Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Kristen Ashley's "Rough Ride" - Release Day Excerpt and Trailer!

   

From New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Kristen Ashley comes a new story in her Chaos series…

   

About ROUGH RIDE:

Rosalie Holloway put it all on the line for the Chaos Motorcycle Club.

Informing to Chaos on their rival club—her man’s club, Bounty—Rosalie knows the stakes. And she pays them when her man, who she was hoping to scare straight, finds out she’s betrayed him and he delivers her to his brothers to mete out their form of justice.

But really, Rosie has long been denying that, as she drifted away from her Bounty, she’s been falling in love with Everett “Snapper” Kavanagh, a Chaos brother. Snap is the biker-boy-next door with the snowy blue eyes, quiet confidence and sweet disposition who was supposed to keep her safe…and fell down on that job.

For Snapper, it’s always been Rosalie, from the first time he saw her at the Chaos Compound. He’s just been waiting for a clear shot. But he didn’t want to get it after his Rosie was left bleeding, beat down and broken by Bounty on a cement warehouse floor.

With Rosalie a casualty of an ongoing war, Snapper has to guide her to trust him, take a shot with him, build a them…

And fold his woman firmly in the family that is Chaos.

**Every 1001 Dark Nights novella is a standalone story. For new readers, it’s an introduction to an author’s world. And for fans, it’s a bonus book in the author’s series. We hope you'll enjoy each one as much as we do.**
   

Amazon US | Amazon UK | Amazon AU | Amazon Canada

 

Download the Free Kindle App

   

  EXCERPT: 

My dad had been a biker. He was a nomad when it came to that kind of thing (or, really, any kind of thing). He accepted being tied down by his woman and his daughter only, not anything else. Not a job. Not a mortgage. Not a membership to a club. He hung with a lot of them, including Chaos (in fact, Hammer, sadly now deceased, but one of the founding members of Chaos, had been my father’s best friend). 

But he’d never hung with Bounty. 

“Don’t like the feel of them,” I’d heard him mutter years ago. “If you’re an outlaw, own the outlaw. If you’re not, own that. You can’t wanna be a Gypsy Joker. You either are or you aren’t. They wanna be. But they aren’t. That shit just ain’t right and it could get dangerous.” 

He’d been right. It got dangerous. I should have known. I should have followed my dad. Mom and me had done it all our lives, job to job, house to house, city to city. Why I stopped… Damn. I knew why I’d stopped. I’d wanted Shy; Shy, who reminded me of Dad. And when I couldn’t have him, I’d gone looking. I’d wanted what my mom had. I’d wanted that sweetness. That love. That devotion. I’d wanted the stability that just seeped down deep into your bones from all that no matter the job changing, the scenery changing, the amount of times you boxed up a house. Stability had nothing to do with income and locale. Stability was all in the heart.

       
 
  About Kristen Ashley: Kristen Ashley was born in Gary, Indiana, USA and nearly killed her mother and herself making it into the world, seeing as she had the umbilical cord wrapped around her neck (already attempting to accessorize and she hadn't taken her first breath!). Her mother said they took Kristen away, put her Mom back in her room, her mother looked out the window, and Gary was on fire (Dr. King had been assassinated four days before). Kristen's Mom remembered thinking it was the end of the world. Quite the dramatic beginning. Nothing's changed. Kristen grew up in Brownsburg, Indiana and has lived in Denver, Colorado and the West Country of England. Thus, she's blessed to have friends and family around the globe. Her family was (is) loopy (to say the least) but loopy is good when you want to write. They all lived together on a very small farm in a small farm town in the heartland. She grew up with Glenn Miller, The Everly Brothers, REO Speedwagon and Whitesnake (and the wardrobes that matched). Needless to say, growing up in a house full of music, clothes and love was a good way to grow up. And as she keeps growing, it keeps getting better.
     
