This novel is limited to 100 free copies due to its part in Inkitt’s Novel Contest.
I sit in my usual spot in front of my camera and take a deep breath and closing my eyes. I am so nervous about filming this video. After two years of making videos like this, you would think that I would not get nervous anymore. All I am going to do is talk about books anyhow. But no, I get nervous every single time I sit down to film. Probably because my older brother has made a stupid comment every time I upload the video.
“This is nothing compared to talking to people,” I tell myself, going over my personal Brave-Heart speech. “No one will make fun of you. Everyone who watches your videos is into books too. Your stupid older brother and his friend cannot say anything about it. You can do this!”
I open my eyes and press the record button on my remote.
“Hey everyone!” I say, waving. “Welcome back Bella’s Book Corner! Today, I am going to be sharing a massive book haul! I may have gone a little crazy this month. Because I have a stack of sixty books . . . Not lying! Most of these books came from publishers, and the rest were books I bought with a few gift cards I was given. I am not going to talk too much; I am just going to show you the book, say the synopsis and say where I got it from. That being said, let’s get into the video.”
I start picking up books from the piles next to my chair. I show each of them off, briefly explaining the plots and synopsizes, brief thoughts about the covers. I stutter and stumble several times, needing to stop, regroup and start over. I am not a perfectionist, but I cannot stand it when I stumble over words.
“That is all the books I have to haul,” I say as I begin to end the video. “What are some of the books you have recently hauled? Comment below and tell me, I love reading them and getting new book recommendations. Like this video, subscribe if you would like to see more! I’ll see you all next week, bye!”
I pause for a moment and then end the recording. I sigh in relief and then stand to stretch my legs. One look at the pile of books on the floor and my overstuffed shelf makes me whimper.
“I need more shelves,” I say to myself, running my fingers through my medium ash-brown hair. “And a bigger room.”
However, without complaining about the subject further, I begin make room on the shelves for my new books. That is, until my door swings open and my younger sister, Allison, enters in a huff.
“Knock much?” I ask with a groan.
“It’s not like you were doing anything anyway,” she replies, standing next to my shelf, taking a book down. “When are you going to get rid of these books?”
“Never; I worked hard to get this big of a collection. I am not going to just get rid of them because you don’t like the smell of pages.”
“You’re such a bookworm.”
Allison snorts, places my book on the floor and leaves. I scoff and return the book to its proper place on my shelf. Oh, the troubles of loving books.
I sigh as I place the last of my new books on the shelf, before hurrying out to the living room through the long hallway. The smell of dinner fills my nose, but I do not get distracted from my original task. Our home has two floors and a basement, and is in a nice neighborhood, just outside of Virginia Beach. My room is on the first floor, which gives me easy access to the important rooms in the house. The living room, the kitchen, the garage. When my mom first married my dad, the house was only one floor. But then, the family got bigger.
I find all four of my parents on the couch. Why four parents? It’s a simple answer really. My dad is married to three women. Not to mention, Dad does have an ex-wife who left him long before he met my mom. Oh, and I am my mother’s only child. My two stepmothers each have four, or five, kids. I guess you can say that I am the eldest of the children, with the exception of my older brother, from my dad’s ex-marriage. However, Brian has never even come close to wanting to live with us, or even to get to know the other kids. It hurts, because I have always liked the thought of having an older brother to come to my aid if I ever needed him to kick a boy’s ass. Never going to happen.
There is a void in my heart. A massive hole purposely placed there by my older brother, and his cute best friend. I had such a huge crush on my brother’s friend. I can remember the first time he was introduced to the family. I thought I would have a chance to know him, but then my brother became hostile and left, which meant his friend no longer came around either. When I realized the reason they had left was because I was antisocial, I immediately knew that the blank space in my heart could never be filled.
This has been my life from the beginning. This is my kind of normal. Sure, a big family means lots of responsibilities, chores and tons of hand-me-downs. With Dad working a few jobs, and the other two moms working their jobs, things tie over. For the most part, to say the least.
“Sit down Isabella,” Dad says, motioning to the sofa across from him.
“Is something wrong?” I ask, hesitantly taking a seat. “Did I do something wrong?”
