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Thursday, 28 September 2017

Blog Tour Promo & Giveaway - The West Woods by Suzy Vadori

The West Woods
Suzy Vadori
Genre: YA
Release Date: September 22nd, 2017
Publisher: Evil Alter Ego Press

Book Description:
Magic, sacrifice and the quest for freedom.

Courtney Wallis wants nothing more than to escape St. Augustus boarding school. After uncovering a well-kept secret about the school’s founder, Isaac Young, Courtney turns to the school’s magic to convince her dad to let her leave. Things take a turn when she meets Cole, who lives in the nearby town of Evergreen. He gives her hope that things might not be so bad. However, the school's fountain has other ideas, and binds Courtney to her ambition, no matter the cost.

As Courtney struggles to keep the magic from taking over, she and her friends get drawn into the mystery woven into the school’s fabric. Everything seems to lead back to the forbidden West Woods. Together, she and her friends seek out the spirits of the past to ask for help, and find themselves in much deeper than they’d bargained for.  If they succeed, Courtney could be free of the magic. If they fail, she may never be the same.

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No Retreat

Courtney had one foot out of the car door, with her body still firmly planted inside. Her throat tightened as the campus loomed before her. A dusting of snow graced the trees and roofs. Though she’d attended St. Augustus for ninth grade and half of the tenth already, it didn’t feel like home.

The school’s buildings were set well back from the road and Courtney stared at them now. The whole scene felt out of place in Massachusetts. She’d always thought the oldest building on campus could be a castle like you’d find in France or England. At one time, its coating of green ivy had fascinated Courtney, like it was being gobbled up by the vines. As the semesters had passed though, the plain red brick of the newer buildings seemed more in tune with the personality of the school she’d come to know. Courtney sighed as she watched her dad walk away from the parking lot toward the dorm with her older sister Hanna. Winter break had ended too soon.

“I’ll wash your car every night if you reconsider?” she called out.

As if he hadn’t heard her, her dad pulled the lapel of his suit jacket up over his face against the cold and continued walking toward the dorm. He didn’t turn back. She wracked her brain for something else to offer, but came up with nothing.

After a long pause, Courtney hoisted her duffel bag from the car seat beside her up onto her shoulder. She pulled her long, bushy red hair out from under its strap. She could just stay in the car. Once her dad got Hanna settled in her room and returned to the parking lot, the two of them could go. Home. Courtney pictured his face turning a deep shade of red if she tried that. It wasn’t going to be that simple. She’d argued her case all last semester, the entire winter break, then the whole car ride up here from Boston today. He hadn’t given an inch. Finally, she pulled herself off the leather seat of the car and stepped out into the staff parking lot where they weren’t supposed to park. Jim Wallis regularly ignored No Parking signs. Besides, he wasn’t planning to stay long. Courtney shut the car door with a satisfying slam.

Her dad and Hanna disappeared into the dorm entrance - Hanna’s head bent over her phone as she walked. She was no doubt texting her friends, telling them she’d arrived, even though she’d see them as soon as she got inside. Courtney walked fast as she crossed the lawn, her bag swinging against her back with every step. She’d have to hurry if she wanted to get in one more shot. She knew she’d lost this round, but maybe he’d give in by the summer if she had a convincing argument now. Taking the steps to the dorm entrance two at a time, she ran through all the possibilities. Her dad waited in front of one of the plain doors in the hallway, his eyebrows knit into a frown.

“I’ve got to be getting back to the city, Courtney,” he said as she approached. He took her bag from her.

“I can pack everything I have here really fast, Dad,” Courtney joked as she fished her key out of her pocket and fit it into the lock. She’d done enough
whining. Time to take a different angle.

“Courtney, you have to at least try to make it work here,” her dad said firmly, following her into the small room she shared with her roommate, Margaret.

“You were happy enough to come here last year. You’ll like it again, just give it time.”

