Smugglerific Excerpt

Excerpt Reveal & Giveaway: The Nightmare Dilemma by Mindee Arnett

Today we are delighted to host an exclusive excerpt reveal! The book is called The Nightmare Dilemma, the second book in the Arkwell Academy series by Mindee Arnett, author of YA fantasy, science fiction, and horror.

The Nightmare Dilemma

The Nightmare Dilemma will be available on March 4, 2014 from Tor Teen.


The Excerpt:

Eli Booker didn’t know he was dreaming.

In fact, he might never have realized it if the girl with the red hair hadn’t appeared in the graveyard. At first she was just an odd flash of color out of the corner of his eye, something he would’ve ignored if his senses weren’t already so keyed up from the presence of a murder victim not ten feet from where he stood.

He turned his head, his jaw slackening as he realized it was a girl, just a teenager wearing all black like some kind of ninja-wannabe assassin. A ping of recognition struck him, but he couldn’t quite bring a name to match the face. She was pretty, even though her goth-girl-gone-funeral wardrobe made her fair skin look washed out. But there was something off about her, too, the way she moved, as if she wasn’t quite present. A ghost maybe.

No, that couldn’t be right. Ghosts weren’t real.

Eli blinked, shaking off his confusion. Then he fixed a glare at her. What’s she doing at a crime scene?

He paused as a new and alarming thought occurred to him: What am I doing at a crime scene?

Eli pulled his gaze away from the girl, a sensation of vertigo sweeping over him, as if the ground had tipped forward. He thrust his hands in front of his body, bracing against air. The feeling passed a moment later, and when it did, he realized the redhead wasn’t the only one sporting a strange outfit. What the hell? Why was he wearing one of his dad’s suits? The hideous orange and blue necktie brought an automatic gag to his throat. He grabbed it, about to rip it off, but froze as the redhead began to move. She glided forward in that ghost-like way until she reached the body of the dead girl splayed among the crumbling, ancient headstones.

As she knelt beside the body, Eli opened his mouth to tell her to stop. She would destroy the evidence. Only, why did he care? He wasn’t a cop. His father was. Then why am I wearing his clothes?

The answer came at once like a blast of wind on a cold day: I’m dreaming.

Once he realized it, all the wrongness of the scene struck him. The half dozen police officers standing nearby were wearing outdated uniforms; his dad’s department had replaced the pale blue shirts with black ones months ago. And one of the officers was Bernie Mahanoy, only he’d transferred to another department last year.

Even stranger, Eli had no recollection of how he’d gotten here or even where here was. The cemetery was like something out of a gothic horror movie, the giant, ivy-covered mausoleums of the sort that might house a dozen zombies, easily.

Thank goodness I’m armed. One headshot should…

Eli shook his head. That was the wrong thought. A dream thought. He was dreaming. He glanced back at the redhead. If this was his dream, then what was she doing here? And why did she feel so wrong? Almost … like an intruder.

Tension spread though his body as he walked nearer to the redhead. The shift in position brought the dead body into partial view. The victim was another teenage girl, this one blonde and completely unfamiliar to Eli. Puffy, dark strangulation marks rimmed the girl’s throat, and her right hand had been cut off at the wrist, the hand itself missing. Taken like a trophy. This time the thought didn’t feel wrong at all. Just the opposite. Somehow that bothered him even more than the rest of it.

The redhead at last stood up and turned around, moving so quickly that for a second, Eli thought she might break into a run. A stricken expression marred her face, her full, pink lips drawn into a tight line, and her pale eyes hooded.

That was until her gaze landed on him, and her mouth expanded into a horrified “O.” She stumbled to the right, swerving to avoid him. Eli gaped, surprised and more than a little offended by her response—pretty girls normally didn’t react that way to him. Did he have horns growing out of his head or something? Volcanic-worthy pimples on his face?

Before he could check, she was walking past him fast enough to stir the air between them. On impulse, he reached out and grabbed her arm.

She jerked to a stop, and as her head turned toward him, her expression even more horrified than before, Eli felt the ground pitch forward again, this time giving way completely. His vision went black, and his body dropped into sudden freefall.

