Book Spotlight: AFTER THE FIRE by Will Hill

After the Fire by Will Hill
ISBN: 9781492669791 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781492669807 (ebook)
ASIN: B07DD3DXRT (Kindle edition)
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire
Release Date: October 2, 2018


The things I’ve seen are burned into me, like scars that refuse to fade.

Before, she lived inside the fence. Before, she was never allowed to leave the property, never allowed to talk to Outsiders, never allowed to speak her mind. Because Father John controlled everything—and Father John liked rules. Disobeying Father John came with terrible consequences.

But there are lies behind Father John’s words. Outside, there are different truths.

Then came the fire. 



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Praise

“This offers a fascinating look at emotional manipulation, calculated lies, and physical intimidation and punishment…Hill treats his story, based on the true events of the Branch Davidian religious sect near Waco, Texas, with respect and dignity” —Booklist review
 
“An astonishing saga of suffering and joy, guilt, evil, redemption and truth.” —Kirkus, STARRED review
 
“Genuinely different…thrilling and spellbinding!”—Patrick Ness, #1 New York Times bestselling author
 
“The gripping story of survival and escape…It will keep you up late until you get to the very end.”—Maureen Johnson, New York Times bestselling author of Truly Devious




Read an excerpt


I sprint across the yard, my eyes streaming, my heart pounding in my chest.

The noise of the gunfire is still deafening, and I hear—I actually hear—bullets whizzing past me, their low whines like the speeded-up buzz of insects, but I don’t slow down, and I don’t change course. The Chapel is burning out of control, its roof engulfed by roaring fire and sending up a huge black plume of smoke, and the amplified voice of the Government booms across the compound, repeating its demand over and over again.

“Put down your weapons and come forward slowly with your hands in the air!”

Nobody is listening. Not the other Governments, and definitely not any of my Brothers and Sisters.

In the distance, back near the Front Gate, the tank rumbles forward, crushing the flimsy wire fence and churning the desert floor.

Somewhere, over the engines and the endless rattle of gunfire, I can hear screams of pain and pleading shouts for help, but I force myself to ignore them and keep going: my gaze is fixed on the wooden cabins at the western edge of the Base.

I trip over something.

My feet tangle, and I go sprawling onto the cracked blacktop of the yard. Pain crunches through me as my shoulder hits the ground, but I grit my teeth and get back on my feet and look to see what I fell over.

Alice is lying on her back, her hands clutching her stomach.

Her shirt has turned red, and she’s lying in a pool of blood that seems too big to have all come out of one person. She’s still alive though. Her eyes are dim, but they find mine, and she looks at me with an expression I can’t describe. There’s pain there, a lot of pain, and shock, and fear, and something that looks like confusion, like she wants to know how things ever came to this.

I hold her gaze. I want to stay with her, to tell her it’s all right and that she’s going to be okay, but it isn’t all right, nothing is, and I don’t know very much about bullet wounds, but I don’t think she is going to be okay.

I’m pretty sure she’s going to die.

I stare at her, wasting seconds that the still-functional bit of my brain screams at me for wasting, then run toward the west barracks. Alice’s eyes widen as I start to turn away, but I don’t see anger in them. I think she understands what I have to do.

That’s what I tell myself, at least.

A figure emerges from the swirling smoke, and I skid to a halt, my hands raised. But it isn’t one of the Governments, with their black helmets and goggles and guns. It’s Amos, his eyes red and puffy, one arm limp at his side, a pistol trembling in his good hand.

“Where’s Father John?” he asks, his voice hoarse and torn. “Have you seen him?”

I shake my head and try to circle around him, but he grabs my arm and pulls me close.

“Where is he? Where is The Prophet?” he rasps.

“I don’t know!” I scream, because the tank has reached the yard, and the gunfire is heavier than ever, and the fire is leaping from building to building faster than I can follow.

I push Amos as hard as I can, and he stumbles backward. He swings the pistol at me, but I’m already moving. I hear shots behind me, but none of them find their target before I plunge into the smoke.

It’s instantly hard to breathe. I clamp one of my hands over my mouth and nose, but the thick, bitter smoke slips between my fingers, and I start to cough. I see my fallen Brothers and Sisters all around me as I run, dark shapes I stagger left and right to avoid. A few are moving, dragging themselves across the ground or twitching and spasming like they’re having a fit, but most of them aren’t.

