Posted in reviews

The Poseidon Files by Mike Rickett Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A high octane thriller that blends the supernatural with science fiction and political thriller takes center stage in author Mike Rickett’s “The Poseidon Files”. 

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The Synopsis 

This is a story about conspiracies: A top-secret military plot which threatens humanity and another plot to leak the secret to the world. But it all backfires and two women find themselves in the centre of intrigue and menace.

The Streets of Liverpool and the picturesque village of Llanberis in Snowdonia, as well as the mountain itself, also play an atmospheric part in a tale of murder and deceit where the supernatural also plays a part.

A gripping supernatural thriller that will captivate you to the very last page.

The Review

A shocking yet fun genre mashup, author Mike Rickett delivers a stellar story and wonderful cast of characters that fans won’t soon forget. What begins as a government cover-up soon turns into a shocking mystery of death, visions, and a race against time as shadowy figures emerge and put two women brought together seemingly by fate into the crosshairs of a dangerous enemy. 

In a larger than life plot lie this, the author does a fantastic job of keeping the story as grounded as possible with memorable characters who keep the reader engaged. The quick friendship and bond between the protagonists in particular keep the reader invested as the story progresses. 

The Verdict

A one of a kind story that is filled with powerful drama, suspense and heart-pounding thrills, author Mike Rickett’s “The Poseidon Files” is a must-read thriller that never slows down. Entertaining and action-packed, the story’s final arc is an edge of your seat scene that will keep readers’ attention throughout its entirety. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Mike Rickett is a career journalist having worked for the London Daily Mail, Reuters and latterly the Liverpool Daily Post on Merseyside in the UK. In a long and varied career, he has worked as a crime reporter, feature writer, business editor and latterly, a senior sub-editor. He has also worked as a PR executive for a major bank and a multi- national electronics company.

His qualifications include a BA (Hons) English, from the University of Liverpool; a BA (Hons) Fine Art and an MA in Creative Practice both from Liverpool Hope University.

He has two children, a son in Tallinn, Estonia and a daughter in Toronto, Canada. He lives in Liverpool in the UK and divides his time between art and writing.

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

Walk Your Way To Better: 99 Walks That Will Change Your Life by Joyce Shulman

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

The key to a better life is explored through the use of walking in author Joyce Shulman’s “Walk Your Way To Better: 99 Walks That Will Change Your Life”. 

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The Synopsis

This is a book about walking your way to better. Everywhere you turn, people, podcasts and gurus promise a simple path to the life you want. But few of them work. Why? Because simply reading the words is rarely enough to call your heart and mind to action. This book is different. Each section provides a thought-starter, insight or story. But I don’t want you to just read it. I want you to read a section and then lace up your sneakers and head out the door. Because while walking, your brain processes in a unique way, enabling you to recognize the things that are truly holding your back and the changes you actually need to make. You will literally Walk Your Way to Better. Along the way, you will forge a powerful connection between your mind and your body. And bonus — you’ll feel better and become fitter.

The Review

This was a well written book. The author does an outstanding job of connecting with the reader on a personal level, telling a tale of honesty that gives a sense of authenticity to the author’s methods and wisdom imparted in the book. 

The author deals with the way walking opens up the mind and helps bring things into perspective. From making clear one’s goals in the here and now to not letting one failure define you as a failure yourself, the author makes good use of her own journey in life and business to get these ideas and lessons through to the reader. 

The Verdict

A memorable, short yet engaging read, author Joyce Shulman’s “Walk Your Way To Better: 99 Walks That Will Change Your Life” is a must-read book on improving your life overall and changing your outlook as well. It’s a book about making time for oneself to improve their life overall. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

Walk Your Way to Better is available to purchase now on Amazon.com.

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About the Author

Joyce Shulman, founder and CEO of 99 Walks and Macaroni Kid reaches millions of moms each month with hyper-local and national e-newsletters and websites, social media content, video and her Weekly Walk podcast. Having created a one-of-a-kind digital platform, she connects families to the wonders of their own communities and inspires women to chase their dreams and crush their goals.

Her most recent endeavor, 99 Walks, is on a mission to combat loneliness and improve fitness through the simple act of encouraging moms to walk together. Her mission? Nothing short of getting a million women walking.

Throughout her two decades as an entrepreneur, Joyce has guided SAHMs, teachers and even MBAs to success. Joyce shares how moms need to “take care of mama bear” and avoid the “martyr mom syndrome.” Her experience in business and leading mompreneurs makes her a coveted speaker where she shares tactics for beating burnout, fueling creativity, goal crushing, how walking can fuel productivity and performance, and more.

Joyce received her Bachelor’s in Business Management from the University of Maryland and her Juris Doctor, Cum Laude, from St. John’s University School of Law. After law school, she spent more than a dozen years as a New York City lawyer where her practice focused on complex commercial litigation.

A self-confessed idea junkie, in 1998, Joyce abandoned law firm life to liberate her entrepreneurial spirit and focus on the things that are most important to her: family, community and empowering women to chase their dreams.

Find Joyce online at:

http://www.linkedin.com/in/joyceshulman

https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCH-NR50srbDzKdUBx5BPgQQ

https://www.instagram.com/joyce.r.shulman/

https://www.joyceshulman.com/

— Blog Tour Dates

May 25th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Grab your coffee and join us in celebrating the launch of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better. You can read an interview with the author and enter to win a copy of the book.

http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

May 26th @ Karen Brown Tyson’s Blog

Stop by Karen’s blog today and you can read a guest post by author Joyce Shulman about how you become inspired to write a book.

https://karenbrowntyson.com/blog/

May 28th @ One Sister’s Journey

Visit Lisa’s blog today and read her review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://www.lisambuske.com/

May 30th @ One Sister’s Journey

Stop by Lisa’s blog again today where you can read a guest post by author Joyce Shulman where she talks about why do women need to take care of themselves. A timely post in this day and age!

https://www.lisambuske.com/

May 31st @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Visit Anthony’s blog today and read his review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

June 2nd @ Lady Unemployed

Visit Nicole’s blog and read Joyce Shulman’s guest post about beating brownout (the precursor to burnout).

https://ladyunemployed.com/

June 5th @ Wellness Connection Utah

Visit The Wellness Connection today and read thoughtful insights into Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://www.wellnessconnectionutah.com/blog

June 6th @ Author Anthony Avina’s Blog

Stop by Anthony’s blog again where you can read a guest post by Joyce Shulman on how walking can help with loneliness.

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

June 8th @ Reviews and Interviews

Visit Lisa’s blog today and read her interview with  Joyce Shulman, author of the book Walk Your Way to Better.

http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

June 10th @ Bookish Tay

Stop by Taylor’s blog today and you can read her review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://tayepperson.com/

June 12th @ The New England Book Critic

Visit Victoria’s blog today and read her insights into Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

http://www.thenewenglandbookcritic.com/

June 13th @ Simply Nourished Wellness

Visit Stephani’s blog today and you can read her review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://www.baconandwhippedcream.com/

June 15th @ Jessica’s Reading Room

Visit Jessica’s blog today and make sure you read her review of author Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

http://jessicasreadingroom.com

June 17th @ Bookish Tay

Visit Taylor’s blog again and you can read a guest post written by Joyce Shulman about how to keep fear from standing in your way.

https://tayepperson.com/

June 19th @ Coffee with Lacey

Stop by Lacey’s blog and read her review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://coffeewithlacey.com/

June 19th @ Second Wind Leisure 

Stop by Terri’s blog today and read her review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better. You can also read a guest post written by the author about the power of yet.

https://secondwindleisure.com/

June 20th @ Cafeyre 

Visit Karoline’s blog today and read her review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://cafeyre.wordpress.com/

June 21st @ Simply Nourished Wellness

Visit Stephani’s blog again and you can read a guest post by author Joyce Shulman about the value of walking. Don’t miss it!

https://www.baconandwhippedcream.com/

June 22nd @ And So She Thinks

Visit Francesca’s blog today and read her interview with Joyce Shulman, author of Walk Your Way to Better.