“Oh no!” the parents reply, shaking their head.
“I just wanted to break this news to you before the other children,” Dad says, chuckling. “You remember Annette Hansen?”
“The woman we met at Book-Con last year?”
Dad nods, “And you know that I have been seeing her?”
I nod slowly; I can already tell where he is going with this. Dad looks at my mom, and at my stepmothers, before going on.
“I’m a big girl Dad,” I say, sighing softly. “Say it to me straight. I won’t retaliate the way Brian did.”
He chuckles, “Yeah, I know,” he says, nodding. “I have spoken with the moms and they think it is a good idea . . . Annette is going to be joining the family.”
My heart stumbles to maintain a stable rhythm as I try to process the words I knew were coming. I blow out my cheeks and breathe slowly.
“That’s pretty cool,” I say, lacking proper enthusiasm.
“You don’t seem too happy . . .,” my mom says, raising an eyebrow.
“I am, really. I just . . . I guess I rather expected this to happen. I mean, Dad, you have been visiting with Annette a lot recently. The signs were there . . . When did you two make things official?”
“When I went to the Bahamas a couple weeks ago,” Dad explains, smiling softly. “After taking care of the business group, I hung out with Annette for a few days and then we decided to tie the knot.”
My stomach is churning, but not the way I had thought. I am happy for my dad. I guess I just thought there would not be any surprise weddings taking place. I decide to push all thoughts aside and actually be happy for my dad.
“Is Annette bringing any kids with her?” I ask, turning the corners of my mouth upward.
“Yes,” Dad replies, nodding. “She is bringing her son, Jason. He is your age, maybe a week or so older. I think you will get along with him just fine.”
My age, but slightly older? My mind is on speed with all the possibilities of becoming a younger child.
“Does he know what lies in store for him when he gets here?”
“Jason has an idea, but Annette and I thought it would be best if we let him come on his own. He is still hurting from his father leaving them, and he is an only child. Annette wants him to get used to the idea before he is thrust into the kind of life.”
I nod; guess that means Jason will not be around for a while. What’s the point of even hoping we can get along? I’ll be eighteen in a month. If Jason is my age, he will be moving out on his own long before he even decides to live with us.
“Earth to Bella,” Mom says, laughing softly as she waves her hands. “It appears you have gone off in your thoughts again.”
“Sorry,” I say, and wince. “Sounds awesome; cannot wait for Annette to come live with us.”
I smile and quickly jump to leave before anything else can be discussed further. I shut myself in my room and go to my desk, switching on my Mac PC. I hook up my camera’s memory card and unload my video footage for editing. I am such a techno-girl; it will take me an hour to complete this video. If I do not get any distractions, that is.
* * *
Around an hour or two later, I press the ‘Upload’ button for my video. I add some details to the description box and press save. While my video is uploading, I open a new tab in my web browser and type in the YouTube link I know by heart. Jace’s Bookcase is my favorite BookTube channel, among others, but he is my top favorite. Probably because I have exchanged several conversations about books with him . . . I am a goner. I do have a bit of a crush on him. We have been exchanging books since around the time I began my channel. Jace is a BookTube veteran, so he has been around for a long time.
I click through to Jace’s most recent uploads and click on today’s video. The first few seconds of the video Jace is balancing a stack of books on his head, while reading Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein. I giggle; he changes the intro for every video.
“Hey fellow bookworms,” Jace says, smiling. “Today’s video involves not just a book haul and an unboxing, but a little bit of a sad announcement. I am going to save the boring stuff for last and get right into the book haul and unboxing.”
I furrow my brow; Jace has sad news? I skip over the book haul, the unboxing, to play the bad news. If Jace is giving up his channel, my weekly routine is going to be unbalanced.
“And now for that sad announcement,” Jace says, heaving a sigh, feigning a frown. “Don’t worry; it has nothing to do with me leaving BookTube. I know most of you are probably wondering about that. No, that is not the case. My mom and I are moving. It is a bit of a long, complicated story, so I do not plan to get into it until I feel ready to talk about it. So, as a general head’s up, I will not be making videos for a few weeks. I promise that once everything is settled, I will be back to my weekly videos. Kick your feet up, read a good book and I’ll see you next time. Do vstrechi! See ya!”
