#Month9Books reveals its Fall books preview!


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Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!

This week, we are sharing the

Month9Books Fall Books Preview!

Check out these amazing titles coming from Month9Books this Fall!.
They look amazing!

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

SerpentineEbook

SERPENTINE is a sweeping fantasy set in the ancient Kingdom of Xia and inspired by the rich history of Chinese mythology.

Lush with details from Chinese folklore, SERPENTINE tells the coming of age story of Skybright, a young girl who worries about her growing otherness. As she turns sixteen, Skybright notices troubling changes. By day, she is a companion and handmaid to the youngest daughter of a very wealthy family. But nighttime brings with it a darkness that not even daybreak can quell.

When her plight can no longer be denied, Skybright learns that despite a dark destiny, she must struggle to retain her sense of self – even as she falls in love for the first time.

“Vivid worldbuilding, incendiary romance, heart-pounding action, and characters that will win you over–I highly recommend Serpentine.” Cinda Williams Chima, best-selling author of the Seven Realms and Heir Chronicles fantasy novels

“Serpentine is unique and surprising, with a beautifully-drawn fantasy world that sucked me right in! I love Skybright’s transformative power, and how she learns to take charge of it.” ~Kristin Cashore, NYT Bestseller of the Graceling Realm Series

“Serpentine’s world oozes with lush details and rich lore, and the characters crackle with life. This is one story that you’ll want to lose yourself in.” ~ Marie Lu, New York Times bestselling author of Legend and The Young Elites

add to goodreads

Amazon | B&N | BAM | Chapters | Kobo | TBD | Mysterious Galaxy

 

About-the-Author

cindypon_highres-200x300

Cindy Pon is the author of Silver Phoenix (Greenwillow, 2009), which was named one of the Top Ten Fantasy and Science Fiction Books for Youth by the American Library Association’s Booklist, and one of 2009′s best Fantasy, Science Fiction and Horror by VOYA. The sequel to Silver Phoenix, titled Fury of the Phoenix, was released in April 2011. Serpentine, the first title in her next Xia duology, will be published by Month9Books in September 2015. She is the co-founder of Diversity in YA with Malinda Lo and on the advisory board of We Need Diverse Books. Cindy is also a Chinese brush painting student of over a decade. Visit her website at www.cindypon.com.

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook |Tumblr| Goodreads

Nameless_450x675

Four clans have been at war for centuries: the Kodiak, the Raven, the Wolf and the Ram. Through brutal war tactics, the Ram have dominated the region, inflicting death and destruction on their neighbors.

Seventeen-year-old Zo is a Wolf and a Healer who volunteers to infiltrate the Ram as a spy on behalf of the allied clans. She offers herself as a Ram slave, joining the people who are called the “nameless.” Hers is a suicide mission – Zo’s despair after losing her parents in a Ram raid has left her seeking both revenge and an end to her own misery. But after her younger sister follows her into Rams Gate, Zo must find a way to survive her dangerous mission and keep her sister safe.

What she doesn’t expect to find is the friendship of a young Ram whose life she saves, the confusing feelings she develops for a Ram soldier, and an underground nameless insurrection. Zo learns that revenge, loyalty and love are more complicated than she ever imagined in the first installment of this two-book series.

add to goodreads

Amazon | TBD | Chapters | B&N | Kobo | iBooks

Jenkins brings edge-of-your-seat adventure to this intriguing new world. I can’t wait to read more!”~ New York Times bestselling author Jessica Day George

Wow….WOW, WOW, WOW! I have no words to describe how much I love this book. Jenkins writes characters who are just so easy to love, and when you love a character it makes the book so much better. And I loved all the characters. Zo, Tess, Joshua and Gryphon. Gryphon is definitely my favorite – but who wouldn’t love Gryphon? Of course I do have a soft spot for our heroine, Zo.” ~Bri, Blogger @ Once Upon A Twilight