June 23rd @ The Frugalista Mom

Stop by Rozelyn’s blog today and read her review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://thefrugalistamom.com/

June 24th @ Cathy C. Hall Writes

Visit Cathy’s blog and read her review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://c-c-hall.com/

June 25th @ D-Mom Blog

Don’t miss Leighann’s review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

http://www.d-mom.com/

June 26th @ Deborah Adam’s Blog

Stop by Deborah’s blog today and read her review of Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

June 27th  @ Deborah Adam’s Blog

Visit Deborah’s blog again today and you can read a guest post by Joyce Shulman about the commitment to women walking their way to better.

June 28th @ Bev A Baird’s Blog

Visit Bev’s blog today where she reviews Joyce Shulman’s book Walk Your Way to Better.

https://beverleyabaird.wordpress.com/

Posted in reviews

Nefer Blue Phoenix by Micah Patton Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young warrior haunted by the events of her past must fight to reclaim what is rightfully hers and protect her family along the way in author Micah Patton’s “Nefer Blue Phoenix”. 

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The Synopsis

We all fear the unknown. Scared of never achieving the ultimate dream. On an island of ancient super beings lives a warrior haunted by attaining one goal. Kill every rebel responsible for stripping an innocent child’s family of their throne. They left the empire decorated in death and gave birth to a warrior hellbent on restoring the rightful order of the nation. But will the warrior go as far as to risk forsaking friends? Family? The gods themselves? Absolutely…

In a land of magic, pharaohs, and thrones, one warrior will discover just how treacherous they will have to become to achieve the ultimate goal. Power. Welcome to the island nation of Serenium. Where the quest for power is a must. The ability to lose it is just a scandal away. When the rich and powerful cry. They kill.

The Review

This is a fantastic historical fiction/fantasy novel that delves deep into a world of gods and royalty in the days of Ancient Egypt. In the Kingdom of Serenium, a young woman born to avenge her fallen parents and retake the throne that was meant to be hers must play a dangerous game of deceit, power and even battle amongst the new Pharaohs and the royalty surrounding them. 

The mythology really takes center stage here, mixing with the political drama of the narrative that showcases the dangerous rise to power one must take and the powerful individuals the protagonist must overcome in order to achieve it. The introduction and use of the gods and the Divinity was a nice inclusion in this fantasy narrative, bringing a sense of otherworldly wonder into the bloody, sexual and tense drama of the royal court and all it’s backstabbing that comes with it. 

The Verdict

A well written, lengthy yet well executed narrative, the story of Nefer Blue Phoenix by Micah Patton is a must watch for anyone who enjoys ancient mythology, fantasy, history and political drama. Action packed, character driven and a fun read overall, be sure to grab your copy of this amazing novel on April 10th, 2020! 

Rating: 10/10

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Posted in reviews

The Kill Club by Wendy Heard Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young woman trying to save her brother’s life discovers a dark secret in author Wendy Heard’s The Kill Club. 


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The Synopsis

Jazz will stop at nothing to save her brother.

Their foster mother, Carol, has always been fanatical, but with Jazz grown up and out of the house, Carol takes a dangerous turn that threatens thirteen-year-old Joaquin’s life. Over and over, child services fails to intervene, and Joaquin is running out of time.

Then Jazz gets a blocked call from someone offering a solution. There are others like her—people the law has failed. They’ve formed an underground network of “helpers,” each agreeing to eliminate the abuser of another. They’re taking back their power and leaving a trail of bodies throughout Los Angeles—dubbed the Blackbird Killings. If Jazz joins them, they’ll take care of Carol for good.

All she has to do is kill a stranger. 



The Review

The tension and action that makes a great thriller is present from the first page, jumping out at the reader and introducing this new world that truly tests a person’s morality. The question of whether taking a life to save another is justified really comes to life as the reader dives further and further into this world. 

The character development and relationships are what really make this novel so great, highlighting the tough reality of the law being unable to prove the harmful acts people inflict on one another, and those who take the law into their own hands as a result. The desperation to save those individuals that people love from harmful individuals can drive them to do the most chilling things, and is showcased throughout the entirety of this novel. 


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The Verdict

A must read thriller during this holiday season, The Kill Club by Wendy Heard is filled with suspense, fantastic character arcs and a shocking twist that will change the nature of the novel moving forward, leaving fans on the edge of their seats. Be sure to grab your copies today!

Rating: 10/10



About the Author

Wendy Heard, author of Hunting Annabelle, was born in San Francisco and has lived most of her life in Los Angeles. When not writing, she can be found hiking the Griffith Park trails, taking the Metro and then questioning this decision, and haunting local bookstores.

Buy Links:

Harlequin

Apple Books

Barnes & Noble

Books-a-Million

Google Play

Indie Bound

Social Links:

Author website

Twitter: @wendydheard

Instagram: @wendydheard

Facebook: @wendydheard



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Q&A with Wendy Heard

• Do you plan your books in advance or let them develop as you write?

I plan them for a long time before I start writing them, and I’m constantly revising my outline, but the plot and characters do develop quite a bit along the way.  

• What does the act of writing mean to you?

It means everything to me! I have been writing for a really long time, since childhood. Words and story have always been the way I’ve made sense of things. I’m constantly making up narratives for people and events around me. 

• Have you ever had a character take over a story, and if so, who was it and why?

Jazz held THE KILL CLUB hostage for months because I couldn’t get her to talk to me! She just kept crossing her arms across her chest and glaring at me. She did NOT want a book written about her, and I really needed her inner monologue for that first person POV! Eventually I started mentally arguing with her, and then in fighting with her and hearing her side, I started to get ALL of her IM. It was an interesting experience, trying to engage with a character in different ways until they cracked open. 

• Which one of The Kill Club characters was the hardest to write and why?

Sofia. Her story is so much like so many others I’ve known. It’s quietly and invisibly tragic, her pain at the loss of her child so sharp.

• Which character in any of your books (The Kill Club or otherwise) is dearest to you and why?

Jazz! By far, Jazz is my favorite character. In my mind, she’s kind of the spirit of Los Angeles. She’s been through so much, and her sense of humor and lack of entitlement gets her through it all. She just continuously makes the best of every hand she’s dealt, moves forward, and doesn’t engage in self-pity. 

• Do you have stories on the back burner that are just waiting to be written?

Let me get out my banjo. YES. I have so many. I have a YA that’s waiting to be written after I finish this current work in progress, which I’ve stopped and started a bunch of times, really honing the concept to get it just where I want it. But I’m constantly coming up with book ideas and having to tell them “not right now, darlings!”

• What has been the hardest thing about publishing? What has been the most fun?

Publishing is not for the faint of heart. For me, the beast is always self-doubt, and in a business that is full of rejection, that can really eat at you. It’s so easy to get out of balance and give our creative projects the power to define us. It’s important for anyone selling their art to remember to nurture a healthy life away from it, because art is a fickle master. It will come and go over your lifetime, and it won’t always be kind. You have to accept the rules of the game, but you don’t have to let the game play you. 

• What advice would you give budding authors about publishing?

