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
Promises
Protected,
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
Blue
Targets in Ties
Crater Lake: Battle for Wizard Island
Venom
With a Name like Love
Sean Griswold's head


Sheila's favorite books »

2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge

2018 Reading Challenge
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Friday, January 19, 2018

Potion Masters: The Eternity Elixir By Frank L. Cole-Blog Tour Review



{Product Details}

Title: Potion Masters: The Eternity Elixir
Author: FRANK L. COLE
Age Range: 8 - 12 years
Grade Level: 4 - 6
Series: Potion Masters (Book 1)
Hardcover: 272 pages
Publisher: Shadow Mountain (January 2, 2018)
Language: English
ISBN-10: 1629723584
FTC, FYI: I received a review copy in exchange for an honest review.

{Book Description}
Twelve-year-old Gordy Stitser is one of the few people who knows the truth about the secret society of potion masters, because not only is Gordy's mom on the Board of Ruling Elixirists Worldwide (B.R.E.W.), but she has also been training Gordy in the art of potion-making.

Gordy is a natural, and every day he sneaks down to the basement lab to invent new potions using exotic ingredients like fire ant eggs, porcupine quills, and Bosnian tickling juice.

One afternoon, Gordy receives a mysterious package containing an extremely rare potion known as ''The Eternity Elixir.'' In the right hands, the Elixir continues to protect society. But in the wrong hands, it could destroy the world as we know it.

Now, sinister potion masters are on the hunt to steal the Eternity Elixir. It's up to Gordy, his parents, and his best friends, Max and Adeline, to prevent an all-out potion war.

{Book Trailer}


{My Review}
Frank Cole has done it once again and written an exciting, and humorous middle grade book that kids of all ages are going to love along with adults. I loved the magical aspect of this story and the Potion Makers and the very unique potions that readers will find in this book.

Main character Gordy is so likable and capable. I say this because he more than once saves the day even with adults in the room with him. He's smart and talented and does what he needs to, even though his conscious gets the better of him at times, but this is good for kids to read. His two side kick friends are there for him, but I liked his friend Max the best. He provided some much needed comical relief when the story was getting too intense. 

There are some truly scary and intense moments in the story and one is depicted on the front cover. I saw this playing out in my mind as it would in a movie. The front cover shows one of my favorite scenes from the book. 
(Shh...I'm not telling you anything about what happens here. I don't want to spoil the surprise!) 

One really cool thing that the author added at the back of the book, is a glossary of all of the potions that were in the book. I kept flipping back and forth while reading the novel so as to learn more about the potions when they were mentioned. 

I'm excited for this new series and The Eternity Elixir is a great start to a fun, new world of potions, mayhem, and magic. Kids ages 8-13 will especially love this book.



{Meet Author: Frank L. Cole}


Frank L. Cole has lived in such exotic places as the Philippines and Kentucky, and currently lives with his wife and three children out west. While he strived for years to earn his publishing credits, Frank considers sharing his message of “Exercising Your Imagination” to over 45,000 kids across the country as his greatest accomplishment. You can learn more about his writing at franklewiscole.blogspot.com.

Thursday, January 18, 2018

#Starstruck: Girl next door. Hollywood hunk. #truelove By Sariah Wilson: Blog Tour Review, $25 Giveaway and the Inspiration behind the book!


{Product Details}

  • Title: #Starstruck: Girl next door. Hollywood hunk. #truelove
  • Author: Sariah Wilson
  • Series: A #Lovestruck Novel (Book 1)
  • Paperback: 320 pages
  • Publisher: Montlake Romance (January 16, 2018)
  • Genre: Romantic Comedy
  • ISBN-10: 1503949362
  • FTC, FYI: I received a review e-copy in exchange for an honest review.

{Book Description}

“You’ve done better.”

With one uncharacteristically sassy tweet to her longtime celebrity crush, Zoe Miller’s life turns upside down. Ultrahot A-lister Chase Covington doesn’t just respond to Zoe’s tweet, he does the unthinkable: he messages Zoe directly. Now she must decide between walking away or meeting her crush in person.


