gardening: Container Gardening 3-in-1 Boxset by Louise Harvey: Three books in one. Louise Harvey presents beginner guides on three wonderful house plants – The Orchid, Air Plants, and the Bonsai. All three plants present their own unique challenges. Louise provides her unique insight into how she cultivates each one in an easy-to-follow format, for the complete novice.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

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The Scarlet Peacock on Kindle

The Scarlet Peacock by David Field: A dramatic re-telling of the rise and fall of one of Henry VIII’s most powerful followers. Thomas Wolsey began life as the son of a butcher, but his wit and wiles saw him rise to one of the highest positions in England. This was a path that earned him jealousy and scorn from some in the treacherous life of the royal court, and ultimately led to his tragic downfall…

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

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The Martian Wars: The Fall of Nova (Part 1) on Kindle

The Martian Wars: The Fall of Nova (Part 1) by Jake Beebe: This is Earth in the waning days of the twenty-first century. The United States of America is now Nova, ruled by a decrepit prime minister and the Novan Council. There is a vaccine for old age, but it is administered to the young, who will live to be three hundred years old, while the elderly are forsaken. Mars has been colonized, but the early promise of a new world has given way to a reality of resources brutally exploited by the home planet.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

The Lighthouse In Space on Kindle

The Lighthouse In Space by Saurabh Dashora: Insanity grips you when you are alone. Insanity grips you faster when you are alone in space 2.5 light years away from Earth. Engineer Calwin is assigned to the Lighthouse In Space against his wish. The previous Engineer’s sudden and mysterious death left no other choice. But Calwin already wants to embrace death, unable to cope with the loss of his wife. The mysterious woman on the Lighthouse, however, does not want him to die. The mysterious woman Calwin can see only in his dreams.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

Futurism & Fantasia on Kindle

Futurism & Fantasia by Audrey Sharpe & 10 others: Riveting tales of old magic, new enemies, and galactic mayhem. Read the first chapters from new and upcoming titles in Science Fiction and Fantasy, presenting a glance into worlds shaped by ancient rites, sassy spacefarers, and addictive characters.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

Fey Touched on Kindle

Fey Touched by Erin Zarro: The Fey are genetically-engineered humans and the Fey Touched are those who hunt the ones who kill people for their souls. A Fey Queen is on the run, not wanting an arranged marriage with forty males of her Clan. A Hunter searches through the stream of time to find her missing sister using an addictive drug. Another Hunter is falling in love with his enemy. And then the Hunters start dying of a mysterious illness.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

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The Viking (Book 1) on Kindle

The Viking (Book 1) by Marti Talbott: At not yet fifteen, Stefan excitedly boarded a longboat to take part in his first Viking raid, only to find himself alone and stranded in Scotland.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle Nook Kobo Apple

 

You're the Rogue That I Want on Kindle

You’re the Rogue That I Want by Samantha Holt: Red never shies away from a challenge. Never. But when Miss Hannah St. John strides into his life demanding—yes, demanding—he help her, he’s certain she’s more challenge than even he can handle.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

Protection on Kindle

Protection by Elle Thorne: Grizzly bear shifter Grant Waters wants curvy Chelsea O’Reilly. He has since they met, except he’s worried his secret may be too much for her. Hair stylist and curvy girl Chelsea gets butterflies when Grant’s around, but she’s got her own baggage. Not to mention, she thinks that Grant would be better off with the local, stunning, curvy, widowed-way-too-early Mae Forester.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle Nook Kobo Apple

 

Grizzly on Kindle

Grizzly by Katharine Belle: Enjoy THREE romance, action, and drama packed shifter books in this bundle. FUR AND SMOKE: War is coming as Jack and his friends join a new shifter clan with a plan to destroy the hunter network that has been tracking Jack since his youth. In order to keep a tight ship, the clan has rules. Always follow the shifter code, never challenge their leader Ian. And most importantly, Ian’s younger sister Elle is entirely off-limits.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

Ethereal Knights on Kindle

Ethereal Knights by Addison Moore: *A paranormal wonderland!* Angels are among us, and on Paragon island, they’re everywhere. Logan and Gage Oliver are smitten by the new girl in town, Skyla Messenger. But suddenly an entire faction of angels is out to kill her. Logan and Gage will do anything to keep Skyla safe, even risk revealing their own angelic identities.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

