Posted in reviews

The Out Crowd by Michael Kirby Review

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

Examining the life of two groups of students, the In-Crowd and the Out-Crowd, of a high school, this coming of age satire explores the toxicity of division in author Michael Kirby’s YA satire/drama, “The Out Crowd”. 

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The Synopsis

Hallie Flynn was ready for the perfect senior year, but everything changes at Homecoming when petty rumors spiral out of control. The In Crowd was always who everybody in the Out Crowd dreamed of being. The Out Crowd consisted of everybody else. Isaiah was also expecting a normal senior year. His biggest concern was earning a scholarship for college, but then all the norms evaporated. Gossip piles on top of itself, overwhelming his social life, and everyone else’s. Friendships are ruined. People from all walks of Gates High School life no longer know who to trust.

Determined, Hallie makes it her mission to set the record straight. But by the time the gossip desperately needed to be stopped, it was already too late. Gates High could never be the same as it was again, because rumors and gossip are not toys to be played around with. What appears simple and straightforward becomes more confusing. Eventually the rumors take on a life of their own and truth and untruth merge into an unrecognizable blur. Both the In Crowd and the Out Crowd learn to live with their new fate in different ways. Inevitably, lessons are learned, but only after the damage is already done.

The Review

An engaging read, author Michael Kirby has created a great YA read that not only delves into the inner-workings of high school life but on a much broader scale examines the social and political divides that keep our world at odds with one another. The author’s use of high school life to illustrate the larger problems of society is an inspired choice here, as often high school life can serve as a precursor for what is to come in life later on. 

The narrative is very character-driven, with kids from both the In-Crowd and Out Crowd showcasing the various aspects of high school’s social scene, and how rumor and gossip can not only spread like wildfire but how it can ruin and change lives wholeheartedly. The characters remain relatable and engaging to readers as the story progresses. However the only note I would make is that at times the narrative and dialogue can become repetitive at times, and although the story still flourished it did take me out of the narrative at times. 

The Verdict

Well-written, entertaining and relatable, author Michael Kirby’s “The Out Crowd” is a must-read YA drama. Creative and engaging, the characters come to life in the reader’s mind easily, and although a shorter read the core story has an amazing impact that will stay with the readers long after the final chapter. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 8/10

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About the Author

Ever since childhood, Michael has had a constant urge to liberate stories from the realm of his imagination and share them with the world. Various tales and characters would nag at him from inside his head until he finally agreed to give them a new life by putting pen-to-paper or finger-to-keyboard. In time, he realized this meant becoming a writer.

In college he wrote articles for the campus newspaper. After graduating he tried out publishing on various blogs over the years. Now he has turned to books, with a focus on novels.

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Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life by Thomas Jordan, Ph.D. Review

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

Author Thomas Jordan takes readers on a journey to examine how previous relationships of love in one’s life and a failure to learn from them can affect how much of their love life they control in the book, “Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life”. 

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The Synopsis

After 30 years of clinical research and treatment of patients with unhealthy love lives, Dr. Thomas Jordan has recognized that most people aren’t actually in control of their own love lives. Why? Because most people don’t know how to identify and change what they’ve learned from the love relationships in their lives. In Learn to Love: Guide to Healing Your Disappointing Love Life, you will learn how to make real—and lasting—improvements in your love life.

Starting with the family into which we’re born, we learn from all the love relationships in our lives, especially the unhealthy ones. Learn to Love will show you how these experiences help to form a psychological blueprint that controls the love life experiences we have as adults. If what you learned about love relationships was healthy, you’ll replicate this and have a meaningful and satisfying love life. But if what you learned was unhealthy, chances are you’ll continue to make the same love life mistakes over and over again. Learn to Love will show you how to unlearn this unhealthy learning and form the love relationships you’ve always wanted to have.

The simple formula presented within the pages of this book has helped many of my patients begin taking control of their own love lives, as well as helping me improve my own love life. Learn to Love will help you learn how to take control of your love life.

The Review

This was a captivating read, delving into the many aspects of love that influence a person’s life. From early childhood relationships and how even how a person’s parents interact can impact their viewpoint of love, to how modern-day relationships can lead to emotional baggage and so much more, this book covers a wide range of topics. 