Nameless destroyed me in the best way possible. The romance was subtle, but written beautifully. The plot was very intriguing and the pacing was spot on. I loved the entire cast of characters, every single one of them added to the story. Trust me when I say you should preorder it, add it to your TBR, request it from your library, do whatever you have to do to get this book in your hands because if you are a YA fantasy fan like me you need this book in your life!” ~Bridget, Blogger @ Dark Faerie Tales

NAMELESS is epic storytelling at its best. My mind is still reeling from the world that I have just been immersed in and I don’t want to leave it. Can I please have the sequel NOW? Because I need to know what happens next but in the meantime I’m just going to re-read it again and again. Is it that good, you may ask? Hell yes!!! And you will think so too. Trust me.” Nancy, Blogger @ Tales of A Ravenous Reader

To say that I love this book is an understatement. It completely blew me away! I am so happy that I took a chance on it. NAMELESS is one book that you can re-read over and over again and it will still feel fresh! I cannot wait for the world to read it and fall under the NAMELESS spell. Because that’s what I feel like I am under, a spell that has me trapped in Zo’s world and won’t let me out! I don’t want out!“~Damaris, Blogger @ Good Choice Reading

About-the-Author

Jennifer Jenkins

With her degree in History and Secondary Education, Jennifer had every intention of teaching teens to love George Washington and appreciate the finer points of ancient battle stratagem. (Seriously, she’s obsessed with ancient warfare.) However, life had different plans in store when the writing began. As a proud member of Writers Cubed, and a co-founder of the Teen Author Boot Camp, she feels blessed to be able to fulfill both her ambition to work with teens as well as write Young Adult fiction.

Jennifer has three children who are experts at naming her characters, one loving, supportive husband, a dog with little-man syndrome, and three chickens (of whom she is secretly afraid).

Visit her online at jajenkins.com


Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest |Instagram

Minotaur.v3

“Where shall I start?” asked Minotaur.

Ovid made an expansive gesture with both hands. “Where else but the beginning of course.”

Minotaur nodded his huge head. “Yes,” he said. “Yes,” his eyes already glazing over with the weight of thousand year old memories. And then he began.

So begins the story of Asterion, later known as Minotaur, the supposed half bull creature of Greek legend. Recorded by the famous Roman poet, Ovid, Asterion tells of his boyhood in Crete under the cruel hand of his stepfather Minos, his adventures with his friend, Theseus, and his growing love for the beautiful Phaedra.And of course what really happened in the labyrinth.

This is the true story of the Minotaur.

add to goodreads

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Lovers of mythology will enjoy this coming-of-age adventure and be surprised by the believable, “true story” of the Minotaur.”~ School Library Journal

About-the-Author

Phillip W Simpson

Phillip W. Simpson is the author of many novels, chapter books and other stories for children. His publishers include Macmillan, Penguin, Pearson, Cengage, Raintree and Oxford University Press.
He received both his undergraduate degree in Ancient History and Archaeology and his Masters (Hons) degree in Archaeology from the University of Auckland.
Before embarking on his writing career, he joined the army as an officer cadet, owned a comic shop and worked in recruitment in both the UK and Australia.
His first young adult novel, Rapture (Rapture Trilogy #1), was shortlisted for the Sir Julius Vogel Awards for best Youth novel in 2012.

He is represented by Vicki Marsdon at Wordlink literary agency.

When not writing, he works as a school teacher.
Phillip lives and writes in Auckland, New Zealand with his wife Rose, their son, Jack and their two border terriers, Whiskey and Raffles. He loves fishing, reading, movies, football (soccer) and single malt Whiskeys.

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads

 

Giveaway

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Chapter One Reveal for Nameless by Jennifer Jenkins with Giveaway #M9BFridayReveals


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Welcome to this week’s M9B Friday Reveal!

This week, we are revealing CHAPTER ONE of

Nameless by Jennifer Jenkins

presented byMonth9Books!

