The Code For Love and Heartbreak – Blog Tour

#thecodeforloveandheartbreak #inkyardpress #blogtour #yafiction #iloveyafiction #bookish #bookblogger #lovetoread #netgalley

Happy Sunday friends! I hope you all had a relaxing weekend, and hopefully were able to get outside and enjoy a little sunshine. I’ve had a busy weekend with bookish things between finally being in the mood to read, planning Instagram posts, and blog tours posts. All good things though, and that’s why I’m back again Tonight to bring you a peek into The Code for Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor. This is a YA Contemporary novel sure to warm all hearts of romcom lovers, and lovers of Jane Austen retellings!

THE CODE FOR LOVE AND HEARTBREAK
Author: Jillian Cantor 
ISBN: 9781335090591
Publication Date: October 6, 2020
Publisher: Inkyard Press

BIO: 

Jillian Cantor is the author of award-winning and bestselling novels for adults and teens, including In Another Time, The Hours Count, Margot, and The Lost Letter, which was a USA Today bestseller. She has a BA in English from Penn State University and an MFA from the University of Arizona. Cantor lives in Arizona with her husband and two sons.

BOOK SUMMARY: 

In this contemporary romcom retelling of Jane Austen’s Emma by USA TODAY bestselling author Jillian Cantor, there’s nothing more complex—or unpredictable—than love.

When math genius Emma and her coding club co-president, George, are tasked with brainstorming a new project, The Code for Love is born.

George disapproves of Emma’s idea of creating a matchmaking app, accusing her of meddling in people’s lives. But all the happy new couples at school are proof that the app works. At least at first.

Emma’s code is flawless. So why is it that perfectly matched couples start breaking up, the wrong people keep falling for each other, and Emma’s own feelings defy any algorithm?

SOCIAL:

Author Website: https://www.jilliancantor.com/
TWITTER: @JillianCantor
Facebook: @AuthorJillianCantor
Insta: @JillianCantor
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/1651861.Jillian_Cantor 

BUY LINKS:

Harlequin 
Indiebound
Amazon
Barnes & Noble 
Books-A-Million
Walmart
Google
iBooks
Kobo

I am super excited to dive into this YA RomCom Contemporary as soon as Spooky Season is over. Full Review to come next month! Until then, I am thankful to be able to share this sneak peek into the book.

PROLOGUE

 I’ve always loved numbers a whole lot more than I love people. For one thing, I can make numbers behave any way I want them to. No arguments, no questions. I write a line of code, and my computer performs a specific and very regulated task. Numbers don’t play games or hide behind some nuance I’ve missed. I write an equation, then formulate a definitive and absolutely correct answer. 

And maybe most importantly, numbers never leave me. I tell this to Izzy as she’s sitting on her suitcase, trying to force it closed, having just packed the last of her closet before leaving for her freshman year at UCLA, which is exactly 2,764 miles from our house in Highbury, New Jersey. A number which seems insurmountable, and which makes me think that after this day, Izzy’s last one at home until Christmas break, we’ll be more like two strangers floating across a continent from one another than sisters.

 “Numbers,” I say to Izzy now, “are much better than people.”

 “You’re such a nerd, Em,” Izzy says, but she stops what she’s doing and squeezes my arm affectionately, before finally getting the suitcase to zip. She’s a nerd, too, but not for numbers like me—for books. Izzy is running 2,764 miles away from New Jersey to read, to major in English at UCLA. Which is ridiculous, given she could’ve done the same at Rutgers, or the College of New Jersey, or almost any one of the other sixty-two colleges in our state, any of which would’ve been within driving distance so we could’ve seen each other on weekends. Izzy says she’s going to California for the sunshine, but Dad and I both know the real reason is that her boyfriend, John, decided to go to UCLA to study film. Izzy chose John over me, and that part stings the most. 

“I can’t believe you’re actually going,” I say, and not for the first time. I’ve been saying this to Izzy all summer, hoping she might change her mind. But now that her suitcase is zipped, it feels like she’s really leaving, and my eyes start to well up. I do love numbers more than people. Most people.

 Izzy and I are only seventeen months apart, and our mom died when we were both toddlers. Dad works a lot, and Izzy and I have barely been apart for more than a night in as long as I can remember, much less months.

 She stops messing with her suitcase now, walks over to where I’m sitting on her bed and puts her arm around me. I lean my head on her shoulder, and breathe in the comforting scent of her strawberry shampoo, one last time. “I’m going to miss you, too, Em,” she says. “But you’re going to have a great senior year.” She says it emphatically, her voice filled with enthusiasm that I don’t believe or even understand. 

“You really could stay,” I say. “You got into two colleges in New Jersey.” This has been my argument to her all summer. I keep thinking if I say it enough she really will change her mind. But even as I say it, I know it’s probably too late for her to change anything for fall semester now, no matter how much I might want her to. And she just looks back at me with worry all over her face. 

“Em, you know I can’t.” 

“Can’t or won’t?” I wipe my nose with the back of my hand, pulling away from her. 

She leaves me on her bed, and goes back to her suitcase. She shifts it around, props it upright and then looks back at me. “You know what you need?” she says, breathing hard from managing the weight of her entire life, crammed inside this giant suitcase. “To get out there this year. Be more social. Get some friends. Maybe even a boyfriend.”

 “A boyfriend?” I half laugh, half sniffle at the ridiculousness of it. 

“If you keep busy, you won’t even notice I’m gone.” She speaks quickly, excitedly. There’s nothing Izzy likes more than a good plan, but this sounds terrible to me. “Christmas will be here before you know it—” she’s still talking “—then next year, you’ll be off to college, too.”

 Maybe that would be true for her, if I were the one leaving, and if she were staying here. If I were the older one, leaving for California first, Izzy would stay here, spend the year with John and barely even notice my absence. Which is what I guess she’s about to do at UCLA. But I’ve always needed Izzy much more than she’s needed me. 

“I hate being social. And I don’t want a boyfriend,” I say. “And anyway, you know what the boys are like at our high school. No thanks.” Mostly, they’re intimidated by me and my penchant for math, and I find their intimidation so annoying that I can barely even stand to have a conversation with them, much less a date. And the few that aren’t? Well, the one that isn’t—George—is my equal and co-president of coding club. He also happens to be John’s younger brother. We’re something like friends, George and I. Or maybe not, because we don’t really hang out outside of family stuff, school or coding club, and I guess in a way we’re supposed to be rivals. One of us will for certain be valedictorian of our class this year. The other will be salutatorian. And knowing George, he’s going to be more than a little bit annoyed when he’s staring at my back during graduation. 

“You love numbers so much and you’re so good at coding,” Izzy says now with a flip of her blond curls over her shoulder. She wheels the suitcase toward her bedroom door and stops and looks back at me. “You could always code yourself a boyfriend.” She shrugs, then laughs a little, trying to make this moment lighter. 

I don’t even crack a smile. “That’s a really ridiculous thing to say,” I tell her. “Thank God you’re going to be an English major.”

 But later, after it all fell apart, I would blame her. I’d say that it was all Izzy’s fault, that she started the unraveling of everything with her one stupid offhand comment on the morning that she left me.

Excerpted from The Code For Love and Heartbreak by Jillian Cantor Copyright © Jillian Cantor. Published by Inkyard Press.


What did I tell ya, sounds really cute right?! Thank you so much to Inkyard Press for inviting me to join this tour, and to NetGalley for the book widget. This I’m sure will be a favorite read next month, and I really look forward to reviewing it.

Positive Vibes & Happy Reading!

A Golden Fury – Blog Tour

#agoldenfury #fantasy #historicalfiction #historicalfantasy #yafantasy #blogtour #wednesdaybooks #samanthacohoe

I’m hitting you with a double whammy tonight! A big thank you to Wednesday Books for inviting me to join in the blog tour for this edgy, exciting young adult historical fantasy adventure called A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe. I was thrilled to get a chance to read this book, and I was not disappointed!

