I am thankful for all of you reading and supporting my blog! I hope you have a wonderful holiday filled with family and delicious food!
Today I am hosting a book tour with Rockstar Book Tours for Wildwood and Windswept by Jadie Jones. Scroll down for an excerpt from the first book along with more information about the series and an awesome GIVEAWAY!
The sweet scent of coconut pancakes draws me from the edge of sleep. I smile, knowing my mother is
standing in the kitchen downstairs mixing batter, no doubt wearing a few clumps of it in her coal black
hair. I toss my denim quilt aside, cool air whisking across my skin, and blink against the warm light of
dawn that filters through the old lace curtain panel covering my window and sets the worn wood floor
of my room aglow. The constant autumn rain must have finally offered a reprieve. My mother will be
happy to see it. She’s convinced a clear sunrise on a person’s birthday is a sign of good things to come.
As I pull on jeans and a shirt, Dad’s laughter rumbles up the stairs, and then the fire alarm chirps. Mom
has probably burned a pancake on the griddle.
In the kitchen, Dad is opening the window behind the sink, and Mom is perched on one foot in a
wooden chair with her back to me, stretching to fan the smoke away from the alarm.
“I swear this thing is too sensitive,” she mutters. There’s a streak of flour on her hip and a glob of batter
on the sleeve of her T-shirt. My mother can forecast rain better than any meteorologist. She can predict
the approach of a gust of wind a few minutes before it roars across the Shenandoah Valley, but she can’t
cook to save her life.
There are three plates on the table. Two of them are still empty. Mine has a short stack of blobby
pancakes and a streak of runaway butter. A couple charred pancakes are tossed on the counter, and one
more is on the floor at the foot of the trash can.
My dad grins at her over his shoulder and catches sight of me standing in the door.
“Happy birthday, Tanzy!” he says. “It’s the big eighteen. You know, Hope, Tanzy’s an adult now. You
should make her do the cooking,” he teases, and snaps a washcloth in my direction. His smile is all teeth,
and his amber eyes glitter. It’s the one physical trait we share. Otherwise, I don’t look much like either of
“I’ve made her coconut pancakes for her birthday every birthday since she was six. She may not be
home for her birthday next year.” Mom’s chin quivers. She presses her lips together.
“I’ll come home for my birthday, Mom.” I slide into my seat and shovel in a bite. It isn’t cooked all the
way through, but it’s warm, and sweet enough to chew and swallow without making too much of a face.
“Thank you, Tanzy,” she says, casting a mock glare at my dad. He winks at me before disappearing
through the door that leads to the back porch. He reappears less than a minute later with two mason
jars full of wild flowers.
“For my girls,” he says, and places one on the window sill and the other in the middle of the kitchen
table. “Birthdays are big days for moms, too.”
“Travis, when did you pick these? Did you leave any flowers in the garden?” Mom arranges the blossoms
with her nimble fingers, and then leans into them, breathing deep.
“Why do you think I got up early this morning? It’s freezing out there,” he says, watching her.
“Weatherman said the temp is going to drop overnight and the whole valley will be covered in frost
tomorrow morning. They’ll all be dead in twenty-four hours anyway.”
“Weatherman is wrong,” she replies, one corner of her mouth curling up.
Dad snorts. “We’ll see.” He rolls his eyes, but I know he believes her. “Eat up, Tanzy. We have a lot to do
“Tanzy has school today,” Mom replies.
“You cook her coconut pancakes, and then she comes with me to the farm. You have your tradition, we
have ours.” He winks at me. “Besides, she’s a senior. Isn’t the rest of this school year just for show? And
who says she’s going to college? What if she decides to ride professionally?”
“Travis Hightower,” Mom scolds. “We’ll argue about this tomorrow. As for today, stick to tradition.” She
wipes her hands on the front of her pants. “But make sure you pick up any homework assignments while
you’re out. And please get home before dark. I made a dinner reservation for six p.m.”
Dad makes a face. “Isn’t that a little early?”
“I’m pretty sure that’s when normal people eat dinner,” I say, and then choke down a sticky clump of
“We are as normal as normal gets,” Dad replies. “We’ll do our best, honey. Let’s get a move on, Tee. I’ll
take my breakfast to go.” Dad kisses mom on the cheek, scoops a fresh stack of pancakes onto a paper
towel with one hand and picks up his metal coffee mug with the other, and then heads through the back
door toward the truck.
“Have fun,” Mom concedes, “and please be careful.” She glances out the window at the streaked sky
and gnaws on her bottom lip. Her fingernails tap a quick rhythm on the countertop. I take my plate to
the kitchen sink and follow her gaze to the glowing dawn. I wonder what she sees in it, and why she
seems to hunt it for answers every morning.
