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Automatyczne logowanie. Or light it on fire. Whichever is easier. I stare at my reflection in the pond and run my hands through the bane of my existence. For a moment, I seem victorious, my chestnut curls wrangled into submission. But when I drop my arms, the curls spring out, worse for the wear. I point an unmanicured finger at the water.

Her brother is sick, and when a dozen doctors can't determine what's wrong, her parents decide to move to the middle of nowhere for the fresh air. She's lost her friends, her parents are driving her crazy, her brother is dying--and she's helpless to change anything. Until she What would you do to save someone you love?

Until she receives mysterious instructions on how to become a Contender in the Brimstone Bleed. It's an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean, and mountain that could win her the prize she desperately desires: But all the Contenders are after the Cure for people they love, and there's no guarantee that Tella or any of them will survive the race.

The jungle is terrifying, the clock is ticking, and Tella knows she can't trust the allies she makes. And one big question emerges: Why have so many fallen sick in the first place? Victoria Scott's breathtaking novel grabs readers by the throat and doesn't let go. Get A Copy. Paperback , pages. Published January 27th by Scholastic Inc. More Details Original Title. Tella Holloway.

Other Editions Friend Reviews. To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up. Does this book have sexual content? If so I don't know if I will read it. Elle This book does contain hints at sexual things. Pinching someones butt, licking someones face with a knife to their back, and having the quote, "He was …more This book does contain hints at sexual things.

Pinching someones butt, licking someones face with a knife to their back, and having the quote, "He was going to force himself on you. Even though this book contained these things, they were minor! This book may be one of the top books I have ever read so check it out anyway. Moya Young adult dystopian style. Lists with This Book. Community Reviews. Showing Rating details.

Sort order. The woman pauses dramatically. May the bravest Contender win. Well, isn't that just fucking special? The writing and the main character is absolutely juvenilewithout all the sexual scenes, this book would feel like it was written for a middle grade audience because The woman pauses dramatically.

The writing and the main character is absolutely juvenilewithout all the sexual scenes, this book would feel like it was written for a middle grade audience because of the utter immaturity and imbecility of its main character. Let's get the obvious over with: I wouldn't call this a clone, because for one thing At all.

Comparing this book to The Hunger Games would be a gross insult to the original books. You see, this book takes place in a contemporary setting. We start in Montana, the United States. Quickly, we are plunged into rainforests, jungles, deserts. Nothing makes any sense. The Summary: Her older brother, Cody, is sick. He is wasting away, and her family has decided to uproot themselves to Montana so he can get all the fresh air and stuff in an effort to cure him.

Like people with consumption in the 19th century move to the West so they can get away from all the bad humors in the city. There's just one problem: Tella is, like a typical year old, really not into the move. She wants Facebook. She wants technology. She will die without her phone. One night, she goes into her room A BOX!!!! All mine. Tella pushes it, this message plays: All Contenders must report within forty-eight hours to select their Pandora companions.

She doesn't know how the box got there. Her parents are trying to hide the box from her, to the extent of literally setting the box on fire. Tella digs it out of the flames anyway. The message continues. It promises her something great.

The winning prize will be the Cure — a remedy for any illness, for any single person. She doesn't know who fucking left the message, or how the person is going to cure her brother when modern science already says that there is no cure for her brother, but fuck, let's do it!

Let's just listen to the mysterious message from god-knows-who, let's just run off in the middle of the fucking night to god-knows-where, only to disappear from your parents for 3 fucking months nobody cares about missing children, anyway, right? Makes perfect sense to me. So good old Tella defies her parents, steals their carshe takes the crappy car, of course, being the amazing daughter she is: And after almost two hundred thousand miles, the car is an utter embarrassment to the auto community.

