Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...
Home    Challenges    Reviews    Features    Contests    Review Policy    Contact

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Storytime: New and Notable Picture Books (22)

This week's Storytime features mutinous bedtime pirates, a cake-loving monster who isn't messing around, friends in all different shapes, a misplaced character, and some unexpectedly ferocious animals.

Pirate's Lullaby: Mutiny at Bedtime
Written by Marcie Wessels; Illustrated by Tim Bowers
Ages 2-5

Buy It 
Yo, ho, ho! It’s bedtime! But this little swashbuckler will do anything to avoid going to sleep. Read along as he stalls for time—searching for peg-legged Captain Teddy, stowing his toys in the ship’s treasure chest, and even playing a game of walk-the-plank! Snuggle up with your own little pirate for a fun and delightful high-seas adventure as you wind down your exciting day together.
Lovely illustrations and fun rhyme, though the text sometimes felt closer to a tongue twister than a rhyme - you'd definitely to practice before reading this one aloud for the first time. Definitely keep this one on hand to prevent mutiny in your own home!

I Will Chomp You!
Written by Jory John; Illustrated by Bob Shea
Ages 3-7

Buy It
A greedy, big-headed monster goes to great lengths to protect his precious cakes, which he’s hidden in the back of this book!

STOP RIGHT THERE. Don’t move a muscle, buster. Stay out of this book or I WILL CHOMP YOU!

So says the not-so-fierce inhabitant of I Will Chomp You, a tale of deception, greed…and cake!

Jory John and Bob Shea bring a fresh, hilarious twist to a time-tested blueprint as their little monster threatens, reasons and pleads with readers to go no further in the book because he will NOT share his beautiful, delicious cakes. Children will identify with the monster’s high valuation of his possessions, and (importantly) will laugh at the silly measures he takes to protect them.
Watch out! The little monster in this book is going to CHOMP you if you read any further. He may look cute, but he’s very serious. You would be too if you were hiding your delicious treasure at the end of this book! Little readers will find this monster who will do whatever it takes to protect his precious cakes absolutely hilarious. Expect this one to become a read aloud favorite!
Written by Amy Krouse Rosenthal; Illustrated by Tom Lichtenheld
Ages 4-8

Buy It

Friends shape who we are. They make us laugh. They fill us with fun. They stand by us during life's up and downs. And even when we disagree with our friends, if they're tried-and-true, they don't stay bent out of shape for long. That's the beauty of a good buddy. This joyous book rejoices in the simple beauties of friendship, and reminds readers of all ages that it's good to have a group of pals.
I love the simplicity and bright colors in Friendshape. I've yet to read a book from Rosenthal or Lichtenheld that that I didn't enjoy, so its no surprise that this collaboration is just as charming. Definitely add this one to your collection.

I Thought This Was a Bear Book 
Written by Tara Lazar; Illustrated by Benji Davies
Ages 4-7

Buy It
After an unfortunate bookcase collapse, Alien suddenly finds himself jolted out of his story and into a very strange world, complete with talking bears. Desperate to return to his book, Alien asks the Bear family for help so he can get back to his story and save his beloved Planet Zero from total destruction before it's too late.

Mama Bear and Papa Bear try all kinds of zany contraptions (with some help from their nemesis, Goldilocks) without much luck. Baby Bear might have the perfect solution to get the Alien out of the woods and back to his planet...but will anyone listen to the littlest voice in the story?
When an alien appears in the wrong story, it'll take help from three bears and YOU to get him back to the correct book in time for a happily ever after. Lazar presents readers with a fun premise and action-filled text, while Benji Davies provides great illustrations. The interactive elements, especially points at which characters reach out to the reader, add an engaging element to the plot. Given the final images, I wouldn't be surprised to hear readers asking for a follow up adventure!

Fright Club
Written & Illustrated by Ethan Long
Ages  4-8

Buy It
Each year, on Halloween eve, Fright Club meets to go over their plan: Operation Kiddie Scare. Only the scariest of monsters can join Fright Club-Vladimir the Vampire, Fran K. Stein, Sandy Witch, and Virginia Wolf have all made the cut. They've been practicing their ghoulish faces, their scary moves, and their chilling sounds. But when a band of cute little critters comes along asking to join in the fun, the members of Fright Club will find out who really is the scariest of all!
Loved the twist of traditionally scary creatures (vampire, witch, mummy, etc) being frightened by traditionally cuddly creatures! A great reminder that a big part of what makes things scary is perspective and mindset! A humorous read with great illustrations.

