I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
Two students from very different walks of life find themselves working together after they discover the body of a young teen girl floating off the coast of their small town, and discover students from both the local prep school and reform school all have secrets to hide in author Gabriella Lepore’s “This is Why We Lie”.
Riverdale meets One of Us Is Lying in This Is Why We Lie by Gabriella Lepore, a standalone thriller following two teens who discover a body off the coast of their seaside town. As they search for the killer, they will learn the students of both the local prep school and the nearby reform school will do anything to protect their secrets.
Everyone in Gardiners Bay has a secret.
When Jenna Dallas and Adam Cole find Colleen O’Dell’s body floating off the shore of their coastal town, the community of Gardiners Bay is shaken. But even more shocking is the fact that her drowning was no accident.
Once Jenna’s best friend becomes a key suspect, Jenna starts to look for answers on her own. As she uncovers scandals inside Preston Prep School leading back to Rookwood reform school, she knows she needs Adam on her side.
As a student at Rookwood, Adam is used to getting judgmental looks, but now his friends are being investigated by the police. Adam will do whatever he can to keep them safe, even if that means trusting Jenna.
As lies unravel, the truth starts to blur. Only one thing is certain: somebody must take the fall.
A truly gripping and engaging thriller for YA and murder-mystery fans, author Gabriella Lepore has crafted a mind-bending tale of suspense and secrets that readers will not be able to help to fall into. The twists and turns that this novel takes both for the characters and the narrative itself are truly captivating, and the author does a fantastic job of setting up solid pacing to peel back the layers of this mystery one by one.
The growth of the characters was what drew me into the narrative, to begin with. The emotional depth that both protagonists have gone through in their pasts, and how these two young people who have had to learn to trust only themselves and have experienced hard family lives make their way to one another in the midst of great tragedy was so enthralling and mesmerizing to see unfold and really tugged at the heartstrings as well. This in turn really balanced out the emotional beats with the suspense and drama of this murder mystery and small-town life.
Pretty Little Liars meets Riverdale, author Gabriella Lepore’s “This Is Why We Lie” is a must-read YA Mystery of 2021! Perfectly crafted and shocking as the final reveal of the killer is shown, this novel delivers powerful characters that readers might be able to relate to, and a great exploration of both the contrast and similarities people from different walks of life can truly have. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of this incredible book today!
About the Author
Gabriella Lepore is a YA author from South Wales in the United Kingdom. She lives in the countryside with her husband James and daughter Sophia. When she isn’t reading or writing, she can usually be found exploring the coastline. She enjoys cups of tea, bookstore coffee shops, stormy beaches, and autumn days.
Gardiners Bay at dawn is my secret. There’s a moment, right before the day starts, when the ocean is bathed in amber light. That first golden breath of morning. Everything is still, apart from the pelicans gathering near the water, their plump bodies shuffling along the shoreline. Sometimes I sit on the promenade for hours with my legs suspended over the pebble beach below, just watching the night turn to day. Watching the darkness turn to light.
It’s often like this, just me and the birds. The only other people I tend to cross paths with at this hour are fishermen wearing heavy-duty gear and hugging their thermoses. They sit on the benches and swig their hot drinks while skimming the daily newspaper. Then they leave. A little while later, their boats drift out onto the water.
Today, though, I’m the only one here.
I raise my camera and adjust the focus, capturing the new light as it spills over the ocean. In the muted daylight, the silver tide is a murky, dull gray and frothing as it slaps against the shore.
“Help! I need help!”
My eyes dart across the shoreline. There’s a boy on the stretch of beach at the foot of Rookwood Cliff. He’s kneedeep in the water, fully dressed.
He shouts again.
I spring to my feet and run along the promenade. Ducking beneath the boardwalk railings, I jump down to the pebbled cove.
The soles of my feet sting at the impact of the stones beneath my Converse. I scramble toward him, my footing slipping on the damp pebbles.
It’s then that I recognize him.
His jeans are soaked to the thigh. He’s wading through the shallows, his legs tangled in fishing net and seaweed. And a body lies limp in his arms. A girl. She’s swollen, her skin has turned purple, and one arm is swinging downward with the momentum of Adam’s labored movements.
I press my hand to my mouth.
“Call an ambulance,” he shouts.
But all I can do is stand there, paralyzed by the sight. He lowers the girl onto the sand and begins CPR, breathing into her mouth.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
Two sisters work to honor the life of their fallen sister in the hopes that not only will she be remembered not for what people perceived her to be but who she was completely, but to showcase that everyone deserves to be remembered, not just the “good ones”, in authors Maika and Maritza Moulite’s “One of the Good Ones”.
A shockingly powerful exploration of the lasting impact of prejudice and the indomitable spirit of sisterhood that will have readers questioning what it truly means to be an ally, from sister-writer duo Maika Moulite and Maritza Moulite, authors of Dear Haiti, Love Alaine.
ISN’T BEING HUMAN ENOUGH?
When teen social activist and history buff Kezi Smith is killed under mysterious circumstances after attending a social justice rally, her devastated sister Happi and their family are left reeling in the aftermath. As Kezi becomes another immortalized victim in the fight against police brutality, Happi begins to question the idealized way her sister is remembered. Perfect. Angelic.
One of the good ones.
