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Today I'm happy to share More, the latest release by Keren Hughes, who happens to be a great author and a total sweetheart. If you haven't read her books yet, you need to.
Drake Anderson is all the man Annalise Duncan ever wanted…
Annalise has it all. The perfect husband. The perfect son. The perfect life. After the father of her son Ayden abandoned her to be a single parent, she finally felt like she hit the romance jackpot. Her boss, Drake Anderson, turned out to be more than just a friend. He’s the love of her life, and an amazing stepfather to her son.
But the picture perfect marriage is merely an illusion…
After seven wonderful years, Drake leaves. He doesn’t give her a reason, or even the courtesy of a return phone call. Six months go by without even a single acknowledgement. Annalise is devastated. Her heart and soul belonged to Drake, and he was the only father Ayden ever knew. She’d dedicated her life to him and the family they built together, and she isn’t willing to let that dream go easily.
When Annalise spots Drake out at a café with a woman, her heart shatters all over again. But it’s not what Annalise thinks. He isn’t cheating on her. There are things about leaving that Drake just can’t or won’t explain. Some things should remain a secret.
He wants his old life back, but Annalise won’t accept anything but the truth…
Drake has to find a way to convince his wife, his Cariad, to take him back, but it may mean facing a truth he wanted to keep hidden. He must prove to Annalise that despite his past, he wants her…
Keren lives in the UK and is an avid bookworm. She fondly remembers the days where she would lie in her bedroom away from distraction and get lost in the world of make believe. Her first real memory of reading something she fell in love with was The Hobbit. In her teenage years, she became addicted to Point Horror books like RL Stine's The Boyfriend, but she also enjoyed light Summer reads like What Katy Did and What Katy Did Next.
Over the years she has come to realise that she is a bit of an OCD freak about books. They have to be in perfect condition without the slightest bit of damage. She has been a book reviewer for the last few years and a book hoarder for a LOT longer. You can NEVER have too many books! Her shelves are bulging and overflowing but she always wants "just one more book".
Keren had her first book published by Limitless Publishing in November 2013. It's a YA Paranormal Romance novel called Stolen. Her second book was published with LP in May 2014. This time, an NA Contemporary Romance called Nothing Like The First Time. She couldn't have been more surprised when NLTFT appeared on the Amazon Best Seller list. That was a dream come true.
Keren is currently working on more NA Contemporary Romances for you to fall in love with.
Keren loves hearing from her readers.
You can reach her by email at email@example.com Visit her author blog here: www.authorkerentshughes.wordpress.com Facebook Profile: www.facebook.com/keren.hughes.92 or Facebook Page: www.facebook.com/kerentshughes
*Want your YA, NA, or MG book featured on my blog? Contact me here and we'll set it up. Add a Comment
Red pandas? Done. Quokkas? Yawn. Pikas? Boooring. Here are six reasons why you need to know about the olinguito.
1. The discovery of the olinguito was only just announced in 2013, meaning this cutie is ready to take over the internet!
2. It looks like a cross between a cat and a teddy bear. ‘Nuff said.
3. It is an adept jumper that can leap from tree to tree in the forest canopy. Skillzzz!
4. Scientists hope that the olinguito might serve as a charismatic ambassador for the conservation of dwindling Andean cloud forest habitats. How can anyone say no to that face?
5. As Kristofer Helgen, curator of mammals at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History, says, “The discovery of the olinguito shows us that the world is not yet completely explored, its most basic secrets not yet revealed. If new carnivores can still be found, what other surprises await us? So many of the world’s species are not yet known to science. Documenting them is the first step toward understanding the full richness and diversity of life on Earth.”
Award-winning author and illustrator Lulu Delacre uses lyrical text in both Spanish and English to take readers to the magical world of a cloud forest in the Andes of Ecuador. Discover the bounty of plants, animals, and other organisms that live there, and of course help a zoologist look for the elusive olinguito!
Julia is depressed. Ever since her mom died, it's been hard for Julia to enjoy life, even when she's spending a year studying in Rome. But when an ancient curse attaches itself to her, Julia realizes that she isn't ready to give up. With the help of Fernando, a too-charming-for-words guy from her art history class (and the heir to a black market antiquities business), Julia feels like she might have a second chance at everything. But time is running out, and the curse makes it a matter of life or death. Can Julia and Nando break the curse, or is it already too late?
And keep an eye out for Curse of Gold coming August 2, 2016!
Some curses aren’t meant to be broken…
When Riley moved to London to get her graduate degree, she never thought of herself as dangerous. But when a guy she loves drops dead, Riley starts to believe in the family curse. Her eccentric grandmother insists that it’s up to Riley to break the centuries-old curse that has plagued the family, but all Riley has to go on are Gran’s cryptic remarks and a little bit of mostly awful luck.
Her luck changes for the better when she meets Tom, a scholar with a treasure-hunting hobby who knows more about Riley’s curse than either of them realize. Despite the risks, Riley is drawn to Tom, but her curse prevents her from acting on the growing attraction. Will their combined love of esoteric history be enough to break the curse, or will Riley remain deadly to anyone who falls for her?
Jen McConnel is an award winning author. She writes Young Adult and New Adult fiction, nonfiction, and poetry. When she isn’t writing, she can be found on her yoga mat, teaching, or wandering off on another adventure. She grew up in mid-Michigan, attending Western Michigan University, and now lives with her family in North Carolina. She holds a MS in Library Science from Clarion University of Pennsylvania, and she is currently working on her MFA in Children’s Literature at Hollins University.
Visit http://www.jenmcconnel.com to learn more.
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A LOVE THAT DISTURBS by Medeia Sharif Evernight Teen, June 17, 2016 Purchase from Amazon (merchant sites will be updated on the author's site) Maysa Mazari is alarmed by her mother’s talk about arranged marriage. As a hijab-wearing Pakistani-American, she wants to find love on her own. Her judgmental Muslim clique has protected her from racist taunts, although the leader is turning on her as Maysa strays from the group because of her attraction to Haydee. Haydee Gomez is a former gang member and juvenile detention student. Now living with a clean-cut aunt, she wants to turn her life around, even though one person will never let her forget her roots—Rafe, her abusive pimp. Haydee attempts to pull away from a life of prostitution when she develops feelings for Maysa, although Rafe isn’t willing to give her up too easily. Finding themselves in danger from Maysa’s friends and Haydee’s pimp, it’s apparent their love disturbs everyone around them as they fight to stay together.
Today I'm happy to share the cover of At First Blush by Beth Ellyn Summer!
Lacey Robbins has one goal for the summer: hit one million subscribers on her YouTube beauty channel. Working as an On Trend magazine video blogger is just the platform she needs to get there, but falling for the cover boy, rock star Tyler Lance, was not part of her plan--especially since his dating history is longer than her Sephora wish list.
She can't avoid him for long though, not when it's her job to film vlogs with him. As Lacey and Tyler grow closer on and off camera, her channel becomes popular for all the wrong reasons, and the two YouTubers she's working with officially hate her. Lacey's only solace is spending time with Kendall Wynn, On Trend'sresident makeup artist. Kendall's scattered, carefree approach to makeup reminds Lacey why she ever picked up a tube of lipstick in the first place.
Nothing about this summer is going according to Lacey's perfect plan, and pretty soon she learns that filming makeup tutorials is easy. It's real life that could use some editing.
Beth Ellyn Summer writes contemporary young adult fiction that somehow always includes the following elements: fame, makeup, and television. She graduated from Long Island University with a degree in Print and Electronic Journalism. Interning for Conan O'Brien and Jimmy Fallon was the highlight of her college years. When she's not writing, Beth can be found swatching eyeshadows, solving Wheel of Fortune puzzles, and playing with her adorable cat, Penny Belle. Beth lives on Long Island in a cookie cutter town that, in an ironic twist of fate, doesn't have a single decent bakery.
We can hardly believe how fast the year is flying by! Memorial Day weekend is just around the corner, which means summer is officially here. We’re looking forward to nice weather, beaches, and of course, our new titles out this month!
We’re very excited to introduce our new May releases – there’s sure to be something for everyone!
By Sylvia Liu, illus. by Christina Forshay
Hardcover, 32 pages
Ages 5 to 8
A curious and active Chinese American girl spends the day learning tai chi from her grandfather, and in turn tries to teach him how to do yoga. Winner of our New Voices Award.
“Debut author Liu scores with a sweet story about the joys of intergenerational relationships. The love between the two shines through in both text and illustrations. A fine example of contemporary multicultural literature.” —Kirkus Reviews
By Gwendolyn Hooks, illus. by Colin Bootman
Hardcover, 32 pages
Ages 7 to 12
The life story of Vivien Thomas, an African American surgical technician who developed the first procedure used to perform open-heart surgery on children.
“Beyond the crucial message of perseverance and spotlight on prejudiced attitudes that still resonate today, this middle-grade picture book illuminates the life of little-known man whose innovations continue to be essential to modern medicine.” —Booklist, starred review
By Kimberly Reid
Hardcover, 384 pages
Ages 12 and up
Andrea Faraday, a society girl with a sketchy past, leads a crew of juvie kids in using their criminal skills for good.
“Crime, intrigue, and deceit abound in this novel about a biracial teen embracing her criminal instincts in order to thwart a treacherous plot. Gripping, suspenseful, and refreshingly diverse.” —Kirkus Reviews, starred review
Today, I'm excited to share a book I acquired and edited for Leap Books Seek. I feel in love with The Haunted Stepsister immediately for several reasons. First, Medeia's writing is great. Second, it's about a haunted bathroom! Third, this is a diverse book.
If you haven't checked out The Haunted Stepsister yet, give it a try. You won't be disappointed.
Sixth grade isn’t easy for Jesenya Moradi, especially since her father's recent remarriage and tension with her new stepsister, Kammy. After an incident at school that nearly destroyed Kammy's life, Jess has been desperate to get on Kammy’s good side. But a fateful trip to an allegedly haunted bathroom changes both girls’ lives forever.
The rumors about the bathroom are true, and now Jess is convinced a demon's possessing Kammy. Eerie things happen whenever she's around – flying objects, flickering lights, not to mention the fact that something, or someone, is making people into its puppets.
Worse, the demon seems fixated on making Jess confess her part in ruining Kammy's reputation. Sticking to her Muslim faith, Jess enlists the help of an imam to exorcise the demon from Kammy. But can they get rid of the demon before it destroys her new family?
Medeia Sharif was born in New York City and presently calls Miami her home. She received her master's degree in psychology from Florida Atlantic University. Published through various presses, she writes middle grade and young adult short stories and novels. In addition to being a writer, she's a public school teacher.