My parents will wake up to find their daughter gone. In any other book, you could almost guarantee that the heroine who does this shit would end up the victim of a serial killer. An empty museum, in the dead of night in the middle of nowhere. Fuck instincts, what are they good for, anyway? Pulling in a breath and preparing myself to be eaten alive, I head down. In the middle of a room are an assortment of eggs. Large eggs, small eggs. Shiny ones, iridescent ones. If I wandered into a room full of eggs, my first thought would be "Where's the fucking bacon?

I want to make an omelet!! This is the Pandora Selection Process. While Tella is standing there, wondering about the meaning of life, a million other contestants rush in and grab all the eggs fucking brilliant. Tella manages, by the skin of her teeth, to snatch the very last one.

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She is then introduced to our love interest 1: They go to a train station, where they are met by an Effie-Trinket school reject in garish, loud clothes, and handed a pill. Regret is the morning after. Tella wakes up. Pounding my fists against the boards, I scream. I swallowed the pill. How stupid could I have been? Oh yeah, and I also picked up a rotting egg along the way. This type of self-realization is important; in my native language, we have a phrase for it that roughly translates to "you are so fucking dumb that when you die and join us in the land of the dead, we will pretend that you don't exist because you are an embarrassment to our family line.

Tella wakes up in a motherfucking jungle. It is a race, and the first legs are through the jungle and the desert. It's not a race to the death, because there are 4 legs of the race along the way. The competitors can join forces, and it's damned good thing they do, because Tella is so fucking helpless she wouldn't survive without their help. Along the way, the eggs hatch. They hatch into a fox, an elephant, a raccoon, a bear, an eagle. Tella punches that eagle.

She just sucker punched the national bird of the United States. She slams into the ground and slides for several feet. It turns out this is a race. The Premise: Fucking ludicrous.

I don't know why the fuck this book is shelved under "dystopia," it is not. It is modern-day United States, and the premise of a Hunger Games race is simply idiotic. I don't know why the fuck all these people are there. I don't know why the fuck there are child contestantssome barely I don't know why the Big Bad Guys and there are always Big Bad Guys are doing this in the first place, when they supposedly have a cure for all kinds of illnesses.

The people who run this race are called Pharmies, as in Pharmaceuticals. I don't know if you guys know this, but pharmaceuticals and the drug industries are worth hundreds of billions of dollars. If these guys have the cure to every fucking thing, why are they just limiting this to a stupid pointless race when they could be making major bucks for their discovery?

It makes no fucking sense. Why the fuck are we in the desert? Where the fuck is this motherfucking jungle? Did anyone question this shit? Is it in Africa? It could only be Africa, considering the fact that the contestants get attacked by fucking gorillas. Some of these kids are well, KIDS. Oh, the eggs. They're fucking Digimon eggs, guys. Seriously, these people are given fucking eggs that hatch into creatures. Ok, not exactly like that, they're normal creatures, like eagles, raccoons These creatures are actually rather special, they have special abilities.

Like Digimons, they His head falls back and his spine ripples. Beneath him, his legs and arms stretch longer and wider, and his black coat begins to thicken. My Pandora grows massive muscles and new body parts — morphing.

They Digivolve. Tella is the most annoyingly grating heroine I've read in a long time. The narration is first-person, and it is simply intolerable. I close my hand around the lid and pull it off. Inside is a tiny pillow. I imagine all sorts of miniature animals using it in their miniature beds. Tella is so juvenile, so immature.

She has the dumbest trains of thoughts. Every time she goes into a long-winded narration, I wanted to punch her in the face. She talks to herself. Oh Jesus. Or thinking to myself as if there are two of me. Is that the same thing? Tella is a fucking moron, I've said it before, and I really mean it. She makes the dumbest fucking decisions.

While deciding what to pack for the competition, instead of, like That and my glittery purple nail polish. Tella is hurt, bleeding, she needs to get her ass on in the competition so that she doesn't fall behind the other contestants. What does she do first? Running my fingers through my hair, I think about how I should be racing toward Lincoln Station. But the compulsion to repair my face is too strong. I grab my makeup bag — the one I never leave home without — and fix what I can.