 

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

Review: "A List of Cages" by Robin Roe

When Adam Blake lands the best elective ever in his senior year, serving as an aide to the school psychologist, he thinks he’s got it made. Sure, it means a lot of sitting around, which isn’t easy for a guy with ADHD, but he can’t complain, since he gets to spend the period texting all his friends. Then the doctor asks him to track down the troubled freshman who keeps dodging her, and Adam discovers that the boy is Julian—the foster brother he hasn’t seen in five years. Adam is ecstatic to be reunited. At first, Julian seems like the boy he once knew. He’s still kindhearted. He still writes stories and loves picture books meant for little kids. But as they spend more time together, Adam realizes that Julian is keeping secrets, like where he hides during the middle of the day, and what’s really going on inside his house. Adam is determined to help him, but his involvement could cost both boys their lives…


Many thanks to Disney-Hyperion via Netgalley for the free review copy in exchange for my honest opinion.
This is a rather interesting book for me to review because my thoughts are so conflicting! While I was reading, I was fully absorbed, feeling all the feels, crying actual tears, loving all the characters, not wanting to put the book down. Then I finished, and my thoughts changed completely. I started to look at the book with a more critical eye, and certain elements just did not sit right with me. Let me see if I can more eloquently explain.

Adam was fabulous! He seemed like the most amazing human being to ever walk this earth. Giving and generous, genuinely caring and empathetic, he is the guy that everyone wants to be around, guys and girls alike. His ADHD only makes him more endearing, because he struggles with it and yet he's so open about it with his friends. He's a tiny bit clueless with picking up signals from girls, but again, it only serves to make us love him more. And yet...maybe he's a bit too much? Like, too perfect. He makes one pretty big mistake throughout the course of the book, and I blame his girlfriend for it more than I blame him. So yeah, a bit too perfect to be real.

Then there's Julian. I'm not sure what to think about Julian to be honest. I felt sorry for him on just about every page. To me, he was like a beaten dog - he kept getting more and more abused, and I didn't see a way out of that for him.  Like Adam was almost too perfect, Julian was almost too pitiful.  With all the crap and abuse this kid goes through, how can he ever live a normal life? He can't!!! He's going to be messed up forever! And no backyard barbecue birthday party is ever going to make up for that trauma.

The other thing, and probably the most important thing, that I wasn't able to buy into, was the villain. He was sooooooo bad, but we are never given a reason why. Did he have a traumatic childhood?  Did he have an untreated mental illness? Did he ever abuse other people? What was his motivation in treating Julian the way he did?  I ended up learning a couple of things at the very end of the book, but it was too little, too late - it was almost like somebody said, "Hey, your antagonist is really evil, but now we need some motivation - what can you stick in there?" and the author stuck in a couple of sentences to (barely) fill in the blanks. If an author is going to have this awful human doing awful things to another human in their book, that author's job is to make me believe that there is a reason for this.

These things, combined with a rushed, slightly ridiculous ending, forced me to drop a couple of stars. I enjoyed my time reading this book (when I wasn't cringing at Julian's suffering!) but I didn't love it as much as I was hoping.

My rating: 3 stars

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

"Bring Me Their Hearts" by Sara Wolf - Cover Reveal

In a new series Publishers Weekly has listed as “one of the most anticipated YA's of 2018”, we're excited to share the cover for Bring Me Their Hearts! NYT bestselling author Sara Wolf delivers a fast-paced, gritty fantasy sure to thrill fans of Holly Black, Sabba Tahir, and Sarah J. Maas.



About the book:


Zera is a Heartless—the immortal, unaging soldier of a witch. Bound to the witch Nightsinger ever since she saved her from the bandits who murdered her family, Zera longs for freedom from the woods they hide in. With her heart in a jar under Nightsinger’s control, she serves the witch unquestioningly.

Until Nightsinger asks Zera for a prince’s heart in exchange for her own, with one addendum: if she’s discovered infiltrating the court, Nightsinger will destroy Zera’s heart rather than see her tortured by the witch-hating nobles.

Crown Prince Lucien d’Malvane hates the royal court as much as it loves him—every tutor too afraid to correct him and every girl jockeying for a place at his darkly handsome side. No one can challenge him—until the arrival of Lady Zera. She’s inelegant, smart-mouthed, carefree, and out for his blood. The prince’s honor has him quickly aiming for her throat.

So begins a game of cat and mouse between a girl with nothing to lose and a boy who has it all.

