Friday, July 31, 2020

The Monster Catchers



Alright y'all I received this Middle Grade beauty from George Brewington, the author, himself. I originally planned to write this review after my older two kids had a chance to finish it with me, but I ended up reading ahead. (Oops! Only a little sorry lol.) This book is definitely a great read if you have kids that are reading at a fifth grade and higher level. My oldest boy is reading at a third grade level, but loves the challenge the book gives him when he reads his parts out loud. I must give the small warning that there are a few bloody parts in the book, because I know that some kids are sensitive to that. Anyways, let's dive in shall we?

Bailey Buckleby is standing at the register of his father Dougie and his souvenir store when four tenth graders come in wanting to see the monsters his father catches. To get them to leave, Bailey expertly throws Frisbees to each of their foreheads because he knows they are just being bulles. It doesn't phase them as much as Bailey hoped, so he decides to try another way. Bailey pulls a baby monitor out from under the register and shows them what is behind the purple curtain separating the store. One look at the baby monitor, and all four teenagers run out of the store like their being chased.

Next an elderly man with barely any hair on his head comes in wanting to talk about a strange "pest problem". Bailey thinks he may be in the wrong place until the man shows him photos that he has taken. They show a creature with long fingers and toes, and long pointed ears. Bailey uses the intercom to call his dad to the front of the store. Dougie joins Bailey at the register and listens as the man describes a creature that has been stealing all the lightbulbs outside his house. The old man says his name is John Hanson, and he lives at the intersection of Ahab and Blackwater.

Dougie looks at John Hanson's photos and tries to say it's a typical but harmless garden gnome. Dougie suggests that John sets up an electric fence to set boundaries. Bailey asks if it could be a tunneling goblin, but Dougie brushes it off as fascination with Dr. March's Monster book. However after a few moments, Dougie admits that Bailey could be right, and leads into a sales pitch of two options. One option is that John pays $7,000 for them to remove the goblin now. The other is for John to end up paying more for the remove of two monsters since a regular guard dog will not do the trick. John agrees to the first option and Dougie promises to catch it that night.

While Dougie preps the dynamite they may need for the night's trap, Candycane Boom comes into the store. Candycane is a loan shark who uses his vicious faery named Bill Collector. Candycane got his name because when he goes to collect from people he gives them the option of paying up the money or giving something in place of it, or holding a candycane so Bill knew where to attack. Faeries are sugar addicted deadly creatures. Candycane is there because he wants to buy a second faery from them to help increase his returns. Dougie happily makes the sale to Candycane, because it's still business. After a while his dad comes across the intercom to tell Bailey to take Henry for a walk.

Bailey locks up the front of the store and heads behind the curtain to Henry's walk in freezer room. Dougie keeps saying that Henry is a Swiss troll, but Bailey has his doubts. Either way they both love the big blue dog like creature that Henry is. Bailey reminds his dad to feed the other monsters, including the harpy they named Abigail who is chirping for food at the sight of Bailey. Bailey feeds Henry a whole raw chicken in ice water before putting on Henry's trench coat, sun, and big glasses to help disguise him. Once Henry has his leash on, he practically drags Bailey down to the beach. While Bailey would normally worry about the people running scared, this beach is filled with people who would rather just pretend they don't see Bailey since he doesn't attack anyone. 

While throwing the Frisbee for Henry, Bailey watches as a wind surfer with a head of a dog on top of a human body comes close to Henry. Close enough that he snatches the Frisbee in mid air. Bailey is glad he had an extra Frisbee, because he has to use it to get Henry back to his side. Once Henry's leash is back on, the dog man comes closer. He introduces himself as Axel Pazuzu, and identifies himself as a cynocephaly. Bailey is weary of Axel, and is right to be when Axel talks about buying Henry. Axel says that Henry is not a troll, and wants to buy him for one million dollars. When Bailey refuses, Axel makes threats of physical harm before walking away.

Later that evening while preparing to catch the goblin, Bailey tells his dad about Axel. Dougie tells him not to believe anything that wind demon tells him, and to stay away from him because it was a cynocephaly that killed Bailey's mother. While it is shocking news to Bailey, he quickly refocuses on the job as his dad starts to nail glowsticks and a battery powered nightlight to the trees to lure the goblin to them. It doesn't take long before Bailey is being woken by the goblin trying to tear the nightlight from the tree above him. He tries to wake his dad, but realizes that he will have to throw the weighted net himself. Bailey times it just right and manages to capture the goblin in the net as his dad wakes up. Just as Dougie is duct taping the goblin's hands and feet, Bailey sees that they are not alone. Axel comes out of the woods with his faery and 20 goblins. It quickly becomes a brawl that involves Axel spraying Dougie with Cherry KoolAid to direct the faery to him and a goblin dog pile. Bailey uses his Frisbees to scare Axel away and a battery lantern to get the goblins off Dougie. Dougie is bleeding from his stomach from the faery and from his pinky that the first goblin bit off. They end up capturing a second goblin because she refused to let go of the first. Bailey knows they must hurry back to take care of Dougie's wounds.

Once home Bailey feeds all the monster before sleeping all of Sunday away. He wakes up at 4 a.m. and realizes that he forgot to prepare for his social studies presentation. Despite his dad's warnings, Bailey decides to talk about George Washington using Yetis. His teacher reminds him of a mole person. His presentation is the first and last of the day since it practically starts a riot. His class is practically split between monster believers and non-believers. One of the believers is his best friend and only girl he takes to named Savannah. They are riding home later when they are confronted by the tenth graders again. Savannah scares them off with the sword she has been hiding in a trombone case all day. Bailey has to physically stop her from chasing the bullies after a while.

Bailey listens as Savannah explains that the sword is her family heirloom from the Revolutionary War. Her great-great-great-great grandfather fought along side minotaurs in a group called the Bullhead Brigade. Bailey knew that she believed in monsters, but he is still surprised to hear this information from her. He is even more surprised when she asks to see the back room of his store. Bailey happily takes her, because he has been wanting someone else he can talk to about it all. When they arrive at the store, Bailey has to help his father ring up some customers and clear the store. Once all the customers are gone, Bailey takes Savannah behind the purple curtain while Dougie stays at the register.

Bailey walks Savannah through all the monsters they have. They start with Abigail, who is just as fascinated by Savannah as Savannah is her. Then it's the ones in small fish tanks, and the faery room. The last stop is Henry who is excited to go for a walk and meet a new friend. Bailey tells his dad through the intercom system that they were taking Henry out. Savannah laughs at the disguise they have to put on Henry, but is excited to go with them. When they arrive at the beach, Axel is there with some goblins in scuba gear. Bailey holds tight to Henry's leash while Savannah bravely tells Axel off with Bailey. Axel tells them that Henry is really a baby sea giant whose parents have been looking for him since the destruction of the Golden Gate bridge seven years ago. Axel warns that he hired someone to make an indirect purchase of Henry for him, and that he will not stop. Savannah, Bailey, and Henry rush back to the store to warn Dougie. When they reach the back door, the bullies are standing there waiting. Dougie manages to scare them away with a stick of dynamite, but tells Bailey to get inside to put Henry back and call Savannh's parents. Axel's threat is backed up by Candycane Boom.

What will happen to Henry? Can the Bucklebys protect themselves from Axel and Candycane? What other secrets is Dougie hiding from Bailey?

Like I said, this is a great Middle Grade read! There were a few moments that I was worried it was too much for my seven year old, but I have a good feeling that he will love it even more! I did warn that there were a few bloody parts, and I must admit that they are in better detail then I gave. However, this is a great book if you have a middle school level reader who is looking for something new and exciting. I am super grateful to George Brewington for sending my children a copy in exchange for my honest review! This is a book that I really think will be treasured for a long time in my family. I know that it is about to be back to school season for a lot of us, and that it is going to be remote in a lot of places. I am telling you that this is a great book to incorporate into this next round of homeschooling. Especially if you have a kid who is losing interest in reading! If you want to add this to your family's library, be sure to check out my page:

Awaken the Three (R&R Book Tours Cover Reveal)

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If you haven't heard about the Highglade Series yet, check out the cover for Awaken the Three by D. L. Jennings, a must read for Fantasy lovers who love imaginative new worlds and epic adventures!

