After spending her life in foster care, Ava has finally found home. But all it takes is a chance encounter with hot nerd Wyatt Wilcox for it to unravel.
Now, things are starting to change. First, the flashes of memories slowly creeping in. Memories of other lives, lives that Wyatt is somehow in. Then, the healing. Any cut? Gone.
But when Cade and Nick show up, claiming to be her brothers, things get even weirder. They tell her she's a Phoenix, sent to protect the world from monsters-monsters she never knew existed. It's a little hard to accept. Especially when they tell her she has to end the life of a Phoenix turned rogue, or Cade will die.
With Wyatt's increasingly suspicious behavior, Ava's determined to figure out what he's hiding. Unless she can discover Wyatt's secret in time and complete her Phoenix training, she'll lose the life, love, and family she never thought she could have.
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As far as I could tell, normal people didn't have memories of things that never happened to them, which by nature made me abnormal.
It wasn't the only thing that separated me from being normal, but truthfully, having someone else's flashbacks while in the middle of an argument with my foster parents was a bit more than I could handle right now. Especially when the memories involved me dancing around some maypole with my eyes on a guy I'd never seen before.
The fact that I'd made it to the night before my second year in a row at the same school seemed an impossible feat. Well, almost second year. I'd come in the middle of freshman year The fact that I lived with a family I actually liked — who I thought really liked me — seemed more impossible. Yet I sat on their plush, cream-colored, microfiber sofa, avoiding eye contact and not controlling my tongue.
Why couldn't I just control my tongue?
No matter what, I always ruined everything.
"Ava." Ms. Fields — or Jean — leaned toward me on the sofa, extending her hand across the cushion in between us as if reaching cross a divide. I wanted to grab it. The concern in her eyes looked so genuine. But accepting that connection seemed too risky ... in case I got too attached before they did. "We just want what's best for you."
Of course, she did. They all said that. Every parent in every home said that. And seriously, they didn't even know me. How could they possibly know what was best for me?
Her hand stopped in the center of the cushion, as if asking me to make the decision to trust her.
Not a risk I was willing to take. Where had trust gotten me so far? I looked right into her compassionate eyes. "Right. Danny is allowed to take your SUV and go out with his friends, but I want to go for a run" — by now my voice reached a decibel I wasn't proud of — "and I'm forced to stay here."
Mr. Fields stood. "Listen here, young lady."
Oh no. He'd said, "young lady." That was sure to make me listen. I didn't do threats well. One of my bigger weaknesses, really. And it usually resulted in me acting out in ways contrary to how I felt. Showing affection made me vulnerable. Showing anger — that was my protective armor. I needed it. Which resulted in a glare that I very much regretted, but I was in too deep to back down now. So I punctuated it by narrowing my eyes further.
"Dave." Jean's voice warned him to calm down.
His scowl remained, but he took a deep breath. "We just don't want you running this late at night alone."
"I won't be alone." Lies came so easily now. I closed my eyes, fully aware of the damage I was doing. Unable to stop myself. "Yuki is meeting me."
"Good. Then I'll drop you off at her house and pick you up when you're done." Mr. Fields smacked his palm against the armchair as if it were a done deal.
I blinked, not expecting that answer. "But you have to work early in the morning."
"Ava, your safety is important. We don't want you to be alone."
Alone? I wanted to scream. Why were they suddenly so worried about my being alone? Why did no one seem to understand how fully capable and self- sufficient I was? Why did I have to prove it, when no one even cared where I would end up two years from now? Trust. That they knew what was best for me? Yeah right. I stood, hands fisted. "I can take care of myself."
He sat there, looking stunned. Jean's quiet voice broke in. "I don't know why you push us away."
The words speared my heart. But why expect her to understand? What in her perfect little life with expensive, matching couches and luxury items like throw pillows had ever given her cause to imagine someone wanting to push people they cared about away? Nothing.
