Tuesday, November 26, 2019

Proximity: If the Police Always Know Where I Am... How Did I Kill You? (R&R Book Tours Review)

Alright y'all, This is another one coming to me from across the pond. Jem Tugwell has already become a huge hit in the UK with this beauty. It is classified as a techno thriller however I didn't notice much of a sci-fi aspect during the whole story. I am super grateful to be part of the blog tour put together by Reads and Reels log tours. I have a great feeling that once you finish this review you will want your own copy. So let's just dive right on into it shall we?

Picture a world where cell phones are no longer needed, crime rate is at a bare minimum, and everybody can be tracked through a system called iMe. If you are a Futurama fan then just picture the episode with the eye phones. If you have never seen the episode I'm talking about, then imagine having your screen of your phone and computer system being in your head. That is exactly what is happening in this tale about DI Clive Lussac and DI Zoe Jordan.

Set in the UK Clive and Zoe are about to have their first murder case and over 10 years. Clive currently works and what is called the PCU (proximity crimes unit), which normally handles crimes such as theft, assault, muggings, and murder. However ever since the government got involved with the iMe system it has basically become a go between for reports and tracking down people at a crime scene. Clive is the last officer inside of PCU besides Zoe who is only there as part of her rotation from cyber crimes.

It is just a typical day for Clive and Zoe when they receive a missing persons report. Just as they start thinking it was simply somebody outside of their signal range so they call tech support who tells them that they are working on it. Before they can just shrug it off, the boyfriend of Karina Morgan calls to find out why she hasn't been found yet. When Clive and Zoe try to locate Karina using her IME signal it comes up with nothing. Not any kind of trace can be found for her. Which is nearly impossible in this scenario.

Once at Karina's place they talk to Dave, Karina's boyfriend, and find out that she designs Sentiments (The iMe's version of a mood update that is constantly live for the user) in Windsor. She is usually home by 6:00 p.m. every night unless she has a networking event. As far as Dave knows there is no event scheduled for last night.

On the way back to the office, DCS Bhatt calls Clive and Zoe to come to her office when they get back. They tell Bhatt everything they have so far but it isn't much. They still cannot figure out how Karina signal went from 100% to 0% when she arrived home at 5:37 p.m. last night.

Bhatt says there's only two scenarios here: there's a technical error as iMe tech support suggested or Karina is really missing and her captor has managed to block her signal. Either way the case needs to be solved fast to avoid a media induced chaos.

The next day Clive and Zoe go to see Art Walker, the head of iMe, who acts like there is no way anybody could disappear on his flawless system. Especially since all recent testing and updates conducted by test manager Emma Bailey have come back with no issues reported. However it is not a complete wasted trip when Art slips and says that somebody of strategic importance could hide their signal if they had the proper clearance. Before dismissing Clive and Zoe, Art tells them he can have tech support confirm or deny if there is an encrypted signal for Karina but no further details can be released for her privacy.

The next day while waiting for an answer about the encryption signal from IME tech support, Clive brings up checking the CCTV (closed circuit tv city security system) but that they probably haven't been used in forever. Zoe decides to go down to the Windsor and Maidenhead Borough Council in person after all her phone calls about the CCTV go unanswered or unreturned. Unfortunately she gets told that CCTV system was shut down a while ago but the cameras were never removed to save money and to deter crimes in certain areas.

Zoe goes back to the office and updates Clive about the cameras not being an option for them to use. In response Clive suggests they go out for a pub lunch where they see a breaking news story about the Junior Tech Minister Alan Kane has been reported missing. Alan was supposed to show up for a briefing multicast, and when he didn't a reporter paid to have a signal trace done through iMe. Now the pressure is really on to solve this case.

On the way to Alan's house, Clive looks up his career and married life which have been rocked by an affair until recently. Newest reports show that Alan was making a comeback. They get to Alan's rented house and fine faint drag marks, a chair that had been moved, and a small section of carpet that had recently been vacuumed.

As the following day goes by Clive and Zoe managed to go through all of the employees that are currently or have worked at iMe. The only person that stands out at the moment is an Esteban Jimenez who used to be Art's partner. Esteban's trace signal shows him going off-grid a lot. The only thing they can't figure out is why he was removed or left when the government was first brought into the iMe system. So Zoe and Clive add him to the suspect list.

The following morning Clive and Zoe are updating Bhatt on what they have found so far. Bhatt agrees that Esteban is definitely looking good for this, but when they bring up Art's encrypted signal she just brushes it off because of the rules required for someone to have an encrypted signal in the first place. Zoe and Clive go back to the main PCU office where Zoe uses an old connection at Cyber to contact Esteban on the WhatsApp messaging board. This takes a little work since it has not been used for years. Once Zoe sends a message saying they needed to talk, they get a reply to meet him at 10:00 a.m. at an address he picks.

Just as they are getting ready to leave to go meet Esteban, Karina signal comes back online. They figure out that Karina is deceased and her trace signal shows her in Windsor Great Park. While Clive searches for an old CSI kit, Zoe reaches out to Esteban about a reschedule. Clive and Zoe arrive at the scene and see that a uniform cop has already launched a forensic scan drone and has press and onlookers blocked from the scene.

Clive and Zoe are forced to wait for their forensic drones to finish their scans before they can enter the scene. Once they are done Clive and Zoe are able to look at the photos the drones took of Karina's body and see the puncture marks on all her major arteries. The cause of death is rolled exangonation or full blood drainage.

The following morning Clive picks up Zoe from her house before they head to the designated spot to meet Esteban. Shortly after they arrived Esteban pulls up in a Ferrari, which is a very rare sight since there is a gas tax that is super high and a special permit required. Esteban gets out and greets them before he goes to the trunk and removes two collars that he places on Clive and Zoe's neck. It turns out that it blocks the iMe system from picking up on their signal. It also stops them from using the iMe system. Shortly after that Esteban convinces them to get into his car while he drives. After driving a little bit, Esteban makes them put on black hoods to keep his house location a secret.

Once inside Esteban's house, he takes the collars off because the system still won't work inside the house which has been set up for off-grid living. (It is basically set up like a home is nowadays.) Clive and Zoe are able to ask Esteban about his alibi which he willingly gives including a list of friends that will confirm. They ask him a few more questions including what the collars are. Esteban tells them they are called Suppressors and they are his creation. He has made a few versions of them that were meant to test the system, and Art knows all about them.

The next day Clive and Zoe go back to Art's office to ask about the Esteban's departure from the company. They also ask about the Suppressors, but they are simply met with a smug can't touch me response about the details being protected by the Official Secrets Act. This means there is no court order that Clive and Zoe can get that will make Art talk.

At a little after midnight, Zoe makes her way through all the data for the first six years of iMe data. She gets to the first year of iMe system data and gets a bunch of results for signal drops. Sadly they're all surrounding signal dead spots instead of suppressor use since this is during the time they were still working out kinks in the iMe system.

After a couple more hours of work the next day Zoe is able to give Clive two names. The first is Alice Bakaev and the second is Tom Mitchell. Both were once programmers at IME and are now not where you would expect them to be. Alice is living in a druid community, which is mostly off the grid with a small signal trace. Tom is working in a health club owned by mob boss Doris Barclay called Health Bank. Clive knows the name Doris because he has been trying to arrest her for years.

Clive then tells Zoe the history of Doris Barclay and how the legalization of drugs and prostitution hit her hard. Health Bank could be a front for discreet drugs and prostitute purchases since the legal purchases are on someone's record publicly forever. It may not explain why Tom works there, but it definitely gives Doris motive.

Inside Doris's office sit Doris and Tom. Doris is her nasty usual self while Tom sits quietly next to her. When Clive and Zoe try to explain they need to talk to Tom, Doris immediately shuts them down and has them physically escorted from the building. This leaves Clive and Zoe no choice but to go back to the office. However this does give them a chance to pull up the layout and the current iMe stream for Health Bank.

Clive has Zoe go back about 20 minutes once she has the layout on the wall HUD and they watch the dots of people. One of the dots is a lawyer that goes through a door Clive noticed has an old number punched lock on it. They watch as the lawyer goes past rooms with two dots or none in each room until the lawyer reaches a room with a bunch of dots set up like a casino. Clive comes up with a plan to get inside and shares it with Bhatt who gives the go-ahead.

Clive and Zoe are waiting in the alley behind health bank while the rest of their PCU team goes in through the front door to create a distraction. Once they receive confirmation the team is inside, Clive and Zoe use a genetically engineered organism to get past the locked door. Once through the door they see a metal cabinet that holds bracelets that are charging and could be suppressors. The next door they go to reveals a bed and a chair with low lighting, and they find that the second room has the same setup but there is a trainer feeding a woman potato chips with mayo on them. Things just get a whole lot weirder from there.