Love any of the books featured this week? Let me know in the comments!

Monday, August 24, 2015

Cover Reveals - Middle Grade - XLIV

Far From Fair by Elana K. Arnold
Odette has a list: Things That Aren’t Fair. At the top of the list is her parents’ decision to take the family on the road in an ugly RV they’ve nicknamed the Coach. There’s nothing fair about leaving California and living in the Coach with her par­ents and exasperating brother. And there’s definitely nothing fair about Grandma Sissy’s failing health, and the painful realities and difficult decisions that come with it. Most days it seems as if everything in Odette’s life is far from fair but does it have to be?
With warmth and sensitivity Elana Arnold makes difficult topics like terminal illness and the right to die accessible to young readers and able to be discussed.
Just My Luck by Cammie McGovern
Fourth grade is not going at all how Benny Barrows hoped. He hasn’t found a new best friend. He’s still not a great bike rider—even though his brother George, who’s autistic, can do tricks. And worst of all, he worries his dad’s recent accident might be all his fault. Benny tries to take his mom’s advice and focus on helping others, and to take things one step at a time. But when his dad ends up in the hospital again, Benny doesn’t know how he and his family will overcome all the bad luck that life has thrown their way.

Just My Luck is a deeply moving and rewarding novel about a down-on-his-luck boy whose caring heart ultimately helps him find the strength to cope with tragedy and realize how much he truly has to offer his friends and family.

Summer of Lost & Found by Rebecca Behrens
In Summer of Lost and Found, a middle-grade novel by Rebecca Behrens, a girl's father mysteriously disappears and her botanist mother drags her to Roanoke Island for a research trip, where she decides to solve the mystery of the Lost Colony.
Poison Is Not Polite by Robin Stevens
Schoolgirl detectives Daisy Wells and Hazel Wong are at Daisy's home, Fallingford, for the holidays. Daisy's glamorous mother is throwing a tea party for Daisy's birthday, and the whole family is invited, from eccentric Aunt Saskia to dashing Uncle Felix. But it soon becomes clear that this party isn't really about Daisy at all. Naturally, Daisy is furious.

Then one of their party falls seriously, mysteriously ill - and everything points to poison.

With wild storms preventing anyone from leaving, or the police from arriving, Fallingford suddenly feels like a very dangerous place to be. Not a single person present is what they seem - and everyone has a secret or two. And when someone very close to Daisy looks suspicious, the Detective Society must do everything they can to reveal the truth . . . no matter the consequences.

Anna, Banana, and the Puppy Parade by Anica Mrose Rissi
Anna can’t wait for the Puppy Parade. She’s certain Banana will win. Soon Banana will be famous—and that means Anna will be famous too!

But when Sadie and Isabel suggest they all enter Banana in the parade together, Anna starts feeling a little unsure about sharing her dog—and the spotlight—with her friends.

How can Anna be Best in Show and be a good best friend?
The Secrets of Solace by Jaleigh Johnson
Lina Winterbock lives in the mountain strongholds of Solace. She’s an apprentice to the archivists, the wise men and women whose lives are dedicated to cataloging, studying, and preserving the objects that mysteriously fall from the sky in the scrap towns.
    Lina should be spending her days with books, but the Iron War has changed everything. The strongholds are now a refuge, and the people Lina once counted on no longer have time for her, so she spends her days exploring the hidden tunnels and passages of her home. The strongholds are vast and old, with twisting paths, forgotten rooms, and collapsed chambers, some of them containing objects that have been lost and forgotten even by the archivists.
    And in one of the forgotten chambers, Lina discovers a secret.
    Hidden deep in a cavern is a half-buried airship like nothing she has ever seen before. She’s determined to dig it out and restore it. But Lina needs help, and she doesn’t know anyone she can trust with her secret.
    Then she meets Ozben, a mysterious boy who has a secret of his own—a secret that’s so dangerous it could change the course of the Iron War and the world of Solace forever.
Free Verse by Sarah Dooley
A moving, bittersweet tale reminiscent of Sharon Creech’s Walk Two Moons set in a West Virginia coal-mining town
When her brother dies in a fire, Sasha Harless has no one left, and nowhere to turn. After her father died in the mines and her mother ran off, he was her last caretaker. They’d always dreamed of leaving Caboose, West Virginia together someday, but instead she’s in foster care, feeling more stuck and broken than ever.