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Today, I'm excited to share Sarah Jude's latest book, which just released on Tuesday. Sarah is awesome and her book looks amazing! Check out The May Queen Murders.
Stay on the roads. Don’t enter the woods. Never go out at night.
Those are the rules in Rowan’s Glen, a remote farming community in the Missouri Ozarks where Ivy Templeton’s family has lived for centuries. It’s an old-fashioned way of life, full of superstition and traditions, and sixteen-year-old Ivy loves it. The other kids at school may think the Glen kids are weird, but Ivy doesn’t care—she has her cousin Heather as her best friend. The two girls share everything with each other—or so Ivy thinks. When Heather goes missing after a May Day celebration, Ivy discovers that both her best friend and her beloved hometown are as full of secrets as the woods that surround them. Excerpt:
Kerosene slopped from the rusty pail and splashed against the abandoned stable. Fumes burned my eyes but didn’t blur my father’s silhouette as he faced the building, bucket in hand. It would burn and, with it, the body inside.
“Go to hell!”
Papa’s shoulders twisted as he wheeled back, shouting, sweeping the pail around. More kerosene rained against the wood while bile scorched my throat. I was too tired to get sick on the hay, my body wasted from screaming. I wiped my hand over my mouth and something snagged my lip. My fingernail was missing, a ragged root jutting from the bloody bed. Bitten off and swallowed by someone who wanted me dead.
This ain’t real.
Yet I smelled the kerosene and felt the spring air and the dust in my nose, my feet firm on the ground. No matter how my mind ached to fly away, it tethered to a stark truth. This was real.
“Ivy, stay back,” Papa warned, and then looked to Mama, close by with an antique lantern shedding dim light. The night sky swelled with clouds like spiders’ egg sacs ready to burst, but the storm would miss Rowan’s Glen. The hay, the ground, the stable were kindling-dry, and every movement kicked up brown clouds. Mama pulled me until we were safely away. The clink of her silver bracelets racked together as she eased her arm around my shoulder.
“Don’t worry.” Mama’s still-thick Mexican accent lilted her voice, but her expression was stoic except for a pinch around her eyes. That blankness scared me.
“This must be done,” she whispered.
I wadded my fingers into my long skirt. The blue patchwork was smeared with blood and dirt. Last summer, my cousin Heather and I sewed peasant skirts together. They flared when I spun, round and round, always with Heather.
The last time I saw Heather, she was wearing a skirt with red ruffles.
Papa trailed kerosene on the ground and retreated from the stable before tossing the pail inside. I couldn’t see into the shadows. The body lying on the stone floor might yet have a pulse. A shiver tugged at my neck, my chest rising and falling with shallow breaths. One clear thought pierced my mind’s muddle, and it sickened me.
I wanted that body to burn.
“Timothy.” Mama fished a book of matches from a pocket in her apron and gave them to Papa. He took the matches and stretched one hand to hold mine. He was strong. My throat ached when I swallowed, from being choked in an attempt to silence me. Now I said nothing as Papa struck the match.
The fire didn’t whoosh to life. First, the match hit the ground and breathed. Then a blue worm of flames emerged from the earth and devoured one blot of fuel before moving to the next. Upon reaching the stable, the worm bloated into a dragon that blazed yellow and orange. The wood planks hammered by my great-great-grandfather when he was young crackled, bone-dry from drought. Fire twisted through the stable while coils of smoke erupted from the windows. The pulse of the body inside thump-thumped in my head. Frantic. Dying.
“Mama?” I whimpered.
“It’s only fair,” she said.
Papa didn’t speak. Rage had made him do the unspeakable. For me, even though I’d survived. But also for those who hadn’t. Fire was cleansing. Fire was vengeance. The flames burned red, as red as the ruffles of Heather’s skirt. As red as Heather’s hair.
SARAH JUDE lives by the woods and has an owl that lands on her chimney every night. She grew up believing you had to hold your breath when passing a graveyard. Now she writes about cemeteries, murder, and folklore. She resides in Missouri with her husband, three children, and two dogs. When she's not writing, she can be found volunteering at a stable for disabled riders. Visit her website at www.sarahjude.com.
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Today, I'm happy to share One Smoking Hot Fairy Tail by my fellow Corvisiero author, Kevin James Breaux. I have to say I love this cover.
America’s population is slowly dying due to an epidemic, and Alexander, an ancient, immortal shaman, has medicine that can heal people. It has one small side effect—Alexander’s able to control the minds of anyone taking the drug, nicknamed “dust.”
Alexander plans to take over the country once dust is released to the general public, crushing anyone who stands in the way. He needs just a little bit more of a certain magical ingredient to make the medication work properly: fairy wings.
An intelligent, stunning fairy, Sabrina was also America’s sweetheart—until a video of a crime she was involved in surfaces, nearly destroying her. A year later, she’s finally ready to step back into the spotlight. Together with her bodyguard, Mira, a water spirit in human form, Sabrina’s prepared to start over.
Things are starting to look up until she meets Alexander in a club and goes from social outcast to tortured captive in the blink of an eye. Will she be able to escape the evil shaman and his mind-controlled slaves in time to save herself and everyone she cares about?
Kevin James Breaux is an award-winning author and artist. He has over eight years of professional writing credit, including short stories and novels and has completed seven books.
He is a member of the Horror Writers Association, Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America, and the Erotic Authors Association.
Breaux has a growing fan base, including foreign markets in Great Britain and other parts of Europe, and has never stopped striving to better himself as an author as well as to encourage his fellow writers. His motto is Write Makes Might! He is passionate about his craft, while understanding that writing is his business.
Breaux is represented by Marisa A. Corvisiero, the founder of the Corvisiero Literary Agency.
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Shame the Stars is set to be released Fall 2016! We’re excited to share a first look at the cover with you today.
Eighteen-year-old Joaquín del Toro’s future looks bright. With his older brother in the priesthood, he’s set to inherit his family’s Texas ranch. He’s in love with Dulceña—and she’s in love with him. But it’s 1915, and trouble has been brewing along the US-Mexico border. On one side, the Mexican Revolution is taking hold; on the other, Texas Rangers fight Tejano insurgents, and ordinary citizens are caught in the middle.
As tensions grow, Joaquín is torn away from Dulceña, whose father’s critical reporting on the Rangers in the local newspaper has driven a wedge between their families. Joaquín’s own father insists that the Rangers are their friends, and refuses to take sides in the conflict. But when their family ranch becomes a target, Joaquín must decide how he will stand up for what’s right.
Shame the Stars is a rich reimagining of Romeo and Juliet set in Texas during the explosive years of Mexico’s revolution. Filled with period detail, captivating romance, and political intrigue, it brings Shakespeare’s classic to life in an entirely new way.
Thanks to YA Interrobang for hosting the cover reveal! We can’t wait to hear what you think of the cover.
It's here! I think I'm even more excited for the release of this book than I was for the rerelease of Into the Fire because this one is new to everyone. This trilogy just gets better as it goes along in my opinion. Don't take my word for it though. Read it and decide for yourself.
Seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman’s worst nightmare has come true…
She’s been reborn as a Phoenix and has forgotten everything from her first life—including Logan Schmidt. He’s handsome and protective, but with no recollection, he can’t be trusted.
Accused of being a Hunter, Logan’s mortality is put to the test…
Logan isn’t willing to admit he and Cara are over—not even after he watches her rise from her own ashes.
While the other Phoenixes are convinced Logan is a sworn enemy, a group of deadly Hunters are sure he is a Phoenix. Only being guilty of loving Cara, he must prove them all wrong—and convince Cara she loves him.
However, a magical link may be the demise of Logan’s devotion…
With the Hunters hot on their heels, it’s up to Logan to save Cara. But when the dagger calls out, Logan is drawn to its power.
Cara’s missing memories may not be the only obstacle standing between her and Logan. Their relationship isn’t just complicated—it’s deadly. And when Cara finds herself at a crossroad, she is forced to choose…
She can plunge into the darkness of her treacherous fate, or use her Phoenix instincts to once again rise Out of The Ashes.
I'm really happy to feature my fellow Limitless author, Savannah Blevins. First, look how gorgeous the cover of Frog Hollow is!
It's a sign. No one is safe.
At just twenty-two years old, Wilhelmina Daniels inherits a house, a family of eclectic witches, and a death sentence on the same day. As revealed by Reid Thomas, her shy but smoldering neighbor, Wilhelmina is a descendent of the Innocent--a line of gifted women who are to be admired, feared, and above all else, protected.
Death, mayhem, and The Haunted...
The murder of Wilhelmina's mother--the family matriarch--sends the small town's rumor-mill into a frenzy. Suspicions fall on The Haunted, a rival force with dual personalities, one of them being Julien Cote.It's difficult to believe the charming boy has a sexual deviant with a hankering for violence lurking inside.Rumor has it Julien can seduce an angel out of her wings. Wilhelmina doesn't have wings, but if he calls her cheri d'amour one more time, she's liable to lose something of equal importance--her heart. But with Reid hailing from her clan, will she stay close to her own, or venture into the unknown?
Even a powerful spell can't seal Julien's fate…
Julien knows an incantation that just might help Wilhelmina to solve her mother's death, but when an unidentified stalker is spotted spying in her house, her family is certain it's Julien's dangerous alter ego come out to play.Wilhelmina must decide--is risking her life worth the possible heartbreak of discovering the truth about Julien's fate and her mother's death? Or will she cast aside her desire for Julien and vow her love to Reid.
Leaving her past forever buried in the murky depth of...Frog Hollow
And doesn't the book sound amazing? I need to read this one. Grab your copy here. Oh, and if you have Kindle Unlimited, you can grab this book for FREE!
Savannah was born in Hyden, Kentucky. She received her M.S in Speech Language Pathology from The University of Mississippi in 2009. She's been writing since the early age of nine when she begged her parents for a type writer for Christmas.
She now lives in Corbin, Ky with her husband of eight years, John, and their two wonderful daughters, Delilah and Gracie.
When she isn't working, or running after her kids, she spends her free time traveling the country with her husband. There is nothing better than a day of football in the grove, a late night of basketball at Rupp Arena or slapping the glass to celebrate another Washington Capitals goal.
She is a strong believer that with enough hard work and determination you can accomplish anything.
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Blackhearts by Nicole Castroman Hardcover Giveaway U.S. Only Simon Pulse Released 2/9/2016
Blackbeard the pirate was known for striking fear in the hearts of the bravest of sailors. But once he was just a young man who dreamed of leaving his rigid life behind to chase adventure in faraway lands. Nothing could stop him—until he met the one girl who would change everything.
Edward "Teach" Drummond, son of one of Bristol's richest merchants, has just returned from a year-long journey on the high seas to find his life in shambles. Betrothed to a girl he doesn’t love and sick of the high society he was born into, Teach dreams only of returning to the vast ocean he’d begun to call home. There's just one problem: convincing his father to let him leave and never come back.