Chase knows better than to trust anyone from the Internet, but Zoe’s saucy challenge has totally caught his interest—and her girl-next-door personality is keeping it. He’s been burned enough to know he needs to keep his heart close. But his feelings for Zoe might be a lot more than just an online flirtation. He just has to convince her…

When the press gets wind of Zoe and Chase’s secret relationship, their romance turns into tabloid headlines. Will they be able to hold on to their Hollywood love story?

{My Review}
Let's start this right off by saying, I LOVED #Starstruck! I could end my review right now and that would tell you enough. This book is fun, clever, and very romantic. Both main characters are absolutely adorable and you'll like them both from the start. This story is truly a modern day fairy tale. Even though Zoe is a regular girl who meets a famous movie star, their interactions feel so much like a regular, every day couple. 

My favorite parts of the book are when the two main characters are sending tweets to each other on Twitter. This book had me laughing and swooning all at the same time. I also truly loved the scenes where Zoe and Chase were with Zoe's younger brothers and sisters. Chase just melted your heart at how cute he was with the younger siblings.

I know readers will love this book! It is a fast read that I couldn't put down and read it way past my bedtime. Sariah Wilson always writes memorable characters that you still think about days and weeks after finishing the book. I can honestly say that I'll be reading this book again just for the pure enjoyment of reading this great romantic comedy. 




Read the Inspiration behind #Starstruck:


Sariah wrote this in a blog post

The idea for #Starstruck came from a couple different places. First off, I am a lifelong fangirl. Of various shows, actors/actresses and genres. The times in my life when I've been able to meet and/or talk to my favorite celebrities I had to try hard not to hyperventilate.

And as such, I follow some of my favorite people on Twitter, including actor Justin Baldoni, one of the stars of Jane the Virgin. I have been a fan of his character (and the man portraying him) since day one. The main character Jane was caught up in a love triangle between Michael and Rafael, so occasionally I would tweet my #TeamRafael allegiance.

One time, Justin favorited my tweet. And despite my supposed maturity, I actually squealed in excitement. Until I realized I was being stupid, given that it was probably an assistant or publicist. I said as much and he immediately responded, "No, it's me." More squeals and hyperventilating. (This exchange made its way into the book, just switched up a little!)

Second, as a teen fangirl, I remember feeling like if my Hollywood crushes just got to know me, the real me, they would like me. I'm glad I came of age in a pre-social media age; I would have been one of those teens constantly tweeting, messaging and probably cyber stalking my favorites.

Which leads me to the last thing that inspired this book – actor Jake T. Austin. He had a super fan by the name of Danielle Caesar. She tweeted him, a lot, for five years. She was determined to meet him (which I totally get, having felt that way myself in the past). What she had in her favor was her location – she lived in New York and was finally able to meet him in person at a meet and greet in the city. They took a picture together. And whatever happened in those few minutes while they chatted must have been magical.

Because now? They've been very happily dating for over a year. Jake announced their relationship status in an Instagram post (where they're cutely kissing) and the Internet lost its collective mind. In a, "Wait – if she can go from fan to girlfriend, SO CAN I" kind of way (I can only imagine the intensity/deluge of tweets directed at celebrities right after!)

I thought their story was adorable and knew that I had to make my own fictionalized rendering. Mine has the world's biggest movie star falling for a fan over Twitter, long before they meet. I did a lot of research about real life couples who fell in love the same way, and it was amazing to see how reading someone's tweets made their new significant other feel as if they already knew them. Like Date 1 was actually Date 20. People fell hard and fast.

Just like our grandparents (or great-grandparents) would often fall in love via letters, we've kind of come full circle. We tweet, we email, we message, we post. We've gone back to using the written word to court and woo one another.
Which is exactly how Chase and Zoe begin to fall in love with one another in #Starstruck. Be sure to check it out!

***Watch the video chat between 
Justin Baldoni and Sariah Wilson*** 

{What's Next in the Series?}
I talked to Sariah and this is what she said about the next book in the series:

Sariah:"The next book in the series is called #Moonstruck, and it's about an unknown indie rocker girl falling for the world's biggest pop star, via social media. I've hired a band who is creating some songs that are featured in the book so that readers can read and hear the songs, which I'm pretty excited about. 