I turned toward her and her "help me understand" expression. "I just want to go for a run."
"That's fine, Ava. We just can't let you go alone this late at night."
"Actually, you can't stop me."
Mr. Fields's voice remained calm and collected. "We need you to understand that living under our roof means you obey our rules."
There it was. The ultimatum. The threat I was used to. The reason I pushed people away when I started getting too close. I crossed the buffed faux-oak floor to the double-paned front door and touched the handle. I could apologize. Let them win. They'd likely smother me with hugs. They might even set me down in the kitchen and place a bowl of ice cream in front of me. A scenario I'd dreamed of so many times.
My heart clutched, and I opened the door.
Mr. Fields promised what I feared. "Ava, don't you dare leave this house."
I faced him. "Or what? You'll send me away?"
He opened his mouth in stunned silence. I slammed the door behind me and raced out into the night.
Free of the confines of the brick and mortar that housed expensive furniture and immaculate rooms, my walls wanted to crumble. Out here, in the open, I could almost be free. Almost. In this suburbia where I didn't belong, I still felt suffocated. I needed the woods.
The reason they didn't want me out here was because I was drawn to the trees, especially at night. Where I could be alone. Where I could unravel. That unnerved them, not that anything bad ever happened around here. It was nice of them to care about my safety. Kind of them to offer to drive me to Yuki's. I could almost imagine them as my parents. Almost allow myself to hope the word "adoption" would come up. But after tonight, how much more patient would they be with me? I couldn't control my tongue, my only weapon for protecting my fragile emotions.
The night air filled my lungs. Sweat dripped down my back. The rhythmic sound of my shoes hitting the pavement joined my breathing, and the waxing moon lit my path. Trees beckoned me ahead. Soon the crunch of dirt and gravel would echo under my shoes, and trees, with their cooling mists, would surround me. Wrap around me like a security blanket.
And why wouldn't the woods be my safe place. I'd been found here. A four-year-old, lost and alone, walking away from a fire. I might not remember anything about my life before that moment, but dozens of foster homes since? I remembered them.
The forest was my only stable environment.
A rabbit bolted, its lean body rushing in zigzags as it ran past. Headlights left a golden gleam on the outline of its lithe body. One thing separated me from the dirt road surrounded by trees and the heartbeat of freedom: this road. The only car I could see was still far enough away. I picked up my pace and raced across the street.
The headlights swerved as soon as I was in front of them, though I was nowhere near them. Tires screeched against the pavement. My heart thudded against my chest as I slowed and turned — planted in the middle of the street. In slow motion, the black SUV careened toward the streetlight right across the street from where I stood, not losing enough speed. No. No, no, no. I knew that car.
Helplessly, I watched as it smashed into the light pole. And I saw the driver.
"Danny!" I didn't recognize my scream until I heard my words hanging in the humid air.
I headed toward the SUV.
Something warm gripped my arm — someone's hand — and stopped me from getting to the SUV. "Ava."
The blare of a honking horn cut through my clouded worry. Blinding lights headed straight for me. Fast. Another vehicle. Why weren't they slowing down? That car veered, too, and headed right for Danny's car.
The strong grip jerked me backward. I stumbled into another human being. Warm arms squeezed me close and guided me away from the second inevitable crash.
The awful crunch and squeal of bending metal ripped through the night. New fear, primal fear, gripped me. I screamed Danny's name and pushed against the wet T-shirt of whomever protected me. His hold encircled me and pushed me closer to the ground. Shards of metal and glass rained against leaves and tree trunks, leaving gashes in the bark. Pieces had to be hitting the guy who held me. I closed my eyes and covered my ears. This could not be happening.
An instant later, he let go and pressed a phone into my hand. It was ringing.
I looked up, for the first time catching his face. Blue eyes, messy, brown hair. He was missing his signature geek glasses, but I knew him. Wyatt. Wyatt Wilcox.
