Playing with Fire April Henry Published by: Henry Holt and Co. (BYR) Publication date: January 19th 2021 Genres: Thriller, Young Adult
When a fire cuts off a popular trail in the Oregon forest, a small group trapped by the flames must find another way out―or die―in Playing with Fire, an unrelenting teen-vs-nature YA thriller by New York Times bestselling author April Henry.
Natalia is not the kind of girl who takes risks. Six years ago, she barely survived the house fire that killed her baby brother. Now she is cautious and always plays it safe. For months, her co-worker Wyatt has begged her to come hiking with him, and Natalia finally agrees.
But when a wildfire breaks out, blocking the trail back, a perfect sunny day quickly morphs into a nightmare. With no cell service, few supplies, and no clear way out of the burning forest, a group of strangers will have to become allies if they’re going to survive. Hiking in the dark, they must reach the only way out―a foot bridge over a deep canyon―before the fire catches them.
April Henry is the New York Times–bestselling author of many acclaimed mysteries for adults and young adults, including the YA novels The Girl in the White Van; Girl, Stolen; The Night She Disappeared; The Girl Who Was Supposed to Die; The Girl I Used to Be, which was nominated for an Edgar Award and won the Anthony Award for Best YA Mystery; Count All Her Bones; The Lonely Dead; Run, Hide, Fight Back; and The Body in the Woods and Blood Will Tell, the first two books in the Point Last Seen series. She lives in Oregon.
Ellinor Rask has wanted one thing for the past eight years: vengeance. But when Ellinor is captured, she finds herself dragged back into the world she walked away from, entangled once more with friends she would rather forget.
As if that weren’t humiliating enough, Ellinor learns first hand that her magic can be stripped away by a piece of bio-tech—and her ex-boss is happy to leash her with the technology in order to get what he wants. If Ellinor behaves, the device will be removed. All she has to do is deliver a package. One containing a creature created from raw magical energy and discarded technology. Simple, right?
But when her goals start getting people murdered, Ellinor has to decide if the year’s planning, her honor, and even her own magic, are worth the lives it’s costing. Dodging ruthless gangsters, she finds herself on the run with a creature of immeasurable magical abilities alongside her one-time friends. Now, Ellinor must relearn to trust the people she once abandoned. She must put her faith in technology, and her life in the hands of independent contractors, all while racing to deliver the package before it gets taken by force, or worse, the creature decides to make an appearance itself.
THIS WAS not the first time Ellinor Olysha Rask found herself bound and chained, and she very much doubted it would be her last. This was the longest she had ever been incarcerated, however.
Ellinor leaned back against the wall and closed her eyes, though it made no difference in the pitch black. She wiggled against the rough wall, never getting comfortable. The restraints clamped over her wrists chaffed at her skin. She lost count of the days she’d been locked in the rank cell, but she supposed it didn’t actually matter how long she’d been there, only how much longer she’d be staying.
She sighed loudly, her patience long gone. Not that she had been blessed with an abundance of composure to begin with, but her restraint had diminished considerably since Misho’s death.
Heaviness settled on her chest and shoulders as she imagined Misho’s disapproving tsk at her current predicament, and her chin started to quiver. Gritting her teeth, she knocked her head against the bumpy wall to focus her thoughts. She always lost control when she thought about Misho Shimizu, and she didn’t want to lose what little control she had left. She needed to conserve her energy.
For what? There’s no telling how long I’ve been here, or who took me. Time to stop waiting.
She hadn’t recognized who grabbed her, or how they had gotten the drop on her. She had been drinking, of course, but no more than usual. One minute, Ellinor was meeting with a contact who had information about the Ashlings she was hunting. Ashlings who needed to answer for what was done to Misho. The next? She couldn’t remember. The air—her own power!—had betrayed her. Everything went white and hazy, and a fog rolled over her memories.
She sat up straighter against the wall, breathing deeply, ignoring the aches and pains of her cramped muscles. Whatever had happened, poisoning or a knock over the head, had left her weak. Concentrating had been a chore, let alone summoning her magic. She knew she wasn’t at full strength, but better to do something than continue to wait around for whoever had nabbed her to remember they had her locked away.
Ellinor had heard of humani, beings like her, who were strong enough in air magic to blow apart buildings, and who had the skill to dismantle the most intricate of machines without destroying any of the delicate parts. Ellinor had never been that strong, nor that finessed with her talents. She had enough of the talent to make her someone most would shy away from, and it had been more than enough for her job. Using the air, she could turn otherwise fatal blows from knives or projectiles away, and coupled with her own abilities for creating mayhem, her magic had served her well, or well enough, until Misho died.
Then her power turned her into someone, something, most didn’t want to talk about. Someone the remainder of her family distanced themselves from. She lived only to avenge Misho.
The seersha, though . . . now they would have no trouble using wind to blow apart this cell, no matter how far underground they’d have to pull the air. They’d be able to use that same current to wrap themselves in an impenetrable force field then simply sail away like some cocky bird.
That didn’t mean she couldn’t cause some trouble, though.
Born and raised in Southern California, Chelscey has stayed within a 60 mile radius of Los Angeles her whole life, something she has been told is rather unique. She attended the University of Southern California for both her undergraduate studies and master’s degree, specializing in Communication Management. Then one day, she moved to New Orleans with her husband, two cats, and her dog. Getting all 5 of them there from Los Angeles to New Orleans becoming an incredible adventure in and of itself. And then doing it again as they returned to Los Angeles two years later was equally as adventuresome.