He woke with a start, his heart in his throat and his lungs seizing as he struggled to draw a breath. That was one helluva night…

The thought died inside his brain as he realized the reason he couldn’t breathe had nothing at all to do with fear, and everything to do with the girl sitting on his chest. He had the feeling she’d been touching his forehead a moment before, but now she had her fingers pressed against her temples as if to still her pounding head.

At the sight of her, Eli didn’t think, just reacted—placing his hands on her arms and shoving. She toppled backward right off the bed, letting out a pathetic little yelp as she hit the floor.

Eli winced. Stupid. What had he been thinking, hitting a girl?

Yeah, but she broke into your house, and was sitting on top of you! a voice argued in his  head.

Ignoring it, Eli swung back the covers and stood up, barely aware that he was wearing only red boxers. Cool air from the open second-story window across the way licked at his chest. He bent over the girl who was struggling to catch her breath. He grasped her by the arms, picked her up, and set her on her feet. He had half a foot on her easily, and she seemed to weigh hardly anything at all.

Before he had even let go of her, she pointed a hand at him and said, “Aphairein!”

Something invisible bumped against his ribcage. It didn’t hurt, but he sensed the thing rebound and slam into the girl as hard as a lineman on the football field. As she stumbled backward, Eli tightened his grip on her shoulders, meaning to keep her upright, but the force of it was so strong he lost his balance and they both fell. His hard, large body was squashed against her much softer—and very feminine—one.

A flush heated his skin. He must’ve fantasized about some hot girl breaking into his bedroom in the middle night a hundred times, but somehow, he never imagined it going quite like this.

“Get off,” she said, pushing against him. Then she spoke that strange, nonsensical word again and that invisible something bumped against him once more.

Eli rolled off her and stood up, his bewilderment and embarrassment provoking his temper. He pointed down at her, finding his voice at last. “Who the hell are you?”

The girl, whose hair he now realized was a bright shade of red, leaped to her feet, the movement bringing her closer to the window and in full display of the moonlight.

Eli sucked in a breath, half choking, as recognition struck him. It was the girl from his dream. Dusty Everhart, the name finally came to him. She’d gone to his school up until last year. He’d heard she transferred to that shady, private school, Arkwell Academy. He’d seen her dozens of times over the years—mostly because she was the kind of girl you couldn’t help but see—but it was always at a distance. Their paths had never crossed before until tonight.

“I know you,” he said. “What are you doing here? And what’s wrong with your eyes? They’re…glowing?” A thrill, half of fear, half of wonderment, slid over his spine, making his muscles tense. Her eyes looked as bright as lamplights or two pieces of shining crystal. “What kind of freak are you?”

Dusty flinched, and Eli realized too late that he’d spoken that last part aloud—you idiot.

The panicked expression on her face flashed to anger. “At least I’m not the freak dreaming about dead girls.”

He gaped. “How do you know that?”

She blinked, and then her gaze flashed to his bedroom door just as he heard the distinctive pound of footsteps beyond it. Great, his dad was coming, and he had a girl in his room. Won’t that be fun to explain.

But as he looked back, Dusty jumped up onto the window ledge and climbed out, disappearing. Alarmed, Eli charged over and leaned out the second story window. Below, he watched as Dusty reached the ground then stepped away from the drainpipe she’d used as an escape ladder. She peered up at him.

And stuck out her tongue.

Eli almost laughed. The gesture was somehow both feisty and adorable—maybe even a little sexy, too. Only nothing in the last five minutes had made any sense whatsoever, and all he could do was stare after her as she raced down the sidewalk, disappearing around the nearest corner.

He heard the door to his bedroom swing open a second later.

“What’s going on?” his father shouted. “Was there somebody in here?”

Eli turned around, his eyebrows raising at the sight of his dad in his blue bathrobe, Marvin the Martian boxer shorts, and .40 S&W, police-standard handgun in the ready position. “Uh…” Eli sputtered as his brain tried to form a coherent thought.

His dad ignored him and strode over to the window, peering out. “Did somebody break in?”