The Enforcers: NOAH on Kindle

The Enforcers: NOAH by Anastasia Wilde: Noah Reilly has hit rock-bottom—until a human vet rescues him from a bear trap and saves his mangled leg. Mina Reston doesn’t know the wolf she saved has a human side—until hunters come after her shifter son. Forced to go on the run, she turns to Noah for protection and finds a love and strength she never expected—if they can all survive…

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

Horizon MC on Kindle

Horizon MC by Clara Kendrick: Hold on tight and don’t let go — five books of motorcycle club romances are roaring down the road, headed straight toward you!

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

Christmas with Angel: Last Chance (Book 1) on Kindle

Christmas with Angel: Last Chance (Book 1) by Lexi Post: After eight years apart, Lacey and Cole can now spend Christmas together. When Cole returns to the ranch, he expects to take Lacey to his mother’s. But Lacey isn’t happy, as Cole’s mother is who kept them apart to begin with. And then all plans change when Lacey finds herself protecting her horse, Angel, from Angel’s former abusive owner, who’s willing to kill to have his horse back.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle Nook Kobo Apple

 

The Sculptor's Model on Kindle

The Sculptor’s Model by Lulu Fairhazel: Beatrice Carpenter needs a male model, like, yesterday. If she loses out on this exhibition opportunity, she might never become the world-famous artist she’s always dreamed of being. She’d find it a hell of a lot easier to concentrate if the construction workers next door would just stop drilling! But it turns out one of them might be the solution to her problem…and more.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

Forever Perfect on Kindle

Forever Perfect by Lexy Timms: USA Today Bestselling author Lexy Timms brings you a beautiful love story, packed with heat and romance, that will have you begging to fall in love with Dr. Layton.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle Nook Kobo Apple

 

Totlandia: The Onesies: Fall on Kindle

Totlandia: The Onesies: Fall by Josie Brown: Mothers in Pacific Heights become intensely competitive as they vie for spots in the most prestigious children’s playgroup in all of San Francisco.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle Kobo Apple

 

My Bad Boy Neighbor on Kindle

My Bad Boy Neighbor by Desirae Clark: A good girl, a bad boy, and a bet. Nerdy Astrid gets her life turned upside down when notorious Kai moves in across the street. A walking chick magnet if there was one, Kai starts to notice Astrid, and not in a way she ever wanted to be noticed. Will Astrid ever get rid of him? Or will she give in to what he wants?

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

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Girl Undercover: The Adler Conspiracy (Parts 1-12) on Kindle

Girl Undercover: The Adler Conspiracy (Parts 1-12) by Julia Derek: LAPD Detective Gabi Longoria returns home one night to a nasty surprise—her husband has been brutally killed. A note next to his body says: “Rats always get what they deserve.” In the process of finding his killer, she meets a mysterious man who claims an evil corporation killed her husband—what’s worse, he also claims they’ve developed a master race to replace all of humankind…

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

Whiskey’s Gone on Kindle

Whiskey’s Gone by Susan Russo Anderson: Fina Fitzgibbons gets a call from a Brooklyn Heights lawyer asking her to find Whiskey Parnell, Trisha’s office manager. Fina interviews named partners, artists, and painters. Her quest for the missing single mom takes her to DUMBO, Carroll Gardens, Coney Island, and Brighton Beach. But in the end, a vicious surprise awaits her as the final piece of the puzzle comes crashing down.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

Skeletal on Kindle

Skeletal by Katherine Hayton: Daina Harrow is dead. Now that her teenage bones have been unearthed, join her spirit in the coroner’s court as he cross-examines the people who knew her and loved her, hated her and tortured her, to tease out the truth behind her devastating death.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

The Red Hot Empress: The Annie Szabo Mystery Series on Kindle

The Red Hot Empress: The Annie Szabo Mystery Series by Meredith Blevins: The spicy Szabo women would like to kick back with a lover, a good movie, and a few laughs, but life has something else in mind. One meeting with an extraordinary boy leads them headlong into another wild, and hair-raising, adventure. “A madcap dash through San Francisco’s Chinatown and the crumbling Haight-Ashbury district with a cast of bona fide eccentrics!” ~ Kirkus Reviews

