Tuesday, March 31, 2020

The Sunny Adventure

Alright y'all this cute, quick read children's book with cute pictures was sent to me by the author herself. She sent me an ebook so that I was able to share it with my children on their tablets. Since it is a children's book I wanted to include what my ten year old and seven year old thought, which ended up being that they both loved it and finished it in one sitting. This is another story about friendship and just how far two unlikely friends will go to help each other. So let's just get to it shall we?

The Indian summer has come after a long rain, and Redkin Fox just wants to sleep. However her mom is reminding her that she promised to go look for food today. It was time for Redkin to learn how to find her own food. Redkin finally gets up and heads towards the bright light in between the trees that will surely give food. She runs through the woods until she finds herself at the edge of a swamp covered in duckweed. She pokes her head into the duckweed and sniffs it.

A little toad has been hiding under a lily pad in the swamp and tells her with some bravery that this is his home. He says his name is Loudcroak and asks her what she is doing. Redkin explains that she is trying to bring the sun to her mom since it looks like a big pancake. He says that he will help her for a small piece of the sun, and Redkin agrees. Together the two friends head off towards the light up the hill and through the trees. On their way up the hill, they meet a squirrel named Fluffy. Fluffy repeats herself twice as she tells them that the sun can be caught just over that hill if they hurry.

Redkin and Loudcroak thank Fluffy and take off running. They run until they come to a stream that is not too big or small, but is flowing very fast. They decide to try to go around the stream, but after some time they realize it is too long. Loudcroak suggests that they need to cross since it is not too deep. Redkin freezes with fear as she admits that she is scared of the water since she is so small. He tries to push her into the stream but is not strong enough. He decides to cross first and encourage her to join him. Redkin sits there for a bit before she closes her eyes and makes herself go in.

When she is about to the middle of the stream, Redkin opens her eyes and freezes with panic when she realizes how far she made it. Loudcroak grabs a stick and swims to where she is. He uses the stick as a floatie to help pull her to the other side. After Loudcroak helps pull her out of the stream, Redkin's fear leaves and they take off running. They are still running when they hear a rustle in the bushes and stop.

It is just a small gray hare who says her name is Zippy. Loudcroak tells Zippy they are trying to catch the sun to bring to Redkin's mother. When he tells Zippy that they are chasing it over the hill, she tells them that it is really behind a cabbage field. Zippy says she will lead them since she wants some cabbage as a snack, but doesn't want a piece of the sun. Redkin and Loudcroak follow her.

She leads them down a hill into a field of motley bellflowers. Redkin keeps getting her tail caught on them while Zippy and Loudcroak are able to go under them. Zippy tells them this is the fastest way to get down the rest of the hill. Once the three of them are finally through the motley bellflowers, they are looking at an open field where the cabbages grow.

Will Redkin and Loudcroak be able to catch the sun in time to take it to her mom? Will they find it with Zippy's help? How many more animals will they meet?

Alright so there it is! This is a cute story that many young children will enjoy. I know my two older kids did, and once my youngest (three years old) is ready to listen to it, he will too. It is a short story, but the colorful pictures and lesson will have your kids asking you to read it over and over. I have to say thank you to Ira Alice for sending it to me, because my kids loved it! I am sure yours will too! If you want to add this to your child's library, head on over to my page:

Monday, March 30, 2020

The Faceless Old Woman Who Secretly Lives in Your Home

Alright y'all, so this ARC came to me from Harper Pernnenial, and it is book three in the Welcome to Night Vale series. It may be in a series, but I think it does an amazing job standing by itself. It is told from the first person with the narrator's name never revealed, but that honestly made it better for me that way. While I thought this was going to be a ghost story and was surprisingly wrong, I still enjoyed it! This is told in two different time periods, and normally I would focus on just the one, but in this book it flows really well together. With that all being said, let's dive in shall we?

It is the year 2011, and I am a faceless old woman who looks after everyone here in Night Vale. Today I am focusing on Craig and stopping him from going on a date. First I have burned all his shoes in a plastic trash can while locking the apartment complex super in the office. Then I smashed his car window and placed glass pieces in the ignition compartment. However he hasn't discovered any of this just yet because he is in the shower. I decide to send a photo to his date of a dead raccoon as a joke. When she decides to keep texting back, I go to her house and block Craig on everything so that she won't get his reply later. Once everything is done and Craig discovers it when he gets out of the shower, I decide to tell him my story.

I grew up raised by a single father since my mother died during the row to the doctor when she was in labor with me. My mother came from a wealthy family, so my parents were gifted with an estate after they married. My father was just a merchant, but my mother's family still saw it as a perfect match since they were both so happy. My two earliest memories with my father involve our orange tree orchard. First when I was three we were playing in the orchard, and I remember just being so happy. The second was when I was six and I followed a figure of a man through the orchard. The man was walking a little funny, but I thought it may have been my father until he lead me to the cliffs on the other side of our property. When the man let himself free fall over the edge, I ran over to see where he went but saw no signs that he was there at all. I decided to tell no one, because I wasn't sure what I saw. 

When I was six my father hired twelve year old Edmond to do the bookkeeping for my father's business. I had no idea what my father did or how Edmond helped, but I enjoyed having him around. Edmond would come over often for family dinner and it would be nice until they would send me to bed so that they can have adult conversations. One night I woke up from a bad dream to find my father and Edmond down by the water helping a scary man pull in a row boat full of bags. My father told me nothing and Edmond didn't come around as often after that.

By eight I could recognize all the ships that regularly passed by our cove below. I asked my father about a ship with a flag showing a white labyrinth on a black background. He told me that it belongs to a secret group I needed to stay hidden from. He started hiring caregivers to sit with me while he was away on business trips. During those days I would play with Albert who lived close by. That it is until he said something about my father being a common criminal. I walked away in anger, but I would soon find out that he wasn't wrong. One night I was fighting sleep during another one of father's business trips I was about to fall asleep while sitting on my window sill when I hear father in the garden. I quietly follow him and see him talk to bandits in our little cove. I ask him about it the next morning, and he admits it is time that I know the truth.

My father reveals that he is a smuggler. When mother's family money ran out, they started selling everything that wasn't necessary or part of their status as a successful merchant. Father quickly realized that their cove would be their salvation. He started using it to smuggle goods that people didn't want to pay taxes and extra fees. One night when I was eleven, I had to come to father's rescue when the crew he had been using for years turned on him. I threw a rock at the scarred man who was holding a knife to father's throat. Then I stabbed the man in the thigh before he could fully regain his stance. Edmond arrived just as the rest of the crew starts to run off.

The next morning I started learning the ins and outs of the family business from Edmond and father. I also started to learn things from the new crew they hired like knife throwing and pickpocketing. They even taught me how to pick locks. Edmond taught me the art of persuasion by letting the other person think it was their idea to do what I wanted. Father even let me learn how to handle a sword by practicing with the crew using large pieces of wood. I decided I was going to become the best smuggler out there. At 13 I became determined to take over the smuggling business despite father's protests. He was worried about the Order of the Labyrinth's increased presence in the waters. Edmond tries to convince father to join forces with the Duke's Own, who was a large and strong group of pirates, racketeers, and swindlers with political connections. However father wanted nothing to do with them due to their reputation of murdering innocent people. Father was always adamant about his family name not being tied to the Duke's Own.

By the time I was 14 I was sitting with father when Edmond arrived late one evening with the news that the Order of the Labyrinth was looking to take over the smuggling in the civilized world. Edmond brings up the Duke's Own again, but once again father says no because he has a plan. Father comes up with a plan to trick the Order into thinking that they moved to a different spot. Then after a legit deliveries, they would stage one that would really just hold a cargo of hired mercenaries that would fight the crew aboard the Order's ship. The night of the fake shipment I decided to sneak out of the house. Once I caught up with Edmond, I begged him to let me stay and be useful. He decided to have me play lookout from a higher cliff. Hours pass by without a sign from the Order until I look back and see a pillar of black smoke.

I run back to the estate to find it completely engulfed in flames. I frantically look for my father and find the Order's symbol in ash on the ground near the doors. I finally find my father's body 20 feet from mother's grave on the other side of the orchards. Edmond catches up with me and cries as he blames himself for what has happened. I remind him that we need to get going before the Order decides to come back to make sure that everything is destroyed. We get the one wagon that wasn't burned and hitch it to the horses that Edmond had at the fake site. Edmond loads father into the wagon by himself despite the other men offering to help. Then I took one last look at Albert and rode off with Edmond knowing I had no where else to go.