It was fascinating to see the various studies the author brought to the subject from the earliest chapters of the book. In one section the author talks about how hope impacts an unhealthy love life by bringing into it the concept of multiple disappointments. Another chapter delves into how we often will recreate the aspects of a previous relationship that made it so unhealthy in our current relationships. These studies and experiences the author relays are not only well written but speak to the reader on a personal level that can allow the reader to identify and understand aspects of their own lives in this book. 

The Verdict

Informative, personal, and passionately written, author Thomas Jordan’s “Learn to Love” is a masterful reading experience that readers will not soon forget. Built to highlight the experiences of love throughout multiple aspects of one’s life and how we need to learn from those experiences to escape unhealthy relationships overall, this book is a quick yet fascinating journey into the aspect of love in our lives and deserves to be read. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Dr. Thomas Jordan is a clinical psychologist and psychoanalyst in private practice on the upper west side of Manhattan. He is a graduate of the New York University’s Postdoctoral Program in Psychoanalysis, Clinical Associate Professor of Psychology, and a faculty member of the post-doctoral program. Dr. Jordan is the creator of the Love Life Webinar and Love Life Seminar, author of “Learn to Love,” “Healthy Love Relationship,” and “Individuation in Contemporary Psychoanalysis,” and co-founder of the lovelifelearningcenter.com. He specializes in the treatment of chronic love life problems. Dr. Jordan has been researching and treating unhealthy love lives for 30 years.

Posted in reviews

Night Sweats: How Moral Philosophy Failed by Michael Bernhart Review

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

In the final chapter of the Sally and Max Brown series, the protagonists face personal and professional hurdles as health scares and the dark horrors of the human organ trade come to light in author Michael Bernhart’s “Night Sweats: How Moral Philosophy Failed”. 

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The Synopsis

Advancing age brings its discomforts and challenges: failing health, concern over diminished appeal, loss of optimism – sometimes even hope. For Max and Sally Brown, it also brings an encounter with some of the most ruthless and unprincipled men on earth: recruiters and doctors who harvest and sell human organs.This, the final episode in the Max Brown series, provides a thrilling, and often disturbing, look inside the “red trade” in human body parts. The action is set against the backdrop of honor crimes against women, and takes place in Jordan and Switzerland.

The Review

A thrilling conclusion to the Sally and Max Brown series, the author presents a truly personal journey for both protagonists. The inspired use of journal entries for both characters to illustrate the ongoing nature of the narrative makes for an engaging way to bring the reader into the story. 

The weight of previous adventures with the characters within this series are shown and take their toll on the protagonists, as the most heinous and harrowing journey is set upon when a series of women who are victims of “honor” attacks begin to die, and soon Sally and Max are investigating the possibility of organ harvesting on the black market. When those they thought they could trust become suspect, the characters are pushed to their limits to find a way to bring justice to the Middle Eastern women who are consistently victimized and yet never spoken up for. The inclusion of a personal health scare for one of the characters and the tragedy of the past haunting the other makes the overall narrative much more engaging for the reader overall. 

The Verdict

A must-read final chapter in the action-thriller series, Night Sweats is a one of a kind tale of crimes against humanity, and the few people willing to step up to fight against it. By the book’s final pages readers will be left in shock as the final events begin winding down. This lengthy yet captivating read is filled with action, suspense and fantastic character development that readers will absolutely love. Be sure to grab your copy today!

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Michael Bernhart is an award winning author who has published extensively on international development and public health. His credentials for this written outpouring are a PhD (from MIT!) and four decades of international work – currently 50 countries and counting.

The journey from writing funding proposals to writing pure fiction was short and easy. The result is the Max Brown tetralogy (plus 1) which traces the arc (from age 10 through 68) of a man who tries to be proactive, but whose behavior is driven by external events. Each of the five novels finds Max struggling with a new existential crisis – or crises – as he grows up in these trying times. Manhood used to be a birthright; now it seems to be an unending series of challenges. Each novel also finds Max confronting a new face of evil.