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

Harold Shipman: The True Story of Britain's Most Notorious Serial Killer on Kindle

Harold Shipman: The True Story of Britain’s Most Notorious Serial Killer by Ryan Green: The story of Britain’s most notorious serial killer, Harold Shipman, from his upbringing, his victims, his trial, and his motivations. Shipman killed no less than 218 of his patients, making him Britain’s most prolific serial killer.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

Storm at Sunset on Kindle

Storm at Sunset by Ian Hall: The story of an RAF pilot whose work is not done after the close of WWII. He is sent with his squadron to the Far East, where their task is to bring those kept in internment camps back home. But the war isn’t over in these far flung corners of the jungle, and the squadron soon finds itself in a fight to survive…

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

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Family Matters on Kindle

Family Matters by Laurinda Wallace: When kennel owner Gracie Andersen receives a strange gift from her troubled uncle, she is drawn into the investigation of her cousin’s accidental death of 20 years ago. No one wants her digging up the past and someone intends to stop her. With her black Lab, Haley, by her side, they’re on the trail of a killer in the village of Deer Creek.

This book is Free on July 21, 2017

Kindle

 

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Grace to the Finish (Manor House Mystery #8) by Julie Hyzy

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Grace to the Finish - Julie Hyzy

 

 

Author: Julie Hyzy

Title: Grace to the Finish

Series: Manor House Mystery

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Now that Grace Wheaton has officially been named heir to Bennett Marshfield’s fortune, her usually busy schedule has become a juggling act. In addition to her duties at Marshfield Manor, she’s bankrolling her roommates’ refurbished wine shop, Amethyst Cellars. Grace is excited to check out the rustic space with Bruce and Scott. But that excitement turns to dismay when they stumble upon the body of the banker involved with the sale.

Grace wants to get to the bottom of this mystery quickly so that her friends’ new venture isn’t overshadowed by an unsolved murder, but she’s got even more to balance when her troubled sister, Liza, is released from prison early. Liza’s first stop is Marshfield Manor and her first priority is grabbing a bite of Bennett’s fortune for herself. Grace has to keep her greedy sister at bay and catch a killer before her new life comes crashing down around her.

 

 

 

 

 

I loved Grace to the Finish, I loved the cover art, I loved the characters, the story, I pretty much loved it all which really kind of bums me out because now I want to start this series from the beginning and read it all the way through and I just found out that the author is bringing the series to an end. Sad way to meet such a great book is when its coming in on its last leg.

If you haven’t read the previous books in this series the author makes it fairly easy to slip in and understand what’s going on enough to be able to follow along without too many plot or character gaps which is always great but there is definitely story on both ends that I want to know more about.

Grace to the Finish is fun, its well written, its one of the best cozy mysteries I’ve read in a long while.

 

 

 

 

 

Until next time book lovers…

 

 

Krissys Bookshelf Reviews received a digital copy in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley. All thoughts, comments and ratings are my own.

If any of Krissy’s Bookshelf Reviews has been helpful please stop by to like my post or leave a comment to let me know what you think. I love hearing from you!

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Secrets of Skin and Stone by Wendy Laine

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AuthorWendy Laine

Title: Secrets of Skin and Stone

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Something is wrong in Hidden Creek. The sleepy Alabama town is more haunted than any place fiend hunter Grisham Caso has ever seen. Unearthed graves, curse bags, and spilled blood all point to an evil that could destroy his gargoyle birthright. The town isn’t safe for anyone, and everyone says fiery Piper Devon knows why.

Piper wants to leave Hidden Creek behind. She’s had enough of secrets—they hide in the shadows of her room and tell her terrible things are coming. Too-charming city boy Grisham might be her only chance to save herself.

To survive, Piper and Grisham have to shed their secrets and depend only on each other. But what lurks in Hidden Creek still might take everything away from them, including each other.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Secrets of Skin and Stone is a typical angsty teen paranormal write short on plot and character development but has potential to be more.