Tella is hopelessly out of shape. She's not ready for any sort of a competition. With curls trimmed close to my head and a roguish green-and-blue feather dangling over my right shoulder, I decide I just might seem like someone who would enter a daring race — and win.

That's not exactly how it works. During the competition, conditions are terrible. They're hungry, they lack water Tella lacks makeup. And a brush. And a mirror. The Plot: All action, no sense, no excitement. There is no competition, because this is a survival race as they go through each terrain.

I was never engrossed in the plot because there was largely no point to this book. The Other Characters: None of the characters in this book stand out. I can't remember any of them. The only character that stands out is the 8 and 10 year old kids because they are so completely young and out of place. The other characters have no personality, I cannot be fucked to remember who is Caroline, who is Harper, who is Ransom. The love interests are douchebags, both of them. One looks like a serial killer with a heart of gold, the other is a serial killer who looks like the boy next door.

One is slightly less loathsome than the other.

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They start off uneasily. I don't get it. I want to point you guys to Cory's review of this book, because she explains the perpetration of rape culture in this book much better than I can. This review has wasted enough of my time already. Needless to say, fuck this book. Quotes were taken from an uncorrected proof, subject to change in the final edition. View all 88 comments. There's something familiar about this story A group of people must compete against one another in a game of survival , an epic race across jungle, desert, ocean and mountain.

They face the danger of their fellow competitors, as well as the various threats of nature. There can be only one winner. Where have I heard this before? During this competition, some of the competitors choose to form teams in order to increase their chances of survival out in the wilderness. There's flirtations between There's something familiar about this story There's flirtations between the MC and the hot, mysterious dude.

And why is she doing all this again? To save her brother. Hang on a minute, I've definitely seen this before There's just very little need to read this if you've already read The Hunger Games.

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And if you haven't read The Hunger Games, then go read that instead. Or Battle Royale. But probably not this. I found Tella to be an uninspiring, bland main character whose narration cannot compete with either the bold, interesting Katniss or the charismatic narrator of the author's other books - Dante Walker. Ms Scott has a quirky style to her writing that can work very well at times but never really felt suited to Tella and her acute blandness.

The cast of secondary characters also increases as the book moves along but none of them are particularly interesting - not even mr sexy with his impressive muscles. Plus, I immediately started to dislike Tella after reading this: The last girl I see, I want to strangle. Like the woman, she has long hair. But instead of dark, it's blond - no, honey gold - and shines like that of a Broadway starlet.

I can't see her eyes from here, but I'm sure they're some kind of stunning shade of blue. She has cream-colored skin and a body that belongs in a magazine - the kind for guys, not girls. I hate her with everything I have as she laughs her perfect laugh and tosses her perfect hair and crosses her to-die-for legs We could be friends, I realize, if I weren't so overwhelmed with the urge to end her.

As for the positive, there was one thing I really liked. In this story, each of the competitors starts off with an egg that hatches into an animal that may or may not have special powers - these animals are called Pandoras and team up with their human companion to help them win.

And Tella's Pandora is a little black fox called Madox who is more than he first seems. He likes to trot around her feet and lie on his back waving his legs in the air I swear he is the only reason this book got two stars.

Let's finish with a picture of him: View all 31 comments. So excited to share this new series with you! It couldn't be more different than the Dante Walker books. I suppose I like to keep you guys guessing. View all 29 comments. Tella is a normal teenager who just moved out to Montana with her family. She is loved by her parents but unfortunately, her brother is ill and she wants to save him desperately. When the chance of a lifetime presents itself to save her brother, she immediately takes it and decides to participate to the Brimstone Breed competition.

Throughout that competition, she will meet some new friends and allies, make some enemies, fall in love and live a perilous adventure in the jungle and desert. Sounds not so bad, right?

I would have thought the same thing at your place but, the thing is, this book was boring. And repetitive. Before entering the competition, she has to choose an egg which contains a Pandora animal with superpowers. That element is quite interesting but, in fact, their superpowers are not amazing or breathtaking at all. And she sleeps not far from him. That is so careless. The story has potential but lacks of world-building, seriousness, depth, endearing characters, interesting challenges and purpose.