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Awaken the Three (Highglade #2) Expected Publication Date: August 11, 2020 Genre: Fantasy Beyond the Wastes of Khulakorum, a storm is rising . . . The Shaper of Ages is gone, and along with her, the Breaker — yet gods are not the only threat to the peace of the living. Aldis Tennech, the once-great general of the armies of Gal’dorok, finds himself in exile. His only hope of reclaiming glory lies in the hands of a self-proclaimed emperor, and the unearthly powers that put him there. Meanwhile, improbable alliances are forged in the north as unexpected enemies rear their heads and threaten ruin-with a single thread in common, connecting them all. In the sequel to his award-winning novel Gift of the Shaper, D. L. Jennings once again brings to life an epic tale of war and chaos as earthly armies fight for otherworldly prizes. Ancient powers lying dormant must be called upon, bringing strength to those who need it and conquest to those who seek it; battles will rage and cities will fall, but only the most desperate or reckless would seek . . . . . . to awaken the three. Pre-Order Here! Gift of the Shaper (Highglade #1) 43182850._SX318_ For thousands of years, the Breaker of the Dawn has been locked away in the ethereal plane of the Otherworld. Now, a young blacksmith’s apprentice finds himself trapped in a war between the noble Athrani, a subset of humanity gifted with the ability to transmute matter, and the malevolent and powerful Khyth, who seek to free the ancient god from his prison. When his father, Olson, is kidnapped, Thornton Woods and his childhood friend, Miera, must leave their small village of Highglade to find him. On their way, they are joined by Ynara and Kethras, cat-like humanoids called Kienari, who use their skills as hunter/trackers to follow Olson’s trail. When it comes to light that one among them possesses the key to the Breaker’s release, Thornton and his friends must defy the might of the Khyth as armies on both sides collide in pursuit of the ultimate prize. Gift of the Shaper chronicles the epic struggle between the existing forces of good and evil, with both sides vying for control of the key that unlocks the Otherworld. The very powers of creation and destruction hang in the balance, and only a heroic effort by Thornton and Miera, backed by the power of the Athrani, can possibly stop the Khyth from unleashing ruin — and the Breaker — upon their world. Goodreads About the Author unnamed Once again, D. L. Jennings, who won the “Beverly Hills Award for Fantasy” in 2018, brings life to an epic tale of war and chaos as earthly armies fight for otherworldly prizes. Reminiscent of Game of Thrones, AWAKEN THE THREE is a riveting page-turner, and a must-read for fantasy readers who want to escape to a different world, time and place ruled by other-worldly beings. It’s the perfect book to escape from the anxious times of our COVID-19 reality. D. L. Jennings is a fourteen-year active-duty veteran of the United States Air Force, serving under the Air Force Special Operations Command. In 2005, he earned his associate degree after graduating at the top of his Korean class at the Defense Language Institute Foreign Language Center in Monterey, California, and earning the Korean Consul General’s award for excellence. He is a graduate of Bellevue University in Nebraska, earning a bachelor of science degree in security management in 2008. He finished writing his debut novel, GIFT OF THE SHAPER, which won the Beverly Hills Book Award in 2018 for Fantasy, while serving on his ninth combat tour. He has been deployed to Iraq and Afghanistan as well as several countries in Africa. When he is not reading or writing epic fantasy, he enjoys traveling, listening to ‘90s punk, and watching Ohio State football. Jennings lives in South Florida D.L. Jennings Cover Reveal Organized By: R&R Button R&R Book Tours

Wednesday, July 29, 2020

Masters & Beginners (R&R Book Tours Blitz Post)

Master&Beginning

Welcome to the tour for Masters & Beginners, by Daley Downing, book one in The Order of the Twelve Tribes series! Read on for a sneak peek, and a chance to win a signed copy of the book!

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Masters & Beginners Publication Date: August 2017 Genre: YA Fantasy/ Urban Fantasy/ Magic When Sophie Driscoll’s grandmother dies, her parents take over running the Annex, a warehouse facility that stores magical artifacts and documents proving, and protecting, the existence of faeries. Sophie and her brothers, Flynn and Cal, happily adjust to a new house, new friends, and a new way of living, joining the ranks of generations who have kept the fey and mortal realms separate for centuries. Before the first month of their new life is over, they’ll encounter romance, elves, talking cats, ancient secrets, and potentially lethal danger. What could possibly go wrong… Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

Prologue

It wasn’t a dark and stormy night. It was a pleasant late summer’s evening, shortly after sunset, the sky a rich navy blue, stars beginning to twinkle in the distance. In a pleasant subdivision, residents were settling in for the night. In a tent pitched on one of the well-mowed lawns was a group of four teenage girls, in their pajamas and sleeping bags, currently finding out who could come up with the scariest scary story. "...and to this day, he wanders the woods, looking for his head." "Can I just say, eew." Margaret wrinkled her nose and frowned disapprovingly. "That was the Headless Horseman. That's not an original story, Kimberly." "Fine! You come up with something better." Kimberly flopped down onto her pillow. The tent was pitched in a backyard just like so many other backyards up and down the street. The development was one of the last to be built in the town limits, and it sat near the boundary of the state forest. The fact they lived so close to a nature preserve meant to the adults lots of hiking and biking on the trails, a chance for the kids to see wildlife, and learn about the woods firsthand. To their children, it meant a sense of danger, dark goings-on, and the perfect atmosphere for telling ghost stories during slumber parties. "Fine, I will." Sophie sat up taller on her blanket. It was her tent, her backyard, her house, with her family inside, hosting the slumber party. Taking the flashlight, she placed it under her chin, the beam casting shadows over the contours of her face. "There was a house at the edge of the city that everyone called the glass house," she began. "It looked like it was made all from glass, and it was strange to the people in the city. It belonged to the most wealthy family, the Greymalkins. They employed many servants and farmers in the past, people working on the land they owned. But these days, they had all but stopped hiring new staff." Margaret and Helen watched Sophie, listening politely. Kimberly pretended to be bored, and fiddled with a loose thread on her sleeping bag. "The people didn't really go near the glass house anymore," Sophie went on. "The former staff, or their descendants, said that the Greymalkins were having troubles -- illness, bad investments, and the like. They said that soon the family may be forced to sell the glass house and all their land. "That was a shame, old Mrs. O’Connor said, as her grandson was coming back to town after traveling abroad for a few years, and he needed a job. He'd just completed his courses at an important university in another country, and he was well-trained in managing finances and keeping records. That was a very good thing, said Daphne, one of the few maids left at the glass house. Because the Greymalkins were looking for someone to do just that. "And so Augustine O’Connor began to work at the glass house." Margaret and Helen were definitely interested now. Even Kimberly sat up a little more and glanced in Sophie's direction. "Daphne showed Augustine where he would work. It was mostly in one room, a study where all the family's important papers were kept. After a few hours of working each day, he would go to the kitchens for a meal, and take a walk in the gardens if the weather was good. Most of the time, he only saw Daphne, or the cook, or the butler, Mr. Lee. "One afternoon, just as he was finishing up, a very grand, and beautiful, woman came into the study. She wore a silver dress, and diamond combs in her hair. This was Lady Greymalkin, he knew, as he had seen portraits of her in the lobby of the glass house. Augustine quickly stood up and then bowed, as Mr. Lee had instructed him to do if he ever met a member of the family. "Lady Greymalkin insisted he not bother about such a formality. 'Thank you for doing this work for us,' she said. 'We need all our affairs in order before we sell the house.' So it was true, Augustine asked, the rumors among the people? 'Yes, I'm afraid so,' the lady said. 'Life has not gone...as we planned recently.' Augustine gave his apology. 'There's no need to be sorry. It's how things happen sometimes.' And she invited him to tour the rest of the house with her." Outside the tent, it was quiet except for the chirp of crickets, and the occasional, brief passing of a car. Fireflies danced in the trees beyond the fence, but the girls didn't notice. "Augustine walked along the halls and saw the big dining room, the library, the grand parlor, where the family had entertained in happier times. Lady Greymalkin told him a little more about her children, her husband, and his parents, who built the glass house. When it was time for him to go, she invited him to tour the property on his own, as he wished." Kimberly couldn't pretend anymore; she was listening as raptly as Helen and Margaret. "A few days after this, the Lady came to find Augustine in the study," Sophie continued. "She told him that they had a buyer for the land, and soon his services wouldn't be needed anymore. 'Thank you so much for your help. I'm sorry it means you're out of a job. If I can do anything, please let me know.' Augustine replied that a good reference would come in handy, but also, before he left, he'd like to walk around the gardens one more time. The Lady said yes, and that she would join him. "As they walked, Augustine saw a door in the garden wall he had never noticed before. 'Come with me,' the Lady said, and she showed him a tunnel beyond the door. As they began walking down the tunnel, the Lady said, 'Oh, I forgot, Mr. Lee needed to see me! Do wait here.' And she ran back into the garden, shutting the door behind her." The back door of the house gently opened and closed. A shadowed figure slipped away from the lights inside, creeping into the yard and towards the tent. "Confused, Augustine tried to open the door. He found it locked. There was only a little light in the tunnel, and he couldn't see very far. Deciding he should wait as the Lady had told him to, he stood still." The dark figure paused near the tent, crouching down, trying to stay out of the light coming through the windows of his home. Sophie's hand was beginning to get tired of holding the flashlight, but she was almost done with the story. "Then a loud sound came from the other side of the wall, a sudden scream. Augustine jumped, and ran into the tunnel. As he ran, he heard other sounds, on either side of him, growls and snarls like those of wild animals. All the noise came out of nowhere, but it seemed to be all around him." Helen was spellbound. Margaret hugged her pillow close to her. Even Kimberly's eyes were wide. "Augustine stopped running when he realized the light was fading in the tunnel, and the noise seemed to be behind him. He stood in front of another door, and he wondered if this one would lead back to the garden, or to the glass house. He opened the door, and saw nothing else." A branch snapped in the yard, and something scratched at the tent. Helen and Margaret screamed, and Kimberly dived into her sleeping bag. Sophie smiled and turned off the flashlight.