Winner takes the loser’s heart.

Literally.

--

Release Date: June 5th, 2018

--

About Sara Wolf:


Sara Wolf is a twenty-something author who adores baking, screaming at her cats, and screaming at herself while she types hilarious things. When she was a kid, she was too busy eating dirt to write her first terrible book. Twenty years later, she picked up a keyboard and started mashing her fists on it and created the monster known as the Lovely Vicious series. She lives in San Diego with two cats, a crippling-yet-refreshing sense of self-doubt, and not enough fruit tarts ever.

Tuesday, January 30, 2018

Release Day Launch and Giveaway! "Say You'll Remember Me" by Katie McGarry

   

From critically acclaimed author Katie McGarry, comes SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME—a story of two people from different worlds pushing themselves, and each other, to get what they deserve!

SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME is now available at all fine book retailers. Grab your copy today!

   

SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME Synopsis:

"Doesn't matter who did it. Not anymore. I did the time. It's over."

When Drix was convicted of a crime--one he didn't commit--he thought his life was over. But opportunity came with the Second Chance Program, the governor's newest pet project to get delinquents off the streets, rehabilitated and back into society. Drix knows this is his chance to get his life back on track, even if it means being paraded in front of reporters for a while.

Elle knows she lives a life of privilege. As the governor's daughter, she can open doors with her name alone. But the expectations and pressure to be someone she isn't may be too much to handle. She wants to follow her own path, whatever that means.

When Drix and Elle meet, their connection is immediate, but so are their problems. Drix is not the type of boy Elle's parents have in mind for her, and Elle is not the kind of girl who can understand Drix's messy life.

But sometimes love can breach all barriers.

Fighting against a society that can't imagine them together, Drix and Elle must push themselves--Drix to confront the truth of the robbery, and Elle to assert her independence--and each other to finally get what they deserve.

 

Grab your copy of SAY YOU’LL REMEMBER ME here!

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Add it to your Goodreads Now!

   
      

EXCERPT: 


Hendrix

“Everyone says you have a blank slate.” My brother Axle sits beside me on the ground, arms resting on his bent knees, and he stares at the bonfire I built with my own two hands with only flint and sticks. It’s one of the many tricks I learned over the last three months. That and how to survive on my own in the middle of nowhere. 

Trees and bears I can handle. It’s not knowing who I can trust, now that I’m home, that’s the problem. Axle knows this. It’s why he’s next to me as our friends and family walk around the backyard for the impromptu “Welcome Home” party I told Axle I didn’t want. 

Someone in this yard is the reason why I spent a year away from home for a crime I didn’t commit. 

My neck tenses, and I roll it in an attempt to release the anger. It took me close to eight months to find some Zen, and it has taken less than thirty minutes for some of the old underlying rage that followed me around like a black thunderhead to return. 

Across from us, two girls I used to go to school with are roasting marshmallows. They’re waiting for me to talk to them. That’s who I was before: the smooth talker, the guy who made girls laugh and caused them to light up with a few specially chosen words. The right smile dropped at the right time, and panties would be shed. But I don’t feel up for conversation and I don’t feel like manipulating anyone anymore. 

Crazy—I used to thrive when surrounded by people. The more, the better. But after being in juvenile detention for seven months and spending three in the wilderness taking part in an Outward Bound program for troubled teens, I’m more at ease by myself in front of a fire. 

“They’ve all confirmed you’re walking out of all this with sealed records,” Axle continues. 

Hel’s leaving out the part of how those records only remain sealed if I uphold my end of the plea deal—the agreement I made with the district attorney after I was arrested. I agreed to plead guilty, and the DA didn’t charge me as an adult and send me to hard-core prison. Considering we had no money for a lawyer to help prove my innocence, the deal sounded like the better of two bad options.

“You’re getting a massive second chance,” Axle says. 

It was rotten luck that got me into this mess, but it happened at the right time. Our governor was searching for screwed-up teens to use for his pilot program. Someone high up in the world thought I stood a chance at turning my life around, but that second chance comes with a price. A price my brother is currently breaking down for me.  
“This is a good thing. A blank slate. Not many people get one of those.” 