NAMELESS is in development for film by Benderspink! That’s the same company who optioned Victoria Aveyard’s Red Queen and produced the
I AM NUMBER FOUR film!

Jennifer is also one of the co-founders of Teen Author Boot Camp, and works with amazing authors like James Dashner and Brandon Sanderson to help teens master the craft or writing.

New York Times bestselling author Jessica Day George read NAMELESS and loved it!:

“Jenkins brings edge-of-your-seat adventure to this intriguing new world. I can’t wait to read more!”

Be sure to enter the giveaway found at the end of the post!

Nameless_450x675

Four clans have been at war for centuries: the Kodiak, the Raven, the Wolf and the Ram. Through brutal war tactics, the Ram have dominated the region, inflicting death and destruction on their neighbors.

Seventeen-year-old Zo is a Wolf and a Healer who volunteers to infiltrate the Ram as a spy on behalf of the allied clans. She offers herself as a Ram slave, joining the people who are called the “nameless.” Hers is a suicide mission – Zo’s despair after losing her parents in a Ram raid has left her seeking both revenge and an end to her own misery. But after her younger sister follows her into Rams Gate, Zo must find a way to survive her dangerous mission and keep her sister safe.

What she doesn’t expect to find is the friendship of a young Ram whose life she saves, the confusing feelings she develops for a Ram soldier, and an underground nameless insurrection. Zo learns that revenge, loyalty and love are more complicated than she ever imagined in the first installment of this two-book series.

add to goodreads

Pre-order Links:

Amazon | TBD | Chapters | B&N

excerpt

Chapter 1

Zo couldn’t remember a time when she didn’t fear the Ram.
Even after the raid, when so much of her fear had turned
to hate, the fear still existed beneath. It was a foundation that
she came to rely upon. A constant.

Sleeping under a fir tree so close to Ram’s Gate went
against her very nature. While her body revolted, she couldn’t
think of a more appropriate place to be. Zo choked down the
beastly fear clawing its way up her throat and smiled like this
was just another assignment. “It’s time, Gabe.”

Her guard, Gabe, rested on soggy pine needles beside her.
His hands were tucked behind his shaggy blond head, eyes
closed in feigned sleep. He used to lay like that, with his arms
arrogantly thrown back and his chest puffed out like he owned
the world, when they were kids. The river would rush by
carrying rumors of starving clans and battles lost—heartache
that pulled tight strings of tension throughout Zo’s body—
while Gabe just laid back and chewed on a grass root.

Today, Gabe’s pretend-sleep didn’t fool Zo any more than
it ever had. They both knew he hadn’t slept soundly since
they’d left the Allied Camp a week ago. With eyes still closed,
Gabe frowned as Zo left the protection of his side to bundle her
bedroll. She crawled out from under the skirt of the enormous
fir tree. Its sweeping limbs that kissed the uneven ground had
kept them as safe as one could be in this godforsaken region.
Behind her, Gabe growled impatiently as he gathered his
things to follow.

“There’s no need to rush this.” He pushed the branch aside
and threw out his pack with more force than necessary. Zo
flinched, not used to seeing her childhood friend angry.

“You didn’t wake me for my watch again,” said Zo,
unsurprised. Ever since they’d left the Allies, Gabe had been
insanely overprotective.

“You need your sleep.”

“And you don’t?”

Gabe sighed and scooped a blob of mud from the newly
thawed earth. He frowned and smeared it along the curved
planes of Zo’s face and neck. The cool mud felt surprisingly
comforting, but it could have just been Gabe’s touch. His
capable hands shook while lines of worry deepened across his
brow.

“This won’t work.” He stopped and cupped his muddy
hand at the base of her neck, his blue eyes pleading. “You’re
too pretty. A little mud can’t change that.”

Zo yanked on the sleeve of her shirt until the seam split then
ripped and frayed the cuff of her pant legs. Young, unarmed
women just didn’t go on casual strolls through the perilous
hills of the Ram. Commander Laden said she needed to look
desperate if she wanted them to believe her story. Her lie.