You’ll hear this a thousand times, and you won’t believe it, but: the most important thing is writing a good book, and more than that, the right book. If you let the market and external forces tell you what to create, you’ll resent and blame them when it doesn’t go well. That said, keep an eye on the market, find a way to love something you think can sell, and then put your personal spin on it. No one can tell your story but you. Prerequisite skills for publishing: The ability to revise without having a tantrum; an interest in book marketing and publicity; professional written communication; the ability to hold your freakout moments and vent them far away from a public or professional setting; an addiction to caffeine. And for God’s sake, if you’ve been working on something for years and it hasn’t sold and you’ve revised it forty times, write a new book. 

• What was the last thing you read?

All Your Twisted Secrets by Diana Urban. It’s a 2020 book and has a fascinating timeline craft thing that you’re going to love. 

• Your top five authors?

This is not fair because I have at least seven thousand favorite authors! How about this–here are some crime fiction authors doing some innovative things in the genre. Kellye Garrett, who’s doing sharp-witted, LA-based mysteries and winning a ton of awards. John Vercher, who talks about social issues while keeping it gritty and plotty. Rachel Howzell Hall, an LA native who does these rad investigative mysteries. Tori Eldridge has a recent and very feminist take on the action thriller with her recent The Ninja Daughter, which I highly recommend. Gabino Iglesias’ award-winning Coyote Songs is this incredible genre mashup, part folklore, part horror, all commentary, and I can’t recommend it enough. One more one more. Carmen Machado’s recent In the Dream House. It’s memoir told in all different genres, it’s chilling, engrossing, dense, and fascinating. Did you read Her Body and Other Parties? Just wow. 

• Book you’ve bought just for the cover?

Wilder Girls. Because holy crap.  

• What did you want to be as a child? Was it an author?

I was torn between the visual arts and writing, and I always vacillated between them. I have a degree in art, and I wrote a book, then did my painting degree, then wrote some nonfiction, then got my art teaching credential. I was trying things on for size. I do wish I still had time for painting. I never intended to abandon it completely in favor of writing books, but there are only so many hours in the day. I hope to come back to it in a future existence in which I have some spare time. In the meantime, I try to write about artists and art as a means of hanging onto it. 

• What does a day in the life of Wendy Heard look like?

Sex, drugs, and rock and roll. Just kidding. I wake up at five, do publishing stuff, go to work at my day job, get my kid, come home, arm-wrestle her into doing homework, go to the gym, etc. On the weekends I wake up at five (yes I’m serious), write for a few hours, maybe record or edit an episode of the Unlikeable Female Characters Podcast, and then, you know, parenting and life stuff. Whenever my daughter is on a playdate or doing something away from me, I’m writing. 

• What do you use to inspire you when you get Writer’s Block?

I dive into the DMs and torture some writing friends, make them brainstorm with me until I feel better and I have a plan. Or I just step away for awhile. I actually have come to trust writer’s block. If I can’t move forward, I need to stop and consider. There’s something wrong, and my brain is trying to get me to stop and gather up the threads. We’re so obsessed with productivity and daily word count, but I actually find I finish books faster when I don’t force myself to write things I know are wrong and waste weeks undoing things. 

• What book would you take with you to a desert island?

I have a massive volume that contains all the Sherlock Holmes stories in one. I’d take one of those collection type of books. See, it’s technically ONE book.  

• Favorite quote?

“If you work hard enough, you don’t need luck.” Hell yeah. 

• Coffee or tea?

COFFEE.

• Best TV or Movie adaptation of a book?

The Neverending Story.

• Tell us about what you’re working on now.

I’m doing a final round of revisions on my 2021 YA thriller, She’s Too Pretty to Burn. It’s loosely based off Dorian Gray and is about a teen photographer who takes a life-altering picture of her introverted girlfriend, sending them into a spiral of fame and danger in an underground San Diego art scene. It has a character who’s basically a fine art Banksy and lots of art crimes. 


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Excerpt From “The Kill Club”

THE CEILING ABOVE the crowd sparkles with strings of golden lights. They twinkle just bright enough to illuminate the faces. I adjust a microscopic issue with my toms and run my fingers through my bangs, straightening them over my eyes. The guys are tuning up, creating a clatter of discordant notes in the monitors. When they’re done, they approach my kit for our usual last-minute debate about the set list. Dao humps his bass in his ready-to-play dance, black hair swishing around his shoulders. “Dude, stop,” Matt groans and readjusts the cable that connects his Telecaster to his pedal board.

“Your mom loves my dancing,” Dao says.

“You dance like Napoleon Dynamite,” Matt retorts.

“Your mom dances like Napoleon Dynamite.”

Andre raises his hands. “Y’all both dance like Napoleon Dynamite, and so do both your moms, so let’s just—”

I wave a stick at them. “Guys. Focus. The sound guy is watching. We’re three minutes behind.” I have no patience for this shit tonight. This all feels extra and stupid. I should be doing something to help Joaquin. His dwindling supply of insulin sits at the front of my brain like a ticking clock.

The guys get into their spots, the distance between them set by muscle memory. Andre leans forward into the mic and drawls, “Arright DTLA, lez get a little dirty in here.” His New Orleans accent trickles off his tongue like honey.

The room inhales, anticipates, a sphere of silence.

“Two three four,” I yell. I clack my sticks together and we let loose, four on the floor and loud as hell. I’m hitting hard tonight. It feels great. I need to hit things. My heart beats in tempo. My arms fly through the air, the impact of the drums sharp in my joints, in my muscles, the kick drum a pulse keeping the audience alive. This is what I love about drumming, this forcing of myself into the crowd, making their hearts pound in time to my beat.

Dao fucks up the bridge of “Down With Me” and Andre gives him some vicious side-eye. The crowd is pressed tight up against the stage. A pair of hipsters in cowboy hats grabs a corresponding pair of girls and starts dancing with them. I cast Dao an eye-rolling look referring to the cowboy hats and he wiggles his eyebrows at me. I stomp my kick drum harder, pretending it’s Carol’s face.

The crowd surges back. Arms fly. A guy in the front staggers, falls. A pair of hands grips the stage, and a girl tries to pull herself up onto it.

Matt and Dao stop playing. The music screeches to a halt.

“What’s going on?” I yell.

“Something in the pit,” Dao calls back.

Andre drops his mic and hops down into the crowd. Dao and Matt cast their instruments aside and close the distance to the edge of the stage. I get up and join them. Together, we look down into the pit.

A clearing has formed around a brown-haired guy lying on the floor. Andre and the bouncer squat by him as he squirms and thrashes, his arms and legs a tangle of movement. Andre’s got his phone pressed to his ear and is talking into it urgently. The bouncer is trying to hold the flailing man still, but the man’s body is rigid, shuddering out of the bouncer’s grip. He flops onto his back, and I get a good look at his face.

Oh, shit, I know this guy. He’s a regular at our shows. He whines and pants, muffled words gargling from his throat. Some of the bystanders have their phones out and are recording this. Assholes.

The man shrieks like a bird of prey. The crowd sucks its whispers back into itself, and the air hangs heavy and hushed under the ceiling twinkle lights.

Andre is still talking into his phone. The bouncer lifts helpless hands over the seizing man, obviously not sure what to do.

I should see if Andre wants help. I hop down off the stage and push through the crowd. “Excuse me. Can you let me through? Can you stop recording this and let me through?”

I’m suddenly face-to-face with a man who is trying to get out of the crowd as hard as I’m trying to get into it. His face is red and sweaty, his eyes wild. “Move,” he orders me.

Dick. “You fucking move.”

“Bitch, move.” He slams me with his shoulder, knocking me into a pair of girls who cry out in protest. I spin, full of rage, and reverse direction to follow him.

“Hey, fucker,” I scream. He casts a glance over his shoulder. “Yeah, you! Get the fuck back here!”

