Book Jacket


rank 5904
word count 64056
date submitted 19.01.2012
date updated 06.03.2012
genres: Fiction, Romance, Fantasy, Young Ad...
classification: universal


Apryl Baker

Snap...crackle...pop. The sounds of bones breaking and shifting and of muscles tearing haunt Alexandria Reed.


For the last five years, Alex has been locked up at Compton Academy, a "school" for the emotionally challenged. She calls it the politically correct way of saying they’re all nuts and Alex has no doubts she’s insane. She comes home to Jacob's Fork to face the demons she left behind her after deceiving the doctors into believing she’s well. Soon after her arrival home though, news of her estranged mother's death brings her uncle back into her life and she and her brother, Jason, learn a terrifying secret about their family.

After questioning her sanity for the last ten years, she discovers the night terrors she's suffered for so long has become a reality. She and her brother are now being hunted because of the secret her family has killed to protect. Her world has been turned upside down, every belief she held true destroyed. Aided by her new friends, who have some dark secrets themselves, can she and Jason survive long enough to figure out the secret behind the secret?

Awakening is the first book in the series Bloodlines

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Chapter Three


    My dad and our live-in housekeeper, Emma Mae Ransom, square off across the kitchen island, a plate of freshly baked peanut butter chocolate chip cookies cooling on the counter between them.  Dad’s expression says he’s calculating his chances.  Emma’s dares him to try.  She stands, her fly swat at the ready, and glares him down.  Or rather glares up at him.  John Reed stands a full head taller than the little bit of Irish fluff that is Emma.  Her red hair gives testament to her temper and if Dad so much as tries to snatch a cookie, she’ll lay him into him.

    His chances?  Slim to none.  Jason and I have been on the receiving end of that fly swat more times than I can count growing up.  Emma is faster than Speedy Gonzalez when it comes to protecting her baked goods.

    I have to grin watching the two of them.  It really is funny.  Secretly, Jason and I both believe the two of them love each other, but neither will admit it.  Its times like now, that you can see it, when they are playful and think no one is watching.  I wish they’d just fess up and admit how they feel about each other openly.

    “Give it up, Dad, you’re not getting one,” I tell him, coming into the kitchen.  “Emma will defend those cookies with her last breathe.”

    “Alex!”  The front door slams shut.

    I close my eyes and wince at the distress in my brother’s voice.  I’d hoped to avoid this until later.  He must have skipped football practice to check on me.  I know he’d heard the rumors because he’d texted me nonstop all day.

    “Are you okay?” he demands, his concerned filled blue eyes search my face. 

    “I’m fine, Jase,” I assure him, shaking my head ever so slightly to warn him to shut up.

    “What?” Emma’s eagle eyes zero in on us.  “Did something happen at school?”

    Both Emma and my dad look worried.  They’re afraid I’ll crack again.  I’m a little afraid I will too, but thanks to Saidie and Morgan, I survived my first day.  I didn’t crack.  Mostly.  And I refuse to go back to Compton Academy.  I refuse.  I’d had a bad moment earlier at school and thought about going back, but I’m better now.  I don’t need to be there.  I want to be normal.

    “Yeah, actually something did happen at school,” I tell them and warn my brother with my eyes not to say a word.  “I met some really nice people and one girl is actually in all my classes.  I had a good day.”

    “But Jason sounded so worried…”

    “Only because I didn’t get to check on her today, Dad,” Jason interrupts him.  “It’s cool.” He frowns slightly, but he doesn’t want to see me go back to Compton any more than I do.  He knows Emma and Dad will ship me off in a heartbeat if they think I can’t handle this. 

    Both of them stare at us, not sure whether to believe us or not.  Emma’s eyes are sharper than Dad’s.  She raised me and Jason and knows us better than anyone.  She sees through me.  I can tell by the look in her eyes.  I plead silently with her to not say anything.  My eyes beg her.  She purses her lips, but nods faintly.  I let out a sigh of relief.  I also know I am going to get the third degree later. 