Once they make it past all the other rooms to get to the big room, Clive and Zoe don't find a casino. They find a restaurant that serves pizza, steak, beer, and wine. Every single person in the room is wearing a bracelet like the ones they saw before and it seems to be blocking the intake of food and alcohol. Before they have a chance to turn around, they hear the voice of Doris's lawyer Alfie. Alfie is about to have Clive and Zoe thrown out when he releases six micro drones that start taking pictures when the rest of the team shows up along with more officers. Alfie punches Clive in the face before he can be arrested.

Back at PCU Clive and Zoe are interrogating Doris and Alfie. Alfie is being charged with assaulting a police officer. Doris is looking at fraud charges which makes Clive very happy. That is until Alfie produces paperwork about the Health Bank membership, the Wilde membership, and the terms and conditions all gym members have to look at. He also pulls out part of the sovereignty protection act that proves Doris was not conducting tax evasion or any other illegal activity with the bracelets since it is up to the member to make sure taxes are paid to the government. Which means they have to let Doris go and let the fraud department take over.

Back in the PCU main office Zoe checks in with the five officers helping out and gets confirmation that Emma was home when Karina went missing. Then she is shown a message pop up on Alan's TrueMe app (new social media platform) that says "I'm home".

When they arrive to Alan's house Clive goes and checks out a trunk in louge that has a label saying "home sweet home" and opens it. Inside he finds Alan's body chopped up and vacuumed sealed in plastic bags. Shortly after they both put on gloves even though the forensic drones find no fingerprints inside the house. Zoe does a scan and sees that a man is inside the kitchen. With no guns or any way to defend themselves, they cautiously make their way to the kitchen where they find a journalist who has taken and posted photos of Alan and then vomited in the sink.

Bhatt and the Chief Constable watch as Clive and Zoe interrogates Art. First they try to talk about his encrypted signal, but once again gets shot down. Then they ask about Alan's time at iMe, and are told about Alan being the reason for the government being involved in the system. Clive uses the obvious upset about Alan's betrayal to show Art the photos of Alan's body. Art goes through the photos slowly before he simply says "I didn't put him in the trunk". Clive lets him go, but Bhatt finally sees what Clive means by something being off about him. Next Esteban comes in and gets some of the same questions Art did about Alan. When they show the photos of Alan, Esteban doesn't look at them besides a quick glimpse. Esteban reveals that he did not have a problem with the government's involvement until the Model Citizen health monitoring. He also denies being involved in Alan's death, but does admit that he met Karina at a party.

Will Clive and Zoe figure out who the killer is and how they are staying off the iMe system? Does Art or Esteban have anything to do with the murders? What will happen to the iMe system if they do catch the killer? Why is the killer targeting these people and what do they have in common?

I know that is probably not the best spot to stop at, but if I go any further I will definitely have to put a spoiler alert at the beginning. When I found out that this was a techno thriller, I have to admit that I was not sure that I would love it as much as I did. However, the sci fi aspect is not as overpowering as I was expecting, which just made it that much more enjoyable. Jem Tugwell has already taken the UK by storm with this beauty, and I am sure that there is an audience here in the US. I have to once again say a huge thank you to Reads and Reels Blog Tours for including me on this book tour, because I loved this book! If you simply must have this book in your personal library, you already know you can find links on my page:

Corners Untouched by Madness (R&R Book Tours Spotlight)

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Welcome to the blog tour for Corners Untouched by Madness by N. Daniel. Read on for an exclusive excerpt reveal, giveaway, and tour details!
Book Cover.jpg
Corners Untouched by Madness: A Personal Journey of Overcoming Mental Illness Publication Date: October 1st, 2019 Genre: Contemporary Fiction/ Inspired by True Events/ Mental Illness Publisher: Between the Lines Publishing A raw story of courage and redemption. Daniel settles for a mundane office job in the suburbs but is haunted with guilt. When a beautiful woman from his past appears, it ignites a chain reaction, setting him on a journey to confront his troubled history. Based on actual events, this inspiring story attempts to enlighten its audience with humor, passion and a lesson in perseverance. Will Daniel be able to brave his trauma and put his inner demons to rest? Or will he be consumed by the most cunning adversary of all? The truth. Add to Goodreads
As I navigated my way home through the darkened streets I could think only of Mei. I hadn't ever really known her in school. Shy, quiet and extremely brilliant, she was in a class of her own. With raven hair, caramel skin, a round face and wire-rim glasses, she was the quintessential brainiac. From those innocent days she had grown into a beautiful woman with a mind as sharp as an acute angle. She made me feel like I was someone valuable. To most women I wasn't worth the honesty of a rejection. They just ignored me. I was dying for Mei, but the fact that she lived in Baltimore was something of a problem. On lonely nights spent whittling away in my apartment I longed to know what she smelled like, what she tasted like, how her skin would feel against mine. It would have been heaven. I feared she would always remain an intangible muse, an archetype for the perfect female and, I suppose, to others, this would seem blown completely out of proportion. She was human after all, but the ideal of Mei was irresistible to me. In high school I was no one, just a pot-smoking art student who had no reservations about making a complete ass of himself. Someone like Mei had no reason to talk to me and vice versa. When I did see her in the hallway, she was usually carrying her books and smiling with her friends. I was like a little kid with no money and his face pressed up against a warmly lit shop window. She was so desirable. Even if I had realized it back then, I still couldn't compete with the other males in our class. So, I eventually gave up, taking harder drugs and letting my addictions lead me into an accidental overdose. I hit rock bottom. Piece by piece I rebuilt my life in an image more like hers. I got clean, went to college and graduated with distinction. Suddenly she had reappeared in my life, though up until now I seldom spoke of her. Who was she, really, and why had she made this entrance? It started raining a little and the pavement glistened. I looked down at my ragged tennis shoes splashing through the puddles. I was home late. My cat was there to greet me at the door, and I paused by the cutting board on my kitchen counter. Placing my hands on the edge I stared into the woodgrain. I could feel her arms around me. It was love. It was hurt. It felt real but I was all alone. I reveled in the stillness and knew I was powerless. Pursuing her felt criminal. To catch her would be like capturing a butterfly, putting it in a jar and screwing down the lid. It wouldn't survive for long. All I could do was stand there in silence, tracing the whorls in the wood, trapped by a figment of my imagination. Was she thinking of me too? Her virtual presence remained for several more sensual moments before fading into the small fissures that had formed around the edges of the board. Walking into the bathroom I returned to the mirror and stared hard at my lanky frame. In the corner of my eye I caught a flash of a dark image lurking behind me. Startled, I shook my head and rubbed my eyes with my open palms. Was my mind playing tricks on me? I groaned. “What the hell is wrong with you?” I wondered aloud. For some reason I felt as though I would never really know. I pulled some pills out from behind my reflection and swallowed them down. Burrowing under the covers, sleep came quickly.
Available on Amazon and at Barnes & Nobel Giveaway: For your chance to win a print copy of the book, click the link below! a Rafflecopter giveaway About the Author BioPIc-N.Daniel-1.jpg N. Daniel currently resides in Downtown Minneapolis and works as a live-in caregiver for a quadriplegic individual. When he isn’t writing or caring for his client you can find him wandering the city’s skyways, music blasting in his headphones, or walking along the Mississippi river with family and friends. He frequently volunteers with outreach organizations in the Twin Cities community. His beliefs center strongly around charity, service to others and supporting causes that protect personal freedoms, especially for the disabled, the poor, those unfairly stigmatized by mental illness, and anyone who suffers. He is inspired by redemption stories, especially the character arc of Jean Valjean in Victor Hugo’s Les Miserables.
Blog Tour Organized By: R&RButto200x200 R&R Book Tours

Thursday, November 21, 2019

T-Rex Tries Again... Return of the King

Alright so this one was another sent to me by the wonderful people at Plume Books that I requested. It is a quick read that is super cute and funny. It is meant for adults, but I honestly think that it can be shared with the whole family. Since this is set up like a children's book there is not much for me to share detail wise. So once again I am going to share a few of my favorite pages just so you can see why this is something that needs to be on your shelves. Hugh Murphy may be a prosthodontist but he has an amazing talent and sense of humor that will make anyone smile! So here we go!

So this one made me laugh almost instantly. I didn't even have a chance to read the sentence below before I was laughing. I mean who can look at a T-Rex trying to drink from a straw and not at least giggle! This is one of the first ones I showed by boys who also laughed.

This one made me giggle as I showed my husband who has said before that he feels like he is too tall to be dealing with the baby gate in front of our sons' bedroom. This is the exact same baby gate too which just made it more funny and relateable.

This one had me telling my husband this was how I felt cleaning spider webs off my vaulted ceilings. Which made him laugh even harder and gave him a sense of retaliation.

This one will make almost any parent laugh either because that is how they feel personally or they know someone who has done this.