“We’ll be fine, Mom,” I offer.
“Thanks for breakfast,” I say. “I really will come back every year, no matter where I go after graduation.
Nobody does coconut pancakes like you do.”
“Thank you, sweetheart.” She looks at me, blinking rapidly. “Now go, the day’s wasting,” she says, and
then turns back to the sun. I steal one more glimpse of her, and follow Dad to the truck.
We ride in silence for the first few minutes. Dad rolls up the pancakes with one hand so he can eat them
like a burrito while he drives. Once he finishes, he wipes his mouth with the paper towel and then tucks
it into the pocket of his flannel shirt.
“I don’t know why you like those,” he says, and sucks at his teeth.
“I haven’t liked them since I was about ten,” I admit.
Dad lets out a honk of a laugh. “You’re a good girl, Tanzy,” he says. He turns up the volume on his
favorite radio station to listen to the morning show. The voices fade in and out for the first few minutes
as we make our way to the main road. The radio host’s voice becomes audible, announcing the
beginning of the routine Science Fact or Fiction Friday segment.
“With us today is Dr. Andrews, who has a rather extraordinary theory about light and lightning, and
some compelling studies to back up her claims. Dr. Andrews, thank you for joining us.”
“Thank you for having me,” she answers.
“So Dr. Andrews, give us your science fact.”
“Did you know that the human eye sees less than one percent of the color spectrum, and our ears hear
less than one percent of the sound spectrum?”
“No, I did not.”
“What do you think is in all that clear, all that quiet?”
Dad glances at the radio dial as if checking the station.
“I don’t know. I haven’t thought about it,” the host answers.
“What if I was to tell you that there’s an entirely separate world in the clear, undetectable by human
“A world?” the host repeats. I shift in my seat.
“Yes, a world,” the woman continues. “A world happening around us all the time. It has been operating
alongside ours like two plays on one stage.”
“Do you have proof of this world?”
“None that you’d believe,” she replies. A chill of interest conjures goose bumps from my elbows to my
wrist. I pull the sleeves on my jacket down to cover my knuckles.
“Well it’s pretty safe to invent something that you claim you can’t prove.”
“There’s nothing safe about it,” she answers.
“I’m not sure what this has to do with light or lightning.” The host’s voice raises an octave, and his
question sounds more like an accusation. I lean toward the dash.
“Lightning and other weather events aren’t random. They’re tools of—”
“Okay, that’s all the nonsense I can take for one morning,” Dad interjects, his voice filling the cab, and
turns the knob on the radio until a country song comes in clear enough to recognize. “Ruined my
morning show and my drive,” he grumbles. “Let’s hope your mom didn’t hear that woman spreading her
paranoid crap. She’ll stuff our house with furniture from floor to ceiling just to take up all the empty
space. A world in the clear.” He huffs. “What’s wrong with these radio shows and news reports
anymore? All they do is try to stir people up. They’ll give any nut a microphone and air time so long as
it’ll get a reaction out of somebody.”
My gaze drifts out of my window, and to the clear air whistling by the car as we wind down a tree lined
road, soaring skyward until it fades to black thousands of miles above us. Maybe it’s just the sound of
the tires grinding against the asphalt vibrating through the bottom of the old Ford truck, or the whine of
air curling around the hood, but the silence seems fuller than it did a moment ago.
“You are your mother’s daughter,” Dad says softly. “Don’t give wild hares prime real estate in your head.
Your mom thinks her fears keep her safe, that they prepare her. All fear does is build walls, Tanzy—walls
she can’t break because she’s convinced herself they’re useful.”
“I can cook. And I would rather be outside than inside,” I say, listing off the first two differences I can
think of between my mother and me. I can’t imagine islanding myself at home the way she does. We
only have one vehicle because she doesn’t like to drive and won’t go anywhere alone. In the last year,
the walls of my room, of every room in our house, have felt a little closer in than they did before, the
ceilings lower, too. Still, my heart sinks. I have felt the rabbit of nervousness race through me with
nothing prompting the chase. What if, one day, I need walls the way she does?
“Before you came along, your mom couldn’t stand to spend a whole day inside. Hell, even a single lazy
morning would make her agitated, and she’d need to go for a ride. Then she had that bad fall, and she
didn’t want to have another one. Taking a risk has a higher price tag attached to it when you have
someone depending on you. And it’s not just that. Being a parent changes things—changes everything.
You see the world through the eyes of someone whose sole purpose becomes keeping a tiny, helpless
baby safe. This world we’re in has more sharp edges and teeth than you realize.”
“Now who’s paranoid?” I smile at him.
“You’ll see one day, if you decide to have a kid of your own,” he says, his gaze following the nose of the
truck as he makes a turn.
“That’s a big if,” I say.
