Release Date: October 4, 2016
Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Are they labels or a warning? The answer could cost Sera everything.
While on a mandatory senior field trip, a flash flood cuts off Sera and three classmates from their group with no way to call for help. But they’re not as alone as they thought…
Someone is stalking them through the woods. Someone who drugged them, stole their supplies, and wrote on their skin. Is it a judgement? A warning? If Sera doesn’t uncover the truth, it’s only a matter of time before the hunter finds her.
“Everyone, quiet. We need to move.” Mr. Walker’s voice is tight. Something’s wrong. But he’s halfway across, and the water is still below his knees. It’s moving quickly, but it seems OK. So why is Mr. Walker scanning the horizon like a soldier?
When he’s on the other side, he relaxes. “All right, let’s move. You’ll get to test those waterproof boots here. Emily, you first. Then Jude and right down the line.”
I stumble to the edge of the stream, rocks slipping and scattering under my boots. Jude’s next to me, earbuds in and his chin tipped up like we need a reminder that he’s better than us.
Emily begins to cross with Jude behind her. Then me and Lucas and the rest of the group after. I can’t help but think about what we must look like, this conga line of plastic-wrapped hikers splashing its way through the river.
Jude gasps ahead of me. Before I can ask, cold water gushes over the tops of my boots, then past my ankles. I stop when it reaches my knees. It’s higher. We’re not even halfway across.
Lucas splashes up from behind, rising over me. “Need me to carry you?”
I don’t dignify the question with a response. Behind me, Hayley and Madison shriek. I turn to see a glimpse of all three of them, Hayley on her butt in the water and Madison and Ms. Brighton rushing back for her. The girls are laughing hysterically.
“We’re almost halfway,” Lucas says, ignoring them. “Keep going.”
“Should we help?”
“They’re fine. Move.”
“Stop playing around back there! Get them up, Ms. Brighton,” Mr. Walker barks, then more softly to the ones climbing out, “Good job, Emily. Jude! Earbuds out!”
Mr. Walker looks downstream, and his expression hardens. “Sera, speed up now.”
I look up and wish I hadn’t. I don’t like the urgency in his tone any more than I like the rushing sound of water I hear off to the east.
“Is that rain?” I ask because I want it to be rain. Or hail. I want it to be anything other than what I already know it is.
Mr. Walker’s eyes flick upstream, his face going pale. “It’s flooding,” he admits.
My hope snaps like a rubber band. Fear billows out in its place, making me woozy.
“Sera, move!” Lucas says, prodding my backpack.
“I got it!” I snap, plowing ahead.
Hayley screams again behind us. They’re all three shouting. Something about a shoe. Someone’s stuck. Mr. Walker is yelling at Emily and Jude to back up, back up! And then the rain changes, the shower shifting into a driving roar with drops so hard they feel like sand spraying down. Everything is garbled. Muffled. Fear pushes the hair up on the nape of my neck.
We’re not going to get across.
Lucas. His voice right behind me, his wide hand just under my backpack, urging me forward. I stumble, spreading my arms wide for balance.
“Lucas, help!” Madison’s cry filters through the rain, but Mr. Walker shakes his head.
“No!” he bellows. “Move, Lucas! Ms. Brighton, pull Hayley and Madison back to shore!”
The water is moving quicker and higher, and my boots are sucking down into the mud at the bottom. The current pushes back at me. Steps turn into half steps. Quarter steps.
“Forget her shoes!” Mr. Walker screams. Someone’s coughing back there, but I don’t look, though I can hear their garbled cries. They’re struggling.
“I can’t get her!” Ms. Brighton’s voice is suddenly young and small, nothing like the serene woman from before. This is scared little kid voice. “Help! Hel—”
After years as a professional paper-pusher, NATALIE D. RICHARDS decided to trade in reality for a life writing YA fiction. She lives in Ohio (Go Bucks!) with her husband, three children, and a ridiculously furry dog named Yeti. This is her third novel. Visit her on Twitter @natdrichards or at nataliedrichards.com.
It’s hard to believe One Was Lost is finally here. It feels weird to admit that I’ve been desperately looking forward to scaring you all and keeping you up way past your bedtimes, but it’s the truth. And now that it’s finally out in the world, I just can’t wait to hear what you all think! I mean, after you get some sleep of course. I’m not that impatient.