Most of them are still.

The west barracks appear in front of me, their walls and flat roofs wreathed in acrid smoke. The gunfire is constant behind me, and with so many bullets flying through the air, it feels like a matter of time until the inevitable happens. As long as I unlock the cabins first, I don’t care.

I really don’t.

I stumble out of the worst of the smoke and toward the nearest cabin, fumbling the skeleton key out of my pocket. I grab the padlock hanging from the door, and there’s a sizzling sound. I don’t understand what has happened—until pain explodes through me, and I wrench my hand away. Most of my palm stays stuck to the metal lock. I fall to my knees, clutching my ruined left hand against my stomach, and a scream that doesn’t sound human bursts out of my mouth.

It’s overwhelming. The pain.

It feels like someone has pushed my hand into a jar of acid and is holding it there, and as my brain tries to process the agony, everything else fades away: the smell of the smoke, the heat of the fire, the noise of the guns. Gray creeps in from all sides, like the volume of my senses is being turned down. Then something shoves me from behind, and everything comes hurtling back as I tumble to the ground.

A Government is standing over me, its face hidden behind its mask, the gaping muzzle of its gun pointing between my eyes.

“Hands where I can see them!” It’s a man’s voice. “Show me your hands!”

They tremble as I hold them up. “Please,” I say, my voice a raw croak. “Children. There are children in these cabins. Please.”

“Shut up!” he yells. “Not another word!”

“Please,” I repeat. “In the cabins. You have to help them.”

The Government glances at the buildings. My head is spinning, and my stomach is churning, and I feel like I’m going to pass out from the pain screaming in my hand, but I force my eyes to stay open, force my reeling mind to focus on the dark figure above me.

“Padlocks,” I whisper, and hold out the skeleton key. “Please…”

My strength fails me. The Government looks at the cabin. Looks down at me. Looks at the cabin.

“Shit!” he shouts, then grabs the key from my hand and spins toward the door. I watch him grip the padlock with his gloved hand and slide the key into the lock, and I wonder for an awful moment whether this is all going to have been a waste of time, whether there are some locks that even a skeleton key can’t open. Then the cylinder turns, and the padlock springs loose. The Government hauls the door open, and my coughing, spluttering Brothers and Sisters come flooding out, their eyes red and streaming with tears.

“Go to the Front Gate,” I manage to croak. “Stay together. Put your hands up…”

At the back of the crowd, I see Honey, and I feel something in my chest that overwhelms the pain in my hand. Her eyes are swollen and puffy, and her skin is pale, but her mouth and jaw are set in familiar lines of determination. She’s breathing, if nothing else.

I wasn’t sure she would be.

She helps the last few crying, panicking children out of the cabin and leads them south, toward the Front Gate. The Government races to the next cabin, shouting into his radio for backup. Something breaks loose inside me, a surge of relief so powerful it’s almost physical. It breathes new life into my exhausted muscles, and I drag myself into a sitting position.

The children make their way across the yard, their little hands raised in surrender, until a rush of Governments come sprinting out of the smoke and scoop up my Brothers and Sisters and carry them out through the gaping holes in the fence. I can hear them crying and shrieking for their parents, and my heart breaks for them, but they’re alive, they’re still alive, and that’s all that matters, that’s the only thing that matters as the world burns.

I hear a scream, loud and high-pitched enough to cut through the gunfire and the roar of the inferno, and I turn my head toward it. Near the blazing ruins of the Chapel, two of the Governments have caught hold of Luke and lifted him off the ground by his arms and legs. He’s thrashing in their grip, howling and bellowing for them to put him down, to let him go with the others, to let him Ascend.

His voice, full of fury and fervor and desperate, frantic panic, is the last thing I hear before everything goes dark.