Blank slate. That’s what I’m scared of. I may not have liked parts of the person I was before I was arrested, but at least I knew who I was. This blank slate, this chance to create someone new, scares me. This is a new type of pressure. At least I had a good excuse for being a delinquent before. Now, if I mess up, it’s because I’m truly broke. 

The fire crackles then pops, and embers rise into the late May night. My younger sister laughs at the other end of the narrow yard near the aging shotgun house, and the sound is like an eight-eight beat with a high hat cymbal. It’s welcomed, and it’s the first time this feels like home. 

She’s sixteen now, grown up faster than I’d prefer, and she’s one of the four people I love more than my own life. She’s also the only reason I’m still out here instead of holed up in my room. According to Axle, it was Holiday’s idea to set up the party. 

Old Christmas lights are strung from one towering oak tree to the next, zigzagging green, red and blue across the yard. Most people brought their own chairs and a dish to share. My first meal as a free man and it’s hamburgers, hot dogs and potato salad. I don’t have the heart to tell her I would have given my left ball for a slice of thick crust pizza. 

“She missed you,” Axle says, catching my train of sight. 

“I missed her, too.” Those are my first words since we pulled in the driveway. I used to be the life of the party, but that was before, and as I said, I don’t know who I am anymore, so for now, I’m quiet. 

“I missed you,” he says in such a low tone I barely catch it. “We weren’t the same without you.” 

I take a deep breath because I’m not sure any of us will be the same again.      

 

Order your copy of SAY YOU'LL REMEMBER ME, register and you will receive AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER, a novella that features your favorite Pushing the Limits and Thunder Road characters!

From the Pushing the Limits series, Noah, Beth, Isaiah, West and Logan are all grown up. Catch up with your favorite characters as one of them finally says, I do.

Pigpen, Eli and Addison from the Thunder Road series: Three separate personalities who still needed to find love...and still had someone important to meet.

This is a limited time offer! So hurry! Registration ends on February 3, 2018! You must register your order to receive AND THEY ALL LIVED HAPPILY EVER AFTER.

https://a.pgtb.me/4tLZSM

     
 

  About Katie McGarry: Katie McGarry was a teenager during the age of grunge and boy bands and remembers those years as the best and worst of her life. She is a lover of music, happy endings, reality television, and is a secret University of Kentucky basketball fan. Katie is the author of full length YA novels, PUSHING THE LIMITS, DARE YOU TO, CRASH INTO YOU, TAKE ME ON, BREAKING THE RULES, and NOWHERE BUT HERE and the e-novellas, CROSSING THE LINE and RED AT NIGHT. Her debut YA novel, PUSHING THE LIMITS was a 2012 Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction, a RT Magazine's 2012 Reviewer's Choice Awards Nominee for Young Adult Contemporary Novel, a double Rita Finalist, and a 2013 YALSA Top Ten Teen Pick. DARE YOU TO was also a Goodreads Choice Finalist for YA Fiction and won RT Magazine’s Reviewer’s Choice Best Book Award for Young Adult Contemporary fiction in 2013.    

Website | Twitter | Facebook | Goodreads | Pinterest | Tumbler | Instagram


         
 

Release Day Launch, Excerpt, and Giveaway! "Escape" by Jay Crownover

New York Times and USA Today Bestselling Author Jay Crownover returns with the third standalone title in her Getaway series, ESCAPE. Check out the excerpt below and pick up your copy today!

And that’s not all! RETREAT, the first standalone title in the Getaway series, is on sale! You can grab your copy for just $.99 for a limited time only.

About ESCAPE: 
Everything inside of him is screaming that he needs to run, he needs to go, he needs to escape.
Lane Warner is used to being overshadowed and overlooked.

After all, he’s the youngest brother and the most laid back one in the family. He’s the one known for going with the flow and not making waves, even when things seem to be at their worst.

Very few things in life have had the ability to rile Lane up and get under his skin. At the top of that list is his childhood friend Brynn Fox…no…Brynn Warner. The fact that they share a last name was the one thing that has the power to light him up and spin him out of control like no other. There was no calm, cool and collected when it comes to all the reasons why Brynn had to become part of his family.