Sheila: "Will they communicate through Twitter like Chase and Zoe did? That was so clever."

Sariah: "They will at first communicate through YouTube, and then via texting. For the series we'll be using different types of social media for each book. #Moonstruck comes out in July."

{Meet the Author: Sariah Wilson}

Bestselling author Sariah Wilson has never jumped out of an airplane or climbed Mount Everest, and she is not a former CIA operative. She has, however, been madly, passionately in love with her soul mate and is a fervent believer in happily ever afters—which is why she writes romances like The Royals of Monterra series. After growing up in Southern California as the oldest of nine (yes, nine) children, she graduated from Brigham Young University with a semiuseless degree in history. She currently lives with the aforementioned soul mate and their four children in Utah, along with three tiger barb fish, a cat named Tiger, and a recently departed hamster who is buried in the backyard (and has nothing at all to do with tigers). For more information, visit her website at www.SariahWilson.com.

{Learn more about Sariah Here...}
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Pre-Meditated Murder By: Tracy Weber-Book Blitz and Giveaway






Tracy Weber is the author of the award-winning Downward Dog Mysteries series featuring yoga teacher Kate Davidson and her feisty German shepherd, Bella. 

Her first book, Murder Strikes a Pose won the Maxwell Award for Fiction and was 2015 Agatha award nominee for Best First Novel. The third book in her series, Karma's a Killer, will released January, 2016 by Midnight Ink.
  

Tracy and her husband live in Seattle with their challenging yet amazing German shepherd Tasha. When she’s not writing, Tracy spends her time teaching yoga, walking Tasha, and sipping Blackthorn cider at her favorite ale house.


Connect with the Author here: 

Subscribe to my newsletter and be entered to win a Downward Dog Mysteries coffee mug!  http://tracyweberauthor.com/newsletter.html






If Kate Doesn’t Act Fast, the Only “I Do” in Michael’s Future Will Be at His Trial




Yoga instructor Kate Davidson is ready to marry her boyfriend Michael, so she’s disappointed when a special dinner doesn’t end with a proposal. But disappointment turns to dismay and outrage as she learns the real problem: Michael is already married and his estranged wife is blackmailing him.

When his wife’s body is found―by Kate and her dog, no less―Michael is strangely unable to remember where he was the night she died. Since Michael has no alibi, Kate steps up to uncover what happened. What she walks into is a tangled web of deceit, obsession, and immigration fraud . . . with Michael trapped in the middle.











Excerpt:

I put Alice back into the carrier and followed Rene to the sidewalk. I would have kept chiding her all the way to the car, but when we were a few steps away from the street, Bella froze, halting my forward motion and practically dislocating my shoulder. “Bella, knock it—” I stopped mid-sentence.

Something was wrong.

Bella stared straight ahead, teeth exposed, ears pricked forward. The guard hairs along her spine stood on end like the quills of an angry porcupine. Low growls rumbled from deep in her chest.

“What is it, sweetie?” I kneeled next to her and followed her gaze. She’d locked on a man who was standing—or rather skulking—in a dark, narrow alley across the street. He wore a camouflage baseball cap.

“It’s him,” I whispered.

Rene glanced left to right. “It’s who?”

The stranger looked up and we made eye contact. For the first time, I got a good look at his face. Dark hair. Tan, weathered skin. Light blue, almost icy, eyes. He turned and bolted down the alley.

As to what happened next, I can only plead temporary insanity. “Rene, stay here.” I ordered. I thrust Bella’s leash into her hand and broke into a run, determined to catch the suspicious stranger.

“Where are you going?” Rene yelled to my back.

I ignored her and shoved past an elderly woman. “Excuse me.” I dodged to the right and twirled past a young mother pushing a stroller. “Sorry!” I leapt over a low bench and landed—hard—on the edge of my right foot. Pain jolted from my ankle to my knee. I recovered my balance and kept running, but the camo-capped man ran faster. He was getting away!