Why Brimstone Breed is created is barely explained. Maybe because that would mean a The The Hunger Games remake? Victoria Scott could have found a better one! I love animals, I do. I care about the animals presented in this book. But, there were so many! I simply got tired of them. It was actually pretty fine and the pacing mostly fast so that made the reading easier.

I would have appreciated if there were fewer sentences with purpose to make something look important and poignant. She laughs when it isn't the time to and it just feels like they aren't veritably in danger.

I didn't feel any stress or heart pounding during my reading, sadly, as I did in The Hunger Games. View all 52 comments. This is a mini-review that actually turned out not too mini in length, but it's got the same feel as one , because this book was painfully forgettable, and other reviews have already discussed its problems in great length. Guys, I hate to be that person, but this book is The Hunger Games.

But then also add Digimon. And yeah, that might sound awesome, but it's really, really not. And hands them a pin, you guys , so I won't, but I promise you, they're there.

It's actually really baffling how this went through the processes of publishing without anyone saying, "Hey, wait For starters, the main character is honestly one of the stupidest characters I've read about in my life. As the book starts, she gets a mysterious message saying that she has to compete in a race in order to find a cure for her brother's disease. Her parents then try to burn the chip with this message on it, but Tella discovers that the chip doesn't burn and she takes it.

Then she sets off into the night to follow the chips instructions, which basically tell her to go to a city miles and miles away and pick an egg from a library. I swear, that's exactly what happens.

The chip woman basically says, "So you're going to travel a few states to obtain an egg and race in a game of death," and Tella is basically, "lol okay. This is Tella. This is our main character. Like [someone she saw before], she has long hair. But instead of dark, it's blond -- no, honey gold -- and shines like that of a Broadway starlet. She has cream-colored skin and a body that belongs in a magazine -- the kind for guys, not girls. I hate her with everything I have as she laughs her perfect laugh and tosses her perfect hair and crosses her to-die-for legs.

That is also her. We're supposed to like her, mind you. Root for her to, you know, not die. Even though with everything we're given about her character, she should have tripped over a flat surface in the very beginning of the race and died. I hate him. The corner of his mouth quirks upward. Or love him. And that is the romance. The few things I liked about this were the Digimon aspect which, while obviously unoriginal, was a nice addition because Tella's Pandora was seriously adorable , and the writing, which was at times decent and funny.

But that's it. This book makes no sense. There is no world-building, at all. The race isn't even over by the end of the novel. It's like, if your three-year-old were a big Hunger Games fan, and she drew a picture of Katniss, but it really looked like a raccoon with a crossbow that actually really looked somewhat phallic. I'm really good at analogies. View all 5 comments. Does it bother you to think about being covered in bugs, bugs that eat your flesh and blood?

Then prepare yourself because this book is nightmare-inducing! I'm not sure what it says about me to know that this is part of why I enjoyed it so much.

I guess a book that can prompt such horrific images in my head to the point of making me shudder is up there with the awesome. Or maybe I should be on medication. That's up for debate. At first it had a lot of Does it bother you to think about being covered in bugs, bugs that eat your flesh and blood?

At first it had a lot of similarities with The Hunger Games, which for me is a complete turn-off, so it's with pleasure that I can say these parallels fade early on, leaving us with an original, creative, and exciting novel. Ultimately we've got a survivalist story with dashes of fantastical and Sci-Fi elements. There are a lot of extreme conditions that we see Tella fight through, while making us wonder how we would do in her place.

With cinematic details, each setting is brought to life from an endless yet claustrophobic jungle, to a dry, barren, and unbearably hot desert. It's all incredibly vivid. Which is both an applaud and a warning: I honestly felt those ants on me. For hours. Yes, it all comes back to the bugs. With a large cast like this it's hard to connect to each character on an emotional level. This is not a huge problem seeing as this book is very plot driven.