Like I said this is a super cute and funny quick read that will make a bad day end in a wonderful fit of laughs. There are many other pages in here that will either make you laugh because you feel this way or you know someone who does. I think this will also make your great gift ideas list for the simple fact that there is someone out there that would love this book! I have to once again say thank you to Plume Books for sending me this book because it is definitely something that my family will enjoy for years. Especially my boys. If you have to buy this funny book for yourself or someone you know, head over to my page:

Animorphia Sea and Sky Coloring Book

Alright y'all so yes this is a coloring book, but I want to take about it. I requested this one from Plume Books, which is an imprint of Dutton, because I think it is something I can share with my kids and it would make a great gift idea. It may not be what you would expect on my blog, but I think you will change your mind once you finish looking at this review. So Kerby Rosanes is an amazing artist and this book is a collection from his bestselling book Animorphia, the extreme coloring book challenge. So since it is a coloring book, I am going to share a couple of my favorite pages and explain why I chose them. I really think this will be on your list as a gift for either yourself or someone you love!

So this one is a favorite of mine because of two main reasons. One it is the cover which I love seeing when I buy an adult coloring book or a super detailed one. Two because of the detail in it to give you options to be as creative as Kerby Rosanes. Plus who doesn't love a good owl picture?!

I wanted to share this one because it has turtles for one thing and for another because it is mostly blank to give you the chance to be extremely creative as you fill in the rest of the turtles.

This toucan has a calm but curious look that reminds me of some that I have seen in the zoo. Plus just think of all the colors that can be used in the background compared to his body! The leaves and flowers and cute creatures be so colorful while the toucan is the typical black and white.

This bird is not what you would expect with all the extra creatures and details in the wings like they are holding on for dear life. This one is another that gives you so much freedom to add as many colors as you want, and if you're like me will give months of relaxing coloring.

And lastly this octopus is another super detailed one that will take hours and hours is probably my favorite sea picture. At a glance he looks like a normal octopus, but when you look closer you will see so many other things in his tentacles. Again another chance for lots of color.

Alright so like I said this wasn't going to be like my other reviews, but I just had to share this book! I really think that this coloring book will make it on to your own personal list or be an amazing gift idea for someone in your life! I am so grateful to Plume books for sending it to me, because I cannot wait to color when I have a reading slump and share it with my kids when we are just having a relaxing day at home. Kerby Rosanes is absolutely amazing as an artist and I am so glad that he was brave enough to share his talent with the world! If you want to buy this beauty you already know that you can find links on my page:

The Burning Shadow

Alright y'all, so I know that I am a little late to the game on this one, but I was fortunate enough to be sent the ARC version of this beauty by Jennifer L. Armentrout before it celebrated its pub day. Sadly I had to put it in a to-be-finished pile when other ARCs came up in my stack for the simple reason that it was over 640 pages long! I know that the final copy that hit the shelves is only 430ish pages, but I have already checked with a few bookstagram friends that have a finished copy, and it is still the same story and ending, just different formatting on the pages. So I will review my copy, but if there are any spoilers, please feel free to say so! I am going off the fact that my ARC had over 600 pages in it, which made it difficult for me to judge how much to put in my review towards the end. So now that that has been clarified, let's begin shall we?

Luc is an Origin pretending to just be an Unregistered Luxen that owns a nightclub called Foretoken that he uses as a source of income and to help smuggle other unregistered Luxen outside of the city to some safe zones while keeping a close eye on Evie from a distance since he made an arrangement with Sylvia to stay away in exchange for Evie/Nadia's life saved. 
Evie has lived her life as a normal teenager until the day she goes into Foretoken with her friend Zoe, now she is trying to figure out her feelings for Luc and what exactly is true about her life and what has been a lie this whole time after finding out that used to go by the name Nadia before her so called mom Sylvia injected her with a serum to save her from dying from cancer.
Sylvia has been playing mother to Evie for the past four years while working for the government to help continue order and fighting diseases after the Luxen invasion four years ago, Sylvia does not like Luc but knows there is no kicking them out of their lives now that Evie knows the truth about her past as Nadia and how she became Evie.
Zoe is one of Evie's friends that turns out to be a Luxen that is also friends with Luc and has been watching over Evie for the past four years partly to keep her friendship going that started when Evie was Nadia and partly because Luc wanted to make sure she was safe without breaking the arrangement with Sylvia.
April used to be a somewhat friend of Evie and Zoe, but recently hatred towards Luxens have thrown that friendship away, especially with all that Evie now knows but hasn't told anyone else about.
There are a few side characters that keep popping back up, like Grayson, Heidi, and Emery, but those are the four main characters you will read about the most as the story unfolds.
Luc, Evie, and Sylvia are sitting in the kitchen supposed to be eating the grilled cheese and tomato soup Luc requested, but it is just too awkward to eat. Instead of being calm like Evie wanted, Luc and Sylvia break out into another argument over his involvement in Evie's life. Evie gets them to stop and makes them agree that they would at least pretend to like each other for her sake. Luc leaves shortly after this agreement is made and without touching the food. Evie goes upstairs to her room no longer hungry, which leaves Sylvia alone in the kitchen.

Later when Evie's appetite returns she decides to go downstairs. In the kitchen she finds Sylvia making a roast beef sandwich that she had planned on taking upstairs to Evie's room. Sylvia tells Evie that she is still her daughter no matter if it has only been for the past four years while Evie eats her sandwich. The two of them go into Sylvia's office, which has been off limits to Evie until recently, once Evie finishes eating. Sylvia decides to show Evie/Nadia some photos of little Evie that had been taken by whoever broke into the house the other day.

On Monday, Evie goes to school to find April leading another protest against Luxen being allowed into the school. (Luxen can be described as beautiful human look alike aliens with powers that are controlled by bracelets they wear called a Disabler. They only wear these Disablers when they become registered with the government, but of course there are some out there that are not registered. Those are the ones that usually seek out Luc for help.) Evie snaps a few pictures and tries to just ignore it. Later at lunch Heidi, who is Evie's human friend that is dating an unregistered Luxen named Emery that is under Luc's protection and employment, announces that a classmate named Ryan has died from the flu over the weekend.

Later at Luc's apartment, which is above Foretoken along with many other apartments, Evie gets to watch Luc tap into the Source, where all Luxen and Origin gets their powers from, to light up molecules in the air to look like fireflies are in the room. The fun doesn't last when he has to go down and deal with an ART (Alien Response Task Force) officer in the club. This leaves Evie with another unregistered Luxen named Daemon to tell her about how he and Luc would do anything and sacrifice anyone for the ones they loved the most. Luc has already sacrificed Paris in a mission Luc sent Daemon and Kat, Daemon's wife, on to get the last serum attempted by Luc to save Evie's life before taking her to Sylvia.

A couple of days later Evie is in class when Luc texts her to come to her car as soon as possible because he has a surprise for her in a box that he was worried would suffocate. It's the middle of the school day, but Evie still goes out to the parking lot after the class ends, gets in the car, and opens her present while Luc drives. Inside the box is a pet rock that Luc has named Diesel and drew on a smiley face that kind of look like Luc. Luc takes Evie to a town that was untouched during the Invasion, a war between anti human Luxen and Earth that occurred four years ago, called Harpers Ferry. While looking around through the car window, Evie gets the sensation that she had been there before.

Luc reveals that he used to bring Nadia to Harpers Ferry a lot when they were younger. It used to be their favorite place before her cancer made her so sick that he had no choice but to take her to Sylvia. The reason she cannot remember this time is because whatever Sylvia had given her caused a high fever that ended up erasing her memories, which gave Sylvia the chance to morph her into Evie mentally. They make their way towards Jefferson Rock and Evie has a flashback of a young Luc and Nadia sharing their first kiss on the rock. Luc takes her home a little while later.

A couple days later, Evie, Heidi, and Zoe are hanging out in Evie's room when a news story comes on the TV from Kansas City. It is about an illness that has already killed a whole apartment building, and is possibly linked to a Luxen outreach facility. There is also a link between this building and a family that was found in Colorado by the same illness. Later taht night Evie asks Sylvia about the "flu" that is going around killing a lot more people than normal, but doesn't get much of an answer.

Two weeks have gone by, and many doctors have been on TV trying to remind people that Luxen cannot get sick, let alone spread a disease to humans. Evie is over at Emery's apartment above Foretoken with Heidi, and they're listening to Emery tell them about her family who died during the Invasion. Shortly after Emery finishes the part about how she met Luc when he knocks on the door to show Evie another surprise. This surprise is a printed and framed photo she took when she was Nadia. Evie loves it so much she finally kisses Luc.

On Friday during class Evie realizes that she had a pretty normal week right before a RAC (Retinal Alien Check) drone comes into the classroom. It starts scanning students until it gets to a classmate named Coop who looks sick and is not wanting to look up. When Coop finally does look up, he sets off the drone with the alien DNA detector warning. Coop stands up drenched with sweat and has blood running down his cheeks. He doubles over and pukes up black blood.

Coop then throws the drone into another student which knocks the student to the ground with a sickening thud as the student's head hits the floor. Coop then throws the teacher out the window as he falls to the ground. He gets up and starts raging out until some officers dressed like SWAT come in and taze Coop three times before they shoot him in the leg. It takes four officers to tackle Coop to the ground and take him out of the classroom.