Even as the phrase rings wrong in her mind—why are only certain people deemed worthy to be missed?—Happi and her sister Genny embark on a journey to honor Kezi in their own way, using an heirloom copy of The Negro Motorist Green Book as their guide. But there’s a twist to Kezi’s story that no one could’ve ever expected—one that will change everything all over again.
This was such an emotional and impactful read. The authors did an incredible job of not only world-building and character growth, but of really infusing a much-needed theme into the narrative while also keeping an air of mystery. Immediately the story hits an emotional chord, focusing on the impact the loss of a family member to senseless violence and police brutality has on their loved ones. The narrative also takes unique and important steps to establish multiple-perspective chapters, not only for the various members of the family but the several others who have had to endure prejudice, racism, and violence as well over the course of several decades.
The authors pack a lot of genres and themes into this one narrative, and yet it never feels over-complicated or mishandled. Instead, the narrative feels layered and engaging, exploring themes of racism, violence, sexuality, family, and in many ways a mystery. The book will leave readers shocked and on the edge of their seat, as the narrative takes a massive turn towards the climax of the narrative that they won’t see coming.
A memorable, heartbreaking, and valuable YA contemporary mystery and thriller, authors Maika and Maritza Moulite’s “One of the Good Ones” is a must-read novel of 2021. The authors have created a book that will leave readers talking long after they’ve turned the final page, and the important messages the authors convey about relevant topics in 2021 throughout the narrative make this a true must-read novel. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!
About the Authors
MAIKA MOULITE is a Miami native and the daughter of Haitian immigrants. She earned a bachelor’s in marketing from Florida State University and an MBA from the University of Miami. When she’s not using her digital prowess to help nonprofits and major organizations tell their stories online, she’s sharpening her skills as a PhD student at Howard University’s Communication, Culture and Media Studies program. Her research focuses on representation in media and its impact on marginalized groups. She’s the eldest of four sisters and loves young adult novels, fierce female leads, and laughing.
MARITZA MOULITE graduated from the University of Florida with a bachelor’s in women’s studies and the University of Southern California with a master’s in journalism. She’s worked in various capacities for NBC News, CNN, and USA TODAY. Maritza is a PhD student at the University of Pennsylvania exploring ways to improve literacy in under-resourced communities after being inspired to study education from her time as a literacy tutor and pre-k teacher assistant. Her favorite song is “September” by Earth, Wind & Fire.
Monday, April 16—1 Day Before the Arrest Los Angeles, California
I must have died and gone to hell.
Because why else would I have heard that outrageous bleat- ing from my alarm at 5:30 (in the morning!) and chosen to wake up? It was mid-April of twelfth grade. I should have been suffering from a severe case of senioritis that could be cured only by sleeping in. But there I was, doing my Mon- day morning countdown to study.
I yanked the covers shielding my head down to my waist and leapt out of bed before the just-right firmness of my mat-
24 MAIKA MOULITE AND MARITZA MOULITE
tress and perfectly f luffed pillows could lure me back into their warm nest.
Bang bang bang.
Couldn’t even blame her. I dragged my feet over to the wall I shared with my baby sister, Happi, and knocked twice. Two syllables. Sor-ry. (For counting so loudly that I woke you up while I was trying to wake myself up.)
I slipped on cozy padded knee socks and plodded to my desk, where my notes were spread neatly across my laptop, right where I’d left them the night before. Mr. Bamhauer, my AP US History teacher and the miserable Miss Trunchbull to my precocious Matilda, was a stickler for the “old way” of doing things and insisted our notes be handwritten on wide- ruled paper so that the letters were big enough for him to see without his glasses while grading.
I skimmed over the major moments of the Civil Rights Movement that I knew the Advanced Placement test makers were likely to ask about when I sat for the exam in less than a month: Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. Emmett Till. The March on Washington. The Civil Rights Act of 1964. The Voting Rights Act of 1965. Each bullet point was like a twist unscrew- ing the faucet of my brain, f looding my skull with facts. To me, Brown v. Board of Education wasn’t just some case. It was the rebuttal to Plessy v. Ferguson, the racist court decision that dictated the “separate but equal” ideology. It was one of many nails in the giant coffin of Jim Crow laws and had ushered in the legacy of the Little Rock Nine. But before the Nine, we’d had students like Linda Brown, the Topeka One. Mr. Bamhauer lectured about the past, of course…but he made it stale and removed. To him, the people involved in all this
ONE OF THE GOOD ONES 25
world-changing were just names and dates in a book. Noth- ing more. They hadn’t had souls. Or dreams.
Brown v. Board of Education propelled my thoughts directly to that little girl. I envisioned how Linda Brown must have felt when she’d learned at nine years old that she couldn’t go to the school down the road, the one her white friends in the neighborhood attended, just because of her skin color. I felt her heart hammering when she saw how shaken up her daddy was on the walk home after his talk with the school principal. I imagined the hushed conversations Oliver and Leola Brown had over the kitchen table when they decided to move for- ward with the case, knowing what it would mean. I thought of all the parents hunched over in exasperation, fear, and de- termination, the folks in Delaware, Washington DC, South Carolina, and Virginia, who decided they could no longer accept segregation either.
I drank in American history, in all its problematic glory, like water. It was mine after all. My dad’s grandmother Eve- lyn had embarked on the Great Migration to California after her husband was killed overseas in World War II. He died for a country that didn’t think he deserved to call it home. My mom’s grandfather Joseph had been killed right here in America’s Jim Crow South. And their tales were just the fam- ily history that had been passed down.
