top of page



YASH Fall 2016 is here!

Welcome to YA Scavenger Hunt! This bi-annual event was first organized by author Colleen Houck as a way to give readers a chance to gain access to exclusive bonus material from their favorite authors...and a chance to win some awesome prizes! At this hunt, you not only get access to exclusive content from each author, you also get a clue for the hunt. Add up the clues, and you can enter for our prize--one lucky winner will receive one book from each author on the hunt in my team! You do have a little extra time this go around, but don't wait! The contest (and all the exclusive bonus material) will be online from Oct. 4 at noon Pacific Time to Oct. 9 at noon Pacific Time.

Go to the YA Scavenger Hunt page to find out all about the hunt. There are six contests going on simultaneously, and you can enter one or all! I am a part of the ORANGE TEAM--but there is also a red team, a blue team, a gold team, a green team, and a purple team for a chance to win a whole different set of books!

If you'd like to find out more about the hunt, see links to all the authors participating, and see the full list of prizes up for grabs, go to the YA Scavenger Hunt prizes page.


Directions: Below, you'll notice that I've hidden my favorite number. Collect the favorite numbers of all the authors on the orange team, and then add them up (don't worry, you can use a calculator!).

Entry Form: Once you've added up all the numbers, make sure you fill out the form here to officially qualify for the grand prize. Only entries that have the correct number will qualify.

Rules: Open internationally, anyone below the age of 18 should have a parent or guardian's permission to enter. To be eligible for the grand prize, you must submit the completed entry form by Sunday, Oct. 9, at noon Pacific Time. Entries sent without the correct number or without contact information will not be considered.

Also, be sure to check out my extra Rafflecopter giveaway at the end of this post before continuing your hunt!


Today, I'm excited to be hosting Jessica Khoury for the YA Scavenger Hunt! Here's her bio:

When not writing, Jessica enjoys spending time with family, playing video games, and spending obscene amounts of time on Pinterest. She is very passionate about orcas, Spanish soccer, and choosing the perfect font. She currently lives in Greenville, South Carolina. She is the author of Origin, Vitro, Kalahari, and The Forbidden Wish.

For more information, check out her website or find out more about her book here!

P.S. It's rumored she once spent 58 hours straight on Pinterest. You'll have to ask her to find out the real scoop!


Now, check out the gorgeous cover of Jessica's book! Here's a little about it:

When Aladdin discovers Zahra's jinni lamp, Zahra is thrust back into a world she hasn't seen in hundreds of years -- a world where magic is forbidden and Zahra's very existence is illegal. She must disguise herself to stay alive, using ancient shape-shifting magic, until her new master has selected his three wishes. But when the King of the Jinn offers Zahra a chance to be free of her lamp forever, she seizes the opportunity—only to discover she is falling in love with Aladdin. When saving herself means betraying him, Zahra must decide once and for all: is winning her freedom worth losing her heart?

So cool! Jessica's bonus content is this fabulous deleted scene. Give it a read!


By Jessica Khoury

In the original version of Chapter 13 in The Forbidden Wish, Aladdin is invited to play a game of chougan (polo) with Darian, Caspida, and their friends. (Polo was actually invented in ancient Persia, and as legend has it, players batted around the severed heads of their enemies.) The only problem? Aladdin has no idea how to even play chougan, but luckily, Zahra has a few tricks up her sleeve…

“So, I don’t exactly know how to play chougan,” Aladdin whispers in my ear. We found the playing field after a few wrong turns, and now stand in the stables where the horses are being saddled for the game. Stablehands run amok, rushing to find saddles, tack, and wooden mallets. Aladdin and I stand in a quiet corner, out of the way, surrounded by piles of sweet-smelling hay. A hundred sensations wash over me, ones I haven’t felt in hundreds of years—the scent of horses, the anticipation of the impending game, the sound of hooves and nickering and leather bridles being tightened. It’s hard to focus with so much activity going on. I want to be everywhere, seeing and smelling and feeling it all.

But Aladdin is panicking. “I’ll look like an idiot. And I’ll lose my temper and probably try to whack Darian with my mallet. And then they’ll hang me or behead me or worse.”

“By the gods, calm down!” I say. “It’s not that hard. Just stay on your horse and hit the ball when it comes to you. The rest you’ll pick up as you go.”

