FeaturedYoung Adult

Silken Scales

By Alex Hayes

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Silken Scales is a riveting and magical world where other worldly creatures are forced to find solace on Earth to escape a growing enemy.

Synopsis

Idris Williams’ life may seem perfect…

Sure, Idris has confidence and great looks, a famous father and a beautiful girlfriend. Life would be perfect if he could dodge the bullet his father has aimed at his head — following dear old Dad into motivational-speaking stardom. But there doesn’t seem to be a way out…
— Until Idris morphs into something green and scaly.

Cadi has finally found a safe and loving home. Then a malicious boy turns her whole world upside down. The next thing she knows, she’s wandering the streets on New Year’s Eve, alone.

— Until a crystal leads her to this lizard boy with a smart mouth and massive ego.
To change Idris back into his sexy human self, Cadi must reveal a secret she’s been holding close to her heart for as long as she can remember. A secret that will send them racing to close a wormhole ahead of a deadly army.

A secret that could change their worlds forever…

At first glance, if it looks like a human and talks like a human, you wouldn't generally assume that it would be anything other than human, right? Now, if you started to experience what some would call superpowers or shifting into something with scales, what would you think then? Would you think that you were still human? Hayes will entertain, mystify, and captivate readers with an adventurous spin on some of these concepts.


Idris has always been groomed to follow in his father's footsteps with the motivational speaking business, but hasn't really been asked if that is what he wants. With the love of music and a friend that has an abandoned studio, Idris is forced to play in secret or when his father is out of town. Knowing that his parents adopted him at an early age, he's always known that he was different, but just never how much until he starts to break out into scales. Full blown, green scales all over his body. Running away to live at the studio after a full transformation, he is greeted by a girl who has a lot to hide. The fact that this girl has been searching for someone and seems dead set on that someone being him, he becomes intrigued. Well, by that aspect and the other thing--you know--being thrown across the lot without anyone around, but her. All he knows is that he needs answers for why his world has suddenly turned upside down and she seems a little more knowledgeable about his condition than he does at this point. Sticking together may be in their very best interest, especially after a strange homeless lady starts creeping around with some seriously ominous glowing violet eyes that scream danger.


Hayes has an gripping story, filled with creativity, originality and fascinating characters. This story is one that will grab the reader from the beginning and lure them further into a depth of adventure and magic. The cover is what really draws the reader in at first glance, as you see a white textured-looking background with a dragon that appears to be made out of water. The colors and the name of the story really pop as well, drawing interest to the book. Hayes has well-developed characters that are captivating and likable. Also, the story is very well-written with little to no spelling or grammatical errors. If you are a reader of young adult fantasy and paranormal fiction, you may want to pick up this first installment. Since this is the first installment in The Chameleon Effect Series, the reader is able to dive in.


An electronic copy of this book was provided to Turning Another Page by Reedsy Discovery and in no way affects the honesty of this review. We provide a five-star rating to Silken Scales by Alex Hayes.

Reviewed by

Turning Another Page is a small web-based business, owned and operated out of San Antonio, Texas. Originally created as an official book blog in November 2014, Turning Another Page has successfully grown to encompass services that can be offered to authors worldwide.

Synopsis

Idris Williams’ life may seem perfect…

Sure, Idris has confidence and great looks, a famous father and a beautiful girlfriend. Life would be perfect if he could dodge the bullet his father has aimed at his head — following dear old Dad into motivational-speaking stardom. But there doesn’t seem to be a way out…
— Until Idris morphs into something green and scaly.

Cadi has finally found a safe and loving home. Then a malicious boy turns her whole world upside down. The next thing she knows, she’s wandering the streets on New Year’s Eve, alone.

— Until a crystal leads her to this lizard boy with a smart mouth and massive ego.
To change Idris back into his sexy human self, Cadi must reveal a secret she’s been holding close to her heart for as long as she can remember. A secret that will send them racing to close a wormhole ahead of a deadly army.

A secret that could change their worlds forever…

TENSION TICKLES my neck as I swing my backpack over a

shoulder and slam the locker shut. I don’t like being late. For

anything. A habit my dad ingrained in me years ago.