I wasn’t much of a morning person, but once I rubbed the crust out of my eyes, I couldn’t close them again. Not with all these stories of individuals insisting they be remembered calling out to me at once. I had to listen to them.
After almost an hour of studying, my alarm rang again to drag me out of my bubble. I walked back over to my and Happi’s shared wall and knocked out another syllabic mes- sage: Hap-pi! Wake! Up! Her groan was loud and miserable. I
26 MAIKA MOULITE AND MARITZA MOULITE
chuckled. The only human being on earth less of a morning person than me? Her.
As I waited to shower, I checked the email account I used for my YouTube page, marking off the usual spam, replying to short messages, and noting the invitations and requests I had to think on more and get back to.
But then. I paused.
Oh Kezi. I was reading this ridiculous article about parasocial relationships. It was describing those pathetic people who feel like they know media personalities but don’t. You know, those freaks who get excited when they catch a glimpse of a celeb- rity’s baby or read every interview to see what brand of sham- poo they use. Like that would make them closer. I thought it was fine. But I stayed up all night. All night. All night wondering if you would see me that way too. Like some random weirdo on the internet.
But I told myself over and over, she’s much too good, way too smart, to not realize that some of her subscribers are more special than others. And I’m more than a subscriber. I’m a sup- porter. A lifeline. We get each other. No one understands the struggle and what you’re fighting for like I do. But all night I thought of this. Going insane. Running in circles in my mind until I tripped on something that made me stop. It was some- thing you said, actually.
I tried to swallow but couldn’t get past the sand in my throat. Nausea washed over me in waves, and I clutched my stomach to steady myself.
You said: We’re in this together. You remember that don’t you? It was that youth panel you spoke on two weeks ago at
ONE OF THE GOOD ONES 27
city hall and you made this beautiful, beautiful comment on how to have hope in the face of hopelessness. You promised that “even in the darkest moments, when you feel completely alone, like you’re the only one who cares, just remember that I care. Our community cares. And the people who came be- fore us and behind us and the ones who come up beside us care too. So long as we keep caring and trying, there is hope.” I cried when your words came to me. And I’m going to sleep well tonight knowing that I’m not alone. I’m not hopeless. I
There was a video attached to the email, sent from an ad- dress named mr.no.struggle.no.progress. My eyes widened and my pulse pounded against my ears when I registered whose face was in the thumbnail. Mine. I clicked on the preview button with a shaky hand and watched myself at the event the email sender mentioned. There I was, speaking animatedly and pro- nouncing the very words this stranger had taken the time to transcribe. The camera panned slowly across the room as my voice continued in the background.
I remembered that day. I almost hadn’t made it in time, be- cause Happi’s audition for our school’s Shakespeare play had gone longer than planned. Instead of taking my sister home after her tryout, I had dragged her with me straight to the panel. There she was in the video, seated between Derek and Ximena, who’d also come to show their support. The cus- tomary sounds of an audience wove in and out of the audio, a fussy baby babbling merrily, a chorus of a dozen sheets of paper rustling, a sniff ly man’s sneezes punctuating every few sentences.
The camera continued its survey of the room, and I noticed a group of people standing along the back wall. The space had
28 MAIKA MOULITE AND MARITZA MOULITE
been remarkably packed for a city hall meeting, and I recalled that quite a few members of the audience had come because they were subscribers to my YouTube channel, generationkeZi. When the meeting was adjourned, more than half in atten- dance had made a beeline to where I was seated, to chat. I’d greeted a lot of people, but others had stood on the sidelines and watched from afar, never approaching.
Who was the person who had sent this message? A fan I hadn’t gotten to speak with? The cameraperson? A local citi- zen who was feeling particularly inspired?
The slow creak of the bedroom door opening diverted my attention. I spun in my chair, not even sure when I’d grabbed the silver plaque I’d received from YouTube for reaching one hundred thousand subscribers, noting the instinct I had to hold it in the air menacingly.
“Bathroom’s all yours,” Happi said, pausing midyawn to look at me strangely.
“Thanks, I’ll be right in,” I replied to the back of her head as she stumbled to her room.
Instead, I gripped the plaque in my lap and sat there, frozen. Him again.
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
After seemingly escaping and building a new life, Esme is forced to return to the dangerous world of Stonewood as she faces more secrets, lies, and the vengeful Caleb as his need for revenge clashes with feelings he thought he’d left behind in author R.G. Angel’s “Bittersweet Revenge”, the second in The Patricians series.
Esme had thought she was free, but a shocking revelation forces her to return to Stonewood.
There she must deal with life-altering secrets and lies, as well as face the consequences of running away.
Caleb is angrier than ever, hell-bent on punishing her for what he considers to be the greatest betrayal.
As she delves deeper into the past with the aid of unlikely allies, even more secrets resurface, making her and everyone around her question the very foundation of their lives.
As the clock ticks and danger looms closer, what will Esme sacrifice to get to the truth? What will Caleb destroy to get his revenge?
This was a captivating and intriguing sequel to the hit YA thriller fans were treated to in book 1 of the series. I absolutely loved the dual perspectives of this narrative, as Caleb’s darker, more vindictive personality was paired with Esme’s lighter, more caring, and innocent perspective, creating a memorable and almost iconic relationship between the two.