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About the Author 20200724_082439 Daley Downing is an autistic author, parent to special needs children, a dance teacher, and cat whisperer. She spends her days attempting to write just a few more words than in the previous 24 hours, and lovingly refers to her genre as suburban fantasy. Visit her at: https://daleydowning.wordpress.com/. For a chance to win a signed copy of Masters & Beginners, click the link below! a Rafflecopter giveaway

Master&Beginning

Blog Tour Organized By: R&R Button R&R Book Tours

The Patience of a Dead Man (R&R Book Tours Blitz Post)

ThepatienceofaDeadMan

Welcome to the blog tour for chilling novel, The Patience of a Dead Man by Michael Clark. Today we have an excerpt for you, and a chance to win a fantastic giveaway! Read on, if you dare!

The Patience of a Dead Man KINDLE Book One Cover

The Patience of a Deadman Publication Date: April 15, 2019 Genre: Horror/ Paranormal *Author has described it as more “chilling than gory”. He just spent everything on a house in disrepair, but he didn’t know someone was waiting inside. Tim Russell just put his last dollar on a handyman’s dream; a quaint but dilapidated farmhouse in New Hampshire. Newly single after a messy divorce, his plan is to live in the house as he restores it for resale. To his horror, as soon as the papers are signed and his work starts, ghosts begin to appear. A bone-white little boy. A woman covered in flies. Tim can’t afford to leave and lose it all, so he turns to his real estate agent Holly Burns to help him decide whether he has any shot at solving his haunted problem. Can they solve the mystery before he loses his investment…or maybe his life? Add to Goodreads

Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE: Henry’s Demise

November 29th, 1965

The sun was low in the sky on another perfect New Hampshire day. Henry Smith had just washed and brushed his favorite horse just inside the old red barn. The workday was over until something caught his eye…something out beyond the pond, way out in the field. He walked toward the front of the house and stood there for a few seconds, scanning the tree line where he thought he might have seen her. It had looked to Henry like the woman they would see from time to time at the corner of the property, cutting across the field into the woods. The closest neighbors were more than a mile away. Henry knew them, and this woman did not look familiar. The truth was there was no explanation why the woman made frequent appearances way out here for the past few years. All of the neighbors had their own meadows full of wild grapes and blueberries, not to mention pumpkins. Why come here? Then he got to thinking: It was time to select the annual Christmas tree. Why not kill two birds with one stone? He went back to the barn, grabbed the hatchet and set off down the front lawn past the stone wall and headed toward the far left corner of the field. One hundred yards later, he turned left into the forest. He had known about the overgrown grove since they bought the place, but he was still enamored by it. If this grove had been tended to over the years, I’d have my tree already. I’d just chop it down, and after a relatively short drag back to the house, I’d be done. The grove started about thirty yards into the wild forest, fully on Smith property. The Christmas trees gone wild had become towering spruce and of course, too far gone for holiday use. They were all at least forty feet tall, more or less, and grew in perfect symmetrical rows. In and around the grove in odd spots however, were random wild spruce that could pass for Christmas trees if you looked hard enough. Henry made his way through the first few yards of the wild forest, and as always, all at once, the grove opened up in front of his eyes. He was fond of this place. It was hidden, and then it was in your face. And if you were here, it was yours and yours alone for the moment, like being lost in the hallways of an empty mansion. He angled his path to cut through the many rows, moving diagonally and to the right, deeper into the woods. Where’d she go? He passed more rows than planned, and before he knew it, he could see the man-made symmetry coming to an end at the border of the congested wild forest. More and more rogue trees had claimed odd spots here-- a near-even mixture of man and nature. The forest floor here wasn’t just spruce needles like the rest of the grove; leaves from all sorts of trees had drifted in over the years, leaving piles of natural mulch. The briars were thick, and behind them, undisturbed forest. Nestled inside the briars and brush were two high mounds of leaves that had collected for decades. They seemed artificially high as if they covered something. At first, Henry thought it might be a section of stone wall, but the stone wall in this forest also happened to be the property line, and he was sure he was still a ways from that. As he closed in, he realized the two piles were each nearly waist-high. A section of gray stone peered out from under twisting vines that had caught years of falling leaves, revealing something several shades lighter than anything naturally occurring. Gravestones, he recognized. Thirty-one years living here and I didn’t know… He looked down at his hatchet, wishing it was a pair of pruning shears. The briars proved well prepared to protect their long-held secret, but Henry’s curiosity was powerful. He forged ahead, hacking and flattening the bases of the sharp plants so that getting back out wouldn’t be the same battle it was going in. As soon as he broke through the last of the thorns, he put down the hatchet, dropped to his knees and began to clear the dead leaves and ivy. The stones were crooked from years of heaving frosts but remained steady as he worked. There was a large one on the left and a smaller one on the right. There was so much moss they were illegible. Concentrating on the left one, Henry scraped gently at the space he estimated the epitaph would be. After three or four moments of gentle effort, he had cleared the top two engraved lines. The first, in smaller letters, read: “Here lies.” The second line, where the person’s name should appear, was taller than the first--but he couldn’t quite make out the inscription. Then, a twig snapped. Henry looked around, attempting to focus in the dark; it must be her; time to meet the stranger. He looked back, down the near-perfect aisle of spruce. It was all shadows and night had finally fallen. He squinted and took off his glasses, trying to catch a better glance. She stood there in the dark--the mystery woman in the long dress. All he could make out was her silhouette; her pale white hands were holding what might be a bouquet, and her hair was pinned up, worn away from her neck. It was as unkempt as the woods behind her, strands and bunches pushing out in odd directions. And there was a smell. There are many unpleasant odors on a farm, but Henry recognized this as the smell of something unmistakably dead. Like the time a mouse died inside the wall of their bedroom. It was decay, and it was coming from her.
Available on Amazon! About the Author MikeClark-55-small Michael Clark was raised in New Hampshire and lived in the house The Patience of a Dead Man is based. The bats really circled the rafters of the barn all day long, and there really was a grove hidden in the forest. He now lives in Massachusetts with his wife Josi and his dog Bubba. The Patience of a Dead Man, Dead Woman Scorned & Anger is an Acid are his first three novels.

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1500x500 What makes this tour extra special is that it’s part one of 3! This book is the first in a trilogy, best read as one big, terrifying story! Here are the details for the other tours: Dead Woman Scorned (The Patience of a Deadman #2): October 5th – 9th Anger is Acid (The Patience of a Deadman #3): November 30th – December 4th Comment if you are interested in joining the other tours. We are happy to provide The Patience of a Deadman (Book One) as well! Giveaway: To win print copies of the entire trilogy (US Only), or a print copy of The Patience of a Dead Man (International), click the link below! a Rafflecopter giveaway Blog Tour Organized By: R&R Button R&R Book Tours

Tuesday, July 28, 2020

Today, Tonight, Tomorrow



Alright y'all, I was introduced to this YA beauty when Rachel Lynn Solomon added me to her Facebook readers group, and I am super glad that she did! Today Tonight Tomorrow is a great YA novel that I would highly recommend for any high school student, especially seniors. While I will admit that it took me a little longer to get through the book since it was on my e-reader, but that is nothing out of the ordinary for me if you have read my reviews before or been on my social media. Even though Rachel Lynn Solomon reached out to me herself, Simon Teen will be publishing this blue beauty in July. So let's dive in shall we?

Rowan is getting ready for school on her last day as a Senior. It starts out with the usual text from Neil "McNightmare" McNair alerts her before her alarm goes off. They have been rivals in everything high school and academic related for the past four years, and she knows that it being the last day won't change that. She checks in with her parents because the power is out before getting dressed for the day. On her way to school, she stops by her work to get some coffee. Rowan loves the place mainly because of it's name "Two Birds One Scone", and started working there to save for college. She has many scholarships, but they won't cover the every day expenses.

All the lights are out on the way to school, so each one becomes a four way stop. While daydreaming about the romance novel book signing happening later for her favorite author, Rowan accidentally rear ends the car in front of her. When she follows the driver of the other vehicle to a side road, she notices that her coffee has spilled all down the front of her dress. She quickly forgets about it when the other driver turns out to be her ex-boyfriend Spencer in his new car. They exchange their insurance information awkwardly before they both finish the drive to school. 

Since she arrives late, she knows that she has to go by the office and ruin her perfect attendance record. What Rowan doesn't count on is the fact that she forgot that Neil would working his last helper shift. He takes forever to write her a late pass, and then decides to point out all the successful valedictorians that have comes from the school. He also takes the time to point out that Rowan wouldn't match up to the others honored in the hallway by being a romance novel writer. Once she is good and annoyed, Neil finally lets her head to homeroom for the last time.

After fifteen minutes with McNair, Rowan can feel a real McNair headache coming. When she finally arrives in her mixed homeroom for the last time, she realizes that her mom was right about it just being about signing yearbooks. One of the other Seniors manages to convince the teacher to just let them out early since all that is left is the assembly. She agrees, but warns them not to disturb those that are still in class. Rowan follows her two best friends Kirby and Mara to Kirby's locker since she had yet to clean it out. 

Rowan watches as Mara takes photo after photo of Kirby, and wonders what this year apart from the happy couple is going to do to her friendship with him. Rowan has never had a problem with the fact that her two best friends in the world decided to start dating. Her only problem was the constant feeling that she has been the third wheel when they did hang out. Instead of dwelling on it, Rowan decides to break away to get prepped for the last assembly that they will have that will also announce who is the valedictorian: her or Neil. 