Readers get the usual boy meets girl circumstance that bring them together and the usual love at first sight thing while their lives which are mentioned to be difficult seem to take a back seat to the love story that the author struggles to weave together in order to provide a reason to keep waiting for the supernatural half of the story to catch up.

I’m not big on the mentality of the characters which I think was my fault because I couldn’t really slip into their mind space which was more than a little depressing while at the same time was emotionally vague.

I think the story itself has potential and I think there were plenty of interesting places in the supernatural half that could have been expanded on and explored, but what I felt the book really needed was more emotion. I didn’t really feel any of that at all or at least very little.

There is some content trigger in the book about self mutilation in case there are readers who are sensitive to that.

I’m not a big fan of including subjects like that in teen books because I don’t think that all the young minds that read these kind of books that include those topics are mature enough or of sound mind to not be influenced by those topics however on the same side of the coin I do believe its better to be discussed than ignored I just feel its a delicate thing to bring up when it comes to young minds and influencing them so I have mixed feelings about it.

 

 

 

Until next time book lovers…

 

 

Krissys Bookshelf Reviews received a digital copy in exchange for an honest review from Netgalley. All thoughts, comments and ratings are my own.

If any of Krissy’s Bookshelf Reviews has been helpful please stop by to like my post or leave a comment to let me know what you think. I love hearing from you!

Thank you so much for stopping by!

 

 

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Revenge (Lawless #3) by Lexi Blake

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Revenge (A Lawless Novel) - Lexi Blake

 

 

Author: Lexi Blake

Title: Revenge

Series: Lawless

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When Drew Lawless discovers a fatal flaw in his plan to avenge his parents’ deaths, he turns to the one woman he’d promised he wouldn’t touch. He offers her a deal, one that will bring her into his investigation, his life, and his bed.

Investigative reporter Shelby Gates never dreamed how twisted the case would become—or how fascinated she would be with Drew. Every day they spend together binds them. And every night brings her closer to realizing he might be the man for her.

As Drew’s feelings for Shelby grow, so does the danger. From the streets of Dallas to Austin’s high-tech business world, Drew and Shelby play a game begun twenty years before—a game they will win, or die trying.

 

 

 

 

 

Alright so Revenge is the third book in the Lawless series if you haven’t read the previous books I highly suggest you start at the beginning this isn’t a journey you want to start without knowing where it all began.

The whole family involvement is heavy and complex so pay attention because details are important in Revenge.

Shelby and Drew were great together and I liked that Blake really tried to go out on this series with a major climax but in some ways it sort of went a little beyond which sort of crushed my belief in some of the things that came up… but when you’re trying to make it go might as well go all out.

So hey, I give Blake props for that but it made me conflicted about how many stars I wanted to rate this book. I must confess I’m a little partial to the series and seeing as how I was wanting to know what the final reveal would be I uprated. Revenge is a great read.

 

 

 

 

Until next time book lovers…

 

 

Krissys Bookshelf Reviews received a print copy in exchange for an honest review from Berkley Publishing. All thoughts, comments and ratings are my own.

If any of Krissy’s Bookshelf Reviews has been helpful please stop by to like my post or leave a comment to let me know what you think. I love hearing from you!

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Keeping It Hot (Breakfast in Bed #1) by Sydney Landon

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Author: Sydney Landon

Title: Keeping It Hot

Series: Breakfast in Bed

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Zoe Hart owns the coffee shop in one of the hottest upscale resorts in Florida, run by her childhood best friend, Dylan Jackson. Even though Dylan is a workaholic, he still finds time to enjoy the beautiful women who pass through his hotel all of them except Zoe. She has been in love with Dylan for years without him noticing.

But with her thirtieth birthday fast approaching, she realizes she can’t keep pining away for a man who doesn’t show the merest sign of romantic interest in her.
When Zoe launches her plan to shed her tomboy image in Dylan’s eyes, she’s thrilled once he starts to notice her in a whole new way.

But she’ll have to face the risk that seducing her best friend might come with lasting changes to their longtime friendship…

 

 

 

 

 

O-kay, So I read Keeping it Hot three times and I’m still bouncing between rating it three and four stars trying to figure out how I really feel about it.

