Best of 2016: YA Book Madness’ Top 16 YA Reads

It’s been a crazy year. I’ve done so much that I never thought I would with writing and making blogger/author friends. Through all the chaos I’ve read some amazing books (though not all of them got reviewed). Last year I broke my top picks into categories. This year, I’ve decided to do an overall top 16 and then into broad categories. Tell me if you’ve read any on my list, what you thought, and feel free to recommend some of your top 2016 YA books!!!

BEST OF 2016 YA OVERALL 

BEST of 2016 SCIENCE FICTION

BEST of 2016 CONTEMPORARY

BEST of 2016 HORROR

BEST of 2016 THRILLER

BEST of 2016 PARANORMAL 

Pleasant reading, 

Jordan

Review: The Dead House – The Naida Tapes by Dawn Kurtagich

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There is a box. A box that should never have been discovered. And a warning beneath the lid.

This was for Kaitlyn. It was a mistake. Forget this box and leave the Isle. Don’t look any further.
I’m begging you. N.C.D. 2005

After the inferno that swept through Elmbride High, claiming the lives of three teenagers and causing one student, Carly Johnson, to disappear, Naida Chounan-Dupre was locked away for the good of society.

But that wasn’t the end of the story.

Because you can’t play with the devil and not pay the price.

The chilling, psychological horror of The Dead House returns with never-before-seen footage of the Naida tapes.

review

4/5 Stars 

What I love about Dawn Kurtagich is her ability to make the uncanny ridiculously terrifying. The mind is a dark and twisted place, and as humans, we have an astounding capacity to become consumed by our thoughts. What Kurtagich excels at is making the reader question the characters, to doubt them, and to sift through the story and fight hard to uncover what’s real before it’s too late. Is it supernatural or are the characters just having a mental break? You decide.

Some scenes are graphic, grotesque and may be triggering for some readers. Kurtagich is never short on description and I eat that stuff up. If you’re one of those horror film lovers who gets ecstatic over Paranormal Activity, Insidious, or Sinister, pick this up. 

The story is lively. There’s absolutely never a dull moment. From the initial intro to the new characters and relearning the old. There’s mystery, terror, intrigue, and such darkness it will consume you. 

If you haven’t read The Dead House in a while, you might want to revisit the ending. I read hundreds of books a year so some mentions of characters really threw me and there wasn’t enough reiteration of the earlier book at the time they were mentioned to make me feel like I had a grip on the back story.

Naida’s dead house. Chills. Her fear, her anxiety, the overwhelming sense of dread that she’s going to let the word out. The way she mutilates herself. EVERYTHING is twisted, and dark, and made of a fantastic combination of desperation and hope. 

For the most part, the characters were well-developed and memorable. Scott felt wishy-washy as a love interest and didn’t have much personality. Apart from one sweet scene, it was a bit of a let down. 

The camera footage. You truly feel like you’re watching. Each bizarre, weird thing becomes doubly disturbing when Naida attempts to explain. Everything you think you know, maybe, just maybe, you know nothing. 🙂 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Suspenseful reading, 

Jordan

Review: The Women in the Walls by Amy Lukavics

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Lucy Acosta’s mother died when she was three. Growing up in a Victorian mansion in the middle of the woods with her cold, distant father, she explored the dark hallways of the estate with her cousin, Margaret. They’re inseparable—a family.

When her aunt Penelope, the only mother she’s ever known, tragically disappears while walking in the woods surrounding their estate, Lucy finds herself devastated and alone. Margaret has been spending a lot of time in the attic. She claims she can hear her dead mother’s voice whispering from the walls. Emotionally shut out by her father, Lucy watches helplessly as her cousin’s sanity slowly unravels. But when she begins hearing voices herself, Lucy finds herself confronting an ancient and deadly legacy that has marked the women in her family for generations.

review

3/5 Stars

+++Contains graphic violence, grotesque imagery, self-inflicted mutilation, and scenes that could be disturbing to some readers. 

I loved Daughters Unto Devils so when I saw The Women in the Walls I was gleeful. It felt like a lovely early Christmas present for my horror-obsessed little heart. Then I started reading. I waited. And waited. And waited some more for something to happen and finally it did, but it took ages. The pacing is slow. So much so that the tension doesn’t build like it should. Scenes that should have sucked all the air out of the room with the sheer creepiness of what was going on fell flat and missed their mark entirely in some places. 