As if looking desperate is hard, Zo thought.

Gabe stood a full head taller than Zo. Despite his large
frame, he could outrun a jackrabbit and his mind was just as
quick. A valuable weapon for the Allies. But with all of his
abilities, he was not the one walking into the lion’s den this
morning.

He untwisted the strap of Zo’s medical satchel and let out a
long breath before dropping his hands to his sides.

“I’ll miss you,” said Zo. Her voice carried the mechanical
cadence she’d adopted several years ago. A small part of her—
the part that wasn’t dead—hated disappointing Gabe. He’d
done so much for her and her little sister, Tess, since they’d
journeyed from the Valley of Wolves to live with Commander
Laden and the Allies.

Thinking of her wild, eight-year-old sister brought a
temporary smile to Zo’s muddied face. She couldn’t think of
Tess and not imagine her tromping through the forest trying
to catch squirrels and sneak up on rabbits. It was her second
favorite thing to do, next to following Zo around the Allied
Camp. The little tick wouldn’t take her absence well. Zo had
left a note and arranged for her care, but that didn’t mean the
kid wouldn’t be furious.

Gabe pressed his cold hands to Zo’s face and forced her to
look at him. “Come back with me, Zo. Let Commander Laden
send someone else. Someone with less to lose.”
“We’re not doing this again.” Zo pulled away. She had
begged for this mission, and she would see it through. No
matter what the cost. The Allies desperately needed information
that only she could provide, if they hoped to defeat the most
powerful military force in the region.

Gabe’s hands curled into fists. His voice rose to carry over
the wind that whipped his unruly hair. “Entering Ram’s Gate
is suicide! We don’t even know if you can get the information
Laden’s after.”

The truth was far worse than Gabe could possibly know.
He hadn’t heard what life would be like inside the Gate. They
would eventually discover her, and once they did, they’d kill
her. Plain and simple.

There were worse things a person could endure.

She’d do anything for the Cause.

“Goodbye, Gabe.” She kissed his frozen, whiskered cheek.

His hand clamped down on Zo’s wrist and he yanked her
into a fierce embrace. “I’ll be close, waiting to help you escape
the minute you send word.” He smoothed down her wild, dark
hair. “I’ll find a way to keep you safe, Zo. I swear it.”
Zo forced a hollow smile, for Gabe’s sake. “Look after
Tess. Tell her I’m doing this for her. Tell her I’m doing it for
our parents.”

She left Gabe standing frozen in the low light of morning.
After a hard climb, Zo reached the towering wall of Ram’s
Gate. The wall was comprised of redwood logs at least four
feet in diameter and fifty feet tall, bound together with heavy
rope and shaved to a point at the top. Black tar and broken
glass glimmered along the high rim of the wall to discourage
clans foolish enough to attack, and souls brave enough to dare
escape.

Zo looked right and left and saw no end to the wall through
the thick maze of aspen and evergreens. From her training with
Commander Laden, she knew the giant wall ran for miles in
each direction until it reached the cliffs that dropped off to the
freezing ocean below. Inside the wall were hundreds of acres
of farmlands, mountainous forests, and enough homes to house
thousands of Ram and the slaves they called “Nameless.”
Calmer than a sane person should be, Zo dropped to her
knees in the shadow of the ominous wall. Knowing these
might be the last free moments of her life, she allowed herself
to think about things that were normally buried deep within
her. The memory of her mother’s soft skin. The safety of her
father’s smile. Tess’ dimples and her eagerness to please,
despite her stubborn ways.

The moment was as sweet as it was brief. But it was hers.
Deep-voiced drums boomed and the enormous gate rose
inch by inch. Men shouted orders and whips cracked. Through
the gap of the slow-rising gate she saw at least forty men in
tattered animal hides with harnesses on their backs. They
slipped through mud while struggling to turn a giant wheel
connected to a thick chain to raise the gate.