Another steel door clangs as I head down senior hall.

“C-sharp,” I murmur, thanks to my curse. Perfect pitch.

“Hey, Id, wait for me.” Marek catches up.

I throw my best friend a glance. “Gotta move or I’ll be

late to Public Speaking.”

“You’re a freaking alien, bro. Who cares about being late

to clubs?”

I resist an eye roll. “Like Hendricks wouldn’t fry my ass

for being tardy. Besides, don’t you have Chess Club?”

“Dropped it.”

“What?” The. Hell. I stretch my stride down the corridor.

Marek has no trouble keeping up. His legs are longer.

College basketball material, if he had the passion. Even has

the Beasley look. Straight nose and pencil stache.

I can’t believe he quit that club though. “Thought you

were Emperor o’ Chess.”

“Was. Got bored. Figured I’d check out Public

Speaking.”

I rake a hand through my wiry curls. “You and public

speaking are like a long top Afro on Pat Burke’s head. Just

doesn’t sit right, man.”

Marek chuckles. “Figured I’d spend the first couple of

meetings observing.”

Observing. Right. As in Brianna Jones. I throw him a

sideways glance. “Why don’t you just ask Brianna out?”

“Because I’m not Idris Williams.” Marek says my name

like it’s posted on a billboard. In lights. “Son of motivational

speaker extraordinaire, Brandon Williams, and soon to be

clone.”

Clone? In Dad’s dreams. Yeah, his dreams at the expense

of mine, but I don’t go there.

Before I shove open the door to Mr. Hendricks’ class, I

turn to Marek. “I’ll ask her out.”

“Like hell you will.”

I grin and burst into the room.

“Shit, bro,” he mutters as he follows, no doubt hunching

his shoulders and lowering his eyes to the speckled

linoleum floor, trying to appear shorter, less noticeable, a

shadow in the wake of my dramatic entrance.

While I — pause for effect — capture everyone’s attention

and smile.

Hendricks crosses through the ring of seats where the

club members are assembled. He puts a hand up to high five

me and I slap his palm. “Congratulations, Idris.” His salt-andpepper

eyebrows waggle. “Hopper High School’s first winner

of the James Baldwin Go Tell It Public Speaking Competition.”

6 ALEX HAYES

Marek straightens and smacks me on the back. Hard.

But I don’t show the pain. “How come you didn’t tell me?”

he murmurs.

I flash him an apologetic shrug.

The other students rise and applaud. Smiles ripple and

grow wider.

Danny Torres whistles. A-flat. Can’t help the internal

note-taking.

Wanda Briggs catcalls in F-sharp.

Discomfort spreads into my cheeks like the onset of flu.

Why am I not lapping this up? An inward sigh. Because

every competition I win feels like a loss, another fragment

chipped away from what I want.

Even so, winning has its advantages. Brianna steps up

and hugs me. Tight. She smells like gardenias. “We’re so

proud of you, Idris.”

I order myself to let her go and pull away. She’s on

Marek’s Most Wanted List, not mine. Though if it weren’t for

Rebecca, she might be.

Yeah, Rebecca. Those glossy black eyes and the waterfall

curls that tumble around her perfect face.

Brianna studies my features, eyes narrowing. “Are you

okay, Idris? You look kind of green.”

Wanda belts out a laugh. “That’s called overexposure to

the limelight.”

I grin. Wanda’s half right. “Gotta be the overhead fluorescents.

I’m fine. Hey, Brianna…” I tilt my head in my

friend’s direction. “You know Marek, right?” Kidding. Of

course she knows him.

Brianna’s golden eyes turn to Marek and she laughs.

Soft, like the rustle of silk. “Uh, yeah, Idris. We’re in band

together. Remember?”

Silken Scales 7

I glance at my best friend meaningfully, trying to give

him an in, but he isn’t taking it.

“Hey,” Brianna adds. “Speaking of, my mom wants to

talk to you. After clubs, in the music room. Can you meet

her?” Her mom’s the band director.