The setting didn’t quite fit with the story. The Women in the Walls read like a Gothic novel, but was set (I’m assuming because of a few-very few-references) in present time. There were so many details that were left out. It bugged me that I had no clue how old the main characters were. All we know is that they are not legal adults. I was at a loss for what Lucy looked like. Descriptions of people were sparse. Apart from Lucy’s habit of self-mutilation, we really know nothing about her hobbies, her interests, her friendships, nothing. There are measly references to her mother, and some moderately detailed memories of her and Penelope, but that’s it. Lucy’s closeness to Margaret was stressed throughout, but there are no flashbacks, no nostalgia, and certainly no friendly interactions as the story evolves. If anything, they look like enemies. It’s hard to invest in their relationship when it felt as though it was never there to begin with. 

What Amy Lukavics excels at is those spine-tingling, chilling images that are blunt and brutal and made of nightmares. The horror is grotesque, packs a punch, and so bizarre that it takes a second for it to process and then, boom. I said this about Daughters Unto Devils as well, this would make a fantastic scary movie. Some statements are disturbing on levels that sink their teeth into you and keep going, gnawing at your thoughts. I can’t get them out of my head and that shows you how powerful those scenes are. 

The ending. The bulk of the horror happens in the last 15 or so percent of the book. What gets you is the anticipation. You know something terrible is coming. Something so bad that you persevere and wade through the slowness. Will it be paranormal? Will it be bloody? Will Lucy make it to the end of the book? What happened? All of these questions nag and plague and will drive you mad with need. I had to know. I pushed and fought and when I got there…

Holy plot twist. That’s some next level horror. The clues are minimal. You might expect it a little, but the full extent of what happens-never. 

That finale. The gore is enough to keep you awake for days. Read it with the lights on. You were warned. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Hypnotic reading, 

Jordan

Re-Release Blitz & Giveaway: Dangerous Love by Liz Lovelock

AMAZON US / UK / CA / AU / B&N / KOBO / iBOOKS / GOODREADS

Cover Design: Letitia, RBA Designs 
syn
 Jay Jones, a first-rate police officer, is given a new undercover assignment which forces her to reassess her insecurities and to build a relationship of trust with her new partner. He’s the one man she thought she’d never see again. A man who once held her happiness and then took it with him when he left, Brayden Falcone.

Years after suffering a significant loss, Jay remains guarded. The pain of getting hurt still haunts her. She holds a secret so great, it eats away at her happiness. She wants to tell Brayden all about what they both lost. But, all she remembers is the loneliness she felt and, the heartbreak she suffered.

Working closely with Brayden, she knows he’s the one person who can save her from the hellish crimes she’s about to witness.

But Jay isn’t the only one who’s keeping secrets.

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Excerpt

Despite the heartbreak he caused me, the feelings I had for him have never completely disappeared. Reduced, definitely, but they’re still there. A first love leaves a special imprint on one’s heart. There was so much good with us, but also so much bad, and Brayden left me with a view that love will always be tainted. The L word is now a dirty word and something I’m incapable of. Serious relationships are non-existent in my life. He made sure he destroyed them for me, just like he shattered my happiness.

Relaxing into my pillows and releasing a breath, I try to calm my racing heart. Closing my eyes, I silently hope and pray that I will sleep better for the rest of the night. As I begin to settle in, a strange sensation prickles over my already clammy skin.

Someone’s watching me.

My eyes open slightly and move to a dark silhouette standing in my doorway. Panic begins to take over, and my machines beep crazily once again. Fumbling for my buzzer, I know I need a nurse, but as I hold the device in my hands my eyes catch the doorway, and the silhouette is gone.

author TWITTER/FACEBOOK/AMAZON/INSTAGRAM/GOODREADS/WEBSITE/NEWSLETTER

Liz Lovelock is from bright sunny Queensland in Australia. She is the mother of three little monsters, a wife to an amazing husband and very much a lover of everything books and reading. Liz has always loved books and, from a very young age she began reading comic books and then in high school her passion grew. She was given Tomorrow When The War Began by John Marsden for an assignment but, when that was done she continued to discover new books to fall in love with.

Liz always has a book she is currently enjoying and, a notebook beside her bed for in her hand bag for when inspiration hits at those crazy times. She is a stationary addict and will buy more notebooks and pens then what she needs. Her one click finger likes to go crazy as well.