The Nameless. The Ram had kept slaves for hundreds of
years, some were captured, others came willingly, while most
were born into the lowly title.

Instinct told her to run, but fear and determination kept her
frozen in place. She locked the people she loved back into the
cage that was her heart and prepared to face her enemy.
Zo pressed her nose into the icy mud in a show of
submission. The drums ceased and the silence echoed in her
chest like a painful heartbeat.

The metal of short swords clinked against armor as men
approached. She peeked up to sight of a bald leader walking
ahead of a wall of six soldiers. His cold eyes seemed too big
for his head, protuberant like those of a frog.

“Get up,” the leader commanded.

Zo climbed to her feet but kept her gaze focused on the
man’s fur-lined boots.

“State your name and clan,” he ordered.

“I am from the family Shaw of the Kodiak Clan,” Zo said,
hoping her accent would pass. The Ram had raided one of the
Kodiak settlements a few weeks earlier. Many of the women
and children whose husbands had died in the raid would
come to the Gate, choosing to offer themselves as slaves over
watching their children starve to death.

The leader circled her. “Age?”

“Seventeen.”

A few of the guards in the line exchanged words. One
laughed under his breath.

“You’re too thin to claim the Kodiak as your clan. Your
jaw is more square than round.”

The sound of a young girl’s scream saved Zo from having
to answer.

“Let me go! You’re hurting me!” the girl cried.

Zo froze. It couldn’t be …

A guard dressed in full armor carried the kicking child up
the muddy hill and dropped her at the bald leader’s feet.
Zo’s whole body went rigid as her eight-year-old sister,
Tess, scrambled up to hug her. “I’m so sorry,” Tess cried. She
must have secretly followed them from the Allies, though how
she survived the dangerous journey unnoticed was beyond Zo.

“Tess, I thought I’d lost you,” Zo stammered. She hoped
her shock registered as relief instead of panic. “Don’t say a
word,” Zo whispered in her ear as they embraced.

“Who is this child?” the frog-eyed leader asked.

“She is my sister, sir. We were separated. She found me.”

“Clearly.” He circled the girls once more then reached out
and grabbed Zo by the throat, forcing her to the ground on her
back. His lips brushed her cheek as he spoke. “How do I know
you’re not a stinking Wolf? That you’re not feeding me some
story?” His breath reeked of stale cabbage and rotten sausage.
Zo’s heels dug small trenches in the mud as she struggled
against the hand tightening around her throat. Black dots
invaded her vision.

The leader smiled and licked his lips as if she were his next
meal. “We don’t allow Wolves through the Gate.” A string of
spittle escaped his lips and landed on her cheek. “Ever.” He
released his grip and Zo gasped for air.

Tess rushed to Zo’s side, her eyes wet with tears.

“With all of the clans mixing, it’s getting harder and harder
to sort the wheat from the tares. I can’t take any chances …

” He shrugged and nodded to his guard. The men moved in,
pulling the sisters apart. Tess let out a shrill cry. A guard struck
her tiny cheek.

“Please!” Zo fought against firm hands digging into her
arms. “I come from three generations of healers. My sister is
learning too. We beg the mercy of the Ram, and pledge our
lives to your service!”

The Gate Master held up a hand, and his men threw Zo to
the ground. His round, glassy eyes stayed fixed on her as he
grunted a soft command to one of his men. The soldier nodded,
bowed, and ran back through the Gate.

“A healer, you say?” The corner of his lip pulled up to
reveal rotting teeth as he smiled. “We’ll see about that.”

about-the-author

©NicholeV Photography, LLC 2008. http://actions.nicholeV.com. This work is registered and protected under US and international copyright laws. Any violation of this copyright will be diligently prosecuted.
©NicholeV Photography, LLC 2008. http://actions.nicholeV.com. This work is registered and protected under US and international copyright laws. Any violation of this copyright will be diligently prosecuted.