Eli opened his mouth to finally answer, but froze at the sound of the doorbell.

His dad, looking more than a little crazy with his black, silver streaked hair standing up in weird places and a scowl on his face, brushed past him toward the door. “Stay here,” he said over his shoulder.

“The hell I will,” Eli muttered, taking off after him. He paused just long enough to slip on the pair of jeans he’d left discarded on the floor when he’d gone to bed hours before.

But by the time Eli climbed down the stairs and reached the front door, his father had already opened it to the sight of four large men wearing dark suits. FBI, was Eli’s immediate thought, and when the nearest man reached inside his jacket and withdrew a badge, he believed he was right. Except…

“What is that supposed to be?” his dad said, gesturing at the badge. “A prop for your Halloween costume?”

The man made a noise that sounded strangely close to a growl. “Like I said. We are the magickind police, investigating a disturbance at this house. We need you and your son to come with us for a debriefing.”

Magickind? The image of Dusty pointing at him and speaking those strange, nonsensical words flashed in Eli’s mind. Magic? Had that been…had that…?

No. That’s crazy.

Even if it wasn’t, how could these policemen have gotten here so fast?

Simple, more magic.

Shaking his head at the thought, Eli turned and headed up the stairs.

“Where are you going, son?” the man said, that same growl in his voice.

Eli looked over his shoulder at him. “Back to bed. I’m pretty sure I’m still dreaming.”

Only he wasn’t dreaming, as he found out a short while later. Dusty, the dead girl in the graveyard, the magickind policemen. All of it was real. And the life he knew, the world that had once made sense, vanished forever.

Just like a dream upon waking.


About the Book:

The Nightmare Dilemma

The second in a thrilling new fantastical mystery series

Dusty Everhart might be able to predict the future through the dreams of her crush, Eli Booker, but that doesn’t make her life even remotely easy. When one of her mermaid friends is viciously assaulted and left for dead, and the school’s jokester, Lance Rathbone, is accused of the crime, Dusty’s as shocked as everybody else. Lance needs Dusty to prove his innocence by finding the real attacker, but that’s easier asked than done. Eli’s dreams are no help, more nightmares than prophecies.

To make matters worse, Dusty’s ex-boyfriend has just been acquitted of conspiracy and is now back at school, reminding Dusty of why she fell for him in the first place. The Magi Senate needs Dusty to get close to him, to discover his real motives. But this order infuriates Eli, who has started his own campaign for Dusty’s heart.

As Dusty takes on both cases, she begins to suspect they’re connected to something bigger. And there’s something very wrong with Eli’s dreams, signs that point to a darker plot than they could have ever imagined.

About the Author:

Mindee Arnett lives on a horse farm in Ohio with her husband, two kids, a couple of dogs, and an inappropriate number of cats. She’s addicted to jumping horses and telling tales of magic, the macabre, and outer space. She has far more dreams than nightmares.

You can find out more about Mindee by checking out her website, or follow her on her blog, facebook, twitter (@mindeearnett), tumblr, or on goodreads.


The Giveaway:

The Nightmare Affair

In order to get you in the spirit for book 2, we’ve got a copy of book 1, The Nightmare Affair, up for grabs! The giveaway is open to all and will run until Sunday, November 24 at 12:01am EST. To enter, use the form below. GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


  • Lexi
    November 14, 2013 at 1:01 am

    I really enjoyed Jellicoe Road.

  • Lobo
    November 14, 2013 at 2:52 am

    My ultimate favorite and I know it’s classic but if published today would be YA is Jane Webster: Daddy Long Legs

  • Julia O'Grady
    November 14, 2013 at 6:33 am

    I’m intrigued by Nightmare Dilemma, would love to win Nightmare Affair to learn about Dusty and Eli.

  • sandyg265
    November 14, 2013 at 9:08 am

    I enjoyed Hex Hall

  • Chel @ The Procrastinator's Corner
    November 14, 2013 at 9:23 am

    My favorite YA book set in an academy/boarding is Vampire Academy! I also enjoyed Hex Hall, The Rithmatist and Evernight.