It’s slowly killing him to keep wanting what he can’t have, so Lane sees only one way to stop himself from doing something they’ll both regret…he has to leave.

Everything inside of her is calling out to find him, to follow, to bring him home.
Brynn Warner is used to being stuck between a rock and a hard place.

After all, she’s the daughter of an unrepentant gold-digger who never once blinked at being the cause of her daughter’s pain and suffering.

Very few things in her life have ever brought happiness and a sense of security. At the very top of that list is Lane Warner. She has unwaveringly loved the youngest Warner since the first minute she laid eyes on him. He was everything Brynn ever wanted and everything she knew she could never have.

Sometimes the right choice is the one that hurts the most and Brynn’s had to make a few that felt like they might be the end of her.

When Lane takes off, one thing is clear, the only choice Brynn has is to go after him.

She’s going to bring her wayward cowboy home….whatever it takes.

Escape is a standalone novel, the third book in the Getaway series, which features the hardheaded and brokenhearted Warner brothers and the women who dare to love them. These boys are very good at putting the wild in wilderness.

ESCAPE is now available! Grab your copy today!


Amazon: http://amzn.to/2ymcqrP
Amazon CA: 
http://amzn.to/2Ehrwl6

Amazon UK: http://amzn.to/2FdDn5a

Barnes& Noble: http://bit.ly/2mhnSDM

iBooks: http://apple.co/2i4L5og

Kobo: http://bit.ly/2hsI43K


Add to your Goodreads


Excerpt:

Brynn
He arched a dark eyebrow. “I’m in no rush to get back to the mess I’m sure we both left behind. I was planning on hanging out with Sutton for a few more days then making my way back home. There’s no reason we can’t make the drive together…unless you would rather fly?”
I stared at him in silence for a long moment, weighing his words carefully. It had to be more than a thousand miles between Sacramento and Sheridan. That was hours and hours of him and me alone in his truck. We purposely avoided being alone when we were at the ranch. There were many awkward moments of silence and word we wanted to say but couldn’t. On the one hand, it was all I ever wanted. Lane Warner, with no place to escape me and our tangled, tormented history. We would finally be forced to put the past to rest, whatever that meant for us moving forward. On the other hand, the idea of being alone with him, trapped in that horrible, uneasy silence that plagued us since the second I said “yes” all those years ago made my skin crawl. There was no guarantee that Lane was ready to lance the wounds we’d both caused that had long been infected and festering. He seemed content to pretend things were fine when they were anything but.
He rubbed his thumb along the corner of his mouth and gave me that grin of his that ensured he got whatever it was he wanted. “We can even take a few days and go to the Grand Canyon and Vegas if you don’t mind adding a few stops and several hundred miles onto the trip. I’ve never really been anywhere outside of home and who knows when we’ll get the chance to see it all again.”
He was so persuasive with that charismatic smile and the soft look in his eyes.
Daye caught my attention as she reached for my hand. She was bouncing on her toes, eyes as excited as her uncle’s. “You have to say yes. It sounds like so much fun. I want to go to the Grand Canyon one day. Did you know that you can ride horses down to the bottom?” She had the Warner charm already and did she ever know how to use it.
“That does sound like fun, but are you sure I wouldn’t cramp your style? Especially in a place like Vegas.” I couldn’t disguise the hesitation in my tone.
Lane never made it a secret that he liked the ladies, the flashier and easier the better. Vegas was built for a guy looking for a good time, and Lane was always up for some fun. There was no way I was hitching a ride with him if it meant that I was going to have front row seats for all of his bedroom antics. I was willing to suffer through a lot to get him back where he belonged, but my battered heart couldn’t take watching him with other women anymore. That was one thing about our tenuous relationship that had to change.
He chuckled softly and hooked his thumbs into the front pockets of his jeans. The action pulled the denim down low on his hips flashing a strip of hard, tanned skin. I knew that under his t-shirt he was rocking more than a six pack and had a body littered with carved muscles and sharp lines. Ranch life had blessed all the Warner boys with bodies to die for, but somehow Lane ended up looking the best of all of them. He was quintessential cowboy, rugged and rough in all the best ways. Too bad he knew it and used every inch of that delectable body to his advantage. I couldn’t remember the last time he spent the night alone. All his conquests had to creep past my bedroom door to make their early morning getaway, and there was always a steady stream of them.
“No, Brynn. You absolutely won’t cramp my style. In fact, I can’t imagine anyone else I would want to drive around the country with. I think we could both use the break from our reality and time away from it all. I promise to behave. So,” he lifted his eyebrows and gave me that panty-melting grin. “Are you in or out?”
We watched each other, neither of us giving anything away. I wanted to go with Lane more than I wanted my next breath but I couldn’t tell if he wanted me to tag along with the same ferocity. It was the story of my life, a vicious cycle of wanting Lane Warner. Me wanting him and him not deciding what he wanted.
Was I in or out?
Of course, I was in…I was all in. I was in so deep with him there was no hope of me ever finding my way out. There was only one response to his question that I could give, my brain and my heart wouldn’t allow any other one.
“I’m in.”


