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Saturday, December 26, 2020

Book Review: Crave by Tracy Wolff

Crave (Crave #1) by Tracy Wolff
Genre: Young Adult (Paranormal Romance)
Date Published: April 7, 2020
Publisher: Entangled: Teen

My whole world changed when I stepped inside the academy. Nothing is right about this place or the other students in it. Here I am, a mere mortal among gods…or monsters. I still can’t decide which of these warring factions I belong to, if I belong at all. I only know the one thing that unites them is their hatred of me.

Then there’s Jaxon Vega. A vampire with deadly secrets who hasn’t felt anything for a hundred years. But there’s something about him that calls to me, something broken in him that somehow fits with what’s broken in me.

Which could spell death for us all.

Because Jaxon walled himself off for a reason. And now someone wants to wake a sleeping monster, and I’m wondering if I was brought here intentionally—as the bait.

Crave is the first book in the Crave series by Tracy Wolff. I've been excited to read this book for a while, and I finally did it. This one did not disappoint! It reminded me quite a bit of Twilight in the beginning and maybe a time or two throughout the story as well. Jaxon, especially reminded me of Edward. But, I feel like there is enough different to really carry this series, and I'm excited to see where it goes. I enjoyed the characters quite a bit, even the supporting characters had something to offer the story as a whole. That ending, folks!? I can't wait to start the next book!

If You’re Not Living
on the Edge, You’re
Taking Up Too Much Space
I stand at the outer tarmac door staring at the plane I am about to get on and try my hardest not to freak out.
It’s easier said than done.
Not just because I’m about to leave behind everything I know, though up until two minutes ago, that was my main concern. Now, though, as I stare at this plane that I’m not even sure deserves the dignity of being called a plane, a whole new level of panic is setting in.
“So, Grace.” The man my uncle Finn sent to pick me up looks down at me with a patient smile. Philip, I think he said his name was, but I can’t be sure. It’s hard to hear him over the wild beating of my heart. “Are you ready for an adventure?”
No. No, I am not the least bit ready—for an adventure or anything else that’s about to come my way.
If you had told me a month ago that I would be standing on the outskirts of an airport in Fairbanks, Alaska, I would’ve said that you were misinformed. And if you had told me that the whole reason I was in Fairbanks was to catch the tiniest puddle jumper in existence to what feels like the very edge of the world—or, in this case, a town on the edge of Denali, the highest mountain in North America—I would have said that you were high as a freaking kite.
But a lot can change in thirty days. And even more can get ripped away.
In fact, the only thing I have been able to count on these past few weeks is that no matter how bad things are, they can always get worse…