“It’s also a long ways off. It better be, anyway.” He winks.
“Dad, seriously.” I fold my arms across my front. “But is Mom . . . is she okay? I know me leaving next
year is hard on her. But she wants me to go, doesn’t she?”
“Of course she does. She’ll feel better once you know what you want to do and where you’re going. It’s
the unknown that bothers her most. But you don’t need to worry about her. She’s stronger than you
could ever imagine. I think when you have to raise yourself like she did, well, it shapes your
“What really happened to her parents? I know you guys have said no one knows, but I always thought
maybe it was some secret you were keeping until I was an adult or something. I am eighteen now.” I
raise an eyebrow, and try to keep my tone light.
“It’s just something your mom isn’t willing to talk about. It took me a long time to accept it, and it’s
natural for you to be curious. That’s a piece of your family and your history, too. But whatever it is, your
mom keeps it from us for her own reasons, and I have learned to respect that.”
“I know.” I bite at the inside of my cheek, my mind still digging at the dark place in my mother’s past. I’m
not as curious about who the people were in her life as I am interested in who she was during it.
I stare at the eastern horizon. Dad has watched the sunrise through the windshield of his truck on this
drive to Wildwood Horse Farm six days a week for as long as I can remember. Nested against the west
side of Virginia’s Shenandoah Valley, the sunrises are long and spectacular. Mostly, so are the days. The
sun comes up. The horses eat. Some of them are worked through training exercises, some are shown to
potential buyers, and the rest are turned loose to run in the pasture. Stalls are cleaned. Water buckets
are filled. Aisles are swept. Students are taught. The horses eat again. The sun goes down. He drives
home. Aside from the sun, Dad controls everything at Wildwood. He is the head trainer there, and the
biggest gear in the proverbial clock, making the other parts turn.
Next year will be different. Where will I be? Mornings will either find me in a saddle, working to climb
the rungs of the international show jumping circuit, or sitting in a desk with a college text book propped
open in front of me. Either way, it won’t be here in this truck. It’s hard to imagine my world changing so
unequivocally while theirs remains the same, save my absence.
We pull into the parking lot at Wildwood Farm. We are the first car here. Dad could turn over the first
daily chores to the staff, but he likes to be the one to start each day, to see how each horse has come
through the night, and wants to be the one to discover anything out of the ordinary, not be told about it
Today, the morning runs like clockwork. I am allowed to come to the farm for my birthday, but I’m
certainly not allowed to throw off the farm’s routine. I wouldn’t want it to. The routine is a heartbeat, a
living thing, breathing life into the cracked concrete aisles and faded barn walls. A horse farm isn’t wood
and sand and grass and steel. It’s the movement that happens around and in and on the wood and sand
and grass and steel.
After a quick lunch, we unload a tractor trailer’s worth of alfalfa into the hay shed. My dad throws a bale
of hay like most people toss laundry into a hamper—easy and mindless. I grit my teeth to keep from
grunting with the effort it takes to try to keep up with him. By the time we’re halfway through, sweat
beads along my scalp and trickles into my ears. The radio show from this morning resurfaces in my mind.
Dad’s right, that woman was a loon. She’s probably never worked a day on a farm, never felt the ache of
real labor, the release of exhaustion. If she’d just look around at her own world, maybe she wouldn’t
need to invent something invisible, and impossible to prove or disprove.
My thoughts drift to my mother. I don’t know how different I would be if I grew up without parents or
any family to speak of. Who would she be if she’d had the security of walls and home-cooked meals, no
matter how badly they were burned? I wish she’d tell me about her life growing up, and I wish she
would want to be here with us on days like this. Maybe a hard day of farm work is exactly what she
needs to remember that life doesn’t always have a twist lurking around every corner.
Dad waves at the driver as the empty rig pulls up the driveway.
“Do you want to take Teague and Harbor for a ride in the woods, Tanzy?” he asks. “It’s the first pretty
day we’ve had in a while. It’s not going to last, though. The radar looks busy again in about an hour.”
I pause, studying his face for any sign he’s kidding. I still have stalls to clean, and he has three client
horses on the schedule for training sessions. Dana McDaniel, his assistant manager, has the day off. Not
to mention my mother expects us home at a decent hour. There’s no time for a leisure ride on our own
“Your mom was right. This might be your last birthday at home for a while, depending on where you are
next year. We should make the most of it,” he continues.
“Okay,” I answer slowly, waiting for him to change his mind or list off what we need to take care of
before we tack our horses. Instead, he retrieves his helmet from his office and heads to his horse’s stall.