I watch as Craig finds the letter MasterCard saying that his $15417.71 account was paid off in full and closed. After a few days he calls to check if it's a computer error. Just as he gets someone on the phone to pull up his account, I throw a wounded, one-eyed grey fox into his room. Craig starts yelling at it until it bites him on the leg. Thankfully the neighbors called the police who show up and call animal control and an ambulance. While Craig is in the hospital getting stitches and rabies shots, I call back MasterCard. I get the same guy back on the phone and request that a confirmation be sent that the account is indeed paid off in full. Craig has been dating Amaranta for the past two years ever since they got into a small fender bender. Craig tapped her bumper when he swerved to avoid her car after she slammed on her brakes. She said that a faceless old woman ran out in front of her car, but no one could find any trace of the woman. They exchanged information over drinks that lead to dinner. I have to push him every now and then to make sure the happiness stays in the relationship, but I am happy to do it.

I am 18 now and currently working with a small crew under the Duke's Own. First in my crew is the handsome and charming Andre due Livere who is a great distractor. Next is Lora who is the tallest woman I have ever met that has amazing control over her body strength. Right now Lora, Andre, and I are in Hamburg to try to steal a chest that is supposed to be delivered to a peasant revolution in Svitz. They call themselves the Green and White, and the chest is supposed to be filled with weapons they need. The Duke's Own wants it for themselves so that they can find a more profitable and less righteous use of the weapons in the chest. Andre is distracting the crew as much as possible while Lora and I work on taking the chest since it is already off the ship. One of the unloaders spots us and yells out "Thieves!!" When men start bombarding us, I put myself behind Lora and listen as she knocks them away with ease. A woman and her guard slowly make their way towards us causing all the men to stop and kneel out of her way. The woman is probably royalty, but her stalling the men with just her presence gives me, Lora, and Andre the time we need to escape with the chest.

Reunited inside an attic we are using as a safe haven, we are taking inventory of the daggers inside the chest when there is a knock on the attic door. It is the fourth of our team, Rebekah who is our master of disguise. She is currently dressed as a man in workman's clothes, because she was aboard the ship we raided earlier.  When I see the blood covering her, I immediately check her for injuries but she says it's not hers. Rebekah explains that she was at the bar with the other sailors trying to find out what information she could about how they came into possession of the chest. Before she could get someone to actually answer her questions, a group of soldiers burst in through the back door. She crawled behind the bar and changed her disguise so she looked like a barkeep. The soldiers announced that they had an order of execution from Lady Nora for the disrespect she received earlier. Rebekah went unnoticed since she looked like the other barkeep and was spared, but had to keep her cool as she watched one in three men were killed right in front of her.

The Green and White was started in Luftnarf. The peasants were being taken advantaged of from their local lord, and got together to make a formal complaint to King Torrid IV. The King's advisor, Lord Fullbright, was childhood friends with the thieving lord, so there was a lot of talk of justice happening. However, when the peasants figured out that nothing was actually going to be done, they decided to take matters in their own hands. They banded together and killed the smug lord in his home. Afterwards they decided to visit neighboring villages and do the same to their lords if necessary. The Green and White grew to the point that anyone caught wearing their colors were executed without question for association with the rebellion.

Once I had a chance, I went to Barcelona to visit Edmond in what we called home ever since my father died.  Once we get over the usual "I am okay" portion of our conversation, I ask him what he knows about Lady Nora. Edmond tells me that she is such a cruel noble that he wouldn't have sent me if he knew she was going to be there. I tell him that I am more interested in Lady Nora now that I know this. He reminds me that my father wouldn't want me to live this way, but all I can think is why does that matter now? I will still go through with my plan to get invited into the Order of Labyrinth so that I can take it down from the inside, and Lady Nora was going to be my ticket in. I don't voice this to Edmond, because I know that he still adores my father.

After finishing my visit with Edmond, I make way to Paris where the rest of my crew is waiting. I arrive at Andre's family home where Lora and Rebekah are already waiting for us in his room. His family have been successful merchants who put Andre in the business as soon as possible. When they tried to push marriage on him until he decided to go out on his own. This was how I found Andre and made him part of my crew. Now he accepts that he is happy with his life even though they still wish he would marry one day. Rebekah and Lora stay in the room while he greets me at the door. Once we are all in Andre's room, we start to have dinner together until we hear soldiers burst in downstairs. Rebekah runs out the room while putting on a disguise that will allow her to slip out unnoticed. Our only option is to go out the window with Lora as our cushion as we land on the neighbor's roof just as they burst into Andre's room. We run across the rooftops to the other side of town to the cafe where we will meet Rebekah.

We spend the next two weeks traveling South to a village called Eze where Andre's family has a secret house under a different name. Through multiple Duke's Own reports, Andre's home was destroyed and his family name tarnished to the point that all their hard work slowly climbing the social ladder is undone. Once at the secret house, Rebekah tries to silently comfort Andre while Lora cooks us a feast after buying most of the local market. I can't eat until I come up with a plan to take down Lady Nora, and thankfully it doesn't take long for me to do so.

The first step we had to do was crash Lady Nora's party that she was having despite everything going on with the Green and White. This party would have all the royals for the neighboring areas. Rebekah disguised herself as a guard and got hired on to work the party. Andre charmed himself into an invitation as a plus one for one of the royals. Lora and I used the ruse that we were delivering gifted wine. Lora unloads all the crates into the heavily guarded wine cellar while I check out the party.

Once she is done, she knocks the two guards together to knock them out. Then I set up part of the fake wine bottles that are actually filled with an explosive powder right in front of a blank wall that I have a feeling was hiding something. Once it blows the wall away during what is hopefully Andre's loud and focus holding distraction, I am proven right when I see all Lady Nora's gold from all the countries she has traveled. Once Rebekah and Andre join us in the cellar, I set up the rest of the explosives with the intent of bringing down the rest of the cellar while Lora holds the door closed. Rebekah gets back into character and drags Andre back up the stairs through the flood of guards while Lora and I climb up the vent shafts after I light the long fuse I cut. Rebekah and Andre manage to push past the guards and into the shadows, and Lora and I make it out of the shaft just as the fire burst through the vents. We stand on the hill for a moment before we start running after Andre shows that he snagged a bar of gold before being dragged out.

Over the next 12 months I visit three friends. First is Edmond in Barcelona of course. He tells me that he heard about what happened at Lady Nora's party and how she has been skinning well known thieves alive since. He begs me to be careful, and I give the empty promise that I will be before I head back to the docks. Next is in Edinburgh to meet Rebekah who has been playing an old but faithful maid for Lady Nora while she resides in King Torrid IV's palace. Rebekah tells me that the King still plans to marry a princess from Svitz soon to strengthen the two royal families against the Green and White. My third visit is to the Seagull who gave me the explosives I used to blow Lady Nora's cellar. He lives in Dubrovnik which is covered in Green and White flags with pride. I use the gold bar Andre snagged to pay the Seagull to make a specific chemical reactive clothing he says will take two months to create.

Five months later, all the royals are gathered for King Torrid IV's wedding in the unclaimed neutral land of Franchia. It has stone arches everywhere, but no one has ever inhabited the Sovereign Territory. I was standing on a hill between two arches while Lora was perched on top of the one right above the wedding platform. Rebekah was on stage near Lady Nora, and Andre was in his seat next to a royal he conned into taking him as a plus one. We all watch the King perform the Luftnarpian ceremony with Lord Fullbright close by. I hoped that the lose of her wealth was eating at Lady Nora while she stood up there with no emotion on her face. Once the ceremony was over Rebekah sprayed Lady Nora's blue dress with a vial she was keeping hidden in her own clothes that started the chemical reaction that filled the air with the scent of baked bread. Just as Lady Nora's dress was turning green on one side and white on the other, Lora dropped three Green and White flags over the arch with the middle one saying "surrender now strawhead!" All the guests and the King turn to see Lady Nora standing there with no idea that she bore the revolution colors or the flags behind her.

It's been a year since I last saw Edmond and I knew it was time for a visit. I knew I needed to explain my actions since he surely heard by now. Edmond tells me that Lady Nora was living comfortably as a prisoner in the King's palace. We had dinner before talking a walk through town together before I leave. I catch up with the rest of my crew in Karkow where they were hiding out for the winter. They are clearly ready to move on to the next job, but I am not done with Lady Nora just yet. I tell them I need to leave for a while on my own. Rebekah voices that she knows it is about Lady Nora, but I leave before they can talk me out of it.