The room smelled musty, as it always did when it had been shut up for a while. Memories of the first time she’d come to campus flooded in. Back then, she’d been full of hope. She took her bag back from him and tossed it onto her unmade bed. Courtney cocked her head as it hit the blankets. Had her bed sat here like that the whole time she’d been gone, its sheets tangled up and exposed? Her face scrunched up as she looked over at Margaret’s tidy covers, knowing the sheets underneath would be tucked into the mattress with hospital corners. She felt her dad’s eyes on her. Turning toward the window, she took stock of her prison. Two and a half years left to serve, with no time off for good behavior. Courtney held her mouth in a thin line. The Courtney her dad referred to had been a bright-eyed freshman. She’d been thrilled then to come to St. Augustus. It had turned out to be less exciting than she’d hoped. Somewhere about an hour ago in the car, she’d thought he might agree to let her go home with him. But now, here they were.

“I know you loved it here, Dad,” she said, turning and watching him carefully for any signs of weakness. “But I’d be the top runner at Harbor, including the seniors.” Harbor Heights was the Boston school she’d trained with over the break. She was faster than all of them.

Besides, being home was easier – more comfortable. She especially liked seeing her mom every day. Her mother had a busy social calendar, but still... she was home for meals and coffee in the morning. Once Courtney was back at school, she wouldn’t get to talk to her mom much. Her mom didn’t like to talk on the phone, and Courtney’s dad handled anything to do with the school. Both of her parents were too busy to talk to her during the school year about much else.

The thought of leaving St. Augustus’ starchy kilts and blouses behind made her heart sing. Her dad shook his head. The corners of his mouth turned downward as he looked at his youngest daughter. If she didn’t know better, she thought he might be about to cry. She hated to disappoint him.

“Courtney, St. Augustus can give you everything you want,” he told her. “Swimming will look just as good on college applications as running. It doesn’t matter much. If you swam as much as you ran, you’d probably get better.” He looked at her with that expression he got sometimes. What was that expression? Courtney had never been able to figure it out. Dreamy, somehow – yet, disappointed. “You just aren’t looking hard enough for what is here.” Courtney bit her lip to keep from raging at her dad. He was so out of touch. Her hands clenched at her sides. She’d heard this speech before and it didn’t make any more sense to her now than it had the first time she’d heard it. St. Augustus was a school. Her dad talked about it like the buildings could live and breathe. He actually sounded pretty crazy once he got going. Courtney looked over at Margaret’s empty bed, glad she wasn’t here to hear him go off. “Dad,” Courtney said, taking a breath before plunging ahead, “it’s not about the school. There’s no track team here! I have been trying at swimming, I thought I’d get better…” Words spilled out, though they weren’t telling the whole truth. Her heart hadn’t been in swimming at all this year. She could do better.

“Hanna’s going to have her pick of colleges,” he reminded her. “You need to start thinking about that, too. With some work, you’ll get there.”

“Dad, my grades are good. I’ll get into a good college,” Courtney said. “Even if I’m at a public school.”

She tried not to think too hard about Hanna graduating this year. The thought of being the only Wallis at St. Augustus was unnerving. Her dad’s expectations would fall to her. She didn’t mind living in Hanna’s shadow, not really. It was better than being forced into the spotlight.

He didn’t answer. For a few beats, their deadlocked argument hung in the air between them. The room itself, with Margaret’s bed only three feet from her own, seemed smaller than she remembered. Reality set in. She’d be staying. From her dad’s tone, she’d be here not just this year, but until graduation. Her collarbone itched as she caught sight of the row of neatly pressed uniforms hanging in the open closet.