I nod as something digs into my side. I envision a hot

knife burning out my right kidney, but it’s only Marek’s

elbow.

Wanda breaks the awkward silence by gripping my arm

with her dark brown hand. She’s from Senegal and her skin

is as close to true black as you can get. Beautiful.

Her full lips turn up into a sweet smile. “Come on, Idris.

We want to know how it felt being up there in front of all

those people. When they announced your name, did you

freak out or what?”

“I freaked.” Nah, not really. Dad trained me too well. I

accepted the trophy with perfect aplomb. Self-assured,

totally composed, like I was doing the awards committee a

favor by allowing them to present me with first place.

A sideways glance at Marek tells me he’s pissed. I flash

him a Why-are-you-just-standing-there?-Don’t-make-meask-

Brianna-out-for-you look and almost hear his

responding growl.

Then he says, “Hey, Brianna, heard you practicing last

week. Mozart, right? Awesome strings.”

A snicker almost escapes me. Brianna’s a talented cellist,

but I know what Marek’s thinking. You can play my strings,

anytime.

Wanda drags me over to the other students, leaving

Marek to struggle with small talk. I lean a butt cheek on

Hendricks’ desk, hands in pockets, and answer every question

my classmates throw at me.

My eyes find Marek’s as he and Brianna wander over.

8 ALEX HAYES

Judging by the look he’s returning, he didn’t make any

moves on her. I shake my head. Maybe Public Speaking

Club is right where he needs to be.

MAREK PUSHES me out of Mr. Hendricks’ class at the end of

Club. “What is up with you? You’re always looking to stir

things up. You open your mouth and you’re like Magneto.

Brianna practically asked you out. I don’t need you stealing

her just when she’s within touching distance.”

Stealing? He is totally wrong. I straighten my backpack

as we head down the hall. “Asking me to talk to her mom is

as far from asking a guy out as you can get.”

“Maybe she wants her mom’s blessing.”

I laugh. “Mrs. J knows me about as well as she knows

Brianna. Bet I spend more time in music lab than Brianna

spends at home.”

“What’re you saying?” Marek’s voice drops a full octave

and grows hard. “That she’s out with other guys? I know she

hasn’t got a new dude on the roster, and Jacob Flinn is so far

in the outer reaches he’s a walking black hole.”

“I’m saying she’s a girl with a social life. She’s got girl

friends. If you’re hoping to win her, you’ll have to play it

smoother than complimenting her on her strings.”

Marek’s Nike Swoosh eyebrows bump into each other.

“What I said was the truth. Brianna’s out of this world on

the cello. Any fool can see that.”

“Hear it,” I correct.

“Mr. Semantics,” he mutters. “What’s happened to you,

Id? You haven’t been the same since you started winning all

those stupid speech competitions. Now you’re all Mr.

Slick.”

Silken Scales 9

Mr. Slick? “If you took the time to polish your one-liners,

you’d have Brianna hanging on your every word.”

Marek shakes his head. “Nah, that’s you, bro. But you’re

barely you anymore. You’re like an Almond M&M, all shiny

color coating but hardly any chocolate inside.”

“I love Almond M&Ms.”

“Yeah, exactly what I’m saying. You’ve got all sophisticated.

I liked the other guy better. The normal one.” His eyes

narrow. “The one who’d settle into a bag of regular M&Ms

and enjoy ‘em for the chocolate.”

I roll my eyes, not sure what else to say to the King of

Metaphor. Brianna’s attention on me must have seriously

freaked him out.

The hallway hits a tee. One way heads to senior hall, the

other to the music room.

“You coming with me?” I ask.

“Nah. Too much work tonight and Ma’s threatened to

drag me to the mall. Christmas shopping for the cousins.” A

stab of laughter shoots out of Marek’s mouth. “She’s talking

about buying my cousin a sweater. Haven’t decided whether

to save his ass or leave him to be slam dunked into one of

Tommy Hilfiger’s latest nautical stripes.”

I grin and throw him a see-ya nod.

Opening the door to the music room, I spot Mrs. Jones

straightening music stands along rows of raised seating.