Zoe drives Evie's car to Foretoken where Luc is waiting. Zoe tells him the whole story about what happened while the group drinks Cokes brought in by Kent to a common room next to Luc's apartment. Luc listens to the whole story before saying that the only serum developed by the Daedalus, a secret government group that used to do experiments on Luxen, Origins, and mutated humans, created to speed up the mutation in humans had the same symptoms Coop had. He says that the serum shouldn't exist anymore, except the few that he has in his personal possession, since the group no longer exist.

During the next few days the news spun what happened with Coop as a result of either the "Luxen Virus" or a new drug called ET that was made of alien blood. However there was no news about where Coop is or an update on the teacher and student Coop hurt behind they were ok. Neither had come back to the school or gave any indication that they would. April was still having her protests before and after school, and her group was growing.

One day everyone comes out of school at the end of the day to find that April and her group were encircling a dozen or so cars and the Luxen students. This leads Evie to tell April to quit being a horrible human being. Evie starts to walk away when her ex boyfriend Brandon grabs her arm and asks why she's on the Luxen side. Evie responds by threatening to hit him in the face with her camera. James finally steps in to get Brandon to let go while Zoe argues with April. The two arguments allowed the Luxen students to get in a couple cars and leave.

Later that night, Evie can't sleep just like most nights here lately and has to run to the bathroom before she threw up all over her bed. She ends up passing out on the bathroom floor for a bit. When she wakes back up, she cleans her face and mouth before she gets a text from Luc announcing he was outside her window. She goes back in her room and opens the window to see him sitting on the small ledge waiting. He comes in and turns on her favorite webshow before she falls asleep laying next to Luc on her bed for a few hours.

The following day at school, Heidi, Zoe, James, and Evie are sitting at lunch together when April comes up and accuses Evie of having Brandon's hand broken outside his house by her Luxen friend. Evie laughs at April but texts Luc saying they needed to talk. Later she meets Luc at a burger joint called Walkers and is surprised to see an Anti-Luxen sign on the door. She goes in to see Luc already seated with food already order for them both. He admits to breaking Brandon's hand for bruising her arm. He also reveals that the real owners of Walkers is a Luxen and Hybrid, mutated human, couple that are both unregistered so they have a couple of human friends play decoy.

It is Halloween and Evie is sitting with Luc on a couch inside Foretoken while Heidi, Emery, and Zoe are on the dance floor. Evie asks Luc about their childhood together and if they went trick-or-treating as kids while fighting the urge to go onto the dance floor. Hearing her thoughts, Luc takes her up to his apartment where they dance closely and privately in the dark until things get heated enough to end up on the couch together. Before things can go too far, Daemon's twin brother Dawson knocks on the door to tell Luc that a human girl named Sarah is getting sicker.

Sarah was traveling with her Luxen boyfriend in the last group Luc was trying to move. Evie goes with Luc, Grayson, Kent, and Dawson down to the room Sarah is in, and she sees that Sarah looks a lot like Coop did, but her veins have taken on a black appearance. Sarah's eye have also become Luxen like after she throws up black blood. Sarah is making some weird high pitch noise, but Evie hears her say that someone did this to her before Sarah jumps out the window into the alley below.

Luc goes to look for Sarah while Evie and the rest try to process what just happened. They just finish discussing how Luc will do what's necessary when he walks through the door. He says that he didn't find Sarah, but that Grayson and Zoe were still looking for her in places that most people would hide in around the city. Evie tries to convince Luc that Sylvia can help, but he still has a grudge against her. Evie and Luc have the argument about he left her with Syvlia all those years ago because she was sick and then she lost her memory thanks to the serum she was given. Since Luc was the one that took her to Sylvia makes him no better than Sylvia about lying Evie's whole life about what she really is or about Sylvia's job or about where he has been this whole time.

As Evie is walking to her car, an Arum sneaks up behind her while she is noticing the streetlights flicker. (An Arum is another alien race that was originally battling Luxen before the Luxen came to Earth. Arum also feed off Luxen when in their normal setting.) Evie turns around and watches the Arum turn into a shadowy mass before piecing himself back together and asks Evie what she is. Before Evie can respond past "human" Grayson tells the Arum whose name is apparently Lore that Luc is waiting for him inside the club. Then Grayson turns to Evie and tells her that he thinks she is a danger to Luc and all the other Luxen he tries to help because of her connection to Sylvia.

On Sunday, Evie meets Zoe for lunch and admits that she feels useless. Zoe gives her a pep talk/rant about how Evie's strong for simply being able to dust herself off after everything she had been through including having Micah try to kill her and find out that her whole life has been a lie of sorts. Zoe then brings up how Luc cannot trust Sylvia because no one really knows what she has done in regards to the Daedalus or what happened the summer before school started after Luc brought Evie to her. Zoe admits that Luc had the house watched that whole time and for months there was no sign of Evie or Sylvia for months. Evie realizes that she has no solid memory of that summer.

After another mind clearing photo session, Evie goes home to an empty house. She goes up to her room and goes through all the photos she has on her camera. The earliest one is from the night that she found Andy's body. She goes through all the photos, and pauses on the ones she took of Luc for a few minutes. When she resumes scrolling, she comes across one of April and notices a strange overlap/shadow around April. She scrolls through some other ones that she took of April and finds the same thing, but they are all outside so she thinks it is just a glitch.

The next day at school, Evie goes to the library and looks for April's pictures in the yearbooks. She finds that Junior year is missing, but her Freshmen and Sophomore years look normal. It is strange alone that Junior is missing, but she decides that she needs to try to take one of April inside to see if the shadow is still there. While sitting in the library, Heidi comes up and asks what's been going on lately. Evie finally tells her everything including Sylvia being a Luxen. Then Evie shows Heidi the photos of April which has them both wondering if April is an Arum.

They go and look for April to take a picture before lunch is over with, and find her in the bathroom that Colleen was found dead in not too long ago. When April comes out, it is just the three of them in the hallway. Evie snaps a photo before April can realize what is happening, and both Evie and Heidi see the same shadow around her that is present in other photos. April snatches the camera from Evie and sees the photo. Before either of them can say anything, Heidi falls to the ground bloody while April's hand that isn't holding the camera is in weird position.

Before April can attack Evie, Evie pulls the fire alarm to bring people to the hallway on the way out to the parking lot. April goes out the door with the student body leaving Evie alone with Heidi. When the coast is clear, Evie drags Heidi outside where she calls Luc for help. Next thing Evie knows, Zoe is carrying Heidi to her car where Emery jumps in while Luc drags Evie to her car. He tells her that Emery is the best one to heal Heidi because of her love for her. All Luxen can heal on some level, but they are the best healers for their loved ones.

While driving to the club, Evie tells Luc what happened with April including the photos which were on the camera that April ended up destroying. She even tells how April admitted to killing Andy and that family that they thought Micah killed. Later at Foretoken, Evie and Zoe are waiting for Luc to say they can see Heidi. When he finally does come and get them, Heidi is resting with Emery curled by her side. Zoe and Grayson go stake out April's house while everyone else tries to figure out what April and Sarah really are since Luc has never seen anything like them.

Luc and Evie talk about their fight and essentially make up again before she heads home with Luc driving yet again. Once they arrive, it is clear that Sylvia isn't home yet so Luc comes in with her. Evie has a small breakdown in the shower to wash away Heidi's blood, Luc gets a call from Grayson saying that April's house looks like no one has lived there for months and there is no sign of anyone there now. Evie tells Luc how she needs to be helping somehow starting with searching April's house herself. Luc agrees as long as he is there with her and she waits until tomorrow.

They are getting settled in her bed to watch TV when channeling surfing reveals yet another debate between a Luxen rights advocate is arguing with another Senator about Luxen's not being responsible for the illness going around since it is biologically impossible. Evie falls asleep and wakes from yet another nightmare to find Luc still in her bed despite Sylvia finally being home. She wakes up Luc and finally gets him to realize there is nothing more than she wants than him and taking their relationship further physically and emotionally. Luc stops before they do anything that could wake Sylvia with the promise that there is always later.

The following morning Evie wakes up to find Luc gone and Sylvia downstairs. When she gets downstairs she finally gets the courage to ask about the summer she cannot remember despite promising Luc that she would wait for him to be there. Sylvia tells her that during that summer she was still recovering and absorbing her new identity as Evie, so they stayed inside most of the time. Her excuse was that she wanted to make sure that Evie accepted her new identity before they went out into public for her safety. Evie doesn't push for more.

After school later Luc, Evie, and Kent drive to meet Grayson at April's house to check it out. The house is still empty when they arrive, and they get inside easily since the front door is unlocked. Evie goes upstairs and goes into April's room since she had been there before and gets a chance to look around the impersonal room before Luc joins her. Just as they are about to go through some of the drawers, Luc says someone was coming in the house just as they hear the front door close. They close the drawers quietly and hide in the closet.