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Thrilling reading, 

Jordan

Review: The Devil You Know by Trish Doller

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Eighteen-year-old Arcadia wants adventure. Living in a tiny Florida town with her dad and four-year-old brother, Cadie spends most of her time working, going to school, and taking care of her family. So when she meets two handsome cousins at a campfire party, she finally has a chance for fun. They invite her and friend to join them on a road trip, and it’s just the risk she’s been craving-the opportunity to escape. But what starts out as a fun, sexy journey quickly becomes dangerous when she discovers that one of them is not at all who he claims to be. One of them has deadly intentions.

A road trip fling turns terrifying in this contemporary story that will keep readers on the edge of their seats.

review

2.5/5 Stars 

+++Parts of this story are MATURE

The Devil You Know was not at all what I expected it to be. You know those horror films that start out with a bunch of kids partying and end up with someone winding up dead? This is exactly like that, I can easily see it as a film. The familiar tropes were there: restless heroine looking to escape, love triangle with two hot out of towners, a series of semi-sinister but not entirely scary incidents. It all feels so familiar and more than a little predictable. 

The premise didn’t sit right with me. I don’t care how tired of her situation the main character is (it’s stressed repeatedly), she’s responsible, smart, and known for making rational choices, so when she makes the decision to ride off into the sunset…or in this case a canoe, with complete strangers it made zero sense. Everything felt super fast in terms of development-so much so that it was jarring. The insta-attraction was fierce, the meet and run away happened within hours. What kind of crazy person hops in a car with two random guys she met the night before? It wasn’t exactly believable for modern times…maybe if it was set in the 70s or even the 80s. 

The story was enjoyable though. It felt like a romance with just the right amount of angst and drama. The chemistry was hot. The boys were both contenders and had a lot going for them. A clean-cut, pretty boy, his rough cousin, tatted and with a record. There’s something for the good girl with a reckless streak in all of us. 

Scenery was spot on and engaging. The trip to Casadaga was especially interesting because I’ve been there and it’s a creepy, yet fascinating place that anyone should check out given the opportunity.

Secondary characters were memorable, if a little cliché. The ex boyfriend’s brother was much-needed comic relief and pretty gross, but in a lovable, perverse way. 

The twist had so many tells and clues that it came as no surprise to me, however this did not detract from the suspense-filled, adrenaline rush of a finale. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Exciting reading, 

Jordan

Blitz & Giveaway: Trapped by Amanda Lance

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On the way to investigate a fugitive sighting, 21-year-old news intern Aubrey Kent is injured when an unexpected storm destroys the newscopter—along with the rest of the crew.

Now, stranded in the Canadian wilderness and on the brink of death, Aubrey is rescued by a handsome stranger whose cold disposition is as frightening as the remote cabin in which he lives. With no way to reach civilization before spring, Aubrey becomes Jack Gordon’s unwanted roommate. Her hope for rescue is much more desperate when she sees his hostile attitude and violent behavior.

Aubrey and Jack wait out the winter, they grow closer—their delicate friendship blooming into feelings neither of them could have anticipated. But the weather and the wolves aren’t the only dangers in the mountains. As Aubrey uncovers the reason for Jack’s self-imposed isolation, she realizes she’s closer to the story than she imagined—a story that might cost her life.

Romantic couple standing on path in misty forest

auth

A native of New Jersey and lifelong nerd, Amanda Lance completed her Master in Liberal Arts at Thomas Edison State College after her BA in English Literature and AFA in creative writing.

She currently resides in Easton Pennsylvania with her boyfriend and their spoiled dogs. She is a cliché booknerd who is terrible at math, clinically obsessive, and prone to addictive behavior. She may or may not be a recluse.

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

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Romantic reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: Infinity by Jus Accardo

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There are three things Kori knows for sure about her life:

One: Her army general dad is insanely overprotective.

Two: The guy he sent to watch her, Cade, is way too good-looking.

Three: Everything she knew was a lie.

Now there are three things Kori never knew about her life:

One: There’s a device that allows her to jump dimensions.

Two: Cade’s got a lethal secret.

Three: Someone wants her dead.

review

3/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Entangled:Teen

Infinity is only my second Jus Accardo book ever-my first was Rules of Survival, which I absolutely loved. So when I saw a new YA Jus Accardo book, naturally I picked it up. Infinity is made of suspense and mystery. There are secrets and technologies so far advanced and so intricate that it’s possible to carry revenge like a sword through unlimited versions of reality. That’s pretty epic.