Two clang together, hitting a middle C.

Moving down the line, the teacher chats to a skinny

blonde who plays clarinet. Um… Melanie. The second Mrs.

J spots me, she wraps up their conversation. I lean against

the wall and watch Melanie’s eyes widen as they stray

my way.

She’d be attractive if it weren’t for the stammer. It’s

possible Public Speaking Club would buy her back some

10 ALEX HAYES

confidence. But then again, it might break her into a million

tiny pieces.

A contemplative frown twitches but I smooth it away.

Why should I care about fixing her stammer? She’s totally

not my type.

I pull in a deep breath, thinking of Rebecca. Can’t wait to

see her over vacation. Man, I’ve missed her.

Melanie approaches, watching me as she clutches her

clarinet case to her chest. I sidestep and open the door.

A tentative smile creeps onto her face. “Th-thank you,”

she squeaks.

“Welcome,” I answer, and let the door swing closed

behind her.

Mrs. J smiles, wide enough to make me nervous. She’s

dressed super professional in a pencil-gray jacket and skirt,

but her eyes are generous and kind. She isn’t going to give

me permission to go out with her daughter, is she? Marek

would slit my throat.

“Idris, I’m so glad you stopped by.” Mrs. J circles her

Formica-topped desk and picks up a sheet of paper. “I heard

about your award. Congratulations.”

I bob my head and thank her.

“And I have to say, it got me thinking.” She crosses her

arms, the sheet of paper curling in her hand, trapped

behind an elbow. “You need two things to win in competition.

Adequate preparation and confidence. Take

Melanie…”

My breath hitches because I’d prefer not to. Melanie

sweats fear. Please. Please… Oh god, please, Mrs. J, don’t ask me

to help Melanie Mills with her nerves.

“She’ll practice, practice, practice,” Mrs. J continues,

“but the moment she gets in front of an audience, all preparation

takes flight.”

Silken Scales 11

Yeah, like a flock of seagulls. I’m still holding my breath.

“Idris, I’d like you to consider entering a music competition.

One for an original music score. I’ve heard you practicing

your compositions in music lab and… Well, your

pieces are beautiful, evocative. I’m impressed. Your music

coupled with your confidence tells me you have every possibility

of taking home a prize.”

In my mind, my lower jaw hits the floor. For the first

time, ever, I stutter. “I…Um, I-I’m really not sure.” Of course

I want to do it, but…

Mrs. J offers a sympathetic smile. “Performing your own

work in front of an audience is a big step, but you’ve already

proven yourself. Audiences don’t intimidate you and your

music is worth sharing with the world. You should go for

this, Idris.”

Honestly, I’d love to, but Dad would have a fit if I entered

a music competition. He hates me playing as it is. Thinks

music is for layabouts and singing is for girls.

“Man, I’d love to play my music to an audience, but the

preparation… It’s senior year. I’ve got a lot going on, and

more speech competitions lined up in the spring. I appreciate

you thinking of me, Mrs. Jones, but… I’ll need to think

about it,” I finish, lamely.

God, where’s that Mr. Slick Marek was talking about

when I need him?

She nods, but her eyes tell me she’s disappointed. She’s

not the only one. The idea that my music might be valued

by other people is pretty awesome, but Dad would ground

me for the rest of my life if I entered.

The teacher holds out the sheet of paper. “The entry

deadline is December 31st. There’s an online application.

Details are on this flier. If you’re accepted, you’ll attend the

competition late January.”

12 ALEX HAYES

I rattle my head and the smooth-talking me makes a

comeback. “That sounds really exciting, Mrs. Jones. Thank

you so much for sharing the entry details. I’d love to

compete.”

Mrs. J’s eyes soften like she’s hypnotized.

I snatch the sheet from her outstretched fingers and

hightail it.

I’M in the living room, contemplating the music competition,

or more precisely, the impossibility of it. A sigh escapes

me as I finger a new tune on the piano. A glossy black grand.

Only the best for Mom.