During my visit with Rebekah before we pulled off the wedding stunt, I asked her a bunch of random questions about King Torrid IV's palace in order to get the information I need now. I walk through a hallway that is full of banners representing the different coat of arms for the sovereigns. I find the room I need and walk in to find a simple bedroom. It doesn't take long before my target comes in the room with me. Lord Fullbright asks me what I am doing in there, and I sort of explain that he is the means to an end for my mission before I stab him in the heart. I use Lady Nora's prized dagger, and leave a strip of one of her dressers wedged in the door. It isn't much longer before she is sentenced and executed for treason. Andre and I watch it alone since Lora and Rebekah see no pleasure in watching Lady Nora's death.

I walk away from Andre once the crowd starts to disperse. I hear someone walk up behind me, and thinking it is Andre, I turn to tell him I need to be alone. Instead I am greeted by the face of Senora Bover who I have always seen as an old lady outside of Edmond's house. However now she is now standing tall and appears younger as she leads me to the docks. Once we are there, she stands me in front of a ship with the Order of Labyrinth flag waving and tells me that it is mine to captain.

I try to take care of Craig but sometimes he makes it difficult. He's still dating Amarata. It becomes clear that she's questioning his sense of direction. Craig has held the same assistant level job for the past few years. I started to question it as well when I realized he hadn't mentioned his co-worker Jennifer to Amarata. All communication between Craig and Jennifer has been strictly platonic, but still. One night when Jennifer was working late alone, I decided to turn off the lights. She of course panicked when the lights would not come on and she started hearing breathing like someone else was there with her. She called for Craig before she has enough. She quits on her way home without a word to anyone. Craig is talking to Stuart in apartment 413 of his apartment complex after I placed some investment idea brochures in Craig's mailbox. Poor Stuart has lost everything in the past five years. Five years ago Stuart's wife left him, then he got fired from his job at the CIA. 18 months ago someone took $15417.71 from his bank account and he was unable to get it back. The amount has Craig curious and me annoyed.

It has been nine years since Senora Bover told me I was the captain of my ship. Of course I rounded up my crew to join me before heading out. For the first four years we just did what my Order contact Holger told us to do, which was mainly small jobs. I had the idea to try to make contact with another Order ship with a gift of gunpowder and cannon balls, but it does not go the way I want. Unlike Holger I recognized the talent in each of my new crew. For example, Vlady may be the boat swain but he has an incredible knack of being an almost unstoppable fighter. Lara even thinks he is dangerous.

Before heading back to Ca'Savio to see Holger, I decided we needed to stock up on goods to impress Holger enough to give us more responsibility. We emptied a bank vault in Monte Carlo, stole fine silks in Rome, and lifted dozens of Renaissance paintings in Rome. The paintings was the thing that made Holger say he would put in a good word into his advisors about me and my crew. After that, we started taking on bigger jobs like bank and casino heists. These kept my crew going for the next five years. Holger also had us take from other ships, so every chance I got I would take a small piece of what we got to poor villages that usually couldn't afford to buy back the produce they picked for a living. I would write to Edmond every day and worked on my patience, strength, and discipline of my body and soul so that I would be ready for my big day.

One of the biggest jobs Holger had ever given us was to kill a constable and his family for stabbing and forcing an amputation on the leg of a nephew of someone high up in the Order. When we get to the constable's house I see it was him, his wife, and their two children. I decide to spare them and just cut off one of their fingers as proof for Holger. I make sure that only Rebekah knows my plan when we get there. Andre, Vlad, and Samuel gather firewood they will need to burn the constable's house. Once all pinkies are collected, Rebekah takes the family out the back door to the neighbor's barn as I go out the front door to signal the start of the fire. I lead Andre, Vlad, and Samuel back to the ship with the lie that Rebekah was guarding the back door. When we arrive back at the ship, Rebekah is already there.

Back on deck, I see that my first mate Nathan, who keeps a journal of everything that we do, has the whole crew scrubbing the whole ship to keep them from spending all their money in port. He tells me the crew was getting restless while I was gone. Before heading back to Ca'Saviv I lay down to try to clear my head. I make up a story about how horrible the constable was in order to justify what I did to myself. Then I try to convince myself that the Order is ran by one person in order to keep my eye on my plan for revenge for my father's death. I was woken up some time later by Samuel who had wine to share as well as news that the Order was about to enter a war to take over the Persian spice trade. I tell him that I will think about it since it has not come directly from Holger himself. When we get to Holger, I have Vlad hand over the pinkies. I bring up the proposal that my ship join the war, but due to my impatience he tells me that my crew was to stay close to the shore and intimidate the port villages into only buying from the Order. I am crushed, but say nothing as we start to leave. Holger tells me that he made up the story about the constable as a test for me.

Back on the ship, I ask Vlad if he has ever been in love before. He tells about how the love of his life, Azra lives in his birthplace of Chisinau. When they were kids everything was fine between the Russian and Ottoman empires. However before they were teenagers a war started between the two. All his friends ignored him except Azra even though she is the daughter of a wealthy Turkish banker. Before he could confess his love for her, he was forced into the military to fight in the war. He found acceptance in his unit who encouraged his murderous behavior and obsession with making jewelry out of body parts. When the war was over, he went back to Azra's house to tell her he loved her, but was threatened jail by her father if he ever showed up again. I ask why he doesn't write to her, and he sadly admits that he doesn't know how to read or write. I offer to help him, and he takes it.

Three tedious years later, and my crew is still playing intimidation team. At each town I would send Rebekah in a whole day ahead of the rest of the crew dressed in a hood matching ones the Order are known for. With the illusion that she is tall and broad-shouldered, she tells all the merchants to let their works have the next day off in order to cut down on the violence. The next day Lora and Andre would go with the crew to try to help mitigate any situation that could result in death or uncontrolled violence. Andre became friends with Vlad out of necessity, and Lora learned how to crush a man against her so that they would just be knocked unconscious but whole.

By Spring of 1828, we had wounded thousands of merchants, farmers, and traders. We had only killed a few dozen, but I was no closer to the top of the circle than I was when Senora Bover gave me the ship. When we got close enough, I told Samuel to dock in Barcelona so that I can make an overdue visit to Edmond. I tell the crew to take two nights rest and leave without telling anyone where I am going. I catch Edmond up on what I have been doing for the past three years after I express my concern that someone will find out about our friendship. I tell him about Nathan recording everything in his journals, so he reminds me about my lesson in the art of persuasion. After a few glasses of wine, Edmond tells me to stay the night in one of his spare rooms. I do happily, and sleep so deeply I have my first nightmare in years.

I am walking along a line of men that are tied up and kneeling before me. Vlad is flying in the air while wearing a necklace of fingers that are twitching. He announces to kill them all just as I come to a man who looks just like Albert the last time I saw him all those years ago. Andre comes up behind the man, and says he is not who you think. The man's face starts to melt until it no longer looks like Albert. I look up at Vlad as he turns into Rebekah saying the same thing Andre did. Rebekah flies towards me and picks me up just before I startle awake. When it becomes clear that I am not going back to sleep, I write a note to Edmond thanking him. Before I head out the door, I stop in the study and read through the books to try to find a trace of the Order of Labyrinth, but find nothing.

I take a carriage back to port. When we get there, I see a fruit stand has been burned down and a woman crying over a body. Up on the roof of a building behind the stand is the figure that I watched jump off the cliff when I was a child. When I get to the ship I find out that Nathan had sent the crew to do the damage before Lora, Andre, and Rebekah wake for the day. I loudly remind Nathan that I am the captain, and my orders should be followed. I head into my cabin where my friends are waiting, and call for Samuel to join us. He hands me maps that he bought that showed the Persian's route. We come up with a plan including a script to get Nathan to agree that we needed to join the war. Vlad picks a fight with a kitchen worker, Lora steps in and stops it while saying that everyone was pent up, and Nathan announces that we needed to join taking down the Persians like it is his idea. I pretend like I am concerned, but am secretly cheering internally.

