YA Scavenger Hunt: Spring 2020 Edition
EDITED: This hunt has now ended!
Welcome to the Spring 2020 YA Scavenger Hunt! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize–one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! (THE GOLD TEAM!!!) But play fast: this contest will only be online for 5 days!
Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are four contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the GOLD TEAM — but there is also RED, BLUE & PURPLE teams for a chance to win a whole different set of signed books!
If you’d like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt Author List.
If you get stuck or need help, you can check out the How to Hunt page.
Scavenger Hunt Puzzle
Directions: Below, you’ll notice that I’ve listed my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the GOLD TEAM, and then add them up (don’t worry, you can use a calculator!).
Entry Form: Once you’ve added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.
Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian’s permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday, April 5th, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.
Welcome, Aprilynne Pike!
Today, I am hosting Aprilynne Pike on my website for the YA Scavenger Hunt!
Aprilynne Pike is a critically acclaimed, international and #1 New York Times bestselling novelist. Her genre-spanning work has garnered starred reviews from Publisher’s Weekly, Booklist, Bulletin, and VOYA and been published in more then twenty-five languages worldwide. Aprilynne lives in Florida with her husband and their four children; she is enjoying the ocean.
Find Aprilynne online: Twitter | Facebook
In the Kingdom of Sonoman-Versailles, the people dress, eat, and act like it’s the eighteenth century—with the added bonus of technology to make court life lavish, privileged, and frivolous. The palace has every indulgence, but for one pretty young thing, it’s about to become a very beautiful prison.
When Danica witnesses an act of murder by the young king, her mother makes a cruel power play . . . blackmailing the king into making Dani his queen. When she turns eighteen, Dani will marry the most ruthless and dangerous man of the court. She has six months to escape her terrifying destiny.
Six months to raise enough money to disappear into the real world beyond the palace gates. Her ticket out? Glitter. A drug so powerful that a tiny pinch mixed into a pot of rouge or lip gloss can make the wearer hopelessly addicted. Addicted to a drug Dani can sell for more money than she ever dreamed.
But in Versailles, secrets are impossible to keep. And the most dangerous secret—falling for a drug dealer outside the palace walls—is one risk she has to take.
Aprilynne’s bonus content is a sample chapter from her upcoming project called Stoneborn, a Regency-esque epic fantasy.
“It’s disgusting that we’ve sunk to this.” Slate yanked on her riding boot, pulling the top just past her knee and shoving the cuffs of her fawn breeches beneath them with a burning rage that singed the edges of her shame, making it minutely more bearable.
“You’re going to tear them,” Bryony scolded in barely over a whisper.
It was enviable how her older sister could imbue such sharpness into so quiet a voice. Personally, Slate preferred stamping and shouting. “I don’t care,” she muttered.
“You’ll care when I make you wear a dress because that’s your last pair of breeches without patches.”
Slate’s fingers stilled. A low growl sounded in the back of her throat, but her long fingers relaxed. There was no reason to actually tell Bryony she was right; Slate gave her a sharp nod and switched to carefully tucking the fine fabric under the worn leather of her last wearable boots.
Her sister’s eyes followed each movement, speaking louder than her mouth ever did.
With a creak, Slate rose from the edge of the bed and gazed longingly at the leather waistcoat that hung from a peg on the wall, still faintly gleaming from being well oiled the previous night.
“No.” Bryony said. “We agreed.”
Slate flung her arms wide, indicating her person. “I’m a maiden knight in training. Why should I hide who I am?”
“No one’s hiding that status.” Bryony’s left eyebrow was well above the right. Sometimes Slate thought it was stuck there. “Your boots and breeches give it away just fine. But will you truly go stand before a king in simple training apparel to beg a favor? Formality matters; the split-skirt gown. Now.”
“It feels wrong,” Slate said, pulling the sleeves of embroidered silk up her arms so Bryony could fasten the tapes down the back of the bodice.
“It doesn’t feel wrong when you wear it to church services,” Bryony said.
“That’s different,” Slate grumbled.
It felt wrong because it was the last fine article of clothing their father had purchased for her—for any of them—before the war started in earnest. It was extravagant then, and triply so now. She rarely wore it, and had made the argument to sell it many times. Bryony insisted it would be necessary some day and Slate hated that she was right. Was always right these days. And thank the universe for that.