I didn’t think. More importantly, I didn’t look. I acted on pure instinct. I darted off the curb and into the busy street. The driver of a black pickup truck slammed on his brakes.

The next three seconds passed with petrifying clarity. The horrified expression on the driver’s face; the ear-piercing screech of locked tires against pavement; the chemical smell of burning rubber; the sour taste of adrenaline. I gaped down at my knees, or more accurately at the truck’s bumper, which had stopped an inch from my legs. The driver leaned out his window and yelled, “Jesus, lady! Watch where you’re going!”

“My fault!” I yelled. I started running again. Across the street, down the alley, and out to the sidewalk on the other side. I skidded to a stop, lungs heaving, and whipped my head back and forth.


The suspicious stranger had vanished.

Come join the tour for more content, reviews, and more chances to win prizes here: FACEBOOK TOUR



To view our blog schedule and follow along with this tour visit our Official Event page 



Wednesday, January 17, 2018

Blast and $50 Giveaway for #Starstruck: Girl next door. Hollywood hunk. #truelove By Sariah Wilson

 



  #Starstruck by Sariah Wilson “You’ve done better.” With one uncharacteristically sassy tweet to her longtime celebrity crush, Zoe Miller’s life turns upside down. Ultrahot A-lister Chase Covington doesn’t just respond to Zoe’s tweet, he does the unthinkable: he messages Zoe directly. Now she must decide between walking away or meeting her crush in person. Chase knows better than to trust anyone from the Internet, but Zoe’s saucy challenge has totally caught his interest—and her girl-next-door personality is keeping it. He’s been burned enough to know he needs to keep his heart close. But his feelings for Zoe might be a lot more than just an online flirtation. He just has to convince her… When the press gets wind of Zoe and Chase’s secret relationship, their romance turns into tabloid headlines. Will they be able to hold on to their Hollywood love story?  
Excerpt “You must be Zoe Miller. I’m Chase. Covington.” He added on his last name like I wouldn’t know who he was. It was kind of endearing. I stared at his hand until the girl on my right nudged me and I gave him mine. A zap of raw electricity sparked at his touch, his hand warm and strong and big. It shot up my arm and spread all throughout my body making every part of me tingle. “Hi Chase Covington.” I don’t know how I was able to form words. Or how I hadn’t dissolved into an incoherent, blubbering pile of Zoe goo. “Hi Zoe Miller.” We were still shaking hands, which was basically holding hands at this point as it had gone on for so long. He was just grinning at me, like I was some long-lost friend he was excited to catch up with. I didn’t want to imagine what my slack-jawed, overwhelmed face looked like. He would probably think I was an idiot. A guy with dark brown hair and wearing a Bluetooth device in one ear came over. “Chase, Marty wants a word.” Chase finally let go of my hand. “Thanks, One-F. Stick around Zoe Miller. There’s more to say.” He walked backwards a few steps, like he didn’t want to stop looking at me. With a wink he finally turned and headed over to the director. Author Sariah Wilson Bestselling author Sariah Wilson has never jumped out of an airplane or climbed Mount Everest, and she is not a former CIA operative. She has, however, been madly, passionately in love with her soul mate and is a fervent believer in happily ever afters—which is why she writes romances like The Royals of Monterra series. After growing up in Southern California as the oldest of nine (yes, nine) children, she graduated from Brigham Young University with a semiuseless degree in history. She currently lives with the aforementioned soul mate and their four children in Utah, along with three tiger barb fish, a cat named Tiger, and a recently departed hamster who is buried in the backyard (and has nothing at all to do with tigers).
  $50 Amazon Gift Card or Paypal Cash Giveaway Ends 2/5/18 Open only to those who can legally enter, receive and use an Amazon.com Gift Code or Paypal Cash. Winning Entry will be verified prior to prize being awarded. No purchase necessary. You must be 18 or older to enter or have your parent enter for you. The winner will be chosen by rafflecopter and announced here as well as emailed and will have 48 hours to respond or a new winner will be chosen. This giveaway is in no way associated with Facebook, Twitter, Rafflecopter or any other entity unless otherwise specified. The number of eligible entries received determines the odds of winning. Giveaway was organized by Kathy from I Am A Reader and sponsored by the author. VOID WHERE PROHIBITED BY LAW. a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tarragon, Key Keeper By Karlie Luca-Book Blitz and Giveaway




Karlie Lucas is a preschool teacher by day and a writer/artist by night.