But then Sasha discovers family she didn’t know she had, and she finally has something to hold onto, especially sweet little Mikey, who’s just as broken as she is. Sasha even makes her first friend at school, and is slowly learning to cope with her brother’s death through writing poetry, finding a new way to express herself when spoken words just won’t do. But when tragedy strikes the mine her cousin works in, Sasha fears the worst and takes Mikey and runs, with no plans to return. In this sensitive and poignant portrayal, Sarah Dooley shows us that life, like poetry, doesn’t always take the form you intend.
Secrets of the Dragon Tomb by Patrick Samphire
Mars in 1816 is a world of high society, deadly danger, and strange clockwork machines.

Twelve-year-old Edward Sullivan wants to become a spy like the ones he reads about in his favorite magazine, Thrilling Martian Tales, but he’s far too busy keeping his eccentric family from disaster. All of that is about to change. In the north, great dragon tombs hide marvels of Ancient Martian technology, and the villainous archaeologist Sir Titus Dane is determined to loot one.

When Sir Titus kidnaps Edward’s parents, Edward, his sisters, and their mysterious cousin set off in pursuit across the Martian wilderness. Together they must battle Sir Titus’s minions, dodge hungry pterodactyls, and escape fearsome Martian hunting machines in order to rescue Edward’s parents and uncover the secrets of the dragon tomb.
Red: The True Story of Red Riding Hood by Liesl Shurtliff
Red Riding Hood stars in this hilarious fractured fairy tale from the author of Rump: The True Story of Rumpelstiltskin.

Red is not afraid of the big bad wolf. She’s not afraid of anything…except magic.
But when Red’s granny falls ill, it seems that only magic can save her, and fearless Red is forced to confront her one weakness.

With the help of a blond, porridge-sampling nuisance called Goldie, Red goes on a quest to cure Granny. Her journey takes her through dwarves’ caverns to a haunted well and a beast’s castle. All the while, Red and Goldie are followed by a wolf and a huntsman—two mortal enemies who seek the girls’ help to defeat each other. And one of them just might have the magical solution Red is looking for….
Which new covers are your favorite?  Let me know in the comments!

Review: Damage Done by Amanda Panitch


Title: Damage Done
Author: Amanda Panitch
Publisher: Random House
Pub. Date: July 21, 2015
Genre: Young Adult
Rec. Age Level: 14+
Pages: 304
More by this author: N/A

22 minutes separate Julia Vann’s before and after.

Before: Julia had a twin brother, a boyfriend, and a best friend.

After: She has a new identity, a new hometown, and memories of those twenty-two minutes that refuse to come into focus. At least, that’s what she tells the police.

Now that she’s Lucy Black, she's able to begin again. She's even getting used to the empty bedroom where her brother should be. And her fresh start has attracted the attention of one of the hottest guys in school, a boy who will do anything to protect her. But when someone much more dangerous also takes notice, Lucy's forced to confront the dark secrets she thought were safely left behind.

One thing is clear: The damage done can never be erased. It’s only just beginning. . . .
Every  so often I feel the urge to read a dark, fast-paced thriller and Amanda Panitch's Damage Done - which was moved to the top of my reading list after I saw Roxane Gay tweet about how great it was - definitely fit the bill.

Interestingly, I've read a number of books tackling school shootings in the last few months. Silent Alarm by Jennifer Banash, This Is Where It Ends by Marieke Nijkamp (out in January 2016), and now Damage Done. Even though this is, obviously, a very emotional and difficult topic to read about, I'm actually thankful that I've read these books in rather rapid succession. With each fresh in my mind, it's given me the opportunity to compare them. Each author has handled the topic of school shootings, the causes, and the aftermath in unique ways and I appreciate each book for various reasons. The topic is a delicate one, but I believe it's important to offer readers different perspectives and these three authors provide that.