The book takes place over a handful of days as Cade, Kori, and Noah race to meet the demands of a deranged, but remarkably human and heartbroken psychopath. The stakes are high. Death is imminent. The situation dire…and yet, despite taking place over such a short span of time, the pacing was pretty slow. Some of the characters seem to leisurely stroll through the story even though they should be speeding along. The urgency, for most of the book was lacking. Yes, there are some sections that were full of that adrenaline rush of fear and uncertainty as they desperately try to escape from capture, but most of the time, it felt like young people hanging out, sorting through their feelings, and eating a lot of snack food.  

Kori’s character is intriguing. She’s a rebel, a vandal, and an artist painting out her love for her mother anywhere she can. She’s brave, fierce, and knows how to defend herself, thanks to her life under the critical gaze of her military father and all of their moves. Kori doesn’t take anyone talking down to her and is quick to fight. She cares deeply. She’s conflicted, and makes sacrifices that take tons of courage. She’s definitely a heroine I can get behind.

The tragedy that happened on the other Earth is heartbreaking and unexpected. It’s easy to see how confusing it can be facing another version of the man or woman you loved in another Earth dimension. The rage and thirst for vengeance is strong, but what makes it work is how potent the villain’s sense of betrayal and loss is. You’ll feel every tragic turn.

Kori and Cade’s push and pull attraction was mild. While the romance was a huge part of this story, the fire was minimal. 

Noah was a surprising and deep character. He pushes because he can’t afford to feel. He can’t show that he cares too much because it’s too risky. There’s so much beneath the surface that you’ll want to know him-the real guy behind the hard exterior. 

Living through this new nightmare is cathartic for Kori. The loss of her mother is a mark on her soul that she can’t and doesn’t want to escape. Her memory is everything. So when these other Earth reality people come and talk about that version of her mother, they’re like new pieces and memories come to life. Her mother is alive again and she’s learning. Even if it’s not her mother of her Earth, she’s healing through these stories. 

Overall, the premise was great, the characters complex, the pace was a tad slow, and the romance up and down. 

Exciting reading, 

Jordan

Excerpt & Giveaway: Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog

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Pub. Date: November 1, 2016

synSecrets. Obsession. Murder. Victoria is about to discover just how dangerous it can be to lose yourself.

Victoria Zell doesn’t fit in, but she’s okay with that. All she needs is the company of her equally oddball boyfriend, Andrew. She doesn’t care what anyone else thinks…until magnetic, charming, mysterious Z comes into her life, and she starts lying to everyone she knows in an effort to unravel his secrets.

And then something terrible happens. Someone is dead and it’s time for Victoria to come clean. Interspersed with news clippings and police interviews, Victoria tells her story to Andrew, revealing her dark, horrible secrets…secrets that have finally come back to haunt her.ExcerptLeary’s old enough to be a grandfather, yet acts like a kid. His desk is crowded with Batman figurines and smiley-face pencils. He always bakes—cookies and sweet breads and stuff—and he brings them in to share, so his office usually smells of cinnamon. Still, it always kind of freaked me out that he’s, you know, a man of God. Other students didn’t seem to censor themselves around him, but I always felt like I had to watch what I said or he’d strike me down with his divine power. It was the same thing, week after week. He asked me question after question, to which I would provide the shortest and vaguest answers possible.

When I sat down in my usual chair, farthest away from him, he offered me a plate of sugar cookies and asked, “So, Victoria, how was your summer?”

I told him it was uneventful, as my summers usually were.

“Good, good,” he replied. He’s big on repeating positives. “How have things been going for you this year?”

“Fine,” I told him, staring at the crucifix on the wall behind him. Even Jesus looked like he was rolling his eyes at Father. “I’m good.”

“Well, that’s good. You’re fitting in OK? Classes good?”

I smiled. “Everything’s great.”

“Friends?”

I nodded. “I have a few.”

He leaned forward. “Tell me, do you keep in touch with your friends from your old school?”

“No,” I told him. I had a couple of acquaintances at Duchess High, but no one worth keeping in touch with. From the way he grimaced, I knew it was the wrong answer. “I don’t need a bazillion friends though. I mean, I have Andrew.”

Leary didn’t look at me. He was busy plucking some dust off the knee of his black slacks. “Tell me about Andrew.”