He escalates his mission to get out of the crowd, elbowing people out of his way twice as fast. I’m smaller and faster, and I slip through the opening he leaves in his wake. Just before he makes it to the side exit, I grab his flannel shirt and give him a hard yank backward. “Get the fuck back here!” I’m loose, all the rage and pain from earlier channeling into my hatred for this entitled, pompous asshole.

I know I should rein it in, but he spins to face me and says, “What is your problem, bitch?” And that’s it. I haul back and punch him full in the jaw.

He stumbles, trips over someone’s foot and lands on his ass on the cement floor. His phone goes clattering out of his hand, skidding to a stop by someone’s foot. “The hell!”

“Oh, shit,” cries a nearby guy in a delighted voice.

“Fucking bitch,” the guy says, and this is the last time he’s calling me a bitch. I go down on top of him, a knee in his chest. I swing wild, hit him in the jaw, the forehead, the neck. He throws an elbow; it catches me in the boob and I flop back off him with a grunt of pain. He sits up, a hand on his face, and opens his mouth to say something, but I launch myself off the ground again, half-conscious of a chorus of whoops and howls around us. I throw a solid punch. His nose cracks. Satisfaction. I almost smile. Blood streams down his face.

“That’s what you get,” I pant. He crab-shuffles back, pushes off the ground and sprints for the exit. I let him go.

My chest is heaving, and I have the guy’s blood on my hand, which is already starting to ache and swell. I wipe my knuckles on my jeans.

His phone lights up and starts buzzing on the floor. I pick it up and turn it over in my hand. It’s an old flip phone, the kind I haven’t seen in years. The bright green display says Blocked.

Back in the pit, the man having a seizure shrieks again, and then his screams gurgle to a stop. I put the phone in my pocket and push through the onlookers. I watch as his back convulses like he’s going to throw up, and then he goes limp. A thin river of blood snakes out of his open mouth and trails along the cement floor.

The room echoes with silence where the screams had been. A trio of girls stands motionless, eyes huge, hands pressed to mouths.

The flip phone in my pocket buzzes. I pull it out, snap it open and press it to my ear. “Hello?”

A pause.

“Hello?” I repeat.

A click. The line goes dead.

A set of paramedics slams the stage door open, stretcher between them. “Coming through!” They kneel down and start prodding at the man curled up on the concrete. His head flops back. His eyes are stretched wide and unseeing, focused on some point far beyond the twinkling ceiling lights.

Next to him on the concrete lies something… What is it? It’s rectangular and has red and—

It’s a playing card.

Excerpted from The Kill Club by Wendy Heard, Copyright © 2019 by Wendy Heard. Published by MIRA Books.  

Posted in reviews

Jeremiah Jericho: Book One: Allowance by Azariah Scott Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own.

A young teenage boy discovers he has a unique talent that instantly makes him a target and changes his life forever in author Azariah Scott’s novel “Jeremiah Jericho: Book One: Allowance”. 


The Synopsis

Jeremiah just turned 16 and found out that he inherited something from his dead father: a computer chip embedded in his brain. The chip gives him the ability to hack other people’s minds. The problem starts with an additional voice in his head from the chip, then his family’s hidden issues come to the surface, and, of course, the government wants the chip back under their control. All the things a teenager doesn’t want to be bothered with. Jeremiah has to make a choice to be either the better person his dad was trying to get him to be or just shrug it off and be as he wants to be, unbothered.

Book 1 of 3.


The Review

A truly incredible, angst-driven sci-fi epic! Author Azariah Scott has done an amazing job of creating a complex story with an equally complex protagonist. The story of a young teenager who discovers an emotionally complex family history and a government conspiracy creates a harmonious balance between personal stakes and larger than life threats to keep the reader invested in the protagonist’s journey.

The unique style of writing the author takes when delving into the heavy sci-fi theme is what really will grab readers attention, giving authenticity to the idea of a computer chip and unique personalities within the chip creating dialogue that is both internal and almost digitized, making for a very creative and innovative storytelling device throughout the novel that readers will be heavily invested in.


The Verdict

A must read sci-fi epic for the ages. While there is some very mature and sensitive narrative topics within the complex story told here, the overall story and emotional journey of this young teen who only wants to live an isolated life but instead is thrust into the metaphorical spotlight is a great way to begin a new sci-fi series, and readers will be on the edge of their seat in anticipation for a sequel as the first book’s final pages end. If you haven’t yet, grab your copy of Jeremiah Jericho: Book One: Allowance by Azariah Scott today!

Rating: 10/10


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Return Of Anarchy: The Fall of New Australia by King Everett Medlin Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A ship and crew thought lost forever returns to a world vastly different from the one they knew, and with them comes a danger no one could have seen coming in author King Everett Medlin’s novel “Return of Anarchy: The Fall Of New Australia”. 

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The Synopsis

The thrilling sequel to Rijel 12: The Rise of New Australia.

A planet on the verge of destroying itself. A young woman determined to stop it before all is lost.

Ten years have passed since Earth invaded. The volcanic blast that turned the tide of the war has changed the face of the planet forever. What was once a scorched wasteland has been quenched by frequent rains. Farms now cover the surface. The citizens of New Australia have thrived.

Anarchy, the flagship of the resistance thought lost during the war, suddenly returns. To Admiral Slout and his crew, it’s only been 6 months since the raid on Star fantasy. But on New Australia, seventeen years have passed, and much has changed. The pirates struggle to reintegrate into a society with rules and laws. Unfortunately that’s not all.

The Anarchy brought something back with it. Something more dangerous than anyone could have expected. With the planet on the verge of civil war and leadership in disarray, can anyone stop New Australia from tearing itself apart?

The Review

This is a well written, detailed and well crafted novel. A sequel to the novel Rijel 12: The Rise of New Australia, this novel showcases New Australia seventeen years after it’s discovery and settlement. A flushed out world filled with various alien and human species and a grand mythology, the author does an excellent job of expanding on that mythology and creating a narrative that draws readers in. 

This is a novel that definitely works well when paired with it’s predecessor, Rijel 12. The novel does a great job of playing into it’s heavy sci-fi theme while also incorporating storylines of conspiracies, medical thriller, civil unrest and the expansion of a new civilization. When the past clashes with the future, a new world’s future hangs in the balance, leading to some amazing character developments and world building in the author’s novel. 

The Verdict

This is a powerful read that sci-fi fans will not want to miss. A fantastic sequel and overall evenly paced read, the author has created a world that readers can instantly engage with and get lost in. A world of outbreaks, political and social change and horrors no one would have ever expected, Return of Anarchy: The Fall of New Australia by King Everett Medlin is a must read sci-fi epic that readers will not be able to get enough of. Be sure to grab your copies today!

Rating: 10/10

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The Princess Plan (A Royal Wedding #1) by Julia London Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A visit from royalty turns into a tragic mystery as the stubborn Prince of a visiting nation teams up with a driven young woman who runs a local gazette in London society in author Julia London’s novel “The Princess Plan”, the first in the A Royal Wedding Series. 

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The Synopsis 

Princes have pomp and glory—not murdered secretaries and crushes on commoners

Nothing gets London’s high society’s tongues wagging like a good scandal. And when the personal secretary of the visiting Prince Sebastian of Alucia is found murdered, it’s all anyone can talk about, including Eliza Tricklebank. Her unapologetic gossip gazette has benefitted from an anonymous tip about the crime, prompting Sebastian to take an interest in playing detective—and an even greater one in Eliza.