With her degree in History and Secondary Education, Jennifer had every intention of teaching teens to love George Washington and appreciate the finer points of ancient battle stratagem. (Seriously, she’s obsessed with ancient warfare.) However, life had different plans in store when the writing began. As a proud member of Writers Cubed, and a co-founder of the Teen Author Boot Camp, she feels blessed to be able to fulfill both her ambition to work with teens as well as write Young Adult fiction.

Jennifer has three children who are experts at naming her characters, one loving, supportive husband, a dog with little-man syndrome, and three chickens (of whom she is secretly afraid).

Visit her online at jajenkins.com

Connect with the Author: Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Instagram

Giveaway

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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We have a winner!!


grammarly-logo

A couple of weeks ago I posted a review of Grammarly and offered up a free, six-month premium membership to one lucky winner.  Well, today, I get to announce that winner and it is … (drum roll please)…

 

JENNIFER M. EATON!!

Whoo Hoo!!  Congratulations, Jennifer!!  Your email has been forwarded to Grammarly so be on the lookout for an email from them.

Thank you all for participating!  Be sure to stay tuned in because there will be more giveaways coming soon!!

 

CROSSING THE LINE


My SweetSixteens and 16ToRead author mate, Meghan Rogers, has a new book coming out in Winter 2016, and boy does it look fantastic!  Check out this amazing cover for CROSSING THE LINE, the first novel in The Raven Files series.

Even if I didn’t have a blurb for this I would still soooo want to read it. I mean, come on!  There’s a helicopter, a chick wearing gloves and a hoodie perched on a building. It just screams spytastic!!

Good for us, I do have a blurb.  Check it out:

When Jocelyn Steely was kidnaped by a North Korean spy agency, she was only a little girl. Young. Scared. Powerless.

But when she makes it to US soil, she finds that not everyone believes her story. Will she be able to get the Americans to trust her? Or will the North Koreans discover her deception before she has a chance?

The first novel in the Raven Files will leave you breathless.

***

Are you breathless?  I know I am.  Wow. This book is going to be one heart-stopping, wild ride adventure, so make sure you add it to your TBR list today!! And don’t forget to tell your friends because this is going to be a fantastic book you’re going to want to have.

And now that I’ve introduced you to the book cover, why not head on over to Meghan’s hang out spots on-line and introduce yourself. Tell her how much you love that cover and can’t wait to read her book. Oh, and tell her I sent you.

Twitter         Facebook       Instagram     Tumblr     Pinterest     Website

Oh, and don’t forget to add to your Goodreads TBR list!!

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SUFFER LOVE – a cover reveal


Everyone who knows anything about me knows that I’m a cover whore.  I will buy a book just for its cover, I tell you no lie.

Ashley Herring Blake, author of YA contemporary SUFFER LOVE, revealed her lovely cover to the world on July 6 with help from Jen over at Pop!Goes the Reader. It is no surprise Ashley’s cover made such an internet splash because the colors and the star and the promise of love are all so very swoon-worthy. All the gals at Sixteen to Read have been drooling over this YA debut for some time and can’t wait for her ARCs to start circulating. And, turns out? We don’t have to! The Advanced Reader Copies will begin to circulate next week. Yay! Stay tuned for all the ravings about this gorgeous love story!

Ashley’s cover appears below. Be warned. It’s GORG! And check out Pop!Goes the Reader (http://www.popgoesthereader.com/cover-reveal/cover-reveal-suffer-love-by-ashley-herring-blake/) for a full interview with the author.

Then add SUFFER LOVE (https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/23197843-suffer-love?ac=1) to your gotta-have-it-now Goodreads pile.

SUFFER LOVE

And they call it puppy love – a Dalmatian love story


My husband came home from work one day and told me that a friend had a Dalmatian he could no longer take care of. My husband asked me if I knew anyone who was interested. Was he serious? I laughed. “Duh,” I said. “Do I look like chopped liver?”