Damage Done gives, in my opinion, the most accessible option for readers who are open to a novel featuring such a dark event would rather avoid the emotional drain. Both Banash and Nijkamp give very immediate and realistic depictions of the tragedy of a school shooting. Nijkamp's novel is set during the shooting and relates a number of POVs, Banash's is set directly after and is from the POV of the shooter's sister. Both novels are well worth reading, but I fear some readers might shy away from their heaviness. Damage Done, on the other hand, takes place some time after the shooting and focuses very little on the trauma of the event. The mental state of the shooter and how his actions affect his family are discussed, but they are not the focus of the novel.

In truth, this novel is more of a psychological mystery thriller featuring a potentially unreliable narrator. The shooting is integral to the story, but is not the focus. It's twisty and fast-paced - readers will immediately be pulled in and will be loathe to set it down until all of its secrets are revealed.

I definitely recommend Panitch's Damage Done, especially if you're looking for a story that will keep you guessing and engaged! Read this one if you enjoyed E. Lockhart's We Were Liars or Becca Fitzpatrick's Black Ice.

Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Cover Reveals - Young Adult - XLIII

The Devil and the Bluebird by Jennifer Mason-Black
Blue Riley has wrestled with her own demons ever since the loss of her mother to cancer. But when she encounters a beautiful devil at her town crossroads, it’s her runaway sister’s soul she fights to save. The devil steals Blue’s voice—inherited from her musically gifted mother—in exchange for a single shot at finding Cass.

Armed with her mother’s guitar, a knapsack of cherished mementos, and a pair of magical boots, Blue journeys west in search of her sister. When the devil changes the terms of their deal, Blue must reevaluate her understanding of good and evil and open herself to finding family in unexpected places.

In Devil and the Bluebird, Jennifer Mason-Black delivers a heart-wrenching depiction of loss and hope.
How Many Letters Are in Goodbye? by Yvonne Cassidy

Seventeen-year-old Rhea Farrell carries the scars of a childhood accident in which she lost her arm. But she also carries scars that aren’t so visible—the loss of a mother she hardly remembers, the impact of her father’s drinking, and her confusion and pain around accepting her sexuality.
When Rhea runs away, she turns to the person she always wished she could confide in—her mother. And just like she used to do as a little girl, Rhea starts to write her letters—to tell her things she can’t tell anyone else, to share her fears, to ask for help. Rhea’s journey on the streets of New York brings her deeper into her mother’s past where she uncovers buried family secrets. And as she finds out more about the woman her mother truly was, Rhea also discovers just what kind of woman she wants to be.

Look Both Ways by Alison Cherry
A summer away from the city is the beginning of everything for Brooklyn Shepard. Her theater apprenticeship at Allerdale is a chance to prove that she can carve out a niche all her own, surrounded by people who don't know anything about her and her family of superstar performers.

Brooklyn immediately hits it off with her roommate, Zoe, and soon their friendship turns into something more. Brooklyn wants to see herself as someone who's open to everything and everyone, but as her feelings for Zoe intensify, so do her doubts. She's happier than she's ever been—but is it because of her new relationship? Or is it because she's finally discovering who she wants to be?

Thoughtful, funny, and steeped in the wild drama of growing up, Alison Cherry's new novel is the story of a girl hoping she's found a place to belong... only to discover that neither talent nor love is as straightforward as she thinks.
On the Edge of Gone by Corinne Duyvis
January 29, 2035. That’s the day the comet is scheduled to hit—the big one.

Denise and her mother and sister, Iris, have been assigned to a temporary shelter outside their hometown of Amsterdam to wait out the blast, but Iris is nowhere to be found, and at the rate Denise’s drug-addicted mother is going, they’ll never reach the shelter in time.

A last-minute meeting leads them to something better than a temporary shelter: a generation ship, scheduled to leave Earth behind to colonize new worlds after the comet hits. But everyone on the ship has been chosen because of their usefulness. Denise is autistic and fears that she’ll never be allowed to stay. Can she obtain a spot before the ship takes flight? What about her mother and sister?

When the future of the human race is at stake, whose lives matter most?

Dreaming of Antigone by Robin Bridges
Every star has its own path…

“I can’t ever be the blazing star that Iris was. I’m still just a cold, dark satellite orbiting a star that went super nova.”