They are hiding while they watch a woman looking like April come in and take something out of a drawer when Evie sneezes. The woman aims a gun at the closet door and Luc uses his Source power to knock the gun and a white zipper pouch out of the woman's hand. When the woman falls down, Evie sees that Luc had been shot three times. She sees the gun on the floor near her, so Evie picks it up and shoots the woman in the head before she can attack them again. Evie has a sense of deja vu about shooting someone else when Luc gets her attention by saying something about a phone in his pocket to call Grayson.

She calls Grayson to come up and help Luc before she watches Luc use his power to pull some funny looking bullets out of his chest. Grayson comes in the room, grabs Luc and the bullets, and walks out. Evie follows after she picks up the pouch the woman dropped. They all get into the SUV that Kent is driving and Zoe joins them before they drive off. As they are driving away from the subdivison April lived in, a car drives in the opposite direction. Kent notices this same car has done a U-turn and is now following them.

The car quickly catches up with them while Luc busies himself with getting Evie's seatbelt buckled. Kent turns on "Ballroom Blitz" while Grayson goes into his Luxen form before flying out of the passenger door. Kent does his best to control the SUV despite it going into a tailspin while Grayson is flying around outside trying to deal with the car. Grayson uses his powers to send the car flying over the SUV and the impact causes the SUV to bounce which sends Evie's head into the ceiling knocking her out.

Evie wakes up some later laying next to Luc in his bed and hears Grayson voicing his concern about Evie being a distraction with Luc while she keeps her eyes closed. Luc tells him to keep it to himself before Grayson leaves. Evie quits faking sleep and sits up while going through a small fit about watching another loved one get hurt in two days because of her. Luc is able to calm her down by telling her that she protected them both by killing that woman. He then says that the pouch she picked up contained syringes that may have serums inside of them.

The following day at school, Evie is trying to act as normal as possible like Luc suggests until lunch. It is just her and James and Zoe sitting at their table since Heidi is faking mono until the trace from Emery's healing fades. Evie is struggling with not telling James everything since he is just a human who doesn't know anything about Origins or Daedalus or anything Evie now knows. Evie decides to go to the bathroom before it is time to go to the next class.

Inside the bathroom, she comes out of the stall to see April standing there. Evie tries to stay calm while April blabs about having to play nice with her and how she is part of "the Alpha and the Omega". She even tells Evie about how she has been looking for her the whole time and didn't know it until the incident with Heidi, and Evie responds with the fact that Heidi is alive. While April is talking, Evie grabs the new stun gun and the obsidian knife necklace Luc gave her recently to help her stay safe against Arum. Evie tries to use the stun gun first, but April stops the attack.

Evie is able to stab April in the chest with the obsidian, but it has no effect on her except making her mad. April takes something that looks like a key fob out of her pocket and hits a button saying "time to wake up whoever you really are". Evie's head erupts into blinding pain that swamps her with memories from before the cancer almost killed her. April explains that the device is something called a Cassio Wave that is designed specifically to unlock the code in the Andromeda serum Sylvia injected into Evie all those years ago.

When Evie is finally able to open her eyes again, she doesn't recognize April as anything but a threat. When April tries to lead Evie out of the bathroom, Evie jumps onto the sink and forces the obsidian blade into April's forehead. When she looks into the mirror, Evie sees that her eyes look just Sarah's did before she jumped out the window. Her eyes go back to normal and she sees April on the floor, so she calls Luc to come help her again.

Luc arrives within minutes with Grayson and Emery in tow. Luc takes Evie to his place while Grayson and Emery are left to clean up the bathroom and deal with April's body. She tells Luc everything that happened in the bathroom and gives him the key fob. They have a small argument about how they are both scared of not knowing what is going on or what Evie is now. It descalates quickly when Luc kisses her deeply and gives her a new camera that he bought to replace the one April destroyed. Both gestures remind them both that they need to enjoy the happy moments in between all the chaos that keeps finding them.

The moment is interrupted by a text from Grayson saying they were back at the club with April's body. Luc and Evie head downstairs to meet the others who are heading to the kitchen where Clyde the bouncer is about to perform April's autopsy. Evie listens to the initial findings but walks out before Clyde can make the first cut. Luc follows her out, and when Evie finally stops she tells him that she is now wondering what will happen to her when she dies since they can't seem to figure out what Evie is now or what is going on with her. Luc tries to calm her down by admitting he's noticing something is going on with her but there was no point in panicking over what ifs right now.

Shortly after, Luc and Evie are joined by Heidi, Zoe, and Grayson who ask what happened in the bathroom. Evie tells them the whole story starting with April and ending with the fact that she is Nadia with Luc by her side. Grayson seems to be the only one that had no idea who Evie was, and makes it known that it is a surprise. Once the story is completely done, Grayson tries to convince Luc that the key fob button needs to be pushed again, but they all end up agreeing it wasn't worth the risk until they find out what is going on with Evie.

An hour later, Luc takes Evie home to an empty house yet again so Luc stays. Evie calls and texts Sylvia but they get no reply. On the way up to her room, she admits that she already asked about the summer she can't remember and Luc isn't angry. He changes the topic to how she's processing the past week really well, and it turns into a who's bravery contest. In her room, Evie turns on the TV where a news story is breaking about the President announces the bill to appeal the 28th Amendment protecting Luxens did not pass vote which he is visibly not happy about. He then announces that he is putting the Luxen Act and Patriot Act into place, which will give the government and military to take unprecedented action.

Evie wakes up some time later to Sylvia shaking her to get up with urgency. Evie remembers that Luc left earlier when Grayson called saying that an ART officer was wanting to speak with him right away. Sylvia loses patience and starts packing for Evie while trying to get her to get dressed. Evie keeps asking questions while Sylvia keeps saying "they are coming for you". Evie tries to make sense of the ramblings about a plan and someone losing control and things were going to start happening and fast. Realizing Syliva has been lying still, Evie decides she wasn't going anywhere with Sylvia. It is cemented in even more when she sees thousands of dollars and a fake passport in an envelope.

She starts yelling at Sylvia when the window behind her explodes as Sylvia is shot by someone outside. Evie watches Sylvia's shirt turn red with blood and fall to the ground. Evie tries to press on the wound while Sylvia says that she is sorry and that she loved her. Sylvia dies and before Evie can have a breakdown, she hears that security alarm announce a door and window being opened downstairs before it is silenced. No one else is supposed to know the code.

Evie realizes that she needs to grab the packed bag, envelope, Diesel the rock, and get out. She tries to go out the front door but is blocked by a bunch of commando dressed people. She starts to go to Sylvia's room but the door handle is already being turned. She freezes thinking she was going to die for sure when Luc comes out of the bedroom. Luc ends up fighting a commando coming up the stairs as Zoe appears behind Evie in the hallway. Grayson busts down the front door then as well.

Evie goes into Sylvia's bedroom when she is told to run, and pauses as she tries to figure out how she is going to get out while remembering Sylvia is laying in her room dead. Luc comes in before a breakdown occurs and makes her jump out the window with him. Luc takes the brunt of the landing, and drags her across a few yards and down a street to another SUV Kent is driving. She asks about Grayson and Zoe, but Luc assures her that they would meet them later. They drive off as Luc is telling her about the raid at Foretoken and how it was a distraction. Kent tells her that Luc burned the place to the ground after making sure the other Luxen were out. Luc then tells her about how he had to go bust Heidi and Emery out of the the ART's custody before coming to get her, and that they were safe and were laying low.

Kent drives them until they are well outside of Columbia to a house that is empty. Luc and Evie get out, but Kent drives off to go meet Zoe for a supply run. Grayson is already waiting for them at the front door, so the three of them go inside. Once they sit down, Evie tells Luc everything that she can remember Sylvia saying before she was shot. Evie shuts down her emotions while Luc gets a towel to clean her hands before she continues telling him about the money and passport. Once she was done talking, there is nothing but silence while they wait for Zoe and Kent to arrive. When they finally do arrive there isn't much time for catch up with the window gets busted by a rock before the front door is busted down and a small explosion causes drywall to fall down on top of them.

Evie starts to look for Luc and the others when she looks up to see a commando pointing a rifle in her face. He pulls the trigger but nothing happens. Evie takes advantage by throwing the drywall at his arm breaking it. Luc attacks before he can attack Evie, and it turns into a fight for their lives while she just stands there. They all finally get out and jump into another but bigger SUV Kent is driving.

They drive for a while in silence before they finally stop at a gas station outside of Richmond for food, bathroom, and get Evie to change her shirt. They get back into the SUV and start driving. Luc and Grayson tell her that they are heading to Zone 3 which is in Texas and was hit by an EMP four years ago. First they are going to Atlanta to find help inside of the network Luc has created. Evie continues to battle with keeping her emotions in check about Syliva, everything that has happened while wondering where Heidi and Emery are.