He pointed to the phone. "It's 911." Then he raced toward the wreckage. Fresh blood on the back of his T-shirt glistened in the streetlight.
"911, what's your emergency?"
"I — I just witnessed a car crash." I tried to stand, but my whole body shook, and I knelt in the thick grass. Something sharp bit into my knee. I shifted my position, too weak to stand back up.
"Ma'am, is anyone hurt? Where are you?"
Her barrage of questions continued, along with that soothing voice of hers. I had to stand up. I had to see if my foster brother was alive.
Wyatt pulled the door to the SUV and it snapped off. A huge crack rattled through everything. Bloody arms reached out of the vehicle and grabbed Wyatt's shirt.
"Hey, Danny, just relax, and don't move. Okay? Help is coming."
Help was coming. My stomach roiled.
The Fieldses would never forgive me now. And I couldn't blame them.
* * *
There was still blood in between my fingernails from holding Danny's hand. I gripped the Styrofoam coffee cup, watching the liquid tremble with my shaking. My heartbeat pounded in my throbbing knee — from where I'd knelt on a shard of glass or something — keeping me aware of the slow passage of time. The heavy smell of antiseptic stung my nostrils every time a nurse walked past. How long were Jean and Dave going to keep me waiting out here before they told me what state Danny was in?
This was all my fault.
The fight. The running away — again. If I hadn't crossed the street, the cars wouldn't have swerved. Danny wouldn't have hit the pole. I always ruined everything.
"It's not your fault." Wyatt's steady voice reminded me for the third time.
How did he keep doing that?
I looked at him, sitting next to me, watching me with those big blue eyes — darker in this light. I don't think I ever noticed the color behind his glasses before. Then again, I'd never really looked.
His elbows rested on his knees, and his hands were cupped together. Red stained the front of his shirt where Danny had grabbed him. He wore a hoodie now that covered most of it. He zipped it up higher.
I stopped staring and looked back at my coffee cup. "It is my fault."
"You crossed the street. He was drunk. Any sober driver wouldn't have swerved and lost control like that."
"The other guy —"
"I'm sure the other guy's fine." He tipped his head up and I followed his gaze. Jean and Dave walked toward me. I barely registered Wyatt sliding the coffee cup from my hands as I sprang out of my chair. "Danny?"
Jean wrapped her arm around me. Her red-rimmed eyes made it clear she'd been crying. "Danny's going to be okay. He cracked a few ribs, and they cleaned and stitched up the gash in his arm. He's really lucky."
"The other guy?" My voice shook.
Jean smoothed my hair and squeezed my hand. "He hit his head, but otherwise, he's fine. They were both drunk, sweetie."
Relief warmed my veins. "Good." I stared at Jean, sure my eyes were wide. "I mean, not that they were drunk."
She smiled sadly and brushed my tangled hair out of my face. "I think you should head home and get some rest."
"Is asleep now. He'll be here tomorrow."
Dave extended his hand and Wyatt shook it. I didn't know he'd followed, but knowing he stood behind me made me relax for some reason.
Dave motioned to me, but his gaze was still locked on Wyatt. "I'm glad you were with her. She's been insisting that she's not running alone, but I had my doubts."
Jean rubbed my arm and leaned closer. "You didn't tell us your running partner was a boy. Did you think we'd disapprove?"
Oh, this was good. "Jean, Dave, this is Wyatt. He's a friend from school." I glanced over my shoulder in time to catch Wyatt raise his eyebrows. I stared at him, pleading.
He recovered quickly and smiled at my foster parents. "Nice to see you."
"You should come by again sometime, Wyatt." Jean patted his cheek. "We can give you kids a ride home. Just give us a minute to settle things here." Her voice wavered.
I glanced at Wyatt. There was no reason for him to be stuck in this mess. But I was still shaken, and having him here helped. Perhaps because he'd protected me. I caught myself staring at him, and my face flushed as I turned away.
