Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder – Blog Tour

#marionlaneandthemidnightmurder #mystery #blogtour #winterreads #booksof2021 #bookish #lovetoreadmystery #booklover

Welcome friends, to my first blog tour of the New Year!! Here’s to hoping for a healthy, happy 2021. Hoping to be able to share a lot of great books with you, and we’re kicking it off with a murder mystery. I am excited to bring you some information and an excerpt on Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder by T.A. Willberg. This is a Sherlock Holmes style murder mystery with a willful, independent female main character. I’m really looking forward to reading this in the next week or two, and of course will share a full review once I finish it. Until then, let me give you a little tid bit.


Author: T.A. Willberg
ISBN: 9780778389330
Publication Date: 12/29/20
Publisher: Harlequin / Park Row Books
Buy Links: 

Barnes & Noble 

Social Links:

Author Website
Twitter: @Tess_Amy_
Facebook: @tawillberg
Instagram: @ta_willberg

Author Bio: T.A. Willberg was born in Johannesburg, South Africa, and holds a chiropractic masters degree from Durban University of Technology. MARION LANE AND THE MIDNIGHT MURDER is her debut novel and launch of her detective series. She currently lives in Malta with her partner.

Book Summary: The letter was short. A name, a time, a place.

Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder plunges readers into the heart of London, to the secret tunnels that exist far beneath the city streets. There, a mysterious group of detectives recruited for Miss Brickett’s Investigations & Inquiries use their cunning and gadgets to solve crimes that have stumped Scotland Yard.

Late one night in April 1958, a filing assistant at Miss Brickett’s receives a letter of warning, detailing a name, a time, and a place. She goes to investigate but finds the room empty. At the stroke of midnight, she is murdered by a killer she can’t see―her death the only sign she wasn’t alone. It becomes chillingly clear that the person responsible must also work for Miss Brickett’s, making everyone a suspect.

Marion Lane, a first-year Inquirer-in-training, finds herself drawn ever deeper into the investigation. When her friend and colleague is framed for the crime, to clear his name she must sort through the hidden alliances at Miss Brickett’s and secrets dating back to WWII. Masterful, clever and deliciously suspenseful, Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder is a fresh take on the Agatha Christie-style locked-room murder mystery, with an exciting new heroine detective.

Doesn’t this sound like a fun read?! I am sooo excited to read it!! There is something about reading murder mysteries in Winter that I find cozy. Does that make me weird? LOL. Maybe it’s the fact that winters in Western, NY are cold and blustery, so that adds to the mood of the story. Well, now for the big treat!! Here’s a little snipper of the story.


Somewhere in London
Friday, April 11, 1958
11:40 p.m.

Envelope encased, the carrier cylinder traveled through miles of pneumatic pipes from its place of origin to the dark, deep dungeon of the Filing Department—falling neatly from the end of the pipe and into the corresponding receiver box, as if by some magical, invisible postman.

A bell chimed as the envelope landed in receiver box fifty-five.

Michelle White’s eyes shot open as she lurched back from the edge of sleep. She blinked at the flashing yellow light on the noticeboard above her. It was her job to ensure all letters were sorted out the minute they arrived: those that met agency requirements were to be organized by date and slipped into the Inquirers’ in-box for later investigation. Those that did not went straight into the rubbish bin, and those of which she was unsure what to do with, into a looming pile on the desk. But crime and crookedness had been on the decline the last few weeks in London and so, assuming the letter would be a lead on something petty, Michelle White staggered across the Filing Department in no particular hurry.

She lifted the lid on receiver box fifty-five, the endpoint of a six-mile pneumatic tube that fed off from a letter case hidden in Passing Alley in Farringdon.

Envelopes and letters pulled from the receiver boxes were usually addressed to the agency in general: Dear people under the ground, or similar.

But tonight was different.

To Miss M. White, Inquirer.

It was odd, yet she couldn’t help smile at the thought of it. Michelle had once dreamed of becoming an Inquirer; she had come so close to the reality, too. But she was just not good enough. Not clever enough, not brave or talented enough. Not quite anything enough.