A graduate of Southern Utah University, Karlie received a B.A. in Creative Writing, with a minor in art. She is a member of Sigma Tau Delta, The International English Honor Society, as well as ANWA, the American Night Writers Association.

Karlie is interested in all things magical and mysterious, especially elves and dragons. She is an avid fan of J.R.R. Tolkien and J.K. Rowling.

When not writing, Karlie can often be found drawing, baking, watching her favorite old school shows, or just spending time with her family.

She currently resides in Dallas, Texas with her husband and a cat named Kally
 

Connect with the Author here: 
Facebook ~ Website ~ Amazon ~ Goodreads ~




For hundreds of years, the gates of Tarragon have been sealed from the outside. Prophecy speaks of the day the last Key Keeper will return and wake the dragons from their spell-cast slumber, returning them to their rightful home.

Seeking to fulfill her father's dying wish, Anwen Porter travels to the Drakonii Mountains where she meets Tyler, a mysterious local with a secret. With his help, she learns more about her clouded past and her own abilities. But when Courtney, a lovesick mage, tries to insert herself into their plans, things begin to go horribly wrong.


With death threatening at every turn, Anwen must learn to rely on her newfound friends to survive. But how can she unravel the mystery of her heritage when everything is trying to kill her?









Snippet:

'The Mountains rise majestically all around,'” he began to quote. “'The sapphire blue waters of Lake Wyvern shimmer across the way, keeping sentinel over the Sacred Island.'
Anwen almost stopped breathing, refusing to move any closer as she stood in shock. “How did you know that,” she breathed. “No one could know that. No one.” Unless he’d somehow snuck into her room while she wasn’t looking and read her great grandmother’s diary.

Tyler looked at her as he dropped her hand, one foot still in the boat, sensing her confusion and fear. “'Across the shore. Down the Consecrated Hall. Past the tombs of the immortals, lies the gateway to the Stone City, home to those who dwell with us. And further still, the Gates of Eternity that lead to Tarragon, home of all dragonkind,' from A History of the Keepers.”


To view our blog schedule and follow along with this tour visit our Official Event page 





Swept Off My Feet By: Ines Bautista-Yao-Book Tour and Giveaway





Why my life sucks
by Geri Lazaro

1. My dad left when I was a kid.
2. My mom is in love (insert eye roll).
3. With a guy who is like 10 years younger than her!
4. My friends think he’s hot. (Gross)
5. I love ballet but our dance studio has a leak and we have to dance in this smelly studio that doubles as an aikido dojo.
6. There’s this Dojo guy who thinks the studio belongs to him.
7. Friends think Dojo guy is cute. (Ew.) (Okay, objectively maybe but still, ew.)
8. I’m failing algebra.
9. Need to quit either basketball or ballet. Or both.
10. Dojo guy keeps showing up! (Fine, he does aikido in the same building but whatever.)
11. Dojo guy is asking me to dance with him. And maybe he is as cute as my friends say.
12. I don't know what to do anymore! 






Ines Bautista-Yao is the author of One Crazy Summer, What’s in your Heart, Only A Kiss, When Sparks Fly, All That Glitters, and Someday With You. She has also written several short stories. Among them are “Plain Vanilla,” “A Captured Dream,” one of the four short stories in Sola Musica: Love Notes from a Festival, “Things I’ll Never Say,” part of the Summit Books anthology Coming of Age, and “Before the Sun Rises,” part of the Ateneo University Press anthology Friend Zones. 

She is the former editor-in-chief of Candy and K-Zone magazines and a former high school and college English and Literature teacher. She is also a wife and mom who lives in the Philippines with her husband and two little girls. Her books are available digitally on Amazon and Buqo.ph.