As a writer with my fourth book hitting the shelves, I can say each new release has its own special brand of excitement. Each story has elements that you cherish and characters you love. But One Was Lost wasn’t like any of my other books. Writing this book was a whole new ball game.
The truth behind One Was Lost is that my father died a few months before I started writing it. He was my inspiration for writing as a child and easily one of my closest friends throughout my life. Losing him was like having my foundation knocked sideways. My grief felt oceans deep and I was lost in the roll of every wave. It was brutally difficult.
For anyone who’s met me and knows what a class clown I am, I’ll confess 2015 was one of the least funny years of my life. Still, when I sat down to write One Was Lost, I knew I had something special. These characters were speaking to me like characters never had. This story was at a roiling boil in my head—but, could I really write it?
Doubt plagued me in those first days. Could I still remember how to get lost in a story? Could I get it right when I was still struggling so much? Most importantly, could I still be the writer I used to be?
The answer was quick and a little terrifying. No.
I couldn’t go back to the writer I was before. Losing someone incredibly important to you changes you. There is a new normal you must adjust to, and that new normal doesn’t fade away after the funeral is done and over.
My new normal proved to be a very powerful force in my writing life. One Was Lost forced me to face fears I might have danced around in other books. I had no choice but to dive more deeply than ever before. My new perspective had me spend more time than usual learning about these new characters. Trying to understand them. Hurting with them and fearing with them.
I didn’t just lose myself in One Was Lost, I drowned in it. I fell so deeply into this book that at times it was difficult to resurface to do normal, mundane not-lost-and-terrified-in-the-forest things. I’m not sure I’ve ever been more in love with characters in any of my stories, and I’m absolutely sure I’ve never been happier with the way a book has turned out.
It is my dearest hope that you’ll all get a little lost in this book too. Sometimes even the scariest things can bring out strength and goodness we never believed possible. And it is just that reason that One Was Lost is a book I’m so particularly proud of and excited to share with you.
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Happy reading and check back closer to the release date for my review!
A forbidden birth. A remarkable young woman. A marauding alien society. The battle begins.
A brutal alien society invades Korin and Arranon, intent on destroying the two worlds that make up Cadet Erynn Yager’s home. Forced to expose her strange abilities and reveal her forbidden birth, a guarded web of secrets unravels.
Stranded on an unfamiliar planet of eternal winter and predatory wildlife, the mysterious living consciousness of Arranon intervenes, leading Erynn on a mystical journey.
Aware of Erynn’s potential, the alien enemy pursues her. She struggles to gain control of her growing powers while in a constant race to elude the invaders, and join the forces preparing to fight a mounting occupation.
Erynn’s secret may be her worlds’ only hope, but at the cost of her life. Swept up in a chain reaction of events, Erynn’s dedication extends far beyond service and duty. She learns the true meaning of sacrifice.
Along with courage and hope, Erynn finds something unexpected on her journey of awareness and growth.
Jaer sighed. “I will get you there, Erynn.” His hand stroked her hair.
I’m Erynn again. She angled her face to see him. “Why do you do that?”
He tipped his head. His hand stopped its soft movement and dropped. “I am sorry. I will not do it again.” His arms stiffened.
“No. I mean sometimes you call me Lieutenant, or Lieutenant Yager, but rarely Erynn. Why?”
“I guess the same reason you call me, sir, and not Jaer.”
She stared at the dark outline of his face, quiet for a long moment. “So if I call you Jaer, you’ll stop calling me Lieutenant?”
He laughed quietly. “Yes, Erynn.” His hand moved back to her hair, sliding around to hold her face. His lips brushed hers, tentative at first, then with more pressure, but still gentle.
Erynn put one arm around him and the other up to his jacket, grasping the collar and pulling him, returning the kiss. Electric blue tendrils wove around, slow and graceful, encompassing them in a soft light.
I have always been a reader. I’d come home from grade school with stacks of books every week, and during the summer, I’d get my fix from the library. I love books. Later, while working every day outside at the ranch, I’d listen to audio books on cassette with one of those Sportswalk players I’d hook to my belt. I could go through three or four books a week.
I started writing while working as a Paramedic/Firefighter in Northern California.
Trust me, it’s not always like it appears on TV. There was plenty of time for reading.