With a trade deal on the line and mounting pressure to secure a noble bride, there’s nothing more salacious than a prince dallying with a commoner. Sebastian finds Eliza’s contrary manner as frustrating as it is seductive, but they’ll have to work together if they’re going to catch the culprit. And when things heat up behind closed doors, it’s the prince who’ll have to decide what comes first—his country or his heart.


The Review

A well written, character driven narrative, author Julia London soars as this novel brings historical fiction, romance and mystery to life. The chemistry between Eliza and Prince Sebastian was the immediate draw of this romance tale, as Sebastian’s temper and Eliza’s independence clashed immediately, but soon led to a friendship and something more as time went on. 

What the author did an excellent job of however was expertly exploring the roles of men and women in society, those that are expected versus the roles we seek to create for ourselves. Also exploring social class and how status can sometimes impede life choices, it was fascinating to see the characters struggle against these roles thrust upon them by others when trying to find their own way themselves. Something quite difficult when caught up in a murder mystery, pending trade agreements and a brewing romance that puts Sebastian in the hot seat as he must choose between love and his duty. 


The Verdict

Engaging, entertaining and explosive, author Julia London has created a smash hit with The Princess Plan. A story of society’s expectations versus our own, love and overcoming the odds to maintain that love, and battling those who conspire against you behind your back, this was a truly tantalizing read that readers will not be able to get enough of. A lengthy read, the book is equal parts mystery, romance and historical fiction, creating a book that many different readers can enjoy. If you haven’t yet, grab your copy of Julia London’s “The Princess Plan (A Royal Wedding #1)” today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Julia London is a NYT, USA Today and Publishers Weekly bestselling author of historical and contemporary romance. She is a six-time finalist for the RITA Award of excellence in romantic fiction, and the recipient of RT Bookclub’s Best Historical Novel.

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The Princess Plan Excerpt

CHAPTER ONE

London 1845

All of London has been on tenterhooks, desperate for a glimpse of Crown Prince Sebastian of Alucia during his highly anticipated visit. Windsor Castle was the scene of Her Majesty’s banquet to welcome him. Sixty-and-one-hundred guests were on hand, feted in St. George’s Hall beneath the various crests of the Order of the Garter. Two thousand pieces of silver cutlery were used, one thousand crystal glasses and goblets. The first course and main dish of lamb and potatoes were served on silver-gilded plates, followed by delicate fruits on French porcelain.

Prince Sebastian presented a large urn fashioned of green Alucian malachite to our Queen Victoria as a gift from his father the King of Alucia. The urn was festooned with delicate ropes of gold around the mouth and the neck.

The Alucian women were attired in dresses of heavy silk worn close to the body, the trains quite long and brought up and fastened with buttons to facilitate walking. Their hair was fashioned into elaborate knots worn at the nape. The Alucian gentlemen wore formal frock coats of black superfine wool that came to midcalf, as well as heavily embroidered waistcoats worn to the hip. It was reported that Crown Prince Sebastian is “rather tall and broad, with a square face and neatly trimmed beard, a full head of hair the color of tea, and eyes the color of moss,” which the discerning reader might think of as a softer shade of green. It is said he possesses a regal air owing chiefly to the many medallions and ribbons he wore befitting his rank.

Honeycutt’s Gazette of Fashion and Domesticity for Ladies

The Right Honorable Justice William Tricklebank, a widower and justice of the Queen’s Bench in Her Majesty’s service, was very nearly blind, his eyesight having steadily eroded into varying and fuzzy shades of gray with age. He could no longer see so much as his hand, which was why his eldest daughter, Miss Eliza Tricklebank, read his papers to him.

Eliza had enlisted the help of Poppy, their housemaid, who was more family than servant, having come to them as an orphaned girl more than twenty years ago. Together, the two of them had anchored strings and ribbons halfway up the walls of his London townhome, and all the judge had to do was follow them with his hand to move from room to room. Among the hazards he faced was a pair of dogs that were far too enthusiastic in their wish to be of some use to him, and a cat who apparently wished him dead, judging by the number of times he put himself in the judge’s path, or leapt into his lap as he sat, or walked across the knitting the judge liked to do while his daughter read to him, or unravelled his ball of yarn without the judge’s notice.

The only other potential impediments to his health were his daughters—Eliza, a spinster, and her younger sister, Hollis, otherwise known as the Widow Honeycutt. They were often together in his home, and when they were, it seemed to him there was quite a lot of laughing at this and shrieking at that. His daughters disputed that they shrieked, and accused him of being old and easily startled. But the judge’s hearing, unlike his eyesight, was quite acute, and those two shrieked with laughter. Often.

At eight-and-twenty, Eliza was unmarried, a fact that had long baffled the judge. There had been an unfortunate and rather infamous misunderstanding with one Mr. Asher Daughton-Cress, who the judge believed was despicable, but that had been ten years ago. Eliza had once been demure and a politely deferential young lady, but she’d shed any pretense of deference when her heart was broken. In the last few years she had emerged vibrant and carefree. He would think such demeanour would recommend her to gentlemen far and wide, but apparently it did not. She’d had only one suitor since her very public scandal, a gentleman some fifteen years older than Eliza. Mr. Norris had faithfully called every day until one day he did not. When the judge had inquired, Eliza had said, “It was not love that compelled him, Pappa. I prefer my life here with you—the work is more agreeable, and I suspect not as many hours as marriage to him would require.”

His youngest, Hollis, had been tragically widowed after only two years of a marriage without issue. While she maintained her own home, she and her delightful wit were a faithful caller to his house at least once a day without fail, and sometimes as much as two or three times per day. He should like to see her remarried, but Hollis insisted she was in no rush to do so. The judge thought she rather preferred her sister’s company to that of a man.

His daughters were thick as thieves, as the saying went, and were coconspirators in something that the judge did not altogether approve of. But he was blind, and they were determined to do what they pleased no matter what he said, so he’d given up trying to talk any practical sense into them.

That questionable activity was the publication of a ladies’ gazette. Tricklebank didn’t think ladies needed a gazette, much less one having to do with frivolous subjects such as fashion, gossip and beauty. But say what he might, his daughters turned a deaf ear to him. They were unfettered in their enthusiasm for this endeavour, and if the two of them could be believed, so was all of London.

The gazette had been established by Hollis’s husband, Sir Percival Honeycutt. Except that Sir Percival had published an entirely different sort of gazette, obviously— one devoted to the latest political and financial news. Now that was a useful publication to the judge’s way of thinking.

Sir Percival’s death was the most tragic of accidents, the result of his carriage sliding off the road into a swollen river during a rain, which also saw the loss of a fine pair of grays. It was a great shock to them all, and the judge had worried about Hollis and her ability to cope with such a loss. But Hollis proved herself an indomitable spirit, and she had turned her grief into efforts to preserve her husband’s name. But as she was a young woman without a man’s education, and could not possibly comprehend the intricacies of politics or financial matters, she had turned the gazette on its head and dedicated it solely to topics that interested women, which naturally would be limited to the latest fashions and the most tantalizing on dits swirling about London’s high society. It was the judge’s impression that women had very little interest in the important matters of the world.

And yet, interestingly, the judge could not deny that Hollis’s version of the gazette was more actively sought than her husband’s had ever been. So much so that Eliza had been pressed into the service of helping her sister prepare her gazette each week. It was curious to Tricklebank that so many members of the Quality were rather desperate to be mentioned among the gazette’s pages.

Today, his daughters were in an unusually high state of excitement, for they had secured the highly sought-after invitations to the Duke of Marlborough’s masquerade ball in honor of the crown prince of Alucia. One would think the world had stopped spinning on its axis and that the heavens had parted and the seas had receded and this veritable God of All Royal Princes had shined his countenance upon London and blessed them all with his presence.