A Nerd Daily YA Debut to Watch Out for in 2020


“Sharply written with a crackling, compassionately determined heroine, A Golden Fury is a vivid ride through eighteenth century Europe with darkness and dread creeping at its corners. Utterly enchanting.” -Emily A. Duncan, New York Times bestselling author of Wicked Saints

“An engaging concoction of fantasy, romance, and historical fiction.” – Booklist

“Cohoe situates the supernatural among the historical, referencing the French Revolution and the Enlightenment while…keeping a sense of urgency as Thea struggles with the magical, demonic pull of the Stone.” -Bulletin of the Center for Children’s Books


“The attention to detail in the story is excellent. …Thea herself is a confident lead with a strong voice. A solid fantasy to flesh out the world of alchemy that most readers know only from ‘Harry Potter.'” – School Library Journal


“Cohoe transmutes the legend of the Philosopher’s Stone into a dark, intoxicating tale of ambition, obsession, and sacrifice. Prepare for a magic that will consume you.” -Rosamund Hodge, New York Times bestselling author of Cruel Beauty and Bright Smoke, Cold Fire

“Steeped in mystery and magic, Samantha Cohoe’s A Golden Fury immerses readers in beautifully rendered world where magic and science mix, and where the intoxication of power can be deadly. Whip-smart Thea is a heroine readers will root for.” – Lisa Maxwell, New York Times bestselling author of The Last Magician

A GOLDEN FURY
By Samantha Cohoe
Set in eighteenth century England, Samantha Cohoe’s debut novel, A GOLDEN FURY (Wednesday Books; October 13, 2020), follows a young alchemist as she tries to save the people she loves from the curse of the Philosopher’s Stone. The streets of London and Oxford come to life as this historical fantasy unravels. Weaving together an alluring story of magic and danger, Samantha’s debut has her heroine making messy decisions as she toes the line between good and evil while it becomes blurred.
Thea Hope longs to be an alchemist out of the shadow of her famous mother. The two of them are close to creating the legendary Philosopher’s Stone—whose properties include immortality and can turn any metal into gold—but just when the promise of the Stone’s riches is in their grasp, Thea’s mother destroys the Stone in a sudden fit of violent madness.

While combing through her mother’s notes, Thea learns that there’s a curse on the Stone that causes anyone who tries to make it to lose their sanity. With the threat of the French Revolution looming, Thea is sent to Oxford for her safety, to live with the father who doesn’t know she exists.
But in Oxford, there are alchemists after the Stone who don’t believe Thea’s warning about the curse—instead, they’ll stop at nothing to steal Thea’s knowledge of how to create the Stone. But Thea can only run for so long, and soon she will have to choose: create the Stone and sacrifice her sanity, or let the people she loves die.
A GOLDEN FURY and the curse of the Philosopher’s Stone will haunt you long after the final page.

About the Author
Samantha Cohoe writes historically-inspired young adult fantasy. She was raised in San Luis Obispo, California, where she enjoyed an idyllic childhood of beach trips, omnivorous reading, and writing stories brimming with adverbs. She currently lives in Denver with her family and divides her time among teaching Latin, mothering, writing, reading, and deleting adverbs. A Golden Fury is her debut novel.

A Golden Fury: A Novel
By Samantha Cohoe
Published by Wednesday Books
On Sale October, 2020
Hardcover | $18.99
ISBN: 9781250220400| Ebook ISBN: 9781250220417
For more information or to set up an interview with the author, contact: Meghan Harrington at meghan.harrington@stmartins.com or 646-307-5556

Samantha’s Twitter: https://twitter.com/smcohoe

Samantha’s Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/samanthacohoe/

Wednesday Books Twitter: https://twitter.com/wednesdaybooks

Wednesday Books Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/wednesdaybooks/

Buy link for A GOLDEN FURY: https://read.macmillan.com/lp/a-golden-fury/

My Review-

This was a gripping story set in historical Europe, following a mother daughter duo who are alchemists. The touches of fantasy, with the legend of the Philosopher’s Stone makes this a tale like no other told! It’s like stepping back in time, but in an alternate reality. The characters are well written and the plot line moves along quickly. The reader becomes lost in the writing, escaping reality and following the storyline of Thea as she learns to navigate life towing a fine line between good and evil, and doing her best to save everyone from the curse her mother tried so hard to prevent coming to fruition. Set during the French Revolution, this book is great for anyone who loves historical fiction and fantasy as it combines the best of both worlds!

Thanks for checking out my stop on the tour for A Golden Fury by Samantha Cohoe! Release date is October 13th, so get your preorders in or make a plan to stop in store for your copy on the big day!

Positive Vibes & Happy Reading!

Kingdom of Sea and Stone – Blog Tour

#kingdomofseaandstone #inkyardpress #mararutherford #yafantasy #crownofcoralandpearl

Good evening everyone! Welcome back to booksnbites for another fabulous tour stop for Inkyard Press’s 2020 Fall Reads. I’m late with getting this post up because I truly did not want this book to end and procrastinated the final 50 pages. Needless to say, I have nothing but amazing things to say about it. I am absolutely honored to be able to have received an ARC of Kingdom of Sea and Stone by Mara Rutherford. Thank you to Inkyard Press for inviting me to join this tour, thank you to NetGalley for providing the eARC and Thank you to Mara for writing one of my all time favorite series. I will hug these books a little bit tighter every time I read them.

KINGDOM OF SEA AND STONE

By Mara Rutherford

On Sale: October 6, 2020

INKYARD PRESS

Teen & Young Adult; Epic Fantasy; Siblings Fiction

978-1335146519; 1335146512

$18.99 USD

368 pages

About the Book

“A fabulous interweaving of fantasy, politics, and sisterhood – this unusual, tense tale will have you on the edge of your seat!” –#1 New York Times bestselling author Tamora Pierce on Crown of Coral and Pearl

The Cruel Prince meets Ash Princess in this thrilling fantasy, the much-anticipated sequel to Crown of Coral and Pearl.

Ever since Nor was forced to go to a nearby kingdom in her sister’s place, she’s wanted nothing more than to return to the place and people she loves. But when her wish comes true, she soon finds herself cast out from both worlds, with a war on the horizon.

As an old enemy resurfaces more powerful than ever, Nor will have to keep the kingdom from falling apart with the help of Prince Talin and Nor’s twin sister, Zadie. There are forces within the world more mysterious than any of them ever guessed—and they’ll need to stay alive long enough to conquer them…

About the author

Mara Rutherford began her writing career as a journalist but quickly discovered she far preferred fantasy to reality. Originally from California, Mara has since lived all over the world with her marine-turned-diplomat husband. A triplet born on Leap Day, Mara holds a master’s degree in cultural studies from the University of London. When she’s not writing or chasing after her two sons, she can usually be found pushing the boundaries of her comfort zone, whether at a traditional Russian banya or an Incan archaeological site. Mara is a former Pitch Wars mentee and three-time mentor

Social Links:

Author website: https://www.mararutherford.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/mararaewrites

Instagram: @mararutherfordwrites

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/48713842-kingdom-of-sea-and-stone

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/1335146512/ref=x_gr_e_friend_sout?ie=UTF8&tag=x_gr_e_friend_sout-20&linkCode=as2&camp=1789&creative=9325&creativeASIN=1335146512&SubscriptionId=1MGPYB6YW3HWK55XCGG2

Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/kingdom-of-sea-and-stone-mara-rutherford/1134580655

IndieBound: https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335146519

Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Kingdom-Sea-Stone/Mara-Rutherford/9781335146519?id=7941582454467

AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/kingdom-of-sea-and-stone/id1485871288

Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Mara_Rutherford_Kingdom_of_Sea_and_Stone?id=WEi7DwAAQBAJ

My Review –

As far as sequels go, Kingdom of Sea and Stone knocks it out of the park! The character development is exquisite, and we get to finally get a sneak of the elusive people of Galeth. The mystique of these equestrian descendants of a group of Valenians who left the sea was enough to leave me wanting side stories of the Galethians. I have never loved, yet hated, a character more than Ceren. His evil, twisted reality was befitting of the tortured soul he is. I mourned right along with Nor, even though I wasn’t sure why either. I’m still 100% team Talin, but Roan was a fun tasty morsel in this book. I do have to say that I loved the tasteful addition of slight witchcraft to the plot line, and felt that it leaves so much potential for a third book or even some novella or a spin off series. The Kingdom of Ilara is truly one of the most magical, fantasy lands I have ever read. Crown of Coral and Pearl series will forever be one of my favorite Young Adult Fantasy series of all time. I highly recommend this series to anyone who loves strong female characters, twin sisters, and oceanic influences.