 RETREAT on Amazon http://amzn.to/2iOD0DB
 RETREAT on Other Retailers https://www.jaycrownover.com/thegetawayseries
SHELTER on Amazon http://amzn.to/2zGQh98
SHELTER on Other Retailers https://www.jaycrownover.com/thegetawayseries

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

About Jay Crownover:

Jay Crownover is the international and multiple New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men Series, The Saints of Denver Series, the Point Series, the Breaking Point Series, and the Getaway Series. Her books can be found translated in many different languages all around the world. She is a tattooed, crazy haired Colorado native who lives at the base of the Rockies with her awesome dogs. This is where she can frequently be found enjoying a cold beer and Taco Tuesdays. Jay is a self-declared music snob and outspoken book lover who is always looking for her next adventure, between the pages and on the road.


Thursday, January 18, 2018

Cover Reveal: "Recovered" by Jay Crownover

   

From New York Times bestselling author Jay Crownover comes RECOVERED, a standalone contemporary romance that will keep you turning the pages long into the night! Check out the amazing cover below, and order your copy today!

   

Cover Design by Hang Le

About RECOVERED (Coming 3/27/18):

It was hate at first sight... Affton I hated Cable James McCaffrey. He was entitled, spoiled, a user…and an addict. He was out of control and didn’t bother trying to hide it. He had everything anyone could want but still seemed miserable and lost. Every move he made, every mistake he stumbled his way through, rubbed me the wrong way. However, I couldn’t stop myself from trying to save him from himself when no one else would. In the sweltering heat of the summer, Cable taught me that having it all means nothing if you can’t have the one thing you want more than anything else. Cable I was obsessed with Affton Reed. She was rigid, uptight, and no fun. There was something about her innate goodness that called to me. She acted like she was above all the normal faults and failures that clung to the rest of us like the scent of smoke after a fire. I was infatuated with her, but that didn’t stop me from acting like she didn’t exist. In the scorching heat of summer, Affton taught me that there is always a way back from the brink of despair. She showed me that the trick to having it all was realizing that it was already there, in my hands. All I had to do was hold onto it. The road to recovery is full of twists and turns no matter who is in the driver’s seat.

     

PREORDER YOUR COPY TODAY!

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  About Jay Crownover: Jay Crownover is the international and multiple New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of the Marked Men Series, The Saints of Denver Series, the Point Series, the Breaking Point Series, and the Getaway Series. Her books can be found translated in many different languages all around the world. She is a tattooed, crazy haired Colorado native who lives at the base of the Rockies with her awesome dogs. This is where she can frequently be found enjoying a cold beer and Taco Tuesdays. Jay is a self-declared music snob and outspoken book lover who is always looking for her next adventure, between the pages and on the road.          

Website | Facebook | Twitter | Goodreads

     
 

Sunday, January 7, 2018

"Before I Let Go" by Marieke Nijkamp - Excerpt and Giveaway!!!

Hey, everyone, I've got some Release Day (or week, I'm a bit late!) information on a great looking new book by Marieke Nijkamp. Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a giveaway!