Rowan makes it to assembly and is waiting for it to be time that her and McNair take the stage as co-presidents of the student body for the last time. They go through the motions of the banter everyone has come to expect from them as well as the Senior slideshow. Then they sit on stage as the principal calls out the end of year awards. While it aggravates Rowan that Neil won her out in a few of them, it doesn't change the fact that she is surprised to hear she won the perfect attendance award as well. Neil tells her that he didn't turn her late pass in so that she could win one. As nice as it is, it doesn't take the sting away when Neil is named valedictorian over her.

The rest of the assembly goes by in a blur, and when it is finally over Rowan needs a moment. She finds an empty bench between art classes, and sits to find a moment to refocus. She even pulls out her diary in hopes to write something that will inspire her for the rest of the day. However, she is interrupted by McNair before she can attempt to write a word. He joins her on the bench after she puts her diary away, and asks her to sign his yearbook after they pick at each other a bit. Rowan can only ask why, and he tells her never mind and that he gets it. Neil walks away from her, and leaves her more thrown off than she was before.

Rowan meets Mara and Kirby for food before heading to start Howl, a scavenger hunt mixed with capture the flag. Each year the Juniors are required to organize it for the graduating class, and it always involves running around Seattle while wearing armbands that can be snatched off of you by a classmate to take you out of the game. Last year it was run by Neil and Rowan, and this year it is run by the coming in president and vice president of the student body. When Rowan realizes that she has one last chance to beat McNair by winning the Howl, it perks her back up. She isn't even phased by the fact that Neil's friends walk in without him, and say that he had an emergency to handle. One of the guys ask Rowan if she is missing her other half, which would normally annoy the crap out of her, and she makes sure he knows that she just wants to beat him.

When they finally make it to the football field with 300 of their classmates, Rowan, Mara, and Kirby are starting to wonder if the Juniors forgot about Howl. Just as some of their classmates are about to walk away, everyone's phones go off with a text announcing the start of Howl and their first clue. Rowan, Mara, and Kirby figure out that they need to head to a movie theater as they reach Rowan's car. They drive over with excitement until Mara and Kirby let it slip that they would be going away for two weeks. Rowan had made plans for them until she left for school, and now that was gone. Rowan is upset, and it gets awkward. 

They are among the first ten to arrive, and it pleases Rowan that she beat Neil there when he finally arrives. They wait until the 50th classmate joins them before a movie comes on with the rules of Howl. Then they all listen as the incoming president and VP give the official rules for this year's Howl since every year is different. When it is done, every single Senior is given a blue armband and a slip of paper that has their first take out target on it. Rowan gets hers, and her stomach drops when she sees that her first target is Spencer. Rowan stands with Mara and Kirby their last five minutes of safe time, and decides that she wants to go at it alone. She is more upset that they didn't tell her about their plans than being excluded, but doesn't tell them.

Rowan decides to leave her car and run a couple blocks away from the movie theater. She decides to cross her first of the fifteen items off at the coffee shop close by. She sits down at a table, and is thinking about she needs to find a way to go to the book signing later. She is looking through the author's Twitter when Spencer joins her at the table. Spencer starts to tell his side of why the relationship didn't work, but all Rowan can really hear is that it was an obligation to him. She starts to let him walk away, but rips off his armband with no feeling of regret. Even when he mumbles about being out of the game so early.

Rowan is making her way to the local farmers market to knock a couple other items off her list by bus. She hears someone call her name, and sees that it is Savannah. Savannah makes it clear that she doesn't have Rowan's name, so Rowan moves to the seat across from her. Savannah makes it clear that being third to her and Neil has been upsetting, and then reveals that she has Neil's name on her paper. Rowan decides to text McNair to warn him because she doesn't want the competition between them to end just yet. 

When they arrive, Rowan plays it cool and goes to the gum wall to cross off another item. Once she texts the picture she needed to the Juniors, Neil comes running past her. She runs and helps him hide when he says that Savannah is right behind him. Rowan shouldn't want to help him, but she does anyway. When Savannah is gone, Rowan and Neil get back on the bus to head to Rowan's car since the first mandatory safe time is 20 minutes away. Despite not wanting him in her car, Rowan agrees to drive Neil to the bowling alley to meet the others. 

When they arrive and check in, Rowan and Neil split to spend the next 45 minutes relaxing. Rowan finds Mara and Kirby already bowling, and joins them. It quickly turns into a conversation about she is upset at them for not telling her, because she has always felt like she didn't belong in the group half the time. Mara quickly points out back that they have felt the same all year since the competition with Neil got worse. Rowan has to take a moment from them when the realization that her rock solid friendship has been slowly crumbling hits her. 

Rowan decides to go to the arcade part of the building since she can't actually walk outside. She wastes a few minutes and dollars on a pinball machine until she hears her name whispered a couple times. She realizes that the food court and the arcade are only separated by a corner and decides to check it out. She positions herself behind a fake plant and sees Savannah sitting with some friends. Savannah tells the group that they need to work together to take down Rowan and Neil for the last time. Rowan is about to hear the whole plan when Neil sneaks up on her. After making sure that no one figured out she was eavesdropping, Rowan tells Neil to meet her at her car once time is up. They get in the car, and drive a few minutes away before Rowan finally tells Neil what she overheard. Both of them realize that they have to work together, but it's Rowan who says it outloud.

What will this mean for Rowan and Neil's personal competition? Can they actually work together? Has all this fighting and competing really just been a cover for actual feelings Rowan and Neil have for each other? How much more disappointment will Rowan feel about the way this year is ending?

Well that's it folks! I am super grateful that Rachel Lynn Solomon included me in her readers group on Facebook, because this was the perfectly cute YA I needed after the thrillers I read back to back. I am still super sorry that it took me all the way until pub day to finish it, but you guys already know that I am not the best with ebooks! I really hope that a lot of y'all will check out this book, because it is actually a great book for all teenagers! I loved it, and the ending was not what I was expecting at all! If you want to add this cute novel to your personal library or to someone else's that you think would absolutely love it, be sure to head over to my page:

The Wife Who Knew Too Much




Alright y'all, I got this ARC beauty from St. Martin's Press and I am so glad they sent it to me! I hate to admit that this is my first Michele Campbell book, but I am definitely wanting to read her others so much more now! I finished the book in a couple days, but had a hard time putting it down each time I had to! This is a page turner that has two POVs in it that are actually very easy to follow. I know that it is on sale today, but I am still going to write my review for the ARC that I have. Which means that I am only going to review Nina's POV, and leave out Tabitha's. Let's dive in shall we?

 Nina Levitt is the widow of Edward M. Levitt, real estate tycoon. Nina is now chairwoman of Levitt Global, and is married again. She met her current husband Connor a year after Edward's death, and knew people would question the relationship due to the age difference. She is 50 years old, while Connor is only 30 years old. Nina chose to ignore all the talk about him only marrying for her money, because she was really in love with him. She may have been in love, but she wasn't foolish enough to not ask for a prenup. An agreement she is grateful for as she writes a page in her diary about how Connor is responsible for her untimely death just hours before her famous 4th of July party.

Nina finishes writing her warning in her diary, and is looking at the photo of Connor with HER. Nina suspected that Connor was up to something mainly out of the paranoia left from her marriage with Edward. This proof from Hank of all people though is hard to swallow. While Hank did let Connor use his vacation cabin, she cannot figure out why Connor would trust Hank. Nina comes up with the plan to go through her annual party like everything is fine before having security escort Connor off the property and out of her life quietly. Nina wants to do things on her terms, and that means quietly. Nina thinks about the first time she saw Connor fully two years ago at this very party.

Nina was still grieving the death of Edward, who cheated often but still had Nina's heart. She was trying to politely brush off another one of Hank's advances. Hank was Edward's employee and friend who decided to leave his wife Lauren, the head of the company's PR, after a one night stand with Nina. Nina didn't want that, because she didn't even really want the one night stand that happened. Her party was in full swing when she noticed a younger handsome man standing next to her personal assistant Juliet. She walks away from Hank with promises of getting together to discuss everything about their non-existent relationship soon.

Nina listens to Juliet introduce Connor, who is the deputy director of PR of the company. Juliet explains that this is the man that was supposed to met with Nina to do the new profile needed to refocus Nina's image. Juliet slowly fades into the crowd as the conversation starts between Nina and Connor. Connor is all business until he suggests that they take a walk on the beach. Nina knows how it would look to anyone paying attention, but something about how at ease Connor puts her has her saying yes. They talk some more about the company, Nina's image, and Connor's place in the company before stopping to sit. The conversation turns to more easy topics like movies and food, and it isn't long before Nina realizes she needs to get back to the party. After the fireworks display, Nina invites Connor inside.

They eat some cold food and share some drinks before she offers to give him a tour. Connor explains that Lauren is his ride, so Nina offers to have her driver take him home later. Connor sends an upset Lauren home, and Nina knows that she will be to blamed again for "stealing" another man from Lauren. They take a quick tour of the downstairs before making their way to Nina's bedroom. They have sex that has Nina feeling like she's in love for the first time all over again. Nina knows that she can kick Connor out of her bed and home like nothing happened. She could even remove him from the company if she pleased, but something about the way he looks in her bed has her doing the exact opposite. They spend the night together, and it's just the beginning. 