Landing Is Just Throwing
Yourself at the Ground and
Hoping You Don’t Miss
“There she is,” Philip says as we clear the peaks of several mountains, taking one hand off the steering column to point to a small collection of buildings in the distance. “Healy, Alaska. Home sweet home.”
“Oh, wow. It looks…” Tiny. It looks really, really tiny. Way smaller than just my neighborhood in San Diego, let alone the whole city.
Then again, it’s pretty hard to see much of anything from up here. Not because of the mountains that loom over the area like long-forgotten monsters but because we’re in the middle of a weird kind of haze that Philip refers to as “civil twilight” even though it’s barely five o’clock. Still, I can see well enough to make out that the so-called town he’s pointing at is full of mismatched buildings randomly grouped together.
I finally settle on, “Interesting. It looks…interesting.”
It’s not the first description that popped into my head—no, that was the old cliché that hell has actually frozen over—but it is the most polite one as Philip drops even lower, preparing for what I’m pretty sure will be yet another harrowing incident in the list of harrowing incidents that have plagued me since I got on the first of three planes ten hours ago.
Sure enough, I’ve only just spotted what passes for an airport in this one-thousand-person town (thank you, Google) when Philip says, “Hang on, Grace. It’s a short runway because it’s hard to keep a long one clear of snow or ice for any amount of time out here. It’s going to be a quick landing.”
I have no idea what a “quick landing” means, but it doesn’t sound good. So I grab the bar on the plane door, which I’m pretty sure exists for just this very reason, and hold on tight as we drop lower and lower.
“Okay, kid. Here goes nothing!” Philip tells me. Which, by the way, definitely makes the top five things you don’t ever want to hear your pilot say while you’re still in the air.
The ground looms white and unyielding below us, and I squeeze my eyes shut.
Seconds later, I feel the wheels skip across the ground. Then Philip hits the brakes hard enough to slam me forward so fast that my seat belt is the only thing keeping my head from meeting the control panel. The plane whines—not sure what part of it is making that horrendous noise or if it’s a collective death knell—so I choose not to focus on it.
Especially when we start skidding to the left.
I bite my lip, keep my eyes squeezed firmly shut even as my heart threatens to burst out of my chest. If this is the end, I don’t need to see it coming.
The thought distracts me, has me wondering just what my mom and dad might have seen coming, and by the time I shut down that line of thinking, Philip has the plane sliding to a shaky, shuddering halt.
I know exactly how it feels. Right now, even my toes are trembling.
I peel my eyes open slowly, resisting the urge to pat myself down to make sure I really am still in one piece. But Philip just laughs and says, “Textbook landing.”
Maybe if that textbook is a horror novel. One he’s reading upside down and backward.
I don’t say anything, though. Just give him the best smile I can manage and grab my backpack from under my feet. I pull out the pair of gloves Uncle Finn sent me and put them on. Then I push open the plane door and jump down, praying the whole time that my knees will support me when I hit the ground.
They do, just barely.
After taking a few seconds to make sure I’m not going to crumble—and to pull my brand-new coat more tightly around me because it’s literally about eight degrees out here—I head to the back of the plane to get the three suitcases that are all that is left of my life.
I feel a pang looking at them, but I don’t let myself dwell on everything I had to leave behind, any more than I let myself dwell on the idea of strangers living in the house I grew up in. After all, who cares about a house or art supplies or a drum kit when I’ve lost so much more?
Instead, I grab a bag out of what passes for the tiny airplane’s cargo hold and wrestle it to the ground. Before I can reach for the second, Philip is there, lifting my other two suitcases like they’re filled with pillows instead of everything I own in the world.
“Come on, Grace. Let’s go before you start to turn blue out here.” He nods toward a parking lot—not even a building, just a parking lot—about two hundred yards away, and I want to groan. It’s so cold out that now I’m shaking for a whole different reason. How can anyone live like this? It’s unreal, especially considering it was seventy degrees where I woke up this morning.
There’s nothing to do but nod, though, so I do. Then grab onto the handle of my suitcase and start dragging it toward a small patch of concrete that I’m pretty sure passes for an airport in Healy. It’s a far cry from San Diego’s bustling terminals.
Philip overtakes me easily, a large suitcase dangling from each hand. I start to tell him that he can pull the handles out and roll them, but the second I step off the runway and onto the snowy ground that surrounds it in all directions, I figure out why he’s carrying them—it’s pretty much impossible to roll a heavy suitcase over snow.
I’m near frozen by the time we make it halfway to the (thankfully still plowed) parking lot, despite my heavy jacket and synthetic fur–lined gloves. I’m not sure what I’m supposed to do from here, how I’m supposed to get to the boarding school my uncle is headmaster of, so I turn to ask Philip if Uber is even a thing up here. But before I can get a word out, someone steps from behind one of the pickup trucks in the lot and rushes straight toward me.
I think it’s my cousin, Macy, but it’s hard to tell, considering she’s covered from head to toe in protective weather gear.
“You’re here!” the moving pile of hats, scarves, and jackets says, and I was right—it’s definitely Macy.
“I’m here,” I agree dryly, wondering if it’s too late to reconsider foster care. Or emancipation. Any living situation in San Diego has got to be better than living in a town whose airport consists of one runway and a tiny parking lot. Heather is going to die when I text her.
“Finally!” Macy says, reaching out for a hug. It’s a little awkward, partly because of all the clothes she’s wearing and partly because—despite being a year younger than my own seventeen years—she’s about eight inches taller than I am. “I’ve been waiting for more than an hour.”
I hug her back but let go quickly as I answer. “Sorry, my plane was late from Seattle. The storm there made it hard to take off.”
“Yeah, we hear that a lot,” she tells me with a grimace. “Pretty sure their weather is even worse than ours.”
I want to argue—miles of snow and enough protective gear to give astronauts pause seem pretty freaking awful to me. But I don’t know Macy all that well, despite the fact that we’re cousins, and the last thing I want to do is offend her. Besides Uncle Finn and now Philip, she is the only other person I know in this place.
Not to mention the only family I have left.
Which is why, in the end, I just shrug.
It must be a good enough answer, though, because she grins back at me before turning to Philip, who is still carrying my suitcases. “Thanks so much for picking her up, Uncle Philip. Dad says to tell you he owes you a case of beer.”