Following her parents' deaths, Anne Barrett is left penniless and soon to be homeless. Though she’s barely worked a day in her life, Anne is forced to take a job as a maid in the home of Master Drummond. Lonely days stretch into weeks, and Anne longs for escape. How will she ever realize her dream of sailing to Curaçao—where her mother was born—when she's stuck in England?
From the moment Teach and Anne meet, they set the world ablaze. Drawn to each other, they’re trapped by society and their own circumstances. Faced with an impossible choice, they must decide to chase their dreams and go, or follow their hearts and stay.
Almost Midnight by C.C. Hunter - Ellie M. Banished by Kimberley Griffiths Little - Kimberly V. Games Wizards Play by Diane Duane - Caitlin O. Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell - Stephanie H.
MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS
Red Ink by Julie Mayhew Hardcover Candlewick Released 2/9/2016
A sharp-witted teenager discovers surprising truths after her mother’s death in a wry and heartrending novel touching on denial, identity, and family lore.
When her mother is knocked down and killed by a London bus, fifteen-year-old Melon Fouraki is left with no family worth mentioning. Her mother, Maria, never did introduce her to a living, breathing father. The indomitable Auntie Aphrodite, meanwhile, is hundreds of miles away on a farm in Crete, and she is not likely to jump on a plane to come to East Finchley anytime soon. But at least Melon has The Story. The Story is the Fouraki family fairy tale. A story is something.
Balanced with tenderness and humor, this time-shifting novel offers a narrator by turns angry and vulnerable, hurt and defiant as she struggles with sudden grief—and the unfolding process of finding out who she really is.
Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Red Ink?
I am endlessly intrigued by the stories we tell and, in particular, the stories we tell ourselves to make life feel achievable and bearable, and sometimes to make it magical. So this is the part of Red Ink I love the most, the story that Maria tells and also the story that Melon tells herself. I’m fascinated by what happens when people realise the stories they have told themselves are not true. Many of the characters I write in my books and plays are emerging from denial and are forced to make change. It can feel like a disaster when it’s happening to you but it’s actually a brilliant beginning. A butterfly moment. The other reason I love this aspect of the book is because I enjoy hearing other people’s family anecdotes. You know they’ve been embellished over the years to make them bigger and funnier, but I don’t care. That it’s a good story is what matters.
Little White Lies by Brianna Baker and F. Bowman Hastie Hardcover Soho Teen Released 2/9/2016
Seventeen-year-old honors student Coretta White's Tumblr, Little White Lies--a witty commentary on race and current events, as well as an exposé of her brilliant-yet-clueless parents--has just gone viral. She's got hundreds of thousands of followers; she's even been offered a TV deal. But Coretta has a confession: she hasn't been writing her own posts. Overwhelmed with the stress of keeping up with her schoolwork and applying for colleges, she has secretly hired a forty-one-year-old ghostwriter named Karl Ristoff to help her with the Tumblr. His contributions have helped make it a sensation, but unable to bear the guilt, Coretta eventually confesses the scandalous truth to a select few to free herself of the burden.
The fallout is almost instantaneous. Before she knows it, her reputation has been destroyed. The media deal disappears. Even her boyfriend breaks up with her. Then Karl is thrust into the limelight, only to suffer a precipitous fall himself. Ultimately, the two join forces to find out who is responsible for ruining both of their lives . . . someone who might even have had the power to fuel their success in the first place. And to exact justice and a clever revenge, they must truly come clean to each other.
Peas and Carrots by Tanita S. Davis Hardcover Knopf Books for Young Readers Released 2/9/2016
A rich and memorable story from a Coretta Scott King honor award-winning author about a teenage foster girl looking for a place to call home.
Dess knows that nothing good in life lasts: her mother’s sobriety will inevitably fade, her abusive father’s absence is never long enough, and her brother Austin—the one bright spot in their family—was put into foster care when he was still a baby. Disappointment is never far away, and that’s a truth that Dess has learned to live with.
Dess’s mother’s arrest is just the latest in a long line of disappointments, but this one lands the teen with Austin’s foster family. Dess doesn’t exactly fit in with the Carters. They’re so happy, so comfortable, so normal, and Hope, their teenage daughter, is so hopelessly naïve to the harsh realities of the world. Dess and Hope couldn’t be more unlike each other, but Austin loves them both like sisters. Over time their differences, insurmountable at first, fall away to reveal two girls who want the same thing: to belong.
Reign of Shadows by Sophie Jordan Hardcover HarperTeen Released 2/9/2016
Seventeen years ago, an eclipse cloaked the kingdom of Relhok in perpetual darkness. In the chaos, an evil chancellor murdered the king and queen and seized their throne. Luna, Relhok’s lost princess, has been hiding in a tower ever since. Luna’s survival depends on the world believing she is dead.
But that doesn’t stop Luna from wanting more. When she meets Fowler, a mysterious archer braving the woods outside her tower, Luna is drawn to him despite the risk. When the tower is attacked, Luna and Fowler escape together. But this world of darkness is more treacherous than Luna ever realized.
With every threat stacked against them, Luna and Fowler find solace in each other. But with secrets still unspoken between them, falling in love might be their most dangerous journey yet.
You know when you see a book cover and it brings tears to your eyes because it's just so perfect? Well, that's how I felt when Limitless Publishing sent me the cover of Into the Fire. Deranged Doctor blew me away. I mean this is Cara. Right down to the freaky red streaks she has in her hair and her sapphire eyes. And that Phoenix emblem! Oh wait…you haven't seen it yet! ;) Okay, check out the GORGEOUS new cover!
In one month’s time, seventeen-year-old Cara Tillman will die and be reborn from her own ashes…
Her life of secrecy has never been easy. She’s watched her younger brother, Jeremy, burn and rise again in a coming-of-age process called rebirth. And just like her brother, when her time comes, she won’t remember anything from her first life other than she’s a Phoenix—a member of a small group of people descended from the mythical Phoenix bird.
The last thing she needs to worry about is falling for the new guy in town—Logan Schmidt.
Cara is drawn to Logan in a way she can’t explain, but she’s not exactly complaining. Everything is perfect…except it’s not. Once she’s reborn, she’ll forget Logan. And to make things worse, a Phoenix Hunter is on the loose, and Cara’s involvement with Logan is bringing out her Phoenix qualities—the very qualities that will draw the Hunter right to her.
Desperate times call for desperate measures…
Afraid of hurting Logan, Cara breaks it off for good. But her attraction to him runs deeper than a typical high school crush. She wants him—needs him. And if he proves willing to stay by her side, their love might destroy them both.
Can Cara hide from the Phoenix Hunters long enough to survive her rebirth? And if so, will it mean a new beginning with Logan—or the beginning of the end?
So, what do you think? I can't tell you how much time I've spent staring at this cover. The book is now up on Goodreads, so you can add it to your shelf here. Want the book to arrive on your Kindle on release day? Preorder it here NOW.
Alto, allá arriba en los Andes brilla un bosque bordado de bromelias… High up in the Andes blooms a brilliant forest embroidered with bromeliads . . .
Set to be released this spring, ¡Olinguito, de la A a la Z! / Olinguito, from A to Z! : Descubriendo el bosque nublado / Unveiling the Cloud Foresttakes readers into the magical world of a cloud forest in the Andes of Ecuador. We discover the bounty of plants, animals, and other organisms that live there as we help a zoologist look for the elusive olinguito, the first new mammal species identified in the Americas since 1978. It has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly, School Library Journal, and Kirkus Reviews, which called it “a breath of fresh air in the too-often-contrived world of bilingual books.”
We asked Lulu to take us behind the scenes of her exquisite art process to make the cloud forest come alive:
I spent an average of ten days working from eight to ten hours per day creating each spread.
The first thing I did was to transfer the sketch to the Arches watercolor paper. Then I decided which areas would be collaged printed patterns and which would be painted in flat acrylic colors.
I prepared the patterned backgrounds pressing leaves gathered in the cloud forest dipped in ink and stamped onto rice paper.
With an X-Acto knife I cut out the shapes of texturized paper and pasted them into the background. I used archival glue and micro tweezers to affix the collage elements in their precise positions.
Next I prepared all the shades of acrylics that I would need for the spread and stored them in small clear jars. Each section of a color required several thin coats to achieve the rich look I was looking for.
Once the spread was entirely painted I had fun selecting pressed ferns from the forest to affix to the art. This was a delicate process as some of the pressed leaves and ferns are paper thin.
The last thing was to create the letters for the spread. I wanted a layered look, recreating the natural layers of flora in the forest, so I drew the letters on vellum paper and cut out them out. I taped the letters onto a vellum square and with careful precision affixed the letter in the spot it was intended to be.
Happy first day of February! It's hard to believe that the first month of 2016 is already over - surely New Year's Eve was just last week?!? But this month is already starting out great with fifteen new YA releases. Plus we have interviews from five of the authors and four of the novels to give away. With such a great selection, it should be easy to find a book or two to curl up with under the covers on a cold winter day.
Banished by Kimberley Griffiths Little Signed Full Series plus Swag Giveaway U.S. Only HarperCollins Released 2/2/2016
She thought she’d lost everything . . .
After spending months traveling the harsh, unforgiving Mesopotamian desert, Jayden reunites with a broken, injured Kadesh. Although everyone was convinced the violent and unpredictable Horeb, Jayden’s betrothed, killed the handsome prince, Jayden knew in her heart that her love was alive and safe. But their reunion is short-lived, as they learn Horeb is on their trail and determined to take back the girl he has claimed. Soon, the two star-crossed lovers are on the run toward Sariba, Kadesh’s homeland, where, as heir to the Kingdom, he plans to make Jayden his princess.
But the trek to Sariba is fraught with heartache and danger. After narrowly escaping being stoned to death for a crime she didn’t commit, and learning that her sister has disappeared, Jayden’s only solace is her love for Kadesh. But even he is keeping secrets from her . . . secrets that will change everything.
This gorgeous and enchanting sequel to Forbidden, is full of love, danger, and heated passion that will leave readers breathless.
Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Banished?
My goal was to write a second book that was not just a filler to get to the climax of Book 3. I wanted to truly develop the story of Jayden and Kadesh in BANISHED With a new story ARC, new characters, and a new setting that develops the world of Jayden and Kadesh more fully and more dangerously. Their relationship also changes and Jayden is challenged in several new ways and grows so much more than she did in the first book, FORBIDDEN.
