Title: Trial By Dreams
Series: The Charmed Trials Series
Genre: Young Adult Greek-Inspired Urban Fantasy
Author: Jolene Buchheit
As a substitute teacher, Jolene spends her days in high school classrooms harvesting material for her Young Adult novels. She also uses it as an outlet for fangirling by showing upcoming book-to-movie trailers at the end of class, or discussing vital issues like whether Katniss should have picked Gale or Peeta.
She is committed to helping Special Education teenagers become independent adults and helping them find a way to focus on the positive especially when life gets hard. At home, Jolene loves to cuddle with her husband, two kids, and three cats—sometimes all at once—while reading Young Adult books or repeatedly watching movies based on them.
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Title: Trial By Charm
Series: The Charmed Trial Series
Genre: Young Adult Greek-Inspired Urban Fantasy
Julia and Vander thought their trial was over. But Demeter has only just begun wreaking havoc on their lives.
Julia finally accepted that her boyfriend is the son of a Siren and her family isn’t as normal as she once thought. But when she accidentally unlocks a power she didn’t know she had, her world dissolves into chaos once more. Now she is forced to uncover the truth about who she truly is, in order to triumph over their most important quest yet.
For Vander, the stakes have been raised as he seeks what was taken from him, torn between his need to protect Julia from Demeter and his focus on their second trial. What starts as a twisted journey across Iowa dissolves into recurring dreams that foreshadow a dark fate should they fail to work together.
As the fear of failure builds and time ticks away, Julia and Vander must learn to trust their instincts – and one another – before their reality spins into a nightmare that rips them apart.
Book 2 in the Charmed Trials Series.
I catch the end of a conversation I’m not sure I was meant to hear.
“I can’t thank you enough for waking her up. My world would stop turning without her.”
My heart stops beating when I hear his words. All the stress and frustration of this day melts away for the moment and I am left in a pile of goo. If that isn’t the most beautiful thing I have ever heard anyone say, I don’t know what is. It’s a good thing I don’t have to respond to that sentiment because I have been struck speechless.
“I mean, you’re welcome.” Taylor smiles. “But I didn’t do it for you.”
“But you are the one who did it. So, thank you.” He gives her a hug. I don’t know how other girlfriends would feel seeing their friend hugged by their boyfriend, but what I’m seeing makes my heart swell with happiness.
Small excerpt 2
Honestly, I’m just surprised she hasn’t gone off the deep end with her extreme fangirl vocabulary.
“I’m so sorry I made you guys worry. There’s been a lot going on, but I shouldn’t have stressed you out.”
Lissy cuts me off and breaks away from the hug to continue her rant. “Stressed doesn’t even come close to covering what I went through. I nearly birthed a cow today.” Okay, here we go, this is the Lissy I know and love. “I was literally going to become a moo-my. If Taylor hadn’t brought me here, I would be nursing a calf at this very moment.”
Taylor nods in agreement as if a human having a cow is an actual possibility. “Yeah, and I would be udderly beside myself not knowing what to do.”
“Taylor, I see what you did there.” Lissy beams.
“Hey, thanks, Lissy.” They fist bump and Taylor flips her fluffy curls over her shoulder.
To his ever-loving credit, Vander does not laugh at my friends’ interaction. But he does try to join in by saying, “Well, isn’t this moo-ving?”
Lissy and Taylor give him wide-eyed looks and shake their heads, completely unimpressed with his attempt.”No, Vander, just no.”
“I’m selfish, Julia. If anyone understands the power of the mind to convince you things are real when they aren’t, it’s me.”
Ominous clouds fill his eyes before he looks down at his hands. For the first time, it dawns on me how little he has used his charm on this mission. It makes me feel ashamed for giving him such a hard time for all of the charming he has done in the past.
“I never thought about how my ability could affect others, until you asked me about it. I was just doing whatever was easiest for me, and hoping my skills would help me survive. But now I realize it isn’t my charms that I need, it’s you. You are what keeps me focused, and honestly, you are the only one who has challenged me to become a better person.”
I’ve been challenging him? It seems like being a part of his life has brought me through such amazing journeys that I’ve had no choice but to grow.