Where are they headed? Will they ever be safe again? What does this commando group or Daedalus want with Evie? Will she ever recover her memories of her life as Nadia? Will thing between Luc and Evie ever be somewhat normal? What is going on with Evie and what has the serum done to her?

Like I said in the beginning, this review is based on the fact that my ARC had over 640 pages. If there are any spoilers about the end of the book or there are details that did not make it to the final copy, please feel free to let me know! I may have started reading Jennifer L. Armentrout with The Darkest Star  and The Burning Shadow, but I am in love with her story and writing style. I am super excited to read the Lux series which is on my TBR cart as well one day. I have to say a huge thank you to TorTeen Books for sending me this beauty even though it took me a month to finish it due to schedule issues. I am curious if there will be a book three, because the ending definitely left me with questions. I guess we will all have to wait and see! If you have not bought a copy for your personal library or were on the fence, I hope my review has you wanting to buy it. As always you can find links to purchase this beauty on my page:

Sunday, November 17, 2019

Frank Strausser's Plastic

Alright y'all, this thrilling beauty was sent to me by the author, Frank Strausser, himself. It is not an Indie Pub like most of my author sent books are, but is published by a company called Rare Bird Lit. This one took me a little longer to finish due to some scheduling issues, but I am so glad that I did not just put it back in the TBR pile right away. This wonderfully written book takes place in Hollywood where a plastic surgeon is asked to work on a pop star in secret while dealing with the death of another patient and his wife leaving him. There are two POVs in this story because this may mainly be about the surgeon and the pop star, but we do get to see things from the wife's side since she is also dealing with part of the problems going on. I am going to give this review through the surgeon's POV since that is the majority of the story, but keep in mind that there is a lot more going on. Let's go...

Dr. Harry Previn, a plastic surgeon, and his wife Helen, an artist, are having yet another argument in their home when she announces she is leaving him after ten years of marriage and another miscarriage. Harry likes to sculpt faces out of clay during his downtime, and does just this to try to process everything currently going on in his life. Besides his wife announcing her plans to leave him, he is currently dealing with the fact that one of his recent patients is now dead just six days after being on his operating table. This would normally just be a hard thing to swallow since she was a little older than most of his patients, but it is worse since she is the mother of a movie star named Jack Blackburn. This is where it gets more complicated.

Harry is starting a new clay face while he replays the 9-1-1 call the police played for him over again in this mind. It is still undetermined what the cause of death was, but Harry is on the radar for the simple fact that she was recovering from his procedure. Barone, a talent agent that has been recommending Harry to all of his stars, was the one who sent Mrs. Blackburn to him when she wanted some work done for her birthday on her son's dime. Barone shows up at the house to give Harry a copy of the autopsy report which still doesn't saw much.

Just ten days have passed since Helen announced she was leaving and had moved all of her belongings, which was most of the furniture, out of the house. Helen meets Harry for dinner which he thinks is to talk about reuniting, but she serves him the divorce papers before leaving. Harry is sitting in the driveway at home after meeting Helen when Barone calls him saying a woman needs his help. Harry arrives at the hotel Barone tells him to go to where he is greeted by a woman in the parking lot. She tells him to follow her to the parking garage.

The woman's name is Rox and she takes Harry to a parked limo where a man named Johnny Tout is waiting inside. Inside with Tout is another woman who has paper towels stuck all over her face and blood is everywhere. Harry gives her a once over, and realizes that she was in the same restaurant has him earlier. He noticed her outfit and figure, but did not look too close at her face then. Harry tries to convince Tout to take the woman to the hospital, but his statement falls on deaf ears. When Harry asks what happened, Tout gives him the run around before admitting that the woman is a singer named Fay Wray who is known as the FACE.

Reluctantly Harry agrees to take them back to his office and work on the woman. Tout rides with Harry while Rox rides in the limo with Fay Wray. During the ride, Harry realizes that Tout is a little drunk when Tout starts talking about a lot of things from his ex wives to stars he has worked with. Halfway to the office, the limo pulls off to the side of the road suddenly, and Rox gets out covered in blood. It turns out that Fay was starting to wake up as whatever drug was in her system was wearing off. Harry gets in the limo to look at her fully, and once again tries to convince them to take her to the hospital due to her blood loss.

As they are standing on the side of the road, Barone appears out of nowhere and basically threatens Harry into taking care of Fay Wray since the Blackburn death is hovering over his head. Barone drives off, and a disbelieved Harry gets into the limo with Fay while Tout and Rox drive his car to the office. He also tells them if he finds that she is more hurt than his office can handle, then Harry would call 9-1-1 himself for an ambulance.

Finally at the office, Harry does the initial exam and gets as much of Fay's information as he can including her real name and who to call if something happens. Harry is forced to call in his surgical team at two in the morning to come in, and they all agree to arrive within an hour. While waiting, Harry gets Fay prepped for surgery to close up the lacerations on her face that are supposedly from her jumping out a window. He explains to Tout and Rox that this will be difficult to do because of the angles and length of the multiple cuts. Tout just tells him to take care of it.

Harry's anesthegiologist Brick is the first to arrive and protests the whole thing at first until Harry admits that he really needs Brick on this one. He doesn't go into much more detail, but Brick stays and gets ready. After the rest of his team shows up, Harry performs the surgery needed to clean up and close the wounds on Fay's face. They pull out pieces of a glass wine bottle from the cuts, and Harry puts it in a bag to be added to her dress that he managed to put in a drawer during pre-op prep. Once it is all done, Harry follows Tout and Rox with Fay in tow to Tout's house.

Once they are there, they get Fay inside and settled into what is supposed to be a butler's quarters. Once she is settled, Harry is informed that all the post-op care needs to be handle by him personally after Tout protests a nurse coming. Harry has not done post-op care beyond the check in appointments in a long time since he has a nursing staff that specializes in the secrecy involved with most stars that come into his office. Harry once again reluctantly agrees and leaves.

Harry goes to see his lawyer Ty Fanning  the next morning and gets advice he wasn't expecting. Ty tells him to just handle Fay like she was any other patient. Since there is no real evidence anything happened besides an accident, Harry just needs to handle the post-op care like requested. He is already in hot water over the Blackburn death, which could ruin Harry's career if Jack decides to blame Harry publicly. Even if Harry is found not guilty in court, the press alone will ruin his business, which makes Harry stop and think about it in a new light.

Harry goes to check on Fay's at Tout's house where Rox has been playing nurse since they still refuse to let anyone near Fay. Fay is agitated and keeps asking to see her face, but everyone is refusing to give the girl a mirror. Instead Tout asks that Harry keep her sedated for the next day or so. Harry finishes checking her face and giving her some sedative meds and antibotics before talking to Tout. Tout complains about the swelling and redness, but Harry just reminds him that it takes time for the body to heal after that kind of trauma.

Back at the office, Harry goes through his appointments slightly distracted. His last one for the day is a single mom who is in for a post op when she mentions that her son has concerns about the surgery. Once she says that he is in the lobby, Harry offers to talk to her son which ends with the son biting Harry's hand before he can get past "hello". The mother does nothing but try to explain it away by the divorce she is currently going through with his father and leaves.

Six days have passed since Harry first saw Fay, and arrives at Tout's to remove the stitches. He has come by a few times to check on her progress and give her meds. During those days, Fay had been moved into a bedroom on the second floor of the house, but is kept under lock and key basically. She still has yet to see her face in a mirror. During this visit, Harry walks in to find that Fay has hidden a steak knife under her pillow to use as a mirror, but says nothing since she does not appear to have any other intention for it. Harry finishes that day's check and leaves.

On the way home, Harry thinks about how Rox refused to answer any questions that Harry had about the night of Fay's "accident" or let Fay answer any questions. Before going home, he decides to stop by the hotel Tout said they were at only to discover that there is no record of Tout or Fay being there at all. Harry leaves the hotel and heads home. The following day he goes though his appointments that includes a nose job and neck lift when Brick asks Harry if he is screwing Fay. Harry of course denies it immediately but does admit that he is handling her post-op personally.

Harry is asked to go to the offices of Tout and Wilde the next day before heading to the office for the day. Harry quickly realizes that he is there to give an update on Fay's recovery to Tout and the rest of the legal team. They inform him that she needs to be able to shoot a music video within the next three weeks, but he lets them know that it will be more like 18 months before she is fully recovered. Tout gives a theaterical performance of being angry and out of the loop about all this information from Harry. The meeting ends with Tout and the rest of the legal team discussing faking Fay Wray's death in order to save them from a lawsuit and the press. Harry leaves in disgust.

Harry rushes back to his office to get the day's appointments over with. One of his appointments was a follow up on the nose job and face lift that he did not too long ago. The woman is expressing concern over what her husband will think when he comes back from a movie shoot he was directing early. It has been about six weeks since the initial appointment, which means that her stitches have been removed and that most of the bruising and swelling was gone. Harry reassures her that as long as she is happy her husband will be too. Besides there was a chance he wouldn't notice since it had been so long since she saw him in person.