I hope you all have a great rest of your evening, and thank you for checking out my stop for this blog tour! Please check out this series and let me know what you think. ☺️

Positive Vibes & Happy Reading!

October Spooky TBR

#spookyreads #octoberTBR #bookstack #readinggoals #bookishlife #spookyseason #lovetoread #bookblogger

Hello and enter if you dare. 💀🖤🧡 Muahahahahahahaha. Ok, but seriously how are you Ghouls an Gals?! It’s been way too long since I last posted and I’ve missed you! I can’t believe we are already a week into October. This year has gone so fast it’s frightening! That might not be the scariest thing about 2020, but I’ll leave it at that. I am super excited for Spooky Season and have put together a fantastic TBR (To Be Read for anyone unsure of that acronym), full of spooky things, witches and monsters! It’s a bit ambitious considering I’m still very much a mood reader, but my mood is currently sitting at “give me all the spooky!”, so I think we’re safe.

Without further ado, here is my October TBR!!

Not pictured are three books I’ve already read and my two current reads.

  • Order of Dust by Nicholas J Evans
  • Vampires of Portlandia by Jason Tanamor
  • The Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
  • Mexican Gothic by Silvia Moreno-Garcia (Current Read)
  • ARC of Kingdom of Sea & Stone by Mara Rutherford (Current Read)

October TBR:
🖤The Year of the Witching by Alexis Henderson
🧡Campfire by Shawn Sarles
🖤The Bone Houses by Emily Lloyd-Jones
🧡Five Midnights by Ann Dávila Cardinal
🖤Prelude for Lost Souls by Helene Dunbar
🧡The Haunting of Hill House by Shirley Jackson
🖤The Sun Dog by Stephen King
🧡Not Even Bones by Rebecca Schaeffer
🖤Deathless Divide (Dread Nation #2) by Justina Ireland

I hope to get to most of the books on my TBR. I’ve been kinda of slumpy the last couple months, but have high hopes that Spooky Season pulls me out of it! If you’ve read any of these please let me know your thoughts in the comments. Or, if you have some spooky suggestions for me I’d love to hear them!

Happy Haunting & Positive Vibes! 💀

SMASH IT! – Blog Tour

#smashit #inkyardpress #FrancinaSimone #YAFiction #theaterfiction #yatheaterfiction

Happy Saturday my bookish crew!! I hope you’ve had a fantastic day, it was chilly here with lots of sunshine. Loving that Fall is almost upon us, and with it brings lots of great new reads. I am partnering with Harlequin’s YA Branch – Inkyard Press, for their 2020 Fall Reads Tour Program. To kick it off, I am bringing you a sneak into SMASH IT! by Francina Simone. This is a YA Theater Fiction story that sounds like it’s full of spunk and life lessons with a little theater drama. Definitely my kind of book!

SMASH IT!

By Francina Simone
On Sale: September 22, 2020
INKYARD PRESS
Teen & Young Adult Theater Fiction
978-1335146502; 1335146504
$18.99 USD
368 pages

About the Book

Olivia “Liv” James is done with letting her insecurities get the best of her. So she does what any self-respecting hot mess of a girl who wants to SMASH junior year does…

After Liv shows up to a Halloween party in khaki shorts—why, God, why?—she decides to set aside her wack AF ways. She makes a list—a F*ck-It list.

1. Be bold—do the thing that scares me.

2. Learn to take a compliment.

3. Stand out instead of back.

She kicks it off by trying out for the school musical, saying yes to a date and making new friends. Life is great when you stop punking yourself! However, with change comes a lot of missteps, and being bold means following her heart. So what happens when Liv’s heart is interested in three different guys—and two of them are her best friends? What is she supposed to do when she gets dumped by a guy she’s not even dating? How does one Smash It! after the humiliation of being friend-zoned?

In Liv’s own words, “F*ck it. What’s the worst that can happen?”

A lot, apparently.

#SMASHIT

About the author

Francina Simone believes in one thing: authenticity. She writes YA stories full of humor and hard life lessons with sprinkles of truth that make us all feel understood. Her craft focuses on stories about girls throwing caution to the wind to discover exactly who they are and what it means to love. Francina is also known for her BookTube channel, where she discusses controversial topics in books.

Social Links:

Author website: http://www.francinasimone.com/
Twitter: https://twitter.com/francinasimone
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/francinasimone
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/44648676-smash-it
Youtube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCcUVLS6cM_JiEHHXsmsqwrA?view_as=subscriber

Buy Links:

Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Smash-Francina-Simone/dp/1335146504
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/smash-it-francina-simone/1134580654
IndieBound:  https://www.indiebound.org/book/9781335146502
Books-A-Million: https://www.booksamillion.com/p/Smash/Francina-Simone/9781335146502
AppleBooks: https://books.apple.com/us/book/smash-it/id1485872174?uo=8&at=
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/audiobooks/details/Francina_Simone_Smash_It?id=AQAAAEDsER9R4M

If you’re still with me so far (I really hope you are!) then boy do I have a treat for you!! I’m SUPER excited to be able to share this little sneak peak of SMASH IT! with you. This is next up on my tbr list, and will most likely be starting it Tomorrow or Monday. I can’t wait to read it, and I hope this excerpt gets you as excited as I am. Enjoy!

Excerpted from SMASH IT! by Francina Simone © 2020 by Francina Simone, used with permission from Inkyard Press.

CHAPTER ONE

Fuck.

I’m an idiot.

It’s Halloween and I’m the only one in a packed club on Teen Night not wearing a costume. Girls are jumping and screaming lyrics in cheap shiny wigs, and all the guys, dressed in a motley of cheap polyester, are scoping out the dance floor, their gazes hopping right over me. Even the bartender, sling­ing water bottles, has on pink bunny ears.

This isn’t an I’m seventeen and too cool for dress up moment. I like wearing costumes. I just thought I’d look like an unin­tentional clown doing it. We’re at a club. Who wears a Hal­loween costume to the club? Apparently, everyone except this freak in an Old Navy hoodie and khaki shorts. I’m wearing khaki shorts, like a nerdy loser.

Some girl bumps into me and does a double take at the sight of my hoodie. It’s Florida; I know October everywhere else is like that meme of the dog in a wig wearing a scarf be­cause “it’s sweater weather,” but we’re in Florida; the leaves don’t change here. They just fall off sometime between hot-as-fuck and damn-where-that-wind-come-from? So even though this white girl has on a mesh shirt over a nude bra—I don’t know what the hell she’s dressed as—I can tell by her raised brows and attempt to act like she didn’t see me that she doesn’t know what in god’s name I’m doing right now either.

Oh my god. Why am I like this?

This is what I get for not doing the yes thing. My mom bought this book by Shonda Rhimes, Year of Yes, and—I’m not going to lie—some rich black lady with a gazillion TV shows shouldn’t be able to tell me, some sad black girl, how to be all, Say yes to the dress! But right now, I’m really wish­ing I had said yes when Dré asked, Are you sure you don’t want to put on something? It’s a costume party at a club. Don’t you have something sexy? Sexy nurse? Sexy vet? Hell, cut up your hoodie and go as a sexy hobo.