The novels occupy an emerging genre provisionally dubbed ‘philosophical thrillers.’

Dr. (why not use it?) Bernhart started this project before the internet could serve up virtual experiences to authors.The contextual information and situations come from service as a pilot in the USAF, living in Asia, Europe and Latin America, and inexplicable success at snaring women well out of his league. These remarkable similarities with the main character noted, he insists the work is not autobiographical. It’s wish fulfillment.

Bernhart currently lives in a yurt on a mountaintop in northern Georgia with one ex-wife, two daughters, and three cats. He still flies his vintage plane, although more cautiously than before, and he’s unshakeable in his conviction that he’s God’s Gift to Aviation.

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

Nine Years by Jessica Leed 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 struggling internally as she is caught between her family, the man she’s sure she’s meant to marry and her career finds new life in unexpected ways in author Jessica Leed’s novel “Nine Years”. 

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The Synopsis

An emotional, captivating tale about the complexity of relationships, self-discovery and long-lost love. Perfect for fans of Nicholas Sparks, Kristin Hannah and Jane Green.

You would think Sienna Henderson had the perfect life. She has a successful career, a loving family and is engaged to be married. From the outside she appears to have it all together, yet on the inside she is coming undone.

Caught inside a dysfunctional relationship and with her work environment intolerable, she finds herself slipping further from the life she has envisioned.

After reuniting with a man from her past, Sienna’s life is turned upside down in a way that has her questioning everything she has ever known.

The Review

An emotional, well plotted and character driven narrative, Nine Years hits every emotional beat that a good drama/romance genre novel should. Highlighting the struggle that comes from trying to make a strained relationship work, the author does an amazing job of showcasing how those types of relationships and how a life that has gone down a road not thought possible can impact a person mentally and emotionally.

Sienna is a relatable, honest and heartbreaking character that readers will instantly connect with. Like many people before her, Sienna finds herself fighting to keep a relationship alive despite a complete lack of effort from the other half of that relationship. Showcasing the struggles she undertakes with that effort and highlighting how the protagonist is affected in her career, her personal life and her romantic life after an old friend with deep emotional roots in her heart comes back into her life suddenly, this novel produces a narrative many people are familiar with, but yet still remains relevant and engaging with readers everywhere. 

The Verdict

This is a a must read novel for anyone who enjoys a good romance/drama book. The author does an excellent job of creating an ending that can easily lead into further books along the way, and showcases how often life is more complex than the fairytale romances other novels often portray. Those novels are an escape from reality, giving life to the hopes we all have in our hearts, yet the author creates a realistic and personal story that many can relate to, and a protagonist fans can not only root for but can identify with easily, making for an engaging read. If you haven’t yet, be sure to grab your copy of “Nine Years” by Jessica Leed today! 

Rating: 10/10

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About the Author

Jessica is a 30-year-old school teacher, former fitness professional and dancer. She was born and raised in Bendigo, Victoria before moving to Melbourne in 2008. For as long as she can remember she has had a passion for storytelling—in all forms. 

From writing countless short stories as a child to later completing a creative writing course, written by her favourite and best-selling author, Karen Kingsbury, Jessica was adamant to become a published author. NINE YEARS is the first book in the two-part series BENEATH THE CLOUDS.

AMAZON:https://www.amazon.com.au/Nine-Years-novel-Jessica-Leed/dp/0648679721/ref=sr_1_fkmr3_1?keywords=nine+years+jessica+lead&qid=1573102696&sr=8-1-fkmr3

GOOD READS: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48556916-nine-years

Website: http://jessleed.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/jessicaleeda…

Instagram: @jessicaleedauthor  

Posted in Blog Tours, Book Events, reviews

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.  

Posted in reviews

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 Personal Blog Posts

Author Anthony Avina’s Blog Featured on Feedspot Top 100 Book Review Blogs List

Happy to share that I made the Top 100 Book Review Blogs list for Feedspot. Thank you to everyone who has supported me over the last year as I built up this website. I look forward to continuing this journey and making this book review and author work a full time thing. Check out the rest of the amazing blogs on this list down below! Feedspot Blog Reader

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