“You’re just going to have to trust me on this one,” he told her, breaking the silence as he placed a hand on her shoulder. Courtney eyed him warily. His eyes were lit in a way that seemed out of
place. “St. Augustus is… special,” he said, clearing his throat. “Courtney, there is no telling what you could accomplish, if only you’d open your eyes and go for what you want.” Courtney hated being mediocre, though not enough to want to train harder at something she didn’t much like. Unwelcome hot tears waited like needles behind her eyelids. She dug her fingernails into her palms. Crying wouldn’t work with Jim Wallis. She couldn’t cry. “Dad, I am going for what I want,” Courtney answered, wrinkling her forehead. “What do you think I’ve been asking you for?”

“No, you don’t understand,” he said, shaking his head. She followed her dad’s gaze out the window. Why was he looking out of the window? This conversation was important. “Courtney,” he said, “pay attention. The West Woods are the key.”

Courtney looked at her dad now, whose wistful gaze seemed almost comical. He really said some crazy things sometimes. The woods were the key to what? What did that even mean?

“Dad, what are you talking about?” She asked, shortly. Her dad was a senator, and looking at him now, all Courtney could think was, it was a good thing his voters never saw him like this. He sounded positively flaky. “We’re not even allowed in the woods.”

“Ah, but did you ever wonder why?” he asked, suggestively. A smile played at his lips. Courtney could only stare at her dad. She’d never ventured into the West Woods, though she’d run past them plenty of times. The thought of ever going in gave her the creeps, what with all the unruly branches. Especially in the winter time, when the trees were bare. Was there something more? If there was
something he wanted her to know, he could just tell her.

“Dad, the West Woods can’t make a track team appear,” she said.

“You might be surprised…” he said, trailing off.

His smile had grown wider. Why was he smiling? This conversation had gone seriously off the rails. She wasn’t getting anywhere. Her dad was making less and less sense.

“I’ve maybe said too much already,” he said to her, stepping back from the window. “But I’ll make you a deal. You make an effort to find out what makes St. Augustus special. Do everything you can here to pad your college applications. At the end of the year, if you’ve done these things and you still
want to leave, I’ll consider it.”

Courtney’s heart leapt as she took in his wide eyes. He seemed sincere. She breathed deeply. There was a chance she wouldn’t have to come back next year. She’d never actually thought he’d agree to let her leave mid-year anyway. This was about all she could have asked for.

“Uh, thanks, Dad,” Courtney said quietly. She resisted the urge to look away from his intense gaze, nodding her head in agreement. She’d try anything to get home.

“Good,” he said, moving toward the door. He had a small smile on his face, all that was left of his recent excitement. He stopped at the door and opened his arms to embrace Courtney.

“I have no doubt you’ll find it when you’re ready,” he told her, giving her a rare fatherly squeeze.
Courtney sank down onto her messy bed after the door clicked shut behind him, her mind going in circles. There had to be a way to make this work. If she did what he asked, he’d honor it, she knew that much about his character. But what did he expect her to find, and what would he accept as proof?

There had always been rumors about the school – its founder, Isaac Young, and his supposed curse or magic, the legend of the ‘lucky’ room… she closed her eyes, trying to remember what the stories were about. She’d never been that interested. What was it about the lucky room that was supposed to be special again? Courtney shook her head. Those were just silly stories. He’d surely been talking about something else - something to do with the West Woods. She hadn’t heard any stories about the woods.

She curled her feet up under her and lay down to nestle into her pillow. A calm feeling spread through her as she imagined herself at home in her own bed. As much as she liked Margaret, it had been nice to have her own room again over the break.

Her dad had gone to St. Augustus a long time ago. He wanted Courtney to find something – something that had been here, then. What if it was gone? Whatever her dad thought was special about the school, if it was still here, she had time to find it. Another year and a half, to be exact. A groan escaped from her throat as she buried her face in the pillow. The woods are the key, he’d said. Had the woods been off limits all those years ago when he’d been at school?

The wheels in Courtney’s mind turned, searching for a starting point. Hanna had been here longer. She seemed to love the school almost the same way their dad did… Did she know what Dad was talking about? Maybe he’d told her. Maybe he’d given her a clue what to look for. Their dad had been a lawyer before he’d become a senator. He would expect proof. What could she possibly use to persuade him she’d given this her all? If she could get him to see she’d unlocked whatever secrets he expected of her, he might let her leave. She had to be logical about this.