After the events of the first book, the author does a great job of maintaining the same level of suspense in the second book while increasing the danger and shock of the narrative, from Esme’s imposing father to Caleb’s complicated feelings of both revenge and romance towards Esme and even the growing relationship between Esme and her brother Archibald. The narrators do a great justice towards the two protagonists, capturing the raw emotional delivery of their dialogues and the intrigue of the plot overall.
A memorable, entertaining, and satisfying second book, author R.G. Angel’s “Bittersweet Revenge” is a must-read novel. The twists and turns of the suspenseful part of the narrative take to complement the satisfying conclusion to both protagonist’s stories, while also leaving room for some spin-off or even possible sequels in this memorable series. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy today!
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
A young woman’s world is turned upside down as she learns she is part of a family she never knew existed, and must navigate a world of lies, conspiracy and murder in author R.G. Angel’s “Bittersweet Legacy”, the first book in The Patricians series.
You don’t realize when your life is about to change forever, how a simple text can tear your world apart.
Esme Danvers doesn’t have an easy life but at least she is loved by her widower father… or at least that’s who she thought he was for 17 years. Enter William Forbes, top 10 of America’s 1% and her actual father – or rather the father of Esmeralda Forbes, the girl she was born to be, the heir to a legacy she’d never known or wanted.
Esme’s thrown into a world of glamour and money, smoke and mirrors, hate, pain and unspoken rancor. A world with a distant, calculating and uncaring father; Archibald, a brother who hates her; and Caleb, his best friend who is as wicked and mean as he is beautiful and charismatic.
Caleb, this broken boy whom she can’t seem to hate enough to keep him out of her bloodstream, a boy who doesn’t seem to hate her enough to stay away.
But as the past reveals itself in ways Esme didn’t expect, she finds herself in the middle of a swirl of lies, betrayals, conspiracy and even murder, with barely anyone to watch her back.
The only thing she really wants is to get back to being Esme Danvers, to find a way out before it’s too late.
This was a fantastic story. The author immediately does an incredible job of layering the mystery and suspense of the narrative, creating a protagonist many people could relate to and throwing her into a whirlwind of psychological and emotional upheavals that drastically change the course of her life.
The narrator does an amazing job of bringing this story to life. Readers and listeners really can feel the protagonist’s struggle and emotional journey. The story plays out like a blend of Cruel Intentions meets Pretty Little Liars, expertly navigating the YA genre while artfully crafting a suspense thriller that both entertained and engaged the reader on multiple levels.
A thrilling, breathtaking and shocking yet fun read, author R.G. Angel’s “Bittersweet Legacy” is a must-read YA suspense novel. The audiobook does a great job of implementing emotional storytelling with a brilliant sense of imagery. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of this audiobook today and read for yourself how this shocking first novel ends in a massive cliffhanger.
I am proud to present an exclusive blog tour stop for Harlequin Press and Inkyard Press!
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.
A young teenager trying to live her life finds the years of survivalist training given by her father more vital than ever before as a series of disasters hit the country and her father is named the culprit in author Kelly deVos’s novel “Day Zero”.
Don’t miss the exhilarating new novel from the author of Fat Girl on a Plane, featuring a fierce, bold heroine who will fight for her family and do whatever it takes to survive. Fans of Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It series and Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave series will cheer for this fast-paced, near-future thrill ride.
If you’re going through hell…keep going.
Seventeen-year-old coder Jinx Marshall grew up spending weekends drilling with her paranoid dad for a doomsday she’s sure will never come. She’s an expert on self-heating meal rations, Krav Maga and extracting water from a barrel cactus. Now that her parents are divorced, she’s ready to relax. Her big plans include making it to level 99 in her favorite MMORPG and spending the weekend with her new hunky stepbrother, Toby.
But all that disaster training comes in handy when an explosion traps her in a burning building. Stuck leading her headstrong stepsister, MacKenna, and her precocious little brother, Charles, to safety, Jinx gets them out alive only to discover the explosion is part of a pattern of violence erupting all over the country. Even worse, Jinx’s dad stands accused of triggering the chaos.
In a desperate attempt to evade paramilitary forces and vigilantes, Jinx and her siblings find Toby and make a break for Mexico. With seemingly the whole world working against them, they’ve got to get along and search for the truth about the attacks—and about each other. But if they can survive, will there be anything left worth surviving for?
The first in a duology, Day Zero is the perfect blend of YA character development and storytelling with political/action-adventure themes and drama. Whenever stories involving terrorist attacks or political conspiracies arise, it is usually within an adult setting and involves said adults. What really stood out was the point of view turning instead to the teenage daughter of a survivalist who becomes the main suspect in the attacks across the country.
The book also is highly relevant, showing a nation torn apart by politics and the affects of social classes and finances can have on the divide in our nation. Seeing a political figure rise to power and the shadow of a conspiracy rising blends with the personal struggles of new heroine Jinx, who uses her knowledge and skills not only to survive but get to the heart of the true threat and discovers secrets and hidden agendas that will rock her to her core. She is a powerful new YA hero who shows not only she has the skill and talent to take on enemies, but the emotional core to keep the reader invested and engaged with her and the story as a whole.