I use the maps Samuel gave me to chart our course, but we don't see a single ship along the way. We stop in Cyprus to rest and restock before we continue on our journey that doesn't include many stops. We also sell any extra goods that we don't need so that we have the space we need. We pull into port next to a large trader ship that is named the Dolphin that is being escorted by a small gunboat. The Dolphin obviously has something valuable on deck. Nathan and I come up with a plan to take the ship by surprise and then using a cannon on the gunboat to destroy it. I send Rebekah and Andre to check out how many men are on each ship. They report back that the Dolphin has three dozen men while the gunboat only has eight armed men on it with a single cannon on the port and starboard side.

I have Rebekah dress as a Cryprian tax collector demanding more money to distract the captain. Then I send Lora alone to take over the gunboat and destroy anything that gets in her way of the cannon. During what should be an hour of distraction, Samuel steers my ship behind the Dolphin, so we can anchor the ships together and sneak on board. Then when Andre gave the signal, Lora would use the cannon to destroy the hull of the Dolphin. It is a good plan, but I still feel anxious when we get ready to execute. Everything is going according to plan as Andre and I lead the crew across the ropes to the Dolphin. I see two bigger Order ships but they are faced away from us and not pulling into port. When I make it to the deck with Andre, the captain is holding a knife to Rebekah's disguised neck. I realize that the whole thing about the Persians is fake when he tells me that he is in business with the Order. I realize that I was never really in the Order myself and that Nathan used me. I turn to go back to my ship just in time to see Nathan cutting the ropes connecting the ships together.

Andre, Rebekah, and I fight the captain and his crew until he is able to signal to Lora to use the cannon. When she does, we use the distraction to get onto the gunboat with her and use it to go after Nathan. We catch up to my ship after a couple hours. We are able to subdue the remaining crew that didn't fall into the ocean when Nathan cut the ropes. Andre and I head below deck to go after Nathan, Samuel, and Vlad. Andre finds Nathan in my cabin. While I am in Nathan's reading his journal, Samuel comes in and tries to trick my into following him to the cargo hold where I had gunpowder stored. When Andre burst through my cabin door with Nathan, Samuel tries to turn on me like I knew he would. I knock him out before heading to the cargo area where I find Vlad. I am able to disarm him by reminding him that I helped him reconnect with Azra before I take the lantern in my hand and knock him out.

We sail both ships to Malta where we restock my ship and dump Vlad and the others. We head to Barcelona with Nathan as prisoner, tied up and knocked out. Once in port I send a messenger to tell Edmond to join me at my ship. I tell my friends that it is time that we go our separate ways. They try to convince me that they are not going anywhere until I tell them to do as I ask if they love me. They finally leave, and Edmond joins me about 40 minutes later. I have my worst fears concerned shortly after.

What are my worst fears? Will I ever convince Craig to grow up and be happy? How did I end up being the unseen guardian of Night Vale?

To find out these answers, you will have to pick a copy! Like I said, I expected this to be a ghost story of sorts, but as you can now tell it definitely isn't. I love how it is told from first person because it helped pull me in further to the story. I honestly think this would have been a three day read if it wasn't for the craziness going on in the world right now. I have to again say thank you to Harper Perennial for sending me a copy. It does great by itself, but it is actually book three in the Welcome to Night Vale series. If you think this would look perfect in your TBR pile, be sure to head on over to my page:

Author Interview with Payton Black

Alright y'all so these beauty pictured above is Payton Black. You have seen her work when she was a co-author with T.Steele for the Corvinus Chronicles under the name Payton Taylor. However she is very close to releasing her first solo novel, so I thought what better way to get her name out there now is than to ask her to join my author interviews round one! So let's get to know her a little better together shall we?

Q: What is your name and where do you live?
A: My name is Payton Black and I live in West Virginia

Q: Are you an Indie Author or do you work with a publishing company?
A: I’m an Indie Author!

Q: What genre(s) do you write?
A: Right now I’m working on a sort of MC/Mafia romance crossover. I also want to get
into paranormal romance and maybe some other subgenres of romance. I’m also
fond of sci-fi, dystopian, and fantasy novels, so I’d like to get into those genres as
well. I have a lot of ideas lol.

Q: What made you want to become a writer in the first place?
A: I’ve always loved books since I was little, to the point that I would find myself
continuing the story in my head after the book was over, thinking of different
situations I’d like to see the characters in. In college, I got into creative writing and
realized it gave me the power to shape the story the way I wanted and I’ve been
writing ever since.

Q: Do you work a regular job in between books?
A: Yep! I work as a beauty advisor and I’m in the process of applying for grad school. I
want to be an English professor.

Q: How many books have you published?
A: I’ve published two books called Crown of Sunlight and Palace of Moonlight with my
coauthor,Taylor Steele, under the pen name Payton Taylor. Forcing Fate will be the
first book I publish solo.

Q: How many books do you have in the works right now?
A: There’s my MC/Mafia crossover, Forcing Fate, and I’m also planning out a sort of
suspenseful romance that I’m excited about, but I don’t have any concrete plans for it

Q: What was your hardest scene to write so far?
A: Emotionally, the hardest scenes for me to write were the scenes between Sunny and
Azmodeous in PoM (Palace of Moonlight) because the abusive way he treated her upset me. Any abuse
always upsets me.

Q: How many books do you have that are not being currently worked on, but are
half-written or complete but unpublished?
A: I have outlines for two books and not much more than a plan and a prayer for a third
lol. That’s it for the moment.

Q: Do you have a series developing?
A: Forcing Fate is going to be a part of a series where each book will focus on a different couple. Cos and PoM are the first two books in the Corvinus Chronicles series and we have more planned for that series as well. I think most of what I write will be series’ because I have difficulty letting characters go once I get attached lol.

Q: Do you want each book to stand on its own, or are you trying to build a body of
work with connections between each book?
A: Forcing Fate is going to be part of a series that has a connected ongoing plot, but the suspenseful romance I’m planning is going to be a standalone.

Q: What is your next book that is set to be published and when is the release day?
A: Forcing Fate is the next book I plan to publish. I haven’t set a concrete release day
yet, but I want to do late March or early April. Fingers crossed!

Q: How long did it take you to write it?
A: I’ve been working on it for about five months.

Q: What did you do when your characters stop talking (writer’s block) to you during
the process?
A: I like to read other books, usually in a completely different genre, to kind of give my brain a break. It also helps with inspiration, like, I can read a sci-fi book and a certain character’s arc can give me inspiration for a character I’m writing in a romance novel. The characters in my head kind of perk up like, “Hey, I could do something like that!”

Q: What routine do you have when you sit down to write a book?
A: I always read through what I wrote last time so I can have it fresh in my mind and so I don’t repeat anything. I also usually look through my outline to make sure I’m not
getting sidetracked and going off on a tangent (I do that sometimes lol).

Q: Do you write it all out in long sittings or short ones (sprints)?
A: Long sittings. I typically get on a roll, so when I sit down to write I like to make sure I have two or three hours to dedicate to it.

Q: Do you get exhausted or energized during writing sessions?
A: It depends. I usually get energized if I get on a roll and everything is going smoothly, but if I get stuck it can kind of deflate me and I dwell on it more than I should instead of just skipping over it and coming back to it later.

Q: Where do you get your ideas for your books?
A: From other books or TV shows or movies. I’ll see something, like an alien city or the
dynamic between two characters, and my brain starts building on it until it becomes
a whole plot, and it’s usually something completely different than what inspired it.
I’ve also written down a couple of strange dreams I’ve had because I think certain
concepts in them could be made into a cool story.

Q: Is there another author you look up to or strive to be as successful as?
A: Ok, don’t laugh, but it’s my dream to become as popular as J.R. Ward and have
yearly Q&A’s with my readers. I love the dynamic she has with her readers and going
to see her in April every year has become a sort of tradition for Taylor and me.

Q: Are you a reader yourself?
A: YES! I’ve been obsessed with books since I was a baby and I would make my mom
read The Foot Book by Dr. Suess to me over and over again lol. Heck, I love books so
much I decided to study them in college.

Q: If so, are you a beta or ARC reader for anyone else? (You don’t have to name for
who if you do not wish to.)
A: I beta read for Taylor Steele and a little bit for Waverly Alexander. It’s something that I would like to get into more, but at the moment I don’t really have the time.

Q: Do you like to read the same genre(s) you write?
A: Yeah, pretty much. I actually haven’t read a whole lot of MC books, but I had this
idea for Dame and the Vipers and I just had to go with it. I have read a lot of Mafia
novels, though. I always try to write something I myself would enjoy reading.