Suddenly not feeling tired anymore, she pushed herself up to a sitting position on the bed. She grabbed a notebook and a pen from her nightstand and pulled them toward her. Her goals should be bold enough to satisfy him - she’d have to pick things that felt beyond her reach. Hands shaking, Courtney opened the notebook. She set her pen to the page and made a list in her messy scrawl. 

Get Home List
1.Master the secrets of St. Augustus – know more than Dad.
2.Win at swimming.
3.Make team captain.

Courtney surprised herself that two of her three items were about swimming. Her dad had seemed focused on her making that work. If Courtney could show she’d accomplished what he wanted her to at St. Augustus, he couldn’t argue she hadn’t tried. Team captain was usually reserved for a senior. But waiting for senior year was too long - she wouldn’t have any time left to do track at Harbor. Surely it was possible to get it in her junior year. She made a mental list of the juniors on the team now – four girls. She ran through each one in her mind. There wasn’t an obvious leader among them. It could happen. Courtney stared at the team captain goal she’d written down. If she did well enough at the swimming itself, maybe her dad would let her leave without becoming team captain.

She raised her pen to strike out the third goal, then hesitated. It was only a list. Nobody would ever see it, it was just something to shoot for. She didn’t have to do it all. Instead of striking it out, Courtney doodled in the margin, letting her mind wander. She looked up at the door when she heard the jangle of a key being fit into the door’s lock.

“You came back!” Margaret said with a laugh, swinging the door open and stepping inside.

“For now,” Courtney conceded, closing her notebook and setting it on the
nightstand, “but I have a plan.”

“Of course you have a plan!” Margaret said, tossing her small suitcase on her bed and sitting down beside it. “You always have a plan,” she teased. The perfect finish of Margaret’s covers barely rippled where she sat, they were pulled so tight. “Happy New Year! Was your Christmas awesome?”

“Yeah,” Courtney answered, “it was great to get away from here.”

“You’re so weird,” Margaret said. “I’m soooo glad to be back! Everyone’s down at the student lounge right now, let’s go say hi. Is that a new hoodie?”

“It’s from Harbor Heights,” Courtney answered. “Oooo! Did you meet someone?” Margaret asked, her eyes trained on Courtney.

“No, nothing like that,” Courtney answered quickly. She looked over at the notebook on her nightstand. She wasn’t going to accomplish everything overnight. Maybe hanging out with the girls tonight would help her formulate a plan.

“Are you coming?” Margaret asked, her hand hovering on the doorknob.

“Sure, let’s go,” Courtney answered.

Other Books in the Series

The Fountain (Book 1)

About the Author
Suzy Vadori is an Operations executive by day, Writer by night. The Fountain is her debut novel for Young Adults. Suzy is an involved member of the Calgary Writers' community, service as Program Manager for Young Adult at When Words Collide (a Calgary festival for readers and Writers) since 2013. Suzy lives in Calgary, Alberta, Canada with her husband and three kids.

Author Links:
Website ¦ Goodreads ¦ Twitter ¦ Facebook


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  1. The book description and excerpt sound intriguing. Thanks for sharing. Love the cover too.

  2. I look forward to reading this. Looks like a great story.

  3. This looks like it will be an excellent read.

  4. Sometimes you wield the magic and sometimes the magic wields you.

  5. Sounds like a great book, thanks for sharing :)

  6. did anyone influence your characters?

  7. I'd love to see this story made into a movie.

  8. Looks really good. Thanks for hosting.

  9. I love a book with magic and young people as the main characters. SOunds exciting.

  10. I love the cover and how it focuses on the fountain. I love fountains.

  11. Sounds like an awesome read! Ready to crack it open now.