I’m wishing I had scissors or the foresight to go as Sexy Hobo, because now, while my best friends are onstage at the hottest teen club in Orlando, singing their asses off like rock gods, I look like the freak who has no social shame.

The truth is I have too much social shame. So much shame that it seeps out of me like fresh cut garlic on the back of the tongue.

I make eye contact with Eli. He’s on the keyboard, belt­ing out lyrics and twisting in and out of a rap. His voice is the love child of Sam Smith and Adele. He’s all suave and mysterious to everyone here, but I know him as the boy who shaved off half an eyebrow when we were thirteen and those Peretz Hebrew/Palestinian hairy genes started coming in. His mom and dad were on that Romeo and Juliet vibe back in the day, and even though it makes for an epic love story, with real war and faking deaths to escape their families and countries (epic as hell), their genetic combo gave Eli thick brows and hair like nobody’s business.

He smiles at me with his dark brown eyes just under his fedora. Of the three of us, he’s definitely the broody one, writing poems about nostalgia and love.

Dré, on the other hand—he’s got on shades. Who wears sunglasses inside at night? Dré. When we were in middle school, Dré used to hide his Spanish and pretend his name was Andrew. I don’t blame him. Our school had a lot of white kids, and they always asked dumb as hell questions. I always got, “If you can’t get your hair wet, how do you wash it?” One kid asked Dré if Puerto Rican meant legal Mexican in Spanish. The kid legitimately didn’t know. I know our educa­tion system is shit, but come the fuck on.

High school has been a game changer for all of us. Our magnet school pulls in kids from all over the county. But now there are too many kids from way too many places. Now we have to be different to fit in—cue Dré’s flashy, Spanish-heritage-day-is-every-day evolution. He’s a self-proclaimed Puerto Rican papi, and he kind of radiates like a sunny day on South Beach.

Then there’s me. In my hoodie, khaki shorts, and Converse, stuck in the middle of a club with hundreds of kids basking in the glory that is Dré and Eli. I look like an outcast from a bad ’90s movie. I’m not uncool, but I do these uncool things as if I’m addicted to self-sabotage.

Mesh Girl looks at me again; she’s probably wondering why Dré keeps pointing and making steamy eyes at me while he spits some rhymes in Spanish. I know she’s thinking, How’d she get him? Girls have asked me that. They see me, with my not-slim body and my brown skin, and say, No offense, but damn, girl, how you got with Dré?

I’m not. Never have, never will. This flashy thing that he’s doing is our signal for me to check his hair. My only job is to make sure it still looks good. I nod and sway to the music, ignoring Mesh Girl’s eyebrows, which are raised to the top of her blond head. Is it bad that I like the attention? I enjoy her envy, even though I’m not the girl she thinks I am.

Some girl dressed like a pumpkin shuffles past me and reaches out to touch Dré’s hand. What she doesn’t know is that he’s transferring half a store’s worth of product onto her fingers. He spends so much time on his hair, we have to speed to school—which is the last thing we should do in Dré’s rusty old car, the Bat Mobile. It’s already two gearshifts away from blowing up with us inside. We call it the Bat Mobile not because it’s cool, but because it looks like a hundred bats dropped turds all over it and eroded the paint.

Even though it’s pretty much trash on wheels, I’m so jeal­ous. I can’t even get my mom to let me practice my learners in her car. The queen of burning out engines thinks I’ll mess something up. Then again, here I am on Halloween, the only girl in the club not having fun because of my shitty choices.

Mesh Girl bumps me with her shoulder. “He’s hot, right?” She’s talking about Eli, and I do a weird laugh thing and nod, because I’m the worst at small talk, and it’s too much to yell, Yeah, I’ve thought that for years. I can like the way he looks, right? That’s normal, right?

She doesn’t seem to care that my laugh was borderline psy­chotic. “Oh my god, we should totally dance for them. Guys love that shit.” Suddenly this girl that I don’t know from Eve is pulling me toward the stage, and I start freaking out.

I’ve watched enough romance movies to have this scene planned in my head—but those are fantasies, and this is get­ting too real. People are staring at us as she starts twerking and swinging her arms around.

She waves at me. “Come on!”

Nope. I just smile and shrink back into the crowd. She’s clearly one of those people who really believes in herself—like, no one has ever told her she can’t do a damn thing, because, here she is, shaking her ass like she invented the booty pop.

Mesh Girl isn’t looking at me anymore. She’s dancing and looking at Eli, and—he’s looking at her. I know I’m not sup­posed to care, because he’s just my best friend and he and Dré are supposed to interact with the crowd—that’s part of the gig—but he’s looking at her and smiling like he’s impressed. He thinks this girl’s half-baked dance moves are cool. He thinks she’s cool.

I can dance better than that. I could be that cool.

Except I’m not.

I’m the girl who hides in the crowd. I’m the girl who isn’t even in costume. And now, the guy I maybe-sorta-like is smiling and singing to the girl who is doing the scary thing, even though she’s not that good at it.

Fuck my life. My crush is about to go up in tired-ass flames like the rest of my dreams. This isn’t the first time I’ve passed up doing what I want because I’m afraid of looking like a clown. It isn’t even the tenth or the hundredth.

Hell, just this morning I walked by a flyer for the school musical auditions, and when the drama teacher offered me one, I did the weird laugh, and—let’s just say she’ll probably never make eye contact with me again.

All I had to do was say yes. All I had to do was tell my­self I’d try.

Why am I so chickenshit?

I make my way to the bar and order a soda.

The guy at the bar eyes me as he sprays Coke into my glass. He puts the Coke down in front of me, and just when I want him to walk away and leave me in my despair, he pulls off his pink bunny ears and puts them next to my bubbly soda. “Take these. I don’t want you to stand out.”

I shake my head. Honestly, he’s got long hair and it’s kind of greasy, so there is no way I’m putting that on my head. “I’m cool. Don’t need pity ears, but thanks.”

He laughs, and it’s low-key judgmental. “Yeah, because cool people don’t wear costumes, right? You must be a blast at parties.” He looks around at the club behind me. “Oh, wait.”

Rude. “Look. I happen to be a very cool person, thank you very much.” I shouldn’t talk when I’m in my feelings, because my voice goes up an octave and I can never get my eyebrows to stay still. They’re up in my hairline now, show­ing the whole damn world that I have no chill.

Dude puts his bunny ears back on and leans on the bar. “Yeah, it’s so cool sitting by yourself at a Halloween party with no costume.” He shrugs. “I’m not saying high school is going to be the best time of your life, but you should get over yourself enough to have a little fun while you can. Oth­erwise, you’ll be a cool adult sitting alone at a bar wonder­ing why your life sucks.” He stands up, crosses his arms and looks proud of himself.

Is there a sign on my head that says, I’m having a hard time. Please do pile on? I take a deep breath and hate myself, because my first reaction is to smile and nod. But I stare him dead in the eye and say, “Because being a bartender at thirtysome­thing is so great.” I feel a little badass for saying it, but also super guilty for being a bitch.

“Well, one of us is having fun.” He wiggles his bunny ears. “And the other one is at a party full of kids and only has the bartender to talk to.” He pulls the white towel off his shoul­der and starts wiping down the bar. “Don’t forget to tip.” And then he’s moving away and pulling out waters for a group of guys in some anime costumes.

I drop my head to the bar, which, regrettably, is sticky. That turd of a bartender doesn’t know me, but he’s kinda right. Some girl on YouTube—the one with the minimalist white walls that look chic instead of broke as hell—said everyone has a moment in life when there are two paths before them. The cool one where you change your pathetic ways and ev­erything gets brighter and better. And the other one where you die sad and alone.