Bryony pulled the ribbons tight in the back, making Slate jerk in a breath. Also making her barely-there breasts pop up into double half moons. It was so humiliating. A split-skirt gown was fashion’s nod to the many young ladies who had taken up the sword in the last generation or two. It featured a fairly standard, if lower-waisted, bodice with a large segment of the skirt missing in the front, intended to be paired with fitted breeches and riding boots, with cascades of silk falling down on both sides and sometimes even forming a train in the back. From behind, no one would know it wasn’t a traditional evening gown.
It was hardly fighting attire, but at least Slate could carry a sword and maneuver enough to protect herself in it. It was a start. But just like traditional gowns, the bodice was lined with whalebone and tightened with crisscrossed ribbons down the back. Because, of course, society could allow you to use a sword and fight for your life, but only with a fashionable amount of cleavage showing.
Slate studied her face in the full-length mirror. Why did she appear so normal? Exactly the way she looked every time she readied herself for church, or a fair, or any occasion that required this degree of fancy dress. But today was pivotal and somehow, she thought it should show. In her eyes, maybe.
“Very pretty,” Bryony said, and didn’t react when Slate rolled her eyes. “Today it’s good to be pretty,” she pressed. “You always try to hide it, but you have your mother’s looks, and since you’re not using them for anything else, you may as well make the most of them this once to save us all.”
“I’m not trying to seduce him.” The thought made bile rise in her throat.
“Of course not,” Bryony said, putting both hands firmly on Slate’s shoulders. “But when a knight goes into battle she doesn’t hold back; she uses every weapon in her arsenal. When you go to that roadside today, you take every weapon in your arsenal. And that means you remember to smile,” she added.
Slate knew this was her moment to groan in good humor and accept her half-sister’s teasing, but Bryony’s words were true. And like most truths, they burned like a score from a blade. She peeked at the mirror again, and tried out a smile, attempting to iron out the wrinkles of ferocity that were practically a permanent fixture between her eyebrows. “I’m wearing Father’s sword,” she said, turning away when a wave of fear swept over her.
“Of course you are,” Bryony said. “It’s the most expensive piece of metal in the entire household.” She walked over holding a dainty gold chain that had once belonged to her mother. The chain she always wore around her own neck. Slate said nothing; Bryony had already won that argument the previous night. “Including this necklace,” she added quietly as she fastened the clasp. “It’ll have to do.”
“Thank you,” Slate said, even though she wasn’t thankful at all. But she knew she ought to be. Further, she knew how much this loan meant to Bryony. So she said the words she wasn’t a good enough person to actually feel.
Bryony just shook her head and handed over the sword.
Slate crossed the scabbard’s strap from shoulder to hip over the cutaway gown, and its familiar weight made her feel like herself once more. She’d waited six months after her father’s death before daring to travel back to the accursed valley—newly rechristened Valley of the Three Sons, no bonus points for subtlety—to dig up his sword. Even then, she’d gone on a day with heavy snowfall that veiled her form and covered her tracks. After she arrived it had taken almost two hours to find her hiding spot, her fingers near frostbit. But four days after leaving her home with no explanation whatsoever, she’d arrived back on Stalwart, carrying the filthy sword wrapped in linen.
Her brothers had both wanted it—Callum especially. But she’d simply said no, it was hers, and they seemed to sense there would be no dissuading her. Slate hadn’t told anyone what she’d done. She hadn’t lied exactly. Just wouldn’t talk about the day her father died, or how the sword hadn’t been surrendered to the demon-cursed Taberians. Since returning, she’d trained with it daily, determined to master the enormous sword that required an entirely different set of skills than a normal blade. Her brothers hadn’t bested her in months. Even that gave her little satisfaction.
Six months ago, when their empty cellar necessitated selling Stalwart—to everyone’s dismay, but especially Maisley’s—Bryony had tentatively brought up finding a buyer for the sword instead, which would bring at least ten times the price of one serviceable, yet still past-his-prime war unicorn. Slate had threatened to throw the blade into the sea rather than see it leave their family. Possibly end up in Taberian hands—although she didn’t say that part out loud. She knew her threat made no sense, but the family had backed down and Maisley’s most precious possession had been sold instead. Slate felt guilty about that, in a general simmering way, but she’d have made the same choice a hundred times over if it was presented to her again, and she couldn’t completely elucidate why.