When Nina returned to work after the weekend, Juliet tells her that Hank is working with Lauren to get rid of Connor by pushing up his annual performance review. Since Connor is still in his first year at the company, this is the chance Hank sees to get rid of his "competition". Nina decides to take matters into her own hands, and walks straight into Hank's office. She offers him the deal that she will back Hank up on the upcoming project most of the board is against for Connor being left alone and transferred to being Nina's special assistant. Hank doesn't like it, and tries to sway her away from Connor still with a file. Inside the file is a report of a missing woman that Connor dated in college, but Nina sees that it is just a smear against Connor. Nina says that she still wants the deal, and Hank has no choice but to take it. Nina takes the file with her, because it could still be damaging to Connor and the company.

Once both sides of the deal are fulfilled, Nina takes Connor with her for the summer. She also has Juliet, a security guard, and her yoga instructor/friend join them. Nina takes them around the world during the vacation, and it gives her a chance to be with Connor without Hank's watchful eye. One night she sends Juliet back to the States with the smear file, and gives instructions to have it hand delivered to Nina's lawyer. She wants to just brush it off, but she needs to know the truth behind it. Juliet joins them again towards the end of the vacation with a file from the lawyer. Nina was going to wait til morning to read it, but ends up going to Juliet's cabin in the middle of the night. 

Nina sees two files in the sealed envelope Juliet gives her. The first one holds a detailed report on the woman's initial disappearance, which was strange on its own, and a report from a PI that her lawyer hired to hunt down a lead. There is a woman living in Dubai that has the same name and social security number who refused to meet with the PI. However it was enough that the PI declared her alive and well in the final report, and that was good enough for Nina. The second file contains a prenup that basically says if Connor leaves or cheats on Nina he gets nothing. Nina thinks the prenup is a bit too soon, but finds herself proposing to Connor when she returns to her own cabin.

Back to the present, Nina is getting ready for the party when her head of security Steve comes in. She asks the makeup and stylist to give them a moment, and makes sure there is no one in the adjoining room before speaking. She shows Steve the photo of Connor and his girlfriend before telling the plan to remove Connor after the party. Steve tries to offer to take care of it now, but Nina explains she doesn't want the press at the party to get word of it before she's ready. Steve agrees despite how he feels, and says that he will have his guys all take turns keeping an eye on Connor in between their usual duties.

Nina spends the whole party mingling with guests and avoiding Connor. She is talking to a couple when he finally catches up with her. She acts like nothing is wrong, because she knows that there are some invited press close by. When they are alone, Connor tries to get Nina to go down the the beach with him alone, but she uses the firework display as an excuse to get away from him. Before he can protest more, his phone rings and he walks away. Nina texts Steve that she is unhappy Connor was able to get her alone before heading to the pyrotech. They were both worried that the storm would cancel the fireworks, but he is convinced that he can still set them off with no problem. 

Steve finally catches up with her out of breath and his lip busted just as the fireworks are about to start. Nina doesn't listen to Steve as he tries to explain that a violent party crasher caused him and his team to take their focus away from Connor. She tells him that once the fireworks are done and most of the guests are gone, he needs to escort Connor to her office inside. She wants to get this done and over with as soon as possible, especially since her feeling that Connor wants to kill her for her money sinks in more.

How does Tabitha play into the story? Is Nina right about Connor? Will Nina's plan for a     quiet and quick divorce go through or will he kill her?

Like I said this was going to be a different kind of review. I know that normally I would give both sides of the story or focus on the dominating POV, but this one needed a different look. I enjoyed this book, and honestly couldn't believe the ending! I am super grateful that St. Martin's Press sent me an ARC of this book. Again this was her first book that I read, but I am now wanting the rest of Michele Campbell's books! If you want to add this one to your personal library, be sure to head on over to my page:

Monday, July 27, 2020

Author Interview with Michele Campbell



Alright y'all, this interview is going to be a little different since the lovely lady pictured above is literally in the middle of her next book release! She agreed to do the interview, but we had to cut it down to just a few questions. I am still truly honored to not only be one of the ARC readers chosen, but that she agreed in the first place! Let's check out what responses I did get shall we?

Q: What is your next book that is set to be published and when is the release day?
A:THE WIFE WHO KNEW TOO MUCH will be out July 28! It tells the story of the two women who married Connor Ford. Nina is a fabulously wealthy socialite who fell hard for the much younger Connor after the death of her real-estate tycoon first husband. Tabitha is a waitress and small-town girl who’s never gotten over her summer fling with Connor years before. When he comes back into her life, unhappily married to Nina, she falls in love all over again. When Nina takes her own life, as tragic as it is, they can finally be together. Then she finds Nina’s diary. “I’m writing this to raise an alarm in the event of my untimely death. This is hard to admit, even to myself, let alone to the world. My husband is planning to kill me. For obvious reasons. He’s in love with someone else. And he wants my money.” Who is Connor Ford? Did he kill Nina? Does he love Tabitha, or is she merely a convenient suspect? Set amongst the glittering mansions of the Hamptons, The Wife Who Knew Too Much is a decadent summer thriller about the lives of those who will do anything for love and money. 

Q: How long did it take you to write it?
A: I publish a new thriller every summer, just in time for the beach. I have a year between books, and between plotting, writing, rewriting, and edits from my publisher, I use all that time. I probably spent about eight months writing this and three to four on revisions. And we’re talking LONG days!

Q: What did you do when your characters stop talking (writer’s block) to you during the process?
A: You’re right that characters “speak” to the author during the writing process.  It’s absolutely magical and one of my favorite things about being a writer. I feel like I’m watching their lives unfold in front of me, and I learn new things abut them every day. It’s unsettling when the characters clam up. Personally, I find that this usually has to do with distractions in my life that stop me from “hearing” them. Usually as long as I can get myself in the chair and focus, the block will dissipate and the characters will start talking again. 

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: Great question! I write standalone psychological thrillers, so each book can absolutely be read and enjoyed without having read the others. However, my books are about intense, fraught personal relationships that lead normal people to commit murder, and in that sense, they’re thematically linked. Three college roommates cover up a murder and pay the price years later in It’s Always the Husband. Twin sisters’ differences turn deadly when they go to a remote boarding school in She Was the Quiet One. A betrayed wife indulges in a one-night stand with the hot local bartender that turns into a deadly game of cat and mouse in A Stranger on the Beach. If you love that kind of suspenseful, immersive page-turner, you’ll love them all. Also, I hide easter eggs in each book for my fans – recurring characters and settings that are fun to spot if you’ve read other books of mine!

Q: What kind of social media do you have? Do you like to connect with your readers using your chosen platforms?
A: Readers can find me on Facebook, where I go by Michele Campbell Books, on Instagram as @MicheleCampbellBooks and on Twitter as @MCampbellBooks. I am very interactive on social media. If you post a comment I will definitely react to it and reply if I possibly can. I also post notices whenever I hear of giveaways or contests for any of my books, so definitely follow me on your favorite platform for lots of exciting content. And if you’re not into social media, you can always visit my website, MicheleCampbellBooks.com.

Facebook:

Instagram:

Twitter:

Alright, there you have it folks! Like I said, this one would be a little different, but I am so grateful! I always take into consideration when authors are in the middle of a release or writing a book, and am happy to take whatever answers they can give me! I was honestly surprised to see her reply to my message in the first place. I think this interview is perfect for the simple fact that she still answers some of the other questions without realizing it. I really hope that you guys still get an idea of what Michele Campbell has running through her head! Be sure to check out her social media, books, and keep an eye out for my review of The Wife Who Knew Too Much tomorrow!




Wednesday, July 22, 2020

The Truth Hurts



Alright y'all this thrilling beauty was sent to me by Harper Perennial, and all I can say is wow! This book is honestly one of those thrillers that didn't feel like a thriller half the time. Does that make sense? There were plenty of secrets, twists, and WTF moments, but it still had a great story that was kind of a comeback story. It definitely fits the description of being perfect for fans of A Simple Favor and The Kiss Quotient. Rebecca Reid has an amazing writing style that makes you want to just keep turning the pages. I honestly didn't even notice or struggle with the different POVs in different time frames. It was really easy to follow Poppy's present POV and the second POV when Poppy was 21. This is an ARC so there is only so much I can reveal, but I promise that you will be buying your copy by the end! So let's dive in shall we?

Poppy is in Ibiza with the Hendersons, the family that she works for as a nanny. She has been with them for about six years now, and is fighting sleep since neither Mr. or Mrs. Henderson had returned from their drinks party. They are already six hours late after promising one of them would be home for bedtime. Poppy is on the phone with her best friend Gina talking about how Poppy will be exhausted when she gets up with the youngest child. Finally Mrs. Henderson comes home at 2 a.m., and Poppy decides to try to voice how upset the children were about not seeing their parents before bed. Mrs. Henderson cannot believe that Poppy is speaking to her that way, and fires Poppy. She tells Poppy to leave right now, and she could return when the maid packed up her things. Poppy is trying to leave with some dignity when asking that they sleep on it doesn't work, and "borrows" the car since Mrs. Henderson left the keys nearby. Poppy has the unfortunate luck to also have to borrow Mrs. Henderson's shoes since she was already dressed for bed. 