Overall a truly wonderful read, Day Zero does a great job of creating a near-future scenario that allows readers to examine the world around them, and to recognize the signs that can lead to the downfall of the world. It’s a story of survival, finding hope and love as the book’s twists and turns will keep readers hanging on the author’s every word, shocking many with future revelations and causing Jinx and the reader to ask themselves, who can they really trust? Grab your copy of Kelly deVos’s novel “Day Zero” to find out for yourselves!
About the Author
KELLY DEVOS is from Gilbert, Arizona, where she lives with her high school sweetheart husband, amazing teen daughter and superhero dog, Cocoa. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. When not reading or writing, Kelly can typically be found with a mocha in hand, bingeing the latest TV shows and adding to her ever-growing sticker collection. Her debut novel, Fat Girl on a Plane, named one of the “50 Best Summer Reads of All Time” by Reader’s Digest magazine, is available now from HarperCollins.
Kelly’s work has been featured in the New York Times as well as on Salon, Vulture and Bustle.
I exhale in relief when MacKenna pulls the car into the Halliwell’s Market parking lot. Because of the Sugar Sales Permit waiting list, old stores like these are the only places that carry Extra Jolt soda. I have to buy it myself, because Mom won’t keep any in the house.
She thinks too much caffeine rots your brain or something. Halliwell’s is a squat brown building that sits across the street from the mall and is next door to the town’s only skyscraper.
The First Federal Building was supposed to be the first piece of a suburban business district designed to rival the hip boroughs of New York. The mayor announced the construction of a movie theater, an apartment complex and an indoor aquarium. But the New Depression hit, and the other buildings never materialized.
The First Federal Building alone soars toward the clouds, an ugly glass rectangle visible from every neighborhood, surrounded by the old town shops that have been there forever. Most of the stores are empty.
We park in front of the market.
Our car nestles in the long shadow of the giant bank building.
Charles gets out and stands on the sidewalk in front of the car.
MacKenna opens her door. She hesitates again. “Listen, I know you might not want to hear this or believe it. But my book report wasn’t about hurting you or getting revenge. I’m trying to get you to see what’s really happening here. That Carver’s election is the start of something bad. We could use you at the rally. You’re one of the few people who understands Dr. Doomsday’s work. You could explain what he did. How he helped Carver cheat to win.”
“I’ve been planning this raid for months,” I say. My stomach churns, sending uncomfortable flutters through my insides. I don’t know what it would mean to talk about my father’s work. What I really want to do is pretend it doesn’t exist. Pretend the world is normal and whole.
I reassure myself with the reminder that there’s no way MacKenna is going to the rally either.
Out of the corner of my eye, I see Charles give us a small wave. Before MacKenna can say anything else, I get out and grab my backpack.
Inside Halliwell’s, I pick up a blue basket from the stack near the door. The small market is busy and full of other people shopping after school or work. The smell of pine cleaner hits me as we pass the checkout stations. They are super serious about germs and always cleaning between customers.
I leave MacKenna and Charles at the Click N’Grow rack near the door to check out the seed packets that my brother collects. Dad got Charles hooked on this computerized gardening that uses an e-tablet and a series of tiny indoor lights to create the ideal indoor planter box. Each week, they release a new set of exclusive seeds. Their genetic modifications are controversial.
All the soda is in large coolers that line one of the walls of the market. They keep the strange stuff in the corner. Expensive root beers. Ramune imported from Japan. And! Extra! Jolt! I put a few bottles of strawberry in my basket. I snag some grape too. For a second, I consider buying a couple of bottles of doughnut flavor. But that sounds like too much, even for me. The chips are in the next aisle. I load up on cheese puffs and spicy nacho crisps.
MacKenna and Charles are still at the rack near the door, and I try to squeeze by them without attracting any notice. I usually don’t buy unhealthy snacks when I’m with my brother. I smuggle them in my backpack and have a special hiding space in my desk.
My brother has type 1 diabetes, and he’s supposed to check his blood sugar after meals. He can have starchy or sugary snacks only when his glucose level is good or on special occasions.
MacKenna grimaces at a packet of seeds in her hands. “I still don’t like this one. It’s pretty. But still. It’s…carnivorous.”
I have to hand it to her. She really does have a look. She’s pale and white, like me, but she manages to seem like she’s doing it on purpose and not because she’s some kind of vampire- movie reject. Her glossy black hair always rests in perfect waves, and if the journalism thing doesn’t work out, she could definitely have a career in fashion design.
Charles smiles at her. “It’s a new kind of pitcher plant. Like the Cobra Lily.” He points to the picture on the front of the seed packet. “Look at the blue flowers. That’s new.”
“It eats other plants,” MacKenna says.
“You eat plants.”
“But I don’t eat people,” MacKenna says. “There’s got to be some kind of natural law that says you shouldn’t eat your own kind.”
So far so good. Until.
My brother trots up behind me and dumps a few packs of seeds in my basket. His gaze lands on my selection of soda and chips. “Can I get some snacks too?”
I freeze. “What’s your number?”
Charles pretends he can’t hear me. That’s not a good sign.
“Charles, what’s your number?”
He still doesn’t look at me. “I forgot my monitor today.”