The recent memories of tonight came careening back. Cars screeching, metal bending, glass shattering. I squeezed my eyes closed.
"I'll go home with you, sweetheart." Jean wrapped me in a hug, and my knees weakened.
"No. I'm okay." A lump in my throat made my voice squeak. Danny was her son. And it was okay. I really didn't need anyone. "You stay. I'll be fine."
She looked at Wyatt. "Will you stay with her? Just until we get home."
Dave's eyes popped open wide. "Jean, what are you —"
"Look at her, Dave. She's terrified."
Dave pulled Jean aside. "He's a teenage boy." They wandered farther away from us, continuing the conversation.
"We'll have to start showing her we trust her if we're going to expect the same from her." Jean's words caused me to flinch. Would they trust me?
Wyatt chuckled and leaned a little closer. "Do they really think we can't hear them?"
I laughed, and it felt good. Like something wound tight inside me uncoiled. "I think so."
"I'll tell them I can stay with you, then I'll just go home. If — if that's what you want."
I glanced over my shoulder at his tall, surprisingly muscular frame. "You were spectacular tonight."
His eyes met mine and seemed to smile. "You shouldn't run alone."
"Are you seriously lecturing me right now? Because I've seen you running alone on numerous occasions."
His eyes widened. "You've seen me?"
"Is that why you don't wave back?"
He chuckled. "That's a wave? Because I thought it was just the way you let your hands flop all over when you run."
"I do not let my hands flop all over." I made to shove him, but his hands flew up protectively, so I pushed his arms instead. "Good reflexes."
The smile left. "Yeah."
Jean and Dave walked back over to us, and Dave offered the keys to his Mercedes-Benz. "Go home. Get some rest. And if you don't want to be alone, give us a call." He swallowed. "Wyatt can stay until we get there."
Jean stood behind him, arms crossed, nodding her approval. I wanted to fling my arms around her and thank her for giving me a way out of that awful place. Hospitals tended to give me nightmares after — well, after spending so much time in one as a kid. Instead, I took the keys and headed to the parking garage, Wyatt following. The stupid pain in my knee made me walk a little slower. I needed to get peroxide on that. No way I'd ask here, though. They'd likely put me in a room and make me see a doctor. No thank you.
I glanced at Wyatt. "Thanks for helping my foster brother."
"Any normal person would have done what I did."
"Normal. No. I don't think so. You were — amazing." Images of Danny screaming, panicking, shot through my mind. Wyatt had calmed him. Gotten him to relax. Gotten me to relax when I saw my foster brother all banged up and bloody in the car. "And thanks for not ratting me out to my foster parents — about running alone."
"Amazing is overselling it. But you're welcome." One side of his mouth curved up in a smile.
Wyatt the geek. I'd heard the name thrown around the dinner table when I first started living with the Fieldses. Tonight it had been clear that Jean and Dave knew him. "Why aren't you Danny's friend anymore?"
He shrugged. "People stop being friends sometimes."
I supposed. I hadn't really lived in a place long enough to make long-term friends, but I never imagined that people who still went to the same school and saw each other regularly could just stop being friends.
The parking garage was pretty empty, and finding the Mercedes was easy. I clicked the unlock button and the car's lights flashed. Like headlights. Memories of tonight rushed back. Headlights swerving. Metal bending. Glass shattering. Shaking, I looked down at my hands. The bloodstains on my shirt, brown in the pale yellow light of the parking garage, stole my breath.
Excerpted from "Phoenix Fire"
Copyright © 2018 S. D. Grimm.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Phoenix Fire is the first book in the Phoenix Cycle series by S.D. Grimm. You don't see many Phoenixes in fiction, at least not as main characters, and I really loved that they were front and center in this book. I only know the basics of their mythology, and I love how they were completely brought to life in the present day. The character's each had a history too, and we got to know them quite well as memories of their past lives resurfaced. They were each a part of a larger puzzle, and it was an adventure in itself as all the pieces started to come together. There were a few surprises thrown in too. I'm very excited about this series, and I can't wait to see how it all unfolds in the upcoming books. Phoenix Fire by S.D. Grimm was kindly provided to me by the publisher for review. The opinions are my own.