Ten years ago, at the age of twenty-two, she’d been recruited from a textile factory where she’d toiled long hours as a quality control assistant. But like everyone who came to work in the sunless labyrinth, Michelle had swiftly and without much consideration renounced the liberties of her previous, lackluster life in exchange for the opportunity to begin a new and thrilling vocation as an Inquirer, where she’d hoped to finally make use of her very particular set of skills.

But things had not quite turned out that way, which is why—instead of scouring London’s streets for criminals and delinquents—Michelle had ended up here, spending her evenings as the night-duty filing assistant in the establishment’s dullest department. In fact, had it not been for her other, far more satisfying role—that of Border Guard, protector of the secret—then perhaps she would have quit years ago.

But now Michelle wondered, as she stared at the envelope in her hand, how whoever had sent it knew where she worked or why they had considered her the worthy counsel of their troubles. She ran her thumb over the words—Miss M. White, Inquirer—as if they might be absorbed through her skin and become true.

For a moment, she was reluctant to open the envelope, concerned it might be a joke. One of the young apprentices playing a trick. She clenched her jaw at the thought, breathed, then entered the letter’s details into the register file: time and date received, receiver box number and her initials. But when she opened the envelope and read the final detail—the nature of the inquiry—her breath began to quicken.

The letter was short. A name, a time, a place and one simple revelation. And yet it unleashed a torrent of angst.

Several weeks ago, something had gone missing from her handbag—something invaluable, irreplaceable, something that might dredge up a secret long since buried across the Border. At first she’d been so certain of who had taken it, and for countless nights thereafter she’d turned in her sleep, anxious the nasty thief would soon come looking for the paired device she kept locked in her private office, and with that the secret would be uncovered.

But if the letter she’d just received was to be trusted, Michelle’s anxieties had been misplaced—the secret had already been discovered. She wasn’t sure how, or even why, but if she followed the letter’s directions, she might soon find out.

Though sirens of warning blared in her head, Michelle had already made up her mind. Of course she could take the letter to someone more qualified than herself, but it had been addressed to her—whoever had sent it had entrusted her with this, a most precious and urgent secret. And besides, as the letter had said, if only for tonight, Miss White was an Inquirer.

As instructed, she lit a match and held the letter under the flame. Once the paper had turned to ash, she packed up her things, grabbed her handbag, locked the office and rushed up the staircase toward the library. She stopped at the lock room gate, far on the other side of the grand hall of glorious bookshelves. The gate was ajar, just as she’d expected.

She stepped inside, pausing immediately as a wave of something cool and cutting passed in front of her, a curious thing. She rubbed her eyes and looked around the dully lit room, at the hundreds of steel drawers, safes in which were kept the agency’s most hallowed files and documents. The lock room, with its thick walls and high ceiling, was always chilled, but tonight it felt particularly so.


Something split from the wall behind her. She turned to the sound but saw only a shadow move across the room and something that looked like a large black box being removed from inside the wall. She hesitated, then moved a little closer. But it came again—a wave of cool air, dancing in front of her. She dabbed her eyes with the cuff of her sleeve; they were now surely playing tricks on her, for everything had turned to a strange blur of nothing. Michelle started to panic, her thoughts as unfocused as her eyesight. Her head began to spin. Her limbs to tingle. This might have been the moment she ran for her life, out of the lock room and away from the evil she now knew had been waiting for her there. But terror had immobilized her. There was nothing she could do to get her legs to move, not even when she heard the rush of footsteps, some behind her, some in front. Not even when she felt the brush of air against her neck.

“What’s happening,” she asked in a staggered groan. “I know you’re there…I know it was you…” She trailed off, the words in her head no longer making sense.

She dropped her handbag. Something hard rolled out and across the floor. She was too disorientated to realize what it was.

In a drawn-out moment that seemed to last forever, Michelle’s senses grew dull and viscous. She could no longer trust her eyesight, her ears. She might have seen an amorphous shape crouching in front of her. She might have seen it lift something from the floor. Certainly, however, she felt the sharp burn of a cold, ragged blade as it sunk quickly and easily through the delicate skin across her throat.