“Well, I have mine.” I kneel down and dig around for the spare glucometer I keep in the front pocket of my backpack. By the time I get it out, MacKenna has already pulled Charles out of his blazer and rolled up the sleeve of his blue dress shirt. I wave the device over the small white sensor disk attached to my brother’s upper arm.
After a few seconds, the glucometer beeps and a number displays on the screen.
Crap. Crap. Crap.
“Charles! What did you eat today?”
My brother’s face turns red. “They were having breakfast-for-lunch day at school. Everyone else was having pancakes. Why can’t I have pancakes?”
I sigh. Something about his puckered up little face keeps me from reminding him that if he eats too much sugar he could die. “You know what Mom said. If you eat something you’re not supposed to, you have to get a pass and go to the nurse for your meds.”
My brother’s shoulders slump. “I couldn’t go to the nurse. Hummingbirds were visiting the Chuparosa and…”
Charles is on the verge of tears and frowns even more deeply at the sight of my basket full of junk food.
“Look,” I say. “There are plenty of healthy snacks we can eat. I’ll put this stuff back.”
“That’s right,” MacKenna says, giving Charles’s hand a squeeze. “We can get some popcorn. Yogurt. Um, I saw some really delicious-looking fresh pears back there.”
“And they have the cheese cubes you like,” I add.
We go around the store replacing the cheese puffs and soda with healthy stuff. I hesitate when I have to put back the Extra Jolt, but I really don’t want to make my brother feel bad because I can drink sugary stuff and he can’t.
We pay for the healthy snacks and the seed packets.
I grab the bags and move toward the market’s sliding doors.
I end up ahead of them, waiting outside by the car and facing the store. The shopping center behind Halliwell’s is mostly empty. The shoe store went out of business last year. Strauss Stationers, where everyone used to buy their fancy wedding invitations, closed two years before that. The fish ’n’ chips drive-through is doing okay and has a little crowd in front of the take-out window. Way off in the distance, Saba’s is still open, because in Arizona, cowboy boots and hats aren’t considered optional.
I watch MacKenna and Charles step out of the double doors and into the parking lot. Two little dimples appear on MacKenna’s cheeks when she smiles. Charles has a looseness to his walk. His arms dangle.
There’s a low rumble, like thunder from a storm that couldn’t possibly exist on this perfectly sunny day.
In the reflection of the market’s high, shiny windows, I see something happening in the bank building next door. Some kind of fire burning in the lower levels. A pain builds in my chest and I force air into my lungs. My vision blurs at the edges. It’s panic, and there isn’t much time before it overtakes me.
The muscles in my legs tense and I take off at a sprint, grabbing MacKenna and Charles as I pass. I haul them along with me twenty feet or so into the store. We clear the door and run past a man and a woman frozen at the sight of what’s going on across the street.
I desperately want to look back.
But I don’t.
A low, loud boom.
My ears ring.
The lights in the store go off.
I’ve got MacKenna by the strap of her maxidress and Charles by the neck. We feel our way in the dim light. The three of us crouch and huddle together behind a cash counter. A few feet in front of us, the cashier who checked us out two minutes ago is sitting on the floor hugging her knees.
We’re going to die.
Charles’s mouth is wide-open. His lips move. He pulls at the sleeve of my T-shirt.
I can’t hear anything.
It takes everything I’ve got to force myself to move.
Leaning forward. Pressing my face into the plywood of the store counter, I peek around the corner using one eye to see out the glass door. My eyelashes brush against the rough wood, and I grip the edge to steady myself. I take in the smell of wood glue with each breath.
Hail falls in the parking lot. I realize it’s glass.
My stomach twists into a hard knot.
It’s raining glass.
That’s the last thing I see before a wave of dust rolls over the building.
1) Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get into writing?
My early writing accomplishment were multiple hits within a few years: In my first year of writing back in 1987, I wrote three Sf short stories that were accepted by major slick magazines which qualified me for the Science Fiction Writers of America, and at the same time achieved a Finalist award in the L. Ron Hubbard Writers of the Future Contest. This recognition garnered me a top gun SF agent at the time, Richard Curtis Associates. My first novel went to John Badham (Director) and the Producers, the Cohen Brothers. Only an option, but an extreme honor. The writer who beat me out of contention for a feature movie, was Michael Crichton’s Jurassic Park. My book was called Dinothon.
A year after that I published two best-selling non-fiction books and landed on radio, TV, in every library in the U.S. and in hundreds of newspapers.
I have been trying to catch that lightning in a bottle ever since. My YA dystopian novel, The Girl They Sold to the Moon won the grand prize in a publisher’s YA novel writing contest, went to a small auction and got tagged for a film option. So, I’m getting there, I hope!
2) What inspired you to write your book?
It all started with the dream catcher. This iconic item, which is rightfully ingrained in Indian lore, is a dream symbol respected by the culture that created it. It is mystifying, an enigma that that prods the imagination. Legends about the dream catcher are passed down from multiple tribes. There are variations, but the one fact that can be agreed upon is that it is a nightmare entrapment device, designed to sift through evil thoughts and images and only allow pleasant and peaceful dreams to enter into consciousness of the sleeper.