Connect with the Author here: 
Facebook ~ Website ~ Amazon ~
Twitter ~ Instagram ~





Excerpt
Chapter 1

This wasn’t the plan. I wasn’t supposed to be dragging my worn-out backpack across the wooden floor of this dark, stuffy studio that faintly smelled like sweaty feet trapped inside sneakers. I was supposed to be in our regular ballet studio with its warm, vanilla fragrance wafting from Teacher Justine’s scented candles. Sadly, it had a leaky roof and we couldn’t exactly do our twirls and pliĆ©s surrounded by buckets of water waiting to collect excess rain. And monsoon weather in Metro Manila meant lots and lots of excess rain.
So there I was inhaling stinky feet, which, I had to admit, I was used to. I play basketball and the smell of feet is something you build a tolerance for pretty quickly. But today, I wasn’t going to play ball. I was here to dance.
I plopped down on the floor nearest the mirror that spanned an entire wall from floor to ceiling. Turning my back to it, I slid my basketball into a corner and began to unlace my sneakers. It was time to morph from sporty Geri into the ballerina girl my heart so desperately craved to be. I blew my bangs out of my eyes and secured my short hair with a terry cloth headband. Yeah, I know. Way to be graceful. But that was all I had. It wasn’t like I could spend my allowance on girly hair accessories.
I pulled my soft, pink ballet shoes from my backpack, cradled them in my hands for a few seconds, and was about to slip them on when I heard the knob on the door turn. I felt my eyes narrow as I tried to focus on the figure stepping through. He was wearing what looked like a white martial arts kimono over a dark colored tee. He lifted his arm toward the light switch and the room was flooded in bright, white light.   
“Who are you?” we asked at the same time.
I didn’t like the way he was frowning at me. And towering over me. I leapt to my feet. “I reserved the studio for our ballet class.”
He strode over to where I stood and dropped his dirty-looking backpack with a thud. “Well, every afternoon, the dojo,” he stressed on the word, “is ours.”
I looked around the empty room, noticing the blue mats stacked against one corner. Oh, right. There they were. But I couldn’t resist saying, “Doesn’t look like much of a dojo to me.”
“I’m here to set up the mats,” he muttered, giving me a look before marching over to them.  
 “Wait a minute!” I realized he wasn’t going to listen to me. “We’re here to dance and we can’t exactly do pirouettes on mats.”
“Didn’t you hear what I said? This dojo,” he paused and I tried really hard not to stick my tongue out at him, “is reserved.”
My hands flew to my hips, landing on the waistband of my basketball shorts. “I reserved this studio for the rest of the month. Our ballet studio has a leak—”
“I don’t care about your leak. You can’t have the dojo because I reserved it.”
That was it. Who did he think he was, throwing his weight around like this? “Look,” I spat out. “All we have to do is check with the secretary who will tell you that you,” I emphasized, “made a mistake.”
He stood there, his hands on one of the mats. “I did not make a mistake.” He threw it on the floor. I was about to walk over to it and shove it back against the wall when I figured that was going to be a waste of time. Besides, Teacher Justine and the rest of my classmates were going to be here in a few minutes and I still hadn’t set up the speakers or the rosin for our pointe shoes.
“Well, neither did I.” I pushed both hands against the door and stomped through the narrow hallway to the administration office. Well, I tried to stomp but couldn’t actually manage it in my soft ballet shoes. Padded was a more appropriate term.
I knocked on the pale wooden door and didn’t wait for an invitation to enter. “Ms. Sue,” I began as she peered up from her cluttered desk. “There’s this guy saying the studio is reserved for—”
“The dojo.” 
I spun around and jumped back when I discovered he was standing right behind me in the cramped office. I didn’t want to be closer to him than I had to be. And being in the same spacious studio was already more than I could take. I banged my butt against Ms. Sue’s desk, pitching a few papers to the floor, and yelped.
I glared at him when I heard him snicker. Ms. Sue, however, was already next to me, her hand on my waist, asking if I was okay.
“I thought you said you were a ballet dancer.” He smirked.
“What’s that supposed to mean?” That stung a little bit.
“Well, aren’t ballerinas supposed to be graceful? That wasn’t exactly an act of grace.” As the corner of his lip curled upwards, I gripped the edge of Ms. Sue’s desk to keep my hands from grabbing something like that glass paperweight over there and hurling it at his smug face.
