Today on my blog I have the Vortex Blog Tour. On my stop there is a spotlight, review, excerpt, and giveaway.
The impossible was just the beginning. Now in their second year as superhuman government weapons-in-training at the Pentagonal Spire, Tom Raines and his friends are mid-level cadets in the elite combat corps known as the Intrasolar Forces. But as training intensifies and a moment arrives that could make or break his entire career, Tom’s loyalties are again put to the test.
Encouraged to betray his ideals and friendships for the sake of his country, Tom is convinced there must be another way. And the more aware he becomes of the corruption surrounding him, the more determined he becomes to fight it, even if he sabotages his own future in the process.
Drawn into a power struggle more dramatic than he has ever faced before, Tom stays a hyperintelligent step ahead of everyone, like the exceptional gamer he is—or so he believes. But when he learns that he and his friends have unwittingly made the most grievous error imaginable, Tom must find a way to outwit an enemy so nefarious that victory seems hopeless. Will his idealism and bravado cost him everything—and everyone that matters to him?
Filled with action and intelligence, camaraderie and humor, the second book in S.J. Kincaid’s futuristic World War III Insignia trilogy continues to explore fascinating and timely questions about power, politics, technology, loyalty, and friendship.
The flames glittered in her black eyes. Their skirmish had tousled her hair, and he could see the scarring she tended to hide under locks of dark hair from the side of her head where she had most of it. His gaze traced over it, and Medusa seemed to realize what he was looking at. She turned her head away.
“No, wait,” Tom said, circling to her side of the fire. “You don’t have to . . . I mean, I thought you don’t care if . . .”
He stood there a moment, dismayed, uncertain what to do. Then he reached out for her, and she flinched back.
“What, you said you don’t care,” Tom pointed out. “Either you care or you don’t care what I’m seeing.”
“I’ve had this since I was very young, Tom.” Her voice was acidic. “I am used to it. So, no, I don’t care anymore.”
“So why are you upset when I—”
“It’s different with you.”
The implication slammed him: he’d done this. He had to fix it.
This time, he took her gently by the shoulder before she could pull back. When he lifted his palm to brush the dark strands of her hair aside, her hand flew to the sword in his scabbard. Tom let her draw it if she wanted to. Soon, he could see her face, that mass of burn scar tissue twisting its way from her scalp, down her features.
She stood there, utterly rigid, and he was vaguely aware of the sword wavering indecisively between them, like she couldn’t decide whether to sink it into him or toss it aside. Tom’s hand hovered over her cheek. He wasn’t sure whether this was okay, so he stayed that way, feeling the warmth radiating from her skin.
“Does it hurt?” he asked her.
Her black eyes flashed up to his. The point of the sword bit into his abdomen. “The nerves are dead. What do you think?”
Tom opened and closed his mouth a few times before getting the words out. “I lost all my fingers. They froze.” He felt embarrassed admitting this, but he held his hands up, the only offering he had. “And I know the nerves are dead and they’re not even there anymore, so I’m imagining it, but sometimes they hurt. It’s weird. It’s stupid.”
Medusa considered him, and he was aware of the sword sliding back down. She planted it in the ground by her feet. “I shouldn’t have tried to kick out your fire.”
“You were right. It would’ve gotten me killed.”
She lowered herself next to the crackling flames and tugged on his trouser leg, so he sank down next to her. They faced each other in the wavering golden light, and Medusa took his hand, then raised it so it hovered near her jaw again.
“I don’t feel anything,” she told him.
This time, Tom brushed his palm over the scar tissue. Strange. He’d expected something hard or rough. But it was cool, even soft in places. There was something about seeing the burn so close, feeling it, that diminished it in his mind. It shrank away as that shocking thing seen only in fleeting, stolen glimpses, and soon all he could see was the girl across from him, with this one more aspect rendering her . . . well, far from ordinary.
“You haven’t tried to guess my name today,” Medusa pointed out.
“Oh, yeah. Forgot.” Then he threw one out. “Wu Tang.”
She rolled her eyes. “That’s your most pitiful guess yet.”
Tom leaned in and whispered, “Tell me your real name and I’ll stop coming up with bad guesses.”
She shoved him lightly. “You can’t coerce me with bad guesses.”
“I can try, Murgatroid.”
“Murgatroid?” She started laughing. “Is that even a name? It’s not Cantonese.”
Tom watched her and his brain seemed to short out. He wasn’t sure what to blame for it later. Maybe he temporarily lost his mind because Medusa was so close to him. Maybe his mind blurred at the sight of fire dancing in her black irises.
Maybe there simply was nothing sensible in his head in that moment, nothing to stop him. He reached over and drew her into his arms, feeling her fragile shoulders tense against his palms, then he dipped his head to hers and claimed her lips in his own.
The last time they had kissed, Tom had been in VR; he hadn’t felt a thing. His mind had buzzed with the realization he was kissing her, and maybe that’s why some part of him hadn’t been fully present.
Not this time.
Her body softened against his, and to the tips of his toes Tom experienced this liquid elation, this utter rightness like he’d never felt before. His palm stroked up her back, cupped the hot skin of her neck, fingers twining into her silken black hair. The world seemed to go still and there was nothing under the crisp, starry sky of Siberia but Medusa, the feel of her, the taste of her, and need roared up within him as he tightened his grip and deepened the kiss.
I enjoyed this book even though due to my own fault I was lost in the book as I thought I had read book one. But with that said I did like this book and after finishing it I went to go buy book one so I can read it and then I plan to re-read this one again so it makes better sense to me.
This is one of those books that you get pulled into right from the start and the next thing you know you have read the last page but you still want more. And I definitely need book three just so I can see what is going to happen next. I mean how often do you read a book where you love all the characters even the bad ones? I know for me it doesn’t happen often and with this book I loved them all. I also love how S.J. has the right amount of action and laugh out loud humor to the point I actually had people looking at me in the doctor’s office from laughing so much. But it was so worth it. I am excited to read the first book so I can learn more about the characters and the world S.J. has created. 5/5 Bloody Fangs
S.J. Kincaid was born in Alabama, grew up in California, and attended high school in New Hampshire, but it was while living beside a haunted graveyard in Scotland, that she realized that she wanted to be a writer. Her debut, Insignia, came out in July of 2012. The second book in the series, Vortex came out in July of 2013. The final book in the INSIGNIA trilogy will come out in Fall of 2014.
Thank you for stopping by my blog today. I would also like to say Thank You to S.J. for letting me review your book and say Thank You to Book Nerd Tours for letting me participate in this blog tour. Don't forget to enter the giveaway below.