After


…I drift…

…my hand feels like it’s wrapped in fire. My eyes open and everything is white and there’s a beeping noise and something that has no face looms over me and I try to scream but nothing happens. I’m so scared I can’t even think. My eyes roll back and…

…a man looks down at me, and his face is just eyes above a white mask. He shows me a huge needle, and I just stare at it because I’m too scared to move, and when he pushes it into my arm I don’t even feel it because the pain in my hand is still so huge that it blocks everything else out. I know what doctors are from when I was little and TV was still allowed, but I’ve never seen one in real life until now. The Prophet is screaming in my head that doctors are agents of THE GOVERNMENT, that every one of them is a SERVANT OF THE SERPENT, and his voice rattles and shakes my brain, and my stomach churns, and I’m so scared I can’t even breathe while the doctor tapes the needle that’s inside my arm to my skin and connects it to a tube that leads to a bag of milky white liquid. He says something I don’t understand, and then the liquid starts to flow. I watch it creep down the tube toward my arm. I can’t move a single muscle, but I manage to form a thought over the noise of Father John howling in my head: I wonder what is going to happen when the white liquid goes inside me, and I wonder if I’m still going to be me the next time I wake up…

…the lights above me are blinding, but the pain is much less, and the plastic bag at the end of the tube is empty. I can just about raise my head far enough to see the big mitten of bandages that has been wrapped around my left hand. Sometimes a doctor stands next to my bed and stares at me and sometimes I hear raised voices in the distance and sometimes I start crying and can’t stop. I’m too hot and too cold and everything is wrong and I really want to go home, because even that was better than this. A man wearing a hat and a uniform asks me my name, but Father John roars in my head, so I don’t answer. He asks again, and I don’t answer again, and he rolls his eyes and walks away…

…a woman in a uniform tells someone to sit me up. Hands reach underneath me, and fingers press into my skin and drag me along the bed until I’m propped against a pillow. The woman in the uniform says, “That’s better,” and I almost laugh because nothing is better, nothing is even remotely close to better. “Can you tell me who started the fire?” she asks, and I shake my head. “Who handed out the guns?” I shake my head. “Did you see John Parson after the shooting started?” I shake my head. “What happened inside the main house? What did you do in there?” I shake my head. She stares at me, and when she speaks again, her voice is cold. “People are dead, girl,” she says. “A lot of people. You need to start talking.” She leans over me. I don’t know what’s she’s going to do, so I turn my head away. I see a gold badge on her belt stamped with the words Layton County Sheriff’s Department, and my heart stops dead in my chest and then I hear myself screaming, and the woman in the uniform jumps back, her eyes wide with shock. I hear running footsteps, and my heart starts back up. I thrash on the bed and scream and scream. I feel hands pin my arms and legs, and a doctor lowers another needle toward me, and…

…the faces of my Brothers and Sisters swarm out of the darkness, people I’ve known my whole life, their hair on fire, their skin melting off their skulls, and they’re screaming two words over and over and over again: Your fault your fault your fault your fault YOUR FAULT. I turn away from them and try to run, but the ground turns to quicksand beneath my feet. I sink to my ankles as fingertips brush my shoulders and the back of my neck and I’m terrified, but I can’t scream because my mouth won’t open. All I can do is wade through inky blackness, dragging myself forward, trying to find the way back…

…a man wearing a dark suit stands beside my bed. I’m soaked with sweat, and my hand really hurts, like it’s covered with biting insects, and I don’t think I’ve ever been so tired. My body feels like it is made of lead and concrete, and my eyelids are the heaviest things in the whole world. The man tells me I’m being moved and I try to ask where, but all that comes out—as Father John bellows in my head Never talk to Outsiders, not under any circumstances—is a rasping whisper. The man says he doesn’t know, and I summon every last bit of strength I have left and ask him who made it out of the fire. He grimaces and walks away…

…there’s a paintbrush in my hand, and it’s dripping with cornflower blue. I know I’m dreaming, but I don’t care because I don’t want to wake up. I paint the wooden wall in front of me, and I hear the distant crash of waves at the base of the cliff, and I smell smoke as it rises from the chimney, and I know that if I look down, I’ll see green grass beneath my feet, but I don’t look down. I paint the wooden board in front of me and the one next to it and the one next to that…

…a different man in an identical dark suit reads a list of names from a piece of paper. I hear Honey and Rainbow and Lucy and Jeremiah, and I burst into tears of relief. The man gives me the first smile I’ve seen since I’ve been lying on this bed, and he carries on reading names, but not for long. My relief gives way to grief, and my tears keep coming because the list is so very, very short…