“Stay on the horse! Ha! Easy for you to say!“ He stops and stares at me. “Zahra. Oh, Zahra—you have to be my horse.”

My jaw drops. “What?”

He nods to himself, a smile forming. “If I try to ride one of their horses, I’ll look like an idiot. You know I will. I won’t be able to do anything with it. So do the thing you did in the desert—remember? When you turned into—"

“I remember,” I snap irritably. Is this what I’ve come to, Habiba? The last genie in the world—a glorified chougan pony?

“I swear I’ll pay you back somehow.”

I glare hard at him, fail to devise an excuse, and then relent. “Fine. But if you end up getting dumped in the dirt, consider it deserved.”

Aladdin grins. “Absolutely. Um, you do know how to play chougan don’t you?”

With a shrug, I reply, “The rules can’t have changed all that much in five hundred years.” In fact, I’d been there when the game was invented—except back then, the players had used the severed heads of their enemies instead of a ball made from a stuffed sheep’s bladder.

We go outside, into the shade of some olive trees where we are alone, and there I shift into a respectable white chougan pony sixteen hands high, my tail long and flowing, and my mane braided.

I whinny and nudge him roughly in the shoulder, and with a sigh, he takes my reigns and leads me into the stable, where a harried boy runs up to us.

“Your Highness, I have your horse ready—oh.” The stablehand blinks at me. “You’ve got one already. Huh, don’t recognize her. Must be one of the new stock. Well, all right. I’ll take you to the field, if you please, my lord.”

He leads us outside and across the stable yard, to a long green field with neatly trimmed grass and poles driven into either end. The boy hands Aladdin a wooden mallet.

“Good luck, Your Highness!” With a brief bow, the boy is gone.

“Nice kid,” says Aladdin. He swings his mallet experimentally.

Turning my head as if to nuzzle his hair, I whisper, “You’re holding it upside down, idiot. Have you never even seen a match? Aladdin, this sport has been played for centuries! Every prince worth his pedigree starts playing as soon as he’s big enough to ride. You don’t have to be excellent, but at least try for competent.”

“Well, I’m not a prince! And you’ve got horse breath.”

I swat him in the head with my tail.

Presently we are joined by more riders: Darian, Vigo, two other boys, and Caspida and her handmaidens. They are all dressed similarly, wearing short coats over leggings and cloaks that come to their waists. Aladdin is similarly dressed, his outfit having been sent over the night before and hurriedly changed into on our way to the field. Nobles gather on the sidelines, attended by servants bearing cool drinks and flagons of wine. A soft breeze starts up, making the pennants on the chougan poles flutter and snap.

“I guess we’re all here,” says Darian, pulling on a pair of gloves. He looks Aladdin over, and sniggers. “Did those idiots give you the wrong horse, Rashad? I think that one’s supposed to be doing a parade.”

“Ha ha.” Aladdin pats my shoulder, and I stare hard at Darian.

“Looks like there’s one too many of us for even teams,” says Caspida. “So I’ll officiate.”

“Rashad and I will choose teams,” says Darian. “I’ll go first. Vigo, Abid, and Tourak.” The three boys nod and mount up. Aladdin, his jaw clenched, raises an eyebrow at the girls.


Khavar, Ensi, and Nessa ignore the boys and gather around Aladdin, eyeing him up and down.

“So, this is the prince everyone’s talking about,” says Ensi.

Khavar sniffs. “He’s shorter than I expected.”

Aladdin laughs weakly. “You, um, really going to play with that thing?” He eyes the snake draped across Khavar’s shoulders.

She smiles wickedly and strokes its head.

“I’m Nessa,” says Nessa. Her dreadlocks are bound in a thick tail down her back, their silver ends clinking musically when she turns her head. “The smiley one is Ensi, and the grumpy one is Khavar. Don’t worry, Prince Rashad. We can beat these idiots with our eyes closed.”

“Oh, I’m not worried,” Aladdin replies, his voice a bit high. “Not at all. Do I look worried? Because I feel great.”

The girls exchange looks, then Nessa says, “Well, here we go, then.”

“Hurray!” cries Ensi, bouncing. “Let’s win this, team! Say, we need a team name!”