Writing got serious for me when I moved to my ranch in Oregon. While waiting for lambs to be born in the middle of the night, I would head back to the house for an hour or two and sit down at the computer. Before I knew it, I had a manuscript. One hundred and twenty-two thousand words that desperately needed help, but it was a start.
The characters demanded their story be told, so I joined critique groups and attended writer’s conferences. I was on the fast track to learning what I needed to know to write well, and tell, show, an engaging story.
In 2013, I received an honorable mention in Writer’s Digest’s Self Published book awards for MG/YA, so I guess I had learned something! BTW, I’m still learning.
Ideas from dreams follow me into warm sunny days or the quiet of falling snow. “What ifs” feed a vivid imagination. Even mistyped phrases may lead to an “aha” moment. Brain storming sessions standing in dark, windy parking lots with fellow writers release thoughts that pry at the corners of my mind, grasping for purchase. Sometimes the ideas pursue me, with persistence.
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Are you ready to #unzip #LevisBlue?
Levi’s Blue by M. Leighton is LIVE!
From the New York Times, USA Today, and Wall Street Journal bestselling author, M. Leighton, comes a brand new super sexy standalone that is guaranteed to make you sweat and make you swoon.
“Amazing. Unique. Beautiful. Sexy. LEVI’S BLUE by M. Leighton is ALL THAT and MORE!” ~~ Shayna Renee’s Spicy Reads
Four beautiful days. Three steamy nights. One breathtaking love.
He wanted four dates. Four opportunities to prove I could trust him. Four chances to change my mind about him.
Probably not my smartest decision. He was everything I knew to avoid—gorgeous, charming, sexy as hell—but I couldn’t help myself. When he touched me the whole world disappeared. I should’ve known I could lose myself to him, that he could be the one man to destroy me.
I guess it’s true what they say—some things are too good to be true. And Levi Michaelson might just be one of them.
#LevisBlue #Unzipped #Sept19 #NewRelease #ComingSoon #MLeighton
***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via the author
Levi’s Blue is a mesmerizing and vibrant love story. Full of bold and beautiful descriptions, sensory details, and scorching chemistry, you’ll fall hard for Levi and Evie.
I hardly know where to begin with this review. There’s so much I want to say, but let me start with what makes this story so special: the voice. Evie is a strong, courageous woman who hasn’t let her disability and the tragic circumstances behind her accident break her. Instead of wallowing in her pain, she found herself. Her loss became her saving grace. She embraced her blindness with her whole heart and learned to listen to all of her senses. Evie is a little sassy, flirty, and has such warmth within her that she glows right off the page. There are scenes where she’s teaching art to others with disabilities and it’s incredibly uplifting. She makes them feel hope and that nothing can stop them, despite what they’ve been through. Seeing how the children respond to her will make your heart happy. Get ready for big smiles. That being said, Evie doesn’t take abuse from anyone. She hates pity, but actively tries to understand how awkward it can be to find the words. I loved that about her, how conscious she was of everyone’s feelings-she focused on how to make others happy, even above herself.
The sensory details are out of this world. The way colors and images and associations are made between what she remembers and what she can only imagine is fantastic. I wish I could see these paintings. The combination of smell and texture and sound all combine to give Evie this almost otherworldly perception, she sees things more clearly without her sight than those around her. AND when Levi describes things for Evie. Your heart will EXPLODE. That man.
Levi is smitten. That’s the best word for the single-minded way he absolutely adores, admires, and worships Evie. Everything she does is magical to him. Sometimes he just watches her and the emotions swell. Fluttery heart and palms sweating adorable.
Levi is sexy. He almost growls his words and it’s pure, primal fire, the want. He’s attentive, hyper aware of Evie, and is constantly touching her. The chemistry just builds and builds. It’s inevitable. The dates are just…jaw dropping, so so perfect and considerate. He wants to wow her as much as she wows him.
Cherelyn is a best friend everyone should want to have. She’s feisty, she speaks her mind, and loves Evie so much. Her accent, her big personality leaps off the pages and make you want to hang out with her.
The story goes by SO FAST. It takes place over a short period of time, some parts feel a little rushed, but the story is powerful and builds.
The catty, jealous female as antagonist was expected, but even I was shocked by some of the stuff she said. Jeez.
Those sex scenes. It takes a bit, but so worth the wait. Grab a glass of wine and get ready to fan yourself, because it’s hot, to put it mildly.
That ending. Swoon times infinity. Oh my cuteness.