Poppy drives until she sees a bar on the side of the road that was still serving. Poppy orders a beer and snags the last outside table available. She tries to think everything through she doesn't have much cash on her, and only one of her credit cards isn't fully maxed out yet. She knows that the Hendersons owe her one month's salary plus other expenses she had been taking on because of the children. She has no doubt that it will be a fight to get them, but she knows she needs to try in order to get back home to London. She plans to sleep in the car and return in the morning to collect her things and salary. She goes inside to get another beer, and comes out to find a older but handsome gentleman has taken her table. He introduces himself as Drew, and that the table was empty. She tries to fight him about it, but he turns the tables on her by offering to buy her food and another beer. They sit and talk a little about Poppy's horrible night before they realize they closed the place down. When Poppy thinks the night is over, Drew offers to let her stay in his spare bedroom so she doesn't have to sleep in the car. Poppy says yes, even though part of her is saying it is a stupid idea. 

Caroline Walker never intended to hire Agnes for the school holiday, but after the non-interview and the wonderful hour with the kids happy she found she had no choice. Especially not after all three of her kids expressed their desire to have Agnes as their nanny this holiday. Her husband Jim was away on a boys trip, so the decision was entirely up to Caroline. 

Poppy woke up remembering Drew offering her a place to sleep, and that he didn't want to have drunken sex with her no matter how hard she tried. She gets up after seeing the time, puts on her clothes from last night besides her knickers, and goes downstairs. She finds Drew dressed and drinking coffee when she says something about needing to go get the Henderson's car. Drew says that he will drive her instead of calling her a cab. She sits in the passenger seat happy, but shocked when he doesn't turn off to where the car is. He pulls up in front of a dress shop and salon, gives her his credit card, and tells her to go get freshened up. She asks him why, and he simply says to do it as a favor to him since it isn't very often he can do a small fuck off to people he normally has to play nice with. 

Drew drives Poppy all the way back to the Henderson's holiday home to gather Poppy's things and drop off the keys. The way he sees it, they can retrieve the car themselves after throwing Poppy out in the middle of the night. When they knock on the front door, Poppy watches as Mrs. Henderson pulls on her fake nice face and lets them in. She writes Poppy a check for her final salary and expenses owed while Drew grabs Poppy's bag from the small bedroom. Drew must be giving Poppy some kind of confidence, because she is able to keep a straight face the whole time. When they finally leave, Drew and Poppy walk calmly until they are sure the door is closed. Then they run to the car where Drew lets Poppy drive. She drives them for a bit before pulling into a empty rest area, and straddles Drew in the passenger seat. Once they both are done, Poppy drives to a bank to cash the check at Drew's suggestion. The teller tells her it will take three days to clear, so Drew offers to let Poppy stay with him. Poppy says yes, because why not?

Jim Walker is finally home from his trip a couple days after Caroline hires Agnes. Agnes is 21 years old, and has to be a live in nanny due to the long drive she had to take just for the interview. That wasn't what they originally agreed to, Agnes is perfect in Caroline's eyes. Agnes knocks on the kitchen door while Caroline and Jim are talking to let them know that the oldest Jack was watching TV while the other two were fast asleep. Agnes was planning to go out to grab some food, but Caroline invites her to eat dinner with her and Jim instead.

It had been three weeks since the three days to clear agreement came and went. Drew and Poppy fell into a steady routine that basically involved them together 24/7. They didn't even buy enough food for more than a day or two like they were afraid they would end before the food spoiled. Drew even let Poppy use his phone to call Gina since Mrs. Henderson had shut off the nanny phone. One day Drew asks Poppy to marry him after only being together a month, and after an encouraging phone call with Gina, Poppy says yes. The two of them were eating at a restaurant right across from the courthouse waiting to get married. Drew offered to wait and have a real wedding in London, but Poppy knew that no one she wanted to be there would come or be able to come. Drew then proposes they both follow just two rules in their marriage: no secrets and they didn't talk about the past. While Poppy knows that Drew is probably asking this because he has something to hide, but so does she. Poppy agrees, and they both share what they deem is relevant to the relationship. Drew then gifts her to the deed of a house that he bought for her as a wedding present. Poppy loves the picture, and the fact that he named it the Thursday House to honor the day they met. 

Caroline loved her house and neighborhood because it was like it was stuck in an era where kids were able to roam free. One day her friend/neighbor Mel stopped by for visit while Agnes had the kids playing the yard. The conversation turns to Agnes's beauty and how Caroline was brave for hiring her. Mel knows instantly that she spoke out of turn, but this wasn't the first time Caroline had heard that. Caroline knows that Jim would never, and listens as Mel apologizes for even suggesting it. Caroline tells herself that it's just Mel putting her own insecurities into her head. 

The first three weeks were complete wedding bliss. Poppy and Drew kept up the routine they already had. She did get a little paranoid when she notices that Drew is taking a lot of phone calls in the spare room away from her. She finally decides to ask him about it, and he tells her that he has been making arrangements to have the house ready for them to move in, and wanted it to be a surprise. Later Poppy calls her mother, but doesn't get a response until she says "it's Agnes mom". Poppy tells her that she got married, and her mother could honestly care less before she hangs up. Poppy cries into a towel, and tries to hide the fact by putting her face in some cold water like she has done many times before. One day after having sex again, Drew asks her why she closes her eyes every time she climaxes. Poppy tells him about how her mother caught her masturbating and made her go to the priest for confession since her Catholic views. Poppy thought it was unfair that she was sharing this piece of her past, but he was reluctant to talk about something as simple as the religious side of his boarding school. Drew quickly distracts her with news that their new home will be ready for them to move into in about a week.

Two weeks later Drew and Poppy are riding in the car to see their home for the first time in person. It was located in Wiltshire, about an hour from London. From the top of the hill, Poppy could see it, and couldn't figure out why she was nervous. Poppy was so excited when they finally pulled into the driveway, and could see that Drew was too. They walked in, and the first thing Drew did was take a deep breath like he was trying to savor their home's smell. There was a lot of furniture left behind by the previous owners. Drew says it is because they didn't want to pay the shipping fee when they moved aboard. Poppy starts exploring the house starting in the sitting room. She stands in front of an old mirror, and barely brushes the dust off of it before it falls to the floor. Drew comes in to make sure she is okay, and tries to reassure her that the mirror was just an accident. Drew leads her into the kitchen where there is a box waiting for her. Inside is a new name sign for the house and a beautiful engagement ring just for her. 

Caroline was in the kitchen enjoying the late afternoon and the 30 minutes she usually gets alone as she preps dinner. Agnes comes in, and from the look on her face, Caroline knows that it must be something serious. She gives Agnes some potatoes to peel as a distraction, and listens as Agnes asks about how they discipline the children. Caroline of course immediately thinks Agnes may have hit the kids not realizing, but the look on Anges's face tells her otherwise. Agnes admits that her mom used to hit her all the time as a child, and wanted to know if it was normal. Then the discussion somehow got on how Agnes hates her name, so Caroline suggests that she go by her middle name like Jim. So Agnes started to call herself Poppy at Caroline's encouragement. 

A week has passed since they moved into their new home, and Poppy is painting her toes when she hears music. She walks carefully into the sitting room to find Drew playing the piano. She has yet another moment wondering why he chose her to join his perfect world, and he reassures her that he's not perfect. Then he leads her to the study where he gives her an envelope. Inside are three cards: a credit card that she should use for big purchases, a debit card for their joint account that she can use for every day purchases, and a debit card for her new personal account to use at her discretion. Each card has a lot of money available, and he knows it is an uncomfortable conversation to have. He tells her that they share everything now, including money. He will have to go back to work soon, and wants to make sure that she is able to do whatever she desires without worrying about money. He even wants her to meet with his financial advisor to work on getting rid of any debt that she has, because they can afford to take care of it. She asks again why her, and he offers to give the why I love you speech. She isn't quite ready to hear it, so she just kisses him and says I love you instead. 

Caroline and Jim are prepping for their dinner party as well as putting away groceries. Caroline brings up that they should invite Poppy to join them, and Jim finds it a little strange that she doesn't have much of a social life. Caroline explains that most of her friends are doing internships or traveling, and Poppy has to work because her family doesn't live in London. Jim apologizes for not getting it right away, but agrees they should invite Poppy like it was his idea in the first place. 

The day before Drew is due to return to the office, Poppy convinces him to take her into the village Linfield. Drew tries to talk her out of it, but she brushes it off as him being snobby. They get there and go into the pub for one drink. The barmaid is sweet and friendly until Poppy mentions that they just recently moved into Thursday House. Poppy tries to make sense of it as they take their drinks outside. A man comes out some time later to check on them, and has the same reaction when Drew mentions the road they live on. Drew explains that it is small town mindset against their money. A few days later into their new routine, and Poppy is practically begging Drew to stay home out of loneliness. He tells her to hire someone to help her clean and make the house the way she wants it before he leaves. Poppy goes back up to bed and Googles cleaners. She calls the first one in Linfield, but gets the same treatment when the address comes up. Poppy calls one in London, and they tell her that a new girl could be there tomorrow. 