Ms. Sue raised both hands and waved them in our faces. She was tiny, maybe not even five feet, and she looked even smaller next to him. It was then that I noticed how tall he was. The guys I met were usually around my height, which was four inches below six feet. But to look at his annoying smirk, I had to bend my neck back a bit. “I’m so sorry, Bas,” she began in her high-pitched voice. “Geri is right. The studio is hers at this time. Didn’t Sensei tell you?”
He bent his head and shoulders in what looked like a bow. This guy really internalized his costume, didn’t he?   
“Thank you, Ms. Sue. No, he didn’t.” He gave me a tight smile. “Sorry about that.” And turned away.
That was it? And I was ready to fight. I stood there watching him walk back to the studio when I felt Ms. Sue tap me on the back. “He’s really a sweetheart. Just very passionate about aikido.”
I shook my head and turned to thank her. I made sure to confirm that I had reserved the studio every weekday afternoon and every Saturday morning for a month so I wouldn’t get into more trouble with Dojo guy, then I jogged back to get the stuff ready. When I arrived at the dojo, uh, I mean studio, the mat he had put on the floor was already against the wall and he was nowhere to be found. I didn’t bother to check if he was hanging around outside to thank him for doing that. By then, I had lost precious minutes arguing over the legitimacy of my reservation.
I tugged off my shorts and tied my delicate, pink skirt around my waist. I was already wearing my pink tights and black leotard underneath my basketball clothes. I pulled at my hair in the hopes that maybe today was the day I could finally tie it into a ponytail, but no such luck. I had to be happy with the headband. I was growing my hair out because really, have you seen a shorthaired ballerina? Short hair worked when you played ball. Once during practice, someone yanked my ponytail hard while I was trying to do a layup. It had hurt so much, tears stung my eyes. And I don’t cry. And never on the court. That was when I decided it was not going to happen again. So off to the barber’s I went.
But when Teacher Justine came to school two years ago to take over my freshman P.E. class, forcing us to do what she called layman ballet, I felt like I had tasted ice cream for the very first time in my life. The same arms I used to tap the ball in an attempt to steal could extend above my head in a graceful arc. The same feet I pumped across the court to make a basket could go on tiptoe and lift me up. I surprised myself by chasing after Teacher Justine when P.E. ended and begging her to let me know how I could enroll in her class.
“You’re older than the usual starting age, but you have great proportions, Geri Lazaro.” Those words were like an ice-cold bottle of Gatorade after realizing I’d forgotten my water jug halfway through basketball practice. Thus the terrycloth headband and the dream of getting hair extensions.
“Did you see him?” My ballet classmate Helena, whose hair was always in a perfect bun without a single strand out of place, floated over to me, pink skirts flapping up and down in her rush.
“Who?”
 “This guy! I can’t believe you didn’t see him when you entered.” Then her bright, excited expression fell. “Oh, Geri, I hope you weren’t wearing your basketball outfit when you arrived.”
I pulled her phone closer so I could study the image on it. I blinked when I saw who it was. It was Dojo guy. He was talking to someone else in a martial arts kimono too. A girl with long hair cascading down her back. So there was no question of who Helena had just stalked in that photo. I put Helena’s phone back in her hand and wrinkled my nose. “Ew. Yeah. We kinda got into an argument.” I saw her eyes widen. “And yeah, I was wearing my basketball clothes.”
“Geri!” She raised both hands. Even in her frustration, she did it with such grace. It was no wonder she was Teacher Justine’s star pupil. “What on earth did you argue about?”
She started pressing something on her phone. In a few seconds, I heard mine beep in the depths of my backpack. Had to remember to put it on silent during class. “Did you just send me his photo? I don’t want it.”
“So delete it.” She grinned, a teasing look in her dark, round eyes. “Why were you fighting?”
I walked toward the power outlet to plug in Teacher Justine’s portable speakers. “He was in here freaking out that the studio belonged to him at this time. But I sorted it out with the admin secretary.”
“That doesn’t sound like something you have to fight over.” She tilted her pretty head to the side, her gentle voice a perfect match to her fluid movements. “Is it because you have issues with cute guys?” 
