There was once an angel born of fire who was fated to rule the world.
There was once an angel born of fire who was fated to rule the world.
When Caroline’s little brother is kidnapped, his subsequent rescue leads to the discovery of Ethan, a teenager who has been living with the kidnapper since he was a young child himself. In the aftermath, Caroline can’t help but wonder what Ethan knows about everything that happened to her brother, who is not readjusting well to life at home.
And although Ethan is desperate for a friend, he can’t see Caroline without experiencing a resurgence of traumatic memories. But after the media circus surrounding the kidnappings departs from their small Texas town, both Caroline and Ethan find that they need a friend–and their best option just might be each other.
***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Macmillan Children’s Publishing Group
Afterward is a dual POV story set in the months after two abducted boys were rescued from their captor’s home. Told from the perspectives of Ethan, a boy who was held and abused for FOUR years, and Caroline, the sister of the young autistic boy who was nabbed by Ethan’s predator. This story is about recovery and learning to work through the trauma in a healthy way. Getting back to normal after being kidnapped seems impossible and when everyone treats you like you’re fragile and will disappear again at any moment, it’s a Herculean weight on your shoulders. Caroline struggles to understand what he brother went through when, because of his autism, he cannot communicate what happened to him, he just has severe nightmares and PTSD. Jennifer Mathieu, skillfully, and respectfully shows both sides of the spectrum, the family that is working so hard to help and understand and the victim’s road to being okay again.
The story starts with the immediate flash to when her brother was taken. The energy, that crumbling sense of fear as her stomach dropped out when she couldn’t find him. The terror, the anguish, the way she blamed herself were intense and gutting. That scene was a gripping introduction. After that, things slow down, they ease up, and while there are flashbacks for Ethan that are particularly disturbing and haunting, nothing much happens. It drags, you might feel compelled to skim, and get a little bored. It reads a bit like a contemporary, coming of age story in that lethargic, floating way.
What works is that the story is intensely realistic. The ups and downs, the angst, the general family issues, the class struggles, things like that were all spot on.
What I didn’t like was how little story actually had to do with Caroline’s brother, Dylan. There are barely any scenes with him and while you do sympathize with Caroline’s heartbreaking quest to understand what her brother went through, I think the focus was skewed.
There aren’t really any secondary characters and the ones that are there flit in and out and aren’t particularly likable, with the exception of Ethan’s therapist and the dog.
Ethan’s POV was strong and powerful. He grows and fights to sort through the reasons why he was taken, what he went through, the repressed memories, and all that trauma and clings to normalcy. He just wants to be a teenage boy and yet, he has so much mentally weighing on him that when he gets the opportunity it’s a whole different issue. It’s complex and intense and his thoughts will make you want to read more.
Caroline was an okay character. She’s a little random, a misfit, she does questionable, rebellious things, but that’s who she is. As the story progresses, she gets a teeny bit more likable, but it’s how she changes Ethan that makes her better.
Overall, Afterward wasn’t what I expected and left me feeling letdown. There were parts that were missing answers and things that still hadn’t been worked through by the end. I didn’t really get the need for so much Caroline. I would have liked to have seen more of her relationship with Dylan.
If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:
‘Remember: Demons lie’
Locked away inside the fortified walls of Oxford’s St Wilfred’s College, surrounded by alchemists sworn to protect them, Taylor and Sacha are safe from the Darkness. For now.
But time is short. In seven days Sacha will turn 18, and the ancient curse that once made him invincible will kill him, unleashing unimaginable demonic horror upon the world.
There is one way to stop it.
Taylor and Sacha must go to where the curse was first cast – the medieval French city of Carcassonne – and face the demons.
The journey will be dangerous. And monsters are waiting for them.
But as Darkness descends on Oxford, their choice is stark. They must face everything that scares them, or lose everything they love.
***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Bookouture
I was apprehensive getting into The Secret City because while I loved the premise of book 1 (The Secret Fire), I was disappointed in the execution. The Secret City was much better The Secret Fire and I kind of wish there was another installment in this series because I can’t wait to see what happens with these characters next.
The Secret City is full of action, danger, romance, and learning to embrace your fears to become more than you ever thought you could be.
I loved, loved, loved Louisa and Allistair’s story. They have grown so much, you can’t help but fall hard for their friendship. Louisa’s past is a dark and tragic one, full of hurt and pain and heartache. Louisa has given up on love because she’s terrified she doesn’t know how because she has never been loved. It will break your heart that such a fierce, heroic, and whip-smart girl could feel so emotionally broken. Seeing her vulnerability, her bravado, the way she yearns for happiness and will sacrifice everything to save the world, she is just epic. Plus, that banter between Louisa and Allistair is playful, flirty, and full of admiration. It flows so well.
The bad guys are seriously creepy and sinister. There are several adrenaline-fueled moments that you won’t be certain of the outcome. Those weird zombie-esque creatures are disgusting and yet, you can’t help but pity them. There’s a great balance showing that not all darkness is true darkness.
Taylor still struggles. I liked that she stayed true to her personality. Yes, her power grows, yes, she’s destined, but she’s not perfect, she has to work hard for her skills and she makes mistakes. So relatable.
I wish there was more of Sacha. Despite the story divided into various POVs, it felt dominated by Taylor for some reason. Not that her voice was stronger, somehow it was more demanding. Sacha’s story is complex. Hundreds of years of hatred and curses have made him into who he is and finally, finally, you see what a wonderful person he is. Be on guard for the swoon.
I’ve waited not-so-patiently for some romance in this series and FINALLY. FIN-AL-LY. But so spaced out. Drove me nuts. MORE, needed much, much more. While I appreciated that it wasn’t romance-driven, I would have liked a little more development there on both counts.
The ending was abrupt.
If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:
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.
Enter for your chance to win 1 of 10 copies of One Was Lost
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.
Enter for your chance to win Storm of Arranon Fire and Ice and Storm of Arranon Allies and Enemies