Andria’s twin sister, Iris, had adoring friends, a cool boyfriend, a wicked car, and a shelf full of soccer trophies. She had everything, in fact—including a drug problem. Six months after Iris’s death, Andria is trying to keep her grades, her friends, and her family from falling apart. But stargazing and books aren’t enough to ward off her guilt that she—the freak with the scary illness and all-black wardrobe—is still here when Iris isn’t. And then there’s Alex Hammond. The boy Andria blames for Iris’s death. The boy she’s unwittingly started swapping lines of poetry and secrets with, even as she tries to keep hating him.

Heartwrenching, smart, and bold, Dreaming of Antigone is a story about the jagged pieces that lie beneath the surface of the most seemingly perfect life…and how they can fit together to make something wholly unexpected.
The Radiant Road by Katherine Catmull
And sometimes the Strange came to visit Clare, and dreams walked through her waking life.

After years of living in America, Clare Macleod and her father are returning to Ireland, where they’ll inhabit the house Clare was born in—a house built into a green hillside with a tree for a wall. For Clare, the house is not only full of memories of her mother, but also of a mysterious boy with raven-dark hair and dreamlike nights filled with stars and magic. Clare soon discovers that the boy is as real as the fairy-making magic, and that they’re both in great danger from an ancient foe.

Fast-paced adventure and spellbinding prose combine to weave a tale of love, loyalty, and the strength we carry within ourselves.
The Lonely Ones by Kelsey Sutton
Fain hasn’t always been lonely. Her family used to be close; she used to have good friends. But as circumstances—and people—changed, Fain was left behind. That's when the monsters appeared.

While her parents argue and her peers and siblings either pick on or simply ignore her, Fain spends time in a world of her own making. During the day, she crafts stories of fantastical adventures, but in the darkness of night, these adventures come to life alongside a legion of imaginary creatures, with Fain as their queen.

In time, Fain begins to see possibilities and friendships emerge in her day-to-day, but when she is let down by the one relationship she thought she could trust, Fain must decide: remain queen of the imaginary creatures, or risk opening herself up to the fragile connections that can only be formed in the real world?

Told in lyrical free verse, The Lonely Ones reminds us of the need for imaginative play and the power of true friendship.
This Is the Story of You by Beth Kephart
This Is the Story of You takes place in an island beach town in the aftermath of a super storm; Mira, a year-rounder stranded for weeks without power, hopes to return storm-tossed treasures to their rightful owners, and restore some sense of order to an unrecognizable world.
Wink Poppy Midnight by April Genevieve Tucholke
The intrigue of The Virgin Suicides and the "supernatural or not" question of The Unbecoming of Mara Dyer coalesce in this young adult mystery, where nothing is quite as it seems, no one is quite who you think, and everything can change on a dime.

Every story needs a hero.
Every story needs a villain.
Every story needs a secret.

Wink is the odd, mysterious neighbor girl, wild red hair and freckles. Poppy is the blond bully and the beautiful, manipulative high school queen bee. Midnight is the sweet, uncertain boy caught between them. Wink. Poppy. Midnight. Two girls. One boy. Three voices that burst onto the page in short, sharp, bewitching chapters, and spiral swiftly and inexorably toward something terrible or tricky or tremendous.

What really happened?
Someone knows.
Someone is lying.

For fans of Holly Black, We Were Liars, and The Raven Boys, this mysterious tale full of intrigue, dread, beauty, and a whiff of something strange will leave you utterly entranced.

Which new covers are your favorite?  Let me know in the comments!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Interview with Colleen Houck, author of Reawakened

YA author Colleen Houck joins me at The Hiding Spot today to discuss her new novel, Reawakened, how American Sign Language has impacted her writing, her favorite word, and more! 

Also, have you seen how gorgeous this cover is? Just wait until you see it in person!
Can you tell us a bit about your inspiration for your newest novel Reawakened, which includes Egyptian mythology, time travel, and romance? 

Yes! I would say it's a little bit like Twilight meets The Mummy. There's the romance of Twilight mixed with frightening creatures and exotic locations. This time though the mummy is the good guy. I wanted to do a twist and have the mummy be a character that might be intimidating and scary at first but who you could ultimately appreciate to the point where you might just fall in love with him.   