Once the woman leaves, Harry sits in his office going back over all the details of the Blackburn pre-op, surgery, and post-op. All the way up to her death six days later. He still cannot figure out what happened, and the autopsy report still doesn't reveal anything to help ease his mind. Harry knows there is still a chance for Jack Blackburn to blame him publicly, but for now he cannot focus on that. He ends up calling up Ty Manning at one in the morning to seek advice about how to proceed with Fay Wray after the meeting he had with Tout earlier that day. Ty just tells him to treat her as any other patient, especially since it is still his job as a doctor to conduct the post-op care. Harry still doesn't know to think or do after he hangs up with Ty. The whole situation just does not sit well.

Will Fay Wray have a career after it is all said and done or will her legal team fake her death? How will Harry continue her post-op care when he still has questions about how this all happened in the first place? Will the death of Mrs. Blackburn affect his practice or will it just go down as something that happened?

I know that you are probably asking me why I would stop there, but I simply must! Like I said in the beginning, this is just from one point of view. When I first read the blurb for this book I had no idea what to expect. Frank Strausser definitely took the whole typical Hollywood plastic surgery scene and twisted it in his thriller. This book will have you wanting to keep turning the pages no matter what. I could not get enough of this book, and was sad when I had to stop it for other deadlines. I am so thankful to Frank for sending me a copy himself, because I would probably be buying it otherwise. This look behind plastic surgery and celebrities will have you guessing what happened to Fay Wray and what is going to happen next. If you simply must have a copy in your personal library, then you already know you can find links on my page:

Thursday, November 14, 2019

Veiled by Desire (R&R Book Tours Blitz Post)

Congratulations to Candace Robinson on the release of this beauty! Veiled by Desire is the second installment of the Laith series and will be available on November 19th! Read on for an exclusive excerpt and a chance to win a $10 Amazon gift card, AND a digital copy of book #1, Clouded by Envy!
Veiled By Desire Cover
Veiled by Desire: A Laith Novel Publication Date: November 19, 2019 Genre: Fantasy Publisher: The Parliament House Press In Laith, when the moons are high, Tavarra is allowed to walk the land as a human for one day, losing her seahorse-like tail. But should she remain out of the water, a curse will overtake her, turning her into a beast with sharp fangs and long claws. A beast that, on some nights, takes the shape of a rampaging, uncontrollable monster. Rhona, along with her village, are under a sinister leader’s control. Their leader has taken Rhona from the boy she loves, stripped away her abilities and, under the threat of killing everyone she loves, forces her on a dangerous task to retrieve a dark prism that will increase his already massive powers. When Tavarra and Rhona cross paths, they discover they need each other. Rhona knows how to help the cursed sea creature, while Tavarra knows where to find the dark prism. They embark on a mission that could help them break Tavarra’s spell and save Rhona’s family and village. But with an untamable beast inside Tavarra, nothing is certain.., Add to Goodreads
Seven years of this. Tavarra closed her eyes and gripped the chains around the tree that bound her wrists together. She howled with urgency, screamed, and bared her fangs. As she stared up at the twin moons in the darkening sky, she knew her fate was coming. A fire spread throughout her entire body with a wicked touch, and she shook violently. “The chains will hold this time,” her friend Eza said, landing on Tavarra’s shoulder. If Tavarra killed the pesky bat, there would be nothing, no one, and she had grown to love Eza after all these years. “Get out of here, Eza! Now!” Tavarra screamed. “I’ll be right here,” the bat murmured and flew up into the tree above. Eza looked incredibly similar to a fairy except for the thin blackened wings, fangs, and sharper-pointed ears. She was a little taller than the size of Tavarra’s hand from wrist to the tip of the claw on her middle finger. Tavarra was trying to fight the change. She would win this time. As she breathed in the scents of Laith, Tavarra knew it was a lie, and indeed, she knew she’d failed when her skin began to stretch. She could feel her face taking on a new shape, and that was when the terror came because the night would be unknown to her. That was what haunted her the most. Tavarra held back the tears, unwilling to break, unwilling to bend and show weakness. All that remained in her soul, heart, and existence, was hunger. She yearned and thirsted for blood, meat, and bones.
Clouded by Envy (Laith #1) 37654382._SY475_ Brenik has always been envious of his twin sister, Bray. Growing up as fairy-like creatures, known as bats, everything came easier to Bray. While Brenik spent his time in her shadows, never feeling he was enough. After escaping their world of Laith, and living on Earth for ten years, Brenik attempts to strike a deal with the Stone of Desire to become human. Though true humanity is not an option, he will accept the curse that will alter him to get as close as he can. Living in a tree trunk for the past year hasn’t been easy for Bray, more so after her brother disappears again. When a human boy and his brother, Wes, find her, a new friendship is struck. Through Wes, Bray learns there can be more to life than waiting within a tree. But worrying over where Brenik has vanished to always remains in the back of her mind. When Bray reunites with Brenik, she realizes she must help him break the curse after she discovers the need for blood is beginning to overpower him. The curse not only damages those who get close to Brenik, but it could also destroy whatever is blooming between Bray and Wes. Goodreads Giveaway: Click the link below to enter for a chance to win a digital copy of book #1, Clouded by Envy, and a $10 Amazon gift card (North America Only)! a Rafflecopter giveaway About the Author image1 Candace Robinson spends her days consumed by words and hoping to one day find her own DeLorean time machine. Her life consists of avoiding migraines, admiring Bonsai trees, watching classic movies, and living with her husband and daughter in Texas—where it can be forty degrees one day and eighty the next.
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Love, Look Away (R&R Book Tour Blitz Post)

Congratulations to Lisette Brodey, on her October release of Love, Look Away!
REVISED _Love, Look Away COVER
Love, Look Away Publication Date: October 10, 2019 Genre: Romantic Comedy/ Women’s Fiction Twenty-nine-year-old Sage Gordon has had it with love. When she’s not busy running her metaphysical gift shop in the old-money town of Swansea, New York, she’s content with the company of her dog and two cats. Years ago, the boy she thought she’d marry some day disappeared in the middle of the night and was never heard from again. Haunted by the loss of Jimmy, she remains wary about love, until she is set up with a gorgeous NYC marketing executive. Love moves quickly, and she finds herself engaged — but if only he had betrayed her before she sent out the save-the-date cards. Sage reverts to her former mindset: love, look away. Forever. Despite her best efforts, though, two completely different yet wonderful men enter her life. Still haunted by the past, can she let romance back into her life? AUTHOR’S NOTE: Love, Look Away is set in the same fictional town (Swansea, NY) as my first romantic comedy, Molly Hacker Is Too Picky! This book is not, however, a sequel or a series. Love, Look Away is a stand-alone novel. Some readers will recognize several characters from Molly, including Molly herself, playing supporting roles. And to readers who have never read Molly, but who may wish to do so, rest assured this novel does not give away the ending. Add to Goodreads
Sage hurried back into the store, to see a gorgeous man with a huge head of tousled brown hair and a sexy two-day growth on his face. He was wearing a button-down blue-and-white checked cotton shirt, with three buttons undone and a pair of sunglasses hanging from the V neckline it created. His sleeves were rolled up to reveal three leather bracelets on his left wrist and a watch on the right. He wore khaki chino pants and ankle-high brown moccasins. And he had the biggest smile Sage had ever seen. “G’day!” he said before she could greet him. He turned to see Godiva. “And g’day to you too.” “You must be Freddie’s houseguest,” Godiva said. “From Australia.” “Benton Bradley,” he said, taking care to make eye contact with both women before Rufus greeted him with enthusiasm. “G’day, fluffy mate. I reckon you and my Kelpie Matilda might enjoy a good pash.” “Is that short for ‘passionate?’” Sage asked as she walked around the counter to greet him, her eyes bright and curious. “Hi, I’m Sage Gordon.” As Rufus finally settled on his mat by the meditation cushion, Benton took both of her hands in his. “Indeed it is, Sage. You’re beautiful as.” Unnerved, but not put off by the intimacy of the exchange, Sage delicately pulled away. “Benton, you said, right?” “I did.” He winked. “You can call me Bent, but please, don’t call me crooked.” Sage laughed, finding herself unable to avert her gaze. He looked at Godiva. “You must be Freddie’s lady, Godiva Jones.” “I am,” Godiva said as she walked over to shake his hand. “Or I will be,” she mumbled under her breath. “It’s lovely to meet you, Benton.” She winked at Sage. “I’m going into the office to finish those website updates we talked about.” Sage’s eyes widened in surprise, then narrowed as if to playfully chastise Godiva. “Yeah, by all means, update my website. Seems like we’ve been talking about that incessantly … and nothing else.” “Don’t I know it? Well, you know where to find me if the bells clang too much,” Godiva said. She walked behind the curtains with a satisfied smile. Sage looked at Benton while his eyes scanned the store with great interest. “Quite a place you have here. I like it.” He looked at the sign above the counter. “What’s that all about?” “Oh, the Private Property sign. It’s just there for decoration.” “I don’t suppose you’d like to sell it. I’ve got a small farm, and that would be a welcome addition to my front gate.” “It’s not for sale,” Sage said. “Besides, you can’t bring wood into Australia. They’d confiscate it at customs.” “No wood for me then,” Benton said, laughing to himself. Sage felt oddly tantalized by the stranger’s words. “That sign looks a good deal older than you.” “It is, I think. Or maybe it just ages faster. Besides, I use moisturizer twice a day. I don’t think the sign cares about self-preservation.” “It could use a good oil rubdown,” Benton said, grinning. “I’d be happy to do that for you.”
Purchase Here! About the Author LisetteHeadshot.jpg Lisette Brodey is a multi-genre author who writes strong, character-driven novels/stories, infused with humor, centered on the lives of flawed human beings in both tragic and funny situations. She writes mostly women’s fiction and literary fiction, but has written a YA paranormal trilogy, and a 1970s coming-of-age novel. She was born and raised in the Philadelphia area. She spent ten years in New York City, and now resides in Los Angeles. In addition to writing, she occasionally works as a SAG background actor in movies and television. And she loves animals.
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Tuesday, November 12, 2019