    “Aren’t you supposed to be at practice?” I ask pointedly.  Jason is the quarterback of our football team. 

    “Yeah, well, Coach’ll deal.  I wanted to make sure you were okay…OUCH!!!!!”

    I laugh.  He’d tried to take advantage of the fact Emma was distracted and sneak a cookie.  The fly swat was faster. 

    “You’ll ruin your supper, boyo.  Now go clean up.  Since you skipped practice you can help me with supper.”

    He groans.

    I laugh and go to move around Dad, who is reaching for the cookies.  Emma’s fly swatter comes down full force.  I reach around him and snag two cookies and run.

    “Alexandria Nicolette Reed!”

     Jason and I tear up the stairs, laughing at Emma’s cries of outrage.  We come to a halt in front of my bedroom door and I hand over a cookie.  His eyes close when he bites into it.  Emma’s cookies are delicious.  I waste no time devouring my own.

    He turns serious.  “Alex…”

    “I promise you I’m fine, Jason.”

    “I heard the rumors, you can’t be fine.”

    “Honest, I had a good day.  I met some people and it made it easier.  I’m not twelve anymore.  I can handle it.”

    “You made some friends today?” His eyes hold a glimmer of hope. 

    “They didn’t seem to mind the rumors and stayed by my side all day, so yeah, I think maybe I did.”

    Relief floods his features.  His biggest fear is that I will revert back to the way I used to be and it’ll be a repeat of junior high.  I’d heard him pacing all night.  Then this morning, he’d barged into my room at the crack of dawn to tell me to call if I needed him and he’d be there.  Just call and he’d take care of everything. 

    “Don’t worry so much,” I smile.  “You’d best go change before Emma comes looking for you.”

    He rolls his eyes, but moves quickly to his own door.  Emma rules our house with an iron fist and you do not mess with her.  Even Dad stays out of her way.  Jason knows better than to make her come looking for him.  I give him one more quick smile of reassurance and then go into my own room and collapse into my favorite, over stuffed cushy chair, exhausted.

    I’m not fine, though, not really.  I’d started to get a little shaky on the ride home.  I felt drained.  The stares, the whispers, they’d all come back to me as I drove.  That old familiar sense of the walls closing in surfaced and I’d nearly choked from the panic it caused.  It had taken everything I’d learned in the last five years to find the courage to sit through those classes and keep my emotions under control.  I’d lost control in the car.  There was no way Emma and Dad could see me like that, so I’d sat in the car when I got home until I could breathe normally.

    Janna hadn’t been too far off in her claims of a mental institute, I thought bitterly.   Compton Academy was a private school that catered to kids with “instability challenges” as they liked to put it.  The politically correct way of saying we were all nuts in some fashion or other.    I’d ended up there after my breakdown in middle school.

    And I blamed it all on Janna Davis.

In fourth grade, she’d moved to town.  From the very first moment I’d met her, I’d seen the mean, malicious look in her eyes.  The fact that I wouldn’t talk to her made me her prime target.  The other kids had pretty much left me alone before Janna.  Under her persuasion, they’d set out to make my life torture.  I’d become the brunt of jokes, was constantly made fun of, and they’d even made up songs to sing about me.  All at Janna’s urging.

    I’d been miserable.


    It wasn’t just school though.  School only added to what was already seriously wrong.  I’d started having nightmares when I was little, right after The Event, really awful, terrifying ones.  I could never remember anything but flashes from my dreams, but they’d been enough to scare me silly. 

As I’d gotten older, the nightmares worsened.  The doctors had diagnosed me with having Night Terrors, not uncommon in a child who’d gone through what I had, they’d assured Emma and Dad.  Their solution was to send me to a child psychologist.  It hadn’t helped, but I’d dutifully gone every week. 