Chelscey met her husband in high school, embarking on a journey that could best be described as “your grandparents love story”. Meaning that she married her high school sweetheart, she has also been told that this is a terribly romantic story though it all seems rather common place to her. After they both finished college and began working, they got married and adopted 2 cats, because Chelscey’s husband loves cats. Chelscey herself is more of a dog person, but it took them a bit longer to adopt a dog then it did the cats…
Once upon a time Chelscey also worked in the advertising industry. She worked on a wide variety of accounts, everything from fast food, to automotive, and video games. The latter of which was more of her passion as she had researched and written her master’s thesis on if playing video games with your romantic partner helped or hurt the relationship (she found it did neither).
In case you haven’t noticed by now, Chelscey is a proud nerd. She collects the Uncanny X-Men comic book series and plays video games. It made her uniquely qualified to work in the gaming industry on the advertising side of the business. And while she still loves gaming, she became disillusioned with the politics behind advertising and how it affected a medium she considers to have great creative potential. And while Chelscey has always been a passionate lover of writing and reading (particularly Fantasy, Science Fiction, and Historical Fiction) she never thought that she could turn her passion into a career. But opportunity rarely knocks more than once and Chelscey decided to answer the door, even without fully knowing what would lay on the other side.
Chelscey is also a big fan of tattoos (she has several herself) and dying her hair. Currently, Chelscey’s favorite color was her ombre blue mermaid hair. She felt it was important for you to know this.
From Nationally bestselling author Kristina Cook (writing as Kristi Astor) comes this erotic historical/paranormal novella set in Edwardian-era England.
MADELINE: Imprisoned in a loveless marriage, Lady Briarton yearns for escape with a passionate stranger, but her unearthly lover is not who he claims to be. Can she risk her heart–and her very life–with the beautiful Scot who sets her blood and her body on fire, even as he claims the impossible?
SIMON: Forced to roam the earth for more than a century following the Battle of Culloden, Simon McKenzie is a hunter, and the sad, lonely woman walking the grounds of Hartsdale Castle on the Eve of Samhain is his prey…until she lays claim to his heart and shows him that there can be light in his life once more.
She only needs to invite him in…
Simon stood by the edge of woods, his gaze directed toward Hartsdale Castle. He couldn’t see the house—he was too far away for that—but he didn’t need to. He could hear every word spoken in the grand ballroom, could hear the thoughts of every guest present. Silk rustled, slippers scuffed as Lady Hartsdale’s guests swayed and dipped while the orchestra performed, each melody played more enthusiastically than the one before.
Now and again, champagne glasses clinked as toasts were made. Servants passed silver trays filled with delicious culinary enticements. There was laughter, gaiety.
And in the midst of it all was Madeline. Simon inhaled slowly, savoring her scent even across the distance that separated them. He closed his eyes, narrowing his focus like a spyglass in his mind. Every extraneous sound, every sensation faded away till he was left with only Madeline.
There it was, the sound of her breathing, of her heart beating rhythmically against her ribs, of her blood pulsing through her veins.
Her blood. It called to him, a siren’s song meant only for him. If he spoke to her—no more than a whisper in her mind—would she heed his summons?
No. He wanted her to come to him of her own accord. He would not manipulate her, no matter the temptation, damn it.
Just what was it that made him desire her so? He wasn’t certain. And yet he felt somehow…protective of her, which was ironic, given the circumstances. After all, he could end her life in an instant, if he chose to.
But he wouldn’t. He had no wish to. Last night was an anomaly for him. Yes, he’d lured her to the woods. Once he’d sensed her presence, realized she was out walking the grounds past midnight alone, entirely vulnerable, he’d played tricks on her feeble mortal mind, confusing her, drawing her toward his lair.
But then…he’d laid eyes on her, and at once everything changed. He could not explain it—didn’t want to, really—but as they sat there together before the fire, he’d felt almost human for the first time in more than a century. He was no longer a predator in search of prey, but a man bent on courtship.
He’d seen the images in her mind, felt the brunt of the humiliation she’d experienced at her husband’s hands, and he’d felt murderous. Not toward the lovely woman sitting before him, completely unafraid in his presence, but toward the man who had made her feel such shame, such sadness.
No, there was no explanation for it. And yet he knew that he would do everything in his power to have her—to possess her, body and soul; to protect her from threats far greater than him.
If only she would let him.
With a sigh, he leaned back against the rough bark of an enormous old oak, settling in to wait.
She would come—he was sure of it.
Kristina Cook is the author of more than a dozen books for adults and teens, ranging from historical and NASCAR romance to paranormal and contemporary young adult fiction (also writing as Kristi Astor and Kristi Cook). Since the publication of her first novel in 2004, her books (with Kensington/Zebra Books, Harlequin Books, and Simon & Schuster) have hit national bestseller lists, landed on bookseller association lists, and won awards, including the National Reader’s Choice Award.
When she’s not writing a book or reading a book, she’s probably online somewhere, talking about a book. Kristina lives in New York City with her husband and two daughters, but in the summer months escapes with them to sunny Miami, where she lounges on the beach and teaches creative writing classes at Miami-Dade College.