…the ceiling slides by as two doctors wheel my bed along a corridor and into an empty metal box that shudders and rattles and makes my stomach spin. I try to reach out for the walls to steady myself, but one of the doctors pushes my arms back onto the bed, and my left hand howls with pain, and I cry out. The doctor says, “Sorry,” but his eyes are cold, and his mouth is hidden behind his mask. There’s a beep and a jolt and a rush of cool air, and then I’m moving again. I see a sliver of sky, as blue as the wall in my dream, before I’m lifted and rolled into another metal box, although this one has shelves full of boxes and bottles and machines I don’t recognize. There’s a rumble beneath me as an engine starts up somewhere close by, and it sounds a bit like the red pickup that Amos used to drive, but it’s much louder, and it sounds angry…

…a woman with a kind face wearing a white uniform helps me up from the bed I’ve been lying on ever since I woke up and gently lowers me onto a different one in a square white room with a window set high up in one wall. She tells me to press the orange button next to the door if I need anything, and a lump fills my throat. I ask her not to leave me, and she hugs me, and I start crying again. The voice in the back of my head gets really angry because I haven’t cried this much since I was a little girl, but I can’t help it. The woman with the kind face shushes me and strokes my hair and tells me it’s okay, everything is going to be okay, she’ll be right there if I need her, then gently slides out of my arms and gives me a smile before she walks out of the room, closing the door behind her. I lie down on the bed and I hear a heavy metallic thud as a lock slides into place…

…I drift…



Excerpt from After The Fire copyright © 2017 by Will Hill. All rights reserved. This excerpt reprinted with permission from Sourcebooks Fire.




Meet the Author




Will Hill grew up in the northeast of England and worked as a bartender, bookseller, and in publishing before quitting to write full-time. He lives in East London. Visit him at willhillauthor.com.





Connect with the author via Twitter, his Website,  or Instagram.



Giveaway

Sourcebooks Fire is giving away two (2) copies of After The Fire by Will Hill. This giveaway runs from October 2 through October 31, 2018. This giveaway is open to residents of the United States and Canada only; all others will be disqualified. 

Winners will be chosen and notified by Sourcebooks Fire. Prizes are furnished by Sourcebooks Fire. To enter use the Rafflecopter form below. Void where prohibited by law.

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Book Showcase: UNNATURAL DEEDS by Cyn Balog

Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog 
ISBN: 9781492635796 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781492635819 (eBook)
ASIN: B01HN3X3KU (Kindle version)
Publication Date: November 1, 2016 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire


Secrets. 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. 



Read an excerpt:

Foul whisp’rings are abroad. Unnatural deeds
Do breed unnatural troubles. Infected minds
To their deaf pillows will discharge their secrets.
Shakespeare’s Macbeth, Act V, Scene 1



CHAPTER 1

Duchess—­Police are investigating an apparent homicide after a body was found in a wooded area early Tuesday morning. Authorities have not yet released the name of the victim or the person(s) they are questioning in connection with the investigation.

—­Central Maine Express Times


Is this thing on?

Ha—­ha, I’m a laugh a minute.

Anyway, Andrew. It’s me. Vic. I wanted to say I’m sorry. Sorry for…Well, where do I begin? I—-

Cough, cough, cough.

Sorry. I’m losing my voice. Something bitter is stuck in my throat, and the air is so cold it’s hard to breathe. This place reeks of decaying leaves, of the musty, damp rot of dead things returning to the earth.

There’s something soft and wet under my head. I hope it’s not brain matter. I can’t raise my arms to check because of the way I’m twisted here. I think my leg is broken. Or maybe my back? Damned if I can twitch a muscle without pain screaming its way up my spine.

Somehow I managed to pry my phone out of my jacket pocket and prop it on my chest, but you know how spotty service is around Duchess. All charged up with zero bars—­not that I’d be calling anyone but you. I wish I could see the background photo of you and me. It’d keep me company. You know the one. It’s the picture of us at the Renaissance Faire when we were fourteen. We’re both grinning like mad and you have your arm around me, claiming me as your own. It’s probably the only time you were ever comfortable with yourself. With us. I miss that.