Best friends Corey and Kyra were inseparable in their snow-covered town of Lost Creek, Alaska. When Corey moves away, she makes Kyra promise to stay strong during the long, dark winter, and wait for her return. Just days before Corey is to return home to visit, Kyra dies. Corey is devastated―and confused. The entire Lost community speaks in hushed tones about the town's lost daughter, saying her death was meant to be. And they push Corey away like she's a stranger. Corey knows something is wrong. With every hour, her suspicion grows. Lost is keeping secrets―chilling secrets. But piecing together the truth about what happened to her best friend may prove as difficult as lighting the sky in an Alaskan winter... (less)


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Excerpt:

I open the door and jump out of the plane as soon as we land on the narrow strip. The concrete shocks my knees and I stretch in the freezing cold air. I expect to find Mr. Henderson’s 4x4 waiting for me, or Sheriff Flynn, maybe. Instead, a lone figure stands against the rising sun. With the light at her back, I can only see her silhouette—-a tall, gangly figure whose long hair dances in the wind. She raises a hesitant hand.
My heart skips a beat. Kyra. Without thinking, I start toward her, her name on the tip of my tongue.
Then the light clears. Her nose is smaller. Her hair lighter.
And the shout of recognition dies in my throat.
Piper Morden.
Not Kyra.
I forgot. Now I ache to forget again.
Behind me, the pilot disembarks. He grabs my backpack and hands it to me. “Your return flight is booked. Be here on time. See you in five days.”
So little time, but it has to be enough. “I’ll make sure of it. Thank you.”
The man hesitates, then says, “Be careful in Lost Creek. Not everything is as it seems here.”
Before I can reply with a simple, I know. We’ve always gone our own way, he turns on his heels with military precision and stalks back to the plane. I head toward Piper, who smirks. Plenty of people don’t understand our closed community, our way of living. We’re all used to odd comments like these.
Piper wraps her arms around me. She’s never done so before, but I cling to her. She’s strong and familiar. She smells of winter and home. “Hey, big city girl.”
“Hey.”
“How was your flight?”
“It was good. Quiet. Early.” Strange.
“I can only imagine.” Her smile fades. “Mr. H has a business meeting, so he asked me to pick you up. We’re glad you’re here. Kyra would’ve liked that.”
That’s new. These last few years, Piper never considered Kyra’s feelings, and now that she’s dead doesn’t seem like the right time to start.
I sling my backpack over my shoulders, wondering how to phrase this question without sounding accusatory. “What can I expect here, Piper? I know Kyra wasn’t exactly…loved.”
Piper stiffens, as if I’d slapped her. Then she flicks a wayward lock of hair out of her face. “Do you think us so cold that we wouldn’t mourn her?”
“No, but—-”
“Things changed after you left.”
“Nothing ever changes in Lost Creek,” I say, out of habit. The only way to mark the passage of time here is by the aging of the children. They grow older, as they’re meant to, every birthday the start of a new year. The adults somehow appear to stop aging, and the elderly stop counting the years altogether.
Piper’s mouth quirks up, twisting her face into a harsh grimace. “Never mind. You’ll come to understand.”
“Understand what?” I ask, but Piper has already turned away from me.
“We take care of our own here. You ought to know that.”
I trek after her and regret not changing into my bunny boots. My sneakers are fit for traveling, but not for withstanding miles of snow. The cold bites.
At least I’ve arrived with the sun. When Piper and I turn away from the airstrip, toward Lost, bright light peeks out over the horizon. Anticipation takes over and the churning in my stomach settles. I breathe. This is home. The zingy smell of ice in the air. The snow, layered over the permafrost, that crunches beneath our feet.
Amid the gentle hills and pine--tree forests lies the town of Lost Creek. Our small, private universe. From our vantage point, it looks tiny, like a collection of dollhouses rather than a place where people live.
But it is home.
Welcome home.
Piper leads me, as if I didn’t know my way around. We walk along the single road toward Main Street, one of a grand total of five streets in Lost Creek. It’s also the town’s busiest street.
On any given day of the week, Main would be crowded. Even in the middle of winter, this is the day when gossip gets shared and the grocery store and the physician’s pharmacy are stocked, when fishermen return from their camps along the creek with their catch.