Phoenix Fire is the start of a new series. It's a suspense mystery romance novel. It's gritty, action-packed and unique. This is the first Phoenix novel I've read and the story was very interesting. The Phoenix is a fascinating Greek mythological creature. The bird is said to live over and over again, hence this series is called Phoenix cycle. As this book unravels we see how finding your path in life can be tricky even with a do-over. Ava doesn't know her family. She had been in the foster system and has grown a hard outer shell. The field family are in the process of offering Ava a forever home but she finds it difficult to trust. She doesn't want to be let down. She has a foster brother and a best friend, Yuki. She is settled the best she can be but doesn't rely on anyone. She starts to have flashbacks of former life's. How is it possible to know someone before you meet them? Wyatt helps Ava in her time of need but he's worse than a Katie Perry song. He's always flashing hot and cold. Cade and Nick are on a mission to find their sister. They need her help. Cade is her twin and is also having flashbacks but his memories come with consequences. These two need to gain Ava's trust and help her uncover the truth. They are Phoenix's and fight monsters. The ultimate monster is on its way and they need to be prepared. This book is written from multiple points of views. The story slowly unravels and is full of mystery. Some of the memories are a little gruesome and Wyatt is mysterious, I couldn't work him out. This is a romance novel, however, it's more about family and monsters. Wyatt's character becomes clear, and his reason for being strange, but I found his cold spells a bit of a turn-off. By the end of the book, he was one of my least favourite characters. Ava has a lot going for her. She's a brave heroine and ready for action. She has some tough decisions. This book was a good start to a series and hopefully, the writer can make up for Wyatt's lack of spirit in the next book. The story was engaging and there are lots of interesting personalities. 4 stars out of 5. *I received an ARC in exchange for an honest review.
in phoenix fire, book one of the phoenix cycle series, we learn that ava, cade, and nick are sibling phoenixes who are stuck on a loop trying to hunt down one dark phoenix that threatens all of humanity. the problem is that other than nick, no one else quite remembers what is happening or what they are or what it is they have to fight against. there are other complications too. ava is drawn to wyatt, but he has some secrets of his own. is he working with the phoenixes or against them. everything in ava says he is trustworthy, but the memories of their shared pasts are murky and his while he seems to care for ava, it's not clear that his intentions are honorable. cade for his part can't control his powers well, events from past lives have left him weaker and at a disadvantage when trying to recoup his memories. his connection with ava's friend yuki also stretches back to other lives, and she possibly has the key to the secret that will save them all. and nick, who knows everything including where this should end is surprised by his connection to wyatt's sister kelsey and how she reminds him of the girl he loved so long ago. there's romance and drama and twists aplenty, and i can't wait for the battle to save the world in subsequent books. **phoenix fire published on march 5, 2018. i received an advance reader copy courtesy of netgalley/entangled publishing (entangled teen) in exchange for my honest review.