Caroline is working in her office at home when the sun blocks half of her screen. She gets up to close the curtains, and sees Poppy and her kids playing in the yard with the hose. She sees Jim come out of his shed office, and is surprised when he joins in. He tries to put Poppy at ease by picking her up, and it doesn't surprise Caroline when Jack starts play fighting Jim. She had a feeling that Jack had a crush on Poppy, but figured it was normal since he was 15. Later in bed Caroline tries to talk to Jim about whether or not they should say something to Jack, but he tells her that Poppy would tell them if anything happened.

The next day Poppy tries to find something to do all morning before she calls Gina. Gina tells her to just change one thing in the house to start putting her own stamp on it. Poppy decides to take her advice, and heads to Bath to do some shopping. She manages to find a great interior store and finds a lampshade that she loves. She makes it home just a few minutes late to let the cleaner in. The girl introduces herself as Kay-Lynne, and gets to cleaning immediately. Poppy starts to keep her company or offer to help until the conversation turns to Drew. Poppy lets Kay-Lynne finish in peace, and decides to take over the cleaning since that is what she used to do for a living. Poppy decides to change out the lampshade in the sitting room herself, but in the middle of doing so she falls off the step ladder and breaks the bulb in her hand. A piece of glass goes in her hand, but not deep. She cleans up her hand and prepares for the anger Drew may have over the mess. When Drew arrives, she has dinner cooking and her hand bandage. She tells him what happened, and is surprised to find him more concerned about her hand. She reassures him that she is fine, and watches as he changes the lampshade for her. After dinner, Poppy is cleaning up carefully when Drew suggests that they have some friends over for a weekend. They spend the rest of the evening planning it all out, including the meals that Poppy will cook.

The morning after the dinner party, Caroline wakes up to find the kids asleep, Jim not in bed, and sounds of Poppy cleaning up. She quietly goes downstairs and is surprised to hear Jim talking to Poppy. She peaks through the crack in the doorway and sees that Jim is treating Poppy like another child instead of a beautiful woman. Caroline goes into the kitchen mentally kicking herself for letting Mel get in her head. She tells Poppy she doesn't have to clean up, but Poppy doesn't mind. She offers to take the kids to the park so Caroline and Jim could get some more sleep. They both thank her, but she just says that she is happy to be with them. Jim tells Poppy that they are happy to have her.

Poppy is trying to once again fill her day with something. She has tried watching TV, reading, swimming despite the cooler weather, and learning tennis using the side of the house. She wakes up one day and decides to take a long bath in one of the guest bathrooms. She starts to fill it with hot water, but realizes she forgot her book. She turns the water off to go look for it. She is about to go down the stairs when she hears water running. She walks back in to find the tub filling up more. She calls Drew in a panic, and Drew has his assistant call a plumber. Before Drew can walk her through something, the plumber shows up. He uses a tool to turn the water off, and hands her an invoice for 800 quid before running out of the house. Drew calls her back later to check on her, and all Poppy can say is that she knows she turned the water off. Gina calls her later and tells Poppy that she got fired because the youngest child went into her room and found a small bag of weed. Poppy tells her to come stay with them for a while. She even offers to pay Gina for help around the house. She tells Drew about it later, and he voices concern about having Gina living there and working for them. Poppy brushes it off, because she is sure that he will love Gina once he gets to know her. Poppy can't think of anything that could go wrong.

Will Poppy ever adjust to her new life? What has everyone so spooked about Thursday House? Why did Poppy leave Caroline and Jim's family? What is Drew hiding about in his past? Will Poppy ever admit her past fully?

Like I said in the beginning, this is an ARC review so there is only so much that I can include. I probably would have picked a different spot to stop in if this was a final copy.  I am super thankful that Harper Perennial sent me a copy because I loved it! The ending absolutely blew me away. The twist at the end will have you sitting there asking yourself what the f***! This book is going to become a thriller favorite for a lot of people. Rebecca Reid is an amazing thriller writer, and I really think this will become a summer favorite. I couldn't put the book down except to sleep and do mama duties! If you simply must have this beauty in your personal library, be sure to check out my page:

Tuesday, July 21, 2020

Things You Save in a Fire



Alright y'all, I added this blue beauty to my BOTM box when I added How to Walk Away, and I am so glad that I did! I loved this book almost instantly! I finished it in about two days, and I honestly think it was a little too fast lol. Katherine Center proves once again that she is an amazing comeback romance writer in this one. How to Walk Away was more about coming back from a devastating physical injury with some emotional. This one however is more focused on the emotional injuries that our main character faces. Let's dive right in shall we?

Cassie Hanwell is being awarded the Austin Fire Department's valor award for saving some kids from drowning on a bus. Her story is still being run in the papers, but she is too nervous to celebrate the fact that she is the youngest and first female to be given this award. While waiting for the ceremony to officially start, her partner Hernandez starts hitting on her. Cassie tries to figure out what is going on while trying to make sure he understands her no. It doesn't go on for long though, because soon the rest of her shift is pulling out their wallets. It was a prank to keep her distracted, and it worked. That is until the ceremony starts and all her nerves come back. 

Cassie knows that since she is still being talked about in the press, she will be called up last and will get her award from the mayor himself. Cassie watches each person go up, accept their award, and give their two minute speeches. Cassie has one written down and ready to go, and is giving herself a pep talk when the worst thing could possibly happen does. Instead of the mayor the emcee announces that councilman Heath Thompson will be presenting Cassie the award instead. Her whole body freezes, her ears go muffled, and she tries to convince herself that this is all a nightmare. However it isn't and she forces herself to walk up to the stage. She tries to focus on the steps she needs to take before walking off the stage, but that only helps so much. 

When she tries to just touch the award and not Heath, he grabs her hand to shake it just like every other presenter, and Cassie sees the moment Heath recognizes her. Cassie tries to just pose for the photo, but loses all control when Heath cups her butt. Cassie immediately hits Heath in the head with her oak-and-metal award so hard that he is unconscious and she is sure he has a concussion. It has been ten years since Cassie saw Heath last, and she thought she had gotten over what he had done to her. Clearly she hadn't when she started to hit him some more while screaming "Touch me again and see how long you live". Paramedics and police are called, but Heath doesn't press charges and practically begs them to let Cassie go. Cassie knows he won't press charges because he has so much more to hide, and leaves without another word.

Cassie never wanted to be a firefighter. As a kid she would always say she wanted to be the Tooth Fairy. She eventually changed her mind and decided to go into medicine instead. She was in college working through pre-med when she gets recruited to be one of the campuses EMTs. She worked that for two years before her supervisor suggested she become a paramedic. She did, and then it was suggested she become a firefighter. It just kind of fell into her lap, and Cassie quickly found out that she was perfect for the job. She wouldn't call herself an adrenaline junkie, but she always has a sense of calm come over her during an emergency. So, she became a firefighter, and a damn good one.

Cassie finally makes it back to her apartment and is getting ready for bed when someone knocks at her door. It's Hernandez holding her award in a bag and her phone, which she left both at the ceremony. He tries to convince her to let him just to talk about what happened, but her phone ringing stops the conversation just in time. It's her semi-estranged mom Diana, and Cassie isn't too surprised by the call since she had been calling for a couple weeks now. Cassie answers it and is taken back by the conversation leading to Diana asking her to move to Massachusetts to help her adjust to going blind in one eye for a year. Diana left Cassie and her dad, Ted, on Cassie's 16th birthday, and they have barely talked in the past ten years. Cassie immediately says no, mainly because it would mean starting her career all over again in a new station. 

As soon as Cassie hangs up with Diana, Ted calls almost immediately after. He tells her that she will go to help Diana for the year, but Cassie tells him no as well. She can't understand why her dad is standing up for the woman who cheated on him and left them both heartbroken. Ted flat out tells her because they are still family, and that Cassie was raised to do the right thing. She doesn't have to like doing it, but she will do it. It is her mother after all. Cassie hangs up the phone still determined to not go anywhere just because Diana asks her to. She goes to bed thinking about how she has worked too hard to build her live in Texas to just up and leave.

The next morning, Cassie gets called into the captain's office first thing, but that doesn't surprise her. Cassie walks in with a sense of calm and a humble appearance. The captain starts out the conversation by telling Cassie she passed the Lieutenant's exam the first time with one of the top scores the department has seen. This was one of the many things about Cassie that made the chief and the mayor want to put her in a PR campaign to promote the department in a positive light. That is until last night's pummeling of a city councilman. The captain tries to get Cassie to tell her what happened, but all Cassie can bring herself to say is that she met Heath in high school and that he is a very, very bad man. It is clear that the captain gets in a sense since she is a woman as well, but that doesn't stop the conditions she lays out to Cassie. Cassie can either apologize to Heath and be promoted quietly in a year or be terminated immediately. 