She practiced on an electronic keyboard as a kid and

always dreamed of owning the real thing, so Dad bought a

Steinway for her fortieth birthday. Every morning, she practices

scales and her favorite classical pieces, but the afternoons

are mine.

I glance at the clock on the mantel. Mom’s usually home

by now, but she said something about a manicure or whatever.

What is it with women and nails? The girls at school

are the same, flashing their talons like eagles about to dive

in for the kill.

Does that make guys their rodent prey? Hmm. Guess I

know a few who’d qualify. Red-eyed night-dweller types.

The front door slams. Too loud for Mom.

“Janice?” That’s Dad.

Uh-oh. My gut tightens. He’ll find me here, and there’s

no way to fake that I was doing anything else but playing.

The living room is pristine. Wood floors, antique rugs, black

marble fireplace. A space for visitors. Not somewhere I’d

hang out, except to practice piano.

Silken Scales 13

Dad’s not supposed to be home until tomorrow. He

knows about the used guitar in my bedroom closet, but

doesn’t know I play the grand every day he’s away.

Mom’s a saint and she thinks Dad’s insane giving me

stick about playing, so it’s our little secret.

He passes the living room entry just as I twist on the

piano seat.

Act casual. “Hi, Dad.”

He frowns. One of those deep v-shaped brow deals.

“Idris, shouldn’t you be doing homework?”

“Done.” A light day at school, thank the God of Excuses.

His frown doesn’t lessen. “Have you seen your mother?”

“Nail salon. Should be home soon. Don’t think she was

expecting you back today.”

Dad nods. “That was the plan. Today’s the anniversary of

the day we met. I decided to surprise her.” He’s holding a

huge bouquet of long-stemmed roses. Purple. Her favorite

color. “How’s the Toastmasters’ speech coming along?”

Yeah, I know where this is going, but that doesn’t stop

me stumbling into the quagmire. “Figured I’d use the one

from the Go Tell It Competition.”

Dad’s eyes narrow.

“Just…you know, tweak it a bit.”

His fingers tighten around the rose stems. “If you’re

going to be a great speaker, Idris, you’ve got to keep creating

new work.”

What if I don’t want to be a great speaker? What if I don’t

want to spend my life motivating people? I gave up with the

protests a couple of years ago, because Dad doesn’t give a

crap about what I want.

“But I haven’t had enough hardship in my life to make a

compelling story,” I argue.

Dad crosses his arms. His disapproving parent pose.

14 ALEX HAYES

“Then talk about someone who has, someone you know

who’s won against amazing odds.”

“I don’t know anyone who’s overcome anything more

complicated than a twisted ankle.”

“Then make one up.”

My eyes widen and my jaw drops. You’re kidding, right?

The cogs turn in Dad’s brain. I can almost hear them

cranking. He nods as the idea mill starts to churn out

creative nuggets. “A girl. Your age. Bookish. An introvert

who gets bullied in school for having one leg longer than

the other. But she overcomes her oppressors.”

I roll my eyes.

Dad doesn’t notice because his mind’s in that innovative

space he goes to when he’s writing his books. Makes me

wonder how much of what he writes is based on truth and

how much is invention.

“How does she overcome the bullies?” I ask.

“By becoming a super model.”

I’m tempted to slap my head. Of course. Why didn’t I think

of that?

A smile erases the frown hanging over Dad’s features.

“And creates her own designer shoes for women with

similar disabilities.”

That’s pushing invention a little too far, Dad.

“Daniella Marino Lombardi,” he says like he’s

announcing the Oscar winner for best actress in a leading

role.

“Who?”

“Look her up. And put the fallboard down before you go.

That piano cost forty grand.”

My head drops backward. Argh.

About the author

Alex Hayes grew up in England and California and spent some of her early adult years in Massachusetts and Colorado. She is releasing Book 1 in The Chameleon Effect trilogy on March 5, 2019. If you’re hooked on YA romances with a paranormal twist, you’ll love The Chameleon Effect series! view profile

Published on March 05, 2019

Published by Shaking the Trees Press

80000 words

Contains explicit content ⚠️

Genre: Young Adult

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