Warmth, darkness and nothing more.

Excerpted from Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder @ 2020 by Tessa Gukelberger, used with permission by Park Row Books/HarperCollins.

Well, I hope you enjoyed that sneak peak into Marion Lane and the Midnight Murder by T.A. Willberg. If this sounds like something you might enjoy, please snag a copy for yourself! Thanks for stopping by, and stay tuned for more to come. I hope you have a fantastic weekend, and stay healthy my friends!!

Positive Vibes & Happy Reading!

The Last to See Her – Blog Tour

#thelasttoseeher #courtneyevanstate #mystery #thriller #cheatinghusbands #sisterswithsecrets #bookish #booklover #ilovethrillers #thrillerreader

Hello friends! Hope your December is going well, I’ve been super busy but still managing to read quite a bit. Lately with my 50 hour work weeks it seems that audiobooks are my saving grace, but it was refreshing to have the time to read an eBook every now and then. I’m ecstatic to be bringing you this stop on the Tour for The Last To See Her by Courtney Evan Tate. I’ve always enjoyed a good mystery or thriller, but this book makes me want to read more of them. Can’t wait to tell you more about it, so let’s get started!!


Author: Courtney Evan Tate
ISBN: 9780778309413
Publication Date: December 15, 2020
Publisher: MIRA Books

Buy Links: 

Barnes & Noble

Social Links:

Author Website
Twitter: @Court_Writes
Instagram: @CourtneyColeWrites
Facebook: @CourtneyColeWrites

Author Bio: 

Courtney Evan Tate is the nom de plume (and darker side) of the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Courtney Cole. As Courtney Evan Tate, she is the author of Such Dark Things and I’ll Be Watching You. Courtney grew up in rural Kansas and now lives with her husband and kids in Florida, where spends her days dreaming of new characters and storylines and surprising plot twists and writing them beneath rustling palm trees. Visit her on Facebook or at

Book Summary:

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author Courtney Evan Tate’s The Last to See Her (MIRA; 12/29) is a twisty, fast-paced domestic suspense about sisters, secrets and betrayal–for fans of B.A. Paris and Riley Sager.

Genevieve, a writer, is about to finalize her divorce from her cheating husband Todd. So when her sister Meg, an ambitious physician, has a convention to attend in New York City, she invites Gen along to celebrate her return to single life. It will be a perfect sisters’ getaway in the big city! But things go awry when, on their first evening at the hotel, Gen decides to take a late night walk and disappears without a trace. Eventually she is officially declared a missing person.

Suspicion soon falls on her sister Meg, who was the last person to see her.

Through twists and turns, it is revealed that Meg has been sleeping with her brother-in-law Todd… And then there is a question of a newly purchased insurance policy that just has just gone into effect before Gen’s disappearance. Both Todd and Meg deny any knowledge of it.

But has an actual crime been committed? Can it be proven? And if so, who is really the guilty one?

Intriguing, am I right?! This description grabbed me immediately, and had me itching to get my hands on the full story. Ohh let me tell you, I was not disappointed one bit!!

