TITLE: PLAYING HOOKY
AUTHOR: Rita Webb
GENRE: Young Adult/Action Adventure
PUBLISHER: Robot Playground
RELEASE DATE: January 21, 2013
And my 21st birthday.
Just another college day full of classes and more homework than is humanly possible.
…until Jason, my best-friend-since-kindergarten, shows up to take me out for the day.
Like old times: the two of us on a wacky adventure, playing hooky from real life. With his lopsided grin and tickets to a circus full of misfits and monsters, he introduces me to a whole new world—one full of magic and mystery—and turns my reality upside down.
Except nothing goes as planned, and we end up running through the city to find a missing siren before someone brews a love potion with her blood.
Sirens and love potions, witches and elves, and Valentine kisses. Nothing will be the same for me again.
Leaving the house to go to school, I had schoolbooks spilling out of one hand, the other holding my place in a Nancy Drew novel, and bunny slippers still on my feet. My mom was a wee bit upset.
I haven't changed much. Still always have a book (or two) in my hand or creating stories in my head, and although I don't have any bunny slippers, I love writing in my jammies and snuggly slipper socks.
When I grow up (maybe a hundred years from now), I'd like to be a superhero, but for now, saving the day, one page at a time, suits me just fine.
With my husband TJ (my own cuddly werewolf), I home-school our three girls, who keep us busy with art, science projects, books to read, dance classes, and walks about the park.
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I’m left alone in the apartment’s tiny entryway with Jason.
“Emma,” he says, stepping closer, his head leaning down toward me. He is way too close, and I remember I’m not dressed.
Tall with wide shoulders, Jason is muscular from hard labor (construction and welding) and athletic adventures (kayaking and mountain biking). The perpetual scruff movie stars work hard to perfect shadows his jaw, and his tousled black hair kept short. He cuts it every week because it grows too fast, like at least a half inch a day. With the hazel green eyes and the confident grin he usually wears, he’d make any girl swoon.
Well, any girl but me. I’d more likely hit him upside the head with a broom than swoon over him.
“Coffee’s in the kitchen. I need to get dressed and showered; then we can go for pastries at the bakery around the corner.” Just off campus, there’s a scrumptious little shop, but I never have time in the mornings. I turn back to my room but then stop. “Oh, how do I need to dress for the day?”
“Sure.” He runs his hands through his hair, but his eyes are too busy following my ass to pay attention to anything I said.
“Jason.” I snap my fingers. “Up here. What do I need to wear?”
His gaze shifts to my face, and he grins, not even having the decency to flush. “Dress warm.”
Good. So we’re going to have an adventure.
My Interview with Emma from Playing Hooky
Hi Emma, it is so nice to meet you. Please, for the record, can you tell us your full name?
Emma Star Williams. A ridiculous middle name, I know. My mom loves all that crazy New Age stuff. She hangs crystals in her garden to protect us from evil spirits, and she used to tell me how we are all stars in human form. *rolls eyes*
What’s it like having your birthday fall on Valentine’s Day?
Sugary. Birthday cake and Valentine’s candy and heart-shaped sugar cookies.
Have you ever been in love?
I thought I had, but when they walked out of my life, I didn’t really miss them. Maybe I was in love with the idea of being in love.
What is your favorite thing to do?
Mountain-biking! On Kodiak Island where I grew up, there’s a path Jason and I like to take with some awesome drop-offs and jumps. The crazier, the better. When the path is covered in snow, it’s a bit more dangerous, but that never stopped us.
What is your least favorite thing to do?
Sewing. I hate sitting still that long, and messing up generally means starting over. Ugh.
Do you have any fears? If so, have you told anyone?
I’m afraid of my life fading into the mundane—paying bills, raising children, rushing from job to soccer practice, tumbling into bed at the end of the day without ever living.
I confess that I don’t really know what to do with my life. Mom wants me to be an artist like her, and Dad wants me to be a cop like him or go into the military. I’ve settled on studying to be a gymnastics coach, but that’s not really what I want.
I want adventure and . . . and something I have no name for. Maybe a yearning to explore and discover new things. And I’m afraid I’ll never get my chance.
Now that you know Jason better, is there anything that you would change about the past if you could?
Maybe I should have kissed him when I was twelve when I had wanted to, rather than wasting my time with other boys in high school. But then again, maybe the timing wasn’t right. Maybe things turned out the way they were supposed to.
Is there anything about your birthday excursion with Jason that you would like a do over?
Mmmm, I’d like to do that kiss again, only without him being under the influence of a love potion. Don’t you dare tell him that though!
What is your favorite hair color?
I used to hate my blonde, curly hair (especially since I looked just like my sister Angelina). I wished it was black and straight—long, thick shiny tresses like some jungle princess—but now that my hair is pink, I’d love to have my blonde curls back.
Just for fun.
What is your favorite dessert?
What is your favorite color?
I love indigo, and I’m most likely to wear shades of blues and purples. Nothing in my wardrobe matches.
What is your favorite song?
I Feel Like a Monster by Skillet. Funny how my best friend turns out to not be human.
Wake Me Up by Evanescence is a close second. Give me hard rock and symphonic metal and I’ll melt in happiness.
Chocolate or Vanilla?
Both! Seriously, what could be better than . . .
Chocolate brownies with vanilla ice cream
Vanilla cake with chocolate frosting
Chocolate and Vanilla pudding swirl
Chocolate candies with a creamy vanilla center
Though every single one of these concoctions needs some caramel added to it.
Beach or Lake?
I’m not one for lolling around on a beach because I hate sitting still for too long. So for me, the water means kayaking or swimming. Here on Kodiak Island, we have some wonderful inland bays for peaceful kayaking, but I prefer the more challenging surf on the outer coast.
Danger should have been my middle name rather than Star.
Favorite food?Tacos! With generous amounts of hot sauce
Emma, thanks so much for allowing us to get to know you better.
I got so caught up in this novella I almost forgot about fixing dinner, in fact, it didn’t get started until 7 pm last night. I did not want to stop reading this book. There is so much action packed into this story it could easily have been a full length novel without any problem.
It’s Emma’s 21st birthday and her lifelong friend since kindergarten, Jason, shows up to show her a good time. He takes her to a circus and introduces her to all his strange friends, friends she never knew he had. They are soon swept into a fantasy world Emma had no idea existed and then they become involved in a quest to locate a Siren who has gone missing. The Siren has been taken because of her capability to brew up a love potion.
I must admit, I was drawn to the book because of the cover and the name, Playing Hooky, which to me suggested a promise of fun. There was no disappointment there.
The two main characters, Emma and Jason, were so likable and I loved the idea that they each had secret feelings for one another—feelings that Emma felt would only ruin their friendship.
I’m giving this novella 5 shining stars because I became so swept up in the action. I do wish it had been longer though, because when I got to the ending I wanted more and I sincerely hope that Ms. Webb continues on with the possible love story of Emma and Jason in a sequel.