She obviously knows what she’s talking about, because she manages to make millions of people listen to her talk about hacking procrastination and how to make your room over with just a succulent and a few black-and-white photos strung up on the walls.

I don’t want to be sad and alone, or to freeze every time my moment comes to shine. I want to be the fierce inner beast I know I am. I want Eli to look at me like I’m the only one in the room.

Something has to change, because that bartender and the succulent girl are right. If I don’t, I’m going to disappear like I was never here.

Thanks for joining my stop on the tour! Hopefully I’ve added a fun new read to your tbr, and if you do read it please stop back to let me know how you enjoyed it. I’ll be posting a full review in the next week or two, so stay tuned for that! Until next time….

Happy Reading & Positive Vibes!

New Release – The Curse of the King

#thecurseoftheking #literaryluminati #parliamentpress #winnieclyon #witchybooks #retellings #macbethretelling #spookyreads

Hi friends, hope you’re all doing well! I can’t believe it’s September already. You know what that means, start of Spooky Season and Fall is on it’s way! Woohooooo! I always love to load my September, October and November reading up with spooky books. It’s my favorite, and so much fun to read as the seasons change! I have lots of spooky reads coming your way, so be prepared. I truly could not have picked a better book to kick off my spooky reading, than with The Curse of the King by Winnie Lyon. I can’t wait to tell you more about this fantastic book!


Description –

THE CURSE OF THE KING, BY WINNIE LYON

“As a young witch descending from the very powerful trio of witches that had cursed Macbeth, the pressure she faces daily is non-stop. When Laura is forced to participate in her school’s rendition of the classic play, she gives herself a single task: breaking the curse once and for all.
This task proves itself to be more difficult than she ever could have imagined when a miscast spell leads to the summoning of her dead ancestor, Cecily Wilson, one of the very witches that cursed Macbeth.

As Laura attempts to send her resurrected relative back beyond the veil, she is faced with one of the harsh realities of high school—having a crush on her best friend, Holly. However, things only get more complicated as Holly pines after Peter, a lonely, quick-witted vampire.

While she grows closer to Cecily, Laura sees first-hand the true horrors of being a witch in Elizabethan England as demonic forces arise in her little town of Shipley Hollow.

Can Laura break the curse and save her family name before the curtains rise on opening night? “

My Review –

This was the perfect witchy book to start Spooky Season off with! More and more I am becoming a HUGE fan of retellings, and this Macbeth retelling hit the spot! If you are a fan of witches, breaking curses and Shakespeare then this is a must read. I absolutely loved the coven structure and heritage of Laura and other witch families. The whole keep the supernatural world hush, hush to humans was very suspenseful and I loved that Laura’s bestie just accepted it all no questions asked. Even though the characters are in High School they are still very relatable and easy to like. This was a fast paced and exciting book, and I am sooo happy I picked it up!!

You can get your copy of of The Curse of the King by Winnie Lyon today, it released September 1st!!

https://www.amazon.com/Curse-King-Winnie-Lyon-ebook/dp/B088GPPJ6M/ref=sr_1_8?adid=082VK13VJJCZTQYGWWCZ&campaign=211041&creative=374001&dchild=1&keywords=The+Curse+of+the+King&qid=1599088446&s=books&sr=1-8&tag=x_gr_w_bb_sin-20


Please let me know some of your favorite spooky reads, and I’d love to hear your thoughts on The Curse of the King if you grab a copy!

Positive Vibes & Happy Reading!

Blog Tour – Here to Stay

#heretostay #adrianaherrera #contemporaryromance #lovestories #ownvoices #diverseauthors #carinapress #netgalley


Hello book friends, welcome back to booksnbites!! Or maybe I should be welcoming myself back since it’s been a while and life has been absolutely insane. I’m here though, and I’m bringing you a stop on the blog tour for a fabulous new enemy to lovers contemporary romance called Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera. Be prepared for some amazingly steamy scenes, to laugh, and to have your heart melt!

Title: Here to Stay
Author: Adriana Herrera
Genre: Contemporary Romance
Imprint: Carina Press
On-Sale: August 25, 2020
Format: Ebook (Trade Paperback & Audiobook formats also available!)
Ebook ISBN: 9780369700926
Ebook Price: $3.99 USD
Book Description: “Hot, heartwarming, and hilarious…This is a knockout.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review

Award-winning, highly-acclaimed author Adriana Herrera delivers the sexy, modern enemies-to-lovers romance you’ve been waiting for.

Starting over is more about who you’re with than where you live…

Julia del Mar Ortiz is not having the best year.

She moved to Dallas with her boyfriend, who ended up ditching her and running back to New York after only a few weeks. Left with a massive—by NYC standards, anyway—apartment and a car lease in the scorching Texas heat, Julia is struggling…except that’s not completely true. Running the charitable foundation of one of the most iconic high fashion department stores in the world is serious #lifegoals.

It’s more than enough to make her want to stick it out down South.

The only monkey wrench in Julia’s plans is the blue-eyed, smart-mouthed consultant the store hired to take them public. Fellow New Yorker Rocco Quinn’s first order of business? Putting Julia’s job on the chopping block.

When Julia is tasked with making sure Rocco sees how valuable the programs she runs are, she’s caught between a rock and a very hard set of abs. Because Rocco Quinn is almost impossible to hate—and even harder to resist.

Buy Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera

Harlequin: https://www.harlequin.com/shop/books/9780369700926_here-to-stay.html
Amazon: https://www.amazon.com/Here-Stay-Adriana-Herrera-ebook/dp/B086R2QY77
Barnes & Noble: https://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/here-to-stay-adriana-herrera/1136795733
Apple Books: https://books.apple.com/us/book/here-to-stay/id1506190677
Google Play: https://play.google.com/store/books/details/Adriana_Herrera_Here_to_Stay?id=_-zaDwAAQBAJ
Kobo: https://www.kobo.com/us/en/ebook/here-to-stay-20

About Adriana Herrera

Adriana was born and raised in the Caribbean, but for the last fifteen years has let her job (and her spouse) take her all over the world. She loves writing stories about people who look and sound like her people, getting unapologetic happy endings.

When she’s not dreaming up love stories, planning logistically complex vacations with her family or hunting for discount Broadway tickets, she’s a trauma therapist in New York City, working with survivors of domestic and sexual violence.

Her Dreamers series has received starred reviews from Publishers Weekly and Booklist and has been featured in The TODAY Show on NBC, Entertainment Weekly, NPR, Library Journal and The Washington Post. Her debut, American Dreamer, was selected as one of Booklist’s ‘Best Romance Debuts of 2019’, and one of the ‘Top 10 Romances of 2019’ by Entertainment Weekly. Her third novel, American Love Story, was one of the winners in the first annual Ripped Bodice Award for Excellence in Romantic Fiction. Adriana is an outspoken advocate for diversity in romance and has written for Remezcla and Bustle about Own Voices in the genre. She’s one of the co-creators of the Queer Romance PoC Collective. Represented by Taylor Haggerty at Root Literary.

Connect with Adriana Herrera

Website: https://adrianaherreraromance.com 
Twitter: https://twitter.com/ladrianaherrera 
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/laura.adriana.94801 
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/ladriana_herrera/ 
Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/18639202.Adriana_Herrera 


My Review –

I absolutely devoured Here to Stay by Adriana Herrera, practically a one sitting book for me and that says a lot. This book was so much more than a cute romance story, it has themes of immigrants rights and child therapy for assistance with tough home lives, among other pertinent struggles in our current world. The characters are likeable, dynamic and so much fun to read! I really enjoyed how much spanish language was used in the book, being bilingual with Spanish as my second language it was a blast to get to read tidbits and understand. That really elevated the level of the story.

I felt that the plot development was extremely strong, and I would love to see an additional book in to make it a series with the main characters or even one of the secondary characters. I love Adriana’s writing style as it flows just like a good conversation. I will definitely be adding Adriana Herrera to my auto-read list of authors and very much look forward to her future books! If you want a fun, cute romance with substance you have to read Here to Stay!