But today is different.
The grocery store is closed. The street is abandoned. Well--cared--for houses are the only assurance that people actually live here. Fresh paint makes the town look newer than I’ve ever seen it. When I left, the houses were weather--worn and lived--through, perennially smudged with sleet and mud. Today, they are pristine. A dash of color sidles up the wall of the old post office, though from this angle, I can’t make out the design. It’s as if, with Kyra gone, Lost had painted over all its cracks and creases.
“What happened here?” I ask.
“Hope,” Piper says, quietly. She reverently touches a ribbon that’s tied around a gate. “And remembrance.”
I raise my eyebrows. “What does that mean?”
Piper doesn’t answer, but now I notice that the ribbons are everywhere, tied around every flagpole and every door handle. Bows in magenta and black—-Kyra’s favorite color and the color of mourning. It’s like Lost is demonstrating its sorrow. But we’ve never made our grief public, beyond funeral gatherings. When Kyra’s grandfather passed away, the town honored him with a somber service. And he was liked by everyone.
It must be a coincidence.
“Look, I’m sorry if you thought I was being harsh before,” I try. “I just want to understand what happened to Kyra.”
Piper shakes her head. Her gaze searches Main. I have no idea what she’s looking for, but I glance surreptitiously over my own shoulder. We’re as alone as we were the moment we stepped into town. The street is empty, but the sunlight isn’t as bright here. The shadows are longer and darker.
“You’ll find out,” Piper says. “Someday, you’ll understand.”
The wind picks up, weaving around the houses and whispering.
Stranger.
Traitor.
Outsider.
The words float in the same tune as the girl’s at the airport, soft and out of reach. I swirl around, but no one’s there.
I pull at the straps of my backpack to cinch it closer and fall into step with Piper, who keeps a firm pace. She doesn’t seem to mind the wind. Or maybe she doesn’t hear it.
At the turn that leads to my old house, I pause. Piper grabs my hand and pulls me in the other direction.
“I promised Mrs. Henderson I would take you to her as soon as you arrived, but once you’ve settled in, you should walk over.” Her voice is neutral.
We follow a side street until we reach a large, nineteenth--century townhouse on the edge of the creek. It’s the biggest plot of land in Lost, barring the spa outside the town’s borders. When settlers arrived in Lost Creek, Mr. Henderson’s great--grandfather was the first to find gold here—-and his grandfather, the last. Over the years, the Henderson family had built a legacy of industry and investment. And although Mr. Henderson hasn’t been able to reopen our mine, it’s only right that their house reflects their status.
But while the house may appear imposing to outsiders, to Kyra and me, it was home. And now it’s in mourning. I drop my backpack and gape.
The gate and flagpole are covered with black ribbons. On either side of the driveway, small flowers lie strewn across the snow. Bright pink salmonberry flowers. They’re the same flowers the girl at the airport held. They’re the same flowers Kyra used to scatter around town.
I squint. No, not blossoms, but flowers made of magenta ribbons, like the ones that hang on Main Street. They remind me of Kyra’s paintings from her manic periods—-not quite real enough, but still too close for comfort.
Maybe, just maybe, life is still a little unpredictable here.
“He was right, you know.” Piper’s words are so soft, they don’t immediately register.
“Who?” I ask.
“The pilot. Not everything is as it seems. I’ll see you at the service, if I don’t see you before then. Come find me if you have questions.” She starts back toward Main.
“Piper?”
She pauses and turns. “Yes?”
My stomach roils. Wait. Don’t leave me. I can’t face Kyra’s absence yet. Let me cling for one more moment to the world I used to know.
I hesitate. “Tell Tobias that Luke said hi?”
At this, Piper smiles again, but I know it’s not for me. “Of course.”
Although Piper and I were friendly, we were never as close as our brothers. When Mom spent long days in Fairbanks and the surrounding towns seeing patients, I would often stay with Kyra, and Luke with Tobias. Luke had been furious when he found out that I’d made plans to come back to Lost to see Kyra without him. To see Kyra.
Before.
She knew I was coming. How could she not wait for me?

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