However it did leave a lot of room for me to analyze every single aspect of this story, to put what seemed like trivial details together, and eventually figuring out most of the many twists this book had up its sleeve. Still, some of them are clever, others creative, all leading to a very enjoyable read regardless of if you see them coming or not. The plot itself is full of secrets and conspiracies, giving us an interesting history behind this mysterious Brimstone Bleed - a race with a prize many would - and do - kill for.

It involves some science fiction explanations that, I'm thinking, might be a hit or miss for some, but it brings about some really cool accessories for lack of a better word and avoid spoiling to help the contenders in the race.

Actually one of my favorite parts was finding out what the Pandoras could do! For more of my reviews, visit my blog at Xpresso Reads View all 11 comments.

It means going into it with no expectations, either positive or negative and leaving myself open to the possibility of finding a wonderful book. This is the first book I have read by Ms. Scott so I had no idea what to expect and what a surprise I was in for. I found this book to be fabulously exciting with a main character that surprised me at every turn. Tella Holloway loved her life in Boston. Her idea of exercise was how far she would walk at the mall while shopping with her friends.

But, her brother Cody has become ill with a mysterious disease. Countless Doctors have not been able to help him. Tella misses her friends, internet, television, and all the comforts she has become so used to.

Cody is slipping, getting weaker and weaker. Mysteriously, one night, Tella discovers a small gift box on her bed. In it is an invitation to participate in a race called the Brimstone Bleed. What is this mysterious race? Who put the box on her bed? But Tella knows that whatever the answers to all her questions are, she has to go. She has to do whatever she can to try to save her brother. Thus starts an adventure that Tella never could have imagined.

The race is to take place in four sections, the jungle, desert, ocean and mountains. So Tella sets off with no idea what she is getting herself into. The first order of business is selecting a Pandora.

The Pandora is an egg that will eventually hatch into an animal that will help them throughout their journey. Each animal is different, and each animal will have unique powers.

But all the other animals obey their contenders. Does it even have any? No matter what, though, she loves her little fox and will do anything to protect it. The first part of the race is the jungle.

A place where it rains all the time and you can hear strange things scurrying about in the darkness. Here Tella eventually meets up with some fellow contenders and they form a small group, deciding they are stronger together than alone.

One person in particular is Guy. What is it about him that draws her to him? They form a tentative bond but this is a race. Only one person can win. Can she trust Guy, maybe even with her heart? The second part of the race is the desert. Their little group has been through so much already. But the desert presents a whole new set of challenges. Tella starts out as a typical teenager but during the course of the first two parts of this race she discovers so much about herself.

She is so strong. But she is also so compassionate.

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She is not going to let this race harden her. She always does what she thinks is the right thing. Watching her change throughout the course of this book was so wonderful. And I loved watching her relationship with Guy change and grow. As I said, this book takes us through the first two parts of the race so there are two left. As I was reading it, even if I had just a few minutes to grab a few pages throughout the day, I was immediately immersed back into this world. I could picture the deep greens of the jungle or the endless sand dunes of the desert.

And the little black fox stole my heart right from the start. View all 20 comments.

The True Story of Our National Calamity of Flood, Fire and Tornado by Marshall

Very good indeed! Not my normal read but I enjoyed it thoroughly. I thought the pace was fantastic and something needs to be said about the increasing amount of new literature, that uses the short, sporadic chapter lengths. Some of the chapters in this book were 4 pages! Ultimately I fell in love with the story, and I will admit, the characters. I have a gripe against romance i Very good indeed! I have a gripe against romance in novels and this one is no exception, but I caught myself tolerating it a bit more in this one.

It reminded me a bit of Philip Pullman's "his dark materials" trilogy with the usage of animal companions. So let's say an amalgamation of hunger games with his dark materials! Well done overall, very quick, very fast paced and very well written! View all 3 comments. Meine Rezension: Oh, wow. Get ready for an intense first installment to this new series, y'all.