  • Katrina
    November 14, 2013 at 9:36 am

    A College of Magics by Caroline Stevermer, despite the fact that the ending was terribly disappointing.

  • mary anne
    November 14, 2013 at 10:00 am

    Uhhhh….Harry Potter? Also Daddy Long Legs. The entire story is not set there, but a lot of Patrick Rothfuss’ Name of the Wind, as well as part of the sequel, takes place at an academy. Pamela Dean’s Tam Lin is set at college, but it has a lot of the same alone with a bunch of kids dealing with life independently feeling.
    Oh, you wanted a favorite…. You can choose any of the above. I also just read a really awesome book called Winger by Andrew Smith. Made me laugh out loud, but had a lot of the Dead Poet’s and Separate Peace strain running through it.

  • Amy
    November 14, 2013 at 10:26 am

    My favorite YA book set in an academy/boarding school is definitely the Harry Potter series. Although the Gemma Doyle/A Great and Terrible Beauty series is a close second! 🙂

  • superbwg
    November 14, 2013 at 11:19 am

    Harry Potter was obviously a great one, I also very much enjoyed Fairy Bad Day

  • Kaitlyn
    November 14, 2013 at 11:30 am

    A Great and Terrible Beauty by Libba Bray!

  • Grace
    November 14, 2013 at 11:50 am

    Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta

  • Roxanne
    November 14, 2013 at 12:28 pm

    Hex Hall or Vampire Academy

  • Brenda C
    November 14, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Harry Potter!

  • Lauren
    November 14, 2013 at 2:01 pm

    Well, if I’m being honest with myself, it’s Harry Potter.


    I also just read and loved Maureen Johnson’s The Name of the Star and The Madness Underneath (eagerly awaiting Book 3). Creepy, atmospheric murder mystery with a sassy Southern chick going to school in a London boarding school? Yes, please!

  • Tammy
    November 14, 2013 at 2:25 pm

    Wow, this is a tough one because I have a tendency to love books set in boarding schools, The Gallagher Girls series, Winger, How To Live A Life Of Crime.

  • Liliana
    November 14, 2013 at 2:28 pm

    I absolutely LOVE the Mythos Academy series by Jennifer Estep!

  • Kathy L.
    November 14, 2013 at 2:32 pm

    Obviously Vampire Academy is my favorite book set in a boarding school! The series was so amazing! Actually Bloodlines was better so that’s my favorite but it’s really close.

  • Christine L.
    November 14, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Aside from Harry Potter (obvs), I really dig Gail Carriger’s Finishing School series.

  • Hebe
    November 14, 2013 at 3:19 pm

    I know it’s cheesy, but definitely Harry Potter.

  • Hannah H
    November 14, 2013 at 4:25 pm

    This is going to be the least helpful post ever. I’m going to say Harry Potter, but the real answer is a series that I read when I was a kid and had completely forgotten about until now. Research time!
    Oh, Wizard’s Hall by Jane Yolan is quite cool.

  • Angie
    November 14, 2013 at 5:17 pm

    Maybe The Demon King by Cinda Williams Chima.

  • Cat York
    November 14, 2013 at 5:45 pm

    Do we have enough people saying Harry Potter yet? LOL. Me too. But I LOVE Arkwell. The tunnels. The graveyards. The occasional hellhound. And I love this excerpt! <3

  • Marie-Claude
    November 14, 2013 at 6:00 pm

    I adore Jennifer Estep Mythos Academy serie !!!!

  • becca fowler
    November 14, 2013 at 6:20 pm

    vampire academy!

  • Anonymous
    November 14, 2013 at 8:13 pm

    Mythos Academy by Jennifer Estep, Finishing School by Gail Carriger, and Harry Potter of course!

  • erinf1
    November 14, 2013 at 8:20 pm

    I’m gonna have to jump on the Harry Potter bandwagon 🙂 Thanks for sharing!

  • Katharine
    November 14, 2013 at 8:52 pm

    This one may not be truely YA and it was not a big favorite, but I remember it pretty well including the boarding school setting: The Crazy School by Cornelia Read.