By the time I hit middle school, I barely slept.  I’d started to panic all the time and I couldn’t understand why.  Between the constant panic and the nightmares, I’d developed insomnia.  When I did manage to nod off, I’d wake up screaming.  Emma and Dad had been at a loss as to how to help me and even Dr. Sayer, my psychiatrist, started to worry about my condition.  Nothing seemed to help.

I still vaguely remember the day I’d cracked.  Not the events, at least not clearly, but I can recall the emotions:  the fear, the pain, the panic, and the rage.

I’d been running to my locker for some reason or other, but I’d stopped short on seeing Janna and her cronies waiting there.  Janna’s had been turned away from me, but she was motioning people over and showing them something.  People had been laughing.  One of her friends had seen me standing behind them and alerted her.  She’d turned, that hateful smile on her face I’d come to dread.

“Alley Cat, did you lose something?”


She was holding up my school planner and instantly the panic I’d barely kept at bay surfaced.  She knew.  She knew about my shrink.  Not only did she know, but she was showing anyone who’d stop and look.  I’d kept the appointments scribbled in my planner so I wouldn’t forget.  Everyone had been staring and laughing at me.  Before the end of the day, I’d known it would be all over school.  The panic had hit hard, forcing the air from my lungs.

Janna had leaned close to me and whispered something in my ear.  To this day, I still can’t remember what she said.  The doctors said I’d blocked it.  Whatever it was though, had caused me to snap.  Fear and panic were replaced by a blind rage unlike anything I’ve ever known.  I’d almost reached out and grabbed her.  The urge to hurt her had burned like a desperate need.  Images from my nightmares had crashed into me like an ocean wave hitting the rocks at high tide.  Flashes of sharp, snarling teeth had overwhelmed me.  All I’d felt was the need to hurt her, to do something really terrible to her.  It had scared me so badly, I’d flung myself away from her and ran out of the school, unaware I was crying.

Jason had found me a few hours later in the park below our house.  He’d gotten me home, but I’d been hysterical with fear at what I’d almost done.  The images from my nightmares wouldn’t go away.  They were all I’d been able to see at that point and were so real to me that everyone and everything else had been a vague dream.  Emma had taken me to the hospital where they’d sedated me to calm me down.  When I woke up a few days later, it was all I could do to just breathe.  I’d been in a constant state of panic.  I couldn’t get past the thought that I’d almost hurt someone.



Compton Academy had been Dr. Sayer’s solution.  It was essentially a high class mental institute masquerading as a school.  I hadn’t put up a fuss about going.  Even I’d known something was wrong with me and I needed help.  I’d spent the next five years learning ways to calm my panic and act normal.  I’d learned a lot at Compton, yes, but I would not go back there.  It had been like a prison, my every move watched and analyzed.  In order for them to let me out, I’d needed to prove to them I was getting better.  I forced myself to learn to stay calm.   It worked and they’d told Dad I could come home.

I’m home now and I will never go back there, no matter what I have to do.













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Jehmka wrote 702 days ago

Awakening was a shocking surprise for me. How is it that a book, this well-written, can be so poorly neglected by authonomy readers? I have just finished sampling two other books, ranked among the top 100, which I could not in all good conscience back.

OK… Now that I got the rant out of my way…

Awaking is compelling.
The writing is clean and crisp, with a contemporary feel. “I taste blood as I stare into hell.” There's a good balance between narrative and dialogue throughout, both of which are convincing. It’s easy to read, and kept me continuously engaged. I immediately liked Alex Reed. She brought to mind Susanna Kaysen, the MC in Girl Interrupted.

I can’t leave anything un-nitpicked though.
“Very weird.” I have a tendency to do this in my writing too – adding these little bits of telling. “Very bizarre.” I would delete these and see how it reads, see if you lose anything. I don't think they're needed.

““Long story.” I shift in my seat. It isn’t something I want to go into. I don’t know Saidie well enough to spill my secrets. It’s a miracle…” It feels to me like you're saying too much here, spoon-feeding the reader – telling.