Tell me a little bit about your writing process: Do you outline? Start at the beginning? The middle? The end?  
I loosely outline where I want a story to go and I know, in most cases, how many books there will be in a series. I'm a very linear writer so I have to start at the beginning. Though I know where it will end, I give myself the freedom to discover along the way. 
What jobs did you have on your way to becoming a published author? Is there a certain work experience that has shaped your writing or provided inspiration? 
I was an American Sign Language interpreter and was working as such when I wrote my first three books. Since ASL is a visual language, I think that's really translated into how I envision settings. In ASL you set up the context first and then place your characters and I notice that I do the same thing when I write. Every experience you have shapes your writing and lends inspiration, from break ups with a boy, to baking bread, to losing a parent. All of those things influence how you see and writing is essentially about looking out of a character's eyes and interpreting the world from their perspective.  
If you had to pick a favorite word, what would it be and why?  
That's really difficult...I guess my favorite word would be AND. It's such a tiny word but it bridges so many things and connects one very important thing to something else in a way that equalizes them. Milk is so much better when its Milk AND Cookies, for example. 
My blog is dedicated to my personal hiding spot, books. Name a notable book that provided you with a hiding spot.  

I think one of the many books that shaped me as a young person was Island of the Blue Dolphins by Scott O'Dell. I literally felt like I was the girl surviving on that island. It was a very powerful image that stayed with me for a long, long time. 
What can readers look forward to next? 
Book two in the Reawakened series. It's called Recreated. I'm so excited to share this one with you because there are a lot of secrets that will be revealed.

Win It!

1 Winner. Open to US only. Ends 8/31/15 
a Rafflecopter giveaway

More about Reawakened

About the Author

New York Times Bestselling Author Colleen Houck is a lifelong reader whose literary interests include action, adventure, science fiction, and romance. Formerly a student at the University of Arizona, she worked as a nationally certified American Sign Language interpreter for seventeen years before switching careers to become an author. Colleen lives in Salem, Oregon, with her husband and a huge assortment of plush tigers. 

Friday, August 14, 2015

An Excerpt from The Fix by Natasha Sinel [Blog Tour]

Today at The Hiding Spot readers are given a sneak peek at Natasha Sinel's upcoming release, The Fix. Don't miss the first stop on the excerpt tour here

Natasha has also set up a RAINN fundraiser as part of her book launch. Please do donate to this important organization. Even $5.00 can make a difference! Find out more here

About the Book

One conversation is all it takes to break a world wide open. Seventeen-year-old Macy Lyons has been through something no one should ever have to experience. And she’s dealt with it entirely alone. On the outside, she’s got it pretty good. Her family’s well-off, she’s dating the cute boy next door, she has plenty of friends, and although she long ago wrote her mother off as a superficial gym rat, she’s thankful to have allies in her loving, laid-back dad and her younger brother.

But a conversation with a boy at a party one night shakes Macy out of the carefully maintained complacency that has defined her life so far. The boy is Sebastian Ruiz, a recovering addict who recognizes that Macy is hardened by dark secrets. And as Macy falls for Sebastian, she realizes that, while revealing her secret could ruin her seemingly perfect family, keeping silent might just destroy her.

The Fix follows two good-hearted teenagers coming to terms with the cards they were dealt. It’s also about the fixes we rely on to cope with our most shameful secrets and the hope and fear that come with meeting someone who challenges us to come clean.

“I promised I’d babysit tonight. My mom’s got the night shift and my stepfather’s out of town.” 

“How old’s your sister?” 

“Four.” He downed the rest of his beer. 

“And you’re okay to take care of her like this?” I held my drink up, indicating the beer, the weed, whatever else they had in there. 

“Isn’t that somewhat irresponsible?” 

“I can handle my substances,” he said, and then his voice was suddenly gruff, almost angry. “I’m not like them—your friends and your boyfriend. I’m nothing like them. I don’t even know what I’m doing here.” 

I felt the heat from his breath on my cheek, slightly cooler than a fire-breathing dragon. He stood up quickly, making the chains on the swing bounce, and went to the edge of the porch. His body was rigid, his fists clenched. He leaned his forearms on the porch railing, looking out onto the street. I wanted to tell him that it was okay. That I knew whatever had made him angry wasn’t directed toward me. That I was angry too. But I wouldn’t even know where to begin. He straightened and gripped the railing with both hands. Then he opened his hands, gripped, opened again. He did this a few times. 

“I’m sorry for that—whatever that was,” he said quietly, “I shouldn’t have said that about them. Your friends are cool. I’m the ass.” 

“It’s okay. I understand,” I said. 