Q: Do you have a favorite book or a book that stands out the most?
A; I don’t really have favorite books, I have a favorite book at the moment, because I’m always absorbing new stories so I can’t just choose one. At the moment I would say
my current favorite is the All for the Game series by Nora Sakavic. I literally think
about those characters every day.

Q: Have you ever cried, laughed, or had a real emotional response to a book?
A: Ohhhh yeah. I’m a silly person, so I laugh at pretty much everything that strikes me
as even remotely funny lol. I’ve only ever really cried at a few books. The books that
immediately comes to mind is The Chronology of Water and The Hours.

Q: What kind of social media do you have?
A: I’m on Instagram @paytonblackauthor and Facebook @AuthorPaytonBlack. I don’t
have a Twitter because I cannot for the life of me learn how to use it.

Q: Do you like to connect with your readers using your chosen platforms?
A: Yes! I’m on Instagram the most, so if anyone has any questions or just wants to chat, then definitely DM me!

Q: Do you have any author friends that have helped you with your writing process or
just been there for support?
A: Definitely! I would be a blubbering mess on the floor if it wasn’t for my friends
helping me along the way, such as Taylor Steele, Waverly Alexander, and Brittany
Cournoyer. And then there’s my favorite blogger;) (That’s you if I wasn’t clear enough
lol) ((Y'all I am still shocked every time they say I'm one of their favorites.))

Q: What was the best money ever spent as a writer?
A: Formatting! Pretty much anyone who has self published knows that formatting is
super hard and difficult so, if you can afford it and you have no idea what you’redoing (like me), I would recommend paying someone to format for you. You can find
great people on Fivver. I also recommend getting an editor if you can. Even if you
went to school for English and know all the rules, it never hurts to have a proofreader
to look over your work and catch the little things you may have missed after staring
at the same words for months on end.

Q: How does your family feel about your writing?
A: They are super supportive! They’ve come to all of my book signings and bought my
books as well.

Q: Is there anything about you that your readers don’t know that you would like
them to know?
A: I have a BA in English from Marshall University, I like to hike and crochet in my free time, and I LOVE animals. All of them. Even if I’m afraid of them, I still love them. Also, when I was little, I very seriously wanted to be a witch when I grew up. I feel like that says a lot about me lol.



Alright y'all so there you have it! She's a little quirky, but I love that about her! I am super excited to see her hard work pay off when she finally releases her book! I am also super grateful that she agreed to do this before she has made her solo debut! Be sure to keep an eye on her social media accounts for more information, and just go show her some love!

Saturday, March 28, 2020

Fine Spirits Served Here

Alright y'all so this Indie Pub came to me straight from the author herself, but because of my crazy schedule I hadn't had a chance to finish it until now. I am super grateful that Mary Walsh has been so understanding during this time, but I still feel this review is long over due. This book is set in the French Quarter of NOLA, and it is part ghost story and part love story. I really enjoyed the book, and did not see the ending coming at all! So with that being said let's dive right in shall we?

In the French Quarter in New Orleans, Louisiana, there is another haunted tour guide leading a group past the restaurant Antoine's. The tour guide tells the story of how the restaurant became haunted. In 1863, a man named Frederic Boucher came to NOLA to start a new life and prepare for his fiancee to join him. A year later she was lost at sea during her journey to the States. Frederic went on a bender, and eventually drank himself to death. The staff of Antoine's found him outside the restaurant on the street the next morning.

Will, one of the wait staff currently working at Antoine's watches the tour group take pictures before moving on. He thinks outloud how they are all going to be in for a surprise when they develop their photos. His best friend and co-worker Terrance reminds him that they need to finish prepping for the dinner service. Will has been working at Antoine's for many years now, and had done a little bit of everything including help repair the damages after Hurricane Katrina.

While they finish setting the tables and cleaning up a puddle of water in front of the kitchen door, Terrance tells Will that there is a new server starting tomorrow named Elle. Two hours into the dinner service and Will's body aches from constantly being on guard for any of the diners needs. It is a diverse crowd at the moment. There are people in their 20s, a couple with a toddler, and people in their 50s and 60s all in the same dining room but in their own little worlds. Will watches as Terrance delivers a birthday Baked Alaska to a table and sing. When he walks away, Will sees that a small flame is climbing up the cake and discreetly puts it out. Four hours later the two of them are waiting on their final table to leave. Terrance tries to get Will to go out to their favorite bar One Eyed Jacks but Will is too tired.

The next day before the next shift starts, Chef does a quick meeting in the kitchen to hand out the specials and introduce Elle. Elle gives a quick run through of her background before Chef assigns her to shadow Terrance for the week. Then he asks Will to show Elle around and give her the history of the restaurant after the lunch rush is over. A few hours later, Will takes Elle through all the private dining rooms and tells her the history of the place that includes how each room got their name. Will also tries to convince that the place really is haunted by Frederic. Elle doesn't believe in ghosts, so she just rolls her eyes. Once done with the tour, Will and Elle join Terrance in the kitchen. Terrance tells them that Chef made them all a snack using the extra peaches that he had on hand. Elle immediately goes to get her plate, but Will stays with Terrance. Terrance asks him what he learned about Elle, because he wants to ask her out. Will tells him that she is a total skeptic when it comes to ghosts.

Two days later, Will asks Terrance what is wrong after the lunch rush is over. Terrance admits that he asked out Elle, but she said no because she doesn't date co-workers. They join the rest of the staff in the kitchen for some of Chef's gumbo to eat before the dinner rush. Will is setting up the private dining rooms later when he hears Elle call for him from the wine cellar. When he walks over to the cellar door, Elle starts to explain why she is freaking out a little. She says she went down there to check things out, and had set down her notepad on a shelf after turning on the light. She came back up the stairs and turned the light off. She remembered her note pad, turned to go back for it, and found the cellar light on again before she touched the switch. Once again Will tries to convince her about Frederic's ghost as Terrance joins them. Elle walks not convinced even after Terrance confirms what Will has said.

Will suggest to Terrance that they invite Elle to join them at One Eyed Jacks that Saturday for a friend's only night out. Terrance says sure, but that he's not asking her. Will says that he will talk to her about it. Will tells Elle the plan, and she immediately starts saying she doesn't date co-workers. Will explains that it would be the three of them going out as friends, even though she seems really familiar to him. She agrees to go, but asks him what he means by that. He tells her that he feels like they have met before but he can't remember. He admits that he recognized her eyes, and tries to make sure it doesn't come off in a super creepy way. She tells him to let her know if he ever figures it out.

Will tells her that he is really bad with remembering people's faces despite being a server. Elle asks him how he does so well then. He tells her that at other restaurants he would write down something about the customer like their shirt color next to their order. Since they have to do everything from memory at Antoine's, he says that it just took some time for him to get the hang of it. Will asks Elle how her first week is going, and she says that it is good and she likes it here.

Once the final guest is gone, Will meets Terrance and Elle outside on the sidewalk so they can walk over to One Eyed Jacks. When they get there, Elle takes in the place and finds it hard to believe that this is the regular spot for the guys. Terrance and Elle grab a few drinks, but Will doesn't drink anymore, and the three of them enjoy the Cajun music. After a few rounds between Terrance and Elle, the guys convince her to go talk to an attractive guy she is looking at. They don't see her the rest of the night.

Monday comes, and it's time for another shift. Terrance and Will talk about what they did Sunday, the fact that it is supposed to hit 100 degrees all week, and a few other things while they get ready for their shift. Will heads into the kitchen before Terrance. He finds Chef waiting for some oysters to be delivered. Will heads out to check the private dining rooms are ready for the day. He is about to go into one of them when he hears a woman singing down in the cellar. He stops and listens for a while entranced by the song that sounds so familiar as well as the voice. As he listens more, the song takes him back to a time and place in his mind that Will has only visited in his dreams. He is brought back to the present when a car horn sounds outside. He looks down into the cellar and sees it is Elle singing. He realizes how he knows her.

It stops Will in his tracks because her eyes and voice remind him of someone that he used to know. He walks down in disbelief and interrupts her singing. She asks him what is wrong after seeing his face, but he can't bring himself to tell her why she seems so familiar to him. He comes out of his trance long enough to reassure her that her voice is amazing when she tries to say otherwise. They get into a discussion about some of NOLA's famous singers, and she acts like she has never heard of Ella Fitzgerald or Satchmo are to get back at Will for the other night. Elle admits that her parents actually named her after Ella Fitzgerald because they love her music so much.