“No worries, Mace. Had to run a few errands in Fairbanks anyway.” He says it so casually, like hopping in a plane for a couple-hundred-mile round-trip journey is no big deal. Then again, out here where there’s nothing but mountains and snow in all directions, maybe it’s not. After all, according to Wikipedia, Healy has only one major road in and out of it, and in the winter sometimes even that gets closed down.
I’ve spent the last month trying to imagine what that looks like. What it is like.
I guess I’m about to find out.
“Still, he says he’ll be around Friday with that beer so you guys can watch the game in true BFF style.” She turns to me. “My dad’s really upset he couldn’t make it out to pick you up, Grace. There was an emergency at the school that no one else could deal with. But he told me to get him the second we make it back.”
“No worries,” I tell her. Because what else am I supposed to say? Besides, if I’ve learned anything in the month since my parents died, it’s just how little most things matter.
Who cares who picks me up as long as I get to the school?
Who cares where I live if it’s not going to be with my mom and dad?
Philip walks us to the edge of the cleared parking lot before finally letting go of my suitcases. Macy gives him a quick hug goodbye, and I shake his hand, murmur, “Thanks for coming to get me.”
“Not a problem at all. Any time you need a flight, I’m your man.” He winks, then heads back to the tarmac to deal with his plane.
We watch him go for a couple of seconds before Macy grabs the handles on both suitcases and starts rolling them across the tiny parking lot. She gestures for me to do the same with the one I’m holding on to, so I do, even though a part of me wants nothing more than to run back onto the tarmac with Philip, climb back into that tiny plane, and demand to be flown back to Fairbanks. Or, even better, back home to San Diego.
It’s a feeling that only gets worse when Macy says, “Do you need to pee? It’s a good ninety-minute ride to the school from here.”
Ninety minutes? That doesn’t seem possible when the whole town looks like we could drive it in fifteen, maybe twenty minutes at the most. Then again, when we were flying over, I didn’t see any building remotely big enough to be a boarding school for close to four hundred teenagers, so maybe the school isn’t actually in Healy.
I can’t help but think of the mountains and rivers that surround this town in all directions and wonder where on earth I’m going to end up before this day is through. And where exactly she expects me to pee out here anyway.
“I’m okay,” I answer after a minute, even as my stomach somersaults and pitches nervously.
This whole day has been about getting here, and that was bad enough. But as we roll my suitcases through the semi-darkness, the well-below-freezing air slapping at me with each step we take, everything gets superreal, superfast. Especially when Macy walks through the entire parking lot to the snowmobile parked just beyond the edge of the pavement.
At first, I think she’s joking around, but then she starts loading my suitcases onto the attached sled and it occurs to me that this is really happening. I’m really about to ride a snowmobile in the near dark through Alaska in weather that is more than twenty degrees below freezing, if the app on my phone can be believed.
All that’s missing is the wicked witch cackling that she’s going to get me and my little dog, too. Then again, at this point, that would probably be redundant.
I watch with a kind of horrified fascination as Macy straps my suitcases to the sled. I should probably offer to help, but I wouldn’t even know where to begin. And since the last thing I want is for the few belongings I have left in the world to be strewn across the side of a mountain, I figure if there was ever a time to leave things to the experts, this is it.
“Here, you’re going to need these,” Macy tells me, opening up the small bag that was already strapped to the sled when we got out here. She rummages around for a second before pulling out a pair of heavy snow pants and a thick wool scarf. They are both hot pink, my favorite color when I was a kid but not so much now. Still, it’s obvious Macy remembered that from the last time I saw her, and I can’t help being touched as she holds them out to me.
“Thanks.” I give her the closest thing to a smile I can manage.
After a few false starts, I manage to pull the pants on over the thermal underwear and fleece pajama pants with emojis on them (the only kind of fleece pants I own) that I put on at my uncle’s instruction before boarding the plane in Seattle. Then I take a long look at the way Macy’s rainbow-colored scarf is wrapped around her neck and face and do the same thing with mine.
It’s harder than it looks, especially trying to get it positioned well enough to keep it from sliding down my nose the second I move.
Eventually, I manage it, though, and that’s when Macy reaches for one of the helmets draped over the snowmobile’s handles.
“The helmet is insulated, so it will help keep you warm as well as protect your head in case of a crash,” she instructs. “Plus, it’s got a shield to protect your eyes from the cold air.”
“My eyes can freeze?” I ask, more than a little traumatized, as I take the helmet from her and try to ignore how hard it is to breathe with the scarf over my nose.
“Eyes don’t freeze,” Macy answers with a little laugh, like she can’t help herself. “But the shield will keep them from watering and make you more comfortable.”
“Oh, right.” I duck my head as my cheeks heat up. “I’m an idiot.”
“No you’re not.” Macy wraps an arm around my shoulders and squeezes tight. “Alaska is a lot. Everyone who comes here has a learning curve. You’ll figure it all out soon enough.”
I’m not holding my breath on that one—I can’t imagine that this cold, foreign place will ever feel familiar to me—but I don’t say anything. Not when Macy has already done so much to try and make me feel welcome.
“I’m really sorry you had to come here, Grace,” she continues after a second. “I mean, I’m really excited that you’re here. I just wish it wasn’t because…” Her voice drifts off before she finishes the sentence. But I’m used to that by now. After weeks of having my friends and teachers tiptoe around me, I’ve learned that no one wants to say the words.
Still, I’m too exhausted to fill in the blanks. Instead, I slip my head in the helmet and secure it the way Macy showed me.
“Ready?” she asks once I’ve got my face and head as protected as they’re going to get.
The answer hasn’t changed since Philip asked me that same question in Fairbanks. Not even close. “Yeah. Absolutely.”
I wait for Macy to climb on the snowmobile before getting on behind her.
“Hold on to my waist!” she shouts as she turns it on, so I do. Seconds later, we’re speeding into the darkness that stretches endlessly in front of us.
I’ve never been more terrified in my life.

Have you read the other books in this series?

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Tracy Wolff is a lover of vampires, dragons, and all things that go bump in the night. A onetime English professor, she now devotes all her time to writing dark and romantic stories with tortured heroes and kick-butt heroines. She has written all her sixty-plus novels from her home in Austin, Texas, which she shares with her family.

To learn more about Tracy Wolff and her books, visit her website. You can also find her on Goodreads, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
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