I wondered what would happen to a very ancient dream catcher that was topped off with dreams and nightmares. What if the nightmares became too sick or deathly? What if the web strings could not hold anymore visions? Would the dream catcher melt, burst, vanish, implode? I reasoned that something would have to give if too much evil was allowed to congregate inside of its structure. I found nothing on the Internet that offered a solution to this problem—I might have missed a relevant story, but nothing stood out to me. Stephen King had a story called Dream Catcher, but I found nothing in it that was similar to what I had in mind. So I took it upon myself to answer such a burning question. Like too much death on a battlefield could inundate the immediate location with lost and angry spirits, so could a dream catcher hold no more of its fill of sheer terror without morphing into something else, or opening up a lost and forbidden existence. What would it be like to be caught up in another world inside the webs of a dream catcher, and how would you get out? What would this world look like? How could it be navigated? What was the source of the exit, and what was inside of it that threatened your existence? Screamcatcher: Web World, the first in the series, was my answer. I can only hope that I have done it justice. You can be the judge of that.
3) What theme or message do you hope readers will take away from your book?
The overall message of Screamcatcher is survival. This is accompanied by teamwork, love, persistence, loyalty and dedication. Teenager, although they can be reckless, they are nearly immune to complete failure and so resistant and resourceful that they often solve problems as fast as they encounter them. I always had The Hunger Games in mind because it showed undaunted courage and determination–that working hard and continuing on was the main thrust of the characters. I thought to mash-up Jumanji and The Hunger Games. There is a very slight sub-theme that I thought I would sneak in, whether it was popular or not. I didn’t care. And that was the message that sometimes, the nice does finish first and get the girl. Hardly an Alpha prospect, but one that I wanted to touch on nevertheless.
4) What drew you into this particular genre?
I do like adult thrillers and science fiction, but I’m now leaning toward upper YA in the low fantasy realm–portal fantasies. I’m really addicted to YA dystopian! Divergent and The Hunger Games had quite an impact on me, among others like Harry Potter series. There is a huge cross-over appeal to writing YA, and my sample is in the upper age range of YA, from about 14-15 to 19 years-old.
5) If you could sit down with any character in your book, what would you ask them and why?
I guess I would ask Jory why she didn’t notice how infatuated Choice was with her, or if she purposely denied it. We find out later that his courageous and unselfish behavior gets the team out of quite a few jams. He’s smart and resourceful. She does notice him, but I wonder why she pushed those feelings aside at first. Since I’m a guy (no big surprise there) I was curious about the female mindset and how she would ultimately react to him. It seems I wrote my own nagging mystery, for which I had no real answer.
6) What social media site has been the most helpful in developing your readership?
Gosh, I couldn’t pick just one, without admitting that I belong to over 25 major social media sites; display sites, writing groups, contest sites, promo companies and all others in Sundry. It’s very, very difficult today to get noticed. We have a glut in the industry like we’ve never seen before. Every author I know is clamoring for attention, some of them spending thousands of dollars on ads. I would imagine my FB followers of nearly 4,700 strong have contributed more than the others. I spend 14 years in a giant writing group and always got clicks from them about my posts and articles. My blog, Guerrilla Warfare for Writers helped out too, since my members were very familiar with all of my books, not just one.
7) What advice would you give to aspiring or just starting authors out there?
If a budding writing asked me if they should pursue a career in writing, I would tell them to take a couple aspirin, go into a dark room, lay down and wait for the feeling to pass. Don’t stop until you’ve finished a first draft. Then edit like there’s no tomorrow. After publication,seriously watch your spending on ads–they can be grossly ineffective. Use social media and generously interact with fellow writers and readers. Don’t abuse FB and Twitter solely for the purpose of “Buy My Book.” Join writing groups and learn from the pros. Ask politely for reviews–don’t pressure, harass or intimidate. Be creative. Target your genre readers. Offer incentives and freebies. Craft a newsletter and send it out bi-monthly. Don’t take critiques as personal attacks–learn from honest opinions. Don’t despair. Never give up. Revenge query.Get started on your next book.
8) What does the future hold in store for you? Any new books/projects on the horizon?
The Screamcatcher trilogy is bought, and the next two books are in the dugout awaiting my publisher’s editor, which should be soon. There is a lot to do there, even as far as doing some major revisions and added information in books 2 and 3. Book 2 is called Screamcatcher: Dream Chasers, and book 3 is Screamcatcher: The Shimmering Eye. I’m nearly done with totally revising a weird werewolf book, and I’m stuck halfway through a Middle Grade Fantasy.
I’m a diehard frantic creator of Young Adult fiction, whether it’s paranormal, science fiction, suspense or fantasy. I believe in pure escapism with unceasing action adventure and discovery. If you want a moral message or cultural statement, you’re apt to get a small one. But let me tell you something, reader, I want to make you laugh until you gag, cry until you’re dry and tear out tufts of your hair. Today, young adult literature needs some support and renewed interest.. How soon we’ve forgotten about Harry Potter, Hunger Games, Divergent and Twilight. Oh, the mania! Where has it gone? Are we losing our young readers? We need something really fresh and new. I and several writers are going to pour everything we have into that end. You are the kindly judge–help us get there and we will deliver!
Christy J. Breedlove (Chris H. Stevenson), originally born in California, moved to Sylvania, Alabama in 2009. Her occupations have included newspaper editor/reporter, astronomer, federal police officer, housecleaner and part time surfer girl. She has been writing off and on for 36 years, having officially published books beginning in 1988. Today she writes in her favorite genre, Young Adult, but has published in multiple genres and categories. She was a finalist in the L. Ron. Hubbard Writers of the Future contest, and took the first place grand prize in a YA novel writing contest for The Girl They Sold to the Moon. She writes the popular blog, Guerrilla Warfare for Writers (special weapons and tactics), hoping to inform and educate writers all over the world about the high points and pitfalls of publishing.