The following day Chef asks them all who pissed of Frederic last night because the dining room and bar area are completely destroyed. When no one admits to doing anything, Chef announces that they will need to close for the lunch service in order to clean up in time for the dinner service. Chef also says that he will put on the website that the fire suppressant system malfunctioned in order to stop a rumor from spreading that a ghost is making it difficult for them to have guests. Terrance and Will work in the bar area while the rest of the staff gets started on the dining room. They all clear out broken tables, chairs, and any glass from the alcohol bottles. Elle charges into the room while both guys are looking at the fruit syrup on the mirror spelling out FRED. She takes in all the damage before she starts helping them finish clean up the bar area. They are all finally done three hours later, and so tired that Elle says she is sleeping until noon tomorrow since it is her day off before going to look for a present for her aunt. Since Will has the same day off, he offers to go with her.

After eating lunch, Will meets Elle on the corner of Jackson Square before following her to an antique shop. He eventually finds an old Coca-Cola metal sign. While he is looking at it, Elle manages to find a photo of a man standing in front of the Beauregard-Keyes House in the 1800s inside a nice silver frame. After staring at it for a bit, Will verbally pulls her away from it to show her the sign he found. While paying for the sign, Elle asks the shop keeper about the photo. He tells her that he doesn't know who the man is, but that she can always check with the Historic New Orleans Collection (HNOC) if she wanted to find out more information.

The following day Terrance teases Will about his shopping trip with Elle while they are setting up some tables for the dinner service. Will just says that they had a good time and found a present for her aunt. Will then tells him about how he heard Elle singing in the cellar the other day, and finally realized where he knows her from. Terrance asks him if is going to tell her, but Will admits that he doesn't really know how to tell her yet. Chef comes out into the dining room and asks the guys if they will work the pop up table on Bourbon Street so they can sell takeaway food from the restaurant as a form of advertisement.

An hour later, Will and Terrance are standing behind the linen cloth table with a few other co-workers selling lots of plates. Two more hours go by, and it is all going smoothly until Will sees an older woman standing on the sidewalk crying. Will goes to help her despite Terrance's protests. It turns out that someone stole her purse with everything inside including her phone. She got separated from her friend who she just had lunch with not too long ago, and wanted to call her. Will takes her back to the table so she can call her friend on Terrance's phone. Terrance also gives her a $20 for the cab ride that she will have to take.

During their shift the next day, Terrance tells Elle about how Will helped the old lady and was a hero for a small moment. Elle admits that she is impressed before asking Will to go with her to the HNOC on their next day off since she went back and bought the photo. Will agrees to go, and Terrance practically invites himself. A few days later after lunch, the three of them go to the HNOC where the front desk ladt doesn't know anything about the man in the photo except that his lapels on his jacket are from around 1860. The woman then leads them into the room where all the Census records are kept around this time period after stating that the photo was taken in front of the Beauregard-Keyes House. While following her, Elle admits that there is something familiar about the man in the photo even though she can't explain it.

After two hours of flipping through page after page in the Census records for the 1800s, they all leave without finding anything else about the man in the photo. They go outside and start walking together for about ten minutes before Terrance goes his wn way. Will and Elle start to head to grab a drink, but get lost into an old bookshop that Elle loves. It is in an alley, and is called Faulkner House Books. Elle is such a regular that she knows the owner, Mr. Howard, well enough to greet him with a hug. She introduces Will to Mr. Howard before they follow the elderly man towards some books that he had come in. The store's resident ghost William Faulkner makes his presence known by making Elle's shirt fly up and make the air smell like pipe smoke. They wander around the store for an hour before they head home.

The following day at work, Elle thanks Will for going with her and suggests that they make another trip just to go get drinks since they didn't get to go. Will goes to help Terrance finish the tablecloths while they talk about about how Will is working in the bar area. Terrance says he made a second date with a girl named Rachel who he met at One Eyed Jacks. This time it will be when all of them go out. The dinner service goes through pretty uneventful besides Will using the A/C to push two single people to sit together at the bar.

A few days later, Elle joins Will and Chef in the kitchen and asks if he knows anyone that can help her figure out who the man in the photo is. Chef tells her to go see Barney at Keli's Antiques since the lady at the HNOC said something about the Civil War lapels on the man's jacket and the pocket watch chain. Elle thanks Chef and invites Will to go with her. So the next day off they both had, Will and Elle met in front of Keli's where they go in and talk to Barney. After telling Barney that Chef sent them to see him, Barney looks at the photo and is able to tell him that the man is French by the suit he is wearing and that there is a pocket watch chain hanging but not much else. Elle thanks Barney and leaves with Will even more determined to figure out who the man in the photo is. Will listens to Elle explain that there is something so familiar about the man but she still can't explain it. Will still can't explain how he knows her either.

They walk around Royal Street for a while until Elle is almost knocked down to the pavement by a bald man in a waiter's uniform. He starts to apologize, but she tells him that it is okay because Will would have broken her fall. The man looks confused, and she sees why when she turns around and see that Will is not standing there. She called out for him, and watched him come out of the door to a coin shop just a few steps away. They make their way further down Royal Street until Elle leads him into an alley that is a shortcut to the other side of the St. Louis Cathedral so they can reach Jackson Square. They are stopped by a fortune teller who calls Elle by Camille and offers to read her tarot cards. Elle ignores her until she calls her Camille again. The teller says she knows Will is not who he pretends to be and that he knows who turned on the light in the cellar. Will starts to panic a little but Elle just brushes the woman off as a fake trying to run a scam.

The next day Terrance finds Will on the floor of the storage room throwing knives at a cardboard box. When Terrance asks why, Will tells him about the fortune teller calling Elle by Camille and that Will is not telling her everything. Will decides that he needs to find the fortune teller again and find out what she knows exactly. He tells Terrance that he will be back and leaves without saying another word. He goes back to the same spot that she was at yesterday only to find a man there instead. The man tells Will that she can be found in different places around the Quarter and her name is Madame Delia. Will starts walking around the French Quarter to find her.

Will is still searching the Quarter for Madame Delia when he makes it to a voodoo shop. He approaches the clerk who tells him to check Preservation Hall. Will finally finds Madame Delia and asks her how she shows his name, Elle's name, and about the cellar light. She simply flips a tarot card with Adam and Eve on it before telling him he needs to tell Elle his secret soon because time is running out and waves him off.  Back at the restaurant, Elle scolds him for missing the lunch rush. Will uses the excuse that he was missing Marie Lavaeu's grave before helping finish the prep for the dinner service. After work Will, Elle, and Terrance go to One Eyed Jacks to meet his friend Rachel who ends up not showing up after Elle gets knocked into Terrance. A few drinks in, Elle tries to convince Will to dance with her, but he says no. So she gets Terrance to dance with her instead. Will watches them dance he starts to try to get on the dance floor to stop Terrance kissing Elle.

The next day, Will is angrily getting silverware ready for the lunch rush when Elle comes up to him talking about the old photo. Will asks her why she doesn't go talk to Terrance, and she replies that the kiss meant nothing. Will tells her that she needs to make sure Terrance feels the same way before agreeing to go with her to a watch repair shop to find out more information about the man in the photo on their next day off. After the lunch rush, Terrance comes to Will apologizing for what happened with Elle since it was completely unplanned. When Will says he doesn't want Terrance to have Elle, Terrance reminds him that he can't have her either as long as he doesn't tell her how he knows her.

On their next day off, Will meets Elle in front of Jean Lafitte's Old Absinthe House so that they can search for the watch. It is the middle of summer which means it is hot and humid even early in the morning. They make their way down Bourbon Street until they reach the corner where it turns into Canal Street where the watch shop Elle Googled is located. Once inside the watch shop, Elle asks if the man standing behind the counter knows about watches from the 1860's era. When he says yes, she pulls out the old photo she has been carrying around since she started investing it. Unfortunately the man isn't able to get a clear look at the pocket watch in the photo, but he does take down Elle's contact information and says that he will talk to some of his colleagues about it.

Five minutes later, Will and Elle are standing on the corner waiting to cross the street. Will looks at her and sees that she is determined more than ever to figure out who the man in the photo is. Will starts to fall harder for her as he gets to know her more and more. He laughs at the idea of doing an old fashioned duel with Terrance for her if it were just a few decades ago. A few days later during the lunch shift, Elle, Terrance, and Will are standing at the back of the staff crowd in the kitchen to write down the Chef's specials for the day. Then they help finish set up the dining room, and Elle invites the two of them to go see her dad's band at the Spotted Cat bar that weekend. Both Terrance and Will agree to go, and Will secretly gets excited about the fact that he will be meeting her father. He hopes to be able to get some pointers on winning Elle over.