  • Nara
    November 14, 2013 at 9:00 pm

    Harry Potter! If that counts as YA. Otherwise, Bloodlines is also amazing 🙂

  • Ellie
    November 14, 2013 at 9:16 pm

    I love the Gemma Doyle trilogy! I love boarding school books in general…I really need to find more to read!

  • Kristy McRae
    November 14, 2013 at 10:18 pm

    Harry Potter, Great and Terrible Beauty, Vampire Academy….hard to choose just one favorite! I loved the excerpt you shared–can’t wait to dig into this series! Thanks for the giveaway. 🙂

  • Kelley
    November 14, 2013 at 10:48 pm

    Harry Potter, no question!

  • Anonymous
    November 14, 2013 at 11:37 pm

    Jennifer Estep’s Mythos Academy novels.

  • Barbara Elness
    November 14, 2013 at 11:38 pm

    Jennifer Estep’s Mythos Academy novels.

  • Miranda
    November 14, 2013 at 11:48 pm

    Jellicoe Road. I love that book so hard.

  • Stephanie
    November 15, 2013 at 12:48 am

    Hex Hall by Rachel Hawkins

  • Helle
    November 15, 2013 at 9:55 am

    Harry Potter without a doubt! 🙂

  • Gaby Metivier
    November 15, 2013 at 1:04 pm

    Vampire Academy!! (I’m not even going to mention Harry Potter… that’s on a whole different level!)

    Thanks for another great giveaway! 🙂

  • Christine
    November 15, 2013 at 6:53 pm

    My favorite would have to be Harry Potter. Hands down

  • Anonymous
    November 15, 2013 at 11:39 pm

    What comes to mind when you say boarding school is immediately Harry Potter (jumping in the bandwagon!). My love for that series is infinite~?

  • Llehn
    November 15, 2013 at 11:56 pm

    Harry Potter!

  • Mary Preston
    November 16, 2013 at 4:08 am

    Has to be the HARRY POTTER books.

  • Mrs Mac
    November 16, 2013 at 11:37 am

    I absolutely loved Jellicoe Road. For younger readers I also loved the Princess Academy books by Shannon Hale. And there was also The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks that I liked a lot.

  • Nicole
    November 16, 2013 at 1:20 pm

    I love Harry Potter!

  • Justine
    November 16, 2013 at 2:54 pm

    Jellicoe Road by Melina Marchetta is my pick.

  • Raina
    November 17, 2013 at 2:44 am

    Harry Potter (of course) and Jellicoe Road. So much loveliness.

  • SaraC
    November 17, 2013 at 7:10 pm

    I loved Jellicoe Road so much!

  • Jennifer
    November 18, 2013 at 11:25 pm

    That’s without any doubt Harry Potter. But I am quite fond of Hex Hall and The Rithmatist. But I haven’t read lot of board school books. But the first board school I really liked was The Naughtiest Girl in the School.

  • Joel
    November 19, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    The Hex Hall series, by Rachel Hartman.

  • Joel
    November 19, 2013 at 6:19 pm

    whoops — Rachel Hawkins! Another good author…

  • Hannah w
    November 21, 2013 at 5:16 pm

    H.I.V.E!!! the higher institute of villainous education

  • Ruby @Ruby's Books
    November 21, 2013 at 7:17 pm

    Vampire Academy, Harry Potter. You could say Bloodlines by Richelle Mead is a series that is set in school as well.

  • Excerpt Releases: November 17 - YA Interrobang
    April 27, 2016 at 9:16 pm

    […] The Nightmare Dilemma (The Arkwell Academy #2) by Mindee Arnett Publisher: Tor Teen Release date: March 4, 2014 Through the dreams of her crush, Eli, Dusty can tell the future. However, when her mermaid friend is viciously assaulted and left for dead, and the school’s jokester is fingered as the assailant, Dusty is as lost as everyone else and without even a hint from Eli’s dreams. As Dusty takes on the challenge of finding the guilty party, she must also deal with the reappearance of her ex-boyfriend and the Magi Senate’s order for her to get closer to him and find out what he’s up to. To read an excerpt, click here. […]

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