I was extremely excited to get this marvelous review from Booklist that says exactly that: “Jayden achieves almost superhero status, moving from adventure to adventure—not even a near-death stoning can stop her . . . just as good is the pacing, which gets the blood pumping for both characters and readers. Far more than a bridge book, this will heighten anticipation for a no-doubt exciting conclusion.”
Almost Midnight by C.C. Hunter Paperback plus Swag Giveaway U.S. Only St. Martin's Griffin Released 2/2/2016
Nestled deep in the woods, Shadow Falls is a secret camp where teens with supernatural powers learn to harness their abilities and live in the normal world.
Independent and strong-willed Della Tsang did not believe in vampires...until she became one. Chase Tallman is the newest member of Shadow Falls, but what made him into the sexy, mysterious vampire he is today? And what led him to Della Tsang? And for Miranda Kane, magic has always been something she's struggled with, but when an opportunity to test her powers takes her to Paris, she'll have to prove that she's a witch to be reckoned with and belongs at Shadow Falls.
Fans won't want to miss these four remarkable stories of love, magic and friendship.
Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Almost Midnight?
ALMOST MIDNIGHT is an anthology of Shadow Falls novellas. There are five different stories in the book and each one had something that makes it special to me. But when writing FIERCE, the one never before published story, I fell in love with the lead character Fredericka Lakota. And I think my favorite part was seeing this girl who never considered herself a part of the Shadow Falls team, suddenly realize that Shadow Falls was more than just a school, it was home and the people there were her family.
Games Wizards Play by Diane Duane Hardcover Giveaway U.S. Only HMH Books for Young Readers Released 2/2/2016
Every eleven years, Earth's senior wizards hold the Invitational: an intensive three-week event where the planet's newest, sharpest young wizards show off their best and hottest spells. Wizardly partners Kit Rodriguez and Nita Callahan, and Nita's sister, former wizard-prodigy Dairine Callahan, are drafted in to mentor two brilliant and difficult cases: for Nita and Kit, there’s Penn Shao-Feng, a would-be sun technician with a dangerous new take on managing solar weather; and for Dairine, there's shy young Mehrnaz Farrahi, an Iranian wizard-girl trying to specialize in defusing earthquakes while struggling with a toxic extended wizardly family that demands she perform to their expectations.
Together they're plunged into a whirlwind of cutthroat competition and ruthless judging. Penn's egotistical attitude toward his mentors complicates matters as the pair tries to negotiate their burgeoning romance. Meanwhile, Dairine struggles to stabilize her hero-worshipping, insecure protégée against the interference of powerful relatives using her to further their own tangled agendas. When both candidates make it through to the finals stage on the dark side of the Moon, they and their mentors are flung into a final conflict that could change the solar system for the better . . .
or damage Earth beyond even wizardly repair.
Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Games Wizards Play?
I think it’s the chance to explore, on a much-wider-than-usual canvas, both the size and the scope of the wizardly world the core characters in the Young Wizards series are part of. Though the series so far has taken Nita and Kit out on numerous missions involving not just native Earth wizards but those from other planets or even continua, the actual groups our protagonists have been involved with have still been fairly small. So for a while I'd been looking for a way to use one book to significantly open out the panorama and start giving a better sense of the depth and breadth of wizardly culture on just our own planet. (Not that we don’t have a few “extraSolars” dropping in during GAMES WIZARDS PLAY to take a gander at the big Invitational event at its heart.) This time out we get the chance to meet a whole lot of new people — some of whom are going to become regularly appearing characters over time — and also to do, “on screen,” some things that there hasn’t been time to do in previous books.
Unhooked by Lisa Maxwell Hardcover Giveaway U.S. Only Simon Pulse Released 2/2/2016
For as long as she can remember, Gwendolyn Allister has never had a place to call home—all because her mother believes that monsters are hunting them. Now these delusions have brought them to London, far from the life Gwen had finally started to build for herself. The only saving grace is her best friend, Olivia, who’s coming with them for the summer.
But when Gwen and Olivia are kidnapped by shadowy creatures and taken to a world of flesh-eating sea hags and dangerous Fey, Gwen realizes her mom might have been sane all along.
The world Gwen finds herself in is called Neverland, yet it’s nothing like the stories. Here, good and evil lose their meaning and memories slip like water through her fingers. As Gwen struggles to remember where she came from and find a way home, she must choose between trusting the charming fairy-tale hero who says all the right things and the roguish young pirate who promises to keep her safe.
With time running out and her enemies closing in, Gwen is forced to face the truths she’s been hiding from all along. But will she be able to save Neverland without losing herself?
Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Unhooked?
My favorite thing about UNHOOKED is the way I’ve gone back to the source text and revived the darker aspects of it. When I was re-reading PETER AND WENDY, there was one line that really struck me, that Peter would “thin” the lost boys out when they got too old or too plentiful and that “I never remember them after I kill them.” Those lines certainly didn’t speak to any Disneyfied version of Neverland, and I wanted to bring that sense of danger back to the story. In my Neverland, Pan doesn’t remember those he’s killed, because memory isn’t something that lasts in Neverland. The erosion of memory is one of the most dangerous parts of my story, and it’s something I took from the original story itself. In Barrie’s original tale, it made Neverland a fantastical adventure, but also a dangerous place, and I hope it does the same for mine as well.
Oh, and my pirate… I can have two favorite things, right? ;O)
Arrows by Melissa Gorzelanczyk - Michelle Taylor Rise of the Wolf by Jennifer A. Nielsen - Nadine Stacy The Mystery of Hollow Places by Rebecca Podos - Catherine Chant
MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS
Burning Midnight by Will McIntosh Hardcover Delacorte Press Released 2/2/2016
Sully is a sphere dealer at a flea market. It doesn’t pay much—Alex Holliday’s stores have muscled out most of the independent sellers—but it helps him and his mom make the rent. No one knows where the brilliant-colored spheres came from. One day they were just there, hidden all over the earth like huge gemstones. Burn a pair and they make you a little better: an inch taller, skilled at math, better-looking. The rarer the sphere, the greater the improvement—and the more expensive the sphere.
When Sully meets Hunter, a girl with a natural talent for finding spheres, the two start searching together. One day they find a Gold—a color no one has ever seen. And when Alex Holliday learns what they have, he will go to any lengths, will use all of his wealth and power, to take it from them.
There’s no question the Gold is priceless, but what does it actually do? None of them is aware of it yet, but the fate of the world rests on this little golden orb. Because all the world fights over the spheres, but no one knows where they come from, what their powers are, or why they’re here.
Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Burning Midnight?
When I was twelve, my sister, a cousin, and I stumbled on a 60 year-old dump in the woods. We spent a summer hunting for antique bottles, and built a collection of something like 200 that we displayed on the porch. Those great memories led me to want to create a story about hunting and discovering incredibly valuable things in the wild.
Assassin's Heart by Sarah Ahiers Hardcover HarperTeen Released 2/2/2016
In the kingdom of Lovero, nine rival Families of assassins lawfully kill people for a price. As a highly skilled member of one of these powerful clans, seventeen-year-old Lea Saldana has always trusted in the strength of her Family. Until she awakens to find them murdered and her home in flames. The Da Vias, the Saldanas’ biggest enemy, must be responsible—and Lea should have seen it coming. But her secret relationship with the Da Vias’ son, Val, has clouded her otherwise killer instinct—and given the Da Vias more reason than ever to take her Family down.
Racked with guilt and shattered over Val’s probable betrayal, Lea sets out to even the score, with her heart set on retaliation and only one thought clear in her mind: make the Da Vias pay.
With shades of The Godfather and Romeo and Juliet, this richly imagined fantasy from debut author Sarah Ahiers is a story of love, lies, and the ultimate vengeance.
Away We Go by Emil Ostrovski Hardcover Greenwillow Books Released 2/2/2016
Westing is not your typical school. For starters, you have to have one very important quality in order to be admitted—you have to be dying. Every student at Westing has been diagnosed with PPV, or the Peter Pan Virus. No one is expected to live to graduation.
What do you do when you go to a school where no one has a future? Noah Falls, his girlfriend Alice, and his best friend Marty spend their time drinking, making out, and playing video games on awaywego.com. But when an older boy named Zach (who Noah may or may not be in love with) invites Noah and Marty to join his secret Polo Club, the lives of both boys change as they struggle to find meaning in their shortened existence.
With an innovative format that includes interstitial documents, such as flyers, postcards, and handwritten notes, Away We Go is a funny, honest look at first love and tragic heartbreak. For fans of Grasshopper Jungle and Noggin.
Raging Sea by Michael Buckley Hardcover HMH Books for Young Readers Released 2/2/2016
In the first book of Michael Buckley’s Undertow trilogy, the Alpha arrived and the world was never the same. At the start of the second book, most of south Brooklyn is in ruins and the nation is terrified. Nearly everyone that Lyric Walker loves is either missing or presumed dead, including the mesmerizing prince Fathom. It’s up to Lyric to unite the Alpha before the second wave of a cataclysmic invasion wipes out mankind for good.
Revenge and the Wild by Michelle Modesto Hardcover Balzer + Bray Released 2/2/2016
The two-bit town of Rogue City is a lawless place, full of dark magic and saloon brawls, monsters and six-shooters. But it’s perfect for seventeen-year-old Westie, the notorious adopted daughter of local inventor Nigel Butler.
Westie was only a child when she lost her arm and her family to cannibals on the wagon trail. Nine years later, Westie may seem fearsome with her foul-mouthed tough exterior and the powerful mechanical arm built for her by Nigel, but the memory of her past still haunts her. She’s determined to make the killers pay for their crimes—and there’s nothing to stop her except her own reckless ways.
But Westie’s search ceases when a wealthy family comes to town looking to invest in Nigel’s latest invention, a machine that can harvest magic from gold—which Rogue City desperately needs as the magic wards that surround the city start to fail. There’s only one problem: the investors look exactly like the family who murdered Westie’s kin. With the help of Nigel’s handsome but scarred young assistant, Alistair, Westie sets out to prove their guilt. But if she’s not careful, her desire for revenge could cost her the family she has now.
This thrilling novel is a remarkable tale of danger and discovery, from debut author Michelle Modesto.
Romancing the Nerd by Leah Rae Miller Paperback Entangled: Teen Released 2/2/2016
Dan Garrett has become exactly what he hates—popular. Until recently, he was just another live-action role-playing (LARP) geek on the lowest run of the social ladder. Cue a massive growth spurt and an uncanny skill at taking three-point shots in basketball and voila…Mr. Popular. It’s definitely weird.
And the biggest drawback? Going from high school zero to basketball hero cost Dan the secret girl-of-his-dorky dreams.