It is Saturday night, and as Terrance predicted there is on last table just sitting there even though the rest of the dining room has been cleaned and they have had their check for the past 15 minutes. Will decides to sneak up to the table and discreetly knock over the empty wine bottle sitting on the edge. Terrance comes over immediately and starts apologizing as they clean up the glass, but it does get the diners heading out out the door like Will wanted. They finish cleaning up and head out. While walking to the Spotted Cat, the trio walks past the Lalaurie Mansion which is famous for being the mot haunted house because it used to be a place of slave torture. Will gets a chill and a feeling of being pushed when they get close, and it causes them all to stop. They keep walking until Elle points out a red brick house that looks out of place in the neighborhood. Will quietly tells Terrance that it is the house that he grew up in but not to tell Elle.

Five minutes later they arrive at the Spotted Cat and get in line to go in. Will squeezes close to the wall to avoid bumping into the lady in front of him while the bouncer asks to see Elle and Terrance's IDs. Once inside, Elle leads them straight to where her dad is sitting waiting for the rest of the band to join him. Elle introduces Terrance to her dad first, and is about to do the same for Will when the lights flicker and the music stops coming through the speakers. Her dad says to call him Sam and thanks Will for helping Elle find a present for her aunt. Sam excuses himself to go start the show after telling Elle that her sister, Nina, is somewhere in the crowd. Terrance, Elle, and Will hang at the bar and watch her dad and sister perform with the rest of the band for the next hour. During the set break, Sam, Nina, and her brother Nat join them at the bar. Nina tells Elle to sing the next half of the set, but it takes some convincing from her dad and some discreet flirting from Terrance to get her to agree. Will listens and struggles to figure out what to do while trying to hide his jealousy over Elle staring straight at Terrance as she sings.

The next day Will has to take a break on the second floor gallery while the rest of the staff is inside finishing up the daily lunch service prep. He thinks about how last night just confirmed for him that he loved Elle in a past life after seeing her with her family. He thinks about how Terrance is his best friend and how it is clear he likes Elle too. Will also saw Elle return the flirtation last night, and he knows it is because he has this huge secret from her that prevents him from fully being himself around her. Will stands up suddenly with an idea and accidentally knocks down a hanging plant, sending it to the sidewalk below just barely missing a couple standing there. Will slips inside quickly before they can see him, and rushes to the kitchen to tell Chef and Terrance that he has an errand to run and he will be back soon. He runs out the door before either one of them can reply.

Will walks the two blocks down to the Preservation Hall where he finds Madame Delia's Spirits shop. He goes inside and finds her standing behind the counter with her back to him. She makes it clear quickly that she knows he is there. He tries to ask her some questions but she tells him that she needs him to talk to someone in his world, but does not have a name to give. Will agrees to find the person even though he doesn't know a name or where to look for them, just that she says he will know when he sees her. Madame Delia says just remember what you think is not what happened before she pulls out a black and places it on the counter in front of him. It is of a ten year old girl with blonde hair dressed in a plain dark school age dress. This is the woman that Madame Delia needs him to find for her.

Will he be able to find this mystery woman? Will he ever find a way to tell Elle how he knows her? What will change when the truth comes out? What exactly does Madame Delia mean by his world?

Alright y'all, so this book was not what I was expecting, and only took me so long to read because my schedule got crazy almost right after Mary Walsh sent it to me. She has been super understanding, which has just been amazing! I have to say thank you to her for being so sweet all around! I would classify this as a cozy ghost story simply because there is also a love story going on in the background. The ending is what needed to happen but not what I secretly hoped for, and has a twist that I definitely didn't see coming! If you want to add this cozy ghost story to your bookshelf during this crazy quarantine/social distancing, be sure to head over to my page:

Wednesday, March 25, 2020

Kill or Cure (R&R Book Tours Blitz Post)

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I have great news YA fans! If you're looking to add a thrilling series to your "social distancing" TBR, start with Kill or Cure by Pixie Britton, which is FREE for the rest of the month!!! Make sure to grab yourself a copy today!
Kill or Cure Genre: YA Dystopian/ Romance/ Zombies Publication Date: February 4th, 2018 Kill or Cure is a YA romance-infused sci-fi novel. It focuses on human relationships in an undead, apocalyptic world. A girl who will stop at nothing to protect her brother. In a dystopian world ravaged by infection, society as we know it has fallen to the mouths of the dead. The remaining fragments of civilisation survive in walled compounds, scattered in the depths of the countryside. When her little brother becomes sick with a suspected flu virus, Alyx Silverthorne will do anything to keep Tommy alive. With limited medical supplies and only herbal alternatives, his prospects of surviving this mystery illness are bleak. But saving Tommy is just the beginning. The infected are not the only monsters that exist in this new world, and human nature can be more destructive than the dead. In a race against time, Alyx and her best friend Will stop at nothing to protect him, even from the same people that swore to protect them all. Kill or Cure is a dynamic, multifaceted story of teenage love and gut wrenching loss in a dystopian world.
"This novel takes an already done genre and carves its own unique mark through the zombie apocalypse."
Readers Enjoy Authors Dreams
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Audiobook Excerpt
[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RkD1DQmdInk]
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Other Books in the Series
44081937._SY475_Kill or Cure: Bloodlust  He could save the world, or destroy it… The virus that has swept the Earth hasn’t consumed Tommy, yet, but as his hunger for human flesh takes hold, his humanity vanishes behind the bloodlust of an infected. It’s up to seventeen year old Alyx and her friends to find answers. But saving her little brother isn’t their only problem. Lurking in the shadows of Alhena is the formidable General Sinter, hell-bent on capturing the boy with unrivalled superhuman strength for his own personal gains. With limited options, Alyx has no choice but to risk everything to protect him. A choice that she could live to regret Kill or Cure Bloodlust is the second book in the Kill or Cure series. Brimming with suspense, romance and heart pumping action. Goodreads 51809495._SY475_Kill or Cure: Oblivion What price will she pay to save him? With her little brother Tommy now ravaged with Infection and her best friend Will kidnapped and hidden far underground, Alyx’s world is on the edge of ruin. General Sinter is stealing Will’s memories, searching for the secret to Tommy’s power. If Will continues to resist, he loses everything, including his love for Alyx. Desperate and afraid, Alyx has no choice but to seek help from a man whom she betrayed, the ruthless gang leader Tyron. Can she convince him who the real enemy is? Or will his thirst for revenge be the end of Alyx and her friends? The clock is ticking. The fate of humanity rests in her hands. Join Alyx and Will in the explosive finale of the Kill or Cure trilogy. Goodreads About the Author Adam_Sophie_Engagement_July2014_120_High Res.jpg Pixie Britton is a British indie author and Wattpad extraordinaire. Her debut YA novel Kill or Cure, gained international success online with over 100k reads within five months of initial publication. Shes lives in Essex, England with her husband and adorable furbaby. One day she dreams of leaving her job as a Treasury Analyst in the city, to become a full time author and creative entrepreneur. Check out her website https://pixiebritton.com/ and sign up to her mailing list to receive the latest book release information.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2020

That Night (R&R Book Tours Blitz Post)