The Girl With the Hazel Eyes

Alright y'all, this is one of my Indie author sent books, and it is a Caribbean award winner. Callie Browning was born and raised in Barbados, but the majority of this book is set in the US as well as Barbados. This book has two parts to it, one part tells the story of Lia meeting Susan Taylor, and the other is the biography of Susan. I liked the parts about Lia and Susan, but I honestly could not get into the biography part. However, I don't usually like biographies in general. However, the writing was wonderful and the pieces of the biography I did read were so detailed that I had to remind myself that this was a contemporary fiction. So with that being said, I am going to focus on the part of Lia and Susan since that is the part that I liked the most. So here we go...

Cordelia aka Lia is a 25 year old woman that was born and raised in Barbados. She currently lives in the vicious cycle of poverty with her mom, Salvation Army clothes and all. However, Lia has always had dreams of breaking into the literary world, but has always been too afraid to be on her own thanks to her mom reminding her of how life is different off the island.

Lia is feeling fed up with the way her life is going when she gets a call from a lady named Ancil. Ancil is the personal assistant to a best selling author named Susan Taylor. Susan is also a Barbados native, but she left the island almost four decades ago when her book exposed a conspiracy on the island that made her move to the States. Now she wants Lia to come to the States and write her biography. All expenses covered by Susan.

Lia says yes almost immediately despite her mom's protests, because this could be her big break as a writer. Lia leaves Barbados for the first time in her life a week later. She arrives in Florida at Susan's house where she is first greeted by Ancil who also lives there. Ancil gives her a quick tour before taking her to Susan's favorite room in the house that she likes to call the Barbados room. Lia walks in at first not knowing what to think or do.

After a rough introduction that included Susan asking some very personal questions, Lia and Susan are able to come to an agreement on Susan's terms. Once the main introduction is done, Lia is able to go to her room and get settled in. The next day starts the first writing session, and it entails Lia just listening to Susan tell her life story. Susan doesn't allow Lia to ask questions, and seems very bitter.

A few days later, Lia is able to call her mom who still tries to convince her to come home. Her mom reminds her once again about Susan's reputation around the island thanks to her book. She also reminds Lia that things are difficult without her there to help her mom. After hanging up, she goes to start her writing session with Susan who is still being a little difficult. Lia just keeps reminding herself that this is a great opportunity each time she thinks about stopping.

Lia's second phone call home is still tiring. She tries to talk about how things are going and what she is doing, but her mom just keeps going on about things at home. She tries to convince Lia to come home again, but Lia says no because this is just like the time that her mother talked her out of taking a full scholarship to a college in Kansas all those years ago. Lia's mom hangs up before Lia can say much else to her, and Lia just feels anger instead of regret.

It's been a little over a week when Susan decides to give Lia a copy of Shakespeare's King Lear during one of their writing sessions. Susan says that it is no big deal, but Lia knows that this is her way of saying that she is warming up to Lia. Lia appreciates it greatly despite Susan's downplay of the gesture. They continue that day's writing session without another mention of what just happened.

Almost two weeks have gone by when Ancil convinces Susan to take Lia out to eat instead of just staying locked up in the house. Ancil drives them to the restaurant which gives Lia a chance to look around, especially at the fact that there are only cars and motorcycles on the highways. They arrive at the restaurant where Susan insists on a table close to the kitchen, and complains about the menu. When the waitress arrives, Lia orders her food just like it is on the menu while Susan basically creates her own meal. The waitress walks away annoyed, but polite.

While waiting for their food, Lia tries to ask Susan as many questions as possible to avoid being asked some herself. Instead of getting a gruff response, Susan smiles slightly and tells her that she has no intention on asking any personal questions. Relieved, Lia and Susan have a polite conversation while Lia observes that the lighting really softens Susan's appearance which makes her look more human. Lia and Susan have their meal and then go back home.

Three weeks have gone by and Lia thinks about her ex-boyfriend for the first time since she left the island. Part of her hastily agreement was due to the fact that he just started dating someone else. She thinks about him during one of the many Barbadian breakfasts that Ancil has made. While eating, Lia asks Ancil how long she has been with Susan. Ancil replies since 1967, but that she has only lived in the States for the past 20 years. Without getting a chance to ask for clarification, Lia goes to start the day's writing session with Susan that has already started a little late.

A month has gone by now, and Lia realizes that the house has no internet. She aks Ancil about it, and Ancil simply replies that there is no need for it. Susan has someone that handles the bills for her, and they always go to the store.for anything else that they need. Since there is no internet Lia starts having a small breakdown about not having internet despite that she hasn't noticed it this whole time. Once that is done, she starts to help Ancil clean the house since Susan wanted to spend the day relaxing. While doing the dishes, Lia releases that the neighborhood is a retirement community which is confirmed by Ancil.

The next day resumes the writing sessions. Lia listens intently to Susan's life story that has already filled 100 pages in Lia's notebook. Lia musters the courage to ask why Susan never wrote another book, despite the fact that her book is still being printed and sold after four decades. Susan replies with "Have you ever had a boyfriend that was your whole world and then suddenly you cannot stand to look at him?" Lia understands, and Susan confirms that is how she feels about writing.

During the usual Tuesday grocery run for Ancil and Susan, Lia scrubs her personal bathroom for tow hours to pass Ancil's inspection. Once done, she takes a shower and goes downstairs to grab some lunch. Before she can reach the kitchen, the phone rings. It's Lia's mother, and she is practically begging for money as she describes being behind on a couple bills. Lia eventually tells her about some money that is stashed in a book under her mattress. Once her mom hears where it is, she hangs up without asking about how Lia is doing. Lia is surprised, and looses her appetite as she hangs up the phone.

During the nest writing session, Lia listens to Susan tell her about almost being raped by a strange man, and how her friend Kenneth saved her. It is hard to listen to especially when Susan tells her about how during that time no one discussed rape or how to be a survivor of one. Lucky for Susan, she didn't have to try to figure it out thanks to Kenneth. Lia is stunned, but expresses her empathy for Susan during this vulnerable moment.

A few days later, Lia wakes up sleep deprived but happy. She spent the night getting the outline done for the biography as well as the first chapter. She tries to show Susan, but Susan wants to finish telling her story first before anything else is done. Lia doesn't argue and just gets ready to write. She is still happy that she has an idea of how she wants to write the book.

The next Tuesday Lia asks about where to go for internet, and Ancil tells her about the community centre. Once Ancil and Susan leave for the store, Lia goes to the centre where she is happy to find some computers with internet access. Once at the computer, she checks her four emails before going on her social media pages and her ex's which reveals that he is now married. Lia goes back home and tries not to think about it.

At home, Ancil and Susan have returned and both notice that there is something bothering Lia. Susan surprises Lia by listening to her cry about her ex. Susan comforts her until Lia is able to pull herself together and start that day's writing session. This is another defining moment for Lia and her relationship with Susan.

There is a lot more detail inside the book, but like I said in the beginning, I wanted to share the parts I liked. So this book has two parts, a relationship between Lia and Susan and the biography of Susan that Lia is writing. I just could not get into the biography part, but that is due to the fact that I don't really like to read actual biographies. This is a contemporary fiction, but the wonderful way that it is written will make you forget the biography is not real. I have to say thank you to Callie Browning for reaching out and sending me a copy. I may not have enjoyed the whole story, but I know that someone reading this will. If you feel that this may be in your wheelhouse, you can always find links to purchase this beautifully covered book on my page:

Author Interview with J Lynn Hicks

Alright y'all, this is another amazing author that I met through the FB Group Dystopian Ink. I haven't read her books yet, but I did...