Anyway, you know how glass half—­empty I am, Andrew. I wanted to record a note for you on my phone. You know, in case I don’t get out of here.

Of course I’ll get out of here. I wouldn’t be lucky enough to die here. But maybe this’ll be easier than telling you in person.

Cough, cough.

Where should I start?

It’s so quiet. You must have left me, Andrew. But you’ll come back. You always come back. You were scared, maybe, when you saw what you’d done. And now I’m all alone here.

I don’t really know where “here” is. I think it’s a drainage ditch on the side of Route 11. The last thing I remember is rushing down the road near the Kissing Woods, feeling powerful. Immortal. Like everything I wanted could be mine. For an instant, I felt like he could be mine.

But that’s not possible now.

I know what people have said behind my back in hushed whispers. They call me delusional. But I’m not. I know what is real and what isn’t.

No, wait. The last thing I remember is you with that fierce look in your eyes. You sure surprised me. Who knew that my boyfriend, quiet, unassuming Andrew Quinn, had that in him?

I thought I knew you inside and out, but…I was wrong.

I guess I should explain. After all, I have no other pressing engagements. And you’re overdue an explanation, aren’t you? The tall pines can be my witnesses. They can pass judgment as they see fit.

I’m not sure when it all began, but Lady M said it best. Hell is goddamn murky.

Whoops. Blasphemy. Yet another sin to add to my act—­of—­contrition list.

Looking back, you knew when I started to change, didn’t you, Andrew? You know everything about me. It was that very first day of school, the day my life began and the day it began to unravel.

So here are the gory details. It won’t be enough, but I’ll try. You can’t know it all until you’ve smelled that intoxicating cinnamon-­and-cloves scent, read those texts that elevated even the blandest words to poetry, and seen those heart-stoppingly blue eyes.

His eyes. Even now, I can see them with perfect clarity. I’ve seen them in my dreams, in the sky when the sun hits the clouds just right, and in my morning breakfast cereal. It all goes back to him. Every single thought always winds right back to him. Always. Always. Always.

It’s no use. I want him out of my head. I wish I could scrape him out of my memory. I don’t want to live with him etched in the deepest part of me. I don’t want to die thinking of him.

But I know I will.


Excerpt provided by the publisher. Copyright © Cyn Balog 2016



Meet the author:




Cyn Balog is the author of a number of young adult paranormal novels. She lives outside Allentown, Pennsylvania with her husband and daughters. Visit her online at www.cynbalog.com.




Connect with the author:

Website   |   Facebook   |   Twitter   |   Goodreads 



Enter to win 1 of 2 copies of Unnatural Deeds by Cyn Balog courtesy of the publisher, Sourcebooks Fire.

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Book Spotlight: THE CABIN by Natasha Preston

The Cabin by Natasha Preston 
ISBN: 9781492618553 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781492618560 (eBook)
ASIN: B01ENNQ2C4 (Kindle version)
Publication Date: September 6, 2016 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire


There may only be one killer, but no one is innocent in this new thriller from Natasha Preston, author of The Cellar and Awake.

They think they’re invincible.They think they can do and say whatever they want.They think there are no consequences.They’ve left me no choice.It’s time for them to pay for their sins.

A weekend partying at a remote cabin is just what Mackenzie needs. She can’t wait to let loose with her friends. But a crazy night of fun leaves two of them dead-murdered.

With no signs of a forced entry or struggle, suspicion turns to the five survivors. Someone isn’t telling the truth. And Mackenzie’s first mistake? Assuming the killing is over… 




Read an excerpt:

Saturday, August 8

I cracked my eyes open and they were immediately stung by the evil morning light. It didn’t help that the room was a bright yellow. Groaning, I ran my hands over my face. I felt like I’d been hit by a bus. My head throbbed, and every time I swallowed, I felt as if I were downing sawdust. To make matters worse, this time Blake wasn’t waking me up. My hangovers weren’t usually this bad. Last night, I had drunk a lot, but nowhere near enough to feel as awful as I did. When had I become such a humongous lightweight? Blake lay on his side, with one arm and one leg thrown over me. He looked peaceful. Whatever weighed on his mind during the day didn’t trouble him while he slept.