Here’s a snippet for you! 🙂

Genevieve tipped the courier and set the certified letter on the coffee table.
She knew what it was. She’d been waiting for it for almost a week.
Every day, she’d wondered, Will it be today?
And each day it wasn’t.
Until today.
Nervous energy buzzed through her fingers and toes, tingling through her veins, like ants scurrying in a thousand directions. She paced for a minute, stopping at the floor-to-ceiling windows, staring at the magnificent cityscape lining the horizon. Buildings burst through the hazy pollution, their tips scraping the clouds.
People far below her were bustling here and there, quick to walk, slow to linger. They had things to do, places to be, and she didn’t.
Not anymore.
She ripped open the envelope, pulling the banded documents out, scanning through the words, hunting for the official stamps and signatures that declared this an official act of the court.
They were all there.
This was real.
It was finally happening.
She focused her gaze on the words before her.
Honestly, they were simple.
The black-and-whiteness of them was stark and startling. There were no gray areas, no areas open to interpretation.
They reduced the last ten years of her life into a handful of legal phrases and technical terms. Incompatible differences associated with adultery, marriage dissolution and absolute divorce.
She stared at the words.
Soon, she would be absolutely divorced. She just had to sign the papers.
It had only taken six months of her life to iron out the details. To separate all of their worldly possessions into two camps, his and hers, to figure out who got what. Divorcing a lawyer was the only thing worse than being married to one. No matter that he was the one in err, because he repeatedly fucked someone else, he was out for blood and it took months to sort it all out.
But thank God no children were involved.
That’s what people kept saying, like it was a good thing or a blessing.
But if she’d had a child, she wouldn’t be all alone, and someone would still love her.
She felt like she was floundering. For so long, she’d put all of her energy into a man who hadn’t deemed her worthy to stay faithful to. That had done something to her self-confidence. Something terrible. It wounded her in places she hadn’t known she had, and now she had to figure out who she was without him.
She wasn’t Genevieve Tibault anymore, one half of a whole. She was Genevieve McCready again, and what was Genevieve McCready going to do now, now that she had to stand alone?
She pushed herself off the couch and ran water in her coffee cup. It was a habit Thad had taught her. He hated it when the cups developed coffee rings. She stared at the running water, and then set her cup down.
She didn’t have to do what he wanted anymore. If she wanted coffee rings or tea rings or any kind of fucking rings, she could have them.
It was an epiphany.
She was her own person again. It had been so long since she was a me instead of a we.
She looked around, at the condo she had fought so hard for…the marble floors that they couldn’t agree on—she’d wanted slate, he’d wanted marble—at the modern light fixtures that he’d gotten his way on, at even the tan wall colors. She’d wanted gray.
Why had she even wanted this place?
It was all Thad, and none of Genevieve.
A sense of exuberance, a strange jubilation, welled up in her as she searched online for a realtor and then dialed the phone.
Bubbles of excitement swelled in her belly as she arranged a time for the realtor to come see the place.
And then again, as she stared at a map.
Unlike Thad, someone who had spent years building up his legal practice and honing his networking skills in this one city, she could work from anywhere.
She wrote novels. 
She could work in Antarctica if she wanted to.
She didn’t want to, but she could.
She already had a plan. She knew where she was going, and what she was doing. She just had to have the courage to do it.
She picked up the phone and called her only sister, Meghan.
“Meg, I’m moving home.”
Her sister paused. “Home as in…?”
“Cedarburg.” There was a long pregnant pause now.
“Um. Why would you want to move back to Wisconsin? You haven’t lived there in…”
“In eighteen years. Since I left for college. Yes.”
“I don’t know,” Gen said honestly. “I just feel a need to get back to my roots. I love Chicago, but the traffic and the noise…” She stared out from her twentieth floor windows again. Even from up here, even though the vehicles looked like Matchbox cars, she could still hear the honking. “This feels like Thad. I want to feel like me.”
“There’s nothing there,” Meg said carefully. “Nothing but fields and cold and—”
“And friendly people,” Gen interrupted. “And our parents, and familiarity, and open spaces, and distance from Thad.”
“But I won’t be there,” Meg reminded her gently. “I’m not moving back. I think you need to be near me, Gen. You need a support system. Divorce is no joke.”
“I know that,” Gen said patiently. “I’m the one living it. You’re still with your Prince Charming and point five children living the American Dream, and I’m the one sitting in an empty condo.”
She fought to keep the bitterness out of her voice, as she compared Meg’s bustling, messy home to her own stark and empty condo in her mind’s eye. 
“I’ll tell Joey that you’re counting him as a point five,” Meg chuckled.
“Well, he’s only five, so it’s fitting. I mean, honestly. He’s not a whole person yet.”
They laughed again, and then Meg sobered up.
“Is this really something you want to do?”
Gen nodded. “Yeah. I think so.”
Meg took a big breath. “Well, let’s do it, then. I’ll help you with your condo, and finding a moving company, and looking online for a house there, and hell’s bells, we’ve got a lot to do!”
“You don’t have to help with all that…” Gen trailed off, but Meg interrupted with their life-long pact.
“Sisters forever,” she decreed. They’d used that pact since they were kids. Whenever one didn’t want to do something, the other would remind them “sisters forever,” and they would concede.
Gen realized she wasn’t going to get away with not letting Meg get her hands in all the new plans.
“Sisters forever,” she agreed.
“But first, you promised to go to my convention with me,” Meg reminded her.
Gen hesitated.
“Don’t tell me you forgot. New York City? Spa days, shopping—you need a new wardrobe, sis—and nights on the town. You promised.”
Gen paused again, and Meghan cajoled, “Pleassssse. We need this. You need this. It can be your divorce party.”
“Okay,” Gen found herself saying. “Fine. I’ll still come.”
Her sister squealed and Gen hung up before Meg could get too excited. She was moving away from everything she’d known for over a decade. Even though the world seemed unsettled and uncertain, for the first time in at least five years, she felt at peace.