Hogwash.

Everyone knew the prince was here to strike an important trade deal with the English government in the name of King Karl. Alucia was a small European nation with impressive wealth for her size. It was perhaps best known for an ongoing dispute with the neighboring country of Wesloria—the two had a history of war and distrust as fraught as that between England and France.

The judge had read that it was the crown prince who was pushing for modernization in Alucia, and who was the impetus behind the proposed trade agreement. Prince Sebastian envisioned increasing the prosperity of Alucia by trading cotton and iron ore for manufactured goods. But according to the judge’s daughters, that was not the most important part of the trade negotiations. The important part was that the prince was also in search of a marriage bargain.

“It’s what everyone says,” Hollis had insisted to her father over supper recently “And how is it, my dear, that everyone knows what the prince intends?” the judge asked as he stroked the cat, Pris, on his lap. The cat had been named Princess when the family believed it a female. When the houseman Ben discovered that Princess was, in fact, a male, Eliza said it was too late to change the name. So they’d shortened it to Pris. “Did the prince send a letter? Announce it in the Times?”

Caro says,” Hollis countered, as if that were quite obvious to anyone with half a brain where she got her information. “She knows everything about everyone, Pappa.”

“Aha. If Caro says it, then by all means, it must be true.”

“You must yourself admit she is rarely wrong,” Hollis had said with an indignant sniff.

Caro, or Lady Caroline Hawke, had been a lifelong friend to his daughters, and had been so often underfoot in the Tricklebank house that for many years, it seemed to the judge that he had three daughters.

Caroline was the only sibling of Lord Beckett Hawke and was also his ward. Long ago, a cholera outbreak had swept through London, and both Caro’s mother and his children’s mother had succumbed. Amelia, his wife, and Lady Hawke had been dear friends. They’d sent their children to the Hawke summer estate when Amelia had taken ill. Lady Hawke had insisted on caring for her friend and, well, in the end, they were both lost.

Lord Hawke was an up-and-coming young lord and politician, known for his progressive ideas in the House of Lords. He was rather handsome, Hollis said, a popular figure, and socially in high demand. Which meant that, by association, so was his sister. She, too, was quite comely, which made her presence all the easier to her brother’s many friends, the judge suspected.

But Caroline did seem to know everyone in London, and was constantly calling on the Tricklebank household to spout the gossip she’d gleaned in homes across Mayfair. Here was an industrious young lady—she called on three salons a day if she called on one. The judge supposed her brother scarcely need worry about putting food in their cupboards, for the two of them were dining with this four-and-twenty or that ten-and-six almost every night. It was a wonder Caroline wasn’t a plump little peach.

Perhaps she was. In truth, she was merely another shadow to the judge these days.

“And she was at Windsor and dined with the queen,” Hollis added with superiority.

“You mean Caro was in the same room but one hundred persons away from the queen,” the judge suggested. He knew how these fancy suppers went.

“Well, she was there, Pappa, and she met the Alucians, and she knows a great deal about them now. I am quite determined to discover who the prince intends to offer for and announce it in the gazette before anyone else. Can you imagine? I shall be the talk of London!”

This was precisely what Mr. Tricklebank didn’t like about the gazette. He did not want his daughters to be the talk of London.

But it was not the day for him to make this point, for his daughters were restless, moving about the house with an urgency he was not accustomed to. Today was the day of the Royal Masquerade Ball, and the sound of crisp petticoats and silk rustled around him, and the scent of perfume wafted into his nose when they passed. His daughters were waiting impatiently for Lord Hawke’s brougham to come round and fetch them. Their masks, he was given to understand, had already arrived at the Hawke House, commissioned, Eliza had breathlessly reported, from “Mrs. Cubison herself.”

He did not know who Mrs. Cubison was.

And frankly, he didn’t know how Caro had managed to finagle the invitations to a ball at Kensington Palace for his two daughters—for the good Lord knew the Tricklebanks did not have the necessary connections to achieve such a feat.

He could feel their eagerness, their anxiety in the nervous pitch of their giggling when they spoke to each other. Even Poppy seemed nervous. He supposed this was to be the ball by which all other balls in the history of mankind would forever be judged, but he was quite thankful he was too blind to attend.

When the knock at the door came, he was startled by such squealing and furious activity rushing by him that he could only surmise that the brougham had arrived and the time had come to go to the ball.

Excerpted from The Princess Plan by Julia London, Copyright © 2019 by Dinah Dinwiddle. Published by HQN Books.  

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Day Zero by Kelly deVos Review

I am proud to present an exclusive blog tour stop for Harlequin Press and Inkyard Press! 

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A young teenager trying to live her life finds the years of survivalist training given by her father more vital than ever before as a series of disasters hit the country and her father is named the culprit in author Kelly deVos’s novel “Day Zero”.

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The Synopsis

Don’t miss the exhilarating new novel from the author of Fat Girl on a Plane, featuring a fierce, bold heroine who will fight for her family and do whatever it takes to survive. Fans of Susan Beth Pfeffer’s Life As We Knew It series and Rick Yancey’s The 5th Wave series will cheer for this fast-paced, near-future thrill ride.

If you’re going through hell…keep going.

Seventeen-year-old coder Jinx Marshall grew up spending weekends drilling with her paranoid dad for a doomsday she’s sure will never come. She’s an expert on self-heating meal rations, Krav Maga and extracting water from a barrel cactus. Now that her parents are divorced, she’s ready to relax. Her big plans include making it to level 99 in her favorite MMORPG and spending the weekend with her new hunky stepbrother, Toby.

But all that disaster training comes in handy when an explosion traps her in a burning building. Stuck leading her headstrong stepsister, MacKenna, and her precocious little brother, Charles, to safety, Jinx gets them out alive only to discover the explosion is part of a pattern of violence erupting all over the country. Even worse, Jinx’s dad stands accused of triggering the chaos.

In a desperate attempt to evade paramilitary forces and vigilantes, Jinx and her siblings find Toby and make a break for Mexico. With seemingly the whole world working against them, they’ve got to get along and search for the truth about the attacks—and about each other. But if they can survive, will there be anything left worth surviving for?


The Review

The first in a duology, Day Zero is the perfect blend of YA character development and storytelling with political/action-adventure themes and drama. Whenever stories involving terrorist attacks or political conspiracies arise, it is usually within an adult setting and involves said adults. What really stood out was the point of view turning instead to the teenage daughter of a survivalist who becomes the main suspect in the attacks across the country. 

The book also is highly relevant, showing a nation torn apart by politics and the affects of social classes and finances can have on the divide in our nation. Seeing a political figure rise to power and the shadow of a conspiracy rising blends with the personal struggles of new heroine Jinx, who uses her knowledge and skills not only to survive but get to the heart of the true threat and discovers secrets and hidden agendas that will rock her to her core. She is a powerful new YA hero who shows not only she has the skill and talent to take on enemies, but the emotional core to keep the reader invested and engaged with her and the story as a whole. 


The Verdict

Overall a truly wonderful read, Day Zero does a great job of creating a near-future scenario that allows readers to examine the world around them, and to recognize the signs that can lead to the downfall of the world. It’s a story of survival, finding hope and love as the book’s twists and turns will keep readers hanging on the author’s every word, shocking many with future revelations and causing Jinx and the reader to ask themselves, who can they really trust? Grab your copy of Kelly deVos’s novel “Day Zero” to find out for yourselves!