He takes a shaky breath and continues, “You’re the light in the darkness of my life, giving me something to cling to. When you get anxious, it is like my beacon of light becomes a mere candle flickering in the breeze, threatening to go out. Because of my own need for brightness, I reach out to stoke it back into a roaring flame.” He nudges my shoulder and winks. “And, boy, how it makes me happy when you roar.”
Memories of all the smartass things I’ve said to him in the past week make the corner of my mouth turn up. He uses his next words to steal my breath.
“I’m desperate to protect and save you from your anxieties, because I need you to protect and save me.”
Maintaining eye contact becomes difficult when my vision gets blurry. The tears in my eyes are different than the usual ones that fall. They aren’t carrying any sadness, just comfort and joy, like a Christmas carol has come to life on my face. I try to swipe them away with the back of my hand, but Vander stops me.
“Tears are powerful things. Sometimes they heal, not exactly like my mom’s do, but they have the power to make you feel better. Other times they help you celebrate when your happiness can’t be contained. And for me, they offer even more support, because water multiplies my powers, but tears impact them exponentially more, especially if they aren’t sadness tears.”
After my hands fall back into my lap, he reaches in his back pocket and takes out the flat vial that once held his mother’s tear he used to heal my ankle. Uncapping it, he holds it under my eye and collects the moisture from one side and then the other. Even though I’m not thrilled about crying, I wouldn’t trade this moment for anything.
I clear my throat. “What power do you think my tears hold? I don’t even know how to use the power I know about.”
He replaces the cap and puts the vial back in his wallet. “If they are anything like the mighty hold you have on my heart, I believe they could heal the world of all its problems.”
Big excerpt 2
My car is not even in park when Taylor brings up a very good point.
“Guys, I don’t have any shoes to wear. You know—to go in there to buy shoes with?”
“Well, we can’t risk being separated.” Vander’s reply is rushed as he turns around in his seat. His brow is furrowed, and he starts toying with his necklace. “I barely survived that the last time.”
Embarrassment about my role in that makes a play at changing my mood, but my newly found strength in the moment pushes it away. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t be sorry. You’re fine now, and that’s all that matters.” Vander’s words echo Lissy’s so closely from when she has helped calm me down before.
We need to go find our friends. Vander’s mission awaits. He has better things to do than to babysit my jumping-jack emotions. Right, so Taylor needs shoes. My fingers actually snap when an idea strikes. It feels like a cartoon light bulb is lit up over my head.
“Vander, do you have any emotional or other kind of attachment to those socks Taylor is wearing?”
“What do you mean by attachment?” He raises his eyebrow in question.
Taylor knows exactly what I mean. She has a collection of special belongings, including a plastic water bottle that Wes’s brother used the day he became her major crush and a small vial of sand from the beach where she swears she saw Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson tossing a football back and forth in Hawaii a few years ago.
“Like, were you wearing them when you kissed Julia the first time, or something like that?” Her explanation makes both of us laugh.
“No way, naturally those socks are framed on my wall at home,” he plays along. “To be clear, I have no attachment to those socks.”
“Can you hand me my bag? I’m pretty sure I threw a Sharpie in there when I was packing it yesterday. I bet if we draw flip-flops onto those socks, they will get us past the greeter, no problem.” My plan sounds even sillier when I say it out loud, but I’ve seen people of Wal-Mart videos, they let anyone in.
“That’s genius!” Taylor passes my bag to the front and seems excited about walking around in these pseudo-sandals we are going to create. It’s Wal-Mart, there is a good chance nobody will notice, and those who do may not even care. But given our track record of things working out in our favor, I’m glad we will have the benefit of her socks at least looking like shoes.
Turns out I have two markers in my bag, so we each take a sock and get to work blackening the bottom and drawing straps. After a few minutes of comparing socks to make sure they match, Taylor puts on her new Sharpie-scented “shoes” and we carefully walk through the parking lot to the store.
On the way in, Taylor grabs a cart to push to help cover up her feet.
The gentle elderly greeter nods. “Welcome to Wal-Mart.”