Excerpted from The Last to See Her by Courtney Evan Tate, Copyright © 2020 by 
Lakehouse Press, Inc. Published by MIRA Books

My Review –

There were a lot of moving pieces to this story, some unveiled slower than others, but all were extremely well crafted. The characters were realistic, some likeable and some absolutely loath some, and the twists surprising! The detail in which the characters were crafted was exquisite, and the plot arcs were creative and like one of those rollercoasters where you start to build up speed to go over the big hump and get a thrill, but then slow back down only to build up speed again for the next thrill. I could not put this book down, and practically read it in two sittings. I am always take great pride in figuring out how it’s going to end, but just could not figure this one out. As frustrating as it was, I enjoyed this story so much more knowing when I read the last page that I had never seen it coming. If Courtney’s books are as good as this one then I’ll be making it a point to read the rest of them.

Thanks for stopping by, and hopefully I’ve added another book to your TBR. You really won’t regret it!!

Happy Reading & Positive Vibes!

River Magic – Blog Tour

#rivermagic #adultfantasy #storytellersontour #irishfolklore #druids #naturespirits #fantasy

Hello friends and Happy Wednesday! Tomorrow is Thanksgiving in the US, and my what a strange year for celebrating holidays. I hope all of you who celebrate Thanksgiving are prepared and have your plans safely made. For the rest of you, I hope your week is going well and you are staying happy and healthy. I am very excited to be back with another tour with Storytellers on Tour, as it’s been a while since I’ve signed up for a book tour with them. This time I’m bringing you River Magic by M.A. Phillips, and this was such a wonderful story! Don’t forget to stop and check out the other tour posts, we all have something different, and there is a giveaway!

Book Information

River Magic by M. A. Phillips

Published: October 31, 2020
Publisher: Shadow Spark Publishing
Genre: Magical Realism
Age Group: Adult
Pages: 324

— — —

Book Blurb

Budding clairvoyant Lacey Moran seeks to understand her dreams and find her life’s purpose along the St. Lawrence River. If only her visions of silver arms and Cian O’Connor’s blue eyes were easier to understand! The pieces begin coming together when she encounters a mermaid in the river, joins a group of Druids, and opens herself to romance with an old friend.

Can Lacey overcome her doubts, or is she in over her head?

— — —

Book Links

— — —

Author Information

M. A. Phillips lives in Northern NY with her husband, daughter, and three cats. She is a writer, English teacher, and practicing Druid. Some of her short stories have been published in Stone, Root, and Bone magazine. Her debut, River Magic, is an adult magical realism novel featuring a friends-to-lovers romance, contemporary Pagans, and a vengeful mermaid.