I hope everyone is having a fantastic summer thus far! As I continue preparing for the upcoming release of novella #2 in my YA series Nightmare Academy, I thought it would be a great time to start sharing my books with you all. That’s why I’m excited to share that my books I Was An Evil Teenager: Remastered and Welcome to Nightmare Academy are taking part in Smashwords annual Summer/Winter promotion! Throughout the entire month of July, I Was An Evil Teenager: Remastered is going to be 50% off (that’s $1.50 for an entire novel), and Welcome to Nightmare Academy will be completely free! Yes, the first entry in the series is now free for the entire month. So click the link down below and get both a marked down, scary horror novel about a teenage killer and get a free copy of a highly reviewed and engaging upcoming YA series. If you enjoy these stories then I would love for you to leave a review on any site you are able to and also preorder your copy of Freshman Hunt: A Nightmare Academy Novella today! Thanks everyone, and enjoy your summer!
A mysterious note leads one young teenage girl on a journey of discovery in the YA novel Ashes to Ashes by Valerie Thomas. Exploring the themes of social interactions amongst teens and the unpredictability of the future, this novel sets the stage for a YA series that asks the question: can we prevent the future? Check out the synopsis:
From tragedy came power. And from mishandled power came mystery.
After moving into a new gated community with her family, Natalie is ready to begin a peaceful year at Emerson High. A year complete with boy troubles, school dances, new friends… everything an average girl could expect.
Then she starts receiving notes warning her not to go to school November first. Notes in her day planner, on a piece of homework, on a homecoming ticket… The more notes she receives the more details she uncovers, and the clearer it becomes: words like peaceful and average are about the worst ones anyone could use to describe the year she’s about to have. Crazy? Maybe. Violent? Definitely. Heart-wrenching, mind-blowing, life-changing?
Well, that remains to be seen. All Natalie knows from the start is that she shouldn’t go to school on November first. And maybe you shouldn’t either.
Trigger Warning: As is the case with some books I read, I feel compelled to disclose that there are some story lines that might be triggering for some readers out there. Story lines involving suicide and a possible large scale tragedy are referenced in this book. Although I’m reluctant to get into specifics, I felt it pertinent to at least mention this before going further.
This book starts off with a lot of action right from the first page. Introducing us to Natalie, we already get a glimpse into the social hierarchy of high school, showing the dividing lines amongst the students and how kids view one another. Exploring the nerves that go into attending a new school, starting freshman year of high school and trying to make new friends, Natalie finds her life complicated even more when these mysterious notes teasing November 1st start arriving. Who’s behind the notes, and what are they trying to prevent?
The story itself was strong, indicating a large-scale series that can span three or four novels easily. Delving into a thriller/mystery realm, this YA drama focuses strongly on the bonds we make in our teenage years and the importance those relationships have on us in the long run. The characters were what really drew me into the story however. The complicated relationships Natalie has with those around her kept the mystery of the story in constant shadows, and her story often felt personal, as if anyone who’d ever been a struggling teen could identify with it.
Now I will say the novel took a little more time than maybe it needed to in order to get into a rhythm thematically, I will say the writing was overall precise and delivered a strong thriller. While it touched on the emotional aspects of Natalie’s various relationships with family, friends and others towards the end of the book, I’d love to dive more into the emotional side of Natalie’s tale in future stories.
Overall I liked this book a lot. With a huge cliffhanger that will leave readers wanting to learn more about Natalie’s story, this was a strong entry in a new YA Drama series that deserves to be explored. While I will reiterate there are some pretty strong story lines that should be handled with care in future installments and should be read with care by you readers out there, I do think this was a great book and I hope guys will check
The Murder Complex by Lindsay Cummings Book Review:
Murder is the new normal in this visceral YA novel!
What would our world look like if murder became a way of life? How would two people who were born and raised in that bloody world survive? That’s the question answered in the first novel of New York Times bestselling author Lindsay Cummings series, The Murder Complex.
First, the plot:
A cure for human disease has been found, and overpopulation sets in, causing the society in this bleak dystopian novel to create an official murder compound. Cummings builds an intense, distinct world full of rogue pirates and government commandments. Meadow’s main concern is taking care of her family, and her father has trained her to survive in any situation, making her a tough fighter. Zephyr is an unhappy ward assigned to carry out the Initiative’s violent commands. After a chance encounter brings the two together, they form an immediate bond, though the reasons for their desire are not set up beforehand, which leads to a forced romance. The point of view alternates between the teens, but it is difficult to distinguish between their narrative voices. This dismal look at the darker side of humanity raises interesting questions of wealth, power, and privacy, yet none of them is fully explored.
This was a fantastic and heart-pounding read. The brutal reality of a world where the law of the land is murder, readers are able to get a great look at two very different perspectives. One is ruled by hopelessness and humor, the other by ruthless survival and family. The way these characters are introduced and the plot which brings them together is an incredible journey that is not to be missed, so be sure to pick up your copies of author Lindsay Cummings book, The Murder Complex, today!