Biting my lip, I watched him sleep, feeling a bit like a creeper. I had never had a one-night stand, so my experience with the morning after was nonexistent. I knew the general idea was to leave ASAP, but in this situation, that was impossible. We were spending the weekend in the same secluded place, and it’s not like I had my own car.

Oh God. I had a one-night stand! I tried to calm myself. It’s fine. You’re an adult, remember? Adults do this all the time. But I didn’t. Why had I allowed myself to sleep with Blake when I hadn’t even known him twenty-four hours?

Shut up, it’s fine. You’re allowed to be into a guy, to have a good time.

I had to get a grip. There was nothing I could do to change what had happened. But neither of us needed to freak out or make this awkward—and by neither of us, I meant me. We were attracted to each other and acted on it. We were both into it, both consenting adults. It’d be fine. Besides, I felt too ill to worry much anyway.

Pushing myself up, I flopped and fell back against the mattress. My heavy stomach rolled. Oh God. I had no energy. I needed water, aspirin, and to throw up the remaining alcohol that was still sloshing around in my system.

Never again. Never ever, ever, ever again.

My movements woke Blake. He removed his hand from my stomach and rubbed his face. “I feel like death,” he groaned.

Blushing because of the situation we were in, I replied, “Join the club.”

He smiled at me. “How do you not look like hell in the morning? I mean, you’ve got that stunning, post-sex glow that’s turning me on.”

Seriously? “How can you feel like crap and still want sex?”

He replied, “Have you ever seen yourself, Mackenzie?”

His comment made me bite my lip. I didn’t think I was that pretty, but I kind of loved how he saw me. Everyone wanted someone to think they were special, and my ex never had. Blake made me feel sexy and appreciated, which was nice, even if I broke my own rules.

“I…” I what? What did I want to say?

Chuckling quietly, he shoved himself up and reached for his jeans. “I need food and strong coffee. Do you know what everyone has planned for today?”

Following his lead, I grabbed my clothes and started to get dressed. I flicked my gaze at him to make sure he wasn’t looking at me. He was. “We’re going down to the lake to swim. Aaron wants to feed everyone barbecue food all day; then we’re making a bonfire in the evening.”

Blake stilled. “You’re making a fire in the middle of the forest?”

“A small bonfire. We’re not setting trees alight.”

“At least not purposefully,” he muttered. “I’m overseeing that.”

“Oversee away. I’m sure Aaron would love the help.”

“It’s not Aaron I want to hang out with.”

Holy

I bit my lip. “Well, good.”

He lifted an eyebrow while staring into my eyes. “Yes, it is.”

If he kept looking at me like that, I was going to explode. I already felt too hot.



Excerpt provided by the publisher. Copyright © Natasha Preston 2016




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Book Showcase: TWISTED by Hannah Jayne

Twisted by Hannah Jayne
ISBN: 9781492631798 (paperback)
ISBN: 9781492631804 (eBook)
ASIN: B01BX1PINS (Kindle version)
Publication Date: July 5, 2016 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire


Guilty until proven innocent…

Bex has always been her daddy’s little girl. After her mother left, it was just the two of them. Sure he spoiled her with clothes and jewelry, but what father doesn’t dote on his daughter?

Except Bex’s dad is alleged to be a notorious serial killer. Dubbed “The Wife Collector” by the press, her father disappeared before he could stand trial. And Bex was left to deal with the taunts and rumors. Foster care is her one chance at starting over, starting fresh.

But Bex’s old life isn’t ready to let her go. When bodies start turning up in her new hometown, the police want to use her as bait to bring her father in for questioning. Is Bex trapping a serial killer or endangering an innocent man?


Read an excerpt:

“Miss?”

Bex Andrews surged forward, eyes pulled open wider than she ever thought they could be, heart hammering like a fire bell.

“I’m so sorry,” the soothing voice continued. “I didn’t mean to startle you. We’re going to be landing in a few minutes, and I need you to put your tray table up.”

“Oh.” Bex looked at her hands, her knuckles white as she gripped the tray table in front of her, then back to the flight attendant. She felt the familiar heat of embarrassment singe across her cheeks. “Sure. I’m sorry.”

The flight attendant straightened. “Thank you.” Her smile was as bright as a Crest commercial and her hair swirled behind her as she continued up the aisle, reminding the other passengers that they were landing soon.