When she isn’t writing, you can find her in the garden, sewing, or enjoying a book with a side of tea. You can read more about her spiritual and creative journey on her blog, or on Twitter & Instagram @ditzydruid

— — —

Author Links


My Review –

I went into reading this really eager for a fun, whimsical, magic story full of Irish Folklore and boy did River Magic deliver! We have a sweet, grounded main character named Lacey, whom we follow through the typical trials of finding yourself and purpose after college. We get a great bit of detail into her past and background that really helps round Lacey and Cian’s characters throughout the story. I adored that it was set along the St. Lawrence River, being a Syracuse, NY native it really allowed me to relate to the small town vibes. I felt that the intertwining of Irish Folklore/Druidry and the judgement and acceptance of personal religious beliefs was well done, and really was a great underlying tone of the book. The growing up aspect was relatable and tasteful, but this really felt more YA or New Adult to me at times. Overall I loved this story, it was charming, eventful and endearing. I am really looking forward to reading the rest of the series!

As a treat, we have some adorable character art of Lacey and Cian to share! I just love it, these are exactly how I pictured them in my mind.

Thanks so much for stopping by on my post for the Blog Tour for River Magic by M.A. Phillips, before you go take a minute to enter the giveaway! Don’t forget to take a look at the other stops on the tour, we each have something different to share. 🙂

Pretending – Blog Tour

#pretending #HTPbooks #bookclubbish #harlequintours #bookblog #bloglife #bookish

Hello everyone, and Happy Tuesday! I’m back again with a blog tour for a read that, at times, had me laughing so hard I couldn’t breathe. I’m very happy to be able to bring you my review and an excerpt for Pretending by Holly Bourne. This is a slightly feminist, slight satire and full rom com surrounding a woman’s perspective to men and modern dating. Without spoiling anything, let’s jump right in!

Pretending : A Novel 

Holly Bourne

On Sale Date: November 17, 2020

9780778331506, 0778331504

Trade Paperback

$17.99 USD

416 pages


In this hilarious and heartbreaking debut novel perfect for fans of Fleabag, a woman struggling to move on after a traumatic relationship pretends to be “the perfect girl” in an act of vengeance that goes awry when she finds herself emotionally compromised.

He said he was looking for a ‘partner in crime’ which everyone knows is shorthand for ‘a woman who isn’t real’.

April is kind, pretty, and relatively normal – yet she can’t seem to get past date five. Every time she thinks she’s found someone to trust, they reveal themselves to be awful, leaving her heartbroken. And angry. Until she realizes that what men are really looking for is Gretel.

Gretel is perfect – beautiful but low maintenance, sweet but never clingy, sexy but not a slut. She’s a Regular Everyday Manic Pixie Dream Girl Next Door With No Problems.

When April starts pretending to be Gretel, dating becomes much more fun – especially once she reels in the unsuspecting Joshua. Finally, April is the one in control, but can she control her own feelings? And as she and Joshua grow closer, how long will she be able to keep pretending?


Holly Bourne is a bestselling UK-based YA and Adult Fiction author and is an Ambassador for Women’s Aid. In 2019, she was an Author of the Day at the London Book Fair, and was named by Elle Magazine’s weekly podcast as one of “Six Female Authors Changing the Conversation in 2019”. Pretending is her US debut.


Barnes & Noble
Apple Books
Google Books


Author website:
Twitter: @holly_bourneYA
Instagram: @hollybourneya
Facebook: @Holly.BourneYA

Excerpt –

I hate men.

There, I’ve said it. I know you’re not supposed to say it. We all pretend we don’t hate them; we all tell ourselves we don’t hate them. But I’m calling it. I’m standing here on this soapbox, and I’m saying it.

I. Hate. Men.

I mean, think about it. They’re just awful. I hate how selfish they are. How they take up so much space, assuming it’s always theirs to take. How they spread out their legs on public transport, like their balls need regular airing to stop them developing damp. I hate how they basically scent mark anywhere they enter to make it work for them. Putting on the music they want to listen to the moment they arrive at any house party, and always taking the nicest chair. How they touch your stuff instead of just looking; even tweak the furniture arrangement to make it most comfortable for them. All without asking first—never asking first.