Thank you so much to Carina Press and NetGalley for the opportunity to read and review this book! I love to participate and share great books!




Until next time my friends…

Positive Vibes & Happy Reading!

The Friendship List- Blog Tour

#thefriendshiplist #contemporary #romance #womensfiction #susanmallery #harlequin #bookishlife #beautifulstories

Hello, hello my beautiful friends! I’m back with such a beautiful story to share with you. I was lucky enough to have read and reviewed one of Susan Mallery’s books back in Winter, Meant to be Yours, so when I got invited for The Friendship List I jumped on it! Thank you Harlequin for allowing me the chance to have read such a beautiful story about life, relationships and being a parent. Now let’s get into some details!!!!

The Friendship List : A Novel 

Susan Mallery

On Sale Date: August 4, 2020

9781335136961, 1335136967

Hardcover

$26.99 USD, $33.50 CAD

Fiction / Romance / Contemporary 

384 pages

ABOUT THE BOOK:

Already a worldwide success in mass market and trade paperback formats, Susan Mallery’s newest hardcover is an emotional, witty, and heartfelt story about two best friends who are determined to help one another shake things up and live life to the fullest…only to discover that possibilities are everywhere–especially in the most unexpected of places.

Ellen and Unity have been best friends basically since birth, but they couldn’t be more different. Unity married her childhood sweetheart just after high school and became an Army wife, moving from base to base…until her husband’s shocking death in the line of duty leaves her a widow. Grief-stricken, it’s time for Unity to come back home to Ellen—the only person she can trust to help her rebuild her life. But Ellen has troubles of her own. Boys never seemed to notice Ellen…until one got her pregnant in high school and disappeared. Her son is now 17 and she’s wondering what to do with herself now that he’s heading off to college and he’s literally her entire world.

But now that Ellen and Unity are reunited, they’re done with their stale lives. It’s time to shake things up and start living again, knowing that they’ll always have one another to lean on. So they create a list of challenges they have to accomplish–everything from getting a tattoo to skydiving to staying out all night. And whoever completes the most challenges is the winner. But with new adventures and love just around the corner, there’s no such thing as losing…

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

SUSAN MALLERY is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of novels about the relationships that define women’s lives—family, friendship and romance. Library Journal says, “Mallery is the master of blending emotionally believable characters in realistic situations,” and readers seem to agree—forty million copies of her books have been sold worldwide. Her warm, humorous stories make the world a happier place to live.

Susan grew up in California and now lives in Seattle with her husband. She’s passionate about animal welfare, especially that of the two Ragdoll cats and adorable poodle who think of her as Mom.

SOCIAL LINKS:

Twitter: @susanmallery

Facebook: @susanmallery

Instagram: @susanmallery

Author website: https://www.susanmallery.com/

BUY LINKS:

Amazon

Barnes & Noble

Books-a-Million

Indie Bound

Kindle

Nook

Google Play

Apple Books

Kobo

Walmart

Target

Bookshop.org

My Review-

Right from the start we are introduced to characters that are so relatable, full of emotion, and down to earth. I found myself feeling like I was talking with the characters as the story unfolds, not reading about them! The friendships and life struggles that they navigate are profound and realistic, which I usually find makes for a very powerful read. Susan Mallery creates characters that come to life with valid stories that anybody can relate to!

This was such a lovely story, that brought emotion and wisdom to the surface. Sometimes in life you have to want more for yourself, and sometimes you have to rely on your friends to show you what you truly deserve. If you love stories about friendship, family, and life, then this is a must read! You never really can go wrong with a book by Susan Mallery!

If I’ve piqued your interest so far, then please read this excerpt from The Friendship List by Susan Mallery!!

Chapter One

“I should have married money,” Ellen Fox said glumly. “That would have solved all my problems.”

Unity Leandre, her best friend, practically since birth, raised her eyebrows. “Because that was an option so many times and you kept saying no?”

“It could have been. Maybe. If I’d ever, you know, met a rich guy I liked and wanted to marry.”

“Wouldn’t having him want to marry you be an equally important part of the equation?”

Ellen groaned. “This is not a good time for logic. This is a good time for sympathy. Or giving me a winning lottery ticket. We’ve been friends for years and you’ve never once given me a winning lottery ticket.”

Unity picked up her coffee and smiled. “True, but I did give you my pony rides when we celebrated our eighth birthdays.”

A point she would have to concede, Ellen thought. With their birthdays so close together, they’d often had shared parties. The summer they’d turned eight, Unity’s mom had arranged for pony rides at a nearby farm. Unity had enjoyed herself, but Ellen had fallen in love with scruffy Mr. Peepers, the crabby old pony who carried them around the paddock. At Ellen’s declaration of affection for the pony, Unity had handed over the rest of her ride tickets, content to watch Ellen on Mr. Peepers’s wide back.

“You were wonderful about the pony rides,” Ellen said earnestly, “And I love that you were so generous. But right now I really need a small fortune. Nothing overwhelming. Just a tasteful million or so. In return, I’ll give back the rides on Mr. Peepers.”

Unity reached across the kitchen table and touched Ellen’s arm. “He really wants to go to UCLA?”

Ellen nodded, afraid if she spoke, she would whimper. After sucking in a breath, she managed to say, “He does. Even with a partial scholarship, the price is going to kill me.” She braced herself for the ugly reality. “Out-of-state costs, including room and board, are about sixty-four thousand dollars.” Ellen felt her heart skip a beat and not out of excitement. “A year. A year! I don’t even bring home that much after taxes. Who has that kind of money? It might as well be a million dollars.”

Unity nodded. “Okay, now marrying money makes sense.”

“I don’t have a lot of options.” Ellen pressed her hand to her chest and told herself she wasn’t having a heart attack. “You know I’d do anything for Coop and I’ll figure this out, but those numbers are terrifying. I have to start buying lottery scratchers and get a second job.” She looked at Unity. “How much do you think they make at Starbucks? I could work nights.”

Unity, five inches taller, with long straight blond hair, grabbed her hands. “Last month it was University of Oklahoma and the month before that, he wanted to go to Notre Dame. Cooper has changed his mind a dozen times. Wait until you go look at colleges this summer and he figures out what he really wants, then see who offers the best financial aid before you panic.” Her mouth curved up in a smile. “No offense, Ellen, but I’ve tasted your coffee. You shouldn’t be working anywhere near a Starbucks.”

“Very funny.” Ellen squeezed her hands. “You’re right. He’s barely seventeen. He won’t be a senior until September. I have time. And I’m saving money every month.”

It was how she’d been raised, she thought. To be practical, to take responsibility. If only her parents had thought to mention marrying for money.

“After our road trip, he may decide he wants to go to the University of Washington after all, and that would solve all my problems.”

Not just the money ones, but the loneliness ones, she thought wistfully. Because after eighteen years of them being a team, her nearly grown-up baby boy was going to leave her.

“Stop,” Unity said. “You’re getting sad. I can see it.”

“I hate that you know me so well.”

“No, you don’t.”

Ellen sighed. “No, I don’t, but you’re annoying.”

“You’re more annoying.”

They smiled at each other.

Unity stood, all five feet ten of her, and stretched. “I have to get going. You have young minds to mold and I have a backed-up kitchen sink to deal with, followed by a gate repair and something with a vacuum. The message wasn’t clear.” She looked at Ellen. “You going to be okay?”

Ellen nodded. “I’m fine. You’re right. Coop will change his mind fifteen more times. I’ll wait until it’s a sure thing, then have my breakdown.”

“See. You always have a plan.”

They walked to the front door. Ellen’s mind slid back to the ridiculous cost of college.

“Any of those old people you help have money?” she asked. “For the right price, I could be a trophy wife.”

Unity shook her head. “You’re thirty-four. The average resident of Silver Pines is in his seventies.”