New York Times, USA Today and Wall Street Journal Bestselling Author, M. Leighton lives in the deep South with her super-hero husband and super-smart maltipoo. She has a fondness for coffee and chocolate, loves the color red, laughs at almost anything and often stares out her window, daydreaming of far-away places.
It’s the end of summer. Just before I start senior year with my two best friends in the whole world. Dustin and Emily are everything to me. We’ve been inseparable since middle school, and when we’re together, nothing can go wrong.
But things aren’t always what they seem. Em’s turned into a drunken mess who parties too much. Dustin and I have hooked up a few times―and now he’s ready to take our relationship to the next level. Yet I’m not sure I want things to change. I’m scared if I take it any further with Dustin, our friendship will be ruined forever. Then there’s Ryan. The new guy. He’s hot. He flirts way too much. And Em has totally set her sights on him.
So when my best friend betrays me in the worst possible way, guess who’s there to help me pick up the pieces of my broken heart? Ryan. But he’s so confusing. Annoying. Sweet. Sexy. I want to trust him, yet he makes it so hard. What I really want is for everything to go back to the way it was before.
Before I found out that best friends make the worst kind of enemies.
***I received this ARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review and participation in the tour
+++Despite being set in high school this is MATURE. Technically it can fall in YA range, but it is categorized as New Adult
Just Friends chronicles the dark side of friendship-when everything falls apart, when heartbreak, jealousy, and boys shake the foundation of their bond. Just Friends is Mean Girls with a side of Heathers, minus the murder.
Although Just Friends is a fairly typical story, friends who fall for a boy and let jealousy, pettiness, and hurt come between them, I could NOT put it down. It was vulgar, catty, a hot mess of angst, and in the same way that Pretty Little Liars and One Tree Hill sucked you into the black hole of their teenage tantrums, fights, and lusting after each other, Just Friends has that same magical and bewildering pull.
This book is more about sex than anything else, despite the friendship drama. It’s always there. I know hormones are raging and what not but holy freaking angst. Seriously. Some sections are pretty graphic in terms of innuendo or just blatant sex talk. Blushing is inevitable. But this is super real. When I think about some of the stuff I heard in high school, this is fairly common. Well, at least where I grew up.
For the life of me, I could not figure out what a sweet girl like Olivia was doing with a friend like Em. She’s literally THE WORST. She’s a jerk. She says some really messed up stuff and throws herself at guys that she knows Olivia likes. It’s pretty repulsive. I know they’ve been friends forever, but people change and there’s only so much rudeness that someone should put up with.
This is a coming of age story. Everyone is on the brink of adulthood so emotions are high and erratic. Everyone is growing. This doesn’t mean they’re maturing. I liked Olivia (Livvy), though her wishy washy confusion and I’m mad, I’m not attitude, bugged me. She went from one extreme to another and jeez for someone who started out so tame, she sure progresses. The shift is fast and didn’t align well with her character. She jumps into things and loses her train of though, it’s like a switch being flipped. Plus, for someone who questions things, she’s SO BLIND.
The love triangle is strong. You were warned. If you don’t like them, read with caution.
Monica Murphy is the New York Times, USA Today and #1 international bestselling author of the One Week Girlfriend series, the Billionaire Bachelors and The Rules series. Her books have been translated in almost a dozen languages and has sold over one million copies worldwide. She is both self-published and published by Random House/Bantam and Harper Collins/Avon. She writes new adult, young adult and contemporary romance.
She is a wife and a mother of three who lives in central California on fourteen acres in the middle of nowhere along with their one dog and too many cats. A self-confessed workaholic, when she’s not writing, she’s reading or hanging out with her husband and kids. She’s a firm believer in happy endings, though she will admit to putting her characters through angst-filled moments before they finally get that hard won HEA.
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“The journey to womanhood is different for every girl.”
In this diverse and heart-wrenching debut novel that begins in the rural country of Kentucky in 1978, two sisters create a childhood for themselves among a dark reality they cannot escape. It’s a sweeping journey of two lives forever entwined in common experience and love.
Kathleen spent the first nine years of her life lost, when the death of her infant brother led her parents into a spiraling void of grief. When Lucy was born, she was life itself. For Kathleen, Lucy was more of a child, than a younger sister. Caring for her gave Kathleen’s life meaning, opening her to a new world of love and trust. When a series of tragic events separates them, each embark on their own path. Kathleen desperate to find her sister, and Lucy learning to exist in an unforgiving world without her sister to protect her.