Cassie can't bring herself to apologize to Heath, but can't imagine her career being over. So Cassie asks the captain to just transfer her to a station in MA, that way there's no need to do an apology or see Heath ever again. The captain warns her that he could still press charges or leak it to the media, but Cassie is confident that he won't. Since it seems to be the only win-win available, the captain agrees to start looking for open positions in stations close to Diana. It only takes the captain a week to find Cassie a new station. It is only twenty minutes from Diana's house, has two positions open, and they were happy with Cassie's qualifications. The only downside is they were an old school station that did not think that a lady could do the job. However Cassie got the job, because the station is desperate for a replacement. They already have a rookie, so Cassie is there only option.

Then the captain hands Cassie a pen and a piece of paper to write down the advice she is about to give. Cassie reminds herself that the captain has been in the department for 30 years, and just shuts up and starts writing. All the advice that she gives Cassie sounds like it comes from personal experience, which makes Cassie question even more just what she is walking into. It all basically comes down to Cassie being an asexual, androgynous, human robot with no emotions who devours fire. The captain tells her that all this will help her survive what is essentially a boys club, and give her the fresh start she needs. 

On the drive up to MA, Cassie goes back and forth about how this move could hurt and benefit her. It is a loop that she goes through practically the whole way there, but she knows there is no way she can just turn back. When she finally arrives to Diana's, she can tell instantly why her mom moved there. It is all so cutesy that it makes Cassie sick. Diana's house is covered in painted flowers, and the town is one of those small but adorable villages you see a lot in movies. Diana has even tried to convince Cassie that the town has actually been in a lot of movies, but Cassie could honestly care less. Cassie just wants to get everything she brought with her settled into her room and finish memorizing the route, maps, fire hydrant locations, and Google her new crew before bed. Diana on the other hand wants to catch up, and ropes Cassie into sitting down for an actual dinner. 

Cassie spends the next few days memorizing everything necessary, including timing the route to the station. She has already been to city hall to fill out the necessary paperwork, be issued her badge, and her uniforms. She Googles her new crew a few times and tries to memorize names to faces. The rookie won't be on there for a little while, just like Cassie. Cassie goes to be the night before her first shift confident that is prepared. She gets up at 4:30 a.m., has  a quick talk with Diana before heading out, and sits in the parking lot until fifteen minutes before start of shift. The first thing she does once inside is introduces herself to the captain, who tells her that fifteen minutes early is thirty minutes late. Cassie follows the captain to where the rest of the shift is sitting around the table, and listens as he starts the introductions. The captain decides to talk about the rookie first, but has to wait for the guys to cut him away from the flap pole.

Cassie and the rest of the shift can't help but laugh as two of the men bring the rookie in still bound by duct tape and soaking wet from where they turned the house on him. The rookie even laughs because he is the fourth generation firefighter, but when he looks at Cassie she does not expect to feel like she is having a heart attack. Cassie quickly realizes that it is just her body's attraction to him, but she mentally shuts it down because romance has no place in the firehouse. Cassie focuses on what the captain is saying during her introduction, and is not surprised when no one notices her at first. When she makes herself known, it is mixed responses around the room but overall they seem to be okay with her being there. The biggest concern they all seemed to have was where she was going to sleep. The captain says something about a supply closet, and while Cassie hopes he is joking she quickly realizes that he's not. They actually cleared out a supply closet and set it up for her since the firehouse is over a 100 years old. 

It didn't bother Cassie like it should have, because she really just wants to prove to them that she is their equal and can do the job. Just as she is about to fall asleep, the guys all burst through the door causing her to flip to a stand like she learned in her self defense classes. Once she realizes that they are there to prank her, she relaxes and let's them carry her outside with the rookie. They duct tape both of them to the basketball pole before heading inside. Cassie is grateful that she left her sports bra on under her big t-shirt and boy shorts, but quickly discovers that the rookie is just in his boxers. Cassie tries to not picture him naked, and gives him the blanket that the guys toss out the window. Cassie tries to get comfortable because she knows it is going to be a long night outside. The rookie tries to talk to her and introduce himself, but Cassie shuts that down. She simply states that if he wouldn't do or say anything in particular to the guys, then he couldn't do or say anything like that to her. 

The following morning the guys come out with blankets and hot coffee ready for Cassie and the rookie when they cut the duct tape. Cassie heads home just ready to crawl into bed after not sleeping all night, but Diana tries to rope her into sitting with her and her neighbor Josie. They are talking about how cute Cassie was  as a kid, but Cassie makes it clear that she needs to head to bed. However once Cassie gets ready for bed, she find that she can't sleep. She decides to start looking up grants that could help get necessary safety equipment into the firehouse, because it was lacking in the basics. The captain told her that if she could find the money for it, he would buy whatever she wanted. Cassie knows she can raise money and find grants because she used to do so in TX. She tries to get some sleep afterwards, because she knows there is nothing she can Google about how to deal with the rookie.

Over the next few shifts, Cassie does everything she can to get the guys to see as something besides a lady. They stopped cussing in front of her, telling certain jokes, and helping her carry the heavy equipment. Cassie knows that it is all done out of respect and kindness, but it doesn't help them see how strong a female firefighter can be. Cassie did pull ups on her first day to make a point, and tries to challenge one of them to a basketball freethrow challenge to get them to let her play too. However all that does is leads to the captain constantly putting her on training the rookie. Cassie doesn't fight it, because of the chain of command, but she doesn't like it. She spends almost every free minute on shift going over and over important EMT things he needs to know. That means spending a lot of time with him touching her. Cassie is normally bothered by someone touching her like the rookie has to for learning purposes, but it ends up being the most relaxing part of shift. Cassie can't tell if that is a bad thing or not, but she hopes it is just a new level of comfort in their budding FREINDSHIP. 

They all go out on a call for what is supposed to be for an eight year old little girl, but when they arrive it's for the elderly lady's dog. Everyone else walks back outside except for Cassie and the rookie who decide to just go through the CPR motions because they are supposed to be there to help. What neither of them expect is for the dog to come to, throw up the thimble she swallowed, and walk through the doggy door like nothing happened. The lady tries to give them both a puppy, but Cassie tries to shut it down quickly. She walks out before the rookie, but quickly realizes that he is carrying a puppy in a basket out to the truck. 

During the first month, the rookie sees a lot of dark calls that include a man dying from choking on some food, a tree falling on an empty home, and a child getting his head stuck in the slide ladder at the playground. For each dark call they went on, Cassie and the guys prank the rookie even harder. They are doing it for their own good, and because Cassie wants to find some quality in him that will squash the attraction she still feels every now and then. Cassie also figures out a way to minimize her time with Diana, except for one night when Diana starts to talk to about forgiveness being more for Cassie than anyone else. Cassie knows that Diana is probably right, but doesn't say so outloud as she listens. Cassie quickly realizes that Diana thinks she is the only person who hurt Cassie deeply on her 16th birthday, but Cassie has never told anyone about what happened with Heath and is not ready to start now. 

One night during a shift, Cassie wakes up from a nightmare of someone choking her and heads to the kitchen to get some water. She is shocked to find the rookie in the kitchen cooking an omelette at 2 a.m., but doesn't leave the kitchen. She watches him cook while they talk about why neither one of them is asleep right now. Cassie isn't hungry but eats the omelette he gives her anyway, and is taken back by the fact that he can actually cook. Despite her protests, Cassie and the rookie do the dishes together. It is going fine until the rookie tries to voice the fact that he feels like Cassie needs a hug. She quickly shuts it down with the same talk about not doing something with her that he wouldn't do with the guys. She silently admits that he is right, and has felt like she needs a hug since the night of the ceremony, but she will never tell anyone else that. 

A week later, Cassie gets pranked by the guys who tell her that she has to practice using the truck ladder in full gear. They even borrow one from the station down the road since their firehouse doesn't have one. It doesn't surprise Cassie one bit when they drive the ladder truck away and leave her up on the roof. She even laughs as they all walk inside. She checks to make sure that there is no way she can get down by herself before getting settled for the night. The sun sets and Cassie is almost asleep when the rookie surprises her. She kicks him in the chest out of reflex, and helps him get his breathing under control. Once it is, she isn't surprised to find that the guys left him on the roof too. It takes an hour for the rookie to full accept that they are stuck, and then he tells Cassie that he tried to convince the guys to get her down with cookies. The conversation then turns to how his dad had a heart attack a couple years ago, and now his mom is throwing them an anniversary party in hopes it will pull him out of his depression. The big problem the rookie has is his parents are expecting him to show up with his now ex girlfriend. He hasn't told them about the break up even though it's been six months and there was talk of a wedding in both families. So he asks Cassie to go with him as a way to distract his mom from the ex's absence. Cassie knows she should say no because it is social, career, and mental suicide, but that doesn't stop her mouth from saying yes.

Will Cassie be able to be just friends or co-workers with the rookie? What was she thinking when she said yes? Can she ever get the guys to treat her as more than a lady? Is this move to MA really what's best for Cassie? Can she forgive Diana? Will Cassie ever tell anyone what Heath did exactly?

Again I know I know, probably not the most dramatic place to stop, but it is the best place. Katherine Center does another amazing job of writing a romance that is more of a comeback story. This one focuses more the emotional trauma than the physical, but that doesn't change the fact that I was rooting for Cassie. I love that Katherine used her husband to help get the firefighter aspect as proper as possible, because that just pulls me in more! I have absolutely no regrets about falling for the hype on this book. I loved it! If you want to add this one to your personal library, then be sure to head over to 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...