There are times I really love both Zoe and Dylan, and there were times Zoe annoyed the crap out of me and times when Dylan pissed me the hell off. Other times they redeemed themselves through the bond they shared in their friendship which I actually felt was better than their relationship after Zoe had to change everything about herself to win Dylan’s heart.

I’m usually a fan of romances that have that right in front of you realization thing going on but circumstances that bring the h/h together and how its handled can vary on whether the book is a win or a lose for me.

This is where I had trouble because I didn’t think Zoe should have had to go to such extremes to catch Dylan’s more intimate attention however their romance was quite steamy once I got past all of that.

Still there was some turbulence in the back of my mind that Zoe’s new look wasn’t all quite her real self and should have been seen by Dylan if he really wanted her that way before all the change she made to herself.

Keeping it Hot is an entertaining read and the first book of the Breakfast in Bed series. If you haven’t read it yet I recommend it.

 

 

 

 

Until next time book lovers…

 

 

Krissys Bookshelf Reviews received a print copy in exchange for an honest review from Berkley Publishing. All thoughts, comments and ratings are my own.

If any of Krissy’s Bookshelf Reviews has been helpful please stop by to like my post or leave a comment to let me know what you think. I love hearing from you!

Thank you so much for stopping by!

 

 

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Enjoy An Exclusive Sneek Peek Of: The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller! (Please Be Aware!! Contains Content Trigger!)

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The Art of Starving

Matt hasn’t eaten in days. The hunger clears his mind—and he needs to be as sharp as possible if he’s going to find out just how Tariq and his band of high school bullies drove his sister, Maya, away.

Matt has discovered something: the less he eats the more he seems to have . . . powers. The ability to see things he shouldn’t be able to see. Maybe even the authority to bend time and space.

Matt decides to infiltrate Tariq’s life, then use his powers to uncover what happened to Maya. All he needs to do is keep the hunger at bay. But Matt doesn’t realize there are many kinds of hunger…and he isn’t in control of all of them.

TRIGGER WARNING:

Eating disorders and body dysmorphia are recurring themes in The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller. Please be aware if these are sensitive topics for you!

 

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TRIGGER WARNING:

Eating disorders and body dysmorphia are recurring themes in The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller. Please be aware if these are sensitive topics for you!

Congratulations! You have acquired one human body. This was a poor decision, but it is probably too late for you to do anything about it. Life, alas, has an extremely strict return policy.

Not that I’m some kind of expert or anything, but as an almost-seventeen-year veteran of having a body, I’ve learned a few basic rules that might save you some of my misery. So I’m writing this Rulebook as a public service. Please note, however, that there are a lot of rules, and some of them are very difficult to follow, and some of them sound crazy, and please don’t come crying to me if something terrible happens when you can only follow half of them.

RULE #1

Understand this: your body wants the worst for you. It is a complicated machine built up over billions of years, and it wants only two things—to stay alive and to make more of you. Your body thinks you’re still an animal in the jungle, and it wants you to eat ALL the food, and stick your DNA up in anything you can hold down. Lust and hunger will never leave you alone, because your body wants you grotesquely fat and covered in kids.

DAY: 1
TOTAL CALORIES: 3600

Suicidal ideation.

When you say it like that it sounds soft and harmless, like laissez-faire or any of the other weird sets of meaningless words they make you memorize in school. The letter from the psychiatrist sounded so calm I had to read it a couple of times before I saw what she was trying to say. She didn’t quote me. She didn’t tell my mom I said, Sometimes I think if I killed myself everyone would be a lot better off or Five times a week I decide to steal the gun my mom thinks I don’t know about and bring it to school and murder tons of people and then myself.

Instead, the psychiatrist said a lot of scary things in very tame and pleasant language:

Recommend urgent action—
Happy to prescribe—
Facilitate inpatient treatment—

Poor thing. How could she know my mom hides from the mail, with its bills and Notes of Shutdown and FINAL WARNINGS? I didn’t want to go see the psychiatrist in the first place, but the school set it up for me because I am evidently an At-Risk Youth. At risk of what, I wondered, and then thought, oh right, everything. At risk of enough that one or all my teachers filed whatever due-diligence report they’re obligated to file on someone who is obviously headed for homicide or suicide, so his or her blood isn’t on their hands. And as soon as the psychiatrist’s report came, addressed to my mom, I plucked it from the mail pile.