Rating: 10/10


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About the Author

KELLY DEVOS is from Gilbert, Arizona, where she lives with her high school sweetheart husband, amazing teen daughter and superhero dog, Cocoa. She holds a B.A. in Creative Writing from Arizona State University. When not reading or writing, Kelly can typically be found with a mocha in hand, bingeing the latest TV shows and adding to her ever-growing sticker collection. Her debut novel, Fat Girl on a Plane, named one of the “50 Best Summer Reads of All Time” by Reader’s Digest magazine, is available now from HarperCollins.

Kelly’s work has been featured in the New York Times as well as on Salon, Vulture and Bustle.

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Book Excerpt From “Day Zero”

Dr. Doomsday’s Guide to Ultimate Survival

Rule One: Always be prepared.

I exhale in relief when MacKenna pulls the car into the Halliwell’s Market parking lot. Because of the Sugar Sales Permit waiting list, old stores like these are the only places that carry Extra Jolt soda. I have to buy it myself, because Mom won’t keep any in the house.

She thinks too much caffeine rots your brain or something. Halliwell’s is a squat brown building that sits across the street from the mall and is next door to the town’s only skyscraper.

The First Federal Building was supposed to be the first piece of a suburban business district designed to rival the hip boroughs of New York. The mayor announced the construction of a movie theater, an apartment complex and an indoor aquarium. But the New Depression hit, and the other buildings never materialized.

The First Federal Building alone soars toward the clouds, an ugly glass rectangle visible from every neighborhood, surrounded by the old town shops that have been there forever. Most of the stores are empty.

We park in front of the market.

Our car nestles in the long shadow of the giant bank building.

Charles gets out and stands on the sidewalk in front of the car.

MacKenna opens her door. She hesitates again. “Listen, I know you might not want to hear this or believe it. But my book report wasn’t about hurting you or getting revenge. I’m trying to get you to see what’s really happening here. That Carver’s election is the start of something bad. We could use you at the rally. You’re one of the few people who understands Dr. Doomsday’s work. You could explain what he did. How he helped Carver cheat to win.”

“I’ve been planning this raid for months,” I say. My stomach churns, sending uncomfortable flutters through my insides. I don’t know what it would mean to talk about my father’s work. What I really want to do is pretend it doesn’t exist. Pretend the world is normal and whole.

I reassure myself with the reminder that there’s no way MacKenna is going to the rally either.

Out of the corner of my eye, I see Charles give us a small wave. Before MacKenna can say anything else, I get out and grab my backpack.

Inside Halliwell’s, I pick up a blue basket from the stack near the door. The small market is busy and full of other people shopping after school or work. The smell of pine cleaner hits me as we pass the checkout stations. They are super serious about germs and always cleaning between customers.

I leave MacKenna and Charles at the Click N’Grow rack near the door to check out the seed packets that my brother collects. Dad got Charles hooked on this computerized gardening that uses an e-tablet and a series of tiny indoor lights to create the ideal indoor planter box. Each week, they release a new set of exclusive seeds. Their genetic modifications are controversial.

All the soda is in large coolers that line one of the walls of the market. They keep the strange stuff in the corner. Expensive root beers. Ramune imported from Japan. And! Extra! Jolt! I put a few bottles of strawberry in my basket. I snag some grape too. For a second, I consider buying a couple of bottles of doughnut flavor. But that sounds like too much, even for me. The chips are in the next aisle. I load up on cheese puffs and spicy nacho crisps.

MacKenna and Charles are still at the rack near the door, and I try to squeeze by them without attracting any notice. I usually don’t buy unhealthy snacks when I’m with my brother. I smuggle them in my backpack and have a special hiding space in my desk.

My brother has type 1 diabetes, and he’s supposed to check his blood sugar after meals. He can have starchy or sugary snacks only when his glucose level is good or on special occasions.

MacKenna grimaces at a packet of seeds in her hands. “I still don’t like this one. It’s pretty. But still. It’s…carnivorous.”

I have to hand it to her. She really does have a look. She’s pale and white, like me, but she manages to seem like she’s doing it on purpose and not because she’s some kind of vampire- movie reject. Her glossy black hair always rests in perfect waves, and if the journalism thing doesn’t work out, she could definitely have a career in fashion design.

Charles smiles at her. “It’s a new kind of pitcher plant. Like the Cobra Lily.” He points to the picture on the front of the seed packet. “Look at the blue flowers. That’s new.”

 “It eats other plants,” MacKenna says.

“You eat plants.”

“But I don’t eat people,” MacKenna says. “There’s got to be some kind of natural law that says you shouldn’t eat your own kind.”

Charles giggles.

So far so good. Until.

My brother trots up behind me and dumps a few packs of seeds in my basket. His gaze lands on my selection of soda and chips. “Can I get some snacks too?”

Crap.

 I freeze. “What’s your number?”

Charles pretends he can’t hear me. That’s not a good sign.

“Charles, what’s your number?”

He still doesn’t look at me. “I forgot my monitor today.”

“Well, I have mine.” I kneel down and dig around for the spare glucometer I keep in the front pocket of my backpack. By the time I get it out, MacKenna has already pulled Charles out of his blazer and rolled up the sleeve of his blue dress shirt. I wave the device over the small white sensor disk attached to my brother’s upper arm.

After a few seconds, the glucometer beeps and a number displays on the screen.

221

Crap. Crap. Crap.

“Charles! What did you eat today?”

My brother’s face turns red. “They were having breakfast-for-lunch day at school. Everyone else was having pancakes. Why can’t I have pancakes?”

I sigh. Something about his puckered up little face keeps me from reminding him that if he eats too much sugar he could die. “You know what Mom said. If you eat something you’re not supposed to, you have to get a pass and go to the nurse for your meds.”

My brother’s shoulders slump. “I couldn’t go to the nurse. Hummingbirds were visiting the Chuparosa and…”

Charles is on the verge of tears and frowns even more deeply at the sight of my basket full of junk food.

“Look,” I say. “There are plenty of healthy snacks we can eat. I’ll put this stuff back.”

“That’s right,” MacKenna says, giving Charles’s hand a squeeze. “We can get some popcorn. Yogurt. Um, I saw some really delicious-looking fresh pears back there.”

“And they have the cheese cubes you like,” I add.

We go around the store replacing the cheese puffs and soda with healthy stuff. I hesitate when I have to put back the Extra Jolt, but I really don’t want to make my brother feel bad because I can drink sugary stuff and he can’t.

We pay for the healthy snacks and the seed packets.

 I grab the bags and move toward the market’s sliding doors.

I end up ahead of them, waiting outside by the car and facing the store. The shopping center behind Halliwell’s is mostly empty. The shoe store went out of business last year. Strauss Stationers, where everyone used to buy their fancy wedding invitations, closed two years before that. The fish ’n’ chips drive-through is doing okay and has a little crowd in front of the take-out window. Way off in the distance, Saba’s is still open, because in Arizona, cowboy boots and hats aren’t considered optional.

I watch MacKenna and Charles step out of the double doors and into the parking lot. Two little dimples appear on MacKenna’s cheeks when she smiles. Charles has a looseness to his walk. His arms dangle.

There’s a low rumble, like thunder from a storm that couldn’t possibly exist on this perfectly sunny day.

Something’s wrong 

In the reflection of the market’s high, shiny windows, I see something happening in the bank building next door. Some kind of fire burning in the lower levels. A pain builds in my chest and I force air into my lungs. My vision blurs at the edges. It’s panic, and there isn’t much time before it overtakes me.

The muscles in my legs tense and I take off at a sprint, grabbing MacKenna and Charles as I pass. I haul them along with me twenty feet or so into the store. We clear the door and run past a man and a woman frozen at the sight of what’s going on across the street.

I desperately want to look back.

But I don’t.

A scream.

A low, loud boom.

My ears ring.

The lights in the store go off.