“Marrying money would still solve all my problems.”

Unity hugged her, hanging on tight for an extra second. “You’re a freak.”

“I’m a momma bear with a cub.”

“Your cub is six foot three. It’s time to stop worrying.”

“That will never happen.”

“Which is why I love you. Talk later.”

Ellen smiled. “Have a good one. Avoid spiders.”

“Always.”

When Unity had driven away, Ellen returned to the kitchen where she quickly loaded the dishwasher, then packed her lunch. Cooper had left before six. He was doing some end-of-school-year fitness challenge. Something about running and Ellen wasn’t sure what. To be honest, when he went on about his workouts, it was really hard not to tune him out. Especially when she had things like tuition to worry about.

“Not anymore today,” she said out loud. She would worry again in the morning. Unity was right—Cooper was going to keep changing his mind. Their road trip to look at colleges was only a few weeks away. After that they would narrow the list and he would start to apply. Only then would she know the final number and have to figure out how to pay for it.

Until then she had plenty to keep her busy. She was giving pop quizzes in both fourth and sixth periods and she wanted to update her year-end tests for her two algebra classes. She needed to buy groceries and put gas in the car and go by the library to get all her summer reading on the reserve list.

As she finished her morning routine and drove to the high school where she taught, Ellen thought about Cooper and the college issue. While she was afraid she couldn’t afford the tuition, she had to admit it was a great problem to have. Seventeen years ago, she’d been a terrified teenager, about to be a single mom, with nothing between her and living on the streets except incredibly disappointed and angry parents who had been determined to make her see the error of her ways.

Through hard work and determination, she’d managed to pull herself together—raise Cooper, go to college, get a good job, buy a duplex and save money for her kid’s education. Yay her.

But it sure would have been a lot easier if she’d simply married someone with money.

*

“How is it possible to get a C- in Spanish?” Coach Keith Kinne asked, not bothering to keep his voice down. “Half the population in town speaks Spanish. Hell, your sister’s husband is Hispanic.” He glared at the strapping football player standing in front of him. “Luka, you’re an idiot.”

Luka hung his head. “Yes, Coach.”

“Don’t ‘yes, Coach’ me. You knew this was happening—you’ve known for weeks. And did you ask for help? Did you tell me?”

“No, Coach.”

Keith thought about strangling the kid but he wasn’t sure he could physically wrap his hands around the teen’s thick neck. He swore silently, knowing they were where they were and now he had to fix things—like he always did with his students.

“You know the rules,” he pointed out. “To play on any varsity team you have to get a C+ or better in every class. Did you think the rules didn’t apply to you?”

Luka, nearly six-five and two hundred and fifty pounds, slumped even more. “I thought I was doing okay.”

“Really? So you’d been getting better grades on your tests?”

“Not exactly.” He raised his head, his expression miserable. “I thought I could pull up my grade at the last minute.”

“How did that plan work out?”

“No bueno.”

Keith glared at him. “You think this is funny?”

“No, Coach.”

Keith shook his head. “You know there’s not a Spanish summer school class. That means we’re going to have to find an alternative.”

Despite his dark skin, Luka went pale. “Coach, don’t send me away.”

“No one gets sent away.” Sometimes athletes went to other districts that had a different summer curriculum. They stayed with families and focused on their studies.

“I need to stay with my family. My mom understands me.”

“It would be better for all of us if she understood Spanish.” Keith glared at the kid. “I’ll arrange for an online class. You’ll get a tutor. You will report to me twice a week, bringing me updates until you pass the class.” He sharpened his gaze. “With an A.”

Luka took a step back. “Coach, no! An A? I can’t.”

“Not with that attitude.”

“But, Coach.”

“You knew the rules and you broke them. You could have come to me for help early on. You know I’m always here for any of my students, but did you think about that or did you decide you were fine on your own?”

“I decided I was fine on my own,” Luka mumbled.

“Exactly. And deciding on your own is not how teams work. You go it alone and you fail.”

Tears filled Luka’s eyes. “Yes, Coach.”

Keith pointed to the door. Luka shuffled out. Keith sank into his chair. He’d been hard on the kid, but he needed to get the message across. Grades mattered. He was willing to help whenever he could, but he had to be told what was going on. He had a feeling Luka thought because he was a star athlete he was going to get special treatment. Maybe somewhere else, but not here. Forcing Luka to get an A sent a message to everyone who wanted to play varsity sports.

He’d barely turned to his computer when one of the freshman boys stuck his head in the office. “Coach Kinne! Coach Kinne! There’s a girl crying in the weight room.”

Keith silently groaned as he got up and jogged to the weight room, hoping he was about to deal with something simple like a broken arm or a concussion. He knew what to do for those kinds of things. Anything that was more emotional, honest to God, terrified him.

He walked into the weight room and found a group of guys huddled together. A petite, dark-haired girl he didn’t know sat on a bench at the far end, her hands covering her face, her sobs audible in the uneasy silence.

He looked at the guys. “She hurt?”

They shifted their weight and shook their heads. Damn. So it wasn’t physical. Why didn’t things ever go his way?

“Any of you responsible for whatever it is?” he asked.

More shaken heads with a couple of guys ducking out.

Keith pointed to the door so the rest of them left, then returned his attention to the crying girl. She was small and looked young. Maybe fifteen. Not one of his daughter’s friends or a school athlete—he knew all of them.

He approached the teen, trying to look friendly rather than menacing, then sat on a nearby bench.

“Hey,” he said softly. “I’m Coach Kinne.”

She sniffed. Her eyes were red, her skin pale. “I know who you are.”

“What’s going on?” Don’t be pregnant, don’t be pregnant, he chanted silently.

More tears spilled over. “I’m pregnant. The father is Dylan, only he says he’s not, and I can’t tell my m-mom because she’ll be so mad and he said he l-loved me.”

And just like that Keith watched his Monday fall directly into the crapper.

*

Keith left work exactly at three fifteen. He would be returning to his office to finish up paperwork, supervise a couple of workouts and review final grades for athletes hovering on the edge of academic problems. But first, he had pressing personal business.

He drove the two short miles to his house, walked inside and headed directly for his seventeen-year-old daughter’s room.

Lissa looked up from her laptop when he entered, her smile fading as she figured out he was in a mood. Despite the attitude, she was a beauty. Long dark hair, big brown eyes. Dammit all to hell—why couldn’t he have an ugly daughter who no guy would look at twice?

“Hi, Dad,” she said, sounding wary. “What’s up?”

“Spot check.”

She rolled her eyes. “Seriously? There is something wrong with you. I heard what happened at school today. I’m not dumb enough to date a guy like Dylan who would tell a tree stump he loved it if it would have sex with him. I’m not sleeping with anyone and I’m not pregnant. I told you—I’m not ready to have sex, as in I’m still a virgin. You’re obsessed. Would you feel better if I wore a chastity belt?”

“Yes, but you won’t. I’ve asked.”

“Da-ad. Why are you like this? Pregnancy isn’t the worst thing that could happen. I could be sick and dying. Wouldn’t that be terrible?”

“You can’t win this argument with logic. I’m irrational. I accept that. But I’m also the parent, so you have to deal with me being irrational.”

He pointed to her bathroom. She sighed the long-suffering sigh of those cursed with impossible fathers and got up. He followed her to the doorway and watched as she pulled the small plastic container out of the bathroom drawer and opened it.

Relief eased the tension in his body. Pills were missing. The right number of pills.

“You are a nightmare father,” his daughter said, shoving the pills back in the drawer. “I can’t wait until I’m eighteen and I can get the shot instead of having to take birth control pills. Then you’ll only bug me every few months.”

“I can’t wait, either.”

“It’s not like I even have a boyfriend.”

“You could be talking to someone online.”

Her annoyance faded as she smiled at him. “Dad, only one of us in this house does the online dating thing and it’s not me.”