“Will you wear it unsheathed?” Bryony asked.
“The better to see it.” Slate gently slid the sword into a leather loop lined with a rectangle of iron that gripped the hilt just below her shoulders, and let the ornate blade hang down her back like a long, deadly braid, tilted slightly at an angle so her ankles wouldn’t hit the cutting point when she walked. It was showmanship. Unabashedly. Risky too, as the blade’s edge would cut the bearer as easily as an enemy. Normally she wore it fully encased in a sheath—the only practical way to wear it. But showing it off made her feel more confident, and demon knew she’d need as much of that as she could muster today.
Bryony took a breath like she wanted to argue, then simply said, “Don’t you dare draw it before the king, and for flame’s sake don’t cut off your fingers. Or his,” she added after a minute pause.
Slate finished adjusting the hilt, then held still while Bryony fussed with her hair. That had taken the longest as not only did Slate rarely let Bryony practice dressing her hair, her hair had no intention of being tamed. It was a riot of curls that many young ladies would have paid significantly for, but that was because they looked good in puffs and ringlets. Slate looked absolutely ridiculous. She strongly preferred the Trynellian styles that draped long, sleek sections of hair in twists and plaits … but sleek was never going to describe her blowsy curls.
Bryony had compromised with some sort of wavy plaited knot that any lady’s maid would have been jealous of, and that Slate could never have pulled off on her own. Despite Slate’s protests, Bryon had also dusted her eyelids with something pink and a bit shimmery, and darkened her lips with cherry juice from the last jar of fruit she’d bottled two summers ago. Gazing at her own high cheekbones framed by a loose, wavy plait that crossed over her head like a crown, Slate saw hints of the lady she could be if she tried, and she turned her eyes away. Being a lady would get her nothing; she needed to be a dame knight.
“I feel like I should have a stripe of war paint across my eyes,” Slate said, laughing to cover the tremor.
“Only if you’re prepared to use white,” Bryony replied wryly.
“I haven’t lost that much pride.” Their father had died with a stripe of Frossian red across his eyes and Slate vowed she would never wear the white. No matter what Tree Aslain’s so-called king came from.
“Then you go bare-faced. Are you ready?” Bryony asked, a grave solemnity in her voice.
It was her last chance. “You’re a better bargainer, Bry. You still have the courtly manners you were raised with. Why not you?”
“Because,” Bryon said—repeated—while carefully twisting a ribbon into Slate’s carefully dressed hair, “you’re beautiful. And word in the taverns is that young king Gere is a lusty bastard led by his cock as completely as his head.”
“You’re lovely too,” Slate said, though they both knew Slate had long been considered the prettier—much to her chagrin.
“Lovely and married and six years older than you.”
“Has exactly the opposite problem.”
Slate swallowed. “I don’t like lying.”
“We’re not lying; we’re creating a mistaken impression. There’s a difference.”
“Well, that makes everything better,” Slate said with faux brightness.
Bryony pulled a leather strip from her pocket and held it in both hands. “I’ve never gone a day without it. Obviously,” she said, and though she gave a little laugh, it was choked.
“You don’t have to do this,” Slate rushed in to say. “I have Father’s.”
But Bryony was already shaking her head. “It’s not enough. You need two. You must have the appearance of high nobility. Someone who could potentially help him as much as he can help you. I wish we could get you three but Maisley …” Her voice trailed off. “There’s still hope for Maisley,” she finished. “Some hope.”
“There’s hope for you,” Slate said, hating this final step.
Bryony laughed, and though Slate listened hard for it, there was no bitterness in the sound. “Slate,” Bryony chided, “I’m the illegitimate, orphaned daughter of a disgraced noblewoman, and married to a common-born knight I love more than life. The fact that I’m technically stoneborn was never going to help me.”
“I’ve made my choice,” she said calmly. “The truth is we don’t have enough resources to last the winter. Not food, not fuel, not even thatching for the roof to keep us from freezing. And we’re doing better than most. Our entire county is suffering; even Granite Moors is in reduced circumstances. Without the mine, the entire metropolis of Milltown will slowly die.”
Slate knew all of this. And it was really only scratching the surface. Any war brought the chaos of the demon in its wake, but the fight to make first Maxim, and then Gere Vaulder, king had cost so many lives. So many stones. The heavens had raged with snow and sleet and rain that fell harder and thicker than anything Slate had ever witnessed in her short lifetime. Over on the widder shore, mere leagues from their own metropolis, an enormous wave of water had simply risen up and wiped away a handful of fishing villages, and spread salted water over acres upon acres of crucial cropland.