I sighed so deeply that Father Leary’s gaze rose to mine. But seriously, had he forgotten? I talked about you nonstop last year, since you’re not only my boyfriend, you’re my best friend. I swear, I’ve probably told him your favorite color and what you eat for breakfast, like, twice. I think Jesus groaned behind him. “What do you want to know?”

He frowned. “What would you like to share?”

“There’s nothing to tell. He still lives next door, still is studying his music.”

And on and on we went, having the same conversation that we’d had every week last year. As if asking incessant questions about my life and making me repeat myself time and again is supposed to be therapeutic. I mean, isn’t that the definition of insanity, repeating oneself and expecting different results?authorcyn_0003Cyn Balog is the author of the young adult paranormal novels FAIRY TALE, SLEEPLESS, STARSTRUCK, TOUCHED, DEAD RIVER, and UNNATURAL DEEDS. She lives outside Allentown, Pennsylvania with her husband and daughters. Visit her online at www.cynbalog.com.

Website | Twitter |Facebook | Goodreads

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OTHER STOPS ON THE TOUR 

Week One:

10/24/2016- Bibliobibuli YA- Interview

10/25/2016- Curling Up With A Good Book- Excerpt

10/26/2016- Wandering Bark Books- Spotlight

10/27/2016- BookHounds YA- Excerpt

10/28/2016- Fiction Fare- Interview

Week Two:

10/31/2016- Wanderlust & Books- Spotlight

11/1/2016- Literary Meanderings- Guest Post

11/2/2016- With Love for Books- Guest Post

11/3/2016- The Cover Contessa- Interview

11/4/2016- YA Book Madness- Excerpt

Mysterious reading, 

Jordan

ARC Review: One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

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Release Date: October 4, 2016

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Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Are they labels or a warning? The answer could cost Sera everything.

Murder, justice, and revenge were so not a part of the plan when Sera set out on her senior camping trip. After all, hiking through the woods is supposed to be safe and uneventful.

Then one morning the group wakes up groggy, confused, and with words scrawled on their wrists: Damaged. Deceptive. Dangerous. Darling. Their supplies? Destroyed. Half their group? Gone. Their chaperone? Unconscious. Worst of all, they find four dolls acting out a murder—dolls dressed just like them.

Suddenly it’s clear; they’re being hunted. And with the only positive word on her wrist, Sera falls under suspicion…

review

3.5/5 Stars

***I received this eARC as a gift in exchange for an honest review via NetGalley & Sourcebooks Fire 

One Was Lost is a spine-tingling thriller that will have you on the edge, fumbling to discover the killer just as quickly and desperately as these terrified teens. 

One Was Lost is chaotic and packed with suspense. The power of suggestion is strong; There’s just enough there to get you to fill in the blanks and the picture, when it comes together is grotesque and oh-so-bleak. Some scenes are blunt and graphic, others are powered by mystery and creepy clues that will have your heart beating straight out of your chest. 

The twist is hardcore. Never saw that coming. And the reasoning behind everything-just insanity. The clues are subtle and sinister. Get ready to be on edge. 

Some sections were a little slow and may make you want to skim until the next big thing.

Each character is developed, they all have their own back stories that will send up red flags and leave you guessing if anything has extra meaning.

As a main character, Sera  is a little lacking. She’s so consumed with this deep fear and sense of loathing whenever it comes to anything relating to her mother. She’s terrified of becoming a lovesick, free spirit and whenever she starts to give into her feelings, she pushes then far, far away. Between this weighing on her and this blown out of proportion thing with Lucas, she seems a tad too dramatic. On top of that, her choices are suspect. A little too B movie. 

The tension is high. Everyone is a suspect. No one can be trusted. The paranoia grows fast and everyone is on alert. It’s amazing how the smallest things can turn so dark, and so creepy so fast. 

If you like any of the following, you’ll enjoy this:

Stay in suspense,

Jordan

Spotlight & Giveaway: One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards

CVR One Was Lost by Natalie D. Richards.jpgAmazon/iBooks/Goodreads

Release Date: October 4, 2016 

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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.

teaserone-was-lost-graphic-copy

Excerpt

“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.

“Go, Sera!”

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—”

authorAfter 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.

Website/Facebook

***

Dear Reader,

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.

Happy Reading!

Natalie

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Happy reading and check back closer to the release date for my review!  

Jordan