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Great news Demon Hunter fans! Azaaa Davis is getting ready to release the third installment in her Nadira Holden, Demon Hunter series! If you haven't read book #2 That Night yet, you still have time! Read on for details and a chance to win a fabulous giveaway!
That Night Publication Date: April 23rd 2019 Genre: New Adult Fantasy/ Urban Fantasy/ Paranormal All Nadira Holden wants is to preserve the last of her soul and create a new life free of magic, demons, and war. Her involuntary bond with a succubus makes her desires impossible. The threat of this disgruntled demon possessing her urges Nadira to find the succubus’s missing body. Nadira’s only hope of avoiding demonic possession lies with Derek, the only demon she can tolerate without slaying. Except, his hands are full trying to secure his recently-inherited title of prince. Desperate, Nadira agrees to help Derek secure his title by experimenting with the deadly magic they once generated in exchange for his aid in her investigation. To untangle herself from the evil that surrounds her, Nadira must be willing to betray her friends and get cozy with her enemies. She may even have to do the unthinkable: break the peace treaty that allows demons and humans to coexist. If she can’t toss aside her scruples, Nadira may not make it out of this ordeal with her soul intact. Add to Goodreads
Excerpt from This Night (Book #1)
Chapter One
NADIRA WOKE UP ENCOMPASSED IN EMPTINESS. It was as if she were in a void with no light or sound to give her a clue about her location. The air was musty, and her throat was scratchy. Nadira coughed. “Hello?” she croaked, triggering more dry coughing. She cleared her throat and tried again. “Hey! Can anyone hear me?” Nadira felt a solid surface along her back and behind her head and legs. She understood she was lying somewhere. Nadira tried to touch her surroundings and could barely move her arms before they hit the cushioned ceiling mere inches above her. As she continued to move, her elbows hit the cushioned sides, and her knees hit the ceiling. Feeling surrounded, Nadira realized she was in an enclosed space. Taking a deep breath, she tasted stale air. Some kind of crawlspace or trunk was her best guess. After a long night of sleep, Nadira expected to feel ready to tackle another day. Summer was the peak of training season, and Nadira was looking forward to a few weeks of scrimmages that would allow her hunters to show off and make her look good as team leader. Instead of feeling refreshed, her body was sore, her head ached, and her stomach was empty. She felt a weakness and discomfort that only happened when she mistakenly slept for far too long. But, what am I doing here? She tried to keep her breathing even and decided to feel around with her hands for a doorknob or latch. Behind the cushion that surrounded her on all sides, she felt a more solid barrier, like wood. Was someone playing a cruel trick on her? Nadira’s racing mind landed on Melissa—the girl that hated her success in class and on the training mat. Nadira usually ignored her, and all the other annoying cohorts. But, that didn’t stop them from whispering about her and occasionally playing pranks. “Let me out!” she screamed with all her might. The sound was hoarse, almost a growl. Nadira hit the wooden ceiling as hard as she could. No response. No one ran away in fear or came closer to open this padded, wooden cage. Her breathing was no longer controlled. She practically hissed, her breathing was so rapid and shallow. Breathe deep, Nadira commanded. This couldn’t be Melissa’s doing. It wasn’t her style. Besides, Melissa was preoccupied lately with Devon, her new boyfriend. One of Melissa’s flaws was that she couldn’t multitask, especial when a guy was involved. After ruling Melissa out, Nadira asked herself if this was a training exercise. Countless times, Nadira and her team experienced grueling trails designed to test a hunter’s lethal effectiveness against monsters. But, she was far beyond her student days of trick interrogations and unexplained battle simulations. At the very least, there would have been some whisper about her team getting tested. Nadira concluded that this couldn’t be a training exercise either. Her shallow breathing was the only sound she could hear. It caused the air to become hot. Her heart raced again as she considered the awful possibility that an enemy captured her overnight. Although she should, she didn’t remember going to bed last night. Actually, she didn’t remember anything . . . Nadira’s hands started to shake. Cold sweat made the fabric of her nightgown stick. She felt like a disgusting mess. She was never a mess. She was strong and focused. She was a warrior. Think, Nadira commanded herself. Someone has you trapped in a cold, dark place. For a second, she considered staying put and waiting for a rescue. That second passed quickly. Nadira preferred to rescue herself. She also considered preparing for the next time her enemy came to check in on her. Once, she escaped from a car trunk by fighting her way out when the vehicle stopped. The trick was to listen for your moment, and time it just right. Yet, somehow, she didn’t think she had enough air to wait around for anything other than death. She was not afraid to die, no demon hunter was, but she wasn’t ready either. It was simply not her time. With that thought, Nadira ripped and tore at the ceiling of her confinement. Self-discipline and skill helped, but her genetic makeup—unique to Children of Orion—gave her the brute strength needed to destroy her cell. Silky cushy fabric gave way to wood. Wood chips, chunks, and splinters finally gave way to solid dirt. She was panting, already exhausted. She wasn’t sure how many minutes went by, but the solid dirt indicated that she still had a long way to go. She couldn’t see her hands in front of her, but she could feel the cuts and bruises she was inflicting on herself in her effort to escape. Nadira’s hands were bloody and cramping from the repeated motion. She kept digging. Ignoring pain and discomfort was something that all demon hunters were taught. I can do this. She took a moment to pull her nightgown over her face as a makeshift mask. With her eyes closed, she kept at it. As the hole got bigger, more dirt slid into the box she was in. The weight of the loose soil on her face, chest and upper body was suffocating in its heaviness. She was at the point of no return now that the last of her air was escaping. Yet, Nadira didn’t give in to panic. Focused, she kept digging and pulling herself upward while breathing as best she could with her face covered. Nadira lost track of time—not that she knew what time it was when she woke up in this nightmare. Her mind was buzzing with a single thought. Survive. Nadira chanted to herself in an endless loop. She got sloppy with her arm movements, with her pulling and wiggling. However long she’d been clawing her way to freedom was too long. She paused, taking a few more shallow breaths through the cloth that was acting as a mask. She wanted to stop, to regain her strength, but she ignored her fatigue. Reaching up yet again, she pulled more dirt down. This time she felt nothing around her fingertips. Finally, there was space! With renewed determination, Nadira pried and hoisted herself up, kicking her legs as if she was swimming through the soil. Her hands first, then forearms. Next, her head, and lastly her shoulders escaped imprisonment. Immediately, she ripped her nightgown away from her face and took deep breaths of the fresh, crisp air. With a bit of tugging and wiggling, Nadira’s waist, then her hips, her legs, and lastly her feet became unburied. She collapsed next to the hole she crawled out of and looked at the night sky. In the cool wind, fallen leaves rustled gently all around Nadira. She was panting and filthy, covered in dirt from head to toe. But, she was free. Only when her breathing was back to normal did she move. Sitting up, she was reintroduced to her headache. It forced her to move at an even slower pace. She noticed her hands first. They were a bloody mess. Great. She won’t be holding a weapon anytime soon. The second thing she noticed was the long, soft pink dress she was wearing. It was far from the sports bras and shorts she normally wore to bed. She was filthy, homeless looking, but all in one piece and healthy enough. No time to wonder who changed her clothes, or who bothered to style her dreadlocks—formed by constantly twisting her naturally curly hair until the thick twists became permanent—with white ribbons. Looking around, she saw that she was in a cemetery. Her sigh of relief was shushed by the wind carrying the sound away. Nadira felt safe for now, knowing she was free and unguarded. Of all the awful ways to kill an enemy, why this horrible yet passive method? To bury someone alive was a sadistic, cowardly and lacking in honor. Only one answer came to mind. “Demons,” she growled.
Available on Amazon About the Author 65318898_10108667249604119_1189751991631347712_o Azaaa Davis is an American author of urban fantasy and paranormal romance novels. She fell in love with reading as a high school freshman and continues to read, write, and draw today. Her background in social work helps her portray realistic characters in otherworldly–and sometimes terrifying–situations. A New York native, Azaaa currently lives in New Hampshire (USA) with her husband and daughters. She debuted with This Time, A Nadira Holden Novel, in 2018 about demon hunters, family ties and the magic of love. Azaaa is working diligently to finish writing more fantasy novels while raising her daughters. Thank you for showing an interest in her stories!
This Time (Nadira Holden, Demon Hunter #1)
Resurrected into present-day New York, Nadira Holden is asked to save the world ... again.
Nadira achieved legendary status when she gave her life to protect humans from the demons. To her, it was yesterday. To the rest of the world, it was twenty years ago. People have made peace with the demons, worshipping them like celebrities. No one wants to believe that the beautiful creatures who brought magic to humans could be causing the disappearance of so many. When Nadira's father goes missing, she refuses to play nice. Gloves off. She has to do what she does best. Fight. Experience why not even death can stop her. Nadira Holden, Demon Hunter is a fresh urban fantasy series from Azaaa Davis that combines monster-slaying action, family drama, and simmering romance. Fans of Vampire Hunter Anita Blake, Succubus Georgina Kincaid, Buffy The Vampire Slayer, and Vampire Death Dealer Selene are enthralled and eagerly awaiting the next Nadira Holden novel. Goodreads Review copies of both books are available through R&R Book Tours in exchance for honest reviews!  Giveaway: For you chance to win a Fantasy bundle by all-female indie authors of colour, click the Rafflecopter link below!
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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...