That’s it! That’s all I could find to complain about.

I give Awakening the full six stars. I’ll certainly recommend it to others too.

Philthy wrote 719 days ago

Hi Apryl,
I’m here for our read swap. So sorry it’s taken me this long to get here. Below are my findings/comments. They are of course my humblest opinions so take them for whatever they’re worth and feel free to disregard what you don’t agree with.
Chapter One
Great opening-line hook.
“Just calm down.” If you mutter it, I think it ought to be in quotes.
Not sure “looms” is the best word there. It makes it sound like it appears out of thin air.
“behind those doors almost as bad as the storm…” I’d add “is” after “almost” to avoid fragmenting.
“overheard” should be “overhead”
Your language is very strong and you have a great sense of building tension. I think at times you get excessively wordy, however. Sometimes it seems like you’re trying to add to the drama, but in reality, the extra wordiness has the opposite effect. It also steers you sometimes more toward telling as opposed to showing. For instance, “But that person is gone, I remind myself forcefully.” How does the MC remind him/herself forcefully? That’s kind of vague. Instead, show us an action or expression so we can see the MC reminding himself in a forceful manner.
Otherwise, this is a great start. You have a great YA voice and strong dialogue, which makes for solid characterization. A likeable MC, too. I can see this doing well here.
Best of luck!
(Deshay of the Woods)

Edwin P. Magezi wrote 741 days ago

This is intriguing. It has a strong narrative voice in Alex. I loved the way you described your characters, very vivid and almost personal.
The prose is clean as far as my untrained eyes can see and I barely found any errors to nitpick.

Chapter 1
-> She just looks way to perky -- (too)

You should start campaigning for your book to get it noticed. I'm sure it will pick up backings from the YA writers and more.

Highly rated and will keep it on my w/l till I have space to shelve it.

Edwin - The First Oath.

Oriax wrote 770 days ago

This isn’t my usual kind of read, but I’ve enjoyed the story so far. You have a very fluid style and a great sense of detail. I’m not sure about the opening, I’d be tempted to go straight into chapter one. The prologue just tells us vaguely what we are going to find out in the first chapter anyway. I’d change the word eulogy to epitaph, since she isn’t really giving herself praise.
I like the way you have the storm mirror Alex’s mood. Your descriptions of the new people Alex meets are extremely well done. I have very definite pictures of all of them.
The pace of the story is good too, keeping the background until chapter three so it doesn’t hinder the action. You hint at The Event and Alex’s breakdown, without giving away the details. You then make the transition to a dreamlike sequence with Alex as a big predator, which is clever in that we assume this is something to do with her problems of rage control. Maybe also the mysterious event.
The only thing that didn’t work particularly well for me was all the exchanges with the three boys. There’s a bit too much staring going on and shivers up and down the spine for me. Add the unique eye colours, blue-black hair and you’re heading a bit too close to cliché.

You write very well, the story is appealing and well-paced, with a strong hint of mystery and fantasy. There’s a strong budding romance too, and the threat of the bully from the past bringing Alex’s nightmares back to the surface again.
Well done. I’ve given this five stars and think it will do extremely well with its target audience.

Shelby Z. wrote 782 days ago

I read to 25 and boy has it gotten crazy.
I not normally do I care fore these types of stories, but there is something about it I like.
Good work.

Shelby Z./Driving Winds

Shelby Z. wrote 784 days ago

Read to chapter 9.
You have a great style to develop your story and characters.
I want to read some more later.
Good luck.

Shelby Z./Driving Winds

katjay wrote 784 days ago

Hi Apryl
Sorry to be late getting back to you – I’ve busy editing. Have just read the first few chapters of Awakening and I’m impressed. You have an easy, natural writing style. Some fine, descriptive passages and the dialogue is natural and totally suited to the setting and your target market. Alex is an engaging MC and it’s great to see her overcome her doubts and fears. I loved it when she first stood up to Janna: ‘Then again, if I had been in a psycho ward all these years, making me angry might not be the brightest idea, either.’ Well done!
Kat x Hens from Hell

Marisa Elyse wrote 786 days ago

Reading your first few chapters, I did connect with your MC. Your writing is good and descriptive, haunting if I were to describe it. Seeing as how this is a YA Romance story, I expected the almost instant connection between the MC and the guy, so be careful of not making it too cliche.