He came back to the swing and sat so close to me that if I moved my knee just a millimeter, we’d be touching. “I think too much,” he said. “I can’t stop. Even getting high. It numbs me, tones things down a little, but not enough.” He put his hands on his head and rubbed the fuzz there. He looked at me, and I tried to read what his eyes were saying. But I found it difficult to concentrate when he was this close to me, when his skin radiated heat toward me. “Why am I telling you this?” He was looking for something from me, like he needed me—me specifically—but I was paralyzed. He kneaded his hands together in his lap and placed them on his knees like he was trying to keep them still. “Do you think too much?” he asked quietly, so quietly I barely heard him. 

“I try not to. Thinking makes everything worse.” “Like what?” he said. “What’s so bad?” His eyes made me want to tell him something. I had to stop that from happening. 

“Nothing,” I said and looked away. 

“Got it,” he said, softly. 

“Maybe you’re too smart.” I wanted to get the conversation back onto him. “That’s why you think so much.” 

“Oh yes,” he said, his lip curling up on one side. “Way too brilliant for my own good, right? It’s a nice theory, but unfortunately I’m not all that smart. I just study a lot.” 

We were both quiet for a few seconds. “Do you remember that summer when we were kids?” he asked abruptly. “When I was at your house with my stepfather?” I nodded. “You told me I had to learn to swim, so I did.” His voice got quiet. “Maybe we could swim sometime.” 

Sebastian and me. Bathing suits. My pool. Together. That would never, ever happen. Suddenly, I felt such a deep loss, I had to blink quickly a few times to make it go away. 

“I don’t swim anymore,” I said. 

“Really? I remember you telling me it was the only thing to do.” 

“Well, I guess it’s not.” He looked at me then like he knew me, like no one had looked at me before. Not Chris, not Rebecca, not anyone in my family. It was freaking me out. It was making my heart stutter. It felt good—it felt horrible. I was in a strange, marvelous, frightening dream. I could hear the voices inside the house and the bass of the music, but it was just background. 

“Macy, I—” And in the same second he said my name, I heard Rebecca yelling it, “Macy!” and then she was at my side. 

“Oh goddammit, I have to talk to you!” she said, slurring her words. No doubt Rebecca was having a Cody crisis. I stared at Sebastian, willing the dream to stay, and yet relieved that I could pull my veil back down. 

“Hey,” Rebecca said to Sebastian, and then, giving me a quick, curious look, “sorry, gotta borrow my girl.” 

“Gimme a minute,” I said to her. “Hurry!” She went back into the house. 

“What were you going to say?” I asked Sebastian, but he wouldn’t meet my eyes. 

“Just that I’ve gotta go,” he said. I stared at him. “My sister,” he said. “Remember?” He walked down the steps. I jumped up from the porch swing and leaned over the railing. He was already on the sidewalk, pulling the earbuds out of his pocket. 

“Do you want me to drive you there?” I called out to him. 

“Isn’t that somewhat irresponsible?” He laughed. “I’ll see ya.” I watched his body disappear down the sidewalk and into the darkness. And then I was alone with this thing—whatever it was—that he’d unleashed, after years of being locked away. 

And that was it. No one saw or heard from him. Nothing. 



"First shot out of the gate, Sinel bravely addresses tough topics, demonstrating that the weight of secrets can pull us under––and their release can save us from drowning." —Holly Schindler, author of A Blue So Dark and Feral

“A bewitching, beautiful, and brave debut. Readers will marvel at Macy's resilience. Natasha Sinel's writing devastates and uplifts, by turns. An important story of one girl's journey to rewrite the blueprint of her own life by facing the truth inside herself.” —Carrie Mesrobian, award-winning author of Sex & Violence and Perfectly Good White Boy

"In her YA debut, Natasha Sinel paints a riveting picture of a teenager haunted by her past and struggling with her present. Macy's world is richly drawn, heartbreakingly real, and difficult to put down. The Fix shines." —I.W. Gregorio, author of None of the Above

Enter to win a copy of The Fix here.

About the Author

Natasha Sinel is a writer of young adult fiction. She graduated from Yale University with a BA in English and from the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business with an MBA. Before beginning her career as an author, she was director of business development at Showtime Networks. Born and raised in Washington, DC, she now lives in northern Westchester, New York, with her husband and three sons.