“Oh, gods, Ensi. You make my teeth hurt,” drones Khavar. “Guess we should get this over with. We’ll probably lose anyway.”

“The Radiant Lionesses!” Ensi cries, throwing a victorious fist in the air. “What do you think?”

Khavar makes a gagging noise.

“Personally, I love it,” says Aladdin.

Caspida, seated on a spirited bay mare, canters to the center of the field and waves a long hooked pole at us. Darian’s team rides out to meet her, and Aladdin and the girls saddle up. Thankfully, he manages to get into the saddle relatively smoothly. The girls trot onto the field, and Aladdin leans low and whispers in my ear, “We have to win this. You know that, right?”

Well, if this is how he wants to exact vengeance on his enemy, it’s a far cry better than knifing Darian in the dark, I suppose. I flick my ears in acknowledgement and break into a trot. In the center of the field, the horses gather in a circle with Caspida in the middle. Though the princess’s hair is bound back in a thick braid, strands escape and coil across her face as she slowly turns her horse and addresses us.

“Play fair, now, boys and girls. We’re all friends here.” She gives a hard look at Darian, who rolls his eyes. “May Imohel grant you all favor. Let the game--”

“Wait!” cries Darian. “Don’t you all think we should set the stakes?”

“Stakes?” Caspida frowns. “We don’t usually—"

“I’m just saying,” he interrupts, “it might make things more… interesting.” With this, he turns his stare directly on Aladdin.

My master meets him squarely. “Why not, then? I think it’s a good idea.”

The others nod, and Caspida purses her lips. “Fine. The losers must pay five hundred gold each to the winners.”

Ensi gasps a little. Even for royals, it is an exorbitant sum. Caspida smiles primly at Darian. The prince’s eyes flicker to Aladdin, and then he nods.

“Boring,” says Aladdin. The others look at him in surprise. “I could pick that up in a night gambling at—at cards.” I whicker, knowing he’d almost said the Rings. “I suggest something more interesting.”

“Well?” Darian spits.

“I suggest the winner gets to escort Princess Caspida to the Feast tomorrow night.”

Caspida reddens. “I will not—"

“Done!” Darian says over her, his eyes blazing. He kicks his horse forward and throws out a hand. Aladdin takes it, and the two boys lock gazes as if they were swords. Caspida, angrily, rides out of the circle without another word. The two teams break apart, the boys eyeing Darian uneasily and the girls whispering to each other. I feel Aladdin’s tension in the grip of his legs around my belly, and I snort and toss my head, getting him to ease up.

“Sorry,” he mutters.

The game begins abruptly, with Darian smacking the ball and sending it sailing toward our goal. Khavar sweeps it up and passes it to Ensi, who streaks downfield on her nimble gray pony, but her shot goes wide and nearly knocks the head off Vigo’s shoulders. Back and forth we go, the intensity of the game picking up as the horses and players settle into a rhythm. I am everywhere, wheeling and sprinting, getting lost in the joy of movement, the scent of the grass, the cheers of the crowd. I haven’t played this game since I was in your court, Habiba, and had forgotten how exhilarating it is. Of course, back then I was a rider, not a horse, but I almost enjoy this more. Aladdin lets me take the lead, smacking the ball with his mallet when we draw abreast of it, and he even scores a few. Caspida rides up and down, watching closely and calling fouls when she sees them. She is cold toward Aladdin and Darian, and calls more fouls against them than anyone else.

After a while, Aladdin begins sensing my moves before I make them, and responds by leaning, tensing, and anticipating my turns. For an untrained rider, he learns quickly. Before long we move as one, extensions of one another, falling into a rhythm that makes me heady. His energy and drive pour through me, and while the other horses gradually tire, my muscles only strengthen, my lungs expand. I am wind, Aladdin fire, and we burn together. Soon, the crowd is cheering for us, and Caspida’s eyes flash with curious approval.

When we near the end of the game, the score is too close to call, and Aladdin starts tensing up again. The other players have stopped laughing and whooping and now focus with intensity, hitting harder, riding sloppier, and making more fouls.

Then Aladdin gets the ball, and drives it toward the goal. I gallop after it, neck stretched out, nostrils flaring. Clumps of grass fly from my hooves. The crowd holds its breath and leans in, and I know I know I know we have it—

Out of nowhere Darian rides in, yanking his horse’s reins and baring his teeth. His mouth collides with me roughly but I push back, determined to stay on course.