A tuba-playing nerd with an eclectic fashion sense, Zelda Potts’s “Coolness” stat is about minus forty-two. Dan turning his back on her and the rest of nerd-dom was brutal enough, but when he humiliates her at school, Zelda decides it’s time for a little revenge—dork style. Nevermind that she used to have a crush on him. Nevermind that her plan could backfire big time.
It’s time to roll the dice…and hope like freakin’ hell she doesn’t lose her heart in the process.
Salt to the Sea by Ruta Sepetys Hardcover Philomel Books Released 2/2/2016
In 1945, World War II is drawing to a close in East Prussia, and thousands of refugees are on a desperate trek toward freedom, almost all of them with something to hide. Among them are Joana, Emilia, and Florian, whose paths converge en route to the ship that promises salvation, the Wilhelm Gustloff. Forced by circumstance to unite, the three find their strength, courage, and trust in each other tested with each step closer toward safety.
Just when it seems freedom is within their grasp, tragedy strikes. Not country, nor culture, nor status matter as all ten thousand people aboard must fight for the same thing: survival.
Starflight by Melissa Landers Hardcover Disney-Hyperion Released 2/2/2016
Life in the outer realm is a lawless, dirty, hard existence, and Solara Brooks is hungry for it. Just out of the orphanage, she needs a fresh start in a place where nobody cares about the engine grease beneath her fingernails or the felony tattoos across her knuckles. She's so desperate to reach the realm that she's willing to indenture herself to Doran Spaulding, the rich and popular quarterback who made her life miserable all through high school, in exchange for passage aboard the spaceliner Zenith.
When a twist of fate lands them instead on the Banshee, a vessel of dubious repute, Doran learns he's been framed on Earth for conspiracy. As he pursues a set of mysterious coordinates rumored to hold the key to clearing his name, he and Solara must get past their enmity to work together and evade those out for their arrest. Life on the Banshee may be tumultuous, but as Solara and Doran are forced to question everything they once believed about their world--and each other--the ship becomes home, and the eccentric crew family. But what Solara and Doran discover on the mysterious Planet X has the power to not only alter their lives, but the existence of everyone in the universe...
Stars Above: A Lunar Chronicles Collection by Marissa Meyer Hardcover Feiwel & Friends Released 2/2/2016
The enchantment continues....
The universe of the Lunar Chronicles holds stories—and secrets—that are wondrous, vicious, and romantic. How did Cinder first arrive in New Beijing? How did the brooding soldier Wolf transform from young man to killer? When did Princess Winter and the palace guard Jacin realize their destinies?
With nine stories—five of which have never before been published—and an exclusive never-before-seen excerpt from Marissa Meyer’s upcoming novel, Heartless, about the Queen of Hearts from Alice in Wonderland, Stars Above is essential for fans of the bestselling and beloved Lunar Chronicles.
-- The Little Android: A retelling of Hans Christian Andersen’s “The Little Mermaid,” set in the world of The Lunar Chronicles.
Glitches: In this prequel to Cinder, we see the results of the plague play out, and the emotional toll it takes on Cinder. Something that may, or may not, be a glitch….
The Queen’s Army: In this prequel to Scarlet, we’re introduced to the army Queen Levana is building, and one soldier in particular who will do anything to keep from becoming the monster they want him to be.
Carswell’s Guide to Being Lucky: Thirteen-year-old Carswell Thorne has big plans involving a Rampion spaceship and a no-return trip out of Los Angeles.
The Keeper: A prequel to the Lunar Chronicles, showing a young Scarlet and how Princess Selene came into the care of Michelle Benoit.
After Sunshine Passes By: In this prequel to Cress, we see how a nine-year-old Cress ended up alone on a satellite, spying on Earth for Luna.
The Princess and the Guard: In this prequel to Winter, we see a game called The Princess.
The Mechanic: In this prequel to Cinder, we see Kai and Cinder’s first meeting from Kai’s perspective.
Something Old, Something New: In this epilogue to Winter, friends gather for the wedding of the century...
Symptoms of Being Human by Jeff Garvin Hardcover Balzer + Bray Released 2/2/2016
The first thing you’re going to want to know about me is: Am I a boy, or am I a girl?
Riley Cavanaugh is many things: Punk rock. Snarky. Rebellious. And gender fluid. Some days Riley identifies as a boy, and others as a girl. The thing is . . . Riley isn’t exactly out yet. And between starting a new school and having a congressman father running for reelection in uber-conservative Orange County, the pressure—media and otherwise—is building up in Riley’s so-called “normal” life.
On the advice of a therapist, Riley starts an anonymous blog to vent those pent-up feelings and tell the truth of what it’s REALLY like to be a gender-fluid teenager. But just as Riley’s starting to settle in at school—even developing feelings for a mysterious outcast—the blog goes viral, and an unnamed commenter discovers Riley’s real identity, threatening exposure. Riley must make a choice: walk away from what the blog has created—a lifeline, new friends, a cause to believe in—or stand up, come out, and risk everything.
The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski Hardcover Farrar, Straus and Giroux Released 2/1/2016
War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it, with the East as his ally and the empire as his enemy. He’s finally managed to dismiss the memory of Kestrel, even if he can’t quite forget her. Kestrel turned into someone he could no longer recognize: someone who cared more for the empire than for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she cared for him. At least, that’s what he thinks.
But far north lies a work camp where Kestrel is a prisoner. Can she manage to escape before she loses herself? As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover unexpected roles in battle, terrible secrets, and a fragile hope. The world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and Kestrel and Arin are caught between. In a game like this, can anybody really win?
Eleven-year-old Fairday Morrow is less than thrilled that her family is moving thousands of miles from civilization to the quiet country town of Ashpot, Connecticut, where she’s absolutely certain she’ll die of boredom.
As if leaving New York City and her best friend, Lizzy, the only other member of the elite Detective Mystery Squad (DMS), weren’t bad enough, Fairday is stuck living in the infamous Begonia House, a creepy old Victorian with dark passageways, a gigantic dead willow tree, and a mysterious past.
Before she can even unpack, strange music coming from behind a padlocked door leads Fairday up a spiral staircase and into a secret room, where an ancient mirror, a brass key, and a strange picture of a red-haired lady are the first in a series of clues that takes the members of the Detective Mystery Squad on an amazing adventure.
For the first time ever, I'm bringing in someone to help me review this book. My eight-year-old daughter, Ayla, and I read this book together, so I figured it only made sense to review it together too. So here are our thoughts on The Secret Files of Fairday Morrow.
We loved the mystery right from the start with the old newspaper article. The Begonia House really came alive for us. Ayla loved how the noises from the house and the woman who made an appearance in Fairday's room were really creepy. It really made her want to know what was going to happen next, so much so that we read the book in just three days. Without giving away spoilers, we'll just say that we really enjoyed how the setting came to life, adding to the mystery and excitement of the story. Ayla also would like a pair of those magical ruby sneakers. ;) Overall, this is a fast-paced mystery with just enough creepiness to draw readers in and hold their attention to the very last page. It's also a great story about friendship, both old and new.
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It's another great week for YA new releases! We have giveaways of two new releases, and a swag giveaway for a third. PLUS there are interviews from five authors below, to help you get even more excited by the books coming your way this week.
I'm so happy to welcome back Carissa Ann Lynch, my fellow Limitless Publishing author, to share her newest book, Carnival of Dead Girls. But first, let me remind you about (or introduce you to) the first two books in the Flocksdale Files.
Wendi Wise is a troubled young woman who snorts her breakfast through a straw and spends more time in rehab than in the real world…
Her life is seemingly out of control.
But now she has a plan.
That plan involves a sharp set of butcher knives.
She's going back to where all of her troubles began…
Wendi was lured away from a local skating rink, at the age of thirteen, and held captive in a place she calls 'The House of Horrors.' Dumped off blindfolded on the side of a dirt road, Wendi soon discovered that she was addicted to the drugs they fed her while she was captive.
Too scared to go home, and having a new habit to deal with, she hopped on a bus, vanishing from the family she loved.
Vanishing from Flocksdale…
The town of Flocksdale is littered with fliers with a grainy image of young Wendi, and the words 'Have You Seen This Girl?' written below.
Now, eight years later, she's on a mission—a mission to find the mysterious house from her youth and the monsters who dwell inside it.
Seventeen year old Marianna Bertagnoli is miserable…
Not only did her father abandon her five years ago, now she’s being uprooted and forced to move with her mother and new stepdad to a creepy Victorian house they inherited in the even creepier town of Flocksdale.
Flocksdale has an evil, ugly past—and history has a way of repeating itself…
Marianna notices some strange qualities about her new home, and soon realizes she’s living in none other than the infamous House of Horrors. That’s right, the very house where the demented Garrett family ran a drug ring, leading to the kidnappings and murders of forty young girls.
The dark energy of the town begins to rise again…
Within a week of moving in, Marianna’s mother disappears, one of her small group of new friends is found murdered, and she’s attacked by a man wearing a hideous clown mask. As she searches for answers, Marianna wonders if the malevolence still lingers, somehow alive…and how her stepdad came to own the House of Horrors.
Unsure who to trust, Marianna turns to Wendi Wise, a survivor of the Garretts’ crimes…
Caught up in twisted family ties and surrounded by deceit, Marianna is targeted by a new generation of evil. Doubly imprisoned—in her own body and in the real house of the lost girls—Marianna needs Wendi’s help to unravel the bizarre history of Flocksdale.
But will Marianna survive long enough to bring the evil to light…or will she be trapped in the house of the lost girls forever?
Nothing interesting happens in the podunk town of Lamison Point—until a freak show rolls through…
When a traveling carnival stopsin the sleepy countryside, sixteen-year-old Josie Crowley is psyched to go with her new friend, Freya. But what started out as a fun-filled night ofgames, candied apples, and ferris wheel ridesquickly spiralsinto a gut-wrenching encounter with one of the carnival attractions.
Once the excitement is over, Lamison is missing one of its residents…
When Freya is nowhere to be found, Josiesuspects the carnival has something to do with her disappearance. Her goal to track down the elusive show leads to an alarming revelation—there is no record of it ever existing. And as she digs deeper, Josieis led to a mysterious town with a tainted past—Flocksdale.
Buried in Flocksdale’s sick, twisted history is where Josie may find the truth…
Creepy clowns, disfigured freaks, and a terrifying haunted house are the least of Josie’s problems…now she has to deal with a group of real-life monsters, otherwise known as the evil Garrett family and new, rising generation of hell-bound freaks.
If Josie is pulled into their world, she may become another member of a carnival of dead girls, where she goes in, and never comes out…
Besides my family, my greatest love in life is books. Reading them, writing them, holding them, smelling them…well, you get the idea. I've always loved to read and never considered myself a "writer" until a few years ago when I couldn't find a book to read and decided to try writing my own story. With a background in psychology, I've always been a little obsessed with the darker areas of the mind and social problems so I try to channel all of that into my writing. I'm the author of the Flocksdale Files, Grayson's Ridge, This Is Not About Love, and the upcoming Horror High series. I reside in Floyds Knobs, Indiana with my husband, children, and massive collection of books.