I'm a little stunned by it all. And a lot impressed. I have an author crush on Tori Scott. For reals. Welcome to the Prada sale of a lifetime, people! Instead of fighting past the Black Friday crowd for shoes, the teenage Becky Bloomwood will take part in the Brimstone Bleed without makeup for a cure for her brother, Cody!

She will be helped along by a steadfast, raised on Man vs Wild Luke 2. Join our heroes as they trek across jungles and deserts a 3. Join our heroes as they trek across jungles and deserts and ultimately end up with no resolution! Just as well, the cure probably wouldn't have matched Tella's nails. I'm not the first person to point this out, but that doesn't mean I won't say it: A bunch of people have to compete under harsh conditions in order to save their loved ones and view spoiler [the reason the Brimstone Bleed is being held is because of something their ancestors did just like the Districts' uprising.

Ah, the hours I wasted convincing my mom to buy me a Digivice. I never got one. However, the protagonist is not a ruthless Katniss or a brave Tai, instead we get Tella, the American Becky Bloomwood.

Tella and I have a love-hate relationship because I definitely hated her in the beginning. Victoria Scott explained in her blog that the reason she wrote Tella the way she is—girly and fixated on looks—was to give feminine characters a chance to shine. That's all very nice and well, and I heartily approve of Victoria's decision. There's no reason why you can't kick some zombie butt and then go pick out your prom dress right afterwards. Tella goes way too far though.

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She has exactly one hour to get to the train station and she wastes time by slicking on lip gloss. I think about how I should be racing toward Lincoln Station. Seriously, girl, priorities. Thinning hair. Slurred speech that started one Wednesday and ended with a coma on Friday. He came around three days later. Mom said it was because he didn't want to miss a football game.

Not that he played anymore. That died a long time ago. Now he's down to this: Pretending to be the brother who swung a right hook in my honor. Pretending to be the son who danced a jig in the end zone that his dad taught him.

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He's still the guy who isn't afraid to write more than his name in a greeting card. Still the guy who loves redbrick buildings and cars that growl and Cheez Whiz sprayed straight from the can into his open mouth.

He is still my brother. He is not my brother at all. I don't know why Mom thought this place would help. A dozen doctors couldn't figure out what was wrong with him, yet she thinks Montana's "fresh air" will do the trick. The look in her eyes while we packed the moving truck still haunts me. Like she was waiting for something.

Or running from something. I pull myself up and walk to the window. Outside, I can hear yellow-headed blackbirds calling. I rarely noticed stuff like birds in Boston. In Boston, we lived in a brownstone that wasn't brown, and I had friends two doors down. Our family owned three floors of sparkling space, and we could walk to restaurants. Here there are rocks.

And a stream that runs near our home that's free of fish. The sky is empty of rooflines and overstuffed with cotton-ball clouds. There are no neighbors. No girls my age to discuss the joys of colored tights with. A single, lonely road leads from our house into town. When I look at it, I want to strap a bag to a stick and limp down it hobo style. Tall pine trees surround our house, like their job is to hide us from the world.

I imagine running toward them wearing a hockey mask, swinging a chain saw over my head. They'd probably uproot themselves and squash me like a bug. Bury me beneath their twisted roots. That's how I want to go when it's my time. With a bang. I slide the window open and stick my head outside. What I wouldn't do to see my friends again. To get a mani-pedi or a blowout. Or a Greek salad.

Oh my friggin' God, Feta cheese and kalamata olives. I wallow in self-pity for another moment before remembering my brother. Then I spend exactly three minutes feeling like the World's Biggest Ass. We're here for him. And I'd give anything to see my brother get out of bed and dance in the street like he did on Halloween two years ago.

Or even just sit up for a few minutes without coughing. I motorboat my lips and spin in a circle like a ballerina. I spin and spin until everything becomes a blur. When I stop, my room continues to rush past me, and I lunatic laugh that this is what I do for fun now. My vision finally returns to normal, and my eyes land on the bed. Sitting on my white comforter is a small blue box. I snap my head from side to side, searching for someone in my room.