I read it on my walk to school. My mom still thinks I take the bus, but I stopped around the six thousandth time someone called me a faggot and punched me as I walked through the aisle. That kind of thing can really start your day off on the wrong foot. Plus, walking to school makes it easier to get there late, so I’m spared the agony of playing Lord of the Flies while we all stand around outside waiting for the first bell to ring.

The branches were almost entirely bare overhead. Stark and black like skinny fingers clawing at the sky. One crooked tree still had half its leaves. Hunger rumbled in my belly, and I felt like if I reached out hard enough, I could stretch myself taller than any of the trees. Hunger is funny like that.

Anyway. I shredded the letter, let it fall behind me like a trail of breadcrumbs. Lesson learned: Don’t tell people you want to kill yourself. Although really I should have known that one already. If high school teaches you nothing else, know this: Never tell anyone anything important.

I slowed down. Savored my last few steps before the hill crested and brought me in sight of the school. Stared up at the trees, and down the garbage-strewn road. Stopped. Breathed. Wondered what would happen if I turned and walked into the woods and never came back. I thought about this a lot. I had plans. I’d hitchhike or ride the rails or follow the river.

Under my bed there was a bag, full of books and hoodies and diet soda from the vending machine behind the ShopRite, and one of these days I would be ready to sling it over my shoulder and run away for real.

But I wasn’t ready, not yet. As miserable as it made me, I had to go to school. Not because I cared about college or education or a career or any of that pig shit, because anyone who spent five minutes in a Hudson High School classroom would know there was no actual educating happening anywhere in sight. The reason I couldn’t kill myself, and I couldn’t stop coming to school, was because Maya beat me to it. Because five days ago, my older sister ran away from home. She called the next morning from somewhere on the freeway to assure us she wasn’t kidnapped, she was taking a week off (“or whatever”) to go to some studio near Providence to record her band’s first album, she’d catch up on school when she got back. We shouldn’t call the cops. Etc.

She says she’s fine. She says nothing happened. But I don’t think that’s entirely true. I think someone hurt her. And I know who. And I had to keep coming to school because I had to find out what happened, so I could hurt him back.

So I crested the hill and walked down to the squat sprawling one-story building, an ugly heap of aluminum and brick, cursing my abject failure at estimating travel time, for I had arrived too early, and they were there, my peers, my fellow primates, hooting and hollering, pounding chests and grooming each other.

My senses felt like they’d been turned up too high. Maybe it had something to do with skipping breakfast, with the churning engine of my empty stomach generating electricity that danced in my limbs, crackled in my head, but these people stunk. They spoke too loudly.

Their clothes and bags were head-achingly bright. It made every step toward them harder.

And there, at the door, arms folded like the bouncers outside a club in a cop show, they stood. Three of them: Bastien, Tariq, Ott. Hudson High’s soccer stars; the shrewd-eyed roosters at the top of our pecking order.

“Pretty,” Ott said as one girl approached.

“Not pretty,” to the next. Grinning hyena-style at how her face crumpled.

“Pretty.”

“Fugly.”

Thinks she’s pretty.”

At this, they cackled. Everyone but Tariq. Tariq, with his perfect stomach and impressive chest and a beard thicker than any high school senior’s ever, Tariq of the dimples and broad nose, Tariq who could have stepped out of my computer screen, because he’d fit right in on the sites I spent all night searching when my mom was asleep. Pages packed with boys, beautiful ones—a secret nation to which I would never belong. Tariq, who somehow made me feel fat and scrawny all at once.

Tariq, who saw me and looked away as fast as he could but not fast enough to hide the guilt that soured his face.

We had both been crushed out on Tariq, my big sister and me. He wasn’t like the other boys on the soccer team, even if he did spend an awful lot of time with them. He wasn’t a bully. He was handsome and smart, and even nice, sometimes.

That’s what made him so dangerous. Everybody knows to steer clear of a bully. Maya would never have gone to meet up with Tariq in secret if he had already showed us all he was a brutal thug.

But he seemed . . . human. So she did.