Also, be careful of info dumps when it comes to explaining something. The tiny bit before the beginning of the first chapter was really good and set the tone of the story, but I think you can ax the whole 'I am MC, and this is my story', since we'll find out it's her story when the first chapter starts.

Besides those quirks, I do find the story you have interesting, and will look forward to reading more from you in the future.

Tower of Paradise

Marisa Elyse wrote 786 days ago

Reading your first few chapters, I did connect with your MC. Your writing is good and descriptive, haunting if I were to describe it. Seeing as how this is a YA Romance story, I expected the almost instant connection between the MC and the guy, so be careful of not making it too cliche.

Also, be careful of info dumps when it comes to explaining something. The tiny bit before the beginning of the first chapter was really good and set the tone of the story, but I think you can ax the whole 'I am MC, and this is my story', since we'll find out it's her story when the first chapter starts.

Besides those quirks, I do find the story you have interesting, and will look forward to reading more from you in the future.

Tower of Paradise

Shelby Z. wrote 788 days ago

I read just chapter one, but I fine it really interesting. The way you put it in first person is really creative. It makes the reader feel all your main character does.
It moves at an easy pace here, but that is good since it is to introduce things to to the reader.
You really did a good job here.
Great work!

Shelby Z./Driving Winds

Dianna Lanser wrote 795 days ago


I too read the first three chapters of your book. I am very impressed at your writing style and your abilty to bring your characters to life. Very easy and enjoyable reading. I especially was aware of the gift you have of describing people, especially their eyes - unique words and colors. Alex seems like a strong girl despite her difficult past, but she has a suportive family to help her through. I believe you have built the background story very nicely and to tell you the truth, I don't want to stop reading but I have to go my daughter's Valentine Party at school. Six stars and I'll be back to read more.

Dianna Lanser
Nothing But The Blood

FRAN MACILVEY wrote 810 days ago

Dear Apryl

I have read the first three chapters of "Awakening" which is a well observed tale, perfectly pitched for your YA audience. Your writing is very clear, vivid and easy to get along with. Many of the references pass me by, but that hardly matters: a great read.

All the best

Fran Macilvey, "Trapped"

Dilettante wrote 816 days ago

Well written, and an engaging main character. This is a good story. Well done, Backed and recommended.

Lenny H wrote 816 days ago

On my WL

Wavy3 wrote 817 days ago

Wow, your writing style is impressive. It's very haunting, and reflects the tone beautifully. The opening scene really drew me in, and then when the first chapter started it had the same feel of just jumping straight into the story. You hint at a background, but don't throw it in our faces, which makes me want to read on.

ozhm wrote 817 days ago

Fantasy and YA wouldn’t necessarily be my first choice, but this is compelling. The reality of everyday teen concerns balances the fantasy angle so well that I accepted the whole without a blink.

I like the short pitch, but I wonder if the long pitch is could be tightened somehow. You’ve given us what amounts to a précis, and I’m not sure whether hints might be better than spelling it out. Breaking it up into short paras would help too, I think.

Alex is a great MC. I’m drawn into her life immediately, her hopes and fears are completely believable and you’ve revealed her circumstances and back-story at very satisfying pace.

I’m also impressed with your writing and style. On a sentence level, (sorry, very nit-picky!) there are a few typos etc, but I’m sure you’ll sort them out on the next edit. The same applies to your use of tense. I like the idea of using past and present as you have, but you may need to check that you haven’t slipped from one to the other where you shouldn’t have.

Good luck with it. It deserves support.
Helen Meikle
Six Weeks in Summer.