I hate how they think their interests are more important than yours—even though twice a week all most of them do is watch a bunch of strangers kick a circle around a piece of lawn and sulk if the circle doesn’t go in the right place. And how bored they look if you ever try to introduce them to a film, a band, or even a freaking YouTube clip, before you’ve even pressed Play.

I hate their endless arrogance. I hate how they interrupt you and then apologize for it but carry on talking anyway. How they ask you a question but then check your answer afterward. I hate how they can never do one piece of housework without telling you about it. I hate how they literally cannot handle being driven in a car by a woman, even if they’re terrible drivers themselves. I hate how they all think they’re fucking incredible at grilling meat on barbecues. The sun comes out and man must light fire and not let woman anywhere near the meat. Dumping blackened bits of chicken onto our plates along with the whiff of a burp from their beer breath, acting all caveman, like we’re supposed to find it cute that we may now get salmonella and that we’re going to have to do all the washing up.

I hate how I’m quite scared of them. I hate the collective noise of them when they’re in a big group. The tribal wahey-ing, like they all swap their IQs for extra testosterone when they swarm together. How, if you’re sitting alone on an empty train, they always come and deliberately sit next to you en masse, and talk extra loudly about macho nonsense, apparently to impress you. I hate the way they look at you when you walk past—automatically judging your screwability the moment they see you. Telling you to smile if you dare look anything other than delighted about living with stuff like this constantly fucking happening to you. 

I hate how hard they are to love. How many of them actually, truly, think the way to your heart is sending you a selfie of them tugging themselves, hairy ball sack very much still in shot. I hate how they have sex. How they shove their fingers into you, thinking it’s going to achieve anything. Jabbing their unwashed hands into your dry vagina, prodding about like they’re checking for prostate cancer, then wondering why you now have BV and you still haven’t come. Have none of them read a sex manual? Seriously? None of them? And I hate how they hate you a little just after they’ve finished. How even the nice ones lie there with cold eyes, pretending to cuddle, but clearly desperate to get as far away from you as possible.

I hate how it’s never equal. How they expect you to do all the emotional labor and then get upset when you’re the more stressed-out one. I hate how they never understand you, no matter how hard they try, although, let’s be honest here, they never actually try that hard. And I hate how you’re always exhausting yourself trying to explain even the most basic of your rational emotional responses to their bored face.

I hate how every single last one of them has issues with their father.

And do you know what I hate most of all?

That despite this, despite all this disdain, I still fancy men. And I still want them to fancy me, to want me, to love me. I hate myself for how much I want them. Why do I still fancy men so much? What’s wrong with me? Why are they all so broken? Am I broken for still wanting to be with one, even after everything? I should be alone. That’s the only healthy way to be. BUT I DON’T WANT TO BE ALONE. I hate men, that’s the problem. GOD I HATE THEM SO MUCH—they’re so entitled and broken and lazy and wrong and…and…

Hang on…

My phone.



Never mind.

Forget I said anything. It’s all good.

Excerpted from Pretending by Holly Bourne, Copyright © 2020 by Holly Bourne. Published by MIRA Books. 

My Review –

I was instantly drawn in to this hilarious, and totally relatable, story of one girls trials with Men and modern dating. I was laughing hysterically from the very first paragraph, and found myself sharing a few more chuckles throughout the story. I liked what Holly Bourne did with the premise, using it to shed light on how society has women thinking they need to act in today’s dating world. There were certain aspects of the story that, and maybe it hit a little too close to home, but I felt they were a little over done or too far fetched. I wasn’t the biggest fan of the catfishing aspect of April’s story, as that truly is an issue in current dating society, but that’s just me and my opinions. The ending was cute and wrapped it all up nicely.

Overall I rate this book a 3.5 stars, as I didn’t love it as a whole. I found the humor tasteful, and the heavy subjects well written, but it’s not a book I’ll find myself reading again. Mind you, please take my review and opinions with a grain of salt, as I know many people whom will thoroughly enjoy this story and whom I look forward to hearing thoughts from. I also want to give many thanks to Harlequin and HTP Books for providing me with a free ebook copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

Until next time my friends, I hope you are staying safe and healthy and surviving the holiday season!