Bex’s heart didn’t stop its relentless thump. “Excuse me,” she said, leaning forward in her seat. The flight attendant turned. “Mmm-hmm?”

“Do I have time to use the restroom?”

“Quickly.”

Bex made her way down the narrow aisle, wobbling with the rocking of the plane. She glanced away as people looked up at her, letting out her breath only when she escaped into the tiny lavatory and slid the little lever to Occupied. Under the glaring, yellow light, Beth Anne Reimer hardly recognized herself.

Her once white-blond, shoulder-length hair was blunt cut to her ears, the curls gone so that her new sandy-brown hair and pixie cut framed her face, hugging her cheekbones and falling against her darkened eyebrows. Her long bangs hung into her hazel eyes, and several coats of mascara made her short lashes stand out. She was wearing an outfit that made her look like every other teenager in the free world: tight jeans faded at the knees and fraying at the ankles, flip-flops, and a white zip-up hoodie with a surfer print. Instinctively, she pulled the hood over her head, and the fabric shaded her face and instantly darkened her cheekbones. Her bright eyes were suddenly small and menacing. She pushed the hood back. She was a new person, at the other side of her home state and about to start a new life. No way was she going to fade into her hoodie and let people think she was a serial killer just because her father was.

Not anymore.

That was Beth Anne Reimer. And she was Bex Andrews now.

***

Bex stared out the car’s passenger-side window as the scenery zoomed by. She had never been to Kill Devil Hills, though she had seen postcards and TV shows set here, but what was whizzing by her—nondescript strip malls, Target shopping centers, and fast-food places—made her feel like the puddle-jumper flight from Raleigh, North Carolina, had landed her right back there. If it hadn’t been for the woman in the driver’s seat who was chatting happily about something Bex couldn’t focus on, she would have wondered if this whole moving-across-the-state thing was just a big hoax.

“Does that sound good to you?”

The woman driving the Honda SUV smiled at Bex, her light- blue eyes sparkling even in the dim hint of twilight.

Bex felt her mouth drop open. “I’m sorry, what?”

Denise tucked a strand of deep-brown hair behind her ear. “I’m sorry, Bex. That’s such a cool name, by the way. I’m probably just talking your ear off. We’re just really happy to have you here. I know it can’t be easy for you…”

The familiar lump started to form in the back of her throat and Bex shifted in the car seat, working the seat belt strap between her fingers. Her grandmother’s face flashed in her mind, and the familiar smells of the house where Bex had lived since she was seven years old filled her nostrils—her grandmother’s powdery, lavender smell; the sweet, cloying scent of night jasmine when it wafted through her bedroom curtains; the earthy smell of hot grass as she tromped barefoot through it.

But that was a world away in another life. Her grandmother had passed seven months ago and Bex’s home had been sold. She’d been shifted into a “temporary care situation,” which basically meant she was stuck in a cross between an orphanage and juvenile hall until a foster home willing to take her opened up.

And when one did, it was across the state in the Outer Banks with Denise and Michael Pierson, a couple in their early forties who only knew that Bex had lived with her grandmother.

They didn’t know the truth.

They didn’t know that Bex’s own mother had disappeared when Bex was only five years old and still called Beth Anne Reimer. They didn’t know that Beth Anne was doted on by a father who lavished her with costume jewelry and funky purses.

They didn’t know that all the gifts Beth Anne’s father gave her had once belonged to women in the Research Triangle area of North Carolina. Women who Beth Anne’s father—dubbed the Wife Collector in the press—had murdered.

Allegedly. The word gnawed at Bex’s periphery.

It was Beth Anne herself, a shy, moon-eyed seven-year-old, who had pointed a chubby finger at her own father when the police came to her house. Yes, she knew the pretty blond woman from the photograph, she had said to the police officer. The girl had been with them for two days before getting into the car with Beth Anne’s daddy. No, she didn’t know where they had gone. All she knew was that the blond lady never came back to the house, never came back for the nubby scarf she had wound around Beth Anne’s neck, so Beth Anne had kept it for herself.

It was just a few days later that Beth Anne’s daddy was locked in that police cruiser and shuttled down to the courthouse. The newspapers and local news station splashed headlines everywhere and that single word—allegedly—seemed to grow smaller, to fade into the enormous text around it.