Author Kim Streible crafts a moving coming-of-age journey about sisterhood, the tribulations of relationships and lasting love.
“I don’t know,” Kathleen said. “Probably.”
Lucy furrowed her eyebrows. “How do you know if you were good enough to go to heaven and not hell?”
“I don’t think there is a hell.” People seemed so much better at punishing themselves. Kathleen couldn’t figure a reason for a hell.
“Where do bad people go then?”
Kathleen shrugged. “I don’t know, maybe they just die. They lie in the dark, worms all around them and they decay and just, don’t exist anymore.”
“Don’t scare me,” Lucy said.
“Kathleen, please don’t lie.”
She shut her book. “I’m not. I’m not really sure. Some people believe in heaven, some people believe in nothing. Some people believe that you live on, that you are like energy and the energy just travels on to somewhere else, like maybe to the sea, or a flower. And some people think that they just linger around.”
“Their souls?” Lucy asked.
“Yeah, their spirits, like shadows behind a curtain. They are faint, but they’re still there.”
“Oh.” Lucy curled her fingers around the edge of the bed frame. “What do you believe?”
“I hope that we get to come back and be something wonderful.”
Lucy twisted her feet. “I’d be a butterfly.”
Kathleen smiled. “Yeah? They are pretty.”
“And they can fly.” Lucy walked around the bedpost and pulled herself onto the end of Kathleen’s bed. “What would you be?”
“What’s internal mean?”
Kathleen laughed. “Not internal, eternal. It means something that goes on forever.” Kathleen crossed her legs, sitting Indian style on the bed, holding the book in her lap. “I know what I’d be,” she added, “a moonbeam.”
“A moonbeam? Would that be good?” Lucy asked.
“Sure,” Kathleen replied. “You cast down every night all over the world, people stand and look up at you from every point of the Earth. They dream of your mysteries, they tell you all of their wishes. They think you’re beautiful.” She looked at Lucy. “And you’d be part of the constellations.”
“Oh,” Lucy said. “Kathleen?”
Lucy looked at her. “If I’m a butterfly and you’re a moonbeam, then we get to see each other every night right?”
She smiled. “We sure would.”
***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review and participation in this tour
The Butterfly and the Moonbeam is a bittersweet coming of age story that celebrates the bond of sisterhood and the unconditional love that comes with growing up, confiding in each other, and learning to find beauty in life despite all the ugliness the world can throw at you.
Kathleen and Lucy are surrounded by a cloud of grief, abuse, and depression, and yet, their love for each other allows them to find magic and happiness despite everything working against them. Their bond is beautiful, strong, and potent. Their love and adoration oozes off the pages and will fill you with such warmth.
Lucy is a curious little girl. She questions everything and is enchanted by everyday simplicity. Her wide-eyed wonder is contagious and will make you want to look at the world with new eyes. When everything starts to fall apart and she begins to see the darkness, it’s like being gutted, watching some of that light fade from such a sweet child. Lucy’s sections have a consistent and playful voice, full of curiosity. You can tell her age and it’s adorable.
Kathleen has an unfortunate amount of pressure and responsibility on her shoulders, but she never once looks at Lucy as a burden,her love trumps that. This unfaltering care for her sister will earn your respect and root for her happily ever after.
There are a ton of serious and common issues that are done so well and should be talked about-alcoholism, depression, loss of a child, mental, illness, and domestic abuse all feature in this story. Kim Streible does an amazing job at showing depression as if it were another person in the room, a living and breathing entity whose presence takes over like a toxic, dark sickness.
The setting is in the 70s and the references to the time period are pretty spot on. You’ll feel transported.
If you’re not into coming of age stories or slower, everyday life drama, this may not be for you. The pacing was so slow for me. I really had to push. The story was griping, but I guess because it was a slower time, some sections really dragged and I got distracted.
Kim Streible grew up with a healthy love of books, music and movies. The telling of stories fascinated her. She has a current obsession with the band, The Pretty Reckless and has become increasingly nervous at the happenings on the Walking Dead. When she isn’t writing, you might find her pinning Batman and other goodies on Pinterest. She has authored over eight novels, including the steamy romance series Desert Pleasures, just published under the pseudonym, Zoe Blackwood.
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