I gaped at her. “What do you mean? I do not have issues with cute guys.”
“Yes you do. You can’t stand your mom’s boyfriend. He’s gorgeous.” Helena’s hands flew to her tiny waist.
I reached for the remote control of the air-conditioner, which hung on the wall, and pressed the green button. As cool air began to permeate the room, I turned to face her. “My mom’s boyfriend is not gorgeous. Stop being gross, Helena.”
 “Maybe if you weren’t in those horrible basketball clothes, you wouldn’t have been so combative,” she countered. 
“Combative?”
Helena nodded. “Sorry, hon, but you get a bit aggressive when you’re in them. Why do you still wear them? It’s not like you attend training anymore, right?” Her brow furrowed as if she were trying to understand the complications of my challenged wardrobe.
“I still do! It’s not basketball season though, so Coach lets me leave earlier to make it to ballet on time. But because I can’t exactly walk around in just my ballet clothes, I put my shorts and jersey over them for the trip here.” 
“Are you sure about this, Geri?” Helena bit her lower lip. “Have you ever considered ditching basketball? Are you truly planning to make a career out of it?”
“Hey, the Philippine Basketball Association is starting a women’s league!” I protested. But I knew it was useless. Helena didn’t care about sports. I think the only time she ever watched basketball was whenever I had a game and afterwards, she’d keep asking me why this or that happened. It was tiring but I was grateful for her support.
I got down on the floor and extended my legs into a good stretch, hoping that would get her mind off my sport and Dojo guy.
It worked.
“Oh, Geri, if you angle your leg like this, you’ll get an even more satisfying stretch.” She floated down next to me to get into the position.
When I had first started, Teacher Justine assigned her to help me catch up. I still had a long way to go, but Helena, who had been dancing ever since she could pull her ballet shoes on her tiny chubby feet at two-and-a-half, was the most patient teacher ever. She was just a pest when it came to boys. And other things too. It was like she had an agenda to make over my life together with my dancing skills.  
“Good afternoon, girls.” We looked up to see Teacher Justine glide into the room. Behind her were the rest of our classmates.
I scrambled to my feet and we curtseyed together. I swear, it wasn’t planned, but the proud smile on Helena’s face told me it was now going to be our standard greeting whenever Teacher Justine entered the studio.  
Teacher Justine stood in the center, right next to the mirrored wall, her heels together and her toes pointing outward in classic ballet first position. I don’t even think she was aware she was doing it. Her tummy was tucked in and her back was ramrod straight. She sniffed the air and turned her head as if searching for someone. “Geri,” she began. I stood up straighter. “Please take the candles from that paper bag and light them. I don’t know how we can dance with this smell.”
I curtseyed again and tried my best to be light on my feet as I rushed to retrieve the candles and return to my spot in front of Teacher Justine. We were only seven in class, so there was no way I could hide behind Helena. But then again, I wanted to do this. I wanted to be a ballerina. It wasn’t because of the flouncy skirts, elaborate costumes, studded tiaras, or even the satiny, pointe shoes. It was how I felt when I was moving my body to the music: strong, powerful, in control—yet not. As if something more graceful was powering through me and I was a conduit, a channel for all this movement. As I danced, I felt as if everything was right in the world—as if I was doing what I was born to do. It wasn’t like that on the basketball court. Sure, I loved the rush, the adrenaline, the bond with my team, even the sweat that cooled me down after a hard drive, but it wasn’t anything like this.
I concentrated on tucking my tummy in just a little bit tighter and holding myself up just a little bit straighter as I extended my arms on either side of me. Each miniscule movement had to be precise, controlled. I could feel the beads of sweat form on my nose and I was dying to rub them off, but as Helena says, “Always dance as if you were onstage.” When Teacher Justine inclined her head in approval as she drifted by me, I felt my heart lift. It didn’t matter where we were dancing—smelly studio complete with annoying Dojo guy or a brightly lit stage with hundreds in the audience. What did matter was that we were dancing—that I was dancing.  



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