Jackson Reimer, Alleged Wife Collector Murderer, Held in Local Jail




Praise for Twisted:

“Jayne’s chilling suspense novel will keep readers up all night as they try to decipher what information and characters they can trust. Snippets from the past appear throughout the narrative, giving readers glimpses of Bex’s childhood without detracting from present-day events. This is one of those books that readers will race to finish in one day.” – RT Book Reviews, 4 Stars

“A fast-paced, exciting thriller full of twists and turns that will keep teens guessing until the very end.” – School Library Journal 




Meet the author:


Hannah Schwartz lives in the San Francisco Bay Area and writes cozy mysteries, young adult fiction, chick lit, and grocery lists that she never seems to remember to bring to the grocery store.

Hannah shares a house with two neurotic, feet-attacking cats and has a Kryptonite-like weakness for donuts. 



Connect with the author:  Website    |   Facebook    |   Twitter    |   Goodreads 








Enter for a chance to win 1 of 5 copies of Twisted by Hannah Jayne via Sourcebooks. This giveaway ends on July 18th. Winners will be notified by Sourcebooks.


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2015 Book 332: UNTIL WE MEET AGAIN by Renee Collins

Until We Meet Again by Renee Collins
ISBN: 9781492621164 (hardcover)
ISBN: 9781492621171 (ebook)
ASIN: B0108GOL2I (Kindle edition)
Publication date: November 3, 2015 
Publisher: Sourcebooks Fire


They exist in two different centuries, but their love defies time

Cassandra craves drama and adventure, so the last thing she wants is to spend her summer marooned with her mother and stepfather in a snooty Massachusetts shore town. But when a dreamy stranger shows up on their private beach claiming it’s his own—and that the year is 1925—she is swept into a mystery a hundred years in the making.

As she searches for answers in the present, Cassandra discovers a truth that puts their growing love—and Lawrence’s life—into jeopardy. Desperate to save him, Cassandra must find a way to change history…or risk losing Lawrence forever.



Cassandra has a loving family and all of the tech gadgets any teen could want at her disposal – computer, smartphone, and internet access, as well as the beauty of the Massachusetts shore for the summer. Despite all this, she raises the teen battle cry “I’m bored” because there’s nothing for her to do in this town except spend time with her family and on a private beach. All of that changes when she meets and befriends Lawrence in Renee Collin’s Until We Meet Again.

Cassandra loves her family, but she craves more from her summer than being stranded in a small coastal town in Massachusetts with them. Her best friend is spending the summer in Paris and Cassandra is envious (who isn’t). She doesn’t really fit in with the local teens as she doesn’t have much in common with them in terms of interests. Her mother, stepfather, and younger brother are quite content to spend their days together lounging around the house and enjoying family time. Fortunately for Cassandra, she runs into a wonderful young man on the beach. Unfortunately for Cassandra, Lawrence is from 1925, not 2015 and they can only be together on the beach. Meeting Lawrence is fortuitous for Cassandra until a tragedy occurs in Lawrence’s life in 1925 and has an impact on people in 2015. Scared and wanting to learn more about Lawrence and 1925, Cassandra spends hours in the local library and discovers that Lawrence is to be murdered in a few days. In a race to beat-the-clock, Cassandra and Lawrence both try to learn as much as possible to reverse Lawrence’s fate.

I found Until We Meet Again to be a fast-paced and enjoyable read. The first few pages of the story were a little slow, as the author provides the setup and creates the back stories for both Lawrence and Cassandra. The story is told in alternating voices, Cassandra in 2015 and Lawrence in 1925. Cassandra and Lawrence get to spend one month together, and there’s quite a lot of action crammed into that month (no, I won’t tell you any more about what happens. . . read the book!). Until We Meet Again is classified as a young adult story, and although there is some teen angst and drama, this is also a story about family, star-cross lovers, and second chances. If you enjoy romance stories with a slight fantasy twist, then you’ll definitely want to add Until We Meet Again to your TBR list.  

Disclaimer: I received a digital copy of this book for review purposes from the publisher via NetGalley. I was not paid, required, or otherwise obligated to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”




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