I sigh and pout my lower lip. I love how Jace always throws in a little bit of Russian at the end of his videos. I am glad to know that he is not quitting BookTube, but disappointed that there will not be any new videos for a while. I like the video and then begin to write a comment.
Bella’s BookCorner: You had me flipping for a moment; I did expect you to be quitting BookTube. Don’t be a stranger! Can’t wait for you to get back for more videos!
I send the comment and go back to check on my video upload. When I see the words “Upload complete”, I close the tab and check that the video uploaded correctly. I watch through the video and then sigh with satisfaction.
“Well done, Bella,” I say, moving the mouse curser to close the browser.
Suddenly, I get a new email notification. New comment on your video ‘Book Haul | #25 | Bella’s BookCorner’, is the subject line. I can already tell whom this is from. I open the email and grin.
Jace’s Bookcase: I knew you could not stay within the boundaries of your book haul ban for long. Also, be sure to check your mail; I sent you something somewhat cool!
My heart flutters slightly. I sigh and close the browser, shutting off the PC screen. I will reply to Jace’s comment later. Because I don’t want to seem anxious. I get up from my desk and head over to my reading chair. I pick up my tattered copy of Alexandre Dumas’ The Count of Montecristo. I began reading this book during freshman year for Literature class. I loved it so much that I ended up buying my own copy. But that’s not how I got into reading.
I still own my first book, The Black Stallion by Walter Farley. I was a major horse-girl, still am, but I mainly like them in books. After buying all of the series, and still adding more from Steven Farley, I began to collect the Phantom Stallion series. When I started high school, I began to collect young adult fiction, falling in love with the Twilight saga. However, I fell out of liking vampires and moved onto romance, contemporary and historical fictions, not to mention all the classics.
When I turned sixteen, I discovered BookTube. I was literally just browsing around, trying to find something that interested me, and that was how I came across Jace’s Bookcase. Immediately, I knew that I wanted to try my hand in the community, and found that I am good at it. I was a major introvert, and talking about books helped me crack that shell. I am still a little shy, but once I get to know anyone, you can count me as one of the social butterflies.
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FateFellShort: I have read this story and have followed the writers on tumblr from the beginning. Its a wonderful story. Beautifully written with a really nice pace, that makes it enjoyable to read more than once. For me, fairy tail has very good characters but what the writers have done is give them more depth...
263Adder: Okay so I adore this story. I only knocked one star off plot for historical inaccuracies because I'm a bit of a stickler for that. The ending broke my heart though, considering you already changed history couldn't you (SPOILER) change it a bit more and have them together!!!! I want an alternative...
MavisMcQueen: "To Live Again" is a well crafted, highly engaging, heart vibrating tale surrounding our favorite Elven King. The author will keep you engrossed until the very end and by that time you will feel so strongly for Clara and the other characters that you will never want it to end...like ever. Thrandu...
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LouiseJ2: I enjoyed the detail you went into with regards to the case. It made the UNSUB appear believable. The crisis in the middle of the story was my favorite part, very dramatic but not over the top. I feel like sometimes pairings can be overdone but I liked that some of the relationships were a little...
Lydia Sherrer: I first read The Speaker almost a decade ago when I first discovered author Sandra Leigh. I loved it then, and I still love it now. It is a simple, easy read, yet deep in meaning and rich in storyline. I do not know what kind of research or prior knowledge Leigh has of First Nation tribes, but sh...
Alex Reltin: This is a great story! I love how well you go into detail and emotions of Capri, and Mel. You have amazing dialogue and overall it's just a thrill to read!The only critique I could find is that some of the paragraphs should be separated. For example:-"If Nia would have just let me take the car an...
FreakyPoet: "you made me laugh, made me cry, both are hard to do. I spent most of the night reading your story, captivated. This is why you get full stars from me. Thanks for the great story!"
Sara Joy Bailey: "Full of depth and life. The plot was thrilling. The author's style flows naturally and the reader can easily slip into the pages of the story. Very well done."