“What are you playing at?” Darian hisses. “Caspida is mine. She has been mine since birth!”

“You’re a bastard,” Aladdin replies through his teeth. “She’s superior to you in every sense.”

With a snarl, Darian swings his mallet at Aladdin. My master ducks, but it catches him on the shoulder and knocks him from my back. I stop short, skidding a little, and spin around. Darian rides on, collecting the ball and driving it toward the other goal.

“Stop!” Caspida cries, running to intervene. The prince barrels on, scoring easily, as the other players dismount and rush to Aladdin’s side. The crowd lets out soft ahhs, their attention on Aladdin. Darian’s score goes unnoticed.

“Is he okay?” Caspida asks, swinging down from her saddle. Ensi is already kneeling by Aladdin.

“He’s conscious, but a bit groggy.”

“I’m fine,” Aladdin moans.

“Easy,” says Ensi, pressing a hand to his chest. Her eyes glow a bit too eagerly. “Let’s get that looked at first. Take your shirt off.”

“Ah—thanks, but really, I’m fine.” Aladdin pulls away from her, his hand moving protectively to the lamp. Ensi looks disappointed.

“We’re just trying to help,” says Caspida. She turns to the crowd and yells for a physician, but Aladdin is already climbing to his feet. He leans on me for support.

“It wasn’t that bad,” he says. “Really, Princess. I’m okay. Let me check on my horse.”

Fending off their offers of assistance, he rubs my neck and whispers, “You all right?”

I bob my head in reply and he looks relieved. At that moment, Darian rides up, sliding from his saddle even before his horse stops.

“I won!” he says breathlessly.

“You idiot!” Caspida whirls on him. “You could have seriously hurt him! What were you thinking?”

“What? He fell! He faked it, to get you to stop the game, because he knew I had the ball.”

Aladdin laughs in disbelief as the girls raise their voices against Darian. Caspida shushes them all with a wave.

“Enough. I’m the one calling this game, and I say no winner. It’s a tie.”

Darian and Aladdin erupt in protests, but she ignores them and adds, “As if I’d have let you fight over me anyway! I’m going to the Feast with myself, you imbeciles. If you want to have a pissing contest, fine—but leave me out of it!”

She storms away, leading her pony, and the other girls follow. I step closer to Aladdin, ready to kick any of them in the face if they make a move against him. But Darian only spits on the ground between them and turns on his heel, throwing down his mallet and leaving the horse for the stablehands to collect. His friends follow, Vigo tossing Aladdin an apologetic look.

And then we are alone. Aladdin sighs and takes my reigns, leading me toward the stables. When we are hidden behind the building, I transform back into my servant guise.

“Well, that was the stupidest thing you’ve done yet,” I say even before I’ve finished shifting. “Really? Making a wager of her, as if she weren’t even there? Oh, that will win you her love, all right.”

Aladdin beats his head against the wall of the stables. “As soon as I said it, I knew, I knew I was going to regret it, but the words just kept coming…” Miserably, he turns and slides down the wall, until he’s sitting with his legs splayed and his head hanging. “If I made a wish to just disappear, could you do it?”

I strum my lips thoughtfully. “It would be a first, but yes, I could. Might be fun, actually.”

He groans and lets his chin fall to his chest.

“Stop feeling sorry for yourself.” I grab his hand and pull him to his feet. “There’s still hope, even for idiots. Fahradan is in two weeks, after all. The Festival of Hamor, guardian of lovers and fools. You won’t get a more auspicious night than that.”


How fun was that? I definitely want to check out The Forbidden Wish!

As a reminder, here are all the books you'll be playing for from the Orange Team!

Thank you so much for visiting my website! I'd love to know if you've entered YASH before. Let me know in the comments. Also, while you’re here, don’t forget to enter the rafflecopter BONUS contest below that I'm running exclusively during the YA Scavenger Hunt. I'm giving away a paperback copy of book two in The Zone series, LIFE IN THE LUCKY ZONE. You must be 16 years or older, or have the permission of a guardian to enter.


To keep going on your quest for the hunt, click the link to head over to Lynne Matson's website.

Good Luck!

  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
bottom of page