I don’t know what I was thinking. After all, I was in my forties and had just started pre-menopause. My husband and I worked full-time jobs. We had four kids spanning elementary, middle and high school, two dogs, three cats, a cockatiel, a miniature blue rabbit, two ferrets, a hamster, a four-foot iguana, a small decorative fish pond, a 150-gallon saltwater tank and a fifty-gallon freshwater tank with Oscars. We were stretched thin with all the vet visits, the kitty boxes, the dog walks, homework, cooking and laundry. The last thing we needed was another mouth to feed. But my husband and I agreed to think about it over the spur-of-the-moment weekend vacation at Disney World with the kids.

During the hour and a half drive to Orlando, we saw signs from God and the universe. There were billboards featuring Dalmatians. We followed behind a car with a Dalmatian in the back seat. We saw Dalmatian bumper stickers, but the kicker came when we tried to check into the All-Star Music Resort and found out they had no more rooms available; however, they did have rooms available at the All-Star Movies Resort in the 101 Dalmatians section.

Talk about destiny.

My husband and I knew then what our answer was, and on our way home, we swung by the house of my husband’s friend and adopted Baby into our home.

From day one, she was the best dog I ever had. She was full of life, energetic, full of expression and personality. She followed me around like a shadow and she loved to cuddle. She was a beautiful dog, one brown eye, one blue, and she was covered in spots. Baby wasn’t “show” quality, but she was perfect for our family.

For two years, she led a spoiled-rotten life. Before we adopted her, she lived outside, chasing squirrels, barking, not getting much attention. With us, she curled up at our feet, slept in our bed, enjoyed the dog park, played in the surf at the beach, and lived a blissful, happy life inside in the cool air-conditioning, out of the hot Florida sun.

Then, one day, I got a call from my husband while I was at work. Something was wrong with Baby—something terribly wrong. I was perplexed. She’d just been to the vet, and he gave her a clean bill of health. By the time I got home, she was lying in the hallway, unable to lift her head or move. Her tongue hung out of her mouth. My husband and I lifted her into the van and drove her to the emergency vet, a five-minute ride from our house. I ran inside to get a tech, but by the time I returned to the van with a gurney, Baby crossed the Rainbow Bridge while being held in my husband’s loving arms.

At the time, I hadn’t experienced so much hurt since my father passed away two weeks before my twelfth birthday. It felt as if my heart had been yanked from my chest and no matter what I did, the tears kept coming. We managed to go back home without her, my sweet Baby, but then we had to face the next hurdle. We had to tell the kids. There was nothing that could prepare us for the loss of a family member. We sat around, hugging each other and sobbing. Our Baby was gone, and an incredible emptiness settled inside our home.

I went to work the next day, my eyes swollen and red, and I still couldn’t stop the tears. My friends were supportive, but there were others in the office who didn’t understand. “She’s crying over a dog?” I heard someone say.

No. Baby was more than a dog. She was my sweetheart, a soul mate in her own right. She gave me and my family unconditional love. The vet said she died from a ruptured spleen, but it didn’t matter. All I could think was that I’d never see her face, kiss her cold nose, hear her bark, or watch her run and romp in the waves. Who was going to curl up at my feet when I read, or lay her head in my lap when I was sad?

She was so young. Only six. My age, in dog years. My own mortality sank in.

It’s been twelve years since Baby passed away. Since then, most of our other pets have passed on, too. I am not looking forward to my dogs or cats dying, but they are getting older, like me, and I know it’s inevitable. And while it makes me sad to think of losing these precious creatures in my life, it soothes my soul to know that Baby will be there, waiting for them on the other side of the Rainbow Bridge, ready to romp and play. And when my time comes, I know she’ll be there waiting for me, too, alongside my mom, my dad and all my other critters. I couldn’t ask for a better welcoming committee.

Baby - February 2001