“I don’t online date.”

“Fine. You pick up women online, then go off and have sex with them for the weekend. It’s gross. You should fall in love with someone you’re not embarrassed to bring home to meet me.”

“I’m not embarrassed. I just don’t want complications.”

“But you do want to have sex. It’s yucky.”

“Then why are we talking about it?” He pulled her close and hugged her, then kissed the top of her head. “Sorry, Lissa. I can’t help worrying about you.”

She looked up at him. “Dad, I’m taking my pills every day, not that it matters because I’m not having sex. I’m not. I’ve barely kissed a guy. Having you as my father makes it really difficult to date. Guys don’t want to mess with you and risk being beat up.”

“Good.”

She smiled even as she hit him in the arm. “You’re repressing my emotional growth.”

“Just don’t get pregnant.”

“You need to find a more positive message. How about ‘be your best self?’”

“That, too. Gotta go.”

“I’m having dinner with Jessie tonight. Remember?”

“No problem. Be home by ten.”

He got back in his truck but before starting the engine, he quickly texted Ellen. I need a couple of beers and a friendly ear. You around tonight?

The response came quickly. Only if you bring fried chicken. I have beer and ice cream.

You’re on. See you at six.

Excerpted from The Friendship List by Susan Mallery, Copyright © 2020 by Susan Mallery, Inc.. Published by HQN.

Positive Vibes & Happy Reading!!

The Hollow Gods- Release Takeover

#thehollowgods #chaoscycle #supernatural #folklore #contemporaryfantasy #literaryluminati #parliamentbooks #parliamentpress #ajvrana #spookybooks

Hello friends! Back again with our other half of Today’s double feature!! Happy Release day to The Hollow Gods by AJ Vrana, presented by Parliament House Press. I received my copy from NetGalley, but was so graciously accepted to do a tour post and review! I was super excited to read this book, and am even more excited to share it with you.

Description-

Black Hollow is a town with a dark secret.
For centuries, residents have foretold the return of the Dreamwalker—an ominous figure from local folklore said to lure young women into the woods and possess them. Yet the boundary between fact and fable is blurred by a troubling statistic: occasionally, women do go missing. And after they return, they almost always end up dead.

When Kai wakes up next to the lifeless body of a recently missing girl, his memory blank, he struggles to clear his already threadbare conscience.

Miya, a floundering university student, experiences signs that she may be the Dreamwalker’s next victim. Can she trust Kai as their paths collide, or does he herald her demise?

And after losing a young patient, crestfallen oncologist, Mason, embarks on a quest to debunk the town’s superstitions, only to find his sanity tested.

A maelstrom of ancient grudges, forgotten traumas, and deadly secrets loom in the foggy forests of Black Hollow. Can three unlikely heroes put aside their fears and unite to confront a centuries-old evil? Will they uncover the truth behind the fable, or will the cycle repeat? “

My Review-

I absolutely love a good spooky story steeped in folklore, and The Hollow Gods delivers perfectly on that. Based on Slavic Folklore we stumble upon this quaint little town that has a dark secret at it’s core. It’s here in this town that we meet our three main characters Kai, Miya, and Mason. Each of their journeys leads us one step closer to the truth.

The world building and finite details of the setting and history are so beautifully crafted that I almost felt like I had stepped through time to an alternate universe and into a reality that was this book. You almost start to sink into the hysteria with the townspeople as young women start disappearing only to reappear and die shortly after. It’s hard not to suspect some grisly curse or fate settled on the town, or som other dark culprit.

Miya, Kai and Mason are fantastic characters! I truly felt for Mason and his story, he reasoning for escaping city life is truly heartbreaking. Meanwhile, can I just get a round of applause for the sizzling tension between Kai and Miya? I absolutely adored Kai’s character. Lone wolf, bad boy ego with a dark secret…. yess pleaseee! Excuse me while I drool a little. I felt that Kai’s character was so well crafted, I’d never read a werewolf character like him before!!

All in all I have The Hollow Gods a solid 4 stars!! I couldn’t put it down, it grasped my interest right and I simply cannot wait for the finale to this dark and fantastical duology!

Thanks for stopping by, I hope I’ve been able to add another book to your TBR. If you go to this link you can still get a signed copy!! https://linktr.ee/a.j.vrana

Positive Vibes & Happy Reading !

The Storyteller’s Daughter – Blog Tour

#parliamenthouse #literaryluminati #storytellersdaughter #victoricamccombs #retellings #rumpelstiltskin #fantasyretellings #yafantasy #bookoftheday #parliamentbooks

Hello my lovelies, I’m here with another fantastic book from Parliament House Publishing to share with you! Thank you so, so much to Parliament for letting me be one of their secret pledges. I thoroughly enjoy working with them and the fantastic authors they have. Today I’m bringing you THE STORYTELLER’S DAUGHTER by Victoria McCombs, her debut YA Fantasy retelling. I could not love this book more, and I hope that shows as I continue to tell you more about the book and author.

THE STORYTELLER’S DAUGHTER is a Rumpelstiltskin retelling that will satisfy fans of Gail Carson Levine’s ELLA ENCHANTED, as well as Jessica Day George’s DRAGON SLIPPERS and PRINCESS OF GLASS, and Cameron Dokey’s THE WORLD ABOVE.

THE STORYTELLER’S DAUGHTER, BY VICTORIA MCCOMBS:“His shadowed face lit by flames,Rumpelstiltskin is my name…

For as long as anyone can remember, every child in Westfallen has been born with a Gift, and these Gifts defined them.

Then Cosette is born, Giftless.

An attempt to hide her misfortune brings her before the King, who entraps her to use her Gift as a pawn in his war.

Caught in a lie, Cosette desperately searches for a power strong enough to free her. Intrigued by whispers of an old king and a dark curse, she calls upon Rumpelstiltskin and finds him trapped in a magic deeper than she bargained for. Now, Cosette must fight to reclaim her freedom from the King and break Rumpel’s curse. When time runs out, she’ll lose more than her heart. She’ll lose her life.


My Review-

“..I had complied as Fate handed me twists and turns…I wouldn’t wait for Rumpel’s curse to end before I figured out how to take care of myself. I was going to fix my problems on my own.”

This was definitely a book that I could not put down. As we are introduced to all the characters I found myself wanting to know more about each of them and had to keep reading to see what I’d find out. I have always been a fan of the story of Rumpelstiltskin, and I felt that this was a well done retelling. I like the author’s take on it, and felt like it was a fresh version. I would have enjoyed Rumpel to have been portrayed as a little darker, but there were other components that made up for that. Cosette was a very interesting young woman, and it took me a while to warm up to her but eventually I really admired her bravery in the face of danger and how she stands up for herself. I felt like Cosette’s character development was the highlight of the story, as we see her grow and mature and really find what she wants in life. Don’t get me wrong, I loved the love story too and one of my favorites quotes is, “He pulled back and his eyes shone like stars as he looked over me. I held his gaze as a sigh escaped my chest. This moment felt fragile, and I wanted to hold onto it for as long as I could.”. Talk about heart throb!

My overall rating of this books was 5/5 stars and I based this on characters, the world building and the fact that the story held my attention from start to finish! I found myself seriously invested in the story and the fate of Rumpel and Cosette. I really enjoyed the back story of how magic came to the land, and how it presented itself in the people at present day. Truly a magical book!

For anyone who wants to follow Parliament Press and Victoria for future news, here is where! THE STORYTELLER’S DAUGHTER is available July 14th for sale, so get your copy!!

Parliament Press:
Instagram: @theparliamentpress
Twitter: @parliamentbooks
Facebook: @theparliamenthouse
Victoria McCombs:
Instagram: @victoria_mccombs
Facebook: victoriamccombs

Thank you so much for stopping by and checking out my post. Please leave your thoughts and let me know if you’ve read this!

Positive Vibes & Happy Reading!