He didn’t know that I knew. And, admittedly, I didn’t know much. Just that they met up that night. So maybe nothing happened. Maybe he just gave her a ride to Providence, to this recording studio I don’t really believe exists, or to where one of her bandmates lived. The fact that he gave her a ride that night wasn’t what made me suspicious. What made me suspicious was this: something shifted, in Tariq’s body language, after that night. He doesn’t look me in the eye anymore. He turns his shoulders away from wherever I am standing.

Like right then, as I approached the front door, where he stood with his best friends, staring at the ground with his perfect lips pressed tight together.

I gnawed my fingernails furiously.

My mom tells me it is a disgusting habit. She tells me to stop. I can’t stop.

It hurt, how much I wanted to smash my face against those perfect lips. I wanted it even though I felt pretty sure Tariq did something terrible to my sister. And the wanting got rolled up with the shame and filled me with a sputtering, stupid animal rage. How could it be, that in spite of everything, I still felt lust when I looked at him? Lust, and hate, in equal measure.

That’s why I’m writing this Rulebook.

Your body is a treacherous savage thing and it is trying to kill you. I am here to help you win. Together, we are both going to win.

Ott saw me stop and stare daggers at Tariq.

“You want something, Matt?”

That’s my name: Matt. I didn’t want to tell you, because I hate it.

A matt is something people step on. A matt is full of filth.

I debated lying. Making up something badass or manly, Damien or Colby or Barrett or Bo, something gay-porn-star-y. But honesty is important. I want you to trust me. Because pretty soon I’ll be telling you some things you’re going to have a very hard time believing.

So, Ott called my name. My whole body twitched with fight-or-flight triggers, but I knew either choice would be disastrous. If I fought, I’d get my ass beat, and if I ran, my limited ability to make Tariq feel uncomfortable, to apply pressure, would evaporate.

People were watching. If Tariq hadn’t been standing there, I’d have gone about my business, but he was my real audience. Ott didn’t matter.

I winced, tasting blood where I bit down too hard on the cuticle of my ring finger.

In movies and books, all you need to do to stop a bully is to punch them back. Bullies are cowards, the story goes; they can dish out violence, but they can’t take it.

This, you should know, if you haven’t already found it out the hard way, is bullshit. I tried it, in middle school, and it made things worse. Maybe it’ll work for you, if you’re stronger than me, or a faster runner, but it earned me a lovely session of puking up blood.

I knew that hitting Ott wouldn’t get me anywhere. But I did see something flicker in his eyes, something like fear but not exactly that, something bigger, messier: hate and fear all at once. I took a step closer. I took a deep breath. I smelled him.

And don’t ask me how, but I knew. I knew from the smell: I made him nervous. I terrified him. My existence, my gayness, threatened his whole way of understanding the world, what it meant to be the male of the species.

I’d never understood the word homophobia before— people who are homophobic are not afraid of gay people, they just hate them! But in that moment it all made sense. Straight men will insult and assault and beat and kill gay men because they are terrified. Because masculinity is the foundation they built their whole worldview on, the set of lies that lets them believe they are inherently better than women, and gay people expose how flimsy and arbitrary the whole thing is.

I turned to him and said, “No, Ott, I don’t want anything. I was just wondering. What about me?”

His mouth curled into a snarl. “What about you?”

“Which one am I?”

He unfolded his arms with a slowness that revealed his uncertainty. “Which . . . one?”

“Yeah. Am I pretty? Not pretty? I definitely think I’m pretty.”

A girl giggled. Even Tariq cracked a grin, though he turned his head to hide it from me.

I took another step forward. Ott’s lips parted slightly, and I saw muscles tighten in his arms. He was confused and getting angry: he sensed I was humiliating him, but not in any way he could reasonably understand. He was desperate for me to touch him, or explicitly insult him, so he could hurt me. I had planned to tap his chest with one finger when I delivered the finishing line, but that would have made Ott feel justified in a physical response. So why bother.

Seconds ticked away—

You are Not Pretty,” I told Ott an instant before the first bell rang.

Then I slipped by him and walked inside.

TRIGGER WARNING:

Eating disorders and body dysmorphia are recurring themes in The Art of Starving by Sam J. Miller. Please be aware if these are sensitive topics for you!

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