But of course no one's there. Then I realize what's going on. Mom and Dad know how hard this relocation has been on me, and now they're trying to buy my happiness.

Or at least a break from my complaining. Am I really this easy? They could have tied little blue boxes to the back of the moving truck and I would have chased after them until my feet bled.

I fly across my room and leap onto the bed, a smile spread across my face. I've spent these last nine months with no Internet or cell phone, and right now I feel like a wild dog eyeing its prey. Holding the box to my lips, I tell it, "You're mine, precious. All mine. This moment of wondering what's inside will be over so quickly. And once it's finished, I'll have nothing to anticipate.

Perhaps I should postpone gratification, hold off until I can't stand it any longer. I could be happy for days just knowing I have something to look forward to. I pull the box away from my lips and give it a small shake.

Put the box down, Tella, I tell myself. I close my hand around the lid and pull it off. Inside is a tiny pillow. I imagine all sorts of miniature animals using it in their miniature beds. But that's dumb, because how would they ever find a pillowcase to fit? My fingers pinch the pillow, and when I lift it up, I'm surprised by what I see sleeping beneath it.

Flicking the pillow onto my bed, I reach into the box and grab the small, stark white device. It's no longer than a nickel and curves in all sorts of funky ways. It looks ,,, it looks like a hearing aid. My nose scrunches up as I turn the device over in my hand. Then I nearly squeal with excitement when I see a raised red blinking light on the other side. Blinking lights are cool, I decide. They indicate technology and advancement and maybe a connection to the outside world - to my friends.

Or maybe it's music. Who knows what wild stuff they've come out with in the last year? I bet this baby holds, like, a billion songs. And I'm going to listen to them. Vowing to give a solid, halfhearted apology to my parents and hoping I'm about to hear Lady Gaga's latest, I stick the device into my ear. Hallelujah, it fits!

I couldn't be happier if my Boston boy toy just gave me diamonds. I fumble for a second before my fingers land on the red blinking button. Annnnnd ,,, give it to me, baby. Once I've pushed the button, I hear a clicking noise.

The sound goes on for several seconds. Long enough that I start to feel all kinds of devastated. But then the clicking turns to static, like someone on the other side of a radio is tuning in.

Jumping from the bed, I walk around the room, tilting my head like I'm searching for a signal. I feel like a moron, and it's the most fun I've had in forever. I shoot straight up when I hear a woman's voice.

It's a clear, crisp sound. Like this lady has never mispronounced a word in her entire life. My eyes fall to the floor in concentration. And I listen. All Contenders must report within forty-eight hours to select their Pandora companions.

If you do not -" "Tella? Because it's fan-friggin'-tastic. For a moment, I feel like a little kid.

Fire & Flood

Like, any second, I'm going to be placed in the time-out chair and fume while Cody flaunts his freedom like back when we were four and seven. His words are calculated, slow to leave his mouth. Dad holds out his hand. My dad's a fairly small guy, but right now he seems enormous. I pull the device from my ear and drop it into his palm.

As he closes his fist, I'm certain my new toy has been permanently confiscated. Dad looks at me like he's going to say something profound, but then he mutters, "Your mom needs help in the kitchen. I grab the sides of my door frame and hang my head. My dad's freak-out tells me he's not the one who left the talking hearing aid in my room, which makes me wonder who did.

Then it dawns on me. Passing Cody's room, I yell, "Nice joke, ass hat. Nothing exciting happens to me. But that doesn't stop me from daydreaming.

I've got a world of possibilities ticking away in this noggin. And right now I've all but decided the leader of an underground cult has recruited me to be a part of the Brimstone Blood.

Or Bleed. Or whatever Cody named it. Either way, it sounds kind of gruesome. He's apparently gotten more twisted in his sibling brutality. And I do count getting my hopes up as brutality.