I hustle to Harbor’s stall, buckle her halter, and jog down the aisle to where Dad has tied Teague for
“We haven’t done this in too long, Tanzy,” he says on an exhale as we finish fitting the bridles to our
horses. “Life is short. Too short. Sometimes you have to slow down and take in the view. I don’t care
what that whack job said on the radio this morning. A big clear sky is one of my favorite things on earth,
and I think we should go enjoy a little piece of it. Let’s ride up the ridge. I bet the river is up high with all
this rain we’ve had.”
“Are you sure we have time? Mom did say to stick to tradition. Leaving work behind . . .” I trail off and
glance back at his office door, imagining the to-do list printed on the whiteboard. It’s only half-done.
“Well, it’s not tradition,” I finish. My middle stirs and twists. Is this just one of the wild hares dad was
talking about before? Is this how it all starts, and then one day I’m staring out my window at the sun,
reading its color and clarity for omens of the day to come? My entire life is going to change in a matter
of months. Change is a good thing.
“Maybe it’s time we start a new tradition. A birthday trail ride sounds like a good one. Are you coming?”
I steel myself with a quick breath in. Harbor peers at me, black eyes round and soft. “Yep, here we
come,” I say, and lead her down the hall.
About The Books:
Title: WILDWOOD (The Hightower Trilogy Book #1)
Author: Jadie Jones
Pub. Date: September 26, 2017
Publisher: The Parliament House
Formats: Hardcover, Paperback, eBook
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, iBooks, TBD
Tanzy Hightower is not crazy. At least, that’s what she tells herself. Crazy looks more like her mother, who studies each sunrise with the same fascination other women give tabloid magazines in the grocery store checkout line. Crazy sounds like the woman on the radio claiming there’s a whole separate world existing parallel to our own. Still, Tanzy can’t deny the tingle of recognition she feels each time she sees her mother standing at the kitchen window, or hears the panic in the woman’s voice coming through the speakers of her father’s truck.
Tanzy intends to follow her father’s footsteps into the professional horse world. But the moment she watches him die on the back of a horse in an accident she feels responsible for, everything changes.
On the first anniversary of his death, a fight with her mother drives her back to her father’s farm in the middle of a stormy night. Neither Tanzy nor life as she knows it escapes unchanged when she is struck by lightning and introduced to a world… unseen, and receives proof her father’s death was no accident.
Two strangers seem too willing to help her navigate her new reality: Vanessa Andrews, a psychiatrist who believes lightning chooses who it strikes, and Lucas, a quiet, scarred stable hand with timing that borders on either perfect or suspect. But Tanzy has secrets of her own. Desperate for answers and revenge, Tanzy must put her faith in their hands as her past comes calling, and her father’s killer closes in.
Title: WINDSWEPT (The Hightower Trilogy Book #2)
Author: Jadie Jones
Pub. Date: November 13, 2018
Publisher: The Parliament House
Formats: Paperback, eBook
Find it: Goodreads, Amazon, B&N, iBooks, TBD
Tanzy’s journey continues in Windswept, the second installment of the Hightower Trilogy… An Unseen World believes Tanzy Hightower is the key in an ancient prophecy meant to deliver the only new birth in all of time. They have waited a thousand years for her soul to return to life in human form. Some of them will stop at nothing to fulfill the prophecy, and others have sworn an oath to end Tanzy’s existence, permanently. Tanzy’s body is compromised. Her veins are now home to the blood of a savage, wild horse, and its instincts are becoming impossible to control. Her world is also divided. She is determined to rescue Lucas, an Unseen creature who has loved her since her first life, and to find her treasured Harbor and the other stolen horses, which are bound for a catastrophic end in a world she can’t access on her own. Yet the only allies she has left insist she seeks refuge in a remote safe house on the Outer Banks. While her fellow candidates beg her to stay in hiding, new enemies work to draw her out, making it clear Lucas and the horses are hers for the taking. But Tanzy knows all to well that when your loved ones are used as bait, finding them is only the beginning.
Young-adult author. Equine professional. Southern gal. Pacific Northwest Transplant. Especially fond of family, sunlight, and cookie dough.
I wrote my first book in seventh grade, filling one hundred and four pages of a black and white Mead notebook. Back then I lived for two things: horses and R.L. Stine books. Fast forward nearly twenty years, and I still work with horses, and hoard books like most women my age collect shoes. It’s amazing how much changes… and how much stays the same.
The dream of publishing a novel has hitch-hiked with me down every other path I’ve taken (and there have been many.) Waitress, farm manager, road manager, bank teller, speech writer, retail, and more. But that need to bring pen to paper refused to quiet. Finally, in 2009, I sat down, pulled out a brand new notebook, and once again let the pictures in my head become words on paper.
As a child, my grandfather would sit me in his lap and weave tales about the Cherokee nation, and a girl who belonged with horses. His words painted a whole new world, and my mind would take flight. My hope – my dream – is that Tanzy’s journey does the same for you.
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