Aslain must have lost a decent number of orange stones, because there were earthquakes at least monthly for the first year, and Slate had read a report in the Heatherton Herald of a great split in the earth a few days’ journey seaward, that leaked red-hot lava into a once-prosperous fishing bay. It had slowly raised the temperature to the point that all the fish died—hundreds of livelihoods snuffed out. The report said that a third of the people in the nearby villages and one metropolis that lined the shore had starved to death that winter, after ice made the roads impassable for anyone who might have been able to offer aid. Even if the reports were exaggerated—as reports were wont to be—it was still a tragedy. It didn’t help that the metropolis was the Frossian barony at Kott, held by the Baron and Baroness Garrett. No one could be certain just how hard the young Taberian king had actually tried to get his rescue forces in.
Disease killed entire communities in pockets all over Aslain, and the summer following the battles had, of course, resulted in a terrible drought. Even where crops could be planted, few thrived. The closing of the Brandyn’s coalmine felt like adding insult to the injuries rained down on them by their trickster god. Except this was caused directly by Gere Vaulder. If they had the mine back, they might make it. Might.
“Demon knows Baroness Azure would never sink so low as to ask for help from a Taberian king herself,” Bryony said, and Slate held her tongue while Bryony brushed non-existent dust from the shoulders of her gown, and smoothed the sleeves. “If there’s any hope for this family—for Milltown—it lies with you.” Bryony carefully detached her blue stone from the leather strap, darkened with age and sweat, and held it out to Slate. “For you, Slate Brandyn of the Tree of Fross, I revoke my claim.”
Despite the confidence in her voice, Bryony’s face was pale, and whitened further as the stone left her fingers and dropped into Slate’s. Just like the last time, Slate expected something to happen, but the stone was neither cold, nor warm. It simply sat there on the palm of her hand, glowing dimly, as though it weren’t an artifact that held back the floods of the demon.
Bryony took several deep breaths then pasted on a grim smile. “Let’s get it into your headband. I finished the detail work last night.”
“You work too hard,” Slate said, remembering how late both of them stayed up. Her eyes had been closing on their own by the time she fell into her bed and she felt a prick of guilt that Bryony had stayed up even longer.
“Necessary,” Bryony said, waving her hand in dismissal. “Besides, I can go back to bed now.”
“But you won’t.”
The space between then was silent for a long moment before Bryony smiled. “No, I won’t. Now turn.”
Slate watched in the mirror as Bryony lifted a deep-blue satin band with white embroidered edges and laid it across her brow, tying the ribbons at the back of her head, just below the confection of her hair. Even when there had been only one, the stone pressed just hard enough against the skin to make a headache after a few hours. Slate had gotten used to that after the first few months, but now, feeling the new twin points of pressure—both in a new spot—she knew she was in for more dull pain. But the stones only worked when worn against the skin, so she would suffer this small annoyance for everyone’s sake. As all stonebearers did. She reached up to touch the new blue gem, shimmering beside the red one she’d inherited from her father. “I feel as though I’ve stolen something from you.”
“You can’t steal a stone,” Bryony said. “You know that. Just remember that it’ll all be for nothing if you can’t get our father’s lands back from the king.”
“No pressure,” Slate muttered.
Slate swallowed hard and ducked her head.
“No,” Bryony said, lifting her chin. “Stand tall, be proud. You have our father’s sword, the bravery of a true dame knight, the beauty of your mother, and two stones from family members who love you. Go enchant that usurping traitor of a king and get our mine back.” She glanced at the closed door to her left. “Preferably before our brothers and my husband wake up and discover what we’ve done.”
Filed under: Contests & Giveaways Tagged with: giveaway ya scavenger hunt yash
Thanks for stopping by my blog, Aprilynne! Don’t forget to enter the contest for a chance to win a ton of signed books by me (Jessica) and more! To enter, you need to know that my favorite number is 11. Add up all the favorite numbers of the authors on the GOLD TEAM and you’ll have all the secret code to enter for the grand prize!
Continue the Hunt
To keep going on your quest for the hunt, you need to check out the next author on Elle Cosimano’s website.