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2016 has started, and we have some kicker books to bring you into the New Year with just the right amounts of intrigue, excitement and unputdownable tales. We hope you've had a wonderful holiday season!
We’re so excited to introduce readers to our new early chapter books! Two new chapter book series in our DIVE INTO READING line will help you find the perfect book to support children in each stage of their reading development. These books will be available February 2016.
Confetti Kids Series
Follow a diverse cast of characters living in a friendly city neighborhood! Approachable, realistic stories are at the right level for children to star reading independently.
Lily moves from a quiet suburb to an apartment on a busy street in the city. Lily worries that she’ll never fit in. As she and her parents explore their new, multicultural neighborhood, Lily discovers that sometimes change can be a good thing!
It’s a warm, sunny day, and the gang heads to the neighborhood playground to play. What should they play? Pablo comes up with a great idea: to play pretend. It’s a game that everyone can do easily. They can pretend to be archaeologists, astronauts, and explorers. There’s no limit to what they imagine they can be!
Rafi and Rosi Series
Now back in print, this beloved chapter book series follows two Puerto Rican tree frog siblings as they explore their surroundings and learn about the traditions, animals, and environment of Puerto Rico. The series is available in both English and Spanish.
Rafi amazes Rosi with the magic he finds everywhere. He can move sand with his magic fingers and shoot stars from the sky. After Rafi’s pet hermit crab runs away, it’s now Rosi’s turn to show that she knows where to look for magic too. Can she find the crab in time for them to watch it shed its shell?
It’s time for Carnival! Puerto Rico’s joyous holiday is full of sights and sounds to explore. Rosi is determined to show Rafi the best way to enjoy the parade, while Rafi has a plan to make his sister queen for a day.But when Rafi scares Rosi with his terrible vejigante mask, Rosi decides it’s time to teach her brother a lesson. This little sister has a few tricks up her sleeve too!
After an epidemic spreads through the country, Brooklyn Harper’s high school years come to an abrupt end.
Implanted in a rural camp, Brooklyn and her friends are cut off from their families and the outside world. Each day is filled with combat training to assure their safety against the crazed, belligerent, and deadly— those infected with a mysterious virus.
If the world couldn’t get any crazier, a letter ups the insanity…
After being assured day after day that the world outside their little camp had been compromised, Brooklyn’s cabin-mate, Dawson Winters, finds a letter that turns everything they’d known upside down. There is a world outside the trees that surrounds their camp, and the virus they’d all come to fear seems non-existent.
Determined to see it herself, Brooklyn plots with others to attempt an escape…
On the outside, Brooklyn finds the world is as normal as ever. But when they are attacked in the city, they dispose of their attackers far more efficiently than any normal human. Is there more to Brooklyn and her friends then just being highly trained?
As their exploration continues, the group is faced with impossible feats. Betrayal, love, death, and a powerful sense of camaraderie lead Brooklyn and her friends to fight for their life, their freedom, and most of all, each other.
Omen Operation will be available on Amazon for pre-order: 1/16/2016
It will be available for purchase through Amazon and Barnes and Noble: 1/26/2016
Taylor Brooke is the author of the upcoming sci-fi adventure trilogy The Isolation Series. She started out as a freelance makeup artist, and quickly discovered her love of elves, zombies, mermaids, kaiju, and monsters of all kinds. After receiving eight professional certifications in special effects makeup, working on countless projects, and fleshing out a multitude of fantastical creatures, she turned her imagination back to her one true love- books. Taylor has had a knack for writing since she was a little girl, and received recognition for her skills throughout grade school and junior college. When she’s not nestled in a blanket typing away on her laptop, she can be found haunting the local bookstore with a cup of steaming hot tea in her hands, scanning the shelves for new reads, or hiking one of the many mountains that surround her home of Bend Oregon.
Happy Monday! Monday Mishmash is a weekly meme dedicated to sharing what's on your mind. Feel free to grab the button and post your own Mishmash.
Here's what's on my mind today:
Curse of the Granville Fortune I'm putting the finishing touches on the revamped Curse of the Granville Fortune this week. My hope is to have this book out the first week in February. If you missed the cover reveal on Friday, here's the new cover:
Into the Fire Street Team Only a few more days to apply to be part of the Into the Fire Street Team. The application closes on January 21, so get yours in now. Apply here.
Editing I'm working my way through my January edits. How I booked so many this month is beyond me, but so far so good.
Martin Luther King Jr. Day My daughter is home today since it's a holiday. We're reading two Diary of a Wimpy Kid books and studying for math tests she has this week.
Seeking Questions I haven't gotten any requests for Writer Wednesday topics in a while, so what do you want to know about being on the other side of the editing desk? Pick my brain, people. ;) I'm willing to share tips from my editorial desk at Leap, so ask away.
We have three amazing new releases to give away this week, including Jennifer Longo's UP TO THIS POINTE, Shaun David Hutchinson's WE ARE THE ANTS, and Laura J Burns and Melinda Metz's SANCTUARY BAY. Check out the other new releases below, and don't forget to enter the giveaway!
YA BOOK GIVEAWAYS THIS WEEK
Up to This Pointe by Jennifer Longo Signed Hardcover Giveaway U.S. Only Random House Books for Young Readers Released 1/19/2016
A refreshingly original contemporary YA, unlike anything readers have seen before. Perfect for fans of Jandy Nelson, John Corey Whaley, and Libba Bray.
She had a plan. It went south.
Harper is a dancer. She and her best friend, Kate, have one goal: becoming professional ballerinas. And Harper won’t let anything—or anyone—get in the way of The Plan, not even the boy she and Kate are both drawn to.
Harper is a Scott. She’s related to Robert Falcon Scott, the explorer who died racing to the South Pole. So when Harper’s life takes an unexpected turn, she finagles (read: lies) her way to the icy dark of McMurdo Station . . . in Antarctica. Extreme, but somehow fitting—apparently she has always been in the dark, dancing on ice this whole time. And no one warned her. Not her family, not her best friend, not even the boy who has somehow found a way into her heart.
Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Up to This Pointe?
I love this question. Because while sometimes it’s hard to parse out one favorite aspect of a novel, UP TO THIS POINTE gives me a simple answer: I love that it is a story woven of three seemingly disparate things I love most in this world that, as the story unfolds, reveal themselves to be inextricably thematically bound: Ballet, the city of San Francisco, and the early exploration of Antarctica. To me, all three embody resilience and brutal beauty not to be conquered, but loved in perfect submission and acceptance. (Meaning take them or leave them, because they’re not changing for any human – it is the human who will change for loving that city, that art form, that continent.) By extension I can say also that my very favorite thing about this book is how fortunate I am have an agent and an editor who, when presented with the story, simply said “Ballet and Antarctica? Okay, show me how it works.” These are two women who are determined to make unique books, and I think their willingness to say 'yes' to a challenge instead of treading only in safe waters is a gift to their writers and, most importantly, to readers.
We Are the Ants by Shaun David Hutchinson Hardcover Giveaway U.S. Only Simon Pulse Released 1/19/2016
Henry Denton doesn’t know why the aliens chose to abduct him when he was thirteen, and he doesn’t know why they continue to steal him from his bed and take him aboard their ship. He doesn’t know why the world is going to end or why the aliens have offered him the opportunity to avert the impending disaster by pressing a big red button.
But they have. And they’ve only given him 144 days to make up his mind.
Since the suicide of his boyfriend, Jesse, Henry has been adrift. He’s become estranged from his best friend, started hooking up with his sworn enemy, and his family is oblivious to everything that’s going on around them. As far as Henry is concerned, a world without Jesse is a world he isn’t sure is worth saving. Until he meets Diego Vega, an artist with a secret past who forces Henry to question his beliefs, his place in the universe, and whether any of it really matters. But before Henry can save the world, he’s got to figure out how to save himself, and the aliens haven’t given him a button for that.
Author Question: What is your favorite thing about We Are the Ants?
There are so many things I love about WE ARE THE ANTS. The relationship between Henry and his mom, the end of the world scenarios peppered throughout the book, Henry’s dark humor, the sluggers, Diego (who is probably my favorite love interest I’ve ever written), Diego’s art. But the thing I think I love most about WE ARE THE ANTS is the science. Henry is a scientist to his core, and he views everything in his life through that lens. I made a huge effort to portray the science in the book accurately (and any mistakes are definitely my own), though Henry does make some dubious leaps, like trying to figure out the gravitational force between two people making out, but science is in the DNA of this book. I loved contrasting the hard lines of science against the blurry, absurdist lines of Henry’s philosophical journey. Science is what keeps him grounded.
I went so overboard on the science with this book. Though I ended up cutting it, I even invented a base-12 counting system based on geometrical patterns used by the aliens in the book. The only remnant of that system is the number of days Henry has to press the button (144, which is the square of 12). But in the end, all that science is still my favorite because I think Henry might have crumbled without its solidity. As the hero of Andy Weir’s awesome book THE MARTIAN, Mark Watney, might have said: I scienced the shit out of this book.
Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz Hardcover Giveaway U.S. Only St. Martin's Griffin Released 1/19/2016
In this genre-bending YA thriller, will Sarah Merson's shiny new prep school change her life forever or bring it to a dark and sinister end?
When Sarah Merson receives the opportunity of a lifetime to attend the most elite prep school in the country--Sanctuary Bay Academy--it seems almost too good to be true. But, after years of bouncing from foster home to foster home, escaping to its tranquil setting, nestled deep in Swans Island, couldn't sound more appealing. Swiftly thrown into a world of privilege and secrets, Sarah quickly realizes finding herself noticed by class charmer, Nate, as well as her roommate's dangerously attentive boyfriend, Ethan, are the least of her worries. When her roommate suddenly goes missing, she finds herself in a race against time, not only to find her, but to save herself and discover the dark truth behind Sanctuary Bay's glossy reputation.
In this genre-bending YA thriller, Sanctuary Bay by Laura J. Burns and Melinda Metz, Sarah's new school may seem like an idyllic temple of learning, but as she unearths years of terrifying history and manipulation, she discovers this "school" is something much more sinister.
Other Broken Things by C. Desir - Shannon M. Teen Frankenstein by Chandler Baker - Ishta The Killing Jar by Jennifer Bosworth - Danielle H.