Positive Vibes & Happy Reading!

Rescue You – Blog Tour

#rescueyou #womensfiction #romance #blogtour #rescuedogs #loveanddogs #harelquin #booklover

Hello friends! Happy 7th of November, can’t believe I’m saying that already. I’m so excited to be bringing you this blog tour (so sorry it’s late, I’ve been super sick with a bad sinus infection and unable to read due to vertigo)! I love partnering with Harlequin Publishing and partners to read and review books around their release date, and this one was a big treat. Today I’m bringing you Rescue You by Elysia Whisler. This was seriously the sweetest book ever!


Author: Elysia Whisler  

ISBN: 9780778310082

Publication Date: October 27, 2020

Publisher: MIRA Books


Elysia Whisler was raised in Texas, Italy, Alaska, Mississippi, Nebraska, Hawai’i and Virginia, in true military fashion. Her nomadic life has made storytelling a compulsion from a young age. 

She doubles as a mother, a massage therapist and a CrossFit trainer and is dedicated to portraying strong women, both in life and in her works. She lives in Virginia with her family, including her large brood of cat and dog rescues, who vastly outnumber the humans.


She needs a fresh start. He’s got scars that haven’t healed. With the help of some rescue dogs, they’ll discover that everyone deserves a chance at happiness.

After a year of heartbreak and loss, the only thing keeping Constance afloat is the dog rescue she works at with her sister, Sunny. Desperate for a change, Constance impulsively joins a new gym, even though it seems impossibly hard, and despite the gym’s prickly owner.

Rhett Santos keeps his gym as a refuge for his former-military brothers and to sweat out his own issues. He’s ready to let the funny redhead join, but unprepared for the way she wiggles past his hard-won defenses.

When their dog rescue is threatened, the sisters fight to protect it. And they need all the help they can get. As Rhett and Constance slowly open up to each other, they’ll find that no one is past rescuing; what they need is the right person—or dog—to save them.


Author Website:
TWITTER: @ElysiaWhisler
Facebook: @ElysiaWhisler
Insta: @ElysiaWhisler





Barnes & Noble 






My Review –

I was hooked after page one, but seriously how can you not love a story with a dog rescue? Constance and Sunny were the cutest sisters ever, and a perfect compliment to each other’s personality. Their compassion for others is proven time and again with each dog they rescue, even if the risks are greater and greater. I found it refreshing that they were written as very down to earth and relatable characters, especially with Constance’s struggle with self-image and finding herself. I think learning to be happy with yourself is one of the biggest struggles for young women in our current society and Elysia wrote it better than I could have hoped for! I really enjoyed the slow burn romance, and found it tasteful and absolutely heartwarming. I feel that it’s really hard to write about veteran’s struggles, especially mental health, and this was accurately but mildly portrayed in the story. Rhett is a character that is hard not to fall in love with, so ladies watch out! I’d definitely want him to be my coach! I rated this 5 out of 5 stars and will definitely be reading this amazing story again! If you’re looking for a heartwarming, light romance, overall feel good story then Rescue You by Elysia Whisler is definitely the book you want.

Positive Vibes & Happy Reading!

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!

Author: Jillian Cantor 
ISBN: 9781335090591
Publication Date: October 6, 2020
Publisher: Inkyard Press


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.


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?


Author Website:
TWITTER: @JillianCantor
Facebook: @AuthorJillianCantor
Insta: @JillianCantor


Barnes & Noble 

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.


 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

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 or 646-307-5556

Samantha’s Twitter:

Samantha’s Instagram:

Wednesday Books Twitter:

Wednesday Books Instagram:

Buy link for 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.


By Mara Rutherford

On Sale: October 6, 2020


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:


Instagram: @mararutherfordwrites


Buy Links:


Barnes & Noble:




Google Play:

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!


By Francina Simone
On Sale: September 22, 2020
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.


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:

Buy Links:

Barnes & Noble:
Google Play:

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.



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!