I’ve got MacKenna by the strap of her maxidress and Charles by the neck. We feel our way in the dim light. The three of us crouch and huddle together behind a cash counter. A few feet in front of us, the cashier who checked us out two minutes ago is sitting on the floor hugging her knees.

We’re going to die.

Charles’s mouth is wide-open. His lips move. He pulls at the sleeve of my T-shirt.

I can’t hear anything.

It takes everything I’ve got to force myself to move.

Slowly 

Slowly 

Leaning forward. Pressing my face into the plywood of the store counter, I peek around the corner using one eye to see out the glass door. My eyelashes brush against the rough wood, and I grip the edge to steady myself. I take in the smell of wood glue with each breath.

Hail falls in the parking lot. I realize it’s glass.

My stomach twists into a hard knot.

It’s raining glass.

That’s the last thing I see before a wave of dust rolls over the building.

Leaving us in darkness.

Excerpted from Day Zero by Kelly deVos, Copyright © 2019 by Kelly deVos. Published by Inkyard Press.

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

Welcome to Maravilla By R. Douglas Clark Review

I received a free copy of this book in exchange for a fair and honest review. All opinions are my own. 

A small town drama unfolding in the New Mexico countryside blends with a sci-fi mystery as a small time writer finds his creations taking a life of their own in author R. Douglas Clark’s novel “Welcome To Maravilla”. 

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The Synopsis

The tiny hamlet of Maravilla, New Mexico is not immune to modern-day problems. But the citizens of Maravilla have their own special problems, as well:

A developer wants to build a Christian-themed amusement park next to Maravilla’s historic church.

The county line runs right through the town, splitting it in two.

And the government is threatening to close their post office!

Into this muddle steps Jake Epstein, a young writer from the big city. Jake is seeking peace and quiet to finish his current project: a science fiction story in which adventuress Tai-Keiko must deliver the secret formula for Zeton-9—with the evil Krossarians in hot pursuit.

But then reality and science fiction converge—and Tai-Keiko finds herself in present-day Maravilla, face to face with a gobsmacked Jake.

Join Jake on this comic run along the dusty roads of Maravilla, and find out who won the fight between Father Ignatius and the heathen pig farmer. How a basketball game changed the fate of the town. And was that white flash in the sky a UFO?

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The Review

This novel expertly crafts a personal, everyday drama filled story that fuses elements of sci-fi into the narrative. The majority of the novel focuses on the people of Maravilla and the individuals who hold special places within the community, as they struggle with their own personal lives while the threat of the government shutting down the town’s only post office looms overhead, leading to a lengthy court battle that could determine the fate of the entire town. 

Meanwhile author Jake finds himself searching for the perfect place to write out his next story, facing a slew of deadlines that he hopes to meet before his publisher pulls the rug out from under him. However not only does his growing love for the small town keep him invested in real life, but his story begins to unfold in ways he never expected, as one of his own characters finds life in the real world, bringing attention to the town no one could have imagined. It’s a creative world and perfect way to blend science fiction naturally into the narrative of this drama filled story, but the biggest focus of the novel has to be on the author’s amazing character development. The characters all felt real, allowing the reader to not only relate to them but to feel their own internal struggles and emotions as the events around them unfolded. 


The Verdict

This is a must read novel. Filled with amazing stories of community, inspiration and even love, this fairly quick read will instantly engage with readers and creates a story unique to the drama genre. Heartfelt, real and engaging, this is a story not to be missed, so be sure to grab your copy of “Welcome to Maravilla” by R. Douglas Clark today!

Rating: 10/10


About the Author

R. Douglas Clark was born in Vermont, grew up in Colorado, attended college in Chicago, and received a Master’s degree in music from Brown University. Seeing no future for himself in academia, he spent a year in the Oregon woods, living in a primitive cabin, writing music reviews and cultural commentary for magazines and newspapers. Next stop, Eugene, Oregon where he spent 20 damp years as a bootstrap businessman, father and musician. On a vacation trip, he and his wife, Shelley, fell in love with sunny northern New Mexico and subsequently moved there. After four years running Boys and Girls Clubs in Chimayó and Abiquiú–and another four, running a U-pick raspberry farm–he retired to write fiction full time.  

Find R. Douglas online: https://www.rdouglasclark.com/

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Blog Tour Dates

October 14th @ The Muffin

What goes better in the morning than a muffin? Join us as we celebrate the launch the blog tour for author R. Douglas Clark’s book Welcome to Maravilla. Read an interview with the author and win a copy of the book. 

http://muffin.wow-womenonwriting.com

October 15th @ Book Santa Fe with Crystal Otto

Crystal Otto shares her thoughts about the sci-fi book Welcome to Maravilla by R. Douglas Clark. 

http://www.booksantafe.info/booksantafeblog

October 16th @ Bring on Lemons with Carmen Otto

Middle Schooler Carmen Otto reviews R. Douglas Clark’s Welcome to Maravilla and explains to her friends why this is a great book for even young readers.

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/

October 17th @ World of My Imagination

Nicole Pyles reviews Welcome to Maravilla by R. Douglas Clark and delights readers at World of My Imagination with an opportunity to learn more about this fast-paced sci-fi novel! 

https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/

October 17th @ Selling Books

Don’t miss today’s author interview with R. Douglas Clark as Cathy Stucker finds out more about his latest release Welcome to Maravilla.

https://www.sellingbooks.com/

October 21st @ Memoir Writer’s Journey

Today’s guest author at Memoir Writer’s Journey is R. Douglas Clark with an article about _________. Join Kathleen Pooler’s audience as they learn more about Clark and his latest book Welcome to Maravilla. 

https://krpooler.com/

October 22nd @ To Write or Not To Write

Sreevarsha reviews Welcome to Maravilla by R. Douglas Clarks and delights readers at To Write or Not To Write with her thoughts about this excellent novel!

http://sreevarshasreejith.blogspot.co.at/

October 23rd @ World of My Imagination

Learn more about R. Douglas Clark and his new book Welcome to Maravilla as he shares a few thoughts in an interesting interview with Nicole Pyles at World of My Imagination.

https://theworldofmyimagination.blogspot.com/

October 24th @ Look to the Western Sky

Visit Margo’s blog today where you can catch today’s author spotlight and learn more about R. Douglas Clark and his latest book Welcome to Maravilla. 

https://margoldill.com/

October 25th @ A StoryBook World

Don’t miss today’s publicity post at A Storybook World as readers at Dierdra’s blog are introduced to “Welcome to Maravilla” by R. Douglas Clark.

http://www.astorybookworld.com/

October 28th @ Breakeven Books

Today’s Book Spotlight at Breakeven Books is Welcome to Maravilla by R. Douglas Clark – don’t miss this great opportunity to add this lovely new novel to your collection!

https://breakevenbooks.com/

October 28th @ Lisa Haselton Reviews and Interviews

Lisa Haselton interviews R. Douglas Clark about his latest novel Welcome to Maravilla . Readers will delight in learning more about this science fiction story with it’s courageous characters!

http://lisahaseltonsreviewsandinterviews.blogspot.com/

November 2nd @ Author Anthony Avina

Author Anthony Avina interview R. Douglas Clark about his latest novel Welcome to Maravilla

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

November 12th @ Author Anthony Avina

Author Anthony Avina shares his thoughts after reading Welcome to Maravilla by R. Douglas Clark – don’t miss this review!

https://authoranthonyavinablog.com/

November 13th @ Bring on Lemons with Tara Forst

Wisconsin mother and book lover shares her review of R. Douglas Clark’s latest Welcome to Maravilla with readers at Bring on Lemons. 

http://bringonlemons.blogspot.com/