MORE YOUNG ADULT FICTION IN STORES NEXT WEEK WITH AUTHOR INTERVIEWS
Burn by Elissa Sussman Hardcover Greenwillow Books Released 1/19/2016
After helping to rescue Princess Aislynn, Elanor has finally rejoined the rebel camp she calls home. Stolen from her parents at a young age and forced into service by the Wicked Queen, Elanor now wants nothing more than to see the queen removed from power. But Elanor has secrets, mistakes she’s spent years trying to forget, and the closer the rebels get to the throne, the harder it is for Elanor to keep her past hidden away.
With fellow rebels on her side—including Princess Aislynn, Thackery, and the handsome and mysterious Matthias—it is time for Elanor to make a decision. Will she protect her secrets? Or risk everything to save the people she loves?
The thrilling companion to Elissa Sussman’s masterful and original fairy tale, Stray, that will appeal to readers of Margaret Atwood’s The Handmaid’s Tale and fans of Wicked, Into the Woods, and the Disney princess movies.
Author Question: What is your favorite thing about Burn?
My favorite thing about BURN was that it gave me a chance to explore a new character and a new aspect of the world that was introduced in STRAY. And even though BURN is Elanor's story, Aislynn features prominently and it was really fun to see how she adjusts to a culture that is so different from hers and has a completely separate view of magic.
The Isle by Jordana Frankel Hardcover Katherine Tegen Books Released 1/19/2016
The heart-racing and thrilling sequel to The Ward about a teenage female drag racer who will do anything to save her sister—and a flooded futuristic Manhattan.
Drought season is coming....
The Ward is in trouble—its streets filled with seawater after a devastating flood and its impoverished inhabitants suffering from a deadly disease called the Blight.
Ren, with the help of her scientist friend, Callum, and her racing buddy, Derek, has discovered a cure—miraculous spring water—administering it to her sick sister, Aven. But when Aven is kidnapped by Governor Voss, the malevolent dictator of the United Metro Isles (UMI), Ren must go on a dangerous mission to save her sister, again.
The mysterious healing water is the only source of freshwater throughout the entire UMI—water that Ren had been tasked by the government to discover. Although she refuses to give up the water’s location, Governor Voss has his own selfish reasons for wanting it. And he will do anything to satisfy his thirst for unquenchable power.
But Ren and Aven have more enemies than the governor. An ancient order, the Tètai, has been guarding the magical water for hundreds of years. And they will kill to protect it. With the Ward in desperate need of freshwater and wracked by disease—and deadly enemies at every turn—the sisters face a dangerous journey, marred by mysterious secrets and horrifying truths, to save their friends and neighbors, and a city.
Author Question: What is your favorite thing about The Isle?
Oh goodness. I'm not sure I know how to answer this! I love the end...it was very satisfying pulling all those threads together and realizing that, while I sort of knew how it would come together, the way it came together was very unexpected. And also obvious? Both? I also love Aven. Aven may be my favorite thing about THE ISLE. (Can she be my favorite thing if she's a person?)
Concentr8 by William Sutcliffe Hardcover Bloomsbury USA Childrens Released 1/19/2016
In a future London, Concentr8 is a prescription drug intended to help kids with ADD. Soon every troubled teen is on it. It makes sense, doesn't it? Keep the undesirable elements in line. Keep people like us safe from people like them. What's good for society is good for everyone.
Troy, Femi, Lee, Karen and Blaze have been taking Concentr8 as long as they can remember. They're not exactly a gang, but Blaze is their leader, and Troy has always been his quiet, watchful sidekick - the only one Blaze really trusts. They're not looking for trouble, but one hot summer day, when riots break out across the city, they find it. What makes five kids pick a man seemingly at random - a nobody, he works in the housing department, doesn't even have a good phone - hold a knife to his side, take him to a warehouse and chain him to a radiator? They've got a hostage, but don't really know what they want, or why they've done it.
Across the course of five tense days, with a journalist, a floppy-haired mayor, a police negotiator, and the sinister face of the pharmaceutical industry, they - and we - begin to understand why. Gripping and controversial reading for fans of Malorie Blackman and Patrick Ness.
My Second Life by Faye Bird Hardcover Farrar, Straus and Giroux Released 1/19/2016
A pacy pageturner that asks: Can you be held responsible now for something you did in a previous life?
Fifteen-year-old Ana has a good life--she has friends and a boy she likes and a kind mother--but still, she's haunted by her past; she knows that she lived once before as a girl named Emma, and she still misses her old family. When, by chance in her life now, Ana meets a woman she knew in her previous life, a terrifying memory flashes through her mind of a young girl drowning. Was Emma responsible? And should Ana pay the price? Consumed by guilt, Ana sets out to find out as much as possible about the person she was before and what she had done, only to discover that the family she misses so deeply had dark secrets of its own. To come to terms with her life now, Ana must figure out how to let go of the past.
Shade Me by Jennifer Brown Hardcover Katherine Tegen Books Released 1/19/2016
Nikki Kill does not see the world like everyone else. In her eyes, happiness is pink, sadness is a mixture of brown and green, and lies are gray. Thanks to a rare phenomenon called synesthesia, Nikki’s senses overlap, in a way that both comforts and overwhelms her.
Always an outsider, just one ‘D’ shy of flunking out, Nikki’s life is on the fast track to nowhere until the night a mysterious call lights her phone up bright orange—the color of emergencies. It’s the local hospital. They need Nikki to identify a Jane Doe who is barely hanging on to life after a horrible attack.
The victim is Peyton Hollis, a popular girl from Nikki’s school who Nikki hardly knows. One thing is clear: Someone wants Peyton dead. But why? And why was Nikki’s cell the only number in Peyton’s phone?
As she tries to decipher the strange kaleidoscope of clues, Nikki finds herself thrust into the dark, glittering world of the ultra-rich Hollis family, and drawn towards Peyton’s handsome, never-do-well older brother Dru. While Nikki’s colors seem to help her unravel the puzzle, what she can’t see is that she may be falling into a trap. The only truth she can be sure of is that death is a deep, pulsing crimson.
Shade Me is award-winning author Jennifer Brown’s first book in a thrilling suspense series about Nikki Kill.
Sword and Verse by Kathy MacMillan Hardcover HarperTeen Released 1/19/2016
Raisa was just a child when she was sold to work as a slave in the kingdom of Qilara. Despite her young age, her father was teaching her to read and write, grooming her to take his place as a Learned One. In Qilara, the Arnathim, like Raisa, are the lowest class, and literacy is a capital offense. What’s more, only the king, prince, tutor, and tutor-in-training are allowed to learn the very highest order language, the language of the gods. So when the tutor-in-training is executed for teaching slaves this sacred language, and Raisa is selected to replace her, Raisa knows any slipup on her part could mean death.
Keeping her secret is hard enough, but the romance that’s been growing between her and Prince Mati isn’t helping matters. Then Raisa is approached by the Resistance—an underground army of slave rebels—to help liberate Arnath slaves. She wants to free her people, but that would mean aiding a war against Mati. As Raisa struggles with what to do, she discovers a secret that the Qilarites have been hiding for centuries—one that, if uncovered, could bring the kingdom to its knees.
The Capture by Tom Isbell Hardcover HarperTeen Released 1/19/2016
This second book in the Prey trilogy is a harrowing story of survival as Book and Hope travel back to the eerie Camp Liberty, where Book was once raised to be hunted for sport, to save those left behind. With new twists, new turns, and a new love triangle, The Capture is a gripping adventure for fans of The Maze Runner.
Every night it was the same: dreaming of those Less Thans shackled in the bunker beneath the tennis court. I couldn’t let it go. As bad as the memory was, my dreams only made it worse....
It was why we had to get back to Camp Liberty. Why we had to free those Less Thans.
Book, Hope, and Cat cannot live with themselves—they cannot settle into a new free life knowing the rest of their fellow Less Thans and Sisters are still imprisoned. Now the teens must retrace their steps to save the others, destroy the compound, and thwart the evil plans of the Republic.
With new enemies lurking—deranged Crazies and ominous Skull People among them—the group must put their fate in the hands of unexpected allies, including the woman with the long black hair and Miranda, the daughter of the Skull People’s Chief Justice, who is drawn to Book. Both may come to their aid, but at what cost? As the teens race toward Camp Liberty, they must ask themselves what they’re willing to do to free their friends, for the path back is filled with even more danger as motives are questioned and relationships tested.
The Radiant Road by Katherine Catmull Hardcover Dutton Books for Young Readers Released 1/19/2016
And sometimes the Strange came to visit Clare, and dreams walked through her waking life.
After years of living in America, Clare Macleod and her father are returning to Ireland, where they’ll inhabit the house Clare was born in—a house built into a green hillside with a tree for a wall. For Clare, the house is not only full of memories of her mother, but also of a mysterious boy with raven-dark hair and dreamlike nights filled with stars and magic. Clare soon discovers that the boy is as real as the fairy-making magic, and that they’re both in great danger from an ancient foe.
Fast-paced adventure and spellbinding prose combine to weave a tale of love, loyalty, and the strength we carry within ourselves.
Will to Survive by Eric Walters Hardcover Farrar, Straus and Giroux Released 1/19/2016
As this apocalyptic trilogy hurtles to a chilling conclusion, Adam is pushed to the edge of his endurance and sanity.
Adam has killed again. It had to be done, part of him knows that, but murder changes a person. It can certainly change a teenager who's already grown up too quickly, too harshly, in the wake of the catastrophic global blackout five months ago. In the name of safety and survival, Adam and his neighbors have turned their middle American suburban neighborhood into a fortress, defending against countless enemies. But what's lurking in the dark is a greater danger than ever before: somebody who wants to destroy the neighborhood and Adam at any cost. Soon, the hunted will have to become the hunter . . . and Adam hates himself for what he will have to do. Because sometimes even the dark is not cover enough for things that would never happen in the light.
Paperbacks & Wine is pleased to bring you G. Donald Cribbs- THE PACKING HOUSE virtual book tour January 18-31.
Title: THE PACKING HOUSE
Author: G. Donald Cribbs
Publication Date: 1/18/16
When sixteen-year-old Joel Scrivener has a raging nightmare in study hall and someone records it on their phone, he awakens to a living nightmare where everyone knows the secret he's avoided for ten years. Reeling from a series of bullying incidents posted on YouTube and an ill-timed mid-year move, Joel takes to the woods, leaving the bullies and his broken home behind. However, life as a runaway isn’t easy. Joel finds it difficult to navigate break-ins, wrestle hallucinations, and elude capture. He races to figure out who his dream-world attacker could be, piecing clues together with flashes of remembered images that play endlessly inside his head. Besides these images, the one constant thought occupying Joel’s mind is Amber Walker, the girl he’s been in love with for years. Amber sees little beyond the broken boy Joel has become, despite the letters they’ve written back and forth to each other. But Joel is stronger and more resilient than he looks, and it’s time he convinces Amber of this fact, before he runs out of chances with her for good.