This book was super easy to get into. There is a ton of gut-wrenching moments in the first few chapters that help to set the tone for the rest of the book. I really liked the supernatural aspects of the story surrounding the Phoenix and the concept of re-birth in our characters. At first, I thought this story was going to hit more on the suspense side of things, but there becomes a romantic, thriller undertone. The characters had me hooked. It was a little obvious what was going to happen within those first chapters, but it was fun to se how they progress. I also liked the relationship between all of the characters. This story does focus on the idea of family. The main character does struggle with foster care and the identity-searching which comes with it. But it was the unique, supernatural powers of the Phoenix which sold me through this book. I gave this one a 4 out of 5 stars. There are these mysterious monsters creatures introduced with the two brothers’ perspectives. Being able to watch the main character discover her powers and what is really envisioned for her life was fun and made the book easy to read. Also, what made this book stand out to me was the idea of the love-interest isn’t necessarily the Jock/Pretty-Boy. He’s a little more geeky than that. --Treestand Book Reviews, 6 March 2018 *Disclaimer: I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All of my book reviews contain my opinion only and are not influenced in any way.*
Thanks to NetGalley and Entangled Publishing for the opportunity to read and review Phoenix Fire by S.D. Grimm. The story drew me in, during the first chapter, as I read about Ava who lives in a foster home, has memories that aren’t her own and witnesses a car crash involving her foster brother. The second chapter introduces Cade and Nick and an entire world of hunting monsters and I was instantly immersed! Ava’s schoolmate, Wyatt, helped her after the crash and he seems to have a mystery of his own. The chapters alternate through Ava, Cade and Nick, all in first person point of view. Ava and Cade have forgotten about monsters and their Phoenix history, but Nick remembers and reveals the story elements through his narrative. Nick is always the first to remember who he is and what his family’s mission is and he’s alone as he wakes up his memories. He then has to search for his twin siblings, Ava and Cade, and help them remember, as gently as possible, so they don’t fall under harm. Their pasts slowly reveal themselves through each of their experiences as they relive their memories. Transitioning that flows smoothly between characters and memories builds the mythological, paranormal world of Phoenix Fire. Supernatural intensity and characters that are complex and endearing rate 5 stars! *I received a complimentary copy of this book for voluntary review consideration.
"Phoenix Fire" is a great YA paranormal romance about a new kind of creature (which really makes it very original all around). Phoenixes are humans that have special powers to fight creatures of darkness (vampires, werewolves, shadow creatures, etc.). They can heal extremely fast, move with extreme speed, and create a fire- they also regenerate when they die into a young child in some time and place that will eventually receive their memories of past lives in the teenage years (around 16). They can also be Givers or Takers- Givers can make humans into phoenixes while Takers can end a phoenix forever- no more coming back. Here, we follow a few points-of-view- primarily Ava, a 16-year-old foster child who has been bounced around the system after she was found stepping out of the woods alone at 4 years of age. We also follow Nick and Cade, her brothers and also phoenixes. Ava also finds herself drawn to a mysterious teenage boy, Wyatt, whom she remembers from past lives. Oh yeah, and she finds out that she is going to have to fight a Dark Phoenix that has been stopping her in all her past lives. The paranormal aspects of the book were spot on, and I really enjoyed learning about these different creatures. The romance was also lovely- you really root for Wyatt and Ava. Although, I will say, there is a secret which is hidden about them for a long time and hinted at for so long that it does become a little frustrating (if you are like me and want all the answers). Speaking of that, all the answers about everything are not given in this first book, and it seems like it is holding out for the next book (especially about Cade and his love interest- who might feature in the next book? I am guessing...). The beginning was also a little slow as we uncover the truths alongside Ava, but I did not mind overall, because it really picks up well later on. I really enjoyed this book, and I can't wait for the next in the series! I highly recommend to all YA fantasy readers looking for something truly unique! Please note that I received an ARC from the publisher through netgalley. All opinions are my own.
This book was a thrilling ride from start to finish. I could not put this book down once I started reading it. Ava is a teenager who has spent her life in the foster care system. She has no memories before she was four and found in the woods. Ava begins to have flashes of memories involving Wyatt, her foster brother's ex-best friend, and Cade, the new guy that is hiding something. Ava needs to remember her past lives as a Phoenix in order to stay alive in this life. I have not read a book with such an original idea in a very long time. I was hooked from the first chapter. I loved the fact the book is written in multiple first person points of view. Everyone was keeping secrets, but the reader knew what was going on the whole time. I am so excited this is book one in a series. I can't wait to see what is in store for everyone in the next book. I reviewed this book after getting an Advanced Readers Copy.