Find out more about THE PACKING HOUSE on Amazon, Goodreads G. Donald Cribbs has written and published poetry and short stories since high school. Donald is a graduate of Messiah College in English and Education, and is currently a graduate student in Clinical Mental Health Counseling. He and his wife and four boys reside in central Pennsylvania where the author is hard at work on his next book, tentatively titled, UNPACKING THE PAST, the sequel to his debut novel, THE PACKING HOUSE (2016), by Booktrope Editions. Having lived and traveled abroad in England, France, Belgium, Germany, China and Thailand (you can guess where he lived and where he visited), the author loves languages and how they connect us all. Coffee and Nutella are a close second. Find out more on G. Donald Cribbs: on Amazon, Facebook, Goodreads, Twitter and www.gdonaldcribbs.com
At the bell, I head to study hall, my last class. There's a substitute today. Cell phones come out. Someone has their iPod up way too high. In a way, I feel sorry for the sub; as a job, it has to be right up there with garbage collector. I prop a book between me and my backpack then close my eyes, which have been slamming shut all day.
The next thing I know, the substitute is standing over me, his hand on my shoulder, shaking me awake. Someone sniggers nearby.
“Wake up, young man. There's no sleeping in study hall.”
Pushing my glasses back into place, I look up and try to get my eyes to adjust and stay open; I blink a few times and look around wildly. What an idiot. I even forgot where I was for a moment. A flush of warmth starts at my ears and neck before sliding across my cheeks.
“All right, I'm up.”
Whispers erupt in various places around me as I sit up and rub my eyes. Someone laughs. My desk is askew. Something smells bad. Sulfur. Odd… the realization hits me hard.
A female voice remarks, “If I were him, I'd be totally embarrassed!”
“What's your name?” the substitute asks quietly.
The substitute leans down. “Joel? You might want to speak with a counselor about those dreams.”
“What do you mean?”
He leans closer, lowers his voice. “You kept saying, ‘get off me, stop touching me, get off me,' over and over.”
He gives me what he must think is a reassuring smile. Then he leaves.
The only thing worse than getting caught asleep in study hall: getting caught asleep andcrying out from a bad dream in study hall.
There's more whispering, but this time it crackles nearby. A recording—presumably of me—replays the sound of me jerking around in my chair, desk legs scraping against the floor, then “Get OFF me!” and “Stop TOUCHING meeee!”
The bell rings.
Down the hallway, students gather in odd clumps, skittering away from me like I'm the monster. A cacophony of whispers follows a chorus of aborted cackles; I hear my voice playing over and over, like my life jammed on repeat. I'm too stunned to reply, even when Shampoo Girl, who rides my bus, tries to stop me. I'm not good with names. We move too much for them to matter. This girl is heavyset, plain, with nice hair. I like how it smells if I sit behind her on the bus. Shampoo Girl. She's one of the few I've caught glaring at my attackers when I'm dropped into the lunchroom trashcan or tripped with an armful of books between classes. She hasn't said anything to my attackers, like that punk from Algebra II, but her quiet defiance is at least reassuring. Not that I've thanked her or acknowledged her for that.
“Joel? Joel, are you okay?” I definitely don't deserve her sympathy; instead, I look back down the hall.
My own brother Jonathan is with his swim team posse and says, “I can't believe you dudes got this,” before he sees me.
“Izzat rilly yer bro, man?” asks a blond-haired skater-punk friend of Jonathan's, pointing at his cellphone. They must be watching the video of me from study hall just like everyone else. Man, that traveled fast. On the far end, cackling like a fiend, my brother Jonathan laughs at his best friend Elias’ reaction, who is doubled over and turning purple. Skaterdude is on this end, sputtering and waving his arms like he’s imitating me from the video. Between the other two is Elias. God, I hate him sometimes. Why does he stick his nose where it doesn't belong?
“You still owe me a fiver for the Terror Bet,” Jonathan says, slapping the back of his hand on Skaterdude's chest. He should've kept our energy drink bet private, between the two of us, but instead I imagine he thought he'd impress his posse and make a few bucks. So he bet off me, did he? Jonathan looks up and sees me staring right at him. He tosses up two fingers after bouncing them off his chest like a salute to his homies, although I'm clearly not one of them. I'm just his loser brother.
It doesn't matter.
He's right. Jonathan must think of me as another one of his casualties just like him. I'm a cast-off, like Terror Man, my mother's latest boyfriend. To Jonathan, Terror Man and I are just accessories on his social status climb. Even after our most recent beating for touching the shrine of Terrors, Jonathan dared me to try to steal one without getting caught. I thought he was just looking out for me since I haven’t been sleeping much, but I guess I was wrong. If I can't tell the difference between someone being nice or using me, I wonder how I will ever fix things with Amber Walker, the only girl I've ever wished was more than friends.
No turning back now. My social life is officially over. I wonder how long it will take until everyone hears, and probably sees, a cell phone clip of my nightmare.
Only I can't wake up from this one.
I don't plan to collapse on my frameless mattress late that night. By the time I'm fully out.., I'm already drifting down a vaguely familiar set of stone stairs, before I realize the déjà vu—at first a cold tingle then a white-hot shudder that seeps down my spine. As it dissipates, I continue down, despite the thrumming in my ears.
Firelight dapples across shadowed walls near the bottom. Cold air gusts past, chills me until my teeth rattle, and almost blows out the torches. The room opens to the right, but I can't see around the corner.
As I step into the guttering light, I'm knocked on my face so fast I barely get my hands out to break my fall. I gasp for breath beneath this tremendous weight. There's no getting away. Sharp pain bursts along my ribs.
From its grip, I get a twinge in my spine, sharp stings that shoot up my back and spread out across both shoulder blades. Whatever is behind me is huge. Its hulking mass presses me down into the ground. I sure as hell don't dare move.
“C'mere, Joel!” the deep voice snarls against my ear.
I wake up.
Sometimes I wake screaming. How does it know my name? My mother has found me a few times that way; about as comforting as getting caught jerking off under blankets.
When she finds me like that, I roll toward the wall and mumble about a bad dream. I'll be fine. Go back to bed. Please don't ask any more. I'll never live this down if my mother holds my hand and chases away some boogeyman. I've got to figure this out. Better to man-up than be labeled a loser. At least Jonathan's still asleep. I don't need him betraying me any further.
If I could, I'd squeeze my eyes shut and will myself back to sleep. What if that thing is there? The stone stairs. The horrible, personal things it says. The sweat-rot stench of sulfur. I'd rather stare at the blurry ceiling all night. Besides, questions begin to swirl, threatening to keep me awake indefinitely. There's at least three hours until it's time to get up for school. I might have a test. Better not think too much.
Next thing I know, it's light; the roof of my mouth is sandpapery, I've got rank morning breath, and, if I don't get to the bathroom right now, I'm going to have a waterbed for sure.
I have to limp my way there, momentarily forgetting about our lecture at the hands of Terror Man last night. I don’t like him. He’s always in our faces. Always trying to prove what a man he is when he slams us against the wall or some shit.
He’s nice enough when he’s not railing on Jonathan and me for drinking his Terrors.
As I find relief in the bathroom, I start to wonder about this latest nightmare. Then I grab a shower, wincing when the tender spots in my back come under the flow. Maybe I should've let Jonathan take the brunt of it all, since he made the bet, but I couldn't live with myself if I hadn't intervened. I thought he was gonna kill Jonathan this time. What a nightmare. Which reminds me: I've got too many memory gaps to make sense of it all. I need to figure out their source. The root cause.
It's not for lack of trying.
I've scoured every book on nightmares I can find. One said the mind is a strange muscle that remembers every ache. Nightmares are a way we revisit each painful experience, circling back to make sense of what happened. That still doesn't explain how the creature knows me well enough to snarl my name. Is it someone I know? I glance at the clock. No time to dwell; the bus'll be here any minute. Time to get dressed and head downstairs.
My mother is at work, and Jonathan went in on the early bus for swim team. I grab breakfast and ibuprofen and then head for the street corner. My hand lands on the last two cans in my backpack. I'd forgotten all about the Terrors. Jonathan. I'd toss them back in the fridge if I weren't already at the bus stop.
Might as well. Chugging the first one down, I collect weird looks as I let the burp rip. Jonathan still got pretty roughed up; after all, he dared swipe from the shrine of Terrors on the top shelf of the fridge. Terror Man left no visible marks on me, only bruises, but I doubt Jonathan made it out unscathed. I wonder what Coach said to him this morning.
Was Jonathan trying to set me up? Guarantee a win for his second round of Terror Bets, so he could up the ante? It's never enough with him. Jonathan can't seem to leave well enough alone. Like he has to poke the bear or something. Everyone knows you let a sleeping bear lie. Not him.
The last stragglers come out as the bus pulls up. I'm the new guy. Technically, it's Redhead-Dude-With-Braces-And-Acne's stop.
I must space out the whole ride to school because it feels like only moments later when the bus pulls into the drop-off circle by the Broad Run High School, Home of the Panthers sign. Cheerleaders brush past in uniform, and the football team is sporting jersey hard-ons, strutting as we all press toward the door.
School's a bust. I doze through most of my classes, but at least I overhear that the history test has been moved to next week. Now I just have to make it through English class (easy for me), study hall, and I'm out.
We're reading this book Fahrenheit 451, where Guy Montag is an anti-fireman who burns books for a living. If I could talk some sense into him, maybe he'd lay off the bonfires and help me sort through all the bizarre shit in my brain. Yeah, it's a crazy thought, just like the ones about Amber.
I get flustered when I think of her.
Maybe Montag and I aren't as different from each other as I first thought. We both have problems we're running from. Beatty hunts him down when they catch Montag hoarding books in his air vent. I knew he was a reader. His own wife turns him in. Betrayed by someone that close.Man.
That's what set him off running.
My English teacher makes us write on the salamander or fire lizard. Is it a tattoo or just a uniform logo? I consider writing a story or a poem. According to legend, they're not lizards, which are reptiles. Salamanders are amphibians and have an affinity for fire. They can also regenerate lost limbs and tails. Remind me of an Escher tessellation. Patterns that transform from one thing to another. I should go for extra credit.
Speaking of extra credit, my grades have been nothing but toilet water, they're so flushed. Up until now, I've held tight at honor roll. But, just like that time in the closet with Amber, it, too, was a test I knew I was doomed to fail. Now I can't shake these nightmares. Neither could Montag.
If I don't do something soon, I'll have to repeat my sophomore year. Then I'